Puslapio vaizdai

When the pathway opened on the circular the country, and the predilection which Highvalley we have already described, with the cot- landers have for it, most of them were filled, tages of the quiet and peaceful little hamlet seen rather as a matter of fancied addition to the clustered on the swelling ground beyond, with comfort and warmth, perhaps, of the inmates, their light smoke curling upwards into the clear than as any evil of which they cannot rid themair, the flat bottom that intervened, once an selves. He sat down humbly and unostentaunprofitable sheet of water, now covered with tiously, to converse with their owners, and was the richest possible crops, all resulting from his searching in his inquiries into their most minute own beneficial outlay, we envied him the feelings concerns—their marriages and births, their illthat must have arisen in his heart. Here, in nesses and deaths, soothing and consoling as he this wild and remote corner, he had provided went, and questioning them as to their little food and comfort for a considerable number of wants, and giving substantial proofs of his desire human beings, to an extent which was, individu- to see them supplied. He was particularly solially, much beyond what falls to the share of citous about the success of the schools which he people in the same humble condition of life, even had established, both for girls and boys, and he in some of the richest counties of fair England, called on the master and mistress, and made seveand that at rents so small as to be scarcely more ral new and beneficial arrangements regarding than nominal. Our wonder, indeed, might not them. Meanwhile his family physician, a most be much if this were the only settlement of this benevolent man, had his head and his hands kind in Sutherland, or if it were the only one so fully occupied by the swarm of patients, with beneficently dealt with. But it only furnishes a all the ills that flesh is heir to, who came about fair and true sample of all those that are to be him to benefit by his skill. The doctor infound around its coasts. As he followed the path quired with exemplary patience into all their through the corn, which concealed two-thirds of ailments— felt their pulses — looked at their our height as we passed along, his inquiries were tongues-noted down their names, and the prenumerous as to the holders of the different posses- scriptions they required-examined their hurts, sions; and his remarks on their respective crops, and their infirmities of all kinds-administered and his commendations on their industry, ap- such immediate relief as he could—and pr nised peared to give great gratification to their differ- to send them, without delay, such other remedies ent owners.

as required preparation. His very presence and We may mention, by the way, that at the words seemed to do them good, and many a period of which we are now writing, the fell pallid and despairing cheek appeared to have potato disease was quite unknown in Sutherland; the flush of hope restored to it by his kindly but in a few weeks afterwards it appeared, and manner and expressions. this part of these poor people's crops having By and bye, some of the elders of the place perished, want inust have arisen among them to besought the Duke to go and look at a boata very great extent. But forth stood their pro- creek at some little distance, for which they tector, and, at an expense probably much beyond wanted something to be done in the way of imthat incurred for a similar purpose, which gave provement. The fact was, it was a miserable to a noble Italian family the well-merited, envi- place, incapable of holding more than two or able, and still-enduring name of Frangipani, he three boats, and with an entrance so narrow and bas warded off this infliction; so that this season so exposed to the long surges of the open sea, as of scarcity will pass away over their heads like a to be difficult and dangerous either for ingress or fieeting cloud-its effects altogether unfelt, and egress. The proper haven of the hamlet is Loch altogether unknown, except from the reports they Roe, which is one of the finest harbours for small may hear of the miseries of others, who have less craft that can anywhere be met with, but the reason to bless the beneficence of the landlord. pathway to it being rough and rocky, so that it

How the crowd of men, women, and children, was extremely troublesome to carry fishing gear increased about him as he reached the site the or fisi over it, it was rarely, if ever used, and hamlet itself, where he was welcomed by showers the little creek in question was preferred, as of blessings! There he was entreated, with great being of easy access. But the Duke having modesty, to enter the house of the patriarch of been fully aware of the great advantages which the township, where he, and all of us who were Loch Roe possessed over the miserable creek, of his company, were soon seated and hospitably and having been made aware that these might entertained with bread and cheese ; and the be fully opened up to the poor people of Auch health of the owner of the cottage, and that of Melvich, though at considerable cost, by carryhis noble guest, were mutually pledged with the ing a branch road from the Loch Inver road, kindliest feelings. After this, a familiar conver- which should touch at Loch Roe on its way to sation took place, in which the economy and the hamlet, and which should thus connect the comforts of the family were fully inquired into place not only with its natural harbour, but with and discussed; and this, as we have reason to the rest of the country, by affording it easy acknow, by no means from any mere idle motive. cess to both, at once gave orders that it should But this was not the only domiciliary visit that be carried into execution at his own expense. the good man made; for he went from house to Before leaving Auch Melvich the Duke invited house, entering many of them, regardless of the all the people to come to Loch Inver on a certain smoke with which, according to the custom of day which he named, when he was to give prizes

før boat races, to which they all cordially as- extremely difficult country, that was formerly quite sented.

