« 이전계속 »
in which it was extinguished—these and other important particulars in the Romance, are historical facts, and as such, add a deeper interest to the fictions which are founded upon them.Enough, and just enough, is known of them to excite the imagie nation, and to awaken curiosity. A broad foundation is furnished for any fabric, however visionary and fantastical. The history of the period bodies forth the forms of such things, and it only remains for the poet or the novelist to give them a local habitation and a name. When the Clan Chattan and the Clan Quhele met at the North Inch of Perth to settle their feuds by a deadly combat of picked warriors, one of the former was absent: his place was supplied by an artisan of the town, who offered his services in the perilous conflict for half a crown That burgess was our Smith of the Wynd. All the champions of the Clan Quhele were slain except one, who fled away and cast himself into the river that washed the edge of the battle ground, that survivor was Conachar or Eachin Mac Ian, the rival in love of the redoubtable Smith. Rothsay, starving to death in the donjon-keep of Falkland castle, is kept alive by such scanty supplies of food as could be furnished him through a crevice in the subterranean prison wall by two females, whom accident led to the spot, and his groans informed that he was there these were the Fair Maid of Perth, and poor Louise, the wandering glee, woman. We freely give the author credit for the like accuracy, and verisimilitude in the other characters—those of Ramorny, the Pottingar, &c. There is so much historical truth in his narrative, that we are willing to believe all, and this seems to us to be the very perfection-so far as the fable and the costume are concerned of the Historical Romance. But we forget that our readers are not supposed to be acquainted with the subject, and we now proceed to give them a more particular account of it.
The scene of the novel is laid at Perth, about the close of the fourteenth century, during the reign of Robert III. of that name, and the second of the house of Stuart.
This famous town, at the period referred to, was the abode of a young woman, whose singular beauty had acquired for her, the title of the Fair Maid of Perth, and never failed to attract the notice of the gallant cavaliers of the Court, whenever it happened to reside in that city. But Katie Glover was not more remarkable for her personal charms than for the strictest propriety of conduct, and for a certain disposition to pensiveness and reserve, which had given rise to an opinion that she was secretly inclined to abandon the world, and to bury herself in the recesses of a cloister. Especially did she decline the at
tentions of the courtiers, who took any pains to conciliate her good will—a determination which her father, old Simon, the glover, of Couvrefew or Curfew-street, was particularly careful to confirm her in. “ To-morrow is St. Valentine's day, said he, but you shall not see the linnet pair with the sparrow-hawk, nor the robin-red-breast with the kite.” But as it was holy-tide even, it became them, he added, to go to the vesper service, and pray that beaven might send her a good Valentine. So, laying aside a hawking Glove which she was embroidering for a lady of distinction, and donning her holiday kirtle, the beautiful maiden set out with her father for the monastery of the Blackfriars. The reverend aspect of the old Glover, with his velvet jerkin and gold chain, and the beauty of his daughter-though she wore a screen like the Flemish mantilla, commanded the attention and respectful salutations of all whom they met. They were accompanied by a tall, handsome young man, in a yeoman's habit, with a staff in his hand, according to the custom which forbade persons of that degree to appear in the streets, armed with sword or dirk. Although the ostensible object of Conachar's attendance (for that was the name of the youth) was to afford aid or protection to the old man, if need were, it was evident that his looks and thoughts were much more engrossed by the daughter, who seemed, on all occasions, to exercise an unbounded influence over him.
By and by, they are overtaken by a tall young man, wrapped in a cloak, which partly concealed his face, who salutes them, but is very cavalierly received by the Glover. After inquiring of Simon, carelessly, about a buff doublet, he whispered into the ear of Catharine a word of despairing love, for which the prudent girl chid him, as she had been instructed to do by her father, reminding him that hawks, much less eagles, may not pair with linnets, &c. Old Simon is still more unceremonious, and the result is, that “his nobility" takes it all in high dudgeon, and vows that he will make this princess of doe-skin and blue-skin" rue her intractableness and assurance in refusing such an advantageous offer. A slight scuffle ensues between the young stranger and Conochar, who had jostled him rather rudely in passing, and presently the former is seen to beckon to two men, who come to him, and after a few moments of earnest conversation, retire one way, while he goes another.
After the Vesper service was over, the old Glover and his daughter remained for some time in church to make their shrifts so that it was very late before they set out to return home. A walk by night, in such an age of violence and misrule, was, at all times, more or less dangerous, at least for a fair maiden, but
more especially after what had just passed between them and the young stranger. On their way home, Conachar stepping up to the Glover, said to him “master, walk faster, we are dogged." Accordingly, old Simon falling behind his daughter and his young companion, observed a man following them step by step in a very stealthy and suspicious manner. At length, however, they arrived at the Glover's house, who seeing his daughter now fairly out of harm's way, called upon his unknown follower to declare himself and his purposes. He was answered in one of the deepest tones that ever satisfied an interrogator, and he immediately recognised in the respondent no other person than his crony, HENRY Gow, who was just returned to Perth after an absence of some time. In a moment the Gow is pulled into the parlour (which, according to the Scottish custom served for a kitchen also) a lamp is blazing, Dorothy cooking them a supper, and the guest, seated before a cheerful fire, recounting the adventures of his late journey. As this Henry Gow is a very important personage in our history, being no less than its hero, we present to our readers the following portrait of him :
“Their unknown attendant now stood in full light among them, and though his appearance was neither dignified nor handsome, his face and figure were not only deserving of atten on, but seemed in some manner to command it. He was rather below the middle stature, but the breadth of his shoulders, length and brawniness of his arms, and the muscular appearance of the whole man, argueil a most unusual share of strength, and a frame kept in vigour by constant exercise. His legs were somewhat bent, but not in a manner which could be said to approach to deformity; on the contrary, which seemed to correspond to the strength of his frame, though it injured, in some degree, its symmetry. His dress was of buff-hide; and he wore in a belt, around his waist, a heavy broad-sword, and a dirk poniard, as if to defend his purse, which (burgher-fashion) was attached to the same cincture. The head was well proportioned, round, close cropped, and curled thickly with black hair. There was daring and resolution in the dark eye, but the other features seemed to express a bashful timidity, mingled with good humour, and obvious satisfaction at meeting with his old friends. Abstracted from the bashful expression, which was that of the moment, the forehead of Henry Gow, or Smith, (for he was indifferently so called, as both words equally indicated his profession) was high and noble, but the lower part of the face was less happily formed. The mouth was large, and well-furnished with a set of firm and beautiful teeth, the appearance of which corresponded with the air of personal health and muscular strength, which the whole frame indicated. A short thick beard, and moustaches which had lately been arranged with some care, completed the picture. His age could not exceed eight-and-twenty.” Vol. i. p. 35.
At this period there occurs an incident apparently trivial, but which leads to such important consequences in the sequel, and is so necessary to a proper understanding of the whole plot, that we must dwell upon it more particularly. The Glover after some time passed in conversation with the Gow, remarks with displeasure, that Conachar is not present, and bids Dorothy, who informs him that the youth is retired to bed in his cock-loft, call him down immediately and set him about his business. The call was answered with a sullen murmur, and presently after the unwilling apprentice inakes his appearance, and with a gloomy and haughty countenance, proceeds to discharge the duties of a menial servant, in spreading the board, arranging the trenchers, &c. A significant look from Catharine however, made him suppress his dissatisfaction as well as he might for some time, until in the course of the conversation, the Smith spoke his mind rather too freely of the wild Highlandmen, for whom he was very far from entertaining a due degree of respect. The consequence was, that Conachar, who was a Celt, refused to serve him to ale, until he was compelled to do so by his master, and then he contrived to empty the contents of the can into the bosom instead of the goblet of the Gow. A scuffle ensues, in which the irascible youth stabs his muscular adversary in the neck, without doing more harm than drawing a little blood, and then quietly leaves the room, nobody caring to pursue him. After the composure of the company had been somewhat restored, Catharine undertook to give the Smith (as it seems to have been her custom to do) a long lecture about the abominable sin of homicide, and the barbarous spirit of that iron age, concluding her philosophical capucinade, which is in rather a more elevated strain than beseems a glover's daughter in the fourteenth century, with an earnest exhortation to her catechumen, that he should never again use, or even handle arms. The enamoured armourer (for so he was) exhibits all the docility and contrition which might be expected of a lover on such an occasion ; but, at the same time, presumes to suggest the difficulty, that as he lives by making arms, it would be impossible for him not to see, and seeing, not to handle and to use them. The old Glover, however, who is pre-determined that Henry Gow shall be his daughter's Valentine, precisely because he is unrivalled in bis profitable craft, loses all patience at the bare idea of his abandoning it, and rewards Kate's philosophy, by ordering her, rather rudely, to quit the room. The guest is now about retiring, but Simon will not consent to it. A three-quart bottle here makes its appearance, and an edifying tête-a-tête ensues, in which the Smith talks in rather a puling strain of his pas
sion for the Fair Maid of Perth, whom he “holds as a thing ensky'd and sainted,” and at last declares himself jealous of Conachar. The Glover assures him if he wishes it, he will send the “land-louper” adrift the next morning, adding, that his services as an apprentice were worth nothing, since he cut all his gloves out for the right hand, and never could finish a pair in his life. The reply of the Smith will remind the reader of the amusing reasons given in Don Quixotte for Angelica's preference of Medoro to Orlando.
“No doubt, his notions of skin-cutting are rather different,' said Henry. But with your leave, father, I would only say, that work he, or be he idle, he has no bleared eyes—no hands seared with the hot iron, and welked by the use of the fore-hammer-no hair rusted in the smoke, and singed in the furnace, like the hide of a badger, rather than what is fit to be covered with a Christian bonnet. Now, let Catharine be as good a wench as ever lived, and I will uphold her to be the best in Perth, yet she must see and know that these thivgs make a difference betwixt man and man, and that the difference is not in my favour.'
• Here is to thee, with all my heart, son Harry,' said the old man, filling a brimmer to his companion, and another to himself; “I see, that good smith as thou art, thou ken’st not the mettle that women are made of. Thou must be bold, Henry; and bear thyself not as if thou wert going to the gallow-lee, but like a gay young fellow, who knows his own worth, and will not be slighted by the best grandchild Eve ever had. Catharine is a woman like her mother, and thou thinkest foolishly to suppose they are all set on what pleases the eye. Their ear must be pleased too, man; they must know that he whom they favour is bold and buxom, and might have the love of twenty, though he is sueing for theirs. Believe an old man, women walk more by what others think than by what they think themselves; and when she asks for the boldest man in Perth, whom shall she hear named but Harry Burn-the-wind ?—The best armourer that ever fashioned weapon on anvil ? why Harry Smith again—The tightest dancer at the May-pole? -why, the lusty smith—
The gayest troller of ballads ?—why, who but Harry Gow?- The best wrestler, sword-and-buckler player-the king of the weapon-shawing--the breaker of mad horses—the lamer of wild Highlandmen ?-ever more it is thee-thecano one but thee.—And shall Catharine prefer yonder slip of a Highland boy to thee? Pshaw! she might as well make a steel gauntlet out of kid's leather. I tell thee, Conachar is nothing to her, but so far as she would fain prevent the devil having his due of him, as of other Highlandmen-God bless her, poor thing, she would bring all mankind to better thoughts if she could.'
• In which she will fail to a certainty,' said the Smith, who, as the reader may have noticed, had no good will to the Highland race. I will wager on Old Nick, of whom I should know something, he being indeed a worker in the same element with myself, against Catharine on that debate the devil will have the tartan; that is sure enough.'