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cal feeling he must have inherited from nature, which led him to take pleasure even from his in
The Portrait fancy in descriptive poetry ; and the language, expressions, and pictures thus imprinted on his mind
Straight is my person, but of little size ;
Lean are my cheeks, and hollow are my eyes : by habitual acquaintance with the best authors, and
My youthful down is, like my talents, rare; in literary conversation, seem to have risen sponta
Politely distant stands each single hair. neously in the moment of composition.
My voice too rough to charm a lady's ear;
So smooth, a child may listen without fear;
Not formed in cadence soft and warbling lays,
To soothe the fair through pleasure's wanton ways.
My form so fine, so regular, so new,
My port so manly, and so fresh my hue;
oft, as I meet the crowd, they, laughing, say,
* See, see Memento Mori cross the way.'
The ravished Proserpine at last, we know,
Grew fondly jealous of her sable beau ;
But, thanks to Nature! none from me need fly,
One heart the devil could wound-so cannot I.
Yet though my person fearless may be seen,
There is some danger in my graceful mien :
For, as some vessel, tossed by wind and tide,
Bounds o'er the waves, and rocks from side to side,
In just vibration thus I always move:
This who can view and not be forced to love !
Hail, charming self! by whose propitious aid
My form in all its glory stands displayed :
Be present still ; with inspiration kind,
Let the same faithful colours paint the mind.
Like all mankind, with vanity I'm blessed,
Conscious of wit I never yet possessed.
To strong desires my heart an easy prey,
Oft feels their force, but never owns their sway.
This hour, perhaps, as death I hate my foe;
The next I wonder why I should do so.
Though poor, the rich I view with careless eye;
Scorn a vain oath, and hate a serious lie.
I ne'er for satire torture common sense ;
Nor show my wit at God's nor man's expense.
Harmless I live, unknowing and unknown ;
Wish well to all, and yet do good to none.
Unmerited contempt I hate to bear; L'A compliment and tribute of affection to the tender assi- | Yet on my faults, like others, am severe. duity of an excellent wife, which I have not anywhere seen Dishonest flames my bosom never fire; more happily conceived or more elegantly expressed.'-Henry
The bad I pity, and the good admire: Mackensie.]
Fond of the Muse, to her devote my days,
And scribble, not for pudding, but for praise.
JAMES BEATTIE was the son of a small farmer and And hail Melissa's natal day.
shopkeeper at Laurencekirk, county of Kincardine,
| where he was born October 25, 1735. His father Of time and nature eldest born,
died while he was a child, but an elder brother, seeEmerge, thou rosy-fingered morn;
ing signs of talent in the boy, assisted him in proIn order at the eastern gate
curing a good education; and in his fourteenth year The hours to draw thy chariot wait;
he obtained a bursary or exhibition (always indicatWhilst Zephyr on his balmy wings,
ing some proficiency in Latin) in Marisehal college, Mild nature's fragrant tribute brings,
Aberdeen. His habits and views were scholastic, With odours sweet to strew thy way,
and four years afterwards, Beattie was appointed And grace the bland revolving day.
schoolmaster of the parish of Fordoun. He was now But, as thou lead'st the radiant sphere,
situated amidst interesting and romantic scenery, That gilds its birth and marks the year,
which increased his passion for nature and poetry.
The scenes which he afterwards delineated in his And as his stronger glories rise, Diffused around the expanded skies,
Minstrel were (as Mr Southey has justly remarked)
those in which he had grown up, and the feelings Till clothed with beams serenely bright, All heaven's vast concave flames with light;
and aspirations therein expressed, were those of his
own boyhood and youth. He became a poet at ForSo when through life's protracted day,
doun; and, strange to say, his poetry, poor as it was, Melissa still pursues her way,
procured his appointment as usher of Aberdeen Her virtues with thy splendour vie,
grammar school, and subsequently that of professor Increasing to the mental eye;
of natural philosophy in Marischal college. This Though less conspicuous, not less dear,
distinction he obtained in his twenty-fifth year, Long may they Bion's prospect cheer;
| At the same time, he published in London a collecSo shall his heart no more repine,
tion of his poems, with some translations. One piece, Blessed with her rays, though robbed of thine. | Retirement, displays poetical feeling and taste; but the collection, as a whole, gave little indication of with madness'-an allusion to the hereditary in• The Minstrel.' The poems, without the transla sanity of their mother. By nature, Beattie was a tions, were reprinted in 1766, and a copy of verses man of quick and tender sensibilities. A fine land
scape or music (in which he was a proficient), affected
O to thy cursed scream, discordant still,
Insult thy crest, and glossy pinions tear,
the world. He ceased to correspond with his friends, James Beattie.