impervious, but which may now be travelled over The Duke was followed by the whole popula- in every part by carriages of all kinds, without tion to the place in Loch Roe, where the boat lay meeting with a single turnpike gate, or being to receive him, and there we all embarked with asked for toll-every yard of these roads being him, except the doctor, whose labours being not kept in repair at the expense of the proprietor. yet nearly completed, he was left on the rocks, still | Neither do we elsewhere see numerous inns, elefeeling pulses and prescribing, it being so arranged gant in structure, and possessing all the comforts that he was to return by another conveyance. The of the best-appointed English houses of that Duke was no sooneron board than he received three description, start up wherever they are wanted, hearty parting cheers from his people, to whom he at the touch of the golden wands of other Highmade his acknowledgments with moistened eyes. land proprietors, as they have done from that of

It is not every great Highland proprietor who the Dake, all over the Sutherland territory. But can afford to go on, as the Duke does, and as his in regard to these visitations of Christian kindexcellent mother did before him, expending, year ness of which we have had the good fortune to after year, the whole of the revenue of this vast witness the example, which we have now atestate on the country, and the people who yield tempted, though faintly, to describe, there are it. Neither are there many to be found who few who have it not in their power to bestow could, at their own expense, make some four or them, and therefore we may fairly be permitted five hundred miles of roads, as good as those in any to hold up this pattern for imitation, and to call gentleman's pleasure grounds in England, in an upon others to go and do likewise.


BY GEORGE GILFILLAN, AUTHOR OF A “GALLERY OF LITERARY PORTRAITS." There are two classes of character of whom the days ago, we never so much as saw his portrait. biography is likely to be peculiarly interesting. The veil has at length been removed. In the One includes those whose lives have been passed interesting volumes before us we find, and prinin the glare of publicity—who have bulked largely cipally in his own words, a full and faithful regisin public estimation, and who have mingled much ter of the leading events in his life, and of the with the leading characters of the age. The life more interesting movements in his spiritual hisof such includes in it, in fact, a multitude of lives, tory. The book is arranged on a plan somewhat and turns out to be, not a solitary picture, but an similar to that adopted in Carlyle's work on entire gallery of interesting portraits. The other Cromwell. The biography constitutes an interclass comprises those of whom the world knows mitting chain between the numerous letters, and little, but is eager to know much-who, passing is executed in a modest and intelligent manner. their lives in severe seclusion, have, neverthe- Besides his correspondence, there are large and valess, given such assurance of their manhood as to luable excerpts from his journals, and to the whole excite in the public mind an intense curiosity to are appended interesting though slight notices of know more of their habits, feelings, and history. his character, from the pen of Mr. Sheppard. Such an one was John Foster. While his works Reserving a few extracts, and some remarks on were widely circulated, and produced a profound his style as a letter-writer, till afterwards, we proimpression upon the thinking minds of the country, ceed, in addition to what we have said elsewhere himself was to the majority only a name. Few of Foster, to state, while still fresh and lively, the could tell what he was, or where he lived—what impressions which this work has left upon our were the particulars of his outward history, or minds in regard to his idiosyncracy. Fortunately, what had been the course of his mental training. they are not of such a kind as to induce us, in He published little, he seldom appeared at public many respects at least, to reverse our previous meetings, his name was never in the newspapers opinions. Those points in his character, howwhen he wrote, it was generally in periodicals of ever, on which new light has fallen are of no ordilimited circulation and sectarian character, and nary importance. when he preached, it was to small audiences and Throughout the whole of these volumes we in obscure villages. There thus hung about him have been impressed with the idea of a mind ima certain shade of mystery, shaping itself to the perfectly reconciled and indifferently adjusted to .colossal estimate of his genius which prevailed. the state of society of which it was a part-to the He appeared a great man under hiding ; and creed to which it had declared its adherence—to while some of his ardent admirers found or forced the very system of things which surrounded it. their way into his grisly den, and ascertained the This is true of many independent and powerful prominent features of his character, and facts in spirits; but in Foster's mind the antagonism has his life, more were left in the darkness of mystifi- this peculiarity-it is united to deep reverence cation and conjecture. For twenty years, for and to sincere belief. It is not the fruit of any capinstance, we ourselves have been enthusiasts in re- tious or malignant disposition—it does not spring ference to this writer's genius, and yet, till a few from any sinister motive. The guilty wish is

* Edited by J. E. Rylanıl; with Notices of Mr. Foster as a preacher and companion. By Jolin Sheppard. Londvu: Jackson and Walford. 1816.

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never, with him, the parent of the gloomy thought. I got in wrath, and has faithfully transmitted to The tremendous doubts which oppress him have many besides Foster, who may with her exclaimforced themselves into the sphere of his soul, and

“O ill to me the lot awarded, hang there as if sustained by the power of some

Thou evil Pythian god.” dark enchantment. You see his mind labouring From man, thus too utterly bare before him, under an eclipse which will not pass away. In he turns away, with a deep pensive joy, to Nature, contemplation of the mysteries of earth and time, feeling that she is true, were all else untrue—that he stands helpless. Indeed, such gloomy cogita- she is beautiful, were all else deformed—that she tions formed so large a part of his mental scenery, stands innocent and erect, though her tenant has and had so long rivetted his gaze, that you can al- fallen--and, like a child in his mother's arms, most conceive him disappointed had they suddenly does he repose, regaining old illusions, and redisappeared. Like the prisoner of Chillon, who, calling long-departed dreams of joy. There is habituated to the gloom of his dungeon, and hav- something to us peculiarly tender and pathetic ing made friends with his dismal companions, at in Foster's love of Nature. It is not so much last "regained his freedom with a sigh;” Foster an admiration as it is a passionate and perpewould have stared strangely, and almost unhap- tual longing. It is not a worship, but a love. pily, though it had been at the apparition of the He throws his being into Nature. It is as " New Heavens and the New Earth” arising in if he felt his heart budding in the spring trees, room of the present, which his melancholy fancy his pulse beating high in the midnight tempest had so dreadfully discoloured. The causes of and in the ocean billow, his soul shooting up, this habitual gloom seem to have been complex. like living fire, into Snowdon, as he gazes upon it ; In the first place, he was naturally a man of a or we might almost imagine him the divorced spirit morbid disposition. Ilis mind fastened and clung of some lovely scene, yearning and panting after to the dark side of every question—to the more renewed communion, “gazing himself away” into ragged horn of each great dilemma-to the sha- the bosom of Nature again, while the murmuring dows, and not to the lights, of every picture. To of streams, and the song of breezes, and the waving do this was with him an instinct, which, instead of pines, were singing of these strange nuptials, of repressing, he nursed into a savage luxury. the soft epithalamium. He engages in mystic Secondly, He was for a large portion of his life converse with the Creation. He seeks for meana solitary, struggling, and disappointed man- ings in her mighty countenance, which are not preaching to people who did not understand him, always revealed to him. He asks her awful and struggling with straitened circumstances, and un- unanswered questions. He seems to cry out to sustained, till middle-age, by the sympathy of any the river, “What meanest thou, thou eloquent female friend. Had a man of his temperament babbler, wilt thou never speak plain, wilt thou met sooner with the breeze of general and gener- never shape me any distinct utterance, from the ous appreciation; and, above all, had he found in vague and soft tumults of thino everlasting song?” youth such a kindred and congenial spirit as after- to the rocks and mountains, “Will ye never rewards, in his accomplished and gifted wife, he had veal those secrets of an elder day, which are piled lived a much happier and more useful existence, up in your massive walls; to your solemn hieroand taken a kindlier, and, we trust, a truer view glyphics shall there never arrive the key?" but of the world and of mankind. Thirdly, As an elo- to add, in stern resignation, “Be it so, then; quent writer elsewhere observes, Foster never gave retain your tremendous silence, or utter on your himself a real scientific education, and although inarticulate sounds; better these than the jargon, possessed of keenest sagacity, never rose into the the laughter, and the blasphemies of the reptile sphere of a great and a trained philosopher. He and miscreant race of man ; to you, my dumb was to this what a brave bandit is to a regular kindred, I am nearer and dearer than to those soldier. Scientific culture is sure to beget scientific that so speak.” calin. The philosopher is taught to take a wide, In forming, however, such a view of man and comprehensive, dispassionate, and rounded view of of life, Foster has committed, we think, an enorthings, which never frets his heart, if it often fails mous error-the great mistake of his history. He to satisfy his intellect. Foster's glimpses of truth, has failed to see the beauty of life, its hopeful tenon the contrary, are intense and vivid, but com-dencies, the dignity of that discipline which is paratively narrow, and are tantalising in exact ripening man for a nobler destiny, the soul of proportion to their vividness and intensity. Ile goodness which underlies even the evils, the sees his points in a light so brilliant that it deepens abuses, and the mistakes of the world, and the the surrounding darkness. His minute mode of glory which springs from human suffering, and insight, too, contributed to his melancholy. He shines through human tears. In all this he sees looks at objects so narrowly that, as to a micro- little else than unmitigated and unredeemed misery Ecope, they present nothing but naked and en- and guilt, and flies to the prospect of death for larged ugliness. His eye strips away all those relief, as the opium-eater to his drug, or the fine illusions of distance which are, after all, drunkard to his dram-bottle. “I have yet,” he as real as the nearer and narrower view. This is says, toward the close of his life, “one luminary, the curse which blasts him—to see too clearly, and the visage of death.” And in the rising of that the lens through which he looks becomes truly a pale luminary, that ghostly sun, he expects a reply terrible crystal. Like Cassandra, he might well to all his questionings, and a rest to all the warwail for his fatal gift. It is a dowry which she derings of his spirit. Surely lie expected far too


much from such a source. For, in the first place, their cries and kettle-drums, to drive away an since the tale of the universe is infinite, can it be eclipse from off the face of the sun. Ilis oll'n told all at once to a finite being? It is beyond attempts to abate evil are thus paralysed.

He even the might of Death to give to a mind infinite keeps, indeed, his post-he maintains the contestillumination, to which it has failed to give infinite but it is languidly, and with frequent looks cast capacity. It may, it must, greatly extend the behind, toward a great reserve of force which he view, and brighten the medium; but to suppose expects to be brought, but which is slow to come, that it instantly makes all mysteries plain, were into action. It is the old story of the waggoner to leave little to do for the vast eternity beyond it. and Hercules. The road is miry, the wain is Besides, may not mystery continue to be an at- heavy, he is weary, how easy it were for the god mosphere fit for rearing certain future, as it is for to come down and perform the task. And berearing certain present, conditions of spiritual cause he will not yet, Foster becomes sullen, disbeing. The caterpillar and the butterfly respire appointed, and all but desperate. Let no one say the same air. Certain plants, and those of a that we are not fair judges of a mind so peculiar strong and hardy kind, grow best in the shade. as his, that we know not what doubts and difficulTo suppose that death should explain every enigma ties oppressed him, or how they affected his spirit. is, in fact, to enthrone it in the room of Omnipo- Every thinking mind is haunted, more or less, by tence. Thirdly, unless first we be reconciled to precisely those questions which Foster felt himself life, unless we learn to interpret its sublime hiero- unable to solve. Luther felt them in the Warteglyphics, to feel its divine beauty, to read its burg, but bated on account of them not one jot of

open secret,” to adore while we wonder at its heart or hope. Evil there was in the world; he darkest dispensations, what can death do for us? was sent to make it less; that was all he knew, The man who, loathing, despising, reviling life, and that was quite sufficient for his resolute and finding only desolation and barrenness in all its robust spirit. Howard felt them in his “ Circumborders, turns away from under the vine and the navigation of Charity,” but instead of speculating fig tree, sits with lonely Jonah under his withered as to why prisons were needed at all, he went on gourd, saying, “I do well to be angry, even unto and made them better. Every missionary to the death,” is guilty of cowardice, if not of essential heathen feels such difficulties meeting him in their suicide: he may be a gifted, but is hardly a lieroic very darkest shapes, and yet perseveres in his

“ It is,” says Schiller, “ a serious thing to holy work, and if he can smite away but a finger die—it is a more serious thing to live.” So it is from the black colossal statue of evil which stands a great and glorious thing to die ; it is a thing up before him, is content. Should any deem that greater, more glorious, god-like, to live a resigned, we misrepresent Foster's feelings and sentiments active, and “blessed,” if not happy life.

on this subject, we refer them to his journals and the language of Sartor Resartus, Foster has been letters, and particularly to that most withering and in the everlasting no; he has been in the centre of unhappy letter addressed to the Rev. John Harris, indifference, but he has not reached the everlast- author of the “ Great Teacher," &c, ing yea ; he has not heard, or not received, its We find not less distinct evidence of the same sweet and solemn evangel-he has tarried too long disease in his contributions to the Eclectic, partiin the valley of the shadow of death, and spent cularly in his review of Chalmers's Astronomical many needless hours in the dungeon of the giant Discourses—in our opinion a very forced, clumsy, Despair, and, worse, has dreamed, that to come and unsatisfactory critique. There, at the supforth from its threshold was to reach the Celestial position of snow existing in some of the other City by a single step!

planets, he startles in terror, seeing in it a sign Before proceeding to speak of Foster's merits, that Evil has found its way there as well as here. we have, in corroboration of these remarks, to ad- IIe is so frightened at this little speck as almost vance against him one or two serious charges, to back out from the discoveries of modern made more in sorrow than in angeç. We charge astronomy altogether. Now, we think this a him, in the first place, with a sort of moral cowardice unworthy, yet characteristic of Foster; cowardice, which it is painful to observe in a man for, in the first place, what is there so terrific in of such gigantic proportions. In his views of snow, the pure, innocent, beautiful meteor, falling moral evil there is more of the fascinated fear of from heaven like the shed feathers of the celesthe planet-struck than of the strong courage of the tial dove, or lying, a many-millioned mirror to combatant. He looks at it rather than seeks to the moonbeams ? Should not, on the contrary, strike it down. Knowing that Omnipotence alone that far gleam be welcomed as a proof of unity can prostrate it in its entireness—that Omniscience among the heavenly bodies, as attesting the omnialone can explain its existence—he is not suffi- presence of certain general laws, shall we say?ciently alive to the facts that it is reducible, that as a white signal from that stranger land, to tell us every one may, in some degree, reduce it, that each that a race of beings, not altogether unallied to smallest reduction proves that it is not infinite, us, are there, it may be, engaged in similar and that the farther you reduce evil, the nearer struggles, and destined to similar triumphs with you reach the solution of the great probleins—why ourselves ? But, secondly, is snow necessarily the it is, and whence it rose. He seems sometimes to sign of a curse, or a certain indication of the exisregard the efforts of men to remove, or mitigate, tence of sin? This, we think, springs from a moral, or even physical, evil, with as much con- theory universally held at one time by a certain tempt as he would the efforts of barbarians, with school of thcologians, which the researches of

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geology have exploded, and which Foster's power- | Author impossible, and which, a priori, throws ful intellect ought, apart from these, to have discredit upon any theory of explanation protaught him to reject, that every species of physi- pounded by himself. His attitude is that of one cal evil is the product of moral, that every slight who confounds the shade over his own mind with inconvenience, as well as formidable mischief, the universe which it discolours, in whose eye may be traced to the same root. Such an absurd (as in the well-known fable) the monster-fly swaltheory teaches its votaries to cower under the lows up the sun, and who, because he is capable falling snow as under the curse of the Eternal—to of asking the infinite question, imagines that, find a new testimony to the existence of evil in therefore, he is able, or entitled to receive, the the icicles-glorious ear-rings! — which each infinite reply. Nothing but such an infinite morniny hangs under the eaves; and in every answer could appease such inquiries as Foster sound, from the earthquake to the sneeze, to over- asks at the earth and the heavens. And because hear the voice of Sin. No; this will never do. the earth spins round, and the skies shine on in Step forth, John Foster, like a brave man, into silence, and no such reply as he craves will ascend that strange snow of Mars, and peradventure thou from their deepest caverns, or come down from mayest find a braver Evan Dhu, kicking away their loftiest summits, Foster is disappointed, the a luxurious snow-ball from under the head of his more in proportion to his love, just as the more retainer, or a gallant footman offering himself up you love any individual, the more you are chato the wolves in his master's stead, or a noble grined if he will not answer you some curious little band of explorers cutting their perilous pas- question, but remains obstinately dumb. And sage to the summit of some wilder Wetterhom, though, as we have said, he is fond of questioning finer spectacles, be sure, than wert thou to see Nature, and loves her old and solemn harmonies, ever so many perfect, and perfectly insipid ladies he is no · Fine-ear" to catch that subtler speech, and gentlemen, reclining in some lazy lubberland that fairy music, that “ language within lanof perpetual sunshine. Step forth, bathe in the guage, ,” that angelic strain, which some few bracing cold of the clime, confront its stern windo, purged and prepared spirits, who can the “bird consider its laws of austere and awful progress, language fully tell, and that which roses say so and come back a healthier, happier, better well," hear, or seem to hear, in the stle of the man.

leaves awakened at midnight from their dreams Had this speculation on snow been only a pass- of God—in the great psalm of the autumn blasts ing reverie, it had been unworthy any serious -in the sweet self-talk of the love-sick summer notice. But, like the snow on the dusky and waves—in the blue smile of the sky-nay, in the dark-red brow of Mars, it lies significant—a still hush of evening, and the stammering sparkle of settled index of much behind and beyond it. It the stars. To these low and silvery whispers, involves in it all the elements of Foster's quarrel piercing the clash of all common and terrific with the system of things; for, as assuredly as in sounds, like the calm No of Shadrach, Meshach; Byron's case, it was a quarrel ; nor were their and Abednego, heard amidst the idolatrous symgrounds so dissimilar as might have been at first phonies and cymbals on the plain of Dura, supposed. Neither knew the real meaning of Foster's ear is deaf as Byron's. He is aware of that grand old fable of Prometheus, as shadowing their existence, indeed; he listens to hear them, forth the history of man, nay, forming a dim but but they will not speak to him their profoundest colossal type of that higher mystery—the mystery tidings; he hears only a great tumult, but knows of godliness-bearing to it such a resemblance as not what it is—a tumult of grandeur, terrordoes a battlement of evening clouds to the moun- sweet, and despairing tones, endlessly intertains over which it stands, and whose shapes it mingled--and dies, believing that God is Love, mutely mimics the glory of suffering, the beauty but not feeling, with Tennyson, that of sorrow, as teachers, friends, guides, were to Every cloud that spreads above and veileth love itself them in a great measure veiled. Unphilosophi

is Love." cally confounding physical and moral evil, of What Foster demands is precisely that which which the one seemed to them the monstrous cannot here, perhaps never, be granted : it is a body, the other the malignant soul of some por- logical demonstration of the goodness and wistentons and unearthly shape, they both bow dom of God : such a demonstration seems imposbefore it—to the one it becomes a god, his only sible : it supposes the possibility of a just doubt god, detested and adored; to the other, an object on such a subject; and yet if this doubt do once of melancholy wonder and powerless hatred. In- enter the mind, no mere argument can ever expel deed, so similar are the feelings of Foster to those it. It represents the question as to the character of entertained and expressed by the Byron school of Deity in the light of a dreadful game, which may seepties, that, as a profound thinker recently re- possibly go against him. It proves, after all, no marked to us, the change of a single word will more than this—that there is a very high probaserve to identify them. The Byron-ling says, bility that God is not a demon. On such bladsince so and so is the case, the Deity must be this ders do some men try to swim on the ocean of the and that; Foster, and his foster-bairns say, if it infinite mind. Far better to plunge into it at were this and that, the Deity were so and so. once, trusting implicitly and fearlessly to those

But, secondly, we charge Foster with taking voices within the soul-to those whispers in naup an attitude of view and observation which ren- ture- to those smiles on earth below and heaven dered any just conception of the universe or its above-to those indefinite but profound impres

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