« EdellinenJatka »
liar to himself, appear to be novel to others; and partly from the indisputable fact, that those uniform circumstances which materially influence the habits, exert an unseen agency, of which, on account of its uninterrupted action, we ourselves are but imperfectly conscious.
Whatever may be the cause, the fact is notorious, that the character of the Highlanders is distinguished from that of their neighbours, by many bold and prominent lines. In so far as this peculiar shade of mind receives its cast from the impressions of nature, we may expect that for succeeding generations, it will be as indelible as their mountains. But their former habits of life, no doubt, contributed to give a peculiar tinge to the character of their forefathers, which strengthened the influence of scenery : much that was distinctive in their manners, must, therefore, fade away before the rapid changes and innovations of modern times.
The pensiveness which forms so interesting a feature in the mental temperament of this remarkable people, had its origin, beyond all controversy, in their local condition. To this solution of the phenomenon it has been objected, that in other parts of the world, a similar effect is not produced by similar causes. But where, we would ask, are the people who have been placed in circumstances so favourable to the impressions of enchanting scenery? The feudal habits so long cherished among these mountaineers, bound the whole fraternity of a clan, to their chief and to each other, by an affectionate devotedness which could not but cherish some of the finer feelings of the heart; and the chivalrous dignity with which such an independent spirit invested the mind, working upon a lively imagination, could not but render them thoughtful and somewhat romantic. If to this we add other powerful causes which operated among them, their early enlightened state, the delicate and interesting nature of their superstitions, and, in later times, their decidedly religious babits, we shall perceive a combination of circumstances, admirably calculated to strengthen the impressions derived from the gloomy but sublime features of the objects with which their earliest ideas were interwoven. In a mind so trained, the dark glen and awful precipice could scarcely fail to awaken a corresponding and solemn imagery; “ 'The loud torrent and the “whirlwind's roar,' with all the other accompaniments of the
rough music of nature,' would vibrate upon such an ear in thrilling tones, exquisitely adopted to create a tender melancholy, and to call up a train of pensive thought.
Alter the numerous specimens of prejudice exbibited in these volumes, we were not astonished to find the proverbial hospitality of Ilighlanders impeached. The Author declares that he never received but one invitation from them, but
when it was with an apparent view to their own interest;' that he has been unasked to eat when there was nothing to be purchased within many miles of the place;' that upon one dark night, on making up to a house where he was “ well • known, upon the trampling of his horses before the house,
the lights went out in the twinkling of an eye, and deafness - at once seized the whole family.'* Let it be remembered that this was in the period between the two rebellions; a time when it was very possible for such jealousy of a British officer to have been manifested, without the least deficiency in hospitality. Perhaps, also, our Author was too well known !' But it is a waste of words to notice statements which experience contradicts. We appeal to the accredited annals of past times, for facts to substantiate a virtue for which the Highlander has ever been renowned. In older time, the hall of the chief was ever open to the friendly stranger; and the flowing shell went round with the inviolable pledge of hospitality. More unrestrained intercourse with the rest of mankind, has imposed necessary limits on that openness of soul which would be abused by an unprincipled world; for the very improvements of the social order are somewhat destructive of that generous and unsuspecting confidence, which can subsist only in a stage of civilization intermediate between primitive barbarism and modern refinement. Together with the influx of recent manners, there may also have been introduced many of the vicious habits of the world: but, even to this day, a ramble among those secluded regions, where the inhabitants are not yet contaminated by a selfish spirit, will afford many incidents to call forth gratitude and admiration at the simple hospitality of the Highlander. A stoupt of milk still meets the stranger at the door of the hut ; and his host, with a native politeness unknown amid the
busy hum of men,' and unsolicited, accompanies his guest for a considerable distance from his dwelling, both to shew the interest which the visit has excited, and to give him suitable directions for pursuing his journey in these wild mountain solitudes.
In the Highlander of former times, these milder virtues were, however, associated with several qualities of a sterner cast; and the delicate sensibilities of the heart were more distinctly visible, from being, not unfrequently, contrasted with sentiments of ferocity. If their affectionate devotedness to their chiefs, exhibited soine of the finest traits of fidelity that are to be found in the annals of mankind, it was not inconsistent with the perpetual breach of all the laws of hospitality and * Vol. II. pp. 184, 185.
good faith, when an insult was to be revenged upon some. neighbouring clan. If a spirit of noble independence was cherished by a mode of life which brought the lowest of the tribe into personal intimacy withi liis superior, it also conduced to create a pride too easily wounded, and io purse a disposition im-, patient of the control imposed by legally constituted authority The martial habits which roused the inhabitants of a valley from their peaceful occupations, to gather them to the battle for the purpose of repelling unprovoked hostility, often Jed thein to the most savage butchery of their fellow-country, men, merely to avenge the indiscretion of an individual. Every passion, however noble in itself, was too highly teinpered, and was of too delicate irritability.
Such a confession may appear somewhat at variance with, the sentiments expressed at the beginning of the present Article ; and the plaintive strain in which we took a review of that peculiarity of character of those modes of life, and which are fast vanishing away, may now perhaps be suspected of insincerity. A very few words will be sufficient to show our periect consistency. It is one thiog to feel a lively interest in retraciog manners which are now no more; anotiser, to wish to recall them into actual exsistence. Even those attractive superstitions which gave form to the mist reposing on the breast of the mountain, and' voice to the hollow blast murmuring down the glen, are not to be regretted. They threw, it iust be admitted, a veil of mysterious solemnity over the humblest occupations ; they still contribute powerfully to engage our feelings, and I to gratify our taste; but can it be deplored that this visionarye. creed no longer holds its empire over the mind? or that s FALSE IMPRESSIONS have been supplanted by theri triumpbs of TRUTH?
prob Having resigned the most fascinating part of the system, its sterner elements may be dismissed without a sigh. Upon the u whole, we rejoice that a system productive of some brilliant virtues, and of many serious evils, has gradually given way to the more social habits. Much may have been lost that was romantic; but much has been gained in solid comfort. These simple habits of mountaineers may have been partially sues » seeded by the vicious practices and vulgar propensities of busy life; but a more eftectual provision has been made for the happiness and moral improvement of the species, than could bave been effected under an order of things in which, a mankind were tied together in little independent knots, rather: than woven into the more uniform and even texture of well regulated society. That was no very comfortable state in which it was not an uncommon event for whole herds of
cattle to be stolen from their rightful owners by a midnight fóras* ;' in which every man slept with his clayınore by bis side and in which the unoffending inhabitants of a retired valley might be murdered in cold blood, because one of their clan had spoken insultingly of a rival chieftain. Such a state of society may be reviewed with enthusiastic interest; but from these retrospective dreams of the mind, we are glad to awaken to the sober realities of less romantic life. In short, we dwell upon these pictures of feudal manners, exactly as we should delight our eyes with the mixture of strength and soft
ness, of grace and wildness t,' which characterizes th- caring paintings of Salvator Rosa, We catch the spirit of his breathing figures. With his predatory banditti we scale the cliffs, and rush down the ravine upon the unwary traveller, But the ardour of imagination would speedily cool, were these reveries of fancy to assume instantaneous existence: we should recoil with horror, were the robbers suddenly to start from the canviss, and did we perceive ourselves to be surrounded by a troop of singuinary in urderers. Art. 1V. Chemical Essays, principally relating to the Arts and Manufactures of the British Dominions. By Samuel Parkes, F.L S 5. vols. 12mo. price 21. 25. Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy London, 1815.
UE Author of these Essays is already advantageously I known to the public, by his “ Chemical Catechisin," á usefut elemevtary work, which has been well received and has bad an extensive sale. He now makes his re-appearance as an author, with the avowed object of diffusing information among that important class of the community, who are engaged in those departments of manufacturing industry that are dependent on chemical principles, and to whom therefore some knowledge of the principles on which their respective arts are founded, is of great and vital importance. For it is an obvious truth, that in proportion as those who are engaged in condacting these processes, shall be conversant with their scientific principles and relations, will be their confidence of always obtaining uniform and successful results, and their means of introducing such scientific or economical improvebents, as may ultimately carry them to perfection.
In the progress of mankind from a state of ignorance and barbarism, to that of refinement and civilization, the arts naturally precede the sciences; but, during that period, their progress, if indeed they are at all progressive, is extremely slow;
The Creach. * Euskare's Class. Tour in Italy, Vol. II. p. 414. 4to Edition.
and the occasional improvement which they may receive, is the result of fortunate accident, and not of well directed inquiry. The establishment of some fixed scientific principles, soon becomes indispensibly necessary to the farther advancement of all which are not strictly inanual; and until these shall have been developed, they must remain circumscribed within the most narrow bounds. Lord Bacon has finely illustrated this subject, by his profound remark, that the discovery of gunpowder was solitary because it was accidental; for had it been the result of scientific investigation, it would have been followed by a crowd of others. This vantage ground being once gained, a new career is opened, which, when compared with the individual capacity of mankind, is of boundless extent.
We may observe, as a further illustration of this subject, that the periods most strongly marked by great improvement in the arts, will be found to be those which have been most distinguished by the progress of scientific discovery. The discovery and development of the theory of latent heat, by Dr. Black, led in the most direct manner to that great improvement in the construction of the steam engine, which, perhaps more than any other individual circumstance, has contributed to raise the manufacturing establishments of Great Britain to their present uvrivalled pitch of greatness.
The “ Essays" which have led to these preliminary observations, are of too miscellaneous a character, to render them susceptible of very rigorous criticism ; nor do they contain so large a proportion of new matter, as to make it proper to attempt an analysis of each individual essay. They will be found in general to address themselves less to the man of science than to the manufacturer, who, it may be expected, will seek to advance his knowledge of the processes about which he is more especially interested, by the most direct and least laborious means. The details are consequently in most instances of a purely practical nature; and Mr. P. has occasionally passed into, the description of processes which almost belong to the province of manual arts. This has been especially the case in the essays on glass and earthenware; but though it certainly contributes to make them more generally amusing, yet we doubt if it contributes equally to their usefulness. In general, howe, ever, they who wish for information on the subjects of which Mr. Parkes bas treated in these volumes, will find them illustrated in a clear and perspicuous manner, and which even those who are not very conversant with scientific chemistry, will not find it difficult to understand. He has indeed shewn great judgement, in keeping the language of his work level with the attainments of those who have never studicd chemistry as a