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-the flagrant vermilion-the flaunting scarlet. Anti-Romanist as he is, he could not help painting the Church as a scarlet lady. Glance with us, reader, in desultory fashion, over some* of his ruddy sketches, and judge for yourself his fondness for this hectic pigment—his fiery zeal for “ rubric” and red letters—his relish for lightning, sheet or forked, it matters not. · The “ Hellas” of Shelley, he tells us, is a “wild, prophetic impromptu, half white foam, and half red fire.” The same poet's “ Ode to Naples” travels “on storm wings of shadowy fire.” Lord Brougham's eye "shines like a sunken pit of fire suddenly disclosed-his arms vibrate like sharp tongues of fame in the blast.” Before the view of Coleridge's “ Ancient Mariner,” 6 some great mountain of past crime for ever rears its forked and blood-red peaks.” Pollok’s “Course of Time" contains lines “memorable, as if written in red characters” -(according to which doctrine, Mr. Gilfillan's books will be very memorable, indeed); and his “ descriptions of Hell show a man who had rolled the red idea in the furnace of his mind, till it was rounded into fearful distinctness of shape and symmetry." “ The red source of Byron's genius, shut in death, sullenly opens at his (Pollok’s) spell, and, dipping his pencil in it, the painter hastily limns him in burning colours." Thrice dear are such lines in Aird and others as describe Galilæan demoniacs who already “ dwell 'mid horned flames and blasphemy in the red range of hell," and gibbering ghosts, with “ fire-curled, cinder-crusted tongues.” One of Aird's prose works is “red with fiery and convulsive life," and precious. fragments are quoted about “ sounding rains of fire that come ever on," and Ambition “lashed with a bigger and redder billow," and Avarice with “its awful lava of fierce, but unregenerating, fire;" while the same poet's “ Devil's Dream” provides its delighted expositor with an interminable series of “red sheets of fire," "flakes of flame,” “red bewildered maps" of sky-scenery, lakes like a “red and angry plate,” “ fiery coasts,” 6 salted fires,” “ crested waves of grizzly gleam,” &c. &c. Southey has a “flaming genius”—though a few pages later we are informed, “his genius emits a deep, steady, permanent glow-never those sharp tongues of flame, &c." Robert Hall's “Discourse on War” is pronounced " beautiful, but faint-done in water-colours, when he should have dipped his pencil in blood.” Godwin “ had not the huge oneglaring orb of a Cyclops, letting in a flood of rushing and furious splendour.” “No devouring fire of purpose has hitherto been seen to glare in Sir Bulwer Lytton's eye." But the baronet's Pompeii novel “glows like a cinder from Vesuvius,” and depicts “most gorgeously the reelings
* This mode of treating Mr. Gilfillan's writings is objectionable to his admirers, naturally enough. "Nothing is more easy,” says one of them, “than to pick out a few such macula, and parade them, as affording a fair specimen of his style.” (Palladium, vol. ii.) “His very faults," says another, “on which some minor critics show themselves so large, are often faults which the said critics could not commit.” (Brit. Quart, Review, vol. xi.) However, it is tranquillising to reflect on the inevitable innocuousness of aught we can do in this direction; for we are assured, from the same quarter, that “such cheap and petulant criticism will ultimately do harm only to those who are mean enough to indulge in it. Mr. Gilfillan has taken too high a place in public estimation to be touched by such ill-fledged arrows." Happy man be his dole!
The “ elegant extracts” which adorn the text, ut suprà, are culled from the flower-show of his writings in general—including his uncollected contributions to Tait, the Instructor, the Critic, &c. ....
of that fiery drunkard.” Byron's " very contempt is molten ; his tears of laughter, as well as of misery, fall in burning showers.” Carlyle's conversation “is a river of lava, red, right onward, and irresistible." Over Macaulay, writing in the War-office the Roman Lyrics, “ the Genius of Battle might be figured bending, and shedding from her wings a ruddy light upon his rapidly and furiously-filling page." To Tennyson, poetry “is not a morning flush in the sky of youth,” but “it is a consuming and imperishable fire”-“it is fact on fire." John Sterling's genius “ dances on a brilliant and shapeless fire-mist.” Under Wordsworth’s “steadfast look,” Windermere “has kindled into a new lustre like a red western heaven glorifying its waters.” Of Alison's Sermons, “ few burning embers cling to our memories or our hearts." (Evidently Mr. Gilillan has no horror of heart-burn.) The historian who wishes to be read, and to “send down a shrill from his red-margined page into the future," must write worthily of revolutionists. Marat was a scarecrow, 56 with inflamed noddle, and small, keen, bloodshot eyes.” Danton's “ blasphemies were sublime as those heard in the trance of Sicilian seer, belched up from fallen giants through the smoke of Ætna, or like those which made the burning marl' and the fiery gulph' quake and recoil in fear,"--and Danton “ did not dabble in blood,” but only made “one fierce and rapid irruption into the neighbourhood of the · Red Sea,' and returned sick and shuddering therefrom.” The Hebrew prophet's “dark eye swam .. .. with the light of the divine afflatus," he was “a meteor kindled at the eye, and blown on the breath, of the Eternal”—and the “ fury of God glared in his eye.” David, “ firmly, with his blood-red hand, grasps the Book of the Law of God." The stone-tables provided by Moses,“ received and cooled the red-dropping syllables of the fiery Law.”
Almost equal is our author's attachment to such words as “ shriek,” “ scream," « sob,” “ gasp,” and all their kith and kin. Shelley discusses a point in Plato, under the twilight trees, “with far-heard shrieking voice"--and runs to his friend Hogg at Oxford, “ shrieking out with clasped hands, and streaming eyes, “I am expelled !""--and is habitually fast and fervid in conversation, 6 shrieking out his winged words.” Coleridge's verse combines “ the softness of the breeze-the shriek of the rising gale:" The author of “ Satan,” “ rushes up, at first, with screams of ambitious agony.” Lord Brougham's voice is “ now exalted to a harrowing shriek, and now sunk to a rasping and terrible whisper." Towards the close of his career, Byron's “wild shrieking earnestness subsided into Epicurean derision.” The same noble lord was a Laocoon, “ covered from head to foot with snakes of supernal vengeance, bearing their burden with deep agonised silence, starting and shrieking upon the application of a thorn, which the hand of some puny passing malignant had thrust into his foot.” King Lear “ shrieks up questions to the heavens, which make the gloomy curtains of night to shiver.”
As specimens of Mr. Gilfillan's lawless taste, in ambitious passages, take the following. Hamlet is said to “ dance on his wild erratic way to his uncle's death," and that uncle to “ hiccup aphorisms.” “ The great dramatist has used Hamlet as Turpin did Black Bess-he has drenched him with the wine of demi-derangement, and thus accomplished his perilous ride." “ Strauss is a great blockhead the last stench of the infidel spirit.” In his Astronomical Discourses, Dr. Chalmers “ now drifts across the red light of Mars . . . . now bespeaks the wild comet, and now rushes in to spike the guns of that battery against the Bible, which the bold hands of sceptical speculators have planted upon the stars.” Pollok's “ description of the resurrection, though vivid and vigorous, is as coarse as though done by a resurrection-man.” To be oratorical in praise when you stand before some masterpiece of genius, “ were nearly as absurd as to cheer the thunder or encore the earthquake.” Allan Cunningham's mind wanders untamed, “like a giant of the infant world, striding with large uneven steps .... laying his lubber length on the dry, bald, burning rock, and snorting out from his deep chest terrific slumber;"
