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we, massa; good massa come at last.” As for the old people, they were all in one and the same story: now they had lived once to see massa, they were ready for dying to-morrow—“them no care.” The shouts, the gaiety, the wild laughter, their strange and sudden bursts of singing and dancing, and several old women, wrapped up in large cloaks, their heads bound round with different-coloured handkerchiefs, leaning on a staff, and standing motionless in the middle of the hubbub, with their eyes fixed upon the portico which I occupied, formed an exact counterpart of the festivity of the witches in Macbeth. Nothing could be more odd or more novel than the whole scene; and yet there was something in it by which I could not help being affected. Perhaps it was the consciousness that all these human beings were my slaves.' Lewis returned to England in 1816, but went back to Jamaica the following year. He found that his attorney had grossly mismanaged his property, being generally absent on business of his own, and intrusting the whole to an overseer, who was of a tyrannical disposition. Having adjusted his affairs, the ‘Monk” embarked on his return home. The climate, however, had impaired his health, and he died of fever while the ship was passing through the Gulf of Florida, in July 1818. Lewis may thus be said to have fallen a martyr to his love of justice and humanity, and the circumstance sheds a lustre on his memory far surpassing mere literary fame.
“If e'er I, by lust or by wealth led aside,
To Palestine hastened the hero so bold,
But scarce had a twelvemonth elapsed, when, behold !
A baron, all covered with jewels and gold,
His treasures, his presents, his spacious domain, Soon made her untrue to her vows;
He dazzled her eyes, he bewildered her brain;
He caught her affections, so light and so vain, And carried her home as his spouse.
And now had the marriage been blest by the priest; The revelry now was begun;
The tables they groaned with the weight of the feast,
Nor yet had the laughter and merriment ceased,
Then first with amazement Fair Imogine found
His air was terrific; he uttered no sound
He spake not, he moved not, he looked not aroundBut earnestly gazed on the bride.
His visor was closed, and gigantic his height,
All pleasure and laughter were hushed at his sight;
The dogs, as they eyed him, drew back in affright; The lights in the chamber burned blue!
His presence all bosoms appeared to dismay;
pray Sir knight, that your helmet aside you would lay, And deign to partake of our cheer.’
The lady is silent; the stranger complies—
Oh, God! what a sight met Fair Imogine's eyes!
What words can express her dismay and surprise When a skeleton's head was exposed !
All present then uttered a terrified shout,
The worms they crept in, and the worms they crept out,
And sported his eyes and his temples about,
‘Behold me, thou false one, behold me!’ he cried;
Thus saying, his arms round the lady he wound,
Not long lived the baron; and none, since that time,
At midnight, four times in each year, does her sprite, When mortals in slumber are bound,
Arrayed in her bridal apparel of white,
Appear in the hall with the skeleton knight,
While they drink out of sculls newly torn from the
grave, Dancing round them the spectres are seen; Their liquor is blood, and this horrible stave They howl: ‘To the health of Alonzo the Brave, And his consort, the Fair Imogine!”
Ne'er were the zephyrs known disclosing
They waved the lilies, where reposing,
Those lovely maids were called ‘the Hours,'
And each in turn employed her powers
False Love, how simple souls thou cheatest!
Long watched an Hour—the softest, sweetest-
In tones so bland he praised her beauty;
The thoughtless Hour forgot her duty,
Meanwhile the fold was left unguarded; The wolf broke in, the lambs were slain;
And now from Wirtue's train discarded, With tears her sisters speak their pain.
Time flies, and still they weep; for never The fugitive can time restore;
An Hour once fled, has fled for ever, . And all the rest shall smile no more !
SIR WALTER SCOTT.
WALTER Scott was born in the city of Edinburgh —‘mine own romantic town’—on the 15th of August 1771. His father was a respectable writer to the Signet: his mother, Anne Rutherford, was daughter of a physician in extensive practice, and professor of medicine in the university of Edinburgh. By both parents the poet was remotely connected with some respectable ancient Scottish families—a circumstance gratifying to his feelings of nationality, and to his imagination. Delicate health, arising chiefly from lameness, led to his being placed under the charge of some relations in the country; and when a mere child, yet old enough to receive impressions from country life and border stories, he resided with his grandfather at Sandy-Knowe, a romantic situation a few miles from Kelso. The ruined tower of Smailholm—the scene of Scott's ballad, The Eve of St John—was close to the farm, and beside it were the Eildon Hills, the river Tweed, Dryburgh Abbey, and other poetical and historical objects, all enshrined in the lonely contemplative boy's fancy and recollection. He afterwards resided with another relation at Kelso, and here, at the age of thirteen, he first read Percy's Reliques, in an antique garden, under the shade of a huge platanus, or oriental plane-tree. This work had as great an effect in making him a poet as Spenser had on Cowley, but with Scott the seeds were long in
The youthful poet passed through the High School and university of Edinburgh, and made some proficiency in Latin, and in the classes of ethics, moral philosophy, and history. He had an aversion to Greek, and we may perhaps regret, with Bulwer, that he refused “to enter into that chamber in the magic palace of literature in which the sublimest relics of antiquity are stored. He knew generally, but not critically, the German, French, Italian, and Spanish languages. He was an insatiable reader, and during a long illness in his youth, stored his mind with a vast variety of miscellaneous knowledge. Romances were among his chief favourites, and he had great facility in inventing and telling stories. He also collected ballads from his earliest years. Scott was apprenticed to his father as a writer, after which he studied for the bar, and put on his gown in his twenty-first year. His health was now vigorous and robust, and he made frequent excursions
into the country, which he pleasantly denominated
Sir Walter Scott.
raids. The knowledge of rural life, character, traditions, and anecdotes, which he picked up in these rambles, formed afterwards a valuable mine to him, both as a poet and novelist. His manners were easy and agreeable, and he was always a welcome guest. Scott joined the Tory party; and when the dread of an invasion agitated the country, he —became one of a band of volunteers, ‘brothers true,' which he held the rank of quarter-master. His
" as a cavalry officer, and the jovialties of
the mess-room, occupied much of his time; but he still pursued, though irregularly, his literary studies, and an attachment to a Perthshire lady—though ultimately unfortunate—tended still more strongly to prevent his sinking into idle frivolity or dissipa. tion. , Henry Mackenzie, the ‘Man of Feeling, had introduced a taste for German literature into the intellectual classes of his native city, and Scott was one of its most eager and ardent votaries. In 179
he published translations of Burger's Lenore and
The Wild Huntsman, ballads of singular wildness and power. Next year, while fresh from his first-love disappointment, he was prepared, like Romeo, to “take some new infection to his eye, and meeting at Gilsland, a watering-place in Cumberland, with a young lady of French parentage, Charlotte Margaret
Carpenter, he paid his addresses to her, was accepted,
and married on the 24th of December, Miss
Carpenter had some fortune, and the young couple
retired to a cottage at Lasswade, where they seem
to have enjoyed sincere and unalloyed happiness.
The ambition of Scott was now fairly wakened—his
lighter vanities all blown away. His life hence
forward was one of severe but cheerful study and
application. In 1799, appeared his translation of
Goethe's tragedy, Goetz von Berlichingen, and the same year he obtained the appointment of sheriff of Selkirkshire, worth £300 per annum. Scott now paid a series of visits to Liddesdale, for the purpose of collecting the ballad poetry of the Border, an object in which he was eminently successful. In 1802, the result appeared in his Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, which contained upwards of forty pieces never before published, and a large quantity of prose illustration, in which might have been seen the germ of that power which he subsequently developed in his novels. A third volume was added next year, containing some imitations of the old minstrels by the poetical editor and his friends. It required little sagacity to foresee that Walter Scott was now to be a great name in Scotland. His next task was editing the metrical romance of Sir Tristrem, supposed to be written by Thomas the Rhymer, or Thomas of Ercildoune, who flourished about the year 1280. The antiquarian knowledge of Scott, and his poetical taste, were exhibited in the dissertations which accompanied this work, and the imitation of the original which was added to complete the romance. At length, in January 1805, appeared the Lay of the Last Minstrel, which instantly stamped him as one of the greatest of the living poets. His legendary lore, his love of the chivalrous and supernatural, and his descriptive powers, were fully brought into play; and though he afterwards improved in versatility and freedom, he achieved nothing which might not have been predicted from this first performance. His conception of the Minstrel was inimitable, and won all hearts—even those who were indifferent to the supernatural part of the tale, and opposed to the irregularity of the ballad style. The unprecedented success of the poem inclined Scott to relax any exertions he had ever made to advance at the bar, although his cautious disposition made him at all times fear to depend over-much upon literature. He had altogether a clear income of about £1000 per annum; but his views stretched beyond this easy competence; he was ambitious of founding a family that might vie with the ancient Border names he venerated, and to attain this, it was necessary to become a landed proprietor, and to practise a liberal and graceful hospitality. Well was he fitted to adorn and dignify the character ! But his ambition, though free from any tinge of sordid acquisition, proved a snare for his strong good sense and penetration. Scott and his family had gone to reside at Ashestiel, a beautiful residence on the banks of the Tweed, as it was necessary for him, in his capacity of sheriff, to live part of the year in the county of Selkirk. Shortly after the publication of the Lay, he entered into partnership with his old school-fellow, James Ballantyne, then rising into extensive business as a printer in Edinburgh. The copartnery was kept a secret, and few
things in business that require secrecy are prosper
ous or beneficial. The establishment, upon which
was afterwards ingrafted a publishing business,
demanded large advances of money, and Scott's
name became mixed up with pecuniary transactions
and losses to a great amount. In 1806, the power
ful friends of the poet procured him the appointment
of one of the principal clerkships of the Court of Session, worth about £1300 per annum; but the
emoluments were not received by Scott until six
years after the date of his appointment, when his
predecessor died. In his share of the printing
business, and the certainty of his clerkship, the poet seemed, however, to have laid up—in addi
tion to his literary gains and his sheriffdom—an honourable and even opulent provision for his family.
In 1808, appeared his great poem of Marmion, the most magnificent of his chivalrous tales, and the same year he published his edition of Dryden. In 1810, appeared The Lady of the Lake, which was still more popular than either of its predecessors; in 1811, The Vision of Don Roderick; in 1813, Rokeby, and The Bridal of Triermain; in 1814, The Lord of the Isles; in 1815, The Field of Waterloo; and in 1817, Harold the Dauntless. Some dramatic pieces, scarcely worthy of his genius, were also written during this busy period. It could not be concealed, that the later works of the Great Minstrel were inferior to his early ones. His style was now familiar, and the world had become tired of it. Byron had made his appearance, and the readers of poetry were bent on the new worship. Scott, however, was too dauntless and intrepid, and possessed of too great resources, to despond under this reverse. “As the old mine gave symptoms of exhaustion,' says Bulwer, ‘the new mine, ten times more affluent, at least in the precious metals, was discovered; and just as in Rokeby and Triermain the Genius of the Ring seemed to flag in its powers, came the more potent Genius of the Lamp in the shape of Waverley.’ The long and magnificent series of his prose fictions we shall afterwards advert to. They were poured forth even more prodigally than his verse, and for seventeen years—from 1814 to 1831—the world hung with delight on the varied creations of the potent enchanter. Scott had now removed from his pleasant cottage at Ashestiel: the territorial dream was about to be realised. In 1811, he purchased a hundred acres of moorland on the banks of the Tweed, near Melrose. The neighbourhood was full of historical associations, but the spot itself was bleak and bare. Four thousand pounds were expended on this purchase; and the interesting and now immortal name of Abbotsford was substituted for the very ordinary one of Cartley Hole. Other purchases of land followed, generally at prices considerably above their value-Kaeside, £4100; Outfield of Toftfield, £6000; Toftfield, and parks, e10,000; Abbotslea, £3000; field at Langside, £500; Shearing Flat, £3500; Broomilees, £4200; Short Acres and Scrabtree Park, £700; &c. From these farms and pendicles was formed the estate of Abbotsford. In planting and draining, about £5000 were expended; and in erecting the mansion-house —that ‘romance of stone and mortar, as it has been termed—and constructing the garden, &c., a sum not less than £20,000 was spent. In his baronial residence the poet received innumerable visitorsprinces, peers, and poets—men of all ranks and grades. His mornings were devoted to composition
—for he had long practised the invaluable habit of early rising—and the rest of the day to riding among his plantations, and entertaining his guests and
family. The honour of the baronetcy was e'red upon him in 1820, by George IV., who had taste
enough to appreciate cordially his genius. Never, certainly, had literature done more for any of its countless votaries, ancient or modern. Shakspeare had retired early on an easy competency, and also become a rural squire; but his gains must have been chiefly those of the theatrical manager, not of the poet. Scott's splendour was purely the result of his pen: to this he owed his acres, his castle, and his means of hospitality. His official income was but as a feather in the balance. Who does not wish that the dream had continued to the end of his life? It
was suddenly and painfully dissolved. The commercial distresses of 1825–6 fell upon publishers as on other classes, and the bankruptcy of Constable involved the poet in losses and engagements to the amount of about £60,000. His wealth, indeed, had been almost wholly illusory; for he had been paid for his works chiefly by bills, and these ultimately proved valueless. In the management of his publishing-house, Scott's sagacity seems to have forsaken him: unsaleable works were printed in thousands; and while these losses were yearly accumulating, the princely hospitalities of Abbotsford knew no check
or pause. Heavy was the day of reckoning-terrible the reverse; for when the spell broke in January 1826, it was found that, including the Constable engagements, Scott, under the commercial denomination of James Ballantyne and Co., owed £117,000. If this was a blot in the poet's scutcheon, never, it might be said, did man make nobler efforts to redeem the honour of his name. He would listen to no overtures of composition with his creditors—his only demand was for time. He ceased ‘doing the honours for all Scotland, sold off his Edinburgh house, and taking lodgings there, laboured incessantly at his literary tasks. ‘The fountain was awakened from its inmost recesses, as if the spirit of affliction had troubled it in his passage. In four years he had realised for his creditors no less than £70,000. English literature presents two memorable and striking events which have never been paralleled in any other nation. The first is, Milton advanced in years, blind, and in misfortune, entering upon the composition of a great epic that was to determine his future fame, and hazard the glory of his country in competition with what had been achieved in the classic ages of antiquity. The counterpart to this noble picture is Walter Scott, at nearly the same age, his private affairs in ruin, undertaking to liquidate, by intellectual labours alone, a debt of £117,000. Both tasks may be classed with the moral sublime of life. Glory, pure and unsullied, Was # ruling aim and motive of Milton; honour
and integrity formed the incentives to Scott. Neither shrunk from the steady prosecution of his gigantic self-imposed labour. But years rolled on, seasons returned and passed away, amidst public cares and private calamity, and the pressure of increasing infirmities, ere the seed sown amidst clouds and storms was white in the field. In six years Milton had realised the object of his hopes and prayers by the completion of Paradise Lost. His task was done; the field of glory was gained; he held in his hand his passport to immortality. In six years Scott had nearly reached the goal of his ambition. He had ranged the wide fields of romance, and the public had liberally rewarded their illustrious favourite. The ultimate prize was within view, and the world cheered him on, eagerly anticipating his triumph; but the victor sank exhausted on the course. He had spent his life in the struggle. The strong man was bowed down, and his living honour, genius, and integrity, were extinguished by delirium and death. In February 1830, Scott had an attack of paralysis. He continued, however, to write several hours every day. In April 1831, he suffered a still more severe attack; and he was prevailed upon, as a means of withdrawing him from mental labour, to undertake a foreign tour. The Admiralty furnished a ship of war, and the poet sailed for Malta and Naples. At the latter place he resided from the 17th of December 1831 to the 16th of April following. He still