Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

roar at a distance. He is most at worth a painter's pilgrimage, or a home in the harvest field, on “ the scene-hunter's visit :lea-rig," or where the “rosy brier blooms far frae haunts o' man.” He Kirk-Alloway was drawing nigh,

Where ghaists and howolets nightly cry.— rejoices in the beauty of spring, By this time he was cross the ford, when

Where in the snaw the chapman smoor’d; Nature throws her mantle green

And past the birks and muckle stane
On every field and tree,

Whare drucken Charlie brak's neck-bane;
And spreads her sheets of daisies white, And thro' the whins and by the cairn,
Out o'er the grassy lea;

Where hunters found the murder'd bairn;

And near the thorn aboon the well, and when spring ripens into summer, Where Mungo's mither hang’d hersel. he delights to haunt “ the banks and Before him Doon pours all his floods ; braes,” where he can listen to “ the The doubling storm roars thro' the woods. burn stealing under the lang yellow

The lightnings flash from pole to pole ;

Near and more near the thunders roll: broom;"- scenes like these ever recall the associations of his youthful When glimmering thro' the groaning trees,

Kirk-Alloway srcm'd in a bleeze: courtships, when, as he says with in- Thro' ilka bore the beams were glancing, imitable sweetness,

And loud resounded mirth and dancing. The golden hours, on angel wings,

We can only answer for ourselves, Flew o'er me and my dearie ; For dear to me as light and life,

that on visiting this scene so highly Was my young Highland Mary.

wrought up by the poet, we were

miserably disappointed. Kirk-AlA sort of pensive moral pathos loway, as may be seen from Grose's seems, in his earlier pieces, to have print, bad as it is, exhibits nothing been a predominant feeling in his but the naked, roofless walls of a mind; and to this we owe The Cot- Scots country-church, and is absoter's Saturday Night, and his lines lutely not larger than an English To a Mouse, and To a Daisy,—the peasant's cottage, or a small barn. two latter of which, though border- No stranger would ever imagine it ing on the morbid sentimentality had been a church, except from some which is now happily out of fashion, dozen or twenty grave-stones which exhibit none of its puling and whim are nearly hid among the grass. pering, but by their melting tender- What has been the belfry is very ness at once come home to our best little larger than a bird-cage. The regulated feelings.

surrounding landscape is equally unNow all these effusions of his ge- interesting, except in its associanius are in strict accordance with tions with the poetry of Burns.the scenes where Burns spent his The river Doon, whose flood, in the youth. But how do scenes of rural poem, is poured like a torrent through tameness accord with the romantic the glimmering trees, is a small tale of Tam o' Shanter, in which the stream, running placidly among banks poet seems to hold unlimited sway covered with copse wood; and a few over the wildest imagery, as if he clumps of trees which have been had been cradled in a Highland glen, planted by the proprietors of one or and had spent his midnight studies two comfortable-looking villas in the in church-yards and haunted ruins ? vicinity. The “ brig” is a crazy Salvator Rosa himself, could not structure of one arch, as plain and have pictured a wilder group than unpoetical as may be; and the village the bags revelling in the ruined of Shanter,” whither the hero was church, and the half-tipsy peasant in homeward-bound when his evil star the storm, eyeing them with mingled led him to take an unhallowed peep dread and curiosity; nor could he at the witches-is a row of about have better suited the landscape to twenty tiled cottages, consisting of his story. Our question therefore is, only one floor, and ranged along the Where did Burns obtain the mate- highway. The whole scenery inrials for the wild scenery of the tale? deed, from the town of Ayr to MayWhen we read his description, we bole, which includes all that young naturally imagine that “Alloway's Burns could have frequented, is more auld haunted kirk," must be well tame, and uninteresting, than, per

haps, any tract of similar extent in to accuse Burns of want of fidelity Scotland. The only part of his visible to his scenery, in one marked inhorizon entitled to be called grand, stance. In the beautiful song of My is the bay of Ayr, and the mountains Nanny 0, the first edition is ous island of Arran; but of these features of his scene he has made no

Behind yon hill where Stinchar flows,

Mang moors and mosses many O use.

