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and assistance, a relative, high in influence at Court, was made to interest himself in the fortunes of young Ernly, and he got him a good appointment in the army abroad. Philip took it gladly, for he saw that, in the dilapidated state of the family affairs, he could not marry till he had done something for himself. His mother hoped that distance and absence would wean his heart from the
poor proscribed Covenanter, Mary Hume. He himself vowed to the maiden that this should never be so: And she believed him : And he was worthy of her trust.
After two years' service abroad, the young soldier got leave of absence to see his mother. Ralph Boyd heard that he was coming; and as he knew that Philip had remained faithful to his love, he feared the marriage might take place immediately. This, for his own selfish ends, Boyd was determined if possible to prevent. Nay, could he but thwart Ernly in this his first but deep and entire devotion of the heart, the chances were that Philip would never love or marry another woman. Full of this calculation, Boyd secretly prevailed on a savage Captain who was stationed in the district for the purpose of keeping down the non-conformists, to seize Mary Hume at once, and have her summarily executed as a recusant Covenanter. “ Let this bold stroke be struck," said the treacherous kinsman Boyd to himself, “and Philip Ernly will plunge into some deed of despair, and die ; and I am Lord of Ernly. The stroke must be struck ere he reach Scotland.”
Thick and sultry was the autumn day when Philip Ernly drew near his father's towers. As he approached the narrow frith that ran up into the woods of his native valley, he saw knots of people and stragglers, with pale and eager faces, and faltering steps, running towards a point on one of its high banks. He made for the same point, and learning from one of the country people what was going on down on the sea-sands below, he sprung like a wild deer into and over the woody face of the bank, tearing his way down through the thick hard-grown stunted copsewood, which the switching salt sea-winds
had shaven up trim and close as with a hedger's bill-hook. He was now on the shingle below. Before him on the sandy beach was a party of dragoons drawn up, facing the tide that was fast flowing in. In that tide was a tall stake, and to that stake was bound a fair
young creature : She, Ernly already knew, was his own Mary Hume. The waters were coming up to her neck; her beautiful hair floated dishevelled on the rising swell; but with a sweet clear voice she was singing the psalm,
“Lord, from the depths to thee I cried ;" and a lustre from Heaven shone down upon her. In another minute's space young Ernly had rushed past the soldiers, had dashed into the frith, and had reached the virgin.
“ I'm here, Mary!” he exclaimed.
With frantic vehemence he tore at the stake, but could not move it. He tore at the cords that bound her, but could not loose them. The water was now up to her lips.
“One kiss, then, holy virgin !” he said, and kissed her accordingly.
“And now before God, and those earthly witnesses, I take you for my
wife.” And the youth held up his hands over her in attestation, vow, and
prayer. “My husband, my Philip !" ejaculated the drowning bride, “ make for the other side, for they will do thee harm. Weep not for me. Christ
with thee !" The clouds were now thick and black above; a moaning, whirling wind came out of them; the billows began to rise on the darkened water with white curly manes ; and in another minute they were foaming away over that beautiful
Christian head. A terrible look did Philip Ernly cast out upon that soldiery. They were now galloping and reeling madly about on the sands, for many of them had been made drunk for the merciless occasion. Their sabres glimmered, and their carbines glinted ominously below the cloud. Groans, and cries, and loud lamentations rose from the woody bank behind them ; from the rocky shore on the of a lady was seen there at midnight: So they said. Haunted, indeed, the Mount was: It was mother-haunted. One Sabbath morning the Widow of Ernly was found kneeling on the top of it, her hands clasped together, and her face laid upon that central Table of stone, above her son's dust. She was dead. She had died in the act
“ You can guess now, 0! Sister Shade,” added the Appearance of Burns, “ that the ghosts we saw here, as they parted, were Philip Ernly and his mother, and Mary Hume and her father. But ha! I smell the breath of morning. Away! away! We shall meet here again."
The two Martyrs, with their Sister Spirit, linked hand in hand, glided away on noiseless feet towards Irongray church-yard. The Ghost of the Bard sprung aloft in another direction ; wings of majesty flew out from his shoulders as he went onwards; his form waxed gradually clearer and brighter, till at last he became red as the meteor that ploughs the dark ether of the autumnal night. He closed his wings and descended upon
Dumfries. I felt my eyes dazzled and aching from gazing after the Poet's burning flight; whereupon I awoke, and found I had fallen asleep by the evening fire in my snug little Library. I had turned my face to my lamp; and it was this, and not the fiery flight of the Bard, that had awaked
The peculiar style of my dream may have been prompted by certain old traditionary things I had seen and heard in Galloway, where I had lately been on a visit. But I could not help smiling at the incongruities of my visionary interlocutors.
In these late years we certainly have not had the right proportion of those soft-dropping days which marked the Mays of my boyhood-so green, so balmy fresh. The
ever, in his
May of this year has been as dry and dusty as an antiquary ; the crimped and downy leaf of the budding beech scarcely ventured from its brown scaly shell ; while the ash, always a slow but manly fellow-most gracefully beautiful, howseason-stood as
and sullen as a six weeks' frost. June is now the May of our year; or rather she is
April and May and June commingled into one :"
is she, so tender; and yet so lush and leafy. A few days ago the Sun drove back the frosty clouds,
" And turned his face to the dew-dropping south."
All at once the pith of the year burst out; pleasant to the eye swayed the long heavy saplings; the cows, with their silky spotted sides as sleek as butter, waded ankle-deep in the flowery grass ; frogs jumped about ; and black snails had their evening walks.
Who does not remember the caustic denouncement by Sterne of the cant of criticism? Were it merely as a symptom of affectation in the individual who uses it, most richly would it still deserve the scorn of Shandy ; but when we see it blighting and blasting Literature and the Fine Arts, as it has so often done, it deserves still less to be spared. The cant of criticism has been especially pernicious in the fine department of painting. Nothing but the “ Old Masters” will go down with a certain set of monomaniacs, who would give any sum for a piece of spurious canvass, palmed off upon their ignorance on the banks of the Tiber or the Arno, while they would turn up their noses at a piece of genuine inspiration on the banks of the Thames or the Tweed. This mania, then, has fulfilled the double office of evil, by leading to the admiration of much trash, merely because it was foreign and passed for old, and by leading to an equal undervaluing of what was good, merely because it was new and of home production—thereby leading to a great discouragement of our native painters. From this cause, and from other circumstances, rene and silent Art" has of late been too much neglected in this country; and though Wilkie, and Allan, and Thomson have produced things that will live for ever in their immortal beauty, they have hardly yet convinced the country of the possibility and the policy of reviving the genius of the “ Old Masters” in her own gifted sons, simply by yielding them a due share of her praise and her patronage. Two or three years ago, this beautiful Art in Scotland seemed near its extinction. Not that we had not a few worthies whose fame was imperishable, and a few devoted young men whom no neglect could keep down ; but, upon the whole, so cold was the cloud of neglect under which the Art was kept, that gradually every star of enthusiasm must have gone out alone, without lending from its golden urn new light to new luminaries. It was pitiful to see so many fine ardent young men haunting all the summer the regions of Beauty, by hill, and sliding stream, and ancient wood, and “ chasms and watery depths," and grey eldritch ruins nodding to the moon; and presenting next spring on the walls of the Scottish Academy their composite dreams of loveliness to a country which carelessly admired, and bought nothing at all. Now, however, our Associations for the Encouragement of Painting are changing the state of matters altogether. Our young artists are stimulated to unusual exertions by the proud consciousness that their meritorious labours can no longer be overlooked or unrewarded; while the circumstance, that many pictures are yearly finding their way into every province of the country, is tending still more widely to diffuse a love of this divine Art, and is thus more than renewing the patronage by which our own native Muse of Painting shall for ever be upheld. Full of the buoyant confidence drawn from this new order of things, I have been happy to meet this summer, in our valley, many a young artist in quest of the Beautiful ; and being something of a sketcher mysuch meeting has been very
56 the se
mind. My lines have fallen to me in pleasant places.” Sweet are our shy sequestered nooks of rural beauty. Nothing have we here of the portraiture of Nature in her savage and tempest-hurried aspects ; nothing of that extent of landscape which, in its far reaches of serene diffusion, fills