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He did not succeed in either character; and after of wing, and sudden suspension in air, he knows publishing his poems he returned to the loom. In him to be the fish-hawk, settling over some devoted 1792 he issued anonymously his best poem, Watty victim of the deep. His eye kindles at the sight, and Meg, which was at first attributed to Burns. and balancing himself with half-opened wings on A foolish personal satire, and a not very wise ad- the branch, he watches the result. Down, rapid as miration of the principles of equality disseminated an arrow from heaven, descends the distant object at the time of the French Revolution, drove Wilson of his attention, the roar of its wings reaching the to America in the year 1794. There he was once ear as it disappears in the deep, making the surges more a weaver and a pedlar, and afterwards a foam around. At this moment the eager looks of schoolmaster. A love of ornithology gained upon the eagle are all ardour; and, levelling his neck for him, and he wandered over America, collecting flight, he sees the fish-hawk once more emerge, specimens of birds. In 1808 appeared his first struggling with his prey, and mounting in the air volume of the American Ornithology, and he with screams of exultation. These are the signal continued collecting and publishing, traversing for our hero, who, launching into the air, instantly swamps and forests in quest of rare birds, and gives chase, and soon gains on the fish-lawk; each undergoing the greatest privations and fatigues, exerts his utmost to mount above the other, distill he had committed an eighth volume to the playing in these rencontres the most elegant and press. He sank under his severe labours on the sublime aerial evolutions. The unencumbered eagle 23d of August 1813, and was interred with public rapidly advances, and is just on the point of reaching honours at Philadelphia. In the Ornithology of his opponent, when, with a sudden scream, probably Wilson we see the fancy and descriptive powers of of despair and honest execration, the latter drops the poet. The following extract is part of his ac- his fish: the eagle, poising himself for a moment, as count of the bald eagle, and is extremely vivid and if to take a more certain aim, descends like a whirlstriking :
wind, snatches it in his grasp ere it reaches the The celebrated cataract of Niagara is a noted water, and bears his ill-gotten booty silently away place of resort for the bald eagle, as well on account to the woods.' of the fish procured there, as for the numerous car- By way of preface, 'to invoke the clemency of cases of squirrels, deer, bears, and various other the reader,' Wilson relates the following exquisite animals, that, in their attempts to cross the river trait of simplicity and nature:above the falls, have been dragged into the current, • In one of my late visits to a friend in the counand precipitated down that tremendous gulf, where, try, I found their youngest son, a fine boy of eight among the rocks that bound the rapids below, they or nine years of age, who usually resides in town furnish a rich repast for the vulture, the raven, and for his education, just returnin from a ramble the bald eagle, the subject of the present account. through the neighbouring woods and fields, where He has been long known to naturalists, being con- he had collected a large and very handsome bunch mon to both continents, and occasionally met with of wild flowers, of a great many different colours ; from a very high northern latitude to the borders and, presenting them to his mother, said, “Look, of the torrid zone, but chiefly in the vicinity of the my dear mamma, what beautiful flowers I have sea, and along the shores and cliffs of our lakes and found growing on our place! Why, all the woods large rivers. Formed by nature for braving the are full of them! red, orange, and blue, and 'most severest cold, feeding equally on the produce of the every colour. Oh! I can gather you a whole parcel sea and of the land, possessing powers of flight of them, much handsomer than these, all growing capable of outstripping even the tempests them- in our own woods! Shall I, mamma? Shall I go selves, unawed by anything but man, and, from and bring you more?” The good woman received the ethereal heights to which he soars, looking the bunch of flowers with a smile of affectionate abroad at one glance on an immeasurable pans complacency; and, after admiring for some time the of forests, fields, lakes, and ocean deep below him, beautiful simplicity of nature, gave her willing conhe appears indifferent to the little localities of sent, and the little fellow went off on the wings of change of seasons, as in a few minutes he can ecstacy to execute his delightful commission. pass from summer to winter, from the lower to the The similarity of this little boy's enthusiasm to higher regions of the atmosphere, the abode of my own struck me, and the reader will need no eternal cold, and from thence descend at will to the explanations of mine to make the application. torrid or the arctic regions of the earth. He is, Should my country receive with the same gracious therefore, found at all seasons in the countries he indulgence the specimens which I here humbly preinhabits; but prefers such places as have been sent her; should she express a desire for me to go mentioned above, from the great partiality he has and bring her more, the highest wishes of my ambifor fish.
tion will be gratified; for, in the language of my In procuring these, he displays, in a very singular little friend, our whole woods are full of them, and I manner, the genius and energy of his character, can collect hundreds more, much handsomer than which is fierce, contemplative, daring, and tyranni. these.' cal; attributes not exerted but on particular occa- The ambition of the poet-naturalist was amply sions, but when put forth, overpowering all opposi- gratified. tion. Elevated on the high dead limb of some gigantic tree that commands a wide view of the neighbouring shore and ocean, he seems calmly to
[A Village Scold surprising her Husband in an contemplate the motions of the various feathered
Ale-house.] tribes that pursue their busy avocations below; the
I’ the thrang o'stories tellin, snow-white gulls slowly winnowing the air; the Shakin hands and jokin queer, busy tringæ coursing along the sands; trains of
Swith ! a chap comes on the hallanducks streaming over the surface; silent and watch
* Mungo! is our Watty here?' ful cranes intent and wading; clamorous crows; and all the winged multitudes that subsist by the Maggy's weel-kent tongue and hurry bounty of this vast liquid magazine of nature. High Darted through him like a knife: over all these hovers one whose action instantly Up the door flew-like a fury arrests his whole attention. By his wide curvature In came Watty's scoldin wife.
Nasty, gude-for-naething being !
Oye snutfy drucken sow! Bringin wife and weans to ruin,
Drinkin here wi' sic a crew! Rise! ye drucken beast o' Bethel !
Drink's your night and day's desire; Rise, this precious hour! or faith I'll
Fling your whisky i' the fire ! Watty heard her tongue unhallowed,
Paid his groat wi' little din,
Flyting a' the road behin'.
Maggy curst them ane and a',
Lost her bauchels! i' the snaw. Hame, at length, she turned the gavel,
Wi' a face as white's a clout, Ragin like a very devil,
Kickin stools and chairs about. “Ye'll sit wi' your limmers round ye
Hang you, sir, I'll be your death! Little hauds my hands, confound you
But I cleave you to the teeth!' Watty, wha, 'midst this oration,
Eyed her whiles, but durst na speais, Sat, like patient Resignation,
Trembling by the ingle-cheek. Sad his wee drap brose he sippet,
(Maggy's tongue gaed like a bell), Quietly to his bed he slippet,
Sighin aften to himsel -
Ilk ane has his ills to dree;
Is nae mortal vexed like me.'
Far in a muir, amang the whirling drift,
What great misfortunes are poured down on some!
Lang, lang I sought and graped for my pack,
Fool that I was! how little did I think
Though a' my friends, and ilka comrade sweet,
Frae that day forth I never inair did weel,
(A Pedlar's Story.]
Ay! thae were days indeed, that gar'd me hope,
Oh, sir, but lasses' words are saft and fair,
Cauld now the winter blew, and deep the snaw For three hale days incessantly did fu’;
Hector MACXEILL (1746-1818) was brought up to a mercantile life, but was unsuccessful in most of his business atlairs. He cultivated in secret an attachment to the muses, which at length brought him fame, though not wealth. In 1789 he published a legendary poem, The Harp, and in 1795 his mural tale, Scotland's Skaith, or the History o' Will and Jean. The object of this production was to depict the evil effects of intemperance. A happy rural pair are reduced to ruin, descending by gradual steps till the husband is obliged to enlist as a soldier, and the wife to beg with her children through the country. The situation of the little ale-house where Will begins his unlucky potations is finely described.
In a howm whose bonny burnie
Whimpering rowed its crystal flood,
Neat and beild a cot-house stood :
Window broads just painted red;
1 Old shoes
Up the gavel-end thick spreading
Crap the clasping ivy green,
Raised a' round a cosey screen.
Joined the burnie's rambling line ; Here it was that Howe the widow
That same day set up her sign. Brattling down the brae, and near its
Bottom, Will first marvelling sees Porter, Ale, and British Spirits,'
Painted bright between twa trees. Godsake, Tam! here's walth for drinking!
