Imágenes de página

touches of delight, that can only be excited by the But the great merit of the Monastery is, that it people among whom we live, and the objects that are is a foundation for the ABBOT. This not only reconstantly around us. A far greater proportion of lieves, in a great measure, the reader from the the work is accordingly made up of splendid de- slow detail, or the perplexing retracings and scriptions of arms and dresses, moated and mas- éclaircissemens which detain or interrupt him in a sive castles, tournaments of mailed champions, narrative that is purely fictitious, but is an imsolemn feasts, formal courtesies, and other mat-provement on some of the peculiar advantages of ters of external and visible presentment, that are one that is historical. In the latter, the hard and only entitled to such distinction as connected with meagre outline of his previous knowledge seldom the olden times, and novel by virtue of their anti- contains more than the names and mutual relaquity; while the interest of the story is maintained tions of the principal personages, and what they far more by surprising adventures and extraordi- had previously done, with very little of what they nary situations, the startling effect of exaggerated had previously felt. But where one fiction is foundsentiments, and the strong contrast of overdrawn ed on another, we are introduced not merely to characters, than by the sober charms of truth and persons who are notorious to us, but to old acreality, the exquisite representation of scenes with quaintances and friends. The knight of Avenel, which we are familiar, or the skilful development the abbot Ambrosius, and the gardener Blinkof affectious which we have often experienced. hoolie, are the Halbert, and Edward, and BoniThese bright lights and deep shadows-this face, into whose early associations and secret feelsuccession of brilliant pictures, addressed as often ings we had been admitted. We meet them as we to the eyes as to the imagination, and oftener to meet, in real life, with those whom we have known the imagination than the heart-this preference in long-past times, and in different situations, and of striking generalities to homely details, all be- are interested in tracing, sometimes the resemlong more properly to the province of poetry than blance, and sometimes the contrast, between what of prose; and Ivanhoe, accordingly, seems to us has past and what is present; in observing the efmuch more akin to the most splendid of modern fect of new circumstances in modifying or confirmpoems, than the most interesting of modern novels;ing their old feelings, or in eliciting others which and savours much more of the author of Marmion, before lay unperceived. We view with interest or the Lady of the Lake, than of Waverley or Old the fiery freedom of Halbert's youth ripened into Mortality. the steady and stern composure of the approved soldier and skilful politician; and when, as knight of Avenel, he sighs for birth and name, we recognize the feelings that drove him from the obscure

Without disputing the general verdict, which places the MONASTERY below the rest of our author's works, we shall endeavour to ascertain the grounds on which it may be supposed to be found-security of a church vassal, to seek with his sword ed. We believe the principal deficiency lies in, the means of ranking with those proud men who what is usually our author's principal excellence, despised his clownish poverty. And when Amthe female characters. In general, his men add to brose acknowledges that, bent as he is by afflicthe boldness and animation of the scene, but his tion, he has not forgotten the effect of beauty on women support almost all its interest. Perhaps the heart of youth-that even in the watches of this must always be the case where both are equal- the night, broken by the thoughts of an imprisonly well drawn. We sympathize more readily with ed queen, a distracted kingdom, a church laid waste simple than with compound feelings; and there- and ruinous, come other thoughts than these sugfore less easily with those characters, the differ-gest, and other feelings that belong to an earlier ent ingredients of which have, by mutual subser- and happier course of life; a single allusion sends vience, been moulded into one uniform mass, than us back through the whole intervening time, and with those in which they stand unrnixed and con- we see him again in the deep window-recess of trasted. Courage restrained by caution, and libe- Glendearg, and Mary's looks of simple yet earrality by prudence, loyalty, with a view only to nest anxiety, watching for his assistance in their the ultimate utility of power, and love, never for- childish studies. The allusion would have been getting itself in its object, are the attributes of pretty, but how inferior if Ambrose had been a men. Their purposes are formed on a general ba-new character, and we had been forced to account lance of compensating motives, and pursued only for it by some vague theory as to his former hiswhile their means appear not totally inadequate tory. The Abbot has, however, far greater advanThe greater susceptibility, which is always the tages over its predecessor than those, great as they charm, and sometimes the misfortune, of women, are, that arise from their relative situation. We esdeprives them of the same accurate view of the cape from the dull tower of Glendearg, with its narproportion of different objects. The one upon row valley and homely inmates, to Edinburgh, and which they are intent, whether it be a lover, a Holyrood House, and Loch-leven Castle, and the parent, a husband, a child, a king, a preacher, a field of Langside, and to high dames and mighty ball, or a bonnet, swallows up the rest. Hence earls, and exchange the obscure squabbling of the the enthusiasm of their loyalty, the devotedness of hamlet and the convent for events where the pas their affection, the abandonment of self, and the general vehemence of emotion, which, in fiction as well as in reality, operate contagiously on our It is true there is a sorceress on the stage, but feelings. But our author has, in the Monastery, neglected the power of representing the female one endued with powers far greater for evil or for character, which he possesses so eminently, and, good than the White Lady. History has never dem general, uses so liberally. The heroine is milk scribed, or fiction invented, a character more truly and water, or any thing still more insipid. Dame tragic than Queen Mary. The most fruitful imaGlendinning and Tibbie are the common furni- gination could not have adorned her with more ture of a farm-house; and Mysie Happer and poor accomplishments, or exposed her to greater exCatherine, though beautiful, are mere sketches. tremes of fortune, or alternated them with greater

