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in the impression of contrasts. It would present no room for equipoise. Imagination would be responsible for no adjustment. Minds of high order cannot exist stinted of such range. A uniform sombre quality would not answer to all we know of our life and our heart. There is a form of properties which we call Nature, and to this, mind should truly agree. See it in the heaven and in the earth! Is all there dread ? Has it no changeful aspects? Is there no mirth ? So Shakspeare owed to the perfection of his mind this control of all extremes: and his intellect is beheld sublime and beautiful, awful and tender, just as a soft landscape dimpling some haggard waste; or as an Iris spanning the torrent's plunge. It is the homogeneous intellect which we love to find in this diversity of operation. There is but one law of impulse. The Geyser often presents but the sparkling lake: but the lake often boils up, from a hidden fire. He, too, is simple as any of Nature's calms: he can be terrific as any of its convulsions. We do not think it strange that he should be the master-spirit of both the veins : but we dare not attempt to weigh the exact proportion and side of his merits. Like a monarch, on his coronation-day, we may not say, of the two sceptres offered him, which he more naturally carries or rightfully claims !
I shall repeat nothing that was offered in a former Essay upon the too spontaneous, too complacent, introduction of grossness in many of this Author's works. I will say nothing on that question of personal consistency which respects admiration of the dramatic structure of poetry, and specially of the productions of this bard, and disapprobation of theatrical establishments and exhibitions. He must be read,—he ought to be read, —and my humble province has been to show what are some of his merits, and also to suggest some cautions in his perusal. There are times when even he must not be excused our sorrow and disgust. But when I recall the fine, noble, sentiments of religion which often warm his page,—when I dwell upon his careful discernment of the human heart,-when I behold his nature and his truth,—when I think of the magician who can crowd his circle with fairy and goblin, the heroes of mythos and the heroes of history, prince and peasant, courtier and clown, Titania that zephyr, Caliban that earth,—when I mark well his reverence for virtue, and specially for female virtue, his guardianship of the virgin and matronly white robe,—when I see at every wicket and doorstead his image as the Lar of all household fidelity and love,-when I hear in his voice the clarion of liberty,—when I find that he has spoken to kings as they were never before addressed, and to peoples as they were never before represented, furnishing manuals for both,—when I trace the language universal which he easily enunciates, dialogue for the council, harangue for the forum, rally-cry for the host,—the subdued phrase of the palace, the majestic oratory of the throne, together with strains in which poets sing and philosophers descant, in which lovers whisper and friends confer, in which the mob shouts and the housewife chides,--the sweetest iambic of rhythm, the noblest instrument of eloquence,—when I muse all this,—the depth to which I believe no other man has reached, the power of which I believe no other man has held the
grasp, the minstrelsy of every chord which I believe he alone could strike, and which of all men he only could direct as it floated around him,—then scarcely can I put a check upon my wonder, or set a bound to my homage,-(though finding and conveying no apology in the sentiment for whatever there may be of vice :)
“ Ubi plura nitent, .........non ego paucis
Hor: Ars Poet: 351.
" Posthabui tamen illorum mea seria ludo."
VIRGIL._Eclogue vii. 17.
“ Words are grown so false, I am loth to prove reason with them."
ON THE YORKSHIRE DIALECT.
“ WRETCH !" exclaimed the Earl of Glenallan to Elspeth, in spite of his determination to preserve silence,—“Wretched woman! what cause of hate could have arisen from a being so innocent and gentle ?"
“ I hated what my mistress hated, as was the use with the liege vassals of the house of Glenallan ; for though, my lord, I married under my degree, yet an ancestor of yours never went to the field of battle, but an ancestor of the frail, demented, auld, useless wretch wha now speaks with you, carried his shield before him. But that was not a',” continued the beldam, her earthly and evil passions rekindling as she became heated in her narration : “ that was not a'-I hated Miss Eveline Neville for her ain sake I brought her frae England, and, during our whole journey she gecked and scorned at my northern speech, as her southland leddies and kimmers had done at the boardingschool as they ca'd it,” (and strange as it may seem, she spoke of an affront offered by a heedless school-girl without intention, with a degree of inveteracy, which at such a distance of time, a mortal offence would neither have authorised nor excited in any well-constituted mind). “ Yes, she scorned and jested at me-but let them that scorn the tartan fear the dirk."
This passage, extracted from the well-known Tale of the ANTIQUARY,—a work which always appeared to me to contain the highest compositions and the most imaginative conceptions of the entire series, proudly original as it is, to which it belongs, -this passage is very true to nature, and receives no little support from experience. Men will better endure any inquisition than into their minor peculiarities, and suffer any sarcasm rather than at the expense of them. A nervous acuteness, a morbid irritability, is often betrayed when these accidental and superficial qualities are exposed and touched, unknown to the real character and strikingly in variance with it. The reason of the little guard we place upon our temper, when these trifling eccentricities are sportively unveiled or critically discussed, is simply this, that we are conscious of their insignificance and of our inability to defend them. But the exercise of wit where any feeling, however unreasonably capricious, is interested, is the cruel handling of a dangerous weapon. The delicacy of its use is no justification, and is not seldom more fatal than its ruder flourish.-Communities have, if not their weak, their tender parts, their corporate prejudices and petulancies, as well as the individual : and if aggression be carried against them, not more monstrous is the revenge than egregious the impolicy. The idle laugh, the flippant censure, sink deeper than was supposed or intended, -and will often be repaid with a force and bitterness of resentment, so unmeasured to justice that it indeed cancels the wrong, but still leaving those arrears which wounded vanity and mortified pride never can deem discharged. Sterne's Eugenius shows forth the fate of those who, in the exuberance of cheerfulness rather than of spleen, trifle with others,--who when they speak do not think,—who having spoken, do not remember. And having proposed to myself a theme (though certainly not altogether without the solicitations of others, which must involve local sympathies and prepossessions, I commenced with this abrupt quotation to warn myself against any feeling,—even the most momentary, the most casual, the most possibly subject to misconstruction,-of disrespect to this portion of our country. I never saw that one which I should prefer. Here I have gathered a kindred and found a home. Far other is my purpose; and though a playful expression will now and then occur, as some uncouth sound may arise and some strange combination may be presented, like a merry cognizance on the rusty shield of Antiquity, or a green sucker around the dry roots of Philology, --such expression shall be uttered with neither satire nor discourtesy.