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better be adopted in Donald's interest to who had sufficient kindliness of nature to bring his assailant to punishment. They look on Donald in another light than that had either no intimation of Unali's com- of the only impediment between him and ing or they did not care to greet her. It Drumchatt. John Macdonald was quite was only some of the servants whom she willing to witness the marriage, which encountered in the hall, and even among would at least impose a dowager's annuity them every old familiar face was averted on the next successor to the estate. At from her, reminding her sharply that in the same time, he had some pity to spare their garbled version of the story they for the poor young bride, who, for as must regard her - truly, in a sense, she young and innocent as she looked, had ye: owned heart-brokenly as the author of contrived in the extraordinary imbroglio their master's hurt.
of the morning, which John Macdonald But Unah had little time to spare for could not clear up to his satisfaction turned-away faces and alienated hearts. to get herself and all connected with her: She went with her father at once to Don. into a sorry pickle. She rather took his ald's room, where he lay working himself fancy nevertheless, setting at naught his up into a fever in his impatience for their common sense, and stirring his stolid arrival. Yet he gave her no word of wel. imagination with visions of woful Fran. come, and expressed no gratitude for cescas and Beatrices, Burd Helens and her instant response to his summons. He Fair Janets. But, he must say, be would proposed no rest and refreshment for her rather it were Drumchatt than he who after the fatigue and exposure which she should elect the marriage to go on, after had undergone ; he only acknowledged all that had come and gone, with the bride her presence by the words,
to be his, in spite of herself or of a bun. “ You are there, Unah? Now, sir, call dred desperate lovers. in what witnesses you want, and let us get One of the former trustees and a couple the affair over.”
of servants were all who were added to It was suggestive that Donald, too, the company, for it was not advisable that spoke of getting the affair over, as if it the sick man's room should be crowded, had become a mere ordeal — which might and the minister proceeded to do his bave been a class examination, or even a brief but momentous work. surgical operation, and not a marriage - As Mr. Macdonald had signified in his that had to be passed. The minister in conversation with Unah, the simple serthe end testified more tenderness for bis vice of the Kirk of Scotland, no less than daughter than her bridegroom displayed. the manly honest rudeness of Scotch marHe looked at her anxiously. Was she riage laws, permits the performance of able for this immediate call on her pow- marriage under almost any conditions, with ers?
this provision — for the satisfaction of the “ Yes, father, I am ready," Unah an- Kirk, although it is not required by the swered the look, brave in her timidity, civil law that the couple be previously steadfast to the end in what she regarded “cried” three times within the kirk of the as her duty. She had taken off her hat parish in which they are resident; or, in and cloak in the hall, and now stood up extreme cases — such as when the rout in her morning-gown one of her homely, has come to a soldier, or when a sailor has sad-colored carmelites, which she had been unexpectedly called on to join his thought to leave off that very morn- ship - outside the closed kirk doors, or at ing for gayer, richer dresses, better befit the market cross of the nearest town. No ting a matron and a laird's wife. Instinc-friend is actually called on to give away tively, and with a girlish action of her this woman to that man; neither sacred hand, she smoothed her hair — she had building, nor canonical hours, por surplice, no other preparation to make ; she wore nor cassock, nor prayer-book, not even a neither jewei nor flower, not a single marriage-ring is absolutely demanded for adornment, beyond her wistful beauty and a marriage. It may be, and it has often her meek and quiet spirit.
been, performed in strange places, and The minister, while willing to comply with regard to stranger persons: in the with Donald's desire, was not going to do open air, in barns, in hospitals, by sickanything in the dark. He summoned beds — such as Donald's ; over fugitive Donald's cousin and best man - his near couples, over working men and women in est beir, to boot - a steady, sagacious the interval of their labor, over the dying fellow, who had not been given to count who desire to give their name to, or to furing strongly on chances in his future, and nish a provision for, some faithful friend,
over #pentant sinners, who would atone
From Blackwood's Magazine. for the wrong they have done, and save
BIOGRAPHY, TRAVEL, AND SPORT. innocent victims from the consequences of their parents' sin.
