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O with how great liveliness did he represent the conditions of all
manner of men !- from the overweening monarch to the peevish swaine, through all intermediate degrees of the superficial courtier or proud warrior, dissembled churchman, doting old man, cozening lawyer, lying traveler, covetous mercliant, rude seaman, pedantick scolar, the amourous shepheard, envious artisan, vain-glorious master and tricky servant; -He had all the jeers, squibs, flouts, buls, quips, taunts, whims, jests, clinches, gybes, mokes, jerks, with all the several kinds of equivocations and other sophistical captions, that could properly be adapted to the person by whose representation he intended to inveagle the company into a fit of mirth.
EKEKYBAAATPON, or the Discovery of a most exquisite
Jeroel, fc. (By Sir Thomas Urquhart.) London, 1653. P. 105, 106.
An important and highly characteristic portion of the novels to which the foregoing observations on style bear very little reference, is the dialogue : a subject which I thought might conveniently be reserved for separate consideration.
In comparing the dramatic scenes of the two writers, it will of course be proper to allow something for the difference between prose composition and lyrical poetry, in their general tone, and cast of phraseology. I must candidly own, too, that if it were necessary for the present purpose to point out any specimen of dialogue in the poems as rivalling that of the novels, taken in its happiest vein, I must at once abandon this topic. The display of exquisite humour and natural feeling in the characters and language of Cosmo Comyne Bradwardine, Dominie Sampson, honest Dandie Dinmont, Baillie Jarvie, Old Milnwood and his housekeeper, Lady Margaret Bellenden, Serjeant Both well, Jenny Dennison, Cuddie, and Mause, and the Covenanters, Robin Hood and the Clerk of Copmanhurst and the buxom Richard, have, I freely allow, no counterparts in all the range of fiction from the Last Minstrel to Harold the Dauntless : nor would it be reasonable to expect, in compositions of this latter kind, such lively colloquial turns as the following:
• Our knight of the broken head first kissed and hugged them' (the children) all round, then • distributed whistles, penny-trumpets, and ginger'bread, and, lastly, when the tumults of their joy ' and welcome got beyond bearing, exclaimed to his
guest, “This is a' the gudewife's fault, Captainshe will gie the bairns a' their ain way.'
• Me! Lord help me,' said Alie, who at that • instant entered with the bason and
how can I help it? I have naething else to gie them, poor things !”—Guy Mannering, vol. ii. ch. 3.
Or the Highlander's whimsical expostulation with the Baillie for singeing his plaid: "Saw ever ony
• body a decent gentleman fight wi a firebrand • before ?'-Rob Roy, vol. iii. ch. 1.
Or the reflection which escapes with so much naïveté from Jeanie Deans, when, after her tragicomic parting with poor Dumbiedikes, her feelings of distress and gratitude give way for a moment to her sense of ridicule, as the Laird is hurried away in his night-gown by the mutinous Rory Bean. «He's a gude creature,' said she, "and a • kind—it's a pity he has sae willyard a powney.' -Heart of Mid Lothian, vol. iii. ch. 1.
But if the comparison be restricted to those points in which a near resemblance may be reasonably expected, an examination of the dialogue will, I think, go far in confirming our assurance of the novelist's identity with the poet.
Their address in combining narrative with conversation, so that each supports and animates the other, has been too long admired and celebrated to need illustration by particular examples. I cannot, however, forbear mentioning two splendid instances; the death of Marmion, and the distress of Sir Arthur and Miss Wardour on Knockwinnock Sands *
Not less remarkable are the nicety of perception and felicity of execution with which they adapt language to the sex, age, character, and condition
* Antiqurry, vol. i. ch. 7.
of the speaker. A few' examples will show how similarly (if not equally in degree) the same talent is developed by these authors in both modes of composition : how each (as the author of Marmion says of Swift) seems, like the Persian dervise, to' possess the faculty of transfusing his own soul into • the body of any one whom he' may select ;—' of
seeing with his eyes, employing every organ of • his sense, and even becoming master of the powers of his judgment*.?
In the reply of young Buccleuch to the English archer, observe the admirable combination of childish simplicity with native haughtiness and courage :
“ For when the Red-Cross spied he,
Now, by St. George,' the archer cries,
Yes! I am come of high degree,
* Life of Swift (prefixed to the edition of his works in 19 volumes -Edinburgh 1814), concluding section, Page 496.
And if thou dost not let me go,
Gramercy for thy good will, fair boy!
Our wardens had need to keep good order :
Thou 'lt make them work upon the border.
Lay of the Last Minstrel, Canto III. St. 18, &c.
The scene I have quoted has perhaps reminded you of that in which old Stawarth Bolton places his red cross in the bonnet of little Halbert Glendinning, and the boy indignantly skims it into the brook. I will not go with you,' said Halbert boldly, 'for you are a false-hearted southern ; and • the southerns killed my father : and I will war you to the death, when I can draw
'God-a-mercy, my little levin-bolt,' said Stawarth, the goodly custom of deadly feud will never go
* 6 And if I live to be a man,
Lay of the Last Minstrel, Canto I. St. I.