« FöregåendeFortsätt »
family worship and intercession for the soul of a departing sinner, the beauteous relation of Warlsworm seemed deeply affected and incensed. She caught the laird in her arms, replaced him on his cushions, soothed down his worldly spirit, and wiped from his face the moisture which disease and excitement had brought to his brow, and that, too, with a cloth of a texture very unlike the fine twined linen and meedle-work of Egypt which had contributed to this unseemly rapture. While this passed, I observed the shadow of a man, lengthened by the departin sun, moving on the hall floor, an seeming to whirlround and round with the agility of a dancer. I looked about, and beheld a singular being, a man about the age of fifty, clad in coarse cloth, called by the shepherds hiplock plaiden, barefoot, bare legged, bare necked, and bare headed. About his shoulders hung a mass of withered and matted hair; and he carried in his hand a long straw, which he held up before his face, moving all the while round and round, and aceompanying his gestures with wild and disjointed words. “Alas, alas,” said the young maiden, “what can have brought that poor demented simpleton here? he knows our doors were ever closed against him, and that our meal never augmented the little store which he obtained, more by the intercession of his own innocent face, than by the entreaty of his tongue, from the scrupulous charity of our neighbours. Ah, poor houseless, homeless, hapless creature, he is come to express the sorrow of his own harmless heart, for the illness of the head of this house; and hame shall he not go without partaking of the mercies with which we have been so long blessed.” And with meat and drink in her hands forth she walked, and approached, not without hesitation, to the little green knoll on which the poor maniac had stationed himself, in order perhaps to give greater effect to the singular ceremony he was performing. * East and west, and north and south,” he chaunted in a tone of dissenance equal to the croak of the raven—“east, west, north, and south; not a cloud—not a breath of winda burning heat, and a scorching &rguth—the grasshopper camot sing
for want of her evening dew.” He paused, and reversed the straw, and, holding it up before him, renewed his dancing and his chaunt. “North, south, west, and east, the morning sun cannot ascend for the concourse of clouds—the little streams sing among their pebbles, for their banks will soon be overflowed, and the little flowers, bless their bonnie faces, hold up their parched heads, rejoicing in the descending shower. The rains fall, the winds blow, the rivulets swell, and the thunders roll, and rock the green hills. The wide and winding water—even the links of my bright and stately Orrflows like a wild and a raging sea. I see it, I see it, I see it; man may not ride it; and the saddled steed neighs across the 'flood, which it trembles to take. Ah! I would not go to be buried in the old kirkyard, beyond that roaring river, though ye were to make me a bed three ell deep, and lay the greenest turf in Galloway aboon me.” “ Gawain, Gawain,” said Bessie Lamond, in her sweetest tone, and with a smile of sympathy and kindness on her lips, “Gawain—himie, have ye forgotten how many bowls of curds and cream, and pieces of bread and cheese I have stolen from our penurious board to feed ye in the glen? Turn and speak to me, my bonnie man, and spae nae mair about uncannie things, and see nae mae unsonsie sights.” But Gawain was possest beyond the influence of the tongue and charms of the fair niece of the penurious laird, and continued to elevate and dandle the straw with an increasing wildness of look and gesture. “ But who are those who ride mourning on their coal black steeds, two and two, and bear a coffined corse before them P I see some whom I shall not see long, and the owner of this house is among them; stretched full gay in his burial linen, and a velvet pall aboon him—the siller it costs would be a sore sight; it is well for him that his senses are shut, else the expense of the burial wine would break his heart. There is a deep ave dug, and the bedral leans on is spade, and looks to the burial train about to pass the river. , Aha! Johnie Feasttheworm, ye're cheated lad, ye're cheated,” shouted Gawain, changing the wild seriousness of his tone to that of laughter and merriment. “ Fill your kirkyard hole again with the black mools, for auld Warlsworm's floating down the links of Orr, and his bonnie black coffin will frighten the seamen on Solway; and wha should float aside him but auld Haudthegrup 2 but he'll no float far, for twa pouchfuls of stolen gowd will tug the sinner down, and sink him to perdition: ye're cheated, Johnie Feasttheworm, ye're cheated, sae fill ye're kirkyard hole with the fat mools again, my cannie man.” These concluding words were too loud to escape notice, and out upon him sallied