sions of individuals decided the fate of kingdoms, and, above all, we exchange unintelligible fairyism for human actors and human feelings.

rapidity. And the mystery which, after all the exertions of her friends and enemies, still rests on her conduct, and which our author has most skilfully left as dark as he found it, prevents our being either shocked or unmoved by her final calamities. The former would have been the case, if her innocence could have been established. We could not have borne to see such a being plunged, by a false accusation, from such happiness into such misery. The latter would have followed, if she could have been proved to be guilty. Her sufferings, bitter as they were, were less unmixed than those of Both well. He too endured a long imprisonment, but it was in a desolate elimate, without the alleviations which even Elizabeth allowed to her rival, without the hope of escape, or the sympathy of devoted attendants: such was his misery, that his reason sunk under it. And though his sufferings were greater than those of his accomplice, if such she were, his crime was less. He had not to break the same restraints of intimate connexion and of sex. But nobody could read a tragedy of which his misfortunes formed the substance; because we are sure of his guilt, they will excite no interest. While we continue to doubt hers, Mary's will be intensely affecting.

Though KENILWORTH ranks high among our author's works, we think it inferior, as a whole, to his other tragedies, the Bride of Lammermoor, the historical part of Waverley, and the Abbot, both in materials and in execution.

Sir Walter has not, we think, made the most of his opportunities. He has complied with the laws of poetical consistency, without recollecting that, in this instance, the notoriety of Elizabeth's history warranted their violation. Instead of pushing to the utmost the opposing qualities that formed her character, he has softened even the incidents that he has directly borrowed. When Leicester knelt before her at Kenilworth, ere she raised him she passed her hand over his head, so near as almost to touch his long curled and perfumed hair, and with a movement of fondness that seemed to intimate she would, if she dared, have made the motion a slight caress. Listen to sir James Melvil's account of the occurrence.

"I was required to stay till he was made earl of Leicester, which was done at Westminster, the queen herself helping to put on his ceremonial, he sitting upon his knees (kneeling) before her with great gravity; but she could not refrain from putting her hands into his neck, smilingly tickling him, the French ambassador and I standing by. Then she turned, asking me how I liked him? Again, when she discovers Leicester's conduct, in which every cause of personal irritation is most skilfully accumulated, she punishes him only by a quarter of an hour's restraint under the custody of the earl-marshal.

