Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

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 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 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 then, 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 punisbment, 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 found in Douce'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 borse, 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, he 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 mean. while, 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 inile 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 stope, 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, Aies 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 imperfect: the following specimen is taken from that part of the story, in which the Dwarf interrupts 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.

" 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 resernbling it, was heard from the distant apartments. It ceased almost instantly.

" What new device is this?' said Sir Frederick, fiercely, eyeing Ellieslaw and Mareschal with a glance of malignant suspicion.

“It can be but the frolic of some intemperate guest said Ellieslaw, though greatly confounded; we must make large allowances for the excess of this evening's festivity. Proceed with the service.'

“ Before the clergyman could obey, the same prohibition which they had before heard, was repeated from the same spot. The female attendants screamed, and fled from the chapel; the gentlemen laid their hands on their swords. Ere the first moment of surprise had passed by, the Dwarf stepped from behind the monument, and placed himself full in front of Mr. Vere. The effect of so strange and hideous an apparition, in such place and circumstances, appalled all present, but seemed to annihilate the Laird of Ellieslaw, who, dropping his daughter's arm, staggered against the nearest pillar, and, clasping it with his hands as if for support, laid his brow against the column.

“"Who is this fellow?' said Sir Frederic; and what does he mean by this intrusion?

66 "It is one who comes to tell you, said the Dwarf, with the peculiar acrimony which usually marked bis manner, that in marrying that young lady, you wed neither the heiress of Ellieslaw, nor of Mauley-hall, nor of Polverton, nor of one furrow of land, unless she marries with my consent; and to thee that consent shall never be given. Down-down on thy knees, and thank heaven that thou art prevented from wedding qualities with which thou hast no concern-portionless, truth, virtue, and innocence. And thou, base ingrate,' he continued, addressing himself to Ellieslaw,

what is thy wretched subterfuge now?' Thou, who would'st sell thy daughter to relieve thee from danger, as in famine thou would'st have slain and devoured her to preserve thy own vile life! Ay, hide thy face with thy hands; well may'st thou blush to look on him whose body thou didst consign to chains, bis hand to guilt, and his soul to misery. Saved once more by the virtue of her who calls thee father, go hence, and may the pardon and benefits I confer on thee prove literal coals of fire, till thy brain is seared and scorched like mine.

“Ellieslaw left the chapel with a gesture of mute despair.”—p. 334 337. vol. i.

We do not think the state in which these volumes are written, by any means so good as that of Guy Mannering, or even the Antiquary; the author becomes a little careless as he gains confidence by approbation; and, for merely English readers, too much of the Scotch dialect is introduced into the speeches. It is sometimes employed, however, with admirable effect; according to the character of the individual who speaks, it seems to add characteristic ferocity to the ruffian, or simplicity to the innocence of youth, and tenderness to the effusions of love. On other occasions it not a little heightens the comic effect of rustic humour.

While exhibiting the manners, the author has endeavoured also to employ something of the language of the times; he describes, but he has now and then gone too far back into antiquity, and has brought forward words that had even then been long obsolete. The error was, however, on the right side, and it would be advantageous, if, instead of the prevailing fashion of importing French terms, we resorted more to the wells of undefiled English, afforded by our elder writers.-Critical Review.

[ocr errors]

ON THE COMPARATIVE MERIT OF HIGH AND LOW

PRESSURE IN STEAM ENGINES.

TO THE EDITOR OF THE PORT FOLIO.

SIR-Ina“ Review of the life of Robert Fulton," published in the Analectic Magazine for last September, there are some remarks on the subject of high and low pressure in engines worked

by steam, on which I beg leave to make some observations. I flatter myself that I can view the question with an impartial eye, as my opinion has been slowly changed; and I have no other interest in the matter, than that which every man feels for his personal safety and that of his fellow beings. I am equally unwilling to be scalded to death to promote the fortune of Mr. Evans, or blazon the reputation of Messrs. Bolton and Watt. In quitting the ranks of the English mechanics for those of our fellow citizen, I may have avoided Scylla, only to be thrown on Charybdis, but the measure was adopted after mature deliberation, when conviction indicated the high pressure to be the safer engine.

• The writer of the “Review” has stated the arguments on both sides of the question, without fully expressing his own opinion; but still in such a way, as to impress the mind of the reader with the opinion that he thinks unfavourably of the high pressure engines; and that, in his judgment, those upon the construction of Bolton and Watt, are perfectly safe.

To his right to inculcate this opinion, it would be ridiculous to object; and the fact is only mentioned to strengthen the infer. ence that, the arguments which he has adduced in favour of engines of low pressure, are the most solid which could be produced; and that the objections to those of high pressure, of course including that of Mr. Evans, construction, are stated with equal care. It is readily admitted, that dreadful explosions have taken place with high pressure engines, and that, when constructed upon erroneous principles, they are extremely dangerous. The question, therefore, is not whether such engines may be dangerous, but whether they can be so constructed as to enable us to derive all the advantages from elastic steam without any increase of danger by their use. As both engines have been long employed, we have the advantage of experience to aid us in the inquiry,—a safer guide than the most ingenious deductions from theory. It is asserted by the writer of the “ Review," (page 189) « that the ac•cidents on board Fulton's boats, by which life or limb were lost,

or even jeopardised, have not been recorded, nor have we heard of a single accident arising from Bolton and Wati's engines in • England, during the forty-five years' practice throughout the VOL. IT.

3

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »