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glare and irregularity. There is nothing in Scott's impressed with the stamp of romantic and pecapoetry of the severe and majestic style of Milton-liar times, and expressed in language rich and feor of the terse and fine composition of Pope-or licitous, must be felt by the most obtuse intellect; of the elaborate elegance and melody of Campbell yet we are not sure that its success would be great -or even of the flowing and redundant diction of on the stage, if for the stage it had ever been deSouthey; but there is a medley of bright images signed. The beauties by which it charms and enand glowing words, set carelessly and loosely to- chains attention in the closet-those bright and gether a diction tinged successively with the innumerable glimpses of past times-those fre careless richness of Shakspeare, the harshness and quent allusions to ancient deeds and departed heantique simplicity of the old romances, the home-roes the action of speech rather than of body, liness of vulgar ballads and anecdotes, and the would be lost in the vast London theatres, where sentimental glitter of the most modern poetry-a play is wanted, adapted to the eye rather than passing from the borders of the ludicrous to those to the head or heart. The time of action equals, of the sublime-alternately minute and energetic it is true, the wishes of the most limited critic; -sometimes artificial, and frequently negligent, the place, too, the foot of Halidon, and its barren but always full of spirit and vivacity-abounding ascent, cannot be much more ample than the in images that are striking, at first sight, to minds space from the further side of the stage to the of every contexture-and never expressing a sen- upper regions of the gallery; and the heroes who timent which it can cost the most ordinary reader are called forth to triumph and to die are native any exertion to comprehend. flesh and blood, who yet live in their descendants. It has all the claims which a dramatic poem can well have on a British audience; yet we always hoped it would escape the clutches of those who cut up quantities for the theatres.
The transfer which the poet has avowedly made of the incidents of the battle of Homildon to the Hill of Halidon, seems such a violation of authen
Among the peculiarities of Scott, as a poet, we might notice his singular talent for description, and especially for that of scenes abounding in motion or action of any kind. In this department, indeed, he may be considered almost without a rival, either among modern or ancient bards; and the character and process of his descriptions are as extraordinary as their effect is astonishing. He tic history, as the remarkable similarity of those places before the eyes of his readers a more dis-two disastrous battles can never excuse. It is dantinct and complete picture, perhaps, than any gerous to attempt this violent shifting of heroic other artist ever presented by mere words; and deeds. The field of Bannockburn would never yet he does not enumerate all the visible parts of tell of any other victory than the one which has the subject with any degree of minuteness, nor rendered it renowned: History lifts up her voice confine himself by any means to what is visible. against it; nor can the Hill of Homildon tell the The singular merit of his delineations, on the con- story of the Hill of Halidon, nor that of any other trary, consists in this, that, with a few bold and battle but its own. abrupt strokes, he sketches a most spirited outline, It will scarcely be expected that, in this rapid and then instantly kindles it by the sudden light sketch, we should enter into a respective analysis and colour of some moral affection. There are of those works, so well known, and so universall, none of his fine descriptions, accordingly, which admired, by the appellation of the "Waverley do not derive a great part of their clearness and Novels." The painful circumstances which compicturesque effect, as well as their interest, from pelled their author to disclose himself_are_still the quantity of character and moral expression fresh in the recollection and the sympathy of the which is thus blended with their details, and which, public: the motives, or no motives, which induced so far from interrupting the conception of the ex-him so long and so pertinaciously to abstain from ternal object, very powerfully stimulate the fancy avowing himself, it is not our province to criticise, of the reader to complete it; and give a grace and nor do we wish to make a boast of having always a spirit to the whole representation, of which we believed what could scarcely be ever doubted, viz. do not know where to look for a similar example. that the Great Unknown and the author of MarWalter Scott has many other characteristic excel-mion were "one and indivisible." lencies, but we must not detain our readers any longer with this imperfect sketch of his poetical character.
The annexed is a list of the novels in question, produced by this great author in the space of or ly twelve years.
