printed by S. Hodgson, Union-Street. 18131813.
The Author most respectfully offers her grateful acknowledgements to the generous benefactors whose names have enabled her to accomplish her necessary undertakings.
Impelled, as she was, by circumstances of severe domestic affliction, to obtrude her claims upon their notice, it is with emotions of the most lively and lasting gratitude she has to acknowledge, that her appeal has not been made in vain, and that she has experienced the encouragement and support which she took the liberty of soliciting.
Might she indulge the hope that the following poems shall, in any degree, contribute to their amusement, it would happily unite her pleasure and her interest.
She has drawn the principal part of the imagery and scenery from the objects around her; and, although such a field is not the best vi A3v vi calculated to give scope for the display of poetical talent, she has endeavoured to employ the materials presented to her in such a manner as she trusts may not prove unacceptable to those more immediately connected with Zetland, while the novelty may possibly excite some interest in the general reader.
A variety of untoward occurrences, which it is needless to enumerate, have, to her extreme regret, delayed the publication till the present period. Could her anxious wishes and endeavours have prevailed, the work would long ere now have been in the hands of the subscribers. While, therefore, she begs leave to apologize on this account to those who have so kindly patronized her, she assures them in perfect sincerity and truth, that the difficulties which have arisen were not imputable to her, but have been such as she could neither foresee nor controul.
Ode for the Morning of the British Jubilee, 18091809.
[To the Music of the King’s Anthem.]
Welcome, auspicious morn,
Aurora fair adorn
Thy rising bright;
Let our proud banners stream,
Grac’d by lov’d Charlotte’s The fort at Lerwick is named after her Majesty. name,
And cannon loud proclaim,
Sol, shine with genial ray,
Smile on the happy day,
Banish each frown;B 2 B1v 2
For, in the fiftieth round,
Thou George the Third hast found,
With princely virtue crown’d,
On Britain’s throne.
Quick touch the viol’s string,
Let us on Pleasure’s wing,
Let every nymph and swain,
Forming a joyful train
To the enliv’ning strain,
Trip in the dance.
Cease, dire Bellona, cease
Thy thund’ring voice to raise,
Shaking the world;
Peace, wave thy olive wand
Over our happy land,
Be, at thy mild command,
But, if Fate’s sovereign will
Bid war to thunder still,
Awful and dread;
Here dwell a trusty band,
Faithful in heart and hand,
Ready, by sea and land,
Britain to aid.
For, to bleak Thulè’s swain,
Neptune’s loud stormy reign
Tho’, on our hills around,
No shady woods are found
With the Oak graceful crown’d
We boast the Hearts.
Congratulatory Lines on the Jubilee.
Humbly addressed to his majesty.
Happy Britannia, favour’d Isle!
Fate on thee delights to smile;
Even amid the woes of war,
Thund’ring dreadful from afar;
Let no discordant voice complain,
For, lo! we hail the Jubilee of George’s reign.
Let each religion, every sect attend,
And, in their several temples, lowly bend,
Imploring blessings on the sacred head
Of him, who virtue’s cause doth ever aid,
For he to all indulgent leave hath given
To seek, thro’ various paths, the way to heaven.
Be Julius’ towers exulting heard around,
And join’d throughout Britannia’s circling bound,
Till royal Charlotte’ Fort Charlotte, the most northern garrison of the Empire. s cannon echo back the sound.5 B3r 5
Let every trophy grace this joyful day,
That hero’s laurel and the poet’s bay;
Each art, each science, each profession bring
Forward their emblems to salute their King.
Mysterious Masonry in social band,
In honour of the day join hand in hand;
The Royal Anthem every voice repeat,
With loyal ardour every bosom beat;
And when declining Sol withdraws his ray
Let blazing tapers shed an artificial day.
How blest the land to which indulgent heaven
Hath, in the monarch, an example given;
Ye, who with due delight his merits scan,
While ye revere the Prince, O imitate the Man.
The thought, perhaps, too daring may appear,
Yet, should these lines e’er reach the royal ear,
A Thulian muse, rude nursling of the blast,
Herself, doth thus, on thy indulgence cast:
In offering thee the tribute of a heart
Loyal, though simple in poetic art;
Reject not, royal Sire, the artless lay,
Although, unequal far, thy merits to display.
Those, who in mimicry of being great,
Themselves of Sabbath privileges cheat,
To soar above the vulgar vainly think;
But, ’stead of higher rising, lower sink:6 B3v 6
All, who to join in public worship shun,
Must never plead example from the Throne.
When urg’d, alas, by baneful love of gold,
Man, tyrant man, his fellow-creature sold;
While Afric’s injur’d sons bore slavery’s load,
And liv’d and died beneath oppression’s rod;
’Twas through the course of thy auspicious reign
Relief for them was sought — nor sought in vain:
This act which with humanity will ever shine,
Sweet Mercy’s brightest trophy, was reserv’d for thine.
We hail the royal partner of thy state,
Kindly selected by indulgent fate;
Whose virtues even assist to line with down
The envied, weighty pressure of a crown.
Whether shall we our Sovereign most admire,
Or as the Public, or the Private Sire;
O may each prince of thy illustrious race
Imbibe thy virtues, and thy footsteps trace,
And may th’ admiring world with pleasure see
Each son a mirror of his father be.
Full oft imagination’s airy wand
Brings to my view the royal sister band,
Uniting gentle efforts to dispel
(While in the duteous struggle all excel)
Thy cares; for cares in every various state
Are wisely scatter’d by the hand of fate;7 B4r 7
Nor, as I deem, most sparingly are sown
Around the splendid circle of a throne.
I leave it to the parent’s heart to tell,
Whilst it with glowing tenderness doth swell,
The power of filial duty to assuage
The ills of life, and cheer declining age.
Deign to accept, ye royal, beauteous train,
My humble greeting, though in untaught strain,
On you may heaven its choicest gifts bestow,
And may that power, from whom all blessings flow,
Bid health on fair Amelia’s cheek diffuse its glow.
To crown the annals of this joyful year,
Might white-rob’d Peace adorn’d in smiles appear,
An o’er contending antions wave her wand;
In concord lulling every warring land:
Would fate to this fond wish propitious be,
Extended wide would be the Jubilee.
May Hearts of Oak still guard fair Albion’s coast,
Be Freedom still our charter and our boast;
And guardian angels sing the ancient strain,
Britannia rule, Britannia rule the main.
Verses on the Jubilee Night, at Lerwick.To those readers who are unacquainted with the situation of the place where the scene of these verses is laid, it may be necessary to observe, that the town of Lerwick is built very close to the shore of the west side of the fine harbour of Bressa Sound: so close, that when illuminations take place in the absence of the moon, the sea reflects the lights. On the happy evening here referred to, the moon being at the full, prevented the effect of the liquid mirror, but made ample amends by the pleasure which the sight of that beautiful luminary, holding her way through an unclouded sky, afforded.
When public occasions of general joy
Give patriots a jovial night;
When loyalty reigns, and Illumine’s the word,
And Lerwick, all sparkling, shines bright,
Our good friend and neighbour, old Neptune, keeps watch,
To see how we mean to behave;
Keeps his mind to himself, never saying a word,
But peeps out now and then through a wave.
Then pleas’d to see Britons with true British hearts,
And determin’d he’ll not be behind;
For each taper we light, lights a thousand with speed,
Is not Neptune, our friend, very kind?
But on the late ev’ning devoted to joy,
Which yet animates every heart;
And to young and to old, to rich and to poor
Did true loyal pleasure impart,
He some how or other had pick’d up a hint,
That Queen Cynthia intended to pay
Congratulings, and in regalia so bright,
As would teach night to vie with the day.
Neptune said, with the gallantry of a true tar,
He was glad she intended to grace
The joyous occasion, and with a low bow,
To the lady politely gave place.
To politeness, frugality quickly succeeds,
That Virtue he also must show;
Sure, you good folks of Lerwick can never expect
Help both from above and below.
’Twere lighting the candle at both ends, he said,
And I no such example will give;
Besides, with the lady who means to display,
I no interference will have.
So reserving his tapers till next happy time,
If Cynthia no help should afford;
Said, on his assistance we then might depend,
And he’ll prove nothing worse than his word.
Then to Sea-Nymphs and Nereids, and that sort of folk,
He gave orders, that close they should keep
Each billow and wave; nay, that not a stray breeze
Should ruffle the face of the deep.
For he said, he was eager this mark of respect
To great George and Britannia to pay;
And hop’d, they’d depend he would favour their right,
Whenever it fell in his way.
Then said, he’d a mirror to Cynthia present,
In which she might view her fair face;
For ladies to see themselves love, when they’re dress’d
And adorn’d with every grace.
And, lo! all in silver she made her entrée,
I own she assisted the show;
Yet something self-confident hung on her mien,
As she laugh’d at our twinkling below.
Which I thought very hard, we were joyful as she,
And though not so splendidly drest;
Yet, with tapers and rockets, and bonfires around,
I’m sure we were doing our best.
For Neptune, good fellow, though blust’ring he’s kind;
And at heart he our welfare doth wish;
He favours our vessels, and give him his due,
No niggard is he of his fish.
Though, when in bad humour, he gives us a growl,
We should study his temper to hit;
And being near neighbours, we should therefore stoop,
The buffet to take with the bit.
I dont much approve of Queen Cynthia’s plan,
At one time she’s showing away;
At another, and often when needed the most,
Quite sullen withdraws ev’ry ray.
If she take it in head, she deserts on a night
When a bright illumination’s decreed;
Then to work goes friend Neptune, quick trimming his lamps,
And proves himself friend in our need.
The Author’s Address to the Critics.
Much honour’d Gentlemen,—Allow
Your suppliant a word or two
In self defence;
Though, to the meed of learning, she
Makes slight pretence.
Since Scandinavia rul’d our Isles,
We ne’er have woo’d the muses’ smiles;
Yet own their power
Oft wheels away, in rapid course,
The wint’ry hour.
Now in the pure Castalian rill
Dips the first British Thulian quill
To fame addrest;
In slumber lull’d, the poet’s art
Long lay supprest.
But now, forbid it tuneful powers,
That you should answer, So might your’s
For all we see;
Oh! meliorate your dread awards
And think, that in our clime so chill,
The spark borne from the muses’ hill
Then do not, with a rigid frown,
Blow out its fires.
In quenching this my feeble gleam,
You may repress a brighter beam
And loftier lay;
I rest content to Helicon
To point the way.
If on my simple strains you smile,
Some poet from our northern Isle,
In future day,
More skilfully may touch the lyre,
And gain the bay.
Tho’ to our clime and soil unkind,
Nature, no niggard to the mind
Of Thulian race,
Oft richly doth the mental field
With flowers grace.
If wither’d by ungenial blight,
As they unfold their leaves to light,
Lo, soon they close;
And on oblivion’s tranquil lap
On the Expected Return of Lord Collingwood to England.
While every muse impatient waits Page 15. While every muse impatient waits. The stanzas on the expected return of Lord Collingwood, were written at a moment when every heart beat high with the hopes of seeing the gallant warrior return to enjoy, in the bosom of his country, the reward of his exertions in her service. But death deprived a grateful and admiring nation of the opportunity of testifying its love and respect.
To meet the hero on the strand,
And welcome Collingwood’s return,
Triumphant! to his native land,
Will he forgive a Thulian maid
Her rude attempt, untaught to sing,
Who never trod Aonian mount,
Nor ever sipp’d Pierian spring.
Stern Neptune, give thy sea-nymphs charge
The stormy billows close to keep;
And guide thy gallant, favour’d son,
In safety o’er the dangerous deep.
Ye gentle gales, auspicious blow,
And waft the hero o’er the sea;
And, lo! he comes in happy time
To join our British Jubilee.
On Trafalgar’s victorious day,
When warring navies shook the sea;
Humanely brave, thy valour shone,
Th’ eventful hour devolv’d on thee.
Great Nelson’s shade, yet lingering near,
Delay’d his bliss; well pleas’d to see
Thy gallant arm assume the charge,
And Britain’s hope revive in thee.
Nor only in the dreadful scene
Of war’s fell thunder, dost thou shine;
The gentler feelings of the heart,
The social virtues too are thine
’Tis thine to trace the claim of worth,
Thine modest merit to descry;
’Tis thine to feel for those who mourn,
And wipe the tear from sorrow’s eye.
With earnest suppliance let us bend,
Before Hygeia’s crowded shrine;
And sue, that in the hero’s wreath
Of laurel, she her rose would twine.
For, ah! long lost on foreign seas,
The glow of health begins to fade;
May native climate, scenes, and joys
Combine, its wish’d return to aid.
With throbbing heart and bounding step,
Thy gentle consort climbs the height:
Entranc’d the blissful moment flies
Which gives thy vessel to her sight.
Now Britons hasten to the shore,
With joyful shouts the hero greet;
Let martial strains salute his ear,
And lay the laurel at his feet.
On reading, in the account given in the newspapers of the drawing-room held at St. James’s, 1810-06-044th June, 1810, that her Royal Highness the Princess Elizabeth was so deeply affected as to shed tears.
Hail, precious drops! may you relief impart
Unto the Royal Mourner’s gentle heart.
Hail, precious drops! by nature kindly lent,
Grief’s overpow’ring torrent to prevent.
Hail, precious drops! you flow from virtue’s source,
And prove affection in its native force.
While touch’d thy heart with mingled feelings deep,
The child, the sister, and the princess weep.
In thy soft sorrows I can sympathize,
Shed tear for tear, and echo back thy sighs.
When erst with joy was hail’d June’s sunny morn,
Health, smiling, did magnificence adorn.
When thou wert wont to meet the courtly train,
Thy Royal Father’s presence grac’d the scene:
Now doth blank absence saddening gloom impart,
While thrilling memory presses on thy heart.
Royal Elizabeth thine ear incline,
’Twill lull thy griefs a while to list to mine.19 D2r 19
’Tis thine, by bounty, to relieve distress;
’Tis mine—the generous impulse to repress:
Misfortune o’er each aim holds stern controul,
Well nigh to freeze the current of the soul.
We mourn our much lov’d Monarch’s weaken’d sight:
My aged mother hath not seen the light
Of fifteen annual suns, whose course have roll’d
Darkly to her, nor object did unfold.
Thy wrung imagination rapid flies
Towards the couch where lov’d Amelia lies;
Where every aid, which art and nature give,
Combine to bid the drooping fair revive.
The sister, who in all my feelings shares,
Gilds my few pleasures, and allays my cares,
Is, by asthmatic struggles, nightly pain’d,
Her loaded breathing, short, convulsive strain’d.
One woe doth of another quick take place,
And, as the crystal drops each other chase,
The unclosed wounds of Cumberland now claim
The tears, which from so many sources stream.
O Trafalgar! I linger o’er thy wave,
My dear, my only Brother’s early grave;
On that triumphant day, whose circling sun
Saw glorious Death, Renown, and Conquest won.
Bright, in his breast, glow’d the heroic flame,
He fell with Nelson, and that fate was fame.
From infant years his country was his boast,
And ardent in her cause his life he lost.
He cheer’d her victory with his latest breath,
And fell, exulting, in the arms of death. Page 20. And fell, exulting, in the arms of death. The reader, of candour and genuine sensibility, will, I trust, not fail duly to appreciate the motives that prompt me to introduce here the following melancholy fragment. Such will readily believe me when I say, that no vain or ostentatious impulse has a place in my mind on this occasion. And, alas! the lamented object, whose last moments it depicts, has long been insensible to praise! Account of the death of William Chalmers, in the Battle of Trafalgar. (Extracted from the Scots Magazine, for 1806-06June, 1806.) Mr. Editor It has often been your happy lot, to record the heroic deeds of the Sons of the British Navy. Such instances can U2 148 U2v 148 never be too multiplied: their contemplation delights, they animate our hopes in this arduous struggle, and hold up glorious models of imitation to ages yet to come. It was but to-day, that I heard of another and I hasten to communicate it. The Hero was William Chalmers, Master of his Majesty’s ship the Royal Sovereign, who fell in the ever memorable Battle of Trafalgar. A messmate of his, who had every opportunity of being familiar with the circumstances, when writing to his friend in London, thus expresses himself: How heroically our poor friend Chalmers died! His last words, and extraordinary marks of real courage, surpass every thing I have yet heard. Part of his side was carried away, while steering the ship towards the close of the action: he just lived till the firing ceased, then, when a feeble voice, exclaimed, Could I but live to read the Gazette of this glorious day! and, with the remains of his breath, gave three feeble cheers, joined by another dying man, and both immediately expired. Mr Chalmers was a native of Zetland, and fell at the age of thirty-five. Thirteen years of his short life were spent in the service of his country, in the respectable situation of Master, in the British Navy. Amicus Edinburgh, 1806-06-1616th June, 1806.
Dire dispensation! fraught with stern distress;
A sister thou—’twere needless to express
A sister’s sorrow on the sad decree,
For nature’s feelings all seem known to thee.
Yet, ’midst our griefs, lo! we delighted see
Britain, exulting, hail her Jubilee.
Hark! mingling with the sound of dashing waves,
The Jubilee, echoes thro’ the Thulian caves.
May Heaven restore sweet Peace, with all her charms,
Or shield our country ’midst fell War’s alarms.
And may Britannia and Neptune keep,
In union firm, the empire o’er the deep!
The Rose of the Rock.
The summer blooms, let us a while exchange
Lerwegian scenes for rural, calm delights:
Come, let us skim the undulating wave,
Inhale the balmy breeze from yonder mead,
Which, gilded by the cheering sunny ray,
Across the silvery bay allures the eye.
Hope’s vivid promise well nigh realiz’d,
We Hangcliff’ The Dutch name of Noss Head. s steep and lofty summit gain,
Which o’er the deep in awful form projects;
And, in one wide and heart-dilating view,
Gives Thulè’s utmost boundaries to the eye.
Eastward, beyond where keenest sight can pierce,
The German Ocean rolls his frequent wave
To Berga’s coast remote. Far in the north,
Rise Vaalifield’s high ridge and Saxaford; Vaalifield and Saxaford, two hills in the Island of Unst.
