RESTRICTED TO PROSE
HENRY CABOT LODGE
FRANCIS W. HALSEY
With an Introduction, Biographical and Explanatory Notes, etc.
IN TEN VOLUMES
GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND—III
FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY
NEW YORK AND LONDON
COPYRIGHT, 1909, BY
FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY
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The Best of the World's Classics
GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND—III
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VOL. V—GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND—III
JAMES BOSWELL—(Born in 1740, died in 1795.)
I Boswell's Introduction to Johnson. (From Boswell's "Life of Johnson")
II Johnson's Audience with George III. (From Boswell's "Life of Johnson")
III The Meeting of Johnson and John Wilkes. (From Boswell's "Life of Johnson")
IV Johnson's Wedding-Day. (From Boswell's "Life of Johnson")
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH—(Born in 1770, died in 1850.)
A Poet Defined. (From the Preface to the second edition of "Lyrical Ballads")
SIR WALTER SCOTT—(Born in 1771, died in 1832.)
I The Arrival of the Master of Ravenswood. (From Chapter XXXIII of "The Bride of Lammermoor")
II The Death of Meg Merriles. (From Chapter LV of "Guy Mannering")
III A Vision of Rob Roy. (From Chapter XXIII of "Rob Roy")
IV Queen Elizabeth and Amy Robsart at Kenilworth. (From "Kenilworth")
V The Illness and Death of Lady Scott. (From Scott's "Journal")
SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE—(Born in 1772, died in 1834.)
I Does Fortune Favor Fools? (From "A Sailor's Fortune")
II The Destiny of the United States. (From the "Table Talk")
ROBERT SOUTHEY—(Born in 1774, died in 1843.)
Nelson's Death at Trafalgar. (From the "Life of Nelson")
WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR—(Born in 1775, died in 1864.)
I The Death of Hofer
II Napoleon and Pericles
CHARLES LAMB—(Born in 1775, died in 1834.)
I Dream Children—A Reverie. (From the "Essays of Elia")
II Poor Relations. (From the "Essays of Elia")
III The Origin of Roast Pig. (From the "Essays of Elia")
IV That We Should Rise with the Lark. (From the "Essays of Elia")
WILLIAM HAZLITT—(Born in 1778, died in 1830.)
Hamlet. (From the "Characters of Shakespeare's Plays")
THOMAS DE QUINCEY—(Born in 1785, died in 1859.)
I Dreams of an Opium-Eater. (From the "Confessions of an English Opium-Eater")
II Joan of Arc. (From the "Biographical and Historical Essays")
III Charles Lamb. (From the "Literary Reminiscences")
LORD BYRON—(Born in 1788, died in 1824.)
I Of His Mother's Treatment of Him. (A letter to his half-sister, Augusta)
II To His Wife after the Separation. (A letter written in Italy)
III To Sir Walter Scott. (A letter written in Italy)
IV Of Art and Nature as Poetical Subjects. (From the "Reply to Bowles")
PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY—(Born in 1792, died in 1822.)
I In Defense of Poetry. (From an essay written some time in 1820-21)
II The Baths of Caracalla. (From a letter to Thomas Love Peacock)
III The ruins of Pompeii. (A letter to Thomas Love Peacock)
GEORGE GROTE—(Born in 1794, died in 1871.)
I The Mutilation of the Hermae. (From Chapter LVIII of the "History of Greece")
II If Alexander Had Lived. (From Chapter XCIV of the "History of Greece")
THOMAS CARLYLE—(Born in 1795, died in 1881.)
I Charlotte Corday. (From the "History of the French Revolution")
II The Blessedness of Work. (From "Past and Present")
III Cromwell. (From "Heroes and Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History")
IV In Praise of Those Who Toil. (From "Sartor Resartus")
V The Certainty of Justice. (From "Past and Present")
VI The Greatness of Scott. (From the essay on Lockhart's "Life of Scott")
VII Boswell and His Book. (From the essay on Croker's edition of Boswell)
VIII Might Burns Have Been Saved? (From the essay on Burns)
LORD MACAULAY—(Born in 1800, died in 1859.)
I Puritans and Royalists. (From the essay on Milton)
II Cromwell's Army. (From Chapter I of the "History of England")
III The Opening of the Trial of Warren Hastings. (From the essay on Hastings)
IV The Gift of Athens to Man. (From the essay on Mitford's "History of Greece")
V The Pathos of Byron's Life. (From the essay on Moore's "Life of Byron")
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GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND—III
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Born in 1740, died in 1795; son of a Scottish judge; admitted to the bar in 1766; recorder of Carlisle in 1788; removed to London in 1789; visited Corsica in 1766; first met Dr. Johnson in 1763; went with him to the Hebrides in 1773; published his "Life of Johnson" in 1791.
BOSWELL'S INTRODUCTION TO DR. JOHNSON
Mr. Thomas Davies the actor, who then kept a bookseller's shop in Russell street, Covent Garden, told me that Johnson was very much his friend, and came frequently to his house, where he more than once invited me to meet him; but by some unlucky accident or other he was prevented from coming to us.
Mr. Thomas Davies was a man of good understanding and talents, with the advantage of a liberal education. Tho somewhat pompous, he was an entertaining companion; and his literary performances have no inconsiderable share of merit. He was a friendly and very hospitable man. Both he and his wife (who has been celebrated for her beauty), tho upon the stage for many years, maintained a uniform decency of character; and Johnson esteemed them, and lived in as easy an intimacy with them as with any family which he used to visit. Mr. Davies recollected several of Johnson's remarkable sayings, and was one of the best of the many imitators of his voice and manner, while relating them. He increased my impatience more and more to see the extraordinary man whose works I highly valued, and whose conversation was reported to be so peculiarly excellent.
At last, on Monday the 16th of May, when I was sitting in Mr. Davies' back parlor, after having drunk tea with him and Mrs. Davies, Johnson unexpectedly came into the shop; and Mr. Davies having perceived him through the glass door in the room in which we were sitting, advancing toward us, he announced his awful approach to me, somewhat in the manner of an actor in the part of Horatio, when he addresses Hamlet on the appearance of his father's ghost—"Look, my lord, it comes." I found that I had a very perfect idea of Johnson's figure from the portrait of him painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds soon after he had published his Dictionary, in the attitude of sitting in his easy chair in deep meditation; which was the first picture his friend did for him, which Sir Joshua very kindly presented to me, and from which an engraving has been made for this work. Mr. Davies mentioned my name, and respectfully introduced me to him. I was much agitated, and recollecting his prejudice against the Scotch, of which I had heard much, I said to Davies, "Don't tell where I came from." "From Scotland," cried Davies, roguishly. "Mr. Johnson" (said I), "I do indeed come from Scotland, but I can not help it." I am willing to flatter myself that I meant this as light pleasantry to soothe and conciliate him, and not as an humiliating abasement at the expense of my country. But however that might be, this speech was somewhat unlucky; for with that quickness of wit for which he was so remarkable, he seized the expression "come from Scotland," which I used in the sense of being of that country; and as if I had said that I had come away from it, or left it, retorted, "That, sir, I find is what a very great many of your countrymen can not help." This stroke stunned me a good deal; and when he had sat down, I felt myself not a little embarrassed, and apprehensive of what might come next. He then addrest himself to Davies: "What do you think of Garrick? He has refused me an order for the play of Miss Williams, because he knows the house will be full, and that an order would be worth three shillings." Eager to take any opening to get into conversation with him, I ventured to say, "Oh, sir, I can not think Mr. Garrick would grudge such a trifle to you."
"Sir" (said he, with a stern look), "I have known David Garrick longer than you have done; and I know no right you have to talk to me on the subject." Perhaps I deserved this check; for it was rather presumptuous in me, an entire stranger, to express any doubt of the justice of his animadversion upon his old acquaintance and pupil. I now felt myself much mortified, and began to think that the hope which I had long indulged of obtaining his acquaintance was blasted. And in truth, had not my ardor been uncommonly strong, and my resolution uncommonly persevering, so rough a reception might have deterred me forever from making any further attempts....
I was highly pleased with the extraordinary vigor of his conversation, and regretted that I was drawn away from it by an engagement at another place. I had for a part of the evening been left alone with him, and had ventured to make an observation now and then, which he received very civilly; so that I was satisfied that tho there was a roughness in his manner, there was no ill-nature in his disposition. Davies followed me to the door, and when I complained to him a little of the hard blows which the great man had given me, he kindly took upon him to console me by saying, "Don't be uneasy. I can see he likes you very well."
A few days afterward I called on Davies, and asked him if he thought I might take the liberty of waiting on Mr. Johnson at his chambers in the Temple. He said I certainly might, and that Mr. Johnson would take it as a compliment. So on Tuesday the 24th of May, after having been enlivened by the witty sallies of Messieurs Thornton, Wilkes, Churchill, and Lloyd, with whom I had passed the morning, I boldly repaired to Johnson. His chambers were on the first floor of No. 1, Inner Temple Lane, and I entered them with an impression given me by the Rev. Dr. Blair, of Edinburgh, who had been introduced to him not long before, and described his having "found the giant in his den"; an expression which, when I came to be pretty well acquainted with Johnson, I repeated to him, and he was diverted at this picturesque account of himself. Dr. Blair had been presented to him by Dr. James Fordyce. At this time the controversy concerning the pieces published by Mr. James Macpherson as translations of Ossian was at its height. Johnson had all along denied their authenticity; and what was still more provoking to their admirers, maintained that they had no merit. The subject having been introduced by Dr. Fordyce, Dr. Blair, relying on the internal evidence of their antiquity, asked Dr. Johnson whether he thought any man of a modern age could have written such poems. Johnson replied, "Yes, sir, many men, many women, and many children." Johnson, at this time, did not know that Dr. Blair had just published a Dissertation, not only defending their authenticity, but seriously ranking them with the poems of Homer and Virgil; and when he was afterward informed of this circumstance, he exprest some displeasure at Dr. Fordyce's having suggested the topic, and said, "I am not sorry that they got thus much for their pains. Sir, it was like leading one to talk of a book when the author is concealed behind the door."
He received me very courteously; but it must be confest that his apartment and furniture and morning dress were sufficiently uncouth. His brown suit of clothes looked very rusty; he had on a little shriveled unpowdered wig, which was too small for his head; his shirt-neck and the knees of his breeches were loose; his black worsted stockings ill drawn up; and he had a pair of unbuckled shoes by way of slippers. But all these slovenly particularities were forgotten the moment that he began to talk. Some gentlemen, whom I do not recollect, were sitting with him; and when they went away, I also rose; but he said to me, "Nay, don't go." "Sir" (said I), "I am afraid that I intrude upon you. It is benevolent to allow me to sit and hear you." He seemed pleased with this compliment, which I sincerely paid him, and answered, "Sir, I am obliged to any man who visits me."
JOHNSON'S AUDIENCE WITH GEORGE III
In February, 1767, there happened one of the most remarkable incidents of Johnson's life, which gratified his monarchical enthusiasm, and which he loved to relate with all its circumstances, when requested by his friends. This was his being honored by a private conversation with his Majesty, in the library at the Queen's house. He had frequently visited those splendid rooms and noble collection of books, which he used to say was more numerous and curious than he supposed any person could have made in the time which the King had employed. Mr. Barnard, the librarian, took care that he should have every accommodation that could contribute to his ease and convenience, while indulging his literary taste in that place; so that he had here a very agreeable resource at leisure hours.
His Majesty, having been informed of his occasional visits, was pleased to signify a desire that he should be told when Dr. Johnson came next to the library. Accordingly, the next time that Johnson did come, as soon as he was fairly engaged with the book, on which, while he sat by the fire, he seemed quite intent, Mr. Barnard stole round to the apartment where the King was, and in obedience to his Majesty's commands mentioned that Dr. Johnson was then in the library. His Majesty said that he was at leisure, and would go to him; upon which Mr. Barnard took one of the candles that stood on the King's table and lighted his Majesty through a suite of rooms, till they came to a private door into the library of which his Majesty had the key. Being entered, Mr. Barnard stept forward hastily to Dr. Johnson, who was still in a profound study, and whispered him, "Sir, here is the King." Johnson started up, and stood still. His Majesty approached him, and at once was courteously easy.
His Majesty began by observing that he understood he came sometimes to the library; and then mentioned his having heard that the Doctor had been lately at Oxford, and asked him if he was not fond of going thither. To which Johnson answered that he was indeed fond of going to Oxford sometimes, but was likewise glad to come back again. The King then asked him what they were doing at Oxford. Johnson answered, he could not much commend their diligence, but that in some respect they were mended, for they had put their press under better regulations, and at that time were printing Polybius. He was then asked whether there were better libraries at Oxford or Cambridge. He answered, he believed the Bodleian was larger than any they had at Cambridge; at the same time adding, "I hope, whether we have more books or not than they have at Cambridge, we shall make as good use of them as they do." Being asked whether All-Souls or Christ Church library was the largest, he answered, "All-Souls library is the largest we have, except the Bodleian." "Ay" (said the King), "that is the public library."
His Majesty inquired if he was then writing anything. He answered he was not, for he had pretty well told the world what he knew, and must now read to acquire more knowledge. The King, as it should seem with a view to urge him to rely on his own stores as an original writer, and to continue his labors, then said, "I do not think you borrow much from anybody."
Johnson said he thought he had already done his part as a writer. "I should have thought so too" (said the King), "if you had not written so well." Johnson observed to me, upon this, that "No man could have paid a handsomer compliment; and it was fit for a king to pay. It was decisive." When asked by another friend, at Sir Joshua Reynolds's, whether he made any reply to this high compliment, he answered, "No, sir. When the King had said it, it was to be so. It was not for me to bandy civilities with my Sovereign." Perhaps no man who had spent his whole life in courts could have shown a more nice and dignified sense of true politeness than Johnson did in this instance.
His Majesty having observed to him that he supposed he must have read a good deal, Johnson answered that he thought more than he read; that he had read a great deal in the early part of his life, but having fallen into ill health, he had not been able to read much compared with others: for instance, he said, he had not read much compared with Dr. Warburton. Upon which the King said that he heard Dr. Warburton was a man of much general knowledge; that you could scarce talk with him on any subject on which he was not qualified to speak: and that his learning resembled Garrick's acting in its universality. His Majesty then talked of the controversy between Warburton and Lowth, which he seemed to have read, and asked Johnson what he thought of it. Johnson answered, "Warburton has the most general, most scholastic learning; Lowth is the more correct scholar. I do not know which of them calls names best." The King was pleased to say he was of the same opinion: adding, "You do not think then, Dr. Johnson, that there was much argument in the case?" Johnson said he did not think there was. "Why, truly" (said the King), "when once it comes to calling names, argument is pretty well at an end."
His Majesty then asked him what he thought of Lord Lyttelton's history, which was just then published. Johnson said he thought his style pretty good, but that he had blamed Henry the Second rather too much. "Why" (said the King), "they seldom do these things by halves." "No, sir" (answered Johnson), "not to kings." But fearing to be misunderstood, he proceeded to explain himself; and immediately subjoined, "That for those who spoke worse of kings than they deserved, he could find no excuse; but that he could more easily conceive how some one might speak better of them than they deserved, without any ill intention: for as kings had much in their power to give, those who were favored by them would frequently, from gratitude, exaggerate their praises; and as this proceeded from a good motive, it was certainly excusable as far as error could be excusable."
The King then asked him what he thought of Dr. Hill. Johnson answered that he was an ingenious man, but had no veracity; and immediately mentioned as an instance of it an assertion of that writer, that he had seen objects magnified to a much greater degree by using three or four microscopes at a time than by using one. "Now" (added Johnson), "every one acquainted with microscopes knows that the more of them he looks through, the less the object will appear." "Why" (replied the King), "this is not only telling an untruth, but telling it clumsily; for if that be the case, every one who can look through a microscope will be able to detect him."
"I now" (said Johnson to his friends, when relating what had passed) "began to consider that I was depreciating this man in the estimation of his Sovereign, and thought it was time for me to say something that might be more favorable." He added, therefore, that Dr. Hill was notwithstanding a very curious observer; and if he would have been contented to tell the world no more than he knew, he might have been a very considerable man, and needed not to have recourse to such mean expedients to raise his reputation.
The King then talked of literary journals, mentioned particularly the Journal des Savants, and asked Johnson if it was well done. Johnson said it was formerly very well done, and gave some account of the persons who began it, and carried it on for some years; enlarging at the same time on the nature and use of such works. The King asked him if it was well done now. Johnson answered he had no reason to think that it was. The King then asked him if there were any other literary journals published in this kingdom except the Monthly and Critical Reviews; and on being answered there was no other, his Majesty asked which of them was the best. Johnson answered that the Monthly Review was done with most care, the Critical upon the best principles; adding that the authors of the Monthly Review were enemies to the Church. This the King said he was sorry to hear.
The conversation next turned on the Philosophical Transactions, when Johnson observed that they had now a better method of arranging their materials than formerly. "Ay" (said the King), "they are obliged to Dr. Johnson for that"; for his Majesty had heard and remembered the circumstance, which Johnson himself had forgot.
His Majesty exprest a desire to have the literary biography of this country ably executed, and proposed to Dr. Johnson to undertake it. Johnson signified his readiness to comply with his Majesty's wishes.
During the whole of this interview, Johnson talked to his Majesty with profound respect, but still in his firm, manly manner, with a sonorous voice, and never in that subdued tone which is commonly used at the levee and in the drawing-room. After the King withdrew, Johnson showed himself highly pleased with his Majesty's conversation and gracious behavior. He said to Mr. Barnard, "Sir, they may talk of the King as they will; but he is the finest gentleman that I have ever seen." And he afterward observed to Mr. Langton, "Sir, his manners are those of as fine a gentleman as we may suppose Lewis the Fourteenth or Charles the Second."
