« НазадПродовжити »
of melancholy and unhappiness, that bordered on discontent, and obscured the remains of beauty which age had still left on her features. Her dress was of the plainest and most ordinary sort, of a dark colour, and, like Magdalen Græme’s, something approaching to a religious habit
. Strict neatness, and cleanliness of person, seemed to intimate, that if poor, she was not reduced to squalid or beart-broken distress, and that she was still sufficiently attached to life to retain a taste for its decencies, if not ils elegancies. Her manner, as well as her features and appearance, argued an original condition and education far above the meanness of her present appearance. In short, the whole figure was such as to excite the idea, “ That female must have had a history worth knowing.” While Roland Græme was making this very reflection, the whispers of the two females ceased, and the mistress of the mansion approaching hiin, looked on his face and person with much attention, and, as it seemed, some interest.
•“ This, then," she said, addressing his relative, " is the child of thine unhappy daughter Magdalen; and him, the only shoot from your ancient tree, you are willing to devote to the Good Cause.”
““ Yes, by the rood,” answered Magdalen Græme in her usual tone of resolved determination, “ to the good cause I devote him, flesh and fell, sinew and limb, body and soul.” » Vol. i. pp. 207—212.
In the conversation wbich ensues, both Magdalen and the Mother Abbess discover a familiar acquaintance with Scripture narrative and Scripture phraseology, which would lead a reader wbo knew no better, to suspect that they were two female Cameronians in disguise. Had we not the good authority of the Author of Waverley to vouch for the fact, we should ourselves have doubted whether the Romish Church perınitted her female votaries to become so learned in Biblical matters. It is highly remarkable, that the Roman Catholics in our Author's tales should for the most part discover not only superior liberality, amiableness, and taste to the Presbyterians, but even superior piety. We are far from attributing this to design. It should seemn that he is most at home in delineating an order of character which is the most congenial with his own views and feelings on religious subjects as an Episcopalian. Popery is still the religion of the poet ; the only religion, as the wittiest of kings, we think, once said, fit for a gentleman. We have no doubt that our Author, who is both a poet and a gentleman, would make an excellent catholic. But when he has to portray men of moral elements so different from the heroes of romance as the Scottish reformers, a Henry Warden, for instance, or an Elias Henderson, although it falls in with the purpose of the 'story to represent thein as honest and good men, and it is his design to convey that general impression, yet be does not know how to set about it; be cannot forget bimself into a hearty cordiality towards the representatives of so repulsive a class ; ke is perpetually dipping into caricature, and he contrives to
let something of contempt mingle with and modify, in the reader's mind, the respect and admiration which their virtues challenge.
To resume the narrative. Roland is on the point of becoming more than a little impatient of his leading-strings and of the society of these two reverend ladies, when he is unexpectedly. introduced to a confederate in the good cause, of a kind whoin he little expects in such a den to meet with ;-a damsel, apparently not much past sixteen, with eyes at once soft and brilliant, a Hebe in person, the piece of the Lady Abbess aforesaid. The young people are recommended to cultivate each other's acquaintance, and they set about it cheerfully; so that by the time the party breaks up for the despatch of business, all that Roland cares for is, when he shall again meet Catherine Seyton. Old Magdalen's first errand is to the Monastery, where the chapter, in the very teeth of the prohibition issued by the government, are proceeding to elect a new Abbot in the place of the faithful Eustatius deceased. Their choice has fallen on Father Ambrose.
• In former times, this was one of the most splendid of the many pageants which the hierarchy of Rome had devised to attract the veneration of the faithful. The period during which the Abbacy remained vacant, was a state of mourning, or, as their emblematical phrase expressed it, of widowhood; a melancholy term, which was changed into rejoicing and triumph when a new Superior was chosen. When the folding-doors were on such solemn occasions thrown open, and the new Abbot appeared on the threshold in full-blown dignity, with ring and mitre, and dalmatique and crosier, his hoary standardbearers and his juvenile dispensers of incense preceding him, and the venerable train of monks behind him, with all besides which could announce the supreme authority to which he was now raised, his appearance was a signal for the magnificent jubilate to rise from the organ and music-loft, and to be joined by the corresponding bursts of Alleluial from the whole assembled congregation. Now all was changed. In the midst of rubbish and desolation, seven or eight old men, bent and shaken as much by grief and fear as by age, shrouded hastily in the proscribed dress of their order, wandered like a procession of spectres, from the door which had been thrown open, up through the encumbered passage, to the high altar, there to instal their elected Superior a chief of ruins. It was like a band of bewildered travellers chusing a chief in the wilderness of Arabia; or a shipwrecked crew electing a captain upon the barren island on which fate has thrown them.' pp. 280—282.
