Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

INTERESTING NARRATIVE.

FROM THE DUMFRIES COURIER. In the year 1796 or 7, the late Mr. John Wylie, in Wylie's, parish of Dornock, paid a visit to a friend on the English side of the Solway Firth, and while returning home, attempted to cross by a well-known ford, about a mile or so to the eastward of Bowness. He travelled on horseback, was well mounted, and knew the time precisely of low water; but an intense frost lay on flood and field, and in the course of a very few hours, the process of crystalization had gone forward so rapidly, that the ice, which deeply incrusted the sand-banks, and crackled under his horse's hoofs, stretched even far into the middle of the firth. With much difficulty he groped his way through the river Eden, and, on reaching the Esk, the air became so cold, and the atmosphere so hazy, that his senses were not a little bewildered. His gallant steed, unlike his wont, evinced great reluctance to proceed, and though admonished by both whip and spur, went forward at a very lagging pace. This, to the rider, seemed an ominous circumstance, and while pausing to reflect on his situation, the sagacious animal turned gently round of its own accord, and appeared much more willing to retreat than advance. This incident, trifling as it was, determined Mr. Wylie to resign himself entirely to the guidance of his horse; but he had not proceeded far in the backward route, when he heard the distant sound of waters, and ascertained, by more than one indication, that the floodtide, unstayed and unrebuked by the frost, was advancing with its usual fearful rapidity. His situation was now perilous in the extreme. Placed, in a dark night, between two rivers, neither of them deep, yet sufficiently dangerous—with an ocean-tide in the rear that has overwhelmed hundreds in the course of centuries, he literally knew not where to flee to look for aid : to reach the English coast by out-galloping the tide, was an utter impossibility, even

if the Eden had not intervened; and after commending his soul to Divine Providence, the bewildered traveller took his station on the largest and thickest sheet of ice he could find, in the hope, rather than the expectation, that it would happily float him to dry land. The poor animal proved by its trembling that it shared deeply in the fears of its master, and endangered the safety of both by its restlessness, as the wind whistled louder and louder, and the waters approached nearer and nearer, until spray and head-wave foamed, and rushed, and-lashed around its sides. Still Mr. Wylie, who had previously dismounted, stood unmoved at the extremity of the reins, and after a very brief space, he not only heard the ice “ break up,” but felt that he was fairly under weigh. The strong swell impelled the voyagers rapidly forward, but before they arrived at Tardoff-point, a distance of at least three miles, the slippery raft unfortunately separated, leaving the yeoman standing upon one fragment, and his companion upon another. When the tide began to ebb, the ice-bergs floated in a contrary direction, and while again sailing rapidly with the stream, the horse passed his master at a little distance, and neighed so loud, that it was perfectly obvious he saw and recognised him. His share of the ice-berg was either the largest, or, from some other cause, it floated fastest; but both at length were safely landed on the Cumberland coast, about half-way between Bowness and Cardornack, and at the distance of a quarter of a mile from each other. Their meeting was necessarily a very happy one; and though they had drifted altogether above eight miles, neither had sustained the slightest injury, beyond what arises from numbness and cold. On finding his way to the nearest inn, Mr. Wylie interested the owner's feelings by relating the wonderful escape he had made, and before tasting a morsel himself, saw his steed rubbed down, and suppered in a style that would do honour to the grooms at Kew Palace. The animal had always been a great favourite, but the above adventure tended so much to en

hance his value, that his master was often heard to say, that no vile dog or carrion crow should ever tear the flesh from his bones. And this resolution he kept so religiously, that “ Rattler," on his death, was buried at the bottom of a sunny knoll, and the decent ceremony honoured with a tear, as grateful as ever dropped from a human eye.

EXTRACTS FROM THE SATIRE OF “ THE

REIGNING VICE.”
Whom call we right, or whom pronounce to err,
When every man's his own interpreter ?
Naught, that we see, innately is endued
With actual evil or substantial good :
But various minds, with bee's or serpent's power,
Draw sweets or venom from the self-same flower.
To form and colour, 'tis ourselves give birth;
Self-love's the mantle of the naked earth;
Taste, feeling, judgment, still her laws obey,
The vassal senses own her despot sway.
Still early custom deep the soul imbues-
Association casts her rainbow hues :
In bridal white, one nation mourns her dead,
This weeps in yellow, and that pines in red.
If men at funerals danced, to dance would be
The very sadness of solemnity
How oft some noble image fires us not,
Because we link it with some sordid thought !
How oft some poor conceit the fancy warms,
Because it wakes fond Memory's airy charms !

In this, Self-love is universal shown,
Our interest deepens in whate'er's our own.
Stocks, there exempt from fortune's blind control,
Stand at eternal omnium in the soul.
Can Stowe's bright realms efface our flowery plot,
Or Blenheim's glories dim our woodbined cot?
Our own achievements of hand, head, or heart,
Eclipse a Scipio's deeds, a Chantry's art.
Can Titian's tints your rapt attention call,
When your own canvass glares upon the wall ?
Can Milton's pomp detain your fancy long,
When your own lyre has just squeak'd out a song ?

ROBERT BURNS AND LORD BYRON.

BY ALLAN CUNNINGHAM. * I HAVE seen Robert Burns laid in his grave, and I have seen George Gordon Byron borne to his; of both I wish to speak, and my words shall be spoken with honesty and freedom. They were great though unequal heirs of fame. Their fortunes and their birth were widely dissimilar; yet in their passions and in their genius they approached to a closer resemblance. Their careers were short and glorious, and they both perished in the summer of life, and in all the splendour of a reputation more likely to increase than diminish. One was a peasant, and the other was a peer; but nature is a great leveller, and makes amends for the injuries of fortune, by the richness of her benefactions: the genius of Burns raised him to a level with the nobles of the land: by nature, if not by birth, he was the peer of Byron. I knew one, and I have seen both. I have hearkened to words from their lips, and admired the labours of their pens, and I am now, and likely to remain, under the influence of their magic songs. They rose by the force of their genius, and they fell by the strength of their passions; one wrote from a love, and the other from a scorn of mankind; and they both sang of the emotions of their own hearts with a vehemence and an originality which few have equalled, and none surely have surpassed. But it is less my wish to draw the characters of those extraordinary men, than to write what I remember of them; and I will say nothing that I know not to be true, and little but what I saw myself.

The first time I ever saw Burns was in Nithsdale. I was then a child, but his looks and his voice cannot well be forgotten; and, while I write this, I behold him as dis

• We are confident that this eloquent and impassioned tribute from one distinguished genius to the memory of other two, will be read again and again with increase of delight.--Ed. No. 21-22.

T

tinctly as I did when I stood at my father's knee, and heard the bard repeat his Tam O'Shanter. He was tall, and of a manly make, his brow broad and high, and his voice varied with the character of his inimitable tale ; yet through all its variations it was melody itself. He was of great personal strength, and proud too of displaying it; and I have seen him lift a load with ease, which few ordinary men would have willingly undertaken.

The first time I ever saw Byron was in the House of Lords, soon after the publication of Childe Harold. He stood up in his place on the opposition side, and made a speech on the subject of Catholic freedom. His voice was low, and I heard him but by fits, and when I say he was witty and sarcastic, I judge as much from the involuntary mirth of the benches as from what I heard with my own ears. His voice had not the full and manly melody of the voice of Burns; nor had he equal vigour of frame, nor the same open expanse of forehead. But his face was finely formed, and was impressed with a more delicate vigour than that of the peasant poet. He had a singular conformation of ear, the lower lobe, instead of being pendulous, grew down and united itself to the cheek, and resembled no other ear I ever saw, save that of the Duke of Wellington. His bust by Thorvaldson is feeble and mean; the painting of Phillips is more noble, and much more like. Of Burns I have never seen aught but a very uninspired resemblance, and I regret it the more, because he had a look worthy of the happiest effort of art-a look beaming with poetry and eloquence.

The last time I saw Burns in life was on his return from the Brow-well of Solway; he had been ailing all spring, and summer had come without bringing health with it. He had gone away very ill, and he returned worse. He was brought back, I think, in a covered spring cart, and when he alighted at the foot of the street in which he lived, he could scarce stand upright. He reached his own door with difficulty. He stooped much,

« ПредишнаНапред »