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Wha for Scotland's king and law
Caledonian! on wi' me!
But they shall-they shall be free!
Forward ! let us do, or die!
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH. 1770—1850. Born at Cockermouth, in Cumberland. Received his elementary education at Hawkshead Grammar School, Lancashire, and subsequently entered St. John's College, Cambridge. About the year 1813 he settled among the hills of Cumberland, and for more than forty years dwelt at Rydal Mount, a cottage commanding views of Windermere, Grasmere, and of some of the most picturesque mountain scenery in the “Lake District." On his settlement at Rydal Mount, received the lucrative appointment of Distributor of Stamps for Cumberland and Westmorland. In 1840 resigned this in favour of his son, and soon afterwards a pension of £300 a year was conferred upon him by the Crown, on the recommendation of Sir Robert Peel. On the death of Southey, in 1843, was appointed poet laureate, after which his muse was almost wholly silent. Wordsworth died at Rydal Mount on the 4th of April, 1850, and was buried in Grasmere churchyard. His chief works are:- The Excursion; The White Doe of Rylstone ; Peter Bell; Yarrow Revisited; Lines on Revisiting the Wye; The Prelude; Ode to Duty; Lucy Gray, etc.
TO THE CUCKOO.?
I hear thee and rejoice:
Or but a wandering Voice? 4
1 Fa', fall.
2 Cuckoo, a bird of passage which builds no nest of its own, but drops its eggs into the nests of other birds, generally those of the hedge-sparrow. Blithe, joyous.
4 Wandering voice. Owing to its extreme shyness, the cuckoo is much oftener heard than seen-hence the poet's question.
While I am lying on the grass,
Thy loud note smites my ear! From hill to hill it seems to pass,
At once far off and near!
I hear thee babbling to the vale
Of sunshine and of flowers; And unto me thou bring'st a tale
Of visionary hours."
Thrice welcome, darling of the Spring!
Even yet thou art to me
A voice, a mystery.
I listened to; that cry Which made me look a thousand ways
In bush, and tree, and sky.
To seek thee did I often rove
Through woods and on the green; And thou wert still a hope, a love;
Still longed for, never seen!
And I can listen to thee yet;
Can lie upon the plain And listen, till I do beget
That golden time again.
O blessed bird! the earth we pace
Again appears to be
That is fit home for thee!
1 Visionary hours, hours of imagination or fancy.
TO A SKY-LARK.
For thy song, Lark, is strong ;
Lift me, guide me till I find
I have walked through wildernesses dreary,
And to-day my heart is weary;
Up to thee would I fly.
In that song of thine;
Joyous as morning,
Happy, happy liver,
Joy and jollity? be with us both!
Alas! my journey, rugged and uneven
1 Banqueting-place, a place of feasting, or of delight.
Follity, noisy mirth. 3 Moors, extensive waste pieces of land covered with heath.
SIR WALTER SCOTT. 1771–1832. Born in Edinburgh. Educated for the law, and called to the bar in 1792, but soon afterwards devoted himself almost exclusively to literature. Scott's first great work (The Lay of the Last Minstrel) met with immediate and great success; and the pecuniary results of his subsequent literary efforts were such as enabled him to make Abbotsford a residence worthy of a Scotch laird. He entered into partnership with the printing firm of Ballantyne & Co., which became bankrupt in 1825, with debts amounting to considerably more than £100,000, for the whole of which Scott was liable. When fifty-five years old, he set to work vigorously to clear off, by his pen, this immense debt, and very materially diminished it during the remaining five or six years of his life. It was afterwards completely liquidated by the profits on the sale of his works. In the midst of toil and anxiety, Scott was struck with paralysis (1830), and in the hope of deriving benefit from a change of scene, he spent some months of 1831 in Italy. On his way home paralysis again struck him. His earnest wish now was to die, surrounded by his children, at his beloved Abbotsford. This wish was realized on the 21st of September, 1832, and five days later his body was reposing by the side of his wife's in Dryburgh Abbey.
Scott's works are very numerous. His chief poems are, The Lay of the Last Minstrel; Marmion; The Lady of the Lake. His most celebrated prose works are, Waverley; Guy Mannering; The Antiquary; The Heart of Midlothian; Old Mortality; Ivanhoe ; Kenilworth ; Peveril of the Peak; Tales of a Grandfather; Life of Napoleon, etc.
DESCRIPTION OF THE LADY OF THE LAKE.
Never did Grecian chisel' trace
1 Grecian chisel, the chisel of a Greek sculptor.
2 Nymphs, Naiads, and Graces, in mythology, various kinds of goddesses.
3 Ardent, hot, burning.
A foot more light, a step more true, Ne'er from the heath-flower dashed the dew : E’en the slight hare-bell' raised its head, Elastic from her airy tread. What, though upon her speech there hung The accents of the mountain tongue; Those silver sounds, so soft, so clear, The list'ner held his breath to hear. A chieftain's daughter seemed the maid, Her satin snood, her silken plaid, Her golden brooch, such birth betrayed. And seldom was a snood amid Such wild luxuriant ringlets hid, Whose glossy black to shame might bring The plumage of the raven's wing ; And seldom o'er a breast so fair Mantled a plaid with modest care ; And never brooch the folds combined Above a heart more good and kind. Her kindness and her worth to spy, You need but gaze on Ellen's eye; Not Katrine, in her mirror blue, Gives back the shaggy banks more true, Than every free-born glance confessed The guileless movements of her breast; Whether joy danced in her dark eye, Or woe or pity claimed a sigh, Or filial love was glowing there, Or meek devotion poured a prayer, Or tale of injury called forth The indignant spirit of the north. One only passion unrevealed, With maiden pride the maid concealed, Yet not less purely felt the flame; Oh, need I tell that passion's name? The Lady of the Lake, Canto i. Stanzas 18 and 19.
| Hare-bell, blue-bell, a wild flower. 3 Snood, a little band used for tying the hair of a young woman.
3 Katrine, a lake in Perthshire, in which the events described in “ The Lady of the Lake" are supposed to take place.
4 Shaggy, rugged.