In yonder space, that points to Faro’s Isles
And Iceland’s lasting snows, towers Roma’s Hill, The highest hill in Zetland.
Majestic ’midst his tributary mountains.
Turning thence the obedient eye to where
The setting sun gleams on Orcadian shores,
See cloud-girt Foula Now generally allowed by the most intelligent modern historians and geographers, to have been the Thulè seen by the Roman fleet, that circumnavigated Britain, during the last campaign of Agricola. fam’d in classic lore;
Then circling still the penetrating gaze,
Lo! Fitful Fitful Head, a lofty, precipitous cape, at the south western extremity of the country. lifts on high his aged head;
While, far beyond the south extreme, appears
(Seen as an azure cloud) the lone Fair Isle.
The spot where now we stand, exhibiting
Nature’s stupendous grandeur, strikes the mind
With solemn thought. Ye precipices rude!
Whose shagged tops usurp the airy reign,
Whose brinks abrupt a near approach forbid;
The dizzied head averts, the eye withdraws,
It seems a danger even to dare a glance;
Yet do you in magnific langauge speak,
And to the great Creator lift the soul.
The tranquil air is suddenly disturb’d
By wings innumerable rapid beat,23 D4r 23
By harsh discordant screaming wildly pierc’d.
Forth from their homes the feather’d nations fly,
Mix’d and evolv’d, whirling a thousand ways,
Sear’d at the sight of human visitants.
Fear not, ye fluttering parents, we nor wish,
Nor treacherous gun, with deadly metal charg’d,
Bring to destroy your callow, harmless brood;
Retire into your sedge-built, rocky homes,
Where, castled high, ye dwell amid the cliffs,
There, range o’er range, you varied plumage show.
The billows’ rage, aiding the power of time
To which full oft yields even the solid rock,
Had, from the parent island, wide disjoin’d
A craggy cliff, whose deep resounding base
Was insulated by the circling wave.
Half way adown the bleak and rugged steep,
Secur’d from most intrepid schoolboy’s reach,
Nature, amid a scene whose wild sublime
Might chill the blood and even to horror rouse,
Had dropt a lovely solitary flower,
As remembrancer of another style
Of beauty, by full contrast heighten’d seen.
Of the rose tribe its origin confest,
Full blown, all glowing, dazzling to the eye,
Surprize and admiration seize my mind,
As the blooming stranger, pleas’d I gaze.
Yet ’twas an unimparted, miser’s joy,24 D4v 24
For caution’s dictates instantly impose
Reluctant silence, since amongst the groupe
Was one whose childish, rash, impetuous years,
Less listen’d to the strict restraint of care,
Than curiosity’s supreme impulse;
Which might have urg’d her giddy heedless steps
Toward the precipice, near view to gain
Of the fair blushing beauty of the rock.
This dread forbade participation; mute,
Lingering, absorp’t, irresolute I stand.
Sweet Isle of Noss! a greater wonder far
Than rose-crown’d rock thy banks did then afford,
Since there a secret was by woman kept.
Now evening call’d our wandering party home,
And the discovery of the hidden flower
Becoming then the theme of our discourse,
With eager, keen, and deep reproachful looks,
The blooming traveller dejected stood;
The spoil of meads, the pride of fountain brink.
Unheeded dropt from her relaxing hand;
Not Eden’s fair, amid the fragrant bowers,
More ardently desir’d forbidden fruit,
Than now, with disappointments arrow stung,
Her young descendant doth forbidden flower.
O wherefore spake you not. O why conceal
From me a sight so beauteous and rare?
Let us return, O let us quick return;
For every flower will droop and wither soon.
Sure child, to day full many a verdant field,
Where flower with flower vied, you wander’d through.
I did, and with delight; yet would I far,
Far rather see the Rock Rose than them all.
Reflect, we either twice must cross the sea,
And o’er two islands must retrace our steps,
Or we must brave the surge ’round Bressa’s Ord,
And stem the impetuous force of Baarda stream, The Ord and the Baard, two promontories on the south side of the island of Bressa.
Ere we can reach the spot from whence ’tis seen.
I care note, I would travel Zetland o’er,
To see the Rose that grows amid the Rock.
On The Banks of The Esk.
While Tweed’s fam’d stream in numbers rolls along,
And Tay’s meanders sweetly glide in song;
Thy windings Esk, in silence should not flow,
If the coy Nine would numbers fit bestow;
Fain would my humble muse thy beauties sing,
Would sing thy banks, thy groves, and silver spring;
Thy nymphs and swains, whose social converse gay
Beguil’d the winter’s night, the summer’s day.
Here hath kind heaven a chosen agent plac’d,
Noble Buccleugh, with every virtue grac’d,
Who, on exalted rank, a lustre throws
Brighter, than or from wealth or title flows.
Sorrow from thee full oft relief hath found,
While aid and comfort wide are spread around.
Thy dome, well known to all the wand’ring poor,
Who dread not being driven from thy door.
Approving angels on thy steps attend,
And round thy couch their sheltering wings extend,
Drawn from their skies by prayers of the distrest,
Whose griefs by thee have often been redrest.
Hail happiest spot of Caledonia’s coast!
Is not fair Stuart Miss Mary Stuart, daughter of Mr. John Stuart, Surgeon, Musselburgh. and nature’s boast?
And doth not lovely Scott Miss Helen Scott, now Mrs. Burn, West Bush, near Musselburg. thy bowers grace
Whose gentle virtues with delight we trace?
How oft, sweet friend, would we together stray,
Where Pinkie’s milky turrets mark the way;
Or wander by the margin of the stream,
Through scenes which well might form Elysian dream,
While still by thee was fram’d each varying theme.
O say, Helena say, when thou art by,
How dost thou teach the rapid hours to fly?
What rosy pinion dost thou lend the night
When each new moment brings some new delight?
’Tis Friendship’s charm, exprest by lively sense,
Kindly uniting with benevolence;
These thro’ thy converse reign, and round thee throw
Peace, pleasure, joy, and make a heaven below.
How swiftly wheels the social hour along,
If Smith The Rev. Mr. William Smith, of the Episcopal Chapel, Musselburgh. consent to crown it with a song;
In soothing strains he softly sings of love,
Quick to the sound th’obedient feelings move:E2 28 E2v 28
Now fairer blooms the Broom when sung by thee,
And gliding thro’ its birks sweet Yarrow’s stream see.
Anon! aloft the dancing spirits soar,
While we Lunardi’s airy course explore;
His rapid progress we attend, and soon
With him arrive in safety at the moon. Alluding to a song, composed during the ballon rage, Lunardi’s gone up to the Moon.
Fain would I sing the praise of gallant Hay, Major George Hay, who served in the British army during the colonial war. The Major had, in early life, been an officer in the British navy.
Did not the timid muse forbid th’ essay,
Nor cross th’ Atlantic dare to trust her way;
Unequal she to sing of camps and wars,
Or thee, the son of Neptune and of Mars.
And thou, O Wemyss, Captain Francis Wemyss, of Carriston, in Fife. This worthy gentleman, as well as the next mentioned are both deceased since the time this poem was written. the generous and the brave, Page 28. And thou, O Wemyss,&c. Captain Wemyss commanded a ship in the Danish East India service; and was, on a homeward bound voyage, fiercely attacked by Malayese pirates, against whom he made a steady and vigorous resistance, and was, in consequence, presented by the underwriters with a very valuable piece of plate, on which was engraven an appropriate inscription.
Who, when attack’d upon the eastern wave,
By bands of swarthy pirates, fierce and strong,
To whom superior numbers did belong,
Thy steady courage and thy dauntless crew
Did soon the daring savages subdue.
The Northern muse now feels a pleasing pride,
While she declares herself to Boyle Jame Boyle, Esq. of Tullymurdoch. allied,
By ties of blood; ah, could she also claim
As kindred virtues those which grace his name.
Here, as I stray, fann’d by the evening breeze,
The spire arises, pointing o’er the trees,
Where Inveresk’s time-shatter’d hallowed fane
With venerable grandeur marks the scene;
Where Carlyle, The venerable Pastor was alive when these lines were composed. graceful ’midst the load of time,
Demonstrates moral truth in style sublime.
The ascending and descending crowds impart
Reflections various to the musing heart,
Each rising step seems nearer heaven to draw,
And strikes the advancing worshipper with awe;
Saying to worldly cares, Remain below,
While to God’s hill and to his house we go.
And, in descent, the strengthen’d lighten’d mind
Feels, (by Devotion’s exercise refin’d)
More apt in social duties to engage,
And meet the cares of life’s still varying stage.
Here has full many a race successive rose,
In life they worshipp’d, and in death repose;
Sons o’er the ashes of their slumb’ring sires
Their homage pay to heaven, — the thought inspires.30 E3v 30
Solemnity, and gives devotion aid,
Drawn from the sacred relics of the dead.
The spot whereon this sacred pile is plac’d,
Is by the landscape’s fairest features grac’d;
The view of such a structure, mark’d by time,
Awakes to contemplation all sublime!
Imagination traces with delight,
(As back it wanders thro’ with rapid flight,)
The unnumber’d multitudes who did resort
To worship God, in this his outer court,
Now in the heavenly temple sing his praise,
And bear a part in everlasting lays.
Farewell, sweet Esk! thy lovely varying scenes
Demand the meed of higher warbled strains,
Than the weak effort of my untaught lyre,
Urg’d by the pleasure of thy lov’d banks inspire;
Farewell, dear scenes! peace dwell amid your bowers,
And stamp’d with social comfort roll the hours;
May innocence and joy maintain their reign,
And Ceres’ smiles adorn the happy plain;
And still to bless the country far around,
May Virtue’s temple at Dalkeith be found!
The Sufferings of Faro.
The following lines were suggested by the circumstance of a boat, from the Faro Islands, stopping at Lerwick, on her way to Leith, in quest of a supply of provisions, the Islands being at the time under the calamity of famine.
O Ye, who bask where smiling nature pours
Her bounty, and with plenty crowns the hours;
Receive with gentle, kind humanity,
The famish’d woe-worn wanderers of the sea;
Forc’d from their sterile home, by Want’s command,
They seek relief, even in a hostile land,
Driven to accept it from the enemy’s hand.
All enemies their piteous state disarms,
Subdues each heart, and gives a truce to arms.
Dire famine! how imperative thy call;
They leave their homes, their wives, their babes, their all,
And trust, in slender bark, the dangerous main,
In hopes some general succor to obtain;
Assail’d by want, they war and tempests brave,
Almighty Power! these struggling heroes save,32 E4v 32
And land them safely on the British strand,
Where gladly opens every liberal hand,
As instruments, which Providence employs,
To bid these tenants of the rock rejoice.
To her, how tedious creeps the anxious day
At home who watches their uncertain stay;
Flung on the homely couch, she late repairs,
To court some respite from distracting fears.
If friendly slumber hover o’er her eyes;
Lo! terrifying visions round arise.
Her absent husband captive now appears
Amid the foes, and chains and fetters wears;
For ’tis the doom of human nature still
To weep the fancied as the real ill.
But, O! sad dame of Faro’s lonely rock,
While thee vain images of horror shock,
Safe, cherish’d is the object thou dost mourn,
And fondly meditates a quick return.
Let not thy started fancy Britain wrong,
Thou and thy joyful children shall, ere long,
And all the inhabitants of those bleak isles,
With countenances drest in sudden smiles,
Bless Albion’s natives, bless her fertile fields
Which, to the miserable, succour yields.
Mutual anxieties the heart invade
Of him, who pants to view his lowly shed.
Who, like a wand’ring bird in quest of food,
Seeks succour to relieve the tender brood33 F1r 33
By fancy wafted, every danger past,
He tread his dear, his native shore at last,
With eager hands he opes the treasur’d hoards
Which British liberality affords;
O, blissful vision! feeds his darling child,
Each toil forgotten, every care beguil’d.
But, ah! awakening reason rallies all
Sad possibilities which may befal;
Impatient does imagination sweep,
Wafting the ample treasure o’er the deep,
Stung with the dread, (but O, forbid it Fate!)
The generous supply may reach too late.
O may this Ark, form’d in far slenderer mould
Than that which first essayed the deep of old;
Although the branch of Peace does not appear,
Yet may it home the Horn of Plenty bear!
But, soft—Britannia asks, where is the need
To prompt her children to the generous deed?
The Sufferings of Faro.
Not yet seven weeks, their anxious cares had roll’d,
Ere travellers, from sea, the news unfold;
A British vessel, bounding o’er the main,
Seeks Faro’s Islands, richly lade with grain.
What sudden transport vibrates through the heart,
While the delightful tidings they impart!
Well might the Thulian natives sympathize,
Well might our bosoms beat with heartfelt joys;
Our captur’d seamen, when to Norway bore,
Met generous treatment on the hostile shore.
Now borne on fleet imagination’s wing,
The Muse, of Faro’s lonely Isles would sing;
Where nigh extinguish’d Hope, quick at the sight
Of an approaching sail, rekindles bright.
Towards the shore the thronging natives pour,
To wait the issue of th’ eventful hour.
The British ensigns, waving now appear,
Uncertain yet, if friendly terms they bear;
The mind still fluctuates ’twixt joy and grief,
This points to ruin, that toward relief.35 F1r 35
With heightened tenderness is ardent prest
The infant to the mother’s throbbing breast.
The British ensigns, as they nearer draw,
Steal strength from hope, and shed an anxious awe.
What renovation doth the sight induce,
When view’d, attemper’d, under sign of Truce!
Now grateful thanks in every bosom springs,
First to the Power who rules the heart of Kings,
Then to great George, the delegate of Heaven,
Whose generous aid, no sooner ask’d than given;
Favour’d by Him, whom winds and waves obey,
Had o’er the ocean quickly found its way.
The echoing caverns of the rocks around
With British generosity resound.
The new-born joy expires, a transient guest,
Sudden admitted and as soon represt,
Quick, on the varying cheek, the change appears,
Late flush’d with joy—now pale with ghastly fears;
For in the skiff advancing to the shore,
The eye, the well-known forms, fail to explore:
Wives, parents, children, through the crowded strand
Rush eager, and their relatives demand—
As when the brothers from the Egyptian road
Their asses led sore bent beneath the load
Of dearly purchas’d, life-sustaining grain,
The Patriarch’s eyes his darling sought in vain.
Such anguish now their care-worn bosoms rends,
Here is relief—but where—oh where our friends?
Some welcome hand straight to their sight reveals
The silent messengers—quick fly the seals;
The thought imparting page delight inspires,
Warm from the heart, and faithful to its fires.
By these inform’d, their fears are soon assuag’d,
The objects, who their tender cares engag’d,
Only remain till the Necessity The appropriate name of the vessel in which they set out on their expedition.
Refits, and is prepar’d to trust the sea.
O may they, safely, their lov’d home regain,
Ere wintry storms embroil the angry main;
Then, when the waning year, on ebon wings,
The Christian Festival returning brings,
While jocundly they sport, and laugh, and sing,
Fain would they drain a cup to Britain’s King,
Though, by the pledge, their wish they must not show,
The grateful impulse, in the heart, will glow.
But to return—A busy scene takes place,
Activity doth listless languor chase;
The flitting skiffs unload the welcome hoard,
The vacant granaries are amply stor’d;
Anticipated plenty, even beguiles
The present moment, sighs give way to smiles.
No more the heart-wrung mother, steep’d in tears,
Her infant’s calls for food, in anguish hears.
What beauteous form on yonder cliff is seen
Bending, in fond attention, o’er the scene?
Britannia’s Genius, full confest, appears,
Her cheek bedew’d with pleasure’s precious tears,
And whispers, in self-gratulating meed,
How prompt my children to the generous deed!
To the Muses.
Avaunt! ye Nine; no more I sue
For your capricious aid,
Since you could thus its power deny
To an invoking maid.
So fair a vot’ry ne’er before
Had breath’d Parnassian air
Nor did Castalia’s boasted stream
E’er show a form so fair.
To see your shrine so highly grac’d,
Quickly inflam’d your pride;
Confusion reign’d throughout the hill,
And you the suit denied.
Mournful Melpomene declin’d
Her tearful aid to lend;
And sage Historic Clio’s brow
No fav’ring smiles unbend.
When chearful Thalia, stepping forth,
Cry’d Sisters, why so shy?
If fair Eliza will accept
My aid, her muse, am I.
To Eliza. Much Ado About Nothing.
Let this acquaint my dearest friend,
That I to make a glove intend,
Or pair of gloves; and, therefore, I
For your directions must apply,
Hoping, you will to me impart
Some portion of your far-fam’d art.
Your charitable disposition,
I trust, will favour my petition.
You have been told it over and over,
Charity doth much evil cover;
And, where no virtue is amissing,
It surely is a double blessing.
Besides, what pleasure ’twill supply
To favour honest industry.
If fair Eliza do consent
Her aid, she shall it not repent,
For ’tis my wish and warm desire
To let my quill requite her wire, The gloves, to which Eliza’s assistance was solicited, were knit upon wires.
And, in the deathless rolls of fame,
Inscribe her merits and her name.
You startle at my enterprize,
Thinking, beyond my reach it lies;
Yet, in my plan, I will persist,
Wiles sometimes do the weak assist.
A favouring moment I will watch,
Some stray poetic spark to catch,
Which, when I feel begin to glow,
My tuneful pilgrimage I’ll go.
And I intend, before I stop,
To climb renown’d Parnassus’ top;
How many authors are, alas!
Content with visiting its base;
When to a point I set my face,
I love to do it with a grace.
I’ll gather all choicest flowers
Which bloom in the Parnassian bowers.
I’ll drain Pieria’s sacred spring,
(By halves I hate to do a thing,)
What, though it leave the channel dry
To the next corner, what care I;
We must our own occasions catch,
Let them look out who have the watch.
And while my flowery search thus leads
Amid the verdant, fragrant meads;
To you, I frankly do confess
(Friendship should mutual trust possess)
I’m not without a secret hope,
Which will my grateful efforts prop,41 G1r 41
That, if in luck, chance in my way
May throw some struggling sprig of bay;
This for my own account I mean,
To show the world where I have been.
This gain’d, I may with you advise,
(You know I your opinion prize)
Whether you think it most becoming
(If that would not be too assuming)
Around the temples ’twere entwin’d;
Yet this, to those who are inclin’d
To censure, might a field present;
I, therefore, should be quite content
To give it o’er to time and chance,
Who often do the weak advance,
And may, the triumph to complete,
Yet bid it grace my statue’s feet.
But here your prudence will suggest
Our native adage, that ’twere best
To let be fairly caught the fish,
Ere we divide it in the dish. Ere we divide it, &c. Alluding to the proverbial expression current amongst the Zetland fishermen, viz. Do not divide the fish before it comes into the boat, is often applied, as in the present case, to check the progress of air-built castles.
It so may happen, that the Nine
To favour me may not incline,G 42 G1v 42
For, I am told, they do not chuse,
At least none but the comic muse, At least none but the comic muse, &c. The former poem, beginning Avaunt! ye Nine, &c. was addressed to the Muses, on account of their treatment of the lady to whom this epistle is written.
To part with any of their skill,
I’ll therefore lurk about the hill,
Until some fair occasion chance,
When, warily, I shall advance,
And, of their art, pick some small share,
’Tis what I want, and they can spare.
Could I a happy moment catch,
Apollo’s Lyre I fain would snatch,
And if I could my fear surmount,
Pegasus gladly would I mount;
But, being of a timid nature,
I do not chuse to trust this creature,
Who is, I’m told, a fiery steed,
And should he take it in his head
Adown the steepy hill to fly,
’Tis ten to one but I should cry,
Which might, perhaps, alarm Apollo,
Who, missing of his Lyre, would follow;
And should it rouse the angry Nine,
’Twere to be fear’d the worst were mine.
Melpomene takes back her tears,
Urania her right avers,43 G2r 43
And Thalia, tho’ a lively lass,
I dont expect would let me pass,
But would re-take her sports and smiles,
With all her store of comic wiles;
And thus, when each their skill withdraw,
Your Poetess, like Æsop’s daw,
Is left; unsung Eliza’s praise
Remains, though claiming choicest lays;
My ardent gratitude represt,
To glow, in silence, in my breast;
And hence, apparently, ensues
Fit subject for the tragic Muse.
Verses, in Humble Imitation of Burns.I beg it may not be supposed, that these Verses express my ideas respecting the information and intelligence of the Ayrshire Bard with regard to this country. But the thought striking me, that had he been alive, he might, perhaps, have been amused with the novelty of a poetic essay from Zetland Authoress; my feeble attempt is made on the supposition of his giving the reins to his enlivening vein of raillery and burlesque. Well am I convinced, although I have attempted the Imitation, that he is inimitable. Why then embark in vain pursuit of imitating the inimitable? I stand reproved.
What will this warld come to belyve!
The rhyming trade does briskly thrive
It wad appear;
They’re ane tane’t now, ye sanna guess,
In seven year.
No as lang syne, whan now and then,
The tunefu’ lasses lent the pen
To able hand;
And Shakespeare’s, Milton’s, Thomson’s fame
I wat I thought it was right fair,
Whan after muckle thought and care,
On cow’ring wing,
My ain wee muse, in hamely strain,
Ettled to sing.
There lies an Isle, north Johnnie Groat’s,
They’re hafflins Danes, and hafflins Scots,
I watna how,
But whether it be Christen’d land
I hardly trow.
An unco place, they ca’ it Zetland,
For sailors wi’ surprize, cried Yet Land!
When it they saw,
Ferlying to find baith stane and mold,
Sae far awa’.
But learned scholars ca’it Thulè,
A place whar darkness reigns in July,
By Sol forsook,
And naething there but frost and snaw,
A cauld rife nook.
To hear the limmer pertly carol,
Nae less than about Bay and Laurel,
’Twad vex a tike,
I trow, a doken scarce she’d ken
Alangst a dyke.
Some friend cries out, what ails ye now,
Ye hardly ken yoursel, I trow,
What flyte ye at,
Ravin about some far aff Isle,
I watna what.
Gin folk bide there they hae the skaith,
But what need ye be in a wrath,
Wha bieuly beik
On kindly Nature’s smiling lap,
Ye’re no to seek.
But Argosie Anger. does sae prevail,
I come back foremost wi’ my tale,
Is’t ony winner;
The like o’ this wad vex a Saint,
Forby a sinner.
Amang thae awfu’ eerie rocks,
Whar selchies, otters, gang in flocks,
There dwalls a hizzie,
Wha has the pertness ’mang the Nine
To be right bizzie.
Fegs, madam Thulia, ye’re no blate,
Ye want na for your ain conceit;
But now, gude sooth,
Ye’re angry; weel, they’re aft ill heard
That tell the truth.
But bide a wee, my Greenland Lady,
And tell me gif ye think ye’re ready
For the review;
Review? what’s that? ye’ll may be ken
In time enow.
An yet ye may, gif ye’re in luck,
Come better aff than better folk,
For truth to tell,
Ferlies,(and surely your book’s ane,)
Aft bear the bell.
Besides, in a’ that’s done and said,
Allowances maun ay be made,
An it is own’d,
Whar other authors fa’ a grain,
Ye claim a pound.
Sae they will, may be, let you pass,
But tak my word, my rhymin lass,
It’s for the fun;
And it would hae sae mony fauts,
The task they’ll shun.
I thought the Heliconian lasses,
And the gudeman of fam’d Parnassus Apollo.
Mair wit had kend,
Than Pegasus, their dauted steed,
To you to lend.
For wad it no be just as bonnie
To see you mounted on a poney
O’ Zetland breed,
As flying on the wandering wings
O’ that wild steed.
And wha tauld you about Apollo,
Urania, Thalia? a’ maun follow,
In order due,
Melpomene comes greetin neist,
Led on by you.
As wha say I’m a Poetess,
It moves my anger, I confess,
It vexes folk,
’Twad set you better to clean fish,
Or knit your sock.
The Nine might better kent their worth,
Than venturing owre the Pentland Firth,
You to inspire,
An naething less can sair you than
I’ve aften heard it said, A Len
Should laugh when it gaes hame again,
That’s right and meet,
But fegs, I hae an unco fear,
The Lyre will greet.
For, whan it comes amang your damps,
And a’ your plashy, miry swamps,
’Twill spoil the strings:
Feint care; let them that gae you’t tak
The skaith it brings.
But, since ye maun hae tunefu’ fame,
What need ye gang sae far frae hame,
Whan, at your hand,
Hangs the Æolian harp, well tun’d,
At your command.
An for the fam’d Pierian stream,
It’s little mair than just a name,
Gif right ye wist;
Tak ye a drink o’ Neptune’s flood,
He’ll never miss’t.
And when wi’ him to make a storm,
Æolus and Boreas, in a quorum,
Their help combine,
Gang ye a fleechin to the Three,
Ne’er fash the Nine.
The Novelty and difficulty of the subject stated—Relations of England and Holland with respect to the fishery —Importance of the Dutch trade to Zetland—The joy manifested by all ranks on the first intelligence of the approach of the Herring fleet—The meeting of the natives and foreigners in Lerwick—Traffic—View of the fleet in the bay—Natures present parsimony with regard to trees, contrasted with her former bounty—School holiday— Riding scene— Dutch boys—their timidity and first attempts on horseback—Disputes between the riders and the guides—Approach of Evening—The Dance—Shortness of night—Morning—Unmooring of the fleet—Reflections on the feelings of a returning rural party—Apostrophe to Memory—Hope—Influence of Music—Concluding episode—Preparations in Holland for sending off the Herring fleet—Observance of a religious fast there, to propitiate Heaven on the undertaking—Engagement off Fair Isle, between the French and the Dutch squadrons —Victory of the former—Burning of the Dutch Busses described—Dismay of the fishermen, and their melancholy departure.
A Theme, as yet unknown to poet’s lay,
Rises to memory, and demands my song;
But how shall I the motley scene attempt,
The Aonian Maids no favouring ear incline,
Commercial interests, they all declare,
Are subjects lying quite out of their way;
Shall I, unaided, dare the bold essay? The circumstances described in the following poem, form the only attempt made in Zetland towards a public Market or Fair. It is held upon rather a precarious tenure, as it depends on peace subsisting between England and Holland; and also upon the wind proving favourable for bringing the Dutch herring fleet in time to reach the annual sale of hosiery. It takes place at Midsummer, and on account of its happening about the time of the anniversary of St. John the Baptist, it is called Johnsmas. Bressa Sound being the appointed rendevous of the fleet, Lerwick in the emporium.
When in the golden chains of smiling Peace,
Britannia and Batavia’s sons are link’d,
’Tis given the latter from the British seas
To draw the finny treasure; but when war,
Between these nations, her dread trumpet sounds,
The lucrative indulgence is withdrawn,H2 52 H2v 52
Much injury thence do Thulian interests feel, Woollen stockings, gloves, &c. the staple articles of manufacture in the Zetland Islands, formed, at one time, a very profitable branch of trade, but, ever since the war has prevented the intercourse with the Dutch fishing vessels, or busses as they are termed, the demand has greatly diminished.
And an important feather from the wing
Of female labour The stockings are all knit upon wires exclusively by the women. and of commerce, drops.
Advertive nature, as the climate cools,
Softens the fleece, imparting kindlier warmth,
First to the natural wearer, then to man,
To needy man, that all dependent lord.
In this advantage Thulè liberal shares,
Nature the fleece affords, and industry
A ready purchaser was sure to find
(Brisk spur to useful toil) from the Dutch fleet.
A kind reception did the traveller meet,
Whose course, conducting over Southern hills,, The approach of the fleet to Bressa Sound is from the South.
Made him the welcome herald to the town
Of the Baravian vessels’ wish’d approach;
The fleet’s in sight, each joyful voice exclaims,
Bright sparkle infant eyes, while lisping tongues
The fleet in sight announce, unconscious why
The general holiday. Even amongst those53 H3r 53
Whom no pecuniary motives sway
From heart to heart the sympathetic joy
Flies rapid. Now the rural dwellings, quick
Deserted of their active inmates, stand,
While age and childhood hold their feeble reign,
And (as they can) domestic interest guide.
Along the hills the gathering groupes are seen,
Hope is in motion, and exertion prompts;
The young hope pleasure, and the old hope gain.
The trim-built barks, from points far distant seen,
Bounding the azure wave the harbour seek,
Spreading the swelling canvass to the breeze,
Exhibiting a beauteous spectacle,
Which every momonet varies. Now arriv’d,
The native and foreign travellers
Mingle on Lerwick’s sudden crowded street.
Resolv’d on being pleas’d, all pleasure find,
Long absent friends from different quarters meet
In heartfelt greetings, at this general mart,
And gayly circulates the simple joke;
The merchant shows his gaudy tempting wares,
With cheerful glee, unto the rural maid,
In hopes her purse with guilders A Dutch coin. well is lin’d,
While oft around is heard, is seen, is felt,
The voice, the look, in admiration’s guise,
In every language understood, nor needs
Interpretation to the female heart.
Now busy traffic animates the scene,
Quickly the new imported cash wheels round;
From the Dutch purse it slowly drawn is given
In lieu of articles spun from the fleece,
To the blithe dame, whose winter eves were spent
Assiduous, at the hope inspiring task.
With her short pause it makes; the well—stor’d shop
Receives the circulating benefit.
The crowded Bay a prospect now presents,
Which gaiety and admiration wakes;
The various flags, suspended, lend their aid,
Batavia’s three-strip’d colours far exceed
In number, all that deck the silver wave.
Denmark A few Danish and Prussian Busses also prosecute the herring fishery on the coast of Zetland. displays a cross of purest white
On flaming red. The Prussian Eagle spreads
On snow-like field, his ample, sable wings;
While, from the warlike or commercial bark,
Britannia’s waving ensigns float around,
And seem to wear an hospitable air
Of welcome to those useful visitants,
’Midst whom she sits as Hostess of the rest.
The harbour view’d, from where obstructing heights
Conceal the vessels’ hulks, yet show the masts,
Mimics a wintry forest stript of leaves,55 H4r 55
A floating forest Thulè only boasts.
Why partial Nature, dost thou now deny,
With wood more permanent, to grace our coasts,
Since erst thou more indulgent far didst prove?
Say, wherefore wert thou to our sires of old Page 55. Say wherefore wert thou to our sires of old? Pennant, in his Introduction to Arctic Zoology, p. 41, says, In many parts of these islands (Orkney and Zetland) are evident marks of their having been a wooded country.
More bountiful, than now thou’rt to their sons?
The school shut up, its glad inhabitants
Range o’er the scene, as novelty impels
Their restless steps. To see the Johnsmas, those
Whose infant feet cannot conduct themselves,
Must to the general resort be borne.
Happy the child, whose features or whose form,
Brings to the memory of some Dutch sire
His absent kinder; The Dutch word for child. from his sack Pocket. he draws
The cake, bak’d with the produce of the bee,
With orange and with citron high enrich’d,
And treats the dear resemblance, over whom,
Touch’d with parental tenderness, he hangs.
Summer in full meridian splendour glows;
To grace this day, in blooming verdure drest,
Nature and art united in jubilee;
But pleasure must experience alloy,
And when the youthful heart, in unison
With nature’s loveliest charms, is suddenly
With the unwelcome recollection struck,56 H4v 56
This is the longest day, at once is felt
The chill idea of the longest night,
When lost the zephyr in the tempest’s roar,
And icicles succeed to blooming flowers,
Intruding on the mind, as thoughts of age
On youthful beauty, in the hour elate.
Varying the motley and commercial scene,
Which noisy reigns along the crowded street,
Towards the fields the Dutchmen bend their course,
In groups detach’d, the benefit to reap
Of riding, purchas’d at an easy rate;
This, as an healthful exercise they ply,
Taught by their Æsculapian Oracle. Boerhaave prescribed riding for the Dutch.
The hope of gain inspiring every heart,
Each urgent for precedence in employ,
The peasant leads his destin’d poney on,
Whose size diminutive, oft ill accords
With that of him who rides, but what he lacks
In stature, amply doth his mettl’d strength
Atone. As on he trots, his motion suits
Itself, to aid his temporary master,
Demonstrating the strong, instinctive power.
Oft Hollanders of tender years are here,
Who six or seven annual solar rounds
Have only seen, brought hither by their sires,
In Neptune’s nursery early introduc’d.57 I1r 57
Timid and shy, they fearful look around,
And even away from proffer’d kindness shrink.
These, lately drawn from fond maternal care,
Quick wafted o’er the main, surrounded now
By stangers and strange scenes, cling to their sires,
From whom nought but a poney can them part;
Eager to ride, yet timorously withheld,
Irresolute they linger; but, at length,
Fear yields to novelty’s persuasive charm,
While emulation joins her powerful voice.
And now a scene succeeds, resembling that
Sung by the Scottish Bard, who Nature paints Alluding to the beautiful description, in Thomson, of the birds teaching their young to fly.
In all its force. Close to the poney’s side
The father stands, in every look confest;
He chides, exhorts, commands the fearful boy
To this his first adventurous essay,
Whose cheek now pale, now flush’d, and varying eye
Bespeak the changeful mood which sways his mind.
Full oft, when exhortation and command
Of success fail’d, the inspiring voice of praise
Has gain’d the day, and sent th’ exulting youth,
In cautious vict’ry, o’er the riding path,
Combating fear, and trusting to his guide,
Who follows close, breathing encouragement.
Between the riders and attendant guides,
Who own the poneys, keen disputes arise.I 58 I1v 58
On every side the angry passions swell,
And, in a jargon unintelligible,
Mix with the general clamour thro’ the air.
Altho’ the language foreign, yet the guise
Of anger misses not, nor eye, nor ear.
Now evening’s hour, without her dusk, draws on;
Light’s radiance seems to contradict the knell,
Which quick surprises from the solemn clock,
And whispers, Even the longest day must end,
As life, protracted to the latest verge.
The flagging spirits long upon the wing
Of business or of pleasure, borne aloft,
More with time’s monitor then with the light
Keep pace, and hail the appointed hour of rest.
Now to the dance the Dutchmen all repair;
The motion gestic, and the heavy strain,
Wide differ from the heart-enlivening reels
Of Caledonia. Coffee’s fragrant steam,
Tobacco’s stifling fumes are felt around;
Inebriating draughts are sparingly indulg’d
Amongst the wary Dutch.
Phœbus short respite gives his way-worn steeds,
Whose longest journey gets the shortest rest,
So close the rising to the setting rays
Succeed; the glory rather veil’d than lost,
Through crimson clouds, glows thro’ the eastern sky,
And soon Aurora, drest in saffron robe,
Bids Phœbus re-ascend his circling car.59 I2r 59
Throughout the course of this revolving day,
The busy Dutch prepare to wet their nets, The Dutch never begin to fish herrings before the --06-2424th of June, and the first attempt, which is a mere matter of form, is called wetting the nets.
For the first time. Anon, the harbour thins,
Each parting bark some pleasure seems to steal
From the spectators of the transient scene.
While by the sea the foreigners depart,
By land the rustic strangers take their way,
Fatigued, out-worn, they seek their different homes;
Now silent, dull, and blank the town appears,
As suddenly deserted as ’twas fill’d.
The scatter’d thoughts now strive to re-assume
Their wonted tone, but vain at first the essay.
Shall the reflective mind a moment stop,
And contemplate the feelings various,
Which, peradventure, may be trac’d to fill
The hearts of a returning rural group,
While they repass the grassy knoll, which points
Through flowery tracks toward their humble cot.
Hope, gay companion, led their outward steps
On to the goal, where center’d every wish,
Strew’d roses on their path and slop’d the way.
But now the verdant rememberancer tells,
In pathos apt, that vanity’s inscrib’d
On every human aim, by calling straight
To mind the train of thought in which they lastI2 60 I2v 60
Beheld this silent monitor: convinc’d
Reality by fancy is surpass’d.
