Obrazy na stronie

The Moor of Rannoch."


genuine and characteristic in the personal qualities of those who condemned and fought against each other.

Among the shorter pieces, “ The Moor of Rannoch ” appears to us to be one of the finest. It has perhaps more force of imagination, and a more sonorous power of words and rhythm, than any of the others. The feeling of the grandeur of desolation, and of the majesty of nature's forces, is very strikingly conveyed in the following stanzas

" Yea! a desert wide and wasted,

Washed by rain-floods to the bones;
League on league of heather blasted,

Storm-gashed moss, grey boulder-stones ;
And along these dreary levels,

As by some stern destiny placed,
Yon sad lochs of black moss water

Grimly gleaming on the waste;
East and west, and northward sweeping,

Limitless the mountain plain,
Like a vast low heaving ocean,

Girdled by its mountain chain :
Plain, o'er which the kingliest eagle,

Ever screamed by dark Lochowe,
Fain would droop a laggard pinion,

Ere he touched Ben-Aulder's brow:
Mountain-girdled,—there Bendoran

To Schihallion calls aloud,
Beckons he to lone Ben-Aulder,

He to Nevis crowned with cloud.
Cradled here old Highland rivers,

Etive, Cona, regal Tay,
Like the shout of clans to battle,
Down the gorges break

And the Atlantic sends his pipers

Up yon thunder-throated glen,
O'er the moor at midnight sounding

Pibrochs never heard by men.
Clouds, and mists, and rains before them

Crowding to the wild wind tune,
Here to wage their all-night battle,

Unbeheld by star and moon.
Loud the while down all his hollows,

Flashing with a hundred streams,
Corrie-bah from out the darkness

To the desert roars and gleams.

Sterner still, more drearly driven,

There o' nights the north wind raves,
His long homeless lamentation,

As from Arctic seamen's graves.

Till his mighty snow-sieve shaken

Down hath blinded all the lift,
Hid the mountains, plunged the moorland

Fathom-deep in mounded drift."

In “The Lad of Loch Sunart” and “The Lass of Loch Linne," Mr. Shairp shows that he can feel and make us understand the poetry of human life as well as of nature, in the Highlands ; and, in the “Weird Wife of Bein-y-Vreich,” he seems thoroughly to have identified himself with the very spirit of mountain mists and of the old Celtic mythology.

We have equal pleasure in passing to the more familiar but not less poetical ground of the “Borders" and the "Lowlands." Among the poems connected with these districts, “The Bonspiel,” “ The Run,” and “The Loosing Time," are all excellent in their way, and true expressions of the enjoyment or the toil of country life in Scotland. There are, we believe, many good songs which embody the spirit and joy of fox-hunting, but we know of none which suggests the poetry of sport in the way in which we are made to feel it in this account of “The Run," which begins among Lowland dells, passes over “plough and lea," and then on to the hills, and “west away” to the moorlands :


" Hark hollo! brave hearts !

'Twas the hounds I heard ;
With the sound of their going

All the land is stirred.
They have made every peasant

From work stand still,
With gazers they've crowned

Every crag and hill.

And the ploughman cried loud,

By my team I stood,
And heard them crashing

Yon old fir wood.


ash-tree river banks, Where the sunbeams slant and fall, Flashed the dappled hounds,

Making the dells musical.

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For sweeter they be,

Than any chime of bells,
The melodies that linger

All year in yon dells,
Till the hounds come by and awake them.
Aud the pedlar answered,

From beneath his load,
At noon they went streaming

Right o'er my road.
From the farmsteads the lassies

Rushed out to see,
How they skimmed like swallows,

Over plough and lea.
As they went to the hills

What a head they bare !
Like snow-drift scudding

On the stormy air,
And few were the steeds could o'ertake them.
Forward waved the shepherd,

They are west away,
On the moorlands startling

The plover grey.
Ever on as they sped,

More mute they grew,
And the riders waxed fewer,

And yet more few,
Till one only hunter attended.
And the widow, as she sat

On her lone cottage-floor,
Heard their cry thro' the dark

On the midnight moor ;
And at morn came the worn hounds

Home, one by one,
And the huntsman knew

That the chase was done,

Never knew how nor where it ended." In conclusion, we do not hesitate to say that no volume of such true national poetry has appeared in Scotland for a long time. Mr. Shairp's poetry is something very different from a mere echo of Burns, or Scott, or our old ballads. He has found for himself, in his wanderings over Highlands and Lowlands, fresh fountains of inspiration. That which chiefly distinguishes this volume from the hundreds of meritorious verses which are written, and sometimes printed, in the present day, is that the author has really got a worthy and unhackneyed subject, which he cares for and understands better than any one else, which affords him great enjoyment, and which stirs his feeling to its depths.

ART. VII.-Vie de Jésus. Par ERNEST RENAN, Membre de l'In

stitut. Paris : Michel Lévy Frères, 1863.

TIME enough has elapsed since the publication of this remarkable volume to allow us now to estimate its force and its weakness. We fear it must be ranked as one of the greatest outrages that has ever been offered to that Name which stands upon the title-page; and surely not less an outrage that the buffet on the cheek is only a fillip from the glove of a learned professor ; that the “ Away with him !” is a sentimental rhapsody of 460 pages, endurable, but for the insolence of its praise, in which the supposed decadence of a noble moral nature is described ; that instead of the preference of Barabbas, we have a patronizing comparison with Çakya-Mouni. The style is graceful and perspicuous ; the descriptions of scenery are touched with the true hand of an artist. Yet we are able to see why M. Renan's picture can never be accepted by any considerable number of persons in this country as the true one. Sparks of doubt will be scattered into the stubble of many minds, and here and there they will kindle into fresh flame; but this particular torch that scatters them has blazed, and will die out. For us the writer, eloquent and ingenious if you will, aims at too little or too much. If we have here nothing divine, nothing but genius and originality ; if he who scattered miracles round him as a sower the seed; who put forth claims such as man never dreamt of before, to be God and the Son of God, be only man, a precursor of Renan, who needs Renan to set him up on the right historical basis ; and if so much of the Gospel history as conflicts with this theory is to be deducted as pure falsehood, nay, so much of the words of Jesus himself,—then for a people like us, self-willed indeed and strong, self-indulgent yet still at heart veracious, the Bible is closed for ever. Who could spend his heart's best affections upon the fabulous history of a false Messiah ? Who could follow out with any real credence the ambidextrous process by which the Christ whom Paul and John preached is here pared down into an ignorant enthusiast of Nazareth, whose strong religious insight does not prevent him from degenerating into an impostor, deceiving and being de ceived ?

In order to arrive at this position, M. Renan is obliged, in the first place, to deal with the Gospels as no other historical materials have ever yet been dealt with. He demands from them a firm historical foundation, and at the same time the utmost plasticity. Strange to say, with M. Renan the Gospels are not regarded as compilations of the second century; they

Renan-Vie de Jésus.


are restored to their place in the first. A certain measure of authority must be re-vindicated to them; otherwise a life of Jesus must be all doubts and negations. The work of Strauss is after all an elaborate attempt to show the life that he did not lead. M. Renan regards St. Luke as one regular whole, written, or rather compiled, by a companion of St. Paul; of which the date “can be ascertained with much precision by considerations drawn from the work itself.” He knows from the 21st chapter that it "was certainly written after the siege of Jerusalem, and only a short time after.” The Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Mark have not the same distinct impress of the author's personality, but quoting the well-known passage of Papias, M. Renan infers that in our present gospel of Mark we have the narrative of facts and sayings mentioned by Papias, and in our present St. Matthew the collection of sayings (1óy.a) assigned to him by the same writer. These are important concessions. We have narratives that come from the time and circle in which apostles lived. Even the Gospel of St. John is admitted, though with doubt; all of it, says M. Renan, may not have been written by John, but

As a whole this Gospel may have originated towards the close of the first century, from the great school of Asia Minor, which was connected with John. That it represents to us a version of the life of the Master worthy of high esteem, and often to be preferred, is demonstrated, in a manner which leaves us nothing to be desired, both by external evidence and by the examination of the document itself.” But these admissions are made to be recalled. With an arbitrary dogmatism he rejects all miracles; that is, he scarcely leaves one chapter standing of the very documents on which all his history is to rest. He dismisses at once, in terms which we will spare our readers, all the discourses recorded by John. In order to give a colourable fairness to this treatment of his materials, M. Renan betakes himself to the old theory of a succession of editions of gospels, and that with a heartiness for which, to do him justice, we seldom find a parallel amongst modern writers. The Gospels, he thinks, were at first little cared for, in comparison with oral traditions :

“ There was no scruple about inserting additional matter, about combining them in divers ways, and completing the one by the other. The poor man that has but one book wishes it to contain all that touches his heart. These little books were lent from one to another, each transcribed in the margin of his copy the words and parables which he found elsewhere, and which touched him. And so the most beautiful thing in the world has issued from an obscure and entirely popular process of elaboration" (p. 22). Has M. Renan ever considered what it is which he here asks us

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