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in the midst of his shocking haunts, to be excited, appalled, and melted by the deepest tragic passion. The whole scene of the murder of the old usurer, who has been prowling about to obtain the piece of money on Nigel's table—his soul fixed intensely on that one object, which he grasps in death—is fearfully grand. The deep desolation of the antique house standing in the midst of that den of wretches; the frightful intensity with which the victim is brought before us in the previous scenes,-heighten inconceivably the terrors of the situation, which is itself most vividly depicted. Even this is inferior to the masterly, we had almost said sublime, developement of the character of Martha Trabois, the usurer's daughter; who has tended her miserable father in this place of infamy till all affection seems dried up within her, and she appears a living anatomy; and who is aroused in this moment of extremity to filial agony and to towering revenge. It is as noble a vindication of the unalienable rights of nature as is to be found even in the writings of our author; and as a great picture imbued with the august solemnities of death and life, it may be ranked with the description of Meg Merrilies watching the last agonies of the smuggler, the young fisherman's funeral in the Antiquary, and the closing chap. ters of Waverley.
Of all the characters introduced in this work, the most complete, in point of finishing, is unquestionably King James. It seems done to very life. The utter childishness of his taste, the singular littleness of his personal vanity, his selfish goodnature, his almost incredible meanness, his silly love of practical jests and low victories, his pedantry, his shuddering terror of naked steel—all his degrading foibles and fopperies—are brought before us with a reality which is almost startling. Some may
be inclined to wonder how a man of our author's political opinion could voluntarily make such an exhibition of any thing whose brows were “ circled with a kingly diadem.” But, whatever may be a poet's creed, his genius will be essentially liberal. He is too conversant with the essences of things to be slavishly devoted to their outward shows. He is so accustomed to contemplate man as man, to trace back to their mysterious sources those passions which are common to the species, to depict those sufferings and joys of which all men are partakers, that he cannot habitually prostrate his own spirit before despotic power. He is familiar with the true majesties of the heart. If he pays fitting homage to time-honoured institutions and usages, he feels that they derive their peculiar colouring from our human affec
If he dwells fondly on the decayed relics of tyrannic grandeur, he feels at the same time the mightier antiquity of the universe. A wit, a satirist, may give the full benefit of his powers to the cause of absolute monarchy; a court is his proper atmosphere, and its creatures the fit subjects of his pen; but true imagination can never be servile. Its possessor may condescend to a birthday ode; but whenever he fairly exercises his faculties on worthy themes, the old instinct will revive, and humanity assert its true immunities in his works. A man's interest is nothing when put in competition with his passions and his powers, especially in the case of a great poet, who must necessarily have the most intense consciousness of both. He may honestly change his opinions, and he may give up honour and conscience for gain ; but he will not, he cannot resign, for his life, one essential principle of his poetry.
There is no great merit in the delineation of the remaining male characters. Lord Huntinglen, indeed, is “a stout pillar of the olden time,” and the usurer is the most intense of his class; but George Heriot does not stand out very prominently from the canvass. Richie Moniplies is tedious, and Sir Mungo Malagrowther a mere nuisance. But the author perhaps never succeeded so well in the delineation of females who are very women-not marked with peculiar characteristics as individuals, except so far as they are pre-eminently feminineas he has done in his pictures of Mistress Margaret, and Dame Nelly, the frail wife of Nigel's host. Nothing can be more charmingly natural than the behaviour of the little beauty in the interview with Dame Ursula,,her delicate waywardness, her pretty impatiences, the sweet self-will of a spoiled child, as she buries her dimpled face in her small hand. How delightful, too, are her terrors, and her tears, when sent to the 'Tower in her page's dress, which so well belie that strange attire ! What a sentiment of shape is there in the allusion which Heriot makes to her little foot in the midst of his displeasure! The slippery virtue of honest John Christie's wife well es us for the caprices and the relentings of Lord Dalgarmo's mistress. She seems moulded to yield and to repent, to cry and laugh in the same breath ; and is the very perfection of female weakness, which has no principle to sustain it. How pleasant is her inquiry whether they shall not reach Scotland that day; her happiness to be with my Lord, and her tears for honest John; her transient sense of her own degradation, so easily changed into pride; her entire abandonment to the emotion of the moment, and want of purpose ! The instant death of her seducer in the midst of this trifling comes like a blow upon the heart. The whole annals of fiction scarcely contain another transition so awful.
The more we dwell on the excellencies of this work, the more we regret that it is not better. He who can write its best passages should not write for the booksellers. Unfortunately, he is infected with the spirit of our literature, which can brook no delay, but requires the stimulus of immediate applause. Every popular writer of the day has grown as periodical as the Editor of a Magazine. We earnestly wish that the greatest of authors would learn a due respect for their genius; would dare to build for the future ; and choose not merely to be read and praised for a month, but to produce works which shall shed their sweetness on future ages.
