Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

Jet-black, save where some touch of grey
Has ta’en the youthful hue away.
Weather and war their rougher trace
Have left on that majestic face ;-
But 'tis his dignity of eye!
There, if a suppliant, would I fly,
Secure, 'mid danger, wrongs, and grief,
Of sympathy, redress, relief-
That glance, if guilty, would I dread

More than the doon that spoke me dead!” (P. 158.)
To this exterior fully correspond the qualities of the mind.
With what manly courtesy personal disputes were conducted by
knights of high character, the challenge which passes from de
Argentine to Bruce is a fine specimen.

“ Courteous, but stern, a bold request
To Bruce de Argentine express’d.
• Lord Earl,' he said, I cannot chuse
But yield such title to the Bruce,
Though name and earldom both are gone,
Since he braced rebel's armour on-
But, Earl of Serf-rude phrase was thine
Of late, and launch'd at Argentine;
Such as compels me to demand
Redress of honour at thy hand.
We need not to each other tell,
That both can wield their weapons well;

Then do me but the soldier grace,
This glove upon thy helm to place

Where we may meet in fight;
And I will say, as still I've said,
Though by ambition far misled,

Thou art a noble knight.'-
* And I,' the princely Bruce replied,
• Might term it stain on knighthood's pride,
That the bright sword of Argentine
Should in a tyrant's quarrel shine;

But, for your brave request,
Be sure the honour'd pledge you gave
In
every

battle-field shall wave

helmet-crest;
Believe, that if my hasty tongue
Hath done thine honour causeless wrong,

It shall be well redress'd.
Not dearer to my soul was glove,
Bestow'd in youth by lady's love,

Than this which thou hast given!
Thus, then, my noble foe I greet ;
Health and high fortune till we meet,

And then--what pleases Heaven."" (P.87--89.)

Upon my

The calm magnanimity of Bruce when he heard the intelligence of the death of his powerful enemy, the King of England, is finely contrasted with the fiery vengeance of his

brother Edward :

“ Still stood the Bruce—his steady cheek
Was little wont his joy to speak,

But then his colour rose :
• Now Scotland! shortly shalt thou see,
With God's high will, thy children free,

And vengeance on thy foes !
Yet to no sense of selfish wrongs,
Bear witness with me Heaven, belongs

My joy o'er Edward's bier;
I took my knighthood at his hand,
And lordship held of him, and land,

And well may vouch it here,
That, blot the story from his page,
Of Scotland ruin'd in his rage,
You read a monarch brave and sage,

And to his people dear.'-
• Let London's burghers mourn her Lord,
And Croydon monks his praise record,'

The eager Edward said ;
• Eternal as his own, my hate
Surmounts the bounds of mortal fate,

And dies not with the dead!
Such hate was his on Solway's strand,
When vengeance clench'd his palsied hand,
That pointed yet to Scotland's land,

As his last accents pray'd
Disgrace and curse upon his heir,
If he one Scottish head should spare,
Till stretch'd upon the bloody lair

Each rebel corpse was laid !
Such hate was his, when his last breath
Renounced the peaceful house of death,
And bade his bones to Scotland's coast
Be borne by his remorseless host,
As if his dead and stony eye
Could still enjoy her misery!
Such hate was his-dark, deadly, long;

Mineras enduring, deep, and strong!” (P. 130–132.) We cannot help extracting the last interesting scene between Bruce and de Argentine, whose high-toned honour and towering spirit have such a moral sublimity about them as always to extort our admiration, however we may in part disapprove of the principle on which they are founded. The battle of Bannochburn being irretrievably lost by the English, de Argentine accompanies his sovereign from the fatal field to the summit of a hill, and then in a tone of manly but melancholy feeling addresses him;

“• In yonder field a gage I left,
I must not live of fame bereft;

I needs must turn again.
Speed hence, my Liege, for on your trace
The fiery Douglas takes the chace,

I know his banner well.
God send my Sovereign joy and bliss,
And many a happier field than this!

Once more, my Liege, farewell.'-
Again he faced the battle-field,
Wildly they fly, are slain, or yield.
• Now then,' he said, and couch'd his spear,
• My course is run, the goal is near;
One effort more, one brave career,

Must close this race of mine.'
Then in his stirrups rising high,
He shouted loud his battle-cry,

• Saint James for Argentine !"" (P. 266.) When mortally wounded, his faint war-cry reaches the ears of Bruce, who is endeavouring to avail himself of all the advantages of his victory.

