To the Memory of my Brother William who died in
Jamaica, November 1801, of a putrid yellow fever, in five days illness.
Composed June 1802.
Here shall remembrance pour the silent tear,
Tho’ death removes thee from this vale of woe,
Accept my friend, accept, if thou canst hear,
’Tis all a brother’s fondness can bestow.
No sullen whims our simple joys
When children lisping round our mother’s knee,
We share her tender kiss, our wished reward,
Or hear her welcome tale with silent glee.
Oft wandering, thoughtless, through the
In rival haste we plait the flow’ry
And wish to know, for sudden fancy moves,
Why shadows lengthen as the sun goes down.
When infant gambols riper years destroy,
And nobler pursuits reason’s care demand,
Parental love survey’d with anxious
Our progress equal as our minds expand.
Alas! Misfortune rears her gloomy shade,
The ties of friendship are asunder torn,
Disjoin’d afar no more we court the glade,
Or plan the pleasures of the coming
For William’s fancy splendid hopes conceives
Of wealth and honors on a foreign shore,
He grasps at empty forms, nor once believes
The fatal danger which my tears deplore.
"Come banish grief and think how short my
"Two lustres finish’d in the Western isles,
"In rapture I’ll return to bless the day
"That crowns our future bliss with fortune’s smiles.
"This beaut’ous fly, with wings of glitt’ring
"Late in its cell a scanty pleasure
"But now complete with pow’rs of new delight,
"It skims the air and sips the balmy dew.
My fancy mournful dwells on Scotia’s shore,
And paints the feelings of our last adieu,
I stood dejected as the billows
My early friend forever from my view.
Propitious breezes swell the trembling sails,
And waft him safely to the destin’d land,
But there, alas, the tragic pest prevails.
He pines in death and strangers round him
As sickness flies, the planters call to arms,
For fierce Maroons their hostile banners wave;
He bravely joins to crush their dire alarms,
But ruthless wounds nigh sink him to the grave.
These dangers past, bright hope renews the
Of coming raptures which no cares invade;
Fallacious hope—again his shatter’d frame
The pest assaults—he sinks among the dead.
Unhappy he, condemn’d to lonely grief;
His pain redoubles as his mind
The merits of his friend, for no relief
Proceeds from soothing voices in their praise.
Perhaps his radiant shade around me flies,
To view the sorrows mortal scenes impart,
O grant bright spirit, if no power
A double portion of thy feeling heart.
That sympathetic heart, whose greatest pride
To sooth the anguish of the sons of woe,
Or gen’rously with smiles thy wealth divide
To mitigate or heal misfortune’s
A fleeting pain the greatest mis’ry ends,
When death relentless hurls at us his dart,
But skilled in woe by cutting off our friends,
A thousand pangs transfix the melting heart.
Low lies his head and cold his heart
My anguish hopeless, still I’m pleas’d to mourn,
Nor like Pericles check the tender tear,
A tribute grateful to the hallow’d urn.
To learn and play of old . . .
The following short poem was written to be recited by
one of the boys at the examination of the School, September 26th, 1801.
After writing it as it stands first I showed to to Mr. C. who, not
approving the way in which the emphasis was placed (tho’ I had
considered that as an advantage), assisted me a little in altering it as
it appears No. 2nd. As delivered by John Robinson. Composed September
1801. Transcribed July 29th, 1802.
To learn and play of old were thought the same,
And Schools erected were for boys to game.
Alas! how chang’d; tho’ some say for the better,
Yet boys have serious doubts about the matter.
But on reflection, certainly I
Great pleasure springs from a well cultur’d mind,
For since I knew the art to read with ease,
In books I find a thousand things to please.
Were our vile lash and tasks too long away,
The School would please us more and look more
Still, learning’s better far than Cutler’s pelf,
And I feel vain to think I’ve some myself,
So you’ll excuse me if I feel elate
Since I know more than crafty Charles the Great,
For this sage king was forc’d to keep a
To write his letters; he but set his mark.
Ev’n Lords and Bishops were so wond’rous gross,
They could not write—they only made a cross.
But I can write a letter, aid apart,
Nor of small critics shall I fear the
With so much learning I can spare a slice,
And if you please I’ll give you good advice.
Alcanor decks with praise his absent friend;
Yet still an ugly "But" these praises rend.
True Friendship shudders at its dire
Then skip this "but" as Horace wise directs.
Parental tenderness, says he with ease,
In children’s faults still something finds to please.
If lame, how like to Lacedemon’s king;
If crooked, from his wit sweet comforts
His head awry, but a renowned Commander
Thus wore his head; he looks like Alexander.
If dull, and all his faculties asleep,
He’s slow, but what he gets he’ll surely keep.
Thus friendship true, when balanc’d in the
Our faults forgets and every merit hails,
For all offended feel when fools pretend
With counsel wise our little faults to mend.
In things like these true friends are always blind,
But ready to command the good they
Thus, when a friend is vain and apt to brag,
He’s called a merry entertaining wag.
If fiery, then you say, of wond’rous merit,
And proves himself a man of noble spirit;
If blunt, and will not Stanhope’s scheme
You say he’s bold, good-natured, and sincere;
Or, if reserv’d and melancholy grave,
You quickly tell how faithful and how brave.
Lovers change with care small faults to beauties;
The very same belongs to friendship’s
Thus, wisdom great sound learning e’er insures,
And through our lives much real bliss procures.
The passions it restrains and guides to truth,
To virtue prompts, and calms e’n giddy youth.
A Task Impos’d by M.E.
The following verses were written as a task impos’d
by M. E. who, not liking the measure, I did not correct them. July 1st,
1801. Transcribed July 29th, 1802.
Pandora from above,
With open box in hand,
Was sent by angry Jove,
His mis’ries to disband.
From out her box she pour’d
Strange griefs till then unfelt,
And all the world immur’d
In wretchedness and guilt.
Thus mankind were bereft
Of ev’ry earthly
Kind hope alone was left
To lengthen their distress.
When Jupiter beheld
The misery of man—
Faint hope, his only
His life, how short a span—
He found his heart relent
At sight of human woe,
And straightway friendship sent
To mitigate the
Hail! harbinger of love,
Thou greatest earthly joy,
For all thy pleasures prove
Most pure without alloy.
Our griefs, our joys, our
What e’er corrodes the heart,
True friendship ever bears
And mollifies the smart.
A friend our care divides
And softens ev’ry
With him our grief subsides,
And all is joy again.
Black envy quickly flies
And leaves no trace behind.
Esteem its place
And nobleness of mind.
That man alone’s our friend,
Who hates the road to vice,
Whose virtue will not bend
To company or
Whose moral sense presides
Vile wishes to withstand,
And all his action guides
By heaven’s just command;
But shun his noxious
Who wickedness approves.
His ways lead straight to death,
And kill the man he loves.
Pure friendships always rest
In truth and honor
When this is not the test,
They’re false and not secure.
A steady friend directs
Along the paths of truth,
And venial faults
If we be still in youth;
If cold declining age
Preys on our vital breath,
A Friend smooths every stage
And blunts the dart of
Thrice happy sure is he
Who finds a friend like this;
Their actions e’er agree
In gaining mutual bliss.
Alas! how many
Their anxious lives in vain
In search of such a friend,
Yet never one obtain.
That man, who forc’d to roam
Far from the charms that
From friendship pure at home,
Its pleasures best can sing.
Perhaps by fate confin’d
Where feelings are despis’d,
Pure sentiment declin’d,
And riches only priz’d,
Here friends he cannot find.
Then grant, eternal Jove,
To bless his feeling mind,
The joys of faithful
A thousand ties combine
Sweet friendship to improve,
And all its charms refine
When mix’d with tender love.
Composed October 1801. Transcribed July 30th, 1802.
At seven just, I lift my head,
What! says Hurry. Still in bed?
You might have had a morning walk,
For hark! the children how they talk.
You’ll hinder breakfast, quickly
A sluggard never gain’d a prize.
Thus sharply rous’d, my vest I
But stopping, turn to look my watch;
What, only seven! Sloth exclaims,
And rising too, my Master
As little ease to any falls,
Why make it less ere business calls;
Or longer from yourself conceal
That lounging’s better than a meal;
Consider, Sir, it’s hardly
And pleasanter to sit at night.
Besides you have three quarters good;
It’s cold and bears dislike the wood.
Up late, and rising early too
Is more than mortal man can
I’m sorry more I can’t relate,
For John broke up the strange debate:
"Sir, breakfast waits," on Sloth I frown,
And bawl, I’m just a coming down.
Good morning, Sir, your eyes are
Perhaps with laying long in bed,
Or rather sitting late at night,
Sir, one or t’other’s surely right.
We drink our tea and munch our toast,
As silent as the Samian
So breakfast ends without a joke,
For where’s the mirth where nothing’s spoke.
I slowly move along to school,
To exercise an irksome rule.
Behold me come to Wilson’s
This morning’s cold! Your lips are sore.
Bit by the frost, I look for rain.
Sit down, Sir? No, I can’t remain.
Your servant, Sir. It’s just my hour.
Ha! here’s a boat, some tidings
For longer stay I lack pretence,
And therefore march to scatter sense.
The School assembl’d, Dic proceeds,
And from the English story reads
How Rosamund, the beauteous
Was, for pure love, to death betray’d;
How stern Dunstan hating evil,
With pincers hot torments the devil,
Old Nick, as all the monks depose,
Roar’d loud while Dunstan burnt his
And swore it prick’d him to the quick,
To lose his nose by such a trick.
Mary comes—"This word?" What gabble,
Silence! bless me! what a rabble!
This sentence, Sir, I can’t
Why Caesar argues might and main,
That souls are mortal—death a sleep
Where man shall neither sing nor weep.
Sir, sense for libra can’t be found.
Tut, man! it means a Roman
Here Nepos gives the Roman praise,
But flatt’ry always must debase.
Sage Atticus was each man’s friend,
If gifts to friendship can pretend.
The vile, ambitious, and the
The learn’d, wretch’d, and the good,
Intreated humbly for his aid,
And always had their wants allay’d;
Time never blasts his cautious aim,
And truth confirms the dastard
Sir, Terence paints a droll disease
Which, trust me, doctors can’t appease.
Phaedria in a passion swore
His mistress’ face to see no more,
Till three whole days were come and
And out of town he quickly went,
These days to kill, apart from harm,
In dullness at his country farm;
But all in vain—he pass’d his house,
Nor knew it more than Madam
And looking round him for repose,
Back straightway to his sweetheart goes.
I’ll thank you, Master, to explain
What Ovid’s florid lines contain.
Bold Jason begs his cunning
To renovate his father’s life;
His wife, submissive, gladly goes
Nine days and nights without repose,
To gather herbs through hill and dale,
Invoke the gods and chant her
Returning thence she fills a pot,
With vervain, hellebore and snot,
With plants cut up by Luna’s light,
Owls’ bills and wings, a sorry sight,
The scales and entrails of a
And eke the gizzard of a rake.
The liver of a stag she takes,
Because his life seven ages makes,
And also adds his head and chin,
With poppy juice to make it thin—
She makes the curious mixture boil,
And stirs it till it’s thick as oil:
Behold she cuts old Aeson’s throat,
Whose senile blood’s too thin to cloat;
His blood run out, the juice she
And notice, Aeson’s young and lives;
As fresh he looks as heretofore,
When twenty-three, tho’ now fourscore.
Alas! we have no doctors nigh
To save us thus, so we must
There Horace, in his usual way,
Instructs with tales like honest Gay:
A Roman had two sons, it seems,
For instance, just like Dic and James;
To each he gives with prudent
Of his estate an equal share.
And feeling Death’s relentless stroke,
Thus briefly to his children spoke:
My dearest Dic, when I survey’d
Your playthings broken and decay’d,
And given to the first you met,
Or lost or stolen without regret:
And you, dear James, with boding fear,
Hide yours in holes with anxious care,
I greatly fear’d that both your
Were ting’d with ills of diff’rent kinds,
Lest Dic should soon a spendthrift turn,
And James with greed of money burn.
But hear a dying sire’s advice,
It’s short yet worth a wond’rous
Your wealth’s enough, ne’er make it less
Nor greater, nor for honor press,
Nor bribe a sycophant for praise,
Nor swell with pride at vulgar gaze,
And if your passions you must
It’s not a crime to fall in love.
Here Tacitus vile wars relates,
And customs of Barbaric states;
How ladies of true German blood,
To friends while fighting handed
Urg’d them to fight with might and main,
And die, or victory obtain;
How if their scars are all before,
They chant their praise from shore to shore;
But when base wounds deform their
They wish them stretched forth on racks.
A truce—the writing’s now begun.
Be silent! What! Already done?
Thus hold the pen; what shabby stuff—
Your paper’s spoil’d from rolling
Home now I run with eager speed,
Burnet’s copious tracts to read,
But feeling soon my thoughts adrift,
I seek a little ease from Swift,
His wit my spirits soon
When, Dinner Sir, John loudly bawls:
I run with more than usual pace,
But not in time to hear the grace.
A second time the School collects,
To lessen still the soul’s
When James reads from the Mantuan Bard
That death was Turnus’ love reward;
And also, that the Latian Maid
Intreats to have her lover staid—
I bid him stop, for
The ladies mock the pains they raise.
I’ve laboured Sir, with all my might,
And yet the woman’s eggs aren’t right.
Th’ingredients of the cake are found,
Of honey just a Grecian
I’ve made the angles and the lines,
Then look the table for the sines.
Come all, to Geography attend,
And mark how far the states extend.
Behold, the Globe before you
With all its mountains, seas and lands;
We prove it round as cup or ball,
For valiant Drake sail’d round it all.
Of course the ancients call’d in vain
This earth a wide extended
On Atlas’ shoulders made to poise
Who firmly stood on the tortoise.
Nor can we trust the silly monk,
Who said Geographers were drunk
To think the earth e’er chang’d her
And thank’d the Lord for special grace,
By which he prov’d it like a table,
Square, well-jointed—rough but stable.
The steady change of night and day,
He solv’d, he said, the truest
A mountain rises near the lines
Round which the Sun forever shines:
When he’s behind we pine in night,
And when before we roll in light!
But Galileo soon
These notions crude and idle dreams,
And made the bigots fiercely stare,
On telling that our earth’s a sphere,
And that it mov’d by heaven’s will,
While Sol himself stood nearly
One motion gives us day and night,
And one the various year’s delight.
He also taught the sun was greater
Than mother earth with all her matter,
And that the moon was little
Than terra’s half on which which we press.
The nations heard him with amaze,
The monks and bishops wildly gaze;
The Pope himself by Mary swore
Such lies were never broached
And calls a council to consign
This heretic to wrath divine.
The council met—the Pope arose,
And groaning humbly rends his clothes,
Then praying much for Peter’s
Proceeds to state this impious case.
"My dearest friends, these latter times,
"The Scripture says, shall reek with crimes,
"But what vile sins so mar the flock,
"As those from an heretic
"Vile doctrines have been often taught,
"With horrible damnation fraught,
"But Galileo now essays,
"To make us disbelieve our eyes;
"The sun, he says, does hardly
"An arrant lie as all can prove,
"And also that he’s ten times greater
"Than mother earth with all her matter;
"Tho’ ev’ry man can see with ease
"He’s little larger than a
"The moon, this heretic maintains,
"Great mountains, seas, and dens contains,
"Yet we can see, with half an eye,
"She’s smaller than a pastry pye.
"He also says the earth runs
"But who e’er tumbled off the ground.
"Such blasphemies at once convict
"This man an impious heretic,
"We, therefore, by our pow’r divine,
"His body to the flames
"His soul, where fire and brimstone rain,
"Shall share in Satan’s horrid pain,
"Unless he instantly recants,
"And humbly with contrition pants;
"Our mercy then may pardon
"And teach him in the truth to live.
Our sage no martyr courage vaunts,
And therefore hastily recants.
I now return from this digression
To mark the subject of your
My pupils yawn and cry alack,
No end appearing to my clack,
When Hannah sees their dismal case,
And quickly says with smiling face:
This word I can’t perceive for
The Rambler’s speaking there of oats,
Their meaning Sir? Tut, worse and worse!
He calls them food for Scotch and horse.
