Page images

Near the pavilions where we slept, still ran
Soft tinkling streams, and dashing waters fell,
And sobbing breezes sighed, and oft began
(So worked the wizard) wintry storms to swell,
As heaven and earth they would together mell;
At doors and windows threatening seemed to call
The demons of the tempest, growling fell,

Yet the least entrance found they none at all; Whence sweeter grew our sleep, secure in massy hall.

And hither Morpheus sent his kindest dreams,
Raising a world of gayer tinct and grace;
O'er which were shadowy cast Elysian gleams,
That played in waving lights, from place to place,
And shed a roseate smile on nature's face.
Not Titian's pencil e'er could so array,

So fierce with clouds, the pure ethereal space;
Ne could it e'er such melting forms display,
As loose on flowery beds all languishingly lay.
No, fair illusions! artful phantoms, no!
My muse will not attempt your fairy land;
She has no colours that like you can glow;
To catch your vivid scenes too gross her hand.
But sure it is, was ne'er a subtler band
Than these same guileful angel-seeming sprights,
Who thus in dreams voluptuous, soft, and bland,
Poured all the Arabian heaven upon our nights,
And blessed them oft besides with more refined delights.

They were, in sooth, a most enchanting train,
Even feigning virtue; skilful to unite
With evil good, and strew with pleasure pain.
But for those fiends whom blood and broils delight,
Who hurl the wretch, as if to hell outright,
Down, down black gulfs, where sullen waters sleep;
Or hold him clambering all the fearful night
On beetling cliffs, or pent in ruins deep;
They, till due time should serve, were bid far hence
to keep.

Ye guardian spirits, to whom man is dear,
From these foul demons shield the midnight gloom;
Angels of fancy and of love be near,

And o'er the blank of sleep diffuse a bloom;
Evoke the sacred shades of Greece and Rome,
And let them virtue with a look impart :
But chief, awhile, oh lend us from the tomb
Those long-lost friends for whom in love we smart,
And fill with pious awe and joy-mixt wo the heart.

Rule Britannia.

When Britain first at Heaven's command, Arose from out the azure main,

This was the charter of the land,

And guardian angels sung the strain : Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves! Britons never shall be slaves.

The nations not so blest as thee,

Must in their turn to tyrants fall, Whilst thou shalt flourish great and free, The dread and envy of them all. Rule Britannia, &c.

Still more majestic shalt thou rise,

More dreadful from each foreign stroke;
As the loud blast that tears the skies,
Serves but to root thy native oak.
Rule Britannia, &c.

Thee haughty tyrants ne'er shall tame;
All their attempts to bend thee down
Will but arouse thy generous flame,
And work their wo and thy renown.
Rule Britannia, &c.

To thee belongs the rural reign;
Thy cities shall with commerce shine;
All shall be subject to the main,
And every shore it circles thine.
Rule Britannia, &c.

The muses, still with freedom found,
Shall to thy happy coast repair;
Blest isle, with matchless beauty crowned,
And manly hearts to guard the fair.
Rule Britannia, &c.


JOHN DYER, a picturesque and moral poet, was a native of Wales, being born at Aberglasslyn, Carmarthenshire, in 1700. His father was a solicitor, and intended his son for the same profession. The latter, however, had a taste for the fine arts, and rambled over his native country, filling his mind with a love of nature, and his portfolio with sketches of her most beautiful and striking objects. The sister art of poetry also claimed his regard, and during his excursions he wrote Grongar Hill, the production on which his fame rests, and where it rests securely. Dyer next made a tour to Italy, to study painting. He does not seem to have excelled his return in 1740, he published another poem, The as an artist, though he was an able sketcher. On Ruins of Rome, in blank verse. One short passage, often quoted, is conceived, as Johnson remarks, 'with the mind of a poet :'

The pilgrim oft

At dead of night, 'mid his orison, hears,
Aghast, the voice of time, disparting towers,
Tumbling all precipitate down dashed,

