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work immediately before us, we beg leave briefly to notice a few circumstances connected with its predecessors.
Our author has told us it was his object to present a succession of scenes and characters connected with Scotland in its past and present state, and we must own that his stories are so slightly constructed as to remind us of the showmau's thread with which he draws up his pictures and presents them successively to the eye of the spectator. He seems seriously to have proceeded on Mr. Bays's maxim—What the deuce is a plot good for, but to bring in fine things ?'—Probability and perspicuity of narrative are sacrificed with the utmost indifference to the desire of producing effect; and provided the author can but contrive to surprize and elevate, he appears to think that he has done his duty to the public. Against this slovenly indifference we have already remonstrated, and we agaiu enter our protest. It is in justice to the author himself that we do so, because, whatever merit individual scenes and passages may possess, (and none have been more ready than ourselves to offer, our applause,) it is clear that their effect would be greatly enhanced by being disposed in a clear and continued narrative. We are the more earnest in this matter, because it seems that the author errs chiefly from carelessness. There may be something of system in it however : for we have remarked, that with an attention which amounts even to affectation, he has avoided the common language of narrative, and thrown his story, as inuch as possible, into a dramatic shape. In many cases this has added greatly to the effect, by keeping both the actors and action continually before the reader, and placing him, in some measure, in the situation of the audience at a theatre, who are coinpelled to gather the meaning of the scene from what the dramatis persona say to each other, and not from any explanation addressed immediately to themselves. But though the author gain this advantage, and thereby compel the reader to think of the personages of the novel and not of the writer, yet the practice, especially pushed to the extent we have noticed, is a principal cause of the flimsiness and incoherent texture of which his greatest admirers are compelled to complain. Few can wish his success more sincerely than we do, and yet without more attention on his own part, we have great doubts of its continuance.
In addition to the loose and incoherent style of the narration, another leading fault in these novels is the total want of interest which the reader attaches to the character of the hero. Waverley, Brown, or Bertram in Guy Mannering, and Lovel in the Antiquary, are all brethren of a family; very amiable and very insipid sort of young men.
We think we can perceive that this error is also in some degree occasioned by the dramatic principle upon which the VOL. XVI. NO. XXXII.
author frames his plots. His chief characters are never actors, but always acted upon by the spur of circumstances, and have their fates uniformly determined by the agency of the subordinate per
This arises from the author having usually represented them as foreigners to whom every thing in Scotland is strange,-a circumstance which serves as his apology for entering into many minute details which are reflectively, as it were, addressed to the reader through the medium of the hero. While he is going into explanations and details which, addressed directly to the reader, miglat appear tiresome and unnecessary, he gives interest to them by exlvibiting the effect which they produce upon the principal person of his drama, and at the same time obtains a patient hearing for what might otherwise be passed over without attention. But if he gains this advantage, it is by sacrificing the character of the hero. No one can be interesting to the reader who is not himself a prime agent in the scene. This is understood even by the worthy citizen and his wife, who are introduced as prolocutors in Fletcher's Knight of the Burning Pestle. When they are asked what the principal person of the drama shall do ?—the answer is prompt and ready — Marry, let him come forth and kill a giant." There is a good deal of tact in the request. Every hero in poetry, in fictitious narrative, ought to come forth and do or say something or other which no other person could have done or said; make some sacri-, fice, surmount some difficulty, and become interesting to us otherwise than by his mere appearance on the scene, the passive tool of the other characters.
The insipidity of this author's heroes may be also in part referred to the readiness with which he twists and turns his story to produce some immediate and perhaps temporary effect. This could hardly be done without representing the principal character either as inconsistent or flexible in his principles. The case with which Waverley adopts and afterwards forsakes the Jacobite party in 1745 is a good example of what we mean. Had he been painted as a steady character, 'his conduct would have been improbable. The author was aware of this; and yet, unwilling to relinquish an opportunity of introducing the interior of the Chevalier's military court, the circumstances of the battle of Preston-pans, and so fortb, he hesitates not to sacrifice poor Waverley, and to represent him as a reed blown about at the pleasure of every
breeze careless writer would probably have taken some pains to gain the end proposed in a more artful and ingenious manner. author was hasty, and has paid the penalty of his haste.
We have hinted that we are disposed to question the originality of these novels in point of invention, and that in doing so, we do not consider ourselves as derogating from the merit of the author,
to whom, on the contrary, we give the praise due to one who has collected and brought out with accuracy and effect, incidents and manners which might otherwise have slept in oblivion. We proceed to our proofs.*
The mutual protection afforded by Waverley and Talbot to each other, upon which the whole plot depends, is founded upon one of those anecdotes, which soften the features even of civil war, and as it is equally honourable to the meinory of both parties, we have no hesitation to give their names at length. When the Highlanders upon the morning of the battle of Preston made their memorable attack, a battery of four field pieces was stormed and carried by the Camerons and the Stewarts of Appine. The late Alexander Stuart of Invernahyle was one of the foremost in the charge, and observed an officer of the King's forces, who, scorning to join the flight of all around, remained with his sword in his hand, as if determined to the very last to defend the post assigned to him." The Highland gentleman commanded him to surrender, and received for reply a thrust which he caught in his target. The officer was now defenceless, and the battle-axe of a gigantic Highlander (the miller of Invernahyle's mill) was uplifted to dash his brains oat, when Mr. Stuart with difficulty prevailed on him to surrender. He took charge of his eneiny's property, protected his person, and tinally obtained him liberty on his parvle. The officer proved to be Colonel Allan Whiteford, of Ballochmyle, in Ayrshire, a man of high character and influence, and warmly attached to the house of Hanover; yet such was the confidence existing between these two honourable men, though of different political
principles, that while the civil war was raging, and straggling officers from the Highland army were executed without mercy,+ Invernahyle hesitated not to pay his late captive a visit as he went back to the Higlilands to raise fresh recruits, when he spent a few
days among Colonel Whiteford's-whig friends as pleasantly and good bumouredly as if all had been at peace around him. After the battle of Culloden it was Colonel Whiteford's turn to strain every verve to obtain Mr. Stuart's pardon. He went to the Lord Justice Clerk, to the Lord Advocate, and to all the officers of state, and each application was answered by the production of a list in which Invernahyle (as the good old gentleman was wont to express it) appeared marked with the sign of the beast!' At length Colonel Whiteford went to
* It will be readily conceived that the curious MSS. and other information of which we have availed ourselves were not accessible to us in this country: but we have been assiduous in our inquiries; and are happy enough to possess a-correspondent whose researches on the spot have been indefatigable, and whose kind, and ready communications haye anticipated all our wishes. * As was the case with Mac Donald of Kinloch-moidart. E E 2
the Duke of Cumberland. From bim also he received a positive refusa!. He then limited his request for the present, to a protection for Stuart's house, wife, cliildren, and property. This was also refused by the Duke: on which Colonel Whiteford, taking his commission from bis bosom, laid it on the table before his Royal Highness, and asked permission to retire from the service of a sovereigií pho did not know how to spare a vanquislied enemy, The Duke pas
Strack, and even affected. He bade the Colonel take up his comitissió, -and granted the protection he required with so much earnestuess:
ess. It was issued just in time to save the house, corn and cattle, at Invernaliyle, from the troops who were engaged in laying waste what it was the fashion to call sylie country of the enemy.
A small encampment of soldiers was formed on Invernabyle's property, which they spared while plundering the country around, and searching in every direction for the leaders of the insurrection, and for Stuart in particular. He was much wearer them than they suspected; for hidden in a care, (like the Baron of Bradwardine,) he lay for many days within hearing of the sentidels, as they called their watch-word. His food was brought to him by one of his daughters, a child of eight years old, whow Mis! Stuart was under the necessity of entrusting with tliis commission, for her own motions and those of all her inmates were closely watched. With ingenuity beyond her years the child used toʻstray about among the soldiers, who were rather kiud to her, and watch the moment when she was unobserved to stea nto the thicket, when she deposited whatever small store of provisions she had in charge, at some marked spot, where her father might find it. Invernahyle supported life for several weeks, by means of these precarious supplies, and as he had been wounded in the battle of Colloden, the hardships which he endured were aggravated by great bodily pain. After the soldiers bad removed their quarters he had another remarkable escape. As he now ventured to the house at night and left it in the morning, he was espied during the dawn by a party of the enemy who fired at and pursued him. The fugitive being fortunate enough to escape their search, they returned to the house and charged the family with harbouring one of the proscribed traitors. An old woman had presence of mind enough to maintain that the man they had seen was the shepherd. did he not stop when we called to him ?' said the soldiers. He'is às deaf, poor man, as a peat-stack,' answered the ready-witted domestic. Let him be sent for directly.”—The real shepherd accordingly was brought from the bill, and as there was time to tutor hiin by the way, he was as deaf when he made his appearance as was necessary to sustain his character. Stuart of luvernahyle was afterwards pardoned under the act of indemity. “I knew
him well,' says our correspondent, and have often had these circumstances from his own mouth. He was a noble specimen of the old Highlander, far descended, gallant, courteous and brave even to chivalry. He had been out in 1715 and 1745, was an active partaker in all the stirring scenes which passed in the Highlands, betwixt these memorable æras, and was remarkable, among other exploits, for having fought a duel with the broad sword with the celebrated Rob Roy Mac Gregor, at the Clachan of Balquiddler, He chanced to be in Edinburgh wlien, Paul Jones came into thic Firth of Forth, and though then an old man, I saw him in arms, and beard him exult (to use his own words) in the prospect of drawing his claymore once more before he died.”
The traditions and manners of the Scotch were so blended with superstitious practices and fears, that the author of these novels seems to have deemed it incumbent on him, to transfer many more such incidents to his novels, than seem either probable or natural to an English reader. It may be some apology that his story would have lost the national cast, which it was chiefly his object to preserve, had this been otherwise. There are few families of antiquity in Scotland, which do not possess some strangs legends, told only under promise of secrecy, and with an air of mystery; in developing which, the influence of the powers of darkness is referred to. The truth probably is, that the agency of witches and demons was often made to account for the sudden disappearance of individuals and similar incidents, too apt to arise out of the evil dispositions of humanity, in a land where revenge was long held honourable—where private feuds and civil broils disturbed the inhabitants for ages-and where justice was but weakly and irregularly executed. Mr. Law, a conscientious but credulous clergyman of the Kirk of Scotland, who lived in the seventeenth century, has left behind him a very curious manuscript, in which, with the political events of that distracted period, he has intermingled the various portents and marvellous occurrences which, in common with his age, he ascribed to supernatural agency. The following extract will serve to illustrate the taste of this period for the supernatural. When we read such things recorded by men of sense and education, (and Mr. Law was deficient in neither,) we cannot help remembering the times of paganism, when every scene, incident, and action, had its appropriate and presiding deity.
It is indeed curious to consider what must have been the sensations of a person, who lived under this peculiar species of hallucination, believing himself beset on all hands by invisible agents; que
who was unable to account for the restiveness of a nobleman's carriage horses otherwise than by the immediate effect of witchcraft and supposed that the sage femme of the highest reputation
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