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clined to say of them. Those reasons certainly remain in full force; and we may now venture to mention another, which had in secret, perhaps, as much weight with us as all the rest put together. We mean simply, that when we began with one of those works, we were conscious that we never knew how to leave off; but, finding the author's words so much more agreea able than o!ır own, went on in the most unreasonable manner with description after description, and dialogue after dialogue, till we were abused, not altogether without reason, for selling our readers in small letter what they had already in large, and for the abominable nationality of filling up our pages with praises of a Scottish author, and specimens of Scottish pleasantry and pathos. While we contritely admit the justice of these imputations, we humbly trust that our Southern readers will now be of opinion that the offence has been in some degree expiated, both by our late forbearance and our present proceeding : For while we have done violence to our strongest propensities, in passing over in silence two very tempting publications of this author, on Scottish subjects and in the Scottish dialect, we have at last recurred to him for the purpose of noticing the only work he has produced on a subject entirely English, and one which is nowhere graced either with a trait of our national chaFacter, or a sample of our national speech.
Before entering upon this task, however, we must be permitted, just for the sake of keeping our chronology in order, to say a word or two on those neglected works of which we constrained ourselves to say nothing, at the time when they formed the subject of all other disceptation,
· The Heart of Mid-Lothian’ is remarkable for containing fewer characters, and less variety of incident, than any of the author's former productions :--and it is accordingly, in some places, comparatively languid. The Porteous mob is rather heavily described; and the whole part of George Robertson, or Stanton, is extravagant and unpleasing. The final catastrophe, too, is needlessly improbable and startling; and both Saddletrees and Davie Deans become at last rather tedious and unreasonable; while we miss, throughout the character of the generous and kindhearted rustic, which, in one form or another, gives such spirit and interest to most of the other stories. But with all these defects, the work has both beauty and power enough to vindicate its title to a legitimate descent from its mighty father and even to a place in the valued file of his productions. The trial and condemnation of Effie Deans are pathetic and beautiful in the very highest degree; and the scenes with the Duke of Argyle are equally full of spirit; and
strangely compounded of perfect knowledge of life and of strong and deep feeling. But the great boast of the piece, and the great exploit of the author-perhaps the greatest of all his exploits-is the character and history of Jeanie Deans, from the time she first reproves her sister's flirtations at St Leonard's, till she settles in the manse in Argyleshire. The singular talent with which he has engrafted on the humble and somewhat coarsc stock of a quiet unassuming peasant girl, the heroic affection, the strong sense, and lofty purposes, which distinguish this heroine-or rather the art with which he has so tempered and modified those great qualities, as to make them appear noways unsuitable to the station or ordinary bearing of such a person, and so ordered and disposed the incidents by which they are called out, that they seem throughout adapted and native as it were to her condition,-is superior to any thing we can recollect in the history of invention; and must appear, to any one who attentively considers it, as a remarkable triumph over the greatest of all difficulties in the conduct of a fictitious narrative. Jeanie Deans, in the course of her adventurous undertaking, excites our admiration and sympathy a great deal more powerfully than most heroines, and is in the highest degree both pathetic and sublime; and yet she never says or does any thing that the daughter of a Scotch cowfeeder might not be supposed to say-and scarcely any thing indeed that is not characteristic of her rank and habituał occupations. She is never sentimental, nor refined, nor elegant; and though acting always, and in very difficult situations, with the greatest judgment and propriety, never seems to exert more than that downright and obvious good sense which, is so often found to rule the conduct of persons of her condition. This is the great ornament and charm of the work. Dumbiedykes, however, is an admirable sketch in the grotesque way; and the Captain of Knockdunder is a very spirited, and, though our Saxon readers will scarcely believe it, a very accurate representation of a Celtic deputy. There is less description of scenery, and less sympathy with external nature, in this, than in any of the other tales.
" The Bride of Lammerinoor' is more sketchy and romantic than the usual vein of the author-and loses, perhaps, in the exaggeration that is incident to that style, some of the deep and heartfelt interest that belongs to more familiar situations. The humours of Caleb Balderstone are to our taste the least successful of this author's attempts at pleasantry—and belong rather to the school of French or Italian buffoonery, than to that of English hunour ;-and yet, to give scope to these farcical exhibitions, the poverty of the Master of Ravenswood is exagge rated beyond all credibility, and to the injury even of his per
sonal dignity.--Sir W. Ashton is tedious; and Bucklaw and his Captain, though excellently drawn, take up rather too much room for subordinate agents. There are splendid things, however, in this work also.-- The picture of old Ailie is exquisite -and beyond the reach of any other living writer. The hags that convene in the churchyard, have all the terror and sublimity, and more than the nature of Macbeth's witches; and the courtship at the Mermaiden's well, as well as some of the immediately preceding scenes, are full of dignity and beauty.— The catastrophe of the Bride, though it may be founded on fact, is too horrible for fiction.—But that of Ravenswood is magnificent--and, taken along with the prediction which it was doomed to fulfil, and the mourning and death of Balderstone, is one of the finest combinations of superstition and sadness which the gloomy genius of our fiction has ever put together.
“ The Legend of Montrose’ is also of the nature of a sketch or fragment, and is still more vigorous than its compa
nion. There is too much, perhaps, of Dalgetty-or, rather, he
engrosses too great a proportion of the work, -for, in himself, we think he is uniformly entertaining ;—and the author has nowhere shown more affinity to that matchless spirit who could bring out his Falstaffs and his Pistols, in act after act, and play after play, and exercise them every time with scenes of unbounded loquacity, without either exhausting their humour, or varying a note from its characteristic tone, than in his large and reiterated specimens of the eloquence of the redoubted Rittmaster. The general idea of the character is familiar to our comic dramatists after the Restoration-and may be said in some measure to be compounded of Captain Fluellen and Bobadil;-but the ludicrous combination of the soldado with the Divinity student of Marischal College, is entirely original; and the mixture of talent, selfishness, courage, coarseness and conceit, was never so happily exemplified. Numerous as his speeches are, there is not one that is not characteristic—and, to our taste, divertingly ludicrous. Annot Lyle, and the Children of the Mist, are in a very different manner--and are full of genius and poetry. The whole scenes at Argyle's Castle, and in the escape from it-though trespassing too far beyond the bounds of probability are given with great spirit and effect; and the mixture of romantic incident and situation, with the tone of actual business and the real transactions of a camp, give a life and interest to the warlike part of the story, which belong to the fictions of no other hand. There is but little made of Montrose himself; and the wager about the Candlesticks—though said to be founded in fact, and borrowed from a very well known and entertaining book, is one of the few things in the writings of this author, to which we are constrained to apply the epithets of stupid and silly.
Having thus hastily set our mark on those productions of which we have been prevented from speaking in detail
, we proceed, without further preface, to give an account of the work before us.
The story, as we have already stated, is entirely English; and consequently no longer possesses the charm of that sweet Doric dialect, of which even strangers have been made of late to feel the force and the beauty. But our Southern neighbours will be no great gainers, after all, in point of familiarity with the personages, by this transference of the scene of action : -For the time is laid as far back as the reign of Richard I._and we suspect that the Saxons and Normans of that age are rather less known to them than the Highlanders and Cameronians of the present. This was the great difficulty the author had to contend with, and the great disadvantage of the subject with which he had to deal. Nobody now alive can have a very clear or complete conception of the actual way of life and maniere d'être of our ancestors in the year 1194. Some of the more promi, nent outlines of their chivalry, their priesthood, and their villenage, may be known to antiquaries, or even to general readers; but all the filling up, and details, which alone could give body and life to the picture, have been long since effaced by time, We have scarcely any notion, in short, of the private life and conversation of any class of persons in that remote period; and, in fact, know less how the men and women occupied or amused themselves-what they talked about how they looked-or what they habitually thought or felt, at that time in England, than we know of what they did or thought at Rome in the time of Augustus, or at Athens in the time of Pericles. The memorials and relics of those earlier ages and remoter nations are greatly more abundant and more familiar to us, than of our ancestors at the distance of seven centuries. Besides ample histories and copious orations, we have plays, poems, and familiar letters of the former period; while of the latter we have only some vague chronicles, some superstitious legends, and a few fragments of foreign romance. We scarcely know indeed what language was then either spoken or written. Yet, with all these helps, how cold and conjectural a thing would a novel be, of which the scene was laid in antient Rome! The auịhor might talk with perfect propriety of the business of the Forum, and the amusements of the Circus of the baths and the suppers, and the canvas for office and the sacrifices and musters and assem
blies. He might be quite correct as to the dress, furniture and utensils he had occasion to mention; and might even engross in his work various anecdotes and sayings preserved in contemporary authors. But when he came to represent the details of individual character and feeling, and to delineate the daily conduct, and report the ordinary conversation of his persons, he would find himself either frozen in among naked and barren generalities, or engaged with modern Englishmen in the masquerade habits of antiquity.
In stating these difficulties, however, we really mean less to account for the defects than to enhance the merits of the work before us. For though the author has not worked impossibilities, he has done wonders with his subject; and though we do sometimes miss those fresh and living pictures of the characters which we know, and the nature with which we are familiar—and that high and deep interest which the home scenes of our own times and our own people could alone generate or sustain, it is impossible to deny that he has made marvellous good use of the scanty materials at his disposal—and eked them out both by the greatest skill and dexterity in their arrangement, and by ‘all the resources that original genius could render subservient to such a design. For this purpose he has laid his scene in a period when the rivalry of the victorious Norman, and the conquered Saxon had not been finally composed; and when the courtly petulance, and chivalrous and military pride of the one race might yet be set in splendid opposition to the manly steadiness and honest but homely simplicity of the other : And has at the same time given an air both of dignity and of reality to his story, by bringing in the personal prowess of Cæur de Lion himself, and other personages of historical fame, to assist in its development. Though reduced in a great measure to the vulgar staple of armed knights and jolly friars or woodsmen, imprisoned damsels, lawless barons, collared serfs, and household fools-he has made such admirable use of his great talents for description, and invested those traditional and theatrical
with so much of the feelings and humours that are of all ages and all countries, that we frequently cease to regard them—as it is generally right to regard them-as parts of a fantastical pageant; and are often brought to consider the knights who joust in panoply in the lists, and the foresters who shoot deer with arrows, and plunder travellers in the woods, as real individuals, with hearts of flesh and blood beating in their bosoms like our own--actual existences, in short, into whose views we may reasonably enter, and with whose emotions we are bound to sympathize. To all this he has added, out of the prodigality of his high and in