But taking Johnson’s sense amiss,
I turn, and bid the school
At tea the children’s harmless prattle
Please us more than gossip tattle,
Or if our humour must have vent,
It’s instantly on authors spent;
Dull Gillies’ milk-and-water
Mad Heron’s undiscerning file,
Delighting each in periods dark,
Afford us room for much remark;
Or if we’re in a merrier mood,
We treat ourselves with better
Scriblerus, Dryden, Swift or Pope,
Forbid our brighten’d souls to mope.
But if it happen that we dream,
Of glory and the Grecian name,
Great Homer sanctifies our
Sublimely bright in ev’ry page.
The children cry; my books I seek,
Some hours to kill with musty Greek,
Or mathematics deep but rare,
Withdraw my soul from eating
This done, I read a page of Locke,
Or dullness’ sleepy pow’rs invoke
To purify my plaguy rhymes,
And mark me for her own betimes.
Anon! my mind to nought
But only thinks of absent friends.
One o’clock, the sentry cries,
Then whispers Prudence, save your eyes;
Inclining this advice to keep,
I shut my books to go to
Stop, Conscience cries, with tone severe,
And first your day’s exploits declare.
By dealing out some mental food,
I think I’ve done some little good;
And to sin, I lack’d
Who does ill without temptation?
Breathing this I quench the taper,
Convinc’d that human life’s a vapour.
Composed January 1802.
Persius sleeps while vice o’erwhelms the land,
And Church and State obey its vile command.
Yet once she could, tho’ liberty was gone,
Attack the cruel Nero on his throne.
The tryant feared, tho’ powerful as his
And, shamed for once, revered the Poet’s rod.
No tyrant reigns to fill my soul with rage.
Our Monarch’s virtues every heart engage.
Let Kings alone and learning’s sons expose;
By Decius guided, all their tricks
His lash resounds along the anglian shore,
And Sages blush who never blush’t before.
Priapus vile trumps up a mean excuse,
And Lewis’ monk stands frightened at the muse.
The Sophists shrink and mourn their quick
Gnash o’er their wounds, and curse the light of day.
These Northern climes an equal scourge demands
Our schools to purge and smooth our doctor bands.
Shall I bespatter Priestley’s glorious name,
Or blast with envy Parr’s extending
Shall I the Popish liberty oppose,
And all the fire of bigotry disclose?
Shall I presume the wretched to oppress,
Or forge new chains for priests in dire distress?
What! shall we sleep when danger seems so
Desert our posts, and from the contest fly,
Remove the tests, and all the laws reject,
Which guard the Church and holy rights protect?
Give Priests and Popes again an equal sway,
Then mental glooms shall darken learning’s
Good sense will fly and only leave the dross:
A dastard soul, the ros’ry, and the cross.
Then shall we cringe and shave our empty heads,
Confess our sins, and count our sacred beads.
Glorious truth disdains such foes to
A thousand barriers guard her sacred head.
When once she’s known, no sophistry avails;
Falsehood shrinks and liberty prevails.
No more of tests—poor bishops and the Pope,
Of Scottish learning give the humble
Learning’s pursuits in these Northern climes
Deserve a keener pen to mark their crimes.
Dull Heron1 first, but confident and vain,
A critic great with "clouda" in a train.
Next Stewart2 with boldness muds his master’s
And Gloomy Erskine3 chocks the sacred flame.
Thomas4 gapes and writes a dedication,
Mansfield yawns but gives the presentation;
Tho’ nonsense all, the fool must have some food,
And Mansfield swears it’s for the public
"By Jove!" cries Rothram5 squinting at his legs,
"Fresh snow in puddings far excels good eggs."
"Cheap sermons!" Pedlars cry with eager will,
"A penny each, composed by Dr. Hill."6
E’n Leland’s arguments no more
But waddle slow Brown,7 hanging at their tail.
Your rage restrain. From grave divines forbear
truth alone, disdaining fear.
No praise at all?
willingly when due.
See Campbell8—learned, deep and often new—
But yet for him no Eulogist is born,
By Keith9 and Brown, how strangely marr’d and torn.
Reid10 soars on high, resplendent as a star,
And critics chock their spleen to praise Dunbar.11
Sagacious Smith12 immortal fame
And learned Leechman13 bigotry enchains.
E’n Home,14 tho’ rough, deserves a lasting name,
And Blair15 who skims from other’s milk the cream.
Gibbon16 and Hume true history refined,
And Robertson pursues them close
This pleases well were not these sages dead.
It’s easiest, friend, to praise a silent shade.
Envy sleeps and truth directs the reins,
No prejudice corrupts or voice restrains.
In active Hunter17 taste and learning
Gleig18 grasps his notes and hastens to purloin.
For works of merit, McKay19 claims our praise,
And Hamilton20 who shuns the public gaze.
Adam’s21 plodding mind deserves applause,
And Ferguson,22 tho’ dull’s in virtue’s
But hark how Decius, with an awful smile,
Condemns th’ impious boastings of Carlisle.23
At Robison’s24 box ten thousand sceptics sneer,
And laugh at Hunter’s25 holy wrath and fear.
Sweet Davidson26 with holy fits oft
Not very pure but bless’d are sinning saints.
McPherson27 blusters loud with awkward skill
That he knows Greek as well as Harry Hill,28
While Rory29 used to cry, "These notes aren’t
"No wonder, Sir, they’re wrote these forty
Still these are prais’d—
is Proteus Burke.
Thousands praise Suwarrov and the Turk.
As Gilpin did, when riding post to Ware,
So Garnet30 works to make the people stare;
And Copland,31 busy with his puppet
A thousand treats will willingly forego.
Falstaff32 at length in Study finds no fun,
But strangely smells a dinner or a pun.
Dry Scot,33 with care, a mountebank attends
And on his class the Doctor wit
Young Beattie’s34 in a rage: "A switch! Aswitch!"
But patience lost, he kicks his pupil’s breech.
Oglivie35 well-flannelled to the classes crawls,
And teaches by impenetrable scrawls.
Here Cook36 mad anger teaches to
But pinch his toe, he’ll turn and damn your soul.
Such are the men employed to train our youth
Through learning’s paths to dignity and truth.
From these I turn to Burns’37 immortal
And Blacklock38 blind, illum’d by heaven’s
Sweet Ramsay, shepherd, ne’r shall be forgot,
Nor Ferguson’s39 unhappy transient lot.
Ah’! had not these been born in dastard times,
Their praise had prospered better than in rhimes.
Their Country’s glory, honoured by the
A thousand joys had gladdened their retreat,
But now it’s plain all principles are lost,
For some of base corruption make a boast.
Dundass40 becomes a baron and resigns
His bosom friends elected.
His noble race had long the city serv’d,
And always had their sacred rights preserv’d.
Curst Avarice eats up all taste and
And leaves the show of truth a mere pretence.
Where shall we find the true and generous
Free from the chains of interest’s base control?
The cit, the soldier, courtier, Duke, or Lord,
For cash turn pedlar, liar, pimp, or coward.
Even Sacred Priests want dignity and sense
And for the great become a sure defence.
Gleig41 mad with greed in pushing for the prize
The nation cheats and nearly cheats his eyes.
But Couts42 a parish gets with holy guile,
His craft concealing with a siren smile.
Great Hill43 with seeming fervour feeds his
But feels more zeal as Harry’s weather cock.
Wise Martin44 rides to town to see a bear,
And when returned makes all the people stare.
Twelve miles the Dr. rode the town to gain
And swore ’twas as much back but swore in
Tho’ some sage Priests45 have lately
charmed the nation
With lust of power and pleasant fornication,
How many still with sacred ardour glow,
And all the virtues of the Christian show?
O were they learned, liberal, and
The good would love them and the vile revere,
But all at present see with deep regret
The greater part become the tools of state.
The heedless minister a war proclaims.
A thousand preachers46 join to feed its
The pulpits "war" resound from shore to shore,
And on our foes a thousand ills implore.
And can you still their private virtues boast
When even here all purity is lost?
Let him who likes to hear a smutty
Attend with care the Presb’try feast;
No converse there concerning classic lore,
Or how they may religious truths restore.
Each priest of Session business puts a case,47
And tells of children gotten, time, and
How oft they sinned and things which to rehearse
Would cloy the Monk and shame Rochester’s verse.
But these are venial sins which only prove
A want of sense which wisdom may remove.
They sink not deep—
deep! These Siren
Ten thousands sink and fix in Satan’s toils.
But other crimes still worse the Clergy stain—
Vile Avarice which nothing can restrain.
They curse the honest zeal of former days
When Knox triumphant gain’d immortal
Expell’d the Bishops, and expos’d their crimes,
And drove proud prelacy to foreign climes.
They sneer at holy warmth in sacred things,
And taste the fleeting joys that pleasure brings.
They wish to be the sons of good St.
That every aching head might hope a Mitre.
Let Arnot48 tell, that holy wise director,
(Oft have I yawn’d at his dull tedious lecture)
The honest zeal with which he durst maintain
That Godliness will prove the greatest
"The present life in virtue should be spent;
With food and raiment always be content."
This much aloud, but thinking none could hear
He mutters low a more expressive prayer:
"O Holy Father, teach me ay to
In pristine faith, our holy Kirk my guide.
Direct my steps from beggary, noise, and strife.
Grant two good kirks, a bursary, and a wife.
And since great learning often makes us proud,
I seek not more, O Lord, than’s for my
All was granted, but the wicked burse,
Great care apart, had turn’d a woeful curse.
His second Kirk, I thought, some noise had made.
Yes lib’ral Bell49 essay’d to stop
But all in vain. The holy court
That Arnot’s wants a double portion need.
The Regents quickly view the curés around
With eager care and each a fit one found.
The Country Parsons, too, with greed embrace
The golden dreams presented by this
But Bell, undaunted, next the Synod tries,
Where Arnot50 still retains his precious prize,
Cajoles with cakes his friends, the Cupar Cattle,
Who bow submissive, as he shakes the rattle.
For Crawford, wiser by experience
Disdains a word of Simony to own.
The cause is good, the Priests declare with ire.
Avarice is not sin—
Paul’s a liar.
But what of Bell?
With joy to next assembly sends the
This council meets; the motion’s made with speed.
Shall Avarice be pasted to the creed?
Hill51 rising first, demures with look profound.
His troops obsequious marshall quickly round,
To vote still ready e’er they know the
Doubtless right when under such direction.
Thrice he bows, then strokes his alban beard,
Admires his pow’rs and stretches forth the hand:
"When all the duties of the cures are done
"A man may have two cures as well as
"Besides, the labourer’s worthy of his hire,
"As Paul expressly tells, by heaven’s desire.
Brown52 quick retorts: "This speech does naught imply.
Our holy Kirk condemns Monopoly."
Arnot53 next his interest points the
Declares how happy for the widow’s scheme.
McCulloch,54 dull but fill’d with honest zeal
To fight and wrestle for the public weal,
Averred that Priests should never work for gain,
But like their Lord from Avarice
Audacious Cook55 discharged a stupid pun,
For every other argument was done:
"It’s only Bishops Paul’s commands restrain,
So Presbyters may freely seek for gain."
Here Boggie56 rising, sucks a sugar
And cries: "The day of judgment soon must come!"
Now Hunter57 bellows with a woeful groan
(Moncrief58 and Johnstone catch the holy moan):
"Vile Antichrist o’erflows this wicked land
The Kirk to crush and all her friends
Else why could things like these become a question
That many curés should fall to one’s direction?"
Hill sits in pain and whispers for the vote.
His troops with glee re-echo back the note.
The question’s put. Many Kirks are
The herd decree: "As many as you can."
Lest in the language wags perceive a flaw,
The Clerk the motion reads, now turn’d to law:
"This house decrees, by Jesus’ holy name,
"That thirst for gain is neither sin nor
"And charges all the priests to add this brief,
"A new appendage to their old belief,
"And from their pulpits warn the flocks they feed
"That thirst for gain is sanction’d by the creed.
The Kirk must sink since all her virtue’s
And [worldly] care usurps religion’s throne.
She’s sunk already. Ask sage Rowland Hill,59
Ewen sincere, and Rate with fleshly will.
For captains rough and cobblers pulpits reach
And canting sailors hold their quids and
"Shall we through foreign countries seek to roam
When infidels appear so thick at home.
From this the faith of Christ hath taken flight
And thousands die in want of holy light."
Priests cry: "With works and patience run the
And none proclaim the gift of special grace."
Thus, lowly Halden,60 Ewen nods assent
And adds with many sighs of deep portent:
"Let saints be taught to preach the gospel free
To young and old of high or low
Greek let them know, but banish Latin vile.
It’s most profane and hides the Devil’s guile.
When versed in Greek, we’ll give the saints embrace,
Conferring power and gifts of holy grace.
Each county then a brother shall
To snatch the blind from out the Devil’s hand.
Some younger friends shall hang upon his nod,
To run with aid and do the work of God.
The people soon, their sacred int’rests view’d,
Shall seek with mighty grace to be renew’d,
And Moral works shall lose their tinsel praise,
While faith and grace a Ghostly people raise."
Of these enough lest, falling in the lurch,
You honor them as much as Mother Church.
The virtuous scorn to wrong their holy
Or, like the Kirk, bespatter them with lies.
Yet, let us hope our Godly Kirk may mend.
To screen her faults, I never will contend,
But truth enjoins us honestly to prize
The useful work just finished e’re she
Opium to make let Chemists try no more,
Or Merchants bring it from the Eastern shore.
It grows at home! Vain Sinclair61 can account
Eternal doses from his static fount.
Sweet eloquence adorns every
And proves the copious learning of the age.
Fine tropes and figures vie with blooming grace;
Rocks, streams o’erhang and threaten an embrace.62
Who reads it all deserves a cat call,
Nor taste nor sense shall ever spoil his
This dialogue was written merely for amusement. I am
sensible, however, that a poem executed on the same plan would do great
service to Scotland by exposing the avarice of many of the Clergy and
the supine negligence of the greater number of Professors. This attempt
is not finished with any skill nor is the writer perhaps equal to the
undertaking; at any rate, where he is at present, the proper materials
cannot be procured. The plan of the work might be nearly the same as
that adopted by the author of The Pursuits of Literature:
preliminary dissertations, poetry and notes.
The first dissertation might
delineate the simplicity of the original Christians, the opinions
against double charges—all in English, few of the Clergymen retaining
any Greek after they leave College—after which it should point out the
peculiar Constitution of the church of Scotland and her avowed hostility
to the multiplicity of charges, concluding with the reasons which should
produce a more than ordinary circumspection among the Clergy from the
peculiar aspect of the present times. Should a second dialogue be
thought necessary, for which there is abundance of matter, it might be
ushered in with a review of the present state of the church: the
history, private views, and piety of the two factions into which she is
divided. It would be proper in the Dialogue to teach the whole secret of
composing a sermon for public exhortation, for at home they are easily
made, few of the ministers being ignorant of the great secret of
exhortation which a Clergyman of talents told me is a never failing
resource in time of Need. The numerous plagiarisms in the sermons
published become an excellent fund of legitimate censure but it is
impossible for me at present to avail myself of it. There is still room
for a third dissertation different from both the former, containing the
various methods of retaining the character of learned after the little
we have acquired at College is dissipated, with a sure and infallible
receipt for manufacturing a sermon without fear of criticism or the
trouble of thought.
The conversation is carried
on by Persisus and Cornutus. The idea is entirely borrowed from The
Pursuits of Literature, a work which I esteem very highly tho’ I
do not approve all the opinions it contains. Priestley deserves so well
of the republic of letters as shields him from the unlimited censure he
receives in that work. Nor can I think that any person who reads
Priestley’s publication can abstain from respecting him even when he
differs in sentiments. The fame which is so generally bestowed on Dr.
Parr might have induced this rigid Censor to have used him a little
better. These, however, are but small matters and tho’ I may often
differ from his decisions of praise and censure, the work on the whole
speaks a man of great erudition and considerable poetical powers. There
is one thing in which I cannot concur; his virulent attack on the
Papists is unmerited and I am perfectly convinced that there is not the
smallest danger to be apprehended from them. And I gladly embrace this
opportunity of joining any note of praise to Mr. Pitt for his exertion
in their favour which I do the more willingly as I am not disposed to
approve many of his other measures. When we consider the small extent
and fewness of the inhabitants of Scotland we must admit that it
furnishes its full proportion of learned men; nevertheless it does not
afford a field half as splendid as that of England.
These lines exhibit (as I think) a very accurate
account of this gentleman whose writings disgust everyone who reads
them merely from their vanity—in other respects they are sometimes
worth the perusal. For the word "Clouda" I refer to a
curious project of reforming the English language published in Letters
on Literature by Mr. Pilkerton. All efforts to render our
language more excellent are laudable when temperate but surely Mr.
Heron will pardon me (when he recollects his own criticisms) for
thinking his attempt impracticable and absurd. There are some of
these letters good . . . [back]
Professors publishing lectures on subjects pretty
much exhausted and well known are sure to give offence by
repetitions, quotations, and prolixity. Mr. Stewart could say little
new after Reid his great Master. The whole cannot be perhaps justly
styled a compilation but the original observations are certainly
few. It is in vain for Professors to tell us that they retain the
form of lectures for the ease of their pupils and beg the indulgence
of the public for collecting the best materials from all quarters.
What in the name of wonder have we to do with compilations when we
may have recourse to the originals. [back]
I have not the dull volume of sermons published
by Dr. Erskine at hand or I might have proved the criticism by an
hundred specimens. The doctrine they contain is calculated to do
much harm, not that it is contrary to the confession (one page of
which is fire and the next moderation) but there are certain topics—grace,
faith etc.— which should not be too often preached or published,
and when they are, a greater attention should be paid to practice
than Mr. Erskine pays. For whenever a man takes it in his head that
he is absolutely in a state of Grace he is not far removed from
madness or the Devil. [back]
This is the author of a volume of miserable
letters written to prove that the people of this country have no
rights because their ancestors gave them up, and that more frequent
elections would ruin the nation with expence—perhaps bribery. This
pitiful production betrays a gross ignorance of the laws and
constitution, and I should not have mentioned it all but for the
opportunity it affords me of congratulating Mr. Thomas on his
procuring a living by his seasonable publication whatever nonsense
it contains. [back]
This little Dr. is a great curiosity and well
known among medical students for his diligence in editing many books
on Physic. The remarks he subjoins in the form of Notes are deep and
profound and they explain difficulties which nobody but the Dr. ever
discovered. By foisting in a great number of formulae extracted from
the Pharmacopoeia, an additional volume is composed by which
something handsome reverted to this man of ingenuity. The Dr.’s
famous discovery of this property of snow deserves to be recorded
that he may have the honor of being acknowledged the inventor, the
more particularly as many cooks and scullions assert with great
audacity that it was known long before. But who will credit them
when the Dr. avers that he himself is the only original discoverer.
Indeed, he has been allowed that honor by almost all the periodical
publications tho’ I believe not before in rhime. This just tribute
will be more than an equivalent for some reviling housewives who,
having spoiled their puddings, blame the Dr. as an imposter. As this
book will go down to future ages, I should be sorry to omit such an
opportunity of relating some other wonderful things of this
extraordinary personage. Let us no longer be told of the diligence
of the old Philosophers and their address in communicating
instruction, for they were only able to draw the attention of young
men. But John Rotheram M.D., Surgeon, Professor of Natural
Philosophy, Chemist, Pharmacopeist, Apothecary, Editor of 29
publications (few of which he understood), and elder of the Kirk of
Scotland, has given several different lectures on Natural Philosophy
in an assembly room to the grand edification of the Ladies who
forsook the dance to catch the words of the Dr. distilling from his
lips as honey from the comb. The Dr. travelling in England saw a
huge stove the weight of which he wished to discover, and after much
thought he invented the following method: he measured the dimensions
of the stove as exactly as possible. He then broke off a small piece
of two solid inches and by proportion found the weight of the great
stove and all this without moving it off the ground !!!!! I might
mention several other remarkable discoveries the Dr. has made but I
am afraid of drawing upon him the envy of his contemporaries. [back]
This Gentleman stands at the head of the ruling
faction in the Church. He is master of considerable address, some
abilities and perhaps some eloquence—he is a popular preacher but
he should never publish. The fame he gets in the pulpit is lost in
the closet; it is seldom that any of his sermons are worth the
perusal. More of the Dr. farther on. [back]
No person can entertain a greater respect for Dr.
W.L.B. than I, but it cannot be concealed that the appendix he has
written to Leland’s view is done in a very careless manner and not
by any means such as the Dr. commonly writes. It is difficult to
pardon a man of abilities for negligence in a work of so much
importance but I only mention this G[entleman] here whom I respect
very highly to put him in mind that hasty publications are hurtful. [back]
Dr. Campbell is a name that ought to be well
known to Divines and critics. He sits in the Divinity chair of
Marischal College, Aberdeen and will be long remembered with regret
by a great number of the most respectable clergymen in the church,
for I do not hesitate a moment to assert that Aberdeen and the
adjacent counties can produce a greater proportion of liberal
ministers all brought up under his care than any equal number of
counties in Scotland. The Dr. acquired much reputation by his
treatise on miracles which yields to no publication on the same
subject in acuteness and solidity. It is even reported that Mr. Hume
against whom it was expressly written considered it as a masterly
production. In England it has long been the custom to decry Scotch
publication on any subject, particularly those on Theology; hence it
was some time before the Translation of the Gospels, Campbell’s
greatest work, was appreciated according to its great merit. Of all
his productions I prefer his Philosophy of Rhetoric, a book
too much neglected tho’ containing many profound original
observations on many difficult subjects; many works of much less
merit have been praised to the stars by our monthly tribunes. [back]
George Skene Keith, minister of Keithhall 15
miles from Aberdeen, well known through all Scotland, used to go to
Edinburgh from Keithhall in 2 days—120 miles. He published a
volume of sermons many years ago. They contain some rays but
scattered over a vast surface. He is excessively prolix in sermons
and discourse. I have heard him talk a whole Synod almost to death.
He is the Editor of Dr. C’s posthumous works, remarks on Church
history etc., with an account of his life and writings. I wish the
Dr. had fallen into better hands, not that George is altogether
unequal to the task but he is always in an hurry— it’s one
thing, says Tacitus, to be in haste and another thing to be in an
hurry; the consequence is that he never finishes properly and does
everything ill. I wish he would show some pity on his poor hearers
when he preaches in Aberdeen by cutting away half the usual length
of his sermon giving us less doctrine and more practice. Justice
prompts me to remark that he possesses great knowledge of
agriculture and distilling and is indefatigable in trying
experiments. He was called up to London to give his opinion on some
of these subjects, and when he was desired to give in an account of
the expence of his journey George, like a primitive Christian, gave
in a statement amounting to 50 pounds, a sum hardly sufficient to
defray the most necessary expences. He is an open hearted generous
man, and if less fond of popular applause and talking we should have
little reason to regret his moderate literary attainments. He will
not easily suspect the writer of this note. Brown is a man of
talents (see note 7th) and preached Dr. Campbell’s funeral sermon
but not having been long acquainted and having perhaps never read
his works or finding panegyric a dry subject he made a very meagre
Dr. Reid’s works stand high in the literary
world; my note of praise can add nothing to their merit. I shall,
therefore, only notice that the amiableness of his private life was
as great as his abilities were splendid. He lived to see his 87th
year in the full possession of all his faculties, and could talk
even within a few weeks of his death on mathematics and metaphysics
with the same vigour and good sense as ever. [back]
Dr. Dunbar, lately professor of Philosophy, King’s
College Aberdeen, dead some years. He published Essays on Man
from which everybody steals and nobody acknowledges. These essays
contain many excellent observations. The Dr. was an enemy to all low
university policy and opposed their mean tricks. [back]
Adam Smith, author of The Wealth of Nations,
a book of acknowledged merit. The same may be said for his Theory
of Moral Sentiment. [back]
Leechman has the merit of being almost the first
Scotchman who wrote good sermons. His liberality was attacked by his
presbytery, the most furiously bigotted in Scotland, and it was with
some difficulty he escaped them. It is well known or should be known
that Glasgow is a nest of fanatics of whom the established Clergy
take the lead. They contended with the sectaries who would preach
and cant the longest but the Sectaries gave out to the great joy of
the Ghostly Brethren. [back]
The different works of Lord Kaim’s are much
read but not more than they deserve. I prefer his sketches for,
altho’ the stile is often loose and inaccurate and smells too much
of the law, one has the satisfaction of always meeting with
something new. [back]
The sale of Dr. Blair’s works, particularly his
sermons, has been so rapid and unprecedented that it seems almost
dangerous to make any objection, but he that shall go to these
sermons in quest of anything new will find himself disappointed if
his reading has been but moderately extensive. The observations are
just and the stile clear and simple, but they want that force and
energy which should always distinguish the productions of the
pulpit. They may be read with advantage in the closet but should
never be carried to the pulpit or followed with slavish imitation. [back]
These three historians are an honor to our
Dr. Hunter, Professor of Humanity, St. Andrew’s.
A Gentleman of great learning, he is just now publishing an edition
of the classics almost immaculate. The text refers to a shameful
transaction which should be recorded. Dr. Hunter is eminently
skilled in grammar and had made many valuable discoveries on that
subject which he was accustomed to deliver in lectures to his class.
Of these some of his pupils took notes and Gleig (who was publishing
the dictionary of arts and sciences) got a copy which he published
under the article "Grammar." A transaction so shameful has
seldom come under public observation. But whoever looks at the
immense pile of trash foisted into the Encyclopedia by this editor
will perceive that he is well acquainted with the art of
book-making. I wonder Dr. Hunter did not punish such rascality with
all the severity of the law. [back]
Gleig—Editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica, a
dissenting clergyman, Stirling. See last note and farther on. [back]
Dr. McKay, a gentleman of much merit by his own
industry without the advantages of a liberal education, has become
an excellent mathematician. He wrote several articles in the
Encyclopedia for which Gleig gave him but a scanty reward, getting
only 20 guineas for the article "Navigation," one of the
very best written treatises in the whole book. Dr. McKay teaches
mathematics in Aberdeen. He deserves the most liberal encouragement.
Dr. Hamilton, Professor of mathematics, Marischal
College, Aberdeen, is well known to the public by his excellent Introduction
to Merchandize, a book that should be placed on the shelf of
every compting house. The Dr. is become completely absorbed in
mathematical speculation. He knows everything so well himself that
he thinks the boys should know it almost intuitively; the
consequence is that he makes but an indifferent teacher and never
has above one or two good Scholars in each class. [back]
I lament that Dr. Adams in his Roman
Antiquities did not endeavour to make his book a little more
entertaining. It is a much superior performance to Kennet yet it
will not be so often sold or read. His antient Geography is a very
valuable work and we anxiouly expect his Latin Dictionary. [back]
Dr. Ferguson’s Essay on Civil Society
will be always read with profit and delight but his History of
the Roman Republic is the dullest historical
work I ever read, unless perhaps Gillies’ History of
Greece. Gillies and Ferguson should join hands. I refer them
to The Pursuits of Literature. [back]
It was customary for the antients to resolve all
virtue into patriotism and to consider patriotism as a sufficient
excuse for the commission of the greatest crimes. With the Romans
virtue and bravery meant the same thing. Mahomet promised that the
gates of paradise should be opened for all those who fell in battle
in defence of their religion and the Popes used the same language to
the crusaders. But I thought these impious notions had been long
rejected till Dr. Carlisle published his eloquent sermon in which he
resolves religion into patriotism, patriotism in marching against
the French and heaven, like his friend Mahomet, is to reward those
that fall. I am no friend to political harangues from the pulpit and
I think it ill becomes a minister of the lowly Jesus to sound the
trumpet of war. But for a clergyman to undermine all the principles
of that religion he is bound to support there can be no excuse. [back]
Professor Robison’s abilities as a Natural
Philosopher are justly admired. I wish he had recollected before
publishing his proofs that a great reputation may be lost. [back]
Dr. Hunter, Professor of Divinity, Edinburgh. The
Dr., instead of railing against socinians groaning and grunting etc.
should endeavour to make his lectures a little more interesting. His
sudden infusion of the spirit will not be easily swallowed in these
days of mental scepticism. He may lament the heterodoxy of Priestley
which the students read instead of Owen or Baxter but his
lamentation will, I hope, be in vain. What is the use of studying
Theology if our inquiries are confined to a single point? The young
divines have, no doubt, too liberal minds to be thus cramped. That
they would inquire and think for themselves is devoutly to be
wished, and they will no doubt pray that they may never meet with a
greater calamity than being forced to hear P. Hunter’s dull
lectures, for this is a thorn in the side not easily borne. This is
a very different man from Dr. Hunter above. [back]
One of the ministers of Dundee amazingly popular.
The crowd used to call him a sweet preacher. A lady in Aberdeen was
so mightily pleased with his preaching that she sent him next day a
pair of satin breeches. But poor Davidson was too far advanced in
another quarter to profit by the hint. When the brethren were going
to make strict inquiry about his private marriage, the people became
furious and beseiged the Synod. Peter fell, David sinned greviously,
and Paul himself was a persecutor of the faith. A sinning saint was
therefore of superior advantage to them as he could understand their
infirmities and sympathize with their afflictions. Poor fellow he
suffers so much from this wife that he married so secretly as makes
him rather an object of pity than of censure. [back]
Every person attentive to the filling up of
vacancies in the universities of Scotland must be convinced that
they are all guided by party and interest, and that no man, be his
merit ever so great, can succeed without money or influence. This
Gentleman first obtained the Professorship of Oriental languages tho’
it was well known he knew nothing of them. He has since obtained the
Professorship of Greek and at the time of his appointment could not
read the letters. This appointment was so glaringly absurd that
Principal Chalmers, a hackneyed veteran in college tricks for sixty
years, protested against it considering everything that had gone
before comparatively pure and resisted giving his consent even unto
death. That a Gentleman should accept of an employment which he
cannot fulfill bespeaks very little principle. I would recommend to
this able Professor of Greek, Touli’s editions as they will save
him the trouble of learning the contractions. [back]
Harry Hill. I should not have compared this
celebrated personage with McPherson (as slender as his abilities
are, he is by far the more learned of the two) had I not known that
he would take it all in good part and put it off with a horse laugh.
Every lover of learning will lament that the Greek Chair at St.
Andrews was not conferred on Dr. Hunter, Professor of Humanity,
instead of Mr. Hill. Among all the objections to Matrimony, that
which prevented Mr. Hill’s marriage is the most whimsical. His
sweetheart declined because he laughed too loud. The loud loud laugh
that speaks the vacant mind. Indeed, he seems peculiarly gifted with
this faculty. Strangers start as if it were the explosion of a
cannon. Instead of some of the historical questions which he gives
as tasks to his pupils—such as the advantages and disadvantages of
Ostracism—I would recommend the following: What is the quantum of
ability that will save a University from contempt and ruin? Mr. Hill
knows very well but will not easily recollect the person that makes
such memorable mention of him. [back]
Mr. Roderick McLeod is dead since this note was
written but it is left for the edification and comfort of posterity.
He taught, or rather attempted to teach, Mathematics and Philosophy
Natural and Moral. His course was so singular as to merit a very
particular delineation promising, however, that it was as good as
that of the other Professors. As it was customary at King’s
College till ’99 for the same professor to keep the same pupils
three years under his charge and in that time he gave them lectures
on Mathematics pure and mix’d and on Philosophy Natural and Moral
etc. That a method so preposterous obtained so long admits of no
excuse for few men are equally qualified to teach all these
branches. Modest men might suppose that the Professors of King’s
College must have been men of uncommon abilities to discharge an
office so arduous, but nothing was more easy according to their
Mr. McLeod who had the greatest
character among them will serve as an example. When he got a new
class his first advice was to write his notes. These were a few
scraps on Natural history which I have seen but they possess no
merit; a boy might extract more and better from Nature displayed. He
was wont always in the afternoon to comment on the notes as one of
the class read them. His remarks were very miserable and when he had
nothing to say he bit his nails. In this edifying manner were the
afternoons of the first year spent. In the morning he employed them
with Arithmetic, Algebra, and Euclid. His manuscripts on these
subjects possess some merit. They are chiefly extracted from Malcolm
and Gregory. It seems that during the first years of his
Professorship he had applied a little to the elements of Geometry
and Algebra but never meddled with the more abstruse parts. His
notes on Algebra reached only to the end of Quadratic equations. He
left its application to Geometry, cubic equations and series to
their private study. He was well enough acquainted with Euclid for
he had taught it fifty years. He made the young men win and lose
places like schoolboys as this, he said, produced emulation, but
among students grown up it is rather calculated to produce disgust
and enmity. The session always ended just as the class finished
Euclid leaving him only time to measure a field as an example in
surveying which he always measured wrong.
