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No. XLIX.—MAY, 1830. SCENE—The Blue Parlour. TIME-Seven o'Clock. PRESENT
NORTH, English OPIUM-EATER, SHEPHERD, and TICKLER, each with a silver Coffee-Pot before him, and a plate of Muffins.
Shepherd. I'm sorry* to see you, sir, wi' crape on your hat, and weepers on your cuffs ; but I hope it's nae dear frien'-only some common acquaintance, or distant relation ?
North. A worthy man, James, for whom I had a sincere regard, though our separate pursuits in life kept us pretty much asunder for the last thirty years. "Death renews the youth of friendship.
Shepherd. Maist mirauculously.
North. You need not look so glum, James; for I purpose being becomingly cheerful over my coffee
North. The defunct was threescore and ten-died of a short and unpainful disease—has left his widow comfortable and his sons rich .-and to myself a hundred guineas for a mourning ring.
Shepherd. That's useless extravagance.
North. No, James, it is not. A man on his death-bed should not be shabby. My friend knew that I had a hereditary love of such baubles.
Shepherd. What kirkyard was he buried in ?
Shepherd. An impressive place. Huge, auid, red, gloomy church La countless multitude o' grass-graves a' touchin' ane anither-a roun' the kirkyard wa’s marble and freestane monuments without end, o'a' shapes, and sizes, and ages—some quaint, some queer, some simple, some ornate; for genius likes to work upon grief—and these tombs are like towers and temples, partakin' not o' the noise o' the city, but staunin' aloof frae the stir o life, aneath the sombre shadow o' the castle-cliff, that heaves its battlements far up into the sky. A
* It is the custom in Scotland, when in mourning for a near relation, to have the coat-cuffs covered with thin muslin, and such coverings are called weepers.-M.
This church is situated in an obscure part of the Old Town of Edinburgh. it has had a succession of eminent preachers, one of the most illustrious of whon, was Dr. Inglis.--M.
sublime cemetery—yet I su’dna like to be interr'd in't-it looks sae
Shepherd. Whisht. Whare did he leeve ?
Shepherd. That everlastin' thunner sae disturbs my imagination, that my soul has nae rest in its ain solitude, but becomes transfused as it were into the mighty ocean, a' its thochts as wild as the waves that keep foamin' awa' into naething, and then breaking back again into transitory life-for ever and ever and ever—as if neither in sunshine nor moonlight, that multitudinous tumultuousness, frae the first creation o' the world, had ever ance been stilled in the blessedness o perfect sleep.
Opium-Eater. In the turmoil of this our mortal lot, the soul's deepest bliss assuredly is, O Shepherd ! a tideless calm.
Shepherd. The vera thocht, sir—the vera feelin'—the very word. That moon ye see, sir—bonny as she is in heaven—and when a' the starry lift is blue, motionless ane believes as if nae planet were she, but the central soul o' the lovely lichts round which the silent nicht thocht-like revolves dreamily-dreamily, far, far away—she will not even for ae single hour let the auld Ocean shut his weary een, that often in their sleeplessness seem longing, methinks, for the still silence o the steadfast earth.
Opium-Eater. The majesty of power is in the gentleness of beauty. Cannot an eye-call it in its trembling light a blue-sphered tear-in one moment set countless human hearts a-beating, till love in ecstasy is sick as death, and life a spiritual swoon into Paradise ?
Shepherd. Aye, aye, sir. Ance or twice in my life-hae I seen a smile, for sake o' which I would hae sacrificed my soul. But nae fiend—nae demon was she who sent it through a' my being, like a glimpse o' holiest moonlight through a dark wood, bathin' the groundflowers in beauty as they look up to their sister-stars,-an angel she —yet she died, and underwent burial in the dust-forgetfulness and oblivion!
Opium-Eater. Say not oblivion. A poet's heart is the sanctuary of dim and tender memories—holy ground haunted by the ghosts of the beautiful-some of whom will be for long long years, as if they were not-sojourning in some world beyond the reach of thoughtwhen, lo ! all in a moment, like white sea-birds, gleaming inland from the misty main, there they are glide-gliding through the illumined darkness, and the entire region of the spirit is beatified by the heavenly visitants.