After his removal from the neigh- afterwards altered to bourhood of Ayr, first to Lochlea, Behind yon hill where Lugar flows; and then to Mossgiel, his landscape, instead of being better suited to in- because, says he, Lugar is a more spire his genius, was worse, at least poetical name than Stinchar. Unin his immediate neighbourhood. At fortunately, however, for the amendLochlea, indeed, there is a small ment, there is neither a moor, moss, lake, – but it is not much more po- Lugar, though the scenery on its

nor hill, in the whole course of the etical than a mill-pond, to which use it is occasionally turned. Mossgiei banks is highly romantic, particularly is a cold, barren, tree-less eminence, the famous James Boswell, of chit

near Auchinlech House, the seat of about a mile from Mauchline, which

chat celebrity is a paltry, bleak-looking village, well calculated, we should imagine, poet had the opportunity of visiting

At a subsequent period, when our to freeze the spirits of any ordinary the finest scenery in Scotland, inpoet.

But we must do justice to the stead of this tending to brighten the scenery of Ayrshire. The tameness

spirit of his imagery, it seems, in which we have described is only most of his pieces, to have operated partial, and is richly redeemed by

as a deadening spell upon his genius. the romantic views which the bank's The tame and poetical scenery around of the river Ayr present, from the

his native cottage, inspired him to village of Lorn, till it falls into the write Tam o' Shanter; the flat and sea, a distance of about fifteen miles.

naked landscapes at Lochlea, and The finest part of this scenery, from Mossgiel, produced the wild, unLorn to Barskimming, which deserves earthly imagery of the Vision,--and

Iornbook; as to be better known to our Scottish of Death and Dr. tourists, is only about three miles well as the exquisite picture of from Mossgiel ; and tradition reports, the grand, the sublime, and the ro

the Cotter's Saturday Night:but that the poet was a frequent visitor mantic scenes of the Highland lakes to a very picturesque spot, below Howford, where the Ays makes its fresh in the lays of the “ Ariosto of

and mountains, which now live so way among lofty wooded rocks, by the North,” seem to have left on turns overhanging and disclosing its channel. It was on this spot that he the mind of Burns only a momentary is said to have composed The Lass trace, like the breezes on a lake, or of Ballochmyle, after having met

the meteors in a summer sky.“ one morning a young lady of the Castle Gordon is almost the only exBallochmyle family, on his way to ception ;-of which his description is his favourite haunt. The song was

admirable: afterwards transmitted to her, with

Wildly here without controul, the poet's respects; but she had the

Nature reigns, and rules the whole good manners, and the good taste, In that sober, pensive mood, to return this inimitable pastoral Dearest to the feeling soul ; with contempt. He could also ex She plants the forest, pours the flood: press his contempt. Her name was

Life's poor day I'll musing rave, instantly erased, and another substi And find at night a sheltering cave, tuted in its place.

Where waters flow and wild woods wave, We must not forget that we have

By bonny Castle Gordon.

R.

[ocr errors]

THE ANTIQUARY.
His chamber all was hang'd about with rolls,
And old records from auncient times derived,
Some made in books, some in long parchment scrolls,
That were all worm-eaten, and full of canker holes.
Amidst them all he in a chaire is sett,

Tossing and turning them withouten end. Spenser. Since Spenser's time, our language other man possessed by one subject has grown much more critical and with which other people want symdistinguishing; and, to use Mr. Cole- pathy. “ That a jest's prosperity ridge's words, we have disbursed some lies in the ear of him that hears it, of the reversionary wealth" our an is not only true of a jest, but of all cestors left us; that is to say, we discourse ; and Mr. Burke could have have got rid of the “ equivocation proved it as well as Mr. Canning. of words, and can now distinguish The lover and the antiquary, in fact, the individual from the class to which differ in the duration of their passion, he belongs. We have not only a and little else; the antiquary loves generic name, but a specific one; for life, the lover only swears to do and he that is here so beautifully so. The mistress of the one is his described by the poet, as an anti- first love, and his last; she is ever quarian, we hold to be only.id genus, present to his thoughts; he takes her and specially distinguished from an- for better for worse, and life is but tiquarians by the hard word biblio a long courtship; there is no waning maniac. If this refinement be not in his affection,

-his passion increases very clear and conclusive, the reader with her age,- he prefers wrinkles to will excuse it, since psychology and dimples, and the crow’s-foot at the metaphysics are Mr. Coleridge's hob- corner, to the lustre of an eye. The by, and not mine--never having had mistress of an antiquary is a “goda passion for hard riding or rough dess, nymph divine, and rare, preroads.

