Specimens with Memoirs of the Less-known British Poets, Vol. 3
Part 6 out of 7
The fruits and prize of glorious toils,
Of arts and industry.
15 On thee yet foams the preacher's rage,
On thee fierce frowns the historian's page,
A false apostate train:
Tears stream adown the martyr's tomb;
Unpitied in their harder doom,
Thy thousands strow the plain.
16 These had no charms to please the sense,
No graceful port, no eloquence,
To win the Muse's throng:
Unknown, unsung, unmarked they lie;
But Caesar's fate o'ercasts the sky,
And Nature mourns his wrong.
17 Thy foes, a frontless band, invade;
Thy friends afford a timid aid,
And yield up half the right.
Even Locke beams forth a mingled ray,
Afraid to pour the flood of day
On man's too feeble sight.
18 Hence are the motley systems framed,
Of right transferred, of power reclaimed;
Distinctions weak and vain.
Wise nature mocks the wrangling herd;
For unreclaimed, and untransferred,
Her powers and rights remain.
19 While law the royal agent moves,
The instrument thy choice approves,
We bow through him to you.
But change, or cease the inspiring choice,
The sovereign sinks a private voice,
Alike in one, or few!
20 Shall then the wretch, whose dastard heart
Shrinks at a tyrant's nobler part,
And only dares betray;
With reptile wiles, alas! prevail,
Where force, and rage, and priestcraft fail,
To pilfer power away?
21 Oh! shall the bought, and buying tribe,
The slaves who take, and deal the bribe,
A people's claims enjoy!
So Indian murderers hope to gain
The powers and virtues of the slain,
Of wretches they destroy.
22 'Avert it, Heaven! you love the brave,
You hate the treacherous, willing slave,
The self-devoted head;
Nor shall an hireling's voice convey
That sacred prize to lawless sway,
For which a nation bled.'
23 Vain prayer, the coward's weak resource!
Directing reason, active force,
Propitious Heaven bestows.
But ne'er shall flame the thundering sky,
To aid the trembling herd that fly
Before their weaker foes.
24 In names there dwell no magic charms,
The British virtues, British arms
Unloosed our fathers' band:
Say, Greece and Rome! if these should fail,
What names, what ancestors avail,
To save a sinking land?
25 Far, far from us such ills shall be,
Mankind shall boast one nation free,
One monarch truly great:
Whose title speaks a people's choice,
Whose sovereign will a people's voice,
Whose strength a prosperous state.
John Logan was born in the year 1748. He was the son of a farmer at
Soutra, in the parish of Fala, Mid-Lothian. He was educated for the
church at Edinburgh, where he became intimate with Robertson, afterwards
the historian. So, at least, Campbell asserts; but he strangely calls him
a student of the same standing, whereas, in fact, Robertson saw light in
1721, and had been a settled minister five years before Logan was born.
After finishing his studies, he became tutor in the family of Mr Sinclair
of Ulbster, and the late well-known Sir John Sinclair was one of his
pupils. When licensed to preach, Logan became popular, and was in his
twenty-fifth year appointed one of the ministers of South Leith. In 1781,
he read in Edinburgh a course of lectures on the Philosophy of History,
and in 1782, he printed one of them, on the Government of Asia. In the
same year he published a volume of poems, which were well received. In
1783, he wrote a tragedy called 'Runnymede,' which was, owing to some
imagined incendiary matter, prohibited from being acted on the London
boards, but which was produced on the Edinburgh stage, and afterwards
published. This, along with some alleged irregularities of conduct on the
part of Logan, tended to alienate his flock, and he was induced to retire
on a small annuity. He betook himself to London, where, in conjunction
with the Rev. Mr Thomson,--who had left the parish of Monzievaird, in
Perthshire, owing to a scandal,--he wrote for the _English Review_, and
was employed to defend Warren Hastings. This he did in an able manner,
although a well-known story describes him as listening to Sheridan, on
the Oude case, with intense interest, and exclaiming, after the first
hour, 'This is mere declamation without proof'--after the next two, 'This
is a man of extraordinary powers'--and ere the close of the matchless
oration, 'Of all the monsters in history, Warren Hastings is the vilest.'
Logan died in the year 1788, in his lodgings, Marlborough Street. His
sermons were published shortly after his death, and if parts of them are,
as is alleged, pilfered from a Swiss divine, (George Joachim Zollikofer,)
they have not remained exclusively with the thief, since no sermons have
been so often reproduced in Scottish pulpits as the elegant orations
issued under the name of Logan.
We have already declined to enter on the controversy about 'The Cuckoo,'
intimating, however, our belief, founded partly upon Logan's unscrupulous
character and partly on internal evidence, that it was originally written
by Bruce, but probably polished to its present perfection by Logan, whose
other writings give us rather the impression of a man of varied
accomplishments and excellent taste, than of deep feeling or original
genius. If Logan were not the author of 'The Cuckoo,' there was a special
baseness connected with the fact, that when Burke sought him out in
Edinburgh, solely from his admiration of that poem, he owned the soft and
false impeachment, and rolled as a sweet morsel praise from the greatest
man of the age, which he knew was the rightful due of another.
1 _Har_. 'Tis midnight dark: 'tis silence deep,
My father's house is hushed in sleep;
In dreams the lover meets his bride,
She sees her lover at her side;
The mourner's voice is now suppressed,
A while the weary are at rest:
'Tis midnight dark; 'tis silence deep;
I only wake, and wake to weep.
2 The window's drawn, the ladder waits,
I spy no watchman at the gates;
No tread re-echoes through the hall,
No shadow moves along the wall.
I am alone. 'Tis dreary night,
Oh, come, thou partner of my flight!
Shield me from darkness, from alarms;
Oh, take me trembling to thine arms!
3 The dog howls dismal in the heath,
The raven croaks the dirge of death;
Ah me! disaster's in the sound!
The terrors of the night are round;
A sad mischance my fears forebode,
The demon of the dark's abroad,
And lures, with apparition dire,
The night-struck man through flood and fire.
4 The owlet screams ill-boding sounds,
The spirit walks unholy rounds;
The wizard's hour eclipsing rolls;
The shades of hell usurp the poles;
The moon retires; the heaven departs.
From opening earth a spectre starts:
My spirit dies--Away, my fears!
My love, my life, my lord, appears!
5 _Hen_. I come, I come, my love! my life!
And, nature's dearest name, my wife!
Long have I loved thee; long have sought:
And dangers braved, and battles fought;
In this embrace our evils end;
From this our better days ascend;
The year of suffering now is o'er,
At last we meet to part no more!
6 My lovely bride! my consort, come!
The rapid chariot rolls thee home.
_Har_. I fear to go----I dare not stay.
Look back.----I dare not look that way.
_Hen_. No evil ever shall betide
My love, while I am at her side.
Lo! thy protector and thy friend,
The arms that fold thee will defend.
7 _Har_. Still beats my bosom with alarms:
I tremble while I'm in thy arms!
What will impassioned lovers do?
What have I done--to follow you?
I leave a father torn with fears;
I leave a mother bathed in tears;
A brother, girding on his sword,
Against my life, against my lord.
8 Now, without father, mother, friend,
On thee my future days depend;
Wilt thou, for ever true to love,
A father, mother, brother, prove?
O Henry!----to thy arms I fall,
My friend! my husband! and my all!
Alas! what hazards may I run?
Shouldst thou forsake me--I'm undone.
9 _Hen_. My Harriet, dissipate thy fears,
And let a husband wipe thy tears;
For ever joined our fates combine,
And I am yours, and you are mine.
The fires the firmament that rend,
On this devoted head descend,
If e'er in thought from thee I rove,
Or love thee less than now I love!
10 Although our fathers have been foes,
From hatred stronger love arose;
From adverse briars that threatening stood,
And threw a horror o'er the wood,
Two lovely roses met on high,
Transplanted to a better sky;
And, grafted in one stock, they grow.
In union spring, in beauty blow.
11 _Har_. My heart believes my love; but still
My boding mind presages ill:
For luckless ever was our love,
Dark as the sky that hung above.
While we embraced, we shook with fears,
And with our kisses mingled tears;
We met with murmurs and with sighs,
And parted still with watery eyes.
12 An unforeseen and fatal hand
Crossed all the measures love had planned;
Intrusion marred the tender hour,
A demon started in the bower;
If, like the past, the future run,
And my dark day is but begun,
What clouds may hang above my head?
What tears may I have yet to shed?
13 _Hen_. Oh, do not wound that gentle breast,
Nor sink, with fancied ills oppressed;
For softness, sweetness, all, thou art,
And love is virtue in thy heart.
That bosom ne'er shall heave again
But to the poet's tender strain;
And never more these eyes o'erflow
But for a hapless lover's woe.
14 Long on the ocean tempest-tossed,
At last we gain the happy coast;
And safe recount upon the shore
Our sufferings past, and dangers o'er:
Past scenes, the woes we wept erewhile,
Will make our future minutes smile:
When sudden joy from sorrow springs,
How the heart thrills through all its strings!
15 _Har_. My father's castle springs to sight;
Ye towers that gave me to the light!