or to continue his studies. Shattered by a long on the Death of Churchill were added. The latter train of nervous complaints, in April 1799 the poet are mean and reprehensible in spirit, as Churchill had a stroke of palsy, and after different returns of had expiated his early follies by an untimely death. the same malady, which excluded him from all Beattie was a sincere lover of truth and virtue, but society, he died on the 18th of August 1803. his ardour led him at times into intolerance, and he | In the early training of his eldest and beloved zon, was too fond of courting the notice and approbation Dr Beattie adopted an expedient of a romantic and of the great. In 1770 the poet appeared as a meta- | interesting description. His object was to give him physician, by his Essay on Truth, in which good the first idea of a Supreme Being; and his method, principles were advanced, though with an unphiloso- as Dr Porteous, bishop of London, remarked, “had phical spirit, and in language which suffered greatly all the imagination of Rousseau, without his folly from comparison with that of his illustrious oppo- | and extravagance.' nent, David Hume. Next year Beattie appeared in 'He had,' says Beattie, 'reached his
He had," says Beattie, reached his fifth (or his true character as a poet. The first part of .The sixth) year, knew the alphabet, and could read a Minstrel' was published, and was received with uni- little; but had received no particular information versal approbation. Honours flowed in on the for- with respect to the author of his being because I tunate author. He visited London, and was ad- thought he could not yet understand sul h informamitted to all its brilliant and distinguished circles. tion, and because I had learned, from my own ex- ! Goldsmith, Johnson, Garrick, and Reynolds, were perience, that to be made to repeat words not uninumbered among his friends. On a second visit in derstood, is extremely detrimental to the faculties 1773, he had an interview with the king and queen, of a young mind. In a corner of a little garden, which resulted in a pension of £200 per annum. without informing any person of the circumstance, The university of Oxford conferred upon him the I wrote in the mould, with my finger, the three inidegree of LL.D. and Reynolds painted his portrait tial letters of his name, and sowing garden cresses in an allegorical picture, in which Beattie was seen in the furrows, covered up the seed, and smoothed by the side of an angel pushing down Prejudice, the ground. Ten days after he came running to me, Scepticism, and Folly! Need we wonder that poor and with astonishment in his countenance, told me Goldsmith was envious of his brother poet? To the that his name was growing in the garden. I smiled! honour of Beattie, it must be recorded, that he de- at the report, and seemed inclined to disregard it; . clined entering the church of England, in which but he insisted on my going to see what had hap. preferment was promised him, and no doubt would pened. “Yes," said I carelessly, on coming to the have been readily granted. The second part of the place; “I see it is so; but there is nothing in this • Minstrel' was published in 1774. Domestic circum- worth notice; it is mere chance," and I went away. stances marred the felicity of Beattie's otherwise He followed me, and taking hold of my coat, said with happy and prosperous lot. His wife (the daughter | some earnestness, “It could not be mere chance, for of Dr Dun, Aberdeen) became insane, and was ob that somebody must have contrived matters so as liged to be confined in an asylum. He had two sons, to produce it.” I pretend not to give his words or my both amiable and accomplished youths. The eldest own, for I have forgotten both, but I give the sublived till he was twenty-two, and was associated stance of what passed between us in such language with his father in the professorship: he died in as we both understood. “So you think,” I said, 1790, and the afflicted parent soothed his grief by “that what appears so regular as the letters of your writing his life, and publishing some specimens of name cannot be by chance?” “Yes," said he with his composition in prose and verse. The second son firmness, “ I think so !” “Look at yourself," I replied, died in 1796, aged eighteen; and the only consola " and consider your hands and fingers, your legs and tion of the now lonely poet was, that he could not feet, and other limbs; are they not regular in their have borne to see their elegant minds mangled appearance, and useful to you?" He said they were
--- -- ---- - ------
