Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

they saw the crown, the sceptre and the mace, carried before him in the streets of Edinburgh, they allowed themselves to be satisfied, that though the glory of the land was removed, it had not altogether departed.

Such feelings were necessarily unknown in Ireland, in reference to the royal visit. A sovereign of England could only represent in that country the conquerors and oppressors of the land, which he went to honour; and, even in despite of his kindest intentions, revive recollections and animosities which time only can entirely eradicate. All the associations connected with English royalty, were gall and bitterness to the deepest prejudices of an Irishman: whereas, in Scotland, the national pride was soothed, the love of importance was gratified, and all the ardent fealties of the heart found free exercise and a.grateful solace. Like the dance, too, of the French peasant's family, the gratulation of the Scotch had in it something of devotion. It was easy to see that religion mingled in the festivities of the royal landing; every heart seemed lifted

up with thanksgiving, that the king should behold so large a portion of his dominions in prosperity, love, and peace.

The author, after mentioning how little a spectator is affected in London by a procession of state carriages and horse guards, “when a crowd, usually formed of the illdressed and the idle, run and roar about the cavalcade, the trumpeters play . God save the King,' the attendants wave their hats and cheer, and the spectacle, having passed through its routine, is no more heeded," informs us, that “ with this experience I had prepared myself for being disappointed in that spectacle which had brought Scotland together; and I was disappointed. But my disappointment was of a new kind; for the solemnity, the grandeur, and the effect of the scene, were just as much superior to what I had hoped for, as those of any analogous scene that I had witnessed fell below the anticipation. The Scots are unquestionably not a superstitious people; neither do they care for parade. Upon ordinary occasions, too, they are a disputing and quarrelling rather than an united people; and, with the exception of those who are paid, or expect to be paid for it, they are by no means inordinate in their loyalty. But they are a people whose feelings have the depth as well as the placidity of still waters, &c. &c. The operation of those feelings, or prejudices, or call them what you will, produced upon the occasion of which I am speaking a scene, or rather a succession of scenes, of a more intense and powerful interest than any which I had ever witnessed, op

[ocr errors]

indeed could have pictured to myself in the warmest time and mood of my imagination. I had thought the thronging of the people to Edinbugh a ridiculous waste of time; I had laughed till every rib of me ached, at the fantastic fooleries of the celts and archers, and the grotesque array of the official men; and founding my expectations upon these, I had made up my mind that the whole matter was to be a farce or a failure. But I had taken wrong data : I had formed my opinion of Scotland from the same persons, that, to the injury and the disgrace of Scotland, form the channel through which the British government sees it; and therefore I was not prepared for that solemn and soul-stirring display -that rush of the whole intellect of a reflective, and of the whole heart of a feeling people, adorned and kept in measured order, by that intermixture of moral tact and national pride which was exhibited to the delighted King and the astonished courtiers. It seemed as though hundreds of years of the scroll of memory had been unrolled; and that the people, carrying the civilization, the taste and the science of the present day along with them, had gone back to those years when Scotland stood alone, independent in arms and invincible in spirit.”

Here follows an inflated description of the scenery by which the author was surrounded, whilst he stood on the leads of the palace of Holyrood House; a species of composition in which truth is very often sacrificed to fancy, and the vulgar rage for fine writing. In passing through the apartments of the fair queen of Scotland—the fairest

, says he, and all things considered, perhaps the frailest of royal ladies-he found the whole localities of Rizzio's murder, well preserved both in appearance and tradition. In the second place, he adds with all the delicacy of the Morning Chronicle, “ I had the pleasure of seeing upon the leads, dressed in the plain tartan of her adopted clan, the fair Lady Glenorchy, who possesses all the charms of Mary, without any of her faults. I am not sure that I ever saw a finer woman; I am sure that I never saw one in whose expression intellect was more blended with sweetness, or spirit softened and enriched by modesty and grace.” Is not this sufficiently bold in a man of his calling ?

I stood thus absorbed till about mid-day, at which time the flash and the report of a solitary gun from the royal yacht caught my eye and my ear, and made me start into recollection. Just then a cloud of the most impenetrable darkness had collected behind, or as it appeared to me, around the castle, which made the Athens appear as if her magnitụde stretched on into the impenetrable

Athens. gloom of infinitude. But I had no time to pursue the train of feeling to which that would have given rise ; for the volleyed cannon,

flash upon flash, and peal upon peal, and the huzzaing people shout upon shout, and cheer after cheer, made the cliffs and mountains ring around me, and the palace rock under my feet, as though the heavens and the earth had been coming together, and the Athens had been to be dashed to pieces in the maddening of her own joy. The ships in the roads first pealed out the tale, and the blue waters of the Forth were enshrouded in a vesture of silvery smoke. Anon the batteries upon the Calton took up the tidings; and their roar, all powerful as it was, was almost drowned in the voices of the thousands which thronged that romantic hill. In an instant the same deafening sounds, and the same gleaming fires, burst away from the craggs in the left; and the cannon and the cry continued to call and to answer to each other, from the righthand and from the left, till every atom of the air," &c. &c.

This is succeeded by a tissue of bombast and egotism, which we are glad to pass over. Then comes a little bit of fiction, which may perhaps be believed by some gentle reader, who has given up the reins of his imagination into the author's hands. Margaret Sibbald, an able-bodied matron of Fisher Row, had been induced, through the compound stimulus of curiosity and loyalty, to leave her home all unbreakfasted, in order to take her place in the Royal procession. Margaret had stored her ample leathern pouch with a pennyworth of parliament cake, in order to support nature through this praise-worthy work; but Margaret's eyes had been so much feasted that Margaret's stomach had been forgotten. Seeing that the King wore a hue which she did not consider as the hue of health, and judging that it might arise from depletion, induced by his rocking upon the waters, she elbowed her way through horsemen, highlandmen, archermen and official men, up to the royal carriage, and drawing forth her only cake, held it up to his Majesty, expressing sorrow that his royal countenance was so pale, and assuring him that if she had had any thing better he would have got it. A forward stripling of the guards charged Margaret sword in hand, to which Margaret replied, Ye wearifu thing of a labster! ye hae nae mense, I hae dune mair for the King than ye either do or help to do; I hạe borne him sax bonnie seamen as ere hauled a rope or handled a cutlass.' It was however no time for prolonged hostilities, and so Margaret was lost in the crowd, and the guardsman not noticed in the procession."

His Majesty was indeed very much pleased and struck, when, turning the corner of a street, he first came in sight of the Calton hill, on which there were perhaps not fewer than

66 The mass

66

fifty thousand - well dressed persons waiting to salute their Sovereign as he passed. He exclaimed audibly," How superb!” and appeared to be a good deal moved. The reporter gives a version somewhat different in words, but agreeing in effect with what we have just stated. of shouting and gestatic people who hung „pon the whole butting side of the hill, and covered every part of the buildings, came upon him with a shock of joy and a touch of exultation, which made the cold state of the monarch give way to the warm feelings of the man. My God! that is altogether overpowering!" said he, snatching off his hat and attempting to join in the cheer; but his voice faltered, and tears, which were not tears of sorrow, suffused his eyes and watered his cheeks."

The author is very much out of humour because Sir Walter Scott has omitted to describe the royal visit to Scotland, and to immortalize by the powers of his genius the various in cidents of that popular event. To supply this defect, he has himself, very good-naturedly, composed a lengthy chapter on the subject, replete with second-hand jokes, and enriched with a few touches of obsolete merriment. No doubt, the levee and the drawing-room presented many occasions for the exercise of that peculiar talent, which he appears to have cultivated. The company was not very select; and as the resident gentry of the North are not much accustomed to the routine of courts, they could not fail to be guilty of many such breaches of etiquette as would offend the practised eye of a gentleman familiar with the high style of St. James's and Carlton House. The lords and lairds are, of course, fair game to the satyrist, and we have no objection to a few strictures on the poverty and pride of the Highlanders, who, on the occasion alluded to, sported an extent of tail (followers), which they are no longer able to maintain. But the ladies are entitled to quarter, whatever may be the amount of their short-comings either in beauty or in manners;

for we are certain they always do their best, and make the most of all that nature or art may have conferred upon them.

In their zeal, however, to suit the royal taste in the maturity of the greater part of the muster, they had rather overshot the mark. If the tale of that taste says sooth, the word “ forty,” which is to be found in every country, and whịch, in single dignity and desire, is found more abundantly in Scotland, and especially in the Athens than in any country, is preceded by the words“ fat and fair,” which in that land, and pre-eminently in that city, are among the desiderata. Hence there perchance was never collected before a pair of Toyal eyes so many tall, gaunt, and ungainly figures, and never offered to the salutation of a pair of royal lips so many sunken and sinewy cheeks. I could not help being struck with the extreme solemnity of the whole. There was none of that jaunty lightness of step, and that soft and flexible turning of the body, which I have remarked on similar occasions in other places. The

whole moved on solemn and erect, as though it had been the Scotch Greys approaching to a charge, or the Forty-second to a crossing of bayonets. Their features expressed intelligence in many instances, and pride in all; but I saw not much that I could call beauty. The space which could be allotted to each for the doing of a salutation was 'excessively brief; and what with the solemnity of the ladies and the scowling of the heavens, it had more the air of a funeral procession than.of a festive assembly. When it was over, or perhaps a little before, the daughters of Caledonia found out, that though they could be gorgeous at a drawing-room, they could not be gay. They did not, indeed, look like “ fishes out of the water;" but they looked like fishes that had never been in it. It was so novel in itself, and they had so exhausted themselves in the preparation, that the parade itself was gloomy; and though it furnished abundant evidence of the existence of high talents and higher pride among them, it also afforded proof, that time and change would neither be idle nor in haste, if they were to be thoroughly prepared for gliding and glittering at court."

This deseription, we admit; transgresses more upon kindness than upon truth. Few ladies look well when highly dressed; and it is allowed, on all hands, that the drawingroom at Holyrood palace did not furnish an exception to the general rule. Our attention was drawn to this rather ungallant observation by a young countrywoman of our own, who, after having witnessed the array of northern beauties, declared, that she “ had never seen so many plain women in her life.” In the article of female charms, Nature is assuredly very capricious in Scotland. When she fixes on a favourite, she gives to her the spoils of ten; and in order to deck out a Mary with all the captivating charms of her sex, she deprives a hundred of that more desirable portion which in other countries hardly any one is without. But we leave these trifles, in order to devote the few pages set apart for this article, to a consideration of that more general “dissection of men and things” which is set forth in the modern Athens.

On the political state of Scotland we are here presented:

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »