Page images

lessons. The amiable personal feelings of the author constantly appear. He thus warmly and tenderly apostrophises his native country:

Apostrophe to Scotland.
How pleasant came thy rushing, silver Tweed,
Upon my ear, when, after roaming long
In southern plains, I've reached thy lovely bank!
How bright, renowned Sark, thy little stream,
Like ray of columned light chasing a shower,
Would cross my homeward path ; how sweet the sound,
When I, to hear the Doric tongue's reply,
Would ask thy well-known name!

And must I leave,
Dear land, thy bonny braes, thy dales,
Each haunted by its wizard stream, o'erhung
With all the varied charms of bush and tree?
And must I leave the friends of youthful years,
And mould my heart anew, to take the stamp
Of foreign friendships in a foreign land,
And learn to love the music of strange tongues !
Yes, I may love the music of strange tongues,
And mould my heart anew to take the stamp
Of foreign friendships in a foreign land:
But to my parched mouth's roof cleave this tongue,
My fancy fade into the yellow leaf,
And this oft-pausing heart forget to throb,

If, Scotland, thee and thine I e'er forget. An anecdote is related of the modest poet connected with the public cation of 'The Sabbath,' which affords an interesting illustration of his character. He had not prefixed his name to the work, nor acquainted his family with the secret of its composition, and taking a copy of the volume home with him one day, he left it on the table. His wife began reading it, while the sensitive author walked up and down the room; and at length she broke out into praise of the poem, adding: 'Ah, James, if you could but produce a poem like this!' The joyful acknowledgment of his being the author was then made, no doubt with the most exquisite pleasure on both sides. Grahame in some respects resembles Cowper. He has no humour or satire, it is true, and he has many prosaic lines, but the same powers of close and happy observation which the poet of Olney applied to English scenery, were directed by Grahame to that of Scotland, and both were strictly devout and national' poets.

There is no author, excepting Burns or Scott, whom an intelligent Scotsman, resident abroad, would read with more delight than Grahame. The ordinary features of the Scottish landscape he portrays truly and distinctly, without exaggeration, and often imparting to his descriptions a feeling of tenderness and solemnity. He was content with humble things; but he paints the charms of a retired cottage-life, the sacred calm of a Sabbath morning, a walk in the fields, or even a bird's nest, with such unfeigned delight and accurate observation that the reader is constrained to see and feel with his author, to rejoice in the elements of poetry and meditation that are scattered around him, existing in the humblest objects, and in those humane and pious sentiments which impart to external nature a moral interest and beauty. The religion of Grahame was not sectarian; he was equally impressed with the lofty ritual of the English church, and the simple hill.worship of the Covenanters. He is sometimes gloomy in his seriousness, from intense religious anxiety or sympathy with his fellow-men suffering under oppression or misfortune, but he has less of this harsh fruit,

Picked from the thorns and briers of reproof, than his brother-poet Cowper. His prevailing tone is that of implicit trust in the goodness of God, and enjoyment in his creation.

From The Sabbath.'
How still the morning of the hallowed day!
Mute is the voice of rural labour, hushed
The ploughboy's whistle and the milkmaid's song.
The scythe lies glittering in the dewy wreath
Or tedded grass, mingled with fading flowers,
That yester-morn bloomed waving in the breeze,
Sounds the most faint attract the ear-the hum
Of early bee, the trickling of the dew,
The distant bleating midway up the hill.
Calmness seems throned on yon unmoving cloud.
To him who wanders o'er the upland leas,
The blackbird's note comes mellower from the dale;
And sweeter from the sky the gladsome lark
Warbles his heaven-tuned song; the lulling brook
Murmurs more gently down the deep-sunk glen;
While from yon lowly roof, whose curling smoke
O'ermounts the mist, is heard at intervals
The voice of psalms, the

simple song of praise,
With dove-like wings Peace o'er yon village broods ,
The dizzying mill-wheel rests; the anvil's din
Hath ceased; all, all around is quietness.
Less fearful on this day, the limping hare
Stops, and looks back, and stops, and looks on man,
Her deadliest foe. The toil-worn horse, set free,
Unheedful of the pasture, roams at large;
And, as his stiff unwieldy bulk he rolls,
His iron-armed hoofs gleam in the morning ray.