In the midst of the ceremony, bastily and timidly performed, the ears of the good fathers are assailed by a most terrible clamour at the doors of the church. The winding of horns, blown with no regard to barmony or concert ; the jangling of bells, the thumping of drums, the squeaking of bag-pipes and
the clash of cymbals; the shouts of men, the shriller tones of females and children, formed a Babel of sounds, which first drowned, and then awed into utter silence the official hymns of the ordination service. When, to prevent their being forced, the gates of the church were thrown open to these rude invaders, a motley groupe of masqueraders presented themselves with a mock abbot at their head, claiming their ancient Saturnalian privilege of a burlesque contest with the newly elected dignitary. The times, however, no longer suit with such dangerous license. Abbot Ambrose authoritatively deprecates the unhallowed pantomime; and Dame Magdalen, assuming a higher style, thunders forth her threats in the name of every saint, from St. Michael downward. For this she is threatened with the mill-dam; but Roland cannot stand by, and hear bis poor grandmother treated with such indignity. His poniard is soon sheathed in the false carcase of the mock abbot; and thanks to straw and buckram that the affair ends in a jest. In a fortunate moment Sir Halbert Glendinning arrives on bis way home from Edinburgh, and after quelling the riot, is surprised to find his lady's page, of whose dismissal he had not beard, under custody. An explanation ensues, which issues in Roland's being received back into Sir Halbert's service in the more honourable capacity of an armed retainer, with the full consent of Dame Magdalen.
“ Thou canst bear me witness, my father,” she said to the Abbot, “ that it was no wish either of nine or Roland's which induced the knight of Avenel, as he is called, again to entertain my grandson in his household.-Heaven, which confounds the wise with their own wisdom and the wicked with their own policy, hath placed him where, for the service of the Church, I would most wish him to be.”
•“ I know not what you mean, my sister," said the Abbot.”
" " Reverend father," replied Magdalen, “ hast thou never heard that there are spirits powerful to rend the walls of a castle asunder when once admitted, which yet cannot enter the house unless they are invited, nay, dragged over the threshold ? Twice hath Roland Græme been thus drawn into the household of Avenel by those who now hold the title. Let them look to the issue." ;
Roland's destination is Edinburgh, where he is to wait upon the Regent Murray in the character of a retainer of Şir Halbert's. His tumultuous sensations on entering the busy capital are very well described. He has scarcely entered it, when with his usual rashness he is led to take part in an affray between two noblemen; and, as fate will bave it, the gentleman be is so fortunate as to save by his timely aid, is no otber than the father of Catherine Seyton. This circumstance proves of no small advantage in the sequel, first, in saving him from a horse-whipping, or worse, as the consequence of following Catherine into a great house which he sees her enter, and ultimately, in recom
mending him to the favour of his Lordship. The following scene will inform the reader what use the Regent designs to make of our hero.
• The Earl of Murray was clad in a sad-coloured morning gown, with a cap and slippers of the same cloth, but even in this easy dishabille, held his sheathed rapier in his hand, a precaution which he adopted when receiving strangers, rather in compliance with the earnest remonstrances of his friends and partizans, than from any personal apprehensions of his own. He answered with a silent nod the respectful obeisance of the page, and took one or two turns through the small apartment in silence, fixing his keen eye on Roland, as if he wished to penetrate into his very soul. At length he broke silence.
• “ Your name is, I think, Julian Græme.”
