« VorigeDoorgaan »
and the song of the barvest home; to portance. Lord Macaulay, to compare catch the sound of the flail and the cackle great things with small, was a man of of the poultry, as we pass by the snug whom it may equally be said that mate. farmhouse encircled by its belt of ricks; riem superabat opus, and his fascinating and to scent the dank dead leaves in the style has made much miserable logic, and midst of woodland glades such as greet us much erroneous narrative, pass muster as in the canvas of Linnell. It was in these undeniable truth. At a long interval, Cobyears too that he wrote his “ History bett resembled him. His style was just as of the Protestant Reformation,” which, fascinating to one class of readers as wrong-headed as it may be in numerous Macaulay's to another; and truth and error particulars, 'is written in a style which riv. were mixed in about equal proportions in ets our attention to the book, and carries the writings of both. But in Corbett us along with the author in spite of the there are inconsistencies and absurdities mental protest which we all along endeavor into which the better-trained mind of Lord to maintain. Take the following passage, Macaulay never betrayed him
: he is, in for instance :
of contradictions. He Go to the site of some once opulent con
thought highly of the feudal system, and Look at the cloister, now become, in regretted the expulsion of the Stuarts ; yet the hands of a rack-renter, the receptacle for he abused Sir Walter Scott's poems, which dung, fodder, and faggot wood: see the hall
, had done so much to rescue both from ob. where for ages the widow, the orphan, the loquy. We have seen him scolding Mr. aged, and the stranger found a table ever Pitt for his preference of low men; re. spread: see a bit of its walls now helping to minding the English people of the virtues make a cattle-shed, the rest having been hauled of the old country gentry, and lamenting away to build a workhouse : recognize, in the the disappearance of the ancient families side of a barn, a part of a once magnificent before the Ricardos, the Peels, and the chapel; and if, chained to the spot by your Barings. Yet elsewhere we find him demelancholy musings, you be admonished of the approach of night by the voice of the screech- nouncing with all his energy the principle owl, issuing from these arches, which once, at of “birth" and the belief that there could the same hour, resounded with the vespers of be any virtue in long descent. Now he the monk, and which have for seven hundred complains that the land has been so heavyears been assailed by storms and tempests in ily burdened that the ancient proprietors vain : if thus admonished of the necessity of have been ruined ; and now ihat it has seeking food, shelter, and a bed lift your escaped from its just liabilities, accepted eyes and look at the whitewashed and dry with the original grants. At one time of rotten shell on the hill, called the “gentleman's his life he abhorred Parliamentary Reform house,” and, apprised of the “board wages
and all who recommended it; and within a and the spring guns, suddenly turn your head, jog away from the scene of devastation, with very few years, not more than five or six, "Old English Hospitality” in your mind;
he declared it to be the only thing which reach the nearest inn, and there, in a room could save the country, and its champions half lighted and half warmed, and with recep- the only men who deserved the confidence tion precisely proportioned to the length of of the people. At one time the Church of your purse, sit down and listen to an account England was a venerable and beneficent of the hypocritical pretences, the base mo institution, against which it was sacrilege tives, the tyrannical and bloody means, under to raise a little finger ; at another it was a which, from which, and by which that devasta. selfish and dishonest sect, battening on the tion was effected, and that hospitality ban ill-gotten grains which it had come by at ished forever from the land.
the Reformation. Cobbett was the friend This is passionate and persuasive rhet. of Pitt, and he quarrelled with Pitt. He oric. Yet we cannot help suspecting that, was the friend of Windham, and he quarhad Cobbett lived in those days, he would relled with Windham. He was the friend have been a sharper thorn in the sides of of Sir Francis Burdett, and he quarrelled these venerable brethren then than he was with Sir Francis Burdett. But perhaps the even in the sides of their despoilers. As most extraordinary instance of inconsissome men speak, so do others write, very tency, or as it is often called " tergiversamuch above themselves : that is to say, tion, which his writings supply, is affordwith a degree of excellence out of all pro-ed by the contrast between the consideraportion to the general range of their abili. tions for the people of England on the ties. Such a man was Cobbett; and find renewal of the war in 1803, to which we ing the effect which he created by his have already referred, and an article in the writings, he became puffed up with the Political Register in 1807, in which he most unconscionable sense of his own im- declaims against those who have fomented
this terror of the French in terms which, from him) should have combined to cre. had he been a serious instead of a comic ate a really erroneous impression of the satirist, Sydney Smith might have envied. man during his lifetime, and to perpetuate Another very curious instance of the same it after his death. There is no reason to infirmity, and drawn from a totally differ- doubt that Sir John Malcolm's account of ent subject matter, is the advice which he his journey with him from Birmingham to gives to young men never to trifle with the Manchester, in 1832, is a perfectly correct affections of a young woman, combined narrative ; and it certainly shows Cobbett with the obvious fact that he himself did in most offensive and most pitiable colors, trifle with the affections of a young woman It has been said, and probably with truth, in America, to a culpable extent, and that that he owed many of both his good and he tells the story of it in the same book, bad qualities to Swift, for whose character not indeed without some self-reproach, but and writing he never lost his early admirawith a degree of contrition wholly inade- tion, from the day when he spent his last quate to the offence.'11'd
threepence in buying the “ Tale of a Tub,” Cobbett was a keen observer of facts, which he read supperless under a hay. and an acute reasoner on all that came im- stack. Both suffered in their youth some mediately before his eyes. On all such wrongs at the hands of the great; and questions he formed opinions correspond- both, perhaps, entered public life with ing to the strength of his character. But some bitterness of spirit. With the di. they had no roots in the soil, and faded one rectness and simplicity of Swift's style, it after another, to be replaced by new ones is quite possible that Čobbett caught someof a like transitory nature. He was able, thing both of his 'coarseness, and of his from personal experience, to contrast the boisterous and bustling self-importance; condition of the agricultural laborer in the but on the better, and gentler, and more begir:ping of the nineteenth century with poetic side of his character, he reminds what he remembered it in the middle of one of another great writer with whom he the eighteenth. And on this subject he is has never been compared, and of whom he always to be trusted, and his opinion never seems never to have heard. Both were changed. He saw, too - what of course born to the plough: both were Jacobites was equally undeniable - that the feudal and Radicals: and both learned to write system and the monastic system had their mother tongue with a force and fire saved the necessity of taxes and poor which has made them famous forever. A rates; and, delighted with his discovery, really attentive study of Cobbett's works as a self-educated man naturally would be, and character will persuade most people he never paused to inquire what still that I am guilty of no profanity in suggest. greater evils had attached to these sys- ing his resemblance to Burns. In conclutems. The charges brought against the sion: when we cast our eye back over his monks be dismisses with a sneer at the long life – consider what he was, what he Church of England, and the abuses of suffered, and what he accomplished — we feudalism are apparently beneath bis no- shall find some excuse for even his worst tice. In the two systems he had got faults; while we shall admire still more exactly what he wanted a theme for the abilities which, in spite of these obstadeclamation and picturesque description, cles, bore him into the front rank of En. and a field for the indulgence alike of his glish prose-writers. utilitarian and his imaginative tendencies. But when he came to the remedy for his wrongs, he either drifted from one idea to another, as the current of events bore him,
THE BRIDE'S PASS. or he merely expressed more violently what hundreds of other people were saying
BY SARAH TYTLER, more moderately. His views on the cur. rency and the corn laws, and peculation
.?' "LADY BELL," BTC. and corruption, were not peculiar to himself, though he was very anxious to have it
CHAPTER XV. thought so. It is matter for regret that his egre
NOT CARRIED OFF, BUT DONE FOR." gious vanity, his habitual boastfulness, and LORD MOYDART sat in his study lookthe exaggerated violence of his language ing over a “paper" - for he dabbled in (babbling slave - filthy scribbler — fero- literature as well as in Celtic antiquities cious tiger
were among the mildest epi. which he proposed to read at a meeting of thets he applied to every one who differed the Highland Society. He had a little
time to spare this morning, for he had : “ I have prevented it," said Frank in a remained in the house in order to accom- low tone, but distinctly enough. pany the countess and Lady Jean to the “ You !” exclaimed the earl, springing minister's daughter's wedding. It was a from bis seat unable to restrain himself. tremendous bore, but he was in the country"Do you know what you are saying, where he was accustomed to bid for popu- Frank?” he demanded' sharply, telling larity; and it would not do for him to for himself that he must exert all his presence get that little Craigdhbu had been an old of mind and take the upper hand without ally of big Castle Moydart, while Farquhar a moment's delay. Then as he was a Macdonald was a Highland gentleman, and brave little man he sat down again, and not half a bad fellow for a parson. There. prepared to face and control with his firm fore Lord Moydart was not out of humor eye the unhappy young man. as he pursed up his mouth in self-com- “Look bere, Lord Moydart,” said Frank placence, ran his fingers through his strag. advancing a step, “ you know I wanted gling red hair, and read with approval the Miss Macdonald for my wife.” (“I knew last contribution to Gaelic literature. He nothing of the kind,” Lord Moydart rewas interrupted by a servant showing in plied promptly in his own mind." I could Frank Tempest.
