« ПредишнаНапред »
THE WRECKER. *
A CORNISH LEGEND.
TOWARDS the close of the 16th century, a horrid custom prevailed on the coast of Cornwall, of luring vessels to their destruction in stormy weather, by fastening a lantern to a horse's head, and leading it about on the top of the cliffs, in order that the bewildered mariner, mistaking it for the light of a vessel, might be induced to shape his course towards it. This atrocious expedient was often successful. The devoted crew dreamed not of their danger until warned of it, too late, by the foaming breakers that burst upon them from the shore ; and the vessel speedily became the prey of a set of ruthless barbarians, who, to secure themselves impunity in their plunder, often murdered those who escaped drowning, and then called their booty a God-send.'
In a small hovel, on the craggy shore of a deep and dangerous bay on the coast of Cornwall, dwelt one of these wretches an old and hardened desperado, who united in himself the fisherman, the smuggler, and the wrecker, but the last was his favourite occupation; and such was the confidence of his companions in his experience in this capacity, that he was usually appointed their leader, and rarely failed in his office. His wife, too, encouraged him, and not unfrequently aided him in his iniquitous exploits. Disgusted with the wickedness of his parents, their only son left his home in early life, and sought to obtain an honourable subsistence as the mate of a West Indian trader.
It was at a period when a long and profitless summer and autumn bad nearly passed away, that Terloggan, like the vulture, ever watchful for his prey, was more than usually observant of the signs of the heavens; nor was any one more capable than himself of discovering the most distant indications of a tempest.
Nature had for several months worn a placid and most encouraging aspect. The soft and azure sky seemed to rest upon the transparent sea, and the slowly expanding waves swept with slow murmurings along the shining sands of the deep bay with a wild and monotonous plashing, that seemed to strike like the voice of a prophecy upon the ear. Not more hateful were the glorious beams of the orb of day to the fallen Lucifer, as described by our great poet, than was the quiescent state of nature to the dark mind of Terloggan. In his impatience he cursed the protracted season of tranquillity, and hailed the approaching period of storms as more congenial not only to the 'gloomy temper of his soul,' but to his interests. At length he saw, with a smile of savage satisfaction, the sun sink in angry red beneath the dim and cloudy horizon; heard with secret exultation the hollow murmuring of the winds, and beheld the blackening waves' rising into fury, and lashing the lofty rocks with their ascending spray. As the night advanced in chaotic darkness, the horrors of the tempest increased; and the long and loud blast of the contending elements rung out upon the ear like the death-knell of a departed soul. • Now's thy time,' ejaculated the old hag, his wife, 'go thy ways out upon the cliffs, there's death in the wind.' Terloggan speedily equipped himself, and ascended the steep promontory at the entrance of the bay. The usual expedient was resorted to; and he soon observed a light at sea as if in
• It may be proper to mention that this little sketch has already appeared in the columns of a provin. cial newspaper. It will, however, be as good as manuscript to a large portiou of our readers.-Ed. Lit. Mag:
answer to his signal. His prey seemed already in his grasp. The light evidently approached nearer; and before an hour had elapsed, the white close-reefed sails of the vessel could be dimly discovered through the darkness, and the appalling cry of the seamen at the discovery of their danger distinctly heard. Signal-guns of distress were immediately fired, and the loud commands, all hands on deck, and about ship, were vociferated in wild despair. Every exertion was made to wear the vessel from the shore; but the redeeming moment was passed, the ship was completely embayed, and neither strength nor skill were of any avail in averting her impending fate. In a few minutes a tremendous crash, and a heartrending, but fruitless, cry for help, announced the horrid catastrophe; and the last flashing signal-gun revealed for a moment a scene too terrible to be described. The stranded vessel, hurled repeatedly against the jagged rocks of the bay, soon parted; the waves dashed over her shattered hull with relentless fury, bearing to the shore the scattered cargo, broken pieces of the wreck, and the tattered rigging; whilst the mingled shrieks of the drowning, blended with the roar of the conflicting elements, rose upon the ear like the despairing cries of an army of dying Titans.
There was one, however, in whose eyes such a scene was joyous-in whose ears such sounds were melody-and that being was Terloggan. He waited impatiently until the storm had somewhat abated, and when silence began to indicate that the work of death was well nigh over, he descended the well-known cliffs to dart
Unmoved by the horrid spectacle (for the moon had broken from the clouds by which she had before been concealed), he stood awhile gazing upon the scene of desolation around him as if at a loss where first to begin his work of rapine. But to his surprise and momentary dismay there was yet one living soul on board, who, should he survive, would interpose between him and his hard-earned booty, and who was even now loudly supplicating his assistance. To despatch this unhappy creature in his exhausted and helpless condition was a resolution no sooner formed than executed. Whilst he was appearing to aid his escape from the jaws of death, one stroke of his hanger laid him a livid and mutilated corse upon the sands before him. Terloggan then rifled the pockets of his victim, took a ring from his finger, and laden with the most portable articles of plunder, retraced his footsteps to his hut.. • What luck ? exclaimed his fiend-like helpmate, as he crossed the threshhold of the door, Never better,' rejoined Terloggan, pointing to his booty. He then described the success of his hellish stratagem without even concealing the particulars of the murder; after which he displayed some pieces of foreign gold coin, and the ring which he had taken from the finger of the stranger.
Give me the light, Meg,' said the hoary villain. The hag obeyed. But no sooner had he examined the ring than he recognised its form and certain marks upon it. His countenance changed, and with
groan of agony he quickly handed it to his wife. She knew too well from whose hand it must have been taken, and after glancing at it for a moment, yelled out with supernatural energy, 'Oh my son, my poor son !' and fell senseless at the feet of her husband. Terloggan endeavoured to master his feelings until the fact could be ascertained. He arose with the dawn, and hastened to the spot where he had left the murdered corse. It was indeed
The stroke of retribution had been complete. Overwhelmed by despair, and stung by remorse, to which his heart had ever before been impervious, he determined on self-destruction. A few days afterwards his
mangled body was found among the rocks, and interred on the spot where he had perpetrated his' last deed of blood. The chief incidents of his terrible story are still narrated in the neighbourhood which was the scene of its hero's manifold atrocities. His wretched wife perished a few weeks afterwards by the fall of her hut, occasioned by one of those dreadful storms which she and her savage helpmate had so frequently invoked.
CHIT-CHAT: LITERARY AND MISCELLANEOUS."
“There seems to have been few new works published during the last month of any great interest. Of Sermons, Philosophy, Lexicography, Physiology, and several other ologies too tedious to enumerate, there have been quanto suf:
An accredited edition of Miss Sophia Lee's Canterbury Tales, is, we are told, on the eve of being published by her family. Lord Byron's obligations to her German's Tale,' in his Werner, have been pointed out in detail.
The Memoirs of Mr. Lindley Murray, the grammarian, who died a few weeks ago at his house at York, are, it is stated, about to be published by his family. The present generation is greatly indebted to this excellent and laborious man. His talents, if of an humble, were of an extremely useful order. - We are glad to learn that a third part of Cruikshank's Points of Humour is nearly ready for publication. We refer principally to the plates, not having been at the pains of perusing any of the letter-press. Mrs. Joanna Baillie will shortly publish a Drama, in three acts, called the Martyr.
The Rev. A. S. Burgess is preparing for the press a volume, entitled Worthies of Christ's Hospital ; or Memoirs of Eminent Blues.' "Carl Maria Von Weber, the celebrated composer, and author of the Music to Der Frieschutz, has lately arrived in this country. • We are happy to hear that Baily's admirable statue of Eve at the Fountain, has been purchased by his fellow citizens of Bristol, just as he was on the eve of exporting it to the continent.
It appears from the Sierra Leone Gazette, recently received, that Captains Clapperton and Pearce, Messrs. Morrison and Dickson, have sailed in the Brazen for Benin and Biafra, where they are to be landed to prosecute, their interesting inquiries.
The Literary Gazette brings an indirect charge of plagiarism against the writer of the article on Moss's Manual of Classical Bibliography, in a late number of the Monthly Review; the two critiques are probably the production of the same person, and if so, the coincidence of opinion is not so very remarkable.
Mr. Chandos Leigh has just printed a very pleasing volume of poetry. We carinot, however, go the whole length of the puff which the New Monthly has given of this book; neither do we admit with Mr. Campbell that the defect of Mr. Leigh's verses is over-fastidiousness. When poets happen to be afflicted with this disease, they generally abstain from publishing at all.
The New Monthly advises people, whose clothes catch fire, to roll themselves in the Hearth Rug! Surely, as Dangle baş it, we have heard something like this before.'
Sir Egerton Brydges has written and published an answer to a Review of a work of his in the New Monthly two or three months ago.
Mr. Jennings has a poem in the press, entitled, Ornithologia, or the Birds ; with copious notes * The journeymen shoemakers of the metropolis have had a meeting to discuss the propriety of petitioning against the Corn Laws !
Dr. Halliday's Annals of the House of Brunswick,"is, it appears, to be published in a few weeks.
SOME PASSAGES ON. THE WRITINGS OF THE AUTHOR OF
The author of Gilbert Earle, and Mr. Blount's MSS. is unquestionably one of the most powerful prose writers of the day. We do not here apply the term powerful in the sense in which it is now so frequently employed; for in this age of critical and political liberality, when every thing is dubbed superlative, writers and orators are eulogised as powerful, in exact proportion to the extravagance of their conceptions, and the unintelligibility of the language in which they unfold, or rather we should say, obscure them. It is not in this sense that we adopt the term upon the present occasion; very far from it. The power of Mr. St. Leger, consists in the simple, yet forceful energy of his language; the clearness and beauty of his general conceptions; and the • resolute deliberation of judgment,' as Johnson has it, with which he introduces them to his readers. The chief attraction of his style, has its origin not so much in the tasteful selection of his language, for to use honest Sancho's mode of expression, he rarely seeks for better bread than is made of wheat, as in the current of vigorous thought, of which it is the vehicle. He does not, with certain modern pretenders to energy of style, wrap up the insignificant carcase of some paltry idea, like the mummy of an Egyptian king, in apparel the splendour and costliness of which is exactly proportioned to the worthlessness of the object it enshrines. If he clothes his thoughts in the purple and fine linen' of poetical diction, he does not smother them in 'cloth of gold,' or those tinsel and trumpery adornments which are so often made use of to hide the poverty of an author's fancy. There is, too, that easy and natural flowin his narrative, which Cicero was wont to define as the criterion of good writing; that gentlemanlike facility which is of all things the most difficult to imitate with success; and these qualities are more or less obvious in the slightest ebauche he dismisses from his prolific pen. As a romancer too, he is eminently successful in the choice, not so much of his leading incidents, as of the thousand little accessorial circumstances by which he contrives to stimulate the sympathy and curiosity of his readers. Thus, in his return from India, in Gilbert Earle, (one of the most touching and beautiful scenes, in the whole compass of modern fictitious literature,) the exile's minor, and, as would appear to the superficial observer, most insignificant reminiscences, are precisely those which stamp the deepest tragic interest and reality on the picture. The following specimen of the kind of power to which we allude, is unrivalled by any similar attempt with which we are acquainted :
I knew that my father had sunk almost into second childhood; but I had no expectation of finding his imbecility so complete. He was seated in an easy chair near the window, which reached to the ground, that he might enjoy the mild and grateful warmth of a July sun-set. His limbs were wrapped in Aannels, and he was supported by pillows on either side. His head shook tremulously-his eye was vacantly fixed—and his jaw drooped in the extremity of dotage. This miserable wreck, which humanity could scarcely look upon without a feeling of degradation, was all that remained of the hale and handsome man whom I had quitted-it was all that time and sorrow had spared of my father !-Our entrance attracted his attention, and he looked with surprise on the stranger !_ Set a chair for the gentleman,' he muttered, almost mechanically ; perhaps he would like to take something after his journey. My heart swelled almost to bursting at this completion of my return home. This was what I had looked to so fondly and so long; and now, what was it but bitterness and sorrow? My sister saw my distress; and, going to my father, tried to make him comprehend who I was. T am glad to see him, was the only answer which could be got from him. He made it mechanically-evidently totally unconscious of all which passed before him-his eye unmeaning-his words dreamingly spoken and his whole aspect that of the last flickerings of the flame of life before it sank out for ever.
My father was shortly removed to his own room, and my sister and I were left to talk over old times together. The room in which we sat was the library, and had undergone scarcely any change since I had last seen it. My eye could recognise the books in the very places in which I had left them :-the heavily bound, red-edged folios were ranged along the ground-row, untouched, most probably, since my early thirst for books had led me to explore them ;-and, in one corner of the highest shelf, I saw a white-backed copy of Gulliver's Travels, which I had nearly broken my neck in clambering to reach. Most of the furniture was new; but there was still an old blue and white china jar, which I had got into disgrace for cracking-and on which was still to be seen the rivet which the house-keeper had placed upon it at my entreaty. A large old-fashioned back-gammon table, also, stood in one corner, which I well recollected as having been one of the delights of my boyhood :-and the picture which hung over the chimney, the only one in the room was, as it had always been, the portrait of an ancient worthy of our race, arraved in the angular stiffness-the large ruff-clocked stockings, and be-rosed shoes,--of the court dress of James the First's time. These circumstances nay appear trilling;- but I recollect they made a strong impression upon me at the time,-and the task I have undertaken of writing the narrative of my life is naturally more a record of feelings than of events.
That such a writer should become popular is by no means remarkable ; but that a man capable of such genuine pathos as this, should have been seduced into a Frenchness of sentiment altogether inconsistent with the down-right manly English simplicity of feeling which his genius would seem so especially adapted to delineate, is indeed calculated to excite very considerable surprise and regret among all who know how to appreciate his talents. Yet that this is really the case is no less true than strange. In regard to women, there is a vein of feeling running through some of his writings, which is no great way removed from positive libertinism. He cannot for the life of him interest himself in the fate of a lovely girl, unless she is married to some brute of a husband, and on the eve of committing a faux-pas. It is not until a crisis like this approaches, that he begins to grow really fervent in her praise; and then, and not till then, does he describe her as a paragon of all that is lovely and estimable in woman. Thus, his heroines are for the most part endowed with every virtue which can fall to the lot of the sex-save one. They are gentle and beautiful as doves; they are in possession of every good quality under the sun, except that which is of the most vital importance to the female character,-chastity! They remind one of what has been wittily said of Lord Byron's Corsair; he wants but common honesty to render him one of the most gentlemanlike and agreeable personages in the whole range of fictitious writing. To point directly at examples of this lamentable perversion of ethical taste, Gilbert Earle's first love is, a lady