Haudthegrup, his face inflamed, his hand clenched, and burning anger on his tongue. “What fiend hath possest himself of this man, and utters this falseness through his foolish lips ? Verily, I will cast him out; a sore buffeting shall the foul thief abide, that presumes to enter into the living image of the High One, and prophesy against righteous men. Lo! I will rebuke him with my right hand, and chasten him sorely with this rod of rowan tree, with which I once combated and overcame three witch-women in the wicked parish of Penpont.” And, advancing upon Gawain, as he spoke, he aimed a blow, which the maniac turned aside, exclaiming: “ Aha! auld greedy Haudthegrup, I have ye now, I have ye now ; take that, man, for throwing a bone at me, at Joe Tamson's bridal, seven and thirty year syne come beltan.” As he uttered these words, he dashed his opponent from him with such force, that he reeled several paces, and plunged into a miry hole, fairly under the verdant mantle with which the summer warmth had decked it. Gawain having performed this feat, stalked perpendicularly into the hall—seated himself by the warm ashes on the hearth, and, looking on the sick man, said, “Ye lie soft and braw on your bonnie white cushions there; and deed and trouth, an I was you, I wad nae die till the cauld frost and winter ‘should come, when I care na to accompany ye to the kirkyard hole mysel, and take my word for’t, ye'll lie saftest and fealest on the Buittle side of the kirk; I aye think the gowans are bonnier, and the grass the fairer, and the blinks of the simther-sun sweeter on that side than
the other: 'od, but lad, if ye hope to lie wi' me, ye maun lie quiet, and no trouble ane with your weeping, and wailing and gmashing of teeththe cauld grave's a bad place to repent in.” We were new rejoined by old Haudthegrup, purified by the fair hands of the maiden from the soil of the pond, and anxious to drown shame and mortification by a long and lamentable prayer. The sun was set, and a soft and balmy twilight had succeeded. The sound of the reaper's returning song, and the repeated call of the harvest-horn were audible on all sides, and in the hall of Warlsworm we had that silence which ushers in prayer, and that fitful and glimmering light afforded by the decaying beams of day, and the twinkling gleam of fading embers. As we knelt, I could not refrain from looking on the singular group thus strangely assembled. Gawain abasing himself in the ashes, and stooping his forehead quietly into the dust, accompanied with a chorusing groan the melancholy cough of the sick man; the maiden knelt by the couch, ...; with a steady and uninterrupte gaze the changing looks of her uncle; while Haudthegrup himself clasped his hands, drew down his cheeks to a most hypocritical length, and, fixing his eyes on things above, namely, on the golden hoard which hung beyond reach in the chimney, proceeded with his prayer. The prayers of the righteous avail much, says the Fountain of Belief, but what avail the prayers of the hypocrite? Unwise would that man be who would give them a record and a sanctuary. A strong and a burning faith, a day of firm belief, and an hour of deathbed repentance, were pressed with many a mighty word and many, a weary groan. He recommended the health of his friend to Him who sweetened the waters of Marah, and his spirit to that being who presided over angels and thrones, and the souls of just men made perfect. “ To thee,” said he, making a concluding address to the Fountain of all glory, “to thee who can make silver into gold and the dust upon which we tread into precious gems, it can be little to mend a broken body and revive a contrite spirit. To thee who made my lambs worth five half crowns at the St. James's fair of Lanark, though when I supplicated thee they were worth but five and sixpence, the renovation of this frail and fainting man is but a breath from thy nostrils. But if it is thy will to glean this ripened ear, to snatch this brand from the fires of this sinful world, let him honour thee and serve thee, and leave a moiety of that worldly dross which men call gold, even unto him who thus wrestled with thee for his welfare and salvation.” Here the sick man moaned, and the glances of his gifted friend and him flashed towards the hidden gold like the hostile lights of two adverse planets. Haudthegrup concluded, “ and leaving his red $o. in thy servant's hand, let him well in that house not built with hands, eternal in the heavens.” “A house not built with hands,” re-echoed Gawain in the tone of the prayer, and leaping to his feet, “I never saw a house not built with hands except a magpie-nest in the foot of my †: garden.” With him too rose the laird of Warlsworm, the deadly paleness of rage and receding life in his face ; he fixed his eyes, shining with a light that seemed of the world below, on Haudthegrup, and stretching his hands towards him to pour forth his o: malediction, seemed inspired by the fiend who presides over the last hours of evil men. He opened his lips, the curse trembled on his tongue; but words never came, for he was stricken speechless, and fell back on the settle, his lips apart, his eyes fixed, and his hands clenched. “He’ll never hound me frae his door mair,” said Gawain, “ nor tell me that wet straw is owre good a bed for a beggar bodie.” “Let us carry him into the spence,” said Haudthegrup, “his spirit winna part in peace while his eye is fixed on that dross called gold and his worldly goods.” The dying man seized his niece's hand, and pointed to several bags which hung among hams and tongues in the chimney. —“Ah, he's making an edifying hinder end,” said his parsimonious friend, “ his hopes are with things aboon, with the blessed, doubtless.” And away he bore him amid some faint resistance to a little secluded chamber, his hands still stretched to
wards the chimney and his -lips moving with the rapidity of one who speaks in haste. His dumb warnings were all in vain. “Now, my bonnie young lady of Warlsworm,” said this sanctified person in a whisper, “watch over the last moments of the righteous, and let these two youths and this simple innocent attend you; verily, they may profit by such an edifying sight; I, even I, a man dead to the things of this earth, will go and kneel down even where I lately knelt, and my intercession shall arise and o upward for the welfare of the É. and, the glorification of the spirit.” The maiden wept, and, half insensible with sorrow, bathed her cheeks in tears, while away strode the comforter to the hall, and presently his voice arose in vehement intercession—the sick man groaned. In a little while, the sound of the prayer seemed to ascend from the floor, the laird made a convulsive effort to rise, the voice of Haudthegrup quavered and hesitated, as the voice of a man will do when his hands are busied, and then the sound as of gold falling was heard. At this mishap, the tongue of the interceder uttered a curse, and the power of speech returning to the dying man, he smote his hands together and ex
claimed, “ He's herrying me, he's
herrying me, and I maun gang to the brimstone pit with no a penny in my pocket,” and with these words he o
he singular prophecy of Gawain met with a remarkable fulfillment. The day of the burial of the laird was wild and stormy, the place of interment was in an old churchyard on the south side of the river Orr. The mourners were mounted, and the coffin was borne on horses' necks, covered with a pall of black velvet, the parochial mortcloth, which reached nigh to the ground. Haudthegrup was chief mourner, and, to elude the expence of a toll-bar, he proposed to ford the river, red and swollen with rain. When he reached the middle of the stream, his horse, unaccustomed to such processions, startled and plunged, and fairly flung his rider over his ears. In his fall, he seized the coffin of Warlsworm, and the quick and the dead alike found a grave in the
A very INGENIous EAPER, witH Two MoTTos wokTH ALL THE rt EST BESIDE.
Thou art too full of figures; that's a word of the Gascon growth; that's a dangerous phrase (I don't reject any that are used in the common streets of France; 'tis a mere jest, to think of opposing custom with grammar); that's an ignorant discourse; a paradoxical sentence; that there is too silly; you often make yourself merry; it will be thought you say a thing in
good earrest, which you only speak in jest.
Of all the several ways of beginning a book, which are now in practice throughout the known world, I am confident my own way of doing it is the best. I'm sure it is the most religious, for I begin with writing the first sentence, and trusting to Providence for the second.
THE Welsh bards were much smitten by Triads.-By my mother's side I inherit a pint or so of Cambrian lymph (very apt in hot weather to set my best corks flying); therefore it is not difficult to account for my immoderate exercise on these hob... bies. Lord Byron talks about his twofold perceptions of things: —I must say, that a more sufficing proof of want of invention in his meditative powers could not be adduced. As we mine deeper among the harmonious entanglements of nature, so ... doth the sacred Pythagorean number, the beautiful triangle, give richer gleams through the opacity of our corporeal incumbrances; and in those mere retainers on the flesh (the arts and sciences, in the vulgar acceptation), the points of the ever-unalterably-pyramidal emblem, the etherial flammic symbol, are presented to all reasonably sensitive apprehensions, thick as “ quills upon the fretful orcupine.” But how, most profound anus ! is this preface to your chapter of trinal analogies to become pertinent to a critique on the Exhibition? Read a little farther, if you please, and it is ten to one but you will feel as easy on that score as the Wol. W.
