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little understanding of the emotions for the turbulence of which Mrs. Campbell had found a vent in tears." Pp. 80–85.
The degrees by which Blair sinks to crime are, as we have said, among the finest parts of the book ; but they are too much in connection with each other for us to detach from them any particular scene. The following passage occurs immediately on his being restored to consciousness after the illness which succeeded his fall. We do not know that we have ever read any description of music so exquisite.
“ Suddenly, there came to his ear the echo of mournful music; and although it seemed to him at the first moment, as if it were produced quite close to him, he became sensible, after listening for a few moments, that the notes came from some considerable distance.
“ It was a wild, plaintive strain, played, as he fancied, on a single pipe-and he could not help imagining, that the same sounds had been heard by him more than once during the long trance from which he had just been roused. Never was such a deep melancholy clothed in sweet sounds; never was melody so fit for feeble dying ears.
The breath of it seemed as if it were wafted from some world of unearthly repose, some sphere of pensive majesty-above joy, too calm for sorrow.
The tears flowed softly, slowly, healingly, over the sick man's cheek as he listened to those sounds, which seemed to be every moment receding farther, and dropping fainter from the wings of the light breeze that bore them.”—Pp. 254–255,
This music was that which waited on the burial of the woman he loved !
Our space is narrowing fast, but we must give the scene in which the Presbytery discuss the rumours against Blair. The extract is a long one, but we cannot refrain from giving this most powerful and dramatic passage entire.
“ When the clergymen composing the Presbytery found themselves assembled that day, it would have been evident to any one who might have been present, that their minds were occupied with something very different from the ordinary routine of their ecclesiastical business. The clerk read his minutes without being listened to by any body, and while many little matters were being arranged in the usual manner, among the usual functionaries, the different members of the court were seen forming themselves into knots, and whispering together low and anxiously in various corners of the Chapter-house. At length one of the members, a tall, thin, elderly person of very formal aspect, moved that the court should be cleared, as he had to call the attention of his brethren to a subject, which, in its present state, ought to be discussed with closed doors.
When this clergyman, by name Stevenston, was satisfied that all strangers had retired, he addressed the chair in a long and elaborate speech, for the tenor of which almost all who heard him were sufficiently prepared before he opened his lips. He expatiated at great length on his own unwillingness at all times to open his ears to scandal, more particularly against the character of any of his hitherto respected brethren; explained, however, that, under certain circumstances, it was every man's duty to overcome his private feelings ;--and then entered into a serious, circumstantial detail of the many rumours which had been for some time afloat, concerning the conduct of Mr. Blair of CrossMeikle. He concluded with moving a string of resolutions, which he held written out on a card in his hand--the general purport of which was, that the scandal concerning this member of their court had already amounted to what, in the ecclesiastical phraseology of Scotland, goes under the name of a Fama Clamosa ; and that, therefore, it was the bounden duty of the Presbytery to take up the matter quam primum, and appoint a committee, with powers to commence a precognition—and that such and such persons ought to constitute the committee in question. His motion was instantly seconded by another person on the same side of the house, who, however, in doing so, expressed his own firm belief that there was no foundation whatever for the foul allegations too publicly circulated against Mr. Blair, and that, on a proper investigation (which, for the sake of Mr. Blair himself, ought to take place without any further delay) it would become manifest to all, that a few casual imprudencies, misinterpreted by the malicious, were all that could be laid to his charge. He concluded with an eulogium on Mr. Blair's previous character and conduct, both of which, he said, had always been regarded with the deepest respect even by those who differed most widely from him in opinion as to matters of inferior moment—and by none more so than himself.
When this speaker sat down, there ensued a pause of some moments, during which, those on the opposite side of the room (the same among whom Mr. Blair himself usually sat) were seen consulting among themselves, as if anxious, and yet hesitating, to make some reply. Dr. Muir, who happened to be the Moderator of the Presbytery, and of course had his seat apart from any of the other clergymen, continued for some time looking towards them, and at last he rose up, and requested one of their number to relieve him, for a moment, from the duties of the chair.
“ As soon as he had quitted the desk, the old man, still standing in the open space in the centre of the room, threw his eyes eagerly round him, and began to speak of the matter which had been brought before their notice, characterizing as rash and imprudent, in the highest degree, the conduct of those who had broached such a subject in the absence of the person most immediately concerned in it, and fervidly expressing his own utter contempt of the rumours they had heard of, and his most sincere conviction, (for such it was,) that the pure and stainless character of Mr. Blair had been assailed in consequence of nothing but the malice of one individual, whose name need only be mentioned in order to satisfy the Presbytery with how much caution they ought to proceed upon this occasion. He then sunk into a lower but not a less serious tone, and—after desiring his brethren, with the authority which years and superior talents alone can bestow, to banish all thoughts of party in considering an assault which might have been made with equal success, as well as, he firmly believed, with equal justice, against any one of all who heard him--the old man proceeded to relate the substance of the conversation he had himself held with Mr. Blair the night before he left Cross-Meikle, and the solemn denial of the alleged guilt which he had then received from the lips of his young
friend. Dr. Muir himself felt, as he went on, that what he said was producing a powerful effect, and he therefore opened himself more and more freely, and reviewing the whole course of Adam Blair's existence, dared any one present to avow his belief, that even if he had been capable of offending in the manner imputed to him, he could have been so of telling a deliberate and an uncalled-for lie. “Sirs," said he, " I put it to all of you, whether you do not feel and know that Adam Blair is innocent; and is it thus, that while we are ourselves convinced of his innocence, we are rashly, hastily, sinfully to injure our brother, by countenancing the clamours of the ignorant, and the malicious, and the ungodly, in his absence? Would to God that he were present with us this day, that he might have done for himself effectually, what a feeble old man has rather the will than the power to do for him!”
Dr. Muir was speaking fervently in this strain, and the visible emotion of a man who generally controlled and concealed his more ardent feelings was kindling even the coldest who listened into the same congenial warmth, when the door of the Chapterhouse opened, and in walked Adam Blair himself. Every eye being fixed steadfastly upon the impassioned speaker, the entrance of a stranger was not for a few moments observed by a single person there; and indeed Dr. Muir himself never suspected what had happened, until the pale and altered man was standing at the distance of three or four paces right in front of him. He stopped in the midst of the sentence, and gazed for a moment in silence first upon him, and then upon the audience—and then suddenly resuming all the fervour of his tone, said these words,
" I thank my God !-Adam Blair, speak, look up, let them hear your voice. Speak solemnly, in the hearing of God and your brethren! Adam, are you guilty, or not guilty, of this uncleanness?”
The unhappy Blair, laying his hand upon his breast, answered quickly and clearly, “ Call me no more your brother I am a fallen man. I am guilty.”
Every pulse shcok beneath the tune of that voice-but Dr. Muir groaned aloud, ere he made answer. “ Fallen, indeed, Adam Blair,- ;-woe is me-doubly, trebly fallen ! Do you remember the words you said to me when I spake with you in private ?" “I do—and they were true.
Then I deceived not you, but myself.
Now, no one is deceived.” The old man covered his face with his hands, and Aung himself backwards upon his seat, while all the rest continued silent, speechless, staring upon the countenance of Blair.
It was he himself who broke once more the silence of their assembly: “ I call you no longer my brethren-let me still call you, though unworthy, my friends : let me still partake your Vol. 1. PART I.
prayers.-- Pray for me ;-I dare not pray for myself. The God that hath abandoned me will hear your prayers.”
At these words Dr. Muir uncovered his face, and fixing his eyes once more on the unfortunate, continued, for some moments, to regard him in silence, like all the rest. A big tear rolled over his cheeks, but he brushed it hastily away ere he said, “ Adam Blair, you have been ill. You have been ill in the body. But a few days ago your hair was black, and now it is as grey as mine ; your cheek is white, your strength is gone." He started to his feet as he continued " Our brother has been visited with much sickness. Perchance his mind also has been shaken."
" It has, it has," muttered several voices.
Mr. Blair looked all around him, and, for the first time, the water stood in his eye, as he replied, “ Body and mind have been shaken, but it is not as you would too kindly persuade yourselves. Oh, sirs !—I have spoken the truth. I came hither to speak it. What hope of peace or mercy could I have until I had spoken the truth, and resigned my office into the hands of God's servants ?-I do now resign it.—My ancestors were peasants, and I return io their lot--would I were worthy of them !-Once more, I demand your prayers. Refuse not my parting request.”
The whole assembly remained, once more, fixed in silence. Dr. Muir, still erect in front of Blair, surveyed them all round and round; and then saying, “ Brethren, I read your thoughts,” fell down upon
his knees. They all knelt at the same moment ; and Blair, weeping like an infant, knelt also in the inidst bf them, and stooped his forehead to the dust.-Pp. 299-307.
Here our extracts must close ; but, we trust that we have quoted enough to more than justify the praise with which we have spoken of this book. It has some faults, however, like everything else. The incident of Mrs. Campbell saving Blair and his child from drowning is very novelish, and quite unlike the tone of nature and reality in which the greater part of the story is told. We also object to the shifting of the scene to Uigness. It would have been much more in consonance with the general simplicity of the tale if the incidents had all