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Light of the world, Immortal Mind;
Father of all the human kind!
Whose boundless eye that knows no rest,
Intent on nature's ample breast,
Explores the space of earth and skies,
And sees eternal incense rise!
To thee my humble voice I raise;
Forgive, while I presume to praise.
Though thou this transient being gave,
That shortly sinks into the grave;
Yet 'twas thy goodness still to give
A being that can think and live;
In all thy works thy wisdom see,
And stretch its towering mind to thee.
To thee my humble voice I raise;
Forgive, while I presume to praise.

And still this poor contracted span,
This life, that bears the name of man,
From thee derives its vital ray,
Eternal source of life and day!
Thy bounty still the sunshine pours,
That gilds its morn and evening hours.
To thee my humble voice I raise;
Forgive, while I presume to praise.

Through error's maze, through folly's night,
The lamp of reason lends me light;
Where stern affliction waves her rod,
My heart confides in thee, my God!
When nature shrinks, oppressed with woes,
Even then she finds in thee repose.
To thee my humble voice I raise;
Forgive, while I presume to praise.

Affliction flies, and Hope returns;
Her lamp with brighter splendour burns;
Gay Love with all his smiling train,
And Peace and Joy are here again;
These, these, I know, 'twas thine to give;
I trusted; and, behold, I live!
To thee my humble voice I raise;
Forgive, while I presume to praise.

O may I still thy favour prove!
Still grant me gratitude and love.
Let truth and virtue guard my heart;
Nor peace, nor hope, nor joy depart:
But yet, whate'er my life may be,
My heart shall still repose on thee!
To thee my humble voice I raise;
Forgive, while I presume to praise.

[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.


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,

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How blest my days, my thoughts how free, In sweet society with thee!

Then all was joyous, all was young,

And years unheeded rolled along:
But now the pleasing dream is o'er,

These scenes must charm me now no more;
Lost to the fields, and torn from you-
Farewell!-a long, a last adieu.
Me wrangling courts, and stubborn law,
To smoke, and crowds, and cities draw:
There selfish faction rules the day,
And pride and avarice throng the way;
Diseases taint the murky air,
And midnight conflagrations glare;
Loose Revelry, and Riot bold,

In frighted streets their orgies hold;
Or, where in silence all is drowned,
Fell Murder walks his lonely round;
No room for peace, no room for you;
Adieu, celestial nymph, adieu!
Shakspeare, no more thy sylvan son,
Nor all the art of Addison,

Pope's heaven-strung lyre, nor Waller's easc,
Nor Milton's mighty self must please:
Instead of these, a formal band

In furs and coifs around me stand;
With sounds uncouth and accents dry,
That grate the soul of harmony,
Each pedant sage unlocks his store
Of mystic, dark, discordant lore,
And points with tottering hand the ways
That lead me to the thorny maze.
There, in a winding close retreat,
Is justice doomed to fix her seat;
There, fenced by bulwarks of the law,
She keeps the wondering world in awe;
And there, from vulgar sight retired,
Like eastern queen, is more admired.
Oh let me pierce the secret shade
Where dwells the venerable maid!
There humbly mark, with reverent awe,
The guardian of Britannia's law;
Unfold with joy her sacred page,
The united boast of many an age;
Where mixed, yet uniform, appears
The wisdom of a thousand years,
In that pure spring the bottom view,
Clear, deep, and regularly true;
And other doctrines thence imbibe
Than lurk within the sordid scribe;
Observe how parts with parts unite
In one harmonious rule of right;
See countless wheels distinctly tend
By various laws to one great end;
While mighty Alfred's piercing soul
Pervades, and regulates the whole.
Then welcome business, welcome strife,
Welcome the cares, the thorns of life,
The visage wan, the pore-blind sight,
The toil by day, the lamp at night,
The tedious forms, the solemn prate,
The pert dispute, the dull debate,
The drowsy bench, the babbling hall,
For thee, fair Justice, welcome all!
Thus though my noon of life be past,
Yet let my setting sun, at last,
Find out the still, the rural cell,
Where sage retirement loves to dwell!
There let me taste the homefelt bliss
Of innocence and inward peace;
Untainted by the guilty bribe,
Uncursed amid the harpy tribe;
No orphan's cry to wound my ear;
My honour and my conscience clear.
Thus may I calmly meet my end,
Thus to the grave in peace descend.


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 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


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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,
Nor sigh to leave the flaunting town?
Can silent glens have charms for thee,
The lowly cot and russet gown?
Nae langer drest in silken sheen,

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 wac? 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 sec.'

'And how should I know your true love
From many another one?'
Oh! by his cockle hat and staff,
And by his sandal shoon:

But chiefly by his face and mien,
That were so fair to view,

His flaxen locks that sweetly curled,
And eyes of lovely blue.'

'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 art thou dead and gone?
And didst thou die for love of me?
Break, cruel heart of stone!'

'O weep not, lady, weep not so,

Some ghostly comfort seek:
Let not vain sorrow rive thy heart,
Nor tears bedew thy cheek.'
"O do not, do not, holy friar,
My sorrow now reprove;
For I have lost the sweetest youth
That e'er won lady's love.

And now, alas! for thy sad loss

I'll evermore weep and sigh; For thee I only wished to live, For thee I wish to die.'

'Weep no more, lady, weep no more; Thy sorrow is in vain :

For violets plucked, the sweetest shower
Will ne'er make grow again.

Our joys as winged dreams do fly;
Why then should sorrow last?
Since grief but aggravates thy loss,
Grieve not for what is past.'

'O say not so, thou holy friar!

I pray thee say not so;
For since my true love died for me,
'Tis meet my tears should flow.
And will he never come again—
Will he ne'er come again?

Ah, no! he is dead, and laid in his grave,
For ever to remain.

His cheek was redder than the rose-
The comeliest youth was he;

But he is dead and laid in his grave,
Alas! and wo is me.'

'Sigh no more, lady, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever;
One foot on sea, and one on land,
To one thing constant never.

Hadst thou been fond, he had been false,
And left thee sad and heavy;

For young men ever were fickle found,
Since summer trees were leafy.'

'Now say not so, thou holy friar,

I pray thee say not so;

My love he had the truest heart-
O he was ever true!

And art thou dead, thou much-loved youth?
And didst thou die for me?

Then farewell home; for evermore

A pilgrim I will be.

But first upon my true love's grave

My weary limbs I'll lay,

And thrice I'll kiss the green grass turf

That wraps his breathless clay.'

'Yet stay, fair lady, rest a while Beneath this cloister wall;

The cold wind through the hawthorn blows,
And drizzly rain doth fall.'

'O stay me not, thou holy friar,
O stay me not, I pray;
No drizzly rain that falls on me,
Can wash my fault away.'
'Yet stay, fair lady, turn again,

And dry those pearly tears;
For see, beneath this gown of gray,
Thy own true love appears.

Here, forced by grief and hopeless love,
These holy weeds I sought;
And here, amid these lonely walls,

To end my days I thought.

But haply, for my year of grace
Is not yet passed away,
Might I still hope to win thy love,
No longer would I stay.'

'Now farewell grief, and welcome joy
Once more unto my heart;
For since I've found thee, lovely youth,
We never more will part.'


The translator of Ossian stands in rather a dubious light with posterity, and seems to have been willing that his contemporaries should be no

James Macpherson.

better informed. With the Celtic Homer, however, the name of Macpherson is inseparably connected. They stand, as liberty does with reason,

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.

ments of his countrymen to listen to the tales and
compositions of their ancient bards, and he de-
scribed these fragments as full of pathos and poe-
tical imagery. Under the patronage of Mr Home's
friends-Blair, Carlyle, and Fergusson-Macpher-
son published a small volume of sixty pages, en-
titled Fragments of Ancient Poetry; translated from
the Gaelic or Erse Language. The publication at-
tracted 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 pre-
sented 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, gene-
rosity, magnanimity, and virtue, was eminently cal-
culated to excite astonishment; while the idea of
the poems being handed down by tradition through
so many centuries among rude, savage, and bar-
barous 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 Pen-
sacola as his secretary, but quarrelling with his
patron, he returned, and fixed his residence in
London. He became one of the literary suppor-
ters of the administration, published some histo-
rical 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.
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 ambi-
tion 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
Belleville on the 17th of February 1796, leaving a
handsome fortune, which is still enjoyed by his fa
mily. His eldest daughter, Miss Macpherson, is at
present (1842) proprietrix of the estate, and another
daughter of the poet is the wife of the distinguished
natural philosopher, Sir David Brewster. The eager-


JAMES MACPHERSON was born at Kingussie, a village in Inverness-shire, on the road northwards from Perth, in 1738. He was intended for the church, and received the necessary education at Aberdeen. At the age of twenty, he published a heroic poem, in six cantos, entitled The Highlander, which 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

as to the authenticity of the poems of Ossian, the
incredulity of Johnson, and the obstinate silence of
Macpherson, are circumstances well known. There
seems to be no doubt that a great body of tradi-
tional poetry was floating over the Highlands, which
Macpherson collected and wrought up into regular
poems. It would seem also that Gaelic manuscripts
were in existence, which he received from different
families to aid in his translation. How much of the
published work is ancient, and how much fabricated,
cannot now be ascertained. The Highland Society
instituted a regular inquiry into the subject; and in
their report, the committee state that they have not
been able to obtain any one poem the same in title
and tenor with the poems published.' Detached
passages, the names of characters and places, with
some of the wild imagery characteristic of the
country, and of the attributes of Celtic imagination,
undoubtedly existed. The ancient tribes of the
Celts had their regular bards, even down to a com-
paratively late period. A people like the natives of
the Highlands, leading an idle inactive life, and
doomed from their climate to a severe protracted
winter, were also well adapted to transmit from one
generation to another the fragments of ancient song
which had beguiled their infancy and youth, and
which flattered their love of their ancestors. No
person, however, now believes that Macpherson
found entire epic poems in the Highlands. The
origin materials were probably as scanty as those on
which Shakspeare founded the marvellous super-
structures of his genius; and he himself has not
scrupled to state (in the preface to his last edition
of Ossian) that a translator who cannot equal his
original is incapable of expressing its beauties.' Sir
James Mackintosh has suggested, as a supposition
countenanced by many circumstances, that, after
enjoying the pleasure of duping so many critics,
Macpherson intended one day to claim the poems as
his own.
If he had such a design, considerable
obstacles to its execution arose around him. He was
loaded with so much praise, that he seemed bound in
honour to his admirers not to desert them. The
support of his own country appeared to render
adherence to those poems, which Scotland incon-
siderately sanctioned, a sort of national obligation.
Exasperated, on the other hand, by the perhaps
unduly vehement, and sometimes very coarse attacks
made on him, he was unwilling to surrender to such
opponents. He involved himself at last so deeply,
as to leave him no decent retreat.' A somewhat
sudden and premature death closed the scene on
Macpherson; nor is there among the papers which
he left behind him a single line that throws any light
upon the controversy.