At Sir Joshua Reynolds's, where a circle of Johnson's friends were collected round him to hear his account of this memorable conversation, Dr. Joseph Warton, in his frank and lively manner, was very active in pressing him to mention the particulars, "Come, now, sir, this is an interesting matter; do favor us with it." Johnson, with great good humor, complied.
He told them: "I found his Majesty wished I should talk, and I made it my business to talk. I find it does a man good to be talked to by his Sovereign. In the first place, a man can not be in a passion—" Here some question interrupted him; which is to be regretted, as he certainly would have pointed out and illustrated many circumstances of advantage, from being in a situation where the powers of the mind are at once excited to vigorous exertion and tempered by reverential awe.
THE MEETING OF DR. JOHNSON AND JOHN WILKES
I am now to record a very curious incident in Dr. Johnson's life which fell under my own observation; of which pars magna fui, and which I am persuaded will, with the liberal-minded, be much to his credit.
My desire of being acquainted with celebrated men of every description had made me, much about the same time, obtain an introduction to Dr. Samuel Johnson and to John Wilkes, Esq. Two men more different could perhaps not be selected out of all mankind. They had even attacked one another with some asperity in their writings; yet I lived in habits of friendship with both. I could fully relish the excellence of each; for I have ever delighted in that intellectual chemistry which can separate good qualities from evil in the same person.
My worthy booksellers and friends, Messieurs Dilly in the Poultry, at whose hospitable and well-covered table I have seen a greater number of literary men than at any other except that of Sir Joshua Reynolds, had invited me to meet Mr. Wilkes and some more gentlemen on Wednesday, May 15th. "Pray" (said I), "let us have Dr. Johnson." "What, with Mr. Wilkes? not for the world" (said Mr. Edward Dilly): "Dr. Johnson would never forgive me." "Come" (said I), "if you'll let me negotiate for you, I will be answerable that all shall go well."
Dilly: Nay, if you will take it upon you, I am sure I shall be very happy to see them both here.
Notwithstanding the high veneration which I entertained for Dr. Johnson, I was sensible that he was sometimes a little actuated by the spirit of contradiction, and by means of that I hoped I should gain my point. I was persuaded that if I had come upon him with a direct proposal, "Sir, will you dine in company with Jack Wilkes?" he would have flown into a passion, and would probably have answered, "Dine with Jack Wilkes, sir! I'd as soon dine with Jack Ketch." I therefore, while we were sitting quietly by ourselves at his house in an evening, took occasion to open my plan thus:
"Mr. Dilly, sir, sends his respectful compliments to you, and would be happy if you would do him the honor to dine with him on Wednesday next along with me, as I must soon go to Scotland."
Johnson: Sir, I am obliged to Mr. Dilly. I will wait upon him—
Boswell: Provided, sir, I suppose, that the company which he is to have is agreeable to you.
Johnson: What do you mean, sir? What do you take me for? Do you think I am so ignorant of the world as to imagine that I am to prescribe to a gentleman what company he is to have at his table?
Boswell: I beg your pardon, sir, for wishing to prevent you from meeting people whom you might not like. Perhaps he may have some of what he calls his patriotic friends with him.
Johnson: Well, sir, and what then? What care I for his patriotic friends? Poh!
Boswell: I should not be surprized to find Jack Wilkes there.
Johnson: And if Jack Wilkes should be there, what is that to me, sir? My dear friend, let us have no more of this. I am sorry to be angry with you; but really it is treating me strangely to talk to me as if I could not meet any company whatever, occasionally.
Boswell: Pray forgive me, sir: I meant well. But you shall meet whoever comes, for me.
Thus I secured him, and told Dilly that he would find him very well pleased to be one of his guests on the day appointed.
Upon the much-expected Wednesday I called on him about half an hour before dinner, as I often did when we were to dine out together, to see that he was ready in time, and to accompany him. I found him buffeting his books, as upon a former occasion, covered with dust, and making no preparation for going abroad. "How is this, sir?" (said I). "Don't you recollect that you are to dine at Mr. Dilly's?"
Johnson: Sir, I did not think of going to Dilly's: it went out of my head. I have ordered dinner at home with Mrs. Williams.
Boswell: But, my dear sir, you know you were engaged to Mr. Dilly, and I told him so. He will expect you, and will be much disappointed if you don't come.
Johnson: You must talk to Mrs. Williams about this.
Here was a sad dilemma. I feared that what I was so confident I had secured, would yet be frustrated. He had accustomed himself to show Mrs. Williams such a degree of humane attention as frequently imposed some restraint upon him; and I knew that if she should be obstinate, he would not stir. I hastened down-stairs to the blind lady's room, and told her I was in great uneasiness, for Dr. Johnson had engaged to me to dine this day at Mr. Dilly's, but that he had told me he had forgotten his engagement, and had ordered dinner at home. "Yes, sir" (said she, pretty peevishly), "Dr. Johnson is to dine at home." "Madam" (said I), "his respect for you is such that I know he will not leave you, unless you absolutely desire it. But as you have so much of his company, I hope you will be good enough to forego it for a day; as Mr. Dilly is a very worthy man, has frequently had agreeable parties at his house for Dr. Johnson, and will be vexed if the Doctor neglects him to-day. And then, madam, be pleased to consider my situation: I carried the message, and I assured Mr. Dilly that Dr. Johnson was to come; and no doubt he has made a dinner, and invited a company, and boasted of the honor he expected to have. I shall be quite disgraced if the Doctor is not there."
She gradually softened to my solicitations, which were certainly as earnest as most entreaties to ladies upon any occasion, and was graciously pleased to empower me to tell Dr. Johnson "that, all things considered, she thought he should certainly go." I flew back to him, still in dust, and careless of what should be the event, "indifferent in his choice to go or stay"; but as soon as I had announced to him Mrs. Williams's consent, he roared, "Frank, a clean shirt," and was very soon drest. When I had him fairly seated in a hackney-coach with me, I exulted as much as a fortune-hunter who has got an heiress into a post-chaise with him to set out for Gretna Green.
When we entered Mr. Dilly's drawing-room, he found himself in the midst of a company he did not know. I kept myself snug and silent, watching how he would conduct himself. I observed him whispering to Mr. Dilly, "Who is that gentleman, sir?" "Mr. Arthur Lee." Johnson: "Too, too, too" (under his breath), which was one of his habitual mutterings. Mr. Arthur Lee could not but be very obnoxious to Johnson, for he was not only a patriot but an American. He was afterward minister from the United States at the court of Madrid. "And who is the gentleman in lace?" "Mr. Wilkes, sir." This information confounded him still more; he had some difficulty to restrain himself, and taking up a book, sat down upon a window-seat and read, or at least kept his eye upon it intently for some time, till he composed himself. His feelings, I dare say, were awkward enough. But he no doubt recollected his having rated me for supposing that he could be at all disconcerted by any company, and he therefore resolutely set himself to behave quite as an easy man of the World, who could adapt himself at once to the disposition and manners of those whom he might chance to meet.
The cheering sound of "Dinner is upon the table" dissolved his reverie, and we all sat down without any symptom of ill-humor. There were present, besides Mr. Wilkes, and Mr. Arthur Lee, who was an old companion of mine when he studied physics at Edinburgh, Mr. (now Sir John) Miller, Dr. Lettson, and Mr. Slater the druggist. Mr. Wilkes placed himself next to Dr. Johnson, and behaved to him with so much attention and politeness that he gained upon him insensibly. No man ate more heartily than Johnson, or loved better what was nice and delicate. Mr. Wilkes was very assiduous in helping him to some fine veal. "Pray give me leave, sir—It is better here—A little of the brown—Some fat, sir—A little of the stuffing—Some gravy—Let me have the pleasure of giving you some butter—Allow me to recommend a squeeze of this orange; or the lemon, perhaps, may have more zest." "Sir, sir, I am obliged to you, sir," cried Johnson, bowing, and turning his head to him with a look for some time of "surly virtue," but in a short while of complacency.
Tho Mrs. Porter was double the age of Johnson, and her person and manner, as described to me by the late Mr. Garrick, were by no means pleasing to others, she must have had a superiority of understanding and talents, as she certainly inspired him with a more than ordinary passion; and she having signified her willingness to accept of his hand, he went to Lichfield to ask his mother's consent to the marriage, which he could not but be conscious was a very imprudent scheme, both on account of their disparity of years, and her want of fortune. But Mrs. Johnson knew too well the ardor of her son's temper, and was too tender a parent to oppose his inclinations.
I know not for what reason the marriage ceremony was not performed at Birmingham; but a resolution was taken that it should be at Derby, for which place the bride and bridegroom set out on horseback, I suppose in very good humor. But tho Mr. Topham Beauclerk used archly to mention Johnson's having told him, with much gravity, "Sir, it was a love marriage on both sides," I have had from my illustrious friend the following curious account of their journey to church upon the nuptial morn (9th July):
"Sir, she had read the old romances, and had got into her head the fantastical notion that a woman of spirit should use her lover like a dog. So, sir, at first she told me that I rode too fast, and she could not keep up with me; and, when I rode a little slower, she passed me, and complained that I lagged behind. I was not to be made the slave of caprice; and I resolved to begin as I meant to end. I therefore pushed on briskly, till I was fairly out of her sight. The road lay between two hedges, so I was sure she could not miss it; and I contrived that she should soon come up with me. When she did, I observed her to be in tears."
This, it must be allowed, was a singular beginning of connubial felicity; but there is no doubt that Johnson, tho he thus showed a manly firmness, proved a most affectionate and indulgent husband to the last moment of Mrs. Johnson's life: and in his "Prayers and Meditations," we find very remarkable evidence that his regard and fondness for her never ceased, even after her death.
[Footnote 1: From Boswell's "Life of Johnson."]
[Footnote 2: The author of the "Lectures on Rhetoric," who was born in 1718 and died in 1800.]
[Footnote 3: From Boswell's "Life of Johnson."]
[Footnote 4: From Boswell's "Life of Johnson." Wilkes was the famous publicist and political agitator who was expelled from Parliament, imprisoned and outlawed, but afterward elected Lord Mayor of London and allowed to sit in Parliament many years.]
[Footnote 5: From Boswell's "Life of Johnson." Johnson was married in 1734, when his age was twenty-five.]
Born in 1770; died in 1850; graduated from Cambridge in 1791; traveled on the Continent in 1790-92; settled at Grasmere in 1799; married Mary Hutchinson in 1802; settled at Rydal Mount in 1813; traveled in Scotland in 1814 and in 1832; traveled on the Continent again in 1820 and in 1837; became poet laureate in 1843; published his first volume in 1793 and his last, "The Prelude," in 1850.
A POET DEFINED
Taking up the subject upon general grounds, I ask what is meant by the word Poet? What is a poet? To whom does he address himself? And what language is to be expected from him? He is a man speaking to men: a man, it is true, endued with more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has a greater knowledge of human nature, and a more comprehensive soul, than are supposed to be common among mankind; a man pleased with his own passions and volitions, and who rejoices more than other men in the spirit of life that is in him; delighting to contemplate similar volitions and passions as manifested in the goings on of the universe, and habitually impelled to create them where he does not find them. To these qualities he has added a disposition to be affected more than other men by absent things as if they were present; an ability of conjuring up in himself passions, which are indeed far from being the same as those produced by real events, yet especially in those parts of the general sympathy which are pleasing and delightful do more nearly resemble the passions produced by real events than anything which, from the motions of their own minds merely, other men are accustomed to feel in themselves; whence, and from practise, he has acquired a greater readiness and power in expressing what he thinks and feels, and especially those thoughts and feelings which, by his own choice, or from the structure of his own mind, arise in him without immediate external excitement.
But whatever portion of this faculty we may suppose even the greatest poet to possess, there can not be a doubt but that the language which it will suggest to him must, in liveliness and truth, fall far short of that which is uttered by men in real life, under the actual pressure of those passions, certain shadows of which the poet thus produces, or feels to be produced, in himself.
However exalted a notion we would wish to cherish of the character of the poet, it is obvious that, while he describes and imitates passions, his situation is altogether slavish and mechanical, compared with the freedom and power of real and substantial action and suffering. So that it will be the wish of the poet to bring his feelings near to those of the persons whose feelings he describes, nay, for short spaces of time, perhaps, to let himself slip into an entire delusion, and even confound and identify his own feelings with theirs; modifying only the language which is thus suggested to him by a consideration that he describes for a particular purpose, that of giving pleasure. Here, then, he will apply the principle on which I have so much insisted, namely, that of selection; on this he will depend for removing what would otherwise be painful or disgusting in the passion; he will feel that there is no necessity to trick out or elevate nature; and, the more industriously he applies this principle, the deeper will be his faith that no words which his fancy or imagination can suggest will bear to be compared with those which are the emanations of reality and truth.
But it may be said by those who do not object to the general spirit of these remarks, that, as it is impossible for the poet to produce upon all occasions language as exquisitely fitted for the passion as that which the real passion itself suggests, it is proper that he should consider himself as in the situation of a translator, who deems himself justified when he substitutes excellences of another kind for those which are unattainable by him; and endeavors occasionally to surpass his original, in order to make some amends for the general inferiority to which he feels that he must submit. But this would be to encourage idleness and unmanly despair. Further, it is the language of men who speak of what they do not understand; who talk of poetry as of a matter of amusement and idle pleasure; who will converse with us as gravely about a taste for poetry, as they express it, as if it were a thing as indifferent as a taste for rope-dancing, or Frontignac, or Sherry. Aristotle, I have been told, hath said that poetry is the most philosophic of all writing; it is so: its object is truth, not individual and local, but general and operative; not standing upon external testimony, but carried alive into the heart by passion; truth which is its own testimony, which gives strength and divinity to the tribunal to which it appeals, and receives them from the same tribunal. Poetry is the image of man and nature. The obstacles which stand in the way of the fidelity of the biographer and historian, and of their consequent utility, are incalculably greater than those which are to be encountered by the poet who has an adequate notion of the dignity of his art. The poet writes under one restriction only, namely, that of the necessity of giving immediate pleasure to a human being possest of that information which may be expected from him, not as a lawyer, a physician, a mariner, an astronomer, or a natural philosopher, but as a man. Except this one restriction, there is no object standing between the poet and the image of things: between this and the biographer and the historian there are a thousand.
Nor let this necessity of producing immediate pleasure be considered as a degradation of the poet's art. It is far otherwise. It is an acknowledgment of the beauty of the universe, an acknowledgment the more sincere because it is not formal, but indirect; it is a task light and easy to him who looks at the world in the spirit of love: further, it is an homage paid to the native and naked dignity of man, to the grand elementary principle of pleasure, by which he knows, and feels, and lives, and moves. We have no sympathy but what is propagated by pleasure. I would not be misunderstood, but wherever we sympathize with pain it will be found that the sympathy is produced and carried on by subtle combinations with pleasure. We have no knowledge, that is, no general principles drawn from the contemplation of particular facts, but what has been built up by pleasure, and exists in us by pleasure alone. The man of science, the chemist, and mathematician, whatever difficulties and disgusts they may have had to struggle with, know and feel this. However painful may be the objects with which the anatomist's knowledge is connected, he feels that his knowledge is pleasure; and where he has no pleasure he has no knowledge. What then does the poet? He considers man and the objects that surround him as acting and reacting upon each other, so as to produce an infinite complexity of pain and pleasure; he considers man in his own nature and in his ordinary life as contemplating this with a certain quantity of immediate knowledge, with certain convictions, intuitions, and deductions, which by habit become of the nature of intuitions; he considers him as looking upon this complex scene of ideas and sensations, and finding everywhere objects that immediately excite in him sympathies which, from the necessities of his nature, are accompanied by an overbalance of enjoyment.
To this knowledge which all men carry about with them, and to these sympathies in which, without any other discipline than that of our daily life, we are fitted to take delight, the poet principally directs his attention. He considers man and nature as essentially adapted to each other, and the mind of man as naturally the mirror of the fairest and most interesting qualities of nature. And thus the poet, prompted by this feeling of pleasure which accompanies him through the whole course of his studies, converses with general nature with affections akin to those which, through labor and length of time, the man of science has raised up in himself, by conversing with those parts of nature which are the objects of his studies. The knowledge both of the poet and the man of science is pleasure; but the knowledge of the one cleaves to us as a necessary part of our existence, our natural and unalienable inheritance; the other is a personal and individual acquisition, slow to come to us, and by no habitual and direct sympathy connecting us with our fellow beings. The man of science seeks truth as a remote and unknown benefactor; he cherishes and loves it in his solitude; the poet, singing a song in which all human beings join with him, rejoices in the presence of truth as our visible friend and hourly companion. Poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge; it is the impassioned expression which is in the countenance of all science. Emphatically may be said of the poet, as Shakespeare hath said of man, "that he looks before and after." He is the rock of defense of human nature, an upholder and preserver, carrying everywhere with him relationship and love. In spite of difference of soil and climate, of language and manners, of laws and customs, in spite of things silently gone out of mind, and things violently destroyed, the poet binds together by passion and knowledge the vast empire of human society, as it is spread over the whole earth and over all time. The objects of the poet's thoughts are everywhere; tho the eyes and senses of man are, it is true, his favorite guides, yet he will follow wheresoever he can find an atmosphere of sensation in which to move his wings. Poetry is the first and last of all knowledge—it is as immortal as the heart of man.
If the labors of men of science should ever create any material revolution, direct or indirect, in our condition, and in the impressions which we habitually receive, the poet will sleep then no more than at present, but he will be ready to follow the steps of the man of science, not only in those general indirect effects, but he will be at his side, carrying sensation into the midst of the science itself. The remotest discoveries of the chemist, the botanist, or mineralogist will be as proper objects of the poet's art as any upon which it can be employed, if the time should ever come when these things shall be familiar to us, and the relations under which they are contemplated by the followers of these respective sciences shall be manifestly and palpably material to us as enjoying and suffering beings. If the time should ever come when what is now called science, thus familiarized to men, shall be ready to put on, as it were, a form of flesh and blood, the poet will lend his divine spirit to aid the transfiguration, and will welcome the being thus produced as a dear and genuine inmate of the household of man. It is not, then, to be supposed that any one, who holds that sublime notion of poetry which I have attempted to convey, will break in upon the sanctity and truth of his pictures by transitory and accidental ornaments, and endeavor to excite admiration of himself by arts, the necessity of which must manifestly depend upon the assumed meanness of his subject.
[Footnote 6: From the famous "Preface" to the second edition of "Lyrical Ballads," published in 1800. The poems in the first edition of "Lyrical Ballads," published in 1798, had been the joint production of Wordsworth and Coleridge. The volume was published in Bristol by Cottle. It met with a cold, if not scoffing, reception, altho among its contents were the "Lines Written Above Tintern Abbey." When Cottle's publishing business was transferred to Longmans in 1799, the value of the copyright of "Lyrical Ballads," for which Cottle had paid the authors 30 guineas, was estimated at nothing. Cottle then presented the copyright to Wordsworth and Coleridge. Wordsworth, meanwhile, had written other poems and Longmans offered him L100 for a new and enlarged edition of "Lyrical Ballads," restricted to his own verse and to which Wordsworth was to contribute an explanatory preface, the same being the "Preface" which aroused a controversy now historical in the history of English poetry. Critics were deeply incensed at Wordsworth's defense of his own poems. The "Preface" was a revolutionary proclamation against the taste in poetry which had been established in a previous century.]
SIR WALTER SCOTT
Born in 1771, died in 1832; educated at Edinburgh; sheriff of Selkirkshire in 1799; published "The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border" in 1802-03; "The Lay of the Last Minstrel" in 1805, followed by "Marmion" in 1808, and "The Lady of the Lake" in 1810; his first novel, "Waverley," published in 1814; involved to the extent of L120,000 in the failure of his publishers in 1826; with additional private debts of L30,000; struggled the rest of his life under this load of debt, which his writings finally extinguished; made a baronet in 1820; lived at Abbotsford, 1812-1826.
THE ARRIVAL OF THE MASTER OF RAVENSWOOD
Hardly had Miss Ashton dropt the pen, when the door of the apartment flew open, and the Master of Ravenswood, entered the apartment.
Lockhart and another domestic, who had in vain attempted to oppose his passage through the gallery or antechamber, were seen standing on the threshhold transfixt with surprize, which was instantly communicated to the whole party in the stateroom. That of Colonel Douglas Ashton was mingled with resentment; that of Bucklaw with haughty and affected indifference; the rest, even Lady Ashton herself, showed signs of fear; and Lucy seemed stiffened to stone by this unexpected apparition. Apparition it might well be termed, for Ravenswood had more the appearance of one returned from the dead than of a living visitor.
He planted himself full in the middle of the apartment, opposite to the table at which Lucy was seated, on whom, as if she had been alone in the chamber, he bent his eyes with a mingled expression of deep grief and deliberate indignation. His dark-colored riding cloak, displaced from one shoulder, hung around one side of his person in the ample folds of the Spanish mantle. The rest of his rich dress was travel-soiled, and deranged by hard riding. He had a sword by his side, and pistols in his belt. His slouched hat, which he had not yet removed at entrance, gave an additional gloom to his dark features, which, wasted by sorrow and marked by the ghastly look communicated by long illness, added to a countenance naturally somewhat stern and wild, a fierce and even savage expression. The matted and disheveled locks of hair which escaped from under his hat, together with his fixt and unmoved posture, made his head more resemble that of a marble bust than that of a living man. He said not a single word, and there was a deep silence in the company for more than two minutes.
It was broken by Lady Ashton, who in that space partly recovered her natural audacity. She demanded to know the cause of his unauthorized intrusion.
"That is a question, madam," said her son, "which I have the best right to ask; and I must request of the Master of Ravenswood to follow me where he can answer it at leisure."
Bucklaw interposed, saying, "No man on earth should usurp his previous right in demanding an explanation from the Master. Craigengelt," he added, in an undertone, "d—n ye, why do you stand staring as if you saw a ghost? fetch me my sword from the gallery."
"I will relinquish to none," said Colonel Ashton, "my right of calling to account the man who has offered this unparalleled affront to my family."
"Be patient, gentlemen," said Ravenswood, turning sternly toward them, and waving his hand as if to impose silence on their altercation. "If you are as weary of your lives as I am, I will find time and place to pledge mine against one or both; at present, I have no leisure for the dispute of triflers."
"Triflers!" cried Colonel Ashton, half unsheathing his sword, while Bucklaw laid his hand on the hilt of that which Craigengelt had just reached him.
Sir William Ashton, alarmed for his son's safety, rushed between the young men and Ravenswood, exclaiming, "My son, I command you—Bucklaw, I entreat you—keep the peace, in the name of the Queen and of the law!"
"In the name of the law of God," said Brid-the-Bent, advancing also with uplifted hands between Bucklaw, the Colonel, and the object of their resentment—"in the name of Him who brought peace on earth and good-will to mankind, I implore—I beseech—I command you to forbear violence toward each other! God hateth the bloodthirsty man; he who striketh with the sword shall perish with the sword."
"Do you take me for a dog, sir," said Colonel Ashton, turning fiercely upon him, "or something more brutally stupid, to endure this insult in my father's house? Let me go, Bucklaw! He shall account to me, or, by Heavens I will stab him where he stands!"
"You shall not touch him here," said Bucklaw; "he once gave me my life, and were the devil come to fly away with the whole house and generation, he shall have nothing but fair play."
The passions of the two young men thus counteracting each other gave Ravenswood leisure to exclaim, in a stern and steady voice, "Silence!—let him who really seeks danger take the fitting time when it is to be found; my mission here will be shortly accomplished. Is that your handwriting, madam?" he added in a softer tone, extending toward Miss Ashton her last letter.
A faltering "Yes," seemed rather to escape from her lips than to be uttered as a voluntary answer.
"And is this also your handwriting?" extending toward her the mutual engagement.
Lucy remained silent. Terror, and a yet stronger and more confused feeling, so utterly disturbed her understanding that she probably scarcely comprehended the question that was put to her.
"If you design," said Sir William Ashton, "to found any legal claim on that paper, sir, do not expect to receive any answer to an extrajudicial question."
"Sir William Ashton," said Ravenswood, "I pray you, and all who hear me, that you will not mistake my purpose. If this young lady, of her own free will desires the restoration of this contract, as her letter would seem to imply, there is not a withered leaf which this autumn wind strews on the heath that is more valueless in my eyes. But I must and will hear the truth from her own mouth; without this satisfaction I will not leave this spot. Murder me by numbers you possibly may; but I am an armed man—I am a desperate man, and I will not die without ample vengeance. This is my resolution, take it as you may. I WILL hear her determination from her own mouth; from her own mouth, alone, and without witnesses, will I hear it. Now, choose," he said drawing his sword with the right hand, and, with the left, by the same motion taking a pistol from his belt and cocking it, but turning the point of one weapon and the muzzle of the other to the ground—"choose if you will have this hall flooded with blood, or if you will grant me the decisive interview with my affianced bride which the laws of God and the country alike entitle me to demand."
THE DEATH OF MEG MERRILES
The surgeon arrived at the same time, and was about to probe the wound; but Meg resisted the assistance of either. "It's no what man can do, that will heal my body, or save my spirit. Let me speak what I have to say, and then ye may work your will, I'se be nae hinderance. But where's Henry Bertram?" The assistants, to whom this name had been long a stranger, gazed upon each other. "Yes," she said, in a stronger and harsher tone, "I said Henry Bertram of Ellangowan. Stand from the light and let me see him."
All eyes were turned toward Bertram, who approached the wretched couch. The wounded woman took hold of his hand. "Look at him," she said, "all that ever saw his father or his grandfather, and bear witness if he is not their living image?" A murmur went through the crowd—the resemblance was too striking to be denied. "And now hear me—and let that man," pointing to Hatteraick, who was seated with his keepers on a sea-chest at some distance—"let him deny what I say, if he can. That is Henry Bertram, son to Godfrey Bertram, umquihile of Ellangowan; that young man is the very lad-bairn that Dirk Hatteraick carried off from Warroch wood the day that he murdered the gager. I was there like a wandering spirit—for I longed to see that wood or we left the country. I saved the bairn's life, and sair, sair I prigged and prayed they would leave him wi' me—but they bore him away, and he's been lang ower the sea, and now he's come for his ain, and what should withstand him? I swore to keep the secret till he was ane-an'-twenty—I kenn'd he behoved to dree his weird till that day cam—I keepit that oath which I took to them—but I made another vow to myself, and if I lived to see the day of his return, I would set him in his father's seat, if every step was on a dead man. I have keepit that oath, too;—I will be ae step mysell—he" (pointing to Hatteraick), "will soon be another, and there will me ane mair yet."
