Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

not a little contribute. Sir Robert asserts that this is the only specimen known to exist in Persia where the human and bestial form are conjoined ; and he thinks that this singular hieroglyphic may with great probability be attributed to Cyrus, · whose empire over the East was prophesied by Ezekiel, under a similar figure, upwards of fifty years before his accession.

An expanse of 162 feet lies between this portal and the magnificent terrace thąt supports the multitude of columns, from which the spot has derived its appellation of Chehul-minar, or the Palace of Forty Pillars. A superb approach, consisting of a double staircàse, projects considerably before the northern face of the terrace, the whole length of which is 212 feet; at each extremity, east and west, rises another range of steps; again in the middle, projecting from it eighteen feet, appear two smaller flights, rising from the same points. The whole front of the advanced range is covered with sculpture, which Sir Robert examined with great care, distinguishing the peculiarities of every figure, and copying them as distinctly and with as much fidelity as he could. The space immediately under the landing-place is divided into three compartments: the centre one has a plain surface; to the left are four standing figures, habited in long robes, holding a spear in an upright position in both hands; from the left shoulder hang a bow and quiver. The nicety with which the details are executed, render these sculptures particularly interesting to the historian; they mark the costume of the time and people, their progress in the form, variety, and use of arms, and indicate with clearness the ancient method of stringing the bow, and the manner of attaching the leather cover to the quiver, to protect the feathers of the arrows from damage. All these peculiarities of archery, the traveller, who says he is an old bowman himself, observed and transferred to his port-folio with great attention. .

On the right of the vacant tablet are three figures only, without bows or quivers, but carrying spears with large shields, resembling Boeotian bucklers : these he considers to have been in tended to pourtray the Royal Guards. Two angular spaces on each side of the spearmen are filled with duplicate representations of a fight between a lion and a bull, a most spirited and admirable performance. Sir Robert, after perplexing himself a good deal about the import of this combat, inclines to the opinion that it typifies the conquest of Cyrus over the two great empires of Assyria, and Babylon. The beauty, and truth, and fire with which these quadrupeds are executed are above all praise.'

It is remarkable, that wherever any of the brute creation are represented amongst these relics, their limbs, muscles, and actions are always given in a more perfect style than when the VOL. XXVI. NO. LII. GG

same

same sculptor attempts the human form; an observation that will be found to hold good with regard also to the antiquities of Egypt, Syria, and India. This consummate knowledge of the ancients in one respect, and their conspicuous ignorance in the other, our author attributes, justly enough perhaps, to the opportunities, afforded by their daily sacrifices, of witnessing the minute contorsions and dissections of the brute creation, and the .superstition that universally prevailed against putting the hand on a human body.

The rest of this highly ornamented staircase is covered with figures, that, judging from their numbers, their uniform dresses, arms, and positions, are probably the representatives of the vast body-guard, the Doryphores, wlio once held an actual station on this spot. The whole description of the procession that decorates the flight of steps which stretches to the East, illustrated, as it is by drawings, executed with great spirit, and, we have no doubt, with great exactness, merits our unqualified - approbation. · Our traveller was proceeding with great zeal to examine the excavated tombs scattered over this wonderful spot, when an illness, brought on by heat and fatigue, obliged him to relinquish his pursuits altogether. As he looked from side to side, and up to the rocks, to objects now beyond his compass, he felt the deepest regret at being obliged to abandon his labours. He had the satisfaction, however, to think that he had drawn nearly every bas-relief of consequence, taken a faithful plan of the place, and copied several of the cuneiform inscriptions. Full of high and solemn musing, of Cyrus who had planted the empire, and of Alexander who had torn it from its rock,' and lamenting, as he says, that

such noble works of human ingenuity should be destined, from the vicissitudes of revolution, and the rapine, ignorance, or fanaticism of succeeding times, to be left in total neglect, or, when no- ticed, doomed to the predatory mallet, and every other attack of unreflecting destruction; he turned from the tenantless tombs and desolated capital, and continued his route to Shiraz. Here the · volume closes.

