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The Birks of Invermay.

The smiling morn, the breathing spring,
Invite the tunefu' birds to sing;
And, while they warble from the spray,
Love melts the universal lay.

Let us, Amanda, timely wise,
Like them, improve the hour that flies;
And in soft raptures waste the day,
Among the birks of Invermay.

For soon the winter of the year,
And age, life's winter, will appear;
At this thy living bloom will fade,
As that will strip the verdant shade.
Our taste of pleasure then is o'er,
The feathered songsters are no more;
And when they drop and we decay,
Adieu the birks of Invermay!

Some additional stanzas were added to the above by Dr Bryce, Kirknewton. Invermay is in Perthshire, the native county of Mallet, and is situated near the termination of a little picturesque stream called the May. The 'birk' or birch-tree is abundant, adding grace and beauty to rock and stream. Though a Celt by birth and language, Mallet had none of the imaginative wildness or superstition of his native country. Macpherson, on the other hand, seems to have been completely imbued with it.

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the fall of one of his father's cleavers, or hatchets, on his foot-rendered him lame for life, and perpetuated the recollection of his lowly birth. The Society of Dissenters advanced a sum for the education of the poet as a clergyman, and he repaired to Edinburgh for this purpose in his eighteenth year. He afterwards repented of this destination, and, returning the money, entered himself as a student of medicine. He was then a poet, and in his Hymn to Science, written in Edinburgh, we see at once the formation of his classic taste, and the dignity of his personal character:

That last best effort of thy skill, To form the life and rule the will,

Propitious Power! impart; Teach me to cool my passion's fires, Make me the judge of my desires,

The master of my heart.

Raise me above the vulgar's breath,
Pursuit of fortune, fear of death,
And all in life that's mean;
Still true to reason be my plan,
Still let my actions speak the man,
Through every various scene.

A youth animated by such sentiments, promised a
After three
manhood of honour and integrity.
years spent in Edinburgh, Akenside removed to
Leyden to complete his studies; and in 1744 he was
admitted to the degree of M.D. He next esta-
blished himself as a physician in London. In Hol-
land he had (at the age of twenty-three) writ-
ten his 'Pleasures of Imagination,' which he now
offered to Dodsley, demanding £120 for the copy-
right. The bookseller consulted Pope, who told
him to make no niggardly offer, since this was no
every-day writer.' The poem attracted much at-
tention, and was afterwards translated into French
and Italian. Akenside established himself as a
physician in Northampton, where he remained a
year and a-half, but did not succeed. The latter
part of his life was spent in London. At Leyden
he had formed an intimacy with a young English-
man of fortune, Jeremiah Dyson, Esq., which ripened
into a friendship of the most close and enthusiastic
description; and Mr Dyson (who was afterwards
clerk of the House of Commons, a lord of the trea-
sury, &c.) had the generosity to allow the poet £300
a-year. After writing a few Odes, and attempting
a total alteration of his great poem (in which he
was far from successful), Akenside made no further
efforts at composition. His society was courted for
his taste, knowledge, and eloquence; but his solemn
sententiousness of manner, his romantic ideas of
liberty, and his unbounded admiration of the an-
cients, exposed him occasionally to ridicule. The
physician in Peregrine Pickle, who gives a feast in
the manner of the ancients, is supposed to have been
a caricature of Akenside. The description, for rich
humour and grotesque combinations of learning and
folly, has not been excelled by Smollett; but it was
unworthy his talents to cast ridicule on a man of
high character and splendid genius. Akenside died
suddenly of a putrid sore throat, on the 23d of June
1770, in his 49th year, and was buried in St James's
church. With a feeling common to poets, as to
more ordinary mortals, Akenside, in his latter days,
reverted with delight to his native landscape on the
banks of the Tyne. In his fragment of a fourth
book of The Pleasures of Imagination,' written in
the last year of his life, there is the following beau-
tiful passage:-


O ye dales

Of Tyne, and ye most ancient woodlands; where Oft as the giant flood obliquely strides,

And his banks open and his lawns extend,
Stops short the pleased traveller to view,
Presiding o'er the scene, some rustic tower
Founded by Norman or by Saxon hands:
O ye
Northumbrian shades, which overlook
The rocky pavement and the mossy falls
Of solitary Wensbeck's limpid stream!
How gladly I recall your well-known seats
Beloved of old, and that delightful time
When all alone, for many a summer's day,
I wandered through your calm recesses, led
In silence by some powerful hand unseen.
Nor will I e'er forget you; nor shall e'er
The graver tasks of manhood, or the advice
Of vulgar wisdom, move me to disclaim
Those studies which possessed me in the dawn
Of life, and fixed the colour of my mind
For every future year: whence even now
From sleep I rescue the clear hours of morn,
And, while the world around lies overwhelmed
In idle darkness, am alive to thoughts
Of honourable fame, of truth divine

Or moral, and of minds to virtue won
By the sweet magic of harmonious verse.
The spirit of Milton seems to speak in this strain of
lofty egotism!