6. Save, save his life,' he cried, “O save
The kind, the noble, and the brave!
The squadrons round free passage gave,

The wounded knight drew near.
He raised his red-cross shield no more,
Helm, cuish, and breast-plate stream'd with gore,
Yet, as he saw the King advance,
He strove even then to couch his lance-

The effort was in vain!
The spur-stroke fail'd to rouse the horse ;
Wounded and weary, in mid course

He stumbled on the plain.
Then foremost was the generous Bruce
To raise his head, his helm to loose;

• Lord Earl, the day is thine!
My Sovereign's charge, and adverse fate,
Have made our meeting all too late :

Yet this may Argentine,
As boon from ancient comrade, crave
A Christian's mass, a soldier's grave.'--
Bruce press'd his dying hand—its grasp
Kindly replied; but, in his clasp,
It stiffen'd and grew

cold• And, O farewell!' the victor cried, • Of chivalry the flower and pride,

The arm in battle bold,

The courteous mien, the noble race,
The stainless faith, the manly face!
Bid Ninian's convent light their shrine,
For late-wake of de Argentine.
O'er better knight on death-bier laid,

Torch never gleam'd nor mass was said !'” (P.268—270.) It must, however, be acknowledged that extracts can afford but a very inadequate notion of the general merit of any wellconstructed poein, where the harmony and proportion of the respective parts mutually relieve and support each other: the figures detached from the frieze can show the workmanship of the artist, but not the genius of his composition. On this account we made our last citation with some degree of reluctance, for good as it is apart by itself, yet it has å ten-fold value when casting its tender shade over a portion of one of the most brilliant and varied battle pieces which is, perhaps, to be in the whole range of poetry; where the truth of history is brought out in its boldest and finest forms by the aid of the most skilful contrasts, natural and moral. For similar reasons we have forborne to dislocate the compact mass of the 2d Canto, a Canto written under the happiest inspiration of poetry, and equally distinguished for boldness of conception, vigour of judgment, and accuracy of delineation. Of the versification sufficient examples have been selected to enable our readers to form an opinion of its general harmony; which general harmony, however, is not without a tolerably copious sprinkling of discords. Master as Mr. Scott is of versification, and easy as he finds the management of the most complicated stanza to be, we are somewhat chagrined at his frequent change of metre, which draws off the attention too much from the subject to its mere vehicle. We believe that many readers of the Lord of the Isles have been so much puzzled with these variations, that, diverted from the career of the poem, they have completely lost themselves in connecting and reconciling the rhythm and the rhymes.

Little remains to be added respecting the general character of the

poem, for we have before considered the story and its principal personages, and if there be some deficiency in these which may be fairly blamed, still the meed of praise will remain sufficiently large to gratify the ambition of any literary chief, who does not claim the attribute of never doing wrong. Allowing that the first Canto is broken into too many parts, and that the third, by the too frequent interruption of the narrative, creates some impatience, yet these faults find nearly an apology in the descriptions by which they are occasioned-descriptions which are not only boldly sketched, but correctly finished, and whose horrors are aggravated by beings more terrific than the shivered crags among which they are found. With these abatements we bave nearly all that we could wish. - A chivalrous spirit, which rises far above the grovelling passions, curbing the violence of hatred and revenge amidst all the provocations of civil feuds and irregular warfare, diffuses an air of magnanimity over the whole poem, and gives it a brilliant expression of moral beauty. In genuine poetry, though not in interest, the Lord of the Isles is superior to all Mr. Scott's preceding poems; and it possesses, that quality, in which modern poetry is for the most part lamentably deficient, the dignity of usefulness.

Art. VI. A brief Account of the Jesuits, with historical Proofs in

Support of it, tending to establish the Danger of the Revival of

that order to the World at large, and to the United Kingdom in · particular. 8vo. pp. 64. London. Rivingtons, Hatchard, &c. Kings had begun very quietly to die in their beds; combustibles had ceased to be discovered in the cellars of parliament-houses; no heathen convert had for a long time been murdered, to prevent his relapse; no protestant throne had been declared vacant with the king upon it; no Christian missionary had essayed to identify the family of Christ with that of Brama; no additional volume of Secreta Monita' had been dragged to the light of day; plots and intrigues had almost ceased to break the monotony of courts : in short, the world was rapidly subsiding into a state of religious tranquillity very unfavourable to genius and reform, when the good and wise hyperborean emperor, Paul, in the year 1807, decreed the restoration of the order of Jesuits. His il lustrious example was followed in Sardinia by King Ferdinand, in 1804. And the present Pope, scorning to be outdone by any secular body, in his zeal for the real welfare of mankind, issued, in August 1814, a bull

, re-establishing, by infallible' authority, this much injured and much longed for society. It may be well to examine the reasons which the head of the Catholic Church assigns for so important an act. And for these we refer our readers to the very reasonable and satisfactory pamphlet before us. The Bull first states it to be the duty of the Pope to employ all his power “ to supply the spiritual wants of the Catholic;" and then adds, that he should " deem himself guilty of a great crime towards God, if, amidst the dangers of the Christian republic, he should neglect to employ the aids which the special providence of God had put in his power, and if, placed in the bark of St. Peter and tossed by continual storms, he should refuse to employ the vigorous and experienced rowers who volunteer their

« FöregåendeFortsätt »