ページの画像
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

w pod is

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

and that long remorse, which are here gression, with those of renovated hope mebli, e so ably depicted. But the sanctity of meek faith, and humble piety. To the clerical character, owing to many awaken such feelings, and to imprint illa causes, is in Scotland a part of the na- such impressions, seems to have been tional belief and feeling; and such the aim and object of the author of metal, violation of it as Adam Blair is guilty: “ Adam Blair;" and although we of, necessarily involves the perpetrator think he has occasionally failed in the kit birge in almost irremediable ruin, and gives subordinate details, in the main he: a shock to the whole moral and re- has been eminently successful. ligious associations of every mind in the Adam Blair, the actor and sufferer country. In Scotland, therefore, such in this little volume, is a Scottish a crime committed by a minister of re- clergyman, settled in his small quiet ligion, be the circumstances what they Manse, in a small quiet parish. He brei. may, is a sufficient ground on which has been married for ten years to the to build up a story, terminating in the woman whom he tenderly loved, and most fatal and rueful catastrophes. who was worthy of his love. He basi We make this remark, because, with- been perfectly happy-and we may ale o out insinuating in the most remote say, perfectly virtuous. But his chil. degree, that such a crime is held light dren die one by one of consumptionin any other civilized and Christian all but his sweet Sarah; and the mocountry, yet it is certain, that even in ther, from whom they inherited that England, for example, a country of beautiful and fatal disease, soon

folwhich the clergy are, generally speak- lows them to the grave. Then a new ing, a most moral elass of men, and and a different life lies upon Adam. where no immoral clergyman can es- Blair-a life of gloom, salness, silence, eape contempt, the banishment and suf- and desolation, instead of light, glee, ferings of Adam Blair will be considere music, and happiness. Hitherto he had ed by many as too great for his sin; been supported on the wings of hapo whereas, in Scotland, his sin will be piness in the calm air of peace ; but considered by many as too great to now he must support himself

. Hitherjustify his restoration to his sacred to his soul was calm, but now there office, even after years of humiliation are waves ; and he perceives and feels and repentance.

that a man's nature is not known to Unless it be deeply and truly felt him until it has been tried in affliction that the crime of which Adam Blair as well as enjoyment. But Adam Blair has been guilty must have produced is a sincere believer in that Christianiin his mind an incurable and over- ty which he has taught; and therewhelming remorse, and also utterly fore, though sad and dejected, even ruined and degraded himn in his sam miserable at times, and in despair, yet cred profession, this book cannot his soul is strengthened by devotion ; powerfully affect the reader, for it and when he looks on his only young must then appear to give an exagger- and beautiful daughter, he is willing ated account of an unnatural state of to face the light, and to endure exmind. But to all who feel otherwise, istence. The

first chapters of the voits character must be tragic. To them lume describe this bereavement, this it will seem, with a just representation agony, and this resignation. They de of human nature in the abstract, to scribe it beautifully and well; nor do combine much that is interesting, pa- we know where could be found united thetic, and beautiful, in individual so much tenderness and so much pas character and situation in life. Just sion. The author gains our leasts at as cowardice is a vital sin in a sol- the first meeting; and we feel--not dier, they will feel incontinence to that we have formed an acquaintance, be so in'a minister of religion ; but but that we have found a friend, who while the character of the first, once has an original and interesting chadegraded and disgraced, seems irre. racter, and will soon possess a close trievable, even in imagination, that of hold on our affections. the latter may outlive its shame and • While the widower is in this state its guilt, and reappear, after a due of mind, and in solitude, one whom period of penitence, as pure and more he had known in former happy days, solemn than before, combining the and who had been bride's-maid to her melancholy and mournful associations he has lost, offers a visit, and comes of human temptation, trial, and trans- to the Manse of Cross-Meikle. This