Rattling around, loud thundering to the moon. Seeing, probably, that he had little chance of succeeding as an artist, Dyer entered the church, and obtained successively the livings of Calthrop, in Leicestershire, of Conningsby, in Huntingdonshire, and of Belchford and Kirkby, in Lincolnshire. He published in 1757 his longest poetical work, The Fleece, devoted to

[ocr errors]

The care of sheep, the labours of the loom. The subject was not a happy one. How can a man write poetically, as was remarked by Johnson, of serges and druggets? One critic asked Dodsley how old the author of The Fleece' was; and learning that he was in advanced life, He will,' said the critic, be buried in woollen.' The poet did not long survive the publication, for he died next year, on the 24th of July 1758. The poetical pictures of Dyer are happy miniatures of nature, correctly drawn, beautifully coloured, and grouped with the taste of an artist. His moral reflections arise naturally out of his subject, and are never intrusive. All bear evidence of a kind and gentle heart, and a true poetical fancy.

Grongar Hill

Silent nymph, with curious eye,
Who, the purple evening, lie
On the mountain's lonely van,
Beyond the noise of busy man;
Painting fair the form of things,
While the yellow linnet sings;
Or the tuneful nightingale
Charms the forest with her tale;
Come, with all thy various hues,
Come, and aid thy sister Muse;
Now, while Phoebus, riding high,
Gives lustre to the land and sky!

Grongar Hill invites my song,

Draw the landscape bright and strong;
Grongar, in whose mossy cells,
Sweetly musing, Quiet dwells;
Grongar, in whose silent shade,
For the modest Muses made;
So oft I have, the evening still,
At the fountain of a rill,
Sat upon a flowery bed,

With my hand beneath my head;

While strayed my eyes o'er Towy's flood,
Over mead, and over wood,

From house to house, from hill to hill,
Till contemplation had her fill.

About his chequered sides I wind,
And leave his brooks and meads behind,
And groves, and grottos where I lay,
And vistas shooting beams of day:
Wide and wider spreads the vale,
As circles on a smooth canal:
The mountains round, unhappy fate,
Sooner or later, of all height,
Withdraw their summits from the skies,
And lessen as the others rise:
Still the prospect wider spreads,
Adds a thousand woods and meads;
Still it widens, widens still,
And sinks the newly-risen hill.

Now I gain the mountain's brow,
What a landscape lies below!
No clouds, no vapours intervene,
But the gay, the open scene,
Does the face of nature show,
In all the hues of heaven's bow;
And, swelling to embrace the light,
Spreads around beneath the sight.

Old castles on the cliffs arise,
Proudly towering in the skies!
Rushing from the woods, the spires
Seem from hence ascending fires!
Half his beams Apollo sheds
On the yellow mountain heads!
Gilds the fleeces of the flocks,
And glitters on the broken rocks!
Below me trees unnumbered rise,
Beautiful in various dyes:
The gloomy pine, the poplar blue,
The yellow beech, the sable yew,
The slender fir, that taper grows,

The sturdy oak, with broad-spread boughs.
And beyond the purple grove,

Haunt of Phyllis, queen of love!
Gaudy as the opening dawn,
Lies a long and level lawn,

On which a dark hill, steep and high,
Holds and charms the wandering eye!
Deep are his feet in Towy's flood,

His sides are clothed with waving wood,
And ancient towers crown his brow,
That cast an awful look below;
Whose regged walls the ivy creeps,
And with her arms from falling keeps:
So both a safety from the wind
On mutual dependence find.
Tis now the raven's bleak abode;
Tis now the apartment of the toad;
And there the fox securely feeds,
And there the poisonous adder breeds,
Concealed in ruins, moss, and weeds;
While, ever and anon, there falls
Huge heaps of hoary mouldered walls.
Yet time has seen, that lifts the low,
And level lays the lofty brow,
Has seen this broken pile complete,
Big with the vanity of state;
But transient is the smile of fate!

