Imágenes de página




him ;

have anticipated, is not Rob Roy - though his name stands alone in the title-- but a Mr. Francis Osbaldistone, the only son of a great London Merchant or Banker, and nephew of a Sir Hildebrand Osbaldistone, a worthy Catholic Baronet, who spent his time in hunting, and drinking Jacobite toasts in Northumberland, some time about the year 1714. The young gentleman having been educated among the muses abroad, testifies a decided aversion to the gainful vocations in which his father had determined that he should assist and succeed

-and as a punishment for this contumacy, he banishes him for a season to the Siberia of Osbaldistone Hall, from which he himself had been estranged ever since his infancy. The young exile jogs down on horseback rather merrily, riding part of the way with a stout man, who was scandalously afraid of being robbed, and meeting once with a sturdy Scotchman, whose resolute air and energetic discourses make a deep impression on him.- As he approaches the home of his fathers, he is surrounded by a party of fox hunters, and at the same moment electrified by the sudden apparition of a beautiful

young woman, galloping lightly at the head of the field, and managing her sable palfrey with all the grace of an Angelica

Making up to this ethereal personage, he soon discovers that he is in the heart of his kinsfolks that the tall youths about him are the five sons of Sir Hildebrand; and the virgin huntress herself, a cousin and inmate of the family, by the name of Diana Vernon. She is a very remarkable person this same Diana. Though only eighteen years of age, and exquisitely lovely, she knows all arts and sciences, elegant and inelegant - and has, moreover, a more than masculine resolution, and more than feminine kindness and generosity of character— wearing over all this a playful, free, and reckless manner, more characteristic of her age than her various and inconsistent accomplishments. The rest of the household are comely savages; who hunt all day, and drink all night, without one idea beyond those heroic occupations—all, at least, except Rash

[blocks in formation]

leigh, the youngest son of this hopeful family — wlio having been designed for the church, and educated among the Jesuits beyond seas, had there acquired all the knowledge and the knavery which that pious brotherhood was so long supposed to impart to their disciples. Although very plain in his person, and very depraved in his character, he has great talents and accomplishments, and a very insinuating address. He had been, in a good degree, the instructor of Diana, who, we should have mentioned, was also a Catholic, and having lost her parents, was destined to take the veil in a foreign land, if she did not consent to marry one of the sons of Sir Hildebrand, for all of whom she cherished the greatest aversion and contempt.

Mr. Osbaldistone, of course, can do nothing but fall in love with this wonderful infant; for which, and some other transgressions, he incurs the deadly, though concealed, hate of Rashleigh, and meets with several unpleasant adventures through his means. But we will not be tempted even to abridge the details of a story with which we cannot allow ourselves to doubt that all our readers have long been familiar: and indeed it is not in his story that this author's strength ever lies; and here he has lost sight of probability even in the conception of some of his characters; and displayed the extraordinary talent of being true to nature, even in the representation of impossible persons.

The serious interest of the work rests on Diana Vernon and on Rob Roy; the comic effect is left chiefly to the ministrations of Bailie Nicol Jarvie and Andrew Fairservice, with the occasional assistance of less regular performers. Diana is, in our apprehension, a very bright and felicitous creation — though it is certain that there never could have been any such person. A girl of eighteen, not only with more wit and learning than any man of forty, but with more sound sense, and firmness of character, than any man whatever — and with perfect frankness and elegance of manners, though bred among boors and bigots - is rather a more violent fiction, we think, than a king with marble legs, or a youth



