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works of either (so far as they afford any illustration of this point) 'the reading of a gentleman, though not the erudition of a professed scholar.
A thorough knowledge and statesman-like understanding of the domestic history and politics of Britain at various and distant periods; a familiar acquaintance with the manners and prevailing spirit of former generations, and with the characters and habits of their most distinguished men, are of themselves no cheap or common attainments; and it is rare indeed to find them united with a strong original genius, and great brilliancy of imagination. We know, however, that the towering poet of Flodden-field is also the diligent editor of Swift and Dryden, of Lord Somers's Tracts, and of Sir Ralph Sadler's State Papers; that in these and other parts of his literary career he has necessarily plunged deep into the study of British history, biography, and antiquities, and that the talent and activity which he brought to these researches have been warmly seconded by the zeal and liberality of those who possessed the amplest and rarest sources of information. The Muse « found him,' as he himself said long ago, engaged in the
pursuit of historical and traditional antiquities, and the ex(cursions which he has made in her company have been
of a nature which increases his attachment to his original study*.' Are we then to suppose, that another writer has combined the same powers of fancy with the same spirit of investigation, the same perseverance, and the same good fortune? and shall we not rather believe, that the
* Advertisement to Lord Somers's Tracts, ed. 1809. The poet's father also was “ curious in historical antiquities.' Note on Absalom and Achitophel. Dryden's Works, ed. 1808, vol. ix. p. 255, note.
labour employed in the illustration of Dryden has helped to fertilize the invention which produced Montrose and Old Mortality ?
However it may militate against the supposition of his being a poet, I cannot suppress my opinion, that our novelist is man of law.” He deals out the peculiar terms and phrases of that science (as practised in Scotland), with a freedom and confidence beyond the reach of any uninitiated person. If ever, in the progress of his narrative, a legal topic presents itself (which very frequently happens), he neither declines the subject, nor timidly slurs it over, but enters as largely and formally into all its technicalities, as if the case were actually s before the fifteen.' The manners, humours, and professional bavardage of lawyers are sketched with all the ease and familiarity which result from habitual observation: witness the two barristers at Gandercleuch, in the Introduction to the Heart of MidLothian, and the more finished character of Paulus Pleydell, in Guy Mannering. There is much lawyer-like cleverness in the scene between Sharpitlaw, Ratcliffe, and Madge Wildfire*, where the procurator's clumsy question cuts short the fine-spun thread of his confederate's crossexamination. The trial of Effie Deans, though it contains many powerful and strongly affecting passages,
the whole impaired in its effect by the diffuseness and particularity, and the air of technical facility with which the proceedings are related: and I believe it is no new complaint that Mr. Bartholine Saddletree, the legal amateur, is on some occasions too liberal of his tediousness. In fact, the subject of law, which is a stumbling-block to others, is to the present writer å spot of repose; upon this theme he
* Heart of Mid Lothian, vol. ii. ch. 4.
lounges and gossips, he is discinctus et soleatus, and, at times, almost forgets that when an author finds himself at home and perfectly at ease, he is in great danger of falling asleep.
If then my inferences are correct, the unknown writer who was just now proved to be an excellent poet, must also be pronounced a follower of the law : the combination is so unusual, at least on this side of the Tweed, that, as Juvenal says on a different occasion,
Sat. XIII. I. 64, &c.
Nature has indeed presented us with one such prodigy in the author of Marmion; and it is probable, that in the author of Waverley, we only see the same specimen under a different aspect; for, however sportive the goddess may be, she has too much wit and invention to wear out a frolic by many repetitions.
A striking characteristic of both writers is their ardent love of rural sports, and all manly and robust exercises. I need not remind you how many animated pictures they have given of the chase-in almost all its varieties.
Staghunting*, and the dangerous pastime of the tinchelt; the chase of the fox, both on horseback, and in the Liddesdale fashion, on foot #; and the picturesque salmon-hunť by
# See particularly, The Lady of the Lake, Canto I. St. 1 to 10; and the Bride of Lammermoor, vol. i. ch. 8. + Waverley, vol. ii. ch. 1.
Rob Roy, vol. i. ch.5, 7. Guy Mannering, vol. i. ch. 4.
torch-light", are described sometimes with the technical minuteness, but always with the enthusiasm of a sworn sportsman. The words and phrases appropriate to these and other sylvan exercises, are continually used with an almost ostentatious familiarity : and the qualities of dogs and horses are touched upon with as much liveliness and discrimination as if the novelist or the poet had never felt an interest in any other object.
But the importance given to the canine race in these works ought to be noted as a characteristic feature by itself. I have seen some drawings by a Swiss artist, who was called the Raphael of cats; and either of the writers before us might by a similar phrase be called the Wilkie of dogs. Is it necessary to justify such a compliment by examples ? Call Yarrow, or Lufra, or poor Fangs, Colonel Mannering's Plato, Henry Morton's Elphin, or Hobbie Elliot's Killbuck, or Wolf of Avenel Castle: see Fitz-James's hounds returning from the pursuit of the
“ Back limped with slow and crippled pace
Lady of the Lake, Canto I. St. 10.
or swimming after the boat which carries their Master-
« With heads erect and whimpering cry
Ibid. St. 24. .
See Captain Clutterbuck's dog quizzing him when he missed a bird t, or the scene of mutual explanation and
Guy Mannering, vol. ii. ch.5. And see Miscellaneous Poems, Edinburgh, 1820. p. 153. + Monastery, Introduction.
“ remonstrance' between the venerable patriarchs old Pep
per and Mustard,' and Henry Bertram's rough terrier Wasp*. If these instances are not sufficient, turn to the English blood-hound, assailing the young Buccleugh
“ And hark ! and hark! the deep-mouthed bark
Comes nigher still and nigher ;
And his red eye shot fire.
I ween you would have seen with joy
So fierce he struck, the dog, afraid,
Lay of the last Minstrel, Canto III. St. 15.
Or Lord Ronald's deer-hounds, in the haunted forest of Glenfinlas;
“ Within an hour return'd each hound;
In rush'd the rouzers of the deer ;
Then closely couch beside the seer.
Sudden the hounds erect their ears,
And sudden cease their moaning howl;
By shivering limbs, and stifled growl.
* Guy Mannering, vol. ii. ch. 3.