Obrazy na stronie

independent fortune. He succeeded to considerable plantations in the West Indies, besides a large sum of money; and in order to ascertain personally the condition of the slaves on his estate, he sailed for the West Indies in 1815. Of this voyage he wrote a narrative, and kept journals, forming the most interesting and valuable production of his pen. The manner in which the negroes received him on his arrival amongst them he thus describes:— “As soon as the carriage entered my gates, the uproar and confusion which ensued sets all description at defiance. The works were instantly all abandoned; everything that had life came flocking to the house from all quarters; and not only the men, and the women, and the children, but, “by a bland assimilation,” the hogs, and the dogs, and the geese, and the fowls, and the turkeys, all came hurrying along by instinct, to see what could possibly be the matter, and seemed to be afraid of arriving too late. Whether the pleasure of the negroes was sincere, may be doubted; but, certainly, it was the loudest that I ever witnessed: they all talked together, sang, danced, shouted, and, in the violence of their gesticulations, tumbled over each other, and rolled about upon the ground. Twenty voices at once inquired after uncles, and aunts, and grandfathers, and great-grandmothers of mine, who had been buried long before I was in existence, and whom, I verily believe, most of them only knew by tradition. One woman held up her little naked black child to me, grinning from ear to ear—“Look, massa, look here ! him nice lilly neger for massa " Another complained—“So long since none come see 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. To be sure, I never saw people look more happy in my life, and I believe their condition to be much more comfortable than that of the labourers of Great Britain; and,

after all, slavery in their case is but another name

for servitude, now that no more negroes can be forcibly carried away from Africa, and subjected to the horrors of the voyage, and of the seasoning after their arrival. But still I had already experienced, in the morning, that Juliet was wrong in saying “What's in a name?” for, soon after my reaching the lodging-house at Savannah la Mar, a remarkably clean-looking negro lad presented himself with some water and a towel. I concluded him to belong to the inn; and on my returning the towel, as he found that I took no notice of him, he at length ventured to introduce himself, by saying, “Massa not know me—me your slave!” and really the sound made me feel a pang at the heart. The lad appeared all gaiety and good humour, and his whole countenance expressed anxiety to recommend himself to my notice; but the word “slave” seemed to imply that, although he did feel pleasure then in serving me, if he had detested me he must have served me still. I really felt quite humiliated at the moment, and was tempted to tell him—“Do not say that again;

say that you are my negro, but do not call yourself my slave.” 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. His poetical merits are thus fairly summed up : “Pretty conceits airily tricked out in what are called songs; in his more elaborate efforts melodious, skilfullyvaried versification, and here and there a line of such happy ease in construction, that it is sure to

linger on the ear; but a slender command either of

imagery or of passion. As a poet, Lewis is to a Byron what a scene-painter is to a Hobbima. He produces a startling grotesque of outline, and some grand massy contrasts of light and shade; but he has no notion of working in detail—no atmosphere, no middle tints to satisfy a daylight spectator. subject of the Isle of Devils (a poem of more than a thousand lines, which Lewis wrote in the course of his homeward voyage in 1816) would, in Lord Byron's hands, have at least rivalled the effect of Manfred; from Lewis it comes only in the shape of a sketchy extravaganza, in which no feeling is seriously grappled with, and a score of magnificent situations are, to all intents and purposes, except that of filling the ear with a succession of delicious sounds, thrown away. The truth is, that though Sir Walter Scott talks of the “high imagination” of Lewis, it was only in his very first flights that he ever was able to maintain a really enthusiastic elevation; and he did so more successfully in the prose of the ‘Monk' than in the best of his early verses. Had he lived, in all likelihood he would have turned in earnest to prose composition; and we think no reader of his West India Journals can doubt that, if he had undertaken a novel of manners in mature age, he would have cast immeasurably into the shade even the happiest efforts of his boyish romance.’”

Durandarte and Belerma.

Sad and fearful is the story
Of the Roncevalles fight:
On those fatal plains of glory
Perished many a gallant knight.

There fell Durandarte; never
Verse a nobler chieftain named ;
He, before his lips for ever
Closed in silence, thus exclaimed:

‘Oh, Belermal oh, my dear one,
For my pain and pleasure born;
Seven long years I served thee, fair one,
Seven long years my fee was scorn.

And when now thy heart, replying
To my wishes, burns like mine,
Cruel fate, my bliss denying,
Bids me every hope resign.

Ah! though young I fall, believe me,
Death would never claim a sigh;
'Tis to lose thee, ’tis to leave thee,
Makes me think it hard to die!

* Quarterly Review for 1834.


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“And, oh!" said the youth, “since to-morrow I go To fight in a far distant land,

Your tears for my absence soon ceasing to flow,

Some other will court you, and you will bestow On a wealthier suitor your hand I’

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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 germinating. Previous to this he had indeed tried his hand at verse. The following, among other lines, were discovered wrapped up in a cover inscribed by Dr Adam of the High School, “Walter Scott, July 1783.”

On the Setting Sun.

Those evening clouds, that setting ray,
And beauteous tints, serve to display
Their great Creator's praise;
Then let the short-lived thing called man,
Whose life's comprised within a span,
To him his homage raise.
We often praise the evening clouds,
And tints so gay and bold,
But seldom think upon our God,
Who tinged these clouds with gold.

The religious education of Scott may be seen in this effusion: his father was a rigid Presbyterian. 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 uow vigorous and robust, and he made frequent excursions into the country, which he pleasantly denominated 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, in which he held the rank of quarter-master. His exercises as a cavalry officer, and the jovialties of the messroom, 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 dissipation. Henry Mackenzie, the ‘Man of Feeling, had introduced a taste for German literature into the intellec

tual classes of his native city, and Scott was one of its most eager and ardent votaries. In 1796 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 henceforward 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 Liddisdale, 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

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printer in Edinburgh. The copartnery was kept a secret, and few things in business that require secrecy are prosperous or beneficial. The establishment, upon which was afterwards engrafted 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 powerful 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 addition 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, £10,000; 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 4:20,000 was spent. In his baronial residence the poet received innumerable visitors—princes, 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 conferred 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 ac

cumulating, 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 intellectuallabours alone, a debt of £117,000. | Both tasks may be classed with the moral sublime of life. Glory, pure and unsullied, was the ruling aim and motive of Milton; honour and integrity formed the incentives to Scott. Neither shrunk from the steady prosecution of his gigantic self-im

posed 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 laboured at unfinished romances, but his mind was in ruins. From Naples the poet went to Rome. On the 11th of May he began his return homewards, and reached London on the 13th of June. Another attack of apoplexy, combined with paralysis, had laid prostrate his powers, and he was conveyed to 380

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