ART. XII.-The Pirate. By the Author of Waverley, Kenil

worth,' &c. 8vo. 3 vols. Edinburgh. 1822. ÍF we could fancy the summit of a poet's ámbition, it would be,

that he should render classical every scene which he described, cand embalm among our recollections every character and incident

that he imagined that the appearance of one of his works should · be among the public events of the year that its perusal and dis

.. cussion cussion should instantly engross every eye and every tongue-that, as the buzz of criticism subsided, public attention should turn to what was to follow that a general whisper should tell that he was again employed that contradictory rumours should soon state, with more and more decision, the character and the name of the uvfinished work—that the different opinions should each find supporters, and even partizans, until the oracular annunciation "The — by the author of — is in the press,' should give certainty on one point, and stimulate curiosity and anticipation on every other, and that at length, like the castle in the vale of St. John), the magical edifice should at once shine forth, from among the mists which concealed it, and display the royal palace, the feudal castle, the modern mansion, the border tower, the highland sheeling, or the Zetland burgh, which the invisible architect thought fit residence for his living creations. , '

But dazzling as this eminence appears from below, it is, perhaps, · less conducive to the happiness of him who has attained it, than many of the humble points of his ascent. He can scarcely hope that any of his subsequent efforts will exceed the excited expectation of the public; he must constantly fear that they will disappoint it. In this, perhaps, lies the great superiority of speculative pursuits over those of the imagination. Every step, which the niathematician, or the chemist, or the political econonist, has made, facilitates his subsequent advances. He has, probably, discovered a new instrument, of calculation or decomposition, or a general principle, with which he may tie up the scattered facts that were before independent burthens on his memory; or he has detected the fallacy, or the omissions, which threw doubt and inconsistency over bis reasonings. He covers at every succeeding stride a wider space.

But the earlier works of a poet have the same advantage over bis subsequent ones, which the earlier poets had over their successors, or which the first settlers in a new colony enjoy over those who follow them : they preoccupy whatever is most beautiful or most productive; they exhaust the scenes, the characters, and the incidents, which are best fitted for description, or which he is best fitted to describe. To revert to our colonial metaphor, he must either break up new ground of inferior fertility, or apply additional labour, with a diminished effect, to what is already in cultivation. Our author has, in the work before us, employed both expedients with characteristic boldness. Nothing can be more barren, than the waste land which he has endeavoured to reclaim---nothing more over cropped, than the old ground which he has ventured still to continue under the plough. Most of his former works derived interest from their mere subjects: the fore ground was filled with distinct portraits of persons, whom we had long been endeavouring to make out in the distance of history; his back ground was formed of scenery, magnificent in its elements, and splendid from its variety. But the characters of the Pirate are purely fictitious, and the scene is laid in a country too obscure, until our author's genius stamped it with notoriety, to excite attention, and too uniform to detain it. What could be done for Zetland he has done: he has painted with his usual vivid accuracy the few natural objects it afforded : the rocky promontory, the inland sea, the fierceness of a northern ocean, and the caprice of a northern climate, with its misty calm and irresistible tempest, and he has suited to it, with admirable consistency, the habits and character of its inhabitants. The promise of his motto is fully performed

-- nothing of them

But doth suffer a sea-change.' Their furniture and their food are, almost wholly, the produce or the gifts of the sea ;-all their language and conversation is insular, and almost fishy; limited by the narrow experience, and full of the maritime superstitions and associations, of their situation. In his usual pursuit of national, as well as individual, contrast, he has described his Zetlanders before they became assimilated in feeling to their Scottish proprietors and neighbours, and has attributed to them, in a mitigated degree, the hostility towards the new-comers, which gives spirit to his Saxons in Ivanhoe.

It is at Burgh-Westra, the residence of Magnus Troil, the Cedric of the piece, that the story commences: the previous chapters having introduced to us Mordaunt Mertoun, a poor youth on whom the office, not a very high one in our author's court, of heros en chef, is forced; and to his father, Basil Mertoun, a misanthropic recluse, marked by the mystery—the silence—the gloom-the general apathy and occasional impetuosity-the sternness and the pride which, at once, indicate, to a practised novel-reader, one of the numerous family of retired criminals, or injured lovers. Minna and Brenda, the daughters of Magnus Troil, we must describe in our author's own words :

From her mother, Minna inherited the stately form and dark eyes, the raven locks and finely-pencilled brows, which showed she was, on one side at least, a stranger to the blood of Thule. Her cheek,

O call it fair, not pale, .. was so slightly and delicately tinged with the rose, that many thought the lily had an undue proportion in her complexion. , But in that predominance of the paler flower, there was nothing sickly or languid ; it was the true natural complexion of health, and corresponded in a peculiar degree with features which seemed calculated to express a contem. plative and high-minded character. • The scarce less beautiful, equally lovely, and equally innocent

Brenda, Brenda, was of a complexion as differing from her sister, as they differed in character, taste, and expression. Her profuse locks were of that paly brown, which receives from the passing sun-beam a tinge of gold, but darkens again when the ray has passed from it. Her eye, her mouth, the beautiful row of teeth, which, in her innocent vivacity, were frequently disclosed; the fresh, yet not too bright glow, of a healthy complexion, tinging a skin like the drifted snow, spoke her genuine Scandinavian descent. A fairy form, less tall than that of Minna, but even more finely moulded into symmetry--a careless and almost childish lightness of step-an eye that seemed to look on every object with pleasure, from a natural and serene cheerfulness of disposition, attracted even more general admiration than the charms of her sister, though, perhaps, that which Minna did excite, might be of a more intense as well as a inore reverential character.'-vol. i. p, 43. 45, 46,

Mordaunt has as yet lived with them both in perfect intimacy, but without apparent preference of one to the other, 'treating them as an affectionate brother might treat two sisters, so equally dear to him, that a breath would turn the scale of affection. After a visit of a week, immediately preceding the commencement of the narrative, he leaves them to return to his father's residence, Jarlshof, at the foot of Sumburgh-Head, the south-eastern extremity of the island. ..." But he had not advanced three hours on his journey, before the wind, which had been so deadly still in the morning, began at first to wail and sigh, as if bemoaning beforehand the evils which it might perpetrate in its fury, like a madman in the gloomy state of dejection which precedes his fit of violence; then gradually increasing, the gale howled, raged, and roared, in the full fury of a northern storm.'- vol. i. p. 61.

He is forced to take refuge at Harfra, the abode of Triptolemus Yellowley, an agricultural enthusiast, of inixed Scottish and York, shire blood, and one of the Bores of the work (for unhappily there is a double allowance) whom fate, for his own and our misfortune, had transported, with his sister Babie, to this unfertile and prejua diced region. He is soon followed by Bryce Snaelsfoot, a travelling jagger, or pedlar, (our old acquaintance Andrew Fairservice, with a pack at his back,) who is destined to act an important part in the subsequent events. And, as the storin encreased in violence, • a woman, tall enough almost to touch the top of the door with her cap, stepped into the room, signing the cross as she entered, and pro. nouncing with a solemn voice “ the blessings of God and Saint Ronald on the open door, and their braid malison and mine upon close handed churls.” The speaker was as striking in appearance as extravagantly lofty in her pretensions and in her language. She might well have represented on the stage, so far as features, voice, and stature were concerned, the Bonduca or Boadicea of the Britons, or the sage Velleda, Aurinia, or any other fated Pytho-ness, who ever led to battle a tribe of the ancient Goths. Her features were high and well formed, and would have been

GG 3

handsome

« PoprzedniaDalej »