They, who on expectation’s buoyant wing
Were forward borne, lo! now their ardour damp’d,
Return on disappointment’s drooping pinion.
Some of the travellers had fondly hop’d
A higher value for the fleecy prize;
Youthful imagination had outrun
The real joys which even a Johnsmas yields;
While the tir’d poney, could he tell his mind,
Seeks home least disappointed of the train.
How strange appear the effects of memory,
And of anticipation on the mind;
The past and future in unreal hues
Arise to view, and from the present steal
The due enjoyment. Yet I would retract,
For oft the present borrows from the past
And future its best relish’d joys.
The mind reflecting on a former scene,
With roses and with thorns promiscuous strew’d,
Forgets the thorn, but lingers o’er the rose;
While in the present the reverse is seen.
Anon, when in the gliding lapse of time,
The present now shall mingle with the past,
And form a part of mem’ry’s treasur’d hoard,
Cherish’d again the rose, the thorn forgot.
Yet not forgot, for faithful memory,
Deep in her numerous cells, each circumstance
Doth strict retain: yet still a softening shade,61 I3r 61
O’er former pains, the mind inclines to throw,
If mingling pleasures with them did unite.
If strange the power of memory o’er the mind,
Its force astonishing, when magic sounds
Of melody connect with recollection,
Ideas numberless, which dormant lay,
Are quickly rous’d, each actor re-assumes
His former part, nor word nor look forgot.
But I digress. The home returning group,
By whom this brief analysis was inspir’d,
Ere long, shall prove the observation true,
That when the present shall become the past,
And dissipated disappointments tinge,
This Johnsmas shall beguile some winter’s eve,
While round the blazing fire the happy band
Enjoy the hour, and to th’ adventures list,
The jokes and profits of this Johnsmas day;
Recounted in such sort, as in the breast
Of those who only by description know
The scene on which description loves to dwell,
Anticipations pleasure shall excite,
O’er which still hovers the sweet syren Hope.
Angelic Hope! though thy bright phantoms fly
Our fond embrace, I term thee not, as some,
A faithless cheat, thy self enkindling torch
Still chears the toilsome rugged path of life,
And makes our happiest state no tedious thing;
And tho’, in time, thou shouldst not realize
Thy promise, still thou pointest to Eternity,62 I3v 62
Where virtue shall not miss thy choicest boon.
But my enraptur’d fancy devious strays,
The copious themes of Mem’ry and of Hope The Pleasures of Memory and of Hope.
Tho’ unexhaustible) are sweetly sung,
In loftier strains, than my weak lyre may boast;
Let me then straight resume my simple lay.
A century back, when hostile feuds prevail’d
’Twixt France and Holland; while neutrality
Britannia held to both; the Dutch had gain’d
High eminence in the important branch
Of finny treasure, drawn from British seas;
Sol near approaching full meridian height,
From his bright throne the dazzling summons throws,
Which to this summer enterprize invites.
’Tis active life and busy bustle all,
Preparative to launching off the fleet;
Now the throng’d temples ardently resound,
The general orisons of each class
Committing to the favouring care of Heaven
The useful undertaking. See now launch’d
All on the gently undulating wave
The well-built barks; the snow-like canvass spread;
Crowd urges crown towards the teeming shore,
With many a feeling, many an interest prest;
Gain or affection occupy each heart;
Here stands the wife with humid streaming eyes,
Following the swift departing sail, which bears63 I4r 63
Far hence her mate. While there, in gilded car,
Sit those who on anticipation’s wing
Eagerly borne, forestal the lapse of time,
And in idea tough the precious ore.
Æolus’ fav’ring breezes aid acquire
From heart-breath’d sighs of those, who, left behind,
Each morn and night solicit Providence,
In their behalf who plough the dang’rous main;
Propitious nature prosperous gales bestows,
But Mars’ fell purposes the hopes defeat
Of industry and patient enterprize;
For while they now approach the Thulian shores,
An intercepting fleet, by Gallia sent, Page 63. An intercepting fleet, by Gallia sent. In order to give a clearer idea of the circumstances with with this poem terminates (and which I have introduced rather as a kind of episodical conclusion, than as having any immediate or regular connection with the main subject of the poem), I shall subjoin an extract from Dr. Edmondston’s View of the ancient and present State of the Zetland Islands, vol. I. p. 263. When writing of the number of busses formerly employed in the Dutch Herring Fishery, he thus proceeds: —Mr. Gifford, who wrote his Description of Zetland in 17331733, says, that for a period of thirty years before, there had never been at Lerwick more than three or four hundred sail at a time, although some old men say that they have seen in Bressa Sound, at one time, 2200 busses. In the year 17021702 or 17031703, a squadron of six sail of French men of war, which had been sent on purpose to intercept them, fell in, off Fair Isle, with four Dutch ships of war, which were protecting the busses. A battle ensued, in which, after the Dutch Admiral’s ship had been sunk, the remaining three made their escape. The French squadron proceeded to Bressa Sound, sent in their boats, and are said to have burned and destroyed above four hundred of the Dutch Busses; and the Dutch fishers appear never to have recovered completely from this disaster.
Engage in furious fight the warlike ships,
Appointed convoy of the Hollanders.
What thought thy simple people then, Fair Isle!
When martial thunder shook thy lonesome caves;
And when aghast they view’d thy dark green waves
Blood-stain’d, roll crimson to the rocky shore?
The Gallic squadron won the bloody day;
Then on to Bredyaur Sound The ancient name of Bressa Sound. pursued their course,
Where, in the wonted rendezvous, they find
Batavia’s fishing fleet collected lye,
Across the bay are moor’d the social barks,
And side by side a floating bridge supply.
Then Bressa, was thy beauteous liquid arch
Seen blazing in the opposing element64 I4v 64
Of fire, quick kindled from the shrine of Mars,
By boats mann’d from proud Gallia’s conqu’ring ships.
What alter’d aspect wore the scene around!
One changful hour the wat’ry mirror shews,
Reflecting clear along the opposing banks,
Nature in all her summer pride array’d
Of vivid green, diversified by cots,
By rural hamlets, rural imagery;
While in the midst it gives a double fleet,
Each cord, each sail, each flag, inverted seen.
Anon, behold the glaring flame at once,
As in the air it awfully ascends
In shadowy rage, prone darting on the deep;
While piercing shouts of horror pour around,
Cries and lamentations mix’d with the sound
Of contrast crackling, and the sudden plunge
Of falling masts, from their deep sockets thrown
Amid the tranquil flood.
Wild consternation mark’d the dismal scene,
While the Batavian fishers all untrain’d,
All unprepar’d for war, affrighted flee;
Nor did the foe attempt their flight to stop,
No deadly bolt was hurl’d, no captive seiz’d;
Crowned in their own barks they homeward trace
The wat’ry way, with other beat of heart,
Than when so late they skimm’d it on Hope’s wing.
Thus, direly, broke this happy Johnsmas day;
Then art and war oppos’d kind nature’s plan,
Giving what in these regions nor before,65 K1r 65
Nor since was seen, Night, at the Summer solstice,
A partial horrid reign extending round,
From darkening columns of ascending smoke
That ’clips’d the vivid, ruddy evening sky.
Mars and Bellona hovering o’er the scene,
Their floating flaming altars view’d with joy;
While meek-eyed Peace and active Commerce fled,
Joining the frighted Sea-nymphs in their wail,
These are thy triumphs, these thy trophies, War!
To Walter Scott, Esq. on his Lady of the Lake.
Thou master of the tuneful art!
Who only Nature can impart;
Though on thy temples blooms the bay
Scorn not my gratulating lay.
Describ’d by thee in graceful ease,
And softening touch, the power to please
Is lent a haughty chieftain’s broils,
His ambush, depredations, spoils.
Thou shed’st upon the rugged theme,
The beauties of the poet’s dream;
While virtuous, kind emotions, thou
Bidst in their native lustre glow.
The luckless orphan, early reft
Of sire, and to misfortune left,
Feels the pure joy to which ’tis given,
Less to partake of earth than heaven;
And whilst the Douglas to his breast,
Presses his Ellen—is carest.
The landscape which thy pencil drew,
Arises to the reader’s view,
Who, as beneath is ample roll’d
Loch Katrine’s sheet of burnish’d gold,
Stands with Fitz James, amid the brake,
And sees the Lady of the Lake.
When sacred hospitable rite,
The weary stanger doth invite,
With evening chaunt, in lulling strain,
We hear the harp of Allan Bane.
A Fire-Side Vocal Concert.
The low’ring, leaden-colour’d evening cloud,
The chilling frost, the billows breaking loud,
The wish excite, contented to retire,
To pause from toil, and trim the evening fire.
Snowy triangles clothe each window pane,
The drear outside makes bright the inside scene;
The kettle on the clean-swept hearth is plac’d,
The table with the social tea-cups grac’d;
The needle and the wire now forward brought.
Employ the fingers, yet leave free the thought.
A general consultation next takes place,
Whether, the while, the historic page to trace,
Or in Udolphean Mysteries engage;
But to elude the blustering tempest’s rage,
’Tis soon agreed to call the power of song,
Which cheats the winter’s night though e’er so long.
Tay, Tweed, and Yarrow’s celebrated streams,
Where the pleas’d muses whisper sylvan themes,
Glide thro’ the pastoral vale and flowery mead,
Thro’ which the passive fancy pleas’d they lead;
And, in their tranquil murmurings, is drown’d
The wild, the wintry roar of Bressa Sound.69 K3r 69
Amid these scenes, each Caledonian swain,
Of Royal Mary breath’d the tuneful strain;
Ah! fair unfortunate! who did inspire
The lovers’ tender sigh, the poet’s lyre,
Who reign’d alike or in the court or grove;
At once a Queen by majesty and love!
Boreas, for a while, thy howl refrain,
And thou shalt be rewarded by the strain
Of Gallowshiels, where Rizzio vents his flame,
In daring language for the Royal Dame.
Even Italy’s musicians, as ’tis said,
To this sweet strain superior suffrage paid. Page 69. To this sweet strain, &c. As the circumstance alluded to may, perhaps, not be generally known, I shall insert it here, as I have heard it from verbal report. A native of Scotland, when in Italy, wishing to improve himself in the musical art, got himself introduced to some of the masters, under whom he meant to study that accomplishment. Being desired to give a specimen of his previous attainment, he played Gallowshiels upon the violin, which produced the following address from the president of the society,—Sir, if you wish to hear music superior to that, you must return to Scotland, for you will find nothing equal to it here.
Let Caledonia compliment again,
That candour which could prejudice disdain,
And gave the plaudit to a foreign strain.
Let us attend the swain with yellow hair, In allusion to the song of the Yellow Hair’d Laddie.
Who seeks the hawthorn glen to sing his fair;
And listen, while he doth the balance hold,
’Twixt native charms and those of powerful gold.
Thy Bush, Traquair, the moment now beguiles,
Which blooms and fades, as Peggie frowns or smiles.
What heavenly strain ascends from Alloa’s Grove, The beautiful tune of Alloa House.
While all the strings of melody do move!70 K3v 70
Such powerful pleasure thro’ the heart doth glow,
The pulse forgets to beat! the blood to flow!
Can it be doubted that the lays of Burns,
Through the Domestic Concert take their turns?
But these are touch’d with far superior skill,
By the sweet lyre of tuneful Tannahill.
A youthful auditor prepares to speak,
While suing smiles adorn her blooming cheek;
Now, since to each you give the song they chuse;
To me, I hope you will not one refuse.
Her choice demanded, doth in favour go
Of cruel Carpenter; sad tale of woe!
Or love-lorn fair, whose spirit plough’d the main,
In vengeful quest of her perfidious swain,
Who caught, sunk with her in the closing flood,
(Listen, ye swains,) while sailors trembling stood.
See now o’er Providence preside,
Conducting Bothwell to his heir and bride;
And through the medium of the ring and glove, Lord Bothwell, a beautiful old song.
Decide the doubtful object of his love.
Full many a virtuous pang the heart assails,
And sympathetic tenderness prevails,
While the performer doth the tale unfold
Of the wood-wilder’d babes, betray’d for gold.71 K4r 71
Sweet sufferers! lamented by your peers,
Who write your elegy in sighs and tears. Page 71. Who write your elegy in sighs and tears. The following lines, written in the sand, by the Marquis of Montrose, upon hearing of the death of King Charles I. may perhaps be acceptable to some readers. Great, good, and just, could I but rate My grief, and thy too rigid fate, I’d weep the world to such a strain, That it should deluge once again. But since thy cruel fate demands supplies More from Briareus’ hands than Argus’ eyes, I’ll raise thy monument with trumpet’s sounds, And write thine elegy in blood and wounds.
But, lo! the Historic muse now treads the stage,
See Royal Eleonora’s jealous rage,
That wildly spurns humanity’s controul,
Arm’d with the dagger and the poison’d bowl.
Ah, fell revenge! could not that beauteous face,
Where youthful charms triumph in blooming grace,
Divert thy purpose dire? Ah! no—they give
New force, and stern forbid the fair to live;
Each avenue to pity these seal up,
The poniard point, and urge the deadly cup.
Vengeance self-wrought, O most unhallow’d draught,
To human mind with mental poison fraught!
O sated Queen, what treasures wouldst thou give,
These last, these horrid moments to retrieve!
More kind the cup thou gav’st than didst retain,
While pleas’d was seen thy rival victim’s pain;
And ghastly paleness chace the lively bloom,
While love-inspiring eyes repose in death’s dark gloom.
The injurer with the injur’d changing part,
Works revolution in the youthful heart;
And even the feelings of maturer age,
All on the side of Rosamond engage;
Who had not sorrow’d for the injur’d wife,
Had she but spar’d her helpless rival’s life;72 K4v 72
Thus those, who cruelly revenge pursue,
Lose even that sympathy which is their due.
Not more heart-felt delight can he inspire,
Who wakes to exstacy the living lyre,
Than do such lays around the evening fire;
While virtue’s advocates they prove to youth,
Insinuating still some moral truth;
Alike with pleasure and improvement fraught,
The useful lesson with success is taught.
Obvious the cause, they in amusement’s veil
Excite to virtue, yet the drift conceal.
The tale adventurous suits the eager mind,
The strain impressive which the tale doth bind
On the imagination, which retains
The strain, the tale, and ’companying scenes.
Thus far ’tis well; but, ah! the counterpart,
Impressing terror on the ductile heart;
For ’tis the supernatural gives the charm
Coercive, and from whence flows all the harm;
Hence superstition’s teeming altars rise,
On which through life the votaries sacrifice.
The bane and antidote so closely link,
To disunite them ’tis in vain we think;
Could they a partial drop from Lethe steal,
Retain the moral and forget the tale,
’Twere well; but these together still unite,
And rouse the mind to weak or wild affright;73 L1r 73
But since from youthful hearers ’tis confest,
The nurse gains more attention than the priest, Page 73. The nurse gains more attention than the priest. If e’er one vision touch’d thy infant thought, Of all the nurse, and all the priest have taught.
Twere to be wish’d she would her power address,
Virtue to aid, but horror to repress.
The dreadful spectre and the beckoning ghost,
Delight the wondering hearers to their cost.
The Fairy system better is design’d
Fancy to please, nor terrify the mind;
Besides, as fiction it they ever view,
But oft believe the goblin story true;
The startled slumber, and the scaring dream,
Too highly tax the legendary theme.
Verses, on The Death of the Princess Amelia.
Dreary November! now thy gloom,
In heighten’d gloom is darker roll’d,
Thy wintry wing,
The tidings bring,
Which fair Amelia’s fate unfold.
Each varied object, every sound
To vibrate with our feelings seems,
A deepening gloom
O’ershades the room,
And dimly gleam the taper’s beams.
The bleak wind whistles shrill around,
And while the hollow murmurs wave,
In every swell
Is heard a knell,
Which whispers of Amelia’s grave.
In sympathetic mood we list
The sullen billows dash the shore,
Tho’ rude the dirge,
The sounding surge
The Royal fair seems to deplore.
Sweet sufferer! thy warfare’s past,
Thou now hast gain’d the happy shore;
Thy race is run,
The prize is won,
Sorrow and sighing are no more.
Proud of thy gentle merit, long
Shall thy Britannia love to tell;
On patience mild,
Thro’ pain that smil’d,
Shall memory delighted dwell.
Thou sympathizing Mary, who
To Windsor led the drooping fair.
There, in the shade
And balmy glade,
To court the aid of purer air.
Whilst, as in all endearing meed,
(Hung o’er the couch of sickness) thou
Even from pain’s smart
Didst steal a part,
Blunting his arrows as they flew.
With tender look and soothing voice,
His force essaying to beguile;
And when he sent
A truce, was lent
The languid interval a smile.
Ye, Royal Mourners, wipe your tears,
Or rather let them soften’d flow;
O raise your eyes
Beyond the skies,
Thence thro’ the heart shall comfort glow.
Open the heavenly portals fly,
Where, welcom’d by Redeeming love,
By suffering try’d,
An angel joins the blest above.
To The Autumnal Equinox.
Now tranquil beauty is no more,
The crowding billow seek the shore;
And while against the rock they dash,
See! the blue fire through darkness flash.
Now rings anew departed Summer’s knell,
And rings again reluctant, sad farewell.
Not as a gloomy despot’s reign,
Winter, I welcome in thy train;
Thy train, majestic, may afford
Rich pleasures from thy frozen hoard.
Although thy power binds lakes, binds rivers, seas;
Yet, dost thou not the mental current freeze.
Summer, thy gentle, balmy reign
Breathes pure devotion from the plain;
For who can view the simplest flower,
Nor recognize Creative power!
Or see the rising sun in glory shine,
Nor feel, Almighty, that the work is thine!
Yet when thou swell’st the mighty wave,
Immediate felt thy power to save!
And while thou rid’st the tempest’s wing,
We to the Rock of Ages cling;
Till fear, subsiding, leaves a gentler claim,
We dare address thee by a father’s name.
Come, let us view the countless stars
Wheel through the heavens their silver cars!
Or gaze, with contemplative eye,
On the bright Stranger of the sky! The Comet.
Who, while he holds his wide ethereal sweep,
Illumes the tranquil bosom of the deep.
Descending, let us now retire,
Around the social evening fire.
Resist not Fancy’s magic sway,
Let her her wand’ring power display;
Speeding her devious way she spurns control,
On her fleet wing we range from Pole to Pole.
This—parents, guardians, this the hour,
The golden moment this, to pour
Instruction o’er the youthful mind,
To each impression now resigned;
And now, all-unsuspected, may you drop
Important hints, fair Virtue’s cause to prop.
For open’d wide, by fancy’s hand,
The mental avenues now stand.
While you may prompt the feeling sigh,
In tear humane adorn the eye;
Lose not the favouring moment to suggest
The generous purpose to the glowing breast.
Now shall the teeming, time-fraught page,
Lead us back thro’ many an age;
And give the well-won meed of praise,
Of those who shone in former days,
Nor will the tuneful Nine refuse to lend
Their aid, the brow of winter to unbend.
Come, some sweet Syren, and untie
The hidden soul of harmony,
And with the vocal warbling power,
Add tale of ancient hall or tower;
The strain not merely shall night’s gloom disarm,
We chide its flight when thus ’tis taught to charm.
And when the Equinox of Spring,
Sweet, cheering hopes again shall bring!
And the latest blust’ring gale
Rings departed winter’s knell;
May we of virtuous wintry pleasures tell
In kind, though not reluctant, sad Farewell.
A Summer Sabbath Morn.
The hallowed morn faint glimmering in the East,
Dawns on a slumb’ring and a ransom’d world;
How dearly ransom’d! wonderful the price
By which the great Redemption was obtain’d.
Sleep on, and take your rest ye rescued tribes,
For your Redeemer slumbers not, nor sleeps.
Yet, let not the enlighten’d Christian world
This morn too long indulge oblivious sleep,
And rob themselves of sacred, sure delights,
With which these precious, fleeting moments teem.
The Sabbath morn, still with salvation fraught,
Returns; and, with persuasive force, recals
The mind to thoughts which to its peace belong.
’Twas early in the morn, as dawning light
On the first Christian Sabbath shed its ray,
That they, whose steps impell’d by sacred love,
Sought the Lord’s tomb, met heavenly messengers;
Deem these not absent, though invisible;
Round the awakening Christian’s couch they wait,
To prompt and lead the first returning thoughts.
Come with the eye of Faith—Behold, the place
Where the Lord lay, the stone is roll’d away.
Yet, should the sons of care and labour steal
An hour of slumb’rous respite from this day,
Forgiveness will the needful fraud obtain
From him who knows the feelings of the weary.
But let not those, whom more indulgent fate
Entrusts with the disposal of their hours,
Ah! let not those rob heaven and themselves
Of serious intercourse on Sabbath morn;
When the Redeemer triumph’d o’er the grave,
Hallow’d by him—He burst the bands of death!
He burst the sepulchre of massy rock!
O break the soft, the downy bands of sleep
To think of him who gave his life for you.
Let not the conscious sense of guilt deter;
The blood that flow’d on Calvary, hath power
To wash the deepest stain. When on the morn
Of Resurrection, led by pious zeal,
The friends of Jesus hasten’d to the tomb,
Did Mary Magdalen less welcome meet
Or from the heavenly messengers, or from Him
Whom all the glorious hosts of heaven adore
Than did the partners of her way, whose lives
Apparently less guiltless had been spent?
Such welcome still returning sinners find,
If, with their sins, her penitence they bring.
What solemn, sacred sound floats thro’ the air,
And gently dissipating slumber, calls
To recollection all the dormant powers?M 82 M1v 82
The earliest summons to the sacred courts
The way towards the gate of mercy points,
Open on earth and heaven, inviting all.
Complex emotions in the mind arise,
Rousing, accusing, comforting at once.
O let us hear it as the call of heaven,
And seize the precious opportunity
Offer’d to day, while it is call’d to day!
The night approaches fast when none can work;
The living only hear the Gospel Call,
It reacheth not the mansions of the tomb.
The morning sun, bright gilding every hill,
Beams gladness into the beholder’s heart.
Each various object which salutes the eye,
Seems stamp’d with the impression of the Sabbath.
Shall we impute the livelier melody
This day observ’d amongst the feather’d choirs,
Or to the favouring stillness which prevails;
Or grant the notion entertain’d by some,
That taught by instict, they can safely trust,
And nearer wing into the haunts of man,
In serenade uniting? If we this
Call vulgar, term it also pious error.
Where’er we turn, each view presents a fane,
Inspiring homage to the Deity,
Smiling around in all his glorious works
Complete. On this blest day of general rest,
Which respite brings to those by toil hard prest,83 M2r 83
The great Creator all his works survey’d,
And with approving voice pronounc’d them good.
What God calls good, let favour’d man enjoy,
For whom these beauteous scenes from nothing sprung.
Man does enjoy, as tells that humble voice
Solemnly issuing from yon hillock’s side,
Where seated on the grass, a rural swain
Surrounded by his family, enjoys
Repose, peculiarly welcome now;
For thro’ the summer weeks he ardent ploughs
Th’ inconstant seas, luring the finny tribes.
This day from contrast heighten’d comfort gains,
And to domestic peace and piety
Devoted, give a taste of heavenly joys.
Now in a double volume doth he trace
The Almighty, in his work and in his word,
Each powerful commentary on the other.
The infant auditors, whose ductile minds
To each impression, as it passes, yield,
Catch in this scene the early rudiments
Of pleasure, drawn from pure religion’s source.
The sweetness of the scene thro’ which I stray
Arrests my wand’ring steps, whose course have led
Towards a spot with fragrant verdure crown’d,
Whose site commands a heart-delighting view
Of the surrounding objects. All combine
To pour serenity into the mind.
Behind (inspiring thankfulness and hope,)M2 84 M2v 84
All teeming stand the loaded fields of corn,
Smiling around in robe of brightest green.
O, may the joyful whisper they convey
Into the heart of the hard labour’d swain,
Anticipating plenty to his babes
Amid the wintry rigours, be fulfill’d!
And may the power, who bids the vallies sing
Under their precious burthen, kindly stay
The direful force of shaking Equinox,
Oft fatal to the husbandman’s fond hope.
How apt the emblem of a tranquil mind,
Which Bressa Bay’s unruffled surface yields!
Tho’ far more calm than even most virtuous mind,
Or happiest state of human life admits.
Reflected by the liquid mirror, see
The scenery of the adjacent Isle,
Whose black’ning hills, and scatter’d hamlets green,
Form gay diversity. Across the sea
The rural groups in various tracts appear,
But bending all towards one general goal,
The house of God; O, may they also find
Admission to his heavenly temple, where
Perpetual Sabbath holds a blissful reign.
Silence her empire gradually resigns,
Pleas’d to be so displac’d, to solemn sounds,
In unison ascending thro’ the air,
Symphonious issuing from the assembled throng;
Whose voices, tun’d by pure devotion’s force,
Unite in chaunting forth a sacred strain,85 M3r 85
Which borne, and soften’d by the vocal air,
Reaches the spot where I delighted sit,
In hearing losing every other sense,
Sweetly absorbt. My passive mind is borne
Upon th’ exalting wing of sound sublime
Towards that Heaven, where Hallelujahs sound
The praise of the Almighty. O may he
A favouring ear lend to his worshippers,
And that acceptance grant, promis’d to those
Who worship him in Spirit and in Truth.
To a Friend of the Author’s, Accompanying the Proposals for Subscription, and a Copy of the Ode on the Jubilee.
Sister vot’ry of the Nine,
Seeking oft their tuneful shrine;
Gentle Mary, as you stray
On the banks of winding Tay,
While the feather’d warblers sing
Welcome to returning Spring,
Who scatters from her fragrant feet
The daisy gay, the primrose sweet;
As mid the scene thou sitst reclin’d
May thy fancy pleasure find,
While thou read’st the Thulian lay
On the banks of winding Tay.
Or when sullen Winter reigns
O’er the desolated plains,
As around the ruddy fire
The social circle pleas’d retire,87 M4r 87
Admit the Muse to spend an hour
In Balthyock’s ancient tower.
Bid the nymphs and swains on Tay
Read the native Thulian lay.
Did that syren voice of thine
Ever warble verse of mine?
Say, was ever sung by thee
Thulè’s British Jubilee?
The --06-04Fourth of June.
’Twas on a happy --06-04Fourth of June,
When fields and flowers bloom gay;
A social, friendly circle met
To celebrate the day.
The blazing bonfire crackles loud,
And as it mounts on high,
Kindles the loyal spark which beams
Even in each infant eye.
Joy reign’d within, joy reign’d without,
And on the daisy’d green,
Gay tripping to the viol’s sound,
The rustic groupes were seen.
Health to Britannia’s monarch had
With ardent cheers flown round,
And gracious Charlotte’s name, with joy,
A sparkling glass had crown’d.
True loyalty each bosom warms,
The social zest prevails;
Haste, drain a circling bumper to
The infant hope of Wales.
So said the host The late Mr. William Chalmers, the author’s father, some time Collector of the Customs at Lerwick. then turning to
A reverend friend, began;
Come, fill your glass, and pledge me to
A brother clergyman.
A Clergyman? the Parson cries,
This tast surprises me,
We have not yet drank half around
The Royal Family.
’Tis granted—yet I know my toast
You’ll join with right good will,
To Osnaburgh’s young Bishop, I
A flowing bumper fill.
Lines, on The Drawing Room of an Intimate Friend of the Author’s.
Sweet scene, on me full often hast thou smil’d,
And for a while my pressing cares beguil’d;
In thee have I spent many a chearful day,
And thus to me thou sayst, or seemst to say,—
Welcome, consider me as a true friend,
To whom thou freely mayst thy mind unbend,
A truce to irksome thought, forget thy care,
And in my social influences share.
I thank thee, and thy offer do accept,
But thou must not my grateful verse reject,
On the Parnassian Ladies lay the blame
If I unequal prove to sing thy fame,
For I a recent suppliant at their shrine
Have sued, they would a gracious ear incline,
And though their powerful aid they should refuse,
Thou hast a willing Poet, tho’ coy Muse.
Sure thou wilt not deny thy greatest charm
Is borrow’d from thy owners, friendly, warm;91 N2r 91
The Master’s George Linklater, Esquire. manner open, frank, and kind,
Bespeaks an ardent, free, and generous mind;
The Mistress gentle, sympathetic, mild,
Sweet Sensibility’s distinguished child,
An air engaging and a courteous grace,
Heighten the mingling beauties of her face.
From flowers of various sorts we often see
Is drawn the treasur’d nectar of the bee,
So from these different qualities a zest
Which crowns the pleasure of the happy guest.
How sweet though seemst when on a summer’s day
Nature and art conspire to deck thee gay,
Dispos’d by the judicous hand of taste,
A mirror view to such advantage plac’d,
As to reflect the garden in full bloom,
Seen as an antichamber to the room,
Which ’twixt the real and shadowy garden seems,
Whilst thro’ the whole bright dart the sunny beams.
It must be own’d that in our Northern clime
Summer is rather chary of his time,
His tardy visit transient and sweet,
Slow in advance, but in retrating fleet;
What can we more to counteract his haste
Than doubly view his beauties while they last.
And now arrives the hour which brings the board
With China’s fragrant leaf and porcelain stor’dN2 92 N2v 92
Where British cups with China’s porcelain vie,
(What cannot British industry supply?)
The spotless white and golden circles gay,
Simplicity with splendour join’d display,
And rival that which every tint doth show,
Which gaily paints the bright ethereal bow.
And see the native produce of our ground,
The crimson jelly in its crystal bound,
Does honour to Lerwegian clime and soil,
And well rewards the active gardener’s toil,
To gain advantage the whole scene is seen,
From the presiding hand of lovely Jean, Mrs. Linklater.
Whose hospitable welcome, true and kind,
Sheds pleasure over each surrounding mind.
Why deem the fair so void of candour, sense,
Of sprightly wit, of sweet benevolence,
As that they cannot spend the hour of tea
Unless an absent sacrifice there be?
Hence, far, far hence, Demon of Scandal flee.
When Phœbus’ latest western ray has fled,
And gentle twilight spreads her dusky shade,
The thought-inspiring hour doth oft invite
Me to the casement, where with calm delight,
With the fair Jean I list the soothing sound
Of waving willow in the garden’s bound,
Whose solemn motion vibrates on the mind
To sympathetic harmony inclin’d;
Or when the autumnal moon displays her beam,
Draw pensive pleasure from the silver gleams.
The windows have their sweet attraction lost,
And can of numerous guests no longer boast,
Those guests who in them bask’d the live-long day.
All, all withdraw with Phœbus’ feeble ray;
New aims do now their veering thoughts inspire,
Lo! see them all to pay their court retire,
Not to the rising sun—but rising fire.
The scene now changes yet it still doth please,
Comfort-crown’d nights succeed those chearful days,
Loud howls the blast, thick drifts the fleaky snow,
Now, Social Genius! bid thy influence glow.
Stir up the fuel, let the taper blaze,
Bring the newspapers, bring the pipe and glass,
Tobacco’s leaf, its votaries say, affords
A grateful steam, I take it on their words;
Around the beaming fire the circle form,
Let friendly lore beguile the wintry storm,
While the soft Thulian fleece the busy fair
Weave, while they the general converse share.
Quick, Royal George’s health each glass must drain.
Else Loyal George full loudly will complain,
Political discussion warmly flows,
Mean-while the patriotic spirit glows;
But there are themes my muse not understands,
And leaves to deeper heads and abler hands.
Anon—the sprightly, stingless jest flies round,
Which sweetly pleases all, and none doth wound;
And sometimes to beguile the evening hours
The card-table forth its various armies pours,94 N3v 94
Say, tuneful Sisters, who amongst you sings
The rise and fall of pasteboard Queens and Kings,
And daring knaves, (may I forgiven be!
For naming knaves amid such company.)
Oft doth a knave’s impending fate, impart
Or hope or fear unto the anxious heart;
But here, their power restricted, is confin’d
To interest, not agitate the mind;
I call’d in vain, the unpropitious Nine,
To sing those party-colour’d feats decline.
List, list, I hear the violin advance,
In welcome summons to the lively dance;
Each pause let Scotia’s vocal measures fill,
And thro’ the heart in moving sweetness thrill.
Farewell lov’d scene! Farewell ye virtuous pair!
Long live the swain to bless the gentle fair.
Whether sweet Flora breathe upon the plain,
Or gay Pomona hold her sunny reign,
Or liberal Ceres tend the golden grain;
Or these scar’d hence when angry Boreas lowers,
Still crown’d with pleasure roll the circling hours,
And virtue’s sacred, homefelt joy be yours!
Address to The Evening Star.
Thou brightest queen of myriads bright,
Again thy lustre dost renew!
Again thou gild’st the brow of night,
And thee again I’m spar’d to view.
What numbers have resign’d their breath,
And wing’d from earth their mystic way!
How many eyes are clos’d in death,
Which witness’d thy declining ray.
When gentle spring to summer yields,
And thou and thy bright hosts to Sol;
(Who circling through ethereal fields
Flings duskless spendour round the Pole.)
Then, as I’ve stray’d in pensive mood
When fainter twilight dimm’d thy view,
I stopt, and as I ling’ring stood,
Breath’d an uncertain, soft adieu.
Since thou in Solar radiance lost
From our keen gaze hast been withdrawn,
Each planet of the starry host
Hath aided nature’s general plan.
Laborious man had in the ground
Deposited the precious grain;
With success be his labours crown’d,
Nor be his hopes nor prayers vain!
Now has the sun perform’d his part,
Now Cynthia lend thy ripening beam,
Breathe joy into the reaper’s heart,
Whose toils are lighted by thy gleam.
And thou, O thought-inspiring star,
Adorn the azure arch of night;
While autumn’s treasures wave afar,
Shed on the mind serene delight.
When from a wintry cloud the sun
Emits a sullen, transient beam;
Hope hints, that when his course is run
Night will in silver radiance stream.
And if the air, refin’d by frost,
Pours heighten’d lustre on the eye,
In pious adoration lost,
We through the glories of the sky
Trace Him by whom the starry frame
Amid the void of space was hung,
The moon’s mild light, the sun’s bright beam,
From whose creative mandate sprung.
When we shall quit this frame of dust,
And thee from earth no more shall see;
O! may we join the blessed just,
Who from on high look down on thee.
To The Memory of Lord Collingwood.
Inscribed to Lady Collingwood.
Wherefore, O fortune, dost thou still delight
To scatter airy phantoms in our sight?
Gaily bedeckt in fancy’s vivid hue,
The fleeting visitants arise to view;
And dazzle as they rise, the cheated mind,
With pleasures brighter than for earth design’d;
Quick, they elude the grasp, and mounting, fly,
They point and lead to joys beyond the sky,
So heaven decreed, to rectify the mind,
And raise the thoughts to pleasures more refin’d.
To thee, much honour’d Lady, nearly drew
The phantom Happiness, ere yet she flew;
Near drew the hour when pleasing hope restor’d
To thy fond wishes thy long absent Lord.
In his lov’d country’s cause, since parting last,
How many perils had the hero past.
Suspended long each dear, domestic joy
Yet memory and hope their powers employ;99 O2r 99
And in the noble warrior’s ardent heart,
The husband and the father claim their part.
At length the oft anticipated day
Seem’d to approach, each hour was hop’d away,
Till fate, till time and distance should combine,
And to thy arms thy Collingwood resign.
Had heaven been pleas’d thou shouldst such moment see,
It years of absence had repaid to thee;
But, ah! the spell dissolv’d—the vision fled—
How keen that grief which comes in pleasure’s stead.
Had fate indulg’d that on they gentle breast
Thy Collingwood had sunk to endless rest;
That thou hadst clos’d thy hero’s eyes in death,
And suck’d the last, the fleeting, precious breath,
Great consolation thence had flow’d to thee—
But all must yield to heaven’s supreme decree;
The meeting but delay’d, to be improv’d
In happier scenes, from earth to heaven remov’d.
Blest spirit! who thy native land regains,
By angels tended, hail’d by heavenly strains.
Britannia’s Genius from her echoing caves,
Greeting a son whose valour rul’d the waves,
Is heard to sing, We never shall be slaves.
Thy fame to sound the poet courts his muse,
But all-unconscious, that he should chuse
The elegiac, not the joyful verse;
And with the Laurel strew the Cypress on the hearse.
Nor dreamt the swelling waves were wafting o’er
The breathless hero to his native shore.O2 100 O2v 100
May the imagination feebly aim
To trace (as may be trac’d by mortal dream)
The converse ’twixt great Nelson’s shade and thine,
Of that great day on which he did resign
To heaven and thee the battle he begun;
But, ere its close, his glorious race had run,
And thou concludedst as he would have done.
England expects each man will do his part,
Acted as magic on each British heart.
Thy virtues, Collingwood, outrun my strain
In the heroic and domestic scene;
Be these the theme of some superior lay,
Let those of Laurels sing who wear the Bay;
But ah, the friend!—would I could paint thee there,
Thus interrupted by the grateful tear.
Thy manly heart with sympathy did swell,
When my lamented, only brother, fell;
In life’s full pride, heroically brave,
On glorious Trafalgar’s fam’d, fateful wave;
His blind, his aged mother’s pride and prop,
His sorrowing, helpless sister’ only hope;
Thou, interested in our deep distress,
Didst for our wants solicit prompt redress;
Thy urgent suit was sped across the main, Page 100. Thy urgent suit was sped across the main. I have to deprecate the forgiveness of my readers for again obtruding on their notice any subject connected with my own sorrows. I consider the present, however, as not more respectful to the character of my deceased brother, than honourable to the departed commander, who could so warmly interest himself in behalf of the unfortunate. Copy of a Letter From Lord Collingwood to Miss Chalmers. Madam, Ocean, Sicily, 1808-02-12Feb. 12, 1808. I have lately received your letter of the --10-088th of October, representing the state of your family, and asking my assistance towards obtaining for your mother some aid from Government, since she has lost that of her worthy son. I cannot but be interested for the family of so excellent a man as your brother appeared to me to be. I was only ten days in that ship before his death. It was long enought to discover his merit, his zeal, and devotion to his country’s service;—he was a great loss. The Government has made a regulation for the gratuities which are to be paid on such occasions to the families of officers slain. I do not know that any representation of mine will prevail to get an augmentation; but I have tried, by writing a letter to Lord Mulgrave, requesting, in the most 152 U4v 152 urgent terms, that the favour of Government may be extended to you; and if my application succeeds, I shall be very happy. I am, madam, &c. Collingwood.
Thou pledst, and, must I say? thou pledst in vain.
Hadst thou to Majesty the suit addrest,
Our pressing claims long since had been redrest.101 O3r 101
Rear, rear the monument, and bid it tell
His virtues, and on each with pathos dwell;
Heroes unborn, shall thence draw martial fire,
And as they read imbibe what they admire.
Happy biographist, sweet task hast thou,
Pourtraying human nature in such view,
Those energies which do the hero form,
Intrepid ’midst the battle and the storm,
Painting a character without a blot,
O! let not kind Compassion be forgot.
Description of Sound, The name of a hamlet, about a mile west from Lerwick. near Lerwick.
Heavens! what a goodly prospect spreads around,
From the steep eminence whereon I stand;
Summer meridian beauty widely pours
On the delighted eye, where’er it turns
It meets creative goodness, all conspires
To lift the soul from nature to its God.
Here might the poet, or the painter find
Field for the pencil or descriptive art.
O! would some Muse the pleasing theme attempt,
Who should with candour, fearless of charge
Which to a partial native may belong,
To truth and poesy give all the reins;
Yet why, lov’d Thulè, should thy daughter dread
To sing her natal scenes, while justly sung;
Come, Muse, we’ll to the task, let who will frown.
Let us impartiality evince,
By owning, that the wide surrounding view
No envious (envy’d) forests intercept,
Waving in boastful pride, to mar our plan;103 O4r 103
Yet, who that looks around, but must confess
A crown of British oak would well become
Bressa’s majestic Ward Hill. Pines and elms
Would with superior beauty grace these shores,
Would grace them twice, for liquid groves would wave,
In soften’d foliage, in the crystal flood.
Some say, who soothe our humbled pride, that when,
In former ages, wood adorn’d our isles,
The trees which bloom’d on the opposing banks
Of narrow Voes, Voes, the Scandinavian term for those numerous arms of the sea, by which the islands are deeply intersected. their branches high in air
United, forming cool umbrageous shade;
While in the skiffs the travellers underneath,
As on them dropp’d the odoriferous gum,
Rowed under the green canopy, enjoy
Such beauty as fam’d Tiber well might own.
But now I ween such censure I incur,
As they who of departed beauty boast.
Full oft the intersecting sea appears,
And leads its azure course along the shores
Of distant misty hills and scatter’d isles.
Lerwegia’s suburbs come in nearer line,
And partially beheld, her Fortress stamps
One martial feature on the varied scene.
Toward the North, in tranquil beauty, see
A Loch her silver surface wide extend,
And give in deep’ning shade the adjacent hill.104 O4v 104
Still on a Holm, Holm, an uninhabited islet. amid the water, stands
A Pictish ruin; yet these ruins give
Vestige of and purposes of old.
Nor shall yon wild, bleak hill remain unsung;
For what were painting, but for stroke of shade,
Or beauty’s heighten’d lustre, but from foil?
But chiefly through thy beauteous limits, Sound,
Fain would I wander, and attempt to sing.
Still seems the landscape incomplete and tame,
That lacks result which hill and dale bestow;
Though Flora and Pomona, emulous
Each other to outvie, should deck the scene;
Here sports that gay diversity at will,
The corn fields sweep not here in wide extent,
But portion’d into rigs varying in shape and size;
While fallow ground, meadow and pasturage,
Irregularly interspers’d between,
In chequer work, please fancy and the eye.
Ye who inhabit yonder humble cots,
If Art in sparing measure lend her aid
To grace your dwellings, nature makes amends,
By pouring beauty lavishly around.
Down in the centre of a verdant vale,
A scene of general interest attracts
My eyes, and solemnizing every thought,
Rivets them on the peaceful mansions where105 P1r 105
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep;
And who can tell but this sequester’d spot
Might guiltless Cromwells, and mute Miltons boast,
Had culture rear’d the seeds by nature sown.
This church-yard hallowed by a Popish fane, There are many ruins of small Popish chapels to be seen in Zetland.
Which, though in ruin, whispers to the mind,
That to the worship of Heaven’s Almighty King
Its wall were dedicated. I descend,
And nearer view the deposit of dust,
Erewhile inform’d with vital spark divine.
Solemn ideas rush upon the mind;
Though solemn, yet not sad; sweet nature’s smile
Even from the land of death steals wonted gloom.
Silence would hold uninterrupted reign
Save for the sound of a near murmuring rill,
Which tends to strenghten Fancy’s abstract range;
She, mingling with the dead of ages past,
Beholds the train of worshippers! beholds
The sacred rite,—now listens to the chaunt
Arising from the full assembled choir,
Until the holy vision quick dissolv’d,
Reality again assumes her sway.
What though nor weeping yew, nor cypress wave
In mournful shade, and o’er these ashes sigh;
What though forbidding nettles through the walls
Aloft in air their bristled tops erect;P 106 P1v 106
Though deadly hemlock spread its leaves around;
Yet fragrant herbs and flowers their beauty lend,
Ambitious to adorn the vale of death.
Thus in the minds of those who sleep below,
The flowers of virtue with the weeds of vice,
In human frailty, undivided grew;
Let us not as the censure-loving crowd
Dwell on the weeds, yet overlook the flowers.
So thick the verdure, vain were the attempt
To trace the tribute of the unletter’d Muse,
Each lonely vestige undistinguish’d, hid,
Save here and there a new made grave, which tells
Death’s arrows recently were flying nigh.
Now let me wander by the tinkling rill,
Which widens as it winds. Here might the Muse
Forget the inspiring streams of Helicon,
Nor miss ideas for the sylvan dream.
As up the gentle eminence I stray,
Each step I take a new recess presents.
Embower’d in fragrance let me list a while
The concert mingling from the murmuring brook,
Exhilarating harmony of birds,
And lulling hum of busy wand’ring bee,
Sipping from every flower the nectarous store,
For wintry rigours carefully prepar’d.
Thou provident, industrous insect, how,
How canst thou think of winter in such scene?
With what profusion, Nature, dost thou here,107 P2r 107
Upon the gay variety of flowers,
Shower every tinge which in the rainbow glows.
Bright peeps the pure ethereal azure through
Curtains of verdure on the farther bank.
The primrose ling’ring on the fountain brink,
Kindly protracts her balmy visit sweet.
A cataract of infant size, yet loud,
Abrupt, impetuous dashes o’er the rock;
And though on scale of miniature, the mind
Might the image form of Niagara.
Sweet rill! while thou pursuedst the prosperous course
I tarry’d by thy side, thy beauty prais’d,
Bask’d on thy banks amid the sunny gleams.
But now I see that through yon gloomy dell,
As bleak and stunted as thy former bounds
Were verdant, I must keep thee company,
Or take my leave; I, like a venal friend
Withdraw, and wishing that thou mayst fare well,
Leave thee to make the best of thy drear way,
Whilst I another pleasing tract pursue,
Which leads me to the flowery western banks,
Stretching along the margin of the main.
The mead her glowing pomp displays to view,
And loudly boasts of summer’s kindest smile.
Ye flowery nations, must ye all decay?
Not Solomon in all his glory drest
Could with you vie; nor your most puny leafP2 108 P2v 108
Could Solomon in all his might have form’d.
Here sits the meadow’s all-acknowledg’d Queen, A flower, called the Queen of the Meadow.
Whose claim to royalty I ne’er could trace;
For, as I deem, she’s often far out-shone
By her surrounding subjects, honour’d less;
But soft! forgiveness here I must implore
Her fragrant majesty, whose right’s no doubt
Establish’d on sure claim, although it lie
Beyond my superficial inquiry.
Wild Pink, I fancy thee most delicate
Of all the flowers which grace this lovely scene,
Unless the beauteous violet of the vale
With thee dispute the sweet pre-eminence.
How bright thy red, thou William sweet, though wild;
O! for the botanist’s or florist’s skill,
To teach me to salute you by your names,
Ye blooming tribes; I only can admire,
In simple ignorance, your varied tints.
Indulge! indulge the fond egotic tear,
Shed o’er the ruins of yon ancient hall,
Which wakes remembrance with her busy train.
Ere while these walls beheld the rural life,
Here did a kind and hospitable pair The villa at Sound was the summer residence of the late Authur Nicolson, Esquire, of Lochend.
Enjoy the summer months, while round them bloom’d
A numerous offspring, happy, innocent109 P3r 109
As were the warblers, who from slumber wak’d
Them to their sports, and lull’d them to repose.
The roofless fabric hastens to decay,
How drear the opposing vacant casements give
The dusky light. The chamber void and waste
Appears, and its mild inmates seems to mourn;
A dame of unassuming, gentle worth,
Of conversation with gay sense inspir’d,
And in whose manners dignity was found
Attemper’d by simplicity. Yet she
Reach’d life’s declining years. Her partner fell
In venerable age, and like ripe fruit
Dropt gently in the peaceful arms of death.
But, ah! the youthful group who trode this green,
’Mongst them are many unexpected blanks;
Some in life’s morn, some in meridian prime
Are call’d, and claim the tribute of a sigh.
Turn we for comfort to the flowery race,
Behold them bright in nature’s fairest bloom;
But soon shall overwhelming torrents pour,
And o’er the plain in desolation sweep,
Leaving no traces of the verdant reign.
Again the voice of Spring shall call them forth,
In renovated beauty bid them glow,
And with their sweets another summer crown.
The voice of the Archangel who arrests
The flight of Time, shall break the bonds of Death,
And wake the Just to everlasting life.110 P3v 110
Now to the violet-embroider’d vale,
Whose field gives emblem of life’s general field,
Promiscuously with flowers and thistles strew’d,
Where oft the eager hand which seeks the sweet,
Is in the pursuit wounded by the sharp.
Sweet violet, far rather would I vote
To thee allegiance, than to the Queen
Who proudly sits enthron’d in yonder mead.
Thou wear’st the purple robe of Royalty!
Thy beauty well might sovereign honours claim,
Whilst yet thou giv’st a hint to humble life,
Pleas’d with thy lowly state, nor vainly soars.
White clover breathes in frangrance through the air,
And half atones the absence of the rose,
Yellow and red, more showy, but less sweet,
Like characters of superficial stamp.
There wave the fields of vegetable silk,
Whose snowy tufts bend under zephyr’s sigh;
The scarlet poppy scatter’d through the corn
In gay, but transient splendour glows around.
Where partial hidden water flows beneath,
What luxury of beauty marks its course;
Here the charm’d eye a pleasing magnet finds,
The golden yellow glowing on the lap,
the smiling lap of all refreshing green,
In streams of verdure winding thro’ the plain;
Ye lowing kine well may your milky store
Be copious and rich from herbage drawn,111 P4r 111
Which vegetable nectar might produce.
How sweet at eve to stray amongst these knolls,
Through narrow pathways fring’d with dewy grass;
Yet, sweeter still! to cross fields of green corn,
Rustling tranquillity as it recedes.
The evening hour, and fast declining sun,
Remind me it is time to think of home.
I’ll take my lingering circuit by the East,
And travel round the green Peninsula.
Shall I the North or Southern Isthmus choose?
Both stretch their white and curving arms of beach
To lead me to it by the eastern course.
The opposing Isthmuses, the western knolls,
And the Peninsula a circle form
Around a Loch, whose pure transparency,
Opposing boundaries of white and green,
And site sequester’d, pleasing union form.
Slender these barriers on the north and south,
Which here divide the near approaching bounds
Of Neptune, and the gentle Arethuse;
Who seems as she enjoy’d protection from
The power marine, save when fierce conflicts rise
’Twixt him and Æolus; haply in the strife
The beach’s limits all-unequal prove,
Nor can resist the Sea-god’s powerful sway.
The silver-footed water nymphs forsake,
In dread affright, their crystal sylvan haunts;
And to rude Neptune’s arbitrary force112 P4v 112
Their power resign, without increasing his.
But he, though fierce, is also kind of heart;
Anon, repenting of the ruthless shock
His fair and helpless neighbours have sustain’d,
Doffing his trident, quickly he withdraws
His waves intrusive, bidding Arethuse
And her fleet nymphs again assume their right,
Which fears not interruption through the reigns
Of Flora, or Pomona, or of that
Of Ceres when she spreads around her treasures.
Then in harmonious union the sea-god,
And fountain-goddess, o’er each narrow beach
Smile on each other, side by side as now.
Thou traveller, led by design or chance
To Lerwick’s harbour, often visited,
Form not thy notion of the Zetland soil
From the bleak scene that mounts behind the town.
From it no just idea mayst thou draw.
We blazon not our best appearance first;
No! we reserve it to reward the search
Of active visitant. Four miles explore
Westward, and thou shalt find a fertile soil;
But if, may-hap, too limited thy stay
So distant an excursion to indulge,
As from the town thou wanderest by the road
Which winds through tract well term’d the Stony Hill,
Quitting the path, turn down toward the south,
Where shall (if during summer’s smiling reign113 Q1r 113
Thy visit chance) the blooming devious scenes
Above, but sketch’d imperfectly, repay
Thy travel, though thro’ many a rugged step;
If flowery meads, if fragrant scented gales,
If waving corn-clad fields, if level plains,
If verdant hillocks, melody of birds,
If the unbounded main, or land-lock’d sea,
For thee have charms. Or dost thou rather love
The rush-fring’d Loch, giving a second sky?
If these in fair arrangement can reward
Thy wandering steps, thou pleas’d shalt view the scene,
And quitting, thank the Muse for her advice.
Lines, To Lady Mouat Keith, Peterhead, accompanying some Articles of Zetland Hoisery.
Lady, who late bask’d where the Solar beams
O’er Indian hills profusely pour in streams,
Where vegetative power triumphant shows
Its wonders, and in rich luxuriance glows.
Where the long-ripening diamond in the mine,
Draws from the sun its liberty to shine;
And as it sports in varying trembling rays,
Tells that from him it stole its mimic blaze.
Thou listless in the palanquin, erewhile
Wast slowly borne—even motion to beguile;
And sought alike the dewy-pinion’d power,
In noon siesta as at midnight hour;
While cooling breezes round thy couch were fann’d,
In grateful wafture from the sable hand.
Now from the oriental world, afar
By Fate conducted, and thy ruling star,
Thou dost the æther pure, tho’ keen, inhale
Of Caledonia’s health-imparting gale;
Say, dost thou prove our boasted northern charm,
That as the climate cools the heart doth warm?
I ween thou dost, for thou with those dost dwell,
Whose hearts with every kind emotion swell.115 Q2r 115
Would Fate indulgent grant it to the Muse
At large her place of residence to chuse,
Parnassus would she quit for Buchan’s plain,
Where social pleasure holds her smiling reign;
There found she soothing friendship, void of art,
In kindred names she hail’d the feeling heart!
Lady, how dost thou stem the boisterous blast
Which lofty Morven from his top doth cast?
When dreary winter wrapt in tempest low’rs,
And all his gloomy magazine forth pours,
When the bleak day his hasty course hath run,
Can fuel compensate the absent sun?
When chilling ice yields to more chilling thaw,
Wilt thou the Thulian fleece around thee draw?
Natives of Foula, oft my Muse
Hath fondly wish’d your Isle to see,
But chance or fate seems to refuse
That e’er indulg’d the wish shall be.
Then tell me of your rocky land,
Round which the Western Ocean roars,
Where pleas’d you dwell in social band,
Six leagues from Thulè’s Mainland shores.
’Twould lonely seem, did not your hours
A chain of needful aims employ;
Relative comforts too are yours,
And you your hills and storms enjoy.
I ween oft flies the relish’d jest,
While you employ the flail or wheel,
Or link away, with sprightly zest,
To Selma’s or the Foula reel.
Slender your aid from letter’d page,
But, when around the evening fire,
You lull the howling tempest’s rage
By lore which runs to son from sire.
Ere wrung from death one potent dart,
Triumphant art could proudly show,
Or vaccinating skill impart,
To vanquish Beauty’s ruthless foe.
Did in your Isle the dire disease
In stern, unmitigated power,
Fell desolation’s banners raise,
While dying victims mark’d each hour?
Until the unsparing ravage left
In hapless, solitary woe,
Of soothing hope well nigh bereft,
One weeping, female, Page 117. One weeping female. So says report; but whether supported by fact as to the depopulation leaving only one individual, I cannot affirm. At any rate, the mortality was so great that there were scarcely people left to bury the dead. See View of the Zetland Islands, vol. II. p. 85. —It is well known, that all the zealous attempts of John Scott, Esq. of Melbie, the proprietor of the island, who is extremely attentive to the welfare of his tenants, have proved ineffectual to persuade the people of Foula to admit Inoculation into the island. sad Crusoe. An allusion to the well known history of Robinson Crusoe.
Or tell me, if unseen by day,
Doth far abroad, with lustre bright,
A glowing carbuncle its ray
Send blazing through the gloom of night.
Is Lorafield’s huge mountain steep, It may, perhaps, excite some interest in the admirers of Ossian, to trace the Celtic names Selma and Lora in the island of Foula.
Volcanic fire deem’d to contain,
And from its base, thro’ channels deep,
Do avenues run to the main?
Yet, grant distemper never swept,
Nor left your Isle bereft, forlorn,
Nor chearless relic wak’d, and wept
The vacant, drear returning morn.
Though plac’d by fiction’s fleet command
A jewel ’mid terrific rocks,
In fable scorns each aiming hand,
And every hope of success mocks.
And even though legendary power Page 118. And even tho’ legendary power. It may perhaps be observed, that since we cannot get rid of, or conceal our rugged rocks, we do well to deck them with roses and jewels. We may, at least, claim some credit for the invention. The beautiful large flower on the detached rock at Noss I saw. With regard to the secret mine of Foula (although within the limits of possibility), I do not pretend to confirm the report of its having an existence. As to the situation assigned to this questionable gem, which is said to be amongst the stupendous and inaccessible rocks on the west side of the island, and seen only from sea, I do not consider my intelligence sufficiently authentic to offer to the public. If I am supported by fact in this doubtful circumstance, so much the better; if otherwise, I hope the mention of it in this poem 153 X1r 153 may be indulged as traditional, legendary, or poetic fiction. I have heard, that when, towards the close of the fishing season, the nights begin to darken, this jewel serves as a watch fire to the Foula fishing boats. This I have heard, but shall not insist on my reader even in part believing. As the site of the carbuncle is said to be at the back part of Lorafield, the hill supposed to contain internal fire; may not the bright appearance be occasioned by the fire seen through some aperture of the rock?
False fire embosoms in your hill,
Such lore beguiles the tedious hour,
And lonely scenes require such skill.
You ask not foreign pleasures’ force,
But give the livelong night to smile,
By imagery drawn from the source
Of fancy, and your native isle.
When smiling summer calms the sea,
And lands your pastor on the strand, Page 119. And lands your pastor on the strand. This island, distant as is its situation from Mainland, is attached to the ministry of Walls, and can only enjoy an annual visit of the clergyman, who stops some time in the island; but, through the course of the year, they forsake not assembling themselves together. There is a spot in the island which still retains the name of The Friars. Although I do not know if any remains of’ building be seen upon it, I trust the licence I have employed in using the word dwelling, will not be deemed an unjustifiable one.
Twill busy all, and active be,
The lover claims his lass’s hand.
’Tis pleasing even to see in thought
The infant blossoms of the year,
To gain baptismal rites now brought,
Around the sacred Font appear.
Though former days we call more wild,
More favor’d you in former days,
More fix’d religious rites have smil’d,
As still the Friars’ dwelling says.
Full well I ween, each Sabbath morn
Convenes you in your lowly fane,
He who doth vain oblations scorn,
The humble roof will not disdain,
If you the welcome offering bring
Of hearts sincere—best sacrifice;
Hark! the sweet strains of Israel’s King
Now from the lonely isle arise.
O! scale the dangerous cliff no more,
Above you frowns the nodding steep,
Below the threat’ning billows roar,
One movement gives you to the deep.
O say, can nestled eggs or down,
The uncertain objects of the strife,
In the unequal balance thrown,
One moment weigh against your life?
In slender cord, on slender hold,
Why life and safety will you trust?
Son, father, husband, why so bold?
Be to thyself—thy friends more just.
Why intrepidity debase,
The cord may break—the hold give way—
Nay, see—the faithless rock, alas!
Time-worn, in evil hour decay;
He sinks—he falls, to rise no more,
Dash’d on the rugged flint beneath—
While we the spectacle deplore,
It makes the wave a gentle death.
Too well you know that many a life
From Foula’s rocks is heedless flung,121 R1r 121
The sireless babe, the widow’d wife,
Sadly attest the truth now sung.
Superior objects to your aim,
Your sea-girt site full oft unfolds,
When summer’s reign your labours claim
To draw the fish from Foula’s Shoalds. The bank or shoal on which the boats of Foula fish in summer, is called, in dialect of the country, the Shoalds or Shaalds of Foula.
And, ah!—behold you suffering bark!
Mounts high upon the dreadful wave,
Now sinks—haste, launch your skiffs—ah, hark!
What piteous shrieks—oh fly to save!
Tune—The Shaalds of Foula.
By such of my Readers as love to trace the simplicity of rural insular life, I flatter myself, I shall be forgiven for introducing the following native and original Song, even in its rude, unpolished state.
Weel, since we are to welcome in Yule, Page 122. Weel, since we are to welcome in Yule. I shall take the liberty of offering one or two observations more on this song,— We’ll drink a gude fishing against the next year, And the Shaalds will pay for a’, boys. It is interesting to see the inhabitant of this detached isle, while he hails an evening devoted to festivity, draw upon his future industry and personal exertion in a scene often attended X 154 X1v 154 with imminent danger: nor does the thought seem to appal the surest hour which Heaven bestows, quite the reverse,— it seems to add an inspiring zest to it. A mind under the slightest influence of discontent would have rejected a pleasure purchased on such precarious and hazardous terms. Not so the native of Foula; he trusts Providence, his own exertions, and the Shaalds,— He cheers his heart with what his fate affords, And chaunts his sonnet to deceive the time. Foula Reel, or as it is ofen called through Zetland, the Old Reel, is an indispensable tune at all festivities amongst the Zetland peasantry, and is understood to be of Norwegian or Danish origin. It is danced as a common reel, but there is also a figured dance, whic admits a limited number of couples, exhibits a good deal of variety, and is, in my opinion, a pretty dance. I have seen it performed.
Up wi’t Lightfoot, link it awa’, boys;
Send for a fidler, play up Foula Reel,
We’ll skip as light as a maw, The sea mew. boys.
The Shaalds of Foula will pay for a’,
Up wi’t Lightfoot, link it awa’, boys;
The Shaalds of Foula will pay for a’,
The Shaalds will pay for a’, boys.
The awens are amang the cows in the byre,
Up wi’t Lightfoot, link it awa’, boys;
Link up the pot, and put on a gude fire,
We’ll sit till cocks do craw, boys.
The Shaalds of Foula,&c.
Now for a light and a pot of gude beer,
Up wi’t Lightfoot, link it awa’, boys;
We’ll drink a gude fishing against the next year,
And the Shaalds will pay for a’, boys.
The Shaalds of Foula, &c.
Lines, On seeing an Infant, whose Mother had died in Childbed, presented at Church for Baptism.
Ah, hapless innocent! early hast thou
Sustain’d the greatest loss thou couldst sustain.
And did thy life cost hers who gave thee birth?
So in sad pathos tells that sable badge,
Which round thy tender temples is entwin’d;
And to the heart more feelingly appeals
Than flowing weeds, or pompous robes of state.
Unconscious mourner, thou hast cause to mourn.
’Tis well thou art unconscious. Not so he
Who to the purifying laver thee presents;
What tender feelings thrill his swelling heart,
While he a twofold duty undertakes.
But how shall he fulfil the various task?
He must incessant toil for thy support:
Alas, poor babe! who shall tend thee the while?
Or substitute the fond maternal care:
What gentle hand shall aid thy feeble frame,
And fondly cherish virtue’s tender bud;
Or carefully extract the weeds of vice
Which in thy ductile mind may soon appear?
Thy helpless state doth to my mind appear125 R3r 125
Like to a vessel tost on stormy seas,
Without a helm to guide or stop her course.
Yet, let us list to Hope, which sweetly hints,
A cloudy morn oft gives a sunny noon.
Though chill misfortune hover’d o’er thy birth,
The Providence who early thee bereft,
Is kind and powerful to supply the loss.
Under the Christian Banner thou’rt enroll’d,
High privileges, thoughtless babe, are thine.
Thy luckless entrance on the stage of life,
To generous exertion will excite
In thy behalf; not to the higer ranks
Exclusive, is humanity confin’d,
It gilds the humble vale of lowly life,
Where soft commisseration thou wilt find.
And sure thou hast the prayers of all who saw
Thy sad appearance at the Sacred Font.
On An Ancient Obelisk.
The subject of the following Poem is a Stone of immense size, generally called the Standing Stone, in the Island of Bressa, opposite to Lerwick.
Thou monument equivocal, say, why
Dost thou in silence rear thy top on high?
In grandeur rude, and pointing to the skies,
Thou lift’st the head, but who can say it lies.
Thou some event or person seemst to mark,
But what or who thou leav’st us in the dark.
Not Mollison’s ingenious, useful art, The invention of Mr. Mollison, Glasgow, for recovering inscriptions that have been much defaced by time.
Could thee induce thy purpose to impart;
Hadst thou e’er spoke thy secrecy were vain,
He would have taught thee to have spoke again;
Thou dost his strictest scrutiny elude,
For letter never mark’d thy surface rude,
Save where detach’d initials appear
Of absent fair, to wand’ring sailor dear.127 R4r 127
Faithless, yet faithful to thy ancient charge,
Tacit—yet leav’st conjecture scope at large;
Though thy blank height nor date, nor record brings,
Yet still thou speakst—and speakst majestic things!
As under thy inspiring shade we draw,
Thou fillst the mind with images of awe!
Whence was that voice in fancy’s ear, which said,
Thou treadst the ashes of the mighty dead?
Although in mystic silence thou dost mock
Inquiry, and thy origin fast lock,
Thou dost arous’d attention interest,
And the surmising query oft suggest;
As—in what age wast rais’d? at whose command?
If Pictish, or if Scandinavian hand
Sunk deep thy base, and bade thee time withstand?
Of winters ages thou hast brav’d the shock,
Firm and unyielding as the native rock.
Full many a rising race thou here hast seen,
And subject hast to different kingdoms been;
Seen to successive powers these Islands bow,
And form Britannia’s Northern limits now;
Hast witness’d Plenty spread her chearing smiles,
And pining Scarcity afflict our Isles:
Seen Cromwell found a Fort, now known to fame,
By George restor’d, and grac’d by Charlotte’s name.
As the mild reign of Peace indulgence gave,
Sawst foreigners draw treasure from our wave;
Then when the veering scale of Fate did turn,
Batavia’s fleet in Bressa’s harbour burn.128 R4v 128
Dost thou not hail Improvement’s active haste?
Two centuries back was view’d a desert waste;
Down to the ocean banks grew heather brown,
Where now extends yon gay and prosperous town,
Stretching her limits by the curving shore,
While unrestrain’d by Neptune’s threatening roar.
Dwellings and warehouses thou mayst behold,
Defended by projecting bulwarks bold,
As if Lerwegians sought to visit thee,
Unawed by the capricious god of Sea.
Behind, see sloping gardens, to the day
Their flowers expanding, court the sunny ray.
Art thou of warlike deeds the mute reward?
And dost some Pictish Nelson’s ashes guard;
Or haply mark the hostile field, where far
The arrow-darken’d air bore winged war?
Did some proud Roman, ere his parting sail
He spread, bid thee of his short visit tell?
From Probability’s wide track we change,
And Possibility’s vague empire range;
Thou through the depth of time dost thought invite;
Standst thou a relic of Druidic rite?
Nay, faintly hints thy native form unbroke,
Or by the hammer’s or the chisel’s stroke, Joshua, chapter viii.verse 31.
That here the Jewish altar had been rais’d,
Here, on the Harp the God of Israel prais’d!129 S1r 129
When concious guilt propitiation sought,
Costly oblations hither might be brought;
And whilst the cloud of incense sought the skies,
To thee be bound with cords the sacrifice. Psalm cxviii. verse 27.
To A Niece of the Author’s, On Her Birth-Day.
My dearest Catherine, list a while
To what a faithful friend would say,
Beguile from play one fleeting hour,
Although upon thy natal day.
Another summer o’er thy head
On childhood’s thoughtless wing has flown,
And as the others spent before,
From thee it has for ever gone.
Yet, in these heedless, fleeting years
Is form’d the bias of the mind;
For as the flexile twig is bent,
So ever is the tree inclin’d.
And if the early part of life
Do not the needful culture bring,
Such loss the human mind sustains
As would the year, if lost the spring.
The spring of life, and of the year
For cultivation is design’d,
And as employ’d, futurity
To good or evil is consign’d.
Although, dear child, thy infant years
On adverse billows have been tost,
Yet brighter hours on thee may wait,
All that’s in danger is not lost.
Both prosperous and adverse fate
To many virtues ope a field;
And, although various the soil,
Yet plenteous produce both may yield.
Often misfortune’s rugged school,
The choicest character doth form;
For who so fit to stem the wave
As the train’d nursling of the storm.
Thence springs the independent wish,
Where industry’s strong efforts grow;
Contentment joins, and here a group
Of life’s most precious comforts flow.
Not that I say (for that were false)
Success doth still on worth attend;
The race belongs not to the swift,
Nor is by strength the battle gain’d.
Let your Creator’s praise ascend
Together with the morning light,
And ever may your ardent prayer
Immingle with the shades of night.
Since, sure as dawn’s returning morn,
New snares from sin in ambush lie;
And when we seek the couch of rest,
How thick do danger’s arrows fly?
How need we then to seek the guard
Of him who watch o’er Israel keeps?
And to implore his shelt’ring wing
Who slumber not nor ever sleeps.
Obedience to the parent’s will,
Or those who fill the parent’s place,
Must in the inexprienc’d heart
Be held a fix’d, essential grace.
Next to religious exercise,
Obedience, the love of truth,
And industry, the basis form
On which depend the hopes of youth.
When keen temptation’s power assails,
And rushes on the yielding heart,
One moment stop, implore God’s aid,
He will opposing grace impart.
Abash’d and foil’d the tempter flies,
Resisted by the youthful heart,
Well knowing the Almighty grace
Is more than proof against his art.
Then let the word, our dying Lord
Address’d to all, be heard by thee,
Watch—may the precept on thy heart
Sink deep, and ever present be!
The world is term’d a school of wrong.
Such it may seem on partial sight,
But I am ever apt to think
It also is a school of right.
Truth lies between, it then appears
That much depends upon the will,
And sure it is an humbling choice
To leave the good, and take the ill.
To part of both, we daily see,
The human mind doth still incline;
Then think not that I vainly view
The unmingled choice of good from thine.
Know that on manner much depends,
But affectation’s quicksands fly;
Polish’d simplicity still gains
Favour in the discerning eye.
Ere yet the character unfolds,
Ere yet acquaintance hath begun;
Upon the manners’ instant guise
Full oft the friend is lost or won.
To thee I anxiosly desire
A parent’s duty to supply,
The more as my own tender years
Enjoy’d a watchful mother’s eye.
She sought to fix upon my mind
The love of truth; to banish art,
And to humanity’s soft claim
To ope each avenue of the heart.
Believe that from affection’s source,
Flows every word I have exprest;
Come let me press you to my heart,
And tell me you shall do your best.
I recommend you to your God,
Who will you safely lead and guide
Through every turn of changeful fate,
If humbly you in him confide.
And, oh! may your immortal soul
Amongst his precious jewels be,
On that great day, whose firm awards
Remain throughout Eternity!
Lines, Written on the occasion of a Boat, with six Men, being lost while prosecuting the Fishery.
While in Merdian beauty summer smiles,
And robes in verdure the Zetland Isles;
Wherefore, O Nature! (might we question thee)
Dost thou withhold the bounty of the sea?
Why must the wave-worn fisherman in vain
Thus toilsome days, and sleepless nights sustain?
Hence murmurs—all unmeet for mortal state,
It is the will of Him whose will is Fate.
See now the latest fishing week arrives,
Still in the boatman’s heart fond hope survives;
But fast as from his oar the spray is dash’d,
The rising storm his cherish’d prospects quash’d.
Quick runs the alarm—around the Zetland coast
Six boats to strictest inquiry are lost;
How agoniz’d each tender spouse’s mind,
Now sunk in grief—now all to hope consign’d.
What trembling interest doest thou awake,
Thou scarcely visible approaching speck
Of sable hue, that floats upon the wave,
And tells the power of Providence to save!
