Page images

The Muse exclaimed; but Story now must hide
Her trophies, Fancy crouch ;-the course of pride
Has been diverted, other lessons taught,
That make the Patriot-spirit bow her head
Where the all-conquering Roman feared to tread.

IN THE SOUND OF MULL. TRADITION, be thou mute! Oblivion, throw Thy veil, in mercy, o'er the records hung Round strath and mountain, stamped by the ancient

tongue On rock and ruin darkening as we goSpots where a word, ghost-like, survives to show What crimes from hate, or desperate love have sprung; From honour misconceived, or fancied wrong, What feuds, not quenched, but fed by mutual woe: Yet, though a wild vindictive race, untamed By civil arts and labours of the pen, Could gentleness be scorned by these fierce men, Who, to spread wide the reverence that they claimed For patriarchal occupations, named Yon towering Peaks, ‘Shepherds of Etive Glen.'

We saw, but surely, in the motley crowd,
Not one of us has felt, the far-famed sight;
How could we feel it? each the other's blight,
Hurried and hurrying, volatile and loud.
O for those motions only that invite
The ghost of Fingal to his tuneful cave!
By the breeze entered, and wave after wave
Softly embosoming the timid light!

And by one votary who at will might stand
Gazing, and take into his mind and heart,
With undistracted reverence, the effect
Of those proportions where the almighty hand
That made the worlds, the sovereign Architect,
Has deigned to work as if with human art !


THANKS for the lessons of this spot-fit school
For the presumptuous thoughts that would assign
Mechanic laws to agency divine;
And, measuring heaven by earth, would overrule
Infinite power. The pillared vestibule,
Expanding yet precise, the roof embowed,
Might seem designed to humble man, when proud
Of his best workmanship by plan and tool.
Down-bearing with his whole Atlantic weight
Of tide and tempest on the structure's base,
And flashing upwards to its topmost height,
Ocean has proved its strength, and of its grace
In calms is conscious, finding for its freight
Of softest music some responsive place.

How profitless the relics that we cull,
Troubling the last holds of ambitious Rome,
Unless they chasten fancies that presume
Too high, or idle agitations lull!
Of the world's flatteries if the brain be full,
To have no seat for thought were better doom,
Like this old helmet, or the eyeless skull
Of him who gloried in its nodding plume.
Heaven out of view, our wishes what are they?
Our fond regrets, insatiate in their grasp?
The sage's theory? the poet's lay?
Mere fibulæ without a robe to clasp;
Obsolete lamps, whose light no time recalls;
Urns without ashes, tearless lacrymals!

THE HIGHLAND BROOCH. IF to tradition faith be due, And echoes from old verse speak true, Ere the meek saint, Columba, bore Glad tidings to Iona's shore, No common light of Nature blessed The mountain region of the west, A land where gentle manners ruled O'er men in dauntless virtues schooled, That raised, for centuries, a bar Impervious to the tide of war; Yet peaceful Arts did entrance gain Where haughty Force had striven in vain ; And, mid the works of skilful hands, By wanderers brought from foreign lands And various climes, was not unknown The clasp that fixed the Roman gown; The Fibula, whose shape, I ween, Still in the Highland Brooch is seen, The silver Brooch of massy frame, Worn at the breast of some grave dame On road or path, or at the door Of fern-thatched hut on heathy moor: But delicate of yore its mould, And the material finest gold; As might beseem the fairest fair, Whether she graced the royal chair,

Or shed, within a vaulted hall,
No fancied lustre on the wall
Where shields of mighty heroes hung,
While Fingal heard what Ossian sung.

The heroic age expired-it slept
Deep in its tomb: the bramble crept
O'er Fingal's hearth; the grassy sod
Grew on the floors his sons had trod :
Malvina! where art thou? Their state
The noblest-born must abdicate.
The fairest-while with fire and sword
Come spoilers, horde impelling horde-
Must walk the sorrowing mountains, dressed
By ruder hands in homelier vest.
Yet still the female bosom lent,
And loved to borrow, ornament;
Still was its inner world a place
Reached by the dews of heavenly grace;
Still pity to this last retreat
Clove fondly; to his favourite seat
Love wound its way by soft approach,
Beneath a massier Highland Brooch.

When alternations came of rage Yet fiercer, in a darker age; And feuds, where, clan encountering clan, The weaker perished to a man; For maid and mother, when despair Might else have triumphed, baffling prayer, One small possession lacked not power, Provided in a calmer hour, To meet such need as might befall Roof, raiment, bread, or burial : For woman, even of tears bereft, The hidden silver Brooch was left.

As generations come and go, Their arts, their customs, ebb and flow; Fate, fortune, sweep strong powers away, And, feeble, of themselves decay ; What poor abodes the heirloom hide, In which the castle once took pride! Tokens, once kept as boasted wealth, If saved at all, are saved by stealth, Lo! ships, from seas by nature barred, Mount along ways by man prepared ; And in far-stretching vales, whose streams Seek other seas, their canvas gleams. Lo! busy towns spring up, on coasts Thronged yesterday by airy ghosts; Soon, like a lingering star forlorn Among the novelties of morn, While young delights on old encroach, Will vanish the last Highland Brooch. But when, from out their viewless bed, Like vapours, years have rolled and spread; And this poor verse, and worthier lays, Shall yield no light of love or praise, Then, by the spade, or cleaving plough, Or torrent from the mountain's brow, Or whirlwind, reckless what his might Entombs, or forces into light, Blind chance, a volunteer ally, That oft befriends antiquity, And clears oblivion from reproach, May render back the Highland Brooch.

« PreviousContinue »