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« « Our brother is bewildered," said Eustace ; " speak, Father Philip, how is it with you?”
« Good luck to your fishing,". continued the Sacristan, with a most dolorous attempt at the tune of his strange companion.
• “Good luck to your fishing !" repeated the Abbot, still more surprised and displeased; “ by my halidome he is drunken with wine, and comes to our presence with his jolly catches in his throat. If bread and water can cure this folly”
"“ With your pardon, venerable father," said the Sub-Prior, • of water our brother has had enough; and methinks, the confusion of his eye is rather that of terror, than of aught unbecoming his profession. Where didst thou find him, Hob Miller ?”
"“. An it please your reverence, I did go but to shut the sluice of the mill—and as I was going to shut the sluice, I heard something groan near to me-but judging it was one of Giles Fletcher's hogs, for so please you, he never shuts his gate, I caught up my lever, and was about~Saint Mary forgive me to strike where I heard the sound, when, as the saints would have it, I heard the second groan just like that of a living man. So I called up my knaves, and found the Father Sacristan lying wet and senseless under the wall of our kiln. So soon as we brought him to himself a bit, he prayed to be brought to your reverence, but I doubt me, his wits have gone a bell. wavering by the road. It was but now that he spoke in somewhat better form.”
« “ Well!" said Brother Eustace, “ thou hast done well Hob Miller ; only begone now, and remember a second time, to pause, ere you strike in the dark.”
• “ Please your reverence, it shall be a lesson to me," said the miller ; “ not to mistake a holy man for a hog again, so long as I live.” And making a bow with profound humility, the miller withdrew.
« « And now that this churl is gone, Father Philip,” said Eustace, “ wilt thou tell our venerable Superior what ails thee? art thou vino gravatus, man? if so, we will have thee to thy cell.”
«« Water / water! not wine," muttered the exhausted Sacristan.
« « Nay,” said the Monk, “if that be thy complaint, wine may perhaps cure thee;" and he reached him a cup, which the patient drank off to his great benefit.
< " And now," said the Abbot, “ let his garments be changed, or rather let him be carried to the infirmary; for it will prejudice our health, should we hear his narrative while he stands there, steaming like a rising hoar-frost."
." I will hear his adventure,” said Eustace," and report it to your reverence.” And, accordingly, he attended the Sacristan to his cell. In about half an hour he returned to the Abbot.
“ How is it with Father Philip?” said the Abbot ; " and through what came he into such a state ?”
« “ He comes from Glendearg, reverend sir,” said Eustace; “ and for the rest, he telleth such a legend, as has not been heard in this Monastery for many a long day.” He then gave the Abbot the
outlines of the Sacristan's adventures in the homeward journey, and added, that for some time he was inclined to think his brain was infirm, seeing he had sung, laughed, and wept, all in the same breath.
•“ A wonderful thing it is to us,” said the Abbot ; “ that Satan has been permitted to put forth his hand thus far on one of our sacred brethren."
"" True,” said Father Eustace ; “ but for every text there is a paraphrase; and I have my suspicions, that if the drenching of Father Philip cometh of the Evil One, yet it may not have been altogether without his own personal fault.”
« « How !” said the Father Abbot; " I will not believe that thou makest doubt that Satan, in former days, hath been permitted to afflict saints and holy men, even as he afflicted the pious Job ?”
«« God forbid I should make question of it," said the Monk, crossing himself; “ yet, where there is an exposition of the Sacristan's tale, which is less than miraculous, I hold it safe to consider it at least, if not to abide by it. Now, this Hob the Miller bath a buxom daughter. Suppose, I say only suppose, that our Sacristan met her at the ford on her return from her uncle's on the other side, for there she hath this evening been-suppose, that, in courtesy, and to save her stripping hose and shoon, the Sacristan brought her across behind him-suppose he carried his familiarities farther than the maiden was willing to admit; and we may easily suppose, farther, that this wetting was the result of it.”
!“ And this legend invented to deceive us,” said the Superior, reddening with wrath ; “ but most strictly shall it be sifted and enquired into; it is not upon us that Father Philip must hope to pass the result of his own evil practices for doings of Satan. To-morrow cite the wench to appear before us—we will examine, and we will punish.”
«« Under your Reverence's favour," said Eustace, “ that were but poor policy. As things now stand with us, the heretics catch hold of each flying report which tends to the scandal of our clergy. We must abate the evil, not only by strengthening discipline, but also by suppressing and stifling the voice of scandal. If my conjectures are true, the miller's daughter will be silent for her own sake ; and your Reverence's authority may also impose silence on her father, and on the Sacristan. If he is again found to afford room for throwing dishonour on bis order, he can be punished with severity, but at the same time with secrecy. For what say the Decretals? Facinora ostendi dum punientur, flagitia autem abscondi debent.”' pp. 200—206.
Brother Philip, however, sticks firm to his story, and the grave Sub-prior Father Eustace, sets off for the tower of Glendearg, resolved to investigate the mysterious business. He regaios possession of the Black Book, which had been found by the children on a spot indicated by the apparition; but his scepticism as to Brother Philip's story is doomed to vanish with the undetainable volume.
«« What ho! Sub-Prior, and came you but here
There's death in the track !
6" That which is neither ill nor well,
A form that men spy
With the half-shut eye, In the beams of the setting sun am I.”' Had the Author kept steadily in remembrance this account which the Spirit gives of herself, we should have had nothing more serious to object against the introduction of such a personage, than that she would seem to belong rather to poetry than to romance; the length and variety of her metrical recitations being very far beyond the proprieties of literal narrative. But there is nothing in the incidents themselves thus far, that might not have taken place in the imaginations of the worthy priests; and the reader, with this easy explanation at hand, is content to resign himself, ' with half-shut eye,' to a similar delusion in favour of the truth of the legend.
Years glide on, and the mysterious volume is not found. Mary Avenel had attained her fifteenth year, and she and Edward bad diligently profited in their studies from the frequent visits of Father Eustace, when, one day, Halbert, a duller scholar but a fiery blade, taking offence at something which occurs, breaks away from his companions, exclaiming that he knows a better teacher than their grim old Monk, and a better book than his breviary. He has by some means or other learned the spell which wakes the White Maid of Avenel, and he resolves to call her to his assistance. A long scene ensues, half dialogue, half singing, between the bold youth and bis airy familiar, in the course of which he descends with her to an unknown depth, and in a magical grotto discovers the said black book encircled with fire. Like another Thalaba, he bears off the prize; but, more fortunate than the son of Hodeirah, safely emerges again into the upper air. In reading this part of the work, we were several times tempted to suspect that the Author had the Royal Circus or Sadler's Wells in view, and had a mind to try his hand at a mélodrame. The songs of the Spirit, if set to music by Mr. Reeve or Mr. Whitaker, would, we have little doubt, be extremely popular, and the subterranean grotto
would form an admirable last scene. But in a romance, and a romance, too, by the Author of Waverley, surely all this must be pronounced puerile and tasteless to the extreme of absurdity.
And yet all this is nothing compared to the dull extravagance contained in the subsequent volumes. For want of better incidents, the gentle reader is compelled to take part in the bustle occasioned in the Tower of Glendearg by the arrival of a stranger knight yclept Sir Piercie Shafton, who has fled from England, and is quartered upon the Glendinnings by the Abbot of St. Mary's, that he may elude his pursuers. This Sir Piercie has evidently cost our Author far more pains than bave turned to good account. He is a laboured fac-simile of a finished dandy and euphuist of the court of Elizabeth, and we have no doubt that he talks nonsense on good authority; but he is too grave to be amusing, and so insufferably insolent as well as tiresome, that there is no enduring his company. Halbert and Sir Piercie do not agree at all; but still the knight disdains to fight with the churl, till the latter shews bim a silver bodkin which his friend, the White Lady, had given him, for the purpose of acting as a spell upon Sir Piercie's angry passions. This said bodkin, we are told, the White Lady wore in her hair; but she could do without it, which the Author of Waverley could not. The way in which this harmless weapon acts upon the imagination of the knight, is mysteriously intimated in the sequel: it comes out, that, though akin to the Piercie on his father's side, Shafton's mother's father was a tailor! Alas! and is this the Author of Guy Mannering and Old Mortality? If he could make no better use of legendary superstitions than this, it is indeed more than time he bad done with them.
To be just, there are better things in the romance, although we could almost regret that there are any on account of which it should have the chance of living. We pass over the gratuitous absurdity of the grave which is dug by nobody knows whom, for nobody knows what, in the place where Sir Piercie and Halbert fight, and which is afterwards so strangely filled up again, just for the purpose of countenancing the idea that the knight has murdered Glendinning, while Glendinning flies, imagining he has slain the knight, whose wounds are healed by witchcraft. This double entendre smacks of Sadler's Wells again; and Joey Grimaldi would make an admirable Sir Piercie. Passing all this over, we must refer to the scene in the castle of Avenel, to the well-supported character of Julian Avenel, and to the finely developed one of Edward Glendinning, as not unworthy of the Author of Waverley. The Miller's daughter, too, excites some degree of interest; and Abbot Boniface is, though not very ori. ginal, sufficiently entertaining. There is not much scope for the Author's peculiar talent for describing landscape scenery, but the solitude of Glendearg, the old fortalice, the bridge, and the glen of the White Lady, are powerfully localized to the reader's imagination. One feels as if one would recognise the spot. We make room for a short extract.
• The great security of Glendearg lay in its secluded and hidden situation. To come at the Tower, it was necessary to travel three miles up the glen, crossing about twenty times the little stream which, winding through the narrow valley, encountered at every hundred yards the opposition of a rock or precipitous bank on the one side, which altered its direction, and caused it to shoot off in an oblique direction to the other. The hills which ascend on each side of this glen are very steep, and rise boldly over the stream, which is thus imprisoned within their barriers. The sides of the glen are impracticable for horse, and are only to be traversed by means of the sheeppaths which lie along their sides. It would be difficult to suppose that a road so hopeless and so difficult could lead to any habitation more important than the summer shealing of a shepherd.
Yet the glen, though lonely and difficult of access and sterile, was not then absolutely void of beauty. The turf which occupied the little plain ground on the sides of the stream, was as close and verdant as if it had occupied the scythes of a hundred gardeners once a-fortnight; and it was garnished with an embroidery of daisies and wild flowers, which the scythes would certainly have destroyed. The little brook, now confined betwixt closer limits, now left at large to chuse its course through the narrow valley, danced carelessly on from stream to pool, light and unturbid, as that better class of spirits who pass their way through life, yielding to insurmountable obstacles, but as far from being subdued by them as the sailor who meets by chance with an unfavourable wind, and shapes his course so as to be driven back as little as possible.
• The mountains, as they would bave been called in England, Scottice the deep braes, rose abruptly over the little glen, here presenting the grey face of a rock, from which the turf had been peeled by the torrents, and there displaying little patches of wood and copse, which had escaped the waste of the cattle and the sheep and the feuars, and which, feathering naturally up the beds of empty torrents, or occupying the concave recesses of the bank, gave at once beauty and variety to the landscape. Above these scattered woods rose the hill, in barren, but purple majesty; the dark rich hue, particularly in autumn, contrasting beautifully with the thickets of oak and birch, the mountain ashes and thorns, the alders and quivering aspens, which chequered and varied the descent, and not less with the dark green and velvet turf, which composed the level part of the narrow glen.
* Yet, though thus embellished, the scene could neither be strictly termed sublime or beautiful, and scarcely even picturesque or striking. But its extreme solitude pressed on the heart; the traveller felt that uncertainty whither he was going, or in what so wild a path was to terminate, which, at times, strikes more on the imagination than the grand features of a show-scene, when you know the exact distance