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quil scenery of some sequestered spot, where "darkness spreads her brood ing wings," and where "musing melancholy loves to dwell." It is in such a situation where the river murmurs gently o'er its pebbled bed, and the moon-beams play on the rippling waves, or, glimmering thro' the trees, shed their light on the solemn scene, that the mind is disposed to indulge in that train of solitary contemplation that accords so well with a heart possessed of sensibility. They in whose minds imagination is the strongest characteristic, are of all others the most disposed to indulge in this enthusiasm, and, if properly regulated, they generally produce the most tender and exquisite descriptions of which poetry is susceptible. The mind becomes in a manner allied to the scenery, and by continually pursuing the same train of thought, it will paint the descriptions in those engaging colours, what nature herself inspires; or to use the words of Mr Rogers, "Thus kindred objects kindred thoughts inspire, As summer clouds shoot forth electric
ruddy tints of the setting sun diffused over the face of nature.
Many of the night scenes in poetry
Calm Twilight now her drowsy mantle
And lifts her lovely head above the wave.
Thick as the dew drops on the rosy
Although even the delineation is confined to inanimate objects alone, yet the pensive associations produced by the decline of a summer day, or the tranquil lustre of a moonlight night, impart an irresistible charm to every contemplative mind. But, if the descriptions are blended or contrasted with the passions of the human breast, every thing that can please the taste or delight the imagination may be expected. Nothing can be more congenial to the finer emotions of the heart, than the pleasure arising from of an extensive landscape, survey displayed in all its lights and shades by an autumnal moon; and nothing can harmonise better with the exquisite sensations of love or of friendship, than the influence produced by the last
Pleasures of Memory, P. 23.
Or May flow'rs crowding o'er the daisy
The canvas whitens in the silvery beam,
And with a paler red the pendants gleam; The masts tall shadows tremble o'er the deep,
The peaceful winds a holy silence keep;
The watchman's carrol echo'd from the prows,
Alone, at times, awakes the still repusé *."
The appearance of nature at this period may also serve as a kind of contrast with some circumstance that has immediately preceded. After the poet has exhibited some distressing event, or if he wishes to shew the tranquillity at this period so superior to the condition of those engaged in troublesome affairs,or harassed by anxious thoughts, the introduction of night scenery has an irresistible effect. When Virgil relates the sufferings of the unhappy Dido, after being basely deserted by ter ungrateful lover, he does not enter into a tedious detail of her sufferings; but after having admirably delineated the tranquil appearance of nature, and the repose enjoyed by the whole animated world, he leaves his reader to draw the interesting contrast. Twas dead of night, when weary bo
Their eyes in balmy sleep, or soft repose; The winds no longer whisper through the woods,
Nor murm'ring tides disturb the gentle
The flocks and herds and party-colour'd
Which haunt the woods or swim the
Stretch'd on the quiet earth securely lay,
Unhappy Dido was alone awake.
Sleep fled her eyes, as quiet fled her
Nothing can possibly demonstrate in more forcible colours the sufferings of the love-sick Queen than such a comparison, and nothing can awaken in our minds a more lively sense of her sufferings than such a description.
It is at this season too that the poet can introduce his characters as giving vent to those emotions to which the ness of the day, is unable to give utmind, actively engaged in the busiterance. The desponding swain retires from his cottage to " the brook that babbles by," and to pore upon pour out the melancholy tale of his mistress's cruelty, and the pangs of disappointed love. All nature, he conceives, sympathises in his distress, every rill listens to his sorrowful tale, and every shrub commiserates his suffering.
The sailor," far from his country and his native home," when nothing is seen but the blue expanse of heaven, and nothing is heard but the waye breaking upon the prow of his vessel, will be most inclined to indulge in that melancholy train of thought which his situation naturally suggests. The companions of his early years, the scenes of his youthful enjoyments, the dangers to be encountered before he can fly 66 embrace," are apt to overpower his to meet his Helen's lov'd acute than those experienced in the mind with sensations infinitely more peaceful walks of life.