-and his “ Michael Scott” “ can be likened to nothing in earth, sea, or air, but the caldron of a Canidia or a Hecate, with which sparkles interpiercing a thick smoke, through which you see, or seem to see, amid a tremendous bubble and squeak,'-a hell-broth in the act of cookery, which a Cerberus might, with sputtering noise, reject.” Ebenezer Elliott's “ savage power has taught him to wield the hammer and the pen with little difference in degree of animal exertion and mental fury. We can never divest our minds as we read him of the image of a grim son of the furnace, black as Erebus, riving, tearing, and smiting at his reluctant words.” Aird's vision of the high hills seen reeling in sympathy with the breaking waves of the burning lake, is "i a circumstance reminding us of Hogarth’s houses in Gin Alley. A sigh is bestowed on the unhappy “ laureate who must sweat poetry out of every birth, baptism, burial, and battle.” Poetry itself is " a splendid ulcer.” Men have frequently but injudiciously classed Byron and Shelley together, as two dissolute and disorderly blackguards, because the two found themselves together one stormy night in the streets, having both been thrust out by the strong arm from their homes. « One had been kicking up a row and kissing the serving-maids; the other had been trying to reform the family, but in so awkward a fashion, that in his haste he had put out all the lustres, and nearly blown up the establishment.” As to Mr. Macaulay's theology, it seems “ we might ask with much more propriety at him the question which a reviewer asked at Carlyle, · Can you tell us, quite in confidence, your private opinion as to the place where wicked people go ?” Punsters are a feeble folk ; for, “what poor creatures you meet continually, from whom puns come as easily as perspiration." (Talk about 6 odorous” comparisons !) 5 Carlyle's inyective sometimes seems the foul spittle of some angry god. It is a wild, lashing rain from above, like Isaiah in his wrath."* In reference to Byron's letters as illustrating his poems, it is interesting, says Mr. Gilfillan, “while these great cataracts are heaving on, to mark this attendant spray-sweat of their agony.” (Prince Hal was not richer, surely, in the si most unsavory, similes.") Dr. Croly's is a “galloping" style—at a “ generous, break-neck pace”—“it is no vulgar intoxication—it is a debauch of nectar ; it is not a Newmarket, but a Nemean race.” Certain religious littérateurs of the day are satirised as “hanging around the majestic form of Christianity a dirty finery, picked up from the cast-off clothes of second-rate poets, and sinking the mother-tongue of Heaven
* Commend us to Mr. Gilfillan for making the metaphoric gruel thick and slab. What an exquisite synthesis this--of “foul spittle,” o wild lashing rain," and the wrath of Isaiah! What does our fervid divine think of the Ars Poetica criticism,
“Qui variare cupit rem prodigialiter unam,
into the sickly whine of a mendicant, as though Isaiah had become an old Jew clothesman." A Mr. Anderson, of Glasgow, of pulpit prowess, 6 so paints perdition, that you seem to hear the roar of its sleepless fires, and the tossing of the victims on the unmade beds of despair.” Michael Angelo,“ pious as he was, would have broken up the true cross for pencils, and studied chiaroscuro at Calvary.” “The idea of Doctor Milton is ludicrous. As well speak almost of Dr. Isaiah, Professor Melchisedec, or- Ezekiel, Esq.” “We can well fancy Adam Black, or John Murray, saying to Milton, Splendid poem, sir-great genius in it ; but it won't sell, we fear-far too long—too many learned words in it-odd episode that on Sin and Death. If you could rub it down into a tragedy, and secure Macreadyfor Satan, and Helen Faucett for Eve, it might take ; or, if you could write a few songs on the third French Revolution, or something in the style of Dombey and Son. Good morning, Mr. Milton.'” Swedenborg's intellect “ kept him cool amid the most fiery and horrible details of damnation ; he was a mere meter to the gas of the everlasting fire.” Æschylus was the laureate of that fallen house, “the Stuarts of the skies—till a dying cockney-boy, with power projected from eternity, with hectic heat and unearthly beauty, sang Hyperion.” Shelley “ was a hectic hero ; a Titan in a deep decline.” In his “ Prometheus,” the “ thought is often drowned in a diarrhea of words ;" and the “last act is to us a mere dance of darkness.” St. Peter is the 6. Oliver Goldsmith of the New Testament.” And, to conclude,—what thinks the worthy peripatetic custos in the Nineveh room of the British Museum, of the following éloge of his department :-“ You could talk under the dome of the Crystal Palace--the Ninevehtic remains, which seemed the fragments of the blast of the breath of God's nostrils, made you silent. . . . What could you do but gusp for breath, and cling convulsively to your seat,” &c., &c., &c.
But enough. It is a solace to know how impervious Mr. Gilfillan is to the criticisms of " puny, passing malignants,” to which category he will doubtless consign us—and how sublimely impenetrable he must be to their disposition to hint a fault and hesitate dislike. Yet he does now and then evince a susceptibility to be “riled” a little ; and this fact creates in us some apprehension lest even our obscurity should be assailed by a pitiless storm of the “ fragments of the blast of the breath” of his vengeance. Mr. Macaulay has already incurred his personal displeasure, from some incapacity on the historian's part to appreciate his brilliancy. The North American Review criticised his “Bards on the Bible” in a manner “which did vex him ;” and he waxes irate about “ that stupidest of all Old Granny's' effusions. . . . She has lost all her teeth, poor body; and her tongue is not very clean. I fear the worst for her.” And because the Athenæum saw reason to speak slightly of Mr. Gilfillan, he denounces that journal as containing only “dry and sapless critiques ... where ill-temper, spite, and mean jealousy are mistaken for honesty and truth; and the clique connected with which are, as a whole, destitute alike of insight, heart, and enthusiasm.” Probably, we are fathoms and fathoms below Mr. Gilfillan's contempt; but if he should call us bad Dames, and meditate the ruin of the Magazine, we shall soothe ourselves with remembering the good company with which his anathema associates us.
Meanwhile, we have “nothing exaggerated," and are certain we have "set down nought in malice.”
BY MRS. BUSHBY.
Is, far away from those one loves—to live. SOMETIMES, when I have wandered away-away over the wild and apparently endless moors, where I could see pothing but the brown heath below, and the blue skies above me ; when I have roamed on far from men, from their busy haunts, and the signs and tokens of their active worldly labours, which, after all, are but molehills, that Time, or some restless and turbulent Tamerlane, shall again level to the ground; when I have strayed, light of heart and proudly free as a Bedouin, whom no fixed domicile, no narrow circumscribed fields chain to one spot, but who, as its owner, occupies all he beholds ; who does not indeed dwell, but pitches his tent where he will ; if then my keen searching glances along the horizon have discovered a house, how often—God forgive me! has not the passing thought arisen in my mind — for it was no settled desire
-to wish that the human habitation was annihilated. There, must dwell trouble and sorrow; there, must exist disputes about mine and thine! Ah! the happy desert is both thine and mine, is every one's, is no one's. A lover of the woods would have contented himself with wishing a whole colony of trees planted there ; I have wished that the heath could have remained as it was a thousand years ago, uncultivated by human hands, untrodden by human feet! Yet this wish was not always satisfactory to myself, for when fatigued, overheated, suffering from hunger and thirst, I have endeavoured to turn my thoughts with longing to an Arab's tent and rude hospitality, I have caught myself thanking heaven that a house thatched with broom-at not a mile's distancepromised me shelter and refreshment.
It so happened that some years ago, one calm warm September day, I found myself on the same heath that, in my Arabian dreams, I called mine. Not a breath of wind crept among the purple heather; the air was sultry and heavy, the distant hills that bounded the view seemed to float like clouds around the immense plain, and assumed the appearances of houses, towns, castles, men, and animals ; but all was vague in outline, and ever shifting, as the images seen in dreams. A cottage would expand into a church, and that again into a pyramid ; here, suddenly uprose one spire ; there, as suddenly sank another; a man turned into a horse, and that again into an elephant; here, glided a little boat, and there, a ship with every sail spread. Long did my delighted eyes gaze on these fantastic figures-a panorama that only the mariner or the wanderer of the desert has ever the pleasure of beholding-when, becoming a prey to hunger and to thirst, I began to look for a real house among the many false ones in my sight. I longed most earnestly to exchange all my beautiful fairy palaces for one single peasant's cottage.
* The title of this tale in the original is “Hosekrämmeren” (“ The Hosier"). The translator has changed it to that of “ Esben," the name of its hero.