Read Like A Writer

There are two ways to learn how to write fiction: by reading it and by writing it. Yes, you can learn lots about writing stories in workshops, in writing classes and writing groups, at writers' conferences. You can learn technique and process by reading the dozens of books like this one on fiction writing and by reading articles in writers' magazines. But the best teachers of fiction are the great works of fiction themselves. You can learn more about the structure of a short story by reading Anton Chekhov's 'Heartache' than you can in a semester of Creative Writing 101. If you read like a writer, that is, which means you have to read everything twice, at least. When you read a story or novel the first time, just let it happen. Enjoy the journey. When you've finished, you know where the story took you, and now you can go back and reread, and this time notice how the writer reached that destination. Notice the choices he made at each chapter, each sentence, each word. (Every word is a choice.) You see now how the transitions work, how a character gets across a room. All this time you're learning. You loved the central character in the story, and now you can see how the writer presented the character and rendered her worthy of your love and attention. The first reading is creative—you collaborate with the writer in making the story. The second reading is critical.


John Dufresne, from his book, The Lie That Tells A Truth: A Guide to Writing Fiction

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Sunday, April 9, 2017

Poems by William Anderson (1845)

[i]

POEMS.


[iii]

POEMS.

BY

WILLIAM ANDERSON.

Now First Collected.

EDINBURGH:
J. MENZIES, 61, PRINCES STREET.
1845.


[iv]

EDINBURGH:

Aw. Murray, Printer, Milne Square.


[v]

TO

HENRY EDWARDS, D.D., Ph.D.,

AUTHOR OF

"PIETY AND INTELLECT RELATIVELY ESTIMATED," "CHRISTIAN HUMILITY," AND SEVERAL OTHER WORKS OF MERIT.

THIS VOLUME

IS RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED

BY

HIS SINCERE FRIEND,

THE AUTHOR.


[vii]

CONTENTS.

Landscape Lyrics.
I. Sunrise, 7
II. Morning farther advanced, 10
III. Noonday, 13
IV. The Sunbeam, 16
V. To a Wild Flower, 19
VI. Summer, 22
VII. Midsummer, 25
VIII. The Sunshine of Poetry, 28
IX. Autumn, in its First Aspect, 31
X. Autumn, in its Second Aspect, 34
XI. Sunset, 37
XII. Twilight, 40
XIII. Moonlight on Land, 43
XIV. Moonlight at Sea, 46
XV. Home Scenes, 49
Poetical Aspirations.
The Alpine Horn, 55
Reflections on Death, 58
Through the Wood.—Modern Ballad, 62
[viii]Song of the Exile, 64
To Fame, 66
To a Bee, 68
The Storm, 71
"Lazarus, Come Forth," 73
Sonnet. On the Approach of Summer, 74
Beauty, 75
To M. J. R., 76
Sonnet. A Contrast, 77
Sonnet. Roslin, 78
On the Birth of a Niece, 79
On her death, 80
Sonnet. To Happiness, 81
Thoughts, 82
Loch Awe, 85
The Wolf, 87
The April Cloud, 94
Spring, 95
Poesy, 97
Sonnet. To a Friend of the Author, 100
The Gipsy's Lullaby, 101
Woodland Song, 102
Sonnet. The Ocean, 104
Mount Horeb, 105
Written beneath an Elm, 111
The Wells o' Weary, 115
[ix]Dryburgh Abbey, 116
Poems here First Collected.
Grace, 119
Matin, 121
Immortality, 122
Lines. On the Death of John Sinclair, Esq., Edinburgh, 125
Weep not for the Dead, 127
Idols, 129
Truth, 132
Sabbath Morn, 133
Sabbath Eve, 134
Dreams of the Living, 135
Lines, 139
Sonnets Written on Viewing Danby's Picture of the Deluge, 140
Thought, 142
Lines Written on the Attempted Assassination of the Queen, July 1840, 143
Song.—"I'm Naebody Noo," 147
Song. "There's Plenty Come to Woo me," 149
The Stout Old British Ship, 151
Lines on the Infant Son and Daughter of Hon. Col. Montague, 154
The Martyrs, 156
Caledonia, My Country, 158
Song. "I Canna Sleep," 160
[x]Song. "Yonder Sunny Brae," 162
The Eagle's Nest, and other Poems, here first Printed.
The Eagle's Nest, 167
The Advent of Truth, 179
Lines Suggested by a Walk in a Garden, 182
Sonnet. Sunshine, 187
Song. "At E'ening when the Kye war in," 188
Stanzas on a Bust of Marshal Ney, 191
Winter, 194
Human Conduct, 197
Courtship Lines, 210
Love-Weakness, 211
Lines to the Rev. Henry Dudley Ryder, on reading his "Angelicon," 213
The Poet, 216
Light and Shadow, 223
The Early Dead, 226
A Dirge, 229
A Benediction, 231
Health, 233
The Game of Life, 235
Consumption, 237
Change, 238
Virtue, 241
Vain Hopes, 243
The Valley of Life, 245
After Thought, 251
Notes, 255

[1]

LANDSCAPE LYRICS.

(SECOND EDITION.)


[3]

TO

THE REV. HENRY DUDLEY RYDER,

CANON RESIDENTIARY OF LICHFIELD CATHEDRAL,

THIS VOLUME OF LANDSCAPE LYRICS,

AS

A MARK OF RESPECT FOR HIS VIRTUES,

OF ADMIRATION OF HIS GENIUS,

AND IN REMEMBRANCE OF THE PLEASANT HOURS PASSED IN HIS SOCIETY,

IS INSCRIBED,

BY HIS FRIEND,

THE AUTHOR.


[5]

PREFACE
TO THE
FIRST EDITION OF LANDSCAPE LYRICS.

The poems contained in the following pages must be taken as parts of a whole, being intended to be distinct only in their subjects. This will account for the same measure being used throughout.

Of these pieces, the only one which has been previously published is that addressed "To a Wild Flower." My reason for inserting it here is, that it harmonizes with the other poems; and, having been already favourably spoken of by competent judges, I must confess it is one which I should "not willingly let die."

In the first poem on "Autumn," I have introduced what has always appeared to me a beautiful incident in nature; namely, the singing of[6] the missel-thrush during a thunder-storm. The louder the thunder roars, the shriller and sweeter becomes its voice. This interesting little bird is popularly known by the name of the storm-cock, because he is supposed to sing boldest immediately previous to a storm; but that he also sends forth his "native wood notes wild," during its continuance, is a fact which has been satisfactorily ascertained. Undismayed by the tempest's fury, or, rather rejoicing in its violence, the small but spirited songster warbles on unceasingly, as if desirous of emulating the loudness of the thunder-tone, or of making his song be heard above the noise of the raging elements.

The poetry of nature, particularly at this joyous season, is in its landscapes; and if these unpretending "Lyrics" should lead any one to a healthy contemplation of natural objects, or impart, to refined minds, any pleasure in the perusal, the time which has been bestowed upon them will not have been idly or unprofitably employed.

London, 1st June, 1838.


[7]

POEMS.

LANDSCAPE LYRICS.

No. I.—SUNRISE.

Spread are dawn's radiant wings,
Its dazzling feet pursue their silent way,
Leaving no shadow, for each coming ray
A general brightness brings.
The vapour from the brow
Of the old mountain crests, begins to part,
Like care from off the forehead, and the heart—
And all is cloudless now!
[8]
The universal air,
The smiling sky, and the far-stretching mead—
All nature, in its varied forms agreed,
Mingle their beauties there!
The ripple of the wave,
Beachward returning to the distant shore,
Like a lone pilgrim to the cottage door,
That once a welcome gave:
The new-waked laureat bee,
On the flower-blossom, breathing in its mirth,
Its conch-like matin song, to greet the earth,
With ever grateful glee!
The landscape's free expanse,
And all the harmonies that, spread around,
Combine the joys of hearing, sight, and sound,
Are gathered at a glance;
And powerfully they tell,
With deeper eloquence than notes divine,
Of many things that round our heart-strings twine,
And in our fancies dwell;
[9]
Of boyhood's sportive days,
The thymy glade, the daisy blooming there,
The vale remote, or lake secluded, where
The smiling sunbeam plays;
The gay flowers on the plain,
Gemming the mead, perfuming all the wood;
As if each Summer morn was Spring renew'd,
Or May-day come again!
The music of the birds,
Telling all sleepers of the birth of day,
And, with reviving Nature, haste to pay
Their homage, not in words!
The dreamy waterfall,
Babbling and bubbling from the upland spring;
The soaring crag where eaglets rest their wing,
Listening the eagle's call:
The minstrel streamlet near,
The zephyr's breath, too languid for a breeze,
That stirs, yet scarcely moves, the gentle trees,
Touching the waters clear.
[10]
The sunrays, as they pass
Into broad sunshine, throw their light on all,
With bloom and blossom, whereso'er they fall;
On mount, or meadow-grass.
And something more than light
Sleeps on the verdant hill-side; dreams of love,
And glimpses of the happier state above,
Burst on the mental sight.

No. II.—MORNING FURTHER ADVANCED.

Meet 'tis to watch and spy,
The laughing Orient, like a chubby child,
Bringing new joyousness to wood and wild,
To ocean, earth, and sky.
The groups of early flowers
To th' enamoured sun their bosoms ope,—
Apt emblems of the welcome birth of Hope,
In life's oft darkened bowers.
[11]
Pass to the green hill-side,
And let us wander where the wild flowers grow,
Gaze on the sedgy stream's calm depths below,
Where gentle minnows glide.
The sheltered cuckoo's notes,
In the young sunshine, echo on the ear—
A moving voice, from all around, is here!—
Hymns from a thousand throats:—
The spirit grows the more
Refined and holy, as we stand and gaze
Upon the landscape, brightening in the blaze
That gilds both land and shore.
All objects, far and near,
The light of morn illumines; it is now
That man can walk erect with glowing brow,
And heart devoid of fear.
And, lo! there is a stir
In yonder village, bosomed in the dell,
Like a meek babe, loved by its mother well,
And loving nought but her!
[12]
Where claims the eye to rest?
Earth has a balmy look, and so has Heaven;
And thoughts, like mazy clouds through ether driven,
Float in th' enraptured breast.
The sylvan haunts, where youth
Roams, fancy led, all glorious in their hue;
The quaint sequestered spots and paths we view,
Where Age consorts with Truth.
Read we of aught that wakes
High inspiration in the soul, in scenes like these?
The tufted trees' fantastic tapestries—
Romantic knolls and brakes;
The hill-enskirted glen,
Where bound the wild deer; and the huntsman's horn
Sounds from afar, a welcome to the morn,
Till Echo sounds again!
And more than all, the old
And pyramidal mountains, that with time
Have stood, defying change, and storm, and clime,
As none else of earth's mould
[13]
Hath done: the sun embrowns,
But does not scorch them; rain, and wind, and snow,
Renew them, not destroy; no waste they know,
But lasting glory crowns.
Still to the heart endeared
Are sights like this we gaze on. Do we deem
That they are other than a privileged dream?—
One that the mind has reared!

No. III.—NOONDAY.

Lo! like an eastern king,
Forth marches Sunshine gorgeously through earth,
By health attended, and life-giving mirth,
And heralded by Spring.
Light through the untrack'd air,
Pursues its course authentic; hill and dale
Rejoice, and Nature cries, "All hail!"
As if a king were there.
[14]
The elevated lawns,
Where first the day comes, and where last retires,
Rejoicing seem; their light the mind inspires,
And thought, like morning, dawns.
The wild, yet artless breeze,
Now, in the ear of Nature, sings its song,
Wandering green fields and flowery banks among,
And over shadowy seas.
Soft falls the sunlight down
On the old castle that, above the dell,
Stands in its glory, lone, as if to tell
Some tale of past renown.
The hamlet in the vale,
The church beside the stream that winds remote
Among the hills—the smoothly-going boat,
That midway hoists its sail.
A scene like this is rife
With pleasurable feelings, as with grace;
Perhaps we here, instructively, may trace
Some simile of life!
[15]
The grey and steadfast hills
Tell of the old immortals of past time:
And, looking downward, beauty, in its prime,
The heart with rapture fills.
The care-escaping deer
Descend together from the uplands, while
The sprouting grass puts forth a pleasant smile,
As if to tempt them near.
The sinless flowers, away
In the far inward forest paths bestrown,
Are yet not solitary, though alone;
None are so glad as they.
The comely violets
Their leaf-buds open, and the sunshine seek;
The pastures fresh their grateful homage speak,
Untinctured with regrets.
The virgin rose assumes
A bridal bearing, as if noonday came,
With brighter countenance, its love to claim,
And revel 'midst its blooms:
[16]
The prattle of the brook,
The lazy clouds that, hung in middle sky,
Exulting in the balm, float listless by,
Reflecting back their look:
The buds, the herbs, the leaves,
Each, and all things that blossom, bless the rays
Of the bright sun, and, as they bless, they praise
The bounteous Hand that gives!

No. IV.—THE SUNBEAM.

Now glory walks abroad,
And on the quiet unassuming stream,
And on the rock-ribbed hills, gently its beam
All lovely is bestowed.
The daizy-footed day,
O'er the far mead, in virgin radiance comes,
While the bee, jubilant, its welcome hums,
And passes on its way.
[17]
The lily, in its bloom,
Of the lone valley, where the breezes sing
Of love, beside the violet-crested spring,
And heather-bell's perfume:
And beauty, without guile,
It pictures dreams of in the bounding breast,
And love-breathed vows, and unions that are blest,
And childhood's fairy smile:
The mountain's verdant side,
Where visioned poesy delights to show
The sights of Heaven to gentle minds below:
The heath-bank in its pride:
The broken branch, grass-hid,
On which the goat-herd leans, while, far aloof,
His bounding charge rest th' adventurous hoof
Where man's foot dare not tread:
The cushat in the wood,
Where the laburnum and the lilac grow;
The placid rill, wandering away below,
As one for earth too good:
[18]
The dim-seen paths remote,
That lead to lone retreats and leafy cells,
Where, like a bashful fay, the fancy dwells,
And many-imaged thought:
The vintage and its cheer,
The peasant, sun-embrown'd, and flow'r-deck'd maid,
The festooned village, music in the shade,
To charm th' expectant ear:
The flow'ret in the wild,
The mossy resting place, 'neath oaks antique:
The half-grassed foot-track worldlings do not seek,
Where poets are beguiled:
The foam-bell on the wave;
The full-sailed vessel on its homeward track;
The smile that lights the sorrowing sinner back:
The primrose on a grave!
The berry's purple shine,
Grape-like and lustrous, scattered 'mid the waste:
The sprinkled heath-flower, healthful, golden-paced:
The patriarchal pine:
[19]
The memories of all
Telling of pleasures rare, and jocund ease,
In deep-toned joyousness, yea, more than these,
The sunbeam does recall:
The hope of life above;
Rich buds of promise springing everywhere;
The grace-blest gifts that come without our care,
From all-providing Love!

No. V.—TO A WILD FLOWER.

In what delightful land,
Sweet-scented flower, didst thou attain thy birth?
Thou art no offspring of the common earth,
By common breezes fanned!
Full oft my gladdened eye,
In pleasant glade, on river's marge has traced,
(As if there planted by the hand of Taste),
Sweet flowers of every dye:
[20]
But never did I see,
In mead or mountain, or domestic bower,
'Mong many a lovely and delicious flower,
One half so fair as thee!
Thy beauty makes rejoice
My inmost heart.—I know not how 'tis so,—
Quick-coming fancies thou dost make me know,
For fragrance is thy voice:
And still it comes to me,
In quiet night, and turmoil of the day,
Like memory of friends gone far away,
Or, haply, ceased to be.
Together we'll commune,
As lovers do, when, standing all apart,
No one o'erhears the whispers of their heart,
Save the all-silent moon.
Thy thoughts I can divine,
Although not uttered in vernac'lar words:
Thou me remind'st of songs of forest birds;
Of venerable wine;
[21]
Of Earth's fresh shrubs and roots;
Of Summer days, when men their thirsting slake
In the cool fountain, or the cooler lake,
While eating wood-grown fruits:
Thy leaves my memory tell
Of sights, and scents, and sounds, that come again,
Like ocean's murmurs, when the balmy strain
Is echoed in its shell.
The meadows in their green,
Smooth-running waters in the far-off ways,
The deep-voiced forest where the hermit prays,
In thy fair face are seen.
Thy home is in the wild,
'Mong sylvan shades, near music-haunted springs,
Where peace dwells all apart from earthly things,
Like some secluded child.
The beauty of the sky,
The music of the woods, the love that stirs
Wherever Nature charms her worshippers,
Are all by thee brought nigh.
[22]
I shall not soon forget
What thou hast taught me in my solitude:
My feelings have acquired a taste of good,
Sweet flower! since first we met.
Thou bring'st unto the soul
A blessing and a peace, inspiring thought!
And dost the goodness and the power denote
Of Him who formed the whole.

No. VI.—SUMMER.

Is vision-land so near,
And we not know of it? Oh! dull and dead
Must be the heart, the passions cold as lead,
That find no beauty here!
Fresh o'er th' awakened earth,
Now all the glories of the Summer shine;
And Nature, as if drunk with olden wine,
Is laughing in its mirth!
[23]
And melodies are heard
From far and near, and sounds that stir the heart,
Sweeter than fancy dreams of, when slow Art
To rival them has erred.
All things become more pure
And hallowed to the view: the very flowers
Seem smiling in a world more rich than ours—
A birth-place more secure!
The berry of the wood
Blooms with new lustre, 'neath the golden ray
Of the warm sunshine, resting by the way,
Where the green forests brood.
The old and reverend trees,
And clustering thickets, now are gladly sought
By him who from the heat would stray remote,
And rest his limbs at ease.
The smell of new-mown hay
Revives the heart, like as at evening time
We love to listen to the tinkling chime
Of sheep-bells far away.
[24]
And, lo! the rustic cot,
On the smooth margin of the quiet lake,
Where wedded Love and pleased Content partake
Their enviable lot:
Where, daylong, may be seen
Two sister swans, disporting in their joy;
The happy parents, with their baby-boy,
Reclining on the green.
Decay should seem unknown—
But spiteful Time its certain change prepares:
Light has its shade, and pleasure has its cares;
Music its saddened tone:
Summer its springing weeds,
And trodden flowers that tell of bygone joys,
And thoughts long since forgotten, 'mid the noise
That from man's haunts proceeds.
How beautiful the sight!
Why should we think of change for scenes like this?
Fair as a poet's thought, when thought is bliss,
And all he sees is light!
[25]
Let but th' enraptured eye
Once look upon the landscape's gorgeous train
And, like a kiss upon the brow of pain,
That brings a solace nigh,
In after years 'twill rest
Within the memory, with bloom and balm,
Refreshing to the soul, like a sweet calm
On ocean's troubled breast.

No. VII.—MIDSUMMER.

A blaze is in mine eyes
Of rich and balmy light; and on mine ear
A sound of melody is ringing clear,
Like carols in the skies:
And on my heart the while
There rests, like Love, when Hope is bright as this,
A charm to soothe, a thrill of good to bless;
A universal smile!
[26]
Is it a picture limned
By some high intellect where genius throngs?
Are these the echoes of celestial songs,
By angel-voices hymned?
Am I on earth, in air,
In heaven, or on the sea,—with ocean's sights,
And ocean's sounds,—that I partake delights,
And visions see so fair?
Ah, me! a shadow steals
From out the mountains, like a lurking grief;
As on our happy home, the silent thief
His hateful eye reveals;
Bringing me down from heaven
To this dull earth, whereon my footsteps tread—
The sky, so calm and pure above my head,
Health to my soul has given!
And now, before me placed,
What is there to rejoice the eye or ear?
All that the heart deems fair is surely here,
By God's own fingers traced:
[27]
And bounteously his gifts
He has bestowed upon the growing land;
Her paths are teeming from his lib'ral Hand,
That knows no grudging thrifts.
Up looks the toiling hind,
And wipes his brow, and rests upon his spade;
The idle herdsman, in the hawthorn shade,
A-weary lies reclined.
The village church is seen,
Light streaming through its windows, soft and fair,
Like rays of mercy, answering the prayer
Of penitence serene.
'Midst fairy scenes like these,
Whose fruitage beautiful allures each sense,
And whose green leaves, in blooming eloquence,
Exert their aim to please,
Can thought, in its career
Of joy, pause midway, and with care alight?—
Can fancy, eagle-winged, restrain its flight,
To dream of winter drear?
[28]
In noonday's warmest ray
We deem that darkness has our clime forsook:
Backward or forward we refuse to look;
But on the present stay.
Yet let not gloom be here!
The Earth rejoices now in Nature's prime;
Season of joy,—the holiday of Time,—
The Sabbath of the year!

