« PreviousContinue »
On the University of Glasgow.
The remainder of the hour is devoted to the lecture upon
Roman Antiquities. It is in the discussion of topics connected with this lecture, that Mr. Walker appears to the greatest advantage. They afford ample scope to his fine talent for philosophical speculation. As far as the lecture is merely an account of ancient Rome, it is no better than a judicious selection of facts, recorded by writers accessible to every one—but in his reflections upon the growth, and spread and final destruction of the Roman power, Mr. Walker gets into the company of Gibbon and Hume, and shows indeed that he is not unworthy to labour in their favour. ite vineyard.
Whenever there is any thing parallel in the customs, inanners, and government of the Romans, with our own, it is uniformly pointed out, and that too in a way the most instructive. The reader will not be surprised to learn, that this lecture embraces an account of the origin, progress and perfection of government, and especially of the British Constitution. We have never yet read or heard a more luminous exposition of the principles of our most excellent government, than that given by Mr. Walker. He is himself a tory, and perhaps represents the monarchical part of the British Constitution in a more favourable view, than may generally please—but this we consider an error on the better side; for it is observable, that youth are more disposed to over-rate the advantages of a republic, than of monarchy. It is not till after the judgment is matured, and the experience considerable, that we give in to the opinion which prefers the sway of one when properly controlled, to the sway of a hundred however judiciously exercised—a proposition which is not just in unison with those feelings of independence, which glow in thệ breast of every youth.
In the history of Roman, Mr. Walker gives a full account of British literature. This division of the lecture is rendered very valuable, by the observations on composition, to which he has paid much attention, with what success the public may judge. A most unmanly criticism on an early production, from a quarter whence he had little reason to expect it, (judging from the appearance of matters as they now are) has, we fear, prevented hiin from giving his name to his subsequent publications. But he is well known to be the author of a life of Burns, prefixed to the Perth edition of the poet's works; and which we do not scruple to say, is the best extant: as well as several articles in the distinguished periodical publications of the day. Had he written nothing else, than the papers Crusade and Criticism in the Edin
Edward and Egwina-A Tale.
burgh Encylopædia, he would still have merited the honours of an elegant writer.
This tribute of respect for the Professor is offered, we trust, from no unworthy motive. Our approbation, which has nothing to recommend it but its sincerity, will not be suspected when we assure our readers that we are not personally known to its object. From this cause, we have forborne to speak of his private character, but which, from all we have been told, is amiable and gentlemanly.
EDWARD AND EGWINA ;*
Ev'n kings ba'e ta'en a queen out o'the plain ;
In proportion as refinement proceeds, gallantry increases. The reign of the illustrious Alfred was not more favourable to heroism and science than to love. His son Edward possessed a large portion of his father's virtues; and while he sat upon the throne cultivated those arts which Alfred had encouraged. His heart was susceptible of the tender passions, and of the power of beauty. In one of his excursions he met with a lovely shepherdess, named Egwina. The prince was captivated with her charms. Honour governed his actions, and subjected his desires to the control of virtue. He wished to exalt her situation, not to debase her innocence. In short, he wished her for his
queen. But this seemed impossible, and he returned dejected to his palace: he regretted that high rank, which stood as a bar to his happiness. He consulted his favourite friend and minister; he urged the beauty—the virtue—the genius of Egwina ; but all in vain, the reply was, that policy required him to seek union with some exalted character, allied to a powerful and wealthy prince; and that if he were to place a shepher
* This Tale is founded, in part, upon a circumstànce stated in the early part of the English history.
Edward and Egwina.
dess on the throne his nobles would be disgusted, quit his court and probably proceed by open violence to resent the supposed insult to their dignity. The prince admitted that what was said was too likely to be the fact, and reprobated that pride which deemed an alliance with obscure and entitled virtue disgraceful : but he knew the prejudices of his nobility were unconquerable. He submitted, repining reluctantly to his fate. He frequently visited the shepherdess, and her conversation was his delight. There was somewhat mysterious to him in her deportment, and her accomplishments. She possessed the strictest appearance of innocence without embarrassment. Though plainly attired she stepped with superior grace, and in every action exhibited courtly propriety and ease. Though her observations were chiefly upon her flocks, and rural business, yet she would occasionally surprise the prince with remarks upon astronomy, history, morals and agriculture, which bespoke a mind informed above the common level. Thus engaging, it was not to be wondered at, that every additional visit increased the admiration and astonishment of the enamolired Edward. His dignity was his torture. His passion grew stronger every moment.
His friends and flatterers tried in vain to divert his thoughts, or alleviate his distress. The greatest beauties of his palace courted his smiles without effect. Their charms served but to remind him of the superior ones of his beloved Egwina. Nothing induced him to retain existence but the trying task of parting, perhaps forever, from his captivating shepherdess.
He often thought to ask her for the story of her life, but dreaded that the narrative would but confirm his misery. Upon one of his visits he missed her at the accustomed spot, but found a venerable old man attending on the sheep. The prince enquired eagerly for Egwina, and was informed that she was at a neighbouring cottage. She had acquainted her father that she often had a visitor when keeping her flocks in the fields, and from her description, the old man conceived the prince to be the person, and accordingly invited him to their habitation. Edward for a while threw off his courtly ceremony, and accepted the invitation. He went on with sorrowing steps, and yet would not have stayed behind ; the sight of the cotttge damped him, but that of its fair tenant cheered his spirits. He found in the place neatness and rural elegance. He would have been happy to have changed his sceptre for a shepherd's crook,
Edward and Egwina-A Tale.
on I was
and his splendid palace for this humble residence. Ho was courted to refresh himself; but though the table was spread with healthful rustic dainties, he could not partake of the feast Egwina's charms and conversation were his regalement, He derived momentary comfort from the cause of permanent misery. The old man apologised for the homeliness of his fare, imagining that to occasion the abstinence of his guest ; and said, “ That once he could have entertained him better, but now, he had little more to offer than a hearty welcome.”
At these words the hopes of the prince were raised—his attention was fixed to the story of their fortunes, which he begged the father to relate. The old man thus proceeded. formerly earl of Morcar. Our family was of royal descent, and my possessions in lands, flocks and herds, exceedingly extensive and valuable. I lived in becoming splendour, honoured by my illustrious and royal master Alfred, justly styled the Great. Í was beloved by my neighbours, and happy in my family. My estate was situated on the border of the Scottish lands, and frequently invaded by the Highland plunderers, For a long time my tenants and servants bravely repelled their attacks; but at length increasing in their numbers, we were overpowered. They spoiled and ravaged all our lands, and drove away our flocks and herds, save a small porțion with which I flew hither to find security. Here have I since lived, suppressed my title, and passed myself for a poor old shepherd, with this my humble but affectionate daughter, the comfort and support of my declining years."
The prince struggled to conceal the sweet emotions which he felt at this narration, and asked the old man whether he had applied at court for succour in his distress ?
His question was answered thus ; “ No, my family consisting but of myself and young Egwina, and my desires confined to narrow bounds, by the wise dictates of philosophy, I thought it unjust to ask of my country that support which industry could procure, and thus deprive more useful subjects of their just reward." The prince admired the generous spirit of the venerable sage ; told him he had interest at court; that the king wished to see him, and insisted that he and his daughter should hasten thither ; which journey, after much deliberation and hesitation, they agreed to undertake. It is impossible to describe the transports
Edward on this occasion. He flew back to his palace, eager to prepare for his expected and welcome visitors. The scene was now
A Popish Miracle.
changed from the most deep despondency to the most complete joy and felicity.
At the appointed time the old shepherd and his fair daughter arrived at court, and having recovered their surprise, the king introduced them in their rural habits. Time and disguise prevented the nobility from recollecting the earl, and Egwina had never been seen in public; as companions of the prince the courtiers were obliged to receive them with civility; but their affected politeness could not conceal their absolute contempt. The court broke
up, and the king again engaged in conversation with the earl. He requested to know whence his daughter derived so much knowledge? to which the earl replied,
" From iny own poor stock: as she was my sole companion I thought it
my interest as well as duty to teach her every science I knew. She had a comprehensive mind, and easily received instruction.
In a few days the king assembled all his courtiers again. He had previously advised with his counsellors on the propriety of a marriage with an earl's daughter of royal descent, and received a favourable answer. He then introduced the old man as the earl of Morcar, and the shepherdess as his daughter Egwina. Shame seized the ungenerous nobility, but the offended parties soon removed their embarrassment. Matters being duly prepared and settled between the king, the earl, and his daughter, Edward now declared his intention of espousing Egwina ; and the ceremony was immediately performed. In a few days tho coronation took place, and the royal shepherdess lived long happy as the queen of England,
A POPISH MIRACLE.
Two men digging a grave in a church-yard at Maeon upon the river Seine, found a scull, which they threw upon the grass by them, with the common concern of grave-diggers; but soon after perceiving it to stir, they ran to the curate of the parish, and told him what they had seen. The superstitious curate immediately supposed it was the skull of some saint that had been buried in that place, and therefore posted thither, where to his great surprise and joy, he found still moving, upon which he