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in painting the rural life of England in true colours. His picture of the gipsies, and his sketches of venal clerks and rapacious overseers, are genuine likenesses. He has not the raciness or the distinctness of Crabbe, but is equally faithful, and as sincerely a friend to humanity. He pleads warmly for the poor vagrant tribe :
Still mark if vice or nature prompts the deed;
Perhaps on some inhospitable shore
This allusion to the dead soldier and his widow on the field of battle was made the subject of a print by Bunbury, under which were engraved the pathetic lines of Langhorne. Sir Walter Scott has mentioned, that the only time he saw Burns, the Scottish poet, this picture was in the room. Burns shed tears over it; and Scott, then a lad of fifteen, was the only person present who could tell him where the lines were to be found. The passage is beautiful in itself, but this incident will embalm and preserve it for ever.
When the poor hind, with length of years decayed,
If in thy courts this caitiff wretch appear,
Let age no longer toil with feeble strife,
But chief thy notice shall one monster claim;
But, hapless! oft through fear of future wo, And certain vengeance of the insulting foe; Oft, ere to thee the poor prefer their prayer, The last extremes of penury they bear.
Wouldst thou then raise thy patriot office higher To something more than magistrate aspire! And, left each poorer, pettier chase behind, Step nobly forth, the friend of human kind! The game I start courageously pursue! Adieu to fear! to insolence adieu! And first we'll range this mountain's stormy side, As meet no more the wintry blast to bear, Where the rude winds the shepherd's roof deride, And all the wild hostilities of air. That roof have I remembered many a year; It once gave refuge to a hunted deerHere, in those days, we found an aged pair; But time untenants-ha! what seest thou there? 'Horror!-by Heaven, extended on a bed of naked fern, two human creatures dead! Embracing as alive !-ah, no !-no life! Cold, breathless!'
'Tis the shepherd and his wife. |_ [Appeal to Country Justices in Behalf of the Rural I knew the scene, and brought thee to behold Poor.] What speaks more strongly than the story toldThey died through want
'By every power I swear, If the wretch treads the earth, or breathes the air, Through whose default of duty, or design, These victims fell, he dies.'
They fell by thine.
Swear on no pretence : A swearing justice wants both grace and sense.
[An Advice to the Married.]
Should erring nature casual faults disclose,
Love, like the flower that courts the sun's kind ray,
Of them, who wrapt in earth are cold, No more the smiling day shall view, Should many a tender tale be told,
For many a tender thought is due.
Why else the o'ergrown paths of time, Would thus the lettered sage explore, With pain these crumbling ruins climb,
And on the doubtful sculpture pore?
Why seeks he with unwearied toil,
And lead Oblivion into day?
'Tis nature prompts by toil or fear,
Unmoved to range through Death's domain; The tender parent loves to hear Her children's story told again!
Light of the world, Immortal Mind;
Though thou this transient being gave,
And still this poor contracted span,
Through error's maze, through folly's night,
Affliction flies, and Hope returns;
O may I still thy favour prove!
[A Farewell Hymn to the Valley of Irwan.] Farewell the fields of Irwan's vale,
My infant years where Fancy led, And soothed me with the western gale,
Her wild dreams waving round my head, While the blithe blackbird told his tale. Farewell the fields of Irwan's vale!
The primrose on the valley's side,
The green thyme on the mountain's head, The wanton rose, the daisy pied,
The wilding's blossom blushing red; No longer I their sweets inhale. Farewell the fields of Irwan's vale!
How oft, within yon vacant shade,
Has evening closed my careless eye! How oft, along those banks I've strayed,
And watched the wave that wandered by; Full long their loss shall I bewail. Farewell the fields of Irwan's vale!
Yet still, within yon vacant grove,
To mark the close of parting day; Along yon flowery banks to rove,
And watch the wave that winds away; Fair Fancy sure shall never fail, Though far from these and Irwan's vale.
SIR WILLIAM BLACKSTONE.
Few votaries of the muses have had the resolution to abandon their early worship, or to cast off the Dalilahs of the imagination,' when embarked on more gainful callings. An example of this, however, is afforded by the case of SIR WILLIAM BLACKSTONE (born in London in 1723, died 1780), who, having made choice of the law for his profession, and entered himself a student of the Middle Temple, took formal leave of poetry in a copy of natural and pleasing verses, published in Dodsley's Miscellany. Blackstone rose to rank and fame as a lawyer, wrote a series of masterly commentaries on the laws of England, was knighted, and died a judge in the court of common pleas. From some critical notes on Shakspeare by Sir William, published by Stevens, it would appear that, though he had forsaken his muse, he still (like Charles Lamb, when he had given up the use of the 'great plant,' tobacco) 'loved to live in the suburbs of her graces.'
