Слике страница


and means are wanted for the regular establishment of divine worship. The population must become dense and wealthy before this will be thought of. Their public exercises of religion, therefore, very much depended on the accidental visits of itinerant preachers, who called them together in such court-houses or other large buildings as could be obtained. These occasional performances could do little towards exciting a serious, religious feeling. Nothing but repeated and wholesome instruction on these sacred topics can do this. But we confess we were not prepared for the exhibition of such utter carelessness and levity

was sometimes witnessed: not that the people did not desire to attend public worship, on the contrary, they ran after novelty, and became often quite enthusiastic, but this soon exhaled; but they did not seem to admit the necessity of a minister, even at funerals, and regarded attendance on preaching more as an amusement than a duty. On the first Sunday that our missionary preached at St. Charles, before morning service, directly opposite the house, there was a horse-race; and the horses started just as the minister arrived at the door. At Arkansas, the French people generally came to the meeting in their ball dresses, and went directly from worship to the ball. A billiard-room was near, and parts of the audience sometimes came in for a moment, and after listening to a few sentences, returned to their billiards. “Nor is here," says our author, “the only place where the preacher has to endure the heartwearing agony of having an audience interchanging their attention repeatedly between the sermon and the billiard-room in the delivery of one discourse."

There was much difference in this respect between the country and towns, for in the latter, a considerable númber of permanent societies existed, composed chiefly of Baptists, Presbyterians and Methodists. But disputes between these, too often ruffled the religious atmosphere. Nor were the Catholics wanting in these regions; but our author found them more united in faith, spirit and purpose, than the Protestants.

In no country of the world, are bigotry and enthusiasm seen in more absurd forms. Where many are congregated together in the wilderness, and the preachers are desirous of achieving a great deal at once, their vociferations are often accompanied with groans, cries, fallings down and spasms in their hearers; these are not unknown in the Atlantic States, but they have in the West one improvement which we have yet to adopt, to equal their extacies, and this is the “Holy Laugh;" which our author describes as an idiot or spasmodic laugh often indulged in on these occasions! He gives a singular account (too long for insertion here) of a set of fanatics, who styled themselves Pilgrims, and who marched, headed by their prophet, from Lower Canada, where the madness originated, through Vermont and New-York to the Mississippi, gathering as they rolled, and who miserably perished in the desert wild.

We would notice our author's judicious reflections on emigration; on the wise and benevolent conduct of our government towards the Indians; his remarks on the antiquities of the West, particularly on the pigmy race of mankind, whose bones have been discovered; his observations on Florida; on the hospitalities of the planters of Louisiana ; on the neighbouring province of Texas; and many other topics full of interest; but our space will not permit us, and we must refer to the work itself, which will amply repay the reader for the time he may bestow

upon it.


[ocr errors]

ART. VII.-Chronicles of the Canongate. Second Series, by the

Author of " WAVERLY,” &c. 2 vols. Philadelphia. Carey, Lea & Carey, 1828.

We did not read the first series of these tales, but the disappointment so generally expressed in relation to them, on this side of the Atlantic, excited our curiosity as to the present voJumes to the highest pitch. We were impatient to see and feel for ourselves, whether the author of "Waverly"-like the great captain, whose fortunes he had so lately recorded—were about to astonish mankind as much by his fall as by his triumphs and dominion over them--whether the wand of the enchanter were indeed broken, and the sources of what has always appeared to us an almost superhuman inspiration, had been, at length, exhausted, like those of the Delphic tripod, by too much use or by time, or, in short, by the departure of the god. Every body knows that there was an immense falling off in the later poetry of Sir Walter Scott; and, in truth, that to call things by their right names, he had begun to indite insufferable doggerel-when fortunately for himself and for the world, his good genius interposed, as a Morgana or an Armida might have done for a favourite knight in a Romance of chivalry, and bearing him off a field where he lay vanquished and fainting, transported him to the Amaranthine Bowers and magical magnificence and beauty of another “ Faery Land.” Few spectacles are more humiliating for poor human nature than the premature decay of a great mind-such a blight, for example, as seems to have fallen at a comparatively early age upon the genius which had produced Polyeucte and the Cid. For some two or three hours, we had sad misgivings in the present instance. We found the first hundred pages of the novel excessively heavy-partly, no doubt, because the reader does not well perceive the author's drift in them until he has made considerable progress in the story, but still more certainly, because this part, in fact, is very unequal to the rest of the work, and especially to some passages of it to which we shall, hereafter, more particularly, call the attention of our readers. But just as we began to sink under the combined effects of weariness and the heat of a summer's evening, we reached a point in the narrative at which a new prospect opened before us, and from which we pursued our way to the end with a still increasing interest and alacrity, amidst such scenes as no hand can conjure up but Sir Walter Scott's.

