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at the end they are reduced to three or four individuals, who, according to custom, are dismissed as happy as love, matrimony, and money can make them. The man whu forms the principal feature, and who first excites and afterwards heads the Covenanters in the battles of London Hill and Bothwell Bridge, is John Balfour, of Burley, who assassinated Dr. Sharpe, archbishop of St. Andrew's and whose temper and dispositions are described, and kept up with great consistency throughout. He is a Highlander, or one of the hiil-folk,” uf uncommonly sturdy proportions, and of a mind corresponding with his make-undaunted, fierce, and zealous to the last degree in the holy cause he had espoused. He has fed from the murder he has committed, and is sheltered as a distressed traveller merely by Henry Morton, the hero of the tale, a young man of benevolence, courage, and of handsome proportions, who is in love with Miss Edith Bellenger, the grand-daughter of Lady Margaret Bellenger, and niece to Major Bellenger, who are both well supported characters, though the idea of the latter is evidently derived from My Uncle Toby. The rival of Morton is Lord Evandale, who, though unsuccessful with the lady, is, we apprehend, too successful with the reader, for he attracts even more interest than Morton, and he is not disposed of until the novel is nearly concluded.
Henry Morton unites himself to the Covenanters, and becomes one of their leaders, his associates besides Balfour being the fanatical preachers, who put themselves at the head of the rebels to vindicate the cause against the Prelatists, upon whom they denounce, and often execute the most bloody vengeance. To these persons are assigned various ridiculous names, such as Poundtext, Kettledrummle, &c. which are employed, we understand, as a sort of short-hand to save the trouble of entering into the detail of their conduct and objects; in various parts, however, we have a little too much of their incoherent scrutinising.
On the other side; at the head of the Royalists, is Colonel Gra. haine, cf Claverhouse, afterwards created for his services Viscount Dundee, who subsequently commanded the Highlanders in their resistance to the revolution, and the expulsion of the Stuarts. At the period embraced by this story, he is the enterprising, courageous, and skilful antagonist of Balfour and his, zeal-blinded friends, and is supported principally by Lord Evandale, Ensign Grahame, Bothwell, Inglis, and others, who all contribute their share to the advancement of the plot. It is an excellence of modern novelists, almost peculiar to the author before us, that instead of occupying a great number of pages in dull and trite description of the various persons who constitute the machinery of the work, detailing first their personal advantages in the usual style of disgusting hyperbole, and afterwards their intellectual endowments and accomplishments in a strain equally extravagant and absurd, he leaves the reader to form his own notions by hints as the story proceeds, or by the actions in which the parties are severally engaged. For this reason we can seldom extract any particular passages which at one view will afford a portrait of any one of the characters: there is, however, one little exception to this remark in the person of the heroine, Edith Bellenger, who is thus spoken of: the author first mentions her grand-mother Lady Margaret, and then proceeds,
“ Near to the enormous leathern vehicle* which we have attempted to describe, vindicating her title to precedence over the untitled gentry of the country, might be seen the sober palfrey of Lady Margaret Bellenden, bearing the erect and primitive form of Lady Margaret herself, decked in those widow's weeds which the good lady had never laid aside since the execution of her husband for his adherence to Montrose.
“ Her grand-daughter, and only earthly care, the fair-haired Edith, who was generally allowed to be the prettiest lass in the Upper ward, appeared beside her aged relative like Spring placed close to Winter. Her black Spanish jennet, which she managed with great grace, her gay riding-dress, and laced side-saddle, had been anxiously prepared to set her forth to the best advantage. But the clustering profusion of ringlets, which, escaping from under her cap, were only confined by a green ribband from wantoning over her shoulders; her cast of features, soft and feminine, yet not without a certain expression of playful archness, which redeemed their sweetness from the charge of insipidity; sometimes brought against blondes and blue. eyed beauties,-these attracted more admiration froin the westero youth than either the splendour of her equipments, or the figure of her palfrey.” p. 38–39. vol. ij.
We shall now, without further preface, extract some parts of these volumes, noticing so much of the story as is 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 1680.
“ 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 Milowood, 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 requirent
* The antique coach of the Lord Lieutenant of the county.
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. Wilson included, and a measure of ale, somew bat 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 serving-man, rendered cross and cripple by the rheumatism, and a dirty drab of a house-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 headed cow-heard boy, and Cuddie, the new ploughman and his mother, completed the party.—The other labourers bolonging 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 swallowed, 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 master'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 huge 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. 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 his 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 de receeived 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 banner 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 rebel
lious 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 ensaring 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 iron, even as they, in times bypast, have done to the martyred saints."
««Who talks of safe conduct and peace!' said a shrill, broken, and overstrained voice from the crowd.
« • Peace, brother Habbakuk,' said Macbriar, in a soothing tone to the speaker.
“I will not hold my peace,' reiterated this strange and unpatural 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 a 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 purposes of decency, much less for those of warmth or comfort. A long beard, as white as snow, bung down on his breast, and mingled with 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.
“ '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. ii.
The insurgents, as most of our readers will recollect, after taking Glasgow were defeated with great slaughter at Bothwellbridge; a great number of prisoners are made, and among theni, Morton and Macbriar, a young firm misguided 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 privy council, and the torture of the boots is inflicted upon him, 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 b nd in ouce's Illustration of Shakspeare. 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 mutual 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 then the other, rid himself 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 bis 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, he collected his remaining strength, and discharged a blow on the head of one which tumbled bim 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 tyger 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 shewed his desire that both should perish. Their corpses were taken out about a quarter of a mile down the river. As Bal. four's grasp could not have been unclenched without cutting off his bands, 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