The clergyman now interposing, remarked it was a pity this deposition was not regularly taken and written down, and the surgeon urged the necessity of examining the wound, previously to exhausting her by questions. When she saw them removing Hatteraick, in order to clear the room and leave the surgeon to his operations, she called out aloud, raising herself at the same time upon the couch, "Dirk Hatteraick, you and I will never meet again until we are before the judgment seat—will you own to what I have said, or will you dare deny it?" He turned his hardened brow upon her, with a look of dumb and inflexible defiance. "Dirk Hatteraick, dare ye deny, with my blood upon your hands, one word of what my dying breath is uttering?" He looked at her with the same expression of hardihood and dogged stubbornness, and moved his lips, but uttered no sound. "Then fareweel!" she said, "and God forgive you! your hand has sealed my evidence. When I was in life, I was the mad randy gipsy, that had been scourged, and banished, and branded—that had begged from door to door, and been hounded like a stray from parish to parish—wha would hae minded her tale? But now I am a dying woman, and my words will not fall to the ground, any more than the earth will cover my blood!"
She here paused, and all left the hut except the surgeon and two or three women. After a short examination, he shook his head, and resigned his post by the dying woman's side to the clergyman.
A chaise returning empty to Kippletringan had been stopt on the high-road by a constable, who foresaw it would be necessary to convey Hatteraick to jail. The driver, understanding what was going on at Derncleugh, left his horses to the care of the blackguard boy, confiding, it is to be supposed, rather in the years and discretion of the cattle, than in those of their keeper, and set off full speed, to see, as he exprest himself, "whaten a sort o' fun was gaun on." He arrived just as the group of tenants and peasants, whose numbers increased every moment, satiated with gazing upon the rugged features of Hatteraick, had turned their attention toward Bertram. Almost all of them, especially the aged men who had seen Ellengowan in his better days, felt and acknowledged the justice of Meg Merriles's appeal. But the Scotch are a cautious people; they remembered there was another in possession of the estate, and they as yet only exprest their feelings in low whispers to each other. Our friend, Jock Jabos, the postilion, forced his way into the middle of the circle; but no sooner cast his eyes upon Bertram, than he started back in amazement, with a solemn exclamation, "As sure as there's breath in man, it's auld Ellengowan."
This public declaration of an unprejudiced witness was just the spark wanted to give fire to the popular feeling, which burst forth in three distinct shouts: "Bertram forever!" "Long life to the heir of Ellangowan!" "God send him his ain, and to live among us as his forebears did of yore!"
"I hae been seventy years on the land," said one person.
"I and mine hae been seventy and seven to that," said another; "I have a right to ken the glance of a Bertram."
"I and mine hae been three hundred years here," said another old man, "and I shall sell my last cow but I'll see the young laird placed in his right."
The women, ever delighted with the marvelous, and not less so when a handsome young man is the subject of the tale, added their shrill acclamations to the general all-hail. "Blessings on him—he's the very picture o' his father! The Bertrams were ay the wale o' the countryside!"
"Eh! that his puir mother, that died of grief and in doubt about him, had but lived to see this day!" exclaimed some female voices.
"But we'll help him to his ain, kimmers," cried others; "and before Gossin shall keep the Place of Ellangowan, we'll howk him out o't wi' our nails!"
Others crowded around Dinmont, who was nothing loath to tell what he knew of his friend, and to boast the honor which he had in contributing to the discovery. As he was known to several of the principal farmers present, his testimony afforded an additional motive to the general enthusiasm. In short, it was one of those moments of intense feeling, when the frost of the Scottish people melts like a snow-wreath, and the dissolving torrent carries dam and dike before it.
The sudden shouts interrupted the devotions of the clergyman; and Meg, who was in one of those dozing fits of stupefaction that precede the close of existence, suddenly started, "Dinna ye hear?—dinna ye hear?—he's owned!—he's owned!—I lived but for this. I am a sinful woman; but if my curse brought it down, my blessing has taen it off! And now I wad hae liked to hae said mair. But it can not be. Stay"—she continued, stretched her head toward the gleam of light that shot through the narrow slit which served for a window—"is he not there?—stand out o' the light, and let me look upon him ance mair. But the darkness is in my ain een," she said, sinking back, after an earnest gaze upon vacuity—"it's a' ended now.
'Pass breath, Come death!"
And, sinking back upon her couch of straw, she expired without a groan.
A VISION OF ROB ROY
When, however, I recollected the circumstances in which we formerly met, I could not doubt that the billet was most probably designed for him. He had made a marked figure among those mysterious personages over whom Diana seemed to exercise an influence, and from whom she experienced an influence in her turn. It was painful to think that the fate of a being so amiable was involved in that of desperadoes of this man's description; yet it seemed impossible to doubt it. Of what use, however, could this person be to my father's affairs. I could think only of one. Rashleigh Osbaldistone had, at the instigation of Miss Vernon, certainly found means to produce Mr. Campbell when his presence was necessary to exculpate me from Morris's accusation. Was it not possible that her influence, in like manner, might prevail on Campbell to produce Rashleigh? Speaking on this supposition, I requested to know where my dangerous kinsman was, and when Mr. Campbell had seen him. The answer was indirect.
"It's a kittle cast she has gien me to play; but yet it's fair play, and I winna baulk her. Mr. Osbaldistone, I dwell not very far from hence—my kinsman can show you the way. Leave Mr. Owen to do the best he can in Glasgow—do you come and see me in the glens, and it's like I may pleasure you, and stead your father in his extremity. I am but a poor man; but wit's better than wealth—and, cousin" (turning from me to address Mr. Jarvie), "if ye daur venture sae muckle as to eat a dish of Scotch collops, and a leg o' red-deer venison wi' me, come ye wi' this Sassenach gentleman as far as Drymen or Bucklivie, or the Clachan of Aberfoil, will be better than ony o' them, and I'll hae somebody waiting to weise ye to the gate to the place where I may be for the time. What say ye, man? There's my thumb, I'll ne'er beguile thee."
"Na, na, Robin," said the cautious burgher, "I seldom like to leave the Gorbals, I have nae freedom to gang among your wild hills, Robin, and your kilted red-shanks—it disna become my place, man."
"The devil damn your place and you baith!" reiterated Campbell. "The only drap o' gentle bluid that's in your body was our great grand-uncle's that was justified at Dumbarton, and you set yourself up to say ye wad degrogate frae your place to visit me! Hark thee, man, I owe thee a day in harst—I'll pay up your thousan pund Scots, plack and bawbee, gin ye'll be an honest fellow for anes, and just daiker up the gate wi' this Sassenach."
"Hout awa' wi' your gentility," replied the Bailie: "carry your gentle bluid to the Cross, and see what ye'll buy wi't. But, if I were to come, wad ye really and soothfastly pay me the siller?"
"I swear to ye," said the Highlander, "upon the halidome of him that sleeps beneath the gray stane at Inche-Cailleach."
"Say nae mair, Robin—say nae mair. We'll see what may be dune. But ye maunna expect me to gang ower the Hieland line—I'll gae beyond the line at no rate. Ye maun meet me about Bucklivie or the Clachan of Aberfoil, and dinna forget the needful."
"Nae fear—nae fear," said Campbell; "I'll be as true as the steel blade that never failed its master. But I must be budging, cousin, for the air o' Glasgow tolbooth is no that ower salutary to be a Highlander's constitution."
"Troth," replied the merchant, "and if my duty were to be dune, ye couldna change your atmosphere, as the minister ca's it, this ae wee while. Ochon, that I ad ever be concerned in aiding and abetting an escape frae justice! it will be a shame and disgrace to me and mine, and my father's memory, forever."
"Hout tout, man! let that flee stick in the wa'," answered his kinsman; "when the dirt's dry it will rub out. Your father, honest man, could look over a friend's fault as weel as anither."
"Ye may be right, Robin," replied the Bailie, after a moment's reflection; "he was a considerate man the deacon; he ken'd we had a' our frailties, and he lo'ed his friends. Ye'll no hae forgotten him, Robin?" This question he put in a softened tone, conveying as much at least of the ludicrous as the pathetic.
"Forgotten him!" replied his kinsman, "what suld ail me to forget him?—a wapping weaver he was, and wrought my first pair o' hose. But come awa, kinsman,
"Come fill up my cup, come fill up my can, Come saddle my horses, and call up my man; Come open your gates, and let me gae free, I daurna stay langer in bonny Dundee."
"Whisht, sir," said the magistrate, in an authoritative tone—"lilting and singing sae near the latter end o' the Sabbath! This house may hear ye sing anither tune yet. Aweel, we hae a' backslidings to answer for—Stanchells, open the door."
The jailer obeyed, and we all sallied forth. Stanchells looked with some surprize at the two strangers, wondering, doubtless, how they came into these premises without his knowledge; but Mr. Jarvie's "Friends o' mine, Stanchells—friends o' mine," silenced all disposition to inquiries. We now descended into the lower vestibule, and hallooed more than once for Dougal, to which summons no answer was returned; when Campbell observed, with a sardonic smile, "That if Dougal was the lad he kent him, he would scarce wait to get thanks for his ain share of the night's wark, but was in all probability on the full trot to the pass of Ballmaha"—
"And left us—and, abune a', me mysell, locked up in the tolbooth a' night!" exclaimed the Bailie, in ire and perturbation. "Ca' for fore-hammers, sledge-hammers, pinches, and coulters; send for Deacon Yettlin, the smith, and let him ken that Bailie Jarvie's shut up in the tolbooth by a Hieland blackguard, whom he'll hang up as high as Haman"—
"When we catch him," said Campbell gravely; "but stay, the door is surely not locked."
Indeed, on examination, we found that the door was not only left open, but that Dougal in his retreat had, by carrying off the keys along with him, taken care that no one should exercise his office of porter in a hurry.
"He has glimmerings o' common sense now, that creature Dougal," said Campbell; "he ken'd an open door might hae served me at a pinch."
We were by this time in the street.
"I tell you, Robin," said the magistrate, "in my puir mind, if ye live the life ye do, ye suld hae ane o' your gillies doorkeeper in every jail of Scotland, in case o' the warst."
"Ane o' my kinsman a bailie in ilka burgh will just do as weel, Cousin Nicol. So, gude-nicht or gude-morning to ye; and forget not the Clachan of Aberfoil."
And without waiting for an answer, he sprang to the other side of the street, and was lost in darkness. Immediately on his disappearance, we heard him give a low whistle of peculiar modulation, which was instantly replied to.
"Hear to the Hieland deevils," said Mr. Jarvie; "they think themselves on the skirts of Benlomond already, where they may gang whewing, whistling about without minding Sunday or Saturday." Here he was interrupted by some thing which fell with a heavy clash on the street before us. "Gude guide us! what's this mair o't—Mattie, haud up the lantern—conscience! if it isna the keys! Weel, that's just as well—they cost the burgh siller, and there might hae been some clavers about the loss o' them—O, an Bailie Grahame were to get word o' this nicht's job, it wad be a sair hair in my neck!"
As we were still but a few steps from the tolbooth door, we carried back these implements of office, and consigned them to the head jailer, who, in lieu of the usual mode of making good his post by turning the keys, was keeping sentry in the vestibule till the arrival of some assistant whom he had summoned in order to replace Celtic fugitive Dougal.
Having discharged this piece of duty to the burgh, and my road lying the same way with the honest magistrate's, I profited by the light of his lantern, and he by my arm, to find our way through the streets, which, whatever they may now be, were then dark, uneven, and ill-paved. Age is easily propitiated by attentions from the young. The Bailie exprest himself interested in me, and added, "That since I was nane o' that play-acting and play-ganging generation, whom his saul hated, he wad eat a reisted haddock, or a fresh herring, at breakfast wi' him the morn, and meet my friend, Mr. Owen, whom, by that time, he would place at liberty."
"My dear sir," said I, when I had accepted of the invitation with thanks, "how could you possibly connect me with the stage?"
"I watna," replied Mr. Jarvie; "it was a bletherin' phrasin' chield they ca' Fairservice that cam at e'en to get an order to send the crier through the toun for ye at skreigh o' day the morn. He tell't me whae ye were, and how ye were sent frae your father's house because ye wadna be a dealer, and that ye michtna disgrace your family wi' ganging on the stage. Ane Hammorgaw, our precentor, brought him here, and said he was an auld acquaintance; but I sent them baith awa' wi' a flae in their lug for bringing me sic an errand on sic a night. But I see he's a fule-creature a' thegither and clean mista'en about ye. I like ye, man," he continued; "I like a lad that will stand by his friends in troubles—I ay did it mysell, and sae did the deacon my father, rest and bless him! But he suldna keep ower muckle company wi' Hielandmen and thae wild cattle. Can a man touch pitch and no be defiled?—aye mind that. Nae doubt, the best and wisest may err—once, twice, and thrice, have I backslidden, man, and dune three things this night—my father wadna hae believed his een if he could hae looked up and seen me do them."
He was by this time arrived at the door of his own dwelling. He paused, however, on the threshold, and went on in a solemn tone of deep contrition, "Firstly, I hae thought my ain thought on the Sabbath. Secondly, I hae gien security for an Englishman—and, in the third and last place, well a-day! I hae let an ill-doer escape from the place of imprisonment. But there's balm in Gilead, Mr. Osbaldistone—Mattie, I can let mysell in—see Mr. Osbaldistone to Luckie Flyter's, at the corner o' the wynd. Mr. Osbaldistone"—in a whisper—"ye'll offer nae incivility to Mattie—she's an honest man's daughter, and a near cousin o' the Laird o' Limmerfield's."
QUEEN ELIZABETH AND AMY ROBSART AT KENILWORTH
It chanced upon that memorable morning, that one of the earliest of the huntress train who appeared from her chamber in full array for the chase was the princess for whom all these pleasures were instituted, England's Maiden Queen. I know not if it were by chance, or out of the befitting courtesy due to a mistress by whom he was so much honored, that she had scarcely made one step beyond the threshold of her chamber ere Leicester was by her side; and proposed to her, until the preparations for the chase had been completed, to view the pleasance, and the gardens which, it connected with the castle-yard....
Horses in the meanwhile neighed, and champed the bits with impatience in the base-court; hounds yelled in their couples, and yeomen, rangers, and prickers lamented the exhaling of the dew, which would prevent the scent from lying. But Leicester had another chase in view: or, to speak more justly toward him, had become engaged in it without premeditation, as the high-spirited hunter which follows the cry of the hounds that hath crost his path by accident. The Queen—an accomplished and handsome woman, the pride of England, the hope of France and Holland, and the dread of Spain—had probably listened with more than usual favor to that mixture of romantic gallantry with which she always loved to be addrest, and the earl had, in vanity, in ambition, or in both, thrown in more and more of that delicious ingredient, until his importunity became the language of love itself.
"No, Dudley," said Elizabeth, yet it was with broken accents,—"no, I must be the mother of my people. Other ties, that make the lowly maiden happy, are denied to her sovereign—No, Leicester, urge it no more—Were I as others, free to seek my own happiness—then, indeed—but it can not—can not be.—Delay the chase—delay it for half an hour—and leave me, my lord."
"How—leave you, madam!" said Leicester. "Has my madness offended you?"
"No, Leicester, not so!" answered the Queen hastily; "but it is madness, and must not be repeated. Go—but go not far from hence; and meantime let no one intrude on my privacy."
While she spoke thus, Dudley bowed deeply, and retired with a slow and melancholy air. The Queen stood gazing after him, and murmured to herself, "Were it possible—were it but possible!—But no—no—Elizabeth must be the wife and mother of England alone."
As she spoke thus, and in order to avoid some one whose step she heard approaching, the Queen turned into the grotto in which her hapless and yet but too successful rival lay concealed.
The mind of England's Elizabeth, if somewhat shaken by the agitating interview to which she had just put a period, was of that firm and decided character which soon recovers its natural tone. It was like one of those ancient druidical monuments called rocking-stones. The finger of Cupid, boy as he is painted, could put her feelings in motion; but the power of Hercules could not have destroyed their equilibrium. As she advanced with a slow pace toward the inmost extremity of the grotto, her countenance, ere she had proceeded half the length, had recovered its dignity of look and her mien its air of command.
It was then the Queen became aware that a female figure was placed beside, or rather partly behind, an alabaster column, at the foot of which arose the pellucid fountain which occupied the inmost recess of the twilight grotto. The classical mind of Elizabeth suggested the story of Numa and Egeria; and she doubted not that some Italian sculptor had here represented the Naiad whose inspirations gave laws to Rome. As she advanced, she became doubtful whether she beheld a statue or form of flesh and blood. The unfortunate Amy, indeed, remained motionless betwixt the desire which she had to make her condition known to one of her own sex, and her awe for the stately form that approached her,—and which, tho her eyes had never before beheld, her fears instantly suspected to be the personage she really was. Amy had arisen from her seat with the purpose of addressing the lady, who entered the grotto alone, and as she at first thought, so opportunely. But when she recollected the alarm which Leicester had exprest at the Queen's knowing aught of their union, and became more and more satisfied that the person whom she now beheld was Elizabeth herself, she stood with one foot advanced and one withdrawn, her arms, head, and hands perfectly motionless, and her cheek as pallid as the alabaster pedestal against which she leaned. Her dress was of a pale sea-green silk, little distinguished in that imperfect light, and somewhat resembled the drapery of a Grecian nymph,—such an antique disguise having been thought the most secure where so many maskers and revelers were assembled; so that the Queen's doubt of her being a living form was justified by all contingent circumstances, as well as by the bloodless cheek and fixt eye.