not conceive that you were such a romantic Lord Moydart was not a man of great lunatic of a boy as that came to, or I should penetration, and he did not remark any have called in your relations to take you thing unusual in the air of the young man in charge--and a good thing too - long whom he rose to welcome.
ere now.”) “I should have won her," “Good morning, Tempest,” he said, went on poor Frank, in ignorance of the “glad to see you. Are you come to bid running commentary delivered silently on us good-bye ? or are you going to join our his fevered speech, "if it had not been party to this wedding?" Lord Moydart's for that cursed, wicked contract." ("The mind was of a nimble order, and it bad language of the stage and bedlam applied already darted to the consideration of to a very proper and natural family ar. Frank Tempest's foolish soreness with rangement," the earl decided, shaking his regard to the event of the day. And his head imperceptibly.) Then he spoke lordship leaped to the conclusion that it aloud, administering a spur to the speaker, would be less awkward to attack the sub- who stopped to draw a long, weary breath. ject boldly and at once, in an easy, off-hand:“Eh? What next, man?" questioned fashion, than to betray that he was thinking Lord Moydart, under a positive necessity particularly of it - thus giving in to the of knowing what Frank had been doing, monstrous delusion that it was of any as well as in excited curiosity. serious importance to one of the speakers “I did my best to protest, as any honest
- by beating about the bush and avoiding man, without an interest in the matter, a natural reference in conversation. might have done,” alleged Frank sullenly,
“ Neither, Lord Moydart,” answered (“A cut at me, and a general censure Frank Tempest, with a solemnity alto-on and suspicion of everybody -- borribly gether out of keeping with the occasion. symptomatic,” reflected the earl), “and
“What! have they not sent you an in. when it was no good I got the two Macvitation ? Now that was shabby of them, gregors, the innkeeper at the Ford's brothseeing that the lady was an old fame ofers, to join me,” went on Frank doggedly, yours,
" exclaimed the earl, pursuing his as he came to the most humiliating part of light policy.
his statement, the confession that he had “ There will be no marriage," announced demeaned himself to confer his confidence Frank gloomily.
unworthily, and to seek low confederates. “No marriage !” repeated the earl in a “ You are aware these Macgregors owe an high key of wonder and incredulity; then old grudge against the Macdonalds ?” he said to himself in extreme dismay, “the “What of that?" asked Lord Moydart lad is not given to wine, and he cannot mystified, and speculating if Frank, who have been drinking at this bour of the bad been tolerably coherent as yet, was day. By Jove, he has lost his reason! beginning to wander to irrelevant matter and what am I to say to his people, the after the manner of those unlucky people Knightley-Delavals, for permitting such a whose heads were touched. frightful calamity to come about? What " I knew that Donald Drumchatt would is there to prevent the marriage?” he ride over to the manse this morning, leavurged uneasily, but trying to look careless, ing the company at his place to follow as he turned over the leaves of his blot- later," continued Frank, grasping the back ting-book.