When, at a later period, and under circumstances of much less aggravation, she detected his marriage with lady Essex, she actually imprisonAmy Robsart and Elizabeth occupy nearly the ed him. Our author has not ventured on the full same space upon the canvas as Catherine Seyton vehemence of her affection or her rage. But, afand Mary. But almost all the points of interest, ter all, his picture of the lion-nearted queen, which are divided between Amy and Elizabeth, though it might perhaps have been improved by historical recollections, beauty, talents, attractive the admission of stronger contrasts, is so vivid, and virtues and unhappy errors, exalted rank and deep so magnificent, that we can hardly wish it other misfortune, are accumulated in Mary; and we than it is.

The FORTUNES OF NIGEL is of an historical character, and an attempt to describe and illustrate by examples the manners of the court, and, generally speaking, of the age of James I of England.

want altogether that union of the lofty and the The PIRATE is a bold attempt to make out a elegant, of enthusiasm and playfulness, which en- long and eventful story, from a very narrow circhanted us in Catherine. Amy is a beautiful spe-cle of society, and a scene so circumscribed as cimen of that class which long ago furnished Des- scarcely to admit of any great scope or variety of demona: the basis of whose character is conjugal action; and its failure, in a certain degree, must love, whose charm consists in its purity and its in fairness be ascribed chiefly to this scantiness devotedness, whose fault springs from its undue and defect of the materials. prevalence over filial duty, and whose sufferings are occasioned by the preverted passions of him who is the object of it. Elizabeth owes almost all her interest to our early associations, and to her marvellous combination of the male and female dispositions, in those points in which they seem Without asserting the high excellence of SAINT most incompatible. The representation of such a RONAN'S WELL, we may venture to affirm that it character loses much of its interest in history, and does not deserve the contempt with which it has would be intolerable in pure fiction. In the for- been treated by some critics. The story, indeed, mer, its peculiarities are softened down by the is not very probable, and there are various incondistance, and Elizabeth appears a fine, but not an sistencies in the plot; the characters, though apuncommon object—a great, unamiable sovereign; parently intended to be completely modern, are in and the same peculiarities, shown up by the mi- some instances more suitable to the last generacroscopic exaggeration of fiction, would, if judged tion; the hero's portrait is feebly drawn: the moonly by the rules of fiction, offend as unnatural; ral tone of the work is less correct and legitimate but supported by the authority of history, would than that which pervades our author's preceding be most striking. A portrait might be drawn of productions, and the impulses of feeling and huElizabeth, uniting the magnanimous courage, the manity are less natural and forcible; but it is still persevering but governable anger, the power of a work which bears the marks of a master's hand, weighing distant against immediate advantages, the interest is well sustained, the incidents are reand the brilliant against the useful, and of subject-lated with spirit, many of the dialogues are lively ing all surrounding minds, even the most manly, to her influence, with the most craving vanity, the most irritable jealousy, the meanest duplicity, and the most capricious and unrelenting spite, that ever degraded the silliest and most hateful of her sex.

and pleasant, and not only the characters of the heroine, but also those of the landlady of Touchwood, are drawn with a discriminating and powerful pencil.

In the historical novels of REDGAUNTLET, QUENTIN DURWARD, and WOODSTOCK, the author dis

plays a truly graphic power in the delineation of been represented with such an air of truth, and so characters, which he sketches with an ease, and much ease and happiness of execution. colours with a brilliancy, and scatters about with Among his faults and failures, we must give s profusion, which but few writers, in any age, the first place to his descriptions of virtuous young have been able to accomplish. With spells of ma- ladies, and his representations of the ordinary busi gic potency, and with the creations of a rich and ness of courtship and conversation in polished life. varied fancy, so skilfully has he stolen us from We admit that those things, as they are commonourselves, with such exquisite cunning has he ex-ly conducted, are apt to be a little insipid to a mere tracted a kind of poetry from the common incidents critical spectator, and that while they consequentof life, with such an extent of legendary knowledge, ly require more heightening than strange advenhe has displayed so wonderful an aptitude in draw-tures or grotesque persons, they admit less of exing from historic research those minute traits of aggeration or ambitious ornament: yet we cannot manners and modifications in social life, which, by think it necessary that they should be altogether reason of the wide range which it traverses, and so lame and mawkish as we generally find them in the rapidity with which it moves along, are in history too general and indistinct; that it would be worse than affectation to stand aloof from the general feeling, and to refuse our humble proportion of those "golden opinions he has bought from all sorts of men," and which have fixed him in so high a rank in the literature of his country.

the hands of this spirited writer, whose powers really seem to require some stronger stimulus to bring them into action, than can be supplied by the flat realities of a peaceful and ordinary existence. His love of the ludicrous, it must also be observed, often betrays him into forced and vulgar exaggerations, and into the repetition of comThe TALES OF THE CRUSADERS have not been mon and paltry stories; though it is but fair to add, received with that enthusiasm of delight which that he does not detain us long with them, and greeted some of our author's former productions: makes amends, by the copiousuess of his assortyet they undoubtedly possess considerable merit, ment, for the indifferent quality of some of the and, amidst much that is feeble, uninteresting, specimens. It is another consequence of this exand absurd, bear evident marks of sense and talent. treme abundance in which he revels and riots, and of the fertility of the imagination from which it is To sum up our observations on the Waverley supplied, that he is at all times a little apt to overNovels, in a few words, we think their author has do even those things which he does best. His succeeded by far the best in the representation of most striking and highly-coloured characters aprustic and homely characters, and not in the ludi-pear rather too often, and go on rather too long. crous or contemptuous representation of them-It is astonishing, indeed, with what spirit they are but by making them at once more natural and more supported, and how fresh and animated they are interesting than they had ever been made before to the very last; but still there is something too in any work of fiction; by showing them, not as much of them, and they would be more waited clowns to be laughed at, or wretches to be pitied for and welcomed, if they were not quite so laand despised,--but as human creatures, with as vish of their presence. It was reserved for Shakmany pleasures, and fewer cares, than their supe-speare alone to leave all his characters as new and riors--with affections not only as strong, but often unworn as he found them, and to carry Falstaff as delicate, as those whose language is smoother through the business of three several plays, and and with a vein of humour, a force of sagacity, and leave us as greedy of his sayings as at the moment very frequently an elevation of fancy, as high and of his first introduction. It is no light praise to the as natural as can be met with among more culti-author before us, that he has sometimes reminded vated beings. The great merit of all these deline- us of this, and, as we have before observed, of ations is their admirable truth and fidelity, the other inimitable excellencies in that most gifted of whole manner and east of the characters being ac- all inventors. curately moulded to their condition; and the finer attributes, so blended and harmonized with the native rudeness and simplicity of their life and occupations, that they are made interesting and even Boble beings, without the least particle of foppery or exaggeration, and delight and amuse us, without trespassing at all on the province of pastoral or


Next to these, we think, he has found his happiest subjects, or at least displayed his greatest powers, in the delineation of the grand and gloomy aspects of nature, and of the dark and fierce passons of the heart. The natural gaiety of his temper does not indeed allow him to dwell long on such themes; but the sketches he occasionally introduces are executed with admirable force and spirit, and give a strong impression both of the vigour of his imagination and the variety of his talent. It is only in the third rank that we would place his pictures of chivalry and chivalrous character, his traits of gallantry, nobleness, and honour, and that bewitching assemblage of gay and gentle manners, with generosity, candour, and courage, which has long been familiar enough to readers and writers of novels, but has never before

He is above all things national and Scottish, and never seems to feel the powers of a giant except when he touches his native soil. His countrymen alone, therefore, can have a full sense of his merits, or a perfect relish of his excellencies; and those only, indeed, of them, who have mingled, as he has done, pretty freely with the lower orders, and made themselves familiar not only with their language, but with the habits and traits of character of which it then only becomes expressive. It is one thing to understand the meaning of words, as they are explained by other words in a glossary or dictionary, and another to know their value, as expressive of certain feelings and humours in the speakers to whom they are native, and as signs both of temper and condition among those who are familiar with their import.

We shall make no apology to our readers for introducing here, the following animated delineation of the author of Waverley, from the pen of an acute critic.

"Sir Walter," says this writer, "has found out that facts are better than fiction; that there is no romance like the romance of real life, and that can we but arrive at what men feel, do, and say,

in striking and singular situations, the result will Master Barnardine,) and Glossin, the soul of an be more lively, audible, and full of vent, than the attorney, and Dandie Dinmont, with his terrierfine-spun cobwebs of the brain. Our author has pack and his pony Dumple, and the fiery colonel conjured up the actual people he has to deal with, Mannering, and the modish old counsellor Pleyor as much as he could get of them, in their ha- dell, and Dominie Sampson: and Rob Roy, (like bits as they lived.' He has ransacked old chroni- the eagle in his eyrie,) and Baillie Nicol Jarvie, cles, and poured the contents upon his page; he and the inimitable major Galbraith, Rashleigh has squeezed out musty records; he has consulted Osbaldistone, and Die Vernon, the best of secretway-faring pilgrims, bed-rid sibyls; he has invok-keepers; and in the Antiquary, the ingenious Mr. ed the spirits of the air; he has conversed with the Oldbuck, and the old bedesman, Edie Ochiltree, living and the dead, and let them tell their story and that preternatural figure of old Elspeth, a livtheir own way; and by borrowing of others, has ing shadow, in whom the lamp of life had been long enriched his own genius with everlasting variety, extinguished, had it not been fed by remorse and truth, and freedom. He has taken his materials thick-coming' recollections; and that striking picfrom the original, authentic sources, in large con- ture of feudal tyranny and fiendish pride, the uncrete masses, and has not tampered with, or too happy earl of Glenallan; and the Black Dwarf, and much frittered them away. He is the only amanu- his friend, Hobbie of the Heughfoot, (the cheerful ensis of truth and history. It is impossible to say hunter,) and his cousin Grace Armstrong, fresh how fine his writings in consequence are, unless and laughing like the morning; and the Children we could describe how fine nature is. All that of the Mist, and the baying of the blood-hound, portion of the history of his country that he has that tracks their steps at a distance, (the hollow touched upon, (wide as the scope is,) the manners, echoes are in our ears now,) and Amy and her hapthe personages, the events, the scenery, lives over less love, and the villain Varney, and the deep voice again in his volumes. Nothing is wanting the il- of George of Douglas-and the immovable Balalusion is complete. There is a hurtling in the air, fré, and Master Oliver, the barber, in Quentin a trampling of feet upon the ground, as these per- Durward-and the quaint humour of the Fortunes fect representations of human character, or fanciful of Nigel, and the comic spirit of Peveril of the belief, come thronging back upon the imagination. Peak-and the fine old English romance of IvanWe will merely recal a few of the subjects of his hoe. What a list of names! What a host of assopencil to the reader's recollection, for nothing we ciations! What a thing is human life! What a could add by way of note or commendation, could power is that of genius! What a world of thought make the impression more vivid. and feeling is thus rescued from oblivion! How "There is (first and foremost, because the ear- many hours of heartfelt satisfaction has our author liest of our acquaintance) the baron of Bradwar-given to the gay and thoughtless! How many sad dine, stately, kind-hearted, whimsical, and pedan-hearts has he soothed in pain and solitude! It is tic; and Flora Mac-Ivor, (whom even we forgive no wonder that the public repay, with lengthened for her jacobitism,) the fierce Vich Ian Vohr, and applause and gratitude, the pleasure they receive. Evan Dhu, constant in death, and Davie Gellatley, He writes as fast as they can read, and he does not roasting his eggs, or turning his rhymes with rest-write himself down. He is always in the public eye, less volubility, and the two stag hounds that met and we do not tire of him. His worst is better than Waverley, as fine as ever Titian painted, or Paul Veronese; then there is old Balfour of Burley, brandishing his sword and his bible with fire-eyed fury, trying a fall with the insolent, gigantic Bothwell, at the change-house, and vanquishing him at the noble battle of Loudon-hill; there is Bothwell, himself, drawn to the life, proud, cruel, selfish, profligate--but with the love-letters of the "The political bearing of the Scotch Novels has gentle Alice, (written thirty years before,) and his been a considerable recommendation to them. verses to her memory, found in his pocket after They are a relief to the mind, rarified as it has his death; in the same volume of Old Mortality, been with modern philosophy, and heated with is that lone figure, like one in Scripture, of the ultra-radicalism. The candour of sir Walter's hiswoman sitting on the stone, at the turning to toric pen levels our bristling prejudices, and sees the mountain, to warn Burley that there is a fair play between roundheads and cavaliers-belion in his path; and the fawning Claverhouse, tween protestant and papist. He is a writer reconbeautiful as a panther, smooth-looking, blood-ciling all the diversities of human nature to the spotted: and the fanatics, Macbriar and Muckle- reader. He does not enter into the hostile distincwrath, crazed with zeal and sufferings; and the tions of sects and parties, but treats of the strength inflexible Morton, and the faithful Edith, who or the infirmity of the human mind, of the virtues refused to give her hand to another, while her heart was with her lover in the deep and dead sea.' In The Heart of Mid-Lothian, we have Effie Deans, (that sweet faded flower,) and Jeanie, her more than sister, and old David Deans, the patriarch of St. Leonard's Crags, and Butler, and Dumbiedikes, eloquent in his silence, and Mr. Bartoline Saddle- "The two most celebrated writers of this age, tree, and his prudent helpmate, and Porteous, lord Byron and sir Walter Scott, resemble each swinging in the wind, and Madge Wildfire, full other not a little in their works. Their respective of finery and madness, and her ghastly mother. series of productions, from Childe Harold to Don Again, there is Meg Merrilies, standing on her Juan, and from Waverley to Woodstock, though rock, stretched on her bier, with her head to the differing essentially in structure, object, and subeast,' and Dirk Hatteraick, (equal to Shakspeare's ject, agree, nevertheless, in several particulars.

any other person's best. His back-grounds (and his latter works are little else but back-grounds capitally made out,) are more attractive than the principal and most complicated figures of other writers. His works (taken together) are almost like a new edition of human nature. This is indeed to be an author!

and vices of the human breast, as they are to be found blended in the whole race of mankind. Nothing can show more handsomely, or be more gallantly executed."

Another critic attempts a comparison between our author and the late lord Byron, as follows:

On the death of the illustrious Byron, sir Walter Scott evinced his candour and liberality of mind in the following tribute to his lordship's memory:

Each series, for example, evinces a remarkable Byron; he never travelled without them. "They qualification of mind in the author, and each be- are," said he to captain Medwin one day, “a lítrays a remarkable defect. It is likewise a singu- brary in themselves-a perfect literary treasure. lar coincidence, that the same qualification and the I could read them once a year with new pleasure." same defect should exist in both, viz. extraordinary During that morning he had been reading one of bility of invention as far as respects composition, sir Walter's novels, and delivered the following and difficulty of invention as far as respects cha-criticism: "How difficult it is to say any thing racter. Both authors are about equally remarkable new! Who was that voluptuary of antiquity who for the said power, and (if the expression may be offered a reward for a new pleasure? Perhaps all sed) impotence of mind, in these different pro- nature and art could not supply a new idea. This vinces of invention. page, for instance, is a brilliant one; it is full of "And first as to composition. The prodigal ef- wit. But let us see how much is original. This fusion of poetry, which in Childe Harold, the Cor- passage," continued his lordship, "comes from sir, the Giaour, &c., &c., almost overwhelmed Shakspeare; this bon mot from one of Sheridan's the reading world, is only to be paralleled by the comedies; this observation from another writer; quantity of prose so dissolutely expended in the and yet the ideas are new moulded, and perhaps composition of Waverley, Guy Mannering, &c., Scott was not aware of their being plagiarisms. It &e., a series to which we can see indeed no pro-is a bad thing to have a good memory." "I should bable termination. Both the poems and the novels not like to have you for a critic," observed capindicate a fertility of mind in this respect, amount-tain Medwin. "Set a thief to catch a thief," was ing to what might be designated even a rank luxu- the reply. riance. Before we had eaten down one crop of this intellectual pasture, another began to present itself, and a third growth shot up whilst our heads were deep in the second. There is here an obvious re- "That mighty genius, which walked amongst semblance between the two series of works now men as something superior to ordinary mortality, compared. It would be hard to say whether the and whose powers were beheld with wonder, and post or the novelist were the greater spendthrift something approaching to terror, as if we knew of his words. In both, eloquence is of so splendid not whether they were of good or of evil, is laid and profluent a nature, that it takes the form, and as soundly to rest as the poor peasant whose ideas might assume the name, of splendid loquacity. never went beyond his daily task. The voice of The labour with these authors seems to have been just blame; and that of malignant censure, are at merely that of transcribing from the folds of the once silenced; and we feel almost as if the great brain to the leaves of their paper. Facility in com- luminary of heaven had suddenly disappeared from position-and when we say this, we do not mean the sky, at the moment when every telescope was fluency without a considerable degree of solidity, levelled for the examination of the spots which is the qualification in which these two great wri-dimmed its brightness. It is not now the question ters resemble each other, and that, perhaps, in what were Byron's faults-what his mistakes: but which they most surpass all their contemporaries. how is the blank which he has left in British liteWe allow there is much difference between the rature to be filled up? Not, we fear, in one geneweighty bullion' of Childe Harold, or Waverley, ration, which, among many highly-gifted persons, and the French wire' into which the small portion has produced none who approach Byron in origiof sterling ore, forming the real worth of Sardana-nality, the first attribute of genius. Only thirty-sepalos, or Redgauntlet, is drawn; but still, the same ven years old—so much already done for immorease of language, the same wealth of imagery, is tality-so much time remaining, as it seems to us everywhere displayed, even in their most precipi- short-sighted mortals, to maintain and to extend tate works, by each writer,--and with about equal his fame, and to atone for errors in conduct and clams on our admiration. Sir Walter, like his late levities in composition: who will not grieve that Doble competitor for the crown of fame, in his such a race has been shortened, though not always more recent works, seems to have depended almost keeping the strait path-such a light extinguished, wholly on the power of writing ad infinitum, agree-though sometimes flaming to dazzle and to bewil ably upon any or no subject. But all-powerful as der? One word on this ungrateful subject ere we those two great writers may be considered, in the quit it for ever. department of eloquence, and what may be gene- "The errors of lord Byron arose neither from rally described as composition, they are both ra- depravity of heart,—for Nature had not committed dically, though not perhaps equally, impotent in the anomaly of uniting to such extraordinary tathe province of character, variously modified by the lents an imperfect moral sense,-nor from feelings different circumstances in which it is placed dead to the admiration of virtue. No man had throughout all lord Byron's poems, that of a no- ever a kinder heart for sympathy, or a more open ble-minded, but depraved being, of fine feelings, hand for the relief of distress; and no mind was but irregular passions, more or less satirical and ever more formed for the enthusiastic admiration misanthropical in his disposition, gloomy, heart-of noble actions, provided he was convinced that withered, reckless, and irreligious. Sir Walter the actors had proceeded on disinterested princiScott has taken a circle of somewhat greater cir- ples. But his wonderful genius was of a nature curaference, but within which he is just as strictly which disdained restraint, even when restraint was confined. He has excogitated, or his experience most wholesome. When at school, the tasks in has furnished him with a certain definite number which he excelled were those only which he unof enaracters, and these he plays as he would chess-dertook voluntarily; and his situation as a young men, sometimes bringing one forward, sometimes man of rank, with strong passions, and in the unanother, but without the power of increasing the controlled enjoyment of considerable fortune, addnumber of men on the board." ed to that impatience of strictness or coercion The Waverley novels were highly admired by which was natural to him as an author; he refused

« AnteriorContinuar »