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from forming any guess about the real views of the principal characters, till they are presented with a catastrophe which could never have been anticipated : and that a genuine epic poem is nothing but a series of digressions. If any one shall be disposed to argue that a speech cannot be called a series of parentheses, or a poem a series of digressions, and that the
very words imply some other general matter as a principal subject, and that to make the principal subject seem incidental, is against the rules of art; the first point, being merely verbal, I should leave to grammarians to settle, but the latter point I should feel myself bound to deny. For art is but the imitation of nature; and the uniform course in life is for men to put on a disguise, and let their real character lie in reserve, though it may, perhaps, sometime peep out unawares. Do we not all know that Brutus played the simpleton two-thirds of his life, and then all of a sudden shewed something peculiar in his wit and spirit ? Did not every one think Swift a queer mulish being, till by accident he turned author ? Did not Henry the Eighth, for many good years, entertain conscientious scruples about the legality of his first marriage, and consult all the doctors in Europe to solve the problem, and then, when he could not prevail on the Pope to come to any determination one way or other, did he not, in a manner, by chance marry Anne Boleyn? Did not Oliver Cromwell talk for years about flat Popery in the House of Commons, and then, in a parenthesis, buy Charles the First's jewels ? Does not his High Mightiness the Pope designate himself the servant of servants, and is not his only constant care bent on enlarging Christ's kingdom, “ which is not of this world;" and does he not occasionally put forth his feet to be kissed merely for courtesy? Do not fanatics, in all ages, loudly disclaim all sense of merit, and, in true self-annihilation, resemble that honest friar who, apprehensive of the acclamations of respect that must ensue upon his preaching, took care to close his long unintelligible rant with a "not unto us, not unto us, O Lord, but to thee be the praise and the
But I cry your mercy, gentle reader, and beg you will not think that, for the purpose of taking a Pisgah view of the world, I have mounted myself on the tub of Diogenes. Understand me, I pray you, in a more simple sense, and above all, be of good courage since you now see land. Nor will I, after mentioning the cynic's name, apologise for this long tirade, or express my fears that I may have seemed tedious to you, lest you should answer me, as he did some foolish talker in his day, “Surely not, not at all,” said he, “ for I did not think it worth while to compliment you with a moment's attention.”
MACPHERSON'S LAMENT. Mr. Editor.—I am encouraged to send fragments of Macpherson's Lament, and some account of the incidents by which those stanzas were preserved. Macpherson was executed at Banff, in the year 1701, eight days after his trial, and his execution took place at a much earlier hour than was appointed by his sentence; the magistrates of Banff being apprehensive of a
It was even reported, that, either by fraud or violence, an express with his pardon was detained between Turreff and Banff. An unhappy girl, whose love for him, and grief for his fate, ended in distraction, came to Glenorchy and Upper Lorne in the following summer. She could give no distinct account of herself; but the incoherent hints drawn from her led to a conclusion that her parents were reputable; but that, infatuated by a passion for Macpherson, she had passed some time with him among his gipsy associates, had been admitted to him in prison, and learnt the Lament, which he hoped would engage the populace to assist his friends in delivering him from the civil power, when disencumbered from his fetters, preparatory to execution ; but, as she said, "they wadna trust the music o his voice, but choked him before his time.” She had left her “ain fouk to gang to Badenoch, the laund o' her dear, and her dool," and she insisted Glenorchy was Badenoch, because the people spoke Gaelic, and there were “bonny lads, and red-cheeked lasses.” Some one asked if she was a gipsey? She seemed quite indignant, and replied, “ Na, na, she was born in haly marriage, and bapteezed in haly kirk.”
The fragments of the Lament were literally stolen from this mourner. A gentleman attempted to write from her singing ; but she wept bitterly at the idea of “giving away,” as she termed it, “the last remains of her dear.' The gentleman engaged some friends to prevail with “ Jamie's lassie," the only name she gave herself, to sing his Lament; and he kept behind her employing his pencil to trace the lines.
I've spent my life in rioting,
Debauch'd my health and strength,
And fell to shame at length.
Accurs'd disgraceful death,
And stifled in the breath.
Of fame and honour high,
The son so doom'd to die!
The laird of Grant, with pow'r aboon
The royal Majesty,
And let Macpherson die.
First laid a snare for me,
Aveng'd I well could be.
When power was in my hand,
It is my last command.
Macpherson's worthless life :
My legacy was strife.
that blame with cruel scorn
Ye could spend better days!
Before my eyes were spread,
On the soldier's dying bed.
And chok'd with heaps of slain,
To soften every pain.
Of fame and lineage high ;
B. G. A. S.
Seville, 1799. Fortune has favoured me with an acquaintance--a young clergyman of this town—for whom, since our first introduction, I have felt a growing esteem, such as must soon ripen into the warmest affection. Common danger, and common suffering, especially of the mind, prove often the readiest and most indissoluble bonds of human friendship: and when to this influence is added the blending power of an intercommunity of thoughts and sentiments, no less unbounded than the confidence with which two men put thereby their liberty, their fortune, and their life into the hands of each other-imagination can hardly measure the warmth and devotedness of honest hearts thus united.
Spaniards who have broken the trammels of superstition possess a wonderful quickness to mark and know one another. Yet caution is so necessary, that we never offer the right hand of fellowship till, by gradual approaches, the heart and mind are carefully scanned on both sides. There are bullies in mental no less than in animal courage : and I have sometimes been in danger of committing myself with a pompous fool that was hazarding propositions in the evening, which he was sure to lay, in helpless fear, before the confessor, the next morning; and who, had he met with free and unqualified assent from any one of the company, would have tried to save his own soul and body by carrying the whole conversation to the Inquisitors. But the character of my new friend was visible at a glance; and, after some conversation, I could not feel the slightest apprehension that there might lurk in his heart either the villainy or the folly which can betray a man, in this world, under a pretext of ensuring his happiness in the next. He too, either from the circumstance of my long residence in England, or, as I hope, from something more properly belonging to myself, soon opened his whole mind; and we both uttered downright heresy. After this mutual, this awful pledge, the Scythian ceremony of tasting each other's blood could not have more closely bound us in interest and danger.
The coolness of an orange-grove is not more refreshing to him who has panted across one of our burning plains, under the meridian sun in August, than the company of a few trusty friends to some unbending minds, after a long day of restraint and dissimulation. When after our evening walk we are at last comfortably seated round
friend's reading-table, where an amiable young officer, another clergyman, and one of the most worthy and highly-gifted men that tyranny and superstition have condemned to pine in obscurity, are always welcomed with a cordiality approaching to rapture-I cannot help comparing our feelings to those which we might suppose in Christian slaves at Algiers, who, having secretly unlocked the rivets of their fetters, could shake them off to feast and riot in the dead of night, cheering their hearts with wild visions of liberty, and salving their wounds with vague hopes of revenge. Revenge, did I say! what a false notion would that word give you of the characters that compose our little club! I doubt if Nature herself could so undo the work of her hands as to transform any one of my kind, my benevolent friends, into a man of blood. As to myself
, mere protestations were useless. You know me; and I shall leave you to judge. But there is a revenge of the fancy, perfectly consistent with true mildness and generosity, though certainly more allied to quick sensibility than to sound and sober judgment. The last, however, should be seldom, if at all, looked for among persons in our circumstances. Our childhood is artificially protracted till we wonder how we have grown old: and, being kept at an immeasurable distance from the affairs and interests of public life, our passions, our virtues, and our vices, like those of early youth, have deeper roots in the imagination than the heart. I will not say that this is a prevalent feature in the character of my countrymen ; but I have generally observed it among the best and the worthiest. As to my confidential friends, especially the one I mentioned at the beginning of this letter, in strict conformity with the temper which, I fear, I have but imperfectly described, they spend their lives in giving vent, among themselves, to the suppressed feelings of ridicule or indignation, of which the religious institutions of this country are a perennial source to those who are compelled to receive them as of Divine authority. England has so far improved me, that I can perceive the folly of this conduct. I am aware that, instead of indulging this childish gratification of our anger, we should be preparing ourselves, by a profound study of our ancient laws and customs, and a perfect acquaintance with the pure and original doctrines of the Gospel, for any future opening to reformation in our church and state. But, under this intolerable system of intellectual oppression, we have associated the idea of Spanish law with despotism, and that of Christianity with absurdity and persecution. After my return from England I feel almost involuntarily relapsing into the old habits of my mind. With my friends, who have never left their country, any endeavour to break and counteract such habits would be perfectly hopeless. Despondency drives them into a course of reading and thinking, which leads only to suppressed contempt and whispered sarcasm. The violence which they must constantly do to their best feelings, might breed some of the fiercer passions in breasts less softened with “ the milk of human kindness.” But their hatred of the prevailing practices and opinions does not extend to persons. Yet I for one must confess, that were I to act from a first and habitual impulse, without listening to my better judgment, there is not a saint or a relic in the country I would not trample under foot, and treat with the utmost indignity. As things are, however, I content myself with scoffing and railing the whole day. But I trust that, on a change of circumstances, I should act more soberly than I feel.
I should have found it very difficult without this fortunate intimacy with a man who, though still in the prime of youth, has lately obtained, by literary competition, a place among what we call the higher clergy—that is, such as are abore the cure of souls—to give you an insight into the internal constitution of the Spanish church, the vices of the system which prepares our young men for the altar, and the ruinous foundations on which the ecclesiastical law, aided by civil power, hazards the morals of our religious teachers and their flocks. When I had expressed to my friend my desire of having his assistance in carrying on this correspondence, as well as satisfied his mind on the improbability of any thing entrusted to you recoiling upon himself in Spain, he shewed me a manuscript he had drawn up, some time before, under the title : A few facts connected with the formation of the intellectual and moral character of a Spanish Clergymun. “Who knows,” he said, but that this sketch may answer your purpose?". No traveller's guide account of our universities and clerical establishments can convey such a living picture of our state, as the history of a young mind trained up under their influence. You might easily find a list of the professors, endowments, and class-books of which the framework of