Imatges de pàgina
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the same unquestioning, humble, wise, ing meal was over, I felt as if I had submission---the same perfect peace, been for years an inmate of the hapand even lofty happiness-nor did he py and innocent family. ever see one shudder, nor hear one sob The old man then said to me, with a that seemed to signify despair. kind voice, that he hoped I had not for

"Then kneeling down to Heaven's Eternal King gotten, in the life I had led in foreign The saint, the father, and the husband prays; Hope springs exulting on triumphant wing,

countries, the religious observances of That thus they all shall meet in future days. the peasantry of my native land. And, There ever bask in uncreated rays,

as he was speaking, his grand-daughter, No more to sigh, or shed the bitter tear; Together hymning their Creator's praise,

a beautiful girl of about sixteen years, In such society, yet still more dear, While circling time moves round in an eternal brought the “ big ha' bible” and laid sphere.

it gently upon his knees. The last time that I witnessed and are not so good," said the pious papartook of such happiness as this, was triarch,

as when

you
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your one serene and beautiful moon-light school-companions used to come to night, during last fine harvest. I had visit us of old, but there is still light been roaming all day among the magni- enough left in them whereby to read ficent woods that overshadow the Clyde the word of God.” Nothing could be immediately above and below Bothwell more affecting than the tremulous Castle, near which I had passed some voice of the old man, whose gray of my early years—and at the fall of the hairs were so soon to be laid in the evening, I entered a cottage which I earth, as he read, amidst the profoundhad often visited when a boy, and of est silence, that chapter of the New which the master was even at that Testament that records the crucifixtime a gray-headed patriarch. I found ion. And afterwards when the psalm the old man still alive, and sitting in was sung-those same feeble and alhis arm-chair by the fire-side-the most mournful tones were beyond same venerable image that he was near- measure touching, as they blended ly twenty years ago, only his locks if with the small pipes of the children, possible more perfectly and purely and the sweet melody of the female white, his cheeks somewhat more voices. During the prayer that folwan, and his eyes almost as dim as lowed, I could not help looking around those of blindness itself. His daughter, on the kneeling family and I saw who had been the beauty of the parish close to the white locks of him whose when I was at school, was now a meek race was nearly run, the bright and and gentlematron, and carried an infant golden head of his little favourite in her arms; while other children, with grandson, who, during almost the eyes and features like their mother's, whole evening, had been sitting on were cheerfully occupied on the floor, his grandfather's knee. The love of half in business and half in play. God seemed to descend alike on inWhen I had made myself known to fancy and old age. The purity of the father and his daughter, it is the one allied itself to the piety of the needless to say with what warmth of other-and the prayer of him who hospitality I was welcomed. The old was just leaving life seemed to bring man rose from his seat as soon as I told a blessing on the head of him who my name ; and it was then that I saw was but just entering upon it. in his tottering steps, that the hand of When we all arose together from the time had touched him, more heavily prayer, a solemn hush prevailed for a than at first sight I had supposed. few minutes over the room, till our After I had narrated the simple story of hearts, by degrees, returned to the my own life, I learnt that of theirs thoughts that had previously possessed that nothing had happened to them them and our conversation, though since I came to bid them farewell on somewhat more grave than before, that summer-morning I left school, recurred to the ordinary topics and except that the old inan's daughter had business of life. been married (as I saw) to the lover I need not narrate that conversation, of her youth-and that six children for it was interesting to me, chiefly had been born-of whom two, and the from its kindness, its calmness, and mother mentioned it, with a low voice, the wisdom of its innocence. I had but without tears, had been taken to many questions, too, to ask about the their Maker. The husband afterwards families I had known in my youth, came in--and before our simple even- all of which were answered with plea

sure and a sort of pride by those who oil-lamp on the, clay-floor, by which were delighted to hear that I had not the wretchedness around was visible, forgotten the humble friends of other at times seemed to expire utterly, as days; and thus the hours stole away the gusts of wind blew through the till it was midnight before the son-in- broken panes of a window. half closed law shewed me into my bed-chamber, up with rags and with straw. I felt a room as neatly furnished as if it had over my whole body the shivering trebeen in the great city, and kept for mor of that superstitious fear that the accommodation of the few visitors strikes the heart in dark, wild, and sothat, whether of kin, or strangers like litary places, and that congeals one's myself, came in the course of a year to very life-blood, as it assails us when this secluded dwelling.