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

s Mrs Campbell, the wife of a High- wards him in hers, suppressed by the ble pest: I land gentleman and soldier. When hopelessness of her condition, and yet and to De Charlotte Bell, a young, sparkling, cherished in her passionate-we may as to bere ba gleesome, and beautiful girl, she had say weak principled, though we must f the materie loved--truly loved, Adam Blair's wife; not say unprincipled nature. The life altbomain and it would seem, in her heart, of Adam Blair is cheered by this beauUy takes to Adam Blair hinaself; but this was tiful, kind, and dangerous visitor ; and 1 the end but a dream. Charlotte Bell had made to whatever causes it may be owing, his

a runaway marriage with a young spirits are gladdened, and even happi

Englishman, who, soon ceasing to be ness may be said once more to exist in is a frente enamoured, and deserting her, had the Manse of Cross-Meikle. nis stel nu been, by the accommodating law of In this part of the book there is

Scotland, divorced. Young Mrs Ar- great liveliness and spirit-a very eles a varia den lost no time in marrying Captain gant and graceful style of merriment els dreta di Campbell; but neither did this union and badinage even ; and nothing can Love

. Han prove happy; and at the time she exceed the truth and verisimilitude of - si *** visits the Manse of Cross-Meikle, she all the ininute details and descriptions Bat best comes before us in a somewhat myste-, with which every page is embellished.

rious and doubtful character. We. We find ourselves in a pleasant and and we feel that no good is to attend the visit: cheerful oasis in the desert and misera. mbeturing of this woman to the Manse. Evil able wilderness of feelings and passions se, mille seems to hover round her, and there is with which we are surrounded. We The en foreboding of sin and distress. Now look back to the mournful scenes of up and then she is painted in the early decay, and death, and despair-glad orientering stage of the story, with almost diso that we have been removed from them; of its greeable and repulsive traits ; yet, but we also look forward with a dim the rainy somehow or other, the author, by the anticipation to the future blackness urli inexplicable power of genius, con- which we see lowering on the edge of i pet trives to render her not only alluring the distant horizon.

and captivating, but it may be said, In this state of things, Captain interesting and amiable. Her personal Campbell hears that his wife is residing beauty-her warmth of heart-her at the Manse of Cross-Meikle; and

compassion - her misfortunes - her hears, at the same time, many idle and in stone wrongs, and her dimly hinted errors, gossiping tales respecting her conduct

all cornbine in so strange union, that there. Though cold and indifferent to He scarcely know whether to like or her, he is not so to his own honour; dislike, to love or hate, to suspect or and accordingly sends his law-agent, trust

, to pity or condemn, this Mrs Mr Duncan Strahan, to the Manse, to Charlotte Campbell ; and we can rea- bring Mrs Campbell away to his old dily suppose that poor Adam Blair, castle, or hall, or house, or tenement, who knew her in the days of her un or building, or stone-edifice, or by disturbed happiness and innocence, whatever name more appropriate the but who also knew her indiscretion, places of shelter are called, inhabited Levities

, and follies, must have felt the by the gentlemen on the banks of Lochpresence of such a woman, in the si- Fyne. She is obliged to obey, and leaves lence of his solitary and widowed the Manse, it need not be said with dwelling. She came to bring comfort what reluctance, and Adam Blair, trouto his afilicted spirit-she loves the bled, irritated, perplexed, and grieved. memory of her he loved-and she, Mrs Campbell and Mr Strahan are who has no children of her own, la- wheeled off in a post-chaise, and vishes the prodigality of a mother's Adam is no more in Paradise. tenderness on the golden locks of little Adam Blair, who has known, from the Sarah Blair, dear to her for the child's brutal,and coarse, and malignant taunts own sweet sake, for that of its dead of Mr Strahan, as well as the whisperparent, and for that, it may be, above ing gossip of the neighbourhood, and, all, of him who has been lett desolate. indeed, from the kindly admonition of Mrs Campbell resides some months an old brother of the Presbytery, that in the Manse ; and we are led to ima- Mrs Campbell's visit to the Manse was gine the gradual influence of something deemned oneof guilt orindiscretion, now like a vague, undetermined, and un- receives a letter from her, lamenting the conscious attachment towards her in the separation of such affectionate friends, heart of Adam Blair, and of a love to and sending her blessing to little Sarah

8

[ocr errors]

' vai tuquill

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

This letter, from one whose kindness scends into a remote glen. The part.
he had felt alleviating his sorrows, ner of his guilt traces him to a small
and who had, he knew, suffered ina hut, where she finds him lying on the
dignity and dishonour on his account, floor, oppressed with a burning fever, onlike
greatly affects him; and, after a few and, in its delirious wanderings, eyes, les edas
daysoffeverish and disturbedalienation ing her with glaring and reproachful
of mind, he suddenly conceives the pur- eyes, and then hiding his face with a
pose of going to Vigness, the High- shudder of horror, as if deeply consci-
land prison, in which he understands ous of his guilt and his ruin. The
Charlotte is immured, to assure her of cottagers make a sort of litter of wythes

mes patied his sympathy for her, under such un-, for the sick and seemingly dying man, and the just aspersions, and by that kindness and he is conveyed to the Castle of to encourage her to support her seclu. Vigness. sion and imprisonment. We believe For several days Adam Blair liesstruges the per that this journey of Blair to Uigness, gling between life and death, delirious is considered, very generally, indelicate and raving,--and poor Mrs Campbell, or unnatural; and perhaps it is. For keeps watch by his bedside. The fever our own parts, we decidedly thought abates, and he recovers his senses, so, on its first perusal, and we half with a dim, and indistinct, and was incline to think so still. But, at the vering recollection of his crime, his rea same time, although authors must not morse, his illness, and of many sad and be capricious altogether in their books, mournful and terrible things seen or yet men will often be capricious ala imagined there and among the hills

. together in their actions. This jour. He thinks that he remembers a vision ney of Adam Blair was certainly nei- of three boats rowing silently, and as ther judicious, nor prudent, nor like a if on some sad occasion, across Loche. man of sense, or of the world. But Fyne, and that he heard over the waves we suspect that Adam Blair loved and in the sky mournful music, dirge Charlotte Campbell better than he like and tunereal. Charlotte is dead! ought to have done ; and, if so, he And in one of those boats had her corpse might have felt himself suddenly im- been carried across the Loch to the pelled to undertake this very foolish place of burial. She had tended bim and fatal journey by many mixed mo- till the fever shot into her own veins ; tives, partly creditable, and partly and poor, frail, erring, unfortunate, pardonable, and wholly natural, which warm-hearted, and beautiful Charthe author, not being a professed me- lotte Bell, or Arden, or Campbell, or taphysician, has not attempted to ana- Blair, was now in her shroud, and the lyse, and perhaps so much the better. turf above her head. This, we think,

However, be his journey to Uigness is one of the most finely conceived innatural or unnatural, no such cavilling cidents to be found in any fiction,-it will apply to the conduct of the in- reminds one of some of the wild things fatuated man in that dreary and lone- in the old dramatists, and confounds some dwelling. Passion, guilt

, crime, the heart with a strange and incomshame, remorse, and conscious degra. prehensible pathos. dation, now possess his soul. There the Adam Blair, weak and worn out with writer puts forth his strength, easily despair, preyed upon by remorse and. and triumphantly, and the heart is grief, conscious that he is guilty before oppressed with an almost miserable God, and for ever lost, fallen, ruinel, interest in the fallen man. Driven and degraded before men, leaves Viga by the desperation of guilt, as by a ness in company with old John Maxe, storm, he is borne off before our eyes well, one of his Elders, (a character into the silence of the desert, and sits admirably sketched,) who had followdown, with horrid and sickening fan- ed him to the Highlands. The Prese cies of suicide in his heart, on a stone, bytery are assembled in the choir of by the margin of a black sullen pool, the Cathedral near Glasgow, to con in a hollow among the mountains. sider the “ fama clamosa" now loud Charlotte, who has followed him into against him; and Adam Blair, pale, this wild place, stops his steps as he emaciated, and with his young head, is about to plunge into the tarn, and made grey with grief, stands up in the after some broken and insane words midst of them, and confesses his guilt. of horror, remorse, and wrath, he He is deposed from his sacred office, flies up the mountain, and then de- another minister chosen in his stead,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

and his foot enters not the door of the eight o'clock, to assemble all the family Manse of Cross-Meikle.

for prayers. That morning the old man, Grief does not often kill. Adam whose common duty this was, did not venBlair retires to a small cottage with ture to perform it ; but not many minutes his child, and lives for a good many ere the bell was rung, and all, so soon as

had elapsed beyond the accustomed hour, years in utter seclusion. His repent, it was heard, entered the parlour with theiz ance is sincere and profound ; and Bibles in their hands. When they came peace and tranquillity have again vi, in they found that Mr Blair had already sited his heart. His sin, remembered taken his seat, and had the book lying

by himself, is almost forgotten by open upon the table before him. Little Cochers; he is pitied, forgiven, and re- Sarah was sitting on her stool close beside

spected; and the church of Cross- him, and his left hand rested upon her * Meikle, being now vacant by the re- shoulder, while the right was occupied in

moval of his successor to another paw turning over the leaves of the Bible. The rish, such is the power of his repente child's eyes were red, but she too was com, ance and lowly virtues over the minds posed; she too was handling her book, and of all in the parish and neighbouring turning over its leaves. As for Mr Blair, bounds, that a deputation of the Preso he did not look up when he heard his ser bytery wait upon him in his cottage, their seats, he uttered his usual prelimi.

vants enter, but as soon as they had taken and solicit him to resume his sacred nary petition much in his usual manner,

profession. He does so-once more and then proceeded to read aloud the lines blives in the Manse, and preaches in the of the 121st Psalm,Kirk of Cross-Meikle, and dies, lea

I to the hills will lift mine eyes ving behind him a memory stained by From whence doth come mine aid,"&c. one great transgression, but redeemed by many useful and unpretending vir- in a tone of serenity and firmness, that fill

ed the hearts of those who heard him with tues. Such is an outline of the story of tion-surprise at the strength exhibited,

a mixed sentiment of surprise and venerathe Life of Adam Blair. Several other and veneration for that deep sway of reli

characters besides him and Charlotte gious feelings, by which, as they rightly • Campbell are introduced ; and they judged, such strength in weakness had

are depicted with great truth and vi- been produced. They had not witnessed vacity. This writer often shews more the struggle, but they guessed something

of a person's character by one happy of what had been ; and they, simple as < expression, or one single trait, than an they were, had sense enough and wisdom

ordinary writer could do by the most enough to revere the faith which had pass elaborate portrait. Mrs Semple of ed through such fires, to come forth puriSemplehaugh, Mr Jamieson, Captain been sung, he read the fourteenth chapter

fied, not tarnished. After the Psalm had Campbell, Duncan Strahan, and old of the Gospel according to St John, and John Maxwell the Elder, are all excel- concluded with a prayer, such as none, lent. Indeed the latter is perfect, and most surely, hut a sorely chastened heart, equal to any thing in Mackenzie. We could have conceived, although throughout shall now present our readers with a the whole of it there was no express allufew extracts, which will amply justify sion to the particular situation of the perall that we have said of this very bold, son by whom it was uttered. Once or powerful, and original production. But twice the voice faltered, but he soon recoits charm lies in the continued force of vered himself; and when the service was the stream of passion, and to feel that, over, and all had once more arisen from the book itself must be read. It is a

their knees, I believe the countenance of single volume; and few, we believe,

the young bereaved Minister bore fewer

traces of trouble than any other counte, who take it up, will lay it down till

nance in the room. they have come to the beautiful lines

“Even in the house of sorrow, the ordiof Wordsworth, that give the moral nary matters of life go on, for the most at its close.

part, in their ordinary course ; and I will Let us give three extracts,-one confess, that to me this has always appear. describing the griefs of Adam Blair ed to be one of the most truly affecting when he was innocent,-one descri- things in the world. The cloth is laid, the bing his remorse when guilty, and meal is prepared, the bottle is brought up one describing his peace and penitence from the cellar, the family sit around the when restored.

table all these affairs go on just as duly

the day that the mistress or the master of a " It was the custom of the house, that family is dead, as any other day in the * servant rung a bell every morning at year. Grief, even the sincerest and deep

of his room had been opened, but at last all that melancholy glitter turned las his eye happened to travel in that direc- soul sick within him, and once more he le est among the elders of his parish, was heart-sickness. these were now his visit

est grief, occupies, after all, when the first could have been expected from so goûniga oid triumph of its energies is 'over, no more sufferer as he, while John Maxwell shewa come her than a place in the back-ground. The ed hithself worthy of holding the rank he gets to front of life is as smooth as ever.

did in the church of Christ. The minister « All this was so within the Manse of and the elder laid their hearts operi t each salt Cross-Meikle ; of course still more so 'other; they wept, they prayed, and they die man round about its walls. Servants passed to took sweet counsel together. John had sentido and fro about the occupations of the house, been more than once nerved, softened, and Politika inquiring friends and acquaintances came renerved again, ere he at length took con- 12 inge and went, the little motherless girl was rage to whisper into Mr Blair's eat, that and pa seen from time to time busied in the gar- his presence was wanted in the chumber. Bogense den among the few lingering flowers of the Mr Blair understood perfectly what Johning of autumn. Mr Blair himself was riot visible meant. He arose at once, and walked to to any but his own family, and to them wärds the place where his wife's "etains only at the hours when the family were ac. were about to be closed up

for ever from customed to be togethet. At other times all human view. he was in his chamber alone, or with his " It is the rule in Scotland, that no orphan by his side--the accustomed yo- male, except it be a husband, a father, or again lumes lying about him—to the eye the a brother, car be permitted to remain in same quiet, grave man, or nearly so, that the room while the coffin-lid is screwed koerad i he had been a weck or a month before. down upon a female corpse." John Mat. tera ta

The closed windows of the chamber in well attended his minister to the door, ka nerk bi which the body lay, furnished the only therefore, but no farther. Within, three outward and visible sign that death was in or four village matrons only, and the te. femei the house.

* male servants of the family, were 'assemble dety « Mr Blair was sitting by himself on bled. Mr Blair entered, and found them is in the evening of the third day ; apparently in the midst of all the fearful paraphernalia he had been reading, but the light had de- with which it was (and is) the custom of evided as serted him, and his book had been laid Scotland to deepen the gloom of the most az down on the table near him, when the door sad of all possible occasions. Well as he te mars of his room was opened, and some one, as was acquainted with all the habitudes of if hesitating to go farther, stood just with- his country-folks, he had never before le in the threshold, with his finger on the brought fully home to his imagination all ring handle of the door. Mr Blair did not ob- that now met his view. The knots, the temporada serve, for a minute or two, that the door ribbons, the cushions, the satin, the tinsel Beads tion, and he perceived that John Maxwell, yielded ; not, however, as before, nor to sea one who had for many years been the old the same enemies. Sadness, wearinėssa se te come to visit him in his affliction.

ants. He stood pale and feeble, while the Come in, John,' said hé; so old a tears flowed over his cheeks in utter silence friend may come at any time; I am glad One of the old women thought that a sight

, to see you—sit down, John ;' and in say- of his wife's face might bring him, through ing so, he had taken the worthy man by emotion, to himself again, and she lifted the hand, and was leading him towards the the veil. But even this was of no use,

and seat from which he himself had just arisen. to no purpose. The man was altogether

• • The Lord is gracious, Mr Blair—the unnerved the strong-souled Adam Blair Lord is very gracious. It is he that giveth, was in that hour a weanling, and he wept and it is he that taketh away; Blessed on as silently, and not a whit more bitter: be his holy name! Oh, sir, I thought the ly than before. They led him, unresistLord would never surety leave your fa. * ing, to his room; he allowed himself, for ther's son, and I see he has not left you. the first time of his life, to be undressed

* The old 'man' meant to speak words by hands other than his own. After he of comfort, but ere he had done, his voice' had been put to bed, John Maxwell stood failed him, and the tears were gushing over against him for some minutes, say. over his cheeks as he looked in his young ing, Wae's me, wae's me.' Ile then minister's face, and wrung the hand that commanded all the rest to retire, and, had been extended to him. It was no won. kneeling by the bedside, began to pray đer, surely, that the alicted man sympa. aloud in the old sublime simplicity of the thized with his comforter, or that some mi- true village worthies of Scotland: "The nutes had elapsed before either of them was priest felt in his soul the efficacious piety in any condition to renew the conversation. of the elder of Israel.

Nor shall we trouble the reader with * Good night, John Maxwell.' any needless detail of it. Let it be suffi "* God bless you-God strengthen cient to know, that on the part of Mr Blair, you !' and so they parted. it was all that could become any man af.

“ The next day, no worldly work was Aicted as he was, and much more than done in the parish of Cross-Meikle. At

« 前へ次へ »