Obrazy na stronie
PDF

grief? have thy sisters fallen from heaven? are they who rejoiced with thee, at night, no more? Yes, they have fallen, fair light! and thou dost often retire to mourn. But thou thyself shalt fail, one night, and leave thy blue path in heaven. The stars will then lift their heads: they, who were ashamed in thy presence, will rejoice. Thou art now clothed with thy brightness. Look from thy gates in the sky. Burst the cloud, O wind..! that the daughter of night may look forth! that the shaggy mountains, may brighten, and the ocean roll its white waves in light.

[Desolation of Balclutha.]

I have seen the walls of Balclutha, but they were desolate. The fire had resounded in the halls; and the voice of the people is heard no more. The stream of Clutha was removed from its place by the fall of the walls. The thistle shook there its lonely head; the moss whistled to the wind. The fox looked out from the windows; the rank grass of the wall waved round its head. Desolate is the dwelling of Moina; silence is in the house of her fathers. Raise the song of mourning, O bards! over the land of strangers. They have but fallen before us: for one day we must fall. Why dost thou build the hall, son of the winged days? Thou lookest from thy towers to-day: yet a few years, and the blast of the desert comes; it howls in thy empty court, and whistles round thy half-worn shield. And let the blast of the desert come ! we shall be renowned in our day ! The mark of my arm shall be in battle; my name in the song of bards. Raise the song, send round the shell: let joy be heard in my hall. When thou, sun of heaven, shalt fail! if thou shalt fail, thou mighty light! if thy brightness is but for a season, like Fingal, our fame shall survive thy beams. | Such was the song of Fingal in the day of his joy.

[A. Description of Female Beauty.]

The daughter of the snow overheard, and left the hall of her secret sigh. She came in all her beauty, like the moon from the cloud of the east. Loveliness was around her as light. Her steps were like the music of songs. She saw the youth and loved him. He was the stolen sigh of her soul. Her blue eyes rolled on him in secret; and she blest the chief of Morven.

[The Songs of Selma.]

| Star of descending night ! fair is thy light in the west thou liftest thy unshorn head from thy cloud: thy steps are stately on thy hill. What dost thou behold in the plain The stormy winds are laid. The murmur of the torrent comes from afar. Roaring waves climb the distant rock. The flies of evening are on their feeble wings; the hum of their course is on the field. What dost thou behold, fair light? But thou dost smile and depart. The waves come with joy around thee: they bathe thy lovely hair. | Farewell, thou silent bean! Let the light of Ossian's | soul arise! And it does arise in its strength ! I behold my de|Parted friends. Their gathering is on Lora, as in the | days of other years. Fingal comes like a watery column of mist; his heroes are around: And see the |bards of song, gray-haired Ullin stately Ryno | Alpin, with the tuneful voice the soft complaint of Minonal How are ye changed, my friends, since the | days of Selma's feast 2 when we contended, like gales of spring, as they fly along the hill, and bend by turns the feebly-whistling grass. |, Minona came forth in her beauty, with downcast look and tearful eye. Her hair flew slowly on the

blast, that rushed unfrequent from the hill. The souls of the heroes were sad when she raised the tuneful voice. Often had they seen the grave of Salgar, the dark dwelling of white-bosomed Colma. Colma left alone on the hill, with all her voice of song Salgar promised to come: but the night descended around. Hear the voice of Colma, when she sat alone on the hill! Colma. It is night; I am alone, forlorn on the hill of storms. The wind is heard in the mountain. The torrent pours down the rock. No hut receives me from the rain; forlorn on the hill of winds ! Rise, moon from behind thy clouds. Stars of the night, arise ! Lead me, some light, to the place where my love rests from the chase alone ! his bow near him, unstrung: his dogs panting around him. But here I must sit alone, by the rock of the mossy stream. The stream and the wind roar aloud. I hear not the voice of my love . . Why delays my Salgar, why the chief of the hill his promise : Here is the rock, and here the tree! here is the roaring stream! Thou didst promise with night to be here. Ah! whither is my Salgar gone? With thee I would fly from my father; with thee from my brother of pride. Our race have long been foes; we are not foes, O Salgar! Cease a little while, O wind l stream, be thou silent a while! let my voice be heard around ! Let my wanderer hear me! Salgar, it is Colma who calls | Here is the tree and the rock. Salgar, my love! I am here. Why delayest thou thy coming? Lo! the calm moon comes forth. The flood is bright in the vale. The rocks are gray on the steep. I see him not on the brow. His dogs come not before him with tidings of his near approach. Here I must sit alone! Who lie on the heath beside me? Are they my love and my brother? Speak to me, O my friend To Colma they give no reply. Speak to me: I am alonel My soul is tormented with fears Ah! they are dead?’ Their swords are red from the fight omy brother! my brother! why hast thou slain my Salgart | why, O Salgar! hast thou slain my brother? Dear were ye both to me! what shall I say in your praise? Thou wert fair on the hill among thousands ! he was terrible in fight. Speak to me; hear my voice; hear me, sons of my love! They are silent; silent for ever! Cold, cold are their breasts of clay! Oh! from the rock on the hill; from the top of the windy steep, speak, ye ghosts of the dead 1 speak, I will not be afraid Whither are you gone to rest : In what cave of the hill shall I find the departed 1 No feeble voice is on the gale: no answer half-drowned in the storm 1 I sit in my grief! I wait for morning in my tears Rear the tomb, ye friends of the dead. Close it not till Colma come. My life flies away like a dream: why should I stay behind Here shall I rest with my friends by the stream of the sounding rock. When night comes on the hill, when the loud winds arise, my ghost shall stand in the blast, and mourn the death of my friends. The hunter shall hear from his booth; he shall fear, but love my voice for sweet shall my voice be for my friends: pleasant were her

friends to Colma! Such was thy song, Minona, softly blushing daughter of Torman. Our tears descended for Colma, and our souls were sad' Ullin came with his harp; he gave the song of Alpin. The voice of Alpin was pleasant; the soul of Ryno was a beam of fire | But they had rested in the narrow house; their voice had ceased in Selma. , Ullin had returned one day from the chase before the heroes fell. He heard their strife on the hill; their song was soft but sad They mourned the fall of Morar, first of mortal men! His soul was like the soul of Fingal; his sword like the sword of Oscar. But he fell, and his father mourned; his sister's eyes were full of tears. Minona's eyes were 79 | full of tears, the sister of car-borne Morar. She retired from the song of Ullin, like the moon in the west, when she foresees the shower, and hides her fair | head in a cloud. I touched the harp, with Ullin; the song of mourning rose I Rymo. The wind and the rain are past; calm is the noon of day. The clouds are divided in heaven. Over the green hills flies the inconstant sun. Red through the stony vale comes down the stream of the hill. | Sweet are thy murmurs, O stream but more sweet is the voice I hear. It is the voice of Alpin, the son of song, mourning for the dead! Bent is his head of age; red his tearful eye. Alpin, thou son of song, why alone on the silent hill? why complainest thou, as a blast in the wood; as a wave on the lonely shore? Alpin. My tears, O Ryno are for the dead; my voice for those that have passed away. Tall thou art on the hill; fair among the sons of the vale. But thou shalt fall like Morar; the mourner shall sit on thy tomb. The hills shall know thee no more; thy bow shall lie in the hall, unstrung Thou wert swift, O Morar! as a roe on the desert; terrible as a meteor of fire. Thy wrath was as the storm. Thy sword in battle, as lightning in the field. Thy voice was a stream after rain; like thunder on distant hills. Many fell by thy arm; they were consumed in the flames of thy wrath. But when thou didst return from war, how peaceful was thy brow ! Thy face was like the sun after rain; like the moon in the silence of night; calm as the breast of the lake when the loud wind is laid. Narrow is thy dwelling now! dark the place of thine abode . With three steps I compass thy grave, O thou who wast so great before! Four stones, with their heads of moss, are the only memorial of thee. | A tree with scarce a leaf, long grass which whistles in the wind, mark to the hunter's eye the grave of the mighty Morar. Morar ! thou art low indeed. Thou hast no mother to mourn thee; no maid with her tears of love. Dead is she that brought thee forth. | Fallen is the daughter of Morglan. | Who on his staff is this? who is this, whose head is white with age? whose eyes are red with tears 1 who uakes at every step? It is thy father, O Morar! the her of no son but thee. He heard of thy fame in war; he heard of foes dispersed; he heard of Morar's renown; why did he not hear of his wound ! Weep, thou father of Morar! weep; but thy son heareth thee not. Deep is the sleep of the dead; low their pillow of dust. No more shall he hearthy voice; no | more awake at thy call. When shall it be morn in the grave, to bid the slumberer awake? Farewell, thou bravest of men! thou conqueror in the field but the field shall see thee no more; nor the dark wood be lightened with the splendour of thy steel. Thou hast left no son. The song shall preserve thy name. Future times shall hear of thee; they shall hear of the fallen Morar! The grief of all arose, but most the bursting sigh of Armin. He remembers the death of his son, who fell in the days of his youth. Carmor was near the hero, the chief of the echoing Galmal. Why bursts the sigh of Armin, he said: Is there a cause to mourn? The song comes, with its music, to melt and please the soul. It is like soft mist, that, rising from a lake, pours on the silent vale; the green flowers are filled with dew, but the sun returns in his strength, and the mist is gone. Why art thou sad, O Armin! chief of sea-surrounded Gorma? Sad I am! nor small is my cause of wol Carmor, thou hast lost no son; thou hast lost no daughter of beauty. Colgar the valiant lives; and Annira, fairest maid. The boughs of thy house ascend, O Carmor! but Armin is the last of his race. Dark is thy bed, O Daura! deep thy sleep in the tomb When shalt

him to an oak. around his limbs; he loads the wind with his groans.

to land. Armar came in his wrath, and let fly the

thou awake with thy songs with all thy voice of music? Arise, winds of autumn, arise; blow along the heath! streams of the mountains, roar! roar, tempests, in the groves of my oaks! walk through broken clouds, O moon! show thy pale face at intervals bring to my mind the night when all my children fell; when Arindal the mighty fell ; when Daura the lovely failed ! Daura, my daughter! thou wert fair; so as the moon on Fura; white as the driven snow; sweet as the breathing gale. Arindal, thy bow was strong; thy spear was swift in the field ; thy look was like mist on the . thy shield, a red cloud in a storm. Armar, renowned in war, came, and sought Daura's love. He was not long refused; fair was the hope of their friends ! Erath, son of Odgal, repined; his brother had been slain by Armor. He came disguised like a son of the sea; fair was his skiff on the wave; white his locks of age; calm his serious brow. Fairest of women, he said, lovely daughter of Armin! a rock not distant in the sea bears a tree on its side; red shines the fruit afar ! There Armor waits for Daura. I come to carry his love! She went; she called on Armar. Nought answered but the son of the rock, Armar, my love! my love! why tormentest thou me with fear? hear, son of Arnart, hear; it is Daura who calleth thee! Erath the traitor fled laughing to the land. She lifted up her voice; she called for her brother and her father. Arindal! Armin! none to relieve your Daura! Her voice came over the sea. Arindal my son descended from the hill; rough in the spoils of the chase. His arrows rattled by his side; his bow was in his hand: five dark gray dogs attend his steps. He saw fierce Erath on the shore; he seized and bound Thick wind the thongs of the hide

Arindal ascends the deep in his boat, to bring Daura

gray-feathered shaft. It sung; it sunk in thy heart, O Arindal, my son for Erath the traitor thou diedst. The oar is stopped at once; he panted on the rock, and expired. What is thy grief, O Daura ! when round thy feet is poured thy brother's blood The boat is broken in twain. Armar plunges into the sea, to rescue his Daura, or die. Sudden a blast from the hill came over the waves. He sunk, and he rose no Inore. Alone, on the sea-beat rock, my daughter was heard to complain. Frequent and loud were her cries. What could her father do? All night I stood on the shore. I saw her by the faint beam of the moon. All night I heard her cries. Loud was the wind; the rain beat hard on the hill. Before morning appeared, her voice was weak; it died away like the evening breeze among the grass of the rocks. Spent with grief, she expired; and left thee, Armin, alone. Gone is my strength in war! fallen my pride among women! When the storms aloft arise, when the north lifts the wave on high, I sit by the sounding shore, and look on the fatal rock. Often by the setting moon I see the ghosts of my children. Half-viewless, they walk in mournful conference together. Will none of you speak in pity ? They do not regard their o: I am sad, O Carmor nor small is my cause of wo! Such were the words of the bards in the days of song, when the king heard the music of harps, the tales of other times | The chiefs gathered from all their hills, and heard the lovely sound. They praised the voice of Conal the first among a thousand bards! But age is now on my tongue; my soul has failed ! I hear, at times, the ghosts of bards, and learn their pleasant song. But memory fails on my mind. I hear the call of years! They say, as they

[blocks in formation]

But see! the gray mist from the lake Ascends upon the shady hills;

|

|

Dark storms the murmuring forests shake,
Rain beats around a hundred rills.

* Neat-herd.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][graphic]

The sun of glory gleamed, the ray
Refined the darkness into day,
And bid the vapours fly:
Impelled by his eternal love,
He left his palaces above,
To cheer our gloomy sky.

How shall we celebrate the day,
When God appeared in mortal clay,
The mark of worldly scorn.
When the archangel's heavenly lays
Attempted the Redeemer's praise,
And hailed Salvation’s morn?

A humble form the Godhead wore,
The pains of poverty he bore,
To gaudy pomp unknown:
Though in a human walk he trod,
Still was the man Almighty God,
In glory all his own.

Despised, oppressed, the Godhead bears
The torments of this vale of tears,
Nor bids his vengeance rise:
He saw the creatures he had made
Revile his power, his peace invade,
He saw with Mercy's eyes.

THoMAs CHATTERtoN was born at Bristol, November 20, 1752. His father, who had taught the Free School there, died before his birth, and he was educated at a charity school, where nothing but English, writing, and accounts were taught. His first lessons were said to have been from a blackletter Bible, which may have had some effect on his youthful imagination. At the age of fourteen he was put apprentice to an attorney, where his situation was irksome and uncomfortable, but left him ample time to prosecute his private studies. He was passionately devoted to poetry, antiquities, and heraldry, and ambitious of distinction. His ruling passion, he says, was “unconquerable pride.’ He now set himself to accomplish his various impositions by pretended discoveries of old manuscripts. In October 1768 the new bridge at Bristol was finished; and Chatterton sent to a newspaper in the town a pretended account of the ceremonies on opening the old bridge, introduced by a letter to the printer, intimating that ‘ the description of the friars first passing over the old bridge was taken

from an ancient manuscript.” To one man, fond he

of heraldic honours, he gave a pedigree reaching up to the time of William the Conqueror; to another he presents an ancient poem, the “Romaunt of the Cnyghte," written by one of his ancestors 450 years before; to a religious citizen of Bristol he gives an ancient fragment of a sermon on the Divinity of the Holy Spirit, as wroten by Thomas Rowley, a monk of the fifteenth century; to another, solicitous of obtaining information about Bristol, he makes the valuable present of an account of all the churches of the city, as they appeared three hundred years before, and accompanies it with drawings and descriptions of the castle, the whole pretended to be drawn from writings of the “gode prieste Thomas Rowley.’ Horace Walpole was engaged in writing the History of British Painters, and Chatterton sent him an account of eminent ‘Carvellers and Peyncters,' who once flourished in Bristol. These, with various impositions of a similar nature, duped the citizens of Bristol. Chatterton had no confidant in his labours; he toiled in secret, gratified only by ‘the stoical pride of talent.' He frequently wrote by moonlight, conceiving that the immediate presence of that luminary added to the inspiration. His Sundays were commonly spent in walking alone into the country about Bristol, and drawing sketches of churches and other objects which had impressed his

