« PreviousContinue »
claimants, who had thought themselves sure of the rich prize, there seemed doubt and mystery to involve their several pretensions. Crevecœur showed a boar's hide, such as de la Marck usually wore: Dunois produced a cloven shield, with his armorial bearings; and there were others, who claimed the merit of having despatched the murderer of the Bishop, producing similar tokens-the rich reward fixed on De la Marck's head having brought death to all who were armed in his resemblance.
There was much noise and contest among the competitors, and Charles (internally regretting the rash promise which had placed the hand and wealth of his fair vassal on such a hazard) was in hopes he might find means of evading all these conflicting claims, when Crawford pressed forward into the circle, dragging Le Balafré after him, who, awkward and bashful, followed like an unwilling mastiff towed on in a leash, as his leader exclaimed,-" Away with your hoofs and hides, and painted iron!-No one, save he who slew the Boar, can show the tusks!"
'So saying, he flung on the floor the bloody head, easily known as that of De la Marck by the singular conformation of the jaws, which in reality had a certain resemblance to those of the animal whose name he bore, and which was instantly recognised by all who had seen him.
"Crawford," said Louis, while Charles sate silent, in gloomy and displeased surprise, "I trust it is one of my trusty Scots who has won this prize?"
"It is Ludovic Lesly, Sire, whom we call Balafrê,” replied the old soldier.
"But is he noble?" said the Duke; "is he of gentle blood?— otherwise our promise is void.”
"He is a cross ungainly piece of wood enough," said Crawford, looking at the tall, awkward, embarrassed figure of the archer; "but I will warrant him a branch of the tree of Rothes for all thatand they have been as noble as any house in France or Burgundy, ever since it is told of their founder that
'Between the Less-lee and the mair
He slew the Knight, and left him there.
"There is then no help for it," said the Duke; "and the fairest and richest heiress in Burgundy must be the wife of a mercenary soldier like this, or die secluded in a convent-and she the only child of our faithful Reginald de Croye!-I have been too rash."
"May it please your Majesty, and your Grace," said Crawford, "I must speak for my countryman and old comrade. You shall understand that he has had it prophesied to him by a Seer in his own land, that the fortune of his house is to be made by marriage; but as he is, like myself, something the worse for the wear,-loves the winehouse better than a lady's summer-parlour, and, in short, having some barrack tastes and likings, which would make greatness in his own person rather an incumbrance to him, he hath acted by my advice, and resigns the pretensions acquired by the fate of slaying William de la Marck to him by whom the Wild Boar was actually brought to bay, who is his maternal nephew."
"I will vouch for that youth's services and prudence," said King Louis, overjoyed to see that fate had thrown so gallant a prize to one over whom he had some influence. "Without his prudence and vigilance we had been ruined-it was he who made us aware of the nightsally."
"I then," said Charles, owe him some reparation for doubting his veracity."
"And I can attest his gallantry as a man-at-arms," said Dunois. "But," interrupted Crevecœur, "though the uncle be a Scottish gentilâtre, that makes not the nephew necessarily so."
"He is of the House of Durward," said Crawford; "descended from that Allan Durward who was High Steward of Scotland."
"Nay, if it be young Durward," said Crevecoeur, "I say no more-Fortune has declared herself on his side too plainly for me to struggle further with her humoursome ladyship."
"We have yet to inquire," said Charles, thoughtfully, "what the fair lady's sentiments may be towards this fortunate adventurer."
"By the mass!" said Crevecœur, "I have but too much reason to believe your Grace will find her more amenable to authority than on former occasions-But why should I grudge this youth his preferment? since, after all, it is sense, firmness, and gallantry, which have put him in possession of WEALTH, RANK, and BEAUTY!"
Thus concludes Quentin Durward; and, though as a novel it may sometimes lack interest-at least that sort of interest which belongs exclusively to the hero and heroine-it displays, we think, more talent than any other of the author's works. It will turn the public attention to a most interesting period of French history, and one which, although absurdly neglected by general readers, is perhaps the most accessible, and the least encumbered with antiquarian prohibitions, of any history of the same period.
