« PreviousContinue »
The hooded hawks, high perch'd on beam,
THE LAST MINSTREL.
Trooping they came, from near and far,
for every merry mate,
The splendour of the spousal rite, How muster'd in the chapel fair
Both maid and matron, squire and knight; Me lists not tell of owches rare, Of mantles green, and braided hair, And kirtles furred with miniver; What plumage waved the altar round, How spurs, and ringing chainlets, sound: And hard it were for bard to speak The changeful hue of Margaret's cheek, That lovely hue which comes and flies, As awe and shame alternate rise. Some bards have sung, the ladye high Chapel or altar came not nigh; Nor durst the rites of spousal grace, So much she feared each holy place. False slanders these : I trust right well She wrought not by forbidden spell : For mighty words and signs have power O’er sprites in planetary hour : Yet scarce I praise their venturous part, Who tamper with such dangerous art. But this for faithful truth I say,
The ladye by the altar stood,
And on her head a crimson hood,
Tue way was long, the wind was cold. The minstrel was infirm and old ; His wither'd check and tresses gray Seem'd to have known a better day; The harp, his sole remaining joy, Was carried by an orphan boy. The last of all the bards was he, Who sung of border chivalry. For, well-a-day! their date was fled, His tuneful brethren all were dead; And he, neglected and oppress'd, Wish'd to be with them, and at rest. No more, on prancing palfrey borne, He caroll'd, light as lark at morn; No longer, courted and caress'd, High placed in hall, a welcome guest, He pour'd, to lord and lady gay, The unpremeditated lay : Old times were changed, old manners gone; A stranger tilld the Stuarts' throne; The bigots of the iron time Had call'd his harınless art a crime. A wandering harper, scorn'd and poor, He begg’d his bread from door to door; And tuned, to please a peasant's ear, The harp a king had loved to hear.
He pass'd where Newark's stately tower Looks out from Yarrow's birchen bower: The minstrel gazed with wistful eyeNo humbler resting-place was nigh. With hesitating step, at last, The embattled portal-arch he pass'd, Whose ponderous grate and massy bar Had oft rollid back the tide of war, But never closed the iron door Against the desolate and poor. The duchess marked his weary pace, His timid mien, and reverend face, And bade her page the menials tell, That they should tend the old man well : For she had known adversity, Though born in such a high degree; In pride of power, in beauty's bloom, Had wept o'er Monmouth's bloody tomb.
When kindness had his wants supplied, And the old man was gratified, Began to rise his minstrel pride; And he began to talk anon Of good Earl Francis, dead and gone, And of Earl Walter, rest him God ! A braver ne'er to battle rode;
Retains each grief, retains each crime,
Its earliest course was doom'd to know;
Low as that tide has ebb'd with me,
Fell by the side of great Dundee.
And how full many a tale he knew,
The humble boon was soon obtain'd;
I cujme'n the dark brow of the mighty Hellvellyn, Lakes and mountains beneath me gleam'd misty
and wide; All was still, save by fits when the eagle was yelling,
And starting around me the echoes replied. On the right, Striden-edge round the Red-tarn was
bending, And Catchedicam its left verge was defending, One huge nameless rock in the front was ascending, When I mark'd the sad spot where the wanderer
had died. Dark green was the spot mid the brown meadow
heather, Where the pilgrim of nature lay stretch'd in
decay, Like the course of an outcast abandon'd to weather, Till the mountain-winds wasted the tenantless
clay. Nor yet quite deserted, though lonely extended, For faithful in death, bis mute favourite attended, The much-loved remains of her master defended,
And chased the hill-fox and the raven away. How long didst thou think that his silence was
slumber? When the wind waved his garment how oft
didst thou start? How many long days and long weeks didst thou
number, Ere he faded before thee, the friend of thy heart? And, oh! was it meet, that—no requiem read o'er
him, No mother to weep, and no friend to deplore him, And thou, little guardian, alone stretch'd before
him Unhonour'd the pilgrim from life should depart? When a prince to the fate of the peasant has
yielded, The tapestry waves dark round the dim-lighted
Sweet Teviot, hy thy silver tide,
The glaring bale-fires blaze no more ! No longer steel-clad warriors ride
Along thy wild and willow'd shore; Where'er thou wind'st, by dale or hill, All, all is peaceful, all is still,
As if thy waves, since Time was born, Since first they rolld their way to Tweed, Had only heard the shepherd's reed,
Nor started at the bugle-horn! Unlike the tide of human time,
Which, though it change in ceaseless flow,
With scutcheons of silver the coffin is shielded,
And pages stand mute by the canopied pall: Thrjugh the courts, at deep midnight, the torches
are gleaming In the proudly-arch'd chapel the banners are
FAREWELL TO THE MUSE.
Far adown the long aisle sacred music is
streaming, Lamenting a chief of the people should fall. But meeter for thee, gentle lover of nature, To lay down thy head like the meek mountain
lamb; When, wilder'd he drops from some cliff huge in
stature, And draws his last sob by the side of his dam. And more stately thy couch by this desert lake
lying, Thy obsequies sung by the gray plover flying, With one faithful friend to witness thy dying,
In the arms of Hellvellyn and Catchedicam.
A SCENE IN BRANKSOME TOWER.
ENCHANTRESS, farewell! who so oft has decoy'd me, At the close of the evening through woodlands
to roam, Where the forester, lated, with wonder espied me
Explore the wild scenes he was quitting for home. Farewell! and take with thee thy numbers wild
speaking, The language alternate of rapture and wo; Oh! none but some lover, whose heartstrings are
breaking The pang that I feel at our parting can know. Each joy thou couldst double, and when there
came sorrow, Or pale disappointment to darken my way, What voice was like thine, that could sing of to
morrow, Till forgot in the strain was the grief of to-day ! But wben friends drop around us in life's weary
waning, The grief, queen of numbers, thou canst not
assuage; Nor the gradual estrangement of those yet re
maining, The languor of pain, and the chillness of age. "T was thou that once taught me, in accents be
wailing, To sing how a warrior lay stretch'd on the plain; And a maiden hung o'er him with aid unavailing,
And held to his lips the cold goblet in vain : As vain those enchantments, O queen of wild
numbers, To a bard when the reign of his fancy is o'er, And the quick pulse of feeling in apathy slumbers,
Farewell then, enchantiess! I meet thee no more!
Many a valiant knight is here;
Beside his broken spear!
Or stanch the death-feud's enmity ?
Can love of blessed charity ? No! vainly to each holy shrine,
In mutual pilgrimage, they drew; Implored, in vain, the grace divine
For chiefs, their own red falchions slew, While Cessford owns the rule of Car,
While Ettrick boasts the line of Scott, The slaughter'd chiefs, the mortal jar, The havoc of the feudal war,
Shall never, never be forgot!
The warlike foresters had bent;
Old Teviot's maids and matrons lent:
Had lock'd the source of softer wo;
Forbade the rising tear to flow;
Her son lisp'd from the nurse's knee« And, if I live to be a man,
My father's death revenged shall be !" Then fast the mother's tears did seek To dew the infant's kindling cheek.
If thou wouldst view fair Melrose aright, Go visit it by the pale moonlight: For the gay beams of lightsome day Gild, but to fout, the ruins gray. When the broken arches are black in night, And each shafted oriel glimmers white; When the cold light's uncertain shower Streams on the ruin'd central tower; When buttress and buttress, alternately, Seem framed of ebon and ivory ; When silver edges the imagery. And the scrolls that teach thee to live and die; When distant Tweed is heard to rave, And the owlet to hoot o'er the dead man's grave; Then go!-but go alone the whileThen view St. David's ruin'd pile ! And, home returning, soothly swear, Was never scene so sad and fair!
James MONTGOMERY is the most popular of his second imprisonment, that he wrote his the religious poets who have written in Eng. Prison Amusements, which appeared in 1797. land since the time of Cowper, and he is From this time his poems followed each other more exclusively the poet of devotion than in rapid succession. In 1805 he published the even the bard of Olney. Probably no writer Ocean, in 1806 the Wanderer of Switzerland, is less indebted to a felicitous selection of in 1810 the West Indies, in 1812 the World subjects, since the themes of nearly all his before the Flood, in 1819 Greenland, in 1822 longer productions are unpleasing and un Songs of Zion, in 1827 the Pelican Island, and poetical ; but for half a century he has been in 1835 A Poet's Portfolio, or Minor Poems. slowly and constantly increasing in reputa- Beside these, he has written Songs to Foreign tion, and he has now a name which will not Music, and several smaller volumes of misbe forgotten, while taste and the religious cellaneous pieces. Mr. MONTGOMERY had sentiment exist together.
published but few of these works before his Mr. MONTGOMERY is the oldest son of a reputation was established as a poet of a high Moravian clergyman, and was born at Irvine, order. The Wanderer of Switzerland was in Scotland, on the fourth of November, 1771. everely criticised in the Edinburgh Review, At a very early age he was placed by his and the West Indies was received by the critics parents, who had determined to educate him with less favour than it merited. Greenland for the Moravian ministry, at one of the semi was more popular than his earlier works; the naries of their church, where he remained ten subject more in unison with his devotional years. At the end of this period, he decided cast of thought; and the poem is full of not to study the profession to which he had graphic descriptions, and rich and varied been destined, and was in consequence placed imagery. The patient and earnest labours of with a shopkeeper in Yorkshire. Ill satisfied the Moravian missionaries are described in it with his employment, he abandoned it at the with a sympathetic and genuine enthusiasm. end of a few months, and when but sixteen The minor poems of Mr. Montgomery, his made his first appearance in London, with a little songs and cabinet pieces, will be the manuscript volume of poems, of which he most frequently read, and the most generally vainly endeavoured to procure the publication. admired. They have the antique simplicity In 1792 he went to Sheffield, where he was of pious George WITHERS, a natural unafsoon after engaged as a writer for a weekly fected earnestness, joined to a pure and poegazette published by a Mr. Gales, and in 1794, tical diction, which will secure to them a on the flight of his employer from England to permanent place in English literature. The avoid a political prosecution, he himself be character of his genius is essentially lyrical; came publisher and editor, and changing the he has no dramatic power, and but little skill name of the paper to “ The Iris," conducted in narrative. His longest and most elaborate it with much taste, ability, and moderation. works, though they contain beautiful and It was still, however, obnoxious to the govern touching reflections, and descriptions equally ment, and Mr. MONTGOMERY was prosecuted distinguished for minuteness, fidelity, and for printing in it a song commemorative of the beauty, are without incident or method; but destruction of the Bastile, fined twenty pounds, his shorter pieces are full of devotion to the and imprisoned three months in York Castle. Creator, sympathy with the suffering, and a On resuming his editorial duties he carefully cheerful, hopeful philosophy. avoided partisan politics, but after a brief pe Mr. Montgomery is now seventy-four years riod he was arrested for an offensive passage of age. He resides in Sheffield, where he is in an account which he gave of a riot in Shef. regarded by all classes with respect and affield, and was again imprisoned. It was during fection,
“O) LIVE !_and deeply cherish still
The sweet remembrance of the past : Rely on Heaven's unchanging will
For peace at last. “ Though long of winds and waves the sport,
Condemn'd in wretchedness to roam : Live! thou shalt reach a sheltering port,
A quiet home. « TO FRIENDSHIP didst thou trust thy fame,
And was thy friend a deadly foe,Who stole into thy breast, to aim
A surer blow?
THERE is a calm for those who weep,
A rest for weary pilgrims found, They softly lie and sweetly sleep
Low in the ground. The storm that wrecks the winter sky
No more disturbs their deep repose, Than summer-evening's latest sigh
That shuts the rose. I long to lay this painful head
And aching heart beneath the soil, To slumber in that dreamless bed
From all my toil. For misery stole me at my birth,
And cast me helpless on the wild! I perish ;-0 my mother Earth,
Take home thy child. On thy dear lap these limbs reclined,
Shall gently moulder into thee; Nor leave one wretched trace behind
Resembling me. Hark! a strange sound affrights mine ear;
My pulse,-my brain runs wild,-I rave: Ah! who art thou whose voice I hear?
“I AM THE GRAVE. “ The Grave, that never spake before,
Hath found at length a tongue to chide : Oh listen! I will speak no more ;-
Be silent, pride! « Art thou a WRETCI of hope forlorn,
The victim of consuming care ? Is thy distracted conscience torn
By fell despair ? « Do foul misdeeds of former times
Wring with remorse thy guilty breast ? And ghosts of unforgiven crimes
Murder thy rest? “Lash'd by the furies of the mind,
From wrath and vengeance wouldst thou flee? Ah! think not, hope not, fool, to find
A friend in me: “By all the terrors of the tomb,—
Beyond the power of tongue to tell : By the dread secrets of my womb;
By death and hell. “I charge thee Live! repent and pray,
In dust thine infamy deplore : There yet is mercy,-go thy way,
And sin no more. « Art thou a WANDERER ?-hast thou seen
O’erwhelming tempests drown thy bark ? A shipwreck'd sufferer, hast thou been
Misfortune's mark? « Art thou a MoURNER ?-hast thou known
The joy of innocent delights ; Endearing days for ever flown,
And tranquil nights ?
“Live!-and repine not o'er his loss,
A loss unworthy to be told: Thou hast mistaken sordid dross
For friendship's gold. “Seek the true treasure, seldom found,
Of power the fiercest griefs to calm; And soothe the bosom's deepest wound
With heavenly balm. “ Did woman's charm thy youth beguile,
And did the fair one faithless prove? Hath she betray'd thee with a smile,
And sold thy love ? “Live! 'Twas a false bewildering fire;
Too often love's insidious dart
But kills the heart. “ Thou yet shall know how sweet, how dear,
To gaze on listening beauty's eye ; To ask,—and pause in hope and fear
Till she reply. “A nobler flame shall warm thy breast,
A brighter maiden faithful prove; Thy youth, thine age, shall yet be blest
In woman's love.
“Whate'er thy lot—whoe'er thou be,
Confess thy folly,-kiss the rod; And in thy chastening sorrows see
The hand of God. “ A bruised reed He will not break,
Afflictions all his children feel :
He wounds to heal.
Humbled beneath his mighty hand,
Prostrate his Providence adore : 'Tis done! Arise! He bids thee stand,
To fall no more.
“Now, traveller in the vale of tears,
To realms of everlasting light, Through Time's dark wilderness of years
Pursue thy flight. “There is a calm for those who weep,
A rest for weary pilgrims found; And while the mouldering ashes sleep
Low in the ground.