SONG. -BY T. CAMPBELL.
And if you nurse a flame
We will not ask her name.
Paints silently the fair,
Or yet may hope to share.
From hallow'd thoughts so dear;
As they would love to hear.
THE MIRACULOUS CANDLE.*
At Amiens famed for treaty-making
Meant to be kept by neither party,
Honest, and of a constitution hearty,
Moral, nay pious, for he went to mass,
Of folks that sold themselves for gold and brass,
(Thinking he'd have, at least, good company)
To toil and labour, when in riches he
Assumed a monkey's shape to tempt the man,
Told him that when the term expired a plan
To Christopher a time that ne'er could end :
Like rich men lived, to eat, and sleep, and spend,
The term that Satan granted, when one day
Cook'd in Beauvilliers' famed and savory way,
To fetch a luscious bot:le of the best,
That a stout man below would be his guest ;-
Seated himself-his tail that coil'd up lay
Curl'd round the chair, or switch'd like cat’s at play;
In Vol. I. Lett. 32, of the Jewish Spy, there is an account of an everlasting candle at Amiens which never wasted or burnt out, and by which the church obtained large sums from devotees. It was unfortunately extinguished at the French revolution! From this, perhaps, it is said that the Amiennois light their candles at both ends" Ils brûlent leurs chandelles par les deux bouts."
He told our carpenter to come his way:
The latter shew'd his lease and grumbled well :
Made thirty, for they reckon’d so in hell,
Just to his guests above to say goodb’ye :
His utmost haste, for he must call hard nigh
Go, take that candle,” said a half-drunk priest,
Till it be out, and leave to me the rest.”.
While Boniface some holy water brought
And in a trap the thoughtless Devil caught,
ON BEING SHEWN SOME BEAUTIFUL SPECIMENS OF
That to objects as lovely as these they can mould us;
In its relics our friends need not fear to behold us.
So faithful to nature, when living composed
Where tenderness sigh'd or affection reposed.
Which the blind little god in his archery uses,
May be play'd with unhurt till the moment she chooses.
The verses he destined to live are unknown;
And as idly are dreaming the bards of our own.
Which seem as if breathing their odours around,
And rear'a her young sweets as they sprang from the ground.
To a substance like this, and again see the light,
The lamp that some nymph loves to read by at night!
In her eyes, as the lines of the minstrel they trace,
CHURCH-YARD WANDERINGS. “ Let's talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs." SHAKŠPEARP.. Sober subjects, Mr. Editor, but yet of universal concernment, and on that account, perhaps, adapted for a magazine. What individual gazes upon the most obscure cemetery without feeling the uncertain tenure of human existence—without a thought respecting the time when dusty death” shall number him with those that lie low !-the period when the warm tide of life shall cease to career through his veins, and the glories of nature no more expand themselves before his delighted vision ! Even the callous-hearted sexton, wbo sings at grave-digging, and with whom “ custom hath made it a matter of easiness' —he who tosses about the jowls of many who were his potcompanions forty years ago, in the days of his youth; this white-haired, hard-featured man is sometimes visited while at his vocation with an unbidden thought, as to who the trusty brother of the trade may be that will “ do for him what he has done for thousands.” The soldier, apprenticed to carnage, has also felt forebodings of his own doom steal across his mind, however careless he may appear on the subject ;-in short, who has not?
For my own part, I am fond of communing with the dead: they have the start of me a little while; are more advanced in knowledge than the living; and if they had the gift of utterance, would, probably, testify to me how little knowledge is, after all
, really worth. There are times when their speaking silence communicates unutterable feelings to the heart-feelings that flow back to the very sources of existence, prompting strange thoughts and imaginings. Though in the full flush of health and manhood, I can find pleasure in visiting the last abodes of mortality, and in conning over the “ hoary text, that “teaches the rustic moralist to die.” The habitations of the dead, though forsaken by the world in general, are not wholly so : I am accustomed to visit them often, and to regard them as the dwellings of friends with whom I must soon abide. I have a great admiration for beautiful church-yards, and a fastidious taste in choosing situations for sepulchres; oftentimes setting at nought certain ceremonies of consecration, and other common-place essentials to the quiet repose of the defunct in the view of mother church. My taste for a place of sepulture is like his who exclaims
“ Mine be the breezy hill that skirts the down;
Where a green grassy turf is all I crave;
Fast by a brook, or fountain's murmuring wave,
many an evening sun shine sweetly on my grave.” or the wild and picturesque grave-ground of Ossian, even more congenial than that of the “ Minstrelto one of my disposition—"A rock with its head of heath; three aged pines bend from its base; green is the narrow plain at its feet; there the flower of the mountain grows and shakes its white bead in the breeze. The thistle is there alone shedding its aged beard. Two stones half sunk in the ground shew their heads of moss."
The mouldy vaults of Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's may be occupied for me in all their “ night and desolation,” until they are