The Lawyer's Farewell to his Muse. As, by some tyrant's stern command, A wretch forsakes his native land, In foreign climes condemned to roam An endless exile from his home; Pensive he treads the destined way, And dreads to go; nor dares to stay; Till on some neighbouring mountain's brow He stops, and turns his eyes below; There, melting at the well-known view, Drops a last tear, and bids adieu: So I, thus doomed from thee to part, Gay queen of fancy and of art, Reluctant move, with doubtful mind, Oft stop, and often look behind. Companion of my tender age, Serenely gay, and sweetly sage, How blithesome we were wont to rove, By verdant hill or shady grove, Where fervent bees, with humming voice, Around the honied oak rejoice, And aged elms with awful bend, In long cathedral walks extend! Lulled by the lapse of gliding floods, Cheered by the warbling of the woods,
How blest my days, my thoughts how free, In sweet society with thee!
Then all was joyous, all was young,
In frighted streets their orgies hold;
DR THOMAS PERCY.
DR THOMAS PERCY, afterwards bishop of Dromore, in 1765 published his Reliques of English Poetry, in which several excellent old songs and ballads were revived, and a selection made of the best lyrical pieces scattered through the works of modern authors. The learning and ability with which Percy executed his task, and the sterling I value of his materials, recommended his volumes to public favour. They found their way into the hands of poets and poetical readers, and awakened a love of nature, simplicity, and true passion, in contradistinction to that coldly-correct and sentimental style which pervaded part of our literature. The influence of Percy's collection was general and extensive. It is evident in many contemporary authors. It gave the first impulse to the genius of Sir Walter Scott; and it may be seen in the writings of Coleridge and Wordsworth. A fresh fountain of poetry was opened up-a spring of sweet, tender, and heroic thoughts and imaginations, which could never be again turned back into the artificial channels in which the genius of poesy had been too long and too closely confined. Percy was himself a poet. His ballad,O, Nanny, wilt Thou Gang wi' Me,' the Hermit of Warkworth,' and other detached pieces, evince both taste and talent. We subjoin a cento, The Friar of Orders Gray,' which Percy says he compiled from fragments of ancient ballads, to which he added supplemental stanzas to connect them together. The greater part, however, is his own. The life of Dr Percy presents little for remark. He was born at Bridgnorth, Shropshire, in 1728, and, after his education at Oxford, entered the church, in which he was successively chaplain to the king, dean of Carlisle, and bishop of Dromore: the
The Deanery, Carlisle.
latter dignity he possessed from 1782 till his death in 1811. He enjoyed the friendship of Johnson, Goldsmith, and other distinguished men of his day, and lived long enough to hail the genius of the most illustrious of his admirers, Sir Walter Scott.
O, Nanny, wilt Thou Gang wi' Me.
O, Nanny, wilt thou gang wi' me,
Nae langer decked wi' jewels rare, Say, canst thou quit each courtly scene, Where thou wert fairest of the fair?
O, Nanny, when thou'rt far awa,
Wilt thou not cast a look behind? Say, canst thou face the flaky snaw, Nor shrink before the winter wind? O can that soft and gentle mien
Severest hardships learn to bear, Nor, sad, regret each courtly scene, Where thou wert fairest of the fair?
O Nanny, canst thou love so true,
Through perils keen wi' me to gae? Or, when thy swain mishap shall rue,
To share with him the pang of wae? Say, should disease or pain befall,
Wilt thou assume the nurse's care, Nor, wishful, those gay scenes recall, Where thou wert fairest of the fair? And when at last thy love shall die,
Wilt thou receive his parting breath? Wilt thou repress each struggling sigh,
And cheer with smiles the bed of death? And wilt thou o'er his much-loved clay
Strew flowers, and drop the tender tear? Nor then regret those scenes so gay, Where thou wert fairest of the fair?
The Friar of Orders Gray.
It was a friar of orders gray Walked forth to tell his beads, And he met with a lady fair,
Clad in a pilgrim's weeds.
Now Christ thee save, thou reverend friar !
I pray thee tell to me,
If ever at yon holy shrine
My true love thou didst see.'
And how should I know your true love
From many another one?'
But chiefly by his face and mien,
'O lady, he is dead and gone! Lady, he's dead and gone! At his head a green grass turf, And at his heels a stone.
Within these holy cloisters long
He languished, and he died, Lamenting of a lady's love,
And 'plaining of her pride. Here bore him barefaced on his bier Six proper youths and tall;
And many a tear bedewed his grave Within yon kirkyard wall.'
