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And artless, oft like moody madness, stare
Oft have they seen Fate give the fatal blow!
The seer, in Sky, shriek’ as the blood did flow, When headless Charles warm on the scaffold lay! As Boreas threw his young Aurora * forth,
In the first year of the first George's reign, And battles raged in welkin of the North,
They mourn’d in air, fell, fell rebellion slain! And as, of late, they joy'd in Preston's fight,
Saw, at sad Falkirk, all their hopes near crown'd! They raved! divining, through their second sightt, Pale, red Culloden, where these hopes were
drown'd! Illustrious William ! Britain's guardian name !
One William saved us from a tyrant's stroke: He, for a sceptre, gain’d heroic fame, [broke,
But thou, more glorious, Slavery's chain hast To reign a private man, and bow to Freedom's yoke!
These, too, thou'lt sing! for well thy magic Muse
Can to the topmost heaven of grandeur soar;
Or stoop to wail the swain that is no more! Ah, homely swains ! your homeward steps ne'er
* By young Aurora Collins undoubtedly meant the first appearance of the northern lights, which happened about the year 1715; at least, it is most highly probable, from this pecaliar circumstance, that no ancient writer whatever has taken any notice of them, nor even any one modern, previous to the above period.
Second sight is the term that is used for the divination of the Highlanders.
The late Duke of Cumberland, who defeated the Pretender at the battle of Culloden.
Let not dank Will * mislead you to the heath; Dancing in murky night, o'er fen and lake,
He glows to draw you downward to your death, In his bewitch’d, low, marshy, willow brake: What though far off, from some dark dell espied,
His glimmering mazes cheer the’excursive sight, Yet turn, ye wanderers, turn your steps aside,
Nor trust the guidance of that faithless light: For watchful, lurking, mid the’ unrustling reed,
At those murk hours the wily monster lies, And listens oft to hear the passing steed,
And frequent round him rolls his sullen eyes, If chance his savage wrath may some weak wretch
Ah, luckless swain, o'er all unbless’d, indeed!
Whom late bewilder'd in the dank dark fen,
Far from his flocks and smoking hamlet, then! To that sad spot where hums the sedgy weed!
On him, enraged, the fiend, in angry mood, Shall never look with pity's kind concern,
But instant, furious, raise the whelming flood O’er its drown'd banks, forbidding all return!
Or, if he meditate his wish'd escape
To his faint eye the grim and grisly shape,
Meantime the watery surge shall round him rise, Pour'd sudden forth from every swelling source !
What now remains but tears and hopeless sighs ?
A fiery meteor, called by various pames, such as Will with the Wisp, Jack with the Lantern, &c. It hovers in the air over marshy and fenny places.
His fear-shook limbs have lost their youthful force, And down the waves he floats, a pale and breath
For him in vain his anxious wife shall wait,
Or wander forth to meet him on his way:
For him in vain at to-fall of the day,
Her travel'd limbs in broken slumbers steep! With drooping willows dress’d, his mournful sprite
Shall visit sad, perchance, her silent sleep : Then he, perhaps, with moist and watery hand,
Shall fondly seem to press her shuddering cheek, And with his blue swoln face before her stand,
And shivering cold, these piteous accents speak: Pursue, dear wife, thy daily toils pursue,
At dawn or dusk, industrious as before; Nor e'er of me one helpless thought renew,
While I lie weltering on the osier'd shore, Drown’d by the Kelpie's* wrath, nor e'er shall
aid thee more!'
Unbounded is thy range; with varied skill
spring From their rude rocks, extend her skirting wing Round the moist marge of each cold Hebrid isle,
To that hoar pilet which still its ruins shows:
* The water fiend.
+ One of the Hebrides is called the Isle of Pigmies; where, it is reported, that several miniature bones of the human species
dug up in the ruins of a chapel there.
In whose small vaults a pigmy folk is found,
Whose bones the delver with his spade upthrows, And culls them, wondering, from the hallow'd
ground ! Or thither *, where beneath the showery west,
The mighty kings of three fair realms are laid : Once foes, perhaps, together now they rest,
No slaves revere them, and no wars invade: Yet frequent now, at midnight's solemn hour,
The rifted mounds their yawning cells unfold, And forth the monarchs stalk with sovereign power,
In pageant robes, and wreath'd with sheeny gold, And on their twilight tombs aereal council hold.
But, oh! o'er all, forget not Kilda’s race, [tides,
On whose bleak rocks, which brave the wasting
Fair Nature's daughter, Virtue, yet abides. Go! just, as they, their blameless manners trace!
Then to my ear transmit some gentle song, Of those whose lives are yet sincere and plain,
Their bounded walks the rugged cliffs along, And all their prospect but the wintry main.
With sparing temperance, at the needful time, They drain the scented spring: or, hunger-press’d,
Along the’ Atlantic rock undreading climb, And of its eggs despoil the solan's + nest.
Thus, bless’d in primal innocence they live, Sufficed and happy with that frugal fare
Which tasteful toil and hourly danger give: Hard is their shallow soil, and bleak and bare;
Nor ever vernal bee was heard to murmur there!
• Icolmkill, one of the Hebrides, where near sixty of the ancient Scottish, Irish, and Norwegian kings are interred.
† An aquatic bird like a goose, on the eggs of which the in. habitants of St. Kilda, another of the Hebrides, chiefly subsist.
Nor need'st thou blush that such false themes en
gage Thy gentle mind, of fairer stores possess’d;
For not alone they touch the village breast, But fill'd, in elder time, the historic page. There Shakspeare's self, with every garland
crown'd, Flew to those fairy climes his fancy sheen,
In musing hour; his wayward sisters found, And with their terrors dress'd the magic scene.
From them he sung, when mid his bold design, Before the Scot, afflicted and aghast,
The shadowy kings of Banquo's fated line Through the dark cave in gleamy pageant pass’d.
Proceed! nor quit the tales which, simply told, Could once so well my answering bosom pierce;
Proceed, in forceful sounds and colour bold, The native legends of thy land rehearse; To such adapt thy lyre, and suit thy powerful verse. In scenes like these, which, daring to depart
From sober truth, are still to Nature true,
And call forth fresh delight to Fancy's view, The' heroic Muse employ'd her Tasso's art;
How have I trembled, when, at Tancred's stroke, Its gushing blood the gaping cypress pour'd !
When each live plant with mortal accents spoke, And the wild blast upheaved the vanish'd sword!
How have I sat, when piped the pensive wind, To hear his harp by British Fairfax strung!
Prevailing poet! whose undoubting mind Believed the magic wonders which he sung;
Hence, at each sound, imagination glows ! Hence, at each picture, vivid life starts here!
Hence his warm lay with softest sweetness flows !