[Aspirations after the Infinite.] Say, why was man so eminently raised Amid the vast creation; why ordained

The Pleasures of Imagination' is a poem seldom read continuously, though its finer passages, by frequent quotation, particularly in works of criticism and moral philosophy, are well known. Gray censured the mixture of spurious philosophy-the speculations of Hutcheson and Shaftesbury-which the work contains. Plato, Lucretius, and even the papers by Addison in the Spectator, were also laid under contribution by the studious author. He gathered sparks of enthusiasm from kindred minds, but the train was in his own. The pleasures which his poem professes to treat of, 'proceed,' he says, 'either from natural objects, as from a flourishing grove, a clear and murmuring fountain, a calm sea by moonlight, or from works of art, such as a noble edifice, a musical tune, a statue, a picture, a poem.' These, with the moral and intellectual objects arising from them, furnish abundant topics for illustration; but Aken-Through life and death to dart his piercing eye, side dealt chiefly with abstract subjects, pertaining With thoughts beyond the limit of his frame; more to philosophy than to poetry. He did not But that the Omnipotent might send him forth seek to graft upon them human interests and pas- In sight of mortal and immortal powers, sions. In tracing the final causes of our emotions, As on a boundless theatre, to run he could have described their exercise and effects in The great career of justice; to exalt scenes of ordinary pain or pleasure in the walks His generous aim to all diviner deeds; of real life. This does not seem, however, to have To chase each partial purpose from his breast; been the purpose of the poet, and hence his work is And through the mists of passion and of sense, deficient in interest. He seldom stoops from the And through the tossing tide of chance and pain, heights of philosophy and classic taste. He con- To hold his course unfaltering, while the voice sidered that physical science improved the charms of Of Truth and Virtue, up the steep ascent nature. Contrary to the feeling of an accomplished Of Nature, calls him to his high reward, living poet, who repudiates these cold material The applauding smile of Heaven? Else wherefore burns laws, he viewed the rainbow with additional plea- In mortal bosoms this unquenched hope, sure after he had studied the Newtonian theory of That breathes from day to day sublimer things, lights and colours. And mocks possession? wherefore darts the mind With such resistless ardour to embrace Majestic forms; impatient to be free, Spurning the gross control of wilful might; Proud of the strong contention of her toils; Proud to be daring? who but rather turns To Heaven's broad fire his unconstrained view, Than to the glimmering of a waxen flame? Who that, from Alpine heights, his labouring eye Shoots round the wide horizon, to survey Nilus or Ganges.rolling his bright wave Through mountains, plains, through empires black

with shade,

Nor ever yet
The melting rainbow's vernal tinctured hues
To me have shone so pleasing, as when first
The hand of Science pointed out the path
In which the sunbeams gleaming from the west
Fall on the watery cloud, whose darksome veil
Involves the orient.

learned poet, perhaps superior. His knowledge was
better digested. But Gray had not the romantic
enthusiasm of character, tinged with pedantry, which
naturally belonged to Akenside. He had also the
experience of mature years. The genius of Aken-
side was early developed, and his diffuse and florid
descriptions seem the natural product-marvellous
of its kind-of youthful exuberance. He was after-
wards conscious of the defects of his poem. He saw
that there was too much leaf for the fruit; but in
cutting off these luxuriances, he sacrificed some of
the finest blossoms. Posterity has been more just
to his fame, by almost wholly disregarding this
second copy of his philosophical poem. In his youth-
ful aspirations after moral and intellectual great-
ness and beauty, he seems, like Jeremy Taylor in
the pulpit, an angel newly descended from the
visions of glory.' In advanced years, he is the pro-
fessor in his robes; still free from stain, but stately,
formal, and severe. The blank verse of "The Plea-
sures of Imagination' is free and well-modulated, and
seems to be distinctively his own. Though apt to
run into too long periods, it has more compactness
of structure than Thomson's ordinary composition.
Its occasional want of perspicuity probably arises
from the fineness of his distinctions, and the diffi-
culty attending mental analysis in verse. He might
also wish to avoid all vulgar and common expres-
sions, and thus err from excessive refinement. A
redundancy of ornament undoubtedly, in some pas-
sages, takes off from the clearness and prominence
of his conceptions. His highest flights, however
as in the allusion to the death of Cæsar, and his
exquisitely-wrought parallel between art and na-
ture-have a flow and energy of expression, with
appropriate imagery, which mark the great poet.
His style is chaste, yet elevated and musical. He
never compromised his dignity, though he blended
sweetness with its expression.