Wha can this new-comer be?' ‘Hout,' quo' Tam,' there's drouth in thinking
Let's in, Will, and syne we'll see.'
The rustic friends have a jolly meeting, and do not separate till • 'tween twa and three' next morning.
A weekly club is set up at Maggy Howe's, a newspaper is procured, and poor Will, the hero of the tale, becomes a pot-house politician, and soon goes to ruin. His wife also takes to drinking.
Wha was ance like Willie Gairlace?
Wha in neebouring town or farm ?
Deadly strength was in his arm.
Wha wi' Jeanie could compare ?
But war ony half sae fair?
A’ their youthfu' beauty gane !
Worn to perfect skin and bane!
(Claise and cash and credit out),
Wi' ilk face as white's a clout !
Ilka sheaf selt on the bent ;
Now to pay the laird his rent.
No a friend their cause to plead !
She wi' weans to beg her bread!
Roslin's towers and braes sae bonny!
Craigs and water, woods and glen!
Save the Muses' Hawthornden !
Will (though hardly fit to gang)
Listening to the mavis' sang.
On a fragrant strawberry steep,
Wearied nature drapt asleep.
Gathering, fa' wi' deadly skaith!
Sleep na here, and catch your death.'
Listening to his guide before,
Till they reached the cot-house door.
Decked wi' honeysuckle round;
Deep glens murmuring back the sound.
Dim by gloaming glint to view;
Skies sae red and lift sae blue.
Mother fond and happy wean,
Bleezing on a clean hearthstane.
Here ye’se rest and tak’ your bed
Pale's your cheek sae lately red!"
*Changed, nae doubt, as changed can be ;
Nought o' Willie Gairlace see?'
Glittering in the sunny ray,
Rough blasts came and shook the spray?
Drap when pierced by death mair fleet?
Senseless drap at Willie's feet.
(A' their waes now hushed to rest),
Clasps her Willie to her breast. The simple truth and pathos of descriptions like these appealed to the heart, and soon rendered Macneill's poem universally popular in Scotland. Its moral tendency was also a strong recommendation, and the same causes still operate in procuring readers for the tale, especially in that class best fitted to appreciate its rural beauties and homely pictures, and to receive benefit from the lessons it inculcates. Macneill wrote several Scottish lyrics, but he wanted the true genius for song-writing-the pathos, artlessness, and simple gaiety which should accompany the flow of the music. He published a descriptive poem, entitled The Links of Forth, or a Parting Peep at the Carse of Stirling;
and some prose tales, in which he laments the effect of modern
The little domestic drama is happily wound up: Jeanie obtains a cottage and protection from the Duchess of Buccleuch ; and Will, after losing a leg in battle, returns, placed on Chelsea's bounty,' and finds his wife and family.
Sometimes briskly, sometimes flaggin',
Sometimes helpit, Will gat forth;
Hirpling aye towards the north.
Pondering on his thraward fate,
Willie, heedless, tint his gate.
Sweetly sughed the green aik wood;
Strack the ear wi' thundering thud:
Linties chirped on ilka tree;
Flamed on Roslin's towers sae hie.
change and improvement. The latter years of the poet were spent in comparative comfort at Edin
The Filial Vow. burgh, where he enjoyed the refined and literary Why heaves my mother oft the deep-drawn sigh! society of the Scottish capital till an advanced age.
Why starts the big tear glistening in her eye!
Why oft retire to hide her bursting grief !
Why seeks she not, nor seems to wish relief!
