Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

as

and recreations incidental to parish “stripling pale and lustrous-eyed," the labours. The first, Euthanasia, a tale charm of whose character, no less than of pain and suffering endured and the beauty of his verse, seems to have vanquished by faith and patience, is always had an attraction for Moultrie written in something of the homely in spite of their wide difference of tone of Crabbe's poetical narratives ; opinion. During his later life at while the second, The Song of The Rugby, Moultrie was known as an Kettle, is a “wild strain in Spen- excellent reader of Shakespeare, serian metre, celebrating the delights he wrote in his Dream of Life, of temperance and tea-drinking in verses almost as vigorous as those in

“Here, in this study, cramm'd which Gerard Montgomery used to sing

With strangest piles of heterogeneous lore,

O'er Shakespeare's magic pages we have laugh'd the glories of the famous punch-bowl And wept by turns. in the club-room of The Etonian. The Black Fence, which by an

He died on the twenty-sixth of amusing blunder appears as The Black December, 1874, of a fever caught Prince in some catalogues, was pub- while visiting in his parish. lished at Rugby as a pamphlet in Moultrie's character is faithfully 1850. It is entitled A Lay of Modern reflected in his writings. Though his Rome, and is a vigorous denunciation actual accomplishments do not entitle of the inroads of Papistry, written in him to be classed among the foremost the metre of Macaulay's Armada: the poets of his age, a position which his Black Fence, the garden-boundary of early efforts seemed to promise him, a recent convert to the Romish Church, yet he certainly possessed a large being regarded as typical of the pale share of the poetic temperament : he of Rome. The last volume published had the poet's vision, and the poet's by Moultrie was Altars, Hearths, and yearning after ideal truth and beauty. Graves, 1854, which contains many The leading points of his very lovable domestic pieces, and a few of wider character, a mixture of humour and interest. The two most striking of pathos, of ruggedness and gentleness, his later poems are perhaps The Three of energy and repose, may be traced Minstrels, in which he gives an account throughout all his poems, which at of his meetings, on different occasions, their best reach a high standard of with Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Tenny- excellence, and at their worst never son; and Musce Etonenses, some fine fail to be harmonious and clear. He stanzas written as an introduction to deserves to be read and remembered an edition of Gray, in which he pays among the minora sidera of the times a tribute of affection to Eton, with in which he lived, both for the merits allusions to the Marquis Wellesley, to of his own writings, and the poet Gray, distinguished "with of a brilliant circle of friends and many a graceful fold of learned contemporaries. thought," and lastly, to Shelley, the

H. S. Salt,

as

one

No. 338.- VOL. LVII.

K

130

UNCERTAINTIES.

[merged small][ocr errors]

Pink linen bonnet,

Pink cotton gown,
Roses printed on it,

Hands burnt brown.
Oh! blithe were all the piping birds, and the golden-belted bees,
And blithe sang she on the doorstep, with her apron full of peas.

Sound of scythe and mowing,

Where buttercups grew tall;
Sound of red kine lowing:

And early milkmaid's call.
Sweet she sang on the doorstep, with the young peas in her lap,
And he came whistling up the lane, with the ribbons in his cap.

- You called me a bad penny

That wouldn't be sent away-
But here's goodbye to you, Jenny,

For many and many a day.
There's talk of cannon and killing-

Nay, never turn so white !
And I've taken the king's shilling--

I took it last night."
Oh! merry, merry piped the thrushes up in the cherry tree,
But dumb she sat on the doorstep, and out through the gate went he.

Scent of hay and summer ;

Red evening sky;
Noise of fife and drummer ;

Men marching by.
The hay will be carried presently, and the cherries gathered all,
And the corn stand yellow in the shocks, and the leaves begin to fall.

Perhaps some evening after,

With no more song of thrush,
The lads will cease their laughter,

And the maids their chatter hush;
And word of blood and battle

Will mix with the sound of the flail,
And lowing of the cattle,

And clink of the milking pail;
And one will read half fearful

A list of names aloud ;
And a few will stagger tearful

Out of the littlo crowd ;
And she, perhaps, half doubting,

Half knowing why she came,
Will stand among them, pouting,

And hear, perhaps, his name
Will weep, perhaps, a little, as she wanders up the lane,
And wish one summer morning were all to do again.

MAY PROLYN.

131

FERGUSON, THE PLOTTER.'