Anon—three boats to different creeks return,
And many a woe-fraught heart forbid to mourn;
A fifth, returning from detach’d Fair Isle,
Brings sudden pleasure—but, alas! the while,
Thy mountains, Zell, The name of the island to which the boat belonged. to no light step rebound,
With gladsome tidings swift—their echoes sound
Only to lamentation—yet from far
Still dimly twinkles hope’s beclouded star;
Yet scarce supports the miserable wife
Under her fears for him more dear than life;
Her bursting woe she can no more restrain,
But wildly gazes on her infant train:
Snatching the youngest from the arms of sleep,
(The others follow hand in hand and weep)
Her chearless home and humble couch forsakes,
And the rude cliff her dreary dwelling makes,
Where from on high she views the heaving tide,
And the fell waves in dire commotion ride,
There still her eager streaming eyes in vain,
Impatient dart along the foaming main;
No sound can her abstracted ear assail,
Save dash of billows and her children’s wail;
By the resemblance to her mate opprest,
She strains his sleeping image to her breast,
Who seems to catch the sympathetic pain,
But soon in thoughtless slumber sinks again;
No slumber seals his wretched mother’s eyes,
Afar from her the downy blessing flies,137 T1r 137
Which sheds its influence on decided grief,
But to suspense denies the sweet relief;
Yet even suspense, with her distracting train,
Fain would the fainting mourner now detain.
Chas’d by despair, hope’s last faint glimmerings fly.
The heart-relieving tear deserts the eye:
Six widows in sad unison now mourn,
O’er thrice ten hapless children, left forlorn.—
No more, my muse—nor weaker is than vain,
Too well the feeling heart can paint the piercing scene.
To The Zetland Patriotic Society, On establishing the Fund for the relief of Families of decayed Fishermen.
A Radiant cloud descending through the air,
Drops on yon hill a bright ethereal fair;
Her snowy robe by purple cestus bound,
Her golden locks by circling roses crown’d.
Celestial origin we may descry
From the emotions beaming in her eye,
Which fixes on you philanthropic band,
Planning the welfare of their native land;
From harp unseen, sweet music breathes around:
Now the fair phantom speaks in gentlest sound,—
Hail! Thulian Patriots! I delighted view
Your aims, and hope for future good from you;
Proceed—encourage agricultural toil
With steady patience, nor distrust your soil—
But to my present errand from above,
Which brings me not to prompt, but to approve.
While thus you urge humanity’s kind cause,
Each virtuous feeling vibrates in applause.
Now when enfeebled by impairing age,
The drooping swain no longer can engage139 T2r 139
In labours of the oar, his heart he chears
With hope of solace in declining years.
When by the over-ruling hand of Heaven,
To Fate to deal calamity ’tis given;
When the commission’d tempest through the deep,
Array’d in terrors doth resistless sweep!
The hardy seaman struggles with the wave,
But vainly struggling finds a wat’ry grave;
Then when the frantic widow in despair,
Beats her sad heaving breast, and tears her hair,
You from that breast one barbed arrow draw,
For ’midst its conflicts still fond nature’s law,
In thrilling tenderness her heart doth move,
Rent betwixt sorrow and maternal love;
Though reckless of herself, she from your aid
Hopes for her orphans some supply of bread.
Already yours the gallant, dauntless heart,
Unite to these the culture of each art,
From which society doth comfort gain;
Nor shall the generous attempt prove vain.
Rapt in futurity I hail the hour
Which on these efforts full effect shall pour,
While the improvement of the Thulian Isles
Shall oft draw forth Benevolence’s smiles.
To The United Trades’ Society, Of Lerwick.
Peace to the ashes! honour to the shade
Of the first patriot who the basis laid
Of Social Institutions, where we see,
Arrang’d by Wisdom, kind Philanthropy.
Twelve winters now have roll’d on whirling storm,
Since Lerwick her Society did form.
The embryo benefit now ripening stands,
Opening a source when exigence demands.
When sickness pale arrests the active power,
And interrupts the labourer’s toilsome hour;
See, ready succour brought to his relief.
When the deep wound of heart-subduing grief
Sharpens want’s sting; a family bereft
Of its provider, and to struggle left
With poverty’s bleak blast, some welcome aid
From the fraternal fund is quickly made;
Nor as a boon from charity’s cold hand,
This as a claim the relict may demand.
Throw up the sashes! the procession comes,
As tell the music and loud sounding drums.141 T3r 141
The royal anthem touches every string,
Which binds the loving subject to his King.
Æolus chains the winds within his caves,
And lists to hear Britannia rule the waves.
The hills and plains array’d in spotless snow, The Procession walks on the --01-1212th of January.
Height’ning effect on the procession throw
Of contrast to the garb sable hue,
Enliven’d by the sash of sky-ting’d blue.
See approbation animate each eye,
As the ingenious sons of art draw nigh!
Be virtuous industry with success crown’d,
May chearful health and plenty smile around;
May every want be by your tools supply’d,
By genius fram’d, by application ply’d!
The magistrates and men of law appear,
And brothers of the healing art are here.
And see th’ advancing train disclose to view,
In military red or naval blue,
The sword-girt warriors to their country true.
Lo! commerce now extends her golden chain,
Mercantile groups come on, who o’er the main
Impart what nature to our soil denies,
While Thulè reaps the fruit of brighter skies.
Now come the steady mariners, who brave
Alike the winter or the summer wave.
Let every care be banish’d from this day,
Sent far upon the wind’s fleet wings away.
The head which plans, the executive hand,
Alike release from thought, and toil demand;
Ease after labour gives the richest drop
Which Pleasure mingles in her envy’d cup;
The year’s wide circle well employ’d will yield
To industry’s exertions ample field.
Where! O ye useful Arts which bless mankind,
To hail you, shall the muse expression find,
As in the constant still-improving strife,
You raise existence into polished life?
See, from the merely shelt’ring hut ascend,
The rising dome its ample walls extend;
The gate unfolded by the kind command,
And nightly shut by safety’s careful hand;
The circling stair ascending, gently wind,
Lightly, by polish’d balustrade, confin’d,
Leading to chambers, whose recess disclose
The couch inviting to the soft repose;
Or lofty hall, where social joys abound,
Whose echoing roof prolongs sweet music’s sound.
The chearing window gives the extensive plain,
Gives gardens, islands, gives the azure main,
Gladdens the eye with full meridian day,
While screen’d the gazer from the scorching ray.
Or when the tempest overawes the world,
When mingling elements around are hurl’d,143 T4r 143
A welcome shelter from their rage we find,
Yet with the view indulg’d the musing mind.
Where would or hall, or couch, or window be,
Ingenious artist, if not fram’d by thee.
These but a few of the improving charms,
Which untaught rudeness of its force disarms.
By art unaided, what were Nature’s child?
A savage, wandering through the desert wild.
Ere to the artisan I bid adieu,
One grand achievement presses on my view,
The Tongue of Time which marks the fleeting hours,
And on the mind impressive feelings pours,
Aptly in all its various parts design’d
By Thulè’s self-taught artist form’d we find. Andrew Erasmusson, blacksmith, Lerwick, who enjoys no advantage from education, or any aid, except that derived from native genius.
Be grateful candour to the merit just,
Of these on whom devolve th’ important trust,
Of training youth to love fair virtue’s worth,
And draw the latent spark of genius forth.
On your success the interest hangs deep,
Since as you sow society must reap.
This day unbend from all the irksome rules,
By Learning’s task impos’d on noisy schools;
None more require to share solacing hours,
Under the influence of social powers.
Ye who the sword of awful Justice bear,
May virtue’s progress still reward your care;
The Scales of Astrea cautiously suspend,
To rich and poor alike attention lend.
Fam’d Æsculapius, thy sons inspire,
When to their deep researches they retire,
To trace what plant allays the fever’s rage,
Or can the force of smarting pain assuage,
Or to explore what herb doth balm supply,
To pour sweet slumbers o’er the sleepless eye.
Return anew ye dauntless hearts of oak,
In union with our guardian main and rock,
From Britain’s Isle to avert the assaultive stroke.
May useful traffic still extend her smiles
Around our bleak, detach’d, sea-circled Isles.
Some genius whisper to the patriot’s mind,
The profitable market where to find,
For Thulian produce; point where to explore
Ready acceptance for our woollen store,
Of texture such as woven, drest, and clean,
By female industry, may clad a Queen.
O ye, who wings to active commerce lend,
As ye the helm direct, the sail extend,
May favoring Heaven its watch around you keep,
Guiding you safely through the dangerous deep,
And to your wish’d-for havens and homes you bring,
While of his mercies past you joyful sing.
While variously employ’d by sea or land,
You all unite in this fraternal band,
Over the mind let soothing comfort shed
The hope, that when in dust you shall be laid,
The partners who still shar’d your joy and grief
Will, from your former labours, draw relief.
Meantime let care be banish’d from this day,
Sent far upon the wind’s fleet wings away;
With social pleasure be the evening crown’d,
Sparkle the glass, the song, the jest fly round.
Notes.Page 15. While every muse impatient waits. The stanzas on the expected return of Lord Collingwood, were written at a moment when every heart beat high with the hopes of seeing the gallant warrior return to enjoy, in the bosom of his country, the reward of his exertions in her service. But death deprived a grateful and admiring nation of the opportunity of testifying its love and respect. Page 20. And fell, exulting, in the arms of death. The reader, of candour and genuine sensibility, will, I trust, not fail duly to appreciate the motives that prompt me to introduce here the following melancholy fragment. Such will readily believe me when I say, that no vain or ostentatious impulse has a place in my mind on this occasion. And, alas! the lamented object, whose last moments it depicts, has long been insensible to praise! Account of the death of William Chalmers, in the Battle of Trafalgar. (Extracted from the Scots Magazine, for 1806-06June, 1806.) Mr. Editor It has often been your happy lot, to record the heroic deeds of the Sons of the British Navy. Such instances can U2 148 U2v 148 never be too multiplied: their contemplation delights, they animate our hopes in this arduous struggle, and hold up glorious models of imitation to ages yet to come. It was but to-day, that I heard of another and I hasten to communicate it. The Hero was William Chalmers, Master of his Majesty’s ship the Royal Sovereign, who fell in the ever memorable Battle of Trafalgar. A messmate of his, who had every opportunity of being familiar with the circumstances, when writing to his friend in London, thus expresses himself: How heroically our poor friend Chalmers died! His last words, and extraordinary marks of real courage, surpass every thing I have yet heard. Part of his side was carried away, while steering the ship towards the close of the action: he just lived till the firing ceased, then, when a feeble voice, exclaimed, Could I but live to read the Gazette of this glorious day! and, with the remains of his breath, gave three feeble cheers, joined by another dying man, and both immediately expired. Mr Chalmers was a native of Zetland, and fell at the age of thirty-five. Thirteen years of his short life were spent in the service of his country, in the respectable situation of Master, in the British Navy. Amicus Edinburgh, 1806-06-1616th June, 1806. Page 28. And thou, O Wemyss,&c. Captain Wemyss commanded a ship in the Danish East India service; and was, on a homeward bound voyage, fiercely attacked by Malayese pirates, against whom he made a steady and vigorous resistance, and was, in consequence, presented by the underwriters with a very valuable piece of plate, on which was engraven an appropriate inscription. 149 U3r 149 Page 55. Say wherefore wert thou to our sires of old? Pennant, in his Introduction to Arctic Zoology, p. 41, says, In many parts of these islands (Orkney and Zetland) are evident marks of their having been a wooded country. Page 63. An intercepting fleet, by Gallia sent. In order to give a clearer idea of the circumstances with with this poem terminates (and which I have introduced rather as a kind of episodical conclusion, than as having any immediate or regular connection with the main subject of the poem), I shall subjoin an extract from Dr. Edmondston’s View of the ancient and present State of the Zetland Islands, vol. I. p. 263. When writing of the number of busses formerly employed in the Dutch Herring Fishery, he thus proceeds: —Mr. Gifford, who wrote his Description of Zetland in 17331733, says, that for a period of thirty years before, there had never been at Lerwick more than three or four hundred sail at a time, although some old men say that they have seen in Bressa Sound, at one time, 2200 busses. In the year 17021702 or 17031703, a squadron of six sail of French men of war, which had been sent on purpose to intercept them, fell in, off Fair Isle, with four Dutch ships of war, which were protecting the busses. A battle ensued, in which, after the Dutch Admiral’s ship had been sunk, the remaining three made their escape. The French squadron proceeded to Bressa Sound, sent in their boats, and are said to have burned and destroyed above four hundred of the Dutch Busses; and the Dutch fishers appear never to have recovered completely from this disaster. 150 U3v 150 Page 69. To this sweet strain, &c. As the circumstance alluded to may, perhaps, not be generally known, I shall insert it here, as I have heard it from verbal report. A native of Scotland, when in Italy, wishing to improve himself in the musical art, got himself introduced to some of the masters, under whom he meant to study that accomplishment. Being desired to give a specimen of his previous attainment, he played Gallowshiels upon the violin, which produced the following address from the president of the society,—Sir, if you wish to hear music superior to that, you must return to Scotland, for you will find nothing equal to it here. Page 71. Who write your elegy in sighs and tears. The following lines, written in the sand, by the Marquis of Montrose, upon hearing of the death of King Charles I. may perhaps be acceptable to some readers. Great, good, and just, could I but rate My grief, and thy too rigid fate, I’d weep the world to such a strain, That it should deluge once again. But since thy cruel fate demands supplies More from Briareus’ hands than Argus’ eyes, I’ll raise thy monument with trumpet’s sounds, And write thine elegy in blood and wounds. 151 U4r 151 Page 73. The nurse gains more attention than the priest. If e’er one vision touch’d thy infant thought, Of all the nurse, and all the priest have taught. Page 100. Thy urgent suit was sped across the main. I have to deprecate the forgiveness of my readers for again obtruding on their notice any subject connected with my own sorrows. I consider the present, however, as not more respectful to the character of my deceased brother, than honourable to the departed commander, who could so warmly interest himself in behalf of the unfortunate. Copy of a Letter From Lord Collingwood to Miss Chalmers. Madam, Ocean, Sicily, 1808-02-12Feb. 12, 1808. I have lately received your letter of the --10-088th of October, representing the state of your family, and asking my assistance towards obtaining for your mother some aid from Government, since she has lost that of her worthy son. I cannot but be interested for the family of so excellent a man as your brother appeared to me to be. I was only ten days in that ship before his death. It was long enought to discover his merit, his zeal, and devotion to his country’s service;—he was a great loss. The Government has made a regulation for the gratuities which are to be paid on such occasions to the families of officers slain. I do not know that any representation of mine will prevail to get an augmentation; but I have tried, by writing a letter to Lord Mulgrave, requesting, in the most 152 U4v 152 urgent terms, that the favour of Government may be extended to you; and if my application succeeds, I shall be very happy. I am, madam, &c. Collingwood. Page 117. One weeping female. So says report; but whether supported by fact as to the depopulation leaving only one individual, I cannot affirm. At any rate, the mortality was so great that there were scarcely people left to bury the dead. See View of the Zetland Islands, vol. II. p. 85. —It is well known, that all the zealous attempts of John Scott, Esq. of Melbie, the proprietor of the island, who is extremely attentive to the welfare of his tenants, have proved ineffectual to persuade the people of Foula to admit Inoculation into the island. Page 118. And even tho’ legendary power. It may perhaps be observed, that since we cannot get rid of, or conceal our rugged rocks, we do well to deck them with roses and jewels. We may, at least, claim some credit for the invention. The beautiful large flower on the detached rock at Noss I saw. With regard to the secret mine of Foula (although within the limits of possibility), I do not pretend to confirm the report of its having an existence. As to the situation assigned to this questionable gem, which is said to be amongst the stupendous and inaccessible rocks on the west side of the island, and seen only from sea, I do not consider my intelligence sufficiently authentic to offer to the public. If I am supported by fact in this doubtful circumstance, so much the better; if otherwise, I hope the mention of it in this poem 153 X1r 153 may be indulged as traditional, legendary, or poetic fiction. I have heard, that when, towards the close of the fishing season, the nights begin to darken, this jewel serves as a watch fire to the Foula fishing boats. This I have heard, but shall not insist on my reader even in part believing. As the site of the carbuncle is said to be at the back part of Lorafield, the hill supposed to contain internal fire; may not the bright appearance be occasioned by the fire seen through some aperture of the rock? Page 119. And lands your pastor on the strand. This island, distant as is its situation from Mainland, is attached to the ministry of Walls, and can only enjoy an annual visit of the clergyman, who stops some time in the island; but, through the course of the year, they forsake not assembling themselves together. There is a spot in the island which still retains the name of The Friars. Although I do not know if any remains of’ building be seen upon it, I trust the licence I have employed in using the word dwelling, will not be deemed an unjustifiable one. Page 122. Weel, since we are to welcome in Yule. I shall take the liberty of offering one or two observations more on this song,— We’ll drink a gude fishing against the next year, And the Shaalds will pay for a’, boys. It is interesting to see the inhabitant of this detached isle, while he hails an evening devoted to festivity, draw upon his future industry and personal exertion in a scene often attended X 154 X1v 154 with imminent danger: nor does the thought seem to appal the surest hour which Heaven bestows, quite the reverse,— it seems to add an inspiring zest to it. A mind under the slightest influence of discontent would have rejected a pleasure purchased on such precarious and hazardous terms. Not so the native of Foula; he trusts Providence, his own exertions, and the Shaalds,— He cheers his heart with what his fate affords, And chaunts his sonnet to deceive the time. Foula Reel, or as it is ofen called through Zetland, the Old Reel, is an indispensable tune at all festivities amongst the Zetland peasantry, and is understood to be of Norwegian or Danish origin. It is danced as a common reel, but there is also a figured dance, whic admits a limited number of couples, exhibits a good deal of variety, and is, in my opinion, a pretty dance. I have seen it performed. N.B. In the poem entitled the Rose of the Rock, the fourteen lines commencing with and succeeding the twelfth, and also the two last lines but three, in the same poem, with the foot notes to these passages, are the composition of a friend.
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- Capt. Peter Wedderburn
- James Wedderburn, Esq.
- Mr Charles Wild, Liverpool
- Mrs Williamson, Leith
- Miss Ann Wilson, Park Place, Edinburgh
- T. Wilson, Esq. Whitehaven
- W. Wilson, Esq. Newcastle
- Mr James Wingate, Glasgow
- Capt. Willis, R.N.Royal Navy2 copies
- Mr Robert Work, Zetland
- Mr Francis Yates, Lerwick
- Mr Young, Liverpool
- Mr William Young, Leith
- Mr Yourton, Liverpool
Newcastle: Printed by
S. Hodgson, Union-street.