Page images
PDF
EPUB

Blessings to give, news ask, or suit prefer.
Yet is yon neat trim church a grateful speck
Of novelty amid the sacred wreck
Strewn far and wide. Think, proud Philosopher!
Fallen though she be, this Glory of the west,
Still on her sons, the beams of mercy shine;
And "hopes, perhaps more heavenly bright than thine,
A grace by thee unsought and unpossest,
A faith more fixed, a rapture more divine,
Shall gild their passage to eternal rest.'

XXXIV.

THE BLACK STONES OF IONA.

[See Martin's Voyage among the Western Isles.]

HERE on their knees men swore: the stones were black, Black in the people's minds and words, yet they Were at that time, as now,

in colour grey. But what is colour, if upon

the rack
Of conscience souls are placed by deeds that lack
Concord with oaths ? What differ night and day
Then, when before the Perjured on his way
Hell

opens, and the heavens in vengeance crack
Above his head uplifted in vain prayer
To Saint, or Fiend, or to the Godhead whom
He had insulted— Peasant, King, or Thane ?
Fly where the culprit may, guilt meets a doom;
And, from invisible worlds at need laid bare,
Come links for social order's awful chain.

XXXV.

a

HOMEWARD we turn. Isle of Columba's Cell,
Where Christian piety's soul-cheering spark
(Kindled from Heaven between the light and dark
Of time) shone like the morning-star, farewell ! -
And fare thee well, to Fancy visible,
Remote St. Kilda, lone and loved sea-mark
For many a voyage made in her swift bark,
When with more hues than in the rainbow dwell
Thou a mysterious intercourse dost hold,
Extracting from clear skies and air serene,
And out of sun-bright waves, a lucid veil,
That thickens, spreads, and, mingling fold with fold,
Makes known, when thou no longer canst be seen,
Thy whereabout, to warn the approaching sail.

XXXVI.

GREENOCK.

Per me si va nella Città dolente.

a

We have not passed into a doleful City,
We who were led to-day down a grim dell,
By some too boldly named the Jaws of Hell:'
Where be the wretched ones, the sights for pity ?
These crowded streets resound no plaintive ditty :-
As from the hive where bees in summer dwell,
Sorrow seems here excluded; and that knell,
It neither damps the gay, nor checks the witty.

VOL. IV.

Alas! too busy Rival of old Tyre,
Whose merchants Princes were, whose decks were

thrones;
Soon may the punctual sea in vain respire
To serve thy need, in union with that Clyde
Whose nursling current brawls o'er mossy stones,
The poor, the lonely, herdsman’s joy and pride.

XXXVII.

[MOSGIEL was thus pointed out to me by a young man on the top of

the coach on my way from Glasgow to Kilmarnock. It is remarkable that, though Burns lived some time here, and during much the most productive period of his poetical life, he nowhere adverts to the splendid prospects stretching towards the sea and bounded by the peaks of Arran on one part, which in clear weather he must have had daily before his eyes. In one of his poetical effusions he speaks of describing “fair Nature's face" as a privilege on which he sets a high value; nevertheless, natural appearances rarely take a lead in his poetry. It is as a human being, eminently sensitive and intelligent, and not as a poet, clad in his priestly robes and carrying the ensigns of sacerdotal office, that he interests and affects us.

Whether he speaks of rivers, hills and woods, it is not so much on account of the properties with which they are absolutely endowed, as relatively to local patriotic remembrances and associations, or as they ministered to personal feelings, especially those of love, whether happy or otherwise ; —yet it is not always so. Soon after we had passed Mosgiel Farm we crossed the Ayr, murmuring and winding through a narrow woody hollow. His line—“Auld hermit Ayr strays through his woods”-came at once to my mind with Irwin, Lugar, Ayr, and Doon,-Ayrshire streams over which he breathes a sigh as being unnamed in song; and surely his own attempts to make them known were as successful as his heart could desire.]

“THERE!” said a Stripling, pointing with meet pride Towards a low roof with green trees half concealed,

"Is Mosgiel Farm; and that's the very field
Where Burns ploughed up the Daisy.” Far and wide
A plain below stretched seaward, while, descried
Above sea-clouds, the Peaks of Arran rose;
And, by that simple notice, the repose
Of earth, sky, sea, and air, was vivified.
Beneath the random bield of clod or stone'
Myriads of daisies have shone forth in flower
Near the lark's nest, and in their natural hour
Have passed away; less happy than the One
That, by the unwilling ploughshare, died to prove
The tender charm of poetry and love.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

XXXVIII.

THE RIVER EDEN, CUMBERLAND.

[“NATURE gives thee flowers That have no rivals among British bowers.”

This can scarcely be true to the letter; but, without stretching the point at all, I can say that the soil and air appear more congenial with many upon the banks of this river than I have observed in any other parts of Great Britain.]

EDEN! till now thy beauty had I viewed
By glimpses only, and confess with shame
That verse of mine, whate'er its varying mood,
Repeats but once the sound of thy sweet name:
Yet fetched from Paradise that honour came,
Rightfully borne; for Nature gives thee flowers
That have no rivals among British bowers ;
And thy bold rocks are worthy of their fame.
Measuring thy course, fair Stream! at length I pay
To my life's neighbour dues of neighbourhood;

But I have traced thee on thy winding way
With pleasure sometimes by this thought restrained-
For things far off we toil, while many a good
Not sought, because too near, is never gained.

XXXIX.

MONUMENT OF MRS. HOWARD,

(by Nollekens,)

IN WETHERAL CHURCH, NEAR CORBY, ON THE BANKS OF THE

EDEN.

(BEFORE this monument was put up in the Church at Wetheral, I

saw it in the sculptor's studio. Nollekens, who by the bye was a strange and grotesque figure that interfered much with one's admiration of his works, showed me at the same time the various models in clay which he had made, one after another, of the Mother and her Infant: the improvement on each was surprising ; and how so much grace, beauty, and tenderness had come out of such a head I was sadly puzzled to conceive. Upon a windowseat in his parlour lay two casts of faces, one of the Duchess of Devonshire, so noted in her day; and the other of Mr. Pitt, taken after his death, a ghastly resemblance, as these things always are, even when taken from the living subject, and more ghastly in this instance from the peculiarity of the features. The heedless and apparently neglectful manner in which the faces of these two persons were left—the one so distinguished in London society, and the other upon whose counsels and public conduct, during a most momentous period, depended the fate of this great Empire and perhaps of all Europe-afforded a lesson to which the dullest of casual visitors could scarcely be insensible. It touched me the more because I had so often seen Mr. Pitt upon his own ground at Cambridge and upon the floor of the House of Commons.]

STRETCHED on the dying Mother's lap, lies dead
Her new-born Babe; dire ending of bright hope!
But Sculpture here, with the divinest scope
Of luminous faith, heavenward hath raised that head

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »