Obrazy na stronie

Jockey and Sawney to their labours rose ;
Soon clad I ween, where nature needs no clothes;
Where from their youth inured to winter skies,
Dress and her vain refinements they despise.
Jockey, whose manly high cheekbones to crown,
With freckles spotted flamed the golden down,
With meikle art could on the bagpipes play,
Even from the rising to the setting day;
Şawney as long without remorse could bawl
Home's madrigals, and ditties from Fingal :
Oft at his strains, all natural though rude,
The Highland lass forgot her want of food,
And, whilst she scratched her lover into rest,
Sunk pleased, though hungry, on her Sawney's breast.
Far as the eye could reach no tree was seen,
Earth, clad in russet, scorned the lively green :
The plague of locusts they secure defy,
For in three hours a grasshopper must die:
No living thing, whate'er its food, feasts there,
But the chameleon who can feast on air.
No birds, except as birds of passage flew;
No bee was known to hum, no dove to coo:
No streams, as amber smooth, as amber clear,
Were seen to glide, or heard to warble here:
Rebellion's spring, which through the country ran,
Furnished with bitter draughts the steady clan:
No flowers embalmed the air, but one white rose,
Which, on the tenth of June," by instinct blows ;
By instinct blows at morn, and, when the shades
Of drizzly eve prevail, by instinct fades.

In the same poem Churchill thus alludes to himself:

Me, whom no muse of heavenly birth inspires,
No judgment tempers, when rash genius fires;
Who boast no merit but mere knack of rhyme,
Short gleams of sense and satire out of time;
Who cannot follow where trim fancy leads
By prattling streams, o'er flower-impurpled meads;
Who often, but without success, have prayed
For apt Alliteration's artful aid;
Who would, but cannot, with a master's skill,
Coin fine new epithets which mean no ill:
Me, thus uncouth, thus every way unfit
For pacing poesy, and ambling wit,
Taste with contempt beholds, nor deigns to place
Amongst the lowest of her favoured race.

The characters of Garrick, &c., in the Rosciad, have now ceased to interest; but some of these rough pen-and-ink sketches of Churchill are happily executed. Smollett, who he believed had attacked him in the Critical Review, he alludes to with mingled approbation and ridicule—

Whence could arise this mighty critic spleen,
The muse a trifler, and her theme so mean?
What had I done that angry heaven should send
The bitterest foe where most I wished a friend ?
Oft hath my tongue been wanton at thy name,
And hailed the honours of thy matchless fame.
For me let hoary Fielding bite the ground,
So nobler Pickle stands superbly bound;
From Livy's temples tear the historic crown,
Which with more justice blooms upon thine own.
Compared with thee, be all life-writers dumb,
But he who wrote the Life of Tommy Thumb.
Whoever read the Regicide but swore
The author wrote as man ne'er wrote before?
Others for plots and under plots may call,
Here's the right method—have no plot at all !

Of Hogarth—
In walks of humour, in that cast of style,
Which, probing to the quick, yet makes us smile;

* The birth-day of the old Chevalier. It used to be a great object with the gardener of a Scottish Jacobite family of those days to have the Stuart emblem in blow by the tenth of June.

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What is't to us, if taxes rise or fall?
Thanks to our fortune, we pay none at all.
Let muckworms, who in dirty acres deal,
Lament those hardships which we cannot feel.
His Grace, who smarts, may bellow if he please,
But must I bellow too, who sit at ease ?
By custom safe, the poet's numbers flow -
Free as the light and air some years ago.
No statesman e'er will find it worth his pains
To tax our labours and excise our brains.
Burthens like these, vile earthly buildings bear;
No tribute’s laid on castles in the air!

