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"Some o' our neighbours,' said Matthew, 'an' amang others, my ain wife, wanted to hear the doctor preach, an' so the cleverest o' them managed to erect a tent, wi’ twa carts, a close ane an’ open ane. The close cart was the pu’pit, an' the open ane was ta'en aff the wheels, an' was set up on en wi' the trams stannen up like the masts o' a boat, an' o'er a' they flang the winnow claith, makin' a decent sort of a tent o't, a' things consider't. Weel,' continued Matthew, the weemen bodies a’ about, an' the young chiels, some o' them, mair for fun than preachin', like a flock o' doos an' daws, (and may be auld nick to the bargain), ware a set doon on a brae side-auld Willy Muckle was rulin' elder: 80 the doctor began his sermon, an' just i’ the middle o' his discourse, some o' them took awa' the cogs from ahint the wheels, an' as the tent stood on the tap o’a knowe, aff it set screeven down the hill side, wi' the puir doctor, an' afore be could get time to loup out, o'er tumbl't him, and tent, an'a', wi' an awfu’slounge, into a deep well o'the Kype. The jaups flew about, I ne'er saw the like o't-my very een blin't i' my head. Guid sauf me, I thought the body was kill’t; doon cam' the window claith i' the tap o' him, like to smoor him, an' they had to jump in to help out aneth't, or be maun bae been droon't. It makes me laugh yet, as he was na' hurt, when I think I see him, stannen like a scoort fleece, drippin', spreadin' out his legs, an' hawden out his arms, as wat as water could mak’ him. The preachin' was a' sticket o' course, so we cam'our ways hame. But the young laird o' Frearbill, by way o' keepin' the doctor frae catchin' cauld, gied bim that muckle whiskey, that he filled him as foo's a warlock; and he got out and danc't chantruse i’ the loan, half naket!'
His opinion of the ancients.
· Am tell’t, the ancients didna’ even ken how to bigg a lum to their hooses, but the reek cam' spuing out o' the hole in the roof, or at the door-an' for glass windows they had nane-just like our moorlan' bodies and they sat doon on their hunkers, like a wheen tinkiers. As for a drap o' whiskey, ne'er ane o' them e'er pree't it, or dream't that sic a thing could be made o'John Barleycorn. But,' continued Matthew, "I hae seen wi' my ain een, the de'ils causey, or the auld Roman road, running past within a few gunshot o' my ajn door; why its just a rickle omuckle stanes, no braid eneugh to drive a hurl-barrow on, an' sae fu’ o’lumps an' jumps, that it wad break ane o' my carts a bits. Tell nae me about the Romans-we Scots soon sent them hame again, like a dog wi’ a shangay on his tail.'
Hold!' cried the Laird; “I will neither hear the speech which he puts into the mouth of the Father, nor the Son-I will hear no such impious speeches, fabricated by man, repeated in my presence. In this description, which you have just praised as beautiful, he first tells us that the omniscient Father is about to take a survey of all things at once; then the poet forgets himself, and speaks of him first bebolding our first parents, and then discovering Satan, who had forsaken Hell, and was on the very borders of the world, before he is descried. Milton's idea of Deity may be more elevated than the ideas of Homer were respecting Jupiter, and they may be so very truly, and yet be low enough after all.
I will spare you the trouble, continued the Laird, of reading about St Peter and his keys at the wicket gate; of the paradise of fools; and Satan's disguising himself so as to cheat Uriel, after having made bim steal a march on God himself, for that the arch-deceiver should bamboozle an angel, is only what is to be expected. Come to some of those fine battles, where he places the contending hosts of Heaven and Hell, front to front, in direful combat.'
The following is an extract from a letter to his son.
· Dear Son—The neist time that ye are in want o'siller, as I carry the purse mysell, dinna come whully-whaen o'er your mother as I ware for stenten you to a saxpence or a shilling; therefore, send na mair o' wishy-washy letters, but speak out mensfu' like, and tell me frank and furthy what ye want. An'dinna think that when ye’re alang wi’ decent company, and I houp ye draw up wi’ nane that are otherwise, and they, whan they meet, want to tak a crack and weet their whitters, that I wad hae you sit, like a whistle-binkie at a penny-waddin', for want o' pocket-money to pay your score; the feint a bit o' me; I wad like to see you, whan occasion ser's, be as campy as ony o' them. And I dinna mean that ye should set the wun'abried aneth a' the gear that I hae gather't thegither, neither; be just as canny as possible, and tak gude tent o' what I send you. Am no for you to spend o'er muckle time, scrapin' on the fiddle, or blawin' the whistle, for its uncoo like to lead you into wauff company ; fiddling and flinging may do weel aneugh for a dancin' master, but they're no soncey ava in a minister.'
We should imagine, that, in describing the practice of a quack doctor, who makes his appearance in the course of these volumes, the author must have had in his eye, the method of treatment lately recommended among us, by a benevolent, but enthusiastic physician; although there seems no reason for connecting the allusion with a low and infamous character; since, whatever may be the value of the mode of practice, we know of no reason to doubt the sincerity and disinterested zeal of the physician who proposes it.
His mode of treatment was exceedingly simple; his remedies were applied directly through the organs of respiration to the seat of the disease; while all medicines exhibited according to the established practice, could only act indirectly through the medium of the whole system, and could never reach the parts affected. His success, it is true, had not quite answered their expectations; the cures had not been so rapid as they had been led to expect, but they could not expect miracles;-he had as yet been but a short time among them, and they must have a little patience.
The Whult, as he is called, a lazy, shiftless neighbour of Matthew, is well contrasted with him.
“The lazy hallion !' continued the Laird; “after he had been at the expense to get it cut, and the wife and the dochter were at the trouble
to make it into hay, and rake it together, left it there in the condition ye see it. But every thing's of a piece; a' the yets are wide open, and so mony slaps in the dykes, that ware it no for the coliey dog, the kye wad ne'er be out o' the corn; but the poor dumb beast has mair care than its master; for the Whult wad no loup o'er the dyke to drive them out if they ware a' in the kailyard. If I ware the wife, I wad be for serving the Whult as her auld mither did her anld gudeman, when she wanted to get quit of him; but I maun tell you this story. “ The feckless auld body was ill abed, and, as the wife thought, asleep; so she gat a halter round his neck, and flinging the cord o'er a bank, gat the end out at the window. But if the gudeman choosed to pretend to be asleep till she got round the halter, when she slippet quietly out for fear of wakening him, he took it off his neck, and put the bouster in the noose. As soon as she could, she got hold of the rope, and drew a' her pith, thinking to hang him. But he was o'er auld farren for her, and as she drew, he held the bouster doon wi'a' his weight; as soon as she slacket, he took out the bouster, and put his neck again into the halter. The vile rudden came into the room to take off the halter, thinking she had finished her job; “that charr is charr’d,' said she; but whan she came to look into the bed, the auld fallow was lying laughing; “Losh me,' quoth she, “my dear, do ye ken me?' Better than e'er I did,' said he, as he took the halter aff his neck and flang it at her. Frae that day to this she gat the name o' hang the bouster.”
• See, see!' said Mr Rifleman to the Laird, the dog is chasing the cat in and out at the window."
The Whult had been at some pains to teach them this pastime, for the gudewife and daughter not liking to see the crown of an old hat, or some old article of wearing apparel supplying the place of a pane of glass, when so many suitors were coming about the house, had the windows all mended. The Whult hated all innovations of this sort, and in a vjolent passion, he stood before the window, and shaking his coat tail, called “Halloo, halloo,' to the dog that was lying before the fire, who, juroping up in haste, took his usual route through the window, and in a few days, old hats, and breeches, and petticoats, were seen sticking in the windows as usual, and the dog passing and repassing in full chase after the cat.
There are many passages we should like to extract, for the purpose of illustrating the character we have given of this work, but they would exceed our limits. It will be perceived, that, upon the whole, our opinion of it is favourable. If read with moderate expectations, we are persuaded, that it must afford entertainment, though no strong interest or excitement. There are some offences against delicacy, and many against good writing. If it be an American novel, we think it superior, in point of talent, to most of those, which have issued from the press on this side of the Atlantic.
Occasional Pieces of Poetry. By John G. C. BRAINARD. New
York. 1825. 12mo. pp. 111. We are sorry that Mr Brainard should have published his poems at this time. If his principal object, indeed, was make a little something by it,” we should regret the circumstance still more; without repeating what has been a thousand times said of Milton and Bacon, who wrote as no other men ever wrote, and who wrote, not for money, but for fame, we may, we think, be allowed to say, without incurring the imputation of canting, that a man of Mr Brainard's unquestionable genius, ought not to be actuated by so sordid a motive. We cannot, however, believe, that this was his real object; we doubt not that he was mainly influenced by the request of friends," prompted withal by a secret consciousness that he needed not deprecate criticisms. This knowledge of an author, that he has done pretty well, and can do better than most others when he pleases, has consigned more than one individual to oblivion, who might otherwise have marked his age by his
Nil sine magno Vita labore dedit mortalibus, is a maxim as true in literature as in physics. No truly valuable work, nothing that could safely be committed to
time, truth, and posterity,” was ever thrown off at a single heat. The advice of Quintilius is even more necessary at the present day, than it was two thousand years ago :
Et male tornatos incudi reddere versus. We have been led to these remarks, from the great power displayed in some of these poems, and the manifest want of care in the construction of almost all of them. We are satisfied, that had the author's labour in their composition been commensurate with his energy of conception, his volume might have placed him, at once, on a level with Bryant and Percival. There are two distinct and independent essentials of poetry, that the thoughts of the poet should be well conceived, and well expressed. Mr Brainard thinks well; he is a bold, vigorous, and original thinker; and we are not afraid to give him advice, that to a poct of an inferior order might be dan
gerous, that he should study to express clearly, and vividly, and attractively to others, what he has distinctly and strongly thought. We have no fear that he will ever “ lose a thought in snapping at a rhyme.” But he has evidently been too easily satistied with his own performances. He must have been aware of his own originality, and he appears to have trusted to that too exclusively. But we can assure him, that his thoughts are like diamonds, which, while they gain in splendour, increase also in value, by the labour of polishing. The following lines are a good example both of the beauty of the aathor's thoughts, and his carelessness of execution.
TO MY FRIEND G
THE LOST PLEIAD.*
That the fairest and sweetest was “not on the ground." The good taste, which dictated the first two of the foregoing stanzas, must, we think, have revolted at the not merely prosaic, but low and vulgar metaphor, with which the poem concludes. The editor of the Connecticut Mirror had found a rhyme, however, and business at the time may have prevented him from searching for a better. This would, we admit, have been an available excuse, had the poem never been transferred from the corner of a newspaper ; but when Mr Brainard collected his
poems, and published them with his name, he should have thought more of his reputation, than to commence a poem with the planets’ “pathway of light,” and end it by an allusion to
“* 'T is said by the ancient poets, that there used to be one more star in the constellation of the Pleiades."