Not being very profoundly versed in the legendary lore of Scotland, nor having access to Hector Boethius and the trusty guides whom he follows, we have been fain to content ourselves with what information we could gather from Buchanan-himself, however, no contemptible dealer in the marvellous. His account* of the period embraced within this story, whilst it has satisfied us of the general fidelity of the copy, shews that our author has selected one of the most admirable subjects that can be imagined for an historical romance. We do not refer only to the striking and even poetical character of those times, of which it is difficult to record the events, even in the shape of a meagre chronicle, without appearing to the men of these degenerate days to be indulging in fiction. This is a great, indeed, but a common advantage of that age, considered with a view to works of imagination. But, in the instance before us, the history of Scotland afforded facilities of a peculiar

, kind for such a work. The dangerous power and stern character of the black Douglas; the intrigues of the ambitious and hypocritical Albany; the meekness and imbecility of the poor old king, more fit for his book and beads than for the throne; the rashness, the levity, and the melancholy fate of Rothsay; the ferocious hostility of the two Highland Clans, and the carnage

[blocks in formation]

in which it was extinguished—these and other important particulars in the Romance, are historical facts, and as such, add a deeper interest to the fictions which are founded upon them.Enough, and just enough, is known of them to excite the imagination, and to awaken curiosity. A broad foundation is furnished for any fabric, however visionary and fantastical. The history of the period bodies forth the forms of such things, and it only remains for the poet or the novelist to give them a local habitation and a name. When the Clan Chattan and the Clan Quhele met at the North Inch of Perth to settle their feuds by a deadly combat of picked warriors, one of the former was absent: his place was supplied by an artisan of the town, who offered his services in the perilous conflict for half a crown That burgess was our Smith of the Wynd. All the champions of the Clan Quhele were slain except one, who fled away and cast himself into the river that washed the edge of the battle ground, that survivor was Conachar or Eachin Mac Ian, the rival in love of the redoubtable Smith. Rothsay, starving to death in the donjon-keep of Falkland castle, is kept alive by such scanty supplies of food as could be furnished him through a crevice in the subterranean prison wall by two females, whom accident led to the spot, and his groans informed that he was there-these were the Fair Maid of Perth, and poor Louise, the wandering glee woman. We freely give the author credit for the like accuracy, and verisimilitude in the other characters—those of Ramorny, the Pottingar, &c. .There is so much historical truth in his narrative, that we are willing to believe all, and this seems to us to be the very perfection--so far as the fable and the costume are concerned-of the Historical Romance. But we forget that our readers are not supposed to be acquainted with the subject, and we now proceed to give them a more particular account of it.

The scene of the novel is laid at Perth, about the close of the fourteenth century, during the reign of Robert III. of that name, , and the second of the house of Stuart.

This famous town, at the period referred to, was the abode of a young woman, whose singular beauty had acquired for her, the title of the Fair Maid of Perth, and never failed to attract the notice of the gallant cavaliers of the Court, whenever it happened to reside in that city. But Katie Glover was not more remarkable for her personal charms than for the strictest propriety of conduct, and for a certain disposition to pensiveness and reserve, which had given rise to an opinion that she was secretly inclined to abandon the world, and to bury herself in the recesses of a cloister. Especially did she decline the attentions of the courtiers, who took any pains to conciliate her good will--a determination which her father, old Simon, the glover, of Couvrefew or Curfew-street, was particularly careful to confirm her in. “To-morrow is St. Valentine's day, said he, but you shall not see the linnet pair with the sparrow-hawk, nor the robin-red-breast with the kite.” But as it was holy-tide even, it became them, he added, to go to the vesper service, and pray that heaven might send her a good Valentine. So, laying aside a hawking Glove which she was embroidering for a lady of distinction, and donning her holiday kirtle, the beautiful maiden set out with her father for the monastery of the Blackfriars. The reverend aspect of the old Glover, with his velvet jerkin and gold chain, and the beauty of his daughter—though she wore a screen like the Flemish mantilla, commanded the attention and respectful salutations of all whom they met. They were accompanied by a tall, handsome young man, in a yeoman's habit, with a staff in his hand, according to the custom which forbade persons of that degree to appear in the streets, armed with sword or dirk. Although the ostensible object of Conachar's attendance (for that was the name of the youth) was to afford aid or protection to the old man, if need were, it was evident that his looks and thoughts were much more engrossed by the daughter, who seemed, on all occasions, to exercise an unbounded influence over him.

By and by, they are overtaken by a tall young man, wrapped in a cloak, which partly concealed his face, who salutes them, but is very cavalierly received by the Glover. After inquiring of Simon, carelessly, about a buff doublet, he whispered into the ear of Catharine a word of despairing love, for which the prudent girl chid him, as she had been instructed to do by her father, reminding him that hawks, much less eagles, may not pair with linnets, &c. Old Simon is still more unceremonious, and the result is, that “his nobility” takes it all in high dudgeon, and vows that he will make this "princess of doe-skin and blue-skin” rue her intractableness and assurance in refusing such an advantageous offer. A slight scuffle ensues between the young stranger and Conochar, who had jostled him rather rudely in passing, and presently the former is seen to beckon to

who come to him, and after a few moments of earnest conversation, retire one way, while he goes another.

After the Vesper service was over, the old Glover and his daughter remained for some time in church to make their shrifts so that it was very late before they set out to return home. A walk by night, in such an age of violence and misrule, was, at all times, more or less dangerous, at least for a fair maiden, but

two men,

[ocr errors]
« ПретходнаНастави »