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Ayr, gurgling, kissed his pebbled shore,
O'erhung with wild woods, thick’ning green!
Twined am'rous round the raptured scene;
The birds sang love on every spray-
Proclaimed the speed of winged day.
And fondly broods with miser care !
As streams their channels deeper wear.
Where is thy place of blissful rest ?
RICHARD GALL. RICHARD GALL (1776-1800), whilst employed as a printer in Edin. burgh, threw off some Scottish songs that became favourites.
My Only Jo and Dearie 0,' for pleasing fancy and musical expression, is not unworthy of Tannahill. I remember,' says Allan Cunningham, 'when this song was exceedingly popular; its sweetness and ease, rather than its originality and vigour, might be the cause of its success. The third verse contains a very beautiful picture of early attachment-a sunny bank, and some sweet soft school-girl, will appear to many a fancy when these lines are sung.'
* Burns, in his ' Remarks on Scottish Songs,' written for the Laird of Glenriddel, has described the above parting scene • My Highland lassie,' he says, 'was a warm-hearted, charming young creature as ever blessed a man with generous love. After a pretty long tract of the most ardent reciprocal attachment, we met by appointment on the second Sunday of May, in a sequestered spot by the banks of Ayr, where we spent the day in taking a farewell before she should embark for the West Highlands to arrange matters among her friends for our projected change of life. At the close of autumn following she crossed the sea to meet me at Greenock, where she had scarce landed when she was seized with a maliguant fever, which hurried my dear girl to the grave in a few days before I could even hear of her illness.' Cromek heightens the interesting picture: The lovers stood on each side of a small purling brook; they laved their hands in its limpid stream, and holding a Bible between them pronounced their vows to be faithful to each other. They parted, never to meet again. Subsequent investigation has lessened the romance of this pure love-passage in the poet's life. The pretty long tract of attachment,' if we take the expression literally, must have been before Burns's acquaintance with Jean Armour, who soon eclipsed all the other rustic heroines. When Jean and her parents so ruthlessly broke off the connection, Burns turned to Highland Mary ; but when Mary embarked for the West Highlands. Jean Armour again obtained the ascen. dant, and four weeks after the parting with Mary (June 12), we find the poet writing: Never man loved, or rather adored, a woman more than I did her (Jean Armour); and to confess a truth, I do still love her to distraction.' Mary is no more heard of, and is not mentioned by Burns till three years after her decease. Her premature death had recalled her love and her virtues, and embalmed them for ever. The parting scene was exalted and hallowed in his imagination, and kept sacred-not. perhaps, without some feeling of remorse. To Dr. Moore, to his Ayrshire friends,
and to Clarinda he spoke freely
of all his early loves except that of Mary: his vows to her seem never to have been whispered to any ear but her own. The rapid changes illustrate the poet's 'mobility,' or excessive susceptibility of immediate impressions, which also characterised Byron, and which Byron, less reticent, has defended:
Tis merely what is called mobility-
My Only Jo and Dearie 0. Thy cheek is o' the rose's hue,
Whan we were bairnies on yon brae, My only jo and dearie 0;
And youth was blinking bonny 0,, Thy neck is like the siller-dew
Aft we wad daff the lee-lang day Upon the banks sae briery 0,
Ours joys fu'sweet and mony 0; Thy teeth are o' the ivory,
Aft I wad chase thee o'er the lea, Oh, sweet's the twinkle o' thine ee! And round about the thorny tree, Nae joy, nae pleasure, blinks on me, Or pu' the wild-flowers a' for thee, My only jo and dearie 0.
My only jo and dearie 0. The bird sings upon the thorn
I hae a wish I canna tine, Its sang o' joy, fu' cheerie 0,
'Mang a' the cares that grieve me 0; Rejoicing in the summer mori,
I wish thou wert for ever mine, Nae care to mak' it eerie 0;
And never mair to leave me 0: But little kens the sangster sweet
Then I wad daut thee night and day, Aught o' the cares I hae to meet,
Nor ither wardly care wad hae. That gar my restless bosom beat,
Till life's warm stream forgot to play, My only jo and dearie 0.
My only jo and dearie 0.
Farewell to Ayrshire. This song of Gall's has often been printed as the composition of Burns, a copy in Burns's handwriting having been found among
papers. Scenes of woe and scenes of pleasure, Friends so dear my bosom ever,
Scenes that former thoughts renew; Ye hae rendered moments dear;
Then the stroke, oh, how severe !
Friends, that parting, tear reserve it, Bonny Doon, where, early roaming, Though 'tis doubly dear to me; First I weaved the rustic sang !
Could I think I did deserve it,
How much happier would I be! Bowers, adieu ! where love decoying, Scenes of woe and scenes of pleasure,
First enthralled this heart o' mine; Scenes that former thoughts renew; There the saftest sweets enjoying, Scenes of woe and scenes of pleasure;
Sweets that memory ne'er shal' tine! Now a sad and last adieu !
ALEXANDER WILSON, a distinguished naturalist, was also a good Scottish poet. He was a native of Paisley, and born July 6, 1766. He was brought up to the trade of a weaver, but afterwards preferred that of a pedlar, selling muslin and other wares. In 1789 he added to his other commodities a prospectus of a volume of poems, trusting, as he said,
If the pedlar should fail to be favoured with sale,
Then I hope you'll encourage the poet. He did not succeed in either character; and after publishing his poems, he returned to the loom. In 1792 he issued anonymously his best poem, 'Watty and Meg,' which was at first attributed to Burns, A foolish personal satire, and not a very wise admiration of the principles of equality disseminated at the time of the French Revolution,
* As Burns was one day sitting at his desk by the side of the window, a well-known hawker, Andrew Bishop, went past cryingi Watty und Meg, a new ballad, by Robert Burns. The poet looked out and said : That 's a lee, Andrew, but I would make your plack a baubee if it were mine.' This we heard Mrs, Burns, the poet's widow, relate.
drove Wilson to America in the year 1794. There he was once more a weaver and a pedlar, and afterwards a schoolmaster. A love of ornithology gained upon him, and he wandered over America collecting specimens of birds. In 1808 appeared his first volume of ‘American Ornithology,' and he continued collecting and publishing, traversing swamps and forests in quest of rare birds, and undergoing the greatest privations and fatigues, till he had committed an eighth volume to the press. He sank under his severe labours on the 23d of August, 1813, and was interred with public honours at Philadelphia. In the Ornith sy' of Wilson we see the fancy and descriptive powers of the poet. The following extract is part of his account of the bald eagle, and is extremely vivid and striking:
The Bald Eagle. The celebrated cataract of Niagara is a noted place of resort for the bald eagle, as well on account of the fish procured there, as for the numerous carcases of squirrels, deer, bears, and various other animals that, in their attempts to cross the river above the falls, have been dragged into the current, and precipitated down that tremendous gulf, where, among the rocks that bound the rapids below, they furnish a rich repast for the vulture, the raven and the bald eagle, the subject of the present account. He has been long known to naturalists. being common to both continents, and occasionally met with from a very high northern latitude to the borders of the torrid zone, but chitly in the vicinity of the sea, and along the shores and cliffs of our lakes and large rivers. Formed by nature for braving the severest cold, feeding equally on the produce of the sea and of the land, possessing powers of flight capable of outstripping even the tempests themselves, unawed by anything but man, and, from the ethereal heights to which he soars, looking abroad at one glance on an immeasurable expanse of forests, fields, lakes, and ocean deep below him, he appears indifferent to the little localities of change of seasons, as in a few minutes he can pass from summr to winter, from the lower to the higher regions of the atmosphere, the abode of eternal cold, and from thence descend at will to the torrid or the arctic regions of the earth.
In procuring fish, he displays, in a very singular manner, the genius and energy of his character, which is fierce, contemplative, daring, and tyrannical; attributes not exerted but on particular occasions, but when put forth, overpowering all opposition. Elevated on the high dead limb of some gigantic tree that commands a wide view of the neighbouring shore and ocean, he seems calmly to contemplate the motions of the various feathered tribes that pursue their busy avocations below; the snow-white gulls slowly winnowing the air; the busy tringæ cour:ing along the sands; trains of ducks streaming over the surface; silent and watchful cranes intent anu wading; clamorous crows ; and all the winged multitudes that subsist by the bounty of this vast liquid magazine of nature. High over all these, hovers one whose action instantly arrests his whole attention. By his wide curvature of wing, anil sudden susp. nsion in air, he knows him to be the fish-hawk, settling over some devote i victim of the deep. His eye kindles at the sight, and balancing himself with half-opened wings on the branch, he watches the result. Down, rapid as an arrow from heaven, descends the distant object of his attention, the roar of its wings reaching the ear as it disappears in the deep, making the surges foam around. this moment the eager looks of the eagle are all ardour; and, levelling bis neck for flight, he sees the fish-hawk once more emerge, struggling with his prey, and mounting in the air with screams of exultation. These are the signal for our hero, who, launching into the air, instantly gives chase, and soon gains on the fish-hawk; each exerts his utmost to mount above the other, displaying in these recontres the most elegant and sublime aërial evolutions. The unencumbered eagle rapidly advances, and is just on the point of reaching his opponent, when with a sudden scruam. probably of despair and honest execration, the latter drops his fish: the eagle, poising himself for a moment, as if to take a more certain aim, descends like a whirlwind,
snatches it in his grasp ere it reaches the water, and bears his ill-gotten booty silently away to the woods.
By way of preface, “to invoke the clemency of the reader,' Wilson relates the following exquisite trait of simplicity and nature:
In one of my late visits to a friend in the country, I found their youngest son, a fine boy of eight or niue years of age, who usually resides in town for his education, just returning from a ramble through the neighbouring woods and fields, wliere he had collected a large and very handsome bunch of wild-flowers, of a great many different colours; and, presenting them to his mother, said: Look, my dear mamma, what beautiful flowers I have found growing on our place! Why, all the woods are full of them! red, orange, and blue, and ’most every colour. Oh! I can gather you a whole parcel of them, much handsomer than these, all growing in our own woods! Shall I, mamma? Shall I go and bring you more?' The good woman received the bunch of flowers with a smile of affectionate complacency; and, after admiring for some time the beautiful simplicity of nature, gave her willing consent, and the little fellow went off on the wings of ecstacy to execute his delightful commission.
The similarity of this little boy's enthusiasm to my own struck me, and the reader will need no explanations of mine to make the application. Should my country receive with the same gracious indulgence the specimens which I here humbly present her; should she express a desire for me to go and bring her more, the highest wishes of my ambition will be gratified ; for, in the language of my little friend, our whole woods are full of them, and I can collect hundreds more, much handsomer than these. The ambition of the poet-naturalist was amply gratified.
A Village Scold.-From' Watty and Meg.' I’ the thrang o' stories tellin,'
Clapped wi' her hands, and stampin', Shakin' hands and jokin' queer.
Lost her bauchel(1) i' the snaw.
Hame, at length, she turned the gavel,
Wi' a face as white 's a clout,
Kickin' stools and chairs abont.
"Ye'll sit wi' your limmers round ye
Hang you, sir, I'll be your death! • Nasty, gude-for-naething being!
Little hauds my hands, confound you, O ye snuffy drucken sow!
But I cleave you to the teeth!'
Watty, wha, 'midst this oration,
Eyed her whiles, but durst na speak, ‘Rise! ye drucken beast o' Bethel ! Sat, like patient Resignation,
Drink's your night and day's desire; Trembling by the ingle-cheek.
Sad his wee drap brose he sippet
Maggy's tongue gaed like a bell-
Sighin' aften to himsel :
Nane are free frae some vexation,
Ilk ane has his ills to dree; Folk frae every door came lampin', But through a' the hale creation Maggy curst them ane and a',
Is nae mortal vexed like me.'
1 old shoes
END OF VOLUME V.