THE sources of this curious and though we propose to combat it to the interesting Apologia are to be found best of our ability, has something even partly in the State Paper Office, and

of the effect of a grace. partly, if we read aright a sentence in The first of these sources was disthe preface, in some family papers in the

closed about fourteen years ago in a possession of its author. It would not, novel called For Liberty's Sake, written therefore, be unreasonable to assume by Mr. J. B. Marsh. Mr. Marsh, him, though he nowhere directly says searching the State Papers for some so, to be of the same stock as the other purpose, came upon a bundle of extraordinary man whose true story letters, all in the same peculiar handhe has undertaken to tell. And this writing, for the most part unsigned, will help to explain some things which but occasionally subscribed with the might otherwise be found puzzling. initials R. ff., and three times with It is not, for instance, easy at first to the full name, R. or Rob. Ferguson. understand the motive which prompted Some were written from Holland, the volume. Most readers of history some from various hiding places in will need some stronger assurance than London, the earliest in 1668, the that of the author of Lothair to believe latest in 1683, and all were addressed that men like Wildman and Ferguson to the writer's wife, Hannah Ferguson. could at any moment of their lives Not all had reached her. Before the bave been justly called the soul of discovery of the Rye House Plot English politics. The executioner who Ferguson had become a marked man cut off the head of Charles the First, for his seditious writings; and even if the pilot who steered the Brill into there be any truth in the suspicion the harbour of Torbay, made a deeper that his person was often designedly mark on the page of English history; overlooked by the agents of the yet their very names are unknown. Government, it is certain that his Ferguson was indeed often concerned correspondence would have received in matters of the most momentous no such favour. He may sometimes interest to this kingdom ; but he was have told secrets enough to keep his never, in the estimation of any but own neck safe ; but no Minister was himself, concerned in them as a prin fool enough to believe that he told cipal, and the course of events would one tenth part of what he knew. neither have been changed nor checked Many of his letters, therefore, misbad he been suffered to spend his life carried through the treachery of his in bis parsonage at Godmersham, or friends (for then, as always, luckily made to lose it with Walcot and for honest men, when plots are a-foot, Rumbold on the scaffold. It is per there were as many rogues as rebels) or haps less difficult to understand Mr. the vigilance of his enemies. Some were Ferguson's inability, or at least disin- probably seized by the officers of the clination, to draw the conclusions to law in their raids upon the various which this extremely full and coherent houses where the Plotter's family was statement of his case must inevitably known to be lodging: some were doubtlead less partial readers. This disin less confiscated, with other papers, clination would in other circumstances when he turned Jacobite after the have been surprising in a member of Revolution; and thus, after a perusal Mr. Ferguson's learned profession. In which must have often sadly disaphis circumstances it is natural, and, pointed the eyes for which they were Robert Ferguson, the Plotter ; by James

never meant, these letters were conFerguson, Advocate. Edinburgh, 1887. signed to the dust and silence of the

den's great

was

man,

official shelf. But, barren as they may It is very certain that he did not have been to his Majesty's Secretary bear this character in his own time; of State, to Mr. Marsh they seemed nor from that to our own has

any to tbrow such an amiable and unex voice been found to question the unanipected light on the character of a man mous verdict of history. Mr. Ferguson, for whom no one had yet been found with a frankness which says much at to say a good word, that he deter

any rate for his own honesty and for mined to make them the basis of an his belief in his client's, has shrunk apology for their writer; and, doubt from no clause of this tremendous inless that he might more easily persuade dictment. He refers to them again people to read it, he threw this apology and again, and he has printed them all, into the form of a novel. How far word by word, in one of the appendixes his charitable design may bave suc which form not the least interesting ceeded we know not; but it is not part of his volume. We are reminded easy to believe that the large class of that his hero was the Judas of Dryreaders who prefer their literature

satire : that Bishop light can have been much attracted Sprat, in his True Account of the by For Liberty's Sake. Our purpose, Rye House Plot, declared him to be however, is not now with Mr. Marsh's the life and soul of the scheme book : it is enough for us to know for the assassination of the King that among its readers

Mr. and Duke of York, for which his Ferguson.

poisonous tongue, virulent pen, and To Mr. Ferguson the novel seemed hellish malice especially marked him : a right-minded but not quite adequate that Bishop Burnet called him, on attempt to do justice to a much injured his own knowledge, a profligate knave

Mr. Marsh did not, he thought, and swindler: that Oldmixon branded know enough, and indeed could not him as an arch-traitor and villain, a have known enough of Robert Fer spy upon Monmouth and a secret agent guson. The novel only exhibited him for the King: that Calamy, the hisin “a half light”; and moreover the torian of the Nonconformists, found novelist had broken the story of his

that his character was

as bad in hero's life off with the Revolution,

Holland as in England. To come to instead of carrying it down to an end our own times, Burton, in the studies which less thorough-going advocates for his history of Scotland, could find than Mr. Ferguson will certainly think nothing to make him doubt that Sprat well served with the conventional was right, and that Ferguson was epithet of bitter.