reason is enchained by sleep. In this I lay for some hours awake, reflect- ghastly loneliness I heard a long, deep, ing, with the purest delight, on the broken groan; and as I looked intensehappiness, the worth, and the piety, ly into the gloom, an old man seemed of the little family that by this time sitting before me, by the dead ashes of were all lying around me in sleep.- a scanty fire, with long locks, whiter No doubt, thought I, they have their than the snow, and cheeks as sunken and frailties and also their griefs, but as wan as if he had risen from his

grave. that life is enviable which contains, Can this ghost, thought I in dim perwithin itself, so many evenings like plexity, be he whom I have often seen the one I have now witnessed. So long kneeling in prayer among his family, as there is a bible in every cottage in and whose reverend countenance felt, Scotland, and the dust is not suffered not many nights ago, the cheerful light to lie upon it, the people will be good, of that happiest fireside ? What dreadand wise, and happy. With thoughts ful thing has happened to him, or to such as these, I at last gently fell a- me? I strove to speak to the old man way into sleep.

in his loneliness, but the words were I have heard of people who never all frozen in my breast, and I stood were conscious of having dreamed— convulsed in the dumbness of agonizfor myself I never sleep but I dream, ing passion. But the reality deepened yet after all my dreams, I have been and closed in upon me, and the corpse able to discover few of the causes by rising up, stood close to my side, and which they are produced or modified. I heard a voice, “Oh! Scotland ! This night, however, I had a dream Scotland ! hast thou forgotten thy that rose out of the impressions which God!" At these words I was at once that family worship had left on my transformed into a being of my dream, sleeping mind. But though all these and knew what had befallen my counimpressions were calm, peaceful, and try. Throne and altar had been overblessed, yet was the dream itself which turned, and the land was free. But I they occasioned distorted, hideous, and was wandering, methought, through ghastly, as if hell itself were sudden- that stormy midnight, dogged at the ly to glare out through a vision of heels by persecution and murder; and heaven.

the old patriarch, whom from boyhood I fancied that I had lost my way on I had loved and honoured, stood bea wide moor during a night of storms, fore me, involved too in some dark and and at last came upon a solitary hut, incomprehensible misery. “The earth, into which I entered for shelter. With is it not wild,” quoth the vision, that distressful feeling so common in now that we know there is no God." dreams, I knew not whence I had come, “ Our faith will yet return to us !" or whither I was journeying; a sense No! my young friend! the wind of unsupportable weariness was all I roars loudly'; and hark! the flooded knew of life. Soon as I entered the Clyde! That is the swing of the cottage, I felt as if I had been there be- woods! Are not their voices terrible, fore, though everything seemed wofully now that there is no God? But look, and ruefully to have been changed. – look at these withered hands! and at The wet, stained, clammy, and naked these hoary hairs—they will fall down walls breathed over the room the cold into the mould; and what then are air of discomfort and desertion-the the ninety years that I have walked few articles of furniture were fitted for over the earth; and why should a the mean, vile, and miserable dwelling shadow have had such sweet and awful —and the flickering light from a small thoughts, since there is no God !” VOL. VI.

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We seemed to stand together, I and mine. I suppose he is at the alethat shadow, weeping and wailing house with his drabs; and may these atheists, terrified by the voice and the arms be withered, if ever again in darkness of the godless earth. My health or in sickness they lie upon his very soul died within me, as I looked neck.” Just as she finished this senaround on the dead ashes--the miry tence, a man came staggering into the floor--the ropy walls--the vileness, glimmering darkness, and then sat the mouldiness, and the earthiness down in sullen silence, with a counteand felt, that I, with all my unendur- nance of drunken ferocity. All this able agonies, was only part of that while, nobody but the old man spoke loathsoi existence with which I to me, or seemed to tice me; and should be blended, and incorporated, at last, when I was observed by the and lost for evermore, soon as chance others, my appearance among them might terminate the foolish mystery call- seemed to excite no surprise. The ed life. “Would you believe it, that my husband and wife continued to glare on daughter, once so good and beautiful, each other with eyes of fury and hashe who bears the name of her who tred; and the old man, speaking to me used to pray with me every night and as if to a well-known neighbour, said every morning for forty years, hates in a voice not meant to be heard by any these withered hands that laid her into, of his miserable children, "alas ! alas! and lifted her from her cradle, after is this the Cottar's Saturday Night !" her mother was taken away? But “ I have been at the kirk to night with what is the meaning of the word fa- the committee of reform,” cried the ther, now that there is no God ?". A husband with an oath, "and a merry woman seemed to be before us, with a meeting we had of it.' The old man child, almost naked, in her arms. What mildly asked what had been done ; and is a mother; what is a daughter, the ruffian answered, “ we have level. since there is no God? She held the led the old crazy building with the famished brat to her breast, rather in ground-the pews, and lofts, and anger than in love, and poured fierce rafters—the pulpit too, with its soundand wrathful curses on her father's ing-board, where the old hypocrite head, for which the grave, she said, used to preach salvation to our souls had so long been yawning in vain. by the bones of Thomas Paine, they “ Pity your old father, were the made a glorious bonfire ! and turned words he constantly kept repeating all the church-yard as bright as day“ remember the commandment of the manse itself looked red in the God which sayeth, 'honour thy fa- blaze. Had the ghosts leapt from ther and thy mother that thy days their graves, they might have fancied may be long on the earth which the it hell-fire." And here, methought, Lord thy God hath given thee.' the drunken Atheist laughed convulThere was something in the wo- sively, as if to suppress the terror that man's face that terrified me to his impiety forced into his own coward look on a beauty that remind- heart.“ James, James, said the old ed me of some one I had formerly man, you surely could not injure the known—and her voice, too, even when minister who baptized you.' “ No, pouring out those unnatural curses, no, burning his kirk was enough for seemed not to be her own voice, but him-he stood by all the while, and one that I had listened to, I knew not never uttered a word. We have saved when or where, with pleasure and af- him from henceforth the trouble of fection. “ Take the imp and mumble preaching. When at last, the great it into sleep,” cried she, finging her black bible with its clasps went bounchild into the old man's arms, as if it cing into the flames; he thought it had been a piece of lumber, while time to be off, and we gave him three he only raised his eyes slightly up- cheers as he turned about at the gate !" wards, and said, “ the poor darling

have scattered the alway love its grandfather.” “ What stones of the house of God, over the more than the mother who bore grave of your mother. Where will you it?” I wish your husband were bury these bones when your old father come,” said the wretched being, as dies?” holding up as he spake, his the little baby was crying on his witheredehands clasped as it were in knee. "Call him your son-you prayer or supplication. “ A hole dug old dotard-for he is no husband of in the earth is a grave—but we have

James ! you

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no laws, I believe, against burial- countenance. “ What! have you got
grounds--only we must not call them that accursed book of lies, in your old
kirk-yards--for where now are the lean fingers again,” cried the savage,
kirks? This has been a glorious day starting up furiously, “ The word of
for Scotland. More than a thousand God, call you it!--will it work mira-
kirks have crumbled into ashes--and to- cles, and give us bread;" and with
morrow, nota bell will be heard singing that he tore it from the old man's
from Tintock to Cape Wrath !" The breast, and dashed it among the cold
blasphemer waxed fiercer and fiercer ashes of the fire.-" Lies ;—lies;-talk
in my dream, and yelled out in triumph. not to me of heaven--and as to hell,-
“ At one and the same hour, fire was what need is there for any other hell
set to all the houses of God, from sea than this.”—The wife suffered the
to sea.--Did he, think ye, tell the Bible to lie among the ashes. What a
storms that blew all day, and are yet fearful being, thought I, is a woman-
bravely blowing, to play the bellows and a wite—and a mother-who can
to the fire? No the winds came scoff at God, and 'her Saviour !
without his bidding, and before it with her religion, she has lost also
is lown again, all the tabernacles of her very human nature. She cares not
the Lord will be dust, cinders, ashes. for the baby that she has suckled-for
Huzza for the downfall of supersti- its father in whose bosom she has lain-
tion !” Quick are the transitions in for her own father, who would even
dreams. “ Where is Margaret?” when she was a child in her cradle,
asked the old man; and I knew that have willingly died for her sake! The
he was speaking of his grand-daughter. death rattle was in the old man's
“ She is at Elmwood—and we shall throat. We all stood silent.
have her to feed no longer.-The old up the bible upon my knees," were
fool there dotes upon her--and if the his last words—His daughter seemed
şirl will live with him, why not? She to do so in terror-one moment- and
is fifteen years old—and able enough it was then plain that he was dead. All
to judge for herself.”—“ God forgive this time the roar of wild winds was
her,” cried the startled mother, as nature in my dream, and I thought that ever
rose within her hardened heart, at the and anon thick blackness filled the
sin and shame of her child. “ Fool, room as if it had been a grave; and
growled the husband, on this very day, then again a ghastly light revealed the
were not all the kirks on fire? How distorted countenances of wrath, guilt,
long will that senseless word keep and insanity. The beings of my dream
stammering on your lips ? The girl waxed yet more fierce and fiendish ;
needs no forgiveness-let her cheat and the child that was still standing at
the decrepit miser, and who shall say its father's knee, I thought was chan-
that she ought not to have plundered ged into an imp, with a leering and un-
his hoards of yellow gold ?" “ Is the earthly face, full of devilish malice and
child......my little Margaret—is she, ferocity. Its father's eyes fell upon
has these deaf ears heard aright—is it, during one of those fitful flashes of
she an harlot, and an adulteress?” And light that came glimmering over the
with these words, the old man bowed darkness; and half terrified, half en-
his head, till the grey locks fell down raged with the hideousness of the
even unto the very floor. The unnatural changeling, he sprang up, crying,
son answered not a word, but scowling “ What, thou accursed brat, art thou
over the room, which seemed the very grinning in my face," and grasped
cave of famine, fiercely demanded sup- his child's throat, as if to murder
per, to which demand his wife replied it: the mother uttered a horrid
with a loud hysterical laugh,“ that the shriek, and I awoke with my heart
glutton at his knee (for the little fearless beating, and the cold sweat pouring
infant had stolen up to its unhappy fa- down my temples.
ther) had swallowed the last handful of There is no happiness equal to that
meal in the house, and yet look at him, is of waking from a horrible dream. In
henot as pale as a corpse? --anda corpse a moment I recollected that I was re-
may he soon be, for there is no hunger posing in the dwelling of peace, inno-
in the grave !” The father looked at cence, and piety; I arose, and going
him with a face black with smothered to the window, beheld the first and
rage-while the old man sat still tender light of morning gradually un-
in his chair, with a fixed and rigid veiling the beauty of one of the most