From her dress, and the casket which she instinctively held in her hand, Elizabeth naturally conjectured that the beautiful, but mute figure which she beheld was a performer in one of the various theatrical pageants which had been placed in different situations to surprize her with their homage; and that the poor player, overcome with awe at her presence, had either forgot the part assigned her, or lacked courage to go through it. It was natural and courteous to give her some encouragement; and Elizabeth accordingly said, in a tone of condescending kindness: "How now, fair nymph of this lovely grotto—art thou spellbound and struck with dumbness by the wicked enchanter whom men term Fear? We are his sworn enemy, maiden, and can reverse his charm. Speak, we command thee."
Instead of answering her by speech, the unfortunate countess dropt on her knee before the Queen, let her casket fall from her hand, and clasping her palms together, looked up in the Queen's face with such a mixt agony of fear and supplication, that Elizabeth was considerably affected.
"What may this mean?" she said: "this is a stronger passion than befits the occasion. Stand up, damsel: what wouldst thou have with us?"
"Your protection, madam," faltered forth the unhappy petitioner.
"Each daughter of England has it while she is worthy of it," replied the Queen; "but your distress seems to have a deeper root than a forgotten task. Why, and in what, do you crave our protection?"
Amy hastily endeavored to recall what she were best to say, which might secure herself from the imminent dangers that surrounded her, without endangering her husband; and plunging from one thought to another, amidst the chaos which filled her mind, she could at length, in answer to the Queen's repeated inquiries in what she sought protection, only falter out, "Alas! I know not."
"This is folly, maiden," said Elizabeth impatiently; for there was something in the extreme confusion of the suppliant which irritated her curiosity as well as interested her feelings. "The sick man must tell his malady to the physician; nor are WE accustomed to ask questions so oft, without receiving an answer."
"I request—I implore—" stammered forth the unfortunate countess—"I beseech your gracious protection—against—against one Varney." She choked well-nigh as she uttered the fatal word, which was instantly caught up by the Queen.
"What, Varney—Sir Richard Varney—the servant of Lord Leicester! What, damsel, are you to him, or he to you?"
"I—I—was his prisoner—and he practised on my life—and I broke forth to—to—"
"To throw thyself on my protection, doubtless," said Elizabeth. "Thou shalt have it—that is, if thou art worthy; for we will sift this matter to the uttermost.—Thou art," she said, bending on the countess an eye which seemed designed to pierce her very inmost soul,—"thou art Amy, daughter of Sir Hugh Robsart of Lidcote Hall?"
"Forgive me—forgive me—most gracious princess!" said Amy, dropping once more on her knee from which she had arisen.
"For what should I forgive thee, silly wench?" said Elizabeth; "for being the daughter of thine own father? Thou art brainsick, surely. Well, I see I must wring the story from thee by inches: Thou didst deceive thine old and honored father,—thy look confesses it; cheated Master Tressilian,—thy blush avouches it; and married this same Varney."
Amy sprung on her feet, and interrupted the Queen eagerly with—"No, madam, no: as there is a God above us, I am not the sordid wretch you would make me! I am not the wife of that contemptible slave—of that most deliberate villain! I am not the wife of Varney! I would rather be the bride of Destruction!"
The Queen, overwhelmed in her turn by Amy's vehemence, stood silent for an instant, and then replied, "Why, God ha' mercy, woman! I see thou canst talk fast enough when the theme likes thee. Nay, tell me, woman," she continued, for to the impulse of curiosity was now added that of an undefined jealousy that some deception had been practised on her—"tell me, woman,—for by God's day, I WILL know,—whose wife or whose paramour art thou? Speak out, and be speedy: thou wert better dally with a lioness than with Elizabeth."
Urged to this extremity, dragged as it were by irresistible force to the verge of a precipice which she saw but could not avoid, permitted not a moment's respite by the eager words and menacing gestures of the offended Queen,—Amy at length uttered in despair, "The Earl of Leicester knows it all."
"The Earl of Leicester!" said Elizabeth in utter astonishment.—"The Earl of Leicester!" she repeated with kindling anger.—"Woman, thou art set on to this—thou dost belie him—he takes no keep of such things as thou art. Thou art suborned to slander the noblest lord, and the truest-hearted gentleman, in England! But were he the right hand of our trust, or something yet dearer to us, thou shalt have thy hearing, and that in his presence. Come with me—come with me instantly!"
As Amy shrunk back with terror, which the incensed Queen interpreted as that of conscious guilt, Elizabeth rapidly advanced, seized on her arm, and hastened with swift and long steps out of the grotto and along the principal alley of the pleasance, dragging with her the terrified countess, whom she still held by the arm, and with utmost exertion could but just keep pace with those of the indignant Queen.
Leicester was at this moment the center of a splendid group of lords and ladies assembled together under an arcade, or portico, which closed the alley. The company had drawn together in that place, to attend the commands of her Majesty when the hunting party should go forward: and their astonishment may be imagined, when, instead of seeing Elizabeth advance toward them with her usual measured dignity of motion, they beheld her walking so rapidly that she was in the midst of them ere they were aware; and then observed, with fear and surprize, that her features were flushed betwixt anger and agitation, that her hair was loosened by her haste of motion, and that her eyes sparkled as they were wont when the spirit of Henry VIII. mounted highest in his daughter. Nor were they less astonished at the appearance of the pale, attenuated, half dead, yet still lovely female, whom the Queen upheld by main strength with one hand, while with the other she waved aside the ladies and nobles who prest toward her under the idea that she was taken suddenly ill.—"Where is my Lord of Leicester?" she said, in a tone, that thrilled with astonishment all the courtiers who stood around.—"Stand forth, my Lord of Leicester!"
If, in the midst of the most serene day of summer, when all is light and laughing around, a thunderbolt were to fall from the clear blue vault of heaven and rend the earth at the very feet of some careless traveler, he could not gaze upon the smoldering chasm which so unexpectedly yawned before him, with half the astonishment and fear which Leicester felt at the sight that so suddenly presented itself. He had that instant been receiving, with a political affectation of disavowing and misunderstanding their meaning, the half uttered, half intimated congratulations of the courtiers upon the favor of the Queen carried apparently to its highest pitch during the interview of that morning; from which most of them seemed to augur that he might soon arise from their equal in rank to become their master. And now, while the subdued yet proud smile with which he disclaimed those inferences was yet curling his cheek, the Queen shot into the circle, her passions excited to the uttermost; and supporting with one hand, and apparently without an effort, the pale and sinking form of his almost expiring wife, and pointing with the finger of the other to her half-dead features, demanded in a voice that sounded to the ear of the astounded statesman like the last dread trumpet-all that is to summon body and spirit to the judgment-seat, "Knowest thou this woman?"
As, at the blast of that last trumpet, the guilty shall call upon the mountains to cover them, Leicester's inward thoughts invoked the stately arch which he had built in his pride, to burst its strong conjunction and overwhelm them in its ruins. But the cemented stones, architrave and battlement, stood fast; and it was the proud master himself, who, as if some actual pressure had bent him to the earth, kneeled down before Elizabeth, and prostrated his brow to the marble flagstones on which she stood.
"Leicester," said Elizabeth, in a voice which trembled with passion, "could I think thou hast practised on me—on me thy sovereign—on me thy confiding, thy too partial mistress, the base and ungrateful deception which thy present confusion surmises—by all that is holy, false lord, that head of thine were in as great peril as ever was thy father's!"
Leicester had not conscious innocence, but he had pride, to support him. He raised slowly his brow and features, which were black and swollen with contending emotions, and only replied, "My head can not fall but by the sentence of my peers; to them I will plead, and not to a princess who thus requites my faithful service."
"What! my lords," said Elizabeth, looking around, "we are defied, I think—defied in the castle we have ourselves bestowed on this proud man?—My Lord Shrewsbury, you are marshal of England: attach him for high treason."
"Whom does your Grace mean?" said Shrewsbury, much surprized,—for he had that instant joined the astonished circle.
"Whom should I mean but that traitor Dudley, Earl of Leicester!—Cousin of Hunsdon, order out your band of gentlemen pensioners, and take him into custody.—I say, villain, make haste!"
Hunsdon, a rough old noble, who, from his relationship to the Boleyns, was accustomed to use more freedom with the Queen than almost any other dared to do, replied bluntly, "And it is like your Grace might order me to the Tower to-morrow for making too much haste. I do beseech you to be patient."