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Light of the world, Immortal Mind;
And still this poor contracted span,
Through error's maze, through folly's night,
Affliction flies, and Hope returns;
O may I still thy favour prove!
[A Farewell Hymn to the Valley of Irwan.] Farewell the fields of Irwan's vale,
My infant years where Fancy led, And soothed me with the western gale, Her wild dreams waving round my head, While the blithe blackbird told his tale. Farewell the fields of Irwan's vale!
The primrose on the valley's side,
The green thyme on the mountain's head, The wanton rose, the daisy pied,
The wilding's blossom blushing red;
How oft, within yon vacant shade,
Yet still, within yon vacant grove,
And watch the wave that winds away;
SIR WILLIAM BLACKSTONE.
Few votaries of the muses have had the resolution to abandon their early worship, or to cast off the Dalilahs of the imagination,' when embarked on more gainful callings. An example of this, however, is afforded by the case of SIR WILLIAM BLACKSTONE (born in London in 1723, died 1780), who, having made choice of the law for his profession, and entered himself a student of the Middle Temple, took formal leave of poetry in a copy of natural and pleasing verses, published in Dodsley's Miscellany. Blackstone rose to rank and fame as a lawyer, wrote a series of masterly commentaries on the laws of England, was knighted, and died a judge in the court of common pleas. From some critical notes on Shakspeare by Sir William, published by Stevens, it would appear that, though he had forsaken his muse, he still (like Charles Lamb, when he had given up the use of the 'great plant,' tobacco) 'loved to live in the suburbs of her graces.'
The Lawyer's Farewell to his Muse.
Where fervent bees, with humming voice,
How blest my days, my thoughts how free, In sweet society with thee!
Then all was joyous, all was young,
And years unheeded rolled along:
These scenes must charm me now no more;
In frighted streets their orgies hold;
Pope's heaven-strung lyre, nor Waller's easc,
In furs and coifs around me stand;
DR THOMAS PERCY.
DR THOMAS PERCY, afterwards bishop of Dromore, in 1765 published his Reliques of English Poetry, in which several excellent old songs and ballads were revived, and a selection made of the best lyrical pieces scattered through the works of modern authors. The learning and ability with which Percy executed his task, and the sterling value of his materials, recommended his volumes to public favour. They found their way into the hands of poets and poetical readers, and awakened a love of nature, simplicity, and true passion, in contradistinction to that coldly-correct and sentimental style which pervaded part of our literature. The influence of Percy's collection was general and extensive. It is evident in many contemporary authors. It gave the first impulse to the genius of Sir Walter Scott; and it may be seen in the writings of Coleridge and Wordsworth. A fresh fountain of poetry was opened up-a spring of sweet, tender, and heroic thoughts and imaginations, which could never be again turned back into the artificial channels in which the genius of poesy had been too long and too closely confined. Percy was himself a poet. His ballad, O, Nanny, wilt Thou Gang wi' Me,' the Hermit of Warkworth,' and other detached pieces, evince both taste and talent. We subjoin a cento, The Friar of Orders Gray,' which Percy says he compiled from fragments of ancient ballads, to which he added supplemental stanzas to connect them together. The greater part, however, is his own. The life of Dr Percy presents little for remark. He was born at Bridgnorth, Shropshire, in 1728, and, after his education at Oxford, entered the church, in which he was successively chaplain to the king, dean of Carlisle, and bishop of Dromore: the
latter dignity he possessed from 1782 till his death in 1811. He enjoyed the friendship of Johnson, Goldsmith, and other distinguished men of his day, and lived long enough to hail the genius of the most illustrious of his admirers, Sir Walter Scott.
O, Nanny, wilt Thou Gang wi' Me.
O, Nanny, wilt thou gang wi' me,
Nae langer decked wi' jewels rare, Say, canst thou quit each courtly scene, Where thou wert fairest of the fair?
O, Nanny, when thou'rt far awa,
Wilt thou not cast a look behind? Say, canst thou face the flaky snaw,
Nor shrink before the winter wind? O can that soft and gentle mien
Severest hardships learn to bear, Nor, sad, regret each courtly scene, Where thou wert fairest of the fair? O Nanny, canst thou love so true,
Through perils keen wi' me to gae? Or, when thy swain mishap shall rue, To share with him the pang of wac? Say, should disease or pain befall,
Wilt thou assume the nurse's care, Nor, wishful, those gay scenes recall, Where thou wert fairest of the fair? And when at last thy love shall die,
Wilt thou receive his parting breath? Wilt thou repress each struggling sigh,
And cheer with smiles the bed of death? And wilt thou o'er his much-loved clay Strew flowers, and drop the tender tear? Nor then regret those scenes so gay,
Where thou wert fairest of the fair?
The Friar of Orders Gray.
It was a friar of orders gray
Walked forth to tell his beads, And he met with a lady fair, Clad in a pilgrim's weeds.
'Now Christ thee save, thou reverend friar! I pray thee tell to me,
If ever at yon holy shrine
My true love thou didst sec.'
'And how should I know your true love
But chiefly by his face and mien,
His flaxen locks that sweetly curled,
'O lady, he is dead and gone!
And 'plaining of her pride.
'And art thou dead, thou gentle youth-
'O weep not, lady, weep not so,
Some ghostly comfort seek:
And now, alas! for thy sad loss
I'll evermore weep and sigh; For thee I only wished to live, For thee I wish to die.'
'Weep no more, lady, weep no more; Thy sorrow is in vain :
For violets plucked, the sweetest shower
Our joys as winged dreams do fly;
'O say not so, thou holy friar!
I pray thee say not so;
Ah, no! he is dead, and laid in his grave,
His cheek was redder than the rose-
But he is dead and laid in his grave,
'Sigh no more, lady, sigh no more,
Hadst thou been fond, he had been false,
For young men ever were fickle found,
'Now say not so, thou holy friar,
I pray thee say not so;
My love he had the truest heart-
And art thou dead, thou much-loved youth?
Then farewell home; for evermore
A pilgrim I will be.
But first upon my true love's grave
My weary limbs I'll lay,
And thrice I'll kiss the green grass turf
That wraps his breathless clay.'
'Yet stay, fair lady, rest a while Beneath this cloister wall;
The cold wind through the hawthorn blows,
'O stay me not, thou holy friar,
And dry those pearly tears;
Here, forced by grief and hopeless love,
To end my days I thought.
But haply, for my year of grace
'Now farewell grief, and welcome joy
The translator of Ossian stands in rather a dubious light with posterity, and seems to have been willing that his contemporaries should be no
better informed. With the Celtic Homer, however, the name of Macpherson is inseparably connected. They stand, as liberty does with reason,
Twinned, and from her hath no dividual being. Time and a better taste have abated the pleasure with which these productions were once read; but poems which engrossed so much attention, which were translated into many different languages, which were hailed with delight by Gray, by David Hume, John Home, and other eminent persons, and which formed the favourite reading of Napoleon, cannot be considered as unworthy of notice.
ments of his countrymen to listen to the tales and
JAMES MACPHERSON was born at Kingussie, a village in Inverness-shire, on the road northwards from Perth, in 1738. He was intended for the church, and received the necessary education at Aberdeen. At the age of twenty, he published a heroic poem, in six cantos, entitled The Highlander, which at once proved his ambition and his incapa-ness of Macpherson for the admiration of his fellowcity. It is a miserable production. For a short creatures was seen by some of the bequests of his time Macpherson taught the school of Ruthven, will. He ordered that his body should be interred near his native place, whence he was glad to remove in Westminster Abbey, and that a sum of £300 as tutor in the family of Mr Graham of Balgowan. should be laid out in erecting a monument to his While attending his pupil (afterwards Lord Lyne- memory in some conspicuous situation at Belleville. doch) at the spa of Moffat, he became acquainted Both injunctions were duly fulfilled: the body was with Mr John Home, the author of Douglas,' to interred in Poets' Corner, and a marble obelisk, conwhom he showed what he represented as the trans-taining a medallion portrait of the poet, may be seen lations of some fragments of ancient Gaelic poetry, gleaming amidst a clump of trees by the road-side which he said were still floating in the Highlands. near Kingussie. He stated that it was one of the favourite amuse
The fierce controversy which raged for some time
as to the authenticity of the poems of Ossian, the
thing poetical and striking in Ossian-a wild solitary magnificence, pathos, and tenderness—is undeniable. The Desolation of Balclutha, and the lamentations in the Song of Selma, are conceived with true feeling and poetical power. The battles of the car-borne heroes are, we confess, much less to our taste, and seem stilted and unnatural. They are like the Quixotic encounters of knightly romance, and want the air of remote antiquity, of dim and solitary grandeur, and of shadowy superstitious fear, which shrouds the wild heaths, lakes, and mountains of Ossian.
[Ossian's Address to the Sun.]
I feel the sun, O Malvina! leave me to my rest. Perhaps they may come to my dreams; I think I hear a feeble voice! The beam of heaven delights to shine on the grave of Carthon: I feel it warm around.
O thou that rollest above, round as the shield of my fathers! Whence are thy beams, O sun! thy everlasting light? Thou comest forth in thy awful beauty; the stars hide themselves in the sky; the moon, cold and pale, sinks in the western wave; but thou thyself movest alone. Who can be a companion of thy course? The oaks of the mountains fall; the mountains themselves decay with years; the ocean shrinks and grows again; the moon herself is lost in heaven, but thou art for ever the same, rejoicing in the brightness of thy course. When the world is dark with tempests, when thunder rolls and lightning flies, thou lookest in thy beauty from the clouds, and laughest at the storm. But to Ossian thou lookest in vain, for he beholds thy beams no more; whether thy yellow hair flows on the eastern clouds, or thou tremblest at the gates of the west. But thou art perhaps like me for a season; thy years will have an end. Thou shalt sleep in thy clouds careless of the voice of the morning. Exult then, O sun, in the strength of thy youth! Age is dark and unlovely; it is like the glimmering light of the moon when it shines through broken clouds, and the mist is on the hills: the blast of the north is on the plain; the traveller shrinks in the midst of his journey.
[Fingal's Airy Hall.]
His friends sit around the king, on mist! They hear the songs of Ullin: he strikes the half-viewless with a thousand meteors, light the airy hall. Malvina harp. He raises the feeble voice. The lesser heroes, beholds the unknown faces of her fathers. She turns rises in the midst; a blush is on her cheek. She Fingal, daughter of generous Toscar. Sadness dwells aside her humid eyes. 'Art thou come so soon?' said Mr Wordsworth has condemned the imagery of the breeze of Cona, that was wont to lift thy heavy in the halls of Lutha. My aged son is sad! I hear Ossian as spurious. In nature everything is dis- locks. It comes to the hall, but thou art not there. tinct, yet nothing defined into absolute independent Its voice is mournful among the arms of thy fathers! singleness. In Macpherson's work it is exactly the Go, with thy rustling wing, oh breeze! sigh on Malreverse; everything (that is not stolen) is in this vina's tomb. It rises yonder beneath the rock, at the manner defined, insulated, dislocated, deadened—blue stream of Lutha. The maids are departed to yet nothing distinct. It will always be so when Thou alone, oh breeze, mournest there!' words are substituted for things.' Part of this censure may perhaps be owing to the style and diction of Macpherson, which have a broken abrupt appearance and sound. The imagery is drawn from the natural appearances of a rude mountainous country. The grass of the rock, the flower of the heath, the thistle with its beard, are (as Blair observes) the chief ornaments of his landscapes. The desert, with all its woods and deer, was enough for Fingal. We suspect it is the sameness-the perpetual recurrence of the same images-which fatigues the reader, and gives a misty confusion to the objects and incidents of the poem. That there is some
[Address to the Moon.]
Daughter of heaven, fair art thou! the silence of thy face is pleasant! Thou comest forth in loveliness. The stars attend thy bluc course in the east. The clouds rejoice in thy presence, O moon! they brighten their dark-brown sides. Who is like thee in heaven, light of the silent night? The stars are ashamed in thy presence. They turn away their sparkling eyes. Whither dost thou retire from thy course, when the darkness of thy countenance grows? hast thou thy hall, like Ossian? dwellest thou in the shadow of