with an ivory shoulder. In spite of all this, however, this particular fiction is extremely elegant and impressive; and so many features of truth are blended with it, that we soon forget the impossibility, and are at least as much interested as by a more conceivable personage. The combination of fearlessness with perfect purity and delicacy, as well as that of the inextinguishable gaiety of youth with sad anticipations and present suffering, are all strictly natural; and are among the traits that are wrought out in this portrait with the greatest talent and effect. In the deep tone of feeling, and the capacity of heroic purposes, this heroine bears a family likeness to the Flora of Waverley; but her greater youth, and her unprotected situation, add prodigiously to the interest of these qualities. Andrew Fairservice is a new, and a less interesting incarnation of Cuddie Headrigg; with a double allowance of selfishness, and a top-dressing of pedantry and conceit - constituting a very admirable and just representation of the least amiable of our Scottish vulgar. The Bailie, we think, is an original. It once occurred to us, that he might be described as a mercantile and townish Dandie Dinmont; but the points of resemblance are really fewer than those of contrast. He is an inimitable picture of an acute, sagacious, upright, and kind man, thoroughly low bred, and beset with all sorts of vulgarities. Both he and Andrew are rich mines of the true Scottish language; and afford, in the hands of this singular writer, not only an additional proof of his perfect familiarity with all its dialects, but also of its extraordinary copiousness, and capacity of adaptation to all tones and subjects. The reader may take a brief specimen of Andrew's elocution in the following characteristic account of the purgation of the Cathedral Church of Glasgow, and its consequent preservation from the hands of our Gothic reformers.

" • Ah! it's a brave kirk — nane o' yere ig.maleeries and curliewurlies and open-steek hems about it - a' solid, weel-jointed masonwark, that will stand as long as the warld, keep hands and gunpowther aff it. It had amaist a doun-come lang syne at the Reformation, when



they pu'd doun the kirks of St. Andrews and Perth, and thereawa, to cleanse them o' Papery, and idolatry, and image worship, and surplices, and sic like rags o' the muckle hoor that sitteth on seven hills, as if ane was na braid aneugh for her auld hinder end. Sae the commons o’ Renfrew, and o' the Barony, and the Gorbals, and a’ about, they beloved to come into Glasgow ae fair morning to try their hand on purging the High Kirk o' Popish nick-nackets. But the townsmen o Glasgow, they were feared their auld edifice might slip the girths in gaun through siccan rough physic, sae they rang the common bell, and assembled the train bands wi' took o' drum — By good luck, the worthy James Rabat was Dean o' Guild that year—(and a gude mason he was himsell, made him the keener to keep up the auld bigging), and the trades assembled, and offered downright battle to the commons, rather than their kirk should coup the crans, as they had done elsewhere. It was na for luve o' Paperie— na, na! —nane could ever say that o' the trades o' Glasgow — Sae they sune cam to an agreement to take a' the idolatrous statues of sants (sorrow be on them !) out o' their neuks—And sae the bits o' stane idols were broken in pieces by Scripture warrant, and Aung into the Molendinar Burn, and the auld kirk stood as crouse as a cat when the fleas are caimed aff her, and a'body was alike pleased. And I hae heard wise folk say, that if the same had been done in ilka kirk in Scotland, the Reform wad just hae been as pure as it is e'en now, and we wad had mair Christian-like kirks; for I hae been sae lang in England, that naething will drive it out o' my head, that the dog-kennel at Osbaldistone-Hall is better than mony a house o' God in Scotland.””



(JANUARY, 1820.) 1. Ivanhoe. A Romance. By the Author of Waverley, &c.

3 vols. Edinburgh, Constable and Co. 2. The Novels and Tales of the Author of Waverley ; comprising

Waverley, Guy Mannering, Antiquary, Rob Roy, Tales of My Landlord, First, Second, and Third Series; New Edition, with a copious Glossary. Edinburgh, Constable and Co. 1820.

Since the time when Shakespeare wrote his thirty-eight plays in the brief space of his early manhood—besides acting in them, and drinking and living idly with the other actors—and then went carelessly to the country, and lived out his days, a little more idly, and apparently unconscious of having done any thing at all extraordinary—there has been no such prodigy of fertility as the anonymous author before us.

In the period of little more than five years, he has founded a new school of invention; and established and endowed it with nearly thirty volumes of the most animated and original compositions that have enriched English literature for a century- volumes that have cast sensibly into the shade all contemporary prose, and even all recent poetry—(except perhaps that inspired by the Genius—or the Demon, of Byron) — and, by their force of colouring and depth of feeling — by their variety, vivacity, magical facility, and living presentment of character, have rendered conceivable to this later age the miracles of the Mighty Dramatist.

Shakespeare, to be sure, is more purely original; but it should not be forgotten, that, in his time, there was much less to borrow — and that he too has drawn freely and largely from the sources that were open to him, at least for his fable and graver sentiment; - for his wit and humour, as well as his poetry, are always his own. In our times, all the higher walks of literature have been

« AnteriorContinuar »