Imatges de pÓgina
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but the dark workings of passion are drawn with an unpretending, yet impressive energy, second only to that which distinguishes the novels of Godwin. It has, however, been charged with indelicacy, and branded as likely to diminish the reverence entertained in Scotland for the sacred charac, ter. Unluckily for this objection, it appears that our Church Records contain instances so precisely similar that some of them must have suggested the work before us: and if Adam failed at one period of his life, his lapse was grievously atoned for by ten long years of unceasing and humiliating penance, succeeded by an old age meekly spent in the discharge of every duty incumbent on a Christian minister.

Many of the beauties and all of the defects, which characterize our author's other works, are to be met with in MATTHEW WALD. The same simplicity, and, so to speak, muscularity of diction, the same originality of thought, the same skill in delineating the turbulent emotions, and the same knowledge of human character, will be found interspersed with occasional violations of probability, and frequent carelessness in style as well as in unravelling the thread of his tale. After passing through a variety of perilous adventures, both" by flood and field,' MATTHEW becomes a student of medicine at the university of Glasgow. Here he adds to the list of his hairbreadth scapes,' that which is recorded in the following story, which we select, not by any means as the best thing in the book, but as the one which can best be read detachedly. Many of our readers will at once recognise it as founded on a murder of a Lanark carrier, for which a James M Kean was executed about thirty years ago. To heighten the effect, he is here represented as strictly wedded to certain religious opinions ; but

appear

that the unfortunate person, whom have named

as the original, was at all remarkable in this respect. That he was a bold enough sophist, however, in his own way, appears from what passed with his counsel, who,

it does not

we

waiting on him for the grounds of his defence, unexpectedly found that his client entertained confident hopes of an acquittal : for,' said he, although murder, the crime charged in the libel, be punishable by law, yet there is no express provision against cutting a man's throat, and particularly against cutting a Lanark carrier's throat.'

JOHN M‘EWAN.

I LODGED in the house of a poor shoemaker, by name John M'Ewan. He had no family but his wife, who, like himself, was considerably beyond the meridian of life. The couple were very poor, as their house, and every thing about their style of living, showed; but a worthier couple, I should have no difficulty in saying, were not to be found in the whole city. When I was sitting in my own little cell, busy with my books, late at night, I used to listen with reverence and delight to the psalm which the two old bodies sung, or rather, I should say, croon'd together, before they went to bed. Tune there was almost none; but the low, articulate, quiet chaunt, had something so impressive and solemnizing about it, that I missed not melody. John himself was a hard-working man, and, like most of his trade, had acquired a stooping attitude, and a dark saffron hue of complexion. His close-cut greasy hair suited admirably a set of strong, massive, iron features. His brow was seamed with firm, broad-drawn wrinkles, and his large grey eyes seemed to gleam, when he deigned to uplift them, with the cold haughty independence of virtuous poverty. John was a rigid Cameronian, indeed; and every thing about his manners spoke the world-despising pride of his sect. His wife was a quiet, good body, and seemed to live in perpetual adoration of her stern cobbler. I had the strictest confidence in their probity, and would no more have thought of locking my chest ere I went out, than if I had been under the roof of an Apostle.

One evening I came home, as usual, from my tutorial trudge, and entered the kitchen (where they commonly sat) to warm my hands at the fire, and get my candle lighted. Jean was by herself at the fire-side, and I sat down beside her for a minute or two. I heard voices in the inner room, and easily recognised the hoarse grunt which John M'Ewan

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condescended, on rare occasions, to set forth as the repreunesper:

sentative of laughter. The old woman told me that the hope I

goodman had a friend from the country with him-a farmer, r, the es who had come from a distance to sell ewes at the market. et theri Jean, indeed, seemed to take some pride in the acquaintance,

enlarging upon the great substance and respectability of the stranger. I was chatting away with her, when we heard some noise from the spence as it a table or chair had fallen --but we thought nothing of this, and talked on. A minute after, John came from the room, and shutting the door behind him, said, " I'm going out for a moment, Jean; Andrew's

had over muckle of the Heshers' whisky the day, and I maun br a

stap up the close to see after his beast for him.-Ye needna

gang near him till I come back.' A life

The cobbler said this, for any thing that I could observe, very

in his usual manner ; and, walking across the kitchen, went nier ou down stairs as he had said. But imagine, my friend, for I

cannot describe the feelings with which, some five minutes perhaps after he had disappeared, I, chancing to throw my eyes downwards, perceived a dark flood creeping, firmly and broadly, inch by inch, across the sanded floor towards the place where I sat. The old woman had her stocking in her hand I called to her without moving, for I was nailed to my chair-- See there! what is that?'

Andrew Bell has coupit our water-stoup,' said she, rising.

I sprung forwards, and dipt my finger in the stream.irabi

Blood, Jean, Blood!'

The old woman stooped over it, and touched it also ; she instantly screamed out, Blood, ay, blood !' while I rushed on to the door from below which it was oozing. I tried the handle, and found it was locked--and spurned it off its hinges with one kick of my foot. The instant the timber gave way, the black tide rolled out as if a dam had been breaking up, and I heard my feet plash in the abomination as I advanced What a sight within! The man was lying all his length on the floor ; his throat absolutely severed to the spine. The ole blood of the body had run out. The table, with a pewter pot or two, and a bottle upon it, stood close beside him, and two chairs, one half-tumbled down and supported against the other. I rushed instantly out of the house, and cried out, in a tone that brought the whole neighbourhood about me. They entered the house-Jean had disappeared there was nothing in it but the corpse and

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the blood, which had already found its way to the outer staircase, making the whole floor one puddle. There was such a clamour of surprise and horror for a little while, that I scarcely heard one word that was said. A bell in the neighbourhood had been set in motion--dozens, scores, hundreds of people were heard rushing from every direction towards the spot. A fury of execration and alarm pervaded the very breeze.

In a word, I had absolutely lost all possession of myself, until I found myself grappled from behind, and saw a Town's-officer pointing the bloody knife towards me. A dozen voices were screaming, doctor's knife--this is the young doctor that bides in the house this is the man.'

Of course, this restored me at once to my selfpossession. I demanded a moment's silence, and said, It is my knife, and I lodge in the house; but Jolin M'Ewan is the man that has murdered his friend.'

- John M.Ewan !' roared some one in a voice of tenfold horror ; our elder John M-Ewan a murderer! Wretch! how dare ye blaspheme?'

Carry me to jail immediately,' said I, as soon as the storm subsided a little load me with all the chains in Glasgow, but don't neglect to pursue John M-Ewan.'

I was instantly locked up in the room with the dead man, while the greater part of the crowd followed one of the ti officers. Another of them kept watch over me until one of the magistrates of the city arrived. This gentleman, finding that I had been the person who first gave the alarm, and that M-Ewan and his wife were both gone, had little difficulty, I could perceive, in doing me justice in his own mind. However, after he had given new orders for the pursuit, I told him that, as the people about were evidently unsatisfied of

my innocence, the best and the kindest thing he could do to me would be to place me forth with within the walls of his prison; there I should be safe at all events, and I had no doubt, if proper exertions were made, the guilty man would not only be found, but found immediately. My person being searched, nothing suspicious, of course, was found upon it; and the good bailie soon had me conveyed under a proper guard, to the place of securitywhere, you may suppose, I did not, after all, spend a very pleasant night. The jail is situated in the heart of the town, where the four principal streets meet; and the glare of hurrying lights, the war of anxious voices, and the eternal

tolling of the alarum-bell—these all reached me through the bars of the cell, and, together with the horrors that I had really witnessed, were more than enough to keep me in no enviable condition.

Jean was discovered, in the grey of the morning, crouching under one of the trees in the Green-and being led immediately before the magistrates, the poor trembling creature confirmed, by what she said, and by what she did not say, the terrible story which I had told. Some other witnesses having also appeared, who spoke to the facts of Andrew Bell having received a large sum of

money

in M-Ewan's sight at the market, and been seen walking to the Vennel afterwards, arm in arm with him--the authorities of the place were perfectly satisfied, and I was set free, with many apologies for what I had suffered: But still no word of John M-Ewan.

It was late in the day ere the first traces of him were found—and such a trace! An old woman had died that night in a cottage many miles from Glasgow-when she was almost in articulo mortis, a stranger entered the house, to ask a drink of water-an oldish dark man, evidently much fatigued with walking. This man, finding in what great affliction the family was--this man, after drinking a cup of water, knelt down by the bedside, and prayed a long, an awful, a terrible

prayer. The people thought he must be some travelling field-preacher. He took the Bible into his hands-opened it as if he meant to read aloud-but shut the book abruptly, and took his leave. This man had been seen by these poor people to walk in the direction of the sea.

They traced the same dark man to Irvine, and found that he had embarked on board of a vessel which was just getting under sail for Ireland. · The officers immediately hired a small brig, and sailed also. A violent gale arose, and drove them for shelter to the Isle of Arran. They landed, the second night after they had left Irvine, on that bare and desolate shore-they landed, and behold, the ship they were in pursuit of at the quay!

The Captain acknowledged at once that a man corresponding to their description had been one of his passengers from Irvine-he had gone

ashore but an hour ago. They searched—they found M-Ewan striding by himself close to the sea-beach, amidst the dashing spray_his Bible in his hand. The instant he saw then he said You need not tell me your errand—I am he you seek-I am John

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