A little rule, a little sway,

A sunbeam in a winter's day,
Is all the proud and mighty have
Between the cradle and the grave.

And see the rivers, how they run

Through woods and meads, in shade and sun,
Sometimes swift, sometimes slow,
Wave succeeding wave, they go

A various journey to the deep,
Like human life, to endless sleep!
Thus is nature's vesture wrought,
To instruct our wandering thought;
Thus she dresses green and gay,
To disperse our cares away.

Ever charming, ever new,
When will the landscape tire the view!
The fountain's fall, the river's flow,
The woody valleys, warm and low;
The windy summit, wild and high,
Roughly rushing on the sky!

The pleasant seat, the ruined tower,
The naked rock, the shady bower;
The town and village, dome and farm,
Each give each a double charm,
As pearls upon an Ethiop's arm.

See, on the mountain's southern side,
Where the prospect opens wide,
Where the evening gilds the tide,
How close and small the hedges lie!
What streaks of meadows cross the eye!
A step, methinks, may pass the stream,
So little distant dangers seem;
So we mistake the future's face,
Eyed through hope's deluding glass;
As yon summits soft and fair,
Clad in colours of the air,
Which to those who journey near,
Barren, brown, and rough appear;
Still we tread the same coarse way,
The present's still a cloudy day.*
O may I with myself agree,
And never covet what I see!
Content me with a humble shade,
My passions tamed, my wishes laid;
For while our wishes wildly roll,
We banish quiet from the soul:
'Tis thus the busy beat the air,
And misers gather wealth and care.
Now, even now, my joys run high,
As on the mountain turf I lie;
While the wanton zephyr sings,
And in the vale perfumes his wings;
While the waters murmur deep,
While the shepherd charms his sheep,
While the birds unbounded fly,
And with music fills the sky,
Now, even now, my joys run high.

Be full, ye courts; be great who will;
Search for peace with all your skill;
Open wide the lofty door,

Seek her on the marble floor:

In vain you search, she is not there;
In vain you search the domes of care!
Grass and flowers Quiet treads,
On the meads and mountain heads,
Along with Pleasure close allied,
Ever by each other's side:
And often, by the murmuring rill,
Hears the thrush, while all is still,
Within the groves of Grongar Hill.

Byron thought the lines here printed in Italics the original of Campbell's far-famed lines at the opening of The Plea sures of Hope:'

• "Tis distance lends enchantment to the view,
And robes the mountain in its azure hue.'


WILLIAM HAMILTON of Bangour, a Scottish gentleman of education, rank, and accomplishments, was born of an ancient family in Ayrshire in 1704. He was the delight of the fashionable circles of his native country, and became early distinguished for his poetical talents. In 1745, struck, we may suppose, with the romance of the enterprise, Hamilton joined the standard of Prince Charles, and became the volunteer laureate' of the Jacobites, by celebrating the battle of Gladsmuir. On the discomfiture of the party, Hamilton succeeded in effecting his escape to France; but having many friends and admirers among the royalists at home, a pardon was procured for the rebellious poet, and he was soon restored to his native country and his paternal estate. He did not, however, live long to enjoy his good fortune. His health had always been delicate, and a pulmonary complaint forced him to seek the warmer climate of the continent. He gradually declined, and died at Lyons in 1754.

Hamilton's first and best strains were dedicated to lyrical poetry. Before he was twenty, he had assisted Allan Ramsay in his 'Tea-Table Miscellany.' In 1748, some person, unknown to him, collected and published his poems in Glasgow; but the first genuine and correct copy did not appear till after the author's death, in 1760, when a collection was made from his own manuscripts. The most attractive feature in his works is his pure English style, and a somewhat ornate poetical diction. He had more fancy than feeling, and in this respect his amatory songs resemble those of the courtier poets of Charles II.'s court. Nor was he more sincere, if we may credit an anecdote related of him by Alexander Tytler in his life of Henry Home, Lord Kames. One of the ladies whom Hamilton annoyed by his perpetual compliments and solicitations, consulted Home how she should get rid of the poet, who she was convinced had no serious object in view. The philosopher advised her to dance with him, and show him every mark of her kindness, as if she had resolved to favour his suit. The lady adopted the counsel, and the success of the experiment was complete. Hamilton wrote a serious poem, entitled Contemplation, and a national one on the Thistle, which is in blank verse:

How oft beneath

Its martial influence have Scotia's sons,
Through every age, with dauntless valour fought
On every hostile ground! While o'er their breast,
Companion to the silver star, blest type
Of fame, unsullied and superior deed,
Distinguished ornament! this native plant
Surrounds the sainted cross, with costly row
Of gems emblazed, and flame of radiant gold,
A sacred mark, their glory and their pride!
Professor Richardson of Glasgow (who wrote a
critique on Hamilton in the Lounger') quotes the
following as a favourable specimen of his poetical

In everlasting blushes seen,

Such Pringle shines, of sprightly mien ;
To her the power of love imparts,
Rich gift! the soft successful arts,
That best the lover's fire provoke,
The lively step, the mirthful joke,
The speaking glance, the amorous wile,
The sportful laugh, the winning smile.
Her soul awakening every grace,
Is all abroad upon her face;
In bloom of youth still to survive,
All charms are there, and all alive.

Others of his amatory strains are full of quaint conceits and exaggerated expressions, without any trace of real passion. His ballad of The Braes of Yarrow is by far the finest of his effusions: it has real nature, tenderness, and pastoral simplicity. As the cause of the composition of Wordsworth's three beautiful poems, Yarrow Unvisited,' ' Yarrow Visited,' and 'Yarrow Revisited,' it has, moreover, some external importance in the records of British literature. The poet of the lakes has copied some of its lines and images.

The Braes of Yarrow.

A. Busk ye, busk ye, my bonny bonny bride,
Busk ye, busk ye, my winsome marrow!
Busk ye, busk ye, my bonny bonny bride,
And think nae mair on the Braes of Yarrow.
B. Where gat ye that bonny bonny bride!
Where gat ye that winsome marrow ?
A. I gat her where I darena weil be seen,
Pouing the birks on the Braes of Yarrow.
Weep not, weep not, my bonny bonny bride,
Weep not, weep not, my winsome marrow!
Nor let thy heart lament to leave

Pouing the birks on the Braes of Yarrow.
B. Why does she weep, thy bonny bonny bride?
Why does she weep, thy winsome marrow ?
And why dare ye nae mair weil be seen,
Pouing the birks on the Braes of Yarrow?
4. Lang maun she weep, lang maun she, maun she


And lang maun I nae mair weil be seen
Lang maun she weep with dule and sorrow,
Pouing the birks on the Braes of Yarrow.
For she has tint her lover lover dear,
Her lover dear, the cause of sorrow,
And I hae slain the comeliest swain
That e'er poued birks on the Braes of Yarrow.

Why runs thy stream, O Yarrow, Yarrow, red?
Why on thy braes heard the voice of sorrow?
And why yon melancholious weeds

Hung on the bonny birks of Yarrow ?
What's yonder floats on the rueful rueful flude?
What's yonder floats? O dule and sorrow!
'Tis he, the comely swain I slew

Upon the duleful Braes of Yarrow.

Wash, oh wash his wounds his wounds in tears,
His wounds in tears with dule and sorrow,
And wrap his limbs in mourning weeds,

And lay him on the Braes of Yarrow.
Then build, then build, ye sisters sisters sad,
Ye sisters sad, his tomb with sorrow,
And weep around in waeful wise,

His helpless fate on the Braes of Yarrow.
Curse ye, curse ye, his useless useless shield,
My arm that wrought the deed of sorrow,
The fatal spear that pierced his breast,
His comely breast, on the Braes of Yarrow.
Did I not warn thee not to lue,

And warn from fight, but to my sorrow;
O'er rashly bauld a stronger arm

Thou met'st, and fell on the Braes of Yarrow.

Sweet smells the birk, green grows, green grows the

[blocks in formation]

Flows Yarrow sweet? as sweet, as sweet flows Tweed,
As green its grass, its gowan as yellow,
As sweet smells on its braes the birk,
The apple frae the rock as mellow.

Fair was thy love, fair fair indeed thy love,
In flowery bands thou him didst fetter;
Though he was fair and weil beloved again,
Than me he never lued thee better.

Busk ye, then busk, my bonny bonny bride,
Busk ye,
busk ye, my winsome marrow,
Busk ye, and lue me on the banks of Tweed,
And think nae mair on the Braes of Yarrow.
C. How can I busk a bonny bonny bride,
How can I busk a winsome marrow,
How lue him on the banks of Tweed,

That slew my love on the Braes of Yarrow.

O Yarrow fields! may never never rain,
Nor dew thy tender blossoms cover,
For there was basely slain my love,

My love, as he had not been a lover.

The boy put on his robes, his robes of
His purple vest, 'twas my ain sewing,
Ah! wretched me! I little little kenned
He was in these to meet his ruin.

The boy took out his milk-white milk-white steed,
Unheedful of my dule and sorrow,

But e'er the to-fall of the night

He lay a corpse on the Braes of Yarrow.

Much I rejoiced that waeful waeful day;
I sang, my voice the woods returning,
But lang ere night the spear was flown

That slew my love, and left me mourning.
What can my barbarous barbarous father do,
But with his cruel rage pursue me?
My lover's blood is on thy spear,

How canst thou, barbarous man, then woo me?
My happy sisters may be may be proud;
With cruel and ungentle scoffin,

May bid me seek on Yarrow Braes
My lover nailed in his coffin.

My brother Douglas may upbraid, upbraid,

And strive with threatening words to move me, My lover's blood is on thy spear,

How canst thou ever bid me love thee? Yes, yes, prepare the bed, the bed of love, With bridal sheets my body cover,

Unbar, ye bridal maids, the door,

Let in the expected husband lover.

But who the expected husband husband is?
His hands, methinks, are bathed in slaughter.
Ah me! what ghastly spectre's yon,

Comes, in his pale shroud, bleeding after?
Pale as he is, here lay him lay him down,
O lay his cold head on my pillow;
Take aff take aff these bridal weeds,

And crown my careful head with willow.

Pale though thou art, yet best yet best beloved,
O could my warmth to life restore thee!
Ye'd lie all night between my breasts,
No youth lay ever there before thee.
Pale pale, indeed, O lovely lovely youth,
Forgive, forgive so foul a slaughter,
And lie all night between my breasts,
No youth shall ever lie there after.

4. Return, return, O mournful mournful bride,
Return and dry thy useless sorrow:
Thy lover heeds nought of thy sighs,
He lies a corpse on the Braes of Yarrow.


Ye shepherds of this pleasant vale,
Where Yarrow streams along,
Forsake your rural toils, and join

In my triumphant song.

She grants, she yields; one heavenly smile
Atones her long delays,

One happy minute crowns the pains
Of many suffering days.

Raise, raise the victor notes of joy,
These suffering days are o'er;
Love satiates now his boundless wish
From beauty's boundless store:
No doubtful hopes, no anxious fears,
This rising calm destroy;
Now every prospect smiles around,
All opening into joy.

The sun with double lustre shone
That dear consenting hour,
Brightened each hill, and o'er each vale
New coloured every flower:

The gales their gentle sighs withheld,
No leaf was seen to move,

The hovering songsters round were mute,
And wonder hushed the grove.

The hills and dales no more resound
The lambkin's tender cry;
Without one murmur Yarrow stole
In dimpling silence by:

All nature seemed in still repose
Her voice alone to hear,
That gently rolled the tuneful wave,
She spoke and blessed my ear.
Take, take whate'er of bliss or joy
You fondly fancy mine;
Whate'er of joy or bliss I boast,
Love renders wholly thine:

The woods struck up to the soft galt,
The leaves were seen to move,

The feathered choir resumed their voice,
And wonder filled the grove;

The hills and dales again resound
The lambkins' tender cry,

With all his murmurs Yarrow trilled
The song of triumph by ;

Above, beneath, around, all on

Was verdure, beauty, song;

I snatched her to my trembling breast,
All nature joyed along.


Ah, the poor shepherd's mournful fate,
When doomed to love and doomed to languish,
To bear the scornful fair one's hate,
Nor dare disclose his anguish!

Yet eager looks and dying sighs

My secret soul discover,

While rapture, trembling through mine eyes,
Reveals how much I love her.

The tender glance, the reddening cheek,
O'erspread with rising blushes,

A thousand various ways they speak
A thousand various wishes.

For, oh! that form so heavenly fair,
Those languid eyes so sweetly smiling,
That artless blush and modest air,
So fatally beguiling;

Thy every look, and every grace,

So charm, whene'er I view thee, Till death o'ertake me in the chase, Still will my hopes pursue thee. Then, when my tedious hours are past, Be this last blessing given, Low at thy feet to breathe my last, And die in sight of heaven.


In massive force of understanding, multifarious knowledge, sagacity, and moral intrepidity, no writer

Dr Samuel Johnson.

of the eighteenth century surpassed DR SAMUEL JOHNSON. His various works, with their sententious morality and high-sounding sonorous periods -his manly character and appearance-his great virtues and strong prejudices-his early and severe struggles, illustrating his own noble verse

Slow rises worth by poverty depressed

his love of argument and society, into which he poured the treasures of a rich and full mind-his wit, repartee, and brow-beating-his rough manners and kind heart-his curious household, in which were congregated the lame, blind, and despised-his very looks, gesticulation, and dress-have all been brought so vividly before us by his biographer, Boswell, that to readers of every class Johnson is as well known as a member of their own family. His heavy form seems still to haunt Fleet Street and the Strand, and he has stamped his memory on the remote islands of the Hebrides. In literature his influence has been scarcely less extensive. No prose writer of that day escaped the contagion of his peculiar style. He banished for a long period the naked simplicity of Swift and the idiomatic graces of Addison; he depressed the literature and poetry of imagination, while he elevated that of the understanding; he based criticism on strong sense and solid judgment, not on scholastic subtleties and refinement; and though some of the higher qualities and attributes of genius eluded his grasp and observation, the withering scorn and invective with which he assailed all affected sentimentalism, immorality, and licentiousness, introduced a pure and healthful and invigorating atmosphere into the crowded walks of literature. These are solid and substantial benefits which should weigh down errors of taste or the caprices of a temperament constitutionally prone to melancholy and ill health, and which was little sweetened by prosperity or applause at that period of life when the habits are formed and the manners become permanent. As a man, Johnson was an admirable representative of the Englishman-as an author, his course was singularly pure, high-minded, and independent. He could boast with more truth than Burke, that he had no arts but manly arts." At every step in his progress his passport was talent and virtue; and when the royal countenance and favour were at length extended to him, it was but a ratification by the sovereign of the wishes and opinions entertained by the best and wisest of the nation.

Johnson was born at Lichfield, September 18, 1709. His father was a bookseller, and in circumstances that enabled him to give his son a good education. In his nineteenth year he was placed at Pem

[ocr errors]

Street Scene in Lichfield, including the birthplace of Johnson 'being the under part of the lighted side of the large house

on the right hand side of the picture

« PreviousContinue »