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her you love, you shall become lifeless as a statue, and under the irresistible spell of ‘mauvaise honte. Strange that France should give name to that malady of mind which she never knew, or of which she knows less than any other nation upon the surface of the civilised globe:
MISS AUST EN.
JANE AUSTEN, a truly English novelist, was born on the 16th December 1775, at Steventon, in Hampshire, of which parish her father was rector. Mr Austen is represented as a man of refined taste and acquirements, who guided, though he did not live to witness, the fruits of his daughter's talents. After the death of the rector, his widow and two daughters retired to Southampton, and subsequently to the village of Chawton, in the same county, where the novels of Jane Austen were written. Of these, four were published anonymously in her lifetime, namely, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and Emma. In May 1817 the health of the authoress rendered it necessary that she should remove to some place where constant medical aid could be procured. She went to Winchester, and in that city she expired on the 24th of July 1817, aged forty-two. Her personal worth, beauty, and genius, made her early death deeply lamented; while the public had to “regret the failure not only of a source of innocent amusement, but also of that supply of practical good sense and instructive example which she would probably have continued to furnish better than any of her contemporaries.” The insidious decay or consumption which carried off Miss Austen seemed only to increase the powers of her mind. She wrote while she could hold a pen or pencil, and the day preceding her death composed some stanzas replete with fancy and vigour. Shortly after her death, her friends gave to the world two novels, entitled Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, the first being her earliest composition, and the least valuable of her productions, while the latter is a highly finished work, especially in the tender and pathetic passages. The great charm of Miss Austen's fictions lies in their truth and simplicity. She gives us plain representations of English society in the middle and higher classes —sets us down, as it were, in the country-house, the villa, and cottage, and introduces us to various classes of persons, whose characters are displayed in ordinary intercourse and most lifelike dialogues and conversation. There is no attempt to express Jine things, nor any scenes of surprising daring or distress, to make us forget that we are among common-place mortals and real existence. Such materials would seem to promise little for the novel reader, yet Miss Austen's minute circumstances and
* Dr Whately, archbishop of Dublin (Quarterly Review, 1821). The same critic thus sums up his estimate of Miss Austen's works: ‘They may be safely recommended, not only as among the most unexceptionable of their class, but as combining, in an eminent degree, instruction with amusement, though without the direct effort at the former, of which we have complained as sometimes defeating its object. For those who cannot or will not learn anything from productions of this kind, she has provided entertainment which entitles her to thanks; for mere innocent amusement is in itself a good, when it interferes with no greater, especially as it may occupy the place of some other that may not be innocent. The eastern monarch who proclaimed a reward to him who should discover a new pleasure, would have deserved well of mankind had he stipulated that it should be blameless. Those, again, who delight in the study of human nature, may improve in the knowledge of it, and in the profitable application of that ":". by the perusal of such fictions as those before us."
common details are far from tiresome. They all aid in developing and discriminating her characters, in which her chief strength lies, and we become so intimately acquainted with each, that they appear as old friends or neighbours. She is quite at home in describing the mistakes in the education of young ladies—in delicateridicule of female foibles and vanity—in family differences, obstimacy, and pride—in the distinctions between the different classes of society, and the nicer shades of feeling and conduct as they ripen into love or friendship, or subside into indifference or dislike. Her love is not a blind passion, the offspring of romance; nor has she any of that morbid colouring of the darker passions in which other novelists excel. The clear daylight of nature, as reflected in domestic life, in scenes of variety and sorrowful truth, as well as of vivacity and humour, is her genial and inexhaustible element. Instruction is always blended with amusement. A finer moral lesson cannot anywhere be found than the distress of the Bertram family in Mansfield Park, arising from the vanity and callousness of the two daughters, who had been taught nothing but “accomplishments, without any regard to their dispositions and temper. These instructive examples are brought before us in action, not by lecture or preachment, and they tell with double force, because they are not inculcated in a didactic style. The genuine but unobtrusive merits of Miss Austen have been but poorly rewarded by the public as respects fame and popularity, though her works are now rising in public esteem. “She has never been so popular, says a critic in the Edinburgh Review, “as she deserved to be. Intent on fidelity of delineation, and averse to the common-place tricks of her art, she has not, in this age of literary quackery, received her reward. Ordinary readers have been apt to judge of her as Partridge, in Fielding's novel, judged of Garrick's acting. He could not see the merit of a man who merely behaved on the stage as anybody might be expected to behave under similar circumstances in real life. He infinitely preferred the “robustious periwig-pated fellow,” who flourished his arms like a windmill, and ranted with the voice of three. It was even so with many of the readers of Miss Austen. She was too natural for them. It seemed to them as if there could be very little merit in making characters act and talk so exactly like the people whom they saw around them every day. They did not consider that the highest triumph of art consists in its concealment; and here the art was so little perceptible, that they believed there was none. Her works, like well-proportioned rooms, are rendered less apparently grand and imposing by the very excellence of their adjustment. Sir Walter Scott, after reading Pride and Prejudice for the third time, thus mentions the merits of Miss Austen in his private diary: “That young lady had a talent for describing the involvements, and feelings, and characters of ordinary life, which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with. The big bow-wow strain I can do myself, like any now going; but the exquisite touch which renders ordinary commonplace things and characters interesting from the truth of the description and the sentiment, is denied to £ What a pity such a gifted creature died so early I’
MRS MARY BRUNToN, authoress of Self-Control and Discipline, two novels of superior merit and moral tendency, was born on the 1st of November 1778. She was a native of Burrey, in Orkney, a small island of about 500 inhabitants, no part of which is more than 300 feet above the level of the sea, and which is destitute of tree or shrub. In this remote and sea-surrounded region the parents of Mary Brunton occupied a leading station. Her father was Colonel Balfour of Elwick, and her mother, an accomplished woman, niece of fieldmarshal Lord Ligonier, in whose house she had resided previous to her marriage. Mary was carefully educated, and instructed by her mother in the French and Italian languages. She was also sent some time to Edinburgh; but while she was only sixteen, her mother died, and the whole cares and duties of the household devolved on her. With these she was incessantly occupied for four years, and at the expiration of that time she was married to the Rev. Mr Brunton, minister of Bolton, in Haddingtonshire. In 1803 Mr Brunton was called to one of the churches in Edinburgh, and his lady had thus an opportunity of meeting with persons of literary talent, and of cultivating her own mind. ‘Till I began Self-Control, she says in one of her letters, “I had never in my life written anything but a letter or a recipe, excepting a few hundreds of vile rhymes, from which I desisted by the time I had gained the wisdom of fifteen years; therefore I was so ignorant of the art on which I was entering, that I formed scarcely any plan for my tale. I merely intended to shew the power of the religious principle in bestowing self-command, and to bear testimony against a maxim as immoral as indelicate, that a reformed rake makes the best husband. SelfControl was published without the author's name in 1811. The first edition was sold in a month, and a second and third were called for. In 1814, her second work, Discipline, was given to the world, and was also well received. She began a third, Emmeline, but did not live to finish it. She died on the 7th of December 1818. The unfinished tale, and a memoir of its lamented authoress, were published in one volume by her husband, Dr Brunton. Self-Control bids fair to retain a permanent place among British novels, as a sort of Scottish Coelebs, recommended by its moral and religious tendency, no less than by the talent it displays. The acute observation of the authoress is seen in the development of little traits of character and conduct, which give individuality to her portraits, and a semblance of truth to the story. Thus the gradual decay, mental and bodily, of Montreville, the account of the De Courcys, and the courtship of Montague, are true to nature, and completely removed out of the beaten track of novels. The plot is very unskilfully managed. The heroine, Laura, is involved in a perpetual cloud of difficulties and dangers, some of which—as the futile abduction by Warren, and the arrest at Lady Pelham's—are unnecessary and improbable. The character of Hargrave seems to have been taken from that of Lovelace, and Laura is the Clarissa of the tale. Her high principle and purity, her devotion to her father, and the force and energy of her mind—without over-stepping feminine softness-impart a strong interest to the narrative of her trials and adventures. She surrounds the whole, as it were, with an atmosphere of moral light and beauty, and melts into something like consistency and unity the discordant materials of the tale.
[Final Escape of Laura.]
[The heroine is carried off by the stratagems of Hargrave, put on board a vessel, and taken to the shores of Canada. There, in a remote secluded cabin, prepared for her reception, she is confined till Hargrave can arrive. Even her wonted firmness and religious faith seem to forsake her in this last and
greatest of her calamities, and her health sinks under the continued influence of grief and fear. At length, in one of her solitary wanderings by the river's side, she saw close to the shore an Indian canoe.]
She sprang into the bark; she pressed the slender oar against the bank. The light vessel yielded to her touch. It floated. The stream bore it along. The woods closed around her prison. ‘Thou hast delivered me!’ she cried; and sank senseless. A meridian sun beat on her uncovered head ere Laura began to revive. Recollection stole upon her like the remembrance of a feverish dream. As one who, waking from a fearful vision, still trembles in his joy, she scarcely dared to hope that the dread hour was past, till raising her eyes, she saw the dark woods bend over her, and steal slowly away as the canoe glided on with the tide. The raptures of fallen man own their alliance with pain, by seeking the same expression. Joy and gratitude, too big for utterance, long poured themselves forth in tears. At length, returning composure permitting the language of ecstasy, it was breathed in the accents of devotion; and the lone wild echoed to a song of deliverance. The saintly strain arose unmixed with other sound. No breeze moaned through the impervious woods; no ripple broke the stream. The dark shadows trembled for a moment in its bosom as the little bark stole by, and then reposed again. No trace appeared of human presence. The fox peeping from the brushwood, the wild duck sailing stately in the stream, saw the unwonted stranger without alarm, untaught as yet to flee from the destroyer. The day declined, and Laura, with the joy of her escape, began to mingle a wish that, ere the darkness closed around her, she might find shelter near her fellow-beings. She was not ignorant of the dangers of her voyage. She knew that the navigation of the river was interrupted by rapids, which had been purposely described in her hearing. She examined her frail vessel, and trembled; for life was again become precious, and feeble seemed her defence against the torrent. The canoe, which could not have contained more than two persons, was constructed of a slender frame of wood, covered with the bark of the birch. It yielded to the slightest motion, and caution was necessary to poise in it even the light form of Laura. Slowly it floated down the lingering tide; and when a pine of larger size or form more fantastic than his fellows enabled her to measure her progress, she thought that through wilds less impassable her own limbs would have borne her more swiftly. In vain, behind each tangled point, did her fancy picture the haunt of man. Wainly amid the mists of eve did she trace the smoke of sheltered cottages. In vain at every winding of the stream she sent forward a longing eye in search of human dwelling. The narrow view was bounded by the dark wilderness, repeating ever the same picture of dreary repose. The sun went down. The shadows of evening fell; not such as in her happy native land blend softly with the last radiance of day, but black and heavy, harshly contrasting with the light of a naked sky reflected from the waters, where they spread beyond the gloom of impending woods. Dark and more dark the night came on. Solemn even amid the peopled land, in this vast solitude it became more awful. Ignorant how near the place of danger might be, fearing to pursue darkling her perilous way, Laura tried to steer her light bark to the shore, intending to moor it, to find in it a rude resting-place, and in the morning to pursue her way. Laboriously she toiled, and at length reached the bank in safety; but in vain she tried to draw her little vessel to land. Its weight resisted her strength. Dreading that it should slip from her grasp, and leave her without means of escape, she
re-entered it, and again glided on in her dismal :* 467
She had found in the canoe, a little coarse bread made of Indian corn; and this, with the water of the river, formed her whole sustenance. Her frame worn out with previous suffering, awe and fear at last yielded to fatigue, and the weary wanderer sank to sleep. It was late on the morning of a cloudy day, when a low murmuring sound, stealing on the silence, awoke Laura from the rest of innocence. She listened. The murmur seemed to swell on her ear. She looked up. The dark woods still bent over her; but they no longer touched the margin of the stream. They stretched their giant arms from the summit of a precipice. Their image was no more reflected unbroken. The gray rocks which supported them, but half lent their colours to the rippling water. The wild duck, no longer tempting the stream, flew screaming over its bed. Each object hastened on with fearful rapidity, and the murmuring sound was now a deafening roar. Fear supplying superhuman strength, Laura strove to turn the course of her vessel. She strained every nerve; she used the force of desperation. Half hoping that the struggle might save her, half fearing to note her dreadful progress, she toiled on till the oar was torn from her powerless grasp, and hurried along with the tide. The fear of death alone had not the power to overwhelm the soul of Laura. Somewhat might yet be done perhaps to avert her fate, at least to prepare for it. Feeble as was the chance of life, it was not to be rejected. Fixing her cloak more firmly round her, Laura bound it to the slender frame of the canoe. Then commending herself to Heaven with the fervour of a last prayer, she in dread stillness awaited her doom. With terrible speed the vessel hurried on. It was whirled round by the torrent, tossed fearfully, and hurried on again. It shot over a smoothness more dreadful than the eddying whirl. It rose upon its prow. Laura clung to it in the convulsion of terror. A moment she trembled on the giddy verge. The next, all was darkness! When Laura was restored to recollection, she found herself in a plain decent apartment. Several persons of her own sex were humanely busied in attending her. Her mind retaining a confused impression of the past, she inquired where she was, and how she had been brought thither. An elderly woman, of a prepossessing appearance, answered, with almost maternal kindness, ‘that she was among friends all anxious for her safety; begged that she would try to sleep, and promised to satisfy her curiosity when she should be more able to converse. This benevolent person, whose name was Falkland, then administered a restorative to her patient, and Laura, uttering almost incoherent expressions of gratitude, composed herself to rest. Awaking refreshed and collected, she found Mrs Falkland and one of her daughters still watching by her bedside. Laura again repeated her questions, and Mrs Falkland fulfilled her promise, by relating that her husband, who was a farmer, having been employed with his two sons in a field which overlooked the river, had observed the canoe enter the rapid; that seeing it too late to prevent the accident, they had hurried down to the bed of the stream below the fall, in hopes of intercepting the boat at its reappearance; that being accustomed to float wood down the torrent, they knew precisely the spot where their assistance was most likely to prove effectual; that the canoe, though covered with foam for a moment, had instantly risen again; and that Mr Falkland and his sons had, not without danger, succeeded in drawing it to land. She then, in her turn, inquired by what accident Laura had been exposed to such a perilous adventure; expressing wonder at the direction of her voyage, since Falkland farm was the last inhabited spot in that district. Laura, mingling her natural reserve with a desire to *'.her kind hostess, answered that she had been
torn from her friends by an inhuman enemy, and that her perilous voyage was the least effect of his barbarity. “Do you know, said Mrs Falkland, somewhat mistaking her meaning, ‘that to his cruelty you partly owe your life; for had he not bound you to the canoe, you must have sunk while the boat floated on '' Laura heard with a faint smile the effect of her self-possession; but considering it as a call to pious gratitude rather than a theme of self-applause, she forbore to offer any claim to praise, and the subject was suffered to drop without further explanation. Having remained for two days with this hospitable family, Laura expressed a wish to depart. She communicated to Mr Falkland her desire of returning immediately to Europe, and begged that he would introduce her to some asylum where she might wait the departure of a vessel for Britain. She expressed her willingness to content herself with the poorest accommodation, confessing that she had not the means of purchasing any of a higher class. All the wealth, indeed, which she could command, consisted in a few guineas which she had accidentally had about her when she was taken from her home, and a ring which Mrs De Courcy had given her at parting. Her host kindly urged her to remain with them till they should ascertain that a vessel was immediately to sail, in which she might secure her passage; assuring her a week scarcely ever elapsed without some departure for her native country. Finding, however, that she was anxious to be gone, Mr Falkland himself accompanied her to Quebec. They travelled by land. The country at first bore the characters of a half-redeemed wilderness. The road wound at times through dreary woods, at others through fields where noxious variety of hue bespoke imperfect cultivation. At last it approached the great river; and Laura gazed with delight on the ever-changing, rich, and beautiful scenes which were presented to her view; scenes which she had passed unheeded when grief and fear veiled every prospect in gloom. One of the nuns in the Hotel Dieu was the sister of Mrs Falkland, and to her care Mr Falkland intended to commit his charge. But before he had been an hour in the town, he received information that a ship was weighing anchor for the Clyde, and Laura eagerly embraced the opportunity. The captain being informed by Mr Falkland that she could not advance the price of her passage, at first hesitated to receive her; but when, with the irresistible candour and majesty that shone in all her looks and words, she assured him of his reward, when she spoke to him in the accents of his native land, the Scotsman's heart melted; and having satisfied himself that she was a Highlander, he closed the bargain by swearing that he was sure he might trust her. With tears in her eyes Laura took leave of her benevolent host; yet her heart bounded with joy as she saw the vessel cleaving the tide, and each object in the dreaded land of exile swiftly retiring from her view. In a few days that dreaded land disappeared. In a few more the mountains of Cape Breton sank behind the wave. The brisk gales of autumn wafted the vessel cheerfully on her way; and often did Laura compute her progress. In a clear frosty morning towards the end of September she heard once more the cry of “Land!' now music to her ear. Now with a beating breast she ran to gaze upon a ridge of mountains indenting the disk of the rising sun; but the tears of rapture dimmed her eyes when every voice at once shouted ‘Scotland!’ All day Laura remained on deck, oft measuring with the light splinter the vessel's course through the deep. The winds favoured not her impatience. Towards evening they died away, and scarcely did the vessel steal along the liquid mirror. Another and another morning came, and Laura's ear was blessed with the first sounds of her native land. The tolling of a bell was borne along the water, now swelling loud, and now
falling softly away. The humble village church was seen on the shore; and Laura could distinguish the gay colouring of her countrywomen's Sunday attire; the scarlet plaid, transmitted from generation to generation, pinned decently over the plain clean coif; the bright blue gown, the trophy of more recent housewifery. To her every form in the well-known garb seemed the form of a friend. The blue mountains in the distance, the scattered woods, the fields yellow with the harvest, the river sparkling in the sun, seemed, to the wanderer returning from the land of strangers, fairer than the gardens of Paradise. Land of my affections!—when ‘I forget thee, may my right hand forget her cunning !’ Blessed be thou among nations ! Long may thy wanderers return to thee rejoicing, and their hearts throb with honest pride when they own themselves thy children :
ELIZABETH HAMILTON, an amiable and accomplished miscellaneous writer, was authoress of one excellent little novel, or moral tale, The Cottagers of Glenburnie, which has probably been as effective in promoting domestic improvement among the rural population of Scotland as Johnson's Journey to the Hebrides was in encouraging the planting of trees by the landed proprietors. In both cases there was some exaggeration of colouring, but the pictures were too provokingly true and sarcastic to be laughed away or denied. They constituted a national reproach, and the only way to wipe it off was by timely reformation. There is still much to accomplish, but a marked improvement in the dwellings and internal economy of Scottish farmhouses and villages may be dated from the publication of the Cottagers of Glenburnie. Elizabeth Hamilton was born in Belfast in the year 1758. Her father was a merchant, of a Scottish family, and died early, leaving a widow and three children. The latter were educated and brought up by relatives in better circumstances, Elizabeth, the £ being sent to Mr Marshall, a farmer in tirlingshire, married to her father's sister. Her brother obtained a cadetship in the East India Company's service, and an elder sister was retained in Ireland. A feeling of strong affection seems to have existed among these scattered members of the unfortunate family. Elizabeth found in Mr and Mrs Marshall all that could have been desired. She was adopted and educated with a care and tenderness that has seldom been equalled. “No child, she says, “ever spent so happy a life, nor have I ever met with anything at all resembling our way of living, except the description given by Rousseau of Wolmar's farm and vintage. A taste for literature soon appeared in Elizabeth Hamilton. Wallace was the first hero of her studies; but meeting with Ogilvie's translation of the Iliad, she idolised Achilles, and dreamed of Hector. She had opportunities of visiting Edinburgh and Glasgow, after which she carried on a learned correspondence with Dr Moyse, a philosophical lecturer. She wrote also many copies of verses—that ordinary outlet for the warm feelings and romantic sensibilities of youth. Her first appearance in print was accidental. Having accompanied a pleasure-party to the Highlands, she kept a journal for the gratification of her aunt, and the good woman shewing it to one of her neighbours, it was sent to a provincial magazine. Her retirement in Stirlingshire was, in 1773, gladdened by a visit from her brother, then about to sail for India. Mr Hamilton seems to have been an excellent and able young man, and
his subsequent letters and conversations on Indian affairs stored the mind of his sister with the materials for her Hindoo Rajah, a work equally remarkable for good sense and sprightliness. Mr Hamilton was cut off by a premature death in 1792. Shortly after this period commenced the literary life of Elizabeth Hamilton, and her first work was that to which we have alluded, connected with the memory of her lamented brother, The Letters of a Hindoo Rajah, in two volumes, published in 1796. The success of the work stimulated her exertions. In 1800 she published The Modern Philosophers, in three volumes; and between that period and 1806, she gave to the world Letters on Education, Memoirs of Agrippina, and Letters to the Daughters of a Nobleman. In 1808, appeared her most popular, original, and useful work, The Cottagers of Glenburnie; and she subsequently published Popular Essays on the Human Mind, and Hints to the Directors of Public Schools. For many years Mrs Hamilton had fixed her residence in Edinburgh. She was enfeebled by ill health, but her cheerfulness and activity of mind continued unabated, and her society was courted by the most intellectual and influential of her fellowcitizens. The benevolence and correct judgment which animated her writings pervaded her conduct. Having gone to Harrowgate for the benefit of her health, Mrs Hamilton died at that place on the 23d of July 1816, aged sixty-eight.
The Cottagers of Glenburnie is in reality a tale of cottage-life. The scene is laid in a poor scattered Scottish hamlet, and the heroine is a retired English governess, middle-aged and lame, with £30 a year ! This person, Mrs Mason, after being long in a noble family, is reduced from a state of ease and luxury into one of comparative indigence, and having learned that her cousin, her only surviving relative, was married to one of the small farmers in Glenburnie, she agreed to fix her residence in her house as a lodger. On her way she called at Gowan-brae, the house of the factor or land-steward on the estate, to whom she had previously been known, and we have a graphic account of the family of this gentleman, one of whose daughters figures conspicuously in the after-part of the tale. Mr Stewart, the factor, his youngest daughter, and boys, accompany Mrs Mason to Glenburnie.
[Picture of Glenburnie and Scottish Rural Life in the Last Century.]
They had not proceeded many paces until they were struck with admiration at the uncommon wildness of the scene which now opened to their view. The rocks which seemed to guard the entrance of the glen were abrupt and savage, and approached so near each other, that one could suppose them to have been riven asunder to give a passage to the clear stream which flowed between them. As they advanced, the hills receded on either side, making room for meadows and cornfields, through which the rapid burn pursued its way in many a fantastic maze.
The road, which winded along the foot of the hills, on the north side of the glen, owed as little to art as any country road in the kingdom. It was very narrow, and much encumbered by loose stones, brought down from the hills above by the winter torrents.
Mrs Mason and Mary were so enchanted by the change of scenery which was incessantly unfolding to their view, that they made no complaints of the slowness of their progress, nor did they much regret being obliged to stop a few minutes at a time, where they found so much to amuse and to delight them. But Mr Stewart had no patience at meeting with obstructions, which,' a
little pains, could have been so easily obviated; and as he walked by the side of the car, expatiated upon the indolence of the people of the glen, who, though they had no other road to the market, could contentedly go on from year to year without making an effort to repair it. ‘How little trouble would it cost, said he, “to throw the smaller of these loose stones into these holes and ruts, and to remove the larger ones to the side, where they would form a fence between the road and the hill ! There are enough of idle boys in the glen to effect all this, by working at it for one hour a week during the summer. But then their fathers must unite in setting them to work; and there is not one in the glen who would not sooner have his horses lamed, and his carts torn to pieces, than have his son employed in a work that would benefit his neighbours as much as himself.’ As he was speaking, they passed the door of one of these small farmers; and immediately turning a sharp corner, began to descend a steep, which appeared so unsafe that Mr Stewart made his boys alight, which they could do without inconvenience, and going to the head of the horse, took his guidance upon himself. At the foot of this short precipice the road again made a sudden turn, and discovered to them a misfortune which threatened to put a stop to their proceeding any further for the present evening. It was no other than the overturn of a cart of hay, occasioned by the breaking down of the bridge, along which it had been passing. Happily for the poor horse that drew this ill-fated load, the harness by which he was attached to it was of so frail a nature as to make little resistance; so that he and his rider escaped unhurt from the fall, notwithstanding its being one of considerable depth. At first, indeed, neither boy nor horse was seen; but as Mr Stewart advanced to examine, whether by removing the hay, which partly covered the bridge and partly hung suspended on the bushes, the road might still be passable, he heard a child's voice in the hollow exclaiming: “Come on, ye muckle brute! ye had as weel come on I’ll gar ye! I'll gar ye! That’s a gude beast now ; come awa’ | That’s it! Ay, ye’re a gude beast now !’ As the last words were uttered, a little fellow of about ten years of age was seen issuing from the hollow, and pulling after him, with all his might, a great longbacked clumsy animal of the horse species, though apparently of a very mulish temper. ‘You have met with a sad accident,” said Mr Stewart; “how did all this happen?’ ‘You may see how it happened plain eneugh, returned the boy; ‘the brig brak, and the cart couppet. “And did you and the horse coup likewise?” said Mr Stewart. “O ay, we a! couppet thegither, for I was ridin' on his back. “And where is your father, and all the rest of the folk?” “Whaur sud they be but in the hay-field? Dinna ye ken that we’re takin' in our hay? John Tamson's and Jamie Forster's was in a week syne, but we’re aye ahint the lave.’ All the party were greatly amused by the composure which the young peasant evinced under his misfortune, as well as by the shrewdness of his answers; and having learned from him that the hay-field was at no great distance, gave him some halfpence to hasten his speed, and promised to take care of his horse till he should return with assistance. He soon appeared, followed by his father and two other men, who came on stepping at their usual pace. “Why, farmer, said Mr Stewart, ‘you have trusted rather too long to this rotten plank, I think’ (pointing to where it had given way); ‘if you remember the last time I passed this road, which was several months since, I then told you that the bridge was in danger, and shewed you how easily it might be repaired?” “It is a true, said the farmer, moving his bonnet; “but .." it would do weel eneugh. I spoke to
Jamie Forster and John Tamson about it; but they said they wadna fash themselves to mend a brig that was to serve a the folk in the glen.’ “But you must now mend it for your own sake, said Mr Stewart, “even though a the folk in the glen should be the better for it.’ ‘Ay, sir, said one of the men, “that’s spoken like yoursel' I would everybody follow your example, there would be nothing in the world but peace and good neighbourhood. Only tell us what we are to do, and I’ll work at your bidding till it be pit-mirk.’ ‘Well, said Mr Stewart, ‘bring down the planks that I saw lying in the barn-yard, and which, though you have been obliged to step over them every day since the stack they propped was taken in, have never been lifted. You know what I mean?” “O yes, sir, said the farmer grinning, ‘we ken what ye mean weel eneugh : and indeed I may ken, for I have fallen thrice owre them since they lay there, and often said they sud be set by, but we cou’dna be fashed.’ While the farmer, with one of the men, went up, taking the horse with them, for the planks in question, all that remained set to work, under Mr Stewart's direction, to remove the hay, and clear away the rubbish; Mrs Mason and Mary being the only idle spectators of the scene. In little more than half an hour the planks were laid, and covered with sod cut from the bank, and the bridge now only wanted a little gravel to make it as good as new. This addition, however, was not essential towards rendering it passable for the car, which was conveyed over it in safety; but Mr Stewart, foreseeing the consequences of its remaining in this unfinished state, urged the farmer to complete the job on the present evening, and at the same time promised to reimburse him for the expense. The only answer he could obtain was, ‘Ay, ay, we'll do.’t in time; but I'se warrant it’ll do weel eneugh.” Our party then drove off, and at every turning of the road expressed fresh admiration at the increasing beauty of the scene. Towards the top of the glen the hills seemed to meet, the rocks became more frequent and more prominent, sometimes standing naked and exposed, and sometimes peeping over the tops of the rowan-tree and weeping-birch, which grew in great abundance on all the steepy banks. At length the village appeared in view. It consisted of about twenty or thirty thatched cottages, which, but for their chimneys, and the smoke that issued from them, might have passed for so many stables or hogsties, so little had they to distinguish them as the abodes of man. That one horse, at least, was the inhabitant of every dwelling, there was no room to doubt, as every door could not only boast its dunghill, but had a small cart stuck up on end, directly before it; which cart, though often broken, and always dirty, seemed ostentatiously displayed as a proof of wealth.
The interior arrangements and accommodation of the cottage visited by Mrs Mason are dirty and uncomfortable. The farmer is a good easy man, but his wife is obstinate and prejudiced, and the children self-willed and rebellious. Mrs Mason finds the family quite incorrigible, but she effects a wonderful change among their neighbours. She gets a school established on her own plan, and boys and girls exert themselves to effect a reformation in the cottages of their parents. The most sturdy sticklers for the gude auld gaits are at length convinced of the superiority of the new system, and the village undergoes a complete transformation. In the management of these humble scenes, and the gradual display of character among the people, Mrs Hamilton evinces her knowledge of human nature, and her fine tact and discrimination as a novelist.