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impulse, he was preparing to isolate himself in a small Island in the Lake; not so much from the hate of man as that of himself.
"Man is a part of nature," and takes the hues and tints of her localities by habit; and mere instinct would impel him to his kindred scene. It was a singular island, like unto my friend, and seemed to look upon the wild, the vague, the vast infinitude of mountain chaos around, like him looking on vacuity and undigested thought. There is the ruin of a hut on the island, where an anchorite once dwelt, which might, too, have caught the sympathies of my friend; for I marked him, on visiting the Island, and on looking steadfastly, for some time, on the ruin, which he intended repairing for his dwelling, heave a sigh, which was followed by an involuntary shudder, that awoke him again to conversation. He said he was impelled by some irresistible force, more than from choice, to live in that island, for he could not shake off the gloomy reflection of his exileship, and that it was unphilosophic to wish, or expect, a continued sympathy with fixed melancholy, from people who never had either the circumstances or the predisposing disposition, to call it forth from comparison.
He said, it was a blessing, that extreme and continued grief brought its own antidote, in the torpor that it left on sensation, which required less sympathy, since it was self-dependent.
He described the plan of his hut, which was to be built from the ruined one on the Island, and to be roofed with sods, and rafters from the plantation of weeping willow, ash, brushwood, and tall pine, that formed an avenue to it, which nature had planted in one of her whimsical moods and, also, the potatoe plot, and where for his goat, &c. which, together, would take up the whole Island, since it is but about an acre.
However, during my stay with him, his attention was somewhat diverted from his purpose, for the time, by shewing me the country round. On one occasion, on visiting one of the wildest scenes within the eagle's ken, from off Ben Nevis, which lay at the other extremity of the lake, and being shewn the cave in which Charles the Pretender was secreted, he half concluded to settle near it, but there was but one herdsman for many miles; and he thought that, under his better feelings, society might be of service to him.
I now mentioned to him my desire to publish his letters; at which he looked like one, either insensible to gain, or doubting their success for he had often blamed even his want of common education, and he thought that the world looked more at manner than matter. Nothing would draw forth his deadly satire so much, as the cold criticisms of the merely classical man,
who would leave the substance for the shadow. After some consideration, he said, "I fear there are insurmountable objections, which would not be tolerated by the blush of habit; such as, descriptions of domestic scenes, like these thou hast experienced here, which, to give a true picture of the country, must have place; and, as the letters were not couched for the female eye, and sometimes written under a feeling of revenge to my persecutors, (here he shed a tear, and appeared half suffocated) the poison may fall upon the wrong object, and prejudice mankind against the Highlander; for if we write under an ill feeling (like Cobbett) no matter the cause, we let out unfair truths, and truth is falsehood to the party charged, until proven to them themselves."
"That mysterious principle, self-love, in man," said he, " is very strange." We find the man of high benevolence and tenderness, backward in wounding others' feelings, from anticipating the re-action of the shock back upon his own, whilst the revengeful man (whether the revenge be of nature, or acquired, as mine) is generally trying to elicit a kindred food in that re-action. Pity (twin sister to love) has fallen, at times, during my exile, like a wintry blight upon my heart, and made me scorn the pitier, instead of the cause that caused me to be pitied. So, I dare say, in the letters, I have
eked out my spleen upon the nearest object which I happened to be describing." Here an eagle hovered round a hind which was browsing on the shoulder of the hill: he paused, and uttered a curse, but qualified it, by immediately saying, "I will not curse thee, poor, unreasoning fiend, for some of the lords of the creation set thee the example, that "might is right." Alas, poor hind, I am like thee, save in name, and ́ what's in a name?' change but my name from man to thine, I am thee, with human eagles waiting for their prey." He then collected himself, and, said " as to publishing, if the work would produce me a temporary relief, I should be glad, for I am not superior to starvation, though man wants but little here below;' and potatoe and oatmeal are my only viands, yet, thou knowest, too well, that the pride which has been my bane in some things, will nerve my resolve, not to borrow, without a mathematical certainty of being able to repay! But I fear I fear the world, generally, would sooner extend its sympathy toward me for a feast of flesh, than for that of the feast of reason, and flow of soul,' if, even, the letters possess the latter."
"As regards the hopes and fears of infant authorship, I am indifferent, for I am here out of the reach of literary criticism, whether of fame or defame! I am aware too that the
deadliest satire, may be exercised upon the letters, from national prejudices; that I am equally indifferent to, for BLACKWOOD never treads these wilds-save in idea."
I told him the world had " slipped its leading strings" and now began to judge for itself; and that in a financial point of view, the satire of critics would rather benefit than injure, for it would call forth the war of opposition and the consequent curiosity of the public. Leigh Hunt's work upon Byron, I observed, was a case in point, for though a work of merit, yet it brought down its own salvation in the attack which was intended to crush it.
He further said "as to the style, it is my own, the language of my impetuous nature-not College; for mere words and forms are not ideas or original and abstract thought themselves, but their measure and medium of communication; and query, if rules and arts have not, on general principles, oftener retarded than advanced genius? Mind depends more upon physical than classical forms, or why were not all College-men Byrons. Mind is a self acting power and the dumb can reason, but can all Collegemen do so? Mind is the power of drawing conclusion from comparison, and the correctness of the conclusion will depend upon the fitness of feeling or perception-not words. The tongue will soon learn to mock it without