A RURAL FUNERAL
Shepherd. Nae delightfu' thocht ever utterly and eternally perishes.* A the air is filled wi' their perpetual presence, invisible, inaudible during life's common hours.. but nae barrier is atween them and usaften do we feel they're pear, when the hush o' noonlicht is on the hills
although a sweet vague consciousness is a' that stirs our souls,—and at times mair especially sacred—when virtue clears the inner eyesight, and fines the inner ear-touch, we know them as we knew them of yore, a divine restoration, mortality puts on immortality, and we feel there's no such thing as-death!
North. The exterior surface of the earth is a shield spread by God Letween the eyes of the living and the faces of the dead.
Shepherd. What if it were not so ? Grief wad gang mad!
Shepherd. I steek my eent-and I see ane the noomin a green laigh loun spot amang the sheep-nibbled braes. A funeral! See that row o’ schoolboy laddies and lassies drawn up sae orderly o' their ain still accord, half curious and half wae, some o' the lassies wi' lapfu's o primroses, and gazin' wi' hushed faces as the wee coffin enters in on men's shouthers that never feel its wecht, wi' its doon-hangin' and gracefu’ velvet pall, though she that is hidden therein was the poorest o the poor! Twa three days ago the body in that coffin was dancin' like a supbeam owre the verra sods that are noo about to be shovelled over it! The flowers she had been gatherin'-sweet innocent thochtless cretur-then moved up and doon on her bosom when she breathed—for she and nature were blest and beautifu' in their spring. An auld white-headed man, bent sairly doon at the head o' the grave, lettin' the white cord slip wi' a lingerin' reluctant tenderness through his withered hauns! It bas reached the bottom. Was na that a dreadfu' groan, driven out o' his heart, as if a strong-haund man had smote it, by the first fa' o'the clayey thunder on the fast disappearing blackness o' the velvet--soon hidden in the bony mould! He's but her grandfather! for she was an orphan. But her grandfather! Wae's me! wha is't that writes in some silly blin' book that auld
* The Ettrick Shepherd, in this remark, rices for sinks ?] out of the region of common sense into metaphysics. After all, if material atoms be indestructible, why not the immaterial ?-M.
+" I steek my ten,”-I shut my eyes.-I am reminded, by similarity of sound, perhaps, of a dialogue which I heard in Scotland. Two ladies, evidently belonging to the Upper Ten-dom of the place, alighted from a carriage in Union-street, Aberdeen, in order to enter the shop of Mr. Stewart, who was the principal silk-mercer of the city. The next shop to Stewart's was occupied by Mr. Rait, a jeweller, who made a rich and tasteful display, in his window, of various articles of bijouterie and plate. Attracted by the glitter (for
“Women, like moths, are always caught be glare"), one of the ladies stayed her steps, and turned to look at Rait's window. Her compan'on, evidently one of the nil admirari school, exclaimed, “Minnie, come awa', an' dinna mak' sic wastry
your time.” The other responded : "Dinna gang awa', but bide a wee bittie, till I hae a kleek of my een, at thae honny speen.”-As this Doric Dialect may require a key, I shall add that, in the question, the fair Minnie was requestel to come away and not waste her time and the reply was, Do not go away, but wait a little bit, until I have a glance of my eyes at these handsome spoons -M.
age is insensible—safe and secure frae sorrow—and that dim eyes are unajiproachable to tears?
Tickler. Not till dotage drivels away into death. With hoariest eld* often is parental love a passion deeper than ever bowed the soul of bright-haired youth, watching by the first dawn of daylight the face of his sleeping bride.
Shepherd. What gars us a' fowre talk on such topics the nicht? Frienciship! That when sincere, as ours is sincere—will sometimes baften wi' a strange sympathy merriest hearts into ae mood o' melancholy, and pitch a' their voices on ae key, and gie a' their faces ae expression, and mak them a' feel the mair profoundly because they a' feel thegither, the sadness and the sanctity—different words for the same meaning--o’ this our mortal life ;-I houp there's naething the matter wi' wee Jamie.
North. That there is not, indeed, my dearest Shepherd. At this very moment he is singing his little sister asleep.
Shepherd. God bless you, sir; the tone of your voice is like a silver trumpet. Mr. De Quinshy, hae you ever soom'd up the number o' your weans ?
Shepherd. Stop there, sir, it's a mystical number, and may they aye be like sae mony planets in bliss and beauty circlin' roun' the sun.
Opium-Ealer. It seemeth strange the time when as yet those seven spirits were not in the body and the air which I breathed partook not of that blessedness which now to me is my life. Another sunanother moo11—other stars-since the face of my first-born. Another earth-another heaven ! I loved, methought — before that face smiled--the lights and the shadows, the flowers and the dews, the rivulets that sing to pilgrims in the wild,—the mountain wells, where all alone the “ book-bosomed” pilgrim sitteth down—and lo! far below the many river'd vales sweeping each to its own lake-how dearly did I love ye all! Yet was that love fantastical--and verily not of the deeper soil. Imagination over this “ visible diurnal sphere,” spread out her own spiritual qualities, and made the beauty that beamed back upon her dreams. Nor wanted tenderest touches of humanityas my heart remembered some living flower by the door of far-up cottage, where the river is but a rill. But in my inner spirit, there was then a dearth which Providence hath since amply, and richly, and prodigally furnished with celestial food—which is also music to the ears, and light to the eyes, and the essence of silken softness to the touch-a family of immortal spirits, who but for me never had been brought into the mystery of accountable and responsible being! Of old I used to study the spring—but now its sweet sadness steals unawares into my heart—when among the joyous lambs I see my own * Eld, old age.—M
+ Weans, children.-M.
REASONING AND INTUITION.
children at play. The shallow nest of the cushat* seems now to me a more sacred thing in the obscurity of the pine-tree. The instincts of all the inferior creatures are now holy in my eyes-for, like reason's self, they have their origin in love. Affection for my own children has enabled me to sound the depths of gratitude. Gazing on them at their prayers, in their sleep, I have had revelations of the nature of peace, and trouble, and innocence, and sin, and sorrow, which, till they had smiled and wept, offended and been reconciled, I knew not, how could I ?—to be within the range of the far-flying and far-fetching spirit of love, which is the life-of-life of all things beneath the sun, moon, and stars.
Shepherd. Do ye ken, sir, that I love to hear ye speak far best ava’ when you lay aside your logic ?t Grammar’s aften a grievous and gallin' burden; but logic's a cruel constraint on thochts, and death o'feelin's, which ought ay to rin blendin' intil ane anither like the rainbow, or the pink, or the peacock's neck, a beautifu' confusion o' colors that's the mair admired the mair ignorant you are o' the science o' optics. I just perfectly abhor the word “therefore,” it's sae pedantic and pragmatical, and like a doctor. What's the use o' premises? commend me to conclusions. As for inferences, put them in the form o apothegms, and never tell the world whence you draw them,—for then they look like inspiration. And dinna ye think, sir. that reasoning's far inferior to intuition ?
Tickler. How are your transplanted trees, James ?
Tickler. I can't endure the idea of a transplanted tree. Transplantation strikes at the very root of its character, as a stationary and steadfast being, flourishing where nature dropt it. You may remove a seedling; but 'tis sacrilege to hoist up a huge old oak by the power of machinery, and stick him into another soil, far aloof from his native spot, which for so many years he had sweetly or solemnly overshadowed.
Shepherd. Is na that feelin' no a. wee owre imaginative ?
Cushat, wood pigeon.-M.
+ The chief fault of De Quincy's writings is this--he overlays his thonghts with words. To be logical, metaphysical, transcendental, and poetical, is what no writer yet has been-to be understood. De Quincy seems like a man bound on a journey to a certain place, the way to which is straight, but who prefers wandering out of the road, to which he occasionally returns and immediately deviates off in another direction. It is not difficult to see that a long tinie must pass before he reaches his journey's end, or that, when he does reach it, the purpose for which he started may be rendered unavailable by the delay. This is the more upardonable. De Quincy, who, in the Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, bas produced one of the most charming books in the language, by making it simple in style and natural in expression. In like manner, into what barbarisms of language has Carlyle deviated --that Carlyle, whose early work, The Life of Schiller, is earnest, siinple, and unambitious, with gleanis of poetry and flashes of pathos, which wet the reader's eye with pleasant tears.-M.
I In his every-day converse, Hogg was fond of frequently using the word apothegms, and the various ways in which I have heard him apply it, always made me doubt whether he dis:inctly knew its exact meaning.-M.