Imagens das páginas

him. He gave me an account of his having seen the body of James V. (father to Mary Queen of Scots), several years ago, in such perfect preservation, that the resemblance of the features to the portraits of that king, was quite distinct.

“ Nothing in Edinburgh delights me so much as the Calton Hill, which I visit whenever I have an opportunity, and on which stands the unfinished Parthenon, with its graceful pillars. The view from the summit, of the strange gloomy Old Town, piled deep and massy, close and high,' and all the classic buildings and columns of the New, is quite unparalleled. All this, too, lies set in a frame of hills of the boldest outline. I have not yet felt strong enough to ascend Arthur's Seat, and almost fear that I must not think of it, as I have violent palpitations of the heart when over fatigued. Charlie goes out every morning, to draw from nature, as he calls it, some of the fine public buildings of Edinburgh, and has now quite a series of these sketches, which I am sure you will like to see.”

“ I have just returned from paying the visit I mentioned to Mr. Mackenzie, the • Man of Feeling,' and have been exceedingly interested. He is now very infirm, and his powers of mind are often much affected by the fitfulness of nervous indisposition, so that his daughter, who introduced me to his sitting-room, said very mournfully as we entered, • You will see but the wreck of my father. However, on my making some allusion, after his first kind and gentle reception of me, to the men of other times, with whom he had lived in such brilliant association, it was really like the effect produced on the · Last Minstrel —

when he caught the measure wild ; The old man raised his face, and smiled,

And lighted up his faded eye;' for he became immediately excited, and all his furrowed countenance seemed kindling with recollections of a race gone by. It was singular to hear anecdotes of Hume, and Robertson, and Gibbon, and the other intellectual .giants of old,' from one who had mingled with their minds in familiar converse. I felt as if carried back at least a century.

“Ah!' said he, half playfully, half sadly, there were men in Scotland then !' I could not help thinking of the story of • Ogier the Dane'—do you recollect his grasping the iron crow of the peasant who broke into his sepulchre, and exclaiming, “It is well, there are men in Denmark still ? Poor Miss Mackenzie was so much affected by the sudden and almost unexpected awakening of her father's mind, that, on leaving the room with me, she burst into tears, and was some time before she could conquer her strong emotion. I hope to have another interview with this delightful old man before I leave Edinburgh.

“ Yesterday I went to visit a fine colossal group of sculpture, Ajax bearing away the body of Patroclus, which has just been completed by an Edinburgh artist, and is exciting much interest here. Its effect, standing as it does, quite alone, in the midst of a large hall hung with dark crimson, is exceedingly imposing ; and the contrast of life and death in the forms of the combating and the departed warrior, struck me as full of power and thought.

“ A few nights ago, I made a party to walk through some of the most beautiful streets by moonlight. We went along Prince's Street, to the foot of the Calton Hill, and gazed down upon Holyrood, lying so dark and still in its desolateness, and forming so strong a contrast to the fair pillars of the Hill, which looked more pure and aerial than ever, as they rose against the moonlight sky. Mais qu'ils se passent des orages au fond du caur !'' and how little can those around one form an idea, from outward signs, of what may be overshadowing the inner world of the heart. Such a sense of strangeness and loneliness came suddenly over me, surrounded as I was, amidst all this dusky magnificence, by acquaintance of yesterday. I felt as if all I loved were so far, far removed from me, that I could have burst into tears from the rush of this unaccountable emotion.”

The adulation and excitement with which she was surrounded, however animating and amusing at the moment, could not but be followed, to a heart and frame constituted like hers, by a reaction of inward depression and physical languor. Amidst all her lively details, there are continual allusions to “ the pure and home-feeling-the cup of water—to which I turn from all else that is offered me, as I would to a place of shelter from the noon-day;" and she gratefully wrote of finding Lady Wedderburn's " maternal kindness, as a soft green to the soul amidst all this excitement." She was singularly impressed by the picture at Holyrood House, shown as that of Rizzio. The authenticity of this designation is said to be more than doubtful; but hers was not a mind for question or cavil on points of this nature. The “ local habitation and the name” were in themselves sufficient to awaken her fancy and to satisfy her faith. As Rizzio's portrait, it took its place in her imagination; and the train of deep and mournful thoughts it suggested, imbued, as was her wont, with the colouring of her own individual feelings, was embodied in the lines “ To a remembered Picture:"-.

“ They haunt me still — those calm, pure, holy eyes !

Their piercing sweetness wanders through my dreams;
The soul of music that within them lies,
Comes o'er my soul in soft and sudden gleams:
Life - spirit — life immortal and divine
Is there — and yet how dark a death was thine !"

In a very different strain was a jeu d'esprit produced at this time, which owed its origin to a simple remark on the unseasonableness of the weather; made by Mrs. Hemans to Mr. Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, whom she was in the habit of seeing at Sir David Wedderburn's. “It is so little like summer,” she said, “ that I have not even seen a butterfly.” “A butterfly!" retorted Mr. Sharpe—"I have not even seen a wasp!” The next morning, as if in confutation of this calumny, a wasp made its appearance at Lady Wedderburn's breakfast table. Mrs. Hemans immediately proposed that it should be made a prisoner, inclosed in a bottle, and sent to Mr. Sharpe: this was accordingly done, and the piquant missive was acknowledged by him as follows:


Poor insect! rash as rare!—Thy sovereign, sure,
Hath driven thee to Siberia in disgrace-
Else what delusion could thy sense allure,
To buzz and sting in this unwholesome place, .
Where e'en the hornet's hoarser, and the race
Of filmy wing are feeble?-Honey here
(Scarce as its rhyme) thou findest not.-Ah! beware
Thy golden mail, to starved Arachne dear;:
Though fingers famed, that thrill th' immortal lyre,
Have pent thee up, a second Asmodeus,
I wail thy doom-I warm thee by the fire,
And blab our secrets-do not thou betray us !
I give thee liberty, I give thee breath,

To fly from Athens, Eurus, Doctors, Death !!"

To this Mrs. Hemans returned the following rejoinder:

Sooth'd by the strain, the Wasp thus made reply-
(The first, last time he spoke not waspishly) -
“Too late, kind Poet! comes thine aid, thy song,
To aught first starved, then bottled up so long.
Yet, for the warmth of this thy genial fire,
Take a Wasp's blessing ere his race expire.
Never may provost's foot find entrance here!
Never may bailie's voice invade thine ear!
Never may housemaid wipe the verd antique
From coin of thine-Assyrian, Celt, or Greek!

Never may Eurus cross thy path !-to thee . May winds and wynds : alike propitious be!

* Beelzebub is the king of flies.
* A beautiful allusion to our starving weavers.
3 Alluding to antiquarian visits to these renowned closes.

« AnteriorContinuar »