“Came you then hither," said I,“ by chance ?” “No," | There are, who, deaf to mad Ambition's call, he answered, “ that cannot be ; something must have Would shrink to hear the obstreperous trump of Fame; made me.” “ And who is that something ?” I asked. Supremely blest, if to their portion fall He said he did not know. (I took particular notice Health, competence, and peace. Nor higher aim that he did not say, as Rousseau fancies a child in Had he, whose simple tale these artless lines proclaim. like circumstances would say, that his parents made The rolls of fame I will not now explore : him.) I had now gained the point I aimed at; and
| Nor need I here describe, in learned lay, saw that his reason taught him (though he could
| How forth the Minstrel fared in days of yore, not so express it) that what begins to be, must have Right glad of heart though hom a cause, and that what is formed with regularity, | His waving locks and beard all hoary gray: must have an intelligent cause. I therefore told | While from his bending shoulder. decent hung him the name of the Great Being who made him | His harp, the sole companion of his way,
all the world, concerning whose adorable nature | Which to the whistling wind responsive rung: I gave him such information as I thought he could
And ever as he went some merry lay he sung. in some measure comprehend. The lesson affected
Fret not thyself, thou glittering child of pride, him deeply, and he never forgot either it or the circumstance that introduced it.'
That a poor villager inspires my strain ; • The Minstrel,' on which Beattie's fame now rests,
With thee let Pageantry and Power abide;
The gentle Muses haunt the sylvan reign; is a didactic poem, in the Spenserian stanza, designed to trace the progress of a poetical genius,
| Where through wild groves at ere the lonely swain born in a rude age, from the first dawning of fancy
Enraptured roams, to gaze on Nature's charms.
| They hate the sensual, and scorn the vain; and reason till that period at which he may be
| The parasite their influence never warms, supposed capable of appearing in the world as a minstrel' The idea was suggested by Percy's pre
Nor him whose sordid soul the love of gold alarms. liminary Dissertation to his Reliques-one other Though richest hues the peacock's plumes adorn,
fit which that collection has conferred upon Yet horror screams from his discordant throat. the lovers of poetry. The character of Edwin, the Rise, sons of harmony, and hail the morn, minstrel (in which Beattie embodied his own early | While warbling larks on russet pinions float: feelings and poetical aspirations), is very finely Or seek at noon the woodland scene remote, drawn. The romantic seclusion of his youth, and Where the gray linnets carol from the hill, his ardour for knowledge, find a response in all o let them ne'er, with artificial note, young and generous minds; while the calm philo- | To please a tyrant, strain the little bill, Twill. sophy and reflection of the poet, interest the more But sing what Heaven inspires, and wander where they mature and experienced reader. The poem was Liberal, not lavish, is kind Nature's hand : left unfinished, and this is scarcely to be regretted. Nor was perfection made for man below. Beattie had not strength of pinion to keep long on Yet all her schemes with nicest art are planned, the wing in the same lofty region; and Edwin would Good counteracting ill. and gladness wo. have contracted some earthly taint in his descent. With gold and gems if Chilian mountains glow; Gray thought there was too much description in If bleak and barren Scotia's hills arise ; the first part of the Minstrel,' but who would ex- | There plague and poison, lust and rapine grow; change it for the philosophy of the second part? | Here peaceful are the vales, and pure the skies, The poet intended to have carried his hero into a And freedom fires the soul, and sparkles in the eyes. life of variety and action, but he certainly would Then grieve not thou, to whom the indulgent Muse , not have succeeded. As it is, when he finds it Vouchsafes a portion of celestial fire : necessary to continue Edwin beyond the “flowery | Nor blame the partial Fates, if they refuse path' of childhood, and to explore the shades of life, The imperial banquet and the rich attire. he calls in the aid of a hermit, who schools the young Know thine own worth, and reverence the lyre. enthusiast on virtue, knowledge, and the dignity of Wilt thou debase the heart which God refined ? man. The appearance of this sage is happily de- No; let thy heaven-taught soul to Ileaven aspire, scribed
To fancy, freedom, harmony, resigned ; At early dawn the youth his journey took,
Ambition’s grovelling crew for ever left behind. And many a mountain passed and valley wide,
Canst thou forego the pure ethereal soul, Then reached the wild where, in a flowery nook, In each fine sense so exquisitely keen, And seated on a mossy stone, he spied
On the dull couch of Luxury to loll, An ancient man; his harp lay him beside.
Stung with disease, and stupified with spleen; A stag sprung from the pasture at his call,
Fain to implore the aid of Flattery's screen, And, kneeling, licked the withered hand that tied Even from thyself thy loathsome heart to hide A wreath of woodbine round his antlers tall,
(The mansion then no more of joy serene), And hung his lofty neck with many a floweret small. Where fear, distrust, malevolence abide,
And impotent desire, and disappointed pride ? [Opening of the Minstrel.]
O how canst thou renounce the boundless store Ah! who can tell how hard it is to climb
Of charms which Nature to her votary yields ! The steep where Fame's proud temple shines afar; The warbling woodland, the resounding shore, Ah! who can tell how many a soul sublime
The pomp of groves, and garniture of fields; Has felt the influence of malignant star,
All that the genial ray of morning gilds, And waged with Fortune an eternal war;
And all that echoes to the song of even, Checked by the scoff of Pride, by Envy's frown, All that the mountain's sheltering bosom shields, And Poverty's unconquerable bar,
And all the dread magnificence of heaven, In life's low vale remote has pined alone,
O how canst thou renounce, and hope to be forgiven ! Then dropped into the grave, unpitied and unknown! And yet the languor of inglorious day
There lived in Gothic days, as legends tell, Not equally oppressive is to all;
A shepherd-swain, a man of low degree, Him, who ne'er listened to the voice of praise,
Whose sires, perchance, in Fairyland might dwell, The silence of neglect can ne'er appal.
Sicilian groves, or vales of Arcadv:
But he, I ween, was of the north countrie;
In billows, lengthening to the horizon round, A nation famed for song, and beauty's charms; Now scooped in gulfs, with mountains now embossed! Zealous, yet modest ; innocent, though free;
And hear the voice of mirth and song rebound, Patient of toil; serene amidst alarms;
Flocks, herds, and waterfalls, along the hoar proInflexible in faith ; invincible in arms.
found! The shepherd gwain of whom I mention made, In truth he was a strange and wayward wight, On Scotia's mountains fed his little flock;
Fond of each gentle and each dreadful scene. The sickle, scythe, or plough he never swayed ; In darkness and in storm he found delight; An honest heart was almost all his stock;
Nor less than when on ocean-wave serene, His drink the living water from the rock:
The southern sun diffused his dazzling shene. The milky dams supplied his board, and lent
Even sad vicissitude amused his soul; Their kindly fleece to baffle winter's shock;
And if a sigh would sometimes intervene, And he, though oft with dust and sweat besprent, And down his cheek a tear of pity roll, Did guide and guard their wanderings, whereso'er A sigh, a tear, so sweet, he wished not to control. they went.
Oft when the winter storm had ceased to rave, [Description of Edwin.)
He roamed the snowy waste at even, to view
The cloud stupendous, from the Atlantic wave And yet poor Edwin was no vulgar boy.
High-towering, sail along the horizon blue; Deep thought oft seemed to fix his infant eye.
Where, 'midst the changeful scenery, ever new, Dainties he heeded not, nor gaude, nor toy,
Fancy a thousand wondrous forms descries, Save one short pipe of rudest minstrelsy;
More wildly great than ever pencil drew; Silent when glad; affectionate, though shy;
Rocks, torrents, gulfs, and shapes of giant size, And now his look was most demurely sad,
And glittering cliffs on cliffs, and fiery ramparts rise. And now he laughed aloud, yet none knew why. The neighbours stared and sighed, yet blessed the lad: 1 Thence musing onward to the sounding shore. Some deemed him wondrous wise, and some believed | The lone enthusiast oft would take his way, him mad.
Listening, with pleasing dread, to the deep roar.
Of the wide-weltering waves. In black array But why should I his childish feats display?
When sulphurous clouds rolled on the autumnal day, Concourse, and noise, and toil, he ever fled;
Even then he hastened from the haunt of man, Nor cared to mingle in the clamorous fray
Along the trembling wilderness to stray, Of squabbling imps ; but to the forest sped,
What time the lightning's fierce career began, Or roamed at large the lonely mountain's head, And o'er heaven's rending arch the rattling thunder Or where the maze of some bewildered stream
ran. To deep untrodden groves his footsteps led,
Responsive to the sprightly pipe, when all There would he wander wild, till Phæbus' beam,
| In sprightly dance the village youth were joined, Shot from the western cliff, released the weary team.
Edwin, of melody aye held in thrall, The exploit of strength, dexterity, or speed,
From the rude gambol far remote reclined, To him nor vanity nor joy could bring :
Soothed with the soft notes warbling in the wind. His heart, from cruel sport estranged, would bleed
Ah then, all jollity seemed noise and folly! To work the wo of any living thing,
To the pure soul by Fancy's fire refined, By trap or net, by arrow or by sling;
Ah, what is mirth but turbulence unholy, These he detested; those he scorned to wield:
When with the charm compared of heavenly melan. He wished to be the guardian, not the king,
choly ! Tyrant far less, or traitor of the field,
Is there a heart that music cannot melt? And sure the sylvan reign unbloody joy might yield. Alas! how is that rugged heart forlorn ;
Is there, who ne'er those mystic transports felt Lo! where the stripling, wrapt in wonder, roves
Of solitude and melancholy born? Beneath the precipice o'erhung with pine;
He needs not woo the Muse ; he is her scorn. And sees on high, amidst the encircling groves,
The sophist's rope of cobweb he shall twine ; From cliff to cliff the foaming torrents shine;
Mope o'er the schoolman's peevish rage; or mourn, While waters, woods, and winds, in concert join,
And delve for life in Mammon's dirty mine;
Sneak with the scoundrel fox, or grunt with glutton
swine. For aught the huntsman's puny craft supplies? Ah, no! he better knows great Nature's charms to For Edwin, Fate a nobler doom had planned; prize.
Song was his favourite and first pursuit.
The wild harp rang to his adventurous hand, And oft he traced the uplands to survey,
And languished to his breath the plaintive flute. When o'er the sky advanced the kindling dawn,
His infant muse, though artless, was not mute.
For this of time and culture is the fruit;
As in some future verse I purpose to declare.
Meanwhile, whate'er of beautiful or new,
Sublime, or dreadful, in earth, sea, or sky, smile.
By chance, or search, was offered to his view,
He scanned with curious and romantic eye. And oft the craggy cliff he loved to climb,
Whate'er of lore tradition could supply When all in mist the world below was lost
From Gothic tale, or song, or fable old, What dreadful pleasure! there to stand sublime, Roused him, still keen to listen and to pry. Like shipwrecked mariner on desert coast,
At last, though long by penury controlled, And view the enormous waste of vapour, tost | And solitude, his soul her graces 'gan unfold.
Thus on the chill Lapponian's dreary land,
Shall I be left forgotten in the dust, For many a long month lost in snow profound, When Fate, relenting, lets the flower revive? When Sol from Cancer sends the season bland, Shall Nature's voice, to man alone unjust, And in their northern cave the storms are bound; Bid him, though doomed to perish, hope to live! From silent mountains, straight, with startling sound, Is it for this fair Virtue oft must strive Torrents are hurled; green hills emerge; and lo! With disappointment, penury, and pain?, The trees with foliage, cliffs with flowers are crowned; No: Heaven's immortal spring shall yet arrive, Pure rills through vales of verdure warbling go; And man's majestic beauty bloom again, And wonder, love, and joy, the peasant's heart o'erflow. Bright through the eternal year of Love's triumphant
When in the crimson cloud of even
The lingering light decays,
ont of heaven Where thousand pearls the dewy lawns adorn,
And Hesper on the front A thousand notes of joy in every breeze are borne.
His glittering gem displays;
Deep in the silent vale, unseen, Bat who the melodies of morn can tell ?
Beside a lulling stream, The wild brook babbling down the mountain side;
A pensive youth, of placid mien,
Indulged this tender theme.
Ye cliffs, in hoary grandeur piled
High o'er the glimmering dale; The hollow murmur of the ocean-tide;
Ye woods, along whose windings wild The hum of bees, the linnet's lay of love,
Murmurs the solemn gale: And the full choir that wakes the universal grove.
Where Melancholy strays forlorn,
And Wo retires to weep,
What time the wan moon's yellow horn
Gleams on the western deep :
To you, ye wastes, whose artless charms Through rustling corn the hare astonished springs;
Ne'er drew Ambition's eye, Slow tolls the village-clock the drowsy hour;
'Scaped a tumultuous world's alarms, The partridge bursts away on whirring wings;
To your retreats I fly. Deep mourns the turtle in sequestered bower,
Deep in your most sequestered bower And shrill lark carols clear from her aërial tower.
Let me at last recline,
Where Solitude, mild, modest power, [Life and Immortality.]
Leans on her ivied shrine.
How shall I woo thee, matchless fair? O ye wild groves, 0 where is now your bloom!
Thy heavenly smile how win? (The Muse interprets thus his tender thought)
Thy smile that smooths the brow of Care, Your fiowers, your verdure, and your balmy gloom,
And stills the storm within. Of late so grateful in the hour of drought?
O wilt thou to thy favourite grove Why do the birds, that song and rapture brought
Thine ardent votary bring, To all your bowers, their mansions now forsake!
And bless his hours, and bid them move
Serene, on silent wing?
Oft let Remembrance soothe his mind
With dreams of former days, Where now the rill, melodious, pure, and cool,
When in the lap of Peace reclined Ånd meads, with life, and mirth, and beauty crowned?
He framed his infant lays; Ah! see, the unsightly slime, and sluggish pool,
When Fancy roved at large, nor Care Hare all the solitary vale embrowned ;
Nor cold Distrust alarmed, Fled each fair form, and mute each melting sound,
Nor Envy, with malignant glare,
His simple youth had harmed.
'Twas then, O Solitude! to thee Cproots the grove, and rolls the shattered rocks away. His early vows were paid,
From heart sincere, and warm, and free, Yet such the destiny of all on earth :
Devoted to the shade. So flourishes and fades majestic man.
Ah why did Fate his steps decoy Fair is the bud his vernal morn brings forth,
In stormy paths to roam, And fostering gales a while the nursling fan.
Remote from all congenial joy !
O take the wanderer home.
Thy shades, thy silence now be mine,
Thy charms my only theme; Old age comes on apace to ravage all the clime.
My haunt the hollow cliff, whose pine And be it so. Let those deplore their doom
Waves o'er the gloomy stream.
Whence the scared owl on pinions gray Whose hope still grovels in this dark sojourn;
Breaks from the rustling boughs, Bot lofty souls, who look beyond the tomb,
And down the lone vale sails away
To more profound repose.
0, while to thee the woodland pours Soon shall the orient with new lustre burn,
Its wildly warbling song, And Spring shall soon her vital influence shed,
And balmy from the bank of flowers Again attone the grove, again adorn the mead.
The zephyr breathes along;