Imágenes de páginas

tinued moving from place to place will prevent our becoming learned in village affairs; we are mere creatures of rivers, lakes, and mountains. Our yesterday's journey was from Treby to Wigton, and from Wigton to Carlisle. The cathedral does not appear very fine; the castle is very ancient, and of brick. The city is very various; old, whitewashed, narrow streets, broad, red-brick ones, more modern. I will tell you anon whether the inside of the cathedral is worth looking at. It is built of sandy red stone, or brick. We have now walked 114 miles, and are merely a little tired in the thighs, and a little blistered. We shall ride 38 miles to Dumfries, when we shall linger awhile about Nithsdale and Galloway. I have written two letters to Liverpool. I found a letter from sister George; very delightful indeed I shall preserve it in the bottom of my knapsack for you.

July 2nd.

[ocr errors]


The town, the church-yard, and the setting sun,
The clouds, the trees, the rounded hills all seem,
Though beautiful, cold—strange-as in a dream,
I dreamed long ago, now new begun.

The short-lived, paly, Summer is but won
From Winter's ague, for one hour's gleam;
Though sapphire-warm, their stars do never beam :
All is cold Beauty; pain is never done;
For who has mind to relish, Minos-wise,
The Real of Beauty, free from that dead hue
Sickly imagination and sick pride

Cast wan upon it! Burns! with honor due

I oft have honor'd thee. Great shadow, hide
Thy face; I sin against thy native skies.

You will see by this sonnet that I am at Dumfries. We have dined in Scotland. Burns's tomb is in the church-yard corner, not very much to my taste, though on a scale large enough to show they wanted to honor him. Mrs. Burns lives in this place; most likely we shall see her to-morrow. This sonnet I have written in a strange mood, half-asleep. I know not how it is, the

clouds, the sky, the houses, all seem anti-Grecian and anti-Charlemagnish. I will endeavor to get rid of my prejudices and tell you fairly about the Scotch.

In Devonshire they say, "Well, where be ye going?" Here it is, "How is it wi' yoursel?" A man on the coach said the horses took a "hellish heap o' drivin;" the same fellow pointed out Burns's Tomb with a deal of life-" There! de ye see it, amang the trees-white, wi' a roond tap ?" The first well-dressed Scotchman we had any conversation with, to our surprise, confessed himself a deist. The careful manner of delivering his opinions, not before he had received several encouraging hints from us, was very amusing. Yesterday was an immense horsefair at Dumfries, so that we met numbers of men and women on the road, the women nearly all barefoot, with their shoes and clean stockings in hand, ready to put on and look smart in the towns. There are plenty of wretched cottages whose smoke has no outlet but by the door. We have now begun upon whisky, called here "whuskey,"-very smart stuff it is. Mixed like our liquors, with sugar and water, 'tis called toddy; very pretty drink, and much praised by Burns.

[ocr errors]

Besides the above sonnet, Keats wrote another in the whiskyshop, into which the cottage where Burns was born was converted, which seems to me much the better of the two. The "local color" is strong in it: it might have been written where "Willie brewed a peck o' maut," and its geniality would have delighted the object of its admiration. Nevertheless the author wrote of it to Haydon thus disparagingly :

"The bonnie Doon' is the sweetest river I ever saw-overhung with fine trees as far as we could see. We stood some time on the 'brig' o'er which Tam o' Shanter fled-we took a pinch of snuff on the key stone-then we proceeded to the auld Kirk of Alloway. Then we went to the cottage in which Burns was born; there was a board to that effect by the door's side; it had the same effect as the same sort of memorial at Stratford-uponAvon. We drank some toddy to Burns's memory with an old man who knew him. There was something good in his descrip

tion of Burns's melancholy the last time he saw him. I was determined to write a sonnet in the cottage: I did, but it was so bad I cannot venture it here."


This mortal body of a thousand days

Now fills, O Burns, a space in thine own room,
Where thou didst dream alone on budded bays,

Happy and thoughtless of thy day of doom!
My pulse is warm with thine old Barley-bree,

My head is light with pledging a great soul,
My eyes are wandering, and I cannot see,

Fancy is dead and drunken at its goal;
Yet can I stamp my foot upon thy floor,

Yet can I ope thy window-sash to find
The meadow thou hast tramped o'er and o'er-

Yet can I think of thee till thought is blind,—
Yet can I gulp a bumper to thy name,-

O smile among the shades, for this is fame!

The pedestrians passed by Solway Frith through that delightful part of Kircudbrightshire, the scene of "Guy Mannering." Keats had never read the novel, but was much struck with the character of Meg Merrilies as delineated to him by Brown. He seemed at once to realize the creation of the novelist, and, suddenly stopping in the pathway, at a point where a profusion of honeysuckles, wild rose, and fox-glove, mingled with the bramble and broom that filled up the spaces between the shattered rocks, he cried out, "Without a shadow of doubt on that spot has old Meg Merrilies often boiled her kettle."

AUCHTERCAIRN, 3d July, [1818.]


We are now in Meg Merrilies' country, and have, this morning, passed through some parts exactly suited to her. Kircudbright County is very beautiful, very wild, with craggy hills, somewhat in the Westmoreland fashion. We have come down from Dumfries to the sea-coast part of it. The following song you will have from Dilke, but perhaps you would like it


Old Meg she was a gipsy,

And lived upon the moors;

Her bed it was the brown heath turf,
And her house was out of doors.
Her apples were swart blackberries,
Her currants, pods o' broom;
Her wine was dew of the wild white rose,
Her book a church-yard tomb.

Her brothers were the craggy hills,
Her sisters larchen trees;
Alone with her great family

She lived as she did please.
No breakfast had she many a morn,

No dinner many a noon,

And, 'stead of supper, she would stare
Full hard against the moon.

But every morn, of woodbine fresh
She made her garlanding,

And, every night, the dark glen yew
She, wove, and she would sing.
And with her fingers, old and brown,
She plaited mats of rushes,

And gave them to the cottagers
She met among the bushes.

Old Meg was brave as Margaret Queen,
And tall as Amazon,

An old red blanket cloak she wore,

A ship-hat had she on :

God rest her aged bones somewhere!
She died full long agone!

Yesterday was passed at Kircudbright; the country is very rich, very fine, and with a little of Devon. I am now writing at Newton Stewart, six miles from Wigton. Our landlady of yesterday said, "very few Southerners passed hereaways." The children jabber away, as if in a foreign language; the bare-footed girls look very much in keeping,—I mean with the scenery about them. Brown praises their cleanliness and appearance of comfort, the neatness of their cottages, &c. It may be. They are very squat among trees and fern, and heath and broom, on levels, slopes and heights; but I wish they were as snug as those up the

Devonshire valleys. We are lodged and entertained in great varieties. We dined, yesterday, on dirty bacon, dirtier eggs, and dirtiest potatoes, with a slice of salmon; we breakfast, this morning, in a nice carpeted room, with sofa, hair-bottomed chairs, and green-baized mahogany. A spring by the road-side is always welcome we drink water for dinner, diluted with a gill of whisky.


July 6th.-Yesterday morning we set out for Glenluce, going some distance round to see some rivers: they were scarcely worth the while. We went on to Stranraer, in a burning sun, and had gone about six miles when the mail overtook us: we got up, were at Port Patrick in a jiffey, and I am writing now in little Ireland. The dialects on the neighboring shores of Scotland and Ireland are much the same, yet I can perceive a great difference in the nations, from the chamber-maid at this nate Toone kept by Mr. Kelly. She is fair, kind, and ready to laugh, because she is out of the horrible dominion of the Scotch Kirk. These Kirk-men have done Scotland good. They have made men, women, old men, young men, old women, young women, boys, girls, and all infants, careful; so that they are formed into regular phalanges of savers and gainers. Such a thrifty army cannot fail to enrich their country, and give it a greater appearance of comfort than that of their poor rash neighborhood. These Kirk-men have done Scotland harm ;-they have banished puns, love, and laughing. To remind you of the fate of Burns :-poor, unfortunate fellow! his disposition was southern! How sad it is when a luxurious imagination is obliged, in self-defence, to deaden its delicacy in vulgarity and in things attainable, that it may not have leisure to go mad after things that are not! No man, in such matters, will be content with the experience of others. It is true that out of suffering there is no dignity, no greatness, that in the most abstracted pleas ure there is no lasting happiness. Yet, who would not like to discover, over again, that Cleopatra was a gipsy, Helen a rogue, and Ruth a deep one? I have not sufficient reasoning faculty to settle the doctrine of thrift, as it is consistent with the dignity of human society-with the happiness of cottagers: all I can do is by plump contrasts were the fingers made to squeeze a guinea or a white hand?-were the lips made to hold a pen or a kiss? And yet, in

« AnteriorContinuar »