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Charles had accompanied Lord P- -, thoughts. At last her very presence on the preceding day, to visit the dis- seemed to be almost forgotten, or, if tant mansion of a nсighbouring chief- observed at all, she was noticed with tain, for the limits of neighbourhood no other interest than were the stiff are extended farther in regions where and smoke-discoloured portraits of faevery thing seems to participate in ile mily ancestry, that stared in sullen greatness of the scale on which nature and silent majesty from the deep carvis herself displayed. Although the ed pannels of the ancient apartment other females were well aware of the where the party was seated. numerous chances which the warmth The good-humoured jest, and the of Highland kindness afforded to pre- meiry tale went round, and the laugh vent the departure of a guest on the of youthful joy was at its highest, appointed day, yet the restless emo- whien a piercing, shriek produced a tions which Lady D felt were sudden and death-like silence, and excited in her own bosom by her directed every head towards the Lady husband's absence ; she guessed, and Assynt, who seemed for a moment to guessed rightly, that no temptation, be violently convulsed. The effect of however powerful, could operate to such an unlooked for interruption to delay his return, when its object was the general gayety may be easily conto regain the enjoyment of her society. ccived. The ladies arose in confuShe therefore continued still to expect sion ; every assistance was proffered ; him, after every one else had aban- and numerous inquiries were made. doned all expectation of his appear. But seeming to endeavour by a desance. She started at every sound, perate effort, to summon up resoluand glanced her fine eyes hastily to tion to overcome the sudden nervous the door at every footstep, nor could malady which apparently affected her, the aseurances of her companions per- she put back both the kind and the suule her to dismiss her hopes, or curious with a wave of her hand, and convince her that it was not now at haughtily resumed her usual dignifiall probable that the gentlemen would ed and freezing deportment, without arrive that night, late as it then was; deigning 10 give any explanation. but that it was more likely they had It was some time before the combeen prevailed on to remain, to par pany was restored to its composure, ticipate in some hunting expedition, and hilarity had hardly begun again projected for the amusement of the to enliven it, when a louder and yet southeru stranger.
more uncerthly shriek again roused There sat another personage at that their alarm, and raised them from festive board, on who.n mirth seemed their seats in the utmost consternato have litile effect; its beams, which tion. The Lily Assyit now presentshot in every direction from the eyes ed a spectacle that chilled every one. of the young and the gay around her, The same convulsion seemed to have fell on her high and warble features, recurred with redoubled violence. and raven eye, like those of the sun She started up in its paroxysm; and on the dark cavern of some cheerless her uncommonly tall figure was raisand sca-beaten crag, engulfing, rather ed to its full height, and set rigidly than reflecting, its light. This was against the high back of the gothic the Lady Assynt, who, to do honour chair in vhich she had been scated, to Sir Charles and his young bride, es if froin anxiety to retreat as far as had been invited to the castle. But its contind space would allow, from little had she added to the general some horrible spectacle that appalled mirth, for ever since her arrival, she her. Hicr arijs were thrown up in a hud sat in the midst of hilarity, like line with lier person ; each particular the lonely cormorant on its rock, un- bony firgur was widely separated from moved and regardless of the playful its fellow; and her stretched eyeballs waves that murmured around her. were fixed in classy and motionless Few attempts were made to bring her unconsciousness. She scemed for a into the play of conversation, and even time to lose all sense of existence, and, those few were soon silenced by chill. though in an upiglit posture, to bave ing monosyllabic replies, delivered in been suddenly struck into a stiffened a lofty and repulsive mamer. She corse. By dlegrees she began to writhe, bad heen therefore left undisturbed to as if enduring extreme agony: hur the full possession of her own gloomy livid lips moved rapidly, without the utterance of sound; until finally over- that my husband was saved !"-" His come by her sufferings, she sank within body”—replied the Lady Assynt, in a the depth of the antique chair, and re- lower and more melancholy voicemained for some minutes in a languid “ His body was driven by the merciand abstracted reverie. The mingled less waves upon the yellow beach ; anxiety and curiosity of the company the moonbeam fell upon his face, but was unbounded; numerous and loud the spark of life was quenched.” Lady were the inquiries; and of the in- D-'s death-like grasp was relaxed, quirers, Lady D-, who seemed and she swooned away in the arms of instinctively to apprehend something those who surrounded her. The Lady dreadful connected with her own fate, Assynt regarded her not: somewhat was the most earnestly solicitous of all. of her former convulsion again came The Lady Assynt heeded not the upon her; and starting up in a frenswarın of interrogatories which buzzed zied manner, she exclaimed, in a around her. She looked at first as if piercing voice, scarcely distinguishable she heard them not; then raising her from a scream, “ And now, they bear self solemnly, and somewhat austerely, him hither !—See how pale and cold from the reclining position into which he looks—how his long hair dripsshe had dropped, she spread lier hands how ghastly are his unclosed eyesbefore lier, and sweeping thein slowly how blanched those lips where lately backwards to right and left, she di- sat the warm smile of love!" Then vided the ring of females who sur- sinking again, after short interval, rounded her, and brought Lady D- she continued, in a more subdued tone, full within the range of her vision. At “ He is gone for ever! No more shall first she started involuntarily at sight he revisit his own fair halls and fertile of her; but melancholy and pity min- fields. Yet is not all hope lost with gling themselves amidst the sternness him ; for his son shall live after him, of features to which such tender emo- and bring back anew the image of his tions seemed to have been long stran- father.” gers, in a deep and articulate voice, The ladies were now busied about and with a solemn and sibylline air, Lady D-, who lay in a deep faint. she slowly addressed Lady D- All seemed to be as much intert sted whilst profound silence sat upon every in her, as if the events described in
“ Let the voice of gladness the waking visions of the Lady Assynt yield to that of mourning ! Cruel is had already actually happened. Vet the blow that hangs over thee, poor every one affected to treat her words innocent dove! and sad is it for me to as the idle dreams of a distempered tell thee what thou art but too anxious brain ; although, in the very looks of
to know. A vision crossed my sight, the different speakers, there was a ' and I saw a little boat, in which were fear betrayed, that ill accorded with
thy lord am Lerd R--: it was their words, manitesting the general tossed by a sudden and tempestuous apprehension that something tragical gust, that swept the dark surface of was to be dreaded, At last a confused the loch in a whitening line. I saw
noise seemed to arise from the under the waves deshing over the trail bark; apartments of the castle ; mutterings, and sorcly did the two Highlanders and broken sentences, and half-supwho rowed thein contend with their pressed exclamations, were heard in oars against the outrageous whirlwind. the great stairs and in the passages. I hopid, yet shudderid, froin fear of The name of Sir Charles was frethe event.-- -Again the spirit of vision quently repeated by different voices. opened my unwilling eyes, and com- The more anxious of the party tried pelled me to behold that last wave, to gain information by running to the which whelmed them beneath the windows. The fia ing lights of terches burst of its tremendous swell. The were seen to hurry across the courtlard was near. Stoutly the drowning yard, where all scimed to be bustle wretches struggle with their fate. I and dismay. And then it was that saw Lord R- and his sturdy ser- the doleful sound of the bag pipe, playvants, one by one, reach the shore; ing a sad and wailing lament, came but-" ily husband !” shrieked upon the ear froin without the castleLady D-in anguishı, as she graspeil gate. A slow, heavy, and measuresh the arm of the secr,
trainp of many fiet upon the draws
in Oh! tell mne
bridge, told that a party of men were persons whose feelings are still in their bearing some heavy weight across it. native condition, that is to say, whose Unable longer to subunit to the sus- feelings had never been excited, expense in which they were held, the cept by the real events of life, and greater part of the females now rushed who, consequently, had formed no asfrom the hall. A cry of horror was sociations or opinions concerning the heard ; and the mysterious anticipa- literary means employed in producing tions of the gifted Lady Assynt were mental excitement. . To these unrefound to be, in truth, too dreadfully flecting auditors the means were inrealized.
visible, and they experienced only the Lord R—, in the deepest afflic- result. On the other hand, authors tion, told the sad tale, with all its cir- of a later period have to address themcumstances. Though much pressed selves, not to human nature in the to remain, Sir Charles had resisted all abstract, but to human nature with a the kind importunity of their host. very intricate system of literary assoTheir homeward way lay across the ciations and opinions superinduced ferry of — The sudden squalls upon it. Unfortunately, too, the naaffecting such inward arms of the sea ture of these associations depends, not are too well known: one of these had merely upon established models of assailed them in the middle of the fine writing, but also upon the daily loch, and had been productive of the abortions and failures of literature. melancholy catastrophe. Nor was the Certain materials, from being too prophetic conclusion of the seer’s vi- easily come at, are habitually preyed sion left unaccomplished. There was upon and deteriorated by bad authors, no suspicion of Laily D-'s preg- so that they become as it were pronancy at the time; but such proved scribed. Add to this the perversity to be the case, and, according to the of theorists and babblers, who will prediction, the child was a son, who not sit with patience and attention til lived, the sole hope of an old and re- a book has time to work its proper spectable family.
T. L. D. effect, and to transmit the impressions
meant by the author, but who must stop to speculate in their own way, at the end of' every paragraph ; and who, in the course of the perusal, so
intermingle the doings of their own Supposed to be written by minds with those of the author, that MR WILLIAM COBBETT, the ultimate impression derived from
the book depends as much upon what
has been thrown in by the reader, as In analyzing literary compositions, we upon what was originally furnished ought always to attend to the differ- by the writer. ence which subsists between that spe- Literary compositions ought cercies of merit founded on the direct in- tainly not to be adapted to the habits terest and attraction of the ideas which of literary men, but to the habits of are employed, and that other sort of the public at large; otherwise they will merit founded on the skill and dexte- prove but feeble and short-lived. Litrity with which materials are coin- erary men are not the best persons to bined, and the justness of the rela- appreciate the real interest and attractions which we are able to trace among tion which conceptions will possess for parts. It is evident that the former people engaged in the business of the species of merit is the one to be met world, whose understandings have with among the early, original, and been turned to serious concerns, and patriarchal writers of all countries; whose energies are kept in a state of and that the latter kind of merit is habitual tension. It is not writings the one most frequently exemplified which are merely ingenious, graceful, in the subsequent ages, when the and finely managed, that will do for rules of composition have begun to be every-day folks. They must have canvassed and understood, and when something broad, vigorous, and rousmen have begun to pry into the means ing, although it should not always be by which their feelings are acted upon. conducted with fine taste, which, after The primitive writers had to address all, is but a morbid state of our per
FRAGMENT OF AN ESSAY ON TASTE,
ceptions, and luckily will never be downright, and rational man. They acquired by mankind at large. Schol- are not in a sound state of mind, any ars, owing to the effeminacy of their more than those sons of corruption, habits, perceive many things too who, for these thirty years, have been strongly, and feel other things too putting the vilest misconstructions weakly. They do not possess the upon every thing which I have writelements of human nature in the av- ten, and who continue to do so, alerage proportion, and therefore are though they have been again and little to be trusted, I think, in judge again exposed and detected, and a ing of poetry and popular literature, thousand and a thousand times overwhich is by no means addressed ex- laid with argument and fact, and clusively to the understanding and tracked home to the innermost den of imagination, but to the whole aggrc- hireling malignity. gate mass of faculties, sentiments, and Taste relates chiefly to fineness and propensities, which go to make up hu- propriety of arrangement. Now, I say, man naturea great part of which, (and so says every vigorous mind) give as I said before, is often imperfect in me a sufficient supply of materials such studious people. I would be ready to as Shakspeare pours forth, and I do not bet any money, if the thing were cap- care so much about the general design, able of being ascertained, that a com- or the observance of proprieties, which mon shopkeeper in London has more for the most part afford but a feeble feeling of the manly and energetic and trivial pleasure—a pleasure perpassages of Shakspeare, than most of ceived coldly by the judgment, and those feeble young lads whom a milk- not a powerful throb of passion comsop constitution has led to addict municated to the heart, or an enliventhemselves to the belles lettres. The ing impulse given to the reflective language of Shakspeare is like the powers. If this preference were not sound of trumpet, and speaks to men just, how should it happen that men ot full bloods and masculine tempera- of sense derive so much gratification ments; and it is not easy to conceive from the perusal of Shakspeare's writhow a young consumptive clergyman, ings, which, all the world admits, are perspiring at the nose, with scarcely a chaos, and nothing but a chaos, of any brawn upon his legs, should ever thoughts, observations, and pictures. be able to crush into the pit of the In making this remark, however, I theatre upon a full night, or enter in- must not fail to allow that Shakspeare to the real spirit of Shakspeare after exhibits the utmost coherence in the he got there.
delineation of human character. This I therefore think it extremely un- is the highest kind of coherence; and fortunate, that the respect which man- it is the only kind which he possesses. kind feel for intellect and erudition, but the very licenses he takes enable should enable literary persons to as- him to fill his pages with a greater sure the authority which they do as variety of remarks, images, and mensume in matters of taste. For all tal food, of every sort. the intellect and acuteness in the Upon looking over what I have world will only enable a person to de- written, I begin to think that I have cide upon the skill and conduct ex- gone a little too far, and have ad. hibited in a piece, and upon the neat- vanced some things savouring of paraness of the arrangement of the ideas dox. But let not the malignant recontained in it, but never upon its joice. My propositions will be found general potency as an appeal to human true in all their bearings, true in every mature. The best ratification of a good itein, if they are properly explained. work, is when human nature makes The sources of pleasure in a literary the proper responses to it. As for the production are so complicated, that it responses of critics, they put one in is not easy to insist much upon the mind of the Aldermen of Braywick. advantages of one, without saying "Be not wise beyond what is written," something in prejudice of another. says the Scripture; but in no work do The fact is, that they are not always critics perceive distinctly what is writ- compatible, and that, like the faculties ten. They always see something more they address, they sometimes pull ditor something else. I say they know ferent ways. Tenderness and enthu110t how the thing looks to a plain, siasm, for instance, incline to dwell
perseveringly upon the same thoughts, which form so great a part of what is or, at least, upon thoughts so much called fine taste. At least, the perakin to each other, as to cherish and ception of these things does not afford prolong the same sentiment. The un- an excitement sutticiently great to fill derstanding, on the other hand, is the minds of Englishmen, who, after often gratified by the juxtaposition all, (and I do not say it contemptuand comparison of ideas, which are ously) are but obtuse cubs in many calculated to produce very different things; and I think, therefore, that sentiments; and the faculty ot' ridi- our literature should not make too cule delights in ideas which bear an many appeals to a delicate and quick express contradiction to each other. perception of coherences, but grapple Now we see that different authors with our passions, imaginations, and have entertained very different opic intellects,-fogsy, robust, and confusnions concerning the possibility of re- ed as they are. The Frenchmen have conciling these jarring interests in the far more quicksightedness in these same composition. Shakspeare, in matters. They are speedily able to keeping the mind always full, is cer- detect irregularity and unsuitableness tainly sometimes apt to garble impres- wherever it exists; and, on the other sions and feelings, so rapidly does he hand, their minds are highly gratified shift the intellectual scene. These by the observance of fitness and demixed masses of thought bear a close corum, as one may easily perceive in resemblance to what really takes place the construction of their tragedies. in the human mind; and when viewed The ancient Greeks (although very in the light of imitations, they are ex
different people from the French) procellent. I will, at the same time, bably resembled them in quicksighthowever, admit, that poetry is not edness, to which they added strong altogether an imitative art. It is also and lofty feelings; but their plays a selective and perfectionating art ; are no models for us, who are not and, by picking out of the general what is called classical in our habits chaos a number of thoughts which of thinking, but plain Englishmen, have the same character and colour, is just as we should be. I remember, often able to produce more sustained on coming home from America, when and continuous impressions than those I landed at Portsmouth, the first which occur in nature. But what I thing that met my eye was the sign mean to point out is the radical differ- of the Tankard and Cross Cudgels, ence between substance and conduct which immediately struck me as an or arrangement. It seems to be a con- happy emblem of the nature of my clusion warranted by the whole history countrymen. of poetry, that those writers who aim I recollect of seeing lately, in the at too high a degree of purity and pro- Edinburgh Review, a discourse upon priety, generally fall into a corresponde literary compositions, in which it was ing poverty of materials; and for my said, that a perfect performance should part, I confess myself to be, on the have but one beauty, and should not whole, an advocate for the full and be crowded with too many incidental substantial style of composition, as strokes of genius ; in short, that it being the one best adapted to the ap- should resemble, in purity and simpetites of a vigorous mind.
plicity, a Greek temple. But there is There is another reason for this a material difference between a poem preference. Nations vary in their and a visible object like a Greek temcharacters; there is a difference of ple. A temple can afford to be plain mental constitution to be observed and meagre in its details, because we among them; and their literature sce the whole at once, and, in cona should be adapted, not to the out- templating the general design, find no landish and bookish tastes of scholars, dearth of mental occupation ; sinee, in who, by too much reading, come to fact, it exhibits as many parts, and as belong to no country, but to the indi- many beautiful relations of parts, as genous habits peculiar to each nation. can be attended to without confusion. Now I do not think that Englishmen, But the conceptions and impressions generally speaking, are remarkable for we derive from a poem are successive a quick perception of those exactitudes, and multifarious; and I am thoneatnesses, and skilful adaptations, roughly convinced, that nine persons