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(March, 1817.) Tales of My Landlord, collected and arranged by Jedediah Cleishbotham, Schoolmaster and
Parish Clerk of the Parish of Gandercleugh. 4 vols. 12mo. Edinbargh: 1816. This, we think, is beyond all question a ing dull and uninteresting to the votaries of new coinage from the mint which produced these more seductive studies. Among the Waverley, Guy Mannering, and the Antiquary: most popular of these popular productions -For though it does not bear the legend and that have appeared in our times, we must superscription of the Master on the face of rank the works to which we just alluded ; the pieces, there is no mistaking either the and we do not hesitate to say, that they are quality of the metal or the execution of the well entitled to that distinction. They are die—and even the private mark, we doubt indeed, in many respects, very extraordinary not, may be seen plain enough, by those who performances—though in nothing more extraknow how to look for it. It is quite impos- ordinary than in having remained so long un. sible to read ten pages of this work, in short, claimed. There is no name, we think, in our without feeling ihat it belongs to the same literature, to which they would not add lustre school with those very remarkable produc- -and lustre, too, of a very enviable kind; tions; and no one who has any knowledge of for they not only show great talent, but in. nature, or of art, will ever doubt that it is an finite good sense and good nature, a more original. The very identity of the leading vigorous and wide-reaching intellect than is characters in the whole set of stories, is a often displayed in novels, and a more powerstronger proof, perhaps, that those of the last ful fancy, and a deeper sympathy with vaseries are not copied from the former, than rious passion, than is often combined with even the freshness and freedom of the drape-such strength of understanding. ries with which they are now invested-or The author, whoever he is, has a truly the ease and spirit of the new groups into graphic and creative power in the invention which they are here combined. No imitator and delineation of characters — which he would have ventured so near his originals, sketches with an ease, and colours with a and yet come off so entirely clear of ihem: brilliancy, and scatters about with a proAnd we are only the more assured that the fusion, which reminds us of Shakespeare old acquaintances we continually recognise in himself: Yet with all this force and felicity these volumes, are really the persons they in the representation of living agents, he has pretend to be, and no false mimics, that we the eye of a poet for all the striking aspects recollect so perfectly to have seen them be- external of nature; and usually contrives, fore,-or at least to have been familiar with both in his scenery and in the groups with some of their near relations!
which it is enlivened, to combine the picturWe have often been astonished at the esque with the natural, with a grace that has quantity of talent-of invention, observation, rarely been attained by artists so copious and and knowledge of character, as well as of rapid. His narrative, in this way, is kept conspirited and graceful composition, that may stantly full of life, variety, and colour ; and be found in those works of fiction in our lan- is so interspersed with glowing descriptions, guage, which are generally regarded as and lively allusions, and flying traits of saamong the lower productions of our litera-gacity and pathos, as not only to keep our ture, -upon which no great pains is under- attention continually awake, but to afford a stood to be bestowed, and which are seldom pleasing exercise to most of our other facul. regarded as titles to a permanent reputation. ties. The prevailing tone is very gay and If Novels, however, are not fated to last as pleasant; but the author's most remarkable, long as Epic poems, they are at least a great and, perhaps, his most delightful talent, is deal more popular in their season; and, slight that of representing kindness of heart in union as their struciure, and imperfect as their fin- with lightness of spirits and great simplicity ishing may often be thought in comparison, of character, and of bending the expression we have no hesitation in saying, that the better of warm and generous and exalted affections specimens of the art are incomparably more with scenes and persons that are in themselves entertaining, and considerably more instruc- both lowly and sudicrous. This gift he shares tive. The great objection to them, indeed, is, with his illustrious countryman Burns-as he that they are too entertaining - and are so does many of the other qualities we have pleasant in the reading, as to be apt to pro- mentioned with another living poet,-who is duce a disrelish for other kinds of reading, only inferior perhaps in that to which we have which may be more necessary, and can in last alluded. It is very honourable indeed, no way be made so agreeable. Neither sci- we think, both to the author, and to the readers ence, nor authentic history, nor political nor among whom he is so extremely popular, that professional instruction, can be rightly con- the great interest of his pieces is for the most veyed, we fear, in a pleasant tale; and, there-part a Moral interest—ihat the concem we fore, all those things are in danger of appear-| take in his favourite characters is less on ac
count of their adventures than of their amia- | helplessness and humility of our common bleness--and that the great charm of his works nature. Unless we misconstrue very grossly is derived from the kindness of heart, the the indications in these volumes, the author capacity of generous emotions, and the lights thinks no times so happy as those in which an of native taste which he ascribes, so lavishly, indulgent monarch awards a reasonable porand at the same time with such an air of truih tion of liberty to grateful subjects, who do and familiarity, even to the humblest of these not call in question his right either to give or favourites. With all his relish for the ridicu- to withhold it-in which a dignified and delous, accordingly, there is no tone of misan- cent hierarchy receives the homage of their thropy, or even of sarcasm, in his representa- submissive and uninquiring flocks-and a tions; but, on the contrary, a great indulgence gallant nobility redeems the venial immoand relenting even towards those who are to ralities of their gayer hours, by brave and be the objects of our disapprobation. There honourable conduct towards each other, and is no keen or cold blooded satire--no bitter- spontaneous kindness to vassals, in whom ness of heart, or fierceness of resentment, in they recognise no independent rights, and not any part of his writings. His love of ridicule many features of a common nature. is litile else than a love of mirth; and savours It is very remarkable, however, that, with throughout of the joyous temperament in propensities thus decidedly aristocratical, the which it appears to have its origin; while the ingenious author has succeeded by far the buoyancy of a raised and poetical imagination best in the representation of rustic and homely lifts him continually above the region of mere characters; and not in the ludicrous or conjollity and good humour, to which a taste, by temptuous representation of them—but by no means nice or fastidious, might otherwise making them at once more natural and more be in danger of sinking him. He is evidently interesting than they had ever been made a person of a very sociable and liberal spirit before in any work of fiction; by showing -with great habits of observation-who has them, not as clowns to be laughed atmor ranged pretty extensively through the varie- wretches, to be pitied and despised—but as ties of human life and character, and mingled human creatures, with as many pleasures and with them all, not only with intelligent famili- fewer cares than their superiors—with affecarity, but with a free and natural sympathy tions not only as strong, but often as delicate for all the diversities of their tastes, pleasures, as those whose language is smoother-and and pursuits-one who has kept his heart as with a vein of humour, a force of sagacity, well as his eyes open to all that has offered and very frequently an elevation of fancy, as itself to engage them; and learned indulgence high and as natural as can be met with among for human faults and follies, not only from more cultivated beings. The great merit of finding kindred faults in their most intolerant all these delineations, is their admirable truth censors, but also for the sake of the virtues by and fidelity-the whole manner and cast of which they are often redeemed, and the suf- the characters being accurately moulded on ferings by which they have still oftener been their condition-and the finer attributes that chastised. The temper of his writings, in are ascribed to them so blended and harmonisshort, is precisely the reverse of those of our ed with the native rudeness and simplicity of Laureates and Lakers, who, being themselves their life and occupations, that they are made the most whimsical of mortals, make it a con- interesting and even noble beings, without the science to loathe and abhor all with whom least particle of foppery or exaggeration, and they happen to disagree; and labour to pro- delight and amuse us, without trespassing at mote mutual animosity and all manner of all on the province of pastoral or romance, uncharitableness among mankind, by refer- Next to these, we think, he has found his ring every supposed error of taste, or pecu- happiest subjects, os at least displayed his liarity of opinion, to some hateful corruption greatest powers, in the delineation of the grand of the heart and understanding.
and gloomy aspects of nature, and of the dark With all the indulgence, however, which and fierce passions of the heart. The natural we so justly ascribe to him, we are far from gaiety of his temper does not indeed allow complaining of the writer before us for being him to dwell long on such themes ;—but the too neutral and undecided on the great sub- sketches he occasionally introduces, are exejects which are most apt to engender exces- cuted with admirable force and spirit-and sive zeal and intolerance—and we are almost give a strong impression both of the vigour of as far from agreeing with him as to most of his imagination, and the variety of his talent. those subjects. In politics it is sufficiently It is only in the third rank that we would place manifest, that he is a decided Tory-and, wo his pictures of chivalry and chivalrous charare afraid, something of a latitudinarian both acter—his traits of gallantry, nobleness, and in morals and religion. He is very apt at least honour—and that bewitching combination of to make a mock of all enthusiasm for liberty gay and gentle manners, with generosity, canor faith-and not only gives a decided prefer- dour, and courage, which has long been faence to the social over the austerer virtues—miliar enough to readers and writers of novels, but seldom expresses any warm or hearty ad- but has never before been represented with miration, except for those graceful and gentle- such an air of truth, and so much ease and man-like principles, which can generally be happiness of execution. acted upon with a gay countenance—and do Among his faults and failures, we must give not imply any great effort of self-denial, or the first place to his descriptions of virtuous any deep sense of the rights of others, or the young ladies—and his representations of the
ordinary business of courtship and conversa- | the place of a more detailed examination of tion in polished life. We admit that those those which he has given to the public since things, as they are commonly conducted in we first announced him as the author of real life, are apt to be a little insipid to a mere Waverley. The time for noticing his two critical spectator ;-and that while they conse- intermediate works, has been permitted to go quently require more heightening than strange by so far, that it would probably be difficult adventures or grotesque persons, they admit to recal the public attention to them with any less of exaggeration or ambitious ornament: effect; and, at all events, impossible to affect, -Yet we cannot think it necessary that they by any observations of ours, the judgment should be altogether so tame and mawkish as which has been passed upon them, with very we generally find them in the hands of this little assistance, we must say, from professed spirited writer,—whose powers really seem critics, by the mass of their intelligent readers, to require some stronger stimulus to bring -by whom, indeed, we have no doubt thai them into action, than can be supplied by the they are, by this time, as well known, and as Aat realities of a peaceful and ordinary exist- correctly estimated, as if they had been in
His love of the ludicrous, it must also debted to us for their first impressions on the be observed, often betrays him into forced subject. For our own parts we must confess, and vulgar exaggerations, and into the repeti- that Waverley still has to us all the fascination tion of common and paltry stories,—though it of a first love! and that we cannot help thinkis but fair to add, that he does not detain us ing, that the greatness of the public transaclong with them, and makes amends by the tions in which that story was involved, as copiousness of his assortment for the indiffer- well as the wildness and picturesque graces ent quality of some of the specimens. It is of its Highland scenery and characters, have another consequence of this extreme abund- invested it with a charm, to which the more ance in which he revels and riots, and of the familiar attractions of the other pieces have fertility of the imagination from which it is not quite come up. In this, perhaps, our supplied, that he is at all times a little apt to opinion differs from that of better judges ;overdo even those things which he does best. but we cannot help suspecting, that the latter His most striking and highly coloured char- publications are most admired by many, at acters appear rather too often, and go on rather least in the southern part of the island, only too long. It is astonishing, indeed, with what because they are more easily and perfectly spirit they are supported, and how fresh and understood, in consequence of the training animated they are to the very last ;—but still which had been gone through in the perusal there is something too much of them—and of the former. But, however that be, we are they would be more waited for and welcomed, far enough from denying that the two sucif they were not quite so lavish of their pres- ceeding works are performances of extraordience.-It was reserved for Shakespeare alone, nary merit,--and are willing even to admit to leave all his characters as new and unworn that they show quite as much power and as he found them, -and to carry Falstaff genius in the author-though, to our taste at through the business of three several plays, least, the subjects are less happily selected. and leave us as greedy of his sayings as at the Dandie Dinmont is, beyond all question, we moment of his first introduction. It is no think, the best rustic portrait that has ever light praise to the author before us, that he yet been exhibited to the public—the most has sometimes reminded us of this, as well honourable to rustics, and the most creditable as other inimitable excellences that most to the heart, as well as the genius of the artist gifted of all inventors.
- the truest to nature—the most interesting To complete this hasty and unpremeditated and the most complete in all its lineaments. sketch of his general characteristics, we must-Meg Merrilees belongs more to the departadd, that he is above all things national and ment of poetry. She is most akin to the Scottish, -and never seems to feel the powers witches of Macbeth, with some traits of the of a Giant, except when he touches his native ancient Sybil engrafted on the coarser stock soil. His countrymen alone, therefore, can of a Gipsy of the last century. Though not have a full sense of his merits, or a perfect absolutely in nature, however, she must be relish of his excellences ;-and those only, allowed to be a very imposing and emphatic indeed, of them, who have mingled, as he personage; and to be mingled, both with the has done, pretty freely with the lower orders, business and the scenery of the piece, with and made themselves familiar not only with the greatest possible skill and effect.—Pleytheir language, but with the habits and traits dell is a harsh caricature; and Dirk Hatteric of character, of which it then only becomes a vulgar bandit of the German school. The expressive. It is one thing to understand the lovers, too, are rather more faultless and more meaning of words, as they are explained by insipid than usual,--and all the genteel per. other words in a glossary, and another to know sons, indeed, not a little fatiguing. Yet there their value, as expressive of certain feelings are many passages of great merit, of a gentler and humours in the speakers to whom they and less obtrusive character. The grief of are native, and as signs both of temper and old Ellengowan for the loss of his child, and condition among those who are familiar with the picture of his own dotage and death, are their import.
very touching and natural; while the many We must content ourselves, we fear, with descriptions of the coast scenery, and of the this hasty and superficial sketch of the gene- various localities of the story, are given with ral character of this anthor's performances, in a freedom, force, and effect, that bring every feature before our eyes, and impress us with little too much like the hero of a fairy tale, an irresistible conviction of their reality. and the structure and contrivance of the story,
The Antiquary is, perhaps, on the whole, in general, would bear no small affinity to less interesting,—though there are touches in that meritorious and edifying class of compoit equal, if not superior, to any thing that sitions, was it not for the nature of the details, occurs in either of the other works. The and the quality of the other persons to whom adventure of the tide and night storm under they relate—who are as real, intelligible, and the cliffs, we do not hesitate to pronounce the tangible beings as those with whom we are very best description we ever met with,-in made familiar in the course of the author's verse or in prose, in ancient or in modern former productions. Indeed they are very writing. Old Edie is of the family of Meg apparently the same sort of people, and come Merrilees, -a younger brother, we confess, here before us again with all the recommendawith less terror and energy, and more taste tions of old acquaintance. The outline of the and gaiety, but equally a poetical embellish- story is soon told. The scene is laid among the ment of a familiar character; and yet resting Elliots and Johnstons of the Scottish border, enough on the great points of nature, to be and in the latter part of Queen Anne's reign; blended without extravagance in the trans- when the union then newly effected between actions of beings so perfectly natural and the two kingdoms, had revived the old feel. thoroughly alive that no suspicion can be en- ings of rivalry, and held out, in the general tertained of their reality. The Antiquary him- discontent, fresh encouragement to the partiself is the great blemish of the work,-at zans of the banished family. In this turbulent least in so far as he is an Antiquary ;-though period, two brave, but very peaceful and loyal we must say for him, that, unlike most oddi- persons, are represented as plodding their way ties, he wearies us most at first; and is so homewards from deer-stalking, in the gloom managed, as to turn out both more interesting of an autumn evening, when they are encounand more amusing than we had any reason tered, on a lonely moor, by a strange misto expect. The low characters in this book shapen Dwarf, who rejects their proffered are not always worth drawing; but they are courtesy, in a tone of insane misanthropy, and exquisitely finished; and prove the extent and leaves Hobbie Elliot, who is the successor of accuracy of the author's acquaintance with Dandie Dinmont in this tale, perfectly perhuman life and human nature.—The family suaded that he is not of mortal lineage, but a of the fisherman is an exquisite group through- goblin of no amiable dispositions. He, and out; and, at the scene of the funeral, in the his friend Mr. Earnscliff, who is a gentleman highest degree striking and pathetic.' Dous- of less credulity, revisit him again, however, terswivel is as wearisome as the genuine in daylight; when they find him laying the Spurzheim himself: And the tragic story of foundations of a small cottage in that dreary the Lord is, on the whole, a miscarriage; spot. With some casual assistance the fabric though interspersed with passages of great is completed; and the Solitary, who still force and energy. The denouement which con- maintains the same repulsive demeanour, nects it with the active hero of the piece, is al- fairly settled in it. Though he shuns all sotogether forced and unnatural.--We come now, ciety and conversation, he occasionally adat once, to the work immediately before us. ministers to the diseases of men and cattle;
The Tales of My Landlord, though they fill and acquires a certain awsul reputation in the four volumes, are, as yet, but two in number; country, half between that of a wizard and a the one being three times as long, and ten heaven-taught cow-doctor. In the mean time times as interesting as the other. The intro- poor Hobbie's house is burned, and his cattle duction, from which the general title is de- and his bride carried off by the band of one rived, is as foolish and clumsy as may be ; of the last Border foragers, instigated chiefly and is another instance of that occasional im- by Mr. Vere, the profligate Laird of Ellieslaw, becility, or self-willed caprice, which every who wishes to raise a party in favour of the now and then leads this author, before he Jacobites; and between whose daughter and gets afloat on the full stream of his narration, young Earnscliff there is an attachment, which into absurdities which excite the astonish- her father disapproves. The mysterious Dwarf ment of the least gifted of his readers. This gives Hobbie an oracular hint to seek for his whole prologue of My Landlord, which is lost bride in the fortress of this plunderer, vulgar in the conception, trite and lame in the which he and his friends, under the command execution, and utterly out of harmony with of young Earnscliff, speedily invest; and the stories to which it is prefixed, should be when they are ready to smoke him out of entirely retrenched in the future editions ; his inexpugnable tower, he capitulates, and and the two novels, which have as little con leads forth, to the astonishment of all the benection with each other as with this ill-fancied siegers, not Grace Armstrong, but Miss Vere, prelude, given separately to the world, each who, by some unintelligible refinement of under its own denomination.
iniquity, had been sequestered by her worthy The first, which is comprised in one volume, father in that appropriate custody. The Dwarf, is called "The Black Dwarf”—and is, in who, with all his misanthropy, is the most every respect, the least considerable of the benevolent of human beings, gives Hobbie a family—though very plainly of the legitimate fur bag full of gold, and contrives to have his race—and possessing merits, which, in any bride restored to him. He is likewise conother company, would have entitled it to no sulted in secret by Miss Vere, who is sadly slight distinction. The Dwarf himself is a distressed, like all other fictitious damsels, by her father's threats to solemnise a forced upon the monument of the slaughtered Presbylemarriage between her and a detestable ba- rians; and busily employed in deepening, with his ronet:--and promises to appear and deliver chisel, the letters of the inscription, which announc. her, however imminent the hazard my ap, of futurity to be the lot of the slain, anathematized
ing, in scriptural language, the promised blessings pear. Accordingly, when they are all ranged the murderers with corresponding violence. A blue for the sacrifice before the altar in the castle bonnet of unusual dimensions covered the grey hairs chapel, his portentous figure pops out from of the pious workman. His dress was a large oldbehind a monument,—when he is instantly fashioned coat, of the coarse cloth called hoddin. recognised by the guilty Ellieslaw, for a cer- grey, usually worn by the elder peasants, with
waistcoat and breeches of the same; and the whole tain Sir Edward Mauley, who was the cousin suit, though still in decent repair, had obviously and destined husband of the lady he had af- seen a train of long service. Sirong clouted shoes terwards married, and who had been plunged studded with hob-nails, and gramoches or leggins into temporary insanity by the shock of that made of thick black cloth, completed his equip. fair one's inconstancy, on his recovery from ment. Beside him, fed among the graves, a pony, which he had allowed Mr. Vere to retain the the companion of his journey, whose extreme white
ness, as well as its projeecting bones and hollow greatest part of the property to which he suc. eyes, indicated its antiquiry. It was harnessed in ceeded by her death; and had been supposed the most simple manner, with a pair of branks, and to be sequestered in some convent abroad, hair tether, or halter, and a sunk, or cushion of when he thus appears to protect the daughter straw, instead of bridle and saddle. A canvass of his early love. The desperate Ellieslaw at pouch hung round the neck of the animal, for the pur. first thinks of having recourse to force, and pose, probably, of containing the rider's tools, and calls in an armed band which he had that him. Although I had never seen the old man be.
any thing else he might have occasion to carry with day assembled, in order to favons a rising of fore, yet, from the singularity of his employment, the Catholics—when he is suddenly surround- and the style of his equipage, I had no difficulty in ed by Hobbie Elliot and Earnscliff, at the recognising a religious itinerant whom I had otten head of a more loyal party, who have just parts of Scotland by the name of Old Mortality.
heard talked of, and who was known in various overpowered the insurgents, and taken pos- “ Where this man was born, or what was his session of the castle. Ellieslaw and the Ba- real name, I have never been able to learn, vor are ronet of course take horse and shipping forth the motives which made him desert his home, and of the realm; while his fair daughter is given adopt the erratic mode of life which he pursued, away to Earnscliff by the benevolent Dwarf; known to me except very generally. He is said to who immediately afterwards disappears, and have held, at one period of his life, a small moorseeks a more profound retreat, beyond the domestic misfortune, he had long renounced that reach of their gratitude and gaiety.
and every other gainful calling. In the language The other and more considerable story, of Scripture, he left his house, his home, and his which fills the three remaining volumes of kindred, and wandered about until the day of his
death-a period, it is said, of nearly thirty years. this publication, is entitled, though with no great regard even to its fictitious origin, Oldast regulated his circuit so as annually to visit the
"During this long pilgrimage, the pious enthusi. Mortality ;-for, at most, it should only have graves of the unfortunate Covenanters, who suffered been called the tale or story of Old Mortality by the sword, or by the executioner, during the -being supposed to be collected from the in- reigns of the two last monarchs of the Stuari line. formation of a singular person who is said at These tombs are often apart from all human habit. one time to have been known by that strange wanderers had fled for concealment. But whereve:
ation, in the remote moors and wilds to which the appellation. The redacteur of his interesting they existed, Old Mortality was su to visit them traditions is here supposed to be a village when his annual round brought them within his schoolmaster; and though his introduction reach. In the most lonely recesses of the moun. brings us again in contact with My Landlord tains, the moorfowl shooter has been often sur. and his parish clerk, we could have almost prised to find him busied in cleaning the moss from forgiven that unlucky fiction, if it had often defaced inscriptions, and repairing the emblems of
grey stones, renewing with his chisel the half. presented us in company with sketches, as death with which these simple monuments are graceful as we find in the following passage, usually adorned. of the haunts and habits of this singular per- As the wanderer was usually to be seen bent sonage. After mentioning that there was, on
on this pious task within the precincts of some the steep and heathy banks of a lonely
rivulet, tombstone among the heath, disturbing the plover
country churchyard, or reclined on the solitary a deserted burying ground to which he used and the black cock with the clink of his chisel and frequently to turn his walks in the evening, mallet, with his old white pony grazing by his side, the gentle pedagogue proceeds
he acquired, from his converse among the dead, the “ One summer evening as, in a stroll such as I popular appellation of Old Mortality." have described, I approached this deserted mansion
Vol. ii. pp. 7-18. of the dead, I was somewhat surprised to hear The scene of the story thus strikingly intru. sounds distinct from those which usually soothe 118 duced is laid-in Scotland of course in those solitude, the gentle chiding, namely, of the brook, disastrous times which immediately preceded and the sighing of the wind in the boughs of three the Revolution of 1688; and exhibits a lively clink of a hammer was, upon this occasion, dis- picture, both of the general state of manners tinctly heard; and I entertained some alarm that a at that period, and of the conduct and temper march-dike, long meditated by the two proprietors and principles of the two great parties in poliwhose estates were divided by my favourite brook, tics and religion that were then engaged in stitute its rectilinear deformity or the graceful wind unequal and rancorous hostility. There are ing of the natural boundary. As I approached i no times certainly, within the reach of authenwas agreeably undeceived. A old man was seated tic history, on which it is more painful to look