Page images


"Great patriot hero ! ill-requited chief!

As, all elate with hope, they stood,
To buy their freedom with their blood.

The morn rose bright on scenes renown'd,
Wild Caledonia's classic ground,
Where the bold sons of other days
Won their high fame in Ossian's lays,
And fell-but not till Carron's tide
With Roman blood was darkly dyed.
The morn rose bright-and heard the cry
Sent by exulting hosts on high,
And saw the white-cross banner float
(While rung each clansman's gathering-note)
O'er the dark plumes and serried spears
Of Scotland's daring mountaineers;

The sunset shone-to guide the flying, And beam a farewell to the dying ! The summer moon, on Falkirk's field, Streams upon eyes in slumber seal’d; Deep slumber—not to pass away When breaks another morning's ray, Nor vanish when the trumpet's voice Bids ardent hearts again rejoice : What sunbeam's glow, what clarion's breath, May chase the still cold sleep of death?

1 Advertisement by the Author.-" A native of Edinburgh, and member of the Highland Society of London, with a view to give popularity to the project of rearing a suitable national monument to the memory of Wallace, lately offered prizes for the three best poems on the subject of that illustrious patriot inviting Bruce to the Scottish throne. The following poem obtained the first of these prizes. It would have appeared in the same form in which it is now offered to the public, under the direction of its proper editor, the giver of the prize ; but his privilege has, with pride as well as pleasure, been yielded to a lady of the author's own country, who solicited permission to avail herself of this opportunity of honouring and further remunerating the genius of the poet; and, at the same time, expressing her admiration of the theme in which she has triumphed.

“ It is a noble feature in the character of a generous and enlightened people, that, in England, the memory of the patriots and martyrs of Scotland has long excited an interest not exceeded in strengtlı that which prevails in the country which boasts their birth, their deeds, and their sufferings."

(“Mrs Hemans was recommended by a zealous friend in Edinburgh to enter the lists as a competitor, which she accord. ingly did, though without being in the slightest degree sanguine of success ; so that the news of the prize liaving been decreed to her was no less unexpected than gratifying. The number of candidates, for this distinction, was so overwhelming as to cause not a little embarrassment to the judges appointed to decide on their merits. A letter, written at this time, describes them as being reduced to absolute despair by the contemplation of the task which awaited them, having to read over a mass of poetry that would require a month at least to wade through. Some of the contributions were from the strangest aspirants imaginable; and one of them is mentioned as being as long as Paradise Lost. At length, however, the Ilerculean labour was accomplished; and the honour awarded to Mrs Hemans, on this occasion, seemed an earnest of the warm kindness and encouragement she was ever afterwards to receive at the hands of the Scottish public.” — Memoir, p. 31-2.

Although two-thirds of the compositions sent to the arbiters, on the occasion alluded to, are understood to have been mere trash, yet several afterwards came to light, through the press,

of very considerable excellence. We would especially men. tion “Wallace and Bruce, a Vision," published in Constable's Magazine for Dec. 1819; and “ Wallace," by James Hogs, subsequently included in the fourth volume of his Collected Works-Edin. 1822, p. 143-160.

“ The Vision" is thus prefaced :-" Though far from entering into a hopeless competition with Mrs Hemans, I think the far-famed interview of our patriot heroes ought not to be left entirely to English celebration. Mrs Hemans has adorned the subject with the finest strains of pure poetry. Receive here, as a humble contrast, a simple strain of genuine Scottish feeling, tiowing from a mind that owns no other muse but the amor patriæ, and seeks no other praise but what is due to heartfelt interest in the glory of our ancient kingdom, and no higher name than that of a kindly Scot.'"

The Ettrick Shepherd is equally gallant in his laudations, and forgets his discomfiture in generous acknowledgement of the merits of his rival. “ This poem," (Wallace,) says he, “was hurriedly and reluctantly written, in compliance with the solicitations of a friend who would not be gainsayed, to compete for a prize offered by a gentleman for the best poem on the subject. The prize was finally awarded to Mrs Felicia Hemans; and, as far as the merits of mine went, very justly, hers being greatly superior both in elegance of thought and composition. Had I been constituted the judge myself, I would have given hers the preference by many degrees; and I estimated it the more highly as coming from one of the people that were the hero's foes, oppressors, and destroyers. I think my heart never warmed so much to an author for any poem that ever was written.