The reputation of Churchill was also an aerial struc- || ture. No English poet,” says Southey, “had ever enjoyed so excessive and so short-lived a popularity; and indeed no one seems more thoroughly to have understood his own powers; there is no indication in any of his pieces that he could have done any || thing better than the thing he did. To Wilkes he said, that nothing came out till he began to be pleased with it himself; but, to the public, he boasted of the haste and carelessness with which his verses were || poured forth. |

Had I the power, I could not have the time,
While spirits flow, and life is in her prime,
Without a sin 'gainst pleasure, to design
A plan, to methodise each thought, each line,
Highly to finish, and make every grace
In itself charming, take new charms from place.
Nothing of books, and little known of men, |
When the mad fit comes on I seize the pen; |
Rough as they run, the rapid thoughts set down, |

Rough as they run, discharge them on the town.

Popularity which is easily gained, is lost as easily; such reputations resembling the lives of insects, whose shortness of existence is compensated by its || proportion of enjoyment. He perhaps imagined that his genius would preserve his subjects, as spices preserve a mummy, and that the individuals whom he had eulogised or stigmatised would go down to posterity in his verse, as an old admiral comes home from the West Indies in a puncheon of rum: he did

not consider that the rum is rendered loathsome, and

that the spices with which the Pharaohs and Poti

phars were embalmed, wasted their sweetness in the catacombs. But, in this part of his conduct, there was no want of worldly prudence: he was enriching

himself by hasty writings, for which the immediate sale was in proportion to the bitterness and personality of the satire.”

MICHAEL bruce.

Michari. BRUCE—a young and lamented Scottish poet of rich promise—was born at Kinnesswood, parish of Portmoak, county of Kinross, on the 27th of March 1746. His father was a humble tradesman, a weaver, who was burdened with a family of eight children, of whom the poet was the fifth. The dreariest poverty and obscurity hung over the poet's

infancy, but the elder Bruce was a good and pious

man, and trained all his children to a knowledge of

their letters, and a deep sense of religious duty. In the summer months Michael was put out to herd cattle. His education was retarded by this employment; but his training as a poet was benefited by solitary communion with nature, amidst scenery that overlooked Lochleven and its fine old ruined castle. When he had arrived at his fifteenth year, the poet was judged fit for college, and at this time a relation of his father died, leaving him a legacy of 200 merks Scots, or £11, 2s. 2d. sterling. This sum the old man piously devoted to the education of his favourite son, who proceeded with it to Edinburgh, and was enrolled a student of the university. Michael was soon distinguished for his proficiency, and for his taste for poetry. Having been three sessions at college, supported by his parents and some kind friends and neighbours, Bruce engaged to teach a school at Gairney Bridge, where he received for his labours about £11 per annum ! He afterwards removed to Forest Hill, near Alloa, where he taught for some time with no better success. His schoolroom was low-roofed and damp, and the poor youth, confined for five or six hours a-day in this unwholesome atmosphere, depressed by poverty and disappointment, soon lost health and spirits. He wrote his poem of Lochleven at Forest Hill, but was at length forced to return to his father's cottage, which he never again left. A pulmonary complaint had settled on him, and he was in the last stage of consumption. With death full in his view, he wrote his Ode to Spring, the finest of all his productions. He was pious and cheerful to the last, and died on the 5th of July 1767, aged twenty-one years and three months. His Bible was found upon his pillow, marked down at Jer. xxii. 10, ‘Weep ye not for the dead, neither bemoan him.’ So blameless a life could not indeed be contemplated without pleasure, but its premature termination must have been a heavy blow to his aged parents, who had struggled in their poverty to nurture his youthful genius.

Bruce's Monument in Portmoak Churchyard.

| The poems of Bruce were first given to the world by his college friend John Logan, in 1770, who warmly eulogised the character and talents of his brother poet. They were reprinted in 1784, and

afterwards included in Anderson's edition of the poets. The late venerable and benevolent Principal Baird, in 1807, published an edition by subscription for the benefit of Bruce's mother, then a widow. In 1837, a complete edition of the poems was brought out, with a life of the author from original sources, by the Rev. William Mackelvie, Balgedie, Kinrossshire. ... In this full and interesting memoir ample reparation is made to the injured shade of Michael Bruce for any neglector injustice done to his poetical fame by his early friend Logan. Had Bruce lived, it is probable he would have taken a high place among our national poets. He was gifted with the requisite enthusiasm, fancy, and love of *: There was a moral beauty in his life and character which would naturally have expanded itself in poetical composition. The pieces he has left have all the marks of youth; a style only half-formed and immature, and resemblances to other poets, so close and frequent, that the reader is constantly stumbling on some familiar image or expression. In “Lochleven,' a descriptive poem in blank verse, he has taken Thomson as his model. The opening is a paraphrase of the commencement of Thomson's Spring, and epithets taken from the Seasons occur throughout the whole poem, with traces of Milton, Ossian &c. The following passage is the most original and pleasing in the poem:—

[A Rural Picture.]

Now sober Industry, illustrious power! Hath raised the peaceful cottage, calm abode Of innocence and joy: now, sweating, guides The shining ploughshare; tames the stubborn soil; Leads the long drain along the unfertile marsh; Bids the bleak hill with vernal verdure bloom, The haunt of flocks; and clothes the barren heath With waving harvests and the golden grain.

Fair from his hand behold the village rise,
In rural pride, 'mong intermingled trees 1
Above whose aged tops the .# swains,
At even-tide descending from the hill,
With eye enamoured, mark the many wreaths
Of pillared smoke, high curling to the clouds.
The streets resound with Labour's various voice,
Who whistles at his work. Gay on the green,
Young blooming boys, and girls with golden hair,
Trip, nimble-footed, wanton in their play,
The village hope. All in a reverend row,
Their gray-haired grandsires, sitting in the sun,
Before the gate, and leaning on the staff,
The well-remembered stories of their youth
Recount, and shake their aged locks with joy.

How fair a prospect rises to the eye,
Where Beauty vies in all her vernal forms,
For ever pleasant, and for ever new 1
Swells the exulting thought, expands the soul,
Drowning each ruder care: a blooming train
Of bright ideas rushes on the mind,
Imagination rouses at the scene;
And backward, through the gloom of ages past,
Beholds Arcadia, like a rural queen,
Encircled with her swains and rosy nymphs,
The mazy dance conducting on the green.
Nor yield to old Arcadia's i. vales
Thine, gentle Leven Green on either hand
Thy meadows spread, unbroken of the plough,
With beauty all their own. Thy fields rejoice
With all the riches of the golden year.
Fat on the plain, and mountain's sunny side,
Large droves of oxen, and the fleecy flocks,
j undisturbed; and fill the echoing air
With music, grateful to the master's ear.
The traveller stops, and gazes round and round
O'er all the scenes, that animate his heart

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With mirth and music. Even the mendicant,
Bowbent with age, that on the old gray stone,
Sole sitting, suns him in the public way,
Feels his heart leap, and to himself he sings.

The conclusion of the poem gives us another picture of rural life, with a pathetic glance at the poet's own condition:—

[Virtue and Happiness in the Country.]

How blest the man who, in these peaceful plains,
Ploughs his paternal field; far from the noise,
| The care, and bustle of a busy world!
All in the sacred, sweet, sequestered vale
Of solitude, the secret primrose-path
Of rural life, he dwells; and with him dwells
Peace and content, twins of the sylvan shade,
And all the graces of the golden age.
Such is Agricola, the wise, the good;
By nature formed for the calm retreat,
The silent path of life. Learned, but not fraught
With self-importance, as the starched fool,
Who challenges respect by solemn face,
By studied accent, and high-sounding phrase.
| Enamoured of the shade, but not morose,
Politeness, raised in courts by frigid rules,
With him spontaneous grows. Not books alone,
But man his study, and the better part;
| To tread the ways of virtue, and to act
The various scenes of life with God's applause.
Deep in the bottom of the flowery vale,
W § blooming sallows and the leafy twine
Of verdant alders fenced, his dwelling stands
Complete in rural elegance. The door,
By which the poor or pilgrim never passed,
Still open, speaks the master's bounteous heart.
There, O how sweet! amid the fragrant shrubs,
At evening cool to sit; while, on their boughs,
The nested songsters twitter o'er their young;
And the hoarse low of folded cattle breaks
The silence, wafted o'er the sleeping lake,
Whose waters glow beneath the purple tinge
Of western cloud; while converse sweet deceives
The stealing foot of time! Or where the ground,
Mounded irregular, points out the graves
Of our forefathers, and the hallowed fane,
Where swains assembling worship, let us walk,"
In softly-soothing melancholy thought,
As night's seraphic bard, immortal Young,
Or sweet-complaining Gray; there see the goal
Of human life, where drooping, faint, and tired,
Oft missed the prize, the weary racer rests.

Thus sung the youth, amid unfertile wilds
And nameless deserts, unpoetic ground!
Far from his friends he strayed, recording thus
The dear remembrance of his native fields,
To cheer the tedious night; while slow disease
| Preyed on his pining vitals, and the blasts
Of dark December shook his humble cot.

The Last Day is another poem by Bruce in blank verse, but is inferior to ‘Lochleven.” The want of originality is more felt on a subject exhausted by Milton, Young, and Blair; but even in this, as in his other works, the warmth of feeling and graceful freedom of expression which characterise Bruce are seen and felt. In poetical beauty and energy, as in biographical interest, his latest effort, the Elegy, must ever rank the first in his productions. With some weak lines and borrowed ideas, this poem has an air of strength and ripened maturity that powerfully impresses the reader, and leaves him to wonder at the fortitude of the youth, who, in strains of such sensibility and genius, could describe the cheerful appearances of nature, and the certainty of his own speedy dissolution.

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unfortunate men of genius whose life has been marked by disappointment and misfortune. He had undoubtedly formed to himself a high standard of literary excellence and ambition, to which he never attained; but there is no evidence to warrant the assertion that Logan died of a broken heart. From one source of depression and misery he was happily exempt: though he died at the early age of forty, he left behind him a sum of £600. Logan was born at Soutra, in the parish of Fala, MidLothian, in 1748. His father, a small farmer, educated him for the church, and, after he had obtained a license to preach, he distinguished himself so much by his pulpit eloquence, that he was appointed one of the ministers of South Leith. He afterwards read a course of lectures on the Philosophy of History in Edinburgh, the substance of which he published in 1781; and next year he gave to the public one of his lectures entire on the Government of Asia. The same year he published his poems, which were well received; and in 1783 he produced

a tragedy called Runnimede, founded on the signing

of Magna Charta. His parishioners were opposed to such an exercise of his talents, and unfortunately Logan had lapsed into irregular and dissipated habits. The consequence was, that he resigned his charge on receiving a small annuity, and proceeded to London, where he resided till his death in December 1788. During his residence in London, Logan was a contributor to the English Review, and wrote a pamphlet on the Charges Against Warren Hastings, which attracted some notice. Among his manuscripts were found several unfinished tragedies, thirty lectures on Roman history, portions of a periodical work, and a collection of sermons, from which two volumes were selected and published by his executors. The sermons are warm

and passionate, full of piety and fervour, and must have been highly impressive when delivered. One act in the literary life of Logan we have already adverted to-his publication of the poems of Michael Bruce. His conduct as an editor cannot be justified. He left out several pieces by Bruce, and, as he states in his preface, “to make up a miscellany,’ poems by different authors were inserted. The best of these he claimed, and published afterwards as his own. The friends of Bruce, indignant at his conduct, have since endeavoured to snatch this laurel from his brows, and considerable uncertainty hangs over the question. With respect to the most valuable piece in the collection, the Ode to the Cuckoo-'magical stanzas,’ says D'Israeli, and all will echo the praise, ‘of picture, melody, and sentiment,’ and which Burke admired so much, that on visiting Edinburgh, he sought out Logan to compliment him—with respect to this beautiful effusion of fancy and feeling, the evidence seems to be as follows:–In favour of Logan, there is the open publication of the ode under his own name; the fact of his having shown it in manuscript to several friends before its publication, and declared it to be his composition; and that, during the whole of his life, his claim to be the author was not disputed. On the other hand, in favour of Bruce, there is the oral testimony of his relations and friends, that they always understood him to be the author; and the written evidence of Dr Davidson, Professor of Natural and Civil History, Aberdeen, that he saw a copy of the ode in the possession of a friend of Bruce, Mr Bickerton, who assured him it was in the handwriting of Bruce; that this copy was signed “Michael Bruce,’ and below it were written the words, “You will think I might have been better employed than writing about a gowk'—[Anglice, cuckoo.] It is unfavourable to the case of Logan, that he retained some of the manuscripts of Bruce, and his conduct throughout the whole affair was careless and unsatisfactory. Bruce's friends also claim for him some of the hymns published by Logan as his own, and they show that the unfortunate young bard had applied himself to compositions of this kind, though none appeared in his works as published by Logan. The truth here seems to be, that Bruce was the founder, and Logan the perfecter, of these exquisite devotional strains: the former supplied stanzas which the latter extended into poems, imparting to the whole a finished elegance and beauty of diction which certainly Bruce does not seem to have been capable of giving. Without adverting to the disputed ode, the best of Logan's productions are his verses on a Visit to the Country in Autumn, his half dramatic poem of The Lovers, and his ballad stanzas on the Braes of Yarrow. A vein of tenderness and moral sentiment runs through the whole, and his language is select and poetical. In some lines On the Death of a Young }. we have the following true and touching exclamation:—

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What time the daisy decks the green,
Thy certain voice we hear;

Hast thou a star to guide thy path,
Or mark the rolling year?

Delightful visitant! with thee
I hail the time of flowers,

And hear the sound of music sweet
From birds among the bowers.

The schoolboy, wandering through the wood
To pull the primrose gay,

Starts, the new voice of spring to hear,"
And imitates thy lay.

What time the pea puts on the bloom,
Thou fliest thy vocal vale,

An annual guest in other lands,
Another Spring to hail.

Sweet bird thy bower is ever green,
Thy sky is ever clear;
Thou hast no sorrow in thy song,
No Winter in thy year !
O could I fly, I'd fly with thee!
We'd make, with joyful wing,
Our annual visit o'er the globe,
Companions of the Spring.

[Written in a Visit to the Country in Autumn.]

'Tis past ! no more the Summer blooms'
Ascending in the rear,
Behold congenial Autumn comes,
The Sabbath of the year!
What time thy holy whispers breathe,
The pensive evening shade beneath,
And twilight consecrates the floods;
While nature strips her garment gay,
And wears the vesture of decay,
0 let me wander through the sounding woods!

Ah! well-known streams —ah! wonted groves,
Still pictured in my mind!
Oh! sacred scene of youthful loves,
Whose image lives behindl
While sad I ponder on the past,
The joys that must no longer last;
The wild-flower strown on Summer's bier,
The dying music of the grove,
And §. last elegies of love,
Dissolve the soul, and draw the tender tear !

Alas! the hospitable hall,
Where youth and friendship played,
Wide to the winds a ruined wall
Projects a death-like shades
The charm is vanished from the vales;
No voice with virgin-whisper hails
A stranger to his native bowers:
No more Arcadian mountains bloom,
Nor Enna valleys breathe perfume;
The fancied Eden fades with all its flowers |

Companions of the youthful scene, Endeared from earliest days

With whom I sported on the green, Or roved the woodland mazel

* This line originally stood—
• Starts thy curious voice to hear,”

which was probably altered by Logan as defective in quantity. “Curious may be a Scotticism, but it is felicitous. It marks the unusual resemblance of the note of the cuckoo to the human voice, the cause of the start and imitation which follow. Whereas the “new voice of spring” is not true; for many voices in spring precede that of the cuckoo, and it is not peculiar or striking, nor does it connect either with the start or imitation." —Note by Lord Mackenzie (son of the ‘Man of Fecling') in Bruce's

Poems, by Rev. W. Mackclvic.

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