NOTHING is more fascinating than good Unah's was such an exceptional mar- biography, and assuredly it is the more riage. She stood up by the side of Don- precious for its rarity. The books we ald's bed, where he lay flushed and panting really love, the books that make the illus. still, the rest of the company standing trious dead our friends and companions, with her. The minister, by reason of and which may be carried about with one Donald's illness, abstained from the ordi- like the Bible or Shakespeare, may
almost nary short address, or homily, on the be counts, on the fingers. That is at first sacred obligations of marriage and the blush the more surprising, since it seems duties of a wedded pair, which is gener- there should be no very insuperable diffially spoken to the bride and bridegroom. culty in writing an excellent life. Fidelity He went to the heart of the matter at once of portraiture, sympathy, and tact, with a by asking the questions, would Donald discriminating use of ample materials, Macdonald take this woman, would Unah ought surely to be sufficient to assure sucMacdonald take this man, to be lawful cess. As a matter of fact, it evidently is wedded wife and husband ? receiving in not so. Clever and congenial biographers affirmative a simple bend of the head, take up the pen to turn out the volumes commanding them to join han!s, and which are read or merely glanced through uttering the solemn sentence, “Whom and laid aside. Perhaps, when we say God hath joined let not man put asunder," " volumes, we have gone some way toending by craving God's blessing on the wards the explanation. For there can be rite. And in less than ten minutes the no question that the most common defects most important act in two lives was over, of biography are useless repetition and as both Donald and Unah had sighed for provoking redundancy. The more it to be as if with its fulfilment would nestly the biographer throws himself into come an end of strife, and a return to the his task, the more indispensable does each peace and confidence of former days. trivial detail appear to bim. In working
A gleam of triumph shot out of Do ald's out the features and the figure of his subbrown eyes when Unah was his wife be-ject, he is slow to reject anything as inconyond redemption. That he might not be sequent or insignificant. Then he is in deprived of any privilege, he signed to her even a worse position than the editor of a to stoop down that he might take the daily newspaper. He should make up his kiss which is the bridegroom's right, while mind to seem ungracious and ungrateful. the rest of the party exchanged congratu. He must say “No” civilly to people who lations – very sober ones in this case. It have been doing him a kindness, when he was only then that some relenting entered declines to make use of the valued matter into Donald's heart.
they have placed at his disposal as the "Why, how cold you are, Unah!” he greatest of favors. He has been indefatsaid, retaining for a moment the hand igably collecting a mass of voluminous she had put in his. “Go and get yourself correspondence from a great variety of warmed, and never mind me. I shall do quarters; yet many of the letters, when very well now."
they come to be read, are either unimporWhen night came only Unah and John tant or really reproductions of each other. Macdonald who was not wanted at his He gets into the way of going about his own place just then, and who volunteered labors like the watchmaker, who works to stay so long as his being at hand could with a powerful magnifying glass in his be of service to his cousins were left eye. In the assiduous attention he beat Drumchatt to keep watch over Donald, stows on each step in the career, he is apt to help the old servants to nurse him, to lose all sense of proportion; while in to humor the sick man's varying moods, the unconscious exercise of their natural to hang on the doctor's daily report, in critical powers, his readers become unlieu of a bridal tour or bridal festivi- pleasantly alive to the results. ties. And, although Unah was mercifully We need hardly say that our complaints spared the terrible knowledge, for weeks of the average quality of biography do not to come Frank Tempest was in the county extend to the quantity of these publicagaol for the deed he had done. Having tions. There is no lack of the “Lives,” sown the wind he was reaping the whirl- bad, fair, and indifferent, of big and little wind, in the first stage of that consuming men. Not a few of these we may owe to remorse, destined to be his portion. selfish motives; but for the most of them
we are undoubtedly indebted to love, grati- can form an independent judgment on tude, or friendship. Now and then the them. But there is no gainsaying the inoffice of elegist or literary executor may direct testimony to his merits in the illus: well excite an eager rivalry among those trious company he habitually kept. It is who can put forward any reasonable pre- unfair, and opposed to all probability, to tensions to it. There are splendid exam- suppose that the most refined intellectual ples of reputations made vicariously by society of the day merely tolerated the laying hold of the mantle of some illustri. shadow of Johnson as their butt. Men
Boswell's “Johnson” is an in- like Burke and Reynolds, who, as Johnson stance which must of course occur to would have said, had no great “gust" for everybody. His is a book that stands humor, do not drag a sot and idiot" alone and unapproached. We subscribe about with them to quiet little dinners, with to what Macaulay wrote in his essay, that the simple notion of amusing themselves “Eclipse is first, and the rest nowhere ;” by his follies. We never hear that Foote although we can by no means agree with formed one at their parties, though he was the brilliant essayist in his contemptuously courted by such spirituel roués as the depreciatory estimate of the biographer. Delavals. But the most conclusive testiThat Boswell's fortunate weaknesses went mony to Boswell's powers is the pleasure far to insure him his astonishing triumph Johnson took in his company. Johnson is not to be denied for a moment. It is no doubt loved flattery; but he was ruffled seldom, indeed, that one finds in an edu. by praise indiscreetly administered, and cated man of the world, who was indisput- was the last man in the world to tolerate ably possessed of ordinary intelligence, so the intimacy of a bore. He was certainly ludicrous a mixture of shrewdness and no hypocrite ; and, setting aside innumer. simplicity; such a naive indifference to able passages in his letters, he gave the mortifying rebuffs, and so complacent a most unmistakable proof of his considersuperiority to humiliating self-exposure. alion for Boswell, when he chose him for It is rarer still to find an appreciative en his companion in the tour to the Hebrides, thusiast, who, rather than not show the and encouraged him in the intention of powers of bis idol at their best, will set writing his life. If. Boswell's “Johnson” himself up to be shot at with poisoned be the life of lives, we may be sure that
But those who, going on the esti- no ordinary literary skill, disguised under mate of Macaulay, should try to rival the great apparent simplicity, must have gone achievement of Boswell by simply putting to the composition, with much of the talself-respect and self-esteem in their pock- ent for biography that can only be a natet, and letting one form of vanity swallow ural gift. But when all has been said in all the rest, may find themselves far astray the author's favor that can be said, aspiin their expectations. Boswell can have rants should remember that he has been been by no means the nonentity it has living in literature as the object of a forpleased Macaulay to represent him. Far tunate accident and a still more happy conbetter judges have differed entirely from junction. He suited Johnson, dissimilar the brilliant Whig partisan when he de- as they were, and the mind and qualities of clares that no one of Boswell's personal the one man became the complements of remarks would bear repetition for its own those of the other. While if Johnson had sake. Independently of the culture and followed up the famous snub at Cave's; if various information they show, many of he had not taken a capricious fancy to the them strike us as extremely incisive — for raw importation from the country' he proin thought as well as in style he had bor- fessed to detest, the Scotch advocate might rowed much from his model. Not unfre- have travelled to Corsica, strutted at the quently the remarks are epigrammatic, and carnival at Stratford-on-Avon, and dined almost invariably they are ingeniously sug- and drunk port with the wits, but he would gestive. If Boswell was no great lawyer, never have emerged from obscurity in the he had a genius for one important branch remarkable book which claims more than of the profession. He was a master of a passing notice in any article on biography: insidious examination and cross-examina- But if vanity and ambition have inspired tion. He made it his business and study many indifferent biographies, the partiality to "draw” the sparkling and bitter con. of love or friendship has to answer for versationalist, till he had acquired an intu- many more. We are all familiar with the itive perception of how to set about it, emotional mourners who will obtrude the ready as he was to risk the hug of the heartfelt expressions of their grief and bear. The direct evidences of his talents affection into the brief obituary notice in must be matter of opinion, and each reader I the newspaper, which is paid at so many
shillings the line. So there are sorrowing waste any of the flowers of his eloquence. widows and admiring intimates who seem Most of us have been committed to some to consider an elaborate memoir of the unpleasant piece of business where we departed as much de rigueur as the tomb- have had to rake among the melancholy stone that is to commemorate his gifts ashes of the past, undoing the moth-eaten and his virtues. Very possibly he inay tape that ties up the mildewed packets. have done something considerable for him. Imagine having to pursue such a task inself. Probably he was a most respectable defi tely, with no particular point to aim member of society, and benefited his fel- at, but vaguely searching for appropriate low-creatures in some shape or other. He matter. As it seems to us only the most has died in the fulness of years and re- plodding and patient-minded of men would gard; or a promising career has been pre- be content to persevere with unabated apmaturely cut short before it had well begun, plication; and it is comparatively seldom or just as it seemed approaching fruition. that acute and imperturbable patience is In the latter case especially, the biograph- united to real literary ability. Should you ical tribute becomes a sacred duty. The happen to be blessed with a retentive memliterary legatee feels himself bound to turn ory, perhaps it may prove wisest in the end architect, completing and embellishing in to trust to it in great measure; though in the realms of fancy the edifice that in act- that case, undoubtedly, the probabilities uaf fact had barely risen above the founda. are that you do very partial justice to the tions. He has accepted the duties that subject. Otherwise, with a view to comare pressed upon him with reluctance, real prehensive reference, you must make a or feigned; though in his innermost heart careful précis of your researches as you go he has hardly a doubt that he will discharge along, and that infers some deficiency in them something more than satisfactorily. those faculties of memory and concentraWriting a life seems so exceedingly easy; tion which are essential to really superior indeed, undertaking it involves a certain work. Or else you must decide to print self-sacrifice, seeing that it scarcely gives wholesale, making very perfunctory atsufficient scope for the play of original tempts at selection. The relatives who genius. If. regard or ambition did not see your manuscript or revise your book sweeten the labor, and if the biographer in the proof, are sure to look leniently on did not show himself so confident in that that latter fault. Nothing, they think, is genius of his, we should be inclined to feel too insignificant to be recorded of a man sincere sympathy for him. For working so essentially superior and remarkable. out the most brilliant memoir must involve And the result is a mass of ill-arranged an inordinate amount of wearisome drudg- matter, where the currants and spice bear ery, while it lays the writer under an infin- no proportion to ingredients that are unity of trifling obligations to people who are palatable and unpleasantly indigestible. ready enough to remind him of them. Turning to Mrs. Glass's cookery-book Even if you employ a staff of secretaries for another metaphor, you must catch your and amanuenses, your own gifts of selec- bare before you cook him. The first contion must be sorely taxed. If the object dition of a good book is a suitable subject, of your hero-worship was a busy man, the It by no means follows that, because a inan chances are that he wrote á villanous has made his way to prominent places, hand. As he should have had time to because he has played a conspicuous part make a certain reputation, the odds are in public affairs, because he has been a that he died in ripe maturity. So you have shining light in the churches, and the most masses of crabbed manuscript consigned soul-stirring of pulpit-orators, because he to you, in boxes and packets, and by single has held high commands in wars that have communications; and the earlier of these remodelled the map of the world, that letters have been penned on old-fashioned his life must necessarily be worth the writpaper, in ink that has been fading with ing. A man may have high talents of a time and damp. These date, moreover, certain order, though he is no more than a from the days of prohibitory postage, and fair representative of a class, and has are written in the most minute of hands, never gone far beyond the commonplace. and crossed and re-crossed to the edge of The test of a successful biography is the the seal. If the talent of the departed pleasure one takes in reading it; and to lay in sentimental verse, or if he were a give it point and piquancy, the eminent reforming or philosophical genius in em- subject must have shown some originality bryo, of course they are magniloquently of genius or character. No doubt, a disdiffuse; and though you hardly dare reprint tinguished statesman or general must have bis rhapsodies in replica, you are loath to been concerned in much that deserves to
