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As on their slender forms I'd gaze,
Methinks they brighten to a blaze ;
With noiseless step and taper bright,
What are yon forms that meet my sight?
Slowly they move, while every eye
Is heavenward raised in ecstasy,
'Tis the fair, spotless, vestal train,
That seeks in prayer the midnight fane.
And hark! what more than mortal sound
Of music breathes the pile around ?
'Tis the soft chaunted choral song,
Whose tones the echoing aisles prolong :
Till thence return'd they softly stray
O’er Cluden’s wave with fond delay;
Now on the rising gale swell high,
And now in fainting murmurs die :
The boatmen on Nith's gentle stream,
That glistens in the pale moon's beam,
Suspend their dashing oars to hear
The holy anthem, loud and clear ;
Each worldly thought awhile forbear,
And mutter forth a half-form'd prayer.
But, as I gaze, the vision fails,
Like frost-work touch'd by southern gales ;
The altar sinks, the tapers fade,
And all the splendid scene's decay’d.
In window fair the painted pane
No longer glows with holy stain,
But, through the broken glass, the gale
Blows chilly from the misty vale.
The bird of eve flits sullen by,
Her home, these aisles and arches high :
The choral hymn, that erst so clear

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Broke softly sweet on Fancy's ear,
Is drown'd amid the mournful scream,
That breaks the magic of my dream :
Roused by the sound, I start and see
The ruin'd, sad reality.

PROLOGUE,*

SPOKEN BY MR. WOODS, ON HIS BENEFIT NIGHT,

MONDAY, APRIL 16, 1787.
T HEN by a generous public's kind ac-

claim,
That dearest meed is granted—honest
i

fame; When here your favour is the actor's lot, Nor even the man in private life forgot; What breast so dead to heav'nly virtue's glow, But heaves impassion'd with the grateful throe?

Poor is the task to please a barb'rous throng, It needs no Siddons' power in Southern's song: But here an ancient nation, fam'd afar For genius, learning high, as great in war- 10 Hail, Caledonia ! name for ever dear!

* This prologue occurs in the collection of Burns' Poems, printed at Glasgow in 1801; but it seems to have been rejected by Mr. Allan Cunningham and all his other editors. The probability that it was written by Burns is, however, shown by the fact, that he was certainly known to Woods; for in his notes on “May Eve, or Kate of Aberdeen," in the “ Musical Museum," he relates an anecdote of Cunningham the actor, adding, This Mr. Woods the player, who knew Cunningham well, and esteemed him much, assured me was true.

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Before whose sons I'm honour'd to appear !
Where every science, every nobler art-
That can inform the mind, or mend the heart,
Is known; as grateful nations oft have found
Far as the rude barbarian marks the bound.
Philosophy, no idle, pedant dream,
Here holds her search, by heaven-taught Reason's

beam;
Here History paints with elegance and force,
The tide of Empire's fluctuating course ; 20
Here Douglas forms wild Shakespeare into plan,
And Harley rouses all the god in man.
When well-form'd taste, and sparkling wit unite,
With manly lore, or female beauty bright
(Beauty, where faultless symmetry and grace,
Can only charm us in the second place),
Witness my heart, how oft with panting fear,
As on this night, I've met these judges here !
But still the hope Experience taught to live,
Equal to judge—you're candid to forgive. 30
No hundred-headed Riot here we meet,
With decency and law beneath his feet,
Nor Insolence assumes fair Freedom's name;
Like Caledonians, you applaud or blame.

O Thou, dread Power! whose empire-giving hand Has oft been stretch'd to shield the honour'd land, Strong may she glow with all her ancient fire; May every son be worthy of his sire ; Firm may she rise with generous disdain At Tyranny's, or direr Pleasure's chain ; Still self-dependent in her native shore, Bold may she brave grim Danger's loudest roar, Till Fate the curtain drop on worlds to be no more.

NATURE'S LAW.*

A POEM HUMBLY INSCRIBED TO G. H. ESQ.

Great nature spoke, observant man obeyed.

Pope.

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SET other heroes boast their scars,

The marks of sturt and strife ; 1963) And other Poets sing of wars, La The plagues of human life; Shame fa’ the fun; wi' sword and gun

To slap mankind like lumber! I sing his name and nobler fame,

Wha multiplies our number.

Great Nature spoke, with air benign,

Go on, ye human race ! • This lower world I you resign;

* Be fruitful and increase. • The liquid fire of strong desire

I've pour'd it in each bosom; • Here, in this hand, does mankind stand,

And there, is Beauty's blossom !'

The Hero of these artless strains,

A lowly Bard was he,

* These verses, which were inscribed to Gavin Hamilton, are now printed, for the first time, from a copy in the Poet's own writing, and seem to have been composed soon after Mrs. Burns had presented him with twins.

Who sung his rhymes in Coila’s plains

With meikle mirth an' glee;
Kind Nature's care had given his share,

Large, of the flaming current;
And, all devout, he never sought

To stem the sacred torrent.

He felt the powerful, high behest,

Thrill, vital, thro' and thro';
And sought a correspondent breast,

To give obedience due:
Propitious Powers screen'd the young flow'rs,

From mildews of abortion ;
And lo! the Bard, a great reward,

Has got a double portion !

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Auld, cantie Coil may count the day,

As annual it returns,
The third of Libra's equal sway,

That gave another Burns,
With future rhymes, an' other times,

To emulate his sire;
To sing auld Coil in nobler style
With more poetic fire.

Ye Powers of peace, and peaceful song,

Look down with gracious eyes ;
And bless auld Coila, large and long,

With multiplying joys,
Lang may she stand to prop the land,

The flow'r of ancient nations ;
And Burnses spring, her fame to sing,

To endless generations !

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