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We do not flatter ourselves that he will pay to our advice that attention which he has refused to his acute friend, Mr. Erskine: but it is possible that his own good sense may in time persuade him not to abandon his loved Fairy ground, (a province over which we wish him a long and prosperous government,) but to combine the charms of lawful poetry with those of wild and romantic fiction. As the first step to this desirable cad, we would beg him to reflect that his Gothic models will not bear him out in transferring the loose and shuffling ballad metre to a poem of considerable length, and of complicated interest, like the present. It is a very easy thing to write five hundred ballad verses, starts pedt in uno: but Mr. Scott needs not to be told that five hundred verses written on one foot have a very poor chance for immortality. .
A»t. II. Travels in Scotland, ly an unusual Route: with a Trip to the Orkneys and Hebrides. Containing Hints for Improvements in Agriculture and Commerce. With Characters and Anecdotes. Embellished with Views of striking Objects, and a Map, including the Caledonian Canal. By the Rev. James Hall, A. M. 8vo. a Vols<- pp. 330 in each. ll. 6s. Boards. Johnson. 1807.
*T He narrow country of Scotland has been so often describ
■*■ ed, and its passable communications are so limited in extent and number, that the intimation of an unusual route induced us to peruse these volumes with some degree of eagerness. Mr. Hall's principal stages, however, are doubtless sufficiently familiar to every person who has any acquaintance with the topography of North Britain. Taking his departure from Edinburgh, he proceeded to Stirling, and thence jourueyed to Dnmferline, St. Andrew's, Falkland, Kinross, Abernethy, Perth, Dundee, Aberbrothic, Montrose, Aberdeen, Peterhead, Banff, Forres, Inverness, Forts George and Augustus, Thurso, Fort William, Dunbarton, and Glasgow. The descriptive portions of his journal are generally meagre and defective: but some of them serve as apologies far very handsome engravings. Many of his notices, too, betray a want of accuracy and precision, which we could hardly have expected from a learned native of the country which he undertakes to delineate. Thus, he has confounded the names of two of the justly celebrated falls of the Clyde, and passed the third in silence. Of Dunblane, he mentions a paltry village and some graves, but never once hints at the ruins of the cathedral, the Leightonian library, nor the enormous maple-tree, which flourishes in the neighbourhood. Indeed, an able barrister would find it no hard task to prove an alibi
against our Rev. Tourist, more than once in the course of his northern excursion. Had he really visited Dunblane, the first and second of the objects which we have mentioned must have stared him in the face; and if he really procured access to the iron foundries atCarron, he has been honoured with ntf ordinary mark of distinction, and one which rank and fortune have often solicited in vain. At alj events, the contemplation of such a glowing and striking scene should have prompted remarks less vague and trivial, and have inspired a far more dignified subject of embellishment than that of a brawny son of Vulcan ducking an unprincipled taylor.
Again, if we accompany Mr. Hall to the best cultivated grounds in the Highlands of Scotland,—as, for example, to the fertile fields of Baddcnoch,—we are told of rhubarb, and some other plants, growing nine inches in the space of twenty, four hours, a rapidity of vegetation which is visible to the eye. What these other plants may be, we shall not even venture to conjecture: but we may confidently affirm that they are not the common herbage of the country, of which the rate of developement is, alas! far more sober. * In severe winters, (says this traveller) it is not an uncommon thing for the horses in the hills, for hunger, to eat one another's tails and manes; nay, one another's ears: but the tails and manes areoftener eaten, as this is done without any pain or resistance. They will fight a tough battle for their ears.'—The swindler may not disdain to take a lesson from these starving quadrupeds of the north. 1 In Glasgow, too, the other year, a boy that had been twice or thrice in prison for stealing, coming into a mercer's shop, picked something from the counter, and was going away. The master of the shop seeing this, and recollecting him, immediately took up a pair of scissars from the counter, cropped his ears, and desired him to put these in his pocket.' Other strange matters are recorded of certain classes of the inhabitants of Glasgow, which we are astonished that any clergyman could commit to writing.
In return for so much novel information, we must beg leave to remind Mr. Hall that Argyle-house, at Inverary, is not constructed of bluish granite, but of a species of lapis ollaris, or pot-stone; that fucus palmctus is the botanical designation of dulse (not dilse:) that the BIack-«ri and Cock of the •wood are distinct species; and that the Ptarmigan is not a Pheasant. The circumstances relative to the choice of a pastor at P—k, we have reason to believe, are incorrectly stated; and we doubt whether a Kinghorn-boat has founded on the passage to Leith, in the me.nory of any person now living. If an author will persist in idle and desultory gossipping, he must also bear to be told that his anecdotes are
related related of other individuals than those to whom he assigns them; and that, when they have no pointed reference to the illustration of national character, they may too often be regarded as useless lumber, in a book of travels. Of the domestic details communicated by the present Tourist, by far the greater number might have been culled in almost any corner of the civilized world; while delicacy to individual feeling ought, in several instances, to have restrained the pen. At the same time, It behoves us to remark that the multiplied shreds of patch-work, with which we are here presented, are not always sewed together in a careless or peevish mood. Much merited praise is bestowed on the late Dr. Chalmers; some useful hints relative to agricultural improvement are suggested; a sensible and disspassionate view of the state of society in the Shetland and Orkney Islands is exhibited; and the inhumanity, which characterizes some of the popular diversions at St. Andrew's, is justly reprobated. From among various other passages, which manifest the author's disrelish of that sour spirit of fanaticism that still lingers in the north, we shall present our readers with that which fir6t occurs:
'So powerful is the contagious zeal of the missionaries, that it has made its way even into the central or Inland Highlands, where little more of religion was known or cared for, than a mixture of Druidical with Christian rites or ceremonies. About 50 years ago, the Glassites, otherwise called Sar.dimanians, sent missionaries from. P*th into Athol and Bredalbane, to propagate their doctrines; but they were only laughed at by the Highlanders, and told that they minded none of those things, which they considered as the business only of the minister. Not so Mr. Haldane's missionaries. The minister of a certain parish in the Presbytery of Dunkcld, and all his family, have been seized with the enthusiasm of the missionaries almost to phrenzy. Not only the minister, but his wife and daughter go about the country teizing their neighbours, particularly clergymen and their families, about the state of their souls. Miss S 1,
animated by the zeal of making converts, paid a visit to a neighbouring clergyman distinguished by learning, genius, and every virtue. This was the Rev. Dr. Thomas Bisset, late minister of Logie Rait. The lady had no sooner entered the manse, and been seated in the parlour, than she told the minister that she had come, "expressly to see if he was in the way to heaven." The doctor replied, that he had kept his soul in his own charge for 69 years and a quarter, and that for the short time he might live longer, he did not intend to put it into trust. The circumstance that occasioned this anxiety
about the doctor's salvation on the part of Miss S 1, was, the
practical tenor of his discourses from the pulpit: of both the nature and the effects of which, very different from those of fanatical, or as it is commonly called methodistical preaching, the following anecdote of which I am well assured, by an eye witness, is an instance. The
minister had been preaching to his congregation against not only stealing, but all manner of fraud, circumvention, and roguery. A little after he had returned to the manse, a servant came and told him that Rob Roy was at the door, and wanted to speak to him. This was a noted drover, or dealer in cattle. Robert, being called into the parlour, immediately explained the purpose of his visit to the minister, before his son and some other persons who were present, Oh! sir, said he, you made that preachment against me. You have heard of my cheating that poor woman Widow Robertson, in buying her only cow. I took advantage of her not knowing the price, and of her being in want of money; and I got it at little more than half value, as you clearly shewed this day. What shall I do to make her amends ?—Give her back the cow, said the worthy pastor, and allow her time to pay you back the money you gave her.—Would that., reverend sir, make up for my cheatry, and save me from all the punishment on this account that you was preaching about?—I dare say it might.—Then, sir, to make sure work, I will give back the cow without the price, and keep from such tricks hereafter.
'This resolution he acually performed. But a sermon which impelled a rogue to abandon the fruits of his fraud would have been abhorred by Miss S 1 as legal, and not evangelical preaching- The
worst, and certainly great evil in the doctrines of the fanatics, is? that they tend to separate religion from morality, and to make it consist wholly in certain mysterious emotions and metaphysical notions, which they call acts of faith. The Christian religion is indeed founded on Faith: not a faith of metaphysical abstractions; but a faith bearing the fruit of good works—of piety towards God, and good will and love towards men.
« Zeal in a good cause is calculated to do much good; but zeal without knowledge, though God may accept of it, has done in former , times, and is still calculated to do, much mischief. The zeal of John Knox, in the days of Mary Queen of Scots, was warm and well meant, but it being directed, not against the clergy only, but against the walls of the churches, which certainly were not culpable, shews that it was partly without knowledge. Indeed he at length found that his great zeal had carried him too far, and that many of the barons and other landholders had joined in the reformation, not from religious motives, as he had imagined, but for the sake of the church lands, which they saw would fall to them, if the reformation should be brought about.
'It is true, some of the strolling preachers have strong natural parts, and cannot be styled immoral men; but then their enthusiasm certainly carries them too far, when, like the famous Ralph Erskine, they assert that God made the world only to shew what he could do; that it is nothing but a scaffold for erecting the edifice of grace ; and that the scaffold will be knocked down and burnt up when the edifice is complete. There is no impropriety in preachers telling their people, in the language of Jojb, that conscience is the candle of the Lord within us: but what shall we say of their arguing as they do, and express it, that this candle must be often snuffed?
« A petty
4 A petty practitioner of the law in Stirling, whether tinctured with the doctrines of the Haldanites, or with any religious doctrines at all, I am uncertain, being proprietor of an estate in a neighbouring parish, sent his proportion of the stipend to the clergyman by the hands of the hangman. When the hangman, who, here, as well as in most other places, is neither a respectable nor a popular character, and who is seldom seen without the walls of the town where he resides, was approaching the minister's house, the servants, and all in the house, were much alarmed, except the clergyman; and when the hangman knocked at the door, it was like the sentence of death. As every body had run with fear and trembling to hide themselves, no one could be found to let him in. However, he was at last admitted. Upon being desired by the clergyman, (Mr. Frame,) of Alloa, to come in, he informed him he had been sent by Mr. J. C—1 with his proportion of the stipend. Finding the money good and the sum due., being asked a receipt, Mr. Frame wrote, " Received from Mr. C—, through the hands of his agent and factor, the hangman of Stirling, the sum of thirty pounds sterling, &c." But it seems, that the year after, the gentleman judged it unnecessary to remit his mousy by his former agent.'
For the accuracy of all the anecdotes with which these pages are liberally interspersed, we cannot presume to vouch: but some of them are, indeed, abundantly ludicrous. Let the following suffice as examples:
'It was, and still is a custom in many places in the Highlands, that whoever comes into a house after a person dies, and before such person is interred, as also after a child is born till it is baptized, must eat and drink in the house before thty leave it. This being the custom, to save expences, and because they think it disrespectful to God to have an unbaptized child in the house, poor people generally have their children as soon baptized as possible. But it happened once to a poor man in this part of the country, that a river, as is often the case, ran between his house and the clergyman's, so that neither the poor man could get to the clergyman, nor the clergyman to the poor man's, in order to have the child baptized. The river was swoln, by the gradual melting of the snow, and there was no bridge within twenty miles. The poor man's cheese, his bread, &c. was nearly expended; he, therefore, on the one side of the river, and the clergyman on the other, consulting what was to be done, agreed that the child should be brought to the river side; that the father, presenting the child, should take on the vows, as they term it, and the minister with a scoop, or Dutch ladle, should throw over the water: which was done, though with difficulty, owing to the breadth of the river; after which, the clergyman pronounced the name, prayed aloud, so 33 to be heard by the parent and his attendants on the other side, after* which each went to their respective places perfectly satisfied with this new mode of baptism, and that, if the child died in infaacy, it would go to heaven.'—
'Being invited to dine with a gentleman near Auldern, when I Was praising the sallad, which I found extremely good, he said,
C 4 smiling,