The grot that heard his song of other His native hills that rise in happier climes, times,
His lowly cat, his bark of slender sail, His glossy lake, and broomwood blos. som'd vale,
Rush on his thoughts.
chose for his inimitable episode of the It was this season that Falconer parting of Palemon and Anna, when unobserved by his avaricious father, the unhappy youth could meet "the maid his soul ador'd," could pour out his impassioned heart, and receive the reciprocal declaration of love from a soul in unison with his own. Their tender meeting; their avowal of a mutual passion; their solemn vow of
*Pleasures of Hope.
eternal constancy, with the pangs of separation, and the foreboding presages of never again meeting, would, if the poet had chosen a different time for the scene, lost much of that effect which has otherwise rendered the interview perhaps the most affecting of any contained in the English language. The effects of night scenery appear more conspicuous in Ossian than in any other poet whatever, for producing these tender and melancholy reflections. All his poems breathe the same enthusiastic representation of nature, and almost every description contains some allusion to his native wilds, as displayed by moonlight. Possessed as he was of a breast glowing with the noblest sentiments and tenderest passions, of exquisite sensibility, and depressed at the reflection of having survived all the companions of his youth ful years, no wonder that his poems breathe a delicacy of sentiment and ardour of enthusiasm, tenderness and melancholy, superior to any poet in any country. But giving vent to these simple and natural emotions of the heart that so distinguished the illustrious bard, his descriptions, his similes, and his imagery, all originate from the same source; and while he pours out all the finer emotions of his soul to the silent moon, he paints her glimmering rays reflected on the heathclad hill. He seems in his element when guided by her light; he traverses the barren heath, or surrounded by hurricanes and storms, he traces the scenes of his youthful exploits. He seems to listen, from the summit of some rugged cliff, to the roar of the cataract, or of the storm borne thro' the solitary glen; while the plaintive lamentations of some disconsolate maid, pouring out her sorrows over the turf that covers her beloved warrior, completes the solemn concert. We see the warrior and the bard addressing himself to the silent moon, gilding his bark, laden with the spoils of his enemies, and singing the glory of his
splendid return: or we hear him tun. ing his harp, to deplore the loss of his beloved friends, and sitting on the sounding shore, pouring out his inconsolable grief.
"Rise, winds of Autumn, rise; blow upon the dark heath! streams of the mountains, roar! howl, ye tempests in the tops of the oaks! walk through the broken clouds, O Moon! show by intervals thy light! bring to my mind that sad night, when all my children fell; when Arundal, the mighty, fell; when Dura, the lovely, failed.""When the storms of the mountain come; when the North lifts the wrves on high; I sit on 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 father. I am sad, O, Camar, nor small my cause of woe*."
Such are some of the uses of night scenery to produce pathetic or melancholy descriptions. But it extends even in a greater degree, to exciting sublime or awful emotions. The first and greatest source of delight arising from the contemplation of nature, is undoubtedly the sublime. It seizes upon the soul with an irresistible force, arrests our attention, absorbs all our faculties, and overpowers the mind with wonder and astonishment. The passion it inspires is evidently a mixture of terror, of admiration, and of curiosity; but they are characterized by a majesty we observe on no other occasion. It is to enjoy these impressions undisturbed that the poet secludes himself in the recesses where the sublime has fixed her peaceful residence, where he experiences in contemplation the full force of that genius whose influence tunes his voice to melody, and fires his imagination to rapture.
* Songs of Selma.
"Yet lov'd he nature in her wildest mood,
Her clefted rocks magnificently high, Her mountains awful, vast, sublime, and rude,
Lifting their giant crests above the sky;
Interminable glens that mock the eye, More than the gentler beauties of the dale;
More than the flocks that on the greensward lie; The shepherd piping in his peaceful vale; The cot half-hid in trees, wav'd by the noiseless gale *,
The rocky glen and sequestered valley, o'erhung with wood, and watered by a murmuring stream, sooth to peace the wearied soul, ally each turbulent desire, dissipate every anxious or corroding thought, and teach the mind to soar above the meaner pursuits of the world. In situations such as these, the student of nature and the lover of contemplation finds full scope for reflection, and can then form, in imagination, those picturesque and animated descriptions, the true characteristics of a real
In scenes like these, which daring to depart
From sober truth, are still to nature true, And call forth fresh delight to Fancy's view;
Th' heroic muse employ'd her Tasso's art!
How have I sat, when piped the pensive
To hear his harp by British Fairfax
Prevailing poet, whose undoubting mind
* Wallace; or the Vale of Ellerslie. It seems not a little surprising, that this poem, possessed of no ordinary merit, should be so little known.
Melting it flows, pure, num'rous, strong and clear,
And fills th' impassion'd heart, and wins th' harmonious ear t. The same warm admiration of nature must have been experienced by almost every one in the least acquainted with the appearance she assumes at this season. It animates the heart, flows upon us in a torrent of raptures, places us in an ideal paradise, and affords us a source of pleasure, attainable only by those whose "minds are feelingly alive to each fine impulse."
But the poet who wishes to make this contemplation of nature subservient to the cause of religion, has, of all others, the best opportunity of attaining his object. It is now, when every passion is lulled to repose, and every turbulent desire is overcome, that we find leisure to reflect on the power, wisdom, and goodness of the Deity; and while we thus feel the impressions the surrounding scenery has on the mind, we rise from the contemplation of Nature's works, to the contemplation of Nature's God.
Account of Manuscripts in the SCOTCH
(From the Preface to Mr Fox's Historical Work.)
NE of the earliest and greatest difficulties that he encountered in the course of his labours, arose from the manner in which Mr Macpherson and Sir J. Dalrymple had explained and conducted their respective publidered as unsatisfactory. His complaints cations, and which he always consiof both these authors were frequent; and the more he examined and studied their books, the more he perceived the necessity of making some further researches. He was anxious, if possible, to consult the original documents from which their extracts were made; and he was at first apprehensive, that nothing
thing short of an examination of all the manuscripts of the Scotch College at Paris, could enable him to determine the degree of credit due to the extracts of Macpherson. But he must very soon have despaired of obtaining that satisfaction, for he had strong reasons to suspect, even before his journey to Paris in 1802, that the most valuable part, if not the whole of them, had been destroyed. Three important points, however, might yet be ascertained:-1st, Of what the manuscripts, so long preserved in the Scotch College at Paris, actually consisted; 2ndly, To what part of them either Carte or Macpherson had access; 3dly, Whether any portion, copies, or fragments, of the papers were still in existence. The result of his enquiries will be best given in his own words, though upon the first point he had ascertained something more than appears from the following extract of his letter to Mr Laing:
"With respect to Carte's extract, I have no doubt but it is faithfully copied ; but on this extract it is necessary to make an observation, which applies to all the rest, both of Carte's and Macpherson's, and which leads to the detection of an imposture of the latter, as impudent as Ossian itself. The extracts are evidently made, not from a journal, but from a narrative;
*Among Mr Fox's papers were found a list of the works which were placed in the Scotch College at Paris, soon af ter the death of James the Second, and were there at the time of the French
Revolution." It is as follows:
Four volumes folio, six volumes quarto,-Memoirs in James the Second's own hand writing, beginning from the time that he was sixteen years of age.
Two thin quarto volumes,-Containing letters from Charles the Second's ministers to James the Second (then Duke of York,) when he was at Brussels and in Scotland, MS.
Two thin quarto volumes,-Containing Letters from Charles the Second to his brother, James Duke of York, MS.
and I have now ascertained beyond all doubt, that there were in the Scotch College two distinct manuscripts, one in James's own hand, consisting of papers of different sizes bound up together, and the other a sort of historical narrative, compiled from the former. The narrative was said to have been revised and corrected, as to style, by Dryden* the poet, (meaning probably Charles Dryden, the great poet's son,) and it was not known in the College whether it was drawn up in James's life, or by the direction of his son, the Pretender. I doubt whether Carte ever saw the original journal; but I learn, from undoubted authority, that Macpherson never did; and yet to read his Preface, page 6 and 7, (which pray advert to,) one would have supposed, not only that he had inspected it accurately, but that all his extracts at least, if not Carte's also, were taken from it. Macpherson's impudence in attempting such an imposition, at a time when almost any man could have detected him, would have been in another man incredible, if the internal evidence of the extracts themselves against him were not corroborated by the testimony of the principal persons of the College. And this leads me to a point of more importance to me. Principal Gordon thought, when I saw him at Paris, in October 1802, that all the papers were lost. I now hear from a well-informed person, that the most material, viz. those written in James's own hand-writing, were indeed lost, and in the way mentioned by Gordon, but that the Narrative, from which only Macpherson made his extracts, is still existing, and that Mr Alexander Cameron, Blackfriais
It is the opinion of the present possessor of the narrative, that it was compiled from the original documents by Thomas Innes, one of the Superiors of the College, and author of a work entitled, A Critical Essay on the ancient Inhabitants of Scotland.