Page images
PDF
EPUB

their hands an inch or two higher than the plant. This little plant is really very pretty, and often naturally takes the very form of a dwarf tree in miniature, which is doubtless the reason of its being such a favourite with the Chinese.'- Wanderings in China, p. 94.

The great point of attraction to a long-tailed gardener visiting London would be the tiny stages of dwarf succulents in miniature pots, which look as if intended to be added to the furniture of a doll's house. It is said, that certain wealthy and kindhearted persons in China buy up the koo-shoo, or dwarf trees, for the sake of liberating them, by planting them in the open ground; but that the national benevolence does not prevent the making of buman koo-shoo, or monstrous dwarfs (of which the small-footed ladies are a commencing sample), to be exhibited for a horriblyearned profit.

The last kind of garden to which we shall allude is also touched upon by Mr. Fortune :

* A very considerable portion of the land in the vicinity of Shanghae is occupied by the tombs of the dead. In all directions large conicalshaped n.ounds meet the eye, overgrown with long grass, and, in some instances, planted with shrubs and Howers. The Howers are simple in their kind. No expensive camellias, moutans, or other of the finer ornaments of the garden are chosen for this purpose. At Ningpo wild roses soon spread themselves over the grave, and, when their flowers expand in spring, cover it with a pure sheet of white. At Shanghae a pretty bulbous plant, a species of Lycoris, covers it in autumn with masses of brilliant purple. When I first discovered the Anemone japonica, it was in full Mower amongst the graves round the ramparts. It blooms in November, when other flowers have gone by, and is most appropriate to the resting-places of the dead.'-Ibid., p. 330.

With this beautiful custom prevalent amongst themselves, and with the rumour (if it has ever reached them) of the abominations practised in England, the Chinese may well assail us with contemptuous and insulting epithets. If the horrid means of disposing of the dead, which have been detected among the • outside red-haired Barbarians' in London and elsewhere, had been found in New Zealand before the introduction of Christianity, and we had been innocent of them, we should reproach them with the foul iniquity as a worse stain on the native character than even cannibalism itself. There yet remains plenty of uncultivated space in Great Britain for gardens for the dead. What are three-fourths of the sepulchral decorations that are seen, but faint shadows of paganism? The urn is sheer nonsense among a people who do not burn their dead and

The genius of the broken column and the extinguished torch is no emblem of hope. Sarcophagi, in all their varieties, are inconsistent with the restitution of earth to earth. There is a beautiful legend—if in these days we may be pardoned for calling anything in this line a mere legendthat on the death of the Virgin, the apostles went, after a time, to remove the body, and, on opening the tomb where it had been laid, found that it was gone ; but in its place appeared in full growth a thick cluster of bright and varied flowers. On this hint be it ours to speak. Let us remove the remains of our friends from the possibility of being a nuisance and a pollution. Let no vault, nor catacomb, nor niche, be permitted to pour forth through its chinks what must shock the sensitiveness of the most ardent affection. Let us lay what is left reverently in the earth—and above the spot let us spread a carpet of living bloom.

preserve.

have no

• With fairest flowers,
Whilst summer lasts, and I live here, Fidele,
I'll sweeten thy sad grave: thou shalt not lack
The flower that's like thy face, pale primrose ; nor
The azur'd hare-bell, like thy veins; no, nor
The leaf of eglantine, whom not to slander,

Out-sweeten’d not thy breath.' Give us, we say, whenever the appointed hour arrives, no other monument than a parterre six feet by two; not hung about with trumpery dyed wreaths of éternelles and fragile amaranths, but planted with humble, homely, low-growing favouritesthe aconite and the snowdrop, to mark a resurrection from the death of winter-the violet and the lily of the valley, to join cheerfully in the sweetness of spring—the rose, to sympathise with the beauty of summer—and the Japan anemone and the chrysanthemum, to carry a smile into the failing light of autumn. So best may the corruptible body be rendered up to Nature. The example has been set here and there—and with beautiful

The precincts of the house of prayer being affectionately adorned and decorously respected, the house itself has been further removed from profanation-has been guarded by the smiling sadness and decent quiet of the little region around it. Let us be thankful—and hope that the good course is to be largely pursued.

success,

[ocr errors]

Art. II.-1. The History of the Reformation in Scotland by

John Knor. Edited by David Laing. 2 vols. 8vo. Edin

burgh, printed for the Wodrow Society, 1848. 2. Origines Parochiales Scotie; the Antiquities, Ecclesiastical

and Territorial, of the Parishes of Scotland. Edited by Cosmo Innes, Esq. Printed for the Bannatyne Club. Vol. I., 4to.

Edinburgh, 1851. 3. Inquiry into the Law and Practice in Scottish Peerages; with

an Exposition of our Genuine Original Consistorial Law. By

John Riddell, Esq. 2 vols. 8vo. Edinburgh, 1842. THE 'HE Wodrow Society, now deceased, deserved well of Scotland

by its editions of Knox and Calderwood. Calderwood might be said to be a new work; but a correct and critical edition of Knox's History was scarcely less a desideratum. The firstprinted at London by Vautrollier in 1586-7—was so full of blunders that its suppression by Whitgift is scarcely to be regretted so much as that a few copies got into circulation.* The next (London, 1644), though superintended by David Buchanan, a Scotchman, and an industrious scholar, is still worse ; for it abounds in wanton alterations and even additions. As Vautrollier's had offended Elizabeth's High-Church Archbishop, Buchanan's excited the jealousy of the Puritans. It was their tampering with it that moved the indignation of Milton :

• If the work of any deceased author, though never so famous in his lifetime and even to this day, come to their hands for licence to be printed or reprinted ; if there be found in his book one sentence of a venturous edge, uttered in the height of zeal—and who knows whether it may not be the dictate of a divine spirit ?—yet not suiting with every low decrepit humour of their own ;-though it were Knox himself, the reformer of a kingdom, that spake it--they will not pardon him their dash. The sense of that great man shall to all posterity be lost, for the fearfulness or the presumptuous rashness of a perfunctory licenser.'Areopagitica. Such a manipulator as David Buchanan was, however, more dangerous even than a 'perfunctory licenser.' A new edition was therefore wanted, not only to furnish accurate readings, and the apparatus of illustration which modern luxury and indolence require, but to restore omissions, cut out interpolations, and place the whole on a firm footing of authority. Mr. Laing has spared no pains upon his task. The first four books may now be perused as John Knox wrote them between the years 1559 and 1566;

* Some of Vautrollier's readings are amusing. For · William Guthrie,' he has within gathered' (p. 233). One of the Lollards of Kyle, ‘Adam Reid of Barskimming, be transmutes into · Adam reade of blaspheming.' The conspirators of St. Andrews threw the keys into the • fowsie' i.e. fossé, the castle ditch. Vautrollier substitutes the foule sea, &c. &c. VOL. LXXXIX. NO. CLXXVII.

and

D

and the fifth is reduced to its proper grade of authority as a posthumous concoction out of his materials. The reader is saved all the trouble of referring to contemporary documents by plentiful notes, which he will not criticise severely for occasional overminuteness. Much as Mr. Laing has done, however, he is entitled to still more credit for what he has refrained from doing. With sufficient zeal for his subject, with all its learning, and with an author provocative of opposition in every line, he has not turned aside to meet the hostile multitude nor disfigured his margins with controversy.

Mr. Laing assures us that Knox was ‘of all persons the best qualified to undertake the History of the Reformation in Scotland, not only from his access to the various sources of information, and his singular power and skill in narrating events and delineating characters, but also from the circumstance that he himself had no unimportant share in most of the transactions of those times.' (p. xxv.) But in this no doubt sincere opinion we cannot quite concur.

Access to information on one side of affairs Knox undoubtedly had, and he was no mean master of narrative; but in all the highest qualifications of a historian he was utterly wanting. His was not the calm philosophic nature to balance counsels, to admit faults in his own party or merits in the other. The vehemence of his abuse, his hearty calling of names, destroys all trust in his fairness. It was not even object with him to assume the virtue. Again, he did not know, or he despised, the tricks of composition. His book is inconsecutive, almost fragmentary-altogether without method. He says himself that he was regardless of times and seasons-meaning that he was not studious to state events in their right order; but he was also very indifferent as to the correctness of his quotations, and this even in the case of documents which he professed to give in full. Such ascertained licences must greatly lessen the reader's general confidence:-we are haunted by suspicion even amidst his often highly animated sketches of men and of transactions. It is not as a history, in short, that the book is valuable. It is as the outpouring of the mind of one who was a chief mover and main actor in the greatest of the revolutions that a nation can undergo. It is not every great man that is born to act history and to write it. The very qualities that fitted Knox for his mission disqualified him for setting forth to posterity the events he directed.

We cannot wonder at the ferocity of Roman Catholics against him: he earned it well at their hands; but we have always thought the vulgar censure of his violence by Protestants, ignorant and unjust. We lament as much as most the destruction

of

an *

But we

of venerable churches, and the total annihilation of that goodly fabric of a hierarchy, to our mind the most legitimate as well as the most seemly dress that our common Christianity can wear; but we cannot place these mischiefs in comparison with the benefit which the Great Change conferred on Scotland; and if the circumstances of the country make it probable that the only alternative was a total demolition or entire restoration, down go the pride of St. Andrews and the beauty of Melrose— let not only Prior and Abbot but even Dean and Bishop perish-rather than society stand there as it stood before the Reformation.

Knox and his coadjutors were no destroyers of churches, as we have endeavoured to show in a former number.* With paramount objects in view-compelled to speak to the passions, and in the frenzy of a strife more deadly than war-we must not marvel that they could not always restrain what Knox himself calls the rascal multitude' from the work of pillage and demolition. should be honest. The real enemies of ancient buildings in Scotland —whether pre-christian relic, church, or castle—from Arthur's Oven to Kinloss and Kildrummy-have been the successive lairds of later 'improving' times. To make a dike' or fill a drain, or at best to erect a staring abomination of a new mansion-house, the grey ancestral tower was triumphantly blown down with gunpowder. The mean barn built as a Kirk by the “heritors' was supplied with its lintels and cornerstones from the mouldings of the little chapel where their forefathers worshipped. It is but fifty years since an Edinburgh architect employed to repair the nave of the cathedral at Brechin, still used as a parish-church, begged earnestly for leave to remove that useless old tower' which darkened a window. Reader! it is the Round Tower of Brechin, of mysterious antiquity—the connecting link of Irish and Scotch history! We believe Scotland was indebted to Lord Panmure and the late eccentric Laird of Skene for averting that disgrace.

There was no dandling into life of the Scotch Reformation, no basking in the sunshine of princely favour. The speculative tenets condemned by the Reformers were calculated to be popular, appealing to the feelings and imagination. They were upheld by an ancient hierarchy which still numbered among its servants men of sound theological learning, armed with all the weapons of the schools. Above all, they had the support of a Court which dressed by that of France, and was not indisposed to have used the argument of Charles IX, with the heretics. Against such a defensive array mere demonstration of the doctrinal errors

* See Q. R., vol. Ixxxv., pp. 148, &c.

« PreviousContinue »