Akenside's Hymn to the Naiads has the true classical spirit. He had caught the manner and feeling, the varied pause and harmony, of the Greek poets, with such felicity, that Lloyd considered his Hymn as fitted to give a better idea of that form of composition, than could be conveyed by any translation of Homer or Callimachus. Gray was an equally

And continents of sand, will turn his gaze
To mark the windings of a scanty rill
That murmurs at his feet? The high-born soul

Disdains to rest her heaven-aspiring wing
Beneath its native quarry. Tired of earth
And this diurnal scene, she springs aloft
Through fields of air; pursues the flying storm;
Rides on the vollied lightning through the heavens ;
Or, yoked with whirlwinds and the northern blast,
Sweeps the long tract of day. Then high she soars
The blue profound, and, hovering round the sun,
Beholds him pouring the redundant stream
Of light; beholds his unrelenting sway
Bend the reluctant planets to absolve
The fated rounds of Time. Thence far effused,
She darts her swiftness up the long career
Of devious comets; through its burning signs
Exulting measures the perennial wheel
Of Nature, and looks back on all the stars,
Whose blended light, as with a milky zone,
Invest the orient. Now, amazed she views
The empyreal waste, where happy spirits hold,
Beyond this concave heaven, their calm abode;
And fields of radiance, whose unfading light
Has travelled the profound six thousand years,
Nor yet arrives in sight of mortal things.
Even on the barriers of the world, untired
She meditates the eternal depth below;
Till half recoiling, down the headlong steep
She plunges; soon o'erwhelmed and swallowed up
In that immense of being. There her hopes
Rest at the fated goal. For from the birth
Of mortal man, the sovereign Maker said,
That not in humble nor in brief delight,
Not in the fading echoes of Renown,
Power's purple robes, nor Pleasure's flowery lap,
The soul should find enjoyment: but from these
Turning disdainful to an equal good,
Through all the ascent of things enlarge her view,
Till every bound at length should disappear,
And infinite perfection close the scene.

[Intellectual Beauty-Patriotism.]

Mind, mind alone (bear witness earth and heaven!)
The living fountains in itself contains

Of beauteous and sublime: here hand in hand
Sit paramount the Graces; here enthroned,
Celestial Venus, with divinest airs,
Invites the soul to never-fading joy.

Look, then, abroad through Nature, to the range
Of planets, suns, and adamantine spheres,
Wheeling unshaken through the void immense;
And speak, oh man! does this capacious scene
With half that kindling majesty dilate
Thy strong conception, as when Brutus rose
Refulgent from the stroke of Cæsar's fate,
Amid the crowd of patriots; and his arm
Aloft extending, like eternal Jove
When guilt brings down the thunder, called aloud
On Tully's name, and shook his crimson steel,
And bade the father of his country, hail!
For lo! the tyrant prostrate on the dust,
And Rome again is free! Is aught so fair
In all the dewy landscapes of the spring,
In the bright eye of Hesper, or the morn,
In Nature's fairest forms, is aught so fair
As virtuous friendship? as the candid blush
Of him who strives with fortune to be just?
The graceful tear that streams for others' woes,
Or the mild majesty of private life,
Where Peace, with ever-blooming olive, crowns
The gate; where Honour's liberal hands effuse
Unenvied treasures, and the snowy wings
Of Innocence and Love protect the scene?
Once more search, undismayed, the dark profound
Where nature works in secret; view the beds
Of mineral treasure, and the eternal vault
That bounds the hoary ocean; trace the forms

Of atoms moving with incessant change
Their elemental round: behold the seeds
Of being, and the energy of life
Kindling the mass with ever-active flame:
Then to the secrets of the working mind
Attentive turn; from dim oblivion call
Her fleet, ideal band; and bid them, go!
Break through time's barrier, and o'ertake the hour
That saw the heavens created; then declare
If aught were found in those external scenes
To move thy wonder now. For what are all
The forms which brute unconscious matter wears,
Greatness of bulk, or symmetry of parts?
Not reaching to the heart, soon feeble grows
The superficial impulse; dull their charms,
And satiate soon, and pall the languid eye.
Not so the moral species, nor the powers
Of genius and design: the ambitious mind
There sees herself: by these congenial forms
Touched and awakened, with intenser act
She bends each nerve, and meditates well-pleased
Her features in the mirror. For of all
The inhabitants of earth, to man alone
Creative Wisdom gave to lift his eye

To truth's eternal measures; thence to frame
The sacred laws of action and of will,
Discerning justice from unequal deeds,
And temperance from folly. But beyond
This energy of truth, whose dictates bind
Assenting reason, the benignant Sire,
To deck the honoured paths of just and good,
Has added bright imagination's rays:
Where virtue, rising from the awful depth
Of truth's mysterious bosom, doth forsake
The unadorned condition of her birth;
And, dressed by fancy in ten thousand hues,
Assumes a various feature to attract
With charms responsive to each gazer's eye,
The hearts of men. Amid his rural walk,
The ingenious youth, whom solitude inspires
With purest wishes, from the pensive shade
Beholds her moving, like a virgin-muse
That wakes her lyre to some indulgent theme
Of harmony and wonder: while among
The herd of servile minds her strenuous form
Indignant flashes on the patriot's eye,
And through the rolls of memory appeals
To ancient honour, or, in act serene
Yet watchful, raises the majestic sword
Of public power, from dark ambition's reach,
To guard the sacred volume of the laws.

[Operations of the Mind in the Production of Works of Imagination.]

By these mysterious ties, the busy power
Of memory her ideal train preserves

Entire; or when they would elude her watch,
Reclaims their fleeting footsteps from the waste
Of dark oblivion; thus collecting all
The various forms of being, to present
Before the curious eye of mimic art
Their largest choice: like spring's unfolded blooms
Exhaling sweetness, that the skilful bee
May taste at will from their selected spoils
To work her dulcet food. For not the expanse
Of living lakes in summer's noontide calm,
Reflects the bordering shade and sun-bright heavens
With fairer semblance; not the sculptured gold
More faithful keeps the graver's lively trace,
Than he whose birth the sister powers of art
Propitious viewed, and from his genial star
Shed influence to the seeds of fancy kind,
Than his attempered bosom must preserve
The seal of nature. There alone, unchanged
Her form remains. The balmy walks of May

There breathe perennial sweets: the trembling chord
Resounds for ever in the abstracted ear,
Melodious; and the virgin's radiant eye,
Superior to disease, to grief, and time,
Shines with unbating lustre. Thus at length
Endowed with all that nature can bestow,
The child of fancy oft in silence bends
O'er these mixed treasures of his pregnant breast
With conscious pride. From them he oft resolves
To frame he knows not what excelling things,
And win he knows not what sublime reward
Of praise and wonder. By degrees the mind
Feels her young nerves dilate: the plastic powers
Labour for action: blind emotions heave

His bosom; and with loveliest frenzy caught,
From earth to heaven he rolls his daring eye,
From heaven to earth. Anon ten thousand shapes,
Like spectres trooping to the wizard's call,
Flit swift before him. From the womb of earth,
From ocean's bed they come: the eternal heavens
Disclose their splendours, and the dark abyss
Pours out her births unknown. With fixed gaze
He marks the rising phantoms. Now compares
Their different forms; now blends them, now divides;
Enlarges and extenuates by turns;
Opposes, ranges in fantastic bands,
And infinitely varies. Hither now,
Now thither fluctuates his inconstant aim,
With endless choice perplexed.
Begins to open. Lucid order dawns;
And as from Chaos old the jarring seeds
Of nature at the voice divine repaired
Each to its place, till rosy earth unveiled
Her fragrant bosom, and the joyful sun
Sprung up the blue serene; by swift degrees
Thus disentangled, his entire design
Emerges. Colours mingle, features join,
And lines converge: the fainter parts retire;
The fairer eminent in light advance;
And every image on its neighbour smiles.
Awhile he stands, and with a father's joy
Contemplates. Then with Promethean art
Into its proper vehicle he breathes

At length his plan

The fair conception; which, embodied thus,
And permanent, becomes to eyes or ears
An object ascertained: while thus informed,
The various objects of his mimic skill,
The consonance of sounds, the featured rock,
The shadowy picture, and impassioned verse,
Beyond their proper powers attract the soul
By that expressive semblance, while in sight
Of nature's great original we scan

The lively child of art; while line by line,
And feature after feature, we refer
To that divine exemplar whence it stole
Those animating charms. Thus beauty's palm
Betwixt them wavering hangs: applauding love
Doubts where to choose; and mortal man aspires
To tempt creative praise. As when a cloud
Of gathering hail with limpid crusts of ice
Enclosed, and obvious to the beaming sun,
Collects his large effulgence; straight the heavens
With equal flames present on either hand
The radiant visage: Persia stands at gaze,
Appalled; and on the brink of Ganges doubts
The snowy vested seer, in Mithra's name,
To which the fragrance of the south shall burn,
To which his warbled orisons ascend.


What then is taste, but these internal powers Active, and strong, and feelingly alive To each fine impulse? a discerning sense Of decent and sublime, with quick disgust From things deformed or disarranged, or gross

In species? This, nor gems nor stores of gold,
Nor purple state, nor culture can bestow;
But God alone, when first his active hand
Imprints the secret bias of the soul.
He, mighty parent! wise and just in all,
Free as the vital breeze or light of heaven,
Reveals the charms of nature. Ask the swain
Who journies homeward from a summer day's
Long labour, why, forgetful of his toils
And due repose, he loiters to behold

The sunshine gleaming, as through amber clouds,
O'er all the western sky; full soon, I ween,
His rude expression and untutored airs,
Beyond the power of language, will unfold
The form of beauty smiling at his heart,
How lovely! how commanding! But though heaven
In every breast hath sown these early seeds
Of love and admiration, yet in vain,
Without fair culture's kind parental aid,
Without enlivening suns, and genial showers,
And shelter from the blast, in vain we hope
The tender plant should rear its blooming head,
Or yield the harvest promised in its spring.
Nor yet will every soil with equal stores
Repay the tiller's labour; or attend
His will, obsequious, whether to produce
The olive or the laurel. Different minds
Incline to different objects: one pursues
The vast alone, the wonderful, the wild;
Another sighs for harmony, and grace,
And gentlest beauty. Hence when lightning fires
The arch of heaven, and thunders rock the ground;
When furious whirlwinds rend the howling air,
And ocean, groaning from his lowest bed,
Heaves his tempestuous billows to the sky,
Amid the mighty uproar, while below
The nations tremble, Shakspeare looks abroad
From some high cliff superior, and enjoys
The elemental war. But Waller longs
All on the margin of some flowery stream
To spread his careless limbs amid the cool
Of plantain shades, and to the listening deer
The tale of slighted vows and love's disdain
Resound soft-warbling all the live-long day:
Consenting zephyr sighs; the weeping rill
Joins in his plaint, melodious; mute the
And hill and dale with all their echoes mourn.
Such and so various are the tastes of men.

O blest of heaven! whom not the languid songs Of luxury, the siren! not the bribes Of sordid wealth, nor all the gaudy spoils Of pageant honour, can seduce to leave

Those ever-blooming sweets, which from the store
Of nature fair imagination culls

To charm the enlivened soul! What though not all

Of mortal offspring can attain the heights
Of envied life; though only few possess
Patrician treasures or imperial state;
Yet nature's care, to all her children just,
With richer treasures and an ampler state,
Endows at large whatever happy man
Will deign to use them. His the city's pomp,
The rural honours his. Whate'er adorns
The princely dome, the column and the arch,
The breathing marbles and the sculptured gold,
Beyond the proud possessor's narrow claim,
His tuneful breast enjoys. For him the spring
Distils her dews, and from the silken gem
Its lucid leaves unfolds: for him the hand
Of autumn tinges every fertile branch
With blooming gold and blushes like the morn.
Each passing hour sheds tribute from her wings;
And still new beauties meet his lonely walk,
And loves unfelt attract him. Not a breeze
Flies o'er the meadow, not a cloud imbibes
The setting sun's effulgence, not a strain

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