Acceptable praise this must have been, coming from such a man as the Author of “ The Queen's Wake"-a production entitled to a permanent place in British poetry, independently of the extraordinary circumstances under which it was composed. Whatever may be its blemishes, taken as a whole, Kilmeny,"

,” “Glenavin,” “Earl Walter," " The Abbot Mackinnon," and “ The Witch of Fife"-more especially the first and the last--possess peculiar merits, and of a high kind; and are, I doubt not, destined to remain for ever embalmed in the memories of all true lovers of imaginative verse. Poor Hogy was the very reverse of Antæus--he was always in power except when he touched the earth.]

Shrouded in Scotland's blood-stain'd plaid,
Low are her mountain-warriors laid;
They fell, on that proud soil whose mould
Was blent with heroes' dust of old,
And, guarded by the free and brave,
Yielded the Roman--but a grave !
Nobly they fell ; yet with them died
The warrior's hope, the leader's pride.
Vainly they fell—that martyr host-
All, save the land's high soul, is lost.
Blest are the slain ! they calmly sleep,
Nor hear their bleeding country weep !
The shouts of England's triumph telling
Reach not their dark and silent dwelling;
And those surviving to bequeath
Their sons the choice of chains or death,
May give the slumberer's lowly bier
An envying glance--but not a tear.

Heard ye the Patriot's awful voice ?-“ Proud Victor! in thy fame rejoice! Hast thou not scen thy brethren slain, The harvest of the battle-plain, And bathed thy sword in blood, whose spot Eternity shall cancel not? Rejoice !-with sounds of wild lament O'er her dark heaths and mountains sent, With dying moan and dirge's wail, Thy ravaged country bids thee hail ! Rejoice !--while yet exulting cries From England's conquering host arise, And strains of choral triumph tell Her Royal Slave hath fought too well ! Oh, dark the clouds of woe that rest Brooding o'er Scotland's mountain-crest ! Her shield is cleft, her banner torn, O'er martyr'd chiefs her daughters mourn, And not a breeze but wafts the sound Of wailing through the land around. Yet deem not thou, till life depart, High hope shall leave the patriot's heart; Or courage to the storm inured, Or stern resolve by woes matured, Oppose, to Fate's severest hour, Less than unconquerable power ! No! though the orbs of heaven expire, Thine, Freedom ! is a quenchless fire ; And woe to him whose might would dare The energies of thy despair ! No !-when thy chain, O Bruce ! is cast O'er thy land's charter'd mountain-blast, Then in my yielding soul shall die The glorious faith of Liberty !”.

[ocr errors]


But thou, the fearless and the free,
Devoted Knight of Ellerslie !
No vassal-spirit, form'd to bow
When storms gathering, clouds thy

No shade of fear or weak despair
Blends with indignant sorrow there !
The ray which streams on yon red field,
O'er Scotland's cloven helm and shield,
Glitters not there alone, to shed
Its cloudless beauty o'er the dead ;
But where smooth Carron's rippling wave
Flows near that deathbed of the brave,
Illuming all the midnight scene,
Sleeps brightly on thy lofty mien.
But other beams, O Patriot ! shine
In each commanding glance of thine,
And other light hath fill'd thine eyo
With inspiration's majesty,
Caught from th' immortal flame divine
Which makes thine inmost heart a shrine !
Thy voice a prophet's tone hath won,
The grandeur Freedom lends her son ;
Thy bearing a resistless power,
The ruling genius of the hour !
And he, yon Chief, with mien of pride,
Whom Carron's waves from thee divide,
Whose haughty gesture fain would seek
To veil the thoughts that blanch his check,
Feels his reluctant mind controll'd
By thine of more heroic mould:
Though struggling all in vain to war
With that high soul's ascendant star,
He, with a conqueror's scornful eye,
Would mock the name of Liberty.

“ Wild hopes ! o'er dreamer's mind that

rise !”
With haughty laugh the Conqueror cries,
(Yet his dark cheek is flush'd with shame,
And his eye fill'd with troubled flame ;)
“Vain, brief illusions ! doom'd to fly
England's red path of victory!
Is not her sword unmatch'd in might?
Her course a torrent in the fight?
The terror of her name gone forth
Wide o'er the regions of the north?
Far hence, midst other heaths and snows,
Must freedom's footstep now repose.
And thou-in lofty dreams elate,
Enthusiast! strive no more with Fate !
'Tis vain—the land is lost and won :
Sheathed be the sword-its task is done.
Where are the chiefs that stood with theo
First in the battles of the free?

The firm in heart, in spirit high !
They sought yon fatal field to die.
Each step of Edward's conquering host
Hath left a grave on Scotland's coast."

And when all other grief is past,
Must this be cherish'd to the last-
Will lead thy battles, guard thy throne,
With faith unspotted as his own;
Nor in thy noon of fame recall
Whose was the guilt that wrought his fall."

“ Vassal of England, yes! a grave Where sleep the faithful and the brave; And who the glory would resign Of death like theirs, for life like thine ? They slumber—and the stranger's tread May spurn thy country's noble dead; Yet, on the land they loved so well, Still shall their burning spirit dwell, Their deeds shall hallow minstrel's theme, Their image rise on warrior's dream, Their names be inspiration's breath, Kindling high hope and scorn of death, Till bursts, immortal from the tomb, The flame that shall avenge their doom ! This is no land for chains-away ! O'er softer climes let tyrants sway. Think'st thou the mountain and the storm Their hardy sons for bondage form? Doth our stern wintry blast instil Submission to a despot's will ? No! we were cast in other mould Than theirs by lawless power controll'd; The nurture of our bitter sky Calls forth resisting energy; And the wild fastnesses are ours, The rocks with their eternal towers. The soul to struggle and to dare Is mingled with our northern air, And dust beneath our soil is lying Of those who died for fame undying.

Still dost thou hear in stern disdain ? Are Freedom's warning accents vain? No! royal Bruce ! within thy breast Wakes each high thought, too long suppressid And thy heart's noblest feelings live, Blent in that suppliant word—“Forgive !" "Forgive the wrongs to Scotland done ! Wallace ! thy fairest palm is won; And, kindling at my country's shrine, My soul hath caught a spark from thine. Oh! deem not, in the proudest hour Of triumph and exulting powerDeem not the light of peace could find A home within my troubled mind. Conflicts by mortal eye unseen, Dark, silent, secret, there have been, Known but to Him whose glance can traco Thought to its deepest dwelling-place ! -"Tis past—and on my native shore I tread, a rebel son no more. Too blest, if yet my lot may be In glory's path to follow thee; If tears, by late repentance pour'd, May lave the blood-stains from my sword !"

“Tread'st thou that soil ! and can it be No loftier thought is roused in thee? Doth no high feeling proudly start From slumber in thine inmost heart? No secret voice thy bosom thrill, For thine own Scotland pleading still? Oh! wake thee yet-indignant, claim A nobler fate, a purer fame, And cast to earth thy fetters riven, And take thine offer'd crown froin heaven. Wake! in that high majestic lot May the dark past be all forgot; And Scotland shall forgive the field Where with her blood thy shame was seal'd. E'en I—though on that fatal plain Lies my heart's brother with the slain ; Though, reft of his heroic worth, My spirit dwells alone on earth;

Far other tears, O Wallace ! rise From the heart's fountain to thine eyes ; Bright, holy, and uncheck'd they spring, While thy voice falters, “Hail ! my King ! Be every wrong, by memory traced, In this full tide of joy effaced : Hail ! and rejoice !-thy race shall claim A heritage of deathless fame, And Scotland shall arise at length Majestic in triumphant strength, An eagle of the rock, that won A way through tempests to the sun. Nor scorn the visions, wildly grand, The prophet-spirit of thy land : By torrent-wave, in desert vast, Those visions o'er my thought have pass'd: Where mountain vapours darkly roll, That spirit hath possess'd my soul ; And shadowy forms have met mine eye. The beings of futurity; And a deep voice of years to be Hath told that Scotland shall be free!


He comes ! exult, thou Sire of Kings !
From thee the chief, th' avenger springs !
Far o'er the land he comes to save,
His banners in their glory wave,
And Albyn's thousand harps awake
On hill and heath, by stream and lake,
To swell the strains that far around
Bid the proud name of Bruce resound !
And I-but wherefore now recall
The whisper'd omens of my fall ?
They come not in mysterious gloom-
There is no bondage in the tomb !
O'er the soul's world no tyrant reigns,
And earth alone for man hath chains !
What though I perish ere the hour
When Scotland's vengeance wakes in power?
If shed for her, my blood shall stain
The field or scaffold not in vain :
Its voice to efforts more sublime
Shall rouse the spirit of her clime;
And in the noontide of her lot,
My country shall forget me not !”

Land of bright deeds and minstrel-lore ! Withhold that guerdon now no more. On some bold height of awful form, Stern eyrie of the cloud and storm, Sublimely mingling with the skies, Bid the proud Cenotaph arise : Not to record the name that thrills Thy soul, the watch-word of thy hills; Not to assert, with needless claim, The bright for ever of its fame; But, in the ages yet untold, When ours shall be the days of old, To rouse high hearts, and speak thy pride In him, for thee who lived and died.

Art thou forgot? and hath thy worth Without its glory pass'd from earth ? Rest with the brave, whose names belong To the high sanctity of song! Charter'd our reverence to control, And traced in sunbeams on the soul, Thine, Wallace ! while the heart hath still One pulse a generous thought can thrill While youth's warm tears are yet the meed Of martyr's death or hero's deed, Shall brightly live from age to age, Thy country's proudest heritage ! Midst her green vales thy fame is dwelling, Thy deeds her mountain winds are telling, Thy memory speaks in torrent-wave, Thy step hath hallow'd rock and cave, And cold the wanderer's heart must be That holds no converse there with thee ! Yet, Scotland ! to thy champion's shade Still are thy grateful rites delay'd ; From lands of old renown, o'erspread With proud memorials of the dead, The trophied urn, the breathing bust, The pillar guarding noble dust, The shrine where art and genius high Have labour'd for eternityThe stranger comes : his eye explores The wilds of thy majestic shores, Yet vainly seeks one votive stone Raised to the hero all thine own.

(These verses were thus critically noticed at the time of publication :

“ When we mentioned in the tent, that Mrs Hemans had authorised the judges who awarded to her the prize to send her poem to us, it is needless to say with what enthusiasm the proposal of reading it aloud was received on all sides ; and at its conclusion thunders of applause crowned the genius of the fair poet. Scotland has her Baillie Ireland her Tighe England her llemans."--Blackwood's Magazine, vol. v. Sept. 1819.

“Mrs Hemans so soon again !--and with a palm in her hand! We welcome her cordially, and rejoice to find the high opinion of her genius which we lately expressed so unequivocally confirmed.

“On this animating theme, (the meeting of Wallace and Bruce,) several of the competitors, we understand, were of the other side of the Tweed--a circumstance, we learn, which was known from the references before the prizes were determined. Mrs Hemans's was the first prize, against fifty-seven competitors. That a Scottish prize, for a poem on a subject purely, proudly Scottish, has been adjudged to an English candidate, is a proof at once of the perfect fairness of the award, and of the merit of the poem. It further demonstrates the disappearance of those jealousies which, not a hundred years ago, would have denied to such a candidate any thing like a fair chance with a native-if we can suppose any poet in the south then dreaming of making the trial, or viewing Wallace in any other light than that of an enemy, and a rebel against the paramount supremacy of England. We delight in every gleam of high feeling which warms the two nations alike, and ripens yet more that confidence and sympathy which bind them together in one great family.”—Edin. Monthly Review, vol. ii.

The estimation into which the poetry of Mr Hemans was rising at this time, (1819,) is indicated by the following passage, from a clever and not very lenient satire, entitled “Common Sense," then published, and currently believed to have emanated from the pen of the Rev. Mr Terrot, now Diocesan Bishop of Edinburgh. When alluding to the female writers of the age, Miss Baillie is the first mentioned and characterised. He then proceeds-

-"Next I'd place
Felicia Iemang, second in the race;
I wonder the Reviews, who make such stir
oft about rubbish, never mention her.
They might have said, I think, from mere good breeding-

Mistress Felicia's works are worth the reading." “Mrs Hemans," adds the critical satirist in a note, " is a lady, (a young lady, I believe,) of very considerable merit. Her imagination is vigorous, her language copious and elegant, her information extensive. I have no means of ascertaining the extent of her fame, but she certainly deserves well of the republic of letters."

The worthy bishop has lived to read “ The Records of Woman ;” and, we have no doubt, rejoices to know that the aspirant of 1819 has now taken her place among British classics.]



Far other tones have swell'd those courts along

In days romance yet fondly loves to trace The clash of arms, the voice of choral song,

The revels, combats of a vanish'd race.

And yet awhile, at Fancy's potent call,

Shall rise that race, the chivalrous, the bold; Peopling once more each fair forsaken hall

With stately forms, the knights and chiefs of old.

(The events with which the following tale is interwoven are related in the Historia de las Guerras Civiles de Granada. They occurred in the reign of Abo Abdeli, or Abdali, the last Moorish king of that city, called by the Spaniards El Rey Chico. The conquest of Granada, by Ferdinand and Isabella, is said by some historians to have been greatly facilitated by the Abencerrages, whose defection was the result of the repeated injuries they had received from the king, at the instigation of the Zegris. One of the most beautiful halls of the Alhambra is pointed out as the scene where so many of the former celebrated tribe were massacred; and it still retains their name, being called the “ Sala de los Abencerrages." Many of the most interesting old Spanish ballads relate to the events of this chivalrous and romantic period.)

“Le Maare ne se venge pas parce que sa colere dare encore, mais parce que la vengeance seul peut ecarter de sa tete le poids d'infamie dont il est accable.- Il se venge, parce qu'a ses yeux il n'y a qu'une ame Desse qui puisse pardonner les affronts ; et il nourrit sa rancune, parce que s'il la xentoit s'eteindre, il croiroit avec elle avoir perdu une vertu."


LONELY and still are now thy marble halls,

Thou fair Alhambra ! there the feast is o'er; And with the murmur of thy fountain-falls

Blend the wild tones of minstrelsy no more.

Hush'd are the voices that in years gone by
Have mourn'd, exulted, menaced, through thy

towers; Within thy pillar'd courts the grass waves high,

And all uncultured bloom thy fairy bowers.

-The sun declines : upon Nevada's height There dwells a mellow flush of rosy light; Each soaring pinnacle of mountain snow Smiles in the richness of that parting glow, And Darro's wave reflects each passing dye That melts and mingles in th' empurpled sky. Fragrance, exhaled from rose and citron bower, Blends with the dewy freshness of the hour; Hush'd are the winds, and nature seems to sleep In light and stillness; wood, and tower, and steep, Are dyed with tints of glory, only given To the rich evening of a southern heavenTints of the sun, whose bright farewell is fraught With all that art hath dreamt, but never caught. -Yes, Nature sleeps ; but not with her at rest The fiery passions of the human breast. (sound, Hark! from th' Alhambra's towers what stormy Each moment deepening, wildly swells around ? Those are no tumults of a festal throng, Not the light zambra? nor the choral song: The combat rages—'tis the shout of war, 'Tis the loud clash of shield and scimitar. Within the Hall of Lions, where the rays Of eve, yet lingering, on the fountain blaze; There, girt and guarded by his Zegri bands, And stern in wrath, the Moorish monarch stands : There the strife centres-swords around him wave, There bleed the fallen, there contend the brave; While echoing domes return the battle-cry,

Revenge and freedom ! let the tyrant die!" And onward rushing, and prevailing still, Court, hall, and tower the fierce avengers fill. But first and bravest of that gallant train, Where foes are mightiest, charging ne'er in vain;

Unheeded there the flowering myrtle blows, Through tall arcades unmark'd the sunbeam

smiles, And many a tint of soften'd brilliance throws

O'er fretted walls and shining peristyles.

And well might Fancy deem thy fabrics lonc,

So vast, so silent, and so wildly fair, Some charm'd abode of beings all unknown,

Powerful and viewless, children of the air.

For there no footstep treads th' enchanted ground,

There not a sound the deep repose pervades, Save winds and founts, diffusing freshness round,

Throughthe light domesand graceful colonnades.

1 Zambra, a Moorish dance.

2 The Hall of Lions was the principal one of the Alhambra, and was so called from twelve sculptured lions which sup. ported an alabaster basin in the centre.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »