Specimens with Memoirs of the Less-known British Poets, Complete
Part 19 out of 20
And think their wives too fond of fellows.
The morning sun beheld her rove
A nymph, or goddess of the grove!
At eve she paced the dewy lawn,
And called each clown she saw, a faun!
Then, scudding homeward, locked her door,
And turned some copious volume o'er.
For much she read; and chiefly those
Great authors, who in verse, or prose,
Or something betwixt both, unwind
The secret springs which move the mind.
These much she read; and thought she knew
The human heart's minutest clue;
Yet shrewd observers still declare,
(To show how shrewd observers are,)
Though plays, which breathed heroic flame,
And novels, in profusion, came,
Imported fresh-and-fresh from France,
She only read the heart's romance.
The world, no doubt, was well enough
To smooth the manners of the rough;
Might please the giddy and the vain,
Those tinselled slaves of folly's train:
But, for her part, the truest taste
She found was in retirement placed,
Where, as in verse it sweetly flows,
'On every thorn instruction grows.'
Not that she wished to 'be alone,'
As some affected prudes have done;
She knew it was decreed on high
We should 'increase and multiply;'
And therefore, if kind Fate would grant
Her fondest wish, her only want,
A cottage with the man she loved
Was what her gentle heart approved;
In some delightful solitude
Where step profane might ne'er intrude;
But Hymen guard the sacred ground,
And virtuous Cupids hover round.
Not such as flutter on a fan
Round Crete's vile bull, or Leda's swan,
(Who scatter myrtles, scatter roses,
And hold their fingers to their noses,)
But simpering, mild, and innocent,
As angels on a monument.
Fate heard her prayer: a lover came,
Who felt, like her, the innoxious flame;
One who had trod, as well as she,
The flowery paths of poesy;
Had warmed himself with Milton's heat,
Could every line of Pope repeat,
Or chant in Shenstone's tender strains,
'The lover's hopes,' 'the lover's pains.'
Attentive to the charmer's tongue,
With him she thought no evening long;
With him she sauntered half the day;
And sometimes, in a laughing way,
Ran o'er the catalogue by rote
Of who might marry, and who not;
'Consider, sir, we're near relations--'
'I hope so in our inclinations.'--
In short, she looked, she blushed consent;
He grasped her hand, to church they went;
And every matron that was there,
With tongue so voluble and supple,
Said for her part, she must declare,
She never saw a finer couple.
halcyon days! 'Twas Nature's reign,
'Twas Tempe's vale, and Enna's plain,
The fields assumed unusual bloom,
And every zephyr breathed perfume,
The laughing sun with genial beams
Danced lightly on the exulting streams;
And the pale regent of the night
In dewy softness shed delight.
'Twas transport not to be expressed;
'Twas Paradise!--But mark the rest.
Two smiling springs had waked the flowers
That paint the meads, or fringe the bowers,
(Ye lovers, lend your wondering ears,
Who count by months, and not by years,)
Two smiling springs had chaplets wove
To crown their solitude, and love:
When lo, they find, they can't tell how,
Their walks are not so pleasant now.
The seasons sure were changed; the place
Had, somehow, got a different face.
Some blast had struck the cheerful scene;
The lawns, the woods, were not so green.
The purling rill, which murmured by,
And once was liquid harmony,
Became a sluggish, reedy pool:
The days grew hot, the evenings cool.
The moon, with all the starry reign,
Were melancholy's silent train.
And then the tedious winter night--
They could not read by candle-light.
Full oft, unknowing why they did,
They called in adventitious aid.
A faithful, favourite dog ('twas thus
With Tobit and Telemachus)
Amused their steps; and for a while
They viewed his gambols with a smile.
The kitten too was comical,
She played so oddly with her tail,
Or in the glass was pleased to find
Another cat, and peeped behind.
A courteous neighbour at the door
Was deemed intrusive noise no more.
For rural visits, now and then,
Are right, as men must live with men.
Then cousin Jenny, fresh from town,
A new recruit, a dear delight!
Made many a heavy hour go down,
At morn, at noon, at eve, at night:
Sure they could hear her jokes for ever,
She was so sprightly, and so clever!
Yet neighbours were not quite the thing;
What joy, alas! could converse bring
With awkward creatures bred at home?--
The dog grew dull, or troublesome.
The cat had spoiled the kitten's merit,
And, with her youth, had lost her spirit.
And jokes repeated o'er and o'er,
Had quite exhausted Jenny's store.
--'And then, my dear, I can't abide
This always sauntering side by side.'
'Enough!' he cries, 'the reason's plain:
For causes never rack your brain.
Our neighbours are like other folks,
Skip's playful tricks, and Jenny's jokes,
Are still delightful, still would please,
Were we, my dear, ourselves at ease.
Look round, with an impartial eye,
On yonder fields, on yonder sky;
The azure cope, the flowers below,
With all their wonted colours glow.
The rill still murmurs; and the moon
Shines, as she did, a softer sun.
No change has made the seasons fail,
No comet brushed us with his tail.
The scene's the same, the same the weather--
We live, my dear, too much together.'
Agreed. A rich old uncle dies,
And added wealth the means supplies.
With eager haste to town they flew,
Where all must please, for all was new.
But here, by strict poetic laws,
Description claims its proper pause.
The rosy morn had raised her head
From old Tithonus' saffron bed;
And embryo sunbeams from the east,
Half-choked, were struggling through the mist,
When forth advanced the gilded chaise;
The village crowded round to gaze.
The pert postilion, now promoted
From driving plough, and neatly booted,
His jacket, cap, and baldric on,
(As greater folks than he have done,)
Looked round; and, with a coxcomb air,
Smacked loud his lash. The happy pair
Bowed graceful, from a separate door,
And Jenny, from the stool before.
Roll swift, ye wheels! to willing eyes
New objects every moment rise.
Each carriage passing on the road,
From the broad waggon's ponderous load
To the light car, where mounted high
The giddy driver seems to fly,
Were themes for harmless satire fit,
And gave fresh force to Jenny's wit.
Whate'er occurred, 'twas all delightful,
No noise was harsh, no danger frightful.
The dash and splash through thick and thin,
The hairbreadth 'scapes, the bustling inn,
(Where well-bred landlords were so ready
To welcome in the 'squire and lady,)
Dirt, dust, and sun, they bore with ease,
Determined to be pleased, and please.
Now nearer town, and all agog,
They know dear London by its fog.
Bridges they cross, through lanes they wind,
Leave Hounslow's dangerous heath behind,
Through Brentford win a passage free
By roaring, 'Wilkes and Liberty!'
At Knightsbridge bless the shortening way,
Where Bays's troops in ambush lay,
O'er Piccadilly's pavement glide,
With palaces to grace its side,
Till Bond Street with its lamps a-blaze
Concludes the journey of three days.
Why should we paint, in tedious song,
How every day, and all day long,
They drove at first with curious haste
Through Lud's vast town; or, as they passed
'Midst risings, fallings, and repairs
Of streets on streets, and squares on squares,
Describe how strong their wonder grew
At buildings--and at builders too?
Scarce less astonishment arose
At architects more fair than those--
Who built as high, as widely spread
The enormous loads that clothed their head.
For British dames new follies love,
And, if they can't invent, improve.
Some with erect pagodas vie,
Some nod, like Pisa's tower, awry,
Medusa's snakes, with Pallas' crest,
Convolved, contorted, and compressed;
With intermingling trees, and flowers,
And corn, and grass, and shepherd's bowers,
Stage above stage the turrets run,
Like pendent groves of Babylon,
Till nodding from the topmost wall
Otranto's plumes envelop all!
Whilst the black ewes, who owned the hair,
Feed harmless on, in pastures fair,
Unconscious that their tails perfume,
In scented curls, the drawing-room.
When Night her murky pinions spread,
And sober folks retire to bed,
To every public place they flew,
Where Jenny told them who was who.
Money was always at command,
And tripped with pleasure hand in hand.
Money was equipage, was show,
Gallini's, Almack's, and Soho;
The _passe-partout_ through every vein
Of dissipation's hydra reign.
O London, thou prolific source,
Parent of vice, and folly's nurse!
Fruitful as Nile, thy copious springs
Spawn hourly births--and all with stings:
But happiest far the he, or she,
I know not which, that livelier dunce
Who first contrived the coterie,
To crush domestic bliss at once.
Then grinned, no doubt, amidst the dames,
As Nero fiddled to the flames.
Of thee, Pantheon, let me speak
With reverence, though in numbers weak;
Thy beauties satire's frown beguile,
We spare the follies for the pile.
Flounced, furbelowed, and tricked for show,
With lamps above, and lamps below,
Thy charms even modern taste defied,
They could not spoil thee, though they tried.
Ah, pity that Time's hasty wings
Must sweep thee off with vulgar things!
Let architects of humbler name
On frail materials build their fame,
Their noblest works the world might want,
Wyatt should build in adamant.
But what are these to scenes which lie
Secreted from the vulgar eye,
And baffle all the powers of song?--
A brazen throat, an iron tongue,
(Which poets wish for, when at length
Their subject soars above their strength,)
Would shun the task. Our humbler Muse,
Who only reads the public news
And idly utters what she gleans
From chronicles and magazines,
Recoiling feels her feeble fires,
And blushing to her shades retires,
Alas! she knows not how to treat
The finer follies of the great,
Where even, Democritus, thy sneer
Were vain as Heraclitus' tear.
Suffice it that by just degrees
They reached all heights, and rose with ease;
(For beauty wins its way, uncalled,
And ready dupes are ne'er black-balled.)
Each gambling dame she knew, and he
Knew every shark of quality;
From the grave cautious few who live
On thoughtless youth, and living thrive,
To the light train who mimic France,
And the soft sons of _nonchalance_.
While Jenny, now no more of use,
Excuse succeeding to excuse,
Grew piqued, and prudently withdrew
To shilling whist, and chicken loo.
Advanced to fashion's wavering head,
They now, where once they followed, led.
Devised new systems of delight,
A-bed all day, and up all night,
In different circles reigned supreme.
Wives copied her, and husbands him;
Till so divinely life ran on,
So separate, so quite _bon-ton_,
That meeting in a public place,
They scarcely knew each other's face.
At last they met, by his desire,
A _tête-a-tête_ across the fire;
Looked in each other's face awhile,
With half a tear, and half a smile.
The ruddy health, which wont to grace
With manly glow his rural face,
Now scarce retained its faintest streak;
So sallow was his leathern cheek.
She lank, and pale, and hollow-eyed,
With rouge had striven in vain to hide
What once was beauty, and repair
The rapine of the midnight air.
Silence is eloquence, 'tis said.
Both wished to speak, both hung the head.
At length it burst.----''Tis time,' he cries,
'When tired of folly, to be wise.
Are you too tired?'--then checked a groan.
She wept consent, and he went on:
'How delicate the married life!
You love your husband, I my wife!
Not even satiety could tame,
Nor dissipation quench the flame.
'True to the bias of our kind,
'Tis happiness we wish to find.
In rural scenes retired we sought
In vain the dear, delicious draught,
Though blest with love's indulgent store,
We found we wanted something more.
'Twas company, 'twas friends to share
The bliss we languished to declare.
'Twas social converse, change of scene,
To soothe the sullen hour of spleen;
Short absences to wake desire,
And sweet regrets to fan the fire.
'We left the lonesome place; and found,
In dissipation's giddy round,
A thousand novelties to wake
The springs of life and not to break.
As, from the nest not wandering far,
In light excursions through the air,
The feathered tenants of the grove
Around in mazy circles move,
Sip the cool springs that murmuring flow,
Or taste the blossom on the bough.
We sported freely with the rest;
And still, returning to the nest,
In easy mirth we chatted o'er
The trifles of the day before.
'Behold us now, dissolving quite
In the full ocean of delight;
In pleasures every hour employ,
Immersed in all the world calls joy;
Our affluence easing the expense
Of splendour and magnificence;
Our company, the exalted set
Of all that's gay, and all that's great:
Nor happy yet!--and where's the wonder!--
We live, my dear, too much asunder.'
The moral of my tale is this,
Variety's the soul of bless;
But such variety alone
As makes our home the more our own.
As from the heart's impelling power
The life-blood pours its genial store;
Though taking each a various way,
The active streams meandering play
Through every artery, every vein,
All to the heart return again;
From thence resume their new career,
But still return and centre there:
So real happiness below
Must from the heart sincerely flow;
Nor, listening to the syren's song,
Must stray too far, or rest too long.
All human pleasures thither tend;
Must there begin, and there must end;
Must there recruit their languid force,
And gain fresh vigour from their source.
WILLIAM JULIUS MICKLE.
This poet was born in Langholm, Dumfriesshire, in 1734. His father was
minister of the parish, but removed to Edinburgh, where William, after
attending the High School, became clerk to a brewery, and ultimately
a partner in the concern. In this he failed, however; and in 1764 he
repaired to London to prosecute literature. Lord Lyttelton became his
patron, although he did him so little service in a secular point of
view, that Mickle was fain to accept the situation of corrector to the
Clarendon Press at Oxford. Here he published his 'Pollio,' his 'Concubine,'
--a poem in the manner of Spenser, very sweetly and musically written,
which became popular,--and in 1771 the first canto of a translation of
the 'Lusiad' of Camoens. This translation, which he completed in 1775,
was published by subscription, and at once increased his fortune and
established his fame. He had resigned his office of corrector of the
press, and was residing with Mr Tomkins, a farmer at Foresthill, near
Oxford. In 1779, he went out to Portugal as secretary to Commodore
Johnstone, and, as the translator of Camoens, was received with much
distinction. On his return with a little money, he married Mr Tomkins'
daughter, who had a little more, and took up his permanent residence at
Foresthill, where he died of a short illness in 1788.
His translation of the 'Lusiad' is understood to be too free and flowery,
and the translator stands in the relation to Camoens which Pope does to
Homer. 'Cumnor Hall' has suggested to Scott his brilliant romance of
'Kenilworth,' and is a garland worthy of being bound up in the beautiful
locks of Amy Robsart for evermore. 'Are ye sure the news is true?' is a
song true to the very soul of Scottish and of general nature, and worthy,
as Burns says, of 'the first poet.'
1 The dews of summer night did fall,
The moon, sweet regent of the sky,
Silvered the walls of Cumnor Hall,
And many an oak that grew thereby.
2 Now nought was heard beneath the skies,
The sounds of busy life were still,
Save an unhappy lady's sighs,
That issued from that lonely pile.
3 'Leicester,' she cried, 'is this thy love
That thou so oft hast sworn to me,
To leave me in this lonely grove,
Immured in shameful privity?
4 'No more thou com'st, with lover's speed,
Thy once beloved bride to see;
But be she alive, or be she dead,
I fear, stern Earl,'s the same to thee.
5 'Not so the usage I received
When happy in my father's hall;
No faithless husband then me grieved,
No chilling fears did me appal.
6 'I rose up with the cheerful morn,
No lark so blithe, no flower more gay;
And, like the bird that haunts the thorn,
So merrily sung the livelong day.
7 'If that my beauty is but small,
Among court ladies all despised,
Why didst thou rend it from that hall,
Where, scornful Earl, it well was prized?
8 'And when you first to me made suit,
How fair I was, you oft would say!
And, proud of conquest, plucked the fruit,
Then left the blossom to decay.
9 'Yes! now neglected and despised,
The rose is pale, the lily's dead;
But he that once their charms so prized,
Is sure the cause those charms are fled.
10 'For know, when sickening grief doth prey,
And tender love's repaid with scorn,
The sweetest beauty will decay:
What floweret can endure the storm?
11 'At court, I'm told, is beauty's throne,
Where every lady's passing rare,
That eastern flowers, that shame the sun,
Are not so glowing, not so fair.
12 'Then, Earl, why didst thou leave the beds
Where roses and where lilies vie,
To seek a primrose, whose pale shades
Must sicken when those gauds are by?
13 ''Mong rural beauties I was one;
Among the fields wild-flowers are fair;
Some country swain might me have won,
And thought my passing beauty rare.
14 'But, Leicester, or I much am wrong,
It is not beauty lures thy vows;
Rather ambition's gilded crown
Makes thee forget thy humble spouse.
15 'Then, Leicester, why, again I plead,
The injured surely may repine,
Why didst thou wed a country maid,
When some fair princess might be thine?
16 'Why didst thou praise my humble charms,
And, oh! then leave them to decay?
Why didst thou win me to thy arms,
Then leave me to mourn the livelong day?
17 'The village maidens of the plain
Salute me lowly as they go:
Envious they mark my silken train,
Nor think a countess can have woe.
18 'The simple nymphs! they little know
How far more happy's their estate;
To smile for joy, than sigh for woe;
To be content, than to be great.
19 'How far less blessed am I than them,
Daily to pine and waste with care!
Like the poor plant, that, from its stem
Divided, feels the chilling air.
20 'Nor, cruel Earl! can I enjoy
The humble charms of solitude;
Your minions proud my peace destroy,
By sullen frowns, or pratings rude.
21 'Last night, as sad I chanced to stray,
The village death-bell smote my ear;
They winked aside, and seemed to say,
"Countess, prepare--thy end is near."
22 'And now, while happy peasants sleep,
Here I sit lonely and forlorn;
No one to soothe me as I weep,
Save Philomel on yonder thorn.
23 'My spirits flag, my hopes decay;
Still that dread death-bell smites my ear;
And many a body seems to say,
"Countess, prepare--thy end is near."'
24 Thus sore and sad that lady grieved
In Cumnor Hall, so lone and drear;
And many a heartfelt sigh she heaved,
And let fall many a bitter tear.
25 And ere the dawn of day appeared,
In Cumnor Hall, so lone and drear,
Full many a piercing scream was heard,
And many a cry of mortal fear.
26 The death-bell thrice was heard to ring,
An aërial voice was heard to call,
And thrice the raven flapped his wing
Around the towers of Cumnor Hall.
27 The mastiff howled at village door,
The oaks were shattered on the green;
Woe was the hour, for never more
That hapless Countess e'er was seen.
28 And in that manor, now no more
Is cheerful feast or sprightly ball;
For ever since that dreary hour
Have spirits haunted Cumnor Hall.
29 The village maids, with fearful glance,
Avoid the ancient moss-grown wall;
Nor never lead the merry dance
Among the groves of Cumnor Hall.
30 Full many a traveller has sighed,
And pensive wept the Countess' fall,
As wandering onwards they've espied
The haunted towers of Cumnor Hall.
THE MARINER'S WIFE.
1 But are ye sure the news is true?
And are ye sure he's weel?
Is this a time to think o' wark?
Ye jauds, fling by your wheel.
For there's nae luck about the house,
There's nae luck at a',
There's nae luck about the house,
When our gudeman's awa.
2 Is this a time to think o' wark,
When Colin's at the door?
Rax down my cloak--I'll to the quay,
And see him come ashore.
3 Rise up and mak a clean fireside,
Put on the mickle pat;
Gie little Kate her cotton goun,
And Jock his Sunday's coat.
4 And mak their shoon as black as slaes,
Their stocking white as snaw;
It's a' to pleasure our gudeman--
He likes to see them braw.
5 There are twa hens into the crib,
Hae fed this month and mair;
Mak haste and thraw their necks about,
That Colin weel may fare.
6 My Turkey slippers I'll put on,
My stocking pearl blue--
It's a' to pleasure our gudeman,
For he's baith leal and true.
7 Sae sweet his voice, sae smooth his tongue;
His breath's like caller air;
His very fit has music in't,
As he comes up the stair.
8 And will I see his face again?
And will I hear him speak?
I'm downright dizzy wi' the thought:
In troth I'm like to greet.
Robert Craggs, afterwards created Lord Nugent, was an Irishman, a younger
son of Michael Nugent, by the daughter of Robert, Lord Trimlestown, and
born in 1709. He was in 1741 elected M.P. for St Mawes, in Cornwall, and
became in 1747 comptroller to the Prince of Wales' household. He after-
wards made peace with the Court, and received various promotions and
marks of favour besides the peerage. In 1739, he published anonymously
a volume of poems possessing considerable merit. He was converted from
Popery, and wrote some vigorous verses on the occasion. Unfortunately,
however, he relapsed, and again celebrated the event in a very weak poem,
entitled 'Faith.' He died in 1788. Although a man of decided talent, as
his 'Ode to Mankind' proves, Nugent does not stand very high either in
the catalogue of Irish patriots or of 'royal and noble authors.'
ODE TO MANKIND.
1 Is there, or do the schoolmen dream?
Is there on earth a power supreme,
The delegate of Heaven,
To whom an uncontrolled command,
In every realm o'er sea and land,
By special grace is given?
2 Then say, what signs this god proclaim?
Dwells he amidst the diamond's flame,
A throne his hallowed shrine?
The borrowed pomp, the armed array,
Want, fear, and impotence, betray
Strange proofs of power divine!
3 If service due from human kind,
To men in slothful ease reclined,
Can form a sovereign's claim:
Hail, monarchs! ye, whom Heaven ordains,
Our toils unshared, to share our gains,
Ye idiots, blind and lame!
4 Superior virtue, wisdom, might,
Create and mark the ruler's right,
So reason must conclude:
Then thine it is, to whom belong
The wise, the virtuous, and the strong,
Thrice sacred multitude!
5 In thee, vast All! are these contained,
For thee are those, thy parts ordained,
So nature's systems roll:
The sceptre's thine, if such there be;
If none there is, then thou art free,
Great monarch! mighty whole!
6 Let the proud tyrant rest his cause
On faith, prescription, force, or laws,
An host's or senate's voice!
His voice affirms thy stronger due,
Who for the many made the few,
And gave the species choice.
7 Unsanctified by thy command,
Unowned by thee, the sceptred hand
The trembling slave may bind;
But loose from nature's moral ties,
The oath by force imposed belies
The unassenting mind.
8 Thy will's thy rule, thy good its end;
You punish only to defend
What parent nature gave:
And he who dares her gifts invade,
By nature's oldest law is made
Thy victim or thy slave.
9 Thus reason founds the just degree
On universal liberty,
Not private rights resigned:
Through various nature's wide extent,
No private beings e'er were meant
To hurt the general kind.
10 Thee justice guides, thee right maintains,
The oppressor's wrongs, the pilferer's gains,
Thy injured weal impair.
Thy warmest passions soon subside,
Nor partial envy, hate, nor pride,
Thy tempered counsels share.
11 Each instance of thy vengeful rage,
Collected from each clime and age,
Though malice swell the sum,
Would seem a spotless scanty scroll,
Compared with Marius' bloody roll,
Or Sylla's hippodrome.
12 But thine has been imputed blame,
The unworthy few assume thy name,
The rabble weak and loud;
Or those who on thy ruins feast,
The lord, the lawyer, and the priest;
A more ignoble crowd.
13 Avails it thee, if one devours,
Or lesser spoilers share his powers,
While both thy claim oppose?
Monsters who wore thy sullied crown,
Tyrants who pulled those monsters down,
Alike to thee were foes.
14 Far other shone fair Freedom's band,
Far other was the immortal stand,
When Hampden fought for thee:
They snatched from rapine's gripe thy spoils,
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
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