«« Right I was misled by some trick of my memory—Roland Græme, from the Debateable Land.-Roland, thou knowest the duties which belong to a lady's service ?”
"" I should know them, my lord,” replied Roland,“ having been bred so near the person of my Lady of Avenel ; but I trust never more to practise them, as the Knight hath promised”
• “ Be silent, young man,” said the Regent, “ I am to speak, and you to hear and to obey. It is necessary that, for some space at least, you shall again enter into the service of a lady, who, in rank, hath no equal in Scotland; and this service accomplished, I give thee my word as Knight and Prince, that it shall open to you a course of ambition, such as may well gratify the aspiring wishes of one whom circumstances entitle to entertain much higher views than thou. I will take thee into my household and near to my person, or, at your own choice, I will give you the command of a foot-company-either is a preferment which the proudest laird in the land might be glad to assure to a second son.”
.." May I presume to ask, my lord,” said Roland, observing the Earl paused for a reply, “ to whom my poor services are in the first place destined ?”
« “ You will be told hereafter," said the Regent; and then, as if overcoming some internal reluctance to speak further himself, he added, “ or why should I not myself tell you, that you are about to enter into the service of a most illustrious-most unhappy lady_into the service of Mary of Scotland.”
«« Of the Queen, my lord !” said the page, unable to repress his surprise.
«« Of her who was the Queen !" said Murray, with a singular mixture of displeasure and embarrassment in his tone of voice, “ You must be aware, young man, that her son reigns in her stead.”
He sighed from an emotion, partly perhaps natural, and partly assumed.
"" And am I to attend upon her Grace in her place of imprison. ment, my lord ?” again demanded the page, with a straight-forward VOL. XIV. N. S.
and hardy simplicity, which somewhat disconcerted the sage and powerful statesman.
"" She is not imprisoned,” answered Murray, angrily : “ God forbid she should-she is only sequestrated from state affairs, and from the business of the public, until the world be so effectually settled, that she may enjoy her natural and uncontrouled freedom, without her royal disposition being exposed to the practices of wicked and designing men. It is for this purpose,” he added, “ that while she is to be furnished, as right is, with such attendance as may befit her present secluded state, it becomes necessary that those placed around her, are persons on whose prudence I can have reliance. You see, therefore, you are at once called on to discharge an office most honourable in itself, and so to discharge it that you may make a friend of the Regent of Scotland. Thou art, I have been told, a singularly apprehensive youth; and I perceive by thy look, that thou doest already understand what I would say on this matter. In this schedule your particular points of duty are set down at length-but the sum required of you is fidelity-I mean fidelity to myself and to the state. You are, therefore, to watch every attempt which is made or inclination displayed, to open any communication with any of the lords who have become banders in the west-with Hamilton, with Seyton, with Fleming, or the like. It is true that my gracious sister, reflecting upon the ill chances that have happened to the state of this poor kingdom, from evil counsellors who have abused her royal nature in time past, hath determined to sequestrate herself from state affairs in future. But it is our duty, as acting for and in name of our infant nephew, to guard against the evils which may arise from any mutation or vacillation in her royal resolutions. Wherefore it will be thy duty to watch, and report to our lady mother, whose guest our sister is for the present, whatever may infer a disposition to withdraw her person from the place of security in which she is lodged, or to open communication with those without. If, however, your observation should detect any thing of weight, and which may exceed mere suspicion, fail not to send notice by an especial messenger to me directly, and this ring shall be thy warrant to order horse and man on such service. And now begone. If there be half the wit in thy head that there is apprehension in thy look, thou fully comprehendest all that I would say–Serve me faithfully, and sure as I am belted ear), thy reward shall be great."
pp. 147-152. The knowing reader will take it for granted, that Catherine Seyton is destined for similar service; and thus both Magdalen Græme and Roland have their heart's desire most felicitously accomplished. The most interesting scenes in the work, those on which the Author has evidently bestowed his very best efforts, are those in which Mary Queen of Scots is the prominent figure. The manner in which he espouses her cause, partakes at once of the chivalrous spirit of a knight of romance, and of the earnestness of an historian; and the following para