And art thou dead, thou gentle youth-
And didst thou die for love of me?
ments of his countrymen to listen to the tales and compositions of their ancient bards, and he described these fragments as full of pathos and poetical imagery. Under the patronage of Mr Home's friends-Blair, Carlyle, and Fergusson-Macpherson published a small volume of sixty pages, entitled Fragments of Ancient Poetry; translated from the Gaelic or Erse Language. The publication attracted universal attention, and a subscription was made to enable Macpherson to make a tour in the Highlands to collect other pieces. His journey proved to be highly successful. In 1762 he presented the world with Fingal, an Ancient Epic Poem, in Six Books; and in 1763 Temora, another epic poem, in eight books. The sale of these works was immense. The possibility that, in the third or fourth century, among the wild remote mountains of Scotland, there existed a people exhibiting all the high and chivalrous feelings of refined valour, generosity, magnanimity, and virtue, was eminently calculated to excite astonishment; while the idea of the poems being handed down by tradition through so many centuries among rude, savage, and barbarous tribes, was no less astounding. Many doubted -others disbelieved-but a still greater number 'indulged the pleasing supposition that Fingal fought and Ossian sung.' Macpherson realised £1200, it is said, by these productions. In 1764 the poet accompanied Governor Johnston to Pensacola as his secretary, but quarrelling with his patron, he returned, and fixed his residence in London. He became one of the literary supporters of the administration, published some historical works, and was a copious pamphleteer. In 1773 he published a translation of the Iliad in the same style of poetical prose as Ossian, which was a complete failure, unless as a source of ridicule and personal opprobrium to the translator. He was more successful as a politician. A pamphlet of his in defence of the taxation of America, and another on the opposition in parliament in 1779, were much applauded. He attempted (as we have seen from his manuscripts) to combat the Letters of Junius, writing under the signatures of Musæus,' Scævola,' &c. He was appointed agent for the Nabob of Arcot, and obtained a seat in parliament as representative for the borough of Camelford. It does not appear, however, that, with all his ambition and political zeal, Macpherson ever attempted to speak in the House of Commons. In 1789 the poet, having realised a handsome fortune, purchased the property of Raitts, in his native parish, and having changed its name to the more euphonious and sounding one of Belleville, he built upon it a splendid residence, designed by the Adelphi Adams, in the style of an Italian villa, in which he hoped to spend an old age of ease and dignity. He died at JAMES MACPHERSON was born at Kingussie, a Belleville on the 17th of February 1796, leaving a village in Inverness-shire, on the road northwards handsome fortune, which is still enjoyed by his fafrom Perth, in 1738. He was intended for the mily. His eldest daughter, Miss Macpherson, is at church, and received the necessary education at present (1842) proprietrix of the estate, and another Aberdeen. At the age of twenty, he published a daughter of the poet is the wife of the distinguished heroic poem, in six cantos, entitled The Highlander, natural philosopher, Sir David Brewster. The eagerwhich at once proved his ambition and his incapa- ness of Macpherson for the admiration of his fellowcity. It is a miserable production. For a short creatures was seen by some of the bequests of his time Macpherson taught the school of Ruthven, will. He ordered that his body should be interred near his native place, whence he was glad to remove in Westminster Abbey, and that a sum of £300 as tutor in the family of Mr Graham of Balgowan. should be laid out in erecting a monument to his While attending his pupil (afterwards Lord Lyne- memory in some conspicuous situation at Belleville. doch) at the spa of Moffat, he became acquainted Both injunctions were duly fulfilled: the body was with Mr John Home, the author of Douglas,' to interred in Poets' Corner, and a marble obelisk, conwhom he showed what he represented as the trans-taining a medallion portrait of the poet, may be seen lations of some fragments of ancient Gaelic poetry, gleaming amidst a clump of trees by the road-side which he said were still floating in the Highlands. near Kingussie. He stated that it was one of the favourite amuse- The fierce controversy which raged for some time
Twinned, and from her hath no dividual being. Time and a better taste have abated the pleasure with which these productions were once read; but poems which engrossed so much attention, which were translated into many different languages, which were hailed with delight by Gray, by David Hume, John Home, and other eminent persons, and which formed the favourite reading of Napoleon, cannot be considered as unworthy of notice.
But haply, for my year of grace
'Now farewell grief, and welcome joy
The translator of Ossian stands in rather a dubious light with posterity, and seems to have been willing that his contemporaries should be no
better informed. With the Celtic Homer, however, the name of Macpherson is inseparably connected. They stand, as liberty does with reason,