Page images

of the chief dramatis personæ in Mr Macdonald, W.S. Edinburgh, a pawky carle, we ought rather to say, a know ing knave, who in good time deve lopes out into a character most forbid ding and formidable. The insides talk away in a very amusing manner, and we were just going to quote a bit of bam and balderdash from their various argumentations, and wranglings, and sparring, when we came suddenly on the following description of an Eng lish landscape. We quote it as a striking example of the sudden splendour of imagination with which this writer often lights up what he beholds, whether it be a mental or material vision, and the capricious wilfulness with which he as suddenly flings himself away from it, and turns off to other images of a lower, and even ludicrous kind, but which, notwithstanding, are made, by the power of genius, to blend, without offence, in the richness or magnificence of the picture.


"Never had Reginald opened his eyes on that richest-and perhaps grandest, too of all earthly prospects, a mighty English plain, until he saw it in all its perfection from the Hill of Haynam, that spot where Charles Edward, according to the local tradition, stood rooted below a sycamore, and gazing with a fervour of admiration, which even rising despair could not check, uttered the pathetic exclamation, Alas! this is England,' The boundless spread of beauty and of grandeur-for even hedges and hedgerows are woven by distance into the semblance of one vast wood-the apparent ease the wealth-the splendourthe limitless magnificence-the minute elaborate comfort-the picturesque villages-the busy towns-the embosomed spires the stately halls-the ancestral groves-everything, the assemblage of which stamps' England herself alone' -they all lay before him, and there needed no Alas!' to preface his confession. -But as to the particulars, are they not written in John Britton, F.A.S.?-And who is it that has not seen all that Reginald saw, just as well as he? Who is not acquainted with the snug unpretending little inns, with their neatly papered parlours, and prints of Hambletonian and Lord Granby, and handy waiters, and neat-fingered waiting-maids, and smiling landladies, and bowing landlords, and good dinners smoking in sight of the stopping coach? and the large noisy bustling inns, with travellers' rooms full of saddle-bags and dread-noughts, and tobacco-smoke

and Welsh-rabbits, enormous hams and jugs of porter, and stained newspapers, and dog-eared Directories, and chattering, joking, waiter-awing bagmen, and civil contemplative Quakers,

Some sipping punch, some sipping tea, All silent, and all-?


and the charming airy country towns near a shady grove and a murmuring brook,' with cleanly young girls seen over the Venetian blinds, in the act of

rubbing comfortable old fellows' bald pates

-and other comfortable old fellows just mounting their easy pad-nags to ride out

a mile-and other cleanly young girls laying the tablecloth for

roast mutton, rather than ven'son or teal?'-and the

filthy large towns, with manufactories and steam-engines, and crowded sloppy streets, and doctors' bottles, green and blue,' in the windows? and the stately little cities, with the stately little parsons walking about them, two or three abreast, in well-polished shoes, and blameless silk aprons some of them, and grand old churches, and spacious well-built closes, and trim gardens, and literary spinsters?

We have all of us seen these thingsand they are all of them good in their several ways. We have all been at such places as Preston, and Manchester, and Birmingham, and Litchfield. We have all seen statesman Brougham's paddock, and listened to




Long-Preston Peggy to Proud-Preston went, For to see the bould rebels it was her intent.' We have all heard of Whitaker's History, and the late Dr Ferrier, and the Literary and Philosophical Society of the Mancunian Mart.' We have all admired Soho, and pin-making, and Chantry's bust of James Watt. We have all heard of Anna Seward, and sighed over her lines on the death of Major André; and sympathized with the indignation of Richard Lovell Edgeworth, Esq. at the damned goodnatured friend,' who asked across the table for Mrs Edgeworth and the babies, just when he and Anna were opening the trenches of their flirtation. And we have all seen the house where Samuel Johnson's father sold books; and many of us have (like Reginald) walked half-a-mile farther, on purpose to see the willow which Surly Sam' himself planted in Tetsy's daughter's garden. And we have all been at Stratford-upon-Avon, and written our names in black lead upon the wall, and heard that old body that says she is Shakespeare's great-great-greatgreat-great-great-grand - niece- in - law, spout the opening scene of her 'WATERLOO, a TRAGEDY.'

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]


Dear Captain Brown, the postman has been beheld-Rome. We remember think

here, And you look sad

ing all their descriptions very fine at Now, marry, say

not 90 ; the time, and we ourselves have in our But the regiment has at last received its orders, And I must take my seat for the Isle o' Wight.

portfolio our description of our own Farewell, farewell, dear Kate,' &c. &c.

feelings on the same memorable occa; “ If you have ever happened to travel sion; not a little superior, unless we that road about the end of October, you greatly err, to them all; but not suhave probably seen a great deal even of perior--not equal to the following short the more transitory and occasional sort and unambitious burst about beautiof things that fell under the inspection of ful, august, and venerable-Oxford. Reginald and his companions. You have

“ Tax not the prince or peer with vain expense, probably observed abundance of rosy- With ill-match'd aims the architect-who plann'd cheeked old Staffordshire parsons, in grey

(Albeit labouring far a scanty band

of white-robed scholars only) some immense worsted stockings, seeing their sons into And glorious work of fine intelligence. the Oxford-bound coach, just below the “ So says (0! si sic omnia /) a great lirectory ha-ha. You have been annoyed ving poet; and, in truth, a very prosaic with the troops of empty, talking, conse- animal must he be, who for the first time quential, beardless o men,' chattering to

traverses that noble and ancient City of each other about · First Class' and · Se- the Muses, without acknowledging the cond Class'—Sir Roger Newdigate's influences of the GENIUS LOCI; and neprize-poem-the Dean of Christchurch

ver was man or youth less ambitious of -Coplestone's pamphlets and the Bra- resisting such influences than Reginald zen-nose Eight-oar. You have been amu

Dalton. "Born and reared in a wild sesed with the smug tutors, in tight stock questered province, he had never seen any ing pantaloons and gaiters, endeavouring great town of any sort, until he began the to shew how completely they can be easy, journey, now just about to be concluded. well-bred, well - informed men of the Almost at the same hour of the preceding world, when they have not their masters'

evening, he had entered Birmingham; gowns upon their backs-hazarding a jo

and what a contrast was here! No dark cular remark, perhaps, even to an under. narrow brick lanes, crowded with waggraduate the one moment, and biting

gons-no flaring shop-windows, passed their lips, and drawing themselves up, the

and repassed by jostling multitudesno moment after. You have been distrest

discordant cries, no sights of tumult, no with their involuntary quotations from

ring of anvils-everything wearing the Joe Miller and the Quarterly Review ;

impress of a grave, peaceful stateliness and if you have taken a second cheerer

hoary towers, antique battlements, airy with them after supper, you may have porticos, majestic colonnades, following been regaled with some classical song each other in endless succession on either out of the Sausage the swapping, side-lofty poplars and elms ever and swapping Mallard'-or, ,

anon lifting their heads against the sky,

as if from the heart of those magnificent • Your voices, brave boys, one and all I bespeak

seclusions--wide, spacious, solemn streets In due celebration of William of Wickham; everywhere a monastic stillness and a Let our chorus maintain, whether sober or mellow, That old Billy Wickham was a very fine fel

Gothic grandeur.--Excepting now and low,' &e.

then some solitary gowned man pacing “ You have not, indeed, it is most

slowly in the moonlight, there was not a

soul in the High-street; nor, excepting probable, enjoyed the advantage of hearing and seeing all these fine things in

here and there a lamp twinkling in some

high lonely tower,' where someone might, company with a sturdy Presbyterian Whig, grinning one grim and ghastly Plato," was there anything to shew that

or might not, be 'unsphering the spirit of smile all the time, reviling all things,

the venerable buildings which lined it despising all things, and puffing himself up with all things; but, nevertheless, you

were actually inhabited.” would in all likelihood think a fuller de- At the Angel Inn, Mr Macdonald scription no better than a bore." introduces Reginald to Mr Keith, a

At last the Admiral Nelson stops Scotchman and a Roman Catholic before the Angel Inn, and Reginald priest settled in Oxford, who afterDalton is in Oxford. Madam de Stael, wards proves one of the most original and the reverend Mr Eustace, and and most delightful old men in the Forsyth the school-master, and many world. These cronies use towards dozen and scores of other blue-legged each other the privilege of ancient people, have informed the world in friendship, or at least of old acquaintprint, how they felt when first they anceship, and several rallies occur in


[ocr errors]

which the antagonists are alternately driven, in the most spirited manner, but to the manifest advantage of the priest, to the ropes. Reginald listens with intense interest to the old priest's narrative of his own and niece's escape from drowning; and well he might, for a more powerful and terrible picture of danger, and fear, and death, never was painted.

"Well, sir, we did get on,' he proceeded; and we got on bravely and gaily too, for a time, till all at once, sirs, the Bauer-knecht, that rode before us, halted. The mist, you will observe, had been clearing away pretty quickly on the right hand, but it was dark enough towards the front, and getting darker and darker; but we thought nought on't till the boy pulled up. 'Meinherr, Meinherr!' cried the fellow, I am afraid I hear the water.' He stopt for a moment, and then said, 'Stay you for a moment where you are, and I'll soon see whether we are right.' With that, off he went, as if the devil was at his tail; and we, what could we do-we stood like two stocks-and poor little Ellen, she looked into my face so woefully, that I wished to God we were both safe in the blackest hole of Bieche. In short, I suppose he had not galloped half a bow-shot, ere we quite lost sight of the fellow, but for several minutes more we could hear his horse's hoofs on the wet sand. We lost that too-and then, sirs, there came another sound, but what it was we could not at first bring ourselves to understand. Ellen stared me in the face again, with a blank look, you may swear; and, Good God!' said she at last, I am certain it's the sea, uncle ?'- No, no!' said I, 'listen, listen! I'm sure you are deceived.' She looked and listened, and so did I, sirs, keenly enough; and, in a moment, there came a strong breath of wind, and away went the mist driving, and we heard the regular heaving and rushing of the waters. 'Ride, ride, my dear uncle,' cried Ellen, or we are lost;' and off we both went, galloping as hard as we could away from the waves. My horse was rather the stronger one of the pair, but at length he began to pant below me, and just then the mist dropt down again thicker and thicker right and left, and I pulled up in a new terror, lest we should be separated; but Ellen was alongside in a moment, and, faith, however it was, she had more calmness with her than I could muster, She put out her hand, poor girl, and grasped mine, and there we remained for, I dare say, two or three minutes, our horses, both of them, quite blown, and we

knowing no more than the man in the moon where we were, either by the vil lage or our headland.'

"The old gentleman paused for a moment, and then went on in a much lower tone- I feel it all as if it were now, sirs; I was like a man bewildered in a dream. I have some dim sort of remembrance of my beast pawing and plashing with his fore feet, and looking down and seeing some great slimy eels-never were such loathsome wretches-twisting and twirling on the sand, which, by the way, was more water than sand ere that time. I also recollect a screaming in the air, and then a flapping of wings close to my ear almost, and then a great cloud of the seamews driving over us away into the heart of the mist. Neither of us said anything, but we just began to ride on again, though, God knows, we knew nothing of whither we were going; but we still kept hand in hand. We rode a good space, till that way also we found ourselves getting upon the sea; and so round and round, till we were at last convinced the water had completely hemmed us all about. There were the waves trampling, trampling towards us, whichever way we turned our horses' heads, and the mist was all this while thickening more and more; and if a great cloud of it was dashed away now and then with the wind, why, sirs, the prospect was but the more rueful, for the sea was round us every way. Wide and far we could see nothing but the black water, and the waves leaping up here and there upon the sand-banks.

"Well, sir, the poor dumb horses, they backed of themselves as the waters came gushing towards us. Looking round, snorting, snuffing, and pricking their ears, the poor things seemed to be as sensible as ourselves to the sort of condition we were all in; and while Ellen's hand wrung mine more and more closely, they also, one would have thought, were always shrinking nearer and nearer to each other, just as they had had the same kind of feelings. Ellen, I cannot tell you what her behaviour was. I don't believe there's a bold man in Europe would have behaved so well, sirs. Her cheek was white enough, and her lips were as white as if they had never had a drop of blood in them; but her eye, God bless me ! after the first two or three minutes were over, it was as clear as the bonniest blue sky ye ever looked upon. I, for my part, I cannot help saying it, was, after a little while, more grieved, far more, about her than myself. I am an old man, sirs, and what did it signify? but to see her at blithe seventeen-But, however, why

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

should I make many words about all that? I screamed, and screamed, and better screamed, but she only squeezed my hand, and shook her head, as if it was all of no avail. I had shouted till I was as hoarse as a raven, and was just going to give up all farther thoughts of making any exertion; for, in truth, I began to feel benumbed and listless all over, my friends -when we heard a gun fired. We heard it quite distinctly, though the mist was so thick that we could see nothing. I cried then; you may suppose how I cried; and Ellen too, though she had never opened her lips before, cried as lustily as she could. Again the gun was fired, and again we answered at the top of our voices; and then, God bless me !-was there ever such a moment? We heard the dashing of the oars, and a strong breeze lifted the mist like a curtain from before us, and there was a boat-a jolly ten-oar boat, sheering right through the waters towards us, perhaps about a couple of hundred yards off. A sailor on the bow hailed and cheered us; but you may imagine how far gone we were, when I tell you that I scarcely took notice it was in ENGLISH the man cried to us.

of the water, coming so near the boat, that one of the men's oars struck him on the head; and with that he groaned most pitifully, snorted, neighed, and plunged again for a moment, and then there was one loud, shrill cry, I never heard such a terrible sound since I was born, and away he drifted astern of us.-We saw him after a very little while had passed, going quite passively the way the current was running, the other had done so just be fore; but I've been telling you a very long story, and perhaps you'll think about very little matters too. As for ourselves, we soon reached one of the transports that Sir George Stuart had sent to fetch off the brave Brunswickers; and though the rascally Danes kept firing at us in a most cowardly manner, whenever we were obliged to come near their side on the tack, they were such miserable hands at their guns, that not one shot ever came within fifty yards of one vessel that was there. It would have been an easy matter to have burnt Bremerlee about their ears, but the Duke was anxious to have his poor fellows in their quarters-God knows, they had had a sore campaign one way and another and so we only gave them a few shots, just to see them skipping about upon the sand, and so passed them all, and got safe out of the Weser. We reached Heligoland next day, and then, you know, we were at home among plenty of English, and Ellen nursed my rheumatics: and as soon as I was able to move, we came over in one of the King's packets, and here we are, alive and kicking-I will say it once more-in merry England.""

"In five minutes we were safe on board. They were kind, as kind as could be-good jolly English boys, every soul of them. Our boor lad was sitting in the midst of them with a brandy bottle at his head; and, poor soul, he had need enough of comfort, to be sure, for to Heligoland he must go and three horses lost, of course-besides the anxiety of his friends.

"It was a good while ere I got my thoughts anyways collected about me, Ellen, poor thing, sat close nestled beside me, shaking all over like a leaf. But yet it was she that first spoke to me, and upon my soul, I think her face was more woeful than it had ever been when we were in our utmost peril; it was a sore sight truly, that had made it so, and the poor lassie's heart was visibly at the bursting. There were our two horses-the poor dumb beasts-what think ye of it? -there they were, both of them, swimming just by the stern of the boat. And our honest Bauer, God bless me! the tears were running over his face while he looked at them; and by and by one of the poor creatures made an exertion and came off the side of the boat where the lad sat, quite close to ourselves, with an imploring look and a whining cry that cut me to the very heart. Ellen sat and sobbed by me, but every now and then she bolted up, and it was all I could do to hold her in her place. At last the poor beast made two or three most violent plunges, and reared himself half-way out

Shortly after, an infernal row takes place in the High Street, and Reginald accompanies the good old priest to his house, to guard him from any menacing danger. Lo! the vision rises before him at the door of that humble dwelling, which never afterwards is to fade from his brain-and certainly a lovelier vision never thrilled the heartstrings, nor stirred the blood in the veins of youth.

"A soft female voice said from within, 'Who's there?'

"It's me, my darling,' answered the old man, and the door was opened. A young girl, with a candle in her hand, appeared in the entrance, and uttered something anxiously and quickly in a language which Reginald did not understand. 'Mein susses kind,' he answered-' my bonny lassie, it's a mere scart, just a fleabite-I'm all safe and sound, thanks to this young gentleman.—Mr Dalton, allow me to have the honour of presenting


[ocr errors]

you to my niece, Miss Hesketh, Miss “ He was hailed by the old cry, Hesketh, Mr Dalton. But we shall all « Town or Gown ?' when he came neat be better acquainted hereafter, I trust.'

but before he could make any an“ The old man shook Reginald most swer, Frederick Chisney reeled from the affectionately by the hand, and repeating midst of the group, and exclaimed, seihis request that he should go instantly zing him by the collar, 'Oh you dog, home, he entered the house-the door where have you been hiding yourself? I was closed and Reginald stood alone called at both the Star and the King's upon the way. The thing had past in a Arms for you-Here, my hearties, here's single instant, yet when the vision with

my gay young freshman

here's my drew, the boy felt as if that angel-face Westmoreland Johnny Raw' he went could never quit his imagination. So fair, on, hickuping between every wordso pensive-yet so sweet and light a "here's my friend, Reginald Dalton, boys, smile-such an air of hovering, timid we'll initiate him in style.' grace-such a clear, soft eye-such raven “ Reginald was instantly surrounded silken tresses beneath that flowing veil- by a set of young fellows, all evidently never had his eye beheld such a creature very much flustered with wine, who sa- it was as if he had had one momentary luted him with such violent shaking of glimpse into some purer, happier, love- hands, as is only to be expected from the lier world than this.

• Baccho pleni,' or acquaintances of ten “ He stood for some moments rivetted years' standing." to the spot where this beautiful vision Gentle reader! pardon us while we had gleamed upon him. He looked up lay down the pen, and indulge in some and saw, as he thought, something white tender recollections. We have done at one of the windows-but that too was

somwe wipe away the tears from our gone; and, after a little while, he began

eyes—and present you with the affectto walk back slowly into the city. He ing passage which has so overwhelmed could not, however, but pause again for us with a crowd of delightful remema moment when he reached the bridge ;

brances. the tall fair tower of Magdalene appeared

“ In short, by this time the Highso exquisitely beautiful above its circling

street of Oxford exhibited a scene as dif. groves--and there was something so

ferent from its customary solemnity and soothing to his imagination, (pensive as it was at the moment,) in the dark flow

silence, as it is possible to imagine. Con

ceive several hundreds of young men in of the Charwell gurgling below him within its fringe of willows. He stood lean

caps, or gowns, or both, but all of them,

without exception, wearing some part of ing over the parapet, enjoying the solemn

their academical insignia, retreating beloveliness of the scene, when of a sud

fore a band rather more numerous, made den, the universal stillness was disturbed

up of apprentices, journeymen, labourers, once more by a clamour of rushing feet

bargemen—a motley mixture of every and impetuous voices.”

thing that, in the phrase of that classical Reginald is sinking down through region, passes under the generic name of dream and vision, and love has in a Raff. Several casual disturbances had moment possessed him with its ima

occurred in different quarters of the town, ginative joy. The bashful inexperie

a thing quite familiar to the last and all enced boy from his father's study,

preceding ages, and by no means uncomwhere he had lived till eighteen years

mon even in those recent days, whatever among books and tranquil musings, is

may be the case now. Of the host of struck below the shadows of the mag

youthful academics, just arrived for the nificent towers of Oxford by the sud

beginning of the term, a considerable den and passionate perception of over

number had, as usual, been quartered for

this night in the different inns of the city. powering beauty. Was this fair crea

Some of these, all full of wine and misture, seen but for a moment, and then

chief, had first rushed out and swelled a shut up from him in the silence and

mere passing scuffle into something like solitude of that old man's cell, the

a substantial row. Herds of the townfearless one who had so behaved in

boys, on the other hand, had been rapidly that dreadful night of the sea-storm?

assembled by the magic influence of their These and other thoughts were ren- accustomed war-cry. The row once formdering Reginald unaware of the beauty ed into regular shape in The Corn-marof Magdalen Tower and the moonlight ket, the clamour had penetrated walls, and starry heavens, when his love- and overleapt battlements; from College dream was broken in upon by the to College the madness had spread and revival of a row,

flown. Porters had been knocked down


« PreviousContinue »