'Tis for my father, rouldering with the dead, Saw ye my wee thing, saw ye my ain thing,
My brother, in bold manhood, lowly laid, Saw ye my true love down on yon lea
And for the pains which age is doomed to bear, Crossed she the meadow yestreen at the gloaming, She heaves the deep-drawn sigh, and drops the secret Sought she the burnie where flowers the haw-tree;
tear. Her hair it is lint-white, her skin it is milk-white, Yes, partly these her gloomy thoughts employ, Dark is the blue of her soft rolling e'e;
But mostly this o'erclouds her every joy; Red, red are her ripe lips, and sweeter than roses, She grieves to think she may be burdensome,
Where could my wee thing wander frae me? Now feeble, old, and tottering to the tomb. I saw nae your wee thing, I saw nae your ain thing, O hear me, Heaven! and record my vow;
Nor saw I your true love down by yon lea; Its non-performance let thy wrath pursue ! But I met my bonnie thing late in the gloaming, I swear, of what thy providence may give,
Down by the burnie where flowers the haw-tree: My mother shall her due maintenance hare. Her hair it was lint-white, her skin it was milk-white, 'Twas hers to guide me through life's early day, Dark was the blue of her soft rolling 'e;
To point out virtue's paths, and lead the way: Red were her ripe lips and sweeter thau roses- Now, while her powers in frigid languor sleep, Sweet were the kisses that she gave to me.
'Tis mine to hand her down life's rugged steep;
With all her little weaknesses to bear,
Attentive, kind, to soothe ber every care.
'Tis nature bids, and truest pleasure tiows She never loved ony till ance she loed me.
From lessening an aged parent's woes. Her name it is Mary, she's frae Castle-Cary,
The filial piety of Tannahill is strikingly apparent Aft has she sat when a bairn on my knee:
from this effusion, but the inferiority of the lines to Fair as your face is, wert fifty times fairer,
any of his Scottish songs shows how little at home Young bragger, she ne'er wad gie kisses to thee.
he was in English. His mother outlived him thirteen It was then your Mary; she's frae Castle-Cary,
It was then your true love I met by the tree;
Sweet were the kisses that she gave to me.
Wild flashed the fire frae his red rolling e'e:
Off went the bonnet, the lint-white locks flee, The belted plaid fa'ing, her white bosom shawing,
Fair stood the loved maid wi' the dark rolling e'e.
Is it my true love here that I see?
I'll never mair wander, dear laddie, frae thee.
ROBERT TANNAHILL, a lyrical poet of a superior order, whose songs rival all but the best of Burns's in popularity, was born in Paisley on the 3d of June 1774. His education was limited, but he was a diligent reader and student. He was early sent to the loom, weaving being the staple trade of Paisley, and continued to follow his occupation in his native
Robert Tannahill. town until his twenty-sixth year, when, with one of his younger brothers, he removed to Lancashire. years. Though Tannahill had occasionally conta There he continued two years, when the declining posed verses from a very early age, it was not till state of his father's health induced him to return. after this time that he attained to anything beyond He arrived in time to receive the dying blessing of mediocrity. Becoming acquainted with Mr R. A. his parent, and a short time afterwards we find him Smith, a musical composer, the poet applied hiniseif writing to a friend— My brother Hugh and I are sedulously to lyrical composition, aided by the enall that now remain at home, with our old mother, couragement and the musical taste of his friend. bending under age and frailty; and but seven years Smith set some of his songs to original and approback, nine of us used to sit at dinner together.' priate airs, and in 1807 the poet ventured on the Hugh married, and the poet was left alone with his publication of a volume of poems and songs, of while widowed mother. On this occasion he adopted a the first impression, consisting of 900 copies, were resolution which he has expressed in the following sold in a few weeks. It is related that in a solitary lines :
walk on one occasion, his musings were interrupted
by the voice of a country girl in an adjoining field So merrily we'll sing, singing by herself a song of his own
As the storm rattles o'er us,
Till the dear shieling ring We'll meet beside the dusky glen, on yon burnside;
Wi' the light lilting chorus. and he used to say he was more pleased at this evidence of his popularity, than at any tribute which
Now the summer 's in prime had ever been paid him. He afterwards contributed
Wi' the flowers richly blooming, some songs to Mr George Thomson's Select Melo- And the wild mountain thyme dies, and exerted himself to procure Irish airs, of
A' the moorlands perfuming; which he was very fond. Whilst delighting all
To our dear native scenes classes of his countrymen with his native songs, the
Let us journey together, poet fell into a state of morbid despondency, aggra
Where glad innocence reigns vated by bodily weakness, and a tendency to con
'Mang the braes o’ Balquhither. sumption. He had prepared a new edition of his poems for the press, and sent the manuscript to Mr
The Braes o' Gleniffer. Constable the publisher ; but it was returned by that Keen blaws the win'o'er the braes o’ Gleniffer, gentleman, in consequence of his having more new
The auld castle turrets are covered with snaw; works on hand than he could undertake that season. This disappointment preyed on the spirits of the How changed frae the time when I met wi' my lover sensitive poet, and his melancholy became deep and
Amang the broom bushes by Stanley green shaw! habitual." He burned all his manuscripts, and sank The wild flowers o' summer were spread a' sae bonnie, into a state of mental derangement. Returning
The mavis sang sweet frae the green birken tree; from a visit to Glasgow on the 17th of May 1810, But far to the camp they hae marched my dear Johnie,
And now it is winter wi' nature and me. the unhappy poet retired to rest; but 'suspicion having been excited, in about an hour afterwards it Then ilk thing around us was blithesome and chcerie, was discovered that he had stolen out unperceived.
Then ilk thing around us was bonnie and braw; Search was made in every direction, and by the Now naething is heard but the wind whistling drearie, dawn of the morning, the coat of the poet was discovered lying at the side of the tunnel of a neigh. The trees are a' bare, and the birds mute and dowie;
And naething is seen but the wide-spreading snaw. bouring brook, pointing out but too surely where
They shake the cauld drift frae their wings as they his body was to be found.'* Tannahill was a modest
flee; and temperate man, devoted to his kindred and And chirp out their plaints, seening wae for my friends, and of unblemished purity and correctness Johnie ; of conduct. His lamentable death arose from no
'Tis winter wi' them, and 'tis winter wi' me. want or irregularity, but was solely caused by that morbid disease of the mind which at length over- Yon cauld sleety cloud skiffs alang the bleak mounthrew his reason. The poems of this ill-starred son tain, of genius are greatly inferior to his songs. They And shakes the dark firs on the steep rocky brae, have all a commonplace artificial character. His While down the deep glen bawls the snaw-flooded lyrics, on the other hand, are rich and original both fountain, in description and sentiment. His diction is copious That murmured sae sweet to my laddie and me. and luxuriant, particularly in describing natural It's no its loud roar on the wintry wind swellin', objects and the peculiar features of the Scottish It's no the cauld blast brings the tear i' my e'e ; landscape. His simplicity is natural and unaffected; For O! gin I saw but my bonnie Scots callan, and though he appears to have possessed a deeper The dark days o' winter were summer to me. sympathy with nature than with the workings of human feeling, or even the passion of love, he is
The Flower o' Dumblane. often tender and pathetic. His "Gloomy winter's now awa' is a beautiful concentration of tenderness The sun has gane down o'er the lofty Benlomond, and melody,
And left the red clouds to preside o’er the scene,
While lanely I stray in the calm summer gloamin, The Bracs o’ Balquhither.
To muse on sweet Jessie, the flower o' Dumblane.
How sweet is the brier, wi' its saft fauldin' blossom ! Let us go, lassie, go,
And sweet is the birk, wi' its mantle o' green ; To the braes o’ Balquhither,
Yet sweeter and fairer, and dear to this bosom, Where the blae-berries grow
Is lovely young Jessie, the flower o' Dumblane. 'Mang the bonnie Highland heather ; Where the deer and the roe,
She's modest as ony, and blithe as she's bonnie;
For guileless simplicity marks her its ain :
And far be the villain, divested of feeling,
Wha'd blight in its bloom the sweet flower o' Dum
Sing on, thou sweet mavis, thy hymn to the e'ening;
Thou’rt dear to the echoes of Calderwood glen :
Sae dear to this bosom, sae artless and winning,
Is charming young Jessie, the flower o’Dumblane.
How lost were my days till I met wi' my Jessie! And return wi' the spoils
The sports o' the city seemed foolish and rain ; To the bower o' my dearie.
I ne'er saw a nymph I would ca' my dear lassie, When the rude wintry win'
Till charmed wi' sweet Jessie, the flower o’ Dum
Though mine were the station o' loftiest grandeur,
Amidst its profusion I'd languish in pain,
And reckon as naething the height o' its splendour, * Memoir prefixed to Tannahill's Works. Glasgow: 1838. If wanting sweet Jessie, the flower o' Dumblane.