To the list of poetical works given above, we have here to add two poems, at first published anonymously, but since acknowledged, viz. "The Bridal of Triermain," and "Harold the Dauntless;" and, in 1822, a dramatic sketch called "Halidon Hill." In his preface to the latter, the poet says, that his dramatic sketch is in no particular designed or calculated for the stage, and that any attempt to produce it in action will be at the peril of those who make the experiment. The truth is that, like most of the higher poetical spirits of the age, he has found out a far safer and surer way to equitable judgments and fame, than trusting to the hazardous presentment of the characters he draws, by the heroes of the sock and buskin, and to the dubious and captious shouts of the pit and gallery.
That HALIDON HILL is a native, heroic, and chivalrous drama-clear, brief, and moving in its story-full of pictures, living and breathing, and
Tales of the Crusaders
the vulgarities of society and nature, maintain, through cternal folios, their visionary virtues, without the stain of any moral frailty, or the degradation of any human necessities. But this high-flown style went out of fashion as the great mass of mankind became more informed of each other's feelings and concerns, and as nearer observation ta ght them that the real course of human life is a conflict of duty and desire, of virtue
It may, then, be fearlessly asserted that, since the time when Shakspeare wrote his thirty-eight plays in the brief space of his early manhood, there has been no such prodigy of literary fertility as the author of these novels. In a few brief years, he has founded a new school of invention, and embellished and endowed it with volumes of and passion, of right and wrong: in the descripthe most animated and original composition that tion of which it is difficult to say whether uniform have enriched British literature for a century-virtue, or unredeemed vice, would be in the greater volumes that have cast into the shade all contem-degree tedious and absurd. porary prose, 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. Shakspeare is, undoubtedly, more purely original, but it must be remembered 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 so long and so often trodden, that it is scarcely possible to keep out of the footsteps of some of our precursors; and the ancients, it is well known, have anticipated all our bright thoughts, and not only visibly beset all the a copying not of man in general, but of men of a obvious approaches to glory, but swarm in such peculiar nation, profession, or temper, or to go a ambushed multitudes behind, that when we think step further-of individuals.
The novelists next endeavoured to exhibit a general view of society. The characters in Gil Blas and Tom Jones are not individuals so much as specimens of the human race; and these delightful works have been, are, and ever will be, popular; because they present lively and accurate delineations of the workings of the human soul, and that every man who reads them is obliged to confess to himself, that, in similar circumstances with the personages of Le Sage and Fielding, he would probably have acted in the way in which they are described to have done.
From this species the transition to a third was natural. The first class was theory-it was improved into a genuine description, and that again led the way to a more particular classification
we have gone fairly beyond their plagiarisms, and Thus Alexander and Cyrus could never have honestly worked out an original excellence of our existed in human society-they are neither French, own, un starts some deep-read antiquary, and nor English, nor Italian, because it is only alle makes out, much to his own satisfaction, that, gorically that they are men. Tom Jones night heaven knows how, many of these busy-bodies have been a Frenchman, and Gil Blas an Englishhave been beforehand with us, both in the genus man, because the essence of their characters in and the species of our invention. human nature, and the personal situation of the Although sir Walter Scott is certainly in less individual, are almost indifferent to the success danger from such detections than any other we of the object which the author proposed to himhave ever met with, even in him the traces of imi-self; while, on the other hand, the characters of ation are obvious and abundant; and it is impos- the most popular novels of later times are Irish, sible, therefore, to give him the same credit for or Scotch, or French, and not, in the abstract, absolute originality as those earlier writers, who, men.-The general operations of nature are cir Laving no successful author to imitate, were oblig- cumscribed to her effects on an individual characed to copy directly from nature. In naming him ter, and the modern novels of this class, compared along with Shakspeare, we mean still less to say, with the broad and noble style of the earlier wri that he is to be put on a level with him, as to the ters, may be considered as Dutch pictures, delightrichness and sweetness of his fancy, or that living ful in their vivid and minute details of common vein of pure and lofty poetry which flows with life, wonderfully entertaining to the close observer such abundance through every part of his compo- of peculiarities, and highly creditable to the accusition. On that level no other writer has ever racy, observation, and humour of the painter, but stood, or will ever stand; though we do think that exciting none of those more exalted feelings, and there are fancy and poetry enough in the Waver-giving none of those higher views of the human ley Novels, if not to justify the comparison we soul, which delight and exalt the mind of the spechave ventured to suggest, at least to save it from tator of Raphael, Corregio, or Murillo. being altogether ridiculous. The variety stands out in the face of each of them, and the facility is attested, as in the case of Shakspeare himself, both by the inimitable freedom and happy carelessness of the style in which they are executed, and by the matchless rapidity with which they have been lavished on the public.
The object of WAVERLEY was evidently to present a faithful and animated picture of the manners and state of society that prevailed in the northern part of the island in the earlier part of last century; and the author judiciously fixed upon the era of the Rebellion in 1745, not only as enriching his pages with the interest inseparably
We must now, however, for the sake of keep-attached to the narration of such occurrences, but ing our chronology in order, be permitted to say as affording a fair opportunity for bringing out all a word or two on the most popular of these works. the contrasted principles and habits which distinThe earlier novelists wrote at periods when so-guished the different classes of persons who then ciety was not perfectly formed, and we find that divided the country, and formed among themselves their picture of life was an embodying of their the basis of almost all that was peculiar in the naown conceptions of the beau ideal. Heroes all tional character. That unfortunate contention generosity, and ladies all chastity, exalted above brought conspicuously to light, and for the last
time, the fading image of feudal chivalry in the stalks grimly about with his battle-axe on his
The feudal principalities had been extinguished in the South for near three hundred years, and the dominion of the puritans from the time of the Restoration. When the glens of the central highlands, therefore, were opened up to the gaze of the English, it seemed as if they were carried back to the days of the Heptarchy: when they saw the array of the West Country whigs, they might imagine themselves transported to the age of Cromwell. The effect, indeed, is almost as startling at the present moment; and one great source of the interest which the novel of Waverley possesses is to be sought in the surprise that is excited by discovering, that in our own country, and almost in our own age, manners and characters existed, and were conspicuous, which we had been accustomed to consider as belonging to remote antiquity, or extravagant romance.
The successful reception of Waverley was owing not only to the author's being a man of genius, but that he had also virtue enough to be true to nature throughout, and to content himself, even in the marvellous parts of his story, with copying from actual existences, rather than from the phantasms of his own imagination. The charm which this communicates to all works that deal in the representation of human actions and characters is more readily felt than understood, and operates with unfailing efficacy even upon those who have no acquaintance with the originals from which the picture has been borrowed. It requires no ordinary talent, indeed, to choose such realities as may outshine the bright imaginations of the inventive,
The way in which they are here represented must at once have satisfied every reader, by an internal tact and conviction, that the delineation had been made from actual experience and observation; experienced observation employed per- and so to combine them as to produce the most haps only on a few surviving relies and specimens advantageous effect; but when this is once accomof what was familiar a little earlier, but general-plished, the result is sure to be something more ized from instances sufficiently numerous and com- firm, impressive, and engaging, than can ever be plete, to warrant all that may have been added to produced by mere fiction. There is a consistency the portrait. in nature and truth, the want of which may always be detected in the happiest combinations of faney; and the consciousness of their support gives
The great traits of clannish dependence, pride, and fidelity, may still be detected in many distriets of the highlands, though they do not now a confidence and assurance to the artist, which enadhere to the chieftains when they mingle in ge-courages him occasionally to risk a strength of neral society; and the existing contentions of bur- colouring, and a boldness of touch, upon which ghers and antiburghers, and cameronians, though he would scarcely have ventured in a sketch that shrunk into comparative insignificance, and left was purely ideal. The reader, too, who by these indeed without protection to the ridicule of the or still finer indications, speedily comes to perprofane, may still be referred to as complete ve- ceive that he is engaged with scenes and characrifications of all that is here stated about Gifted ters that are copied from existing originals, naturGilfillan, or Ebenezer Cruickshanks. The traits ally lends a more eager attention to the story in of Scottish