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present with the latter work, we shall proceed to give a slight sketch of the former.
The present Novel is founded on the History of the Rebellion in Scotland, in the year 1745, and that of posterior occurrences. The first volume consists of an epistolary correspondence carried on between two characters; one repre. sented by the name of Darsie Latimer, and the other by that of Alan Fairford. Alan is a student of the law, the son of Mr. Alexander Fairford, of the same profession, at Edinburgh, under whose roof Darsie resided for some years. Darsie, an Englishman by birth, was taken to Scotland when only six
He is ignorant of his native rank and connections, and he complains in his first letter to his friend, that he is “alone in the world." He is a young man of good parts, and very susceptible of love and friendship, but rather thoughtless, wild, and incautious in his movements. His guardian, “ Samuel Griffiths, of Ironmonger-lane, Guildhall, London,” places his motions at his free disposal, provided, however, he does not set his foot on English ground, which, if he did, his safety would be endangered. When he comes within sight of his native land, he bitterly laments this restriction, and hovers about the borders of Scotland for several days. One evening, he crosses the Downs which divide him from the margin of the Solway, and there he meets several horsemen hunting and spearing salmon. One of these per, sons is tall and athletic, and shows an air of authority over the rest.
Darsie, lingering about the banks of the Solway, with his looks turned towards the shores of England, and unconscious of any impending danger, becomes nearly surrounded with the tide. From this dangerous situation, he is rescued by Hugh Redgauntlet, the chief of the horsemen, who carries him home with him. In the night, the servant of this chief finds documents in Darsie's pockets, of which he acquaints his master, who suspects then who his guest is; but, in order to ascertain the truth of his conjecture, he takes a journey to Old Mr. Fairford's, where he finds it to be correct. Darsie then visits an honest Quaker, not far distant from Redgauntlet's place of residence. In the mean time, Darsie's sister, (as she afterwards turned out to be,) who is also Redgauntlet's niece, pays a visit to Alan Fairford, in order to apprize him of the danger with which his friend is surrounded. Shortly after this, Darsie is carried away in the night by force, by his uncle, who is still unknown to him as such, and confined as a prisoner, in a secret place. Whilst in custody, he writes an account of the occurrences which took place immediately pre
vious to, and during, his confinement. This account, written in the form of a journal, forms the greater part of the second volume of the Novel.
The object which Hugh Redgauntlet has in view in retains ing his nephew in custody, is, to endeavour to persuade him to exert his interest, which turns out afterwards to be very great, in order to place the Pretender on the British throne: but Darsie resists all his threats and persuasions, and seeks every opportunity of gaining his liberty. Alan Fairford is represented as a young man of a studious character and sound understanding : he is accidentally made acquainted with the danger into which his friend has fallen, while pleading his first cause at the Scottish bar, from a letter which his father delivered into his hands by mistake. The moment he receives this intelligence he throws down his brief, and starts off instantly in pursuit of Darsie, and applies, in the first place, to Provost Crosbie, who had sent the above-mentioned letter. Maxwell, Crosbie's friend, or rather brother-in-law, gives Alan a note to Redgauntlet, whom he suspects to be the author of the evil which has befallen his friend. Alan then embarks in a piratical vessel in pursuit of Redgauntlet, where he is taken dangerously ill; and after landing, he is carried into a nunnery, where he meets with the Pretender, under the assumed name of Father Buonaventure. This personage opens the note which Alan was bearing from Maxwell
, and which turns out to contain orders for detaining the young lawyer in custody. Father Buonaventure, after showing him the contents of the former note, makes him the bearer
of another to Redgauntlet, and directs him to the place where he can meet the object of his pursuit : he finds Redgauntlet at an inn, where he holds Darsie still in custody.
In travelling from the place of his confinement to the inn, Lilias Redgauntlet makes herself known to Darsie, as his sister; and acquaints him with his rank, fortune, and connections. At the inn, several characters meet, where a scuffle ensues between them. Here also the Pretender meets several Jacobites in a subterranean apartment, where they are surprised by General Campbell, who is sent in pursuit of them, in consequence of an information laid against them by Cristal Nixon, Hugh Redgauntlet's servant. Nanty Ewart, the captain of the pirates, finding that they are betrayed by Nixon, attempts to return to the vessel, where he and the informer are sent to, in order to prepare for the embarkation of the Pretender, that he may acquaint the party of the perfidy of Redgauntlet's servant. Nixon, finding that he is not able to persuade Nanty to turn traitor, fires a pistol at him, and mortally wounds him; but before Nanty falls, he draws
his hanger, and lays open the traitor's skull with a desperate blow, and both are obliged to give up the ghost on the same spot.