The last meeting was commonly devoted
to Fortification. Mr. McLeod knew that if he commenced the second
session of his new class with Natural Philosophy his notes would be
finished too soon. To obviate this a repetition of Euclid was
enjoined and was indeed necessary for nobody knew hardly anything of
Mathematics. This took up some weeks. He then proceeded to Spherical
Trigonometry but this was so languid that all parties seemed
effectually tired. And to cover his ignorance he was accustomed for
many years to say to each class after demonstrating the few
propositions of Spherical Trigonometry usually found at the end of
Simon’s Euclid: "You appear to pursue Spherics with so little
animation that I fear we should make but a bad [head] at Conics. We
shall therefore proceed to Natural Philosophy." His manuscript
on this subject had undergone no change for forty years. Some of the
young men read the notes taken by their fathers and grandfathers and
found them to agree in every particle with those newly taken from
the Professor’s copy. He was very angry at any one who did not
write these lectures which was a burdensome employment. They were
chiefly taken from Desagulier’s system. A course of lectures on a
subject wherein so many discoveries have been made to receive no
alteration for the space of forty years is, I believe, a new
Lest Natural Philosophy should be too
soon exhausted, he contrived to kill two or three afternoons every
week with discourses which the students were ordered to deliver in
turn on any subject they chose. This might have become useful with
proper management but as the speeches very often turned on subjects
which the Regent did not understand, his criticisms and observations
were miserable. Those who reverenced him trembled when he spoke
while others rejoiced in new reasons for contempt. By this method
and numerous colds, the Natural Philosopy notes were hardly 2/3 read
when the session ended. In the third and last year, Natural
Philosophy was resumed and the afternoons killed with harangues till
Christmas when he commonly reached Astronomy. This he passed over
promising to take it up at some future time which time never
arrived. His manuscript (for he always had a manuscript or notes or
lectures as you please) of Moral Philosophy was not tedious being
little more than Shaftesbury’s essay on the balance of the
passions which with all the comments could not be spun out to the
end of the Session. He was therefore obliged to read scraps from
Butler and Cicero and last of all Pope’s "Essay on Man"
which he valued as the quintessence of all Morality. After this he
conferred the title of Master of Arts on his pupils and their
academical course was ended. This statement of Mr. McLeod’s course
is drawn from the most authentic source and I appeal for its truth
to many of his pupils still alive. One of his scholars observed to
me that he was very clever in accounts current and matters of
Interest for which I could find no reason till he remembered that he
was a Banker. [back]
Dr. Garnet late in Glasgow. It is much to be
regretted that the greed of a little popularity should induce men of
knowledge to give up their own sense to propriety to the prejudices
of the Vulgar. The experiments in Natural Philosophy can be
multiplied at pleasure but they are little better than so many
Legerdemain tricks unless supported by Theory. Yet many give
lectures in this way. And the winds beat and the rain came and that
house fell for it was built upon the sand. This Gentleman publishes
travels through the highland of Scotland at the reasonable price of
2 guineas !!! [back]
Mr. Copland, Professor of Natural Philosophy, is
reckoned the chief pillar of Marischal College but, I believe,
unjustly. He is one of the show Professors (see last note). His
learning of any kind is not extensive. He appears to be no very deep
mathematician. It is only justice to mention that he is an excellent
mechanic. He makes a great number of his instruments himself and
performs experiments with very great address. I think it however
exceedingly illiberal in him to blame the last Professor of N: P:
when any of the instruments are found spoiled, and reading letters
from correspondents describing new discoveries publicly to his
class: ("Which I submit to your consideration instantly as my
great work is your improvement") is vain in the highest degree.
These are little arts unworthy of a man of common understanding,
much more a Philosopher. Mr. Copland loves money and he pretends he
cannot accept the invitations of his friends as he has no time for
class affairs, preparing experiments etc. This reason is useful in
two respects; it precludes the expence of company and renders him
still more popular. [back]
I find Dr. Wilson, Professor of Church history is
dead—many a pun had the good Dr. and many a good dinner. His
lectures had some merit and he enlivened them with some humour. [back]
Scot, Professor of Natural Philosophy, King’s
College Aberdeen, one of the most forbidding young men possible. He
has poor natural talents but much industry. His manner is
exceedingly against him. I cannot conceive anything more imprudent
than his attending Mr. Copland’s private class. To be sure, Mr.
Copland works experiments neatly; so might Mr. Scot with some
Mr. Beattie, Professor of Natural History,
Marischal College Aberdeen, nephew to the celebrated Dr. Beattie. A
young man of much application but of savage manners, possesses no
command of himself and beats his pupils most unmercifully. Whipping
in a milder degree may be necessary in a school, but boys are too
old and big at the University to profit by such discipline. [back]
I pronounce Mr. Oglivie, Professor of Humanity,
King’s College Aberdeen, the most extraordinary professor in
Scotland—perhaps the most whimsical in Europe. A night of him
seated in proper stile is a much better show than any puppet in the
country. He places his chair on a table 18 inches or 2 feet high.
Opposite stands a table as high as the bottom of the chair in which
his legs are carefully adjusted with the help of a cushion. Before
him, but a little to one side, another table is placed with a
triangular foot. This foot rises like a pillar through the table
which moves up and down by means of pegs. He keeps his book on this.
His manner of teaching is in the highest degree negligent. He has
the reputation of being a good Naturalist and he certainly is a very
good Latin Scholar but nobody ever left his class the wiser in
either. His manner of teaching Natural History is, I believe,
peculiar to himself. Each specimen has a written description tagged
to it. This the students try to read while the despot sits on his
throne in great state without uttering a single word. I said try to
read for the writing is so miserable that the poor fellows know no
more of it than if it were Greek. His method of teaching Latin is
nothing better. He gives, it is said, an excellent translation of a
small piece but, as he snuffles through his nose, very few can
understand what he says and still fewer hear it. Notwithstanding all
this, he is exceedingly tenacious of his own interpretation when the
lesson comes to be examined but as he apportions every lesson among
three or four boys, the rest, knowing who are to be called on, give
themselves no trouble about it. He never enters upon any critical
examination, points out the beauties, or enlivens his discourse with
any Philological remarks or, indeed, with observations of any kind.
It is, however, worthy of notice that he despises the low university
policy and votes on every question with impartiality. Of
consequence, he is always of the minority, the most honourable side
of all college Questions in Scotland. [back]
Mr. Cook, Professor of Moral Philosophy, St.
Andrews, one of the most testy little Gentlemen alive, becomes
furious at the smallest contradiction. Good John, practice what you
preach and pray always when going into company: "The Lord
deliver me from anger." Many a time has this grave Philosopher
gone to dine abroad and left the house in a rage before dinner for
the merest trifle.
Like dauted wean that tarrows at its meat
That for some feckless whim will carp and greet
The lave laugh at it till the dinner’s past
And syne the fool thing is oblig’d to fast
Or scart anither’s leavings at the last
Burns—a name well known among readers of
taste. It was curious, as the author of The Pursuits of
Literature justly observes, that no better post could be
procured for a man who was an honour to his country. [back]
Blacklock, a Gentleman of great fame, writes
poetry though blind. He is one of the few Scotchmen whom even Dr.
Johnson deigned to praise. [back]
Mr. Ferguson, a promising poet, died young.
Among the few poems he wrote there are good specimens of rising powers
but poverty cut them in the bud. [back]
Dundass is so well known that his character
needs no delineation. [back]
Mr. Gleig (vid 17 and 18). All who have
purchased the large Encyclopedia Britannica of which this Gentleman is
the editor will be at no loss to appreciate his merit. Never was such
a cheat palmed on the public. It is not perhaps publicly known that,
not withstanding the facility with which he procured some articles by
picking up notes, he wrote himself nearly blind compiling treatises on
subjects he did not understand. I desire the reader to examine his
miserable treatise on Metaphysics, the only subject in which he was at
all conversant. Almost all the mathematical articles are shamefully
executed. The immense stuff on Natural History is manifestly put in
for no other purpose but to make Volumes. [back]
Mr. Couts, one of the Parochial Clergrymen in
Brechin. The method by which he procured his parish which happens to
be in the gift of the people is so singular and may be so useful to
all those who wish to rise at any rate that I am induced to describe
it at full length. Mr. Hannah, Minister of Stracathry, happened to
preach in Brechin in the morning of that day in which Mr. Couts was to
exhibit to give the people a trial sermon. Mr. Hannah had occasion to
make some observations on the atonement. Mr. Couts had a long sermon
on that subject—apropos— a lucky thought struck him. In the
afternoon he began by informing the people that the subject slightly
touched upon by his Reverend Brother, Mr. Hannah, was of so great
importance as prompted him to illustrate it more fully. He then
delivered his sermon which, tho’ dull and didactic enough, yet was
greedily swallowed because of the old leaven. What Mr. Couts expected
instantly followed. The people were filled with admiration that a
sermon so fraught with godliness could be composed since the forenoon
(the kirk not being out more than an hour) and concluded that he had
been inspired of the Holy Spirit. They hailed him as a saint and
pitied poor Mr. Hannah. He was instantly elected and looked upon as an
angel of light.
I hope an example so memorable will not
be lost. Let every young preacher get two or three Ghostly sermons by
heart and when a trial such as that of Mr. Couts shall occur, they
have only to pick out a sentence or two from the sermon delivered by
the first preacher which may form an introduction to their own. It is
not necessary that both should be on the same subject. It is enough if
a sentiment or two agree; at any rate, a little ingenuity will
construe an agreement. But if all this should fail, which is almost
impossible, swear boldly that they are connected, that some of the
topics your Reverend Brother slightly touched upon in the forenoon
appear to you of so great moment as to deserve a most particular and
forcible explanation. Some fools may affect to despise this wholesome
counsel as disagreeing with truth but such groveling beings will never
rise. I address myself solely to those choice and liberal spirits who
cannot be ignorant that he who signs the Confessions of faith and
believes nothing of it may rather flatter himself than bugle at a
piece of ingenuity so profitable. [back]
Dr. Hill looks up with great reverence to Harry
Dundass and, manfully despising prejudices, changes his political
creed with his great patron. He is, in general, attentive to his
flocks for we should tell truth of the Devil. And it is surely no
disparagement to be rather more attentive to the affairs of the nation
since they are of infinitely more importance than those of a small
parish. We shall meet with the Dr. again. [back]
Dr. Martine. I recollect in my early days that a
Dr. of Divinity was a rare thing and only supposed to be conferred on
men of the first abilities but tempora mutantur; it is
now the distinction of ignorance. This can hardly apply to Dr. Martine
whose poetical talents stand high—in his own opinion. He went to St.
Andrews to see Dr. Johnston. The jaunt naturally awakened the muse who
discovered that if it was twelve miles from Moneymeal to St. Andrews,
it was also twelve miles back. The people were exceedingly edified by
this discovery which equalled any ever made by the wise men of Goatham.
The poem begins here to enter upon ecclesiastic
affairs. The kirk hath certainly been very much distressed of late by
the frailty of her children. The spirit hath overflowed and the combat
with the flesh hath been severe but the spirit subdued. The Scotch
Clergy are but bunglers in the business or they would not fall into
such scrapes—practice, practice is everything—by and by they will
be more expert. [back]
Read in confirmation of this the sermons
published for the different fast days, almost all of them breathing
sentiments in direct opposition to the Christian religion. Instead of
the Gospel where nothing but the purest benevolence is inculcated,
they often had recourse to the Psalms, many of which, whatever justice
they may have done to the feelings, have done little to the charity of
the composer. [back]
Those who are accustomed to dine sometimes with
the Presbytery know the truth of these lines. I would recommend St.
Andrews as one of the very best. Here are Kettle, Forest, etc.
descanting with more precision and minuteness
than a midwife after a
laborious seat. [back]
Dr. Arnot, Professor of Divinity at St. Andrews.
The divines will most willingly attest his lamentable dullness. The
poor Dr. looks up sometimes after a miserable tautology which he
mistakes for a fine flourish to see if they are filled with
admiration. It must be confess’d too that his lectures, miserable as
they are, become worse from a comparison with those of Dr. Hill which
have sometimes considerable merit. Dr. Arnot has been long notorious
for his Avarice. And the last exhibition he has given of this
despicable passion will justify my mention of former transactions. Dr.
Arnot a few years ago had a son at College who enjoyed one of the
bursaries but the young man, not relishing study, left the University.
As Bursaries are set apart for the express purpose of supporting such
young men at college as are not able to support themselves one could
have naturally supposed the bursary vacant, of course, when the
student left his studies but the Dr. thought otherwise and determined
to make it still productive. As no one dare draw a bursary but a
student actually at college, he pitched upon one to draw the bursary
in his name for which he gave him 1/6 of the whole. This infamous
trick was soon whispered about. The general indignation was excited.
It came to Dr. Hill’s ears who, hardened as he is in little
politics, was shocked at the shameless avarice of his colleague. Poor
Arnot was instantly informed by the Dr. that in this instance he was
not defensible. He was therefore obliged to refund the part of the
bursary he had taken, which he did with a sorrowful heart. His prayer
hath been graciously complied with as we shall see immediately. [back]
Mr. Bell, Minister of Crail, in his laudable
opposition to Arnot’s avarice balances a small error he committed
some time ago which induc’d me to give him ironically the title of
liberal. He was accustomed to give the poor of the parish money often
as from himself and consequently his charity was extolled to the skies
but it was soon discovered that he had never given a farthing without
reimbursing himself from the poor’s money. Now Mr. Bell must be
satisfied if I think his meritorious opposition to Arnot nothing more
than equivalent to his former vanity, now +6-6=0. [back]
Dr. Arnot was long Minister of Ceres previous to
his obtaining the Divinity chair. This parish is in Cupar Presbytery
among the members of which the Dr. obtained great reputation for his
skill in ecclesiastical law. I was long at a loss to discover what
study was necessary to become master of a few acts of the General
Assembly or the accuteness and widsom needed in their application when
I recollected that his superior penetration consisted in discovering
unexhausted [trends]. This endeared him to the pastors who, with the
exception of Dr. Brown of Falkland, compose one of the most ignorant
societies in the Church. Their love for the Dr. induced them to
support him at the Synod and by that means his call to Kingsbarns was
confirmed. In order to understand the importance of this cause it is
necessary to notice that Dr. Arnot, sometime after his translation
from Ceres to St. Andrews, got a presentation to the parish of
Kingsbarns from the Earl of Crawford, the Patron. He thought he could
perform the duties of his professorship and this parish together, it
being only four miles from St. Andrews. The gift was, however, clogged
with an annuity of fifty pounds per annum which the Dr. had to pay to
an old tutor of one of Crawford’s friends till otherwise provided
for. This clause the Dr. carefully concealed but his Noble Patron free
and open, supposing he had by a dexterous arrangement pleased two
friends, could not help mentioning his address before a public
company. The story flew and a prosecution for Simony was instantly
threatened and Poor Arnot after taking possession, dressing the
garden, etc., was obliged to make a hasty resignation. Mr. Thomson
then got the parish who dying in a couple of years Arnot thought the
odium of the old story had nearly subsided and obtained a second
nomination from Crawford who is now better instructed to conceal any
private clauses that may be found necessary. It is needless to observe
that the multipication of ecclesiastical offices in Scotland is in
direct contradiction to the fundamental rules of the Kirk. [back]
Dr. Hill is a man of much address and some
eloquence. He has been long at the head of what is called the moderate
party and is sure to be supported by a numerous faction whatever cause
he shall undertake to defend. It is very extraordinary that in an
assembly collected for the express purpose of regulating the affairs
of the Church there should be found so few disinterested men
particularly when it is remembered that their interests can seldom
jar, but such is the case. All are enlisted under the banners to two
factions and whatever is proposed by the one is opposed by the other
without any examination but merely because it is supported by their
opponents. As two or three take the lead of these factions, the Kirk
is ruled absolutely by two or three or rather perhaps by Hill alone
who stands at the head of the more numerous faction. As Arnot had
formerly supported Hill in some university tricks, he claimed his
assistance in this business. Dr. Hill has given it him with success
but with the loss of his popularity. [back]
We have had occasion to mention Dr. W.L. Brown
with esteem. He is rather attached to the moderate party or, rather,
being an honest man to no party. On this occasion the transaction
being so flagrant he joined the minority. There is a coolness between
him and Dr. Hill. Brown possesses more learning and intergrity, Hill
more address. [back]
It is a certain fact that Arnot considered this
a very strong argument for allowing (said he) a clergyman to have two
or three benefices as he is obliged to pay in so much annually to the
sinking fund for each of them and can only leave one widow (polygamy
not being as yet fashionable) the fund gains for had each benefice its
own pastor the fund would get no more and might be clogged with a
widow for every one of them. [back]
Mr. McCulloch is, I believe, a very well-meaning
man and opposed the avarice of Arnot in a becoming manner. This was
the more meritorious as he was almost the only one in the Presbytery
of Cupar who dared to vote according to truth. I do not admire his
lectures on Isaiah the subject is too difficult for [Dearrne Moor]. [back]
Mr. Cook, minister at Laurencekirk, son of Mr.
Cook, Professor St. Andrews mentioned (note 36th), a vain conceited
young man. He proposes to do great things when he becomes professor of
Mathematics. He has made a large collection of curious problems all
respecting plain Trigonometry many of which he says he invented
himself. A young man to whom he was showing them with great exultation
unluckily discerned that they were the common propositions conceived
in different words. He could not therefore compliment him on his
collection. He had the vanity to deliver a most contemptible speech in
the assembly which put everybody but himself to the blush. He wrote a
letter to Mr. George Skene Keith soliciting his influence against the
chapels of ease but Skene Keith being of contrary sentiments chastised
his presumption severely in a printed letter. [back]
Mr. Boggie confirms the proverb that a fool will
speak a wise word at a time. Were he a poor man I should pass him in
silence but surely it is a disgrace to the Chruch to have a man void
of common sense in it. He deserves credit, however, for his vote in
the present instance. [back]
Dr. Hunter, Professor of Divinity, Edinburgh
(vide: note 25) [back]
Moncrief and Johnstone, two high fliers. They
voted conscientiously on this occasion. [back]
Mr. Rowland Hill, a famous fanatic itinerant
preacher. I heard him deliver a miserable sermon and Rate one still
worse. The journal they published was shameful in the highest degree
calculated to inflame the people against their Clergymen and to breed
divisions in every parish. [back]
Mr. Ewen. This gentleman possesses some popular
talents. It is probable that he is sincere as he resigned a living in
the Church. The mission has promoted him to instruct young men to
become preachers which he undertakes to do in two years. Fanatics have
affected in all ages to despise learning. These itinerants will shake
the Kirk and ruin the seceders. Some sailors, a cobbler, and several
low people were ordained at Glasgow to go on the foreign mission. [back]
Sir John Sinclair is a man of great vanity and
treated the Clergymen very haughtily. To be sure, many of the accounts
were drawn up most miserably and do not seem to be much mended by the
Baronet’s or, rather, Mr. Heron’s corrections. [back]
I refer to the Acct. of Denino not as badly
drawn up but as containing some curious
expressions . . . . [back]
Verses written August 1802 . . .
Recited at the examination of my pupils September
Ionia’s fertile fields receiv’d the hosts
Of wand’ring heroes from the Grecian coasts;
Too num’rous grown to share their native plains,
They leave their weeping friends for new domains;
The Goddess liberty in radiant
Points out the way and ev’ry bosom warms.
The sister arts, in gorg’ous robes array’d,
With solid science tend their vig’rous aid:
Inspir’d by these, the bulwarks quickly rise;
The lofty turrets seem to meet the
The temples built of Parian marble blaze,
As placid lakes reflect the Solar rays;
The altars smoke beneath the sacred grove,
And Poets chant the praise of mighty Jove.
The verdant lawns the distant prospects
And Ceres’ treasures crown the passing year;
The neighbouring mountains num’rous flocks sustain,
And dales re-echo to the singing swain.
The purling streams through pleasant valleys glide,
And gentle Naiads lave the glassy
While gilded ships unfurl their swelling sails
In quest of wealth, and court the rising gales.
The city built in innocence and peace,
The heroes rest, but often think of Greece,
When Persia’s King the Grecian freedom
Whose word was life or death and will the law.
He flies to check its pow’r without delay
And crush its blossoms with his iron sway,
But Greece, indignant, spurn’d the galling yoke,
And from her children’s neck the fetters
The tyrant fled and, trembling for his throne,
Admir’d and fear’d Neoclus’ gallant son.
In aftertimes, the aged champion stands
And views with smiling looks the youthful bands.
"My sons," he cries, "let patriot virtue
Your country’s claims for no reward decline.
In Marathon our fathers fought and bled,
O Glorious day, when dastard Persia fled.
The rocks of Salamis proclaim their fame;
Thermopyle insures a deathless
The Savage nations lost in wonder cry,
‘O happy Greece’ and chock the rising sigh."
Thus speaks the hoary sage; his visage glows.
The grateful tear of sweet remembrance flows.
The youth, exulting, catch the sacred
Their throbbing hearts to glorious deeds aspire.
They grieve they were not born in former days
To share the actions they can only praise,
When boasting Xerxes press’d th’ Athenian shore,
And Grecian fields enrich’d with Persian
Shall soft Ionians boast their
Admire their fathers cloth’d in lasting fame,
With rapture trace the venerable line
Of poets, heroes, law-givers divine,
In golden urns preserve their hallow’d
And drop the gen’rous tear at Solon’s bust,
And shall not Britain’s sons, with joy elate,
Commend the glories of their Parent state.
Be witness, gracious pow’rs. Our hearts sincere,
Tho’ distant far, their noble deeds
We gladly deck with palms of just renown
The heroes of the Nile and Camperdown;
We dropt a tear when Abercrombie fell
And, crown’d with victory, bade the world farewell
Like gallant Wolfe, forever dear to
And the great hero of the Theban name.
But British valour always challeng’d
’Tis not the light’ning’s gleam or Comet’s blaze,
When haughty Louis, threat’ning half the world,
Destructive thunder through the nations hurl’d.
Our noble fathers, freedom’s stablest rock,
The tempest met, and brav’d its furious shock.
It burst recoiling on the tyrant’s head
And sunk th’ ambitious hopes that flatt’ry fed.
When civil discord British bosoms
And Kindred slaughter stain’d the western shore,
When neighb’ring nations triumph’d in our woe
And hasten’d to support our sinking foe,
Britannia saw the thick’ning storm afar,
Forgot her grief and met the coming
Her fleets triumphant humbl’d haughty Spain.
They swept Batavia’s squadrons off the main.
The crafty Gauls who long the contest fled
Engag’d at last and sunk among the dead.
’Twas yours, ye loyal bands, that
At risk of life your country to obey;
To spurn the prudent road the dastard steers,
A friend to either side as fortune veers.
Nor have your merits passed without regard:
Our grateful parent gives the just
To her we owe that peace delights our plains,
That joyous plenty through the hamlets reigns,
That rising towns present a grateful view
Where lately dismal wilds no op’ning knew;
That gentle Spring assumes her annual
And balmy roses in the gardens smile;
That flow’ry meads and infant buds appear—
The hope and glory of the circling year—
That frugal bees delicious fruits distill
And pleasant creams our spacious goblets
That swains returning as the day declines
Exult o’er prostrate oaks and burning pines,
A pleasure greater than the conqu’ror knows,
Whose doubtful triumph costs ten thousand woes.
But Britain’s precious gifts will nought
To rouse to glory or amend the heart,
So long as mental pleasures cease to flow—
The chief delight of mortals here below—
For when a fertile field no culture knows,
The Sun his genial warmth in vain
No gold harvest glades the lazy swain,
But weeds luxur’ant cover all the plain.
Inquire the latent cause of each
Of vicious deeds the secret motives trace.
In ignorance a certain cause you’ll
That leads to vice from vacancy of mind.
’Tis yours to change the scene, bid Science rise
And cheer the prospects of these Northern skies,
Bid Science brighten each bewilder’d thought,
And speed the schemes with social pleasure
What tho’ no columns, busts, or
Exalt the pensive soul to classic strains,
What tho’ no Nymph o’er silvan scenes presides,
No wat’ry God the rapid river guides,
No woodland groves resound Diana’s
Or artless shepherds Pan’s protection claim;
Here simple nature nobler thoughts inspires
And views of grandeur banish low desires.
Attend, your country calls. Delay no more
To plant instruction on Ontario’s
Nor let your rising offspring wildly roam
To seek the knowledge they should find at home—
To change their patriot love for deadly hate
And wish the int’rests of a foreign state,
Corrupt the noble feeling nature
And find for filial love a speedy grave;
For when they see no parent’s tender cares
They quickly learn to mock their distant fears.
At Kingston, bards may glow with
Or seek a calmer bliss from Dryden’s
A Bacon, too, may grace some future age,
Or Newton reading nature’s inmost page.
Hail mighty Science! hail the
Of Commerce, order, liberty, and laws;
The passions gently move at thy
And sweet compassion melts the rugged soul;
All cares and wants before thy footsteps fly:
Those teachest how to live and how to die.
James recited the first 66 lines and Andrew Stuart
the remainder at the Examination September 10th 1802. The order of the
Examination was first, Poole England read a speech on polite literature
and recited part of Akenside’s ode on Science. John McAulay then
recited "The Sword at Rennes" from Sterne’s Sentimental
Journey. Richard Cartwright read an eulogy on Mathematics which I had
dictated and in the middle demonstrated the 47 proposition concluding
with a few appropriate lines of poetry in praise of Mathematics. Poole
England was then examined on trigonometry, surveying, and bookkeeping.
Spencer next recited the "Elegy of Moran" from Ossian and
after him William McAulay repeated from Dodsley a satire on obstinacy
and contradiction under the story of Sir Testy. James Cartwright then
read a speech on Natural Philosophy and he and Andrew were examined on
optics. John Spencer now repeated Falstaff’s humourous description of
his prowess, and Sam Hamilton, Cowper’s fable of the Mohammedans
eating swine. Poole and Dic were examined on Chronology. Tom Deacon
repeated part of Collin’s Ecologue entitled "The
Camel-driver." James Hamilton recited Sterne’s apostrophe on
slavery. Andrew Stuart read a discourse on Moral Philosophy after which
he and James were examined on happiness. They then recited as already
noticed and John Robeson, who had been previously confined with
sickness, concluded the whole with the following epilogue.
Tho’ lately sick, I wish’d to join the feast,
And bring my little dish as well’s the rest.
"You’re late" (my Tutor said) "too late, I fear;
The table’s full and there’s no room to spare."
"You’ll find some spot perhaps—my portion’s
I pray, Sir, try." "But there’s no room at all.
You see what num’rous dishes load the board,
A sight might please a gen’rous Polish Lord."
"It’s loaded truly, Sir, but don’t you want
Some little item. Bread, perhaps, is
"Bread scant, you fool! For that let me alone."
"Here’s mathematics crisp and dry’s a bone.
Behold that topping roast of English beef
From Ethics cook’d of meat the sov’reign chief.
A little sauce would much improve the
To make the proper sort I’ll do my best."
"Bring filthy sauce to beef in its own gravy!
You might as well give courage to the navy.
Here Physics of themselves become a feast—
An Hodge-podge grateful found to ev’ry
"But something’s wanting still, I humbly think.
You may have meat enough, but where’s your drink? "
"My Drink! don’t Poets say that wit is wine.
Then to the bards I shall my guests resign.
You hear the poet tells how Turks eat
And poor Sir Testy now’s oblig’d to lurk.
Gay Falstaff teaches all to drink good sack,
And slav’ry’s grievous both to white and black.
Mix these ingredients well, and from the whole
You’ll make a smoking overflowing
I’d take you were there room, with all my heart."
"I thank you, Sir, but where’s your fine dessert?"
"Desserts can only serve for idle show.
We promised only Solids here, you know."
"Not altogether that, for some
Good pies and tarts the palate’s best reward."
"Stop then, my friend, since for a place you’re panting.
A good dessert alone, you say, is wanting.
I here command that this shall be your part.
Be active, then, to furnish something
As for myself, its use I can’t discover.
No matter, let it come since you’re the mover."
This conversation pass’d some days
And ever since, I’ve been o’erwhelmed with woe,
For tho’ I wish’d some little thing to
You may be sure I’d chose an easier way.
I thought he’d dictate something for the feast;
To get it pat had only been a jest.
O! what a silly lout was I to stickle.
Was ever forward fool in such a
Here I’ve been busy hunting day and night
For some convenient speech to give delight.
I’ve grop’d my empty noodle round and round,
But all in vain, for nothing there was found.
I asked a friend to lend some little
He stretch’d his lantern jaws, and shook his head.
In vain I sought abroad, in vain at home,
And now before you unprepar’d I come,
But I’ll be well prepar’d ’gainst next occasion,
If you’ll be pleas’d with this my free
I see you smile; this drives away my tremor,
And all conclude the feast in pleasant humour.
Dear Sir . . .
Among the cards of invitation I wrote the following
(the rest being common prose) to Mr. Forsythe:
you’re inclin’d to hear
The doctrine of the square and sphere,
Some observations made on light
With reasons for its rapid flight,
The humours of the eye explain’d,
Refraction and reflection drain’d,
Or if you fancy none of those,
But rather choose a moral dose,
Tomorrow come at ten o’clock,
With patience in abundant
Where my pupils give this lecture
At the sign of Architecture,
Or as some with equal reason
Call it, vulgarly, the prison.
Brevity in rhyme’s
Therefore, Sir, your most obedient,
For Laura’s Birth Day . . .
October 21st, 1802 (Prevented from delivering it till
the 25th, four days too late).
Paphia call’d the Graces fair,
To deck with flow’rs her Auburne hair,
As far abroad today she goes
To see what vot’ries Jove bestows
In the wild Canadian
Cover’d thick with fens and floods.
The Queen in splendid beauty shone,
Girded with her brilliant zone,
And swiftly cuts the liquid sky,
Till Laura’s form attracts her
Admiring much in great delight,
To view her heart she wings her flight,
But started backward from the door,
On finding Pallas there before.
The Goddesses with wonder gaz’d,
At their strange meeting were much amaz’d,
Till at last the blue-ey’d Maid
To the Cyprian Goddess said:
"Jove himself, forever kind,
To Laura grants a feeling
A form with every beauty grac’d,
A soul improv’d above the rest.
This morning of her natal day
I came some presents to display,
But find, on the most careful
That Jove has left me nought to do,
And that the Maid can never want
The precious gifts that I can grant,
For gifts are useless, yours or mine,
To one so perfectly
Venus with a smile replied,
"And why does Pallas thus decide?
I grant from me no gift she needs—
Such merit every hope exceeds—
But may we not her bliss
By pointing out the joys of love,
And make her tender heart rejoice
Since we have pow’r to bless its choice?"
An Ode to Mr. Elmsley, Chief Justice of Upper Canada
— on being Remov’d to Quebec
Written October 28th, 1802 Kingston.
The shades of night around me fall,
The lamps are gleaming in the hall
To emulate the day,
While Elmsley’s Friends in silence stand
Upon yon distant point of
To see him sail away.
Hark! Hark! they spread the swelling sails.
The ship receives the rising gales;
How fast she leaves the shore.
And must they such a friend
Because so the Ministers incline,
A friend whom all adore.
If conscious worth, a lib’ral mind,
A feeling heart, a taste refin’d,
Encircl’d with a blooming race,
A Partner deck’d with ev’ry grace,
Sure Elmsley must it know.
O! may his happiness improve,
Protected by the Pow’rs
As fleeting years pass o’er,
May all the friends he leaves behind
Be present often to his mind
Altho’ they meet no more.
Alas, no more in Shakespeare’s
Or quoting Pope’s harmonious lays,
With him they’ll spend the
No more admire his ample store
Of Attic wit and classic lore
When Cam and Oxford were the themes,
Their Fancy lost in pleasing dreams
Saw youthful joys restored.
The dreary forests were forgot,
Nor felt they that they lived
When round his genial board.
Uncheer’d by hopes of his return,
While pensive they his absence mourn,
Quebec may well rejoice,
Thrice happy if it only
How great the gift our King bestows,
And makes that gift its choice.
Away they turn with heavy hearts;
Resistless grief its force exerts.
They drop some gen’rous
For now the Moon’s reflected light
From glist’ring waves obstructs the sight,
The vessel disappears.
Miss Mary England’s Birthday
December 1st, 1802. Wrote November 28th.
Near yon grove an altar stands;
Let us to the spot repair.
Philo, with uplifted hands,
To the Gods prefers his pray’r.
Is it Friendship? Is it
That incites your fervent strain?
Be assur’d the pow’rs above
Make no tender wishes vain.
For a beaut’ous Friend I pray,
Sister to the Nymph I
That each fleeting natal day
May her happiness improve.
A Song for St. Andrew’s Day
December 30th, 1802. Composed at Kingston, Upper
Canada, December 28th, 1802 in the space of two hours.
An Englishman calls for plum pudding and beef,
Of Viands a Frenchman thinks soups are the chief,
For mealy potatoes an Irishman goes,
While Scotch delight in sweet castocks and brose.
O the Kail-brose of Old
O the Old Scottish Kail-brose!
When honest St. Andrew arriv’d on our coast,
Of Converts the Father soon made a great host.
And these he commanded to plant a Kail-yard,
From hunger’s dire cravings a provident
Since then when our Fathers resort to a feast,
A dirk at the girdle, a plaid round their breast,
A good cutty spoon in their bonnets enclose
To sup the first dish, which is always Kail-brose.
The Proud Dionysius was bitterly
And curs’d like a pagan the Spartan black broth,
But had the Laconians given him brose,
The testy old Codger had ta’en a good dose.
When Fingal, the hero invincible, hurl’d
Defeat and disgrace on the King of the
His Clans he recall’d from pursuing their foes,
And bade them refresh on a dish of Kail-brose.
The Sea Kings of Danemark, tho’ stalwart and
In their raids on old Scotland reaped naught but a grave.
No longer their lives they swore they’d
In battle with men always feeding on brose.
The English and Scotch with fanatic rage
For more than three centuries in war did engage,
And shall we the bone of contention disclose;
Faith one fought for beef and the other for
At last Simple Jamie, no lover of blows,
Who join’d in the Crown both the thistle and rose,
Proclaimed that his lieges might eat as they chose,
The English roast-beef and the Scotchmen Kail-brose.
The peace to establish, the King made a grand
And each nation’s dishes were tastefully drest;
A gamey Sirloin with Plum pudding oppose
A sheep’s head, minc’d collops, plump haggis and brose.
Here’s then to St. Andrew who first gave us
And valiant St. George who kicked Mahoun Satan to
Henceforth let the Thistle be wed to the Rose,
And Roast beef at dinner come after Kail-brose.
O the Kail brose of Old Scotland!
O the Old Scottish Kail brose!
Scotch Composed April 1800
Transcribed December. 1802.
Black be my fa’, gin I had been
At Bauldy’s house wi you yestreen,
Ye had na been sae crouse I ween
Nor got sic sport.
I think I could hae blink’d your een
Wi keen retort.
Fan grew ye sae ponky smart?
Ye haina learnt the auld black art;
In faith that wad hae skairt your heart,
I wot fu weel,
Fain Nick says ye maun act your part,
My bonny Chiel.
Fat angers ye my winsome doe?
Deed I can never wed wi you,
For ye hae sic a muckle mou
An words nae stint,
Ay ready to pour out enow
At the least hint.
Fat wist, said they, I was sayen,
Medling folks owr ready gayen
Muckle dool and sorrow playen
Twixt man and wife.
’Twad set them better to be prayen,
As God’s my life.
Tut! Ark ye me ye donnart
The tauntin cracks ye spake sae leal,
But I sall gar you fin ful smiel
That we are sib,
Wi money a trample on the heel
Tru your one
Faith Meg, it maun at last be out.
Lang have ye rung baith in and out
In often gein the tither clout,
Scur sair to bide,
My Nibours cry, see fat a cowt
In breeks to ride.
It’s money a day since ye forgot
What Mess. John tauts when we first met,
That we should ever air and late
Be true and
Live always in a friendly state,
To faults be blin.
My patience is at last run out,
Advising maks the greater rout
An often brings a broken
How oft I wish’d than sic a bout
That I war dead.
Bit troth I sall nae langer snivel.
Kindness bit augments the
A Scolding Wife’s war than the Devil,
As I well ken
Swyth hussey then and dinna drivel,
I’s be a man!
O pardon, pardon, answer’d
Ye sall rule I sanna plague.
Kiss me then my handsome Peg,
Said the guide man.
He threw his arms around her craig,
And glad tears
Philo and Laura: A Dialogue
December 25th, 1802. Kingston.
Tell me, gentle Laura, tell
Why my vows you thus repel,
Why you coldly answer no,
Or, at best, so and so.
Do you wish at large to
Have you sought another love?
Can you, with unfeeling art,
Gayly vex my faithful heart?
Not so fierce, my doleful swain;
Laura never blames in
Tell me first, without disguise—
Don’t affect so much surprise—
Why, on last St. Andrew’s day,
Such devoirs you chose to pay
To that Nymph of lively
Why so often with her dance?
After this are you the same?
Do you merit praise or blame?
If my Laura had been there,
All had seemed both right and
She herself had not thought fit
That a stranger Nymph should sit,
Nor supposed me in a crime
Dancing down the second time,
When she knew it only
By persuasion’s force alone,
Little dreaming of offence,
Or to need this strong defence.
Cursed be Envy’s grisly head,*
By the fates conceiv’d and
Rising high on scorpion’s wings
Thickly set with poison’s stings!
Could thy baneful arrows find
No place to pierce but Laura’s mind?
Hold! The Lady thought no
Trying thus to raise alarm.
Only see what Love can do;
Laura still believes you true.
Other Nymphs may sweetly sing
Bathed in the Castalian
Bind with flow’rs their yellow hair,
Show a face extremely fair,
Raise the youth’s revolving sigh,
But their charms I can defy
Since your picture ever
To my sight in brighter lines.
Fortune, like the stormy wave
Threat’ning death, for you I’ll brave,
Spurn the hope of future fame,
Live content without a
Rolling day and months beguile,
Happy in thy lovely smile.
Added to the end of it:
O Laura, may the coming year
To you in happy robes appear,
Effect the wish that’s next your
Before its number’d weeks depart,
And if that dearest wish should prove
The sweet completion of our love,
As such a wish has long been mine,
Perhaps th’ auspicious pow’rs
No longer on our hopes may frown
But grant us soon bright Hymen’s crown.
* You must allow that the Lady
deserves this sally of imagination and perhaps more directly than is
given here. [back]
To Mrs. Cartwright
January 1st, 1803. Sent by Miss Mary from the
assembly to be delivered on New Year Morning, their reception unknown. .
they gave great satisfaction
Today when ev’ry heart expands,
And pleasing hopes the prospects cheer,
When all extend their willing hands
To wish their friend a happy year,
What joys shall Philo on his
Intreat th’ auspicious powr’s to send?
O Mira, may the balmy gales
On you their rosy health diffuse.
May sweetness, as the sun the vales
Adorn you with its radiant
And while you heal the pains of woe,
May you no private sorrows know.
On you let Fortune ever smile,
Content and gayness in her train,
With new delight each year
Produce no fav’rite wishes vain,
And join your virtuous mind to raise
Above the wish of vulgar praise.
And may you get a Partner kind
Whose mind the justest motives
Whose gen’rous heart by love refin’d
Reflects the beauty of his soul,
While boys and girls in noisy glee
Like lambkins triumph round your knee.
Refrain or wish some new
For these have long been realiz’d.
Her Partner, cloth’d in Science bright,
For truth and honour’s justly priz’d.
Alas! how seldom can we find
So good a heart, so strong a
Behold, she sits with looks serene
Encircled by a little group
That hail her willingly their Queen,
To them the best and dearest hope:
Two daughters fair like flow’rs of
And four fine sons in brisk array.
That comely youth of modest grace
With knowledge beaming in his eye,
Such Moral beauties now can trace
As shall the shafts of vice
And all that view his early age
Great future eminence presage.
His brother from a diff’rent mold
Of merit claims a lib’ral share.
In him no vicious traits
But open, gen’rous, and sincere.
The other two, tho’ young, inspire
The fondest hopes she can desire.
Let those who beg Elysian bow’rs,
With sweet Ambrosia to be
Confess that ease and crowns of flow’rs
Shall no such anxious pleasures shed,
As those that truth and goodness seal,
And Mira these must ever feel.
To wish for happy gifts is
When life its sweetest cup bestows,
Yet new delight my Friend may gain
When Philo’s lasting wish she knows.
May Mira’s pleasure ne’er be less
But still, if possible, increase.
Transcribed March 9th, 1803 but not finished
yet...This was transcribed according to the corrections and printed in
Nelson’s British American Register for
May 1803 at Quebec—signed N: N: the last letters of my name.
In silent joy at first we stand—
The sailors think the harbour nigh—
But seeing now th’expected land,
Our spirits sink; we faintly cry:
"Lo! yonder lies the gloomy
Alas for Caledonia lost!"
Our youthful pleasures all bewail;
Sad Fancy paints them o’er again:
The revels in the mossy vale,
The berry parties in the
The noisy meetings at the fair
The Maiden feasts that banish care.
When sent the dreary fold to watch
Amidst the heath or yellow broom,
How often did we blythely
Regardless of the thick’ning gloom.
The darkness shunn’d, our sweet-heart’s smile
And songs of love the night beguile.
But present dangers soon awake
From former joys to what
The black’ning clouds with thunder shake
And terror thrills through ev’ry vein.
Forgetful now of Scotia’s shore,
Our Friends we grasp and heav’n implore.
The Genius of the clime
Around him splendid rainbows fold;
His head a sunny radiance sends
From starry wreaths entwined with gold,
And darting eyes sweet mildness speak,
And blooms celestial warm his
The country that rejects her sons,
My Friends (he says) no more lament.
If happiness her borders shuns,
My hamlets nourish sweet content,
And soon shall pleasure’s downy
Remove the woes that exile brings.
Instead of hate or surly frowns,
Your coming kindest smiles await.
My daughters, deck’d with roseate crowns,
Convene to soothe your lonely
For all to sordid wealth prefer
The bliss that grateful hearts confer.
Behold the train with lovely Grace
Approaching with benignant mien.
They come your mis’ries to
To ease your want, to heal your pain,
And, lo, their bright example leads
My lib’ral sons to virtuous deeds.
Let conquests made, a sounding name,
Or marble statues crown’d with
On those that covet lasting fame,
Bestow their vague and doubtful praise,
While they perform a nobler part
And grave their praises on the heart.
He mingled with the liquid
The rising gales propitious blow.
We land! Behold the Fair appear.
Our tears in grateful torrents flow,
For words are wanting to reveal
The strong emotions that we
Accept, ye Fair, these humble lays;
Tho’ rough the numbers, bright the theme.
Our muse lock’d up from classic rays
Aspires to no Poetic fame
But, like the Sun-fish on the
A moment flies and sinks again.
Ode To Dr. Brown
Transcribed March 9th.
The Indian shivers at his fire,
The dazzling snow the eye-balls stun,
The skaters from the cold retire,
The water freezes in the sun,
And yonder cataract displays
From columns Iris’ golden rays;
But Gratitude, sweet smiling guest,
The chilling wind expels and warms my throbbing breast.
Hail Gratitude, soft-blushing maid,
By gods and men alike belov’d,
Dispatch’d to gentle virtue’s aid,
To make her duties more approv’d;
With gladness tripping on before,
You guide her to the wretched’s door;
Again behind you hold her train,
Smile off her cautious fears and shake your golden chain.
Anon you lead the heavenly choir;
The sainted host in rapture gaze.
You strike with love th’ eternal lyre;
And sound the purest notes of praise,
While angels from on high proclaim
That men may join th’ ecstatic theme;
To Gratitude alone is given,
The thankful soul of man to raise from earth to heaven.
The off’rings of my grateful heart,
O waft, benignant Nymph divine,
To Brown some pleasure thou’ll impart,
At sacred truth’s refreshing shrine;
For there he studies Nature’s page,
Or saunters with Sicilia’s sage,
Admires the depth of Bacon’s mind,
And Newton lifting Nature’s veil that kept us blind.
Perhaps his mind illum’d portrays
From systems free the human race,
The native worth that man displays,
His various sources of distress,
By Freedom blest, a demi-god,
A beast when rul’d by Nero’s rod.
And all his frame with ardour glows,
To sooth with healing balm and banish mortal woes.
O Truth, enrob’d in snowy white,
Your fav’rite’s modest doubts dispel,
That he may spread your precious light,
And thus inspire a nobler shell
To sound aloud his glorious name,
To class him with the sons of fame,
While Gratitude, celestial guide,
Each heart inspires to hail their country’s boast and pride.
A Sonnet on the Prospect of Going to Cornwall
Kingston, March 26th, 1803.
Once more I change! What prospects of delight?
Alas! unequal to the task sublime,
Tho’ taught to wish it in my native clime,
For who can reach th’ intellectual height
That fits to show the bliss of sacred light?
O little thought I, leaving Scotia’s shore,
St. Andrew’s Gothic walls to see no more,
And dearest friends, the mourners of my flight.
May Cornwall prove far more than Kingston kind,
Tho’ Cartwright’s smiles with truth and goodness fir’d.
Had they instead of coldness often shin’d,
My tedious days with joy could have inspir’d
A joy congenial to my sanguine mind,
While pains from frustrate hopes in haste retir’d.
A Robin once too fond of
change . . .
Kingston, April 30th, 1803.
A Robin once too fond of change,
Forsook his dearest friends to range
Through dreadful seas to distant skies,
Just to return when rich and wise,
But oft repentance comes too late.
His travels rash had seal’d his fate,
And when he reach’d the foreign shore,
The want of friends corrodes him sore.
An eagle gen’rous, good, and great,
Receives him to his high retreat.
Our Robin long his host admires
And to this friendship oft aspires.
In vain he toils with anxious care
Till almost ready to despair,
But perseverance always proves
Sure of success, tho’ slow she moves,
And after several summers past,
Our anxious Robin gain’d at last
His long wish’d point. The Eagle bends
And from his lofty flights descends,
And tho’ he nothing new profess’t,
A Friend in action stands confess’t,
And long had been most truly kind,
But bile had made the Robin blind.
Again observe his wayward lot.
No sooner are his griefs forgot,
No sooner does he friendship feel,
And taste the bliss its joys reveal,
Then orders which no force withstand,
To change his place, severe command,
Where never, never, shall he find
A friend like him he leaves behind.
On finding that a Lady had deceived her
lover . . .
Written July 29th, 1803, on finding that a Lady had
deceived her lover after coming under the most solemn engagements and
married a man she had formerly despised and who had no qualifications
whatever to recommend him, but a little, and only a little, money.
October 19th, 1803. Sent to Mr. Robeson with these corrections. Then
As Satan, the King, sat enthron’d in high
His Angels of darkness grew warm in debate.
The bone of contention that made the great din
Was what should be judg’d the most Devilish sin.
Some swore it was drinking and others said gaming,
Cruelty, envy, or cursed defaming.
Ambition and av’rice were urg’d with great force,
But pleasures of sense were by many thought worse.
Now Lucifer rising (Great silence was made),
"What ignorant numskulls," his majesty said,
"Who cannot the greatest of vices discover,
A problem soon solv’d by a poor cheated lover.
Perjury, Perjury, gives strength to our throne,
The perfect quintessence of all vices known.
First get your sweet prey to deride sacred truth,
And, smack, we shall have them, men, women, or youth.
To my grand deception and Eve’s broken vows,
The world its sins and its misery owes.
Most vices come single with none at their back,
But round the false heart they cling all in a pack.
Then welcome to deceivers and perjur’d; your lot,
Since companions in guilt, like ours will be hot.
Ode to the Right Reverend Jacob Mountain
Lord Bishop of Quebec
Composed August 8th and 9th, 1803, Cornwall
The bard awakes the tuneful lyre
To rouse the nation to the war
And, as he kindles martial fire,
Each soldier boasts some rugged scar.
Again they long to meet their foes,
Forgetting all their former woes,
Demand the signal to engage,
For hostile blood alone can quench their burning rage.
O shall the Muses only raise
The trophies of the ensanguin’d plain,
Believe him worth immortal praise,
Whose glory rests on millions slain,
While peaceful themes they proudly shun,
The fairest themes beneath the Sun
To which more solid praise belongs
Than Homer e’er conferr’d by his unequall’d songs.
From yonder craggy ridge bewail
The gloomy scene that lies below.
How fruitful once that lonely vale,
But now deform’d by cureless woe.
Contrast the bones that white the plains
With chearful troops of sturdy swains,
The desert towns that burning lie
With splendid cities late the seats of wealth and joy.
O snatch me from the dismal scene
To where in peace we still may roam,
Where ancient woods of heavy green
At first afford a dreary home,
Till fall’n beneath the hardy stroke
The spreading beech and rugged oak,
Their golden fields so richly smile,
That exile’s num’rous ills their waving fruits beguile.
They grateful share the rude domains,
And former pleasures soon renew,
For plenty in their hamlet reigns,
And mirth and smiles their steps pursue
At night the busy cot to cheer
Where all reliev’d from toil appear.
O had they food to raise the mind
How pure their simple joys, no pleasing wish behind.
Nor shall they want this precious gift,
For see the sage approaching nigh
Who spreads with joy religious light,
And soothes with balm the contrite sigh,
Who boldly leaves his native shore
To trace and guide our sacred lore,
Such tidings through the wilds to bring
As Bethlehem’s shepherds heard Celestial Angels sing.
Behold his brethren round him press,
Array’d in stoles of sable hue,
To hear pronounc’d with equal grace
More precious truths than Tully knew.
Blest prelate hail! thy fost’ring hand
To glorious labours still expand.
Bid Fanes their holy comforts shed
And O give learning’s seats that dulcet pleasures spread.
Her loudest trumpet Fame shall sound
The consecrated gifts to praise,
And Mountain’s comely brow surround
With wreaths of never fading bays,
While sacred warmth to feeling hearts
Enraptur’d gratitude imparts,
And calls bright Spirits from on high
To join with welling voice the choral Symphony.
The Pedant King, by Jones inspir’d . . .
The Pedant King, by Jones inspir’d,
To rival antient Greece desir’d.
True taste began to rear her head,
And Gothic grandeur sigh’d and fled.
When Newton banish’d mental night,
A Jones was there to spread the light.
A Jones the simple Indians mourn,
And round his tomb sweet incense burn,
For when he reach’d their fruitful shore,
Base ruthless rapine rag’d no more.
His power their vile oppressors crusht,
And rais’d them suppliant from the dust.
With grateful pleasure, I address
A living branch of such a race,
Who sickness’ baleful rage controls,
And calms with sweetest verse our souls.
To General Wolfe
Here modest Wolfe, cut off in early bloom,
Though crown’d with glory, waits the gen’ral doom;
The shout of vict’ry meets his parting breath,
He hears with joy, and smiling sinks in death.
O noblest, bravest Youth! thy manners mild,
Of half its terrors horrid war beguil’d;
And sweet compassion purified the flame
Which fir’d thy breast to gain a deathless name,
For thee thy country drops the gen’rous tear,
And mourns thy conquests at a price so dear.
Wolfius, victoriâ annunciatâ, ut Thebanus obiit.
A Letter of Recommendation to Servants in Upper
December 7th, 1804. Sent in a letter to Mr. Shakel to
fill up which they were written.
Dear Sir or Madam, if you want
To serve you well a Termagant,
I’ll freely recommend the Bearer,
As truly such, pray try and hear her.
Why, she can scold from morn to night.
Her work advances pretty right.
She’s honest and a good contriver,
And from a whim you ne’er can drive her.
She’s pretty sober too, I think,
And hardly ever found in drink.
Perhaps once in a month her throat
Must have a scouring and why not?
I hope you are not strictly nice,
As snuff she takes, a filthy vice
In cooks when pasties they enclose,
Lest saffron drops desert their nose;
In roasting beef, it’s not so bad,
When better gravy can’t be had.
In busy times she takes a pet
To show her value in the state,
And after half a morning snarling,
Turns up her nose and gives you warning.
In this last merit if you doubt,
Perhaps too late you’ll find it out.
A character she wished to have
To show her rank’s above a slave.
Here it is. Pray read and learn,
Ye Gentry whom it may concern.
Now the victor wears a
crown . . .
Now the victor wears a crown,
Arm’d legions round him stand.
Poets sing his bright renown
O’er nations conquer’d by his hand.
Lowly at his feet behold
Emblems of victorious war.
Ocean only dares withold
Neptune’s rod to deck his car.
Bonaparte thus possess’d
Of all that wealth and power can give,
Now models realms with high behest
And kings and princes on him live.
Partakes he not of ev’ry joy
A vivid fancy can conceive?
Rolling time shall ne’er destroy
The bliss that generous actions leave;
Enchanting still they are without alloy.
Never shall the tyrant taste
Amidst the pomp of guilty power
Peaceful conscience, virt’ous rest,
Or sweet reflection’s joyful hour.
Lo! Henry’s throne his touch repels.
Enrag’d, that monarch’s ghost looks down
On France whose bleeding bosom tells
New victims to the villiain’s frown.
But see, the glitt’ring scene withdraws.
On cygnet down to pass the night
Napoleon goes, but conscience grows
And all his crimes recalls to sight.
Power, empty glory, shrinks to naught,
And keen remorse in accents fell,
Reminds her dear his throne is bought.
The turning of his breast to hell—
Eager he tries to sleep, but sleep his thoughts expel.
A Hymn sung on St. John’s Day on which the Church
was founded at Cornwall, June 24th, 1805.
When first the Sov’reign Lord of Light
On man his sacred form impress’d,
Religion pure, his choicest gift,
Her temple plac’d in Adam’s breast.
On flutt’ring wings she hover’d near
When Innocence from earth had fled,
And sooth’d the sharp repentant tear
With healing balm benignly shed.
Lo! Moses like a star descends
From Sinai’s top enwrap’d with flames.
The rolling thunder round him bends
To mark her just but awful claims.
Her Tabernacle quickly rose,
As trac’d by the Almighty hand;
His glory bright around it flows
And incense smokes at his command.
Celestial hosts at length proclaim
To sinful men a heavenly birth,
To purify religious flame
And spread her joys through all the Earth.
On golden pinions now she soars,
And lifts to God the pious mind.
Her temples bless the farthest shores,
No longer to one state confin’d.
Free from the rites of early youth,
No more she seeks oblations gay,
But pray’rs in spirit and in truth,
For Jesus now directs her way.
Now let us worship Zion’s King,
The source of purity and love,
That He from whom all comforts spring
Our weak endeavours may approve.
That with his mighty presence grac’d
His sacred structure we may raise,
That sweet religion here may rest
To tune our hearts with hallow’d praise.
So shall our race by her inflam’d
Their sires surpass in virtue bright,
Pass through their lives for goodness fam’d
And meet us in the realms of light.
On Andrew Stuart’s Name
July 3rd, 1805.
Always let the gen’rous youth
Nurse an ardent love for truth,
Deem a free and virtuous mind
Richer far than gifts combin’d
Ever made blind Fortune’s child
When wealth and greatness on him smil’d.
Science which forbids decay
Tho’ brass and marble melt away
Unison to all should give,
And widsom tell him how to live,
Refine him with politeness true
To bring his merits more in view.
To Mr. Wood
November 24th, 1806 . . . he was sick.
Arise! O little throb of life
Laying press’d with ruthless woe.
Encourag’d meet the baleful strife,
’Xult toward the threaten’d blow,
And sweet content shall damp thy foe.
Never can the daring mind,
Desiring reason’s purest light,
Evils in life’s journey find.
Resistless to its growing might
With ardent hope it soars on high
O’er all these evils to the sky.
O may such hope to thee be given.
Diseased tho’ thou be, thy thoughts shall rest in heaven.
To Mr. Blackwood on his Marriage
Composed December 26th, 1806.
Yes, I the happy hour will bless
That gives my friend the nuptial kiss,
A gift with which gay Fancy toys,
The rapt’rous pledge of coming joys.
O what is Friendship? Chain of Snow
Compar’d to Love’s diviner glow.
And what is man, that haughty lord,
Unless dear woman charm his board?
In vain he grasps resistless power,
For bitter cares his peace devour.
In vain he mounts Parnassus’ height;
Corroding envy damps his flight
If no sweet spouse by gentle wiles
Bid pleasure come in all her smiles
To light his home with social glee,
To seat contentment at his knee.
O! what is labour all the day,
If love at eve the toil repay?
Well may we life’s worst ills endure
When blessed with such an heavenly cure.
Yes, with my friend I will rejoice,
But how describe his lovely choice?
It’s not her flowing auburn hair,
Her form above her fellows fair,
Her cherry cheeks on iv’ry plac’d,
Her coral lips with pearl grac’d,
Her sparkling eyes emitting fire
That could my sluggard Muse inspire,
Tho’ gifts so precious justly claim
The brightest lay the bard can frame,
But it’s the temper of her soul
Which gentle passions always rule,
A happy mind contriv’d to please,
To banish care, to live at ease,
To strew her husband’s path with flow’rs,
To make him bless his leisure hours
Which free from toil at home he’ll spend,
Delighted with his more than friend.
The happy years reserv’d for you
With such a Nymph! It’s sweet to view,
To see you hail this precious birth
Of all your choicest joys on earth,
To mark it in its annual course
By tender love’s increasing force,
Enwrapt in more engaging ties,
The lovely race that round you rise.
O! where is happiness below
But in the warm connubial glow.
To Mr. and Mrs. Cartwright
To be read to them at breakfast on the Morning of the
New Year 1807.
The sprightly Muse delights to raise
The gleam of unexpected joy.
She loves to warble virtue’s praise
The griefs to soothe that life annoy.
Warm Friendship bids her twine the lay,
Sweet brightner of the feeling breast,
To hail this pleasure-wishing day
In all her choicest blessings drest.
O fruitful Nature, always kind,
On ev’ry age thy bounties flow—
On youth the sunshine of the mind,
On years the sweet parental glow.
Yes, there are precious cares in life
Which mines of gold can never buy.
They raise a pleasing anxious strife
And mark the minutes as they fly.
Would parents change the throbbing bliss
That virtuous children’s deeds bestow,
The welcome home, the parting kiss,
With all the pleasures youth can know?
No. Light to waning age they bring,
And balm to all its griefs impart,
For solid joys can only spring
From that which interests the heart.
O! that my happy Friends may gain
The greatest bliss I can desire:
To see their rising charge attain
To what their fondest hopes require.
A Song Translated from the Gaelic. . .
A song translated by Mrs. Chewitt in prose and turned
into verse by J.S.
Health and joy to the Charmer I saw yesternight;
Her merits surpass Albion’s beauties so bright.
Innum’rable gifts on thee Nature bestows
Which, rang’d by thy wisdom, perfections disclose.
For certainly Nature to thee hath been kind,
Whom she makes beauty’s queen with no follies to blind.
No pride, no conceit, not a fault we behold;
Among females you stand like a diamond in gold.
One third of thy beauties no words can express:
Thy white heaving bosom, thy shape, air, and face,
Thy colour so lovely, tap’ring fingers so fair
Adapted to fancy work tasteful and rare.
While one Albion lives, thy dear mem’ry
O! Fairest of damsels, high blood fills thy veins.
How sweet is thy breath and what fire in thy glance.
How graceful to music thou mov’st in the dance.
Thy teeth like the chalk moisten’d coral
Whence a voice more harmonious than organs resounds.
Unless there should lurk imperfections unseen,
Thy symmetry equals bright Venus the Queen.
How blest beyond the powers
above . . .
How blest beyond the powers above
Am I with Anna’s rapt’rous love,
Who fondly gazing all the while
To hear her speak and see her smile.
’Tis this that sets my blood on fire,
And fills my thoughts with soft desire,
That bids the minutes swiftly roll
As fast’s the wishes of my soul
Until that happy day decline
That makes my Anna wholly mine.
A Song adapted to the tune "Logie O Buchan"
On Ythan’s sweet banks I have frequently
Delighted with Jamie below the birch shade;
His eyes spoke the lover, our converse was sma’,
I little thought war could take Jamie awa’.
The last time I saw him was in yonder green
He gae me a rose sayen, look at this flower;
The colour, my dearest, is whiter than snaw,
An emblem of true love when I’m far awa’.
Its smell still remains when the colour decays,
And faithful love sweetens long life’s latest days;
So think of the odour and colour sae braw,
And your thoughts shall embrace me when I’m far awa’.
I gae him my bracelet with looks of despair,
And sighing we niffer’d locks of our black hair;
My big heart was bursting, nae tears came ava.
Alas! who shall sooth me when Jamie’s awa’.
Be cheerful my lassie, no dangers I fear,
The seraphs who guard us shall always be near
Our wishes to sanction and hear when you ca’
For their aid to protect me when I’m far awa’.
Preserv’d from the wars and the storms of the
I’ll return never more to be sever’d from thee;
Our bliss shall be damp’d by no pleasures ava,
And the purer for those that are past and awa’.
My warmest wish my name displays,
In camps to spend my vig’rous days.
Let dastard minds on warriors frown,
Exchange the buckler for the gown.
Sprung from a line of warlike sires,
My soul to rival them aspires,
And calls me in these feeble times,
Careless of wealth and free from crimes,
Distant tho’ I be, to prove
Once e’re I die, my patriot love.
Nurs’d in Scotia’s barren soil,
Exulting in bright freedom’s smile,
Let me but be my Sovereign’s shield,
Life in his cause I’ll gladly yield.
A Song for the Curling Club
Written March 10th, 1807, for the Curling Club at
Montreal and sent off on the 12th.
Some folks ca the Scots wand’ring fellows,
Inclin’d from their childhood to roam,
Yet blowing like any fu’ bellows
The sweets of their dear native home.
They tell you they herd sae together
The right or the wrong to maintain,
That better be bound in a tether
Than come near the place where they fen.
"Vile slanner!" these curs will be
But compliments in it we find,
And such, if you trust my remarking,
As please the most delicate mind.
For should not a sweetheart or brother
To Scotia some feeling hearts join,
And others a Father or Mother,
Tho’ here at great distance we dine.
O who can remember the places
Where childhood laugh’d off the long day,
And who is not pleas’d while he traces
The games and the methods of play?
The Scot that can think of brave Wallace,
The Bruces, great Douglas and Graham,
Derserves, my dear Fellows, the gallows
Unless he rejoice in their fame.
And if they are found much together,
Shall any such friendliness blame?
The selfish who gen’rous hearts wither
Find yet no resource among them.
Lo, actions evince in a hurry
That brotherly love still remains,
While others she flies in a flurry,
Inherent in true Scottish veins.
And the stranger who soothes life’s
Whose actions sweet virtue impart,
For a brother each Scotchman embraces
And hugs him at once to his heart.
A Song March 24, 1807
But is it for my rosy cheeks,
My dark brown sparkling eye,
My ruby lips, my teeth like milk,
That lovers round me sigh?
For numbers wish to marry me
come to woo.
For numbers wish to marry me
come to woo.
O sister can this fleeting form,
My flowing auburn hair,
My iv’ry neck, my tender voice
Produce their anxious care?
Or look they farther than the smile
That lightens up the face,
And do the charms their hearts enthral,
Which mental virtues grace?
Or come they here in quest of gold,
Of faithful love the bane?
The sordid spawn of Mammon’s mould
My gen’rous thoughts disdain.
Yes, I will try each dying swain
If truth his lips impart.
And he that loves me for myself
Shall win my yielding heart.
Why then I’ll sing, because I’m press’t,
Tho’ little skill’d and a’ that.
My voice is rather rough at best
To please the ear and a’ that.
For a’ that and a’ that,
The bigots frown and a’ that
Who say that folks should never sing,
Nor laugh, nor dance and a’ that.
Let surly fools alone withstand
The fair’s request and a’ that,
Who lose the choicest bliss o’ man
That flows from love and a’ that.
For a’ that and a’ that,
Their narrow minds and a’ that,
Affection ne’er shall warm the heart,
That spurns the sex and a’ that.
Kind nature, frugal of her gifts,
Gives strength to man and a’ that,
But woman higher far she lifts,
By softer charms than a’ that.
For a’ that and a’ that,
His courage keen and a’ that,
The Hero bends his haughty knee
At beauty’s shrine and a’ that.
Then why should we who live at ease
Our aid refuse and a’ that,
Kind nature’s masterpiece to please
With honest mirth and a’ that?
For a’ that and a’ that,
Our dignity and a’ that
Shall ne’er decline because we smile
On social joys and a’ that.
A Song for Mrs. McGill
Written on the 25th of March and given to Mrs. McGill
on the 26th, 1807. Being a double acrostic.
I dread that I who madly smil’d
At rueful lovers’ awkward sighs,
Or liken’d them to children spoil’d,
Now taste their pain—my spirit dies.
How shall I bear the wanton jeers,
New-pierced with Cupid’s cruel dart,
No friend to ward their taunting fleers
And soothe with hope my weary heart?
Shall foolish fears my breast possess,
My breast that harbours such a flame,
That dwells on Laura’s lovely face,
And throbs at mention of her name?
Retreat, ye fears! Sweet hope attend.
Convey my wishes to her heart
And Sire of love, thy slave befriend.
Give her to feel thy searching dart.
Convince the fairest of her sex
In pleasing thoughts and gentle fires
How light the cares that lovers vex,
Link’d fast by truth and soft desires;
And whisper in her circling ear,
Lost are the days not spent in love.
None feel the sweetest pleasures here
Till love their throbbing bosoms move.
My Fancy, oft roving across the wide
main . . .
My Fancy, oft roving across the wide main,
Sits perching on Scotia’s green hillocks again.
The scenes of my childhood she dares to renew,
And recalls the heart-achings that bade them adieu.
Be gone, wayward Fancy! To reason give place.
How can you delight in the pangs of distress?
How can you the thoughts of past pleasures restore?
Youth’s sweet golden times we can never see more.
Contented we’ll live, tho’ remote and
For comforts, sweet comforts, shall bless every hour.
The smiles of soft beauty our firesides endear,
And the prattle of children calls forth a glad tear.
Ode on the Birth of my First Child
Written July 17th, 1808 on the birth of my first
child James McGill Strachan.
Thrice welcome, dearest pledge of love.
O may thy future merits prove
A sure reward for all the pain
Thy mother nobly did sustain,
Till nature quite exhausted lay
Ere thou beheldst the light of day.
My griefs by thee are richly paid,
So when awake affection said,
And I, the partner of her woes,
Who felt new pangs at all her throes,
Forget them all to look at thee,
Sweet cherub on thy mother’s knee.
Can heaven in lovely mercy drest
Behold her creatures so distrest?
Must racking pangs attend the birth
Of all she ushers into earth?
Yes! for a joy these gifts bestow
That soon dispels the fleeting woe.
For Nature’s gen’rous laws ordain
That pleasure follows after pain.
And see, the stream of gladness flows,
Sweet as the dew drops from the rose,
From lovely Anna’s ebon eyes,
As o’er her tender babe she sighs.
She joys her infant charge to rear.
She feels a mother’s anxious care,
And in the laughing buntling’s face,
His father’s looks she tries to trace,
While I put up a fervent pray’r
That heaven will keep him in its care.
United now by stronger ties
From which endearing duties rise,
The Wife and Husband change their names
To Sire and Mother’s warmer claims,
For simple love can ne’er bestow
Its ripen’d fruits diviner glow.
To Mrs. Strachan on her Birth Day
October 6th, 1808.
To Hymen laughing Cupid says,
When once to you my vot’ries go,
Their rapt’rous looks and amorous lays
Are changed to looks and sighs of woe.
How comes it when two hearts of fire
Have knelt before your awful shrine,
The flames that fed them soon expire,
The joys of love they soon resign?
Bright reason sleeps when passion reigns.
Your vot’ries like yourself are blind.
They know not what true love sustains,
Nor prize the treasures of the mind.
As passion cools disgust succeeds;
Their mutual faults appear in view.
Each day new cause of hatred breeds;
Each day their giddy vows they rue.
Tis not the light’ning of the eye,
The blooming face, the flowing hair,
That make life’s minutes sweetly fly,
That fills with joy the married pair.
These charms decay or cease to move,
Unless the virtues tune the heart,
And tempers mild that cherish love
That new delights each hour impart.
Yon happy pair in wedlock join’d
Increasing pleasure daily taste.
In mutual bliss they always find
The purest sunshine of the breast.
Not that with them perfection dwells
Or no harsh cares assail their ease,
But that forbearance soon repels,
And this their mutual wish—to please.
Thus Hymen spoke, my dearest spouse,
And bade me tune my sweetest lay.
Could I the dear request refuse
On this my Anna’s natal day?
And often, often, may you view
In sweet content this day return.
May all you wish your steps pursue,
Your love still unabated burn.
And if some little spots remain,
As who from them’s entirely free,
Correct them or their force restrain
And centre all your joys in me.
Recollections at Sixty-Five
Addressed to the Honorable James McGill, 11th
The sun declines, the stars appear,
Time flies along with rapid wing.
Tomorrow marks another year;
May joys increasing from it spring.
O! may that happiness be mine,
When seven lustrums run their race,
That cheers my Friend in life’s decline
That twines her in its sweet embrace.
"Yes, age has pleasures. Why
"Like others, of its ills complain?
"If bloom and vig’rous manhood fly,
"The soul’s enlarged powers remain.
"We know some foolish men suppose
"No pleasures cheer the days of age.
"Disease, they think, with all her woes
"Its weary moments still engage.
"The man indeed who early tastes
"The gilded poison vice prepares,
"Who spends his health, his fortune wastes,
"Gives pain to age and bitter cares;
"But sweet reflexions cheer the soul
"When youth by virtue’s gentle chain
"Is taught the passions to control,
"And woo religion’s golden reign.
"Oft in the silence of the night,
"My former steps I bring to view.
"The virtuous always give delight;
"They seem as if they still were new.
"What joyful feelings glad my breast,
"How did it throb with filial love
"When in a Parent’s hand I prest
"The means that anxious cares remove,
"And still my throbbing bosom burns,
"And still my Father’s tears I see.
"These, these, he cries, are sweet returns.
"What parent does not envy me?
"My diligence by success crown’d
"Next to my brothers aid imparts.
"In me a second sire they found,
"For dear affection join’d our hearts.
"Oft have I tasted Friendship’s spring,
"The cordial soothing gloomy cares,
"And yet when griefs my bosom wring,
"A healing draught it soon prepares.
"Oft, too, the luxury’s been mine
"To cheer the hopeless and distrest,
"To make their prospects brighter shine,
"To give the sunshine of the breast.
"These pleasing duties only share
"The busy days that I have spent,
"For oft my times and talents were
"With pleasure to the public lent.
"Now love of knowledge time beguiles
"Health, wealth, and ease their charms unite.
"On what is past my conscience smiles,
"My future views to bliss invite.
Such are the thoughts that often
To glad him in the dead of night,
And these, dear Virtue, are thy prize,
O beam of heaven’s benignant light.
Respect from all his steps attend—
The rich, the poor, the old and young.
The orphan’s stay, the widow’s friend,
Compel his praise from ev’ry tongue.
O may that happiness be mine,
When seven lustrums run their race,
That cheers my Friend in life’s decline,
That twines him in its sweet embrace.
Cold was the blast and deep the
snow . . .
Cold was the blast and deep the snow,
As near the fire’s reviving glow
The hoary Minstrel musing sighs.
The tears stand glist’ning in his eyes.
Alas! he mourns the luckless day
That took him from those scenes away
Which rais’d the true poetic fire,
To dreary wastes that grief inspire,
For he the noble Selkirk’s band
Had guarded to a foreign land.
He thought to form a Baldown
Where lofty trees and marshes frown;
But lo! his troop to ills a prey
With grief and fevers melt away.
His younger son his pond’ring sees
And hastes his aged Sire to please,
His thoughts to draw from gloomy scenes
To those where cheerful fancy reigns.
Nature, her poet to renew,
His Father’s mantle o’er him threw.
His soothing music oft prevails
Improv’d by legendary tales,
And brings that bard from eating woe
To feel the soul’s ecstatic glow.
No common lays will now impart
Ease to his Father’s heavy heart,
Yet novelty and verse combin’d
Might sooth, he thought, his troubl’d mind.
From one who travel’d past that way
He brought the Minstrel’s latest lay.
He bids his musing Sire attend:
The bard who sings was once your friend.
The theme, the deeds of Great Buccleugh
At Branksome hall which well we knew.
Rous’d by these words, his pensive eye
Assumes in haste a brighter die.
And sooth, it was right good to see
The varying power of minstrelsy.
One time the Poet’s face looks sad;
Again the numbers make him glad.
At Musgrave’s death he drops a tear,
But Scotia’s glory drowns his care.
And when the well sung tale was done,
The Minstrel blest his grateful son.
I once, he says, in days of yore
Had many tales like this in store,
But why should I these tales review?
We have not here a sweet Buccleugh.
But you have sons, the Youth replies,
Whose hearts to hear you sing rejoice.
The harper’s fancy soars on high.
He thinks of knights and chivalry,
And having tun’d the well known strings
In varying cadence thus he sings.
Verses Addressed to Mr. Jackson
Cornwall August 1st, 1810. A letter addressed to Mr.
Jackson, his British Majesty’s Ambassador Extraordinary to the United
States, with the following verses.
Honorable Sir Francis J. Jackson
Most Honorable Sir:
I beg leave to present Your Excellency with a copy of
verses on the subject of your Mission. As the Muses are not yet
familiarized to the Woods of Canada the lines require much candour in
I rejoice that I have had the honour of conversing
for a few moments with Your Excellency whom I have long admired in
secret. It is one of the happiest incidents of my life. Accept most
Honorable Sir of my sincere prayers for the safe arrival of Your
Excellency, your amiable Lady and Children in England, and a happy
meeting with your numerous Friends and such a reception from Government
as your transcendant abilities so richly deserve. I am Most Honorable
With Profound Respect,
Your Excellency’s Most Obt. Humble Servant,
Behold Corcyra’s hateful race
Their parent Corinth spurn;
To plunge their Sires in black distress
Their rankling bosoms burn.
Like them, Columbia’s Statesmen gnaw
Their British Sires with serpent jaw.
They wish to cramp the Parent State
Regardless of her glorious cause
For justice, freedom, equal laws,
As well’s their own impending fate.
In vain these cursed children try
To prop a Despot’s power.
Expos’d by Jackson’s piercing eye,
Their day begins to lour.
Prescription scars her sullen coast,
And Faction shakes her blood stain’d vest
While trembling envy’s cruel sting,
The produce of their poison’d hearts,
Back on themselves the sorrow darts
They sought on Englishmen to bring.
Lo! Britains glory future times
In rapture shall declare,
When base Columbia’s dastard crimes
The wicked’s meed shall share,
For grateful nations sprung from those
Who now the British views oppose,
Shall at their Fathers blush for shame,
Who sought to crush the gen’rous race
That tried to give them full redress,
And cherish’d freedom’s dying flame.
The tribute of a rustic muse,
Exil’d from classic ground,
Let candid Jackson not refuse.
Thy name’s a pleasing sound;
It tells our hearts that Britain’s cause,
Intrusted to his genius bright,
More aid from truth and justice draws
Than from her sons in martial fight.
A Song Sent to Mr. Blackwood
A dark forboding chills my blood
As Henry sighs adieu.
That lovely form so wise, so good,
Again I’ll never view.
My tender sisters kindly try
My drooping soul to raise,
And some swift moments swiftly fly
While Mira sings his praise.
But gloom returns; a frightful dream
Fast seizes on my heart.
Tho’ reason might its force disdain,
It bids meek hope depart.
Methinks, alas, that Henry dear
Lies weltering on the ground;
His corpse I see with quaking fear, 15
Deform’d by many a wound.
Some weeks my vision realize;
On glory’s crimson bed
With gallant Wolfe my Henry dies
As vict’ry rais’d her head.
Soon shall his once lov’d Mary go
Where Henry sure must be.
This world to them bliss may show;
It now has none for me.
Aurora mild extends the grateful view,
And rising mists discharge a copious dew.
When hollow sounds the Tarrantines awake,
That slowly murmur through the placid lake,
The surly warriors Logan send to spy
What foes advance while they in ambush lie.
To Logan oft the dang’rous mission falls,
Where prudence keen or steady courage calls.
When first this valour in the battle shone,
A distant nation claim’d him for her son.
Till captive taken on a luckless plain,
The Tarrantines wept him for the slain.
He swiftly glides along Ontario’s shore,
Directed by the lab’ring clashing oar;
But when his barb’rous foes, the whites, appear,
His quiv’ring lips a boiling rage declare.
Their cruel wrath had burst upon his head;
He mourns a slaughter’d wife and children dead,
For distant far their brave protector stood
When savage meanness shed their guiltless blood.
The hated night renews his bleeding woes,
And sweet revenge demands the guilty foes.
In blinded wrath he bends the twanging bow,
But widely erring, pass’d the bounding prow,
And loudly sounds the warrior’s dismal yell;
The woods re-echo to the horrid knell.
Affrighten’d at the chieftain’s threat’ning mien,
The trembling strangers haste the land to gain,
And hold a wampum girdle high in air
Their journey’s peaceful motives to declare,
An emblem sacred to the power of peace
Which Logan’s rage controls, tho’ ne’er to cease.
Crafty Rankins leads the advent’rers bold
To search these gloomy woods in quest of gold.
His heart, long practis’d in the basest guile,
Is slyly cover’d with a siren smile.
To grasp at wealth, he’d slaughter or betray
The Indian race like common beasts of prey.
Yet sixty annual suns the villains dread,
Their silver honors round his temples shed.
By this the warrior train in fierce array,
Prepar’d for martial deeds, approached nigh.
With furious looks they view the aged man
Who, bending lowly, thus his speech began:
Our King, ye gallant chiefs, salutes you friends
By this broad belt which social love extends.
At his command the scorching Sun we brave,
Despise the dangers of the wat’ry grave,
The deadly vapour of the marshy soil,
The pain of hunger and unceasing toil,
To bring the gifts which polish’d life imparts,
Such gifts as shall rejoice your feeling hearts.
We know, alas, where lofty trees are
That pois’nous weeds and brambles mar the ground;
The verdant plains that feed the nimble deer
The crested snake in dreadful horror rear;
So fathers oft among their sons behold
The dastard coward, the gen’rous and the bold.
The last supports the honors of his race;
The former lives these honors to disgrace.
We seek not, therefore, madly to conceal
The faults which former actions must reveal.
The crimes the whites have done we here confess
And gladly come their errors to redress.
It’s this that brought us from our native home
So far with many precious gifts to roam.
Thus Rankins speaks but sees with
The warriors louring grasp the pointed spear.
Yet still prepar’d, he gently waves his hand
And lo! an Indian jumps upon the strand.
This youth just rescu’d from the burning stake
As earnest of our proffered Friendship take.
With nimble steps the joyful Sachems run
And call the Turtle to embrace his son.
The starting Chief, o’ercome with sweet surprise,
His gallant son receives with streaming eyes,
A son long number’d with the silent dead,
For whom he ting’d with black his shaven head.
To seize advantage, artful Rankins knows
When lost in joy the grateful heart o’erflows.
We ask no more than room to build a fort
Where all the tribe at pleasure may resort
To taste the noble gifts we gladly bring
As friendly tokens from our gracious King.
But Logan, still with rage and sorrow torn,
Condemns the whites and treats their gifts with scorn,
While Turtle grateful shaking Rankins’ hand,
Declares the morning answers his demand.
The council met—grave Nemoshush explains
The strangers’ wish to share their native plains
And calls the Sachems wisely to disclose
What answer to the strangers they propose.
But first the hoary chief with heart sincere,
The God of life invokes in sacred pray’r.
O Mighty Spirit! teach us to decide,
For in thy gracious aid our hearts confide,
And as the smoke with grateful smell ascends,
Propitious be to us thy humble Friends.
They burnt Tobacco as the warrior spake,
And hung a snowy Spaniel on a stake.
With anxious doubts the heroes stand
Whom haughty Logan rose and thus address’d:
Look round, my Brothers, to your lofty woods,
Your blooming plains transpir’d with crystal floods.
Through these, with freedom blest, our Fathers ranged
As pleasure bade them, or as seasons chang’d,
But freedom fled when strangers press’d our shore,
And life’s most grateful joys are known no more.
With fluttering lutes they came—a feeble band.
Our Noble Sires receiv’d them on the stand,
Their ship admir’d and fix’d her with a chain
Of tender bark, sweet friendship to maintain
In numbers strong the sickly strangers few.
They change the bark to steel of azure hue
But, finