« НазадПродовжити »
ent — provided he did not thus lose his hold upon the rich and wondrous past. Now in Scotland at the moment this condition is far more than fulfilled. It is the climax of the long church and state history of the nation that is being transacted, in a blaze of light which flashes back upon every part of our bygone centuries. In truth, the main qualification for understanding the present crisis in Scotland is to ignore no part of the past. Catholic and Covenanter, Presbyterian and Jacobite, Highlander and Lowlander, have all essentially contributed to the problem before us, and the memorials of their history, in all parts of the pleasant land, are illustrations also of the coming solution.
Wherever transatlantic feet may wander, they will find our scenery steeped and saturated in precisely this kind of association. When they cross the border by Solway side, Whithorn and its candida casa bring back the early missionary church time. Samuel Rutherfurd at lovely Anwoth recalls the Lex Rex, which is in some places a Declaration of Independence born out of due time, while in others it holds to the covenanted king, and that king a Stuart. The land of Burns is the land also of the Westland Whigs; and the proclamation, nailed to the cross of Sanquhar, that a broken covenant demanded the exile of a traitorous king, has echoed in many a peasant's home for two hundred years. Between it and Glasgow we find Drumclog, and come upon the first traces of that great magician whose lamp has spilled all over Scotland so many glorious but broken rays which we seek in this matter also to gather up. In Glasgow itself the august gloom of the cathedral crypt reminds us not of Rob Roy only, but of the great reforming Assembly of 1638, which sat in defiance of the King's Commissioner, and “cast down the walls of Jericho.” And all over the south of Scotland we find here and there, like hidden springs bubbling up in the desolate moors, the localities of meetings for prayer of Scotsmen dead and gone, — meetings which two centuries ago began as conventicles which it was death by statute to attend, which notwithstanding were joined into “associations,” and later still united into “ correspondences," and so became the sacred source of what has at length resulted in our century in the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland, as well as the Cameronian and Original Secession communions. But the Highlands and the romantic North have at least as much to attract and detain the student of history. Iona, set gem-like in the western sea, brings us back to Columba and the British Church, with its independence of the later and too dearly purchased Latin civilization and tra
VOL. XV. - NO. 85.
dition. Dunnottar and the Bass, frowning at intervals on the East, still contain the dungeons of men who, under Charles and James, resisted that supremacy of the Crown over the Church which the law of 1843 has transferred to Parliament and its statutes. Not far from Strontian is the rocky amphitheatre where the Prince, the darling of so much song, raised the standard in 1745. That too is part of the church story of Scotland, but he who looks on it. need not forget that exactly a hundred years after, the Atlantic waves below him bore a “floating manse” in which the Free Church pastor of the district was forced to live, because the landlords of Argyle refused him a square yard of ground on which to dwell. I have myself conversed with the “minister of Small Isles," whose ministry was carried on in a boat upon the billow; and I have stood in the mighty cavern near Cape Wrath with the pure-hearted pastor who, when ejected with his people from their church and manse on the ground of a site-refusing Duke, worshiped winter after winter under those humid arches, his only “ life-interests” being in the savage rock and resounding shore. Not far from it are the ruined walls of Assynt, where Montrose, Covenanter and Kingsman, was at last captured by his enemies. As the stranger comes south by the Highland line, among the most, picturesque points of all are Killiecrankie, where Claverhouse Aung away one life, and Dunblane, where Leighton wasted another, in efforts equally vain to solve the problem which has now again come back. It was made impossible by the assumption on both sides that the majority has the right to erect a state church for the minority. The boot and gallows were not the worst things which the popular party bad to meet in the working out of this view. Far away to our east lies Magus Moor, haunted by the stately and sinister face of the murdered Sharpe, and farther still the crag and castle of St. Andrews, where an earlier archbishop fell pierced by half the swords of Fife. And when the visitor comes round at last to Edinburgh, he finds the Scottish capital crowded with such memorials. On the central rock itself he may mark the spot to which, on an afternoon two hundred years ago, Lord Viscount Dundee climbed in his breastplate to have one minute's speech of the castle governor ; while before ten minutes had passed the news of the treason had reached the Scottish lords, and at the beating of Leven's drums the population, pouring from
1 For other cases, see Carlyle's story of Janet Fraser (Froude's Life, iii. 322), and the present Free Church Moderator's Annals of the Disruption (Dr. T. Brown, Edinburgh), passim.
every close and stair, hurled itself into the High Street. How rich in the history of this question that High Street is, I need not say, — were it only that it contains the old house,— with gables, peaks, and casements, as of six band boxes, each trying to be within the other, — from which John Knox for twelve years paced day by day with slow feet up to his preaching or “ exercise ” in old St. Giles. But even the New Town is not so new as to be bare of thrilling memories. For from the same castle ramparts the stranger cannot but look down the long sloping street which connects northern Edinburgh with the sea, and if he chooses he may recall the day when many still living saw four hundred men, young and old, — the forlorn hope of church freedom in Scotland, — pace down that slope towards the blue firth“ beyond which stretched many a moor and strath, with the manses which the old men were the next day to leave, and the young ones were never to enter.” Twice four hundred manses have been built for them since then, in au experiment of Christian altruism which America has not yet sufficiently studied. But — more important still — the mass even of those who then remained behind have now come to approve of that march into the wilderness, and are not very far
- if it could be done not of constraint but willingly — from a brotherly imitation. For reconciliation is better than ascendancy; and the Queen of Great Britain was right when she wrote in her Journal many years ago that disestablishment — however much to be deprecated — would result in Scotland in the union of a strong Protestant Church.
A. Taylor Innes. EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND.
SOME PARAPHRASERS OF MILTON.
It is a matter for surprise and regret that the “ Essays of Elia” should contain nothing relating to the genus commentator. What pen but that of Elia could do justice to the mental obliquities, the perverted ingenuity, of that most extraordinary class ? Lamb's genial and easy-going nature was joined to an almost uncanny critical insight (in the case at least of his favorite authors), and a laughing contempt for the learned lumber of a pretentious scholarship. The hand which penned the catalogue of the biblia abiblia, and included in it “ generally all those volumes · which no
easy-going pature nast of his favorite
gentleman's library should be without,'” could have written to some purpose concerning those whose business it too often is to “ darken counsel by words without knowledge.”
The salient features of the typical commentator are painfully familiar to us. We recognize him by his easy sense of superiority to his victim, — Shakespeare, Dante, Browning, or Ibsen, “ that last infirmity of noble minds," – and by his power to entangle us when we felt most secure. The thoroughbred commentator has the keenest scent for a difficulty, and he is never so happy as when the game is put up in the most unlikely places. If you will look for the word “Commentator” in Worcester's Dictionary, you will find this significant selection from the poet Young, given in illustration of its meaning:
“How commentators each dark passage shun,
And hold their farthing candle to the sun.” From which it appears that the ability to
“raise scruples dark and nice
And after solve 'em in a trice” is essential to all commentators who would be worthy of the name.
The trail of the commentator is over all the world's great literary masterpieces ; perhaps his tracks are thickest over the pages of the “ Divina Commedia” and the plays of Shakespeare. Elia might have profitably devoted an entire essay to the Commentator as revealed in his treatment of Shakespeare, for there is he to be found in all his glory. Even the genius of Canning, with his inimitable annotations, after the Germans, on
“ The Queen of Hearts
She made soine tarts," cannot outdo the exploits of some veritable Shakespearean editors. Mr. Curdle, that celebrated student of the drama in “ Nicholas Nickleby," who wrote “ a pamphlet of sixty-four pages octavo on the character of the nurse's deceased husband in “Romeo and Juliet,' with an inquiry whether he really had been a merry man in his lifetime or whether it was merely his widow's affectionate partiality that induced her so to report him," — even Mr. Curdle himself is not without competitors who dwell outside the regions of fiction. Certain Shakespearean puzzles are the common property of the insatiable world. They are not unlike one of those leather bags in a gymnasium which every young athlete buffets to try the strength of his arm. There is even reason to believe that a selfappointed Commission de Lunatico Inquirendo in re Hamlet is still sitting in some remote jurisdiction with an irresponsible solemnity. Besides his acquaintance with such every-day matters, that very ill-defined person, " the general reader," has long been familiar with some at least of those deformed versions of the Shakespearean dramas which Dryden, Davenant, Cibber, Tate, and the rest prepared to suit the new public, and seasoned to taste. But the treatment which Milton has received at the hands of his expounders and paraphrasers seems for some reason to be almost wholly unknown. Shakespearean commentators have, indeed, had a great advantage over the commentators on Milton ; they have had the inestimable benefit of a corrupt text, calculated to display their utmost learning and ingenuity. One trembles to think of the result if the First Folio had been gone over by a modern proof-reader, and had been duly revised and corrected by its author. Yet certain commentators of Milton have actually shown so much address as to substantially overcome that serious obstacle, the reputed purity and exactness of Milton's text. The minor poems they pass by in silence, but only to find an unparalleled opportunity in “ Paradise Lost." How could its blind author revise and correct its textual errors? How was it possible to avoid errors when thoughtless, ignorant, and unwilling daughters were the scribes ? And if the errors were there (as on this theory they clearly must be), they should be discovered and corrected if it lay within the scope of human patience and ingenuity. Thus we find an “improver” of Milton's text writing with the sublime complacency of an ideal commentator : “ Neither ambition nor prejudice has been the parent of this attempt, but a pious and filial regard for the studies of the author, whose blindness rather than his affectation have made him in many places something obscure. And it is greatly surprising that with such a defect he should be able to perform any such work and preserve the connection of his story as well as he has.” The onerous duty of improving “Paradise Lost” was first assumed by Richard Bentley, the greatest of living English scholars, in his famous edition of 1732. Pope evidently has this in mind when he writes in the “ Dunciad" of the
“Mighty scholiast, whose unwearied pains,
Made Horace dull and humbled Milton's strains," yet he has left a curious evidence of his approval of many of Bentley's corrections, by writing “pulchre,” “bene,” “recte," opposite to them in his copy. Nearly ten years earlier a certain Elijah Fenton had published an edition of “ Paradise Lost,” in