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beautiful vallies of Scotland. A soli- sacred building, though ancient, was tary red-breast was sitting on the apex yet unimpaired—and the trees that of the gabel-end of a barn, filled, no sheltered it had stood for centuries in doubt, with the riches of harvest, and their strength and beauty. I felt, as the cheerful bird was singing to itself I looked around me, a joyful convicin the dawning sunshine. At no great tion of the stability of religion, breathdistance, above a grove coloured with ed, both from animate and inanimate all the splendour of autumn, rose up objects--and all vague fears for my the spire of that kirk, in which, many country and its faith died away as soon years ago, I had first joined in the as I heard, simple services of our religion. While “ The voice of psalms, the simple song of praise." I gazed with calm pleasure over the When the congregation were dismisswoods, and hills, and fields, through ed with a blessing by their venerable which my careless childhood had pastor, I watched, with a cheerful spistrayed, a tap came to my bed-room- rit, the various domestic parties as they door, and an infantine voice, followed returned homewards across the fields, by laughter from more than one happy and up the hill-sides—and felt what a urchin, indistinctly summoned me to treasure of supporting and elevating join the assembled group in the little thoughts each heart laid weekly up, parlour below. There I found that within its secret self, against the trials happy old man, and his children's and troubles of life. I accompanied children. We all walked together to my venerable friend, the clergyman, to the kirk; and even if I had been a his manse ; and when, during the believer in dreams, that hideous one course of the evening, I ventured to of the night must have been deprived tell him of my last night's visions, the of all its fearfulness, by the scene I old man smiled, and said, that he there beheld. All was still, solemn, hoped I had seen, even in his little and devout, in the house of God, while kirk, that day, enough to convince me at the same time the congregation all that the RADICAL'S SATURDAY-NIGHT wore a placid air of cheerfulness and would never be in Scotland any thing contentment. The minister was the more than-a dream. same good old man, whom I had been

EREMUS. taught to venerate when a boy; the

IVANHOE.*

As this exquisite romance belongs to has found it necessary to set them a class generically different from any forth with much minuteness and elaof the former tales of the same author, boration; so that in the opening the it is possible that many readers, find- narrative appears like a curious antiing it does not tally with any precon- quarian exhibition-not having many ceptions they had formed, but requires traits that are calculated to take hold to be read with a quite new, and much of the reader's ordinary sympathies, greater effort of imagination, may ex- although the unexampled beauty of perience, when it is put into their language and of fancy, in which the hands, a feeling not unlike disappoint- whole picture is embodied, cannot fail ment. In all his former novels the cha- to arrest and delighi, from the beginracters, both prominent and subordi- ning, the eye of the more critical, phia nate, were such as might have been losophical, or imaginative student. found in actual existence at no far After the first hasty perusal of a back period; but the era to which work which unites so much novelty Ivanhoe relates is so remote, that the of representation with a depth of conmanners are, of course, unlike any ception and a power of passion equal, thing either the author or the readers at the least, to what had been exhi of the present times could have had bited in the best of its predecessors, any opportunity of knowing by per- it is no wonder that we should find sonal observation. Hence the writer ourselves left in a state of excitement

* Ivanhoe; a Romance. By the Author of “ Waverley,” &c. in 3 vols. Edinburgh. Constable & Co. 1820.

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