thing poetical and striking in Ossian-a wild solitary magnificence, pathos, and tenderness—is undeniable. The Desolation of Balclutha, and the lamentations in the Song of Selma, are conceived with true feeling and poetical power. The battles of the car-borne heroes are, we confess, much less to our taste, and seem stilted and unnatural. They are like the Quixotic encounters of knightly romance, and want the air of remote antiquity, of dim and solitary grandeur, and of shadowy superstitious fear, which shrouds the wild heaths, lakes, and mountains of Ossian.

[Ossian's Address to the Sun.]

I feel the sun, O Malvina! leave me to my rest. Perhaps they may come to my dreams; I think I hear a feeble voice! The beam of heaven delights to shine on the grave of Carthon: I feel it warm around.

O thou that rollest above, round as the shield of my fathers! Whence are thy beams, O sun! thy everlasting light? Thou comest forth in thy awful beauty; the stars hide themselves in the sky; the moon, cold and pale, sinks in the western wave; but thou thyself movest alone. Who can be a companion of thy course? The oaks of the mountains fall; the mountains themselves decay with years; the ocean shrinks and grows again; the moon herself is lost in heaven, but thou art for ever the same, rejoicing in the brightness of thy course. When the world is dark with tempests, when thunder rolls and lightning flies, thou lookest in thy beauty from the clouds, and laughest at the storm. But to Ossian thou lookest in vain, for he beholds thy beams no more; whether thy yellow hair flows on the eastern clouds, or thou tremblest at the gates of the west. But thou art perhaps like me for a season; thy years will have an end. Thou shalt sleep in thy clouds careless of the voice of the morning. Exult then, O sun, in the strength of thy youth! Age is dark and unlovely; it is like the glimmering light of the moon when it shines through broken clouds, and the mist is on the hills: the blast of the north is on the plain; the traveller shrinks in the midst of his journey.

[Fingal's Airy Hall.]

His friends sit around the king, on mist! They hear the songs of Ullin: he strikes the half-viewless with a thousand meteors, light the airy hall. Malvina harp. He raises the feeble voice. The lesser heroes, beholds the unknown faces of her fathers. She turns rises in the midst; a blush is on her cheek. She Fingal, daughter of generous Toscar. Sadness dwells aside her humid eyes. 'Art thou come so soon?' said Mr Wordsworth has condemned the imagery of the breeze of Cona, that was wont to lift thy heavy in the halls of Lutha. My aged son is sad! I hear Ossian as spurious. In nature everything is dis- locks. It comes to the hall, but thou art not there. tinct, yet nothing defined into absolute independent Its voice is mournful among the arms of thy fathers! singleness. In Macpherson's work it is exactly the Go, with thy rustling wing, oh breeze! sigh on Malreverse; everything (that is not stolen) is in this vina's tomb. It rises yonder beneath the rock, at the manner defined, insulated, dislocated, deadened—blue stream of Lutha. The maids are departed to yet nothing distinct. It will always be so when Thou alone, oh breeze, mournest there!' words are substituted for things.' Part of this censure may perhaps be owing to the style and diction of Macpherson, which have a broken abrupt appearance and sound. The imagery is drawn from the natural appearances of a rude mountainous country. The grass of the rock, the flower of the heath, the thistle with its beard, are (as Blair observes) the chief ornaments of his landscapes. The desert, with all its woods and deer, was enough for Fingal. We suspect it is the sameness-the perpetual recurrence of the same images-which fatigues the reader, and gives a misty confusion to the objects and incidents of the poem. That there is some

their place.

[Address to the Moon.]

Daughter of heaven, fair art thou! the silence of thy face is pleasant! Thou comest forth in loveliness. The stars attend thy bluc course in the east. The clouds rejoice in thy presence, O moon! they brighten their dark-brown sides. Who is like thee in heaven, light of the silent night? The stars are ashamed in thy presence. They turn away their sparkling eyes. Whither dost thou retire from thy course, when the darkness of thy countenance grows? hast thou thy hall, like Ossian? dwellest thou in the shadow of

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