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JAMES Beattie, an admired poet and a moralist, priety applied to such a person as he represents, and was born about 1735, in the county of Kincardine, the “ Gothic days" in which he is placed are not hisin Scotland. His father was a small farmer, who, torically to be recognized, yet there is great beauty, though living in indigence, had imbibed so much of both moral and descriptive, in the delineation, and the spirit of his country, that he procured for his son perhaps no writer has managed the Spenserian stanza a literary education, first at a parochial school, and with more dexterity and harmony. The second part then at the college of New Aberdeen, in which he of this poem, which contains the maturer part of the entered as a bursar or exhibitioner. In the intervals education of the young bard, did not appear till 1774, of the sessions, James is supposed to have added to and then left the work a fragment. But whatever his scanty pittance by teaching at a country-school. may be the defects of the Minstrel, it possesses beau. Returning to Aberdeen, he obtained the situation of ties which will secure it a place among the approved assistant to the master of the principal grammar
grammar- productions of the British muse. school, whose daughter he married. From youth he Beattie visited London for the first time in 1771,
had cultivated a talent for poetry; and in 1760 he where he was received with much cordiality by the I ventured to submit the fruit of his studies in this admirers of his writings, who found equal cause to
walk to the public, by a volume of “Original Poems love and esteem the author. Not long afterwards, ! and Translations." They were followed, in 1765, by the degree of LL. D. was conferred on him by his
• The Judgment of Paris ;" and these performances, college at Aberdeen. In 1777 a new edition, by sub! which displayed a familiarity with poetic diction, and scription, was published of his " Essay on Truth,"
harmony of versification, seem to have made him to which were added three Essays on subjects of I favorably known in his neighborhood.
polite literature. In 1783 he published “DisserThe interest of the Earl of Errol acquired for him tations Moral and Critical,” consisting of detached the post of professor of moral philosophy and logic essays, which had formed part of a course of lecin the Marischal College of Aberdeen; in which tures delivered by the author as professor. His last capacity he published a work, entitled “ An Essay on work was “Evidences of the Christian Religion, the Nature and Immutability of Truth, in opposition briefly and plainly stated," 2 vols. 1786. His time to Sophistry and Scepticism," 1770. Being written was now much occupied with the duties of his in a popular manner, it was much read, and gained station, and particularly with the education of his the author many admirers, especially among the most eldest son, a youth of uncommon promise. His distinguished members of the Church of England ; death, of a decline, was a very severe trial of the and, at the suggestion of Lord Mansfield, he was father's fortitude and resignation ; and it was fol. rewarded with a pension of 2001. from the King's lowed some years after by that of his younger son. privy-purse.
These afflictions, with other domestic misfortunes, In 1771 his fame was largely extended by the entirely broke his spirits, and brought him to his first part of his “ Minstrel," a piece the subject of grave at Aberdeen, in August, 1803, in the 68th which is the imagined birth and education of a poet. year of his age. Although the word Minstrel is not with much pro
While from his bending shoulder, decent bux
His harp, the sole companion of his way,
Which to the whistling wind responente rung,
And ever as he went some merry lay be sung OR,
Fret not thyself, thou glittering child of pride, THE PROGRESS OF GENIUS. |That a poor villager inspires my strain;
With thee let Pageantry and Power abide :
The gentle Muses haunt the sylran reign; PREFACE.
Where through wild groves at eve the lovely FRER The design was, to trace the progress of a poetical Enraptur'd roams, to gaze on Nature's charms.
genius, born in a rude age, from the first dawning They hate the sensual, and scorn the rain, of fancy and reason, till that period at which he The parasite their influence never warts, may be supposed capable of appearing in the Nor him whose sordid soul the love of guld n'a world as a Minstrel, that is, as an itinerant poet and musician;-a character which, according to Though richest hues the peacock's plantes aita, the notions of our forefathers, was not only re- Yet horror screams from his discordant throsi spectable but sacred.
Rise, sons of harmony, and hail the mom. I have endeavored to imitate Spenser in the measure While warbling larks on russet pinions float:
of his verse, and in the harmony, simplicity, and Or seek at noon the woodland scene remote, variety of his composition. Antique expressions I Where the grey linnets carol from the hill have avoided ; admitting, however, some old words, O let them ne'er, with artificial note, where they seemed to suit the subject : but I hope To please a tyrant, strain the little bill, none will be found that are now obsolete, or in But sing what Heaven inspires, and wanda te any degree not intelligible to a reader of English
they will poetry. To those who may be disposed to ask, what could Liberal, not lavish, is kind Nature's hand;
induce me to write in so difficult a measure, I can Nor was perfection made for man below.
Nor blame the partial Fates, if they refuse
Know thine own worth, and reverence the lyre.
Wilt thou debase the heart which God refind'
No; let thy heaven-taught soul to Heaven spee Ah! who can tell how hard it is to climb
To fancy, freedom, harmony, resignd; The steep where Fame's proud temple shines asar; Ambition's grovelling crew for ever left behind Ah! who can tell how many a soul sublime Has felt the influence of malignant star,
Canst thou forego the pure ethereal soul And waged with Fortune an eternal war;
In each fine sense so exquisitely keen, Check'd by the scoff of Pride, by Envy's frown, On the dull couch of Luxury to loll, And I'overty's unconquerable bar,
Stung with disease, and stupefied with spleta; In life's low vale remote has pined alone,
Fain to implore the aid of Flattery's screes. Then dropt into the grave, unpitied and unknown! Even from thyself thy lothesome heart to hide,
(The mansion then no more of joy serene.) And yet the languor of inglorious days,
Where fear, distrust, malevolence, abide, Not equally oppressive is to all ;
And impotent desire, and disappointed pride! Him, who ne'er listen'd to the voice of praise, The silence of neglect can ne'er appal.
Jo how canst thou renounce the boundless stone There are, who, deaf to mad Ambition's call, of charms which Nature to her votary Fields Would shrink to hear th' obstreperous trump of The warbling woodland, the resounding shore, Fame ;
The pomp of groves, and garniture of fields; Supremely blest, if to their portion fall
All that the genial ray of morning gilds, Health, competence, and peace. Nor higher aim And all that echoes to the song of even, Had he, whose simple tale these artless lines pro- All that the mountain's sheltering bosomn steek claim.
And all the dread magnificence of Heaven,
O how canst thou renounce, and hope to be worn. The rolls of fame I will not now explore ; Nor need I here describe in learned lay,
These charms shall work thy soul's etemal bedies How forth the Minstrel far'd in days of yore, And love, and gentleness, and joy, impert. Right glad of heart, though homely in array; But these thou must renounce, if lust of wedi Ilis waving locks and beard a! hoary grey : |E'er win its way to thy corrupted heart:
For ah! it poisons like a scorpion's dart ;
But why should I his childish feats display?
Nor cared to mingle in the clamorous fray
Or, where the maze of some bewilder'd stream
To deep untrodden groves his footsteps led, There lived in Goihic days, as legends tell, There would he wander wild, vill Phobus' beam, " A shepherd-swain, a man of low degree ;
Shot from the western cliff, releas d the weary Whose sires, perchance, in Fairy-land might dwell,
team. Sicilian groves, or vales of Aready ; But he, I weer, was of the north countrie;
Th' exploit of strength, dexterity, or speed, A nation fam'd for song, and beauty's charms;
To him nor vanity nor joy could bring. Zealous, yet modest ; innocent, though free; His heart, from cruel sport estranged, would bleed Patient of toil; serene amidst alarms;
To work the woe of any living thing, Intlexible in faith; invincible in arms.
By trap, or net; by arrow, or by sling;
These he detested ; those he scorn'd to wield. The shepherd-swain of whom I mention made,
He wish'd to be the guardian, not the king, On Scotia's mountains fed his little flock;
Tyrant far less, or traitor of the field. The sickle, scythe, or plow, he naver sway'd;
And sure the sylvan reign unbloody joy might yield. An honest heart was almost all his stock; His drink the living water from the rock:
Lo! where the stripling, wrapt in wonder, roves The milky dams supplied his board, and lent
Beneath the precipice o'erbung with pine ; Their kindly Heece to baffle winter's shock;
And sees, on high, amidst th' encircling groves, And he, though oft with dust and sweat besprent,
From cliff to cliff the foaming torrents shune : Did guide and guard their wanderings, wheresoe'er
Per While waters, woods, and winds, in concert join, they went.
And Echo swells the chorus to the skies.
Would Edwin this majestic scene resign From labor health, from health contentment
For aught the huntsman's puny craft supplies?
Ah! no: he beller knows great Nature's charins springs : Contentment opes the source of every joy.
to prize. He envied not, he never thought of, kings;
| And oft he traced the uplands, to survey, Nor from those appetites susiain'd annoy,
When o'er the sky advanc'd the kindling daun, That chance may frustrate, or indulgence cloy :
| The crimson cloud, blue main, and mountain grey, Nor Fate his calm and humble hopes beguiled ;
And lake, dim-gleaming on the smoky lawn: He mourn'd no recreant friend, nor mistress coy,
Far to the west the long, long vale withdrawn, For on his vows the blameless Phæbe smilia,
Where twilight loves to linger for a while ; And her alone he lov'd, and lov'd her from a child.
And now he faintly kens the bounding fawn,
And villager abroad at early toil. No jealousy their dawn of love o'ercast,
But lo! the Sun appears! and heaven, earth, ocean, Nor blasted were their wedded days with strife;
smile. Each season look'd delightful as it past, To the fond husband and the faithful wife.
And oft the craggy cliff he lov'd to climb, Beyond the lowly vale of shepherd-life
When all in mist the world below was lost. They never roam'd ; secure beneath the storm
What dreadful pleasure there to stand sublime, Which in Ambition's lofty land is rise,
Like shipwreck'd mariner on desert coast, Where peace and love are canker'd by the worm
And view th' enormous waste of vapor, tost of pride, each bud of joy industrious to deform.
In billows, length’ning to the horizon round,
Now scoop'd in gulfs, with mountains now emThe wight, whose tale these artless lines unfold,
boss'd! Was all the offspring of this humble pair :
And hear the voice of mirth and song rebound, His birth no oracle or seer foretold ;
Flocks, herds, and waterfalls, along the hoar proNo prodigy appear'd in earih or air,
found ! Nor aught that might a strange event declare. You guess each circumstance of Edwin's birth; In truth he was a strange and wayward wight, The parent's transport, and the parent's care; Fond of each gentle and each dreadful scene. The gossip's prayer for wealth, and wit, and worth ; In darkness, and in storm, be found delight : And one long summer-day of indolence and mirth. Nor less, than when on ocean-wave serene
The southern Sun diffus'd his dazzling sheen And yet poor Edwin was no vulgar boy,
Even sad vicissitude amus'd his soul : Deep thought oft seem'd to fix his infant eye. And if a sigh would sometimes intervene, Dainties he heeded not, nor gaud, nor toy,
And down his cheek a tear of pity roll, Save one short pipe of rudest minstrelsy;
A sigh, a tear, so sweet, he wish'd not to control. Silent when glad ; affectionate, ihough shy; And now his look was most demurely sad;
O ye wild groves, 0 where is now your bloom! And now he laugh'd aloud, yet none knew why. (The Muse interprets thus his tender thought,) The neighbors star'd and sigh'd, yet bless'd the lad: Your flowers, your verdure, and your balmy Some deem'd him wondrous wise, and some be
gloom, lier'd him mad.
Of late so grateful in the hour of drougnt!
Why do the birds, that song and rapture brought See, in the rear of the warm sunny sborat
| And, lo! in the dark east, expanded high, And the dead foliage flies in many a shapeless flake. The rainbow brightens to the setting Sun
Fond fool, that deem'st the streaming glory tri. * Where now the rill, melodious, pure, and cool, How vain the chase thine ardor has begun! And meads, with life, and mirth, and beauty "Tis fled afar, ere half thy purpos'd race be res
crown'd? Ah! see, th' unsightly slime, and sluggish pool, Yet couldst thou learn, that thus it fares wit ger, Have all the solitary vale embrown'd;
When pleasure, wealth, or power, the bosona #um Fled each fair form, and mute each melting sound, This baffled hope might lame thy manboord's na The raven croaks forlorn on naked spray:
And disappointment of her sting disarm. And hark! the river, bursting every mound, But why should foresight thy fond heart alam Down the vale thunders, and with wasteful sway Perish the lore that deadens young desire; Uproots the grove, and rolls the shatter'd rocks Pursue, poor imp, th' imaginary charm, away.
Indulge gay hope, and Fancy's pleasing fire
Fancy and Hope too soon shall of themselve ne “ Yet such the destiny of all on Earth : So flourishes and fades majestic Man.
When the long-sounding curfew from afar Fair is the bud his vernal morn brings forth, Loaded with loud lament the lonely gale, And fostering gales awhile the nursling fan. Young Edwin, lighted by the evening star, O smile, ye Heavens, serene; ye mildews wan, Lingering and listening, wander'd down the role Ye blighting whirlwinds, spare his balmy prime, There would he dream of graves, and curses pie Nor lessen of his life the little span.
| And ghosts that to the charnel-dungeon three, Borne on the swift, though silent, wings of Time, And drag a length of clanking chain, and wil Old age comes on a pace, to ravage all the clime. Till silenc'd by the owl's terrific song.
Or blast that shrieks by fits the shuddering blessing “ And be it so. Let those deplore their doom, Whose hope still grovels in this dark sojourn: Or, when the setting Moon, in crimson dyed But lofty souls, who look beyond the tomb, Hung o'er the dark and melancholy deep, Can smile at Fate, and wonder how they mourn. To haunted stream, remote from man, he bred, Shall Spring to these sad scenes no more return ? Where fays of yore their revels wont to keep; Is yonder wave the Sun's eternal bed ?
And there let Fancy rove at large, till sleep Soon shall the orient with new lustre burn,
A vision brought to his entranced sight. And Spring shall soon her vital influence shed, And first, a wildly-murmuring wind 'gan creep Again attune the grove, again adorn the mead. Shrill to his ringing ear; then tapers bright
With instantaneous gleam, illum'd the vault of a • Shall I be left forgotten in the dust, When Fate, relenting, lets the flower revive ? Anon in view a portal's blazon'd arch Shall Nature's voice, to man alone unjust,
Arose; the trumpet bids the valves unfold: Bid him, though doom'd to perish, hope to live? • And forth an host of little warriors march. Is it for this fair Virtue oft must strive
Grasping the diamond-lance, and targe of gold With disappointment, penury, and pain?
Their look was gentle, their demeanor bold. No: Heaven's immortal Spring shall yet arrive, And green their helms, and green their silk 2009; And man's majestic beauty bloom again,
And here and there, right venerably old. Bright through th' eternal year of Love's triumphant The long-rob'd minstrels wake the warbling att
And some with mellow breath the martial pepe >
spire. This truth sublime his simple sire had laught; In sooth, 'twas almost all the shepherd knew. With merriment, and song, and timbrels clear, No subtle nor superfluous lore he sought,
A troop of dames from myrtle bowers advance Nor ever wish'd his Edwin to pursue.
The little warriors doff the targe and spear, “ Let man's own sphere," said he, “confine his view, And loud enlivening strains provoke the dance. Be man's peculiar work his sole delight."
They meet, they dart away, they wheel askance: And much, and oft, he warn'd him to eschew To right, to left, they thrid the flying maze ; Falsehood and guile, and aye maintain the right, Now bound aloft with vigorous spring, then glance By pleasure unseducd, unaw'd by lawless might. Rapid along : with many-color'd rays
of tapers, gems, and gold, the echoing forests DESDE **** And from the prayer of Want, and plaint of Woe, O never, never turn away thine ear!
The dream is fled. Proud harbinger of day. Forlorn, in this bleak wilderness below,
Who scar'd'st the vision with thy clarion shrul, Ah! what were man, should Heaven refuse to hear? Fell chanticleer! who oft hath reft away To others do (the law is not severe)
My fancied good, and brought substantial ill! What to thyself thou wishest to be done.
O to thy cursed scream, discordant still. Forgive thy foes; and love thy parents dear, Let Harmony aye shut her gentle ear: And friends, and native land ; nor those alone; Thy boastful mirth let jealous rivals spill, All human weal and woe learn thou to make thine Insult thy crest, and glossy pinions tear.
And ever in thy dreams the ruthless for appear.
Forbear, my Muse. Let Love attune thy line. Various and strange was the long-winded tale ;
But who the melodies of morn can tell ?
But when to horror his amazernent rose,
A tale of rural life, a tale of woes,
The orphan-babes, and guardian uncle fierce In the lone valley; echoing far and wide
O cruel! will no pang of pily pierce The clamorous horn along the cliffs above;
That heart, by lust of lucre seard to stone ? The hollow murmur of the ocean-tide;
For sure, if aught of virtue last, or verse, The hum of bees, the linnet's lay of love,
To latest time shall tender souls bemoan And the full choir that wakes the universal grove.
Those hopeless orphan-babes by thy fell arts undone. The cottage-curs at early pilgrim bark ;
Behold, with berries smear'd, with brambles torn, Crown'd with her pail, the tripping milk-maid sings;
The babes now famish'd lay them down to die :
| Amidst the howl of darksome woods forlorn, T'he whistling plowman stalks afield; and, hark! Down the rough slope the ponderous wagon rings;
Folded in one another's arms they lie; Through rustling corn the hare astonish'd springs;
Nor friend, nor stranger, hears their dying cry: Slow tolls the village-clock the drowsy hour;
** For from the town the man returns no more." The partridge bursts away on whirring wings;
But thou, who Heaven's just vengeance dar’st defy, Deep mourns the turtle in sequester'd bower,
This deed with fruitless tears shalt soon deplore, And shrill lark carols clear from her aërial tour.
When Death lays waste thy house, and flames con
sume thy store. O Nature, how in every charm supreme !
A stifled smile of stern vindictive joy Whose votaries feast on raptures ever new!
Brighten'd one moment Edwin's starting tear, O for the voice and fire of seraphim,
" But why should gold man's feeble mind decoy, To sing thy glories with devotion due!
And innocence thus die by doom severe? Blest be the day I 'scaped the wrangling crew,
O Edwin! while thy heart is yet sincere, From Pyrrho's maze, and Epicurus' sty;
Th' assaults of discontent and doubt repel: And held high converse with the godlike few,
Dark even at noontide is our mortal sphere; Who to th' enraptur'd heart, and ear, and eye,
But let us hope ; to doubt is to rebel; Teach beauty, virtue, truth, and love, and melody.
Let us exult in hope, that all shall yet be well. llence! ye who share and stupefy the mind,
Nor be thy generous indignation checkd, Sophists, of beauty, virtue, joy, the bane!
Nor check'd the tender tear to Misery given; Greedy and fell, though impotent and blind,
From Guilt's contagious power shall that protect, Who spread your filthy nets in Truth's fair fane,
This soften and refine the soul for Heaven. And ever ply your venom'd fangs amain!
But dreadful is their doom, whom doubt has driven Hence to dark Error's den, whose rankling slime To censure Fate, and pious Hope forego : First gave you form! llence! lest the Muse should Like yonder blasted boughs by lightning riven. deign,
Perfection, beauty, life, they never know, (Though loth on theme so mean to waste a rhyme.) But frown on all that pass, a monument of woe. With vengeance to pursue your sacrilegious crime.
Shall he, whose birth, maturity, and age, But hail, ye mighty masters of the lay,
Scarce fill the circle of one summer day, Nature's true sons, the friends of man and truth! Shall the poor gnat, with discontent and rage, Whose song, sublimely sweet, serenely gay,
Exclaim that Nature hastens to decay,
If but a momentary shower descend ?
Wide through unnumber'd worlds, and ages without There harmony, and peace, and innocence abide.
Ah me! neglected on the lonesome plain,
One part, one little part, we dimly scan As yet poor Edwin never knew your lore,
Through the dark medium of life's feverish dream; Save when against the winter's drenching rain, Yet dare arraign the whole stupendous plan, And driving snow, the collage shut the door. If but that little part incongruous seem. Then, as instructed by tradition hoar,
Nor is that part, perhaps, what mortals deem; Her legend when the beldame 'gan impart,
Oft from apparent ill our blessings rise. Or chant the old heroic ditty o'er,
O then renounce that impious self-esteem, Wonder and joy ran thrilling to his heart;
That aims to trace the secrets of the skies : Much he the tale admir'd, but more the tuneful art. For thou art but of dust; be humble, and be wise. 102
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