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XXIII.

IN THE FRITH OF CLYDE, AILSA CRAG.

DURING AN ECLIPSE OF THE SUN, JULY 17.

[The morning of the eclipse was exquisitely beautiful while we

passed the Crag as described in the Sonnet. On the deck of the steam-boat were several persons of the poor and labouring class, and I could not but be struck by their cheerful talk with each other, while not one of them seemed to notice the magnificent objects with which we were surrounded ; and even the phenomenon of the eclipse attracted but little of their attention. Was it right not to regret this? They appeared to me, however, so much alive in their own minds to their own concerns that I could not look upon it as a misfortune that they had little perception for such pleasures as cannot be cultivated without ease and leisure. Yet, if one surveys life in all its duties and relations, such ease and leisure will not be found so enviable a privilege as it may at first appear. Natural Philosophy, Painting, and Poetry, and refined taste, are no doubt great acquisitions to society ; but, among those who dedicate themselves to such pursuits, it is to be feared that few are as happy, and as consistent in the management of their lives, as the class of persons who at that time led me into this course of reflection. I do not mean by this to be understood to derogate from intellectual pursuits, for that would be monstrous : I say it in deep gratitude for this compensation to those whose cares are limited to the necessities of daily life. Among them, self-tor.

mentors, so numerous in the higher classes of society, are rare.] SINCE risen from ocean, ocean to defy, Appeared the crag of Ailsa, ne'er did morn With gleaming lights more gracefully adorn His sides, or wreathe with mist his forehead high : Now, faintly darkening with the sun's eclipse, Still is he seen, in lone sublimity, Towering above the sea and little ships; For dwarfs the tallest seem while sailing by,

Each for her haven; with her freight of Care,
Pleasure, or Grief, and Toil that seldom looks
Into the secret of to-morrow's fare;
Though poor, yet rich, without the wealth of books,
Or aught that watchful Love to Nature owes
For her mute Powers, fixed Forms, or transient Shows.

XXIV.

ON THE FRITH OF CLYDE.

(IN A STEAM-BOAT.)

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[The mountain outline on the north of this island, as seen from the

Frith of Clyde, is much the finest I have ever noticed in Scot

land or elsewhere.]
ARRAN! a single-crested Teneriffe,
A St. Helena next-in shape and hue,
Varying her crowded peaks and ridges blue;
Who but must covet a cloud-seat, or skiff
Built for the air, or winged Hippogriff?
That he might fly, where no one could pursue,
From this dull Monster and her sooty crew;
And, as a God, light on thy topmost cliff.
Impotent wish! which reason would despise
If the mind knew no union of extremes,
No natural bond between the boldest schemes
Ambition frames, and heart-humilities.
Beneath stern mountains many a soft vale lies,
And lofty springs give birth to lowly streams.

XXV.

ON REVISITING DUNOLLY CASTLE.

[See former series, “Yarrow Revisited,” &c., p. 104.]

THE captive Bird was gone ;—to cliff or moor
Perchance had flown, delivered by the storm;
Or he had pined, and sunk to feed the worm:
Him found we not: but, climbing a tall tower,
There saw, impaved with rude fidelity
Of art mosaic, in a roofless floor,
An Eagle with stretched wings, but beamless eye-
An Eagle that could neither wail nor soar.
Effigy of the Vanished--(shall I dare
To call thee so ?) or symbol of fierce deeds
And of the towering courage which past times
Rejoiced in-take, whate'er thou be, a share,
Not undeserved, of the memorial rhymes
That animate my way where'er it leads !

XXVI.

THE DUNOLLY EAGLE.

Not to the clouds, not to the cliff, he flew;
But when a storm, on sea or mountain bred,
Came and delivered him, alone he sped
Into the castle-dungeon's darkest mew.

Now, near his master's house in

open

view He dwells, and hears indignant tempests howl, Kennelled and chained. Ye tame domestic fowl, Beware of him! Thou, saucy cockatoo, Look to thy plumage and thy life!—The roe, Fleet as the west wind, is for him no quarry ; Balanced in ether he will never tarry, Eyeing the sea's blue depths. Poor Bird ! even so Doth man of brother man a creature make That clings to slavery for its own sad sake.

XXVII.

WRITTEN IN A BLANK LEAF OF MACPHERSON'S

OSSIAN.

(THE verses

or strayed From hope and promise, self-betrayed. were, I am sorry to say, suggested from apprehensions of the fate of my friend, H. C., the subject of the verses addressed to H. C. when six years old. The piece to Memory” arose out of similar feelings.]

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OFT have I caught, upon a fitful breeze,
Fragments of far-off melodies,
With ear not coveting the whole,
A part so charmed the pensive soul.
While a dark storm before my sight
Was yielding, on a mountain height
Loose vapours have I watched, that won
Prismatic colours from the sun;
Nor felt a wish that heaven would show
The image of its perfect bow.

What need, then, of these finished Strains ?
Away with counterfeit Remains !
An abbey in its lone recess,
A temple of the wilderness,
Wrecks though they be, announce with feeling
The majesty of honest dealing.
Spirit of Ossian ! if imbound
In language thou may'st yet be found,
If aught (intrusted to the pen
Or floating on the tongues of men,
Albeit shattered and impaired)
Subsist thy dignity to guard,
In concert with memorial claim
Of old grey stone, and high-born name
That cleaves to rock or pillared cave
Where moans the blast, or beats the wave,
Let Truth, stern arbitress of all,
Interpret that Original,
And for presumptuous wrongs atone ;-
Authentic words be given, or none!
Time is not blind ;-yet He, who spares
Pyramid pointing to the stars,
Hath preyed with ruthless appetite
On all that marked the primal flight
Of the poetic ecstasy
Into the land of mystery.
No tongue is able to rehearse
One measure, Orpheus! of thy verse;
Musæus, stationed with his lyre
Supreme among the Elysian quire,
Is, for the dwellers upon earth,
Mute as a lark ere morning's birth.

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