I've Read so therefore I've Heard
Posted by P. Bingham on September 11, 1998 at 15:40:32:
In response to Like the Dew on the Mountain......., written by Caroline on September 11, 1998 at 08:55:16
Here is a little something from the British Critick Feb. 1811, Scott's Marmion, A Supplemental Article, from an 1811 American publication, Selected Reviews 1811. It's a bit humorous... a little long:
'On the subject of this poem, a friend has supplied us with this anecdote so remarkable, and so illustrative, not only of the power of the poetry, but of the nature of local reports, that we are convinced our readers will be pleased with it.
In a voyage, with adverse winds, from Leith to London, this friend was detained two days at Holy Island, the scene of the trial and fate of Constance in that poem. He went ashore with an officer, and examined the ruins of the abbey, and found, on what seeemd the site of the cavern in which Constance Beverley was tried and immured, a small fortress, with a few invalids, under a barrack serjeant, and one company of a regiment of militia. The officer instantly recognized the old serjeant as a soldier who had served under his father, who had also been in the army; and their early acquainstance was easily renewed. The serjeant then guided the voyagers through the fortress, which is built on a high and steep rock; and when they were at the highest part of the rock, he very gravely said, that there must be some profound cavern in it, to which, after a long search, he had been unable to find the entrance. Our friend asked why he thought so? Because, siad he, a bell is distinctly heard to ring every night at twelve 0'clock, in the centre of the rock, and apparently at a great depth; probably as deep as the level of the sea. He observed our friend to smile at such a fancy, and then swore that he himself repeatedly heard it. As the officer had mentioned that his old acquaintance had received some education, our friend immediately asked him whether he had ever read Marmion. On his saying, that he had read it with great pleasure, he was asked if the midnight bell had ever been heard by him before that period. 'no' said he, 'we never till then thought to listen for it.' The whole body of invalids agreed in the same tale. They had all heard him read Marmion, and all had ever since heard the midnight bell, though before that time they never thought of listening for it.
A stronger proof of the impressive nature of the poetry cannot easily be imagined; and it may serve to show also by means of what faculty strange and preternatural sounds are usually heard, or sights of that description seen.
We meant to have interwoven this little narrative in our account of the Lady of the Lake; but having accidently omitted it, we thought it too curious, knowing it to be literally a fact, not to be given to the publick.'
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