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necessary to render them intelligible, and to enable the reader to appreciate their merit: some passages may
stand by themselves as separate pictures, which require little or no illustration from surrounding objects. Such is the case with the following humorous account of an old penurious Scotch Laird's table and family party dinner about the year
“The Laird of Milnwood kept up all old fashions which were connected with economy. It was, therefore, still the custom of his house, as it had been universal in Scotland about fifty years before, that the domestics, after having placed the dinner on the table, sate down at the lower end of the board, and partook of the share which was assigned to them, in company with their masters. Upon the day, therefore, after Cuddie's arrival, being the third from the opening of this narrative, old Robin, who was butler, valet-de chambre, footman, gardener, and what not, in the house of Milnwood, placed on the table an immense charger of broth, thickened with oatmeal and colewort, in which ocean of liquid was indistinctly discovered, by close observers, two or three short ribs of lean mutton sailing to and fro. Two huge baskets, one of bread made of barley and pease, and one of oat-cakes, flanked this standing dish. A large boiled salmon would now-a-days have indicated more liberal housekeeping; but at that period it was caught in such plenty in the considerable rivers in Scotland, that it was generally applied to feed the servants, who are said sometimes to have stipulated that they should not be required to eat a food so luscious and surfeiting in its quality above five times a week. The large black jack, filled with very small beer of Milnwood's own brewing, was indulged to the servants at discretion, as were the bannocks, cakes, and broth: but the mutton was reserved for the heads of the family, Mrs. Wilsun included; and a measure of ale, somewhat deserving the name, was set apart in a silver tankard for their exclusive use. A huge kebbock (a cheese that is made with ewe milk mixed with cow's milk) and a jar of salt butter, were in common to the company.
“ To enjoy this exquisite cheer, was placed at the head of the table the old laird himself, with his nephew on the one side, and the favourite housekeeper on the other. At a long interval, and beneath the salt of course, sate old Robin, a meagre, half-starved serve ing-man, rendered cross and cripple by the rheumatism, and a dirty drab of a louse-maid, whom use had rendered callous to the daily exercitations which her temper underwent at the hands of her master and Mrs. Wilson ; a barn-man, a white-beaded cow-heard boy, and Cuddie, the new ploughman and his mother, completed the party.-The other labourers belonging to the property resided in their own houses, happy at least in this, that if their cheer was not more delicate than that which we have described, they could at least eat their fill, unwatched by the sharp, envious, grey eyes of Milnwood, which seemed to measure the quantity that each of the dependants swal. lowed, as closely as if their glances attended each mouthful in its progress from the lips to the stomach. This close inspection was unfavourable to Cuddie, who was much prejudiced in his new mas, ter's opinion, by the silent celerity with which he caused the victuals to disappear before him. And ever and anon Milnwood turned his eyes from the hoge feeder to cast indignant glances upon his nephew, whose repugnance to rustic labour was the principal cause of his needing a ploughman, and who had been the direct means of his hiring this very cormorant."--(p. 169--172. vol. ii.)
Henry Morton, the hero, joined the Calvinistical covenanters, and one defect, and no inconsiderable defect of this story is, that he is made, almost without motive, to desert the side on which his love, his relatives, and bis interest all lay : this inconsistency might have been remedied, had the author described him with a little more enthusiasm than he appears to have possessed, more justifiable hatred of the tyranny and cruelty of the royal party, and warmer admiration of the principles, however perverted, of the cause which he espoused. This, however, is not done, and the only inducement he appears to have had, consists in revenge for ill treatment he received from a party of life-guards. After he had declared his intention to Balfour of Burley, the latter introduces him to the council of the Covenanters: the manner in which business was conducted at these assemblies, may be judged of from the subsequent extract.
"• We will not, with my consent,' said Burley, 'engage in a siege which may consume time. We must forward, and follow our advantage by occupying Glasgow; for I do not fear that the troops we have this day beaten, even with the assistance of my lord Ross's regiment, will judge it safe to await our coming.'
Howbeit,' said Poundtext, we may display a babver before the Tower, and blow a trumpet, and summon them to come forth. It may be that they will give over the place unto our mercy, though they be a rebellious people. And we will summon the women to come forth of their strong-hold, that is, Lady Margaret Bellenden and her grand-daughter, and Jenny Dennison, which is a girl of an ertsnaring eye, and the other maids, and we will give them a safe conduct, and send them in peace to the city, even to the town of Edinburgh. But John Gudyill, and Hugh Harrison, and Miles Bellenden, we will restrain with fetters of iren, even as they, in times bypast, have done to the martyred suints.'
56. Who talks of safe conduct and of peace ?' said a shrill, broken, and overstrained voice, froin the crowd.
“ • Peace, brother Habbakuk,' said Macbriar, in a soothing ione to the speaker,
66. I will not hold my peace,' reiterated this strange and unnatural voice;.' is this a time to speak of peace, when the earth quakes, and the mountains are rent, and the rivers are changed into blood, and the two-edged sword is drawn from the sheath to drink gore as if it were water, and devour flesh as the fire devours dry stubble ?'
While he spoke thus, the orator struggled forward to the inner part of the circle, and presented to Morton's wondering eyes figure worthy of such a voice and such language. The rags of a dress which had once been black, added to the tattered fragments of a shepherd's plaid, composed a covering scarce fit for the puri poses of decency, much less, for those of warmth or comfort. A long beard, as white as snow, hung down on his breast, and mingled withi bushy, uncombed, grizzled hair, which hung in elf-locks around his wild and staring visage. The features seemed to be extenuated by penury and famine, until they hardly retained the likeness of a human aspect. The eyes, grey, wild, and wandering, evidently betokened a bewildered imagination. He held in his hand a rusty sword, clotted with blood, as were his long lean hands, which were garnished at the extremity with nails like eagle's claws..
So In the name of Heaven! who is he ? said Morton, in a whisper to Poundtext, surprised, shocked, and even startled at this ghastly apparition, which looked more like the resurrection of some cannibal priest, or Druid, red from his human sacrifice, than like an earthly mortal.
“ . It is Habbakuk Mucklewrath;' answered Poundtext, in the same tone,' whom the enemy have long detained in captivity in forts and castles, until his understanding hath departed from him, and, as I fear, an evil spirit hath possessed him. Nevertheless, our violent brethren will have it, that he speaketh of the spirit, and that they fructify by his pouring forth.' (p. 183-186. vol.iii.)
The insurgents, as most of our readers will recollect; after taking Glasgow, were defeated with great slaughter at Bothwell-bridge; a great number of prisoners are made, and among them, Morton and Macbriar, a young firm mis, guided zealot, who had vehemently and unceasingly preached up the doctrine of cutting the throats.of the prelates for the glory of God. The latter is brought before the privycouncil, and the torture of the boots is inflicted upon hinny which he bears with unshrinking firmness, proclaiming his principles to his latest gasp. In his description of this punishment, the author seems to be a little misinformed as to the mode in which this torture was inflicted'; an accurate account of it will be foand in Douce's Illustration of Shake speare. Morton, at the instance of Col. Grahame, of Claverhouse, and Lord Evandale, is banished, instead of suffering death like the other prisoners.
Much of the interest of the tale depends upon the niutual
obligations of the hero and Lord Evandale; who, though rivals in love, and fighting on contrary sides, behave with the most disinterested generosity towards each other. This part of the story is well invented and well supported. Henry Morton returns to his native country with the Prince of Orange, and discovers the retreat of Balfour, who had taken refuge in the fastnesses of the Highlands, and who afterwards breaks from his retreat to prosecute revenge against Lord Evandale, who had been a successful opponent of the Covenanters : he is shot by Balfour, who is pursued by some troopers to a river, into which he plunges on horseback: the description of his death is very powerful, and well suited to the character and temper of the man.
“A hasty call to surrender, in the name of God and King William, was obeyed by all except Burley, who turned his horse and attempted to escape. Several soldiers pursued him by command of their officer, but being well mounted, only the two headmost seemed likely to gain on him. He turned deliberately twice, and discharging first one of his pistols, and theu the other, rid Limşelf of the one pursuer by mortally wounding him, and of the other by shooting his horse, and then continued his flight to Bothwell Bridge, where, for his misfortune, he found the gates shut and guarded. Turning from thence, he made for a place where the river seemed passable, and plunged into the stream, the bullets from the pistols and carabines of his pursuers whizzing around him. Two balls took place when he was past the middle of the stream, and he felt himself dangerously wounded. He reined his horse round in the midst of the river, and returned towards the bank he had left, waving his hand, as if with the purpose of intimating that he surrendered. The troopers ceased firing at him accordingly, and awaited his return, two of them riding a little way into the river to seize and disarm him. But it presently appeared that his purpose was revenge, not safety. As he approached the two soldiers, be collected his remaining strength, and discharged a blow on the head of one which tumbled him from his horse. The other dragoon, a strong muscular man, had, in the meanwhile, laid hands on him. Burley, in requital, grasped his throat, as a dying tiger seizes his prey, and both losing the saddle in the struggle, came headlong into the river, and were swept down the stream. Their course might be traced by the blood which bubbled up to the surface. They were twice seen to rise, the Dutchman striving to swim, and Burley clinging to him in a manner that showed his desire that both should perish. Their corpses were taken out about a quarter of a mile down the river. As Balfour's grasp could not have been unclenched without cutting off his hands, both were thrown into a hasty grave, still marked by a rude stone, and a ruder epitaph.” (p. 331–333. vol. iv.)
Morton and Edith Bellenger, are, of course, afterwards happily united.
The other story, called “The Black Dwarf,” only occupies one volume, and neither in point of interest nor execution, is to be compared with “ Old Mortality.” The individual, who gives a name to the piece, is a deformed misanthrope ; who having been betrayed in a love affair by his bosom friend, retires in disgust to a wild waste, called Mucklestane Muir, where he builds himself a hut, and from the singularity of his person, dress, and deportment, is taken by the ignorant country-people for a supernatural being, who holds converse with the devil and familiar spirits, and has unlimited power over the fortunes and fates of all who live in his neighbourhood. Indeed, there are several parts of his conduct that bear a very ambiguous appearance, until they are afterwards explained.
Near to the place where the Dwarf has settled his habitation, resides a Mr. Vere, in a sort of feudal castle, whose beautiful daughter is in love with a young man named Earnscliff, who has a rival in the person of Sir Frederick Langley. Mr. Vere is, in truth, the friend who had injured the Black Dwarf, whose real name is Sir EdWard Mauley; and, by his interposition, a midnight match between Sir E. Langley and Miss Vere is prevented. The discovery is made in the chapel; and Vere, who had been concerned in some treasonable plots, flies to France, while young Earnscliff and Miss Vere are married with his consent, and with the approbation of the Black Dwarf, who, retiring into undiscovered seclusion, bestows upon them the bulk of a very large fortune. This story possesses considerable capabilities; but the fault is, as in the former, the multiplication of characters, by which are rendered imperfeet : the following specimen is taken from that part of the story, in which the Dwarf intercepts the ceremony where Vere is endeavouring to compel his daughter to marry
Sir P. Langley *** The clergyman opened his prayer-book, and looked to Mr. Vere for the signal to commence the service.
45 • Proceed,' said the latter. * But a voice, as if proceeding from the tomb of his deceased wife, called, in such loud and harsh accents as awakened every
echo in the vaulted chapel, · Forbear!'. .. “. All were mute and motionless, till a distant rustle, and the clash of swords, or something - resembling it, was heard from the distant apartments. It ceased almost instantly.