In so doing Mr. really the demon of the Assassination Marsh showed, as we conceive, a most Plot, and, so long as the breath was sound discretion ; but Mr. Ferguson in his body, the demon of all plots thought otherwise. He determined to against the established form of governsupply the missing links, and to turn, ment; while Macaulay has bitten his after two centuries of darkness, mis- portrait in deep with that terrible acid representation and obloquy, the full he alone knew the secret of. On the light of truth upon a man of genuine other side two names only can be piety, sincere convictions, and high called : the late Mr. Christie, in his edipolitical genius; on one whom, asso tion of Dryden, maintains the Judas of ciated as he was with the most des the satirist to have been, though restperate characters and the darkest less and vehement, at least an honest intrigues of his time, no stain of man; and Walter Scott, ever anxious personal dishonour or political perfidy to find some good in things evil, has has ever rested. Such is the real noted that in all his difficulties the Robert Ferguson to the eyes of his Plotter was never charged with begenerous and single-hearted namesake, traying his associates,-high praise, and as such he has essayed to picture certainly, for such an inveterate conhim in this volume.

spirator; but, besides disregarding &

even

99

very general, though possibly unjust, Could there be a better instance of verbal suspicion, it is not, as Mr. Ferguson

caricature? Many would admit 'stooping a seems occasionally to have forgotten,

little,' who would not like to be called de

formed, and cheeks inflamed by an eruption' exactly the same thing as saying that suggests a great deal more than heat in the he never did betray an associate. face.' Was it an oversight that, while every But the head and front of the

bad feature is exaggerated, the Roman nose, offence is, of course, Macaulay. Sprat,

which often redeems an otherwise plain face,

is wholly ignored ? The historian's descripBurnet, Oldmixon, Burton,

tion gives the impression of a very ugly Walter Scott on his historical side, personage; that in the proclamation is conall retire into the back-ground before

sistent with the reverse, and a picture of the “long resounding march and

Ferguson's brother, who served under Marl

borough, shows a face of the same cast, yet energy divine” of the great historian

represents a strikingly handsome man. of the Revolution. Mr. Ferguson, being a just man and unhampered by It is indisputable that many people party politics, being also too well are dissatisfied with their portraits : mannered to permit himself any im we are perfectly willing to allow that pertinences against the illustrious Ferguson's brother may have been a dead, does not call Macaulay "a strikingly handsome man; but so long gross and notorious historical male as the words of our language bear factor." He writes more in sorrow their present meaning, so long we subthan in

anger,

but it is clear that mit will the proclamation of the he writes in deep sorrow. Only English Government suggest the picin one instance does he suffer his ture of a man very much the reverse of feelings to hurry him into foolish handsome; and why Macaulay should ness. After the discovery of the be blamed, on the strength of a portrait Rye House Plot, a large reward was of another man that he had never seen offered for Ferguson's apprehension or heard of, for accepting a portrait and a description of his person sent

of this man drawn by contemporaries to the English envoys at all the Con to whom the original was only too tinental courts. The description was

well known, surpasses our compreto the following effect :

hension. "She said on the jar,' said

the little judge with a cunning look"; A tall, lean man, Dark brown hair, a

and really this is the best comment on great Roman nose, Thin-jawed, Heat in his face, speaks in the Scotch Tone, a sharp Pierc

such a piece of quibbling as this ing Eye, Stoops a little in the Shoulders ; He

objection of Mr. Ferguson. hath a shuffling gate that differs from all men, This particular matter is obviously wears his Perriwig down almost over his

one of the very slightest importance. eyes.”

But it is a characteristic, though an Macaulay, as his admirable custom extreme, example of Mr. Ferguson's invariably was, did not quote this style of argument. We do not believe proclamation, but wove its substance

for a moment that he has done so into his own narrative. There, in his

wittingly, or with any disingenuous fifth chapter, appears this passage :

intention, but all through his book

he shows an almost childish inability “Nor was it easy for him to escape notice ; to see that he is often basing his case for his broad Scotch accent, his tall and lean

upon distinctions which are no differfigure, his lantern jaws, the gleam of his sharp

ences; while his more serious arguments eyes, which were always overhung by his wig, his cheeks inflamed by an eruption, his shoul

at their best rarely, if ever, amount to ders deformed by a stoop, and his gait dis

more than a verdict of not proven, tinguished from that of other men by a peculiar and often practically substantiate that shuffle, made him remarkable wherever he

already passed. appeared."

o As most people whose ideas of literaMr. Ferguson prints these two ture travel beyond novels and newsdescriptions side by side, and adds this papers have read Macaulay's History, comment:

we may assume it to be generally known

« VorigeDoorgaan »