be recorded. But there the personal may making acquaintance with a man go for a be merged in the abstract, as biography great deal. Many a life has been hastily drifts into history, which is a different de thrown aside because we were bored by partment altogether; and not a few of the hero in his school and college days. It those biographies which have become may be true that the child is the father of standard authorities, are in reality history the man; yet we do not care to be personin a flimsy disguise. We miss those little ally introduced to the parent of each new personal traits which reflect the distinctive acquaintance who promises to interest us. lights of a marked individuality; and al. When the man has developed into an illusthough the biographer turned historian trious character, the child has often been may possibly have overlooked these, the an insufferable prig, who must have made presumption is that they had scarcely an itself a nuisance to the friends of the famexistence. On the other hand, the life of ily. We may pity those unfortunates who some very obscure individual may supply could scarcely help themselves; but it is admirable matter for the reality of ro- hard upon us half a century later to have mance. Thus, in singling out those self-more than some faint indication of the reliant individuals who have raised them- little student's precocious tastes. Macauselves to distinction by self-help, Dr. lay sneers at Warren Hastings's habit of Smiles bas bit on a most happy vein. appearing morning after morning at the Who can fail to follow with the closest breakfast-table at Daylesford with the soninterest the achievements of those adven- net that was served with the eggs and turous engineering knight-errants, who rolls. But on the whole, we should rather vanquished by the vigorous efforts of their have put up with the sonnets of the exbrains the material obstacles which had governor-general of Hindostan than with been bafiling our progress ? Nor is it the sermons, essays, and political disquisimerely in the story of their most celebrat- tions in which the juvenile Macaulay ed feats that the Stephensons or Ark- showed such appalling fertility in the wrights or Brunels impress us. Their heavy Dissenting atmosphere of his Clapwhole experiences from their parish ham forcing-house. We admit that the school-days, were a battle that ended in interesting life by his pephew would have the triumph of faith. In the face of dis- been altogether incomplete without a refcouragements and difficulties, they are erence to these ; and we merely take the carried along by the natural bent that is book as an illustration of disproportion absolutely irresistible; and often, fortu- because it is in many respects admirable, nately for society, beyond either reason or and was universally read. Yet, though control. Edward, the Banffshire natural- Mr. Trevelyan, in the opinion of some ist - Dick, the Caithness-shire geologist, people, may not have been unduly prolix, could hardly have imagined in their wildest for ourselves we might possibly have dreams that Mr. Mudie would have been stopped short on the threshold of his volcirculating their memoirs by thousands. umes, had we not been assured of the inYet for once the readers of the fashionable terest that must await us farther on. world have been just as well as generous Then tact is essential in collecting as in appreciation; for the lives of the hum- well as in selecting. If the importance of ble shoemaker and baker are pregnant your undertaking be sufficient to justify it, with lessons and their practical illustra- possibly the most comfortable way of col. tions.
lecting is by public advertisement. You We assume that the biographer has some intimate a desire that any correspondents power of the pen, though the rule that we of the deceased may forward communicatake for granted has many exceptions. tions or letters – to be returned — to the But undoubtedly the first of his qualifica. care of the publishers. In the case of tions should be tact, for without that all those who respond, you are only laid under the rest must be comparatively worthless. a general obligation, and need make as He should show his tact, in the first place, little use as you please of the communicain deciding whether the life be worth writ. tion intrusted to your care. The objecing or not.
He must next exhibit it in the tion to this plan appears to be, that it can method of his scheme, and in his notions but partially answer the purpose. Busy of literary prospective and proportion. men may neither see nor heed the adverMany a life that has proved intolerably tisement. And then there is the numerdull, "might well have repaid perusal had it ous class of dilettante littérateurs, who taken the shape of slightly-linked frag. will only do a favor of the kind on urgent ments; each fragment embracing some personal entreaty; and possibly, like the episode of the career. First impressions in I modest Mr. Jonathan Oldbuck, in the ex