No. VIII.—THE SUNSHINE OF POETRY.

Think not the poet's song
Worthless or idle; do not deem his lay
Fantastic, that he offers by the way,
To make it seem less long.
His numbers have their use,
Though foolish they may sound to worldling's ear;
His own lot, if no other's, they may cheer;
His own content produce.
[29]
Does he not add a light
To earth-born beauty, wanting it unknown?
To bloom give balm, to melody a tone,
Make brightness seem more bright?
Does he not fill the air
With sights, and shapes, and shadows?—make the sky
The dwelling-place of beings, which no eye
But his can image there?
And more than all, his lay
Awakes new feelings in the human heart,
And visions bring that never can depart,
When once they feel his sway.
To him the power is given
To soothe the broken heart, the care-worn mind;
And the waked soul in dreams ecstatic bind,
And bear away to heaven:
For to none else does earth
Look with so fair a promise; yea, to none
Speaks she with such an eloquence of tone,
Or to such thoughts gives birth,
[30]
Ah! who may analyse
The cloistered feelings of the poet's soul,
When Nature's impulse vibrates through the whole,
And Truth, that never dies!
Creation's beauties bring
Renewed enjoyment, and his genius fire;
For every sight, and every sound, inspire
His inmost heart to sing!
His birthright is to live
In citizenship with Nature;—to hold
Communion with her mysteries, his old
And high prerogative!
Seeks he for wealth, denied
By worldlings, lucre-led, of sordid mind;
His heritage,—free, fertile, unconfined,—
Is Nature's pastures wide.
Pants he for peace, to throw
A solace on his soul? The voice that breathes
Its music, 'mong the wild flowers' clustering wreaths,
Does to his heart bestow
[31]
A bliss that none can share,
Save him whom Nature to some far-sought wild
Has led, anointed as her chosen child,
And made her sacred care.
Where'er the breezes roam,
The mountains soar, or ocean's wave is thrown,
The poet's spirit, free as Nature's own,
Finds for itself a home!

No. IX.—AUTUMN, IN ITS FIRST ASPECT.

The orchard's plenteous store,
The apple-boughs o'erburdened with their load,
That passers-by may gather from the road,
Hang now the near walls o'er:
And filberts, bursting fair,
Seduce the loiterer to reach the hand,
And pluck the offered treasures of the land,
With wood-nuts that are there.
[32]
The still hill-sides are clad
With bloom; the distant moorland now is bright
With blossom, and with beauty; the rich sight
The heart of man makes glad.
The hamlet is at peace;
And, in the ripened fields, the reapers ply
Their useful labour; while a golden sky
Smiles on the soil's increase.
To the romantic spring,
That gushes lone beneath the neighbouring hill,
The cottage maidens go, their jars to fill,
While carols rude they sing!
Sweet is the cuckoo's song
In early Spring, and musical and blessed
The nightingale—young Summer's lutenist—
Pours its gay notes-along;
And, in the thunder's roar,
In Autumn, when the sudden lightnings flash,
Sweet sings the missel-thrush amid the crash,
The bursting tempest o'er!
[33]
As solitary tree,
That, pilgrim-like, scathless, amid the shock
Of rudest storms, that burst the sterner rock,
Stands in its grandeur free.
But sweeter than them all,
And softer than the voice of love returned,
Are the untutored lays of lips sunburned,
From village maids that fall!
To schoolboys' feelings dear
Is rich-toned Autumn. Oh! with what a zest
They plunge in stream retired,—despoil a nest,—
Or ramble far and near.
How oft, when changeful Time
Has sprinkled o'er our locks its silver threads,
Remembrance brings to mind—and gladness sheds—
The pastimes of our prime!
The lowing of the kine,
In distant meadow-glades, comes on the ear,
With taste of nature fresh, like far-off cheer
Of rustics, as they join
[34]
The merry dance at eve;
Each rural sound has in it joy and health:
Man now should garner thought, as well as wealth,
And gladly truth receive.
The calm and picturesque;
The foliaged cedar, and the wreathëd beech,
More glowing thoughts and impulses can teach
Than Learning from his desk!

No. X.—AUTUMN, IN ITS SECOND ASPECT.

Now, Autumn's mantle brown
Falls on the woods and fields, the leaves are sere,
And, like sad offerings to the rifled year,
They drop in clusters down:
The land is lone and bare;
The grateful trees themselves of leaves divest
To form a covering for earth's naked breast,
With reverential care;
[35]
For why should they be left
In all their foliage, when the sunshine's grace
Is gone from off the hills, and Nature's face
Is of its charms bereft?
The distance grey, becomes
Like a thin thread of silver, long drawn out;—
But hark the cheerful tabor, and the shout!
The sound of merry drums!
Now sportive Harvest-Home
By vintagers and villagers is held,
And heart-bright wine, and strong-lipped ale are welled,
Like water at the foam:
And labourers rejoice,
That fruits of field and orchard all are housed;
And the glad song of thankfulness is roused
From every manly voice!
The high ancestral hall,—
Where Health delights to dwell, and generous Mirth
Holds, when the corn is gathered from the earth,
A grateful festival,—
[36]
Adorns the waning scene.
Here may be heard, when in a musing mood,
The cawing of the old rooks in the wood,
That flanks it like a screen.
Is there not much to cheer
In the glad sounds that still from hill and vale,
And glen remote, come echoed on the gale
To greet th' excited ear?
Lo! o'er the changing sward
Sweep now the huntsmen in the rapid chace,
The deep-toned yell of hounds, mouthing the trace
Of the fleet deer, is heard.
In lone and hoary wood,
Where the wild cherry and the yellow elm
Commingled with the oak, the soul o'erwhelm
With visions many-hued;
There comes a solemn tone,
Like what is felt, in passing down the while
Some old cathedral's venerable aisle,—
A feeling all its own!
[37]
But now, at close of day,
When the damp vapoury veil of eve is gone,
Of gathering winds, the mournful dirge-like moan,
Sounds wildly far away.
For winter casts its shade
Before it, and the year begins to feel
Its chilling influences on it steal,
Like touches of the dead!

No. XI.—SUNSET.

Light on the landscape shines
Awhile, ere vanishing, as loth to leave;—
Upon the mead, the wearied ox at eve
Familiarly reclines.
The plough is left a-field,
And the rude labourer, from his toil set free,
Leads his tired steads forth o'er the upturned lea,
Refreshing drink to yield.
[38]
The hills with light are dyed;
And pointing spires peer o'er the distant trees,
As one tall vessels in the horizon sees,
Careering in their pride!
Each meek flower, white and red,
That tufts the meadow, in fresh odour sleeps,
Ere the departing Day from off the steeps
Lifts his resplendent head.
The golden-tissued clouds,
Amid which now the Sun, world-worshipped, sinks,
Retain his glory still upon their brinks,
As gloom the earth enshrouds!
Slowly the darkness creeps
Up the lone hill-sides, shadow-like, by sighs
Of ev'ning lullabyed, as on man's eyes
Steals slumber ere he sleeps!
Thus on the mountain-oak,
And on the hoary castle's ruined walls,
The rotting ivy, clinging as it falls,
Seems their past strength to mock.
[39]
Exalted are the thoughts
That rise within our souls at such a time;
The vast, the wild, the awful, the sublime,
Embodied, round us floats!
And the hushed spirit seems
To listen to the tones from giants flung;
Echoes of war-songs, that of old were sung,
Now rush like mountain streams:
And what come on the sight
Are not the puny visions of the day;
The near and the familiar pass away,
With the departing light:
Each mountain range that towers
In desert grandeur o'er the darkening scene,
Looks like a spirit standing now between
Another world and ours!
Oh! ye time-honoured hills,
The Ancient, the Immortal—is it not
A high-born privilege ne'er to be forgot,
To feel none of earth's ills?
[40]
Sublime ye are as Heaven!
Though bleak not barren, silent yet not dumb,
From out your shadows health and music come,
And thronging thoughts are given!
Not worthless is your aim,
To stand from age to age, from hour to hour,
The Almighty's temple, token of his power,
And record of his name!

No. XII.—TWILIGHT.

Now enter we within
The shadows of the ev'ning, as they wind
Around the mountains' summits, and remind
Our startled souls of sin,
Coiling, like serpent twist,
Round every thought and impulse; thus the night
Brings down its sable curtain o'er the sight,
And veils the world in mist.
[41]
The shrill-piped curlew's song
Wanders, like poesy, in distant glades;
And inexpressive notes that to eve's shades
Are fitted, pass along!
The beetle's drone is heard,
Dull, sluggish, heavy, in the dark-hued lane:
And, hark! afar, the melancholy strain
Of Echo!—twilight's bard!
At this lone hour we seek
Some quiet spot, to meditation free;—
When the Material we do not see,
Then Fancy may bespeak
Aught that she will;—the dim
And shadowy her peopled world, she finds
Forms in the darkness;—in the troublous winds
Can trace a conqueror's hymn!
Sleep has its dreams, and night
Its inspirations,—bounding, changing still,—
Imagination on some shrouded hill
Does, eagle-like, alight.
[42]
Ah! not an hour ago
Here hamlets stood, and palaces, and fields:
What man has furnished, what creation yields,
And what the earth does grow:
And now, where are they all?
Gone with the mighty, vanished with the past:
For twilight, enviously, has o'er them cast
Her black unpiercing pall,
And shut all out to sight.—
Oh! bat-eyed vision! Oh! weak mortal eyes!
Are there no mountains left—no shining skies—
No rivers clothed in light?
Are there no happy broods
Of little flowers in rustic ways remote?
No pathways to the woods? And, oh! fell thought,
No golden-foliaged woods?
Such fancies rise to sight
In night's tranquillity, where Thought is born;—
But back the laughing world will come with morn—
Life is not all a blight!
[43]
Should clouded be to-day,
Bring yesterday, and all its joys to view;—
Though no to-morrow offers to renew
Their smile—'tis not away!
'Twill dawn in after-time
On memory.—The charm of Nature's looks,
The voice of birds, the minstrelsy of brooks,
Live ever in their prime!

No. XIII.—MOONLIGHT ON LAND.

The early bridal Moon
Comes in her splendour forth, and walks between
The stars of Heaven, like an anointed queen
Amid her maids at noon.
Now from the sleeping hills
The spectral mist-wreaths quickly pass away,
Beneath her pale, but earth enamoured ray,
And glory all things fills.
[44]
Forth let us wander, led
By odours sweet; leaving th' accustomed way,
The valley seek we, where the moonbeams stray,
Like May-flowers newly shed!
The distant streamlets sing
Their vesper hymn.—Is there a voice below
Can give such music, mingled with such woe,
Or can such rapture bring?
In the far wild we hear
That soothing tone its murmurings repeat,
And the more sad, the sweeter, as is meet
The spirit lone to cheer.
Fair is the sky, and fair
The earth; and yet 'tis but the moon, this night,
That lights them both, and makes them look so bright,—
Clothes them in beauty rare!
And who are they that come
Into the moonlight from the tranquil shade,
And then shrink back, as to be seen afraid,
With feelings that are dumb?
[45]
Two lovers fond and true
Holding communion with each other's hearts;—
The first pure glow of love that ne'er departs,
Which moonlight scenes renew.
Who has not on the moon
Looked long and musingly, and, looking, dreamed
Of love and loveliness? Who has not deemed
Its ray a granted boon?
The unveiled orb of night—
To which the sighs and orisons, flow'r-wreathed,
Of lovers in all ages have been breathed,—
Bathes all she sees in light.
Her tracery is rich
With images Mosaic, soft inlaid;—
Forms, heav'n-traced, slumber 'twixt the light and shade,
In every quiet niche.
Moonlight is not like eld,—
For it is young, and bright, and fresh and clear;
But age the features sharpens, and brings near
Resemblances withheld:
[46]
So moonlight in its pride
Outlines the landscape, and brings out to view
Scenes of bright promise, and of fairy hue,
By glen and mountain side!
In moonlit mead or dell
My soul endenizened, imbibes a tone
Of nature-nurtured truth, which still is prone
A plaintive tale to tell.

No. XIV.—MOONLIGHT AT SEA.

How beautiful the chaste
And glorious moonlight glitters on the wave!
Like diamond glancing upward from its cave,
By rushing waters paced!
The home-bound seaman hails
Its ray auspicious, as it gayly flits
Before him on his ocean-path, or sits
Like silver on the sails!
[47]
Profusely thrown in showers
The dancing beam with every wave curl dips,
Like sunlight sprinkled on the bearded lips
Of humble meadow-flowers.
On the lone beetling cliff,
Where moonlight streams in all its glory bright,
I see below the fishers, by its light,
Haul beechward their rude skiff:
And high above, the cot
Which they call home, stands in the glad moonlight,
Dear to their hearts and welcome to their sight,
When they are far afloat.
Here, as I linger, rapt,
In the lone presence of the ocean free,
Suspended like a bird above the sea,
My bounding soul is apt
To mingle, as its own,
Among the waters, like a privileged thing;
Or, as a seamew spreads its radiant wing,
On the wild breezes thrown,
[48]
To wander far away
Above the breakers, and then strength inhale;
Or float, like one inspired, upon the gale,
And all its might survey.
The grey sea, like grey time,
Rolls onward till it traces its fixed bound,
And then resumes its slow accustomed round,
Fettered like measured rhyme!
The hollow of God's hand
Might hold it; and, though restless in its pride,
It cannot outflow its appointed tide,
Or overrun the land.
When the rude tempest sings,
And waves run high, and harsh the thunder's threats
Assail the ear, the seaman ne'er forgets
The promise moonlight brings:
Amid the lashing foam,
When its soft smile anoints the boiling wave;
It tracks his pathway, prompts his soul to brave
Whatever perils come.
[49]
Homeward his vessel drifts,
With beauty fair behind it and before;
Hope leads it onward to the wished-for shore,
And all the heart uplifts.
Like mellow light of years,
Long since evanished, on the memory,
The moonlight falls upon the bounding sea,
And the whole present cheers!

No. XV.—HOME SCENES.

As young bird from its nest,
At morn, floats upward—onward—and away;
And when the night brings down its shadows grey.
Returns unto its rest,
Ev'n thus the youthful mind
Goes forward to the world; partakes its cares
And fleeting joys,—is tempted by its snares;
But can no refuge find:
[50]
The freshness of his home
Goes with him, guidingly, where'er he wends;
A star-like light upon his steps attends—
A ray from Heaven's bright dome!
In all his toil and fret,
The quiet fields and gentle streams he knew,
When youth clothed all around in fairest hue,
His soul can ne'er forget:
For still their memories come,
Like poetry, to his spirit;—as a tone
Of music's echo on the waters thrown,
And heard 'mid evening's gloom.
In brumal age, the dreams
Of home refresh the soul, as purples pied
Peep up from out the snows, and smile beside
Winter's deserted streams;
As violets on a rock
They cheer the solitude,—their promise dawns
Upon the mind, like moonlight o'er the lawns—
Or joy to one grief-broke.
[51]
Home of our youth, what spot
On earth is like thee? Scenes of early days,
Oh! where upon your equals can we gaze?
What palace like the cot
Where childhood first its eyes
Oped to the day, and marvelled what could be
The world around it? Is there aught we see
Can be compared to skies
Like those which earliest shone
Upon our path, and like a sunray bright,
Brought with it, freshly, dawnings of the light
That ne'er can be forgone?
Landscapes of other climes,
Though bountiful in beauty, what are ye
To the fair scenes of home, where'er it be?
Sacred as churchward chimes.
High may the mountains tower
Into the heavens, and grandeur fill the scene,
The valleys and the pastures may be green,
The hill-sides still in flower,
[52]
Of other lands, where stray
The exile's feet; but none are e'er so fair
Unto his soul, as the blest landscapes where
His visions fly away.
Those sordid cares beside,
That cloud the mind, 'mong earth-born woes and ills.
Come soothing thoughts of home, as 'tween far hills
The gentle streamlets glide!

[53]

POETICAL ASPIRATIONS.


[54]

A small volume of poems, entitled "Poetical Aspirations," was published by me, my first adventure, in 1830, and was favourably received. That volume was dedicated to Mrs Robertson of Ednam House, Kelso, a lady whose many virtues are universally acknowledged wherever she is known, and whose kindness to me it will always be my pride to remember. A second edition, with additional poems, appeared in 1833. From the latter volume I have selected the following pieces, the remainder, bearing evident marks of inexperience and juvenility of taste, not being deemed worthy of further reprint.


[55]

POETICAL ASPIRATIONS.

THE ALPINE HORN. (1)

Sunset is streaming o'er the snow-clad crown
Of the high Alps, while darkness settles down
Through all their countless valleys and defiles,
Mixing with shade, where sunlight never smiles:
Ere from the topmost peak, its latest ray
Has, with its wing of glory, sped away,
The mountain shepherd's horn has sounded there,
Like the Muezzin's evening call to prayer;
"Praise God the Lord!" and hark! from all around
A thousand voices answer to the sound:
From every clift, and crag, and ledge, and linn,
The notes of worship and of praise begin.
"Praise God the Lord!" the echoes catch the strain,
And far and near repeat the sound again;
They wake it in the wild and in the wood,
Through all the shades of that far solitude:
[56]
Bearing it on, o'er valley and ravine,
Where, till this hour, such sound has never been;
Then, in the distance, fainter grown the lay,
The lingering notes at length dissolve away.
When all is silent, on the mountain sod
The humble shepherds bend the knee to God;
They kneel in darkness and in peace, to share
The sweet and social intercourse of prayer:
With gleams of manly thought, their prayers arise,
Like incense from the altar, to the skies.
Their temple is the mountain and the mist,
And theirs the shrine where minister the blest;
They kneel before the Spirit of the world,
He who this universe of mountains hurled
Together with a word, and chaos spread
Mid majesty and grandeur, dark and dread.
Prostrate in presence of the Great First Cause,
They own his power, while they obey his laws:
Their thoughts are deeper than th' abyss beneath,
Yet while their humble orisons they breathe,
Their souls are soaring far beyond each height
On which the stars are clustering, with the night;
[57]
And while they view, with soul-admiring glance,
The world of fancy, nature, and romance,
That circles round their native rocks, they deem
The glories of the earth an empty dream.
But hark! that horn again resounds aloud,
Like sudden music bursting from a cloud:
"Good night!" "Good night!" along the mountain breaks,
"Good night!" "Good night!" again each echo wakes;
And all the scene, below, around, above,
Teems with "Good night!" the evening pledge of love.
The eagle, soaring, waits upon the wing,
Charmed with the notes the syren echoes sing;
The startled chamois bounds along the hill,
Yet, half-enraptured, turns to listen still;
From mount to valley, and from wold to wild,
The sounds are borne along, till, faint and mild,
"Good night," shall linger in the echoes' song,
When all to silence and to sleep belong.

[58]

REFLECTIONS ON DEATH.

One day—the sunbeams danced along the glade
As lovers dance upon their bridal eve—
I wandered to the wood, where all was bloom;
The earth breathed fresh with fragrance, and the trees
Dropped, as it were, the dew of silent joy.
I loved to listen to the song of birds,
Whose music wild, yet sweet, came o'er the ear,
Telling of ecstasy; and, more than all,
I loved to view the flowers, those stars of earth,
As stars are flowers of heaven, those glimpses bright
Of a far higher, purer, lovelier world;
Those day dreams of Creation, blooming wild,
Scattered on earth, like angel-smiles in heaven.
Oh! I was happy then, for all above,
And all below, was fair, and pure, and bright;
And then I thought that happier still I'd be
If my freed soul could fleet, as dew from grass,
[59]
When the glad morning sun is shining forth,
Passing so silently away from earth;
If that were all—if death itself were death
But after death comes life, more true than this.
I lay and listened to a wild bird's song,
A little shining, singing, flutt'ring thing:
Its song was full of sweetness and of love:
When, lo! it fell before me on the ground,
And found its grave among a bank of flowers—
Who would not die, to find a grave so sweet?
I ran and lifted it—'twas cold and stiff,
And in its little heart an arrow sought
Unsanctified admittance, quivering there,
Like an unwelcome messenger of fate.
The spoiler came—I drew his arrow out,
And threw it on the earth—he trod it down,
As he passed onward in his careless path.
And this is death! How sudden, and how strong!
His harvest ne'er begins nor ends, for still
His scythe is ready ere the corn is ripe,
[60]
We cannot shun the stroke; but if prepared
To meet it when it falls, its sting is gone!
Yet death itself is never terrible,
But 'tis the thought of what comes after death
That wakes the coward in the soul of man—
Of man carnal and unregenerate.
In the lone grave the body soon is clothed
In vileness, and this most delicate frame
Becomes the food of worms, the gorging feast
Of those vile particles of putresence
We loathe in life to look at—which we spurn
And trample on with horror. Pride, bend low!
And meditate on this, that slimy worms,
Gnome-like and insatiate epicures,
Must feed on us to fulness, as on dainties,
When we, like they themselves, become corruption!
This is the pang, the poison, that makes dark
The brightest joys, and chills the warmest hopes
Of all who look no farther than the grave,—
That calms the laughing thought within the heart:
This is the weapon that affrights the bold,
Makes foolishness of wisdom, and creates
[61]
The fear of death, because it terminates
But in corruption and the feast of worms.
To go into the grave—if that were all,
No one would shrink from it; but that the thought
That this fair form should formless be, the shape
Be shapeless, decomposed, and fall to nought,
Preys on the mind, and hinders it from rest.
And few there are who seek the saving peace
That here can reconcile us to our doom.
The soul remains entire, though in the grave
The body lies, and slowly wastes away.
Then let us strive to find, through God's good grace,
That faith by which alone the soul becomes
"One perfect Chrysolite," and in Christ's blood,
Relieved from stain of guilt, is rendered fit
To stand, approved, before a holy God.

[62]

THROUGH THE WOOD.
MODERN BALLAD.

Through the wood, through the wood,
Warbles the merle!
Through the wood, through the wood,
Gallops the earl!
Yet he heeds not its song
As it sinks on his ear,
For he lists to a voice
Than its music more dear.
Through the wood, through the wood,
Once and away,
The castle is gained,
And the lady is gay:
When her smile waxes sad,
And her eyes become dim;
Her bosom is glad,
If she gazes on him!
[63]
Through the wood, through the wood,
Over the wold,
Rides onward a band
Of true warriors bold;
They stop not for forest,
They halt not for water;
Their chieftain in sorrow
Is seeking his daughter.
Through the wood, through the wood,
Warbles the merle;
Through the wood, through the wood,
Prances the earl;
And on a gay palfrey
Comes pacing his bride;
While an old man sits smiling,
In joy, by her side.

[64]

SONG OF THE EXILE.

Banished for ever!
From the scene of my birth,
For ever! for ever!
From all I loved dearest, and cherished on earth,
From the smile of my friends, and the home of their hearth,
To come again never!
Banished for ever!
From hope and from home,
For ever! for ever!
Away in the desert of distance to roam,
Like a ship tempest-tost on the wild sea-wave's foam,
To land again never!
Banished for ever!
When all have gone by,
For ever! for ever!
[65]
The gladness of earth, and the brightness of sky,
There's no fear but to live, and no hope but to die—
To feel again never!
Banished for ever!
'Tis madness to me,
For ever! for ever!
To think of the land I shall ne'er again see,
Of the days that have been, and the days that shall be—
That thought leaves me never!
Banished for ever!
Be this my adieu—
For ever! for ever!
Let me roam where I will, ne'er again shall I view,
Scenes so cherished and fair, friends so kind and so true;
Oh, never! oh, never!
Banished for ever!
Dear land of my birth,
We sever! we sever!
[66]
An exile from all I love dearest on earth,
From the smile of my friends, from the home of their hearth—
For ever! for ever!

TO FAME.

In the seclusion of my solitude,
Thy echo reached me, and awoke a brood
Of slumbering fancies into life and light;
A spell seemed thrown around me, and my mind
Was full of unfixed images; the bright
And ready impulses of thought, confined
And struggling to be free; a light had dawned
Across my path, as if by Heaven's command.
A lofty and immeasurable longing
Sprung up within my breast, beyond control,
A throbbing multitude of fancies thronging
Strove to o'ermaster and o'ermatch the whole:
Creation rose from chaos, as at first,
A water in the wilderness to quench my thirst.
[67]
The complicated elements of Mind,
No longer dim, confused, and undefined,
Rolled into order, and the springs of thought
Became then less obscure, and less remote.
My mind, not yet in union with its thoughts,
Seemed sad and solitary; o'er it swept
A calmness like the soft sun-breeze that floats
Above the wave, that light and languid leapt:
Then high imaginations, restless, past
Into being—various, vivid, vast—
And thought, admixing with the mind's emotion,
Assumed a depth and fervour of devotion,
The semblance and the hope, if not the true
Sole inspiration of poetic lore;
Then truth, at times, like light, came struggling through,
And I was sad and heart-forgone no more.
For thou became my mistress—I have thrown
My heart and hope on thee—I cannot bear
That, with my life, my name should pass away,
And be forgot, when I am dead and gone;
And in the grave, when mouldering in decay,
That my remembrance should be buried there.
[68]
I care not for the world, or the world's ways,
I scorn alike its censure and its praise;
But from the mental few, by heaven designed
To rate and recognise a kindred mind,
A sure approval I will strive to gain,
For this is fame indeed,—all other is but vain.

TO A BEE.

Ha! pretty little bee,
So artless, blithe, and free!
Whither are you wandering
Thus so gaily on the wing?
To every flower o'erhung with dew,
Whose leaves are blossoming for you;
To the wild flowers far away,
Bright and beautiful as they;
From each blooming one to sip
Sweets, like those of woman's lip,
Oh! happy, happy, happy bee,
Would it were as free to me!
[69]
Away! away! for ever thus
Your airy flight has past from us;
And you are gone where flowers invite,
A pilgrimage of rich delight.
But come not near the hollyhock, (2)
Let not its blooms your fancy mock;
Shun its nectaries so fair,
Death is ever lurking there;
On its petals if you light,
You'll be seized with instant blight.
Shun it as you onward fly!
Sip its poison and you die!
But hie thee to the lavender,
Pretty little pilferer!
Or the limetree, in whose breast
You oft have sipped yourself to rest.
Go, wanderer, to the healthful wild,
By the heath-flower's bloom beguiled,
Where sunshine, like a robe of gold,
Flings its fond light o'er wood and wold;
There, in the calyx of the flower,
You love the best at noontide hour,
[70]
Prepare the mead, whose luscious draught,
The best of former nations quaff'd.
Little rambler, do you know
Why it is we love you so?
It is for the ceaseless hymn,
That you warble, as you swim
Through the odoriferous air,
Light as fairy gossamer—
'Tis, for you are always gay,
Making life a holiday,
Flying leisurely o'er earth,
A wingëd messenger of mirth.
When you meet the butterfly,
'Neath the lovely summer sky,
Do you show to her the bower,
That contains the sweetest flower?
Or do you take herself to be,
While thus wandering so free,
A floweret floating on the air,
Making all delightful there?
When the moon bursts forth above,
Tinging all with light and love,
[71]
When with soft and silky trace,
Slumber finds a resting place
On the eyes of bees and men;
Snug within some floweret then
You have made your bed, till day
Shows the sweets your dreams pourtray.

THE STORM.

The waves rise in rebellion—far away
The wreck-doomed ship is borne resistless on;
And hark! the screaming sea-mews trill their lay
Of terrible delight—its echo's moan
Dies wildly on the tempest, and the spray
Dashes around us, chilling hope to stone;
And vast and fathomless the mountain waves,
Yawning around us, marshall forth our graves.
The clouds move like the billows o'er the ocean,
Clashing in fury as they hurry by;
They mingle fiercely, and in rude commotion,
As if a hurricane swept o'er the sky.
[72]
Now, let the soul rely on her devotion,
Now, let the prayer to Him be lifted high,
Who stills the storm, and calms the mighty wave,
"And strong to smite, is also strong to save."
See! yon poor wretch dashed from the vessel's prow—
He catches at the spar that hurries past,
'Tis vain! the waves are mightier still—and now,
Beneath their force his strength gives way at last:
Onward we drift—but, lo! o'er heaven's brow
The moon her welcome light, at length, has cast,
Like hope o'er madness, but it tends to show
The life that smiles above, the death that yawns below.

[73]

"LAZARUS, COME FORTH."

Thus Jesus spoke—the earth dismayed
Opened its womb;
The dead man heard, his Lord obeyed;
He left his tomb:
And thousands, unbelievers, saw
The power of God;
Then they believed his holy law,
And word, that burst the sod.
Thus when he frees the wicked heart
From earth's control,
Sin and ungodliness depart
From the waked soul.
He cleans it by his blood and death—
To it is given
To know, all peace, all hope, all faith,
All ante-taste of heaven.

[74]

SONNET.
ON THE APPROACH OF SUMMER.

Summer approaches, filling earth with flowers,
The skies with beauty, and the woods with song,
While April, like a coy bride, wends along
In tearful smiles, half-wooed by the gay hours.
All nature breathes a welcome to young May,
Summer's bright harbinger, who bears her smile
Through every land, with blooming health the while,
And all are blest who feel her gladd'ning ray.
How pleasant 'tis beneath the summer noon,
When the soft wind hath lulled itself asleep,
On some fair hill a festival to keep,
While fancy on the wing revisits soon
Th' o'erarching world, the true, the pure, the fair,
Gath'ring with bliss all inspiration there.

[75]

BEAUTY.

Oh! brighter than the brightest star,
That glimmers through the haze of night,
When the blue vault of heaven afar,
Is studded o'er with silver light;
And brighter than that brilliant sky,
May be the glance of woman's eye.
Oh! lovely as the golden ray
Of sunshine sleeping on the glade,
When morning brightens into day,
And in its radiance melts the shade;
And lovelier than that gorgeous sun,
May be the smile from woman won.
But beauty does not deign to shine,
In brightness from a woman's eye;
Nor does she in a smile recline,
Blooming, as flowerets do, to die;
All earth-born charms shall fade in death:
Nor change nor ruin beauty hath.
[76]
She dwells but in the pious mind,
Apart for ever from decay;
Where lives the light of heavenly kind,
That shines "unto the perfect day;"
Where Faith and Hope their joy impart—
Her home is in the virtuous heart.

TO M. J. R.

Is there within my heart a spot
Where thy bright image liveth not,
In its most joyful guise?
Ah, no! though all may be forgot,
Save sorrow, care, and pain,
Yet it securely lies
Within my bosom's secret bowers;
Like dew, descending from above,
On Autumn's seared and withered flowers,
Reviving it again
To happiness and love.

[77]

SONNET.
A CONTRAST.

The flowers that, unrefreshed with rain or dew,
Pine 'neath the scorching summer's sun away,
Are but the emblems—purer still than they—
Of hearts that ne'er the blight of sorrow knew,
To contrast with their gladness—for the breast
That welcomes joy back to its shrine again,
After a weary interval of pain,
Enjoys the feeling with a warmer zest:
And when at length the dew-drop lingers o'er
The flowers that sickened with its long delay,
How sweetly do they own its former sway,
And bloom again more lovely than before.
Who would not, for a while then, cherish grief,
To taste the bliss, the rapture of relief?

[78]

SONNET.
ROSLIN.

Roslin! thy scattered beauties, rich and wild,
Lie like a garden-map before me spread;
In all thy fairy scenes I gladly tread,
Where sleeps the sun-smile—and the breeze so mild
Enamoured sighs, as to thy presence wed.
Down through thy vale—so lovely and so sweet,
Yet so retiring, like some blushing maid
Apprized of her own beauty—oft I meet,
Two pensive lovers whispering their vows.
Thy woods and thy ravines, thy rocks and caves,
Contain the gleams of grandeur, o'er the brows
Of thy dark crags, the heath-flower freely waves.
Here Drummond sung, sweetly and well, for he
In thy retreats became inspired by thee.

[79]

ON THE BIRTH OF A NIECE.
E. W. G.
11th August, 1828.

The evening sun had o'er the heavens rolled
His brilliant robe of glory and of gold;
The angels round the throne had just begun
Their vesper hymn of praise—the sweetest one;
The stars were trimming then their lamps of light,
Like watchers, ready for the coming night;
The earth rejoiced through all her numerous fields,
Blest with the crop that generous autumn yields:
The meadow streams subduing music stole,
Like dreams of rapture, to the fainting soul,—
When thou sprung into being, like the ray
Of early morn, the gleam of dawning day.
Stranger! so bright, so innocent, so fair,
We give thee welcome to our world of care;
Come to partake our sorrow—thou hast known
The pang already, by that stifled moan—
When rosy pleasure shall her smiles renew,
Come with thy kindred heart, and share them too.
[80]
We bless thee, babe! for we have need to bless
A fellow-pilgrim in a world like this,
Where mirth is mockery, and joy a dream,
And we are never happy—though we seem.
Oh! may'st thou never know the ills that we
Have known, and shall know, ere we cease to be:
Be thou thy mother's comfort! thou wert blest
Wert thou, like her, the purest and the best.

ON HER DEATH,
At the Age of Two Years and Two Months.

Not long beside us did the cherub stay:
God's will be done! He gave and took away;
It seemed as if blest memories of heaven,
From whence she came, were to her visions given,
And, tiring soon of earth, whose breath was pain,
Longed to return, and be at rest again.
Too pure for earth, too innocent for grief,
Sweet was her promise, as her sojourn brief.

[81]

SONNET.
TO HAPPINESS.

Oh! I do hail thee, Happiness, when thou
Dost shine athwart my path with light and love,
Dispensing joy, like Heaven's aërial bow,
When gathering clouds lour darkly from above.
Oh! I do hail thee, Happiness—the aim
And promise of my being live in thee;
I pine for thee as poets pine for fame,
Or slaves and captives for their liberty;
But fleeting art thou in this vale of strife,
A meteor gleaming o'er a desert heath—
So seldom comes thy smile to cheer our life,
We learn to hope 'twill visit us in death;
In what bright bower, supremest blessing, may
A mortal find thy never-dying ray?

[82]

THOUGHTS.

In sooth 'tis pleasant on a summer morn,
When the bright sun ascends the orient sky,
And on the mountain zephyr health is borne,
While we inhale it as it murmurs by;
On some lone hill in musing mood to lie,
Then as we watch the day's advancing light,
We learn from it that we but live to die.
The sun will set though shining e'er so bright,
A few short fleeting hours, and all again is night.
Yet sunshine seldom cheers the lot of life,
'Tis all a scene of ling'ring pain and woe,
A pilgrimage of fruitless care and strife,
A tide of sorrow that doth ceaseless flow;
Yet some have thought they felt a joy below,
Which to their darker hours did solace prove,
Making their hearts with blissful feelings glow;
And not of earth it seems, but from above
It comes to cheer mankind, and mortals call it love.
[83]
That thought is vain as love's own happiness,
For soon love's sweet illusion is no more;
Then fly those hopes that promised lasting bliss—
And when the dream of ecstasy is o'er,
We wake, to life, far sadder than before.
It shoots athwart our visions, like the gleam
Of flitting sunshine o'er a desert shore,
Making the wilderness more dreary seem—
Oh! love is all too like the visions of a dream.
It boots not now to ponder o'er the past,
Joy blasted oft will mar life's fairest scene;
The beauty of the sky is overcast,
Dark clouds now brood where brightness late hath been;
And thorns appear where once sweet flowers were seen.
Yet hope beams on my soul her soothing light,
Like the first dawning of the morn serene,
Tinging my darkened soul with hues more bright—
Love ever sorrow brings, as twilight brings the night.
[84]
'Tis piety alone that can impart
A peace of mind that ne'er will fade away,
A bliss that calms the passions of the heart,
A hope that soothes us even in decay,
Inspires the thought and elevates the lay;
'Tis this that gives a glory to that hour,
When death relentless seizes on his prey;
Then yet may pleasure dwell in earthly bower,
Though man buds, blooms, and withers, like a summer flower.

[85]

LOCH AWE. (3)

Oh Lake! how gentle and how fair art thou,
Above thee and around thee, mountains rise
E'en like a diadem on queenly brow;
Crested in light the snow in masses lies
On Cruachan's cleft head—the eagle flies
In circles o'er thee, and his eyrie makes
Afar upon its summit, from the eyes
Of man removed, for his wild fledgelings' sakes.—
Sinless and still thou art, most beautiful of lakes!
Four fairy isles,—like smiles in woman's eye,
Or gems upon her bosom—rise beside
Thy spreading waters, dreamy as the sky,
Whose glories are reflected in thy tide;
While shrubs and flowers are growing in their pride,
And ancient trees, where'er our eyes we turn—
And, like a melody, thy echoes glide
[86]
Within the memory—while grey and stern
Stands, like a spirit of the past, lone old Kilchurn.
Changeless as Heaven, thoughtful as the stars,
Whose light thou mak'st thy lover, ever true;
Sweet are thy glades and glens; no discord mars
Their quiet now—as when the Bruce o'erthrew
The men of Lorn, and gained his crown anew—
Save when sweeps by the spirit of the storm;
Fearful and wonderful is then thy hue,
And terrible thy wailings, as thy form,
While Cruachan's wild shriek is heard to far Cairngorm.
Home of the hunter! birth-place of the Gael!
Why do my musings still return to thee?
Why does the hymn of holy Innis-hail,
Like rhyme of childhood, haunt my memory?
My boy-years have departed, since to me
Thy wildness, solitude, and grandeur brought
Sources of inspiration, ne'er to be
Forgotten or forborne—my mind has sought
Relief from homely scenes, recurring to remote.

[87]

THE WOLF. (4)
A Fragment.

'Tis evening,—one of those rich eves in June,
That look as bright, and feel as warm as noon;
The setting sun its parting ray has thrown
Italia's smiling groves and bowers upon:
Amid the balm of meadow, vale, and hill,
Where all is beautiful, and all is still;
A bard would deem, 'neath such a tranquil sky,
He heard the stream of time while rushing by:
'Tis the soft hour, to love that doth belong,
To village pastime, and to village song:
But why do happy peasants meet no more?
The village song, the village dance is o'er:
Why is the tabor silent on the plain?
Why does the mountain-pipe refuse its strain?
Where is the lover fond, the trusting maid?
They shun each other, and desert the shade.
[88]
Is this Italia's sky, so calm, so fair?
Where are its joyous sons, its laughing daughters where?
· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·
Hark! 'tis a wild, a solitary cry,
Unheard till now beneath Italia's sky;
And well Italia's sons may shrink to hear
A cry, that fills all who have heard with fear,—
It is the Alpine wolf's terrific bay,
Roaming abroad ferocious for its prey:
Soon as the sun of earth its farewell takes,
The Alpine wolf his solitude forsakes,
And, like a demon, rushing to the plain,
Scatters the flock, and panic-strikes the swain.
One summer eve, a monster of the kind,
Hungry for prey, had left his troop behind;
Ranging alone, he spread dismay where'er
His bay was heard, as if a host were there:
Beneath his tusk of steel, his breath of flame,
Italia's bowers a wilderness became:
Grain for a while and sheep he stole away,
But, quitting these, he sought a nobler prey,—
[89]
The tender babe, even in its mother's view,
He bore to crags, where no one dared pursue:
Until the province, late the happiest one
That brightens 'neath Italia's gorgeous sun,
Became, throughout, all desolate and lone,
For there the fell destroyer forth had gone.
· · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·
Lo! like a pageant, slowly up the vale,
A band advances, clad in glittering mail;
While, in the front, a knight of noble mien,
And lofty plume, above the rest is seen:
The peasants from their huts look forth with fear,
But dare not quit them, lest the wolf be near;
And then the chief, advancing from the rest,
At sound of trump, the peasants thus addressed,—
"A purse of gold, and his own diamond ring,
As a reward, are offered by the king,
To him who slays the wolf!" The trumpet's blast
Re-echoed loud, as that gay pageant passed.
Meanwhile, each swain, in hope to gain the prize,
Shouldering his gun, to kill the monster tries;
[90]
But home returning oft without his prey,
All left the task to Giulio to essay,—
For Giulio was the best, the bravest youth
Within the province, or the realm, in sooth:
Kind to his mates, and to his mistress true,
Foremost in pastime and in peril too;
Whene'er the river overflowed its bounds,
And the wild flood o'erswept the pleasant grounds,
Bearing away, in its retiring course,
The helpless flocks, too feeble for its force,
Giulio was first among the village brave,
To stretch the hand to succour and to save;
He was a marksman too, and well could hit
The target's eye, when all fell wide of it:
Him, therefore, did they fix upon to be
Their champion—their meadows rich to free
From the destroyer—each resigned his claim
To the reward,—Let Giulio win the same!
And Giulio ranged afar from morn till eve,
But still no wolf could Giulio perceive;
He searched each wood, explored each copse and cave,
As a fierce gnome invades the quiet grave;
[91]
Still did he hear his roar, his ravage see.
But, still unseen himself, the wolf continued free.
Three days had sped, and Giulio had not traced
The monster out, although he tracked his waste;
And standing on a mountain's rugged brow,
Giulio, despairing, breathed to Heaven a vow,
That he would bring the wolf in triumph slain,
Or never see his native home again,
And Giulio's vow was kept—the monster fell,
But not by him—a sadder tale I tell!
One eve—it was the fourth—he threw him down,
Fatigued and foot-sore, on the mountain brown;
No wolf as yet had crossed his anxious way,
Although, where'er he roamed, he heard his bay;
Loth to return until the wolf he slew,
Yet, ah! his heart, to love, to feeling, true,
Led him to where his lover's hut arose,
As if her vicinage could soothe his woes.
There for awhile he lingered, and he wept
The tear of fond remembrance—slumber crept
Upon his eyes, for he was overspent,
Wasted for want of needful nourishment:
[92]
Before him in the moonlight rolled a stream,
Whose murmur lulled him to a blissful dream:
A dream of love, of happiness and pride,—
He thought he slew the wolf, and won his blushing bride.
Beyond the river, to its very edge
Along the bank, there grew a bushy hedge,
Where oft alone, beneath the twilight dim,
The lovely maid would steal to think of him;—
A stir!—a motion!—it was not the breeze
That shook the hedge,—for why waved not the trees?
He started and awoke—again it shook,—
His gun was in his hand—one hurried look,
One rapid touch—the fatal ball was sped,—
A long wild shriek was heard, and Giulio's dream was read.
In triumph now, he thought of home again,—
The prize was his, the wolf at length was slain—
Swift as the ball that from his rifle flew,
He reached the river, and swam gaily through:
[93]
The corpse lay there before him in the light!—
Why breaks that mournful shriek upon the night?
Why motionless stands Giulio gazing there,
A form of stone, a statue of despair?
At length he spoke—"Is this the wolf I've sought
In glen, and mount, and precipice remote?
Its skin is soft, its eyes are bright and fair,
And still they smile on me,—the wolf's should glare;
But sweet though sad, still do they charm my view,
Like my fair bride's, the beautiful, the blue—
The wolf!—ah, horror! 'tis herself I've slain!
I feel it, like a fire within my brain,
And on my heart—no tear is in mine eye—
For her alone I lived,—with her I die."
The stream is near, he lifts her as a child,
While from his o'erpressed heart there bursts a wild
And fiendish laugh,—the peasants wondering hear,
And in a crowd assemble, half in fear:
In the broad moonlight then, as in a dream,
A figure rushed before them to the stream;
That form did bear another—on the brink
He pauses not—one plunge—they sink! they sink!
'Twas Giulio and his bride!—they rise no more,—
And onward rolls the stream as smoothly as before.

[94]

THE APRIL CLOUD.

Fair as the feather of a dove
That has in gloom been dipt;
Like to a smile, that, flung from love,
Its banishment hath wept;
See yonder little cloud swims by,
As if it sprung to birth,
Mid summer sunshine of the sky,
And winter storms of earth.
Alas! there ne'er was angel yet
Who from her heaven took wing,
But when the air of earth she met
Became a fallen thing:
And thus yon cloud, that seems so dim,
When near our earth 'tis driven,
Would look all light, if it would skim
Far upward nearer Heaven.

[95]

SPRING.

Can aught be more magnificent than Spring?
Mountain and mead, and foliage and flower,
Assume a bridal look, as if the Sun
Had solemnized his nuptials with the Earth.
A green and growing grandeur consecrates
The general land, like an anointed Queen;
The soil begins to quicken with the birth,
And bounteously proseminates its gifts;
A glory reigns supreme o'er all, a Balm
That moves, like Inspiration, in the soul,
And gives a motive to each quiet thought,
Stirring, in transport, like a little bird.
Creation seems a path to brighter worlds—
A track to better homes. A permeant good
Pervades the Universe, and all is joy.
The river runs, like one of nimble foot,
And smiling aspect, to embrace the sea,
Henceforth incorporate; even as the youth,
[96]
Of fervent spirit and of sanguine hope,
Comes from his home obscure, and wanders forth
To mingle with the world, and there is lost.
The ruminating Ocean is at peace,
And its faint murmur—for its voice is ne'er
All silent—like a half forgotten tone
Seems but the echo of a broken chime,
As if a part of memory, pilgrim-like,
Had gone in quest of all, and died away
Amid the distant traces of the past.
The gentle breeze comes from its groves of spice,
And fragrance bears throughout the Virgin air;
And hark! the woodland music—warblings soft
Steal on the gladdened ear—from every hedge,
From every forest dim, a voice proceeds
Of deep-felt rapture, praise and gratitude.
The swan disports upon the quiet lake,
And shares the cheerfulness that all enjoy;
While thoughts, without a voice, of Heaven remote
In the still waters mirrored, stir its breast.—
All circumstance of language is too faint
The beautiful of Nature to pourtray;
The eloquent sense, the feeling sensitive,
Alone holds free communion with her charms:
[97]
While thought awakes, like day-dawn, and goes forth
To gather stores of knowledge;—like a draught
Of the pure fountain to the unrefreshed,
The bloom of Spring exhilarates the mind,
And gives a tone to virtue—its approach
Is as the coming of sweet health to one
Long time afflicted, for its bloom is blest.

POESY.

Its sweetest song the cygnet sings
As a soft prelude to its death,
And in that song expends its breath;—
What boots it that the Poet flings
His wildest notes on high,
Or strikes with truest hand the strings,
If all his strains must die?
And why should he his notes prolong,
If no one listens to his song?
[98]
Yet can the Poet ne'er resign
The lyre he loves, for it alone
Consoles him, when all else is gone;
Its spirit, like the breath divine,
That stirred the water's face,
Pervades ev'n to the farthest line
Of universal space;
And music through the whole is flung,
As when the morning angels sung.
An echo lingers on each peak,
In every vale, on every hill—
Should men not listen, angels will;
For Poesy shall never speak,
Shall never sing in vain;
In solitude the breeze shall seek
And still repeat her strain,
Where'er, like an aërial tone,
Her spirit and her voice have gone.
She moves o'er flowers—her handmaid fair,
Bright Summer, in a joyous dance
Doth still before her path advance,
Sweet blossoms strewing every where,
[99]
Which, falling, grow divine;
Fresh incense crowds upon the air,
And floats above her shrine,
Like beauty, when her welcome voice
Makes the whole universe rejoice.
Why then should her adorer fear,
Or why her votary despond?—
Partaker of a bliss beyond
All feelings, all enjoyments here,
His impulses sublime
Soar, ev'n in this contracted sphere,
O'er nature and o'er time;
And her undying triumphs spread
A glow like glory round his head.

[100]

SONNET.
TO A FRIEND OF THE AUTHOR.

'Tis evening, and the summer has put on
Her richest dress, her way with flowers is strewed,
Beauty and music dwell in every wood,
And bower and meadow, hill and valley lone;
A gentle shower is o'er, the earth has wept
Its fragrance into freshness. In this hour,—
When in a flood of glory all is dipped,
By the soft influence of a higher power,—
My spirit leaves its prison-house, and flies
Towards the sweet haunts of thy pleasant home,
Where, lover-like, thy river[1] loves to roam;—
'Tis there I see thee with my mental eyes,
And hold communion with thee day by day,
Though now we never meet, and haply never may.

[1] The Tweed, near Kelso.


[101]

THE GIPSY'S LULLABY.

Sleep, baby, sleep!
Though thy fond mother's breast,
Where thy young head reclines,
Is a stranger to rest;
And oh! may soft slumber
Descend on thine e'e,
That the sorrow she feels
May be shared not by thee.
Sleep, baby, sleep!
Thy father has gone
On his perilous track,
And thy mother will weep,
Till he safely comes back;
But rest thee in peace,
With soft sleep in thine e'e,
Though the tear is in her's
That is shared not by thee.
Sleep, baby, sleep!

[102]

WOODLAND SONG.

Will you go to the woodlands with me, with me,
Will you go to the woodlands with me?
When the sun's on the hill, and all nature is still,
Save the sound of the far-dashing sea.
For I love to lie lone on the hill, the hill,
I love to lie lone on the hill,
When earth, sea, and sky, in loveliness vie,
And all nature around me is still.
Then my fancy is ever awake, awake,
My fancy is never asleep;
Like a bird on the wing, like a swan on the lake,
Like a ship far away on the deep.
And I love 'neath the green boughs to lie, to lie;
I love 'neath the green boughs to lie;
And see far above, like the smiling of love,
A glimpse, now and then, of the sky.
[103]
When the hum of the forest I hear, I hear,
When the hum of the forest I hear,—
'Tis solitude's prayer, pure devotion is there,
And its breathings I ever revere.—
I kneel myself down on the sod, the sod,
I kneel myself down on the sod,
'Mong the flowers and wild heath, and an orison breathe
In lowliness up to my God.
Then peace doth descend on my mind, my mind,
Then peace doth descend on my mind;
And I gain greater scope to my spirit and hope,
For both then become more refined.
Oh! whatever my fate chance to be, to be,
My spirit shall never repine,
If a stroll on the hill, if a glimpse of the sea,
If the hum of the forest be mine.

[104]

SONNET.
THE OCEAN.

Oh! that the Ocean were my element!
And I could dwell among its deepest waves,
Like one whose home is in its gushing caves,
Beneath the waters, whether tame or rent.
Would I could roam down where the Mermaid laves
Her half-formed limbs!—for Envy comes not there,
Nor Pride nor Hatred, nor is Malice sent,
Nor the deep sullenness of dark Despair.
Would I were not of earth—but of the sea!
And held communion with its creatures fair:
Gentle in its gentleness, but whene'er
A tempest shook it, and the winds were free,
My bounding spirit would delight to soar,
Float in its foam, and revel in its roar!

[105]

MOUNT HOREB. (5)

Oh, Holy Mount! on every side
Deserts are stretching far and wide,
Where thou, uptowering to the sky,}
Dost shoot thy double head on high,}
Mount Horeb, and Mount Sinai;}
And when the weary traveller stands,
Alone amid the sterile sands,
Seeking for water, vain pursuit,
To quench his thirst, grown absolute,
Groaning, as fainter grows his hope,
For water!—water!—but a drop,
His ever burning thirst t' appease;
He through the sudden moonlight sees
Thy dark and shadowy masses rise,
A solace to his weary eyes;
Then gladly on he wends, for he
Becomes refreshed at sight of thee;
[106]
For well he knows, that springs and fruit,
Above, below, thy sides salute;
For o'er the wastes of Rephidim,
There is no spot of peace for him,
Until he reach the rock, whence burst
A well, to quench the raging thirst
Of Israel, when they murmured there,
For water, in their deep despair.
Thrice Sacred Mount! how oft hast thou,
(Though none but pilgrims tread thee now,)
Been hallowed as the blest abode
Of the Most High! Jehovah! God!
Whene'er in furthering his plan
Of mercy and of love to man,
He deigned to touch our earth, to hold
Communion with his Seers of old,
His presence consecrated thee,
His temple and his throne to be.
'Twas on thy Mount that God, concealed
Within the burning bush, revealed
To Moses his command, to free
His people from their slavery.
[107]
There, from the midst of fire and flame,
He did his perfect law proclaim:
Then seemed God's presence in their sight,
A great, a mighty burst of light
Upon thy topmost mount, a fire
Devouring, brighter, deeper, higher,
Than e'er their eyes beheld, a crown
Of glory on thy head, that down
Through all the desert brightness past,
Like wild flame from a holocaust:
And gazing on thy glorious height,}
Israel was dazzled by the sight}
Of that intolerable light.}
Pursued by persecution's flame,
Elijah to the desert came;
And as he rested in thy cave,
Which shelter and concealment gave,
God spoke! he lay entranced in fear,
"Elijah! speak! what dost thou here?"
He answered,—"Jezabel abhorred
Hath put the prophets to the sword,
And I alone escaped, to be
A prophet and a priest to thee."
[108]
Then the Almighty gave command,
"Go forth, and on the mountain stand!"
But ere Elijah could reply,
A great and mighty wind passed by,
Which rent the mountains and the rocks
In pieces, by resistless shocks:
The desert sands uprose afar,
Moving like giant forms in war;
But, when the tempest ceased to rave,
Elijah still within the cave,
Remained unhurt, unmoved, alone—
A mighty earthquake's shock anon
Shook to its base the Sacred Mount,
And soon a fire, like a small fount,
Came bursting from the highest spot,
Increasing, but consuming not.
The earthquake vanished as it came,
And after it that holy flame;
And hark! a still small voice was heard,
Like sweetest music from a bird;
A still small voice! that speaks to youth
Of wisdom, piety, and truth:
Elijah heard—with solemn pace,
(His mantle covering his face,)
[109]
He rose and stood without the cave,
Relying on God's power to save:
The hurricane had past away,
And calm and bright the prospect lay;
Far up the double mountain stood,
Varied by water and by wood;
He saw the herbage thickly grow,
The bubbling springs, and far below
He saw the semicircular fount,
That like a bent bow skirts the mount;
He saw the desert spread beneath,
Like an extended vale of death;
He saw the blue sky far above,
Light up in one bright blaze of love;
A burst, of sunshine fell on him,
To which all other light was dim;
He heard again that still small voice,
Which made his inmost heart rejoice:
It was the Lord! and power he gave
Elijah, to anoint and save.
Thrice Blessed Mount! thou art a sign,
A type of penitence divine;
[110]
Whene'er in darkness and in fear,
We wander in the desert drear
Of sin, and doubt, the welcome light
Of truth breaks sudden on our sight;
The heart becomes a hallowed dome,
Where holy feelings find a home;
For there the law of God secure,
Makes every thought and impulse pure:
Repentance may be slow to bring
Comfort and healing on its wing;
The doubting sinner in despair,
Asks, trembling, in a hurried prayer,
If guilt like his, of foulest trace,
Can hope for pardon and for grace:
But, when such doubts are swept away,
The still small voice of truth bears sway:
For Jesus died and rose again,
To free the world from guilt and pain:
Jesus, the only Son of God,
Like Moses, takes the gospel rod,
And strikes the barren rock within,
Hardened by wickedness and sin—
Whence springs a living well, to free
The thirsty soul from misery.
[111]
He, like Elijah from his cave,
Came to the world with power to save;
And Israel, trusting to his aid,
Shall innocent and pure be made;
Redeemed, shall reach the heavenly land,
Supported by his mighty hand.

WRITTEN BENEATH AN ELM,
In a City Churchyard.

Under thy shadow how many recline,
Who never knew rest 'neath the fig-tree or vine![2]
They pass from the banquet, the mall and the mart,
Here they meet, here they mingle, never to part.
Who comes from the porch, with colourless vest,
And faded black coat, once the minister's best?
The mattock and shovel support him like staves,
As he totters familiarly over the graves.
[112]
'Tis the hoary old sexton, whose home has been here,
Since the days of his boyhood—and now he is sere;
These mounds are his world—he can name all the lairs,
As a monarch his realms, or a merchant his wares.
Yet though he apportions a dwelling for all,
And delights when he handles the mattock and pall;
Though his thin hairs are gray, and though feeble his pace,
He ne'er for himself yet has chosen a place.
Thou wert here when his sire did this office fulfil—
When the son too is gone, thou wilt blossom here still:
How strange that the grass, and the trees, and the weeds,
Flourish best on that spot whence corruption proceeds!
On thy trunk some rude sculptor has carved out his name—
Idle labour! for fleeting and false is such fame:
[113]
Lo! wherever we look there is charactered stone,
But to whom is the dust each commemorates known?
Oh! bury me not by the multitude's side,
I would shun them in death, as in life I avoid;
Where the loathsome newt creeps, 'neath the rank hemlock's shade,
Is not where I would that my bones should be laid.
But bear me away to the limitless sea,
And heave me afar 'mong its billows so free:
Where my flesh may be wasted, but never shall rot—
Where man is not dust, and corruption is not.
Oh delight! to be tost from wild wave to wild wave—
I seek not for rest—it is found in the grave—
And my skeleton bleach on the foam it is cast—
A link of the future—a wreck of the past.
But alas! if the doom of my kind must be mine,
If my bones in the land of decay must recline;
[114]
Seek me out some lone glen, some wild Highland vale,
Where the tempest's loud shriek shall my coronach wail.
A rude rugged land, with a wild heather sod,
Where the sun never shone, where man's foot never trod;
Where the gleam of the day falls with withering blight,
And a desolate darkness comes with the night.
Where the waterfall roars like a storm o'er the heath,
The scathed Pine above, and the hoar Elm beneath;
'Mongst the lone, and the mighty, the vast and the deep—
'Tis there, as their own, that a Poet should sleep.

[2] Micah iv. 4.


[115]

THE WELLS O' WEARY.

Down in the valley lone,
Far in the wild wood,
Bubble forth springs, each one
Weeping like childhood;
Bright on their rushy banks,
Like joys among sadness,
Little flowers bloom in ranks—
Glimpses of gladness.
Sweet 'tis to wander forth,
Like pilgrims at even;
Lifting our souls from earth
To fix them on Heaven;
Then in our transport deep,
This world forsaking:
Sleeping as Angels sleep,
Mortals awaking!

[116]

DRYBURGH ABBEY. (6)

By Tweed's fair stream, in a secluded spot,
Rises an ivy-crowned monastic pile;
Beneath its shadow sleeps the Wizard, Scott;
A Ruin is his resting-place—no vile
Unconsecrated grave-yard is the soil—
Few moulder there, but these the loved, the good,
The honoured, and the famed—and sweet flowers smile
Around the precincts of the Abbeyhood,
While Cedar, Oak, and Yew adorn that solitude.
Hail, Dryburgh! to thy sylvan shades all hail!—
As to a shrine, from places far away,
With awe-struck spirit, to thy classic vale
Shall pilgrims come, to muse, perchance to pray;
More hallowed now than in thy elder day,
For sacred is the earth wherein is laid
The Poet's dust; and still his mind, his lay,
And his renown, shall flourish undecayed,
Like his loved country's fame, that is not doomed to fade.

[117]

POEMS HERE FIRST COLLECTED.


[119]

COLLECTED POEMS.

GRACE.

Come, free-given grace! source of all lasting peace;
My care-worn heart has wanted thee full long;
The charms of earthly joys and pleasures cease,
And fain I'd stray thy tranquil paths among,
Where withered weeds and noxious odours strong
Come not, as here I find them rankly meet;
Give me thy pleasant ways and thy contentments sweet!
Contentments sweet are ever with thee still;
In the lone valley, where the streamlet flows,
On distant mountain, on the heath-clad hill,
Where springs the daisy, or where blooms the rose,
Even in the desert where no green thing grows;
[120]
'Mid trials of this world, whate'er they be,
Still peace, and joy, and truth accompany with thee.
With thee there is no darkness; thou dost show
The Sun of Glory shining in His might;
With thee there is no sadness; thou dost go
Into the grief-broke heart, and with the light
Of heavenly love mak'st it serene and bright;
Ah! who that can thy blessings call his own,
Would deem himself, with thee, forsaken or alone?
Alone! no, never! Jesus still is near;
Friendless we cannot be with Him our friend—
Our counsellor—although deserted here
By all who to that cherished name pretend—
His friendship, like Himself, shall have no end;
And for our solace freely is bestowed,
Trusting in Him while here, the bounteous grace of God!
The grace of God softens the hardened heart.
And makes it oft in gushing joy to sing;
As rod of Moses caused the rock to part,
And made the living waters forth to spring;
The grace of God serenest pleasures bring,
[121]
And leads the mind from carnal thoughts away
Into retirements sweet, in solitude to pray.
To pray!—blest privilege! For evermore
To pray and praise, and lift the soul above
This sordid earth, and, as a lark doth soar,
Ascend into the realms of truth and love,
Whence once the Spirit came in form of dove!
Thither, oh! thither would it wing its flight—
For ever "take its rest," there where there comes no night!

MATIN.

The gleam of light that passes o'er
The world ere dawn of day;
That, faintly flashing, shines before
The darkness is away:
Is not the smile of morn, in bright
And deeply glorious lines;
'Tis the first presage of its light,
The morning star that shines.

[122]

IMMORTALITY.

[The following verses were suggested by the striking reply of a Protestant minister, who was about to proceed to Ireland, to labour among the deluded and ignorant Popish peasantry, and who, on being warned by a friend of the personal danger he thereby incurred, nobly answered, "I am immortal, till my work is done!"]

What nerves the soldier in the field,
When foes are raging nigh?
What makes him proudly scorn to yield,
Though numbers round him die?
The faith that Heaven directs each ball,
And course that it shall run;—
'Tis, that he knows he will not fall,
Until his work be done!
What makes the sailor on the wreck,
When storms are frowning near,
Bear up, with heart and form erect
His bosom free from fear?—
[123]
'Tis that he feels that God is by,
To shield him like a son;—
'Tis, that he knows he will not die,
Until his work be done!
God holds the winds as by a rein,
Which still they must obey;
The ocean fierce he doth restrain,
By his all-guiding sway:
The hand that bears the planets high.
Upholds the fulgent sun,
Has fixed the hour that all must die,
When their set work is done!
What arms the martyr 'midst his fires,
To smile serene at death;
And his whole heart and soul inspires
With never-changing faith?—
Until the victor's crown is gained,
The laurel wreath is won;
Th' oppressor's fury is restrained—
His work must first be done!
[124]
What leads Christ's servant still to dare
All dangers for his sake,
And with unshaken firmness bear,
Ills that the boldest shake?
The trust that God is ever nigh,
To prosper what's begun;
To send a blessing from on high,
Upon his work when done!
And when the good fight he has fought,
His earthly struggles o'er,
He finds the recompense he sought,
Where grief is felt no more:
'Tis then he gains th' appointed prize,
His triumph is begun;—
He lives immortal in the skies,
When all his work is done!

[125]

LINES
ON THE DEATH OF JOHN SINCLAIR, ESQ.,
7th April 1844.

When from its prison-house of clay
The spirit is unbound,
When one we love is borne away
To the lone narrow mound:
We feel as if the charm were gone
That renders life so dear,
And as a darkening cloud were thrown
O'er all our prospects here.
And when he died, we mourned for him
As only they could mourn
Who felt as if a precious limb
Were from the body torn.
Gentle and kind, and always true,
Revered wherever known;
No guile his bosom ever knew,
'Twas friendship's sacred throne.
[126]
From painful days, without relief,
Death brought at last release;
The change that gave to us but grief
To him was lasting peace.
We bore him to his hill-side grave,[3]
To sleep, but not alone;
To kindred dust his dust we gave,
To mingle with his own.
To teach us that our home is not
Here, where we seek to live,
But that we have a happier lot
Than aught this world can give,
Death comes,—and when right understood
His lesson sure is blest.—
Thus one by one, the loved, the good,
Are gathered to their rest!

[3] He was interred in the family burying-place, New Calton Burying-ground, Edinburgh.


[127]

WEEP NOT FOR THE DEAD.
Jeremiah xxii. 10.

Oh! weep not for the dead; they are at rest—
No more shall earthly cares their minds molest;
Waste not a thought on them, nor yet bemoan
Who to the grave's cold heritage have gone.
No sorrow know they in their narrow bed;
They sin no more who slumber with the dead;
They are at rest, from earth-born troubles free,—
Fixed is their doom, as lies the stricken tree.
Weep for yourself—for those who linger here,
In pain and sadness, through the varying year;
Still looking through life's vista to the close,
When faith in Christ alone can bring repose.
[128]
And weep for those who go to other climes,
With toil and hoarding to gain gold betimes—
From friends and country parted, as if nought
But this world's fleeting wealth were worth their thought!
Weep for the dead in sin—the guilty soul
That might, but yet refuses, to be whole—
For him who never heard the Saviour's name,
For him who, having heard, rejects the same.
Oh! weep not for the dead, nor those who go
Into mortality's dread depths below;
But weep for those who mourn and suffer here,
The slaves of sin, and all its guilty fear!

[129]

IDOLS.
"What have I to do any more with Idols?"—Hos. xiv. 8.

Where'er the light of gospel truth
Has shed its glorious rays,
The heart casts off all shapes uncouth,
And shuns the wonted ways.
The hills assume a brighter mould,
The flowers a fairer hue,
We quit the fading and the old,
And seek the fresh and new.
The dark and dismal thoughts that brood
Within the carnal mind,
Are straightway changed to bright and good,
When there the truth hath shined:
[130]
As metals in the earth deep set,
Though worthless in its womb,
Refined by skilful art, do yet
Precious and rich become.
But man, degenerate from his birth,
Headlong in guilt is driven,
Still does his spirit cling to earth,
When it should rise to heaven.
To vile and perverse courses prone,—
The viler more his boast,
Rejects all guidance save his own,
And sunk in sin, is lost.
Like dark and savage men, that dwell
In soul-benighted lands,
That blindly worship things of hell,
The work of their own hands.
For hideous shapes, instead of dread,
They fierce devotion feel,
And the more hideous they are made,
The greater is their zeal.
[131]
Ye sinners that to Idols bow,
Let light illume your heart,
Leave earth-born things to earth below,
And seek the better part.
Come to the fountain free to all,
Drink of the living spring;
Before the cross of Jesus fall,
And own Him for your King.
Come from your dark unwholesome holes,
With hateful things within,
Come and seek comfort to your souls,
And walk no more in sin.
If self still claims the foremost place,
Where Christ should reign alone,
Self is the Idol that, through grace,
Must quite be overthrown.
The lust and vanity of life,
All pomp and pride of mind,
Are but the source of grief and strife,
And leave no joy behind:
[132]
Jesus alone is Sovereign King,
In Earth and Heaven above;
And why should we to Idols cling,
When we have Him to love?

TRUTH.

It is not in the heart of thought,
Nor in the breast of care;
That truth its dwelling-place has sought,
For all is sterile there:
Nor is it in the mind, where gay
Delusive visions throng,
That chastening truth can find a way
Its glittering dreams among:
Yet as within the desert far,
There are reflections given
Of light, so in the heart there are
Remembrances of Heaven.

[133]

SABBATH MORN.

On Sabbath morn, one feels
Exalted 'bove the world, and longs to go
Forth to the house of God; and, as the slow
And solemn church-chime on him steals,
He seems to tread the height
Of Heaven, rise with his risen Lord, and there
Pour out his soul in never-ceasing prayer,
And worship with the saints in light.
And peace, and joy, and faith
Are his, and all things that the earth contains,
And all above, through the Redeemer's pains,
And groans, and victory o'er death!
Glory to Him who willed
That man should live, not die! to Him who made
The Sabbath for our comfort, and who said
The soul on Christ its hopes should build!

[134]

SABBATH EVE.

On Sabbath eve, how sad,
Yet sweet, the thoughts that come into the mind,
Unbid, but not unwelcome, and which find
Communion there, and to its solace add.
The world seems bright no more;
Its witching charms are gone, its voice is dumb:
Vainly its pleasures to the soul say "Come!"
The wish for their enjoyment now is o'er.
Thoughts of the dead are they
Which then we feel, low whispering to the heart,
Telling that we, like them, must soon depart,
And, with them, go to dull and cold decay.
How strange it is, in sooth,
That Sabbath morn and eve should, to the breast,
Weary with cares of life, bring thoughts of Rest
Strong proof of its great purpose and its truth!

[135]

DREAMS OF THE LIVING.

No golden dreams, near quiet streams,
On swelling slopes, no high-reached hopes;
These of themselves are mute:
The spirit wakes, the fancies shoot
Where Nature points, but she
Thought curbs, not renders free,
Unless her portals wide she opes,
And gives of Truth the fruit.
And man, a dreamer from his youth,
Ne'er knoweth, nor can know, the truth,
Save when Religion with its light
Shines on his mind, to guide his sight.
From every day that dawns, he claims
New thoughts, new fancies, and new aims,
That lead to nothing, nothing leave,
But vague ideas that deceive!
[136]
Boyhood is dreaming, when it quits
Substantial joys for counterfeits;
Courts pleasure as a lasting thing,
Nor deems it bears a hidden sting;
And yields all feeling and all sense,
For hopes that bring no recompense.
Well, when its follies it forsakes,
And from its feverish dreams awakes!
The loveliness of woman gives
More cause for dreams than aught that lives;
And youth, when it aspires to find
Gladness in beauty, wanting mind,
Like guileless child, is ever dreaming
Of joy and brightness only seeming;
And knows not, till the dream is past,
What spells around the heart are cast.
And manhood dreams,—when o'er the soul
Ambition has secured control,—
Of power, and wealth, and worldly state,
And all the splendours of the great:
Builds monuments, to which decay
Clings as a resting-place and prey,
[137]
Nor thinks how weak are all his pains,
When nothing at the last remains.
And age, that ought to know the best,
Is but a dreamer like the rest;
O'erlooking, in its downward pace,
The landmarks of its upward race;
No wisdom from the past it earns,
And from the present only learns
To dread the future; and its staff
Writes its own weary epitaph.
What dream they of? Earth, with its feelings cold,
Its passions withered, tales that have been told,
And generations dead—the same dull tone
That from the chambers of the past hath gone,
Is echoed now; but, as before, its strain,
For warning, or for teaching, is in vain!
And hearts on which has come the early blight,
And hopes that never knew aught here but slight,
And scattered flowers, and blossoms tossed and shaken,
And promises foregone, and trusts forsaken,
[138]
Still show men's visions false, but still they cherish
Dreams of the earth, which only lure to perish.
No glow of life, no ante-taste of heaven,
From sordid earth-born thoughts like theirs is given;
But disappointment, with its lagging train
Of blighted prospects, tells that all is vain;
Yet to this earth's allurements fixed, the heart,
Like a wrecked vessel, drifts, without a chart.
Truth teaches higher hopes, and better things,
And o'er the mind a lasting solace brings.
Oh! that the soul on Heaven were ever bent,
And all its feelings thitherward were sent!
Then would our visions from the world arise,
Clear as the sun, and radiant as the skies:
Visions of light and love that ne'er decay,
No strifes to scare, no terrors to dismay;
But peace, unchanging as the Christian's faith—
Peace in our life, untroubled hope in death!

[139]

LINES.

Man knows he is immortal: there's within
A principle that tells him that his soul,
Which in himself exists, shall never die,
Although his outward tenement becomes,
By the slow-wasting chemistry of death,
Forgotten, undistinguishable dust.
His mind, his heart, his impulses, are all
Subservient to his soul, his noblest part,
That came from God, returns to God again.
If he his passions could o'ercome and sway,
Place Prudence as a wary sentinel
On all his words and purposes, that trip
He might in neither, he were great indeed!
But sense and selfishness his judgment warp,
And so debase his nature, that, having not
Of his own mind the moral mastery,
His thoughts, affections, powers, and faculties,
Are under the dominion of a yoke
More galling than a tyrant's. Slave of Sin!

[140]

SONNETS.
Written on viewing the Picture of "The Deluge," painted by F. Danby, Esq., A.R.A.

We gaze in awe upon the solemn scene,
With sense and soul absorbed, as if the sight
Were tranced in that o'erpowering vengeful light
Which shrouds the setting sun; and what has been
A world is now a waste of waters, higher
And darker swells the flood, like one vast pall
Thrown o'er the guilty ones of earth, Heaven's ire
Who braved ere-while.—How fearful, how sublime,
How terrible the sight!—widely they climb,
To rock and mountain top to 'scape their doom,
While rushing torrents, dome and palace hall,
The work of man with man himself, consume;
Nor these alone! Rock, cliff, and mountain grey,
God's handiwork, become with man, their prey!
[141]
How vast the guilt that thus could doom a world
So beautiful as ours was ere man sinned,—
The waters sweeping, like a mighty wind,
To whelm the earth, from its foundations hurled;
All nature stood aghast, its course was changed—
A comet threw afar its lurid gleam,
Up-broke the fountains of the ocean stream,
While a fierce earthquake thro' the centre ranged,
Shattering the mountains in its might.—How vain
Was then the strength of man, as poor his pride,
To stem the onsweep of that ceaseless tide,
Which desolation spread o'er mount and plain!
Anguish and terror, madness and despair,
Took hold on all, before they perished there!
A towering rock, whose shadow in past days
Was hailed by weary ones a place of rest,
Affords brief shelter on its shelving breast
To struggling sufferers crowding from all ways,
Trampling their fellows down for life, sweet life!
Alas! the Judgment's on them, they as well
Might build their hopes on sand, as stay the swell
Of the full flood and elemental strife.
[142]
Yet has not God forgotten all his love
To sinful men, the Arm they madly brave
"Though strong to smite is also strong to save"—
The ark floats high a buried world above!
While o'er a lifeless pair, to Heaven still dear,
A kneeling Angel drops a pitying tear! (7)

THOUGHT.

Like one who on a mountain stands,
When morning into day expands,
And, as a glory, views from Heaven
The plenteousness of brightness given;
Even so is he, who marks remote
The early cheering dawn of thought
Advancing o'er th' awakened mind,
Till truth, within the soul defined,
Spreads light and knowledge in the breast,
And sets all doubts and fears at rest.

[143]

LINES.
WRITTEN ON THE ATTEMPTED ASSASSINATION OF THE QUEEN.
20th July 1840.

Fair as the summer in its joyous prime,
Free from all thoughts of guile, all dread of ill,
Unconscious that a traitor could exist
Within her wide dominions, forth she came,
Young, happy, unattended, save by him,
The husband she had chosen from the world;
All hearts her own—no other guard she wished—
When ambushed treason aimed its coward blow,
Which Heaven ordained should harmless pass her by,
In mercy to the realms that own her sway.
Ah! had the public foe, in hostile league,
Come openly against her life and crown,
The chivalry of England, not yet dead,
Had promptly flown to arms, and formed
[144]
Around her then a shield impenetrable,
Her sacred person to defend, or die.
From out of England's millions, only one
Was found, so void of all the feelings of a man,
As point a deadly weapon at the breast
Of England's pride—a woman and a Queen!
Then the high bravery of her race was shown;
She blenched not, quivered not, but sat erect;
While, with the lion courage of the Saxon,
Which both their hearts inspired, her consort threw
Himself at once between her and the danger,
To shield the life so dear to him and us.
The loyal heart of Britain beat with joy
At their escape—the young, the loved, the true!
Many and fervent were the prayers breathed
To Heaven, that they might live extended years,
And each year, as it came, their happiness
Increase, and ours! Thus let the traitor's hopes
For ever end, thus fruitless be his aims—
His snares recoil upon himself alone!
How beautiful the trait of filial love,
Of reverence daughterly, was then evinced,
[145]
When, freed from danger from th' assassin's arm,
She promptly to her mother hastes, herself
To be the foremost bearer of the tidings,
And, in her own particular person, bring
The proof and the assurance of her safety,
Ere Rumour's tongue had magnified details!
Ah! worthy of her people's love, is she
Who thus could show the veneration due,
At such a time, to her who gave her being!
The ways of men are in the hands of One
Who cannot err; the destinies of all
On earth, peasants as well as potentates,
Are under His sole guardianship and guidance.
A truism this; yet there are men who doubt,
Nay, worse, deny it; even though instances,
Occurring daily, show the constant care
Of Providence o'er thoughtless, sinful men.
How oft does evil o'er our head impend,
And we not know it, till the danger's past!
How oft, when evil comes, provided is
A remedy, we know not how or whence!
Ah! blind, and worse than blind, are they who doubt.
[146]
The brutish beasts that roam the fields and woods,
And never heard of God, or gospel truth,
Of Christ and his salvation, better are,
And wiser, than the Atheist and Sceptic.
High is the sovereign's power, and great the sway
Which kings possess; but, higher, greater still
Is His, the King of Kings, who overrules
All things for good to them who love his laws.
Tyrants have had avengers, but the good
Need fear no peril, dread no coming ill;
Their trust in One who fails not, cannot fail;
In whose hand is the breath of princes held,
As much as meaner men's. To Him thy way commit.

[147]

I'M NAEBODY NOO.
The complaint of an old man reduced in the world. Contributed to the Book of Scottish Song.

I'm naebody noo, though in days that are gane,
Whan I'd hooses, and lands, and gear o' my ain,
There war' mony to flatter, and mony to praise,
And wha but mysel' was sae prood in those days!
Ah! then roun' my table wad visitors thrang,
Wha laughed at my joke, and applauded my sang,
Though the tane had nae point, and the tither nae glee;
But of coorse they war' grand when comin' frae me!
Whan I'd plenty to gie, o' my cheer and my crack,
There war' plenty to come, and wi' joy to partak';
But whanever the water grew scant at the well,
I was welcome to drink all alane by mysel'.
[148]
Sae lang as my bottle was ready and free,
Friends in dozens I had wha then crooded to prie,
They sat ower the toddy until they war' fou,—
Noo I drink by mysel', for I'm naebody noo.
Whan I'd nae need o' aid, there were plenty to proffer,
And noo whan I want it, I ne'er get the offer;
I could greet whan I think hoo my siller decreast,
In the feasting o' those who came only to feast.
The fulsome respec' to my gowd they did gie,
I thought a' the time was intended for me,
But whanever the end o' my money they saw,
Their friendship, like it, also flickered awa'.
My advice ance was sought for by folks far and near,
Sic great wisdom I had ere I tint a' my gear,
I'm as weel able yet to gie counsel, that's true,
But I may jist haud my wheesht, for I'm naebody noo.

[149]

SONG.
Contributed to the Book of Scottish Song.

There's plenty come to woo me,
And ca' me sweet and fair,
There's plenty say they lo'e me,
But they never venture mair:
They never say they'll marry,
Though love is all their tune,
From June to Janu-a-ry,
From January to June.
I canna keep frae smilin',
At their flatteries and art;
Wi' a' their fond beguilin',
They'll ne'er beguile my heart.
For nought can fix a maiden
Whase heart is warm and true,
But vows wi' marriage laden,
Though mony come to woo.
[150]
That a's no gowd that glitters
I've either heard or read,
And marriage has its bitters,
As well as sweets, is said.
But though it gets the blame o'
Some things that winna' tell,
The fau't that folks complain o'
Lies often wi' themsel'.
The year, as on it ranges,
Within its twelvemonths' fa',
Shows many sudden changes,
And's lightsome wi' them a';
Though winter's tempests thicken,
Spring comes wi' cheerful face;
And summer smiles to quicken
A' nature wi' its grace.
The year of life is marriage,
And we canna wed too sune,
Whan twa divide the carriage,
The wark is cheerily dune.
[151]
If one true heart wad hae me,
For better and for worse,
Wi' him I'd gladly share aye
The blessing and the curse.

THE STOUT OLD BRITISH SHIP.

Hurrah! for the stout old British ship,
The monarch of the sea!
That bounds like a greyhound from the slip,
When the sails are loosened free!
That, spite of the storm and deadly gun,
Ne'er yet its course gave o'er;
And never knew what 'twas to run
A hostile flag before!
It long has the bulwark been of our rights,
Of our freedom still the stay;
Then give to the brave old British ship,
Three British cheers—hurrah!
[152]
When Nelson trode its quarter-deck,
Its glory was in its prime;
Victory he had at his finger-beck,
As proved in every clime:
Then England was honoured and feared by all,
And nations sung her praise;
But that is a tale we may not recall
In these degenerate days:
For the stout old ship lies idly ashore,
Laid up like a useless tree;
Its battles and cruises now are o'er,
Though it still is fit for sea!
The vaunting foreigner long has felt
Its thunders on the main,
And he smiles when he thinks the blows it dealt
Shall ne'er be dealt again.
But the spirit of Nelson is not dead,
It bounds in a hundred hearts,
And his story of fame is remembered and read,
And studied with our charts!
[153]
For cherished with care is the glory it won,
The meed of a thousand years;
And its foes will fly as they often have done,
When the stout old ship appears!
When the brave old ship, as bright as morn,
Hoists high its well-known flag;
The flag that has still been unsullied borne,
Since the days of Drake and Sprague.
Let's see who'll dare dispute its right,
To the empire of the main,
'Twill prove its title clear and bright,
Against the world again!
Then give to the stout old British ship,
Of our freedom still the stay,
That long has the bulwark been of our rights,
Three British cheers—hurrah!

[154]

LINES,
ON THE INFANT SON AND DAUGHTER OF THE HON. COL. MONTAGUE.

How fair is childhood; like the ray
Of summer morn, the blush of day.
Bright scions of a noble race,
Blooming in love and youthful grace,
In innocence and beauty's pride!
As rosebuds blossoming at ease,
Showering their beauties on the breeze,
On some green mountain's side.
High thoughts are with that lovely boy,
In whose dark eye beams radiant joy;
May blessings on his years attend,
And Heaven its choicest favours send!
[155]
Hope of an honourable line,
With feeling heart and mind endued,
May health, and peace, and every good,
And length of life, be thine.
Oh! love it is a blessed thing,
And to the heart doth comfort bring;
But the fond throb that for a brother
A sister feels, excels all other,
Save only that by parents known:
Sweet maid, a pure affection cheers
Thy gentle heart, and still endears
Thy very smile and tone.
No cares upon those brows of light,
Round which the tresses cluster bright,
Like mossy flowers 'mong sunshine blended,
Have yet, with envious trace, descended:
But all is happiness and mirth,—
Ye look like cherubs sent from Heaven,
With hope, and joy, and beauty given,
To cheer this weary earth.
1838.

[156]

THE MARTYRS.

Faithful to God, 'mid persecutions dire,
The lion-hearts of old still firmly stood,
Unawed by terrors of the block or fire,
For truth and freedom freely gave their blood;
The path of duty lay before them plain,
And boldly they advanced, nor turned again.
A throne cast down, erected was once more,
An exiled king, a nation, welcomed back;
Planted in blood it was, and tears, and gore,
Its only props the scaffold and the rack;
And there the brave and good did nobly fall,
That Christ the Saviour might be all in all,
[157]
Calmly the martyr Guthrie met his fate,
A victim to oppression's cruel laws,
Nor would, for proudest prelate's form and state,
A traitor turn to his dear Master's cause;
With him no joy on earth so great could be,
As thus to die for Christ's supremacy.
On the lone mountains of their native land,
Where blooms the heather fragrantly and fair,
In the green valleys waved by breezes bland,
Struck mercilessly down while met in prayer,
Lie Scotland's martyrs in their nameless moulds,
Sustained by Him who the great worlds upholds. (8)

[158]

CALEDONIA, MY COUNTRY!

Caledonia, my country! How bright is the fame,
Like a halo of glory, that circles thy name;
When thy children remember their fathers' renown,
Can they, faithless, consent e'er to sully thy crown?
In the battles of freedom, the hot fields of fight,
Thy great men of old stoutly fought for the right;
By their conquering swords, blessed and aided by Heaven,
The hosts of the foe from our country were driven.
In the fair realms of song thy sons also excel,
Midst the gifted of earth do their memories dwell;
And of praise of thy minstrels, from nations around,
Still the echo returns, with a flattering sound.
[159]
But purer, and brighter, and higher, by far,
Than of those that have triumphed in song or in war,
Are the names,—never breathed but with love they are heard,—
Of thy fearless Reformers, thy Martyrs revered.
Now thy sword is at rest, and thy harp is laid by,
But the sword of the Spirit still waves from on high,
And the harp of the Lord sounds in majesty forth,
As of yore it was heard from the lands of the north.
Again, oh, my country! on thy hills of renown,
Oppression, relentless, has darkly come down—
On the breeze of the mountain is borne the loud wail,
And the lowlands reply to the wrongs of the Gael.
From the dark page of history shadows are cast,
And the woes of the future loom out from the past;
There are omens of evil, enshrouded in blood,
But in midst of them all, there are tokens of good.

[160]

I CANNA SLEEP.
Written in 1833. Contributed to the Book of Scottish Song.

I canna sleep a wink, lassie,
When I gang to bed at night,
But still o' thee I think, lassie,
Till morning sheds its light.
I lie an' think o' thee, lassie,
And I toss frae side to side,
Like a vessel on the sea, lassie,
When stormy is the tide.
My heart is no my ain, lassie,
It winna bide wi' me,
Like a birdie it has gane, lassie,
To nestle saft wi' thee.
[161]
I canna lure it back, lassie,
Sae keep it to yoursel';
But oh! it sune will brak, lassie,
If you dinna use it well.
Where the treasure is they say, lassie,
The spirit lingers there,
An' mine has fled away, lassie,
You needna' ask me where.
I marvel oft if rest, lassie,
On my eyes and heart wad bide,
If I thy troth possessed, lassie,
And thou wert at my side.

[162]

YONDER SUNNY BRAE.

On yonder sunny brae we met,
Amid the summer flowers;
And never can my heart forget
The rapture of those hours,
When she I loved forsook her home
And there with me did stray,
Oh! oft delighted did we roam
On yonder sunny brae.
The gushing of the waterfall,
The sunshine of the sky,
The bloom, the balm, and, more than all,
The sparkle of her eye,
Brought to my heart a blissful tide
That drove all care away,
And I was happy at her side,
On yonder sunny brae.
[163]
'Twas there I breathed my fondest vow,
Nor told my love in vain;
And I am happy with her now,
Though years have passed since then.
No sweeter scene my eyes shall see
Though far my steps should stray:
There's not a spot so dear to me
As yonder sunny brae.

[165]

THE EAGLE'S NEST,
AND
OTHER POEMS.

HERE FIRST PRINTED.


[167]

THE EAGLE'S NEST.

Grace Adam was a farmer's daughter,
Her youth in the far west was spent,
Where Mississippi's mighty water
Rolls like a flood that will have vent.
She was a blooming country maiden,
Like those one sees in market towns,
With egg and butter baskets laden,
Dressed in their smartest hats and gowns.
In household work and dairy labours
Her time passed pleasantly away,
A pattern she to all the neighbours,
Healthy and cheerful as the day.
[168]
Grace Adam was a farmer's daughter,—
Some share of beauty she could boast,
And lovers, near and far off, sought her,
Each striving who could flatter most.
From 'mong them all her heart selected
One gentle youth who seemed sincere,
He was by every one respected,
And more it needs not saying here.
Within an outfield stood an only
Old beech-tree, lightning-smote, and dead,—
Its branches bare, and bleached, and lonely,
An eagle built its nest amid.
Forsook the mountain's summit hoary,
The beetling cliff above the sea,
Sought not the forests of Missouri,
But sheltered on this shattered tree.
[169]
And oft to see this noble creature,
Many there came from parts thereby,
Training its young, as is its nature,
To spread their wings and upward fly.
Among the rest a student, rambling
In woods and meadows, also came,
In search of useful knowledge scrambling,
Wherever he could find the same.
Grace Adam was a farmer's daughter,—
Her father had approved her choice;
For duty and her feelings taught her
'Twere best to have her parents' voice.
Oft as the summer sunset glowing
Came down in splendour o'er the west,
The lovers forth together going,
Would wander to the eagle's nest.
[170]
And there in courtship sweet and prudent
The happy hours fast slipt away;—
And often there, too, came the student,
To watch the birds at close of day.
And so they soon became acquainted,
He knew they were betrothed before;
But while their future bliss they painted,
His object still was to explore.
The marriage-day, longed for yet dreaded
By maidens fair, at last came round,
Grace Adam and her love were wedded,
With hope and every blessing crowned.
Their home was in a distant city
Far, far from where her youth was spent,
Where Mississippi's water mighty
Pours like a flood that will have vent.
[171]
And never more the lordly river,
Or its green banks, was Grace to see,
The dear-loved farm, no more, and never
The lonely shattered eagle's tree.
New duties claimed now her attention,
New feelings rose at name of wife,
And as time passed, she ceased to mention
The loved scenes of her early life.
Some years had gone, and she could gather
Her children round about her knee,—
Long since in churchyard lay her father,
And fallen was the eagle's tree.
And now in course of worldly changes
Another town their home became;
For business oft-times turns the hinges
Of man's condition and his aim.
[172]
And there they settled, growing older,
But Grace aright years passing read;
For the grey hairs appearing told her
Time left its shadow on her head.
Years twenty since the farmer's daughter
Left the scenes where her youth was spent,
Where Mississippi's mighty water
Rolls like a flood that will have vent.
Within that town broke out a fever,
Smiting alike the rich and poor;
'Twas typhus, grim Death's surest lever
To turn the churchyards o'er and o'er.
Many, o'erborne with grief and watching
At couch of those oppressed with pains,
A hurried hour of slumber snatching,
Woke with the fever in their veins.
[173]
Spared not the children or the father,
Passed not the anxious mother by,
In one swift grave the parents gather
Their offspring with them as they lie.
Lamented many a one his dearest
Borne to the house whence no retrace,
Mourned high and low for friends the nearest
Soon carried to their resting place.
A time of gloom, and doubt, and terror,
A time of sorrow and dismay;
The breath of death upon life's mirror
All ghastly and infectious lay.
A time of judgment, when God's dealings
Make the most careless cry to Him,—
A time to try the human feelings,—
When even Hope grows faint and dim.
[174]
Just at the last, when near expending
Its baleful force ere sped away,
Grace caught the fever while attending
A smitten neighbour as she lay.
Grief in the house but late so cheerful,
Pain on the heart but late so light,
Her husband and her children tearful
Watched o'er her sickbed day and night.
Beat low the pulse with languid movement,
And stopped the functions of the brain,
No sign her eye gave of improvement
As day and night return again.
Hastened the Doctor, if yet human
Aid might avail to save her life,
He saw and knew the suffering woman,
Although not as a wedded wife.
[175]
Years twenty since the farmer's daughter
Had met the student at the tree,
Where Mississippi's mighty water
Rolls like a full flood to the sea.
Bent near the Doctor then, and laid he
His hand upon her wasted breast,
And with low cheerful whisper said he
No more words than "the eagle's nest!"
The change was sudden and amazing,—
Opened her eyes and closed again,
And like the keel of vessel grazing
The ground, grated her teeth in twain.
Gasped a long breath, as if a struggle
Were going on, as night with morn,
No sound made but a low faint guggle,
Like cry of infant newly born.
[176]
A smile passed o'er her features sunken,
Grasped she the hand beside her then,
Remembrance, just as one half-drunken,
Strove to retrace its course again.
Ah! then came back the well-known faces
Of her young days upon her mind,
The scenes of long ago, in traces
All clear and full and well defined.
She saw her father as he taught her
Her youthful lessons at his knee,
Where Mississippi's mighty water
Rolls like a full flood to the sea.
She saw her mother too beside her
Long, long since taken to her rest,
And then, as opened Memory wider,
She stood beneath the eagle's nest,
[177]
With him she loved, in courtship prudent,
And of love's sweetest cup she drank,
She saw again the youthful student,—
All that came after was a blank.
Thus ever Memory touched can bring time,
With its past feelings into light,
And thus the sweet joys of her spring-time
Came rushing thickly on her sight.
Thus, too, doth roused Imagination
Vibrate the tender chords that bind
The wide links of Association
Within the chambers of the mind.
Then turned the fever, as the meeting
Of the free air upon her brain,
Her pulse resumed a quickened beating,
Revolved the wheels of life again.
[178]
And day by day she gained new strength then
Beneath the Doctor's care and skill,
Able to quit her bed at length then,
'Twas this she loved to talk of still,
That when Death's dart did o'er her hover,
And she could find no sleep or rest,
'Twas this that made her to recover,
The simple words, "the eagle's nest!" (9)

[179]

THE ADVENT OF TRUTH.

A time there is, though far its dawn may be,
And shadows thick are brooding on the main,
When, like the sun upspringing from the sea,
Truth shall arise, with Freedom in its train;
And Light upon its forehead, as a star
Upon the brow of heaven, to shed its rays
Among all people, wheresoe'er they are,
And shower upon them calm and happy days.
As sunshine comes with healing on its wing,
After long nights of sorrow and unrest,
Solace and peace, and sympathy to bring
To the grieved spirit and unquiet breast.
[180]
No more shall then be heard the slave's deep groan,
Nor man man's inhumanity deplore,
All strife shall cease and war shall be unknown,
And the world's golden age return once more.
And nations now that, with Oppression's hand,
Are to the dust of Earth with sorrow bowed,
Shall then erect, in fearless vigour, stand,
And with recovered freedom shout aloud.
Along with Truth, Wisdom, her sister-twin,
Shall come—they two are never far apart,—
At their approach, to some lone cavern Sin
Shall cowering flee, as stricken to the heart.
Right shall then temper Justice, as 'tis meet
It should, and Justice give to Right its own;
Might shall its sword throw underneath its feet,
And Tyranny, unkinged, fall off its throne.
[181]
Then let us live in hope, and still prepare
Us and our children for the end, that they
Instruct may those who after them shall heir,
To watch and wait the coming of that day.

[182]

LINES,
SUGGESTED BY A WALK IN A GARDEN.

Balmy as the dew from its own blossoms,
And soothing as the fragrance it creates,
Comes the sweet influence of this summer eve
To my o'erchargëd heart—there is a breeze
Moving amid the foliage, soft and low,
As cradled murmur from a babe asleep.
It is a time for holy thoughts to spring,
And contemplation fill the awakened mind.
Lo! a bright sunbeam stands 'tween heaven and earth,
Taking its farewell look ere day departs,
[183]
And seeking still to light the gloom below,
As Hope,—even when the darkness comes, and Joy
Hath fled,—to cheer the heart, still lingering, smiles:
And when it goes,—ah! no, it ne'er all goes:—
The sunbeam fades, a moment, and its light,
All shed, dies still-born, swiftly shone and o'er;
But Hope, blest Hope, ev'n when it seems away,
Is near, evermore near, it cannot live
Apart, 'tis wedded to the soul for aye,—
God joined them twain, and nought can sunder them,—
Near, ever near, and ever bringing peace,
Groping among the dark things of man's spirit,
And shedding o'er the troubled mind its light,
As a stray ray of sunshine wanders 'mong
The shattered arches of a fallen ruin.
Ere sunset leaves the world, and sinks behind
The illumined ocean, let me muse awhile.
'Twas in a garden that that hideous thing,
Sin, first was born accurst, and now all through
[184]
The wide wide universe it ranges fierce.
Where man has placed his foot its trace is seen.
The serpent's slimy trail is everywhere,
Disfiguring, polluting, and destroying,
Death following in its track inseparably.
But oh! my soul be humbled, yet rejoice;—
It was, too, in a garden that the great,
The only all-sufficient, all-atoning
Propitiatory sacrifice for sin
Commenced its consummation, when the Man
Christ Jesus swat for thee great drops of blood,
(Even he, the Second Person of the Godhead,)
And prayed in agony that the cup might pass,
If so his Father willed; but none on earth
Or yet in Heaven could drink it, none save Him;
And when the sacrifice was all complete
On Calvary, and satisfied was Justice,
Mercy and Hope held out their hands to man,
And, in Christ's name, showed him redemption's way.
[185]
The shame and misery that Adam felt
In Eden's garden, when the first great sin
Was challenged, was as nothing to compare
With the deep agony which on that night,—
That dreadful night in which he was betrayed,—
Our Surety felt, when in Gethsemane
He took upon himself to pay the full
Ransom and penalty of that first sin
Which Adam sinned, and all his race in him.
Of that first sin did Adam put the blame
On Eve, "the woman whom thou gavest me."
Eve on the serpent shifted it, and proud
Was he that he had circumvented both,
Doomed on his womb to crawl in dust, and bruised
His head by woman's seed, short-lived his pride.—
Christ took upon Himself the sin and all
Its anguish, nor like Adam vainly strove
To shift it to another, knowing well
No other could redeem it but Himself.
Sinless, a sacrifice for sin, that sin
Might from the souls of men be washed away.
[186]
'Twas for that sin, and its infeftments wide
That Jesus died, that its entail cut off
Might be from Adam and his lineage, far
As generations yet to come extend,
And man restored to his lost paradise.
No flaming sword waves at its portals now,
Entrance to bar to the redeemed on earth;
No angels guard the gates to keep them shut,
But open ever are they to the elect,
And there bright angels stand, with joy
To welcome all who come in Christ's name in.
But now the sun hath bade the world good night,
And gathering darkness warns me to my home.

[187]

SONNET.
SUNSHINE.

On the old forest, bright the sunrays play,
And from the boughs hang, tinging the green leaves
With golden light that downward interweaves,
Past branch and stem finding itself a way;
And on the greensward, and among the fern,
Some trace of sunshine still we can discern,
A sunbeam's scattered droppings gone astray
Among the wild-flowers, where they nestle close
Within the long grass, or the woodland moss,
Making for Earth a dress with colours gay.
Oh! on our pathway thus may sunshine fall,
And like the little flowers, our hopes still bloom,—
A share of it at least, if not it all,—
To light the darkness and to cheer the gloom.

[188]

SONG.
AT E'ENING, WHAN THE KYE WAR IN.

At e'ening whan the kye war in,
An' lasses milking thrang,
A neebour laird cam ben the byre,
The busy maids amang.
He stood ahint the routin' kye
An' round him glowered a wee,
Then stole to whar young Peggy sat,
The milkpail at her knee.
"Sweet Peggy, lass," thus spoke the laird,
"Wilt listen to my tale?"
"Stan' out the gate, laird," Peggy cried,
"Or you will coup the pail:
[189]
"Mind, Hawkie here's a timorous beast,
An' no acquent wi you."
"Ne'er fash," quo' he, "the milking time's
The sweetest time to woo.
"Ye ken, I've aften tauld ye that
I've thretty kye and mair,
"An' ye'd be better owning them
Than sittin' milkin' there.
"My house is bein, and stocket weel
In hadden and in ha',
"An' ye've but just to sae the word
Tae leddy be o' a'."
"Wheesht, laird," quo Peggy, "dinna mak'
Yersel a fule an' me,
"I thank ye, for yer offer kind,
But sae it canna be.
"Maybe yer weel stocked house and farm,
An' thretty lowing kine,
[190]
"May win some ither lassie's heart,
They hae nae charms for mine;
"For in the kirk I hae been cried,
My troth is pledged and sworn,
"An' tae the man I like mysel',
I'll married be the morn'."
The laird, dumfoundered at her words,
Had nae mair will to try'r;
But turned, and gaed far faster out,
Than he'd come in the byre.

[191]

STANZAS
ON A BUST OF MARSHAL NEY,

Presented by the Prince De Moskwa to Donald Sinclair, Esq. Edinburgh.

There stands the hero, "bravest of the brave,"
A name well earned, that he to whom alone
Ney, second, scarce to him, in glory shone,
After a hard fought day in honour gave:
And ever shall his laurels greenly wave,—
Still flourishing with time, for time can ne'er
Blight his deserved renown not even there,—
Over his bloody and untimely grave.
Where flew the Eagle in its wide domain,
There was he ever foremost in the fight,
Leading his band of heroes, strong in might,
To conquest still,—In Switzerland and Spain,
[192]
And where the Rhine, majestic to the main,
Through many fertile lands, doth proudly flow,
His prowess won applause, even from the foe,
Midst blood and carnage on each battle plain.
High rose his genius with the tide of war,
His country's annals of his valour tell,
Impetuous as the torrent, when the swell
Of waters fierce pours onward from afar,
And sweeps before it every stop and bar:
Where'er his sword flashed, with its sunlike ray,
There victory followed closely on the way,
And danger's track was marked by many a scar.
Rednitz and Neuwied well his courage knew,
When yet his early deeds foretold the fame
That soon would throw a halo round his name;
Manheim and Hohenlinden felt it too,
And Elchingen and Jena found him true,
Eylau and Friedland, names of high renown,
Moscow and its retreat, his glory crown,
Which paled not even at bloody Waterloo!
[193]
Immortal warrior, could France reward
Thy mighty deeds but with a traitor's death?
The shame is hers, not thine; thy latest breath
Was for thy country, and as one prepared
Thou met'st thy fate, as soldier should on guard:
And still shall time, with every rolling year
The more thy memory to France endear,
And mourned thy fate shall be by patriot and bard.
Thy death has left a blot upon the fame
Of Wellington and England, ne'er to be
Removed or justified,—alas! that he,
Who with a word thy safety could proclaim,
With callous heart refused to speak the same.
The deed, like that which stained, with blackest ray,
Great Nelson's honour in Palermo's bay,
Our history records "with sorrow and with shame." (10)

[194]

WINTER.

Written at Two-Waters, Herts, 11th January 1840, for a Lady's Album.

Come! we will wander to the lone hill-side,
And, awe-struck, view the winter in its pride;—
Crispy the grass and scant;
The little flowers have vanished, not a trace
Is left of blossom on pale Nature's face:—
Restraint lies mighty on the stream—it sings
No more—dead, dead now,—like all other things;
The trees, as spectres gaunt,
Or churchyard monuments, all scattered stand,
As if they mourned the bareness of the land,—
Meagre as pallid want.
[195]
Where be the fairies now, the little fays,
That dance in buttercups in summer days,
Though only Poets view
Their gambols in the flowers and in the rays
Of noonday, which the common sight gainsays,
To Fancy ever new!
The grasshopper is gone. Ah, me! can death
Have will to stop its modicum of breath?
Swift fly the clouds, why should they fly so swift?
Come they like Angel-spirits, with a gift
Of mercy to mankind?
In this drear time, the heart asks where are they
That tell of sunshine being on the way?
The harbingers of light and genial heat,
That make the meadows and the valleys sweet
When softly sighs the wind:
Make rich the upland grass to mountain goat,
When balm and beauty through the ether float,
Like gossamer reclined.
[196]
Oh! for a cheerful note from blackbird—gone,
All gone, the songster and his song are flown;
There's nought to cheer the ear.
Oh! now to list the mavis in the wood,—
The psalms of Nature's singers, always good,
Bring solace to the year.
Oh! for one glimpse of sunshine, to remind
The Earth of summer, ever bland and kind.

[197]

HUMAN CONDUCT.

Why is it that the heart of man
So full is of vagary,
That when he's told what's right, he jerks
The rein, and does contrary.
Like skittish horse, or stubborn pig,
Or other self-willed creature,
That in the public highways shows
Its vile and perverse nature.
There's many a lesson taught to man,
But little does he mind them,
Many's the warning given to him,—
He throws them all behind him.
[198]
But let me a short tale relate
Instead of moralising,
You'll prize it more, I dare to say,
Than any such premising.
The sun was shining on the hills,
The countryside looked sweeter,
And brighter and more beautiful
Than I can tell in metre.
It was the spring-time of the year,
That pleasant balmy season,
When freshness passes o'er the earth,
And come the buds the trees on.
When Nature young looks, and is young,
But though she dresses gaily,
The time grows old, for Time, like man,
Grows older daily, daily!
[199]
Ah me! that men should be so weak
As not to read the lesson,—
Ripe fruits are offered them, but they
The garbage love to mess on.
One day along a country road
With hedge and hawthorn bristling,
A country lad was passing, and
In merry mood was whistling.
Stout was he and his joints well knit,
And firm as time-tried timber,
But light withal and agile too,
No sapling yet was limber.
Anon a horseman came that way
Who sat on horseback rarely,
This the horse knew as well as he,
And so had bolted fairly.
[200]
The young man eyed him as he came
And was by no means idle,
For as he passed he leapt in front,
And caught him by the bridle.
The horse reared back, and with the shock
His rider fell right over
Among the mud, and well for him
The place was soft as clover.
Brought to his feet, without a hurt,
But all o'er very muddy,
He thanked the lad, well-pleased to find
He sound was and unbloody.
He was a thin spare man, and past
Mid-life, and looking sickly;
Not that his health was touched at all,
Or that his limbs were weakly;
[201]
But he had been for many years
In towns a constant dweller,
Confined to business close, and this
On health is oft a teller.
He had an eye for bales and goods,
And turnings of the market;
But for the country's picturesque,
His shadow rare did dark it.
He rode out had to breathe the air,
And give his nerves a bracing,
His steed unruly had become,
His horsemanship disgracing.
The countryman pulled up some grass,
No readier thing appearing,
And rubbed him down in ostler style,
The mud from off him clearing.
[202]
And then for having saved his life,—
To cut my tale the shorter,—
He offered him, as a reward,
To take him as his porter;
And if he showed capacity,
To give him education,
To make him fit in course of time,
To fill a higher station.
The youth agreed to't, for he thought,
(While handing back the bridle)
He'd like the change, besides just then
He happened to be idle.
In Glasgow busy city now,
Behold this country clown bred,
First porter and then junior clerk,
And learning to be town bred.
[203]
Years passed, the sun shines once a day,
But days make years, and every
Sun that rises counts one, thus time
Flows on, as water rivery.
Through all gradations of the desk
The youth, still true and steady,
Had risen till, from senior clerk,
He partner was already.
The merchant now, as commerce had
To counting-house long held him,
Resolved to take his ease at last,
And came to business seldom:
The junior partner and head-clerk
Care of the cash-box keeping,
While he himself had chosen to be
What's called the partner sleeping.
[204]
The countryman, no longer young,
Had toiled both late and early,
And gained some wealth, and 'twas his boast
That he had won it fairly.
But with it he had learnt betimes
And aye the more the faster,
Some of the city's ways that were
Not pleasing to his master.
He ne'er had married, and was fond
Of being hospitable;
For 'twas his pride always to have
His friends around his table:
And so extravagant became,
To feasting much addicted,
And rich wines drinking, which of course
His income much restricted.
[205]
One night his master was in town
And heard he had a party,
An old man now, not wanting sense,
But humorous and hearty;
Yet this he to himself oft thought,
He thought that 'twas a pity,
His clerk should spend his money in
Thus feasting all the city.
And so resolved to call on him
And bring him to his senses,
Not by a lecture commonplace
Of prudence and expenses:
But by a something which he had,
A sort of old memento,
That in his judgment was well worth
Of lectures grave a cento.
[206]
It was a frosty night, and there
Had been a fall of snow on,
The slippery streets required great skill
And caution them to go on.
With but one fall, he reached the house,
The entrance well he knew there,
Sudden and unexpected burst
Amidst the jovial crew there.
The gas burnt clear, the host looked blue,
And not the lights, as use is
When one particular guest appears
That no one introduces.
He said, "Lies the skeleton frost
On one street and another,
"I tripped and fell, and where I lay
One skeleton hugged his brother.
[207]
"His breath is on each pane congealed,
Cold enters through each portal,
"How my teeth chatter with the cold,
A sign that we are mortal.
"What's this, a banquet spread and rich,
The wines all bright and glowing,
"No thought of this when you I met
Along the road-side going."
He then produced a bundle which
He opened with derision,
And singly held up the contents
To their astonished vision.
There was the wellworn hairy cap,
The corderoys to back it,
His host had owned, and there too was
His former fustian jacket.
[208]
These were the clothes the country lad
Had on at their first meeting,
And these he now brought forth to be
To him his present greeting;
That he might pause in his career
Of jollity and revel,
Lest in his age, reduced he should
Be to his former level.
'Tis strange that human conduct oft
So reckless is and hollow,
That when the right path reason shows,
It seeks the wrong to follow.
The master having said and done,
Quick vanished from them after:
The host attempted at the time
To turn it off with laughter.
[209]
Next morn reflection made him take
The hint,—and to be brief then,—
Though roughly put, 'twas kindly meant,—
He turned o'er a new leaf then.

MORAL.

To be of any use, reproof
Still strong should be and home put,
A lecture grave or saying wise
The mind is quickly from put;
Instead of gen'ral moral saws,
Facts personal lay stress on,
And like a surgeon probing deep,
Reform is in the lesson.

[210]

COURTSHIP LINES.

Oh! let not sorrow cloud thine eye,
Or doubt oppress thy heart,
For love, like truth, can never lie,
Nor truth, like love, depart.
To be mine own, I've chosen thee,
From all the world deems fair;
And I've vowed thine own to be,
Then wherefore cherish care?
Thou canst not think a love like mine,
Could e'er to thee cause pain;
Or make thy gentle heart repine
That it has loved in vain:
Thee still mine eyes desire to see,
Like sunlight from above;
For all my heart is full of thee,
And all my heart is love.
1833.

[211]

LOVE-WEAKNESS.

I canna' get my mouth about it,
It lies so deeply on my heart,
That aye when trying to divulge it,
My thoughts fly somehow all apart.
Were I to learn the best confession
That e'er by pen of man was writ,
To try to speak it in her presence
I should not have the power or wit.
As in the rose's opening petals
Devotion pure is ever spread,
So in the flushings of my countenance
She my heart's feelings must have read.
[212]
Oh! gladly anywhere I'd venture,
Dare anything to prove it true;
But to disclose my ardent passion
Is just the thing I canna' do.
I canna' get my mouth about it,
It lies so deeply on my heart,
That aye when trying to divulge it,
My thoughts fly somehow all apart.

[213]

LINES
TO THE REV. HENRY DUDLEY RYDER,

On reading his volume, entitled "The Angelicon, a Gallery of Sonnets, on the Divine Attributes, and the Passions, the Graces, and the Virtues."

Thy strains, sweet poet, have the power
To give a solace to the mind,
What time the clouds of sadness lour,—
Like sighs of thine own "lyrëd wind."
For when thy page I deeply trace,
Where thoughts and fancies thickly throng,
It brings to mind free nature's grace,
Where wood-birds tune their mystic song;
[214]
And pleasant streams in ways remote,
Where sweetest music loves to reign;
Where solitude gives birth to thought,
And thought is born of thought again;
Visions of earth, the pure and bright,
As poet only hath divined,
When high-toned genius pours her light,
Upon the rapt and feeling mind.
Well hast thou sung the grace and love
Th' Almighty deigns bestow on man,
When seeking mercy from above
By His own sole appointed plan.
And well, too, hast thou shown the sway
The passions have o'er mortal kind,
Avarice, Ambition, Jealousy,
And other turmoils of the mind.
[215]
These, like the rays that burst from heaven,
Shine brightly forth in verse of thine,
For the proud gift to thee is given,
To charm, to waken, to refine.
Go on thy way, thy song must claim,
From a dull world its ardent praise;
With saintly Herbert's twine thy name,
And bind with Herbert's verse thy lays.

[216]

THE POET.

I was told yesterday by one with wise
Solemn aspect, and wrinkles 'bout his eyes,
That poetry is an idle trade, alack!
He had a good black coat upon his back,
And deemed himself respectable,—he said, too,
That he who verses writes will never do
Well in the world, that his character is gone,
And he himself no better than a drone.
So having said he walked away well pleased;—
Now that's a man, I say, whose mind's diseased.
Has he in summer ever watched a rose
Burst into blossoming, and as it grows
More and more beautiful, sweeten all the air
With its rich perfume,—poetry was there.
[217]
A sunbeam thrown across
The clouds, that makes them glow
With light ineffable
To eyes from earth below;
A small wave of the sea
When the vast ocean waits
The coming of the storm,
That slightly agitates
Its surface passing,—as
When of danger near
First made aware, the roused
Lion, though not in fear
Looks up, the watchfire then
Kindling in his eye,
His mane scarcely as yet
Moved, nor erected high
His head, but his proud glance
Circling keen, rapid, stern,—
There poetry is seen
By one that can discern.
[218]
A priest of Nature's own,
One she herself ordains,
The poet walks in brightness,
And still new blessings gains.
The sky above hath in it
More beauty to his sight,
Than to the world it shines
In its canopy of light.
The flowers his kindred are
That grow in fields remote;
They waken in his heart
The pure wellsprings of thought:
They speak to him alone
With low and whispering voice,
Like gentle maiden to
The lover of her choice.
And none but he can tell
What is it that they say,
For a most sweet communion
Is their's to cheer his way.
[219]
The ocean in its vastness,
He loves, too, as he sees
It driven by the tempest,
Or slumbering in the breeze.
It brings into his vision
The coming of that day,
When Time within Eternity
Shall merge itself away.
The forest trees antique
Are his familiar friends,
With the spirit of the woods
His own for ever blends:
And voices of the past,
With fancies of old times,
Do their murmurings recall
Which he fondly puts in rhymes.
Echoes of distant lands
Beyond the western sea,
Or in the burning east,
Where'er they chance to be,
[220]
Are brought to him at night
And cheer his spirit then,
When sleep forsakes the eyes
Of care-worn worldly men.
And ever for his kind
Doth his spirit warmly yearn,
And his verses speak of things
Which only he can learn.
The human heart, and all
Its feelings, hopes and fears,
All that it fondly loves,
All that it blindly fears,
Its sympathies, affections,
Its duties and desires,
All that its doubts foreshadow,
All that its pride inspires,
Its sorrows and its faintings,
Its buoyancy and glee,
Its passions and its promptings,
Its truth and constancy;
[221]
He knows, and can depicture,
For of the human mind
He is the chosen minister,
The prophet of his kind.
Such, yea and more, the poet is,
Had he had a choice
Of destinies, if in his fate
Had been heard his voice;
It might have been so that he had
Been a worldling born,
And looked solemn like his scorners,
And had gravely worn
A black coat too, of fashion's cut,
And smoothed trim his beard,
And shook his head wisely, and been
Sententious, and feared
The world's opinion, and condemned
Poetry as idle,
But in his vocation he can
Ne'er his feelings bridle.
[222]
His thoughts are in a stronger hand
Than his own, his mind
Has thinks passing in it still, that
Cannot be confined:
Like the birds flying as they list
Through the summer air,
Or the clouds driven by the breeze
Floating everywhere.

[223]

LIGHT AND SHADOW.

Shine down, fair sun, on vale and hill,
And light each height and hollow;—
No shade rests in the air, but still
On earth the shadows follow.
Grow green, old trees, where'er you may
Your festival be keeping;—
On branch and stem, on leaf and spray,
Decay is slowly creeping.
Bloom bright, fair flowers, in wild or mead,
Around you all perfuming;—
The blight that mingles with each seed,
The blossom is consuming.
[224]
Grow well, sweet fruit, on garden walls,
Or in hot-houses hasting;—
The sooner ripe, the sooner falls
Corruption with its wasting.
Flow on, calm river, still flow on
With ever constant motion;—
Soon shalt thou mingle, all unknown,
Forgotten in the Ocean.
Play up, sweet music, to the ear,
A merry note of gladness;—
The chords that lively stricken cheer,
Give also tones of sadness.
Shine bright, young Summer, o'er the earth,
And fill the land with laughter;—
Soon Autumn comes to mar thy mirth,
And winter follows after.
[225]
Burn high, fair hope, within the breast,
By pleasant things attended;—
Misdoubt and fear do still molest
Our life, till it is ended.
Fill slow, oh! Time, the rounded cup
Of numbered hours that's set us;
Soon shall our days be gathered up,
And even our own forget us.
Then shine, fair sun, on vale and hill,
On tower and town and meadow;—
'Tis Heaven that sends the brightness still,
Earth only gives the shadow.

[226]

THE EARLY DEAD.

On my youngest Daughter, died 20th March 1845, aged twenty-one months.

She rests within her little grave,
A bud of promise too soon taken,
And wanting the sweet smile she gave,
We deem ourselves as if forsaken.
Life wore for her no luring guise,
She tasted time, and found it dreary,
Calmly she closed her gentle eyes,
As one that falls asleep aweary:
[227]
Like to a star whose little ray
Is quenched ev'n when 'tis brightly shining;
Or as a flower that fades away
While yet its bloom tells nought of pining.
And when her latest sigh was spent,
And fled her spirit to its Giver,
We felt as with it also went
A lapsed part of our heart for ever.
Oh! twice before we knew the blight
Upon the heart that deeply falleth,
When death for ever from the sight,
Of our own life a portion calleth:
But though it has the power to slay,
Still is this consolation given,
It cannot take the hope away
That we shall meet again in heaven.
[228]
There is a place of rest above,
A home for children there provided,
To which away from earth, in love
Their guileless spirits still are guided.
And when our hearts with sorrow sink
And our weak eyes are sore with weeping,
'Twill soothe and cheer us still to think
That they sweet watch are o'er us keeping.
And in the dark and lonely night,
When sleep our eyelids have forsaken,
We'll see again the faces bright
Of our three babes so early taken.

[229]

A DIRGE.

Mourn for the untimely dead!
Early blossoms quickly shed!
Soon taken to their long long rest,
Now there waves
The green grass thickly o'er their breast,
On their graves.
Neither care nor sorrow now
Leaves its trace upon their brow,
Nor can pain them more molest,
For there waves
The green grass thickly o'er their breast,
On their graves.
[230]
Little flowers their heads begem,
But they cannot look at them,
For death's cold hand their eyes have prest,
And there waves
The green grass thickly o'er their breast
On their graves.
Winds sigh through the shadowing trees,
Summer brings the hum of bees;
But no sounds can their ears invest,
Where there waves
The green grass thickly o'er their breast
On their graves.
Still they lie in their low beds,
To sleep till the last morn sheds
Its light upon their place of rest:
Now there waves
The green grass thickly o'er their breast
On their graves.

[231]

A BENEDICTION.

God bless thee! is my fervent prayer,
At morn and eve, from day to day,
Ev'n as thou tend'st, with anxious care,
Thy children dear with love alway.
God keep thee ever in His grace,
And still new mercies on thee shower,
Ev'n as thou fold'st in thy embrace
Thine infants tender every hour.
God love thee, with the love he shows
Still to his own, in earth and heaven,
Ev'n as thou lov'st, with true love, those
Who to thy keeping have been given.
[232]
God guide thee still through all thy days,
And let no evil on thee light,
Ev'n as thou guid'st and guard'st the ways,
Of thy dear offspring day and night.
God comfort thee in all thy grief,
And ever thy sure Hope remain,
Ev'n as thou comfort'st with relief
Thy little ones in woe and pain.
God cherish thee throughout thy life,
In weal and woe thy guardian be,
Ev'n as a mother and a wife
Thou still hast cherished them and me.

[233]

HEALTH.

Oh! what a thing is health to lose,
And what a prize to gain,
Most valued when the spirit woos
Its coming back again.
After long days and restless nights,
Reclined on weary bed,
How sweet when first its blessing lights
Upon the aching head.
Its coming turns the life, as doth
The ocean with its tide,
Or as the spring renews the growth
Of what Earth's stores provide.
[234]
Power, fame, and with them cherished gold,
That form man's constant aim,
All would be gladly overtold
Its halcyon bliss to claim.
It passes life and death between,
From heaven's own portals borne,
Like the sweet under-light scarce seen
That parts the night from morn.
An emblem of the peace that springs,
To chase away all strife,
An earnest of the grace, that brings
Life to the inner life.

[235]

THE GAME OF LIFE.

Watching the game of life as daily played,
One marvels at the blunders that are made;
Few trust to chance alone to gain their aim,
But with the means they use 'tis just the same.
Low cunning some employ, and call it skill,
Or substitute for Reason headstrong Will;
And when they win the prize for which they strive,
To their own genius they the credit give;
But when they lose, the blame on fate is thrown;
They never think the fault may be their own.
Others who boast that cunning they disdain,
Affect by Pride their purposes to gain;
High-reaching objects do their minds devise,
By which they blind their own and neighbours' eyes;
Aiming at lofty things, they highly rate
Their own designings, but they find too late
That for success mere unassisted Pride
Does not all necessary means provide;
[236]
So thinking surely to promote their aim,
And win the stake of their ambition's game,
But not particular as to how 'tis played,
They call, Pride's contrast, meanness to their aid:
Yet ev'n though Fortune should their hopes attend,
It does not change the matter in the end;
Meanness and Pride may climb the highest hill,
But Pride and meanness they continue still.
Since Life's a game where all their part must play,
Reason and Truth should in it have the sway,
Or wanting these, as is too oft the case,
Folly and Passion will usurp their place.
When this weak body dwindles into dust,
And man becomes the nothing that he must,
How puny then will to the soul appear
All that man toils and struggles for when here!
Bound to the narrow aims and views of Earth,
At death his spirit finds that all is dearth
That to this world relates, and well that he
Makes Time provide still for Eternity.

[237]

CONSUMPTION.

Like monumental Patience, see Decay
Watching the sand-glass slowly wear away,
While Death at hand, amid her waning powers,
Counts, as a monk his beads, her numbered hours.
Upon her brow, o'er which the tresses wave,
The cold dew gathers, dankly, of the grave,
And in her pale mild eyes a lustre shines,
As if her spirit, as she wastes, refines;
While ever and anon her sunken cheek,
Life's fading beauties delicately streak;
As the departing sun from ocean's brinks
Sheds out its glories brightly ere it sinks!

[238]

CHANGE.

Grief and change and sure decay
All on earth are doomed to know,
What the Past's memorials say
Must the Present undergo.
Time but shifts his glass about,
And the sands their aims adjust,
In Creation's bounds throughout
All that is returns to dust.
On the bud and on the flower,
On the child and man grown grey,
Change is passing every hour,
Death has set his snare to slay.
[239]
And the feelings when they glow
With a taste of joy intense,
Soon a tinge of sadness know,
Dimming quickly all the sense.
Vainly do we strive to keep
Such scant solace as we feel,
Blight unseen on all doth creep,
Pleasures hidden stings conceal.
Weary soon become the things
That at first make glad our way,
And To-morrow never brings
The same joy we knew To-day.
Toil exhausts, and strong Desire
Wasteth both the heart and head
With its strugglings, as the fire
Fastest burns the more 'tis fed.
[240]
Life is all a chequered score,
Death and Time direct the chess,
One hath not a triumph more,
Nor the other one the less.
Thus amid Mutation's range,
Man, impatient of relief,
Learns himself to long for change,
Even though bringing with it grief.

[241]

VIRTUE.

He was a sage old man who said,
While in the public way he stood,
Virtue is best of all, because
Without it there is nothing good.
He was no stoic who thus spoke
A word so practical and true,
Nor sophist that would grandly say
What he would ne'er attempt to do:
But one of those wise heathen men
Who Reason followed as a guide,
And by it he was learned a truth
So humbling to mere human pride.
[242]
Yet even to him, with all the lore
Philosophy amassed of old,
Was the full meaning all unknown
Of what unaided Reason told.
A wiser man than he hath said,
By God's own spirit taught the same,
That wisdom is the chiefest thing
Deserving of man's fervent aim.
Wisdom and virtue both are one,
And only are attained aright
In their whole fulness and intent,
When sought in Revelation's light.
By it the sage old heathen's word
In all its breadth is understood;
Wisdom is best of all, he said,
Without it there is nothing good. (11)

[243]

VAIN HOPES.

Vain is his labour who begins to sow,
Ere he has well prepared the soil below;
And vainer still his aim who hopes to win
To Heaven, before repenting of his sin.
Weak is his wish who looks for full crops grown,
Who has prepared his land and no seed sown;
But weaker still his hopes who thinks to win
To Heaven, with mere repentance of his sin.
To till the land and lay it out for seeds,
And yet none sown, will bring forth nought but weeds;
[244]
And wanting grace to fill, the void within
Breeds, with self-merit, all presumptuous sin.
Fruitless his skill who would a vessel steer
Without a rudder to direct and veer;
More fruitless still his aim who seeks to win
To Heaven, when wanting prayer for light within.
Hopeless his task who seeks to safely go,
Without a chart the dangerous rocks to show;
More hopeless still his aim, who seeks to win
To Heaven, when wanting faith to lead him in.

[245]

THE VALLEY OF LIFE.

In the still midnight hour I sat alone
Within my chamber, sunk in reverie,
No sound disturbed my musings, all was hushed
In silence and in sleep, the light near done,
A dim uncertain flickering threw around.
The waning fire was but a heap of ashes,
While there and there a feeble red remained,
That now and then threw out a fitful gleam.
Something like slumber fell upon my eyes,
And a dream passed o'er my spirit stealthily,
As, in the early grey of morn, the mists,
Gathered in masses, up the hill-sides creep,
Ere they dissolve before the sun away.
Remembrance cannot all its features tell,
Though vivid and particular they seemed
[246]
When that dread vision on my senses came,
And I could trace the shadowy details,
As one might mark a phantom army march
O'er its last field of battle, ere it passed,
Into obscurity,—could note it then,—
But afterwards cannot recall the place,
Order and rank, of each brigade and file.
Methought I stood upon a bare hill-top,
And overlooked a vast and fertile plain
Peopled with many multitudes,—there met
Men of all tribes and nations that the globe
Holds in its wide extent, of every kind,
The Mongol, the Malayan, and the Negro,
The red American and Caucasian fair.
Among them Evil strode ubiquitous,
And threw its shadow wheresoe'er it came.
Its Jackal, lewd Temptation, went before,
With angel face and soft alluring eyes,
While close behind Guilt, Anguish, Care, and Pain
Followed incessantly, and left on all
Their mark impressed as with hot iron seared.
[247]
As then I looked upon the scene below,
Meseemed that wheresoe'er Temptation came,
And she came everywhere,—no spot escaped,—
That many, most indeed of these vast crowds,
Themselves threw madly in her way, and sought
To win her smiles, nor deemed them poisonous;
And once within her meshes, few had will
To fly them, or to manfully resist,
As a strong man confronts his enemy,
And strives to overthrow him where they meet;—
And she the while assumed all shapes and moods
That suited were to their intents and aims,
For, with a penetrating eye precise,
Intuitively still their minds she knew,
Tendencies and dispositions, and wore,—
As snares in readiness she had for all,—
The very guise adapted for their lure,
But carefully concealed the stings they bore.
Disease and sorrow on her victims fell,
Too late they felt the curse that is entailed
On all who to the Tempter yield, and thus
[248]
Become an early prey to Evil, whose
Inheritance is misery and woe.
And I beheld some 'mongst the various crowds
Who stood aloof from her, and would not be
Entangled with her witcheries or wiles.
These with a resolute will refused to come
Within her reach, and so escaped the first
Of Evil's followers, Guilt, though more or less,
They had their share of what the others left
Behind,—Care, Pain, and Anguish,—for the doom
Pronounced on Man was on them, but they knew
That these, to all who hold out to the end,
With a pure conscience and unspotted mind,
To their endurance will be tempered still,
And, in due season, turn to lasting good,
Which to their spirits consolation brought.
The valley watered was with goodly rivers,
Upon the banks of which were many met.
Prudence was one, and on its grassy sides
Sat some who, calculating every chance,
[249]
A deaf ear to Temptation, when she came,
Turned, unseduced from their proprieties.
Repentance was another, near it lay
Those who Remorse felt and a wounded spirit,
Seeking relief from agonising thought
And racking self-reproach. Beyond these two
Was Perseverance, where returning health
Was found by all who there due time remained.
And farther still, with borders ever green,
And fresh flowers ever springing, ever new,
Were two sweet rills, Virtue and Faith their names,
Where peace of mind was known and purity:
And those who sought their banks,—they were not few,
Though, midst the mighty myriads around,
They seemed but small in number and select,—
Remained unshaken in their constancy,
Resisting all enticements of the Tempter,
And gladly following the path of duty,
Which brought to them a sure and high reward.
[250]
On these, whate'er their griefs and trials were,
And they had many, to refine their souls,
And make them nobler after victory,
Enduring hope and perfect peace abode.
But whereso'er I looked besides, was seen
The power of Ill, shedding on all who bore
The fated impress of humanity,
Torment and fear, and bitter agony,
And pain intolerable,—At the sight
My spirit shrank, and, starting, I awoke!

[251]

AFTER-THOUGHT.

Man values many things far more
Than their own worth told o'er and o'er,
Computed at its highest score.
He counts his gold with anxious care,
As his whole heart's desire were there,
And hoards up treasures for his heir.
He gives his labour, time, and health,
To add still something to his wealth,
And life enjoys as if by stealth.
[252]
When pleasure's mood his thoughts employ,
He plays with every passing joy,
Just as a child does with its toy.
He does not to reflexion call
What after reckoning may befall,
For how he has possessed them all.
In the lapse onward of his years,
Ere age or grief his spirit sears,
He keeps no note of hopes or fears.
Nor does he estimate his days,
That each its after-mead conveys,
Whether for censure or for praise,
As they deserve especially,
Each day it is his lot to see,
As bearing on futurity.
[253]
At night he tells up all his gains,
The more he gets the more he strains,
Or at his losses he complains.
And then, as one who does his best,
He folds his arms upon his breast,
And with contentment takes his rest.
Thus daily should he estimate
His bygone hours, and calculate
Their good or ill upon his fate;
That when his days all vanished have,
They may no bitter reckoning crave,—
There's no renewal in the grave.

[255]

NOTES.


[257]

NOTES.

Note 1, Page 55.

"The Alpine Horn."

Reichard, a German writer, affirms that when the sun sets, the shepherd who dwells on the highest part of the Alps, calls through his horn, "Praise God the Lord!" and the other shepherds, hearing the sound, hasten out of their huts and repeat it. This continues for some time, and the name of the Lord is thus re-echoed from mountain to valley. When the sound ceases, all kneel down on the mountain, and their prayers ascend together to the throne of grace. The shepherd from the summit of the mountain then proclaims "Good night!" which is instantly repeated by the rest. They then retire to their homes.

Note 2, Page 69.

"But come not near the hollyhock."

The flower of the hollyhock contains a species of poison, which is fatal to bees, and round its nectaries and petals several of these insects are frequently found lying insensible.

[258]

Note 3, Page 85.

Loch Awe.

A lake in Argyleshire. My earliest years were spent in its neighbourhood; but I have not been there since I was a mere boy.

"Ah! there my young footsteps in infancy wandered,
My cap was the bonnet, my cloak was the plaid;
On chieftains long perished my memory pondered,
As daily I strode through the pine-covered glade."
Byron.

According to the Guide Books, Loch Awe and its vicinity, more perhaps than any other district in the Highlands, abound with memorials of former ages. The lake is thirty miles in extent, and of the average breadth of one, although in some places it does not exceed half a mile. It is surrounded by mountains finely wooded, and like many of the Scottish lakes, its surface is studded over with small islands, beautifully tufted with trees, and some of them large enough to admit of being pastured. Upon the island of Innis-Hail are the remains of a convent; and on a rocky promontory at the eastern extremity of the lake stand the magnificent ruins of Kilchurn Castle. This structure, which still exhibits the vestiges of a castellated square tower, was built in 1440, by Sir John Campbell, (second son of Argyle,) Knight of Rhodes, and ancestor of the Breadalbane family, and in later times it became, from the extensive view it commanded of the lake, the favourite residence of the chiefs of the family. In 1745[259] it was garrisoned by the king's troops, in order to defend the pass into the Highlands, and secure the tranquillity of the country. Emerging from the ocean, and rising on the north-east bank of Loch Awe, soars Ben Cruachan, the largest mountain in Argyleshire. Its perpendicular height is 3,390 feet above the level of the sea, and its circumference at the base is upwards of twenty miles. On the south, the ascent is gentle nearly to the summit, where it rises abrupt, and divides into two points, each having the form of a sugar-loaf. Before the storm, "the spirit of the mountain shrieks" from Ben Cruachan, Ben Doran, and some other Highland mountains. When Burke made his tour in Scotland, he declared that Loch Awe was the most picturesque lake he had ever seen. It was in a narrow pass in the vicinity of this lake that King Robert Bruce defeated the Macdougals of Lorn, in 1308. In Loch Awe are found salmon, trout, eels, and other fresh water fish. The lake discharges itself by the river Awe into Loch Etive at Bunawe Ferry.

Note 4, Page 87.

The Wolf.

Wolves were once the scourge of England, and are still numerous in many parts of France. The Poem is founded on an incident which occurred some years ago in Picardy—the details of which were similar, with the exception that the peasant shot his mother instead of his sweetheart, in mistake[260] for the wolf of which he was in pursuit. The last of these ferocious animals seen in the neighbourhood of Guisne was shot by a woman named Louise Vernette, nearly fifty years ago. During a severe winter, when the whole country was covered with snow, a she-wolf, urged to desperation by hunger, had entered her cottage at an early hour of the morning, and carried off her infant, as it lay in the cradle. The mother, on returning from the labours of the field, with frantic lamentations searched the neighbourhood for her child. During her wanderings she encountered a peasant, breathless from a long and unavailing pursuit of the savage beast, which he had seen entering a wood about three leagues distant with the child in its jaws. The whole village immediately renewed the chase; the mother, arming herself with a gun, was, as might have been expected, the most indefatigable, and, penetrating into the recesses of the forest, encountered the monster, which she shot dead. No traces of the miserable infant were ever discovered.

Note 5, Page 105.

Mount Horeb.

Mount Sinai stands about 120 miles south from Jerusalem, and nearly 260 eastward from Grand Cairo in Egypt. The mountain is of no great extent, but extremely high, and has two tops; the western of which is called Horeb, and the eastern, which is about a third higher, Sinai. There are several springs and fruit-trees on Horeb, but nothing except rainwater[261] on the top of Sinai. The ascent of both is very steep, and can only be effected by steps, now much effaced, which the Empress Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, caused to be cut in the marble rock. At the foot of Mount Sinai, on the north, and near to the ascent of Mount Horeb, there was a monastery dedicated to Saint Catherine, but now in ruins, not far distant from which there stands a fountain of very clear water, formed like a bow or arch. A little above which is to be seen the Cave where Elijah rested when God spoke unto him, 1 Kings xix. From the top of Sinai, God proclaimed his law to the Hebrews amid devouring flames of fire, Exod. xxiv. The Rock Rephidim, which seems to have been a clift fallen off from the side of Sinai, and lies like a large loose stone in the midst of the valley, gives name to that part of the desert nearest the mountain. There are twelve openings in it, whence, on being struck by Moses, the waters gushed out for the supply of the Israelites, during the forty years they tarried in the desert, Exod. xvii.

Note 6, Page 116.

Dryburgh Abbey.

The ruins of Dryburgh Abbey are surpassingly interesting, from their antiquity, history, picturesque appearance, and more than all, from the Great Minstrel being buried there. The grave of Sir Walter Scott is in St. Mary's Aisle of the Abbey Church of Dryburgh, which is in the form of a cross, and the Poet lies in the left transept of the Cross, part of[262] which is still standing, and close to where the high altar formerly stood. This transept is divided into three burial-places; that of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet, in right of his grandmother, Lady Haliburton's family; that of James Erskine, Esq. of Shieldhall and Melrose; and that of James G. Haig, Esq. of the ancient family of Bemersyde. These, with the tomb-house of the Earl of Buchan, in St. Moden's Chapel, and that of James Anderson, Esq. of Gledswood, form, I believe, the only cemeteries in Dryburgh. These venerable ruins stand on a romantic peninsula, formed by one of the great windings of the Tweed, commonly called the crescent of that river, in the south-west nook of Berwickshire, where the river divides that county from Roxburghshire. The land rises in a sloping bank from the margin of the Tweed to the top of Dryburgh Hill, about 800 feet high, on which stands the colossal statue of Wallace, erected by the late revered Earl of Buchan. The trees in the neighbourhood of Dryburgh have a very luxuriant appearance, and some of them are rather remarkable. There are many vestiges of old oaks to be found, and the ash and the yew have grown to a surprising height and circumference; and there is still, in the cemetery of the Abbey, a yew-tree of uncommon beauty, which is upwards of ten feet in circumference, at six feet from the ground. In the grounds opposite the mansion house of Dryburgh, there are also some fine trees, particularly a noble cedar, which has been much admired. Many interesting remains of antiquity have been dug up in Dryburgh Abbey and places adjacent.

[263]

Note 7, Page 140.

Sonnets on Danby's Picture.

Mr Danby could scarcely have chosen a better subject for the display of his great powers than that of the Deluge. In this highly effective and beautiful work of art, an Angel of light is introduced, weeping over the lifeless bodies of a giant and a female, who, floating above the swelling waters on a hastily constructed raft, were crushed to death by a fallen tree. This part of the scene is evidently illustrative of that passage in Scripture which refers to the "Sons of God," who "saw that the daughters of men were fair, and they took them wives of all whom they chose." The "Sons of God," according to the best commentators, were a race of men favoured by God, but who generally incurred his displeasure, and perished with mankind in general.

Note 8, Page 157.

"Calmly the martyr Guthrie met his fate."

Mr James Guthrie, minister of Stirling, was executed at Edinburgh, on the 1st of June 1661, for his adherence to the Covenant. In his dying speech, he solemnly declared,—"I take God to record upon my soul, I would not exchange this scaffold with the palace or the mitre of the greatest prelate in Britain."

[264]

Note 9, Page 167.

The Eagle's Nest.

The incident here versified is founded on fact, although I have taken the liberty slightly to alter the details,—to change the scene, as it were, of the heroine's birth-place,—and to give her a name of my own choosing. The case is thus narrated by Dr Rush of Philadelphia, in his "Lectures on the Utility of a Knowledge of the Mind to a Physician," lect. xi.:—

"During the time I passed at a country school, at Cecil county, in Maryland," says that eminent medical philosopher, "I often went, on a holiday, with my schoolmates, to see an eagle's nest, upon the summit of a dead tree in the neighbourhood of the school, during the time of the incubation of that bird. The daughter of the farmer in whose field the tree stood, and with whom I became acquainted, married, and settled in this place about forty years ago. In our occasional interviews, we now and then spoke of the innocent pursuits and rural pleasures of our youth, and, among other things, of the eagle's nest in her father's field. A few years ago I was called to visit this woman, when she was in the lowest stage of a typhus fever. Upon entering her room, I caught her eye, and, with a cheerful tone of voice, said only—'The eagle's nest!' She seized my hand, without being able to speak, and discovered strong emotions of pleasure in her countenance, probably from a sudden association of all her early domestic connexions and enjoyments with the words I[265] had uttered. From that time she began to recover. She is now living, and seldom fails, when we meet, to salute me with the echo of—'The eagle's nest!'"

Note 10, Page 193.

"Our history records, 'with sorrow and with shame.'"

Marshal Ney was shot in violation of a solemn capitulation—the Convention of Paris;—by the twelfth article of which an amnesty was granted to all persons in the capital, whatever might be their opinions, their offices, or their conduct. Marshal Davoust, who had concluded the Convention, explained it in favour of Ney,—and so will impartial history. The Duke of Wellington, however, on being appealed to by the unfortunate Ney, during the trial returned the cold and lawyer-like answer,—"That the Convention was merely a military convention, and did not, and could not, promise pardon for political offences, on the part of the French government." And so Ney, the most heroic of all the marshals of the French Revolution, was most foully murdered in the garden of the Luxembourg, to satisfy a point of mere military etiquette! Like the Dacian captive of old,—

"Butchered to make a Roman holiday."

That the Duke of Wellington did not at once strongly remonstrate against the illegality of the act was unfortunate for his own fame. It required but the saving of Ney's life to have made him the greatest man of his time. That the act[266] was illegal is acknowledged by the ablest jurisconsults of Europe. Well might Ney himself exclaim, when he found that his death was resolved upon:—"I am accused against the faith of treaties, and they will not let me justify myself. I appeal to Europe and to posterity!"

Note 11, Page 241.

"He was a sage old man who said."

A sophist, wishing to perplex Thales, who was one of the seven wise men of Greece, asked him many difficult questions; to all of which the sage replied without the least hesitation. To one of those questions,—which was the following,—"What is the best of all things?" Thales gave this response: "Virtue; because without it there is nothing good." Such is the conviction of mere unassisted and stumbling reason, the voice of nature, and the unequivocal and direct assertion of a heathen philosopher.—Preface to Piety and Intellect Relatively Estimated, by Dr Henry Edwards.—An excellent work.


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