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our distant readers, as well as to give more force and direct application to our general remarks, we must somewhat enlarge the scale of our critical notice.
This work, though dealing abundantly in invention, is, in substance, like Old Mortality and Kenilworth, of an historical character, and may be correctly represented as an attempt to describe and illustrate, by examples, the manners of the court, and generally speaking, of the age, of James I. of England. And this, on the whole, is the most favourable aspect under which it can be considered; for, while it certainly presents us with a very brilliant, and, we believe, a very faithful sketch of the manners and habits of the time, we cannot say that it either embodies them in a very interesting story, or supplies us with any rich variety of particular characters. Except King James himself, and Richie Moniplies, there is but little individuality in the personages represented. We should perhaps add Master George Heriot; except that he is too staid and prudent a person to engage very much of our interest. The story is of a very simple structure, and may soon be told.
Lord Glenvarloch, a young Scottish nobleman, whose fortunes had been ruined by his father's profusion, and chiefly by large loans to the Crown, comes to London about the middle of James' reign, to try what part of this debt may be recovered from the justice of his now opulent sovereign. From want of patronage and experience, he is unsuccessful in his first application; and is about to withdraw in despair, when his serving man, Richard Moniplies, falling accidentally in the way of George Heriot, the favourite jeweller and occasional banker of the King, that benevolent person (to whom, it may not be known to our Southern readers, Edinburgh is indebted for the most flourishing and best conducted of her founded schools or charities) is pleased to take an interest in his affairs, and not only represents his case in a favourable way to the Sovereign, but is the means of introducing him to another nobleman, with whose son, Lord Dalgarno, he speedily forms a rather inauspicious intimacy. By this youth he is initiated into all the gaieties of the town; of which, as well of the manners and bearing of the men of fashion of the time, a very lively picture is drawn. Among other things, he is encouraged to try his fortune at play; but, being poor and prudent, he plays but for small sums, and, rather unhandsomely we must own, makes it a practice to come away after a moderate winning. On this account he is slighted by Lord Dalgarno and his more adventurous associates; and, having learned that they talked contemptuously of him, and that Lord D. had prejudiced the King and the Prince against him, he challenges him for his perfidy in the Park, and actually draws on him, in the precincts of the royal abode. This was, in those days, a very serious offence; and, to avoid its immediate consequences, he is advised to take refuge in Whitefriars, then known by the cant name of Alsatia, and understood to possess the privileges of a sanctuary against ordinary ar
rests. A propos of this retirement, we have a very striking and animated picture of the bullies and bankrupts, and swindlers and petty felons by whom this city of refuge was chiefly inhabited-and among whom the young Lord has the good luck to witness a murder, committed on the person of his miserly host. He then bethinks himself of repairing to Greenwich, where the court was, throwing himself upon the clemency of the King, and insisting on being confronted with his accusers; but happening unfortunately to meet with his Majesty in a retired part of the Park to which he had pursued the stag, ahead of all his attendants, his sudden appearance so startles and alarmns that pacific monarch, that he accuses him of a treasonable design on his life, and has him committed to the Tower, under that weighty accusation. In the mean time, however, a certain Margaret Ramsey, a daughter of the celebrated watchmaker of that name, who had privately fallen in love with him at the table of George Heriot her god-father, and had, ever since, kept watch over his proceedings, and aided him in his difficulties by va rious stratagems and suggestions, had repaired to Greenwich in male attire, with the romantic design of interesting and undeceiving the King with regard to him. By a lucky accident, she does obtain an opportunity of making her statement to James; who, in order to put her veracity to the test, sends her, disguised as she was, to Glenvarloch's prison in the Tower, and also looses upon him in the same place, first his faithful Heriot, and afterwards à sarcastic courtier, while he himself plays the eavesdropper to their conversation, from an adjoining apartment constructed for that pur pose. The result of this Dionysian experi ment is, to satisfy the sagacious monarch both of the innocence of his young countryman, and the malignity of his accusers; who are speedily brought to shame by his acquittal and admittance to favour.
There is an underplot of a more extravagant and less happy structure, about a sad and mysterious lady who inhabits an inaccessible apartment in Heriot's house, and turns out to be the deserted wife of Lord Dalgarno, and a near relation of Lord Glenvarloch. The former is compelled to acknowledge her by the King, very much against his will; though he is considerably comforted when he finds that, by this alliance, he acquires right to an ancient mortgage over the lands of the latter, which nothing but immediate payment of a large sum can prevent him from foreclosing. This is accomplished by the new-raised credit and consequential agency of Richie Moniplies, though not without a scene of pettifogging difficulties. The conclusion is something tragical and sudden. Lord Dalgarno, travelling to Scotland with the redemption-money in a portmanteau, challenges Glenvarloch to meet and fight him, one stage from town; and, while he is waiting on the common, is himself shot dead by one of the Alsatian bullies, who had heard of the precious cargo with which he was making the journey. His antagonist comes up soon enough to revenge
him; and, soon after, is married to Miss Ram- wits as think the commentators on Shakesey, for whom the King finds a suitable pedi- speare the greatest men in the world, and here gree, and at whose marriage-dinner he conde- find their little archæological persons made scends to preside; while Richard Moniplies something less inconceivable than usual, they marries the heroic daughter of the Alsatian cannot fail to offend and disappoint all those miser, and is knighted in a very characteristic who hold that nature alone must be the source manner by the good-natured monarch. of all natural interest.
The best things in the book, as we have already intimated, are the pictures of King James and of Richard Moniplies-though my Lord Dalgarno is very lively and witty, and well represents the gallantry and profligacy of the time; while the worthy Earl, his father, is very successfully brought forward as the type of the ruder and more uncorrupted age that preceded. We are sorely tempted to produce a sample of Jin Vin the smart apprentice, and of the mixed childishness and heroism of Margaret Ramsay, and the native loftiness and austere candour of Martha Trapbois, and the humour of Dame Suddlechops, and divers other inferior persons. But the rule we have laid down to ourselves, of abstaining from citations from well-known books, must not be farther broken, in the very hour of its enactment;-and we shall therefore conclude, with a few such general remarks on the work before us as we have already bestowed on some other performances, probably no longer so familiar to most of our readers.
We do not think, then, that it is a work either of so much genius or so much interest as Kenilworth or Ivanhoe, or the earlier historical novels of the same author-and yet there be readers who will in all likelihood prefer it to those books, and that for the very reasons which induce us to place it beneath them. These reasons are,-First, that the scene is all in London-and that the piece is consequently deprived of the interest and variety derived from the beautiful descriptions of natural scenery, and the still more beautiful combination of its features and expression, with the feelings of the living agents, which abound in those other works; and next, that the characters are more entirely borrowed from the written memorials of the age to which they refer, and less from that eternal and universal nature which is of all ages, than in any of his former works. The plays of that great dramatic era, and the letters and memoirs which have been preserved in such abundance, have made all diligent readers familiar with the peculiarities by which it was marked. But unluckily the taste of the writers of that age was quaint and fantastical; and though their representations necessarily give us a true enough picture of its fashions and follies, it is obviously a distorted and exagge rated picture and their characters plainly both speak and act as no living men ever did speak or act. Now, this style of caricature is too palpably copied in the work before us, and, though somewhat softened and relaxed by the good sense of the author, is still so prevalent, that most of his characters strike us ather as whimsical humourists or affected maskers, than as faithful copies of the actual Society of any historical period; and though they may afford great delight to such slender
Finally, we object to this work, as compared with those to which we have alluded, that the interest is more that of situation, and less of character or action, than in any of the former. The hero is not so much an actor or a sufferer, in most of the events represented, as a spectator. With comparatively little to do in the business of the scene, he is merely placed in the front of it, to look on with the reader as it passes. He has an ordinary and slow-moving suit at court-and, a propos of this-all the humours and oddities of the sovereign are exhibited in rich and splendid detail. He is obliged to take refuge for a day in Whitefriars-and all the horrors and atrocities of the Sanctuary are spread out before us through the greater part of a volume. Two or three murders are committed, in which he has no interest, and no other part than that of being accidentally present. His own scanty part, in short, is performed in the vicinity of a number of other separate transactions; and this mere juxtaposition is made an apology for stringing them all up together into one historical romance. We should not care very much if this only destroyed the unity of the piece-but it also sensibly weakens its interest and reduces it from the rank of a comprehensive and engaging narrative, in which every event gives and receives importance from its connection with the rest, to that of a mere collection of sketches, relating to the same period and state of society.
The character of the hero, we also think, is more than usually a failure. He is not only a reasonable and discreet person, for whose prosperity we need feel no great apprehension, but he is gratuitously debased by certain infirmities of a mean and somewhat sordid description, which suit remarkably ill with the heroic character. His prudent deportment at the gaming table, and his repeated borrowings of money, have been already hinted at; and we may add, that when interrogated by Heriot about the disguised damsal who is found with him in the Tower, he makes up a false story for the occasion, with a cool promptitude of invention, which reminds us more of Joseph Surface and his French milliner, than of the high-minded son of a stern puritanical Baron of Scotland.
These are the chief faults of the work, and they are not slight ones. Its merits do not require to be specified. They embrace all to which we have not specially objected. The general brilliancy and force of the colouring, the ease and spirit of the design, and the strong touches of character, are all such as we have have long admired in the best works of the author. Besides the King and Richie Moniplies, at whose merits we have already hinte it would be unjust to pass over the prodigious strength of writing that distin
guishes the part of Mrs. Martha Trapbois, and between the vulgar gossipping of Mrs. Quickly the inimitable scenes, though of a coarse and in the merry Wives of Windsor, and the revolting complexion, with Duke Hildebrod atrocities of Mrs. Turner and Lady Suffolk; and the miser of Alsatia. The Templar and it is rather a contamination of Margaret's purity to have used such counsel. | We have named them all now, or nearlyand must at length conclude. Indeed, nothing but the fascination of this author's pen, and the difficulty of getting away from him. could have induced us to be so particular in our notices of a story, the details of which will so soon be driven out of our heads by other details as interesting-and as little fated to be remembered. There are other two books coming, we hear, in the course of the winter; and by the time there are four or five, that is, in about eighteen months hence, we must hold ourselves prepared to give some account of them.
Lowestoffe, and Jin Vin, the aspiring apprentice, are excellent sketches of their kind. So are John Christie and his frail dame. Lord Dalgarno is more questionable. There are passages of extraordinary spirit and ability in this part; but he turns out too atrocious. Sir Mungo Malagrowther wearies us from the beginning, and so does the horologist Ramsay -because they are both exaggerated and unnatural characters. We scarcely see enough of Margaret Ramsay to forgive her all her irregularities, and her high fortune; but a great deal certainly of what we do see is charmingly executed. Dame Ursula is something
1. Annals of the Parish, or the Chronicle of Dalmailing, during the Ministry of the Rev. Micah Balwhidder. Written by Himself. 1 vol. 12mo. pp. 400. Blackwood. Edin.: 1819. 2. The Ayrshire Legatees, or the Pringle Family. By the Author of "Annals of the Parish,” &c. 1 vol. 12mo. pp. 395. Blackwood. Edinburgh: 1820.
3. The Provost. By the Author of "Annals of the Parish," "Ayrshire Legatees," &c. 1 vol. 12mo. Blackwood. Edinburgh: 1820.
4. Sir Andrew Wyllie of that Ilk. By the Author of "Annals of the Parish," &c. 3 vols. 12mo. Blackwood. Edin.: 1822.
5. The Steam Boat. By the Author of "Annals of the Parish," &c. 1 vol. 12mo. Blackwood. Edinburgh: 1822. * 4: Sir
6. The Entail, or the Lairds of Grippy. Andrew Wyllie," &c. 3 vols. 18mo. 7. Ringan Gilhaize, or the Covenanters.
By the Author of "Annals of the Parish," Blackwood. Edinburgh: 1823. By the Author of "Annals of the Parish," &c. 3 vols. 12mo. Blackwood. Edinburgh: 1823.
8. Valerius, a Roman Story. 3 vols. 12mo. Blackwood. Edinburgh: 1820.
9. Lights and Shadows of Scottish Life. 1 vol. 8vo. Blackwood. Edinburgh: 1822. 10. Some Passages in the Life of Mr. Adam Blair, Minister of the Gospel at Cross-Meikle. 1 vol. 8vo. Blackwood. Edinburgh: 1822.
11. The Trials of Margaret Lyndsay. By the Author of "Lights and Shadows of Scottish Life." 1 vol. 8vo. Blackwood. Edinburgh: 1823.
12. Reginald Dalton. By the Author of "Valerius," and "Adam Blair.” 3 vols. 8vo. Blackwood. Edinburgh: 1823.*
We have been sometimes accused, we observe, of partiality to the writers of our own country, and reproached with helping middling Scotch works into notice, while far more meritorious publications in England and Ireland have been treated with neglect. We take leave to say, that there could not possibly be a more unjust accusation: and the list of books which we have prefixed to this article, affords of itself, we now conceive, the most triumphant refutation of it. Here is a
* I have retained most of the citations in this article-the books from which they are taken not being so universally known as those of Sir Walter Scott and yet deserving, I think, of being thus recalled to the attention of general readers. The whole seem to have been originally put out anonymously:-But the authorship has been long ago acknowledged ;-so that it is scarcely necessary for me to mention that the first seven in the list are the works of the late Mr. Galt, Valerius and Adam Blair of Mr. Lockhart-and the Lights and Shadows, and Margaret Lindsay, of Professor Wilson.
set of lively and popular works, that have attracted, and very deservedly, a large share of attention in every part of the empire-issuing from the press, successively for four or five years, in this very city, and under our eyes. and not hitherto honoured by us with any indication of our being even conscious of their existence. The causes of this long neglect it can now be of no importance to explain. But sure we are, that our ingenious countrymen have far greater reason to complain of it, than any aliens can have to impute this tardy repa ration to national partiality.
The works themselves are evidently too numerous to admit of our now giving more than a very general account of them:-and indeed, some of their authors emulate their great prototype so successfully in the rapid succession of their performances, that, even if they had not been so far ahead of us at the starting, we must soon have been reduced to deal with them as we have done with him,
and only to have noticed their productions when they had grown up into groups and families as they increased and multiplied in the land. In intimating that we regard them as imitations of the inimitable novels,-which we, who never presume to peep under masks, still hold to be by an author unknown,- -we have already exhausted more than half their general character. They are inferior certainly (and what is not?) to their great originals. But they are the best copies which have yet been produced of them; and it is not a little creditable to the genius of our beloved country, that, even in those gay and airy walks of literature from which she had been so long estranged, an opening was no sooner made, by the splendid success of one gifted Scotsman, than many others were found ready to enter upon them, with a spirit of enterprise, and a force of invention, that promised still farther to extend their boundariesand to make these new adventurers, if not formidable rivals, at least not unworthy followers of him by whose example they were roused. There are three authors, it seems, to the works now before us;-so at least the titlepages announce; and it is a rule with us, to give implicit faith to those solemn intimations. We think, indeed, that without the help of that oracle, we should have been at no loss to ascribe all the works which are now claimed by the author of the Annals of the Parish, to one and the same hand; But we should certainly have been inclined to suppose, that there was only one author for all the rest,with the exception, perhaps, of Valerius, which has little resemblance, either in substance or manner, to any of those with which it is now associated.
In the arduous task of imitating the great novelist, they have apparently found it necessary to resort to the great principle of division of labour; and yet they have not, among them, been able to equal the work of his single hand! The author of the Parish Annals seems to have sought chiefly to rival the humorous and less dignified parts of his original; by large representations of the character and manners of the middling and lower orders in Scotland, intermingled with traits of sly and sarcastic sagacity, and occasionally softened and relieved by touches of unexpected tenderness and simple pathos, all harmonised by the same truth to nature and fine sense of national peculiarity. In these delineations there is, no doubt, more vulgarity, both of style and conception, and less poetical invention, than in the corresponding passages of the works he aspires to imitate; but, on the other hand, there is more of that peculiar humour which depends on the combination of great naïveté, indolence, and occasional absurdity, with natural good sense, and taste, and kind feelings in the principal characters such combinations as Sir Roger de Coverley, the Vicar of Wakefield, and My Uncle Toby, have made familiar to all English readers, but of which we have not hitherto had any good Scottish representative. There is also more systematic, though very good-humoured, sar
casm, and a more distinct moral, or unity of didactic purpose, in most of his writings, than it would be easy to discover in the playful, capricious, and fanciful sketches of his great master.
The other two authors have formed themselves more upon the poetical, reflective, and pathetic parts of their common model; and have aimed at emulating such beautiful pictures as that of Mr. Peter Pattison, the blind old women in Old Mortality and the Bride of Lammermoor, the courtship at the Mermaiden's Well, and, generally, his innumerable and exquisite descriptions of the soft, simple, and sublime scenery of Scotland, as viewed in connection with the character of its better rustic population. Though far better skilled than their associate, in the art of composition, and chargeable, perhaps, with less direct imitation, we cannot but regard them as much less original, and as having performed, upon the whole, a far easier task. They have no great variety of style, and but little of actual invention, and are mannerists in the strongest sense of that term. Though unquestionably pathetic in a very powerful degree, they are pathetic, for the most part, by the common recipes, which enable any one almost, to draw tears, who will condescend to employ them. They are mighty religious too, but apparently on the same principle; and, while their laboured attacks on our sympathies are felt, at last, to be somewhat importunate and puerile, their devotional orthodoxies seem to tend, every now and then, a little towards cant. This is perhaps too harshly said; and is more, we confess, the result of the second reading than the first; and suggested rather by a comparison with their great original, than an impression of their own independent merits. Compared with that high standard, it is impossible not to feel that they are somewhat wanting in manliness, freedom, and liberality; and, while they enlarge, in a sort of pastoral, emphatic, and melodious style, on the virtues of our cottagers, and the apostolical sanctity of our ministers and elders, the delights of pure affection, and the comforts of the Bible, are lamentably deficient in that bold and free vein of invention, that thorough knowledge of the world, and rectifying spirit of good sense, which redeem all that great author's flights from the imputation either of extravagance or affectation, and give weight, as well as truth, to his most poetical delineations of nature and of passion. But, though they cannot pretend to this rare merit, which has scarcely fallen to the share of more than one since the days of Shakespeare, there is no doubt much beautiful writing, much admirable description, and much both of tender and of lofty feeling, in the volumes of which we are now speaking; and though their inferior and borrowed lights are dimmed in the broader blaze of the luminary, who now fills our Northern sky with his glory, they still hold their course distinctly within the orb of his attraction, and make a visible part of the splendour which draws to that quarter of the heavens the admiration of so many distant eyes.
We must now, however, say a word or two on the particular works we have enumerated; among which, and especially in the first series, there is a very great difference of design, as well as inequality of merit. The first with which we happened to become acquainted, and, after all, perhaps the best and most interesting of the whole, is that entitled "Annals of the Parish," comprising in one little volume of about four hundred pages the domestic chronicle of a worthy minister, on the coast of Ayrshire, for a period of no less than fifty-one years, from 1760 to 1810. The primitive simplicity of the pastor's character, tinctured as it is by his professional habits and sequestered situation, form but a part of the attraction of this work. The brief and natural notices of the public events which signalised the long period through which it extends, and the slight and transient effects they produced on the tranquil lives and peaceful occupations of his remote parishioners, have not only a natural, we think, but a moral and monitory effect; and, while they revive in our own breasts the almost forgotten impressions of our childhood and early youth, as to the same transactions, make us feel the actual insignificance of those successive occurrences which, each in its turn, filled the minds of his contemporaries, and the little real concern which the bulk of mankind have in the public history of their day. This quiet and detailed retrospect of fifty years, brings the true moment and value of the events it embraces to the test, as it were, of their actual operation on particular societies; and helps to dissipate the illusion, by which private persons are so frequently led to suppose, that they have a personal interest in the wisdom of cabinets, or the madness of princes. The humble simplicity of the chronicler's character assists, no doubt, this sobering effect of his narrative. The natural and tranquil manner in which he puts down great things by the side of little-box. The tear was aften in her e'e when the bairns were at the school; but when they came home, her
'Secondly. I have now to speak of the coming of Mrs. Malcolm. She was the widow of a Clyde
shipmaster, that was lost at sea with his vessel. She morning to night she sat at her wheel, spinning the was a genty body, calm and methodical. From finest lint, which suited well with her pale hands. She never changed her widow's weeds, and she was aye as if she had just been ta'en out of a band
spirit was lighted up with gladness, although, poor woman, she had many a time very little to give
and considers as exactly on the same level, the bursting of the parish mill-dam and the commencement of the American troubles- them. They were, however, wonderful well-bred the victory of Admiral Rodney and the dona-things, and took with thankfulness whatever she tion of 50l. to his kirk-session,- -are all equally set before them, for they knew that their father, the edifying and agreeable; and illustrate, in a breadwinner, was away, and that she had to work sore for their bit and drap. I dare say, the only, very pleasing way, that law of intellectual, as vexation that ever she had from any of them, on well as of physical optics, by which small their own account, was when Charlie, the eldest things at hand uniformly appear greater than laddie, had won fourpence at pitch and toss at the large ones at a distance. school, which he brought home with a proud heart to his mother. I happened to be daunrin' bye at the tinie, and just looked in at the door to say gude tear on her cheek, and Charlie greeting as if he had night. And there was she sitting with the silent done a great fault, and the other four looking on with sorrowful faces. Never, I am sure, did Charlie Malcolm gamble after that night.
"I often wondered what brought Mrs. Malcolm to our clachan, instead of going to a populous town, where she might have taken up a huxtry-shop, as she was but of a silly constitution, the which would have been better for her than spinning from morning to far in the night, as if she was in verity drawing the thread of life. But it was, no doubt, from an daughter Effie was ill with the measles-the poor honest pride to hide her poverty; for when her lassie was very ill-nobody thought she could come through; and when she did get the turn, she was for many a day a heavy handful;-our session being
The great charm of the work, however, is in the traits of character which it discloses, and the commendable brevity with which the whole chronicle is digested. We know scarcely any instance in which a modern writer has shown such forbearance and consideration for his readers. With very considerable powers of humour, the ludricous incidents are never dwelt upon with any tediousness, nor pushed to the length of burlesque or caric ature-and the more seducing touches of pathos with which the work abounds, are intermingled and cut short, with the same sparing and judicious hand;- -so that the temperate and natural character of the pastor is thus, by a rare merit and felicity, made to
preponderate over the tragic and comic genius of the author. That character is, as we have already hinted, as happily conceived as it is admirably executed-contented, humble, and perfectly innocent and sincere-very orthodox, and zealously Presbyterian, without learning or habits of speculation-soft-hearted and full of indulgence and ready sympathy, without any enthusiasm or capacity of devoted attachment-given to old-fashioned prejudices, with an instinctive sagacity in practical affairsand unconsciously acute in detecting the char acters of others, and singularly awake to the beauties of nature, without a notion either of observation or of poetry-very patient and primitive in short, indolent and gossiping, and scarcely ever stirring either in mind or person, beyond the limits of his parish. The style of the book is curiously adapted to the char acter of the supposed author-very genuine homely Scotch in the idiom and many of the expressions - but tinctured with scriptural phrases, and some relics of college learningand all digested in the grave and methodical order of an old-fashioned sermon.
After so much praise, we are rather afraid to make any extracts for the truth is, that there is not a great deal of matter in the book, and a good deal of vulgarity-and that it is only good-natured people, with something of the annalist's own simplicity, that will be as much pleased with it as we have been. For the sake of such persons, however, we will venture on a few specimens. Here is the description of Mrs. Malcolm.