But chiefly man the day of rest enjoys.
Hail, Sabbath ! thee I hail the poor man's day.
On other days, the man of toil is doomed
To eat his joyless bread, lonely, the ground
Both seat and board screened from the winter's cold
And summer's heat by neighbouring hedge or tree;
But on this day, embosomed in his home,
He shares the frugal meal with those he loves ;
With those he loves he shares the heartfelt joy
Of giving thanks to God-not thanks of form,
A word and a grimace, but reverently,
With covered face and upward earnest eye.
Hail, Sabbath! thee I hail, the poor man's day:
The pale mechanic now has leave to breathe
The morning air pure from the city's smoke;

While wandering slowly up the river-side,
He meditates on Him whose power he marks
In each green tree that proudly spreads the bough,
As in the tiny dew-bent flowers that bloom
Around the roots; and while he thus surveys
With elevated joy each rural charm,
He hopes-yet fears presumption in the hope-
To reach those realms where Sabbath never ends.

But now his steps a welcome sound recalls ;
Solemn the knell, from yonder ancient pile,
Fills all the air, inspiring joyful awe:
Slowly the throng moves o'er the tomb-paved ground;
The aged man, the bowed down, the blind
Led by the thoughtless boy, and he who breathes
With pain, and eyes the new-made grave, well pleased ;
These, mingled with the young, the gay, approach
The house of God-these, spite of all their ills,
A glow of gladness feel ; with silent praise
They enter in; a placid stillness reigns,
Until the man of God, worthy the name,
Opens the book, and reverentially
The stated portion reads. A pause ensues.
The organ breathes its distant thunder-notes,
Then swells into a diapason full :
The people rising sing with harp, with harp,
And voice of psalms;' harmoniously attuned
The various voices blend ; the long-drawn aisles,
At every close, the lingering strain prolong.

Nor yet less pleasing at the heavenly throne,
The Sabbath service of the shepherd boy!
In some lone glen, where every sound is lulled
To slumber, save the tinkling of the rill,
Or bleat of lamb, or hovering falcon's cry,
Stretched on the sward, he reads of Jesse's son ;
Or sheds a tear o'er him to Egypt sold,
And wonders why he weeps : the volume closed,
With thyme-sprig laid between the leaves, he sings
The sacred lays, his weekly lesson conned
With meikle care beneath the lowly roof,
Where humble lore is lernt, where humble worth
Pines unrewarded by a thankless state.
Thus readivg, hymning, all alone, unseen,
The shepherd-boy the Sabbath holy keeps,
Till on the heights he marks the straggling bands
Returning homewards from the house of prayer
In peace they home resort. On, blissful days !
When all men worship God as conscience wills.
Far other times our fathers' grandsires knew,
A virtuous race to godliness devote.

A Summer Sabbath Walk.
Delightful is this loneliness; it calms
My heart! pleasant the cool beneath these elms
That throw across the stream a moveless shade.
Here nature in her midnoon whisper speaks ;
How peaceful every sound !--the ringdove's plaint,
Moaned from the forest's gloomiest retreat,
While every other woodland lay is mute,
Save when the wren flits from her down-coved nest,
And from the root-sprigs trills her ditty clear-
The grasshopper's oft pausing chirp—the buzz,

Angrily shrill of moss-entangled bee
That soon as loosed booms with full twang away-
The sudden rushing of the minnow shoal
Scared from the shallows by my passing tread.
Dimpling the water glides, with here and there
A glossy fiy, skimming in circlets gay
The treacherous surface, while the quick-eyed trout
Watches his time to spring; or from above,
Some feathered dam, purveying ʼmong the boughs,
Darts from her perch, and to her plumeless brood
Bears off the prize. Sad emblem of man's lot!
He, giddy insect from his native leaf
(Where safe and happily he might have lurked),
Elate upon ambition gaudy wings,
Forgetful of his origin, and worse,
Unthinking of his end, flies to the stream,
And if from hostile vigilance he 'scape,
Buoyant he flutters but a little while,
Mistakes the inverted image of the sky
For heaven itself, and, sinking, meets his fate. ...

Again I turn me to the hill, and trace
The wizard stream, now scarce to be discerned ;
Woodless its banks, but green with ferny leaves,
And thinly strewed' with heath-bells up and down.

Now, when the downward sup has left the glens, Each mountain's rugged lineaments are traced Upon the adverse slope, where stalks gigantic The shepherd's shadow, thrown athwart the chasm, As on the topmost ridge he homeward hies. How deep the hush! the torrent's channel dry, Presents a stony steep, the echo's haunt. But hark a plaintive sound floating along! 'Tis from yon heath-roofed shieling; now it dies Away, now rises full; it is the song Which He, who listens to the hallelujahs Of choiring seraphim, delights to hear; It is the music of the heart, the voice Of venerable age, of guileless youth, In kindly circle seated on the ground Before their wicker-door. Behold the man ! The grandsire and the saint; his silvery locks Beam in the parting ray; before him lies, Upon the smooth-cropt sward, the open book, His comfort, stay, and ever-new delight;

le heedless at a side, the lisping boy Foudles the lamb that nightly shares his couch.

An Autumn Sabbath Walk. When homeward bands their several ways disperse, I love to linger in the narrow field Of rest, to wander round from tomb to tomb, And think of some who silent sleep below. Sad sighs the wind that from these ancient elms Shakes showers of leaves upon the withered grass ; The sere and yellow wreaths, with eddying sweep, Fill up the furrows 'tween the hillocked graves. But list that moan! 'tis the poor blind man's dog, His guide for many a day, now come to mourn The master and the friend-conjunction rare ! A man, indeed, he was of gentle soul, Though bred to brave the deep: the lightning's flash

Had dimmed, not closed, his mild but sightless eyes.
He was a welcome guest through all his range-
It was not wide-10 dog would by at him ;
Children would run to meet him on his way,
And lead him to a sunny seat, and climb
His knee, and wonder at his oft-told tales.
Then would he teach the elfins how to plait
The rusty cap and crown, or sedgy ship:
And I have seen him lay his tremulous hand
Upon their heads, while silent moved his lips.
Peace to thy spirit, that now looks ou me
Perhaps with greater pity than I felt
To see thee wandering darkling on thy way!

But let me quit this melancholy spot,
And roam where nature gives a parting smile,
As yet the bluebells linger on the sod
That copse the sheepfold ring; avd in the woods
A second blow of many flowers appear,
Flowers faintly tinged, and breathing no perfume.
But fruits, not blossoms, form the woodland wreath
That circles Autumu's brow. The ruddy haws.
Now clothe the half-leafed thorn; the bramble bends
Beneath its jetty load : the hazel hangs
With anburu hunches, dipping in the stream
That sweeps along and threatens to o'erflow
The leaf-strewu banks: oft, statue-like, I gaze,
In vacancy of thoright, upon that streain,

chase, with dreaming eye, the eddying foam, Or rowan's clustered branch, or harvest sheaf, Borne rapidly adowu the dizzying flood.

A Winter Sabbath Walk.
How dazzling white the snowy scene! deep, deep
The stillness of the winter Sabbath day-
Not even a footfall heard. Smooth are the fields,
Each hollow pathway level with the plain :
Hid are the bushes, save that here and there
Are seen the topmost shoots of brier or broom.
High-ridged the whirled drift has almost reached
The powdered keystone of the churchyard porch.
Mute hangs the hooded bell; the tombs lie buried;
No step approaches to the house of prayer.

The flickering fall is o’er: the clouds disperse,
And shew the sun. hung o'er the welkin's verge,
Shooting a bright but ineffectual beam
On all the sparkling waste. Now is the time
To visit nature in her grand attire.
Though perilous the mountainous ascent,
A noble recompense the danger brings.
How beautiful the plain stretched far below,
Unvaried though it be, save by yon stream
With azure windings, or the leafless wood!
But what the beauty of the plain, compared
To that sublimity which reigns enthroned,
Holding joint rule with solitude divine,
Among yon rocky fells that bid defiance
To steps the most adventurously bold?
There silence dwells profound ; or if the cry
Of high-poised eagle break at times the hush,
The mantled echoes no response return.

But now let me explore the deep-sunk dell,

« PreviousContinue »