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Egyptian Archer, or the statue of the Delphian Archer-god,
“Who trod the impalpable and burning sky," lightnings in his eye,
“ And in his nostril beautiful disdain," will readily grant the term sublimity. But let not my fair friends think the exercise is therefore all too bold for them ; for, as I said before, it is also exquisitely graceful; and a beautiful lady clad in green, tossing back her ringlets as she steps forward to let loose her shaft, and then slightly bent forward in radiant expectation, or perhaps shading her brow with her hand the better to watch the flight of her arrow, is beautiful indeed. Such is archery in itself. And then it is associated to us with the picturesque days of the olden time, Robin Hood and the
greenwood tree, and Chevy Chace, when Percy rued his vow
“ His pleasure in the Scottish woods
Three summer days to take.” So, belt thee, Beauty, and join us. Of course, the Blind Archer Boy will come with thee, and “ spare no arrows. Let our young members look to it, who take from thee the perfume of “ Cytherea's breath.” For myself, a poor old a slippered pantaloon," I must be content, in a colder vein, to see thee
“Such as Diana by the sandy shore
Of swift Eurotas, or on Cynthus green." Amen-since it may not be otherwise now!
After tea, I again betake myself to my Library, where the London papers are handed in to me.
I confess myself one of those who read them from beginning to end, finding the character of John Bull in every thing—even in the advertisements, and lists of latest patents. Soho! what have we here? Wo! wo! the Last of the Milkmaids.
" Will ye gang to the ewe-bughts, Marion ?"-Burns.
“And the milkmaid singeth blithe."-Milton. “I've heard the lilting at our ewes' milking.”-Flowers of the Forest. All very pretty and sweet in its day—or rather its gloaming—this lilting and singing by bught and loaning, but The Fairy
its end draws nigh. First went the age of Chivalry, yet leaving Burke (which was something) to pronounce its funeral oration. The age of the Picturesque is following fast. Parnassus has been taken by a Joint-Stock Company of Graziers, to feed goats and asses. Queen is dead; shrouded in a yard of cotton stuff made by the spinning-jenny, and by that other piece of new improved machinery, the souls and bodies of British children, for which DEATH alone holds the patent; and buried under an iron safe to save her sweet body from the scientific surgeons.
The Utilitarians have carried the day, and their
draws on to its prime. The very milkmaids are doomed: Their “occupation's gone”: Their song must give place to a screw : They perish by a piece of machinery : To the “ Last of the Goths,” the “ Last of the Mohicans, the “ Last Man," and the “ Last Rose of Summer,” we must now add the “ Last of the Milkmaids”—though she too is the “ Last Rose of Summer”—and not a poet
is left in this prosaic age to dirge her departure. Lasses on a thousand hills, sorry am I to submit to you the following odious announcement from a late list of English patents :
“ William Blurton of Field Hall, Stafford, gentleman, for an improved method of, and apparatus for, extracting milk from cows and other ani
Shade of Theocritus, only think of this ! The
rosy fingers of Cicely Sweetheart superseded by an apparatus ! An apparatus, too, not for milking, but for "
extracting milk !" What a phrase! What a harsh unspontaneous phrase! From cows and “other animals !” Tigresses, I presume, not excepted; as doubtless Mr Blurton must have drawn and drunk the hot milk of the tigress, ere he could find in his heart to make war on the Queen of Curds and Cream. He “gentleman,” and yet seek to curtail the glories of Dorothy Draggletail! The“ milk of human kindness” cannot be in his composition : Hard must his heart be as an old Dutch cheese. No more in the dim gloaming of the fresh summer-tide, shall the village lads leave their quoits and putting-stone on the dewy green,
and sneakingly draw to the stile beyond which is the “smell of dairy,” and the streaming sound of the milking pail, and the rough cropping tongues of the feeding kine that on the “ knot-grass dew-besprent"
“ Their audible supper take." No more shall Cupid clap his little wings as he hops from horn to horn of the patient cow, from beyond whose strutted udder looks the laughing face of Peggy, blown and blooming like a peony-rose, as she shoots a glance and a word at Patie, that make his ears tingle, and almost knock him from the stile where half blate, half forward, he waits to hand over the heavy pail, and—something better. Off
the Boy-god at the sound of the screws of Mr Blurton's apparatus, and takes refuge in the barley
But how in all the world is this apparatus to be fixed and applied ? I presume the smith of the village is to be Milker-General of the parish kine.
But a truce to this trifling. Mr Blurton may burn his machinery. Does he really think that his scheme will go down the throat of the public, like curds and cream in their season? We shall have a rebellion of the milkmaids ere his plan be allowed to put living fingers to flight, and Deborah Draw-nipple be brought to a discount.
We have no doubt the Staffordshire lasses have already hoisted the churn-staff, and wo to Mr Blurton! As in the battles of Ossian, the ghosts of a thousand Strephons, led on by the Gentle Shepherd, shall swell the fray against him; and once more the “bouncing Amazons” shall be victorious. Well for Mr Blurton that the Bull of Phalaris roars only in the Mythology. But they will drown him in goatwhey, or squeeze him to death in a cheese-press.
One of my latest evening recreations, is to hear sister Mary sing one or two of our old Scottish songs. Her voice is somewhat cracked and shrill ; but her heart is in the thing, and that's enough for me. How perfectly the same in their character are the precious old ballads of Scotland, and her old national airs. Could any man give us the literary history of those ballads, what a curious
revelation it would be. Many, or most of them, I doubt not, might be traced to men who were no poets at all in the ordinary sense of the term ; but who, overburdened with some weight of feeling, could contain themselves no longer, and found a vent for their hearts in some rude but passionate rhyme, every phrase of which became “a motto of the heart” to a whole community of equal sympathies, and so was not likely to perish. The varied fortunes of the Scottish people ; their clanship and Border wars ; their deep religious feeling ; their pastoral simplicities ; their singular Fairy mythology; and, in later times, their loyal but unfortunate devotion to the House of Stewart, with all its issues of heroic pity for the Chevalier, and gloomy indignation against the House of Hanover,-in all these we have the surest natural elements of a remarkable body of national song. To the same strongly impulsive origin may easily be referred our old Scottish music, with its deep and ineffaceable stamps of peculiarity. The only wonder in this case is, who had the art to embody the national feeling in a composition so difficult as that of music. To Rizzio have been ascribed many of our ancient melodies ; but very foolishly, I think : For what sympathy could a soft refined Italian have with the spirit of old Scotland, rude in all things-her pastoral life, her indignation, her triumph, her dirge ?
I could sooner believe that such melodies were never composed at all, but were breathed forth from the unseen Genius of the Land, by moor, or glen, or stormy cairn, and caught by the ear and heart of half-dreaming inspired shepherd, and fixed in his soul for ever, thence again to be given out as a legacy to fire or soften his countrymen throughout all the generations of the future, never forgetful of the “ Auld Scottish Glory.” Whatever may be the origin of our Scottish music, its rare value is now universally admitted ; and it will remain throughout all time as a body of melody more distinctly expressive of the varied genius of the people among whom it sprung, or, in other words, more intensely national, than any other body of music to which human hearts have listened.
After our simple family devotions are over, I usually
saunter forth to see the night. How still the stillness of the midsummer evening! The villagers are all a-bed. The last tremblings of the curlew's wild bravura have just died away over the distant fells into the dim and silent night. Nothing is now heard but the momentary hum of the beetle wheeling past, and, softened in the distance, the craik of the rail from the thick dewy clover of the darkening valley. The bat is also abroad, and the heavy moths, and the owl musing over the corn fields ; but, instead of breaking, they only solemnize the stillness. The antique houses of the hamlet stand as in a dream, and the trees gathered round the embowered church as in a swooning
In such a night and in such an hour, the church bell, untouched of mortal hands, has been heard to toll drowsily. I feel a softening and sinking of the spirit; and hear the beating of my heart as if I were afraid of something, I know not what, just about to come out of the yawning stillness. Hurriedly I glide into the house, and bolt the door. And, when I lie down and compose myself on my bed, the fears of death creep over me.
A VILLAGE TRAGEDY.
A YOUNG man of the name of Edgar, the son of a farmer, not far from our Village, betrayed to shame a girl of the name of Agnes Redford, the daughter of a neighbouring farmer. He would have married the injured maiden; but in this he was determinedly opposed by her relatives, and especially by her only brother, betwixt whom and Edgar an inveterate hostility had, from various causes, been growing up since their earliest boyhood. Upon this Edgar left his home, and went abroad. After remaining some years in foreign parts, he returned to Scotland, and proposed staying in Edinburgh a week or two before going to his native county. While there, he went one evening to the house of a young man, originally from the same district with himself. Scarcely had he taken his seat in his