of a chair to steady himself, and keeping
his agitation under by a great force, that ment of many days and nights, together he might remain calm, and finish what he with the physical fatigue, commenced to had got to do; “and we were at the rock tell on Frank Tempest. His tall, broadin the pass where his ancestor spoiled Gil-shouldered figure swayed visibly where he lies Macgregor's bridal procession, for the stood. His embrowned face took a sickly purpose of meeting Donald Drumchatt in tint. his turn. I intended to require himn to re- “You do not say,” cried Lord Moydart, consider our relative claims, and to relin. almost beside himself, “that a crime has quish his, which had been made to triumph been committed, and you are the criminal?" by the use of undue influence. And if he “ I suppose that is the proper way to put refused we were prepared to wheel round it," said Frank, rallying from his faintness his pony and convey him back over the to bear the penalty he had incurred. hills — not to his own house, of course, would not listen to me, and dared us to but to an out-of-the-way sheiling, where he come on. I only know there was a scrimmight have been detained for a few days mage, and when I struck out he went down till I had won a hearing, and persuaded like a shot, and fell over the bank. Then the Macdonalds, Fearnavoil, to think twice she ran forward, and when I went after of the marriage.”
her, and would have done what I could to “ But it would have been carrying off make up for what had happened, she forthe man by force," protested Lord Moy- bade it. And these Macgregor fellows dart, dismissing the idea of insanity as said I was getting them into trouble, wbile quickly as he had taken it up, when he they were only acting at my bidding - if I found there was method in the madness - stayed till the other people, who were comthough he was ready to swear roundly af- ing up the pass, arrived at the spot.” terwards that a young man who could give “What other people ? and who was she ? himself up to so fantastic a dream as that and how did she know to be there in the of spiriting away a Highland laird on his nick of time? I cannot make out your own land, in broad day, in this nineteenth story,” said Lord Moydart impatiently. century, might escape the consequences in “But I imagine there is something in it, any court in Europe on the ground of a though I thought gentlemen left rows to
grooms and ghillies. Upon my word it is “Carrying off a man or a woman did a pretty mess! Do I understand you not forın such an extraordinary event here rightly that Drumcbatt has been injured at one time,” said Frank, “unless your by your means in this abominable piece of chronicles lie.”
folly? He is a delicate fellow and could “ You foolish fellow ! there has not been not stand being knocked about; but I a case of abduction in the Highlands for a should hope that happily he has come hundred years or more. I dare say the round, and is all right by this time and able last was that with which Robin Oig, a son to go on with his marriage. It is so absurd of Rob Roy's, had to do. He carried off an affair, and shows so little delicacy a poor young widow for the sake of her where Miss Macdonald is concerned, that late husband's goods, and I may tell you he may not choose to prosecute, otherwise for your comfort that he was hung for his you will very likely be indicted for assault, little game. But then the victim died and compelled to put in a public appear. partly from the effects of his treatment,' ance at the court in the county town. It added his lordship, relenting a little in the is a disgrace for a lad in your position that middle of his righteous indignation. I should like very ill if it were incurred by
“ I thought a hundred years were noth- my son. I must say, Tempest, that your ing here,” said Frank a little sardonically: relations will have good reason to be in. “ However, it does not signify. I should dignant, and that I shall feel exceedingly not have minded carrying off a man so sorry for them.” much,” he proceeded with youthful candor, The earl was very much provoked, esand at the same time with the calmness of pecially when he thought of the scandal in despair, “but it is a great deal worse than the country, and of the blame which might that. Our job has miscarried. He is not attach himself - through his very innocarried off, and I am afraid he is done for," cence and his confidence in an old public and at the recollection of Donald's look schoolboy and Cantab's proving able to as he lay panting on the bank, and of the look after himself, with Lord Moydart's undying reproach in Unah Macdonald's consequent neglect of.practising any pareyes, followed by his own miserable ticular surveillance over Frank Tempest. thoughts when he came straight over to The earl believed he did well to take the Castle Moydart -- the unrest and excite. I wild, reckless young fellow severely to task,
as the difference in their years and the heartless brute as to care for myself and family friendship permitted.