The Pretender receives an intimation through General Campbell, from his Majesty, King George, that he is at liberty to take his departure from the kingdom, and to take any of his associates along with him. Hugh Redgauntlet embarks with him for the Continent, and the rest of the Jacobites having received pardon from his Majesty, return to their homes. From these transactions, Darsie Latimer, alias Sir Arthur Darsie Redgauntlet, obtains his liberty; and he is presented, in course of time, to his Majesty, by General Campbell
. Alan Fairford is ultimately married to Lilias; and the other characters, mentioned in the course of the story, are disposed of in various ways, according to their different merits.
We have given a slight sketch of the Novel before us, by pointing out the principal characters and occurrences represented in it; which is all that can be done in such a narrow space as we are able to spare for our remarks. several other personages called into action in the course of the story, whose characters exhibit a good picture of the effects of habits and education on individuals of different natural dispositions. These are so well delineated, as to show the author to possess a correct knowledge of human nature,
We fear that most of the readers of “the Redgauntlet” will quarrel with the first volume of it, as it consists of nothing but letters. Much fictitious epistolary-correspondence is neither interesting nor amusing to the reader, and it does not stamp on the mind an idea of the characters, as well as a descriptive narration. As a proof of the correctness of this remark, the author of the present novel finds it necessary to draw a second picture of the characters of his heroes in the second volume, so as to render the existence of the first almost unnecessary. The second volume is written chiefly in the form of a journal, which will be found both interesting and entertaining. The rest of the work is in the form of a narrative, where the different characters are brought very appositely into action.
The language of the present novel is pure and expressive: it conveys the ideas of the writer in their full force; and, independently of the epistolary part of the work, which is, in our opinion, rather too extensive, the readers of the Redgauntlet” will derive both pleasure and amusement in perusing it; and they will find, that the author of “Waverley" stands as high as ever in the scale of literary characters.
Cristal It , the
Ted and the katia ne per
ut his drapi
Poems on sacred Subjects. To which are added several Mis.
cellaneous. By Richard Ryan.—12mo. pp. 93. London: Sherwood and Jones.
It is not easy to give a satisfactory reason for the general ill success of sacred poetry. Whether it has arisen from a distaste to such effusions in the public mind; from a preconceived, but in our opinion, unfounded notion of their unpoetical nature; or from having been cultivated chiefly by men uninspired by the genuine spirit of poetry. The ill success of some, whose failure arose from their own want of talent, may have deterred others whose powers were undoubted, from entering the lists: and the idea of having for readers chiefly those, who, from their station in life, and their poverty of education, would have been little able to enter into their feelings, and appreciate their excellencies, has undoubtedly deterred some poets, of the highest class, from pursuing so ennobling a theme, and aiming at so glorious a flight. Johnson says
, even of the divine Watts, that “it is sufficient for him to have done better than others, what nobody has done well.” This freezing sentence has chilled sacred poetry to the present day. Cowper, indeed, has done much to redeem it, and so has Mrs. Barba uld; and Kirke White has left some beautiful gems:such as
“The Star of Bethlehem;”—but much more may done, and we trust will, to re-string the harp of Zion. But let not men, instigated merely by pious feeling, but uninfluenced by the Muses, still farther assist in its degradation : they have already untuned its strings, and it requires a mas. ter-hand to blend them into harmony again. Byron could have done the world this service, as his “ Hebrew Melodies" tes. tify; and happy had it been for us and himself, had his will been equal to his power.
We do not, however, mean to say that the author now before us has done dis-service to the cause of sacred poesy. Many of his pieces are pleasing, and the versification is generally easy and correct;-take the following for an example: 66 When the first ray of morn shall be faintly revealing,
And night and its gloom shall be hastening away,
To HIM, who hath watch'd o'er our sleep as we lay.
With nought but the Sea-waves to circle their head,
Then may we be found when the day is revealing,
And night and her glories are hastening away,
To Him, who bath watched o'er our sleep as we lay." If his imagination do not take any very lofty flights, yet he is not destitute of fancy, as too many rhymsters have been. Greater names have been subjoined to worse verses than the following:
“In this remote sequester'd bower,
Darkens the grove where laurels rear,
For true devotion-it is here.
And night-dews deck the verdant ground,
And shed their glories all around.
O'er pine-clad hill, and moon- light glade,
Seems in a death-like slumber laid.
Teach me to follow virtue's track,
In mercy call thy wand'rer back.
grace from Thee
Life's sea to regions of the blest,
VOL. I. PART I.