national character in the lower ranks which they are unfolded, and regards with a keencan still less be regarded as antiquated or tradi- er interest what he no longer considers as a be tional; nor is there any thing in the whole compass wildering series of dreams and exaggerations, but of the work which gives us a stronger impression as an instructive exposition of human actions and of the nice observation and graphical talents of sir energies, and of all the singular modifications Walter, than the extraordinary fidelity and felici- which our plastic nature receives from the circumty with which all the inferior agents in the story stances with which it is surrounded. are represented. No one who has not lived long Although Guy MANNERING is a production far among the lower orders of all descriptions, and below Waverley, it is still a work of considerable made himself familiar with their various tempers merit. Its inferiority to Waverley is, however, and dialects, can perceive the full merit of those very decided, not only as to general effect, but in rapid and characteristic sketches; but it requires every individual topic of interest. The story is only a general knowledge of human nature, to feel less probable, and is carried on with much machithat they must be faithful copies from known ori-nery and effort; the incidents are less natural; the ginals; and to be aware of the extraordinary faci- characters are less distinctly painted, and less fity and flexibility of hand which has touched, for worth painting; in short, the whole tone of the instance, with such discriminating shades, the va- book is pitched in an inferior key. rious gradations of the Celtic character, from the savage imperturbability of Dugald Mahony, who
The gratuitous introduction of supernatural agency in some parts of this novel is certainly to
be disapproved of. Even Shakspeare, who has the heroine-or rather the art with which he has been called the mighty magician, was never guilty so tempered and modified those great qualities, as of this mistake. His magic was employed in fairy- to make them appear nowise unsuitable to the staland, as in the Tempest; and his ghosts and gob- tion or ordinary bearing of such a person, and so lins in dark ages, as in Macbeth and Hamlet. ordered and disposed the incidents by which they When he introduces a witch in Henry VI, it is are called out, that they seem throughout adapted, because, historically, his representation was true; and native, as it were, to her condition, is supewhen he exhibits the perturbed dreams of a mur- rior to any thing we can recollect in the history derer, in Richard III, it was because his represen- of invention; and must appear to any one, who at tation was morally probable; but he never thought tentively considers it, as a remarkable triumph of making these fancies actual agents in an histo-over the greatest of all difficulties, in the conduct rical scene. There are no ghosts in Henry VIII, of a fictitious narrative. Jeanie Deans, in the and no witches in the Merry Wives of Windsor course of her adventurous undertaking, excites our (except the merry ladies;) and when, in one of his admiration and sympathy more powerfully than comedies, he chooses to wander out of nature, he most heroines, and is in the highest degree both m destly calls his drama a dream, and mixes up pathetic and sublime;-and yet she never says or fairies, witches, mythology, and common life, as does any thing that the daughter of a Scotch cowa brilliant extravaganza, which affects no histori-feeder might not be supposed to say or to do-and cal uor even possible truth, and which pretends to scarcely any thing indeed that is not characterisrepresent neither actual nor possible nature. Not tic of her rank and habitual occupations. She is so Guy Mannering: it brings down witchery and never sentimental, nor refined, nor elegant; and supernatural agency into our own times, not to be though always acting in very difficult situations, laughed at by the better informed, or credited by with the greatest judgment and propriety, never the vulgar; but as an active, effective, and real seems to exert more than that downright and obpart of his machinery. It treats the supernatural vious good sense, which is so often found to rule agency not as a superstition, but as a truth; and the conduct of persons of her condition. This is the result is brought about, not by the imagina- the great ornament and charm of the work. Dumtions of men deluded by a fiction, but by the ac- biedikes is, however, an admirable sketch in the tual operation of a miracle, contrary to the opi-grotesque way;-and the captain of Knockdunder Dion and belief of all the parties concerned. is not only a very spirited, but also a very accuThe ANTIQUARY is not free from this blame; rate representation of a Celtic deputy. There is there are two or three marvellous dreams and less description of scenery, and less sympathy in apparitions, upon which the author probably in- external nature in this, than in any of the other tended to ground some important parts of his de- tales. nouement; but his taste luckily took fright: the apparitions do not contribute to the catastrophe, and they now appear in the work as marks rather of the author's own predilection to such agency, than as any assistance to him in the way of machi
The BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR is more sketchy and romantic than the usual vein of the author-and loses, perhaps, in the exaggeration that is incident to the style, some of the deep and heartfelt interest that belongs to more familiar situations. The humours of Caleb Balderstone are, to The HEART OF MID-LOTHIAN, is remarkable for our taste, the least successful of this author's atcontaining fewer characters, and less variety of tempts at pleasantry, and belong rather to the incident, than any of sir Walter's former produc- school of French or Italian buffoonery, than to tions:-and it is accordingly, in some places, com- that of English humour;-and yet, to give scope paratively languid. The Porteous mob is rather to these farcical exhibitions, the poverty of the heavily described; and the whole part of George master of Ravenswood is exaggerated beyond all Robertson, or Staunton, is extravagant or unpleas- credibility, and to the injury even of his personal ing. The final catastrophe, too, is needlessly im- dignity. Sir William Ashton is tedious; and Buckprobable and startling; and both Saddletree and law and his captain, though excellently drawn, Davie Deans, become at last rather tedious and take up rather too much room for subordinate unreasonable; while we miss, throughout, the agents. There are splendid things, however, in this character of the generous and kind-hearted rus- work also. The picture of old Ailie is exquisite tic, which in one form or another, gives such spi--and beyond the reach of any other living writer. rit and interest to the former stories. But with The hags that convene in the church-yard have all all these defects, the work has both beauty and the terror and sublimity, and more than the napower enough to vindicate its title to a legitimate ture of Macbeth's witches; and the courtship at descent from its mighty father-and even to a the Mermaiden's well, as well as some of the implace in “the valued file "of his productions. The mediately preceding scenes, are full of dignity and trial and condemnation of Effie Deans are pathetic beauty. The catastrophe of the bride, though it and beautiful in the very highest degree; and the may be founded on fact, is too horrible for fiction. scenes with the duke of Argyle are equally full But that of Ravenswood is magnificent---and, taken of spirit; and strangely compounded of perfect along with the prediction which it was doomed to knowledge of life, and strong and deep feeling. fulfil, and the mourning and death of Balderstone, But the great boast of the piece, and the great ex- is one of the finest combinations of superstition ploit of the author, is the character and history and sadness, which the gloomy genius of our ficof Jeanie Deans, from the time she first reproves tion ever put together.
her sister's flirtations at St. Leonard's till she set- The LEGEND OF MONTROSE is also of the nature tles in the manse in Argyleshire. The singular of a sketch or fragment, and is still more vigortalent with which he has engrafted on the humble ous than its companion. There is too much, perand somewhat coarse stock of a quiet and unas-haps, of Dalgetty---or, rather, he engrosses too suming peasant girl, the powerful affection, the great a proportion of the work; for, in himself, strong sense, and lofty purposes, which distinguish we think he is uniformly entertaining;---and the
be quite correct as to the dress, furniture, and
author has nowhere shown more affinity to that
From the Tales of My Landlord we must pass
In comparing this work then with the productions which had already proceeded from the sam master-hand, it is impossible not to feel that w are passing in some degree from the reign of nature and reality to that of fancy and romance, and exchanging for scenes of wonder and curiosity those more homefelt sympathies, and deep.: