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Thy friendship thus thy judgment wronging, With praises not to me belonging, In task more meet for mightiest powers, Would'st thou engage my thriftless hours. But say, my Erskine, hast thou weighed That secret power by all obeyed, Which warps not less the passive mind, Its source concealed or undefined; Whether an impulse, that has birth Soon as the infant wakes on earth, One with our feelings and our powers, And rather part of us than ours; Or whether fitlier termed the sway Of habit formed in early day? Howe'er derived, its force confessed Rules with despotic sway the breasts And drags us on by viewless chain, While taste and reason plead in vain. Look east, and ask the Belgian why, Beneath Batavia's sultry sky, He seeks not, eager to inhale, The freshness of the mountain gale, Content to rear his whitened wall Beside the dank and dull canal ? He'll say, from youth he loved to see The white sail gliding by the tree. Or see yon weather-beaten hind, Whose sluggish herds before him wind, Whose tattered plaid and rugged cheek His northern clime and kindred speak;

Through England's laughing meads he goes,
And England's wealth around him flows;
Ask, if it would content him well,
At ease in these gay plains to dwell,
Where hedge-rows spread a verdant screen,
And spires and forests intervene,
And the neat cottage peeps between?
No, not for these will he exchange
His dark Lochaber's boundless range;
Nor for fair Devon's meads forsake
Bennevis

gray and Garry's lake.
Thus, while I ape the measure wild
Of tales that charmed me yet a child,
Rude though they be, still with the chime
Return the thoughts of early time;
And feelings roused in life's first day,
Glow in the line, and prompt the lay.
Then rise those crags, that mountain tower,
Which charmed my fancy's wakening hour:
Though no broad river swept along
To claim perchance heroic song ;
Though sighed no groves in summer gale
To prompt of love a softer tale;
Though scarce a puny streamlet's speed
Claimed homage from a shepherd's reed;
Yet was poetic impulse given,
By the green bill and clear blue heaven.
It was a barren scene, and wild,
Where naked cliffs were rudely piled;

a

But ever and anon between
Lay velvet turfs of loveliest green;
And well the lonely infant knew
Recesses where the wall-flower grew,
And honey-suckle loved to crawl
Up the low crag and ruined wall.
I deemed such nooks the sweetest shade
The sun in all his round surveyed;
And still I thought that shattered tower
The mightiest work of human power;
And marvelled, as the aged hind
With some strange tale bewitched my mind,
Of forayers, who, with headlong force,
Down from that strength had spurred their horse,
Their southern rapine to renew,
Far in the distant Cheviot's blue,
And, home returning, filled the hall
With revel, wassell-rout, and brawl
Methought that still with tramp and clang
The gate-way's broken arches rang;
Methought grim features, seamed with scars,
Glared through the window's rusty bars.
And ever by the winter hearth,
Old tales I heard of wo or mirth,
Of lovers' sleights, of ladies' charms,
Of witches' spells, of warriors' arms;
Of patriot battles, won of old
By Wallace wight and Bruce the bold;
Of later fields of feud and fight,
When, pouring from the highland height,

Whose eye

The Scottish clans, in headlong sway,
Had swept the scarlet ranks away.
While stretched at length upon the floor,
Again I fought each combat o'er,
Pebbles and shells, in order laid,
The mimic ranks of war displayed ;
And onward still the Scottish Lion bore,
And still the scattered Southron fled before.

Still with vain fondness could I trace,
Anew, each kind familiar face,
That brightened at our evening fire;
From the thatched mansion's gray-haired sire,
Wise without learning, plain and good,
And
sprung

of Scotland's gentler blood;

in age, quick, clear and keen,
Showed what in youth its glance had been;
Whose doom discording neighbours sought,
Content with equity unbought;
To him the venerable priest,
Our frequent and familiar guest,
Whose life and manners well could paint
Alike the student and the saint;
Alas! whose speech too oft I broke
With gambol rude and timeless joke;
For I was wayward, bold, and wild,
A self-willed imp, a grandame's child';
But half a plague, and half a jest,
Was still endured, beloved, carest.

From me, thus nurtured, dost thou ask
The classic poet's well-conned task?

Nay, Erskine, nay-on the wild hill
Let the wild heathbell flourish still;
Cherish the tulip, prune the vine,
But freely let the woodbine twine,
And leave untrimmed the eglantine:
Nay, my friend, nay-since oft thy praise
Hath given fresh vigour to my lays,
Since oft thy judgment could refine
My flattened thought, or cumbrous line,
Still kind, as is thy wont, attend,
And in the minstrel spare the friend;
Though wild as cloud, as stream, as gale,
Flow forth, flow unrestrained, my tale.

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