THE active author of the Annals of the Parish has sent forth another novel, which differs in few respects from his former productions. The scene is laid somewhat earlier, and the tale is meant to have a more historical complexion; but, in truth, it is like all that have preceded it-a mere collection of gossiping and old stories, put together with little ingenuity. It is surprising that, with such a theme, he has not produced a more agreeable work. The times, and the people of which he speaks, are, perhaps, better fitted for the purposes of romance than any others which the history of the country presents. The author of Old Mortality has shown how much may be made of them; and, although it would be unjust to both of them to compare the author of Ringan Gilhaize with the great unknown, we cannot but see the failure of the latter from the success of the former.
The story includes a long period, beginning with the troubles attending the reformation, in the reign of Mary, and the achievements of John Knox; by a singularly clumsy contrivance, this part is introduced as containing the relation of the adventures of the hero's grandfather. The vulgarity and coarseness which we have before had occasion to notice in this author are here particularly offensive: not
only does he use such language which has been long laid aside for its grossness, but he describes scenes which can answer no purposes of amusement or instruction. The obscene description of the Archbishop of St. Andrew's incontinence exposes the author to much heavier charges than either the ignorance or the want of skill which may be alleged against his other works.
The following account of an interview between the queen and John Knox is a favorable specimen of this part of the work. The author has endeavoured to give an idea of the winning manners of the beautiful and calumniated queen, and he has failed, because he does not understand the means by which persons of such a rank captivate even their enemies the trick of playing with Master John Knox's fingers is much more in the spirit of Doll Tearsheet than the Queen of Scots, who was the very model of feminine grace and high breeding. Knox proceeds with the Earl of Murray to meet the queen in the field, where she was gone on a hawking party:
The Queen was on the upland when they drew near to the field, and on seeing them approach she came ambling towards them, moving in her beauty, as my grandfather often delighted to say, like a fair rose caressed by the soft gales of the summer. A smile was in her eye, and it brightened on her countenance like the beam of something more lovely than light: the glow, as it were, of a spirit conscious of its power, and which had graced itself with all its enchantments to conquer some stubborn heart. Even the Earl of Murray was struck with the unwonted splendour of her that was ever deemed so surpassing fair; and John Knox said, with a sigh," THE MAKER had indeed taken gracious pains with the goodly fashion of such perishable clay."
When she had come within a few paces of where they were advancing uncovered, she suddenly checked her jennet, and made him dance proudly round till she was nigh to John Knox, where, seeming in alarm, she feigned as if she would have slipped from the saddle, laying her hand on his shoulder for support; and while he, with more gallantry than it was thought in him, helped her to recover her seat, she said, with a ravishing look, “The Queen thanks you, Master Knox, for this upholding," dwelling on the word this in a special manner; which my grandfather noticed the more, as he as well as others of the retinue observed that she was playing as it were in dalliance.
"She then inquired kindly for his health, grieving she had not given orders for him to bed in the castle; and turning to the Earl of Murray, she chided his Lordship with a gentleness that was more winning than praise, why he had not come to her with Master Knox, saying, “We should then perhaps have not been so sharp in our controversy." But, before the Earl had time to make answer, she noticed divers gentlemen by name, and taking off her glove, made a most sweet salutation with her lily hand to the general concourse of those who had by this time gathered around.
In that gracious gesture, it was plain, my grandfather said, that she was still scattering her feminine spells; for she kept her hand for some time bare, and though enjoying the pleasure which her
beautiful presence diffused, like a delicious warmth into the air, she was evidently self-collected, and had something more in mind than only the triumph of her marvellous beauty.
Having turned her horse's head, she moved him a few paces, saying, "Master Knox, I would speak with you." At which he went towards her, and the rest of the spectators retired and stood aloof.,
6 They appeared for some time to be in an easy and somewhat gay. discourse on her part; but she grew more and more earnest, till Mr. Knox made his reverence and was coming away, when she said to him aloud, "Well, do as you will, but that man is a dangerous man."
"Their discourse was concerning the titular Bishop of Athens, a brother of the Earl of Huntly, who had been put in nomination for a superintendent of the church in the West Country, and of whose bad character her Highness, as it afterwards proved, had received a just account.
'But scarcely had the Reformer retired two steps when she called him back, and, holding out to him her hand, with which, when he approached to do his homage, she familiarly took hold of his and held it, playing with his fingers as if she had been placing on a ring, saying, loud enough to be heard by many on the field,
"I have one of the greatest matters that have touched me since I came into this realm to open to you, and I must have your help in it."
Then, still holding him earnestly by the hand, she entered into a long discourse concerning, as he afterwards told the Earl of Murray, a difference subsisting between the Earl and Countess of Argyle.
"Her Ladyship," said the Queen, for my grandfather heard him repeat what passed, "has not perhaps been so circumspect in every thing as one could have wished, but her lord has dealt harshly with her."
'Master Knox having once before reconciled the debates of that honorable couple, told her Highness he had done so, and that not having since heard any thing to the contrary, he had hoped all things went well with them.
"It is worse," replied the Queen, "than ye believe. But, kind sir, do this much for my sake, as once again to put them at amity, and if the Countess behave not herself as she ought to do, she shall find no favour of me; but in no wise let Argyle know that I have requested you in this matter."
Afterwards, in speaking to the Earl of Murray, as they returned to Kinross, my grandfather noted that he employed many terms of soft courtliness, saying of her, that she was a lady who might, he thought, with a little pains, be won to grace and godliness, conld she be preserved from the taint of evil counsellors; so much had the winning sorceries of her exceeding beauty and her blandishments worked even upon his stern honesty, and enchanted his jealousy asleep.
"When Master Knox had, with the Earl, partaken of some repast, he requested that he might be conveyed back to Edinburgh, for that it suited not with his nature to remain sorning about the skirts of the VOL. 1. June, 1823. Br. Mag. 2 A
court; and his Lordship bade my grandfather be of his company, and to bid Sir Alexander Douglas, the master of his horse, choose for him the gentlest steed in his stable.
But it happened before the Reformer was ready to depart, that Queen Mary had finished her morning pastime, and was returning to her barge to embark for the castle, which the Earl hearing, went down to the brim of the loch to assist at her embarkation. My grandfather, with others, also hastened to the spot.
"On seeing his Lordship, she inquired for “her friend,” as she then called John Knox, and signified her regret that he had been so list to leave her, expressing her surprise that one so infirm should think so soon of a second journey; whereby the good Earl being minded to cement their happy reconciliation, from which he augured a great increase of benefits both to the realm and the cause of religion, was led to speak of his concern thereat likewise, and of his sorrow that all his own horses at Kinross being for the chase and road, he had none well-fitting to carry a person so aged, and but little used to the toil of riding.
'Her Highness smiled at the hidden counselling of this remark, for she was possessed of a sharp spirit; and she said, with a look which told the Earl and all about her that she discerned the pith of his Lordship's discourse, she would order one of her own palfreys to be forthwith prepared for him.
• When the Earl returned from the shore and informed Master Knox of the Queen's gracious condescension, he made no reply, but bowed his head in token of his sense of her kindness; and soon after, when the palfrey was brought saddled with the other horses to the door, he said, in my grandfather's hearing, to his Lordship, "It needs, you see, my Lord, must be so; for were I not to accept this grace, it might be thought I refused from a vain bravery of caring nothing for her Majesty's favour;" and he added, with a smile of jocularity, “whereas I am right well content to receive the very smallest boon from so fair and blooming a lady.”
• Nothing of any particularity occurred in the course of the journey; for the main part of which Master Knox was thoughtful and knit up in his own cogitations, and when from time to time he did enter into discourse with my grandfather, he spoke chiefly of certain usages and customs that he had observed in other lands, and of things of indifferent import; but nevertheless there was a flavour of holiness in all he said, and my grandfather treasured many of his sweet sentences as pearls of great price.'
The history then proceeds at a most tedious pace through the reli. gious persecutions which followed. In those under the reign of Charles II. the relator's whole family was destroyed. This part of the history is given with a simplicity which is the author's best qualifi. cation. At the fight of Drumclog, Ringan is wounded by Claverhouse's own hand : the vengeance which he there swears is strengthened by the cruelties and outrages to which he and his children are afterwards exposed. At length, at the battle of Killicrankie, Claverhouse falls by his hand, and he thus not only satiates his vengeance, but rids Scotland from her bitterest and most formidable foë.