author—at least. I am for this once quite assured of an intention; and, besides that—pretty clear of a meaning, if I could but make it out:— you'll not be troubled with it this month, however. According to my theory, the life of the .# may be portioned out into three grand stages; the first and the third of which offer erternally similar characteristics. The mind, in its simple, pure, and uninformed state, is quiescent and relying;-and the end of all its feverish aspirations after knowledge is but to return it to its original home, where the adoration of nature absorbs it wholly. For the critical art, this process applies very close:—criticism being neither more nor less than a genuine exposition of the impressions produced by a given subject on a tasteful mind, scrupulously cleared from warps and prejudices. To attain this object wholly I assume to be impossible;—owing to our perpetual and unavoidable contact with our senses, which are the primal causes of prejudice and error. It is a common thing to hear the vulgar (the well-dressed I mean) to hear the vulgar go, that “ such an one has 2
infinite taste in poetry or painting without pretending to be a judges" —this is nonsense. These terms are symonymes in both arts. For if it be
true (which I take it cannot be de
nied) that taste results from experience and deep thought, carried on, indeed, perhaps, almost unconsciously, wherein does it vary from judgment?—I am now working round to the reason of my preludium. Allow me to consider (ut probatum) that real criticism rejects mechanical aid ; then it follows that complete confidence must be reposed in him who lays claim, however modestly, to but a portion of the cathedra. He must show his clearsightedness and aptitude for penetrating the high mysteries, by talking about the shapes and forms of things which nobody else can see, even with a patent lamp;-and I am not aware that this object could be attained better than by some such sentences as the foregoing. Proof also will be looked for at his hands, concerning his due preliminary considerations on the nature of his art, and on this head permit me to hope that this very sentence (if nothing had gone before it) sufficiently guarantees my qualifications. Lastly, as evidence of an incipient reformation with regard to
warps, he must imitate me in disclaiming any pretensions to a rigid
impartiality, of the which whosoever trumpeteth is a knave or a dupe. —The appositeness of my introduction is nicely developed, or else the Devil's in't ; and now it has served my purpose, you may give it by way of a pinch of snuff to your friend there with the obtuse apprehension. —When he hath plucked out the heart of my mystery, he shall find Aristotle's poetics (without notes 1// as easy Toft Perhaps all this is too terse—“ Dum brevis esse laboro, obscurus fio.”—It's the best part of my article, for all that—(I use the present auxiliary, because, though the remainder is not as yet signified on the paper, it is, and has been written “ within the book and voJume of my brain,” to all intents and purposes, from all eternity)—It's the
best part of my article, 1 repeat, and
if you read four pages more you'll not be the wiser ' take a fool's word. Where is the wind to-day?— “South-east.”—How in the plague's name came a prayer against this most accursed of all winds to be omitted in our Litany? But there was no Somerset-house Exhibition in those days, because, there was no Somerset-house. I dare say, you may discover another reason or two, but I am quite comfortable with this. So we are arrived Pu–g—h !! (I look on a printerly-arranged exclamation of this kind as an admirable succedaneum for a paragraph of witticisms. It gives one a consequence beyond a contributor—it is quite Editorial—and very harmless —so Pu–g—h ! again.) What a smother how the dust careers away yonder in the long sun-beam l—how rusty and rough are the castors of males —how disgusted ladies are with the dimmed hue of their black morocco-slippers how their curls uneurl their wanton tendrils l and how little straggling parties, three or four hairs in each, “fret on their temples, tickle in their napes!” How. light kid gloves are darkened by the action of animal warmth ! How faces shine, and bandanas whisk about over bald foreheads !—and how awkward men stick their thumbs where they should not, for lack of their sticks, torn away by that unfeelin caitiff, Tom Bromhead, who, couched in his green den at the very feet of Hercules, spares neither age nor SeX. I cannot bring myself to put implicit faith in that saying of Lord Bacon's, “that good men crushed are sweeter for the crush,”—Heaven knows that the crush here, to-day, is strong, and yet I will not set down so many hundreds of my fellow creatures as bad, because they do not distil into frankincense and spikemard.—No | Bacon for once is mistaken; * but for all that, new ventilators would not be irrelevant to the great room—so pu-gh ! the third time—or what is still better, because Shaksperian—pah!
* Janus is extremely fond of distorting notable passages in notable authors, for the
purpose of building some preposterous conceits thereon.
This is all mighty well with
dabblers like Southey, Byron, and Scott; but when he meddles with Bacon he gets the
wrong pig by the ear.
In fact, he had better turn Jew and evite him altogether.