O hills! O vales! where I have played;
Ye woods, that wrap me in your shade!
O scenes I've often wandered o'er!
O scenes I shall behold no more!
I take a long, last, lingering view:
Adieu! my native land, adieu!
16 O father, mother, brother dear!
O names still uttered with a tear!
Upon whose knees I've sat and smiled,
Whose griefs my blandishments beguiled;
Whom I forsake in sorrows old,
Whom I shall never more behold!
Farewell, my friends, a long farewell,
Till time shall toll the funeral knell.
17 _Hen_. Thy friends, thy father's house resign;
My friends, my house, my all is thine:
Awake, arise, my wedded wife,
To higher thoughts, and happier life!
For thee the marriage feast is spread,
For thee the virgins deck the bed;
The star of Venus shines above,
And all thy future life is love.
18 They rise, the dear domestic hours!
The May of love unfolds her flowers;
Youth, beauty, pleasure spread the feast,
And friendship sits a constant guest;
In cheerful peace the morn ascends,
In wine and love the evening ends;
At distance grandeur sheds a ray,
To gild the evening of our day.
19 Connubial love has dearer names,
And finer ties, and sweeter claims,
Than e'er unwedded hearts can feel,
Than wedded hearts can e'er reveal;
Pure as the charities above,
Rise the sweet sympathies of love;
And closer cords than those of life
Unite the husband to the wife.
20 Like cherubs new come from the skies,
Henries and Harriets round us rise;
And playing wanton in the hall,
With accent sweet their parents call;
To your fair images I run,
You clasp the husband in the son;
Oh, how the mother's heart will bound!
Oh, how the father's joy be crowned!
WRITTEN IN A VISIT TO THE COUNTRY IN AUTUMN.
1 'Tis past! no more the Summer blooms!
Ascending in the rear,
Behold congenial Autumn comes,
The Sabbath of the year!
What time thy holy whispers breathe,
The pensive evening shade beneath,
And twilight consecrates the floods;
While nature strips her garment gay,
And wears the vesture of decay,
Oh, let me wander through the sounding woods!
2 Ah! well-known streams!--ah! wonted groves,
Still pictured in my mind!
Oh! sacred scene of youthful loves,
Whose image lives behind!
While sad I ponder on the past,
The joys that must no longer last;
The wild-flower strown on Summer's bier
The dying music of the grove,
And the last elegies of love,
Dissolve the soul, and draw the tender tear!
3 Alas! the hospitable hall,
Where youth and friendship played,
Wide to the winds a ruined wall
Projects a death-like shade!
The charm is vanished from the vales;
No voice with virgin-whisper hails
A stranger to his native bowers:
No more Arcadian mountains bloom,
Nor Enna valleys breathe perfume;
The fancied Eden fades with all its flowers!
4 Companions of the youthful scene,
Endeared from earliest days!
With whom I sported on the green,
Or roved the woodland maze!
Long exiled from your native clime,
Or by the thunder-stroke of time
Snatched to the shadows of despair;
I hear your voices in the wind,
Your forms in every walk I find;
I stretch my arms: ye vanish into air!
5 My steps, when innocent and young,
These fairy paths pursued;
And wandering o'er the wild, I sung
My fancies to the wood.
I mourned the linnet-lover's fate,
Or turtle from her murdered mate,
Condemned the widowed hours to wail:
Or while the mournful vision rose,
I sought to weep for imaged woes,
Nor real life believed a tragic tale!
6 Alas! misfortune's cloud unkind
May summer soon o'ercast!
And cruel fate's untimely wind
All human beauty blast!
The wrath of nature smites our bowers,
And promised fruits and cherished flowers,
The hopes of life in embryo sweeps;
Pale o'er the ruins of his prime,
And desolate before his time,
In silence sad the mourner walks and weeps!
7 Relentless power! whose fated stroke
O'er wretched man prevails!
Ha! love's eternal chain is broke,
And friendship's covenant fails!
Upbraiding forms! a moment's ease--
O memory! how shall I appease
The bleeding shade, the unlaid ghost?
What charm can bind the gushing eye,
What voice console the incessant sigh,
And everlasting longings for the lost?
8 Yet not unwelcome waves the wood
That hides me in its gloom,
While lost in melancholy mood
I muse upon the tomb.
Their chequered leaves the branches shed;
Whirling in eddies o'er my head,
They sadly sigh that Winter's near:
The warning voice I hear behind,
That shakes the wood without a wind,
And solemn sounds the death-bell of the year.
9 Nor will I court Lethean streams,
The sorrowing sense to steep;
Nor drink oblivion of the themes
On which I love to weep.
Belated oft by fabled rill,
While nightly o'er the hallowed hill
Aërial music seems to mourn;
I'll listen Autumn's closing strain;
Then woo the walks of youth again,
And pour my sorrows o'er the untimely urn!
COMPLAINT OF NATURE.
1 Few are thy days and full of woe,
O man of woman born!
Thy doom is written, dust thou art,
And shalt to dust return.
2 Determined are the days that fly
Successive o'er thy head;
The numbered hour is on the wing
That lays thee with the dead.
3 Alas! the little day of life
Is shorter than a span;
Yet black with thousand hidden ills
To miserable man.
4 Gay is thy morning, flattering hope
Thy sprightly step attends;
But soon the tempest howls behind,
And the dark night descends.
5 Before its splendid hour the cloud
Comes o'er the beam of light;
A pilgrim in a weary land,
Man tarries but a night.
6 Behold, sad emblem of thy state!
The flowers that paint the field;
Or trees that crown the mountain's brow,
And boughs and blossoms yield.
7 When chill the blast of Winter blows,
Away the Summer flies,
The flowers resign their sunny robes,
And all their beauty dies.
8 Nipt by the year the forest fades;
And shaking to the wind,
The leaves toss to and fro, and streak
The wilderness behind.
9 The Winter past, reviving flowers
Anew shall paint the plain,
The woods shall hear the voice of Spring,
And flourish green again.
10 But man departs this earthly scene,
Ah! never to return!
No second Spring shall e'er revive
The ashes of the urn.
11 The inexorable doors of death
What hand can e'er unfold?
Who from the cerements of the tomb
Can raise the human mould?
12 The mighty flood that rolls along
Its torrents to the main,
The waters lost can ne'er recall
From that abyss again.
13 The days, the years, the ages, dark
Descending down to night,
Can never, never be redeemed
Back to the gates of light.
14 So man departs the living scene,
To night's perpetual gloom;
The voice of morning ne'er shall break
The slumbers of the tomb.
15 Where are our fathers? Whither gone
The mighty men of old?
The patriarchs, prophets, princes, kings,
In sacred books enrolled?
16 Gone to the resting-place of man,
The everlasting home,
Where ages past have gone before,
Where future ages come,
17 Thus nature poured the wail of woe,
And urged her earnest cry;
Her voice, in agony extreme,
Ascended to the sky.
18 The Almighty heard: then from his throne
In majesty he rose;
And from the heaven, that opened wide,
His voice in mercy flows:
19 'When mortal man resigns his breath,
And falls a clod of clay,
The soul immortal wings its flight
To never-setting day.
20 'Prepared of old for wicked men
The bed of torment lies;
The just shall enter into bliss
Immortal in the skies.'
The amiable Dr Blacklock deserves praise for his character and for his
conduct under very peculiar circumstances, much more than for his
poetry. He was born at Annan, where his father was a bricklayer, in
1721. When about six months old, he lost his eyesight by small-pox. His
father used to read to him, especially poetry, and through the kindness
of friends he acquired some knowledge of the Latin tongue. His father
having been accidentally killed when Thomas was nineteen, it might
have fared hard with him, but Dr Stevenson, an eminent medical man
in Edinburgh, who had seen some verses composed by the blind youth,
took him to the capital, sent him to college to study divinity, and
encouraged him to write and to publish poetry. His volume, to which
was prefixed an account of the author, by Professor Spence of Oxford,
attracted much attention. Blacklock was licensed to preach in 1759, and
three years afterwards was married to a Miss Johnstone of Dumfries, an
exemplary but plain-looking lady, whose beauty her husband was wont to
praise so warmly that his friends were thankful that his infirmity was
never removed, and thought how justly Cupid had been painted blind. He
was even, through the influence of the Earl of Selkirk, appointed to the
parish of Kirkcudbright, but the parishioners opposed his induction on
the plea of his want of sight, and, in consideration of a small annuity,
he withdrew his claims. He finally settled down in Edinburgh, where he
supported himself chiefly by keeping young gentlemen as boarders in his
house. His chief amusements were poetry and music. His conduct to (1786)
and correspondence with Burns are too well known to require to be
noticed at length here. He published a paper of no small merit in the
'Encyclopaedia Britannica' on Blindness, and is the author of a work
entitled 'Paraclesis; or, Consolations of Religion,'--which surely none
require more than the blind. He died of a nervous fever on the 7th of
July 1791, so far fortunate that he did not live to see the ruin of his
Blacklock was a most amiable, genial, and benevolent being. He was
sometimes subject to melancholy--_un_like many of the blind, and one
especially, whom we name not, but who, still living, bears a striking
resemblance to Blacklock in fineness of mind, warmth of heart, and high-
toned piety, but who is cheerful as the day. As to his poetry, it is
undoubtedly wonderful, considering the circumstances of its production,
if not _per se_. Dr Johnson says to Boswell,--'As Blacklock had the
misfortune to be blind, we may be absolutely sure that the passages in
his poems descriptive of visible objects are combinations of what he
remembered of the works of other writers who could see. That foolish
fellow Spence has laboured to explain philosophically how Blacklock may
have done, by his own faculties, what it is impossible he should do. The
solution, as I have given it, is plain. Suppose I know a man to be so
lame that he is absolutely incapable to move himself, and I find him in a
different room from that in which I left him, shall I puzzle myself with
idle conjectures that perhaps his nerves have, by some unknown change,
all at once become effective? No, sir; it is clear how he got into a
different room--he was CARRIED.'
Perhaps there is a fallacy in this somewhat dogmatic statement. Perhaps
the blind are not so utterly dark but they may have certain dim
_simulacra_ of external objects before their eyes and minds. Apart from
this, however, Blacklock's poetry endures only from its connexion with
the author's misfortune, and from the fact that through the gloom he
groped greatly to find and give the burning hand of the peasant poet the
squeeze of a kindred spirit,--kindred, we mean, in feeling and heart,
although very far removed in strength of intellect and genius.
THE AUTHOR'S PICTURE.
While in my matchless graces wrapt I stand,
And touch each feature with a trembling hand;
Deign, lovely self! with art and nature's pride,
To mix the colours, and the pencil guide.
Self is the grand pursuit of half mankind;
How vast a crowd by self, like me, are blind!
By self the fop in magic colours shown,
Though, scorned by every eye, delights his own:
When age and wrinkles seize the conquering maid,
Self, not the glass, reflects the flattering shade.
Then, wonder-working self! begin the lay;
Thy charms to others as to me display.
Straight is my person, but of little size;
Lean are my cheeks, and hollow are my eyes;
My youthful down is, like my talents, rare;
Politely distant stands each single hair.
My voice too rough to charm a lady's ear;
So smooth, a child may listen without fear;
Not formed in cadence soft and warbling lays,
To soothe the fair through pleasure's wanton ways.
My form so fine, so regular, so new,
My port so manly, and so fresh my hue;
Oft, as I meet the crowd, they laughing say,
'See, see _Memento Mori_ cross the way.'
The ravished Proserpine at last, we know,
Grew fondly jealous of her sable beau;
But, thanks to nature! none from me need fly;
One heart the devil could wound--so cannot I.
Yet, though my person fearless may be seen,
There is some danger in my graceful mien:
For, as some vessel tossed by wind and tide,
Bounds o'er the waves and rocks from side to side;
In just vibration thus I always move:
This who can view and not be forced to love?
Hail! charming self! by whose propitious aid
My form in all its glory stands displayed:
Be present still; with inspiration kind,
Let the same faithful colours paint the mind.
Like all mankind, with vanity I'm blessed,
Conscious of wit I never yet possessed.
To strong desires my heart an easy prey,
Oft feels their force, but never owns their sway.
This hour, perhaps, as death I hate my foe;
The next, I wonder why I should do so.
Though poor, the rich I view with careless eye;
Scorn a vain oath, and hate a serious lie.
I ne'er for satire torture common sense;
Nor show my wit at God's nor man's expense.
Harmless I live, unknowing and unknown;
Wish well to all, and yet do good to none.
Unmerited contempt I hate to bear;
Yet on my faults, like others, am severe.
Dishonest flames my bosom never fire;
The bad I pity, and the good admire;
Fond of the Muse, to her devote my days,
And scribble--not for pudding, but for praise.
These careless lines, if any virgin hears,
Perhaps, in pity to my joyless years,
She may consent a generous flame to own,
And I no longer sigh the nights alone.
But should the fair, affected, vain, or nice,
Scream with the fears inspired by frogs or mice;
Cry, 'Save us, Heaven! a spectre, not a man!'
Her hartshorn snatch or interpose her fan:
If I my tender overture repeat;
Oh! may my vows her kind reception meet!
May she new graces on my form bestow,
And with tall honours dignify my brow!
ODE TO AURORA, ON MELISSA'S BIRTHDAY.
Of time and nature eldest born,
Emerge, thou rosy-fingered morn,
Emerge, in purest dress arrayed,
And chase from heaven night's envious shade,
That I once more may, pleased, survey,
And hail Melissa's natal day.
Of time and nature eldest born,
Emerge, thou rosy-fingered morn;
In order at the eastern gate
The hours to draw thy chariot wait;
Whilst zephyr, on his balmy wings
Mild nature's fragrant tribute brings,
With odours sweet to strew thy way,
And grace the bland revolving day.
But as thou leadst the radiant sphere,
That gilds its birth, and marks the year,
And as his stronger glories rise,
Diffused around the expanded skies,
Till clothed with beams serenely bright,
All heaven's vast concave flames with light;
So, when, through life's protracted day,
Melissa still pursues her way,
Her virtues with thy splendour vie,
Increasing to the mental eye:
Though less conspicuous, not less dear,
Long may they Bion's prospect cheer;
So shall his heart no more repine,
Blessed with her rays, though robbed of thine.
MISS ELLIOT AND MRS COCKBURN.
Here we find two ladies amicably united in the composition of one of
Scotland's finest songs, the 'Flowers of the Forest.' Miss Jane Elliot of
Minto, sister of Sir Gilbert Elliot of Minto, wrote the first and the
finest of the two versions. Mrs Cockburn, the author of the second, was a
remarkable person. Her maiden name was Alicia Rutherford, and she was the
daughter of Mr Rutherford of Fernilee, in Selkirkshire. She married Mr
Patrick Cockburn, a younger son of Adam Cockburn of Ormiston, Lord
Justice-Clerk of Scotland. She became prominent in the literary circles
of Edinburgh, and an intimate friend of David Hume, with whom she carried
on a long and serious correspondence on religious subjects, in which it
is understood the philosopher opened up his whole heart, but which is
unfortunately lost. Mrs Cockburn, who was born in 1714, lived to 1794,
and saw and proclaimed the wonderful promise of Walter Scott. She wrote
a great deal, but the 'Flowers of the Forest' is the only one of her
effusions that has been published. A ludicrous story is told of her son,
who was a dissipated youth, returning one night drunk, while a large
party of _savans_ was assembled in the house, and locking himself up in
the room in which their coats and hats were deposited. Nothing would
rouse him; and the company had to depart in the best substitutes they
could find for their ordinary habiliments,--Hume (characteristically) in
a dreadnought, Monboddo in an old shabby hat, &c.--the echoes of the
midnight Potterrow resounding to their laughter at their own odd figures.
It is believed that Mrs Cockburn's song was really occasioned by the
bankruptcy of a number of gentlemen in Selkirkshire, although she chose
to throw the new matter of lamentation into the old mould of song.
THE FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
BY MISS JANE ELLIOT.
1 I've heard the lilting at our yowe-milking,
Lasses a-lilting before the dawn of day;
But now they are moaning on ilka green loaning--
The Flowers of the Forest are a' wede away.
2 At buchts, in the morning, nae blithe lads are scorning,
The lasses are lonely, and dowie, and wae;
Nae daffin', nae gabbin', but sighing and sabbing,
Ilk ane lifts her leglen and hies her away.
3 In hairst, at the shearing, nae youths now are jeering,
The bandsters are lyart, and runkled, and gray;
At fair, or at preaching, nae wooing, nae fleeching--
The Flowers of the Forest are a' wede away.
4 At e'en, at the gloaming, nae swankies are roaming
'Bout stacks wi' the lasses at bogle to play;
But ilk ane sits drearie, lamenting her dearie--
The Flowers of the Forest are a' wede away.
5 Dule and wae for the order, sent our lads to the Border!
The English, for ance, by guile wan the day;
The Flowers of the Forest, that foucht aye the foremost,
The prime o' our land, are cauld in the clay.
6 We hear nae mair lilting at our yowe-milking,
Women and bairns are heartless and wae;
Sighing and moaning on ilka green loaning--
The Flowers of the Forest are a' wede away.
THE FLOWERS OF THE FOREST.
BY MRS COCKBURN.
1 I've seen the smiling
Of Fortune beguiling;
I've felt all its favours, and found its decay:
Sweet was its blessing,
Kind its caressing;
But now 'tis fled--fled far away.
2 I've seen the forest
Adorned the foremost
With flowers of the fairest most pleasant and gay;
Sae bonnie was their blooming!
Their scent the air perfuming!
But now they are withered and weeded away.
3 I've seen the morning
With gold the hills adorning,
And loud tempest storming before the mid-day.
I've seen Tweed's silver streams,
Shining in the sunny beams,
Grow drumly and dark as he rowed on his way.
4 Oh, fickle Fortune,
Why this cruel sporting?
Oh, why still perplex us, poor sons of a day?
Nae mair your smiles can cheer me,
Nae mair your frowns can fear me;
For the Flowers of the Forest are a' wede away.
SIR WILLIAM JONES.
This extraordinary person, the 'Justinian of India,' the master of
twenty-eight languages, who into the short space of forty-eight years
(he was born in 1746, and died 27th of April 1794) compressed such a
vast quantity of study and labour, is also the author of two volumes
of poetry, of unequal merit. We quote the best thing in the book.
A PERSIAN SONG OF HAFIZ.
1 Sweet maid, if thou wouldst charm my sight,
And bid these arms thy neck enfold;
That rosy cheek, that lily hand,
Would give thy poet more delight
Than all Bokhara's vaunted gold,
Than all the gems of Samarcand.
2 Boy, let yon liquid ruby flow,
And bid thy pensive heart be glad,
Whate'er the frowning zealots say:
Tell them, their Eden cannot show
A stream so clear as Rocnabad,
A bower so sweet as Mosellay.
3 Oh! when these fair perfidious maids,
Whose eyes our secret haunts infest,
Their dear destructive charms display,
Each glance my tender breast invades,
And robs my wounded soul of rest,
As Tartars seize their destined prey.
4 In vain with love our bosoms glow:
Can all our tears, can all our sighs,
New lustre to those charms impart?
Can cheeks, where living roses blow,
Where nature spreads her richest dyes,
Require the borrowed gloss of art?
5 Speak not of fate: ah! change the theme,
And talk of odours, talk of wine,
Talk of the flowers that round us bloom:
'Tis all a cloud, 'tis all a dream;
To love and joy thy thoughts confine,
Nor hope to pierce the sacred gloom.
6 Beauty has such resistless power,
That even the chaste Egyptian dame
Sighed for the blooming Hebrew boy:
For her how fatal was the hour,
When to the banks of Nilus came
A youth so lovely and so coy!
7 But, ah! sweet maid, my counsel hear,
(Youth should attend when those advise
Whom long experience renders sage):
While music charms the ravished ear,
While sparkling cups delight our eyes,
Be gay; and scorn the frowns of age.
8 What cruel answer have I heard?
And yet, by Heaven, I love thee still:
Can aught be cruel from thy lip?
Yet say, how fell that bitter word
From lips which streams of sweetness fill,
Which nought but drops of honey sip?
9 Go boldly forth, my simple lay,
Whose accents flow with artless ease,
Like orient pearls at random strung:
Thy notes are sweet, the damsels say;
But, oh! far sweeter, if they please
The nymph for whom these notes are sung.
This gentleman was born in 1731, and died in 1795. He was an English
clergyman, master of Merchant Tailors' School, London, and author of a
volume of Latin pieces, entitled 'Feriae Poeticae,' and of various other
poetical pieces. We give some verses to his wife, from which it appears
that he remained an ardent lover long after having become a husband.
TO MRS BISHOP,
WITH A PRESENT OF A KNIFE.
'A knife,' dear girl, 'cuts love,' they say!
Mere modish love, perhaps it may--
For any tool, of any kind,
Can separate--what was never joined.
The knife, that cuts our love in two,
Will have much tougher work to do;
Must cut your softness, truth, and spirit,
Down to the vulgar size of merit;
To level yours, with modern taste,
Must cut a world of sense to waste;
And from your single beauty's store,
Clip what would dizen out a score.
That self-same blade from me must sever
Sensation, judgment, sight, for ever:
All memory of endearments past,
All hope of comforts long to last;
All that makes fourteen years with you,
A summer, and a short one too;
All that affection feels and fears,
When hours without you seem like years.
Till that be done, and I'd as soon
Believe this knife will chip the moon,
Accept my present, undeterred,
And leave their proverbs to the herd.
If in a kiss--delicious treat!--
Your lips acknowledge the receipt,
Love, fond of such substantial fare,
And proud to play the glutton there,
'All thoughts of cutting will disdain,
Save only--'cut and come again.'
TO THE SAME,
ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF HER WEDDING-DAY, WHICH
WAS ALSO HER BIRTH-DAY, WITH A RING.
'Thee, Mary, with this ring I wed'--
So, fourteen years ago, I said.----
Behold another ring!--'For what?'
'To wed thee o'er again?'--Why not?
With that first ring I married youth,
Grace, beauty, innocence, and truth;
Taste long admired, sense long revered,
And all my Molly then appeared.
If she, by merit since disclosed,
Prove twice the woman I supposed,
I plead that double merit now,
To justify a double vow.
Here then to-day, with faith as sure,
With ardour as intense, as pure,
As when, amidst the rites divine,
I took thy troth, and plighted mine,
To thee, sweet girl, my second ring
A token and a pledge I bring:
With this I wed, till death us part,
Thy riper virtues to my heart;
Those virtues which, before untried,
The wife has added to the bride:
Those virtues, whose progressive claim,
Endearing wedlock's very name,
My soul enjoys, my song approves,
For conscience' sake, as well as love's.
And why? They show me every hour,
Honour's high thought, Affection's power,
Discretion's deed, sound Judgment's sentence,
And teach me all things--but repentance.
This lady was born at Cardew Hall, near Carlisle, and remained there
from the date of her birth (1747) till she was twenty years of age, when
she accompanied her sister--who had married Colonel Graham of Duchray,
Perthshire--to Scotland, and continued there some years. She became
enamoured of Scottish music and poetry, and thus qualified herself for
writing such sweet lyrics as 'The Nabob,' and 'What ails this heart o'
mine?' On her return to Cumberland she wrote several pieces illustrative
of Cumbrian manners. She died unmarried in 1794. Her poetical pieces,
some of which had been floating through the country in the form of
popular songs, were collected by Mr Patrick Maxwell, and published in
1842. The two we have quoted rank with those of Lady Nairne in nature
1 When silent time, wi' lightly foot,
Had trod on thirty years,
I sought again my native land
Wi' mony hopes and fears.
Wha kens gin the dear friends I left
May still continue mine?
Or gin I e'er again shall taste
The joys I left langsyne?
2 As I drew near my ancient pile,
My heart beat a' the way;
Ilk place I passed seemed yet to speak
O' some dear former day;
Those days that followed me afar,
Those happy days o' mine,
Whilk made me think the present joys
A' naething to langsyne!
3 The ivied tower now met my eye,
Where minstrels used to blaw;
Nae friend stepped forth wi' open hand,
Nae weel-kenned face I saw;
Till Donald tottered to the door,
Wham I left in his prime,
And grat to see the lad return
He bore about langsyne.
4 I ran to ilka dear friend's room,
As if to find them there,
I knew where ilk ane used to sit,
And hang o'er mony a chair;
Till soft remembrance throw a veil
Across these een o' mine,
I closed the door, and sobbed aloud,
To think on auld langsyne!
5 Some pensy chiels, a new-sprung race,
Wad next their welcome pay,
Wha shuddered at my Gothic wa's,
And wished my groves away.
'Cut, cut,' they cried, 'those aged elms,
Lay low yon mournfu' pine.'
Na! na! our fathers' names grow there,
Memorials o' langsyne.
6 To wean me frae these waefu' thoughts,
They took me to the town;
But sair on ilka weel-kenned face
I missed the youthfu' bloom.
At balls they pointed to a nymph
Wham a' declared divine;
But sure her mother's blushing cheeks
Were fairer far langsyne!
7 In vain I sought in music's sound
To find that magic art,
Which oft in Scotland's ancient lays
Has thrilled through a' my heart.
The sang had mony an artfu' turn;
My ear confessed 'twas fine;
But missed the simple melody
I listened to langsyne.
8 Ye sons to comrades o' my youth,
Forgie an auld man's spleen,
Wha' midst your gayest scenes still mourns
The days he ance has seen.
When time has passed and seasons fled,
Your hearts will feel like mine;
And aye the sang will maist delight
That minds ye o' langsyne!
WHAT AILS THIS HEART O' MINE?
1 What ails this heart o' mine?
What ails this watery ee?
What gars me a' turn pale as death
When I tak leave o' thee?
When thou art far awa',
Thou'lt dearer grow to me;
But change o' place and change o' folk
May gar thy fancy jee.
2 When I gae out at e'en,
Or walk at morning air,
Ilk rustling bush will seem to say
I used to meet thee there.
Then I'll sit down and cry,
And live aneath the tree,
And when a leaf fa's i' my lap,
I'll ca't a word frae thee.
3 I'll hie me to the bower
That thou wi' roses tied,
And where wi' mony a blushing bud
I strove myself to hide.
I'll doat on ilka spot
Where I ha'e been wi' thee;
And ca' to mind some kindly word
By ilka burn and tree.
Now we come to one who, with all his faults, was not only a real, but a
great poet. The events of his life need not detain us long. He was born
at Kingussie, Inverness-shire, in 1738, and educated at Aberdeen. At
twenty he published a very juvenile production in verse, called 'The
Highlandman: a Heroic Poem, in six cantos.' He taught for some time the
school of Ruthven, near his native place, and became afterwards tutor
in the family of Graham of Balgowan. While attending a scion of this
family--afterwards Lord Lynedoch--at Moffat Wells, Macpherson became
acquainted with Home, the author of 'Douglas,' and shewed to him some
fragments of Gaelic poetry, translated by himself. Home was delighted
with these specimens, and the consequence was, that our poet, under the
patronage of Home, Blair, Adam Fergusson, and Dr Carlyle, (the once
famous 'Jupiter Carlyle,' minister of Inveresk--called 'Jupiter' because
he used to sit to sculptors for their statues of 'Father Jove,' and
declared by Sir Walter Scott to have been the 'grandest demigod he ever
saw,') published, in a small volume of sixty pages, his 'Fragments of
Ancient Poetry, translated from the Gaelic or Erse language.' This
_brochure_ became popular, and Macpherson was provided with a purse to
go to the Highlands to collect additional pieces. The result was, in
1762, 'Fingal: an Epic Poem;' and, in the next year, 'Temora,' another
epic poem. Their sale was prodigious, and the effect not equalled till,
twenty-four years later, the poems of Burns appeared. He realised £1200
by these productions. In 1764 he accompanied Governor Johnston to
Pensacola as his secretary, but quarrelled with him, and returned to
London. Here he became a professional pamphleteer, always taking the
ministerial side, and diversifying these labours by publishing a
translation of Homer, in the style of his Ossian, which, as Coleridge
says of another production, was 'damned unanimously.' Our readers are
familiar with his row with Dr Johnson, who, when threatened with
personal chastisement for his obstinate and fierce incredulity in the
matter of Ossian, thus wrote the author:--
'To Mr JAMES MACPHERSON.
'I received your foolish and impudent letter. Any violence offered me
I shall do the best to repel, and what I cannot do for myself, the law
shall do for me. I hope I shall not be deterred from detecting what I
think a cheat by the menaces of a ruffian.
'What would you have me to retract? I thought your book an imposture. I
think it an imposture still. For this opinion I have given my reasons to
the public, which I dare you to refute. Your rage I defy. Your abilities,
since your Homer, are not so formidable, and what I hear of your morals
inclines me to pay regard, not to what you shall say, but to what you
shall prove. You may print this if you will.
Nothing daunted by this, and a hundred other similar rebuffs; Macpherson,
like Mallett before him, but with twenty times his abilities, pursued
his peculiar course. He was appointed agent for the Nabob of Arcot,
and became M.P. for Carnelford. In this way he speedily accumulated a
handsome fortune, and in 1789, while still a youngish man, he retired to
his native parish, where he bought the estate of Raitts, and founded a
splendid villa, called Belleville, where, in ease and affluence, he spent
his remaining days. Surviving Johnson, his ablest opponent, by twelve
years, he died on the 17th of February 1796, in the full view of Ossian's
country. One of his daughters became his heir, and another was the first
wife of Sir David Brewster. Macpherson in his will ordered that his body
should be buried in Westminster Abbey, and left a sum of money to erect a
monument to him near Belleville. He lies, accordingly, in Poets' Corner,
and a marble obelisk to his memory may be seen near Kingussie, in the
centre of some trees.
There is nothing new that is true, or true that is new, to be said about
the questions connected with Ossian's Poems. That Macpherson is the sole
author is a theory now as generally abandoned as the other, which held
that he was simply a free translator of the old bard. To the real
fragments of Ossian, which he found in the Highlands, he acted very much
as he did to the ancient property of Raitts, in his own native parish.
This he purchased in its crude state, and beautified into a mountain
paradise. He changed, however, its name into Belleville, and it had been
better if he had behaved in a similar way with the poems, and published
them as, with some little groundwork from another, the veritable writings
of James Macpherson, Esq. The ablest opponent of his living reputation
was, as we said, Johnson; and the ablest enemy of his posthumous fame has
been Macaulay. We are at a loss to understand _his_ animosity to the
author of Ossian. Were the Macphersons and Macaulays ever at feud, and
did the historian lose his great-great-grandmother in some onslaught made
on the Hebrides by the progenitors of the pseudo-Ossian? Macpherson as
a man we respect not, and we are persuaded that the greater part of
Ossian's Poems can be traced no further than his teeming brain. Nor are
we careful to defend his poetry from the common charges of monotony,
affectation, and fustian. But we deem Macaulay grossly unjust in his
treatment of Macpherson's genius and its results, and can fortify our
judgment by that of Sir Walter Scott and Professor Wilson, two men as far
superior to the historian in knowledge of the Highlands and of Highland
song, and in genuine poetic taste, as they were confessedly in original
imagination. The former says, 'Macpherson was certainly a man of high
talents, and his poetic powers are honourable to his country.' Wilson, in
an admirable paper in _Blackwood_ for November 1839, while admitting many
faults in Ossian, eloquently proclaims the presence in his strains of
much of the purest, most pathetic, and most sublime poetry, instancing
the 'Address to the Sun' as equal to anything in Homer or Milton. Both
these great writers have paid Macpherson a higher compliment still,--they
have imitated him, and the speeches of Allan Macaulay (a far greater
genius than his namesake), Ranald MacEagh, and Elspeth MacTavish, in the
'Waverley Novels,' and such, articles by Christopher North as 'Cottages,'
'Hints for the Holidays,' and a 'Glance at Selby's Ornithology,' are all
coloured by familiarity and fellow-feeling with Ossian's style. Best of
all, the Highlanders as a nation have accepted Ossian as their bard; he
is as much the poet of Morven as Burns of Coila, and it is as hopeless to
dislodge the one from the Highland as the other from the Lowland heart.
The true way to learn to appreciate Ossian's poetry is not to hurry, as
Macaulay seems to have done, in a steamer from Glasgow to Oban, and
thence to Ballachulish, and thence through Glencoe, (mistaking a fine
lake for a 'sullen pool' on his way, and ignoring altogether its peculiar
features of grandeur,) and thence to Inverness or Edinburgh; but it is to
live for years--as Macpherson did while writing Ossian, and Wilson also
did to some extent--under the shadow of the mountains,--to wander through
lonely moors amidst drenching mists and rains,--to hold trysts with
thunder-storms on the summit of savage hills,--to bathe after nightfall
in dreary tarns,--to lie over the ledge and dip one's fingers in the
spray of cataracts,--to plough a solitary path into the heart of forests,
and to sleep and dream for hours amidst their sunless glades,--to meet
on twilight hills the apparition of the winter moon rising over snowy
wastes,--to descend by her ghastly light precipices where the eagles
are sleeping,--and, returning home, to be haunted by night-visions of
mightier mountains, wilder desolations, and giddier descents;--experience
somewhat like this is necessary to form a true 'Child of the Mist,' and
to give the full capacity for sharing in or appreciating the shadowy,
solitary, pensive, and magnificent spirit which tabernacles in Ossian's
Never, at least, can we forget how, in our boyhood, while feeling, but
quite unable to express, the emotions which were suggested by the bold
shapes of mountains resting against the stars, mirrored from below in
lakes and wild torrents, and quaking sometimes in concert with the
quaking couch of the half-slumbering earthquake, the poems of Ossian
served to give our thoughts an expression which they could not otherwise
have found--how they at once strengthened and consolidated enthusiasm,
and are now regarded with feelings which, wreathed around earliest
memories and the strongest fibres of the heart, no criticism can ever
weaken or destroy.
OSSIAN'S ADDRESS TO THE SUN.
I feel the sun, O Malvina!--leave me to my rest. Perhaps
they may come to my dreams; I think I hear a feeble voice!
The beam of heaven delights to shine on the grave of
Carthon: I feel it warm around.
O thou that rollest above, round as the shield of my
fathers! Whence are thy beams, O sun! thy everlasting light?
Thou comest forth in thy awful beauty; the stars hide
themselves in the sky; the moon, cold and pale, sinks in the
western wave; but thou thyself movest alone. Who can be a
companion of thy course? The oaks of the mountains fall; the
mountains themselves decay with years; the ocean shrinks and
grows again; the moon herself is lost in heaven, but thou
art for ever the same, rejoicing in the brightness of thy
course. When the world is dark with tempests, when thunder
rolls and lightning flies, thou lookest in thy beauty from
the clouds, and laughest at the storm. But to Ossian thou
lookest in vain, for he beholds thy beams no more; whether
thy yellow hair flows on the eastern clouds, or thou
tremblest at the gates of the west. But thou art perhaps,
like me, for a season; thy years will have an end. Thou
shalt sleep in thy clouds careless of the voice of the
morning. Exult then, O sun, in the strength of thy youth!
Age is dark and unlovely; it is like the glimmering light of
the moon when it shines through broken clouds, and the mist
is on the hills: the blast of the north is on the plain; the
traveller shrinks in the midst of his journey.
DESOLATION OF BALCLUTHA.
I have seen the walls of Balclutha, but they were desolate.
The fire had resounded in the halls; and the voice of the
people is heard no more. The stream of Clutha was removed
from its place by the fall of the walls. The thistle shook
there its lonely head; the moss whistled to the wind. The
fox looked out from the windows; the rank grass of the wall
waved round its head. Desolate is the dwelling of Moina;
silence is in the house of her fathers. Raise the song of
mourning, O bards! over the land of strangers. They have but
fallen before us: for one day we must fall. Why dost thou
build the hall, son of the winged days? Thou lookest from
thy towers to-day: yet a few years, and the blast of the
desert comes; it howls in thy empty court, and whistles
round thy half-worn shield. And let the blast of the desert
come! we shall be renowned in our day! The mark of my arm
shall be in battle; my name in the song of bards. Raise the
song, send round the shell: let joy be heard in my hall.
When thou, sun of heaven, shalt fail! if thou shalt fail,
thou mighty light! if thy brightness is but for a season,
like Fingal, our fame shall survive thy beams. Such was the
song of Fingal in the day of his joy.
FINGAL AND THE SPIRIT OF LODA.
Night came down on the sea; Roma's bay received the ship. A
rock bends along the coast with all its echoing wood. On the
top is the circle of Loda, the mossy stone of power! A
narrow plain spreads beneath, covered with grass and aged
trees, which the midnight winds, in their wrath, had torn
from the shaggy rock. The blue course of a stream is there!
the lonely blast of ocean pursues the thistle's beard. The
flame of three oaks arose: the feast is spread around: but
the soul of the king is sad, for Carric-thura's chief
The wan, cold moon, rose in the east; sleep descended on the
youths! Their blue helmets glitter to the beam; the fading
fire decays. But sleep did not rest on the king: he rose in
the midst of his arms, and slowly ascended the hill, to
behold the flame of Sarno's tower.
The flame was dim and distant, the moon hid her red face in
the east. A blast came from the mountain, on its wings was
the spirit of Loda. He came to his place in his terrors, and
shook his dusky spear. His eyes appear like flames in his
dark face; his voice is like distant thunder. Fingal
advanced his spear in night, and raised his voice on high.
Son of night, retire: call thy winds, and fly! Why dost thou
come to my presence, with thy shadowy arms? Do I fear thy
gloomy form, spirit of dismal Loda? Weak is thy shield of
clouds: feeble is that meteor, thy sword! The blast rolls
them together; and thou thyself art lost. Fly from my
presence, son of night! Call thy winds, and fly!
Dost thou force me from my place? replied the hollow voice.
The people bend before me. I turn the battle in the field of
the brave. I look on the nations, and they vanish: my
nostrils pour the blast of death. I come abroad on the
winds: the tempests are before my face. But my dwelling is
calm, above the clouds; the fields of my rest are pleasant.
Dwell in thy pleasant fields, said the king; let Comhal's
son be forgot. Do my steps ascend, from my hills, into thy
peaceful plains? Do I meet thee, with a spear, on thy cloud,
spirit of dismal Loda? Why then dost thou frown on me? Why
shake thine airy spear? Thou frownest in vain: I never fled
from the mighty in war. And shall the sons of the wind
frighten the king of Morven? No: he knows the weakness of
Fly to thy land, replied the form: receive the wind, and
fly! The blasts are in the hollow of my hand: the course of
the storm is mine. The king of Sora is my son, he bends at
the storm of my power. His battle is around Carric-thura;
and he will prevail! Fly to thy land, son of Comhal, or feel
my flaming wrath!
He lifted high his shadowy spear! He bent forward his
dreadful height. Fingal, advancing, drew his sword; the
blade of dark-brown Luno. The gleaming path of the steel
winds through the gloomy ghost. The form fell shapeless into
air, like a column of smoke, which the staff of the boy
disturbs, as it rises from the half-extinguished furnace.
The spirit of Loda shrieked, as, rolled into himself, he
rose on the wind. Inistore shook at the sound, the waves
heard it on the deep. They stopped in their course with
fear: the friends of Fingal started at once, and took their
heavy spears. They missed the king; they rose in rage; all
their arms resound!
ADDRESS TO THE MOON.
Daughter of heaven, fair art thou! the silence of thy face
is pleasant! Thou comest forth in loveliness. The stars
attend thy blue course in the east. The clouds rejoice in
thy presence, O moon! they brighten their dark-brown sides.
Who is like thee in heaven, light of the silent night? The
stars are ashamed in thy presence. They turn away their
sparkling eyes. Whither dost thou retire from thy course,
when the darkness of thy countenance grows? hast thou thy
hall, like Ossian? dwellest thou in the shadow of grief?
have thy sisters fallen from heaven? are they who rejoiced
with thee at night no more? Yes, they have fallen, fair
light! and thou dost often retire to mourn. But thou thyself
shalt fail one night, and leave thy blue path in heaven. The
stars will then lift their heads: they, who were ashamed in
thy presence, will rejoice. Thou art now clothed with thy
brightness. Look from thy gates in the sky. Burst the cloud,
O wind! that the daughter of night may look forth! that the
shaggy mountains may brighten, and the ocean roll its white
waves in light.
His friends sit around the king, on mist! They hear the
songs of Ullin: he strikes the half-viewless harp. He raises
the feeble voice. The lesser heroes, with a thousand
meteors, light the airy hall. Malvina rises in the midst; a
blush is on her cheek. She beholds the unknown faces of her
fathers. She turns aside her humid eyes. 'Art thou come so
soon?' said Fingal, 'daughter of generous Toscar. Sadness
dwells in the halls of Lutha. My aged son is sad! I hear the
breeze of Cona, that was wont to lift thy heavy locks. It
comes to the hall, but thou art not there. Its voice is
mournful among the arms of thy fathers! Go, with thy
rustling wing, O breeze! sigh on Malvina's tomb. It rises
yonder beneath the rock, at the blue stream of Lutha. The
maids are departed to their place. Thou alone, O breeze,
1 The wind is up, the field is bare,
Some hermit lead me to his cell,
Where Contemplation, lonely fair,
With blessed content has chose to dwell.
2 Behold! it opens to my sight,
Dark in the rock, beside the flood;
Dry fern around obstructs the light;
The winds above it move the wood.
3 Reflected in the lake, I see
The downward mountains and the skies,
The flying bird, the waving tree,
The goats that on the hill arise.
4 The gray-cloaked herd drives on the cow;
The slow-paced fowler walks the heath;
A freckled pointer scours the brow;
A musing shepherd stands beneath.
5 Curved o'er the ruin of an oak,
The woodman lifts his axe on high;
The hills re-echo to the stroke;
I see--I see the shivers fly!
6 Some rural maid, with apron full,
Brings fuel to the homely flame;
I see the smoky columns roll,
And, through the chinky hut, the beam.
7 Beside a stone o'ergrown with moss,
Two well-met hunters talk at ease;
Three panting dogs beside repose;
One bleeding deer is stretched on grass.
8 A lake at distance spreads to sight,
Skirted with shady forests round;
In midst, an island's rocky height
Sustains a ruin, once renowned.
9 One tree bends o'er the naked walls;
Two broad-winged eagles hover nigh;
By intervals a fragment falls,
As blows the blast along the sky.
10 The rough-spun hinds the pinnace guide
With labouring oars along the flood;
An angler, bending o'er the tide,
Hangs from the boat the insidious wood.
11 Beside the flood, beneath the rocks,
On grassy bank, two lovers lean;
Bend on each other amorous looks,
And seem to laugh and kiss between.
12 The wind is rustling in the oak;
They seem to hear the tread of feet;
They start, they rise, look round the rock;
Again they smile, again they meet.
13 But see! the gray mist from the lake
Ascends upon the shady hills;
Dark storms the murmuring forests shake,
Rain beats around a hundred rills.
14 To Damon's homely hut I fly;
I see it smoking on the plain;
When storms are past and fair the sky,
I'll often seek my cave again.
 'Herd': neat-herd.
This gentleman is now nearly forgotten, except as the friend, biographer,
and literary executor of Gray. He was born in 1725, and died in 1797.
His tragedies, 'Elfrida' and 'Caractacus,' are spirited declamations
in dramatic form, not dramas. His odes have the turgidity without the
grandeur of Gray's. His 'English Garden' is too long and too formal. His
Life of Gray was an admirable innovation on the form of biography then
prevalent, interspersing, as it does, journals and letters with mere
narrative. Mason was a royal chaplain, held the living of Ashton, and
was precentor of York Cathedral. We quote the best of his minor poems.
EPITAPH ON MRS MASON,
IN THE CATHEDRAL OF BRISTOL.
1 Take, holy earth! all that my soul holds dear:
Take that best gift which Heaven so lately gave:
To Bristol's fount I bore with trembling care
Her faded form; she bowed to taste the wave,
And died. Does youth, does beauty, read the line?
Does sympathetic fear their breasts alarm?
Speak, dead Maria! breathe a strain divine:
Even from the grave thou shalt have power to charm.
2 Bid them be chaste, be innocent, like thee;
Bid them in duty's sphere as meekly move;
And if so fair, from vanity as free;
As firm in friendship, and as fond in love;
Tell them, though 'tis an awful thing to die,
('Twas even to thee,) yet the dread path once trod,
Heaven lifts its everlasting portals high,
And bids 'the pure in heart behold their God.'
AN HEROIC EPISTLE TO SIR WILLIAM CHAMBERS, KNIGHT,
COMPTROLLER-GENERAL OF HIS MAJESTY'S WORKS, ETC.
Knight of the Polar Star! by fortune placed
To shine the Cynosure of British taste;
Whose orb collects in one refulgent view
The scattered glories of Chinese virtù;
And spreads their lustre in so broad a blaze,
That kings themselves are dazzled while they gaze:
Oh, let the Muse attend thy march sublime,
And, with thy prose, caparison her rhyme;
Teach her, like thee, to gild her splendid song,
With scenes of Yven-Ming, and sayings of Li-Tsong;
Like thee to scorn dame Nature's simple fence;
Leap each ha-ha of truth and common sense;
And proudly rising in her bold career,
Demand attention from the gracious ear
Of him, whom we and all the world admit,
Patron supreme of science, taste, and wit.
Does envy doubt? Witness, ye chosen train,
Who breathe the sweets of his Saturnian reign;
Witness, ye Hills, ye Johnsons, Scots, Shebbeares,
Hark to my call, for some of you have ears.
Let David Hume, from the remotest north,
In see-saw sceptic scruples hint his worth;
David, who there supinely deigns to lie
The fattest hog of Epicurus' sty;
Though drunk with Gallic wine, and Gallic praise,
David shall bless Old England's halcyon days;
The mighty Home, bemired in prose so long,
Again shall stalk upon the stilts of song:
While bold Mac-Ossian, wont in ghosts to deal,
Bids candid Smollett from his coffin steal;
Bids Mallock quit his sweet Elysian rest,
Sunk in his St John's philosophic breast,
And, like old Orpheus, make some strong effort
To come from Hell, and warble Truth at Court.
There was a time, 'in Esher's peaceful grove,
When Kent and Nature vied for Pelham's love,'
That Pope beheld them with auspicious smile,
And owned that beauty blest their mutual toil.
Mistaken bard! could such a pair design
Scenes fit to live in thy immortal line?
Hadst thou been born in this enlightened day,
Felt, as we feel, taste's oriental ray,
Thy satire sure had given them both a stab,
Called Kent a driveller, and the nymph a drab.
For what is Nature? Ring her changes round,
Her three flat notes are water, plants, and ground;
Prolong the peal, yet, spite of all your clatter,
The tedious chime is still ground, plants, and water.
So, when some John his dull invention racks,
To rival Boodle's dinners, or Almack's;
Three uncouth legs of mutton shock our eyes,
Three roasted geese, three buttered apple-pies.
Come, then, prolific Art, and with thee bring
The charms that rise from thy exhaustless spring;
To Richmond come, for see, untutored Browne
Destroys those wonders which were once thy own.
Lo, from his melon-ground the peasant slave
Has rudely rushed, and levelled Merlin's cave;
Knocked down the waxen wizard, seized his wand,
Transformed to lawn what late was fairy-land;
And marred, with impious hand, each sweet design
Of Stephen Duck, and good Queen Caroline.
Haste, bid yon livelong terrace re-ascend,
Replace each vista, straighten every bend;
Shut out the Thames; shall that ignoble thing
Approach the presence of great Ocean's king?
No! let barbaric glories feast his eyes,
August pagodas round his palace rise,
And finished Richmond open to his view,
'A work to wonder at, perhaps a Kew.'
Nor rest we here, but, at our magic call,
Monkeys shall climb our trees, and lizards crawl;
Huge dogs of Tibet bark in yonder grove,
Here parrots prate, there cats make cruel love;
In some fair island will we turn to grass
(With the queen's leave) her elephant and ass.
Giants from Africa shall guard the glades,
Where hiss our snakes, where sport our Tartar maids;
Or, wanting these, from Charlotte Hayes we bring
Damsels, alike adroit to sport and sting.
Now to our lawns of dalliance and delight,
Join we the groves of horror and affright;
This to achieve no foreign aids we try,--
Thy gibbets, Bagshot! shall our wants supply;
Hounslow, whose heath sublimer terror fills,
Shall with her gibbets lend her powder-mills.
Here, too, O king of vengeance, in thy fane,
Tremendous Wilkes shall rattle his gold chain;
And round that fane, on many a Tyburn tree,
Hang fragments dire of Newgate-history;
On this shall Holland's dying speech be read,
Here Bute's confession, and his wooden head:
While all the minor plunderers of the age,
(Too numerous far for this contracted page,)
The Rigbys, Calcrafts, Dysons, Bradshaws there,
In straw-stuffed effigy, shall kick the air.
But say, ye powers, who come when fancy calls,
Where shall our mimic London rear her walls?
That eastern feature, Art must next produce,
Though not for present yet for future use,
Our sons some slave of greatness may behold,
Cast in the genuine Asiatic mould:
Who of three realms shall condescend to know
No more than he can spy from Windsor's brow;
For him, that blessing of a better time,
The Muse shall deal a while in brick and lime;
Surpass the bold [Greek: ADELPHI] in design,
And o'er the Thames fling one stupendous line
Of marble arches, in a bridge, that cuts
From Richmond Ferry slant to Brentford Butts.
Brentford with London's charms will we adorn;
Brentford, the bishopric of Parson Horne.
There, at one glance, the royal eye shall meet
Each varied beauty of St James's Street;
Stout Talbot there shall ply with hackney chair,
And patriot Betty fix her fruit-shop there.
Like distant thunder, now the coach of state
Rolls o'er the bridge, that groans beneath its weight.
The court hath crossed the stream; the sports begin;
Now Noel preaches of rebellion's sin:
And as the powers of his strong pathos rise,
Lo, brazen tears fall from Sir Fletcher's eyes.
While skulking round the pews, that babe of grace,
Who ne'er before at sermon showed his face,
See Jemmy Twitcher shambles; stop! stop thief!
He's stolen the Earl of Denbigh's handkerchief,
Let Barrington arrest him in mock fury,
And Mansfield hang the knave without a jury.
But hark, the voice of battle shouts from far,
The Jews and Maccaronis are at war:
The Jews prevail, and, thundering from the stocks,
They seize, they bind, they circumcise Charles Fox.
Fair Schwellenbergen smiles the sport to see,
And all the maids of honour cry 'Te! He!'
Be these the rural pastimes that attend
Great Brunswick's leisure: these shall best unbend
His royal mind, whene'er from state withdrawn,
He treads the velvet of his Richmond lawn;
These shall prolong his Asiatic dream,
Though Europe's balance trembles on its beam.
And thou, Sir William! while thy plastic hand
Creates each wonder which thy bard has planned,
While, as thy art commands, obsequious rise
Whate'er can please, or frighten, or surprise,
Oh, let that bard his knight's protection claim,
And share, like faithful Sancho, Quixote's fame.
The author of 'Mary's Dream' was born in 1750, at Kenmore, Galloway, and
was the son of a gardener. He became a student of divinity, and acted
as tutor in the family of a Mr McGhie of Airds. A daughter of Mr McGhie
was attached to a gentleman named Miller, a surgeon at sea, and on the
occasion of his death Lowe wrote his beautiful 'Mary's Dream,' the
exquisite simplicity and music of the first stanza of which has often
been admired. Lowe was betrothed to a sister of 'Mary,' but having
emigrated to America, he married another, fell into dissipated habits,
and died in a miserable plight at Fredericksburgh in 1798. He wrote many
other pieces, but none equal to 'Mary's Dream.'
1 The moon had climbed the highest hill
Which rises o'er the source of Dee,
And from the eastern summit shed
Her silver light on tower and tree;
When Mary laid her down to sleep,
Her thoughts on Sandy far at sea,
When, soft and low, a voice was heard,
Saying, 'Mary, weep no more for me!'
2 She from her pillow gently raised
Her head, to ask who there might be,
And saw young Sandy shivering stand,
With visage pale, and hollow ee.
'O Mary dear, cold is my clay;
It lies beneath a stormy sea.
Far, far from thee I sleep in death;
So, Mary, weep no more for me!
3 'Three stormy nights and stormy days
We tossed upon the raging main;
And long we strove our bark to save,
But all our striving was in vain.
Even then, when horror chilled my blood,
My heart was filled with love for thee:
The storm is past, and I at rest;
So, Mary, weep no more for me!
4 'O maiden dear, thyself prepare;
We soon shall meet upon that shore,
Where love is free from doubt and care,
And thou and I shall part no more!'
Loud crowed the cock, the shadow fled,
No more of Sandy could she see;
But soft the passing spirit said,
'Sweet Mary, weep no more for me!'
This accomplished critic and poet was born in 1722. He was son to the
Vicar of Basingstoke, and brother to Thomas Warton. (See a former volume
for his life.) Joseph was educated at Winchester College, and became
intimate there with William Collins. He wrote when quite young some
poetry in the _Gentleman's Magazine_. He was in due time removed to Oriel
College, where he composed two poems, entitled 'The Enthusiast,' and 'The
Dying Indian.' In 1744, he took the degree of Bachelor of Arts at Oxford,
and was ordained to his father's curacy at Basingstoke. He went thence
to Chelsea, but did not remain there long, owing to some disagreement
with his parishioners, and returned to Basingstoke. In 1746, he published
a volume of Odes, and in the preface expressed his hope that it might
be successful as an attempt to bring poetry back from the didactic and
satirical taste of the age, to the truer channels of fancy and description.
The motive of this attempt was, however, more praiseworthy than its success
In 1748, Warton was presented by the Duke of Bolton to the rectory of
Winslade, and he straightway married a Miss Daman, to whom he had for
some time been attached. In the same year he began, and in 1753 he
finished and printed, an edition of Virgil in English and Latin. Of this
large, elaborate work, Warton himself supplied only the life of Virgil,
with three essays on pastoral, didactic, and epic poetry, and a poetical
version of the Eclogues and the Georgics, more correct but less spirited
than Dryden's. He adopted Pitt's version of the Aeneid, and his friends
furnished some of the dissertations, notes, &c. Shortly after, he
contributed twenty-four excellent papers, including some striking
allegories, and some good criticisms on Shakspeare, to the _Adventurer_.
In 1754, he was appointed to the living of Tunworth, and the next year
was elected second master of Winchester School. Soon after this he
published anonymously 'An Essay on the Writings and Genius of Pope,'
which, whether because he failed in convincing the public that his
estimate of Pope was the correct one, or because he stood in awe of
Warburton, he did not complete or reprint for twenty-six years. It is a
somewhat gossiping book, but full of information and interest.
In May 1766, he was made head-master of Winchester. In 1768, he lost his
wife, and next year married a Miss Nicholas of Winchester. In 1782, he
was promoted, through Bishop Lowth, to a prebend's post in St Paul's, and
to the living of Thorley, which he exchanged for that of Wickham. Other
livings dropped in upon him, and in 1793 he resigned the mastership of
Winchester, and went to reside at Wickham. Here he employed himself in
preparing an edition of Pope, which he published in 1797. In 1800 he
Warton, like his brother, did good service in resisting the literary
despotism of Pope, and in directing the attention of the public to the
forgotten treasures of old English poetry. He was a man of extensive
learning, a very fair and candid, as well as acute critic, and his 'Ode
to Fancy' proves him to have possessed no ordinary genius.
ODE TO FANCY.
O parent of each lovely Muse,
Thy spirit o'er my soul diffuse,
O'er all my artless songs preside,
My footsteps to thy temple guide,
To offer at thy turf-built shrine,
In golden cups no costly wine,
No murdered fatling of the flock,
But flowers and honey from the rock.
O nymph with loosely-flowing hair,
With buskined leg, and bosom bare,
Thy waist with myrtle-girdle bound,
Thy brows with Indian feathers crowned,
Waving in thy snowy hand
An all-commanding magic wand,
Of power to bid fresh gardens blow,
'Mid cheerless Lapland's barren snow,
Whose rapid wings thy flight convey
Through air, and over earth and sea,
While the vast various landscape lies
Conspicuous to thy piercing eyes.
O lover of the desert, hail!
Say, in what deep and pathless vale,
Or on what hoary mountain's side,
'Mid fall of waters, you reside,
'Mid broken rocks, a rugged scene,
With green and grassy dales between,
'Mid forests dark of aged oak,
Ne'er echoing with the woodman's stroke,
Where never human art appeared,
Nor even one straw-roofed cot was reared,
Where Nature seems to sit alone,
Majestic on a craggy throne;
Tell me the path, sweet wanderer, tell,
To thy unknown sequestered cell,
Where woodbines cluster round the door,
Where shells and moss o'erlay the floor,
And on whose top a hawthorn blows,
Amid whose thickly-woven boughs
Some nightingale still builds her nest,
Each evening warbling thee to rest:
Then lay me by the haunted stream,
Rapt in some wild, poetic dream,
In converse while methinks I rove
With Spenser through a fairy grove;
Till, suddenly awaked, I hear
Strange whispered music in my ear,
And my glad soul in bliss is drowned
By the sweetly-soothing sound!
Me, goddess, by the right hand lead
Sometimes through the yellow mead,
Where Joy and white-robed Peace resort,
And Venus keeps her festive court;
Where Mirth and Youth each evening meet,
And lightly trip with nimble feet,
Nodding their lily-crowned heads,
Where Laughter rose-lipped Hebe leads;
Where Echo walks steep hills among,
Listening to the shepherd's song:
Yet not these flowery fields of joy
Can long my pensive mind employ;
Haste, Fancy, from the scenes of folly,
To meet the matron Melancholy,
Goddess of the tearful eye,
That loves to fold her arms, and sigh;
Let us with silent footsteps go
To charnels and the house of woe,
To Gothic churches, vaults, and tombs,
Where each sad night some virgin comes,
With throbbing breast, and faded cheek,
Her promised bridegroom's urn to seek;
Or to some abbey's mouldering towers,
Where, to avoid cold wintry showers,
The naked beggar shivering lies,
While whistling tempests round her rise,
And trembles lest the tottering wall
Should on her sleeping infants fall.
Now let us louder strike the lyre,
For my heart glows with martial fire,--
I feel, I feel, with sudden heat,
My big tumultuous bosom beat;
The trumpet's clangours pierce my ear,
A thousand widows' shrieks I hear,
Give me another horse, I cry,
Lo! the base Gallic squadrons fly;
Whence is this rage?--what spirit, say,
To battle hurries me away?
'Tis Fancy, in her fiery car,
Transports me to the thickest war,
There whirls me o'er the hills of slain,
Where Tumult and Destruction reign;
Where, mad with pain, the wounded steed
Tramples the dying and the dead;
Where giant Terror stalks around,
With sullen joy surveys the ground,
And, pointing to the ensanguined field,
Shakes his dreadful gorgon shield!
Oh, guide me from this horrid scene,
To high-arched walks and alleys green,
Which lovely Laura seeks, to shun
The fervours of the mid-day sun;
The pangs of absence, oh, remove!
For thou canst place me near my love,
Canst fold in visionary bliss,
And let me think I steal a kiss,
While her ruby lips dispense
Luscious nectar's quintessence!
When young-eyed Spring profusely throws
From her green lap the pink and rose,
When the soft turtle of the dale
To Summer tells her tender tale;
When Autumn cooling caverns seeks,
And stains with wine his jolly cheeks;
When Winter, like poor pilgrim old,
Shakes his silver beard with cold;
At every season let my ear
Thy solemn whispers, Fancy, hear.
O warm, enthusiastic maid,
Without thy powerful, vital aid,
That breathes an energy divine,
That gives a soul to every line,
Ne'er may I strive with lips profane
To utter an unhallowed strain,
Nor dare to touch the sacred string,
Save when with smiles thou bidst me sing.
Oh, hear our prayer! oh, hither come
From thy lamented Shakspeare's tomb,
On which thou lovest to sit at eve,
Musing o'er thy darling's grave;
O queen of numbers, once again
Animate some chosen swain,
Who, filled with unexhausted fire,
May boldly smite the sounding lyre,
Who with some new unequalled song
May rise above the rhyming throng,
O'er all our listening passions reign,
O'erwhelm our souls with joy and pain,
With terror shake, and pity move,
Rouse with revenge, or melt with love;
Oh, deign to attend his evening walk,
With him in groves and grottoes talk;
Teach him to scorn with frigid art
Feebly to touch the enraptured heart;
Like lightning, let his mighty verse
The bosom's inmost foldings pierce;
With native beauties win applause
Beyond cold critics' studied laws;
Oh, let each Muse's fame increase!
Oh, bid Britannia rival Greece!
FROM 'THE SHAMROCK, OR HIBERNIAN CROSSES.' DUBLIN, 1772.
1 Belinda's sparkling eyes and wit
Do various passions raise;
And, like the lightning, yield a bright,
But momentary blaze.
2 Eliza's milder, gentler sway,
Her conquests fairly won,
Shall last till life and time decay,
Eternal as the sun.
3 Thus the wild flood with deafening roar
Bursts dreadful from on high;
But soon its empty rage is o'er,
And leaves the channel dry:
4 While the pure stream, which still and slow
Its gentler current brings,
Through every change of time shall flow
With unexhausted springs.
COPIED FROM THE WINDOW OF AN OBSCURE LODGING-HOUSE,
IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD OF LONDON.
Stranger! whoe'er thou art, whose restless mind,
Like me within these walls is cribbed, confined;
Learn how each want that heaves our mutual sigh
A woman's soft solicitudes supply.
From her white breast retreat all rude alarms,
Or fly the magic circle of her arms;
While souls exchanged alternate grace acquire,
And passions catch from passion's glorious fire:
What though to deck this roof no arts combine,
Such forms as rival every fair but mine;
No nodding plumes, our humble couch above,
Proclaim each triumph of unbounded love;
No silver lamp with sculptured Cupids gay,
O'er yielding beauty pours its midnight ray;
Yet Fanny's charms could Time's slow flight beguile,
Soothe every care, and make each dungeon smile:
In her, what kings, what saints have wished, is given,
Her heart is empire, and her love is heaven.
THE OLD BACHELOR.
AFTER THE MANNER OF SPENSER.
1 In Phoebus' region while some bards there be
That sing of battles, and the trumpet's roar;
Yet these, I ween, more powerful bards than me,
Above my ken, on eagle pinions soar!
Haply a scene of meaner view to scan,
Beneath their laurelled praise my verse may give,
To trace the features of unnoticed man;
Deeds, else forgotten, in the verse may live!
Her lore, mayhap, instructive sense may teach,
From weeds of humbler growth within my lowly reach.
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