cious, celestial ;” and he never deBut I certainly see an intelligible scends from his high passion, to dally distinction in this instance; and I with mere earthly beauty. Who ever hold an antiquary to be a more out- heard of Mistress Camden, Mrs. of-doors animal than Spenser des- Stow, or Mrs. Speed ? I would not cribes him; one that burrows about believe there were such people, tumuli, Roman roads, and encamp- though the marriage register were ments, nestles among dilapidated brought in proof; forgery, fraud, castles and cathedral ruins, and only trick, deception,-any thing would retires into his “ grub state” at the be more probable than the falsehood approach of winter, old age, or bo- of my “ bookish theoric:” and as to dily infirmity.

exceptions,” and those limitations A real antiquary is now rarely met with which people usually qualify with. It is not taking in the county their assertions, I hate them, and histories, nor reading Grose and have, ever since I learned the first Pennant, nor collecting drawings of rule in the Latin Grammar. It is a churches, or inscriptions, nor visit- beggarly way of discussing a quesing tomb-stones, nor belonging to tion. If there be a hundred excep“ The Society," nor writing a dull tions, never trouble me with your article in The Gentleman's, nor rule; and if it were once established, shaking hands with its Editor,-that that half a dozen antiquaries had will make an antiquary. Oh no!- wives, I would drive them all into Antiquity is neither to be so wooed, the herd of common-place people, nor so won :-she is a jealous mis- but that is impossible. tress; and will engross the whole If men would needs converse with man-mind and body- intellect and a rational antiquary, there must be passion.

some “ sympathy in their loves ; It is a vulgar error that an anti or they must first exorcise him-fall quary is necessarily a dull animal. to with bell, book, and candle,--and He is no more so than a poet, a even then be content to lose their painter, a musician, a lover, or any labour. There are a thousand people VOL. IV.

U

that have a little illicit passion that and Sufferings.” How the first came way; but not one in a thousand that to be admitted I know not; and the is a genuine antiquary. Clergymen latter, I suspect, would have been have always had a relish for it, but the exchanged for a more

o enlarged true clerical antiquary abdicated with edition, but that it was a sort of King James. A whig and an anti- heir-loom, that had passed down quarian were never buttoned-up in through the successive generations of the same great-coat; and an anti- his family, from its first publication quarian Calvinist is impossible—it is in 1661, with the autograph of every a contradiction in terms; there may possessor. be people that profess it, but I deny As the reader will presume, an antheir sincerity in one or the other :- tiquary is necessarily a high churchI leave them the election.

man and a tory; and you could Even in the Church of England he always have distinguished my friend is but a poor dumb thing, like a in his canonicals, by his bowing three swallow in December. It is not his times from the church door to the element. In my whole life I have pulpit. He thought the Reformation never known but one who had the a fine thing,—that is, he belonged to authentic stamp and impress of a le- the church 200 years after it; but gitimate descendant of old Camden; always qualified his commendation, poor W-, who died last autumn by regretting the devastation of the of a “ restoration." Though living cathedrals, and shrank with instincwithin half as many miles, he had tive horror at the name of John not been at Salisbury for thirty Knox. He did not believe in tranyears; and wanting to settle some substantiation, of course; but was disputed chronological fact, by re- equally incredulous in Pope Joan, and ference to an old monument there, the Popish Antichrist. He hated he determined, after six months' de- (the old) controversial texts; and, liberation, to visit it again. There therefore, discoursed twice a year he arrived with a light heart, in a regularly on the Seventh Verse of the green

old age, on the first of August: Fourteenth Chapter of St. John. He he fell into some idolatrous lapses in thought a reconciliation and union in the cathedral close-entered the ca the Christian church possible, if thedral itself, with a bewildering, people would not dispute about tribut subdued and religious passion,-- fles; and was willing to give up and found the monument swept away his living, rather than his band or in the late “ restoration.” He never his surplice. He disliked the Act looked up after this. He complained of Parliament Parish Registers, beinstantly of a cold chill, which I cause these “ flimsy foolish things” took for an indirect hint at the na- could not last above a few years kedness that surrounded him: the centuries), and must perish before old screen, he said, if it did break they could possibly be of service (to the view, broke the wind in addition; an 'antiquary). He took in The St. he wandered once round the cathe- James's Chronicle, and thought the dral, heaved a sigh or two, returned obituary in The Gentleman's very to Stockbridge the same evening, and entertaining :-by the bye, 1 may got home to Winchester, just in time add, he was singular in commending to die on the third.

the engravings in the latter work; W-was so entirely an old anti- but he objected against those of a quarian, that he must have had a higher finish, that with their shabitter consciousness, if gall were in dows and their perspective they conso gentle a creature, that he had fused all detail-the consummation outlived his generation. His library and end of the art. He was a minoralone would prove this to any other canon, without a higher ambition : person. Out of 711 volumes he resided all his life under the wing of bequeathed me, there were 305 fo- his cathedral, and was “ plagued to lios, 208 quartos, 196 octavos, and death” to show it to friends' friends ; two 12mos. This “ halfpenny worth and, therefore, if a stranger but casi of bread" was the “ Sixe Court Co an eye towards the great clock, while medies,” by John Lilly; and the he was sunning himself on the south “ Eikon Basilike, the Portraiture of side, he pulled out his key, and achis sacrcd Majesty in his Solitudes companied him all over, even into the

crypt and the cloisters, with Infinite no doubt Solomon's temple had the gratification. The zest of the en- lancet arch," he made windows of Joyment was in the south transept, narrow lights," if it were not a when he refuted —'s ridiculous purely Gothic building; for “ against supposition about the circular arch; the wall of the house, he built chamand in the gracious smile with which bers” which he ever suspected to be he refused the half-crown at the west the little chapelries that so beautify door, and startled his companion a Gothic cathedral, and of which the into an assurance that he was not Parthenon knows nothing. There the verger.

People had no relish for were innumerable other corroborative antiquity if this occurred less than circumstances that he would throw three times a-week, from June to out, if his conjecture were questioned; October.

such as “the carving with knops and He was a bachelor, of course ; and open flowers,” and “ the walls of maintained two maiden sisters, of the house round about with carved course, - an antiquarian bachelor figures of cherubim, and palm-trees, could do no less; and drove a four- and open flowers within and withwheeled chaise, with a Suffolk cobb, out;" the former of which he mainof course ; he drank ale, and smoked tained were yet visible in our corbels in moderation. He visited no where, and gutter-spouts,-and the latter not and was visited by no one that lived only in the cathedral itself, but was within twenty miles of his own the hint on which Warburton founded house. He was not, to speak strictly, his theory. either a capuchin, or a carmelite, Nothing was more pleasant than neither of the order of St. Benedict, the self-satisfaction with which he nor St. Francis,-since the protestant refuted Inigo Jones's conjecture about church knows no such abominations; Stonehenge being a work of the Royet was he, in spirit, “a right monk, mans. He admitted the transmarine if ever there were any, since the speculation about Merlin to be an monking world monked a monkery," idle tale; thought Colt Hoare visionas Rabelais phrases it. He was stiff ary; smiled at the Druids; overthrew and reserved out of the shadow of the Danes in a moment; and laughed his cathedral ; but full of kind heart- outright at the cenotaphian humour edness, under all his formality, if about the British kings; admitted the you could but get at it; which was work was in existence before the Consomewhat difficult through so much quest; and thus having disposed of flannel and fleecy-hosiery.

all generations, since the first peopling He made sure of an old collegian of the island, shook his head signior two at the Visitation, when the ficantly, and had “ an opinion of his toilet was unpinned in the best own." chamber, and he “played his part:” He well remembered Mr. Gray, a part full of humanity, but with and was surprised to hear he was a some spice of infirmity; for he cared poet. He had doubts about Rowley, not then to “ hear the chimes at but never mentioned which way. He midnight,”—bore a part in a catch of thought Drayton's Polyolbion the Anacreon's, that was in vogue forty finest poem in our language, but too years ago at St. John's,-ran revels superficial and imaginative, and all over his old poet,-talked of Aspasia, the rhyme the worse. He believed he Cleopatra, and Nell Gwyn, -- and liked fishing, for no other reason but awoke on the morrow, with a mix- that bequeathed him his tackle; ture of regret and good humour, and he went once a-year to Bishopshoping to be forgiven, as the Visita- Waltham, to unfold and fold it, and tion came but once a-year.

keep up the self-delusion. He In his youth he had been intro- thought Isaac Walton's was a clever duced to 'old Cole of Cambridge, book, and would have been better visited every cathedral in England, but for the idle dialogue nothing to and went to France for the sole pur- the purpose. He had a somewhat pose of seeing the façade of Rheims. similar objection to Sir Thomas He laughed at Whittington's opinion Brown's Úr Burial, which he about the antiquity of Gothic archi- thought discursive, and too full of tecture there ; agreed with Carter in irrelevant speculationi

. calling it English ; and, in proof, had These are a few opinions that may

« ForrigeFortsett »