look out for my own safety if he is badly Frank Tempest was not resentful, a fact injured, while I can stay where I shall which was in itself ominous. But, indeed, soonest hear tidings of him? They may he had paid no beed to Lord Moydart's last let me do that, though she would not suffer words. He replied to an earlier remark, me to touch him." as if his attention had been arrested by it. He finished in an undertone of pain; for
“I don't think Donald Drumchatt will it was evident the first realization of his get over it,” Frank observed, as if he wrong.doing had been drawn from Unah's hardly knew what he was saying, yet with a shocked rejection of his aid, and the cir. slight involuntary twitching of the lips and cumstance still stood prominently out in a shiver running through him. “ It would the labyrinth of misery and remorse in have been nothing to any other fellow, but which he found himself entangled. I tell you he seemed done for. He looked No argument served to move him from awfully ill, and he drew his breath as if his his standpoint, which was entirely a ninechest was burt."
teenth-century standpoint, and proved in“Good beavens ! then it is manslaughter contestably, had any indication been you are guilty of?” cried Lord Moydart wanted, what a gross anachronism his act electrified in the most painful manner a had been. For when poor Donald Drumsecond time that morning. “ And you chatt's ancestor had supplied the prece. come to me, of all people, with the story? dent for the drama, he had not been Are you aware that I am a justice of the haunted by any troublesome scruples bepeace, and bound to commit you on your fore the event, neither would they have own declaration, if regard for your family arisen to dog his footsteps after it. He had does not hinder me from the discharge of felt nothing save a fierce delight in wreak
revenge; a little blood more or less Had there been an unconcerned audi- on a hand the hue of which was red ence present to take note how naturally enough before that day, signified little to Lord Moydart looked first at his own the ruthless old chief. But civilization minor share in the tragedy, and that the had softened men, if Christianity had not earliest impression it made on his mind renewed them. was a sense of exasperation at the awk. At last, Lord Moydart, after he had ward dilemma it involved for himself, the despatched on horseback his own man, cynicism which is so marked an element whose discretion he could trust, to gallop of the modern mind might have been amply over to Fearnavoil and bring his master gratified. But to do the nobleman justice, back within an hour's space confirmation though he was a selfish man, he did not all of Frank Tempest's fears, saw himself at once take in the conviction of peril to forced to the conclusion that the wisest Donald Drumchatt's life, with the terrible step he could take, even for the preservaconsequences to Frank Tempest. As they tion of secrecy in the affair, was to go with dawned upon him he put himself for the Frank Tempest to the county town. He moment out of view, and considered hur: would see the lad surrender himself to the riedly. “Your best course was to get off procurator fiscal, and get the offender at once if there was the slightest doubt of quietly lodged in such quarters for first: Drumchatt's recovery. I trust you are not class sinners as the northern prison affordtoo late ; but there is no time to be lost." ed, there to wait the devoutly to be prayed
“ And do you think I will stir a foot for chance of Donald Drumchatt's recov. from Fearnavoil, and leave her to bear the ery. brunt ?" burst out Frank, proving himself The earl would have been fain to depart as mad on one point as Lord Moydart had on his errand without previously communireckoned him in all. “She is as free from cating the disaster to the ladies of the any foreknowledge of the deed as a child house. But at that very moment they or an angel; but from the manner in which were going to dress for the marriage in you yourself spoke this morning she may Fearnavoil manse, and the countess was not escape unfounded suspicion, unless I sending a footman to the study to remind stay to vindicate her by telling the truth. the earl he had promised his attendance. And if Donald Drumchatt is to die," con. The countess could not believe her aristo tinued Frank with his voice failing, and his cratic ears. Lady Jean was awe-stricken, heart sinking again. before the intolerable conscience-stricken, for had she not antici. dread, “will it signify what becomes of pated the crisis with a degree of childish me ? My life must be a burden to me levity, and without an attempt at preven. anyhow. And do you think I am such a tion, which to be sure would probably