romantic imagination. He would also lie down on the meadows in view of St Mary's church, Bristol, fix his eyes upon the ancient edifice, and seem as if he were in a kind of trance. He thus nursed the enthusiasm which destroyed him. Though correct and orderly in his conduct, Chatterton, before he was sixteen, imbibed principles of infidelity, and the idea of suicide was familiar to his mind. It was, however, overruled for a time by his passion for literary fame and distinction. It was a favourite maxim with him, that man is equal to anything, and that everything might be achieved by diligence and abstinence. His alleged discoveries having attracted great attention, the youth stated that he found the manuscripts in his mother's house. “In the muniment room of St Mary Redcliffe church of Bristol, several chests had been anciently deposited, among which was one called the “Coffre” of Mr Canynge, an eminent merchant of Bristol, who had rebuilt the church in the reign of Edward IV. About the year 1727 those chests had been broken open by an order from proper authority: some ancient deeds had been taken out, and the remaining manuscripts left exposed as of no value. Chatterton's father, whose uncle was sexton of the church, had carried off great numbers of the parchments, and had used them as covers for books in his school. Amidst the residue of his father's ravages, Chatterton gave out that he had found many writings of Mr Canynge, and of Thomas Rowley (the friend of Canynge), a priest of the fifteenth century.” These fictitious poems were published in the Town and Country Magazine, to which Chatterton had become a contributor, and occasioned a warm controversy among literary antiquaries. Some of them he had submitted to Horace Walpole, who showed them to Gray and Mason; but these competent judges pronounced them to be forgeries. After three years spent in the attorney's office, Chatterton obtained his release from his apprenticeship, and went to London, where he engaged in various tasks for the booksellers, and wrote for the magazines and newspapers. He obtained an introduction to Beckford, the patriotic and popular lord-mayor, and his own inclinations led him to espouse the opposition party. “But no money,' he says, “is to be got on that side of the question; interest is on the other side. But is a poor author who cannot write on both sides.” He boasted that his company was courted everywhere, and “that he would settle the nation before he had done.” The splendid visions of promotion and consequence, however, soon vanished, and even his labours for the periodical press failed to afford him the means of comfortable subsistence. He applied for the appointment of a surgeon's mate to Africa, but was refused the necessary recommendation. This seems to have been his last hope, and he made no farther effort at literary composition. His spirits had always been unequal, alternately gloomy and elevated—both in extremes; he had cast off the restraints of religion, and had no steady principle to guide him, unless it was a strong affection for his mother and sister, to whom he sent remittances of money, while his means lasted. Habits of intemperance, succeeded by fits of remorse, exasperated his constitutional melancholy; and after being reduced to actual want (though with characteristic pride he rejected a dinner offered him by his land

lady the day before his death), he tore all his papers,

and destroyed himself by taking arsenic, August 25,

1770. At the time of his death he was aged seven

teen years nine months and a few days. “No English poet, says Campbell, “ever equalled him at the same age. The remains of the unhappy youth were | interred in a shell in the burying-ground of Shoe| Lane workhouse. His unfinished papers he had destroyed before his death, and his room, when broken open, was found covered with scraps of paper. The citizens of Bristol have erected a monument to the memory of their native poet. The poems of Chatterton, published under the name of Rowley, consist of the tragedy of Ella, the Execution of Sir Charles Bawdin, Ode to Ella, the Battle of Hastings, the Tournament, one or two Dialogues, and a description of Canynge's Feast. Some of them, as the Ode to Ella (which we subjoin), have exactly the air of modern poetry, only disguised with antique spelling and phraseology. The avowed compositions of Chatterton are equally inferior to the forgeries in poetical powers and diction; which is satisfactorily accounted for by Sir Walter Scott by the fact, that his whole powers and energies must, at his early age, have been converted to the acquisition of the obsolete language and peculiar style necessary to support the deep-laid decep|tion. “He could have had no time for the study of our modern poets, their rules of verse, or modes of expression; while his whole faculties were intensely employed in the Herculean task of creating the person, history, and language of an ancient poet, which, vast as these faculties were, were sufficient wholly to engross, though not to overburden them.' A power of picturesque painting seems to be Chatterton's most distinguishing feature as a poet. The heroism of Sir Charles Bawdin, who | Summed the actions of the day Each night before he slept, and who bearded the tyrant king on his way to the scaffold, is perhaps his most striking portrait. The following description of Morning in the tragedy of Ella, is in the style of the old poets:– | Bright sun had in his ruddy robes been dight, From the red east he flitted with his train; The Houris draw away the gate of Night, Her sable tapestry was rent in twain: The dancing streaks bedeckéd heaven's plain, And on the dew did smile with skimmering eye, Like gouts of blood which do black armour stain, Shining upon the bourn which standeth by ; The soldiers stood upon the hillis side, Like young enleaved trees which in a forest bide. A description of Spring in the same poem— The budding floweret blushes at the light, The meads be sprinkled with the yellow hue, In daisied mantles is the mountain dight, The fresh young cowslip bendeth with the dew; The trees enleafed, into heaven straight, When gentle winds do blow, to whistling din is brought. The evening comes, and brings the dews along, | The ruddy welkin shineth to the eyne, Around the ale-stakel minstrels sing the song, | Young ivy round the door-post doth entwine; I lay me on the , yet to my will | Albeit all is fair, there lacketh something still.

* Campbell's Specimens.

[blocks in formation]

The satirical and town effusions of Chatterton are often in bad taste, yet display a wonderful command of easy language and lively sportive allusion. They have no traces of juvenility, unless it be in adopting the vulgar scandals of the day, unworthy his original genius. In his satire of Kew Gardens are the following lines, alluding to the poet laureate and the proverbial poverty of poets:—

Though sing-song Whitehead ushers in the year,
With joy to Britain's king and sovereign dear,
And, in compliance to an ancient mode,
Measures his syllables into an ode;
Yet such the scurvy merit of his muse,
He bows to deans, and licks his lordship's shoes;
Then leave the wicked barren way of rhyme,
Fly far from poverty, be wise in time:
Regard the office more, Parnassus less,
Put your religion in a decent dress:
Then may your interest in the town advance, |
Above the reach of muses or romance.

In a poem entitled The Prophecy are some vigorous stanzas, in a different measure, and remarkable for maturity and freedom of style:—

This truth of old was sorrow's friend—
‘Times at the worst will surely mend.”
The difficulty's then to know
How long Oppression's clock can go;
When Britain's sons may cease to sigh,
And hope that their redemption's nigh.

When vile Corruption's brazen face
At council-board shall take her place;
And lords-commissioners resort
To welcome her at Britain's court;
Look up, ye Britons ! cease to sigh,
For your redemption draweth nigh.

See Pension's harbour, large and clear,
Defended by St Stephen's pier'
The entrance safe, by current led,
Tiding round G–’s jetty head;
Look up, ye Britons ! cease to sigh,
For your redemption draweth nigh.

When civil power shall snore at ease;
While soldiers fire—to keep the peace;
When murders sanctuary find,
And petticoats can Justice blind;
Look up, ye Britons ! cease to sigh,
For your redemption draweth nigh.

Commerce o'er Bondage will prevail, Free as the wind that fills her sail. When she complains of vile restraint, And Power is deaf to her complaint; Look up, ye Britons ! cease to sigh, For your redemption draweth nigh.

When at Bute's feet poor Freedom lies,
Marked by the priest for sacrifice,
And doomed a victim for the sins
Of half the outs and all the ins;
Look up, ye Britons! cease to sigh,
For your redemption draweth nigh.

When time shall bring your wish about,
Or, seven-years lease, you sold, is out;
No future contract to fulfil:
Your tenants holding at your will;
Raise up your heads: yout right demand—
For your redemption's in your hand.

Then is your time to strike the blow,
And let the slaves of Mammon know,
Britain's true sons a bribe can scorn,
And die as free as they were born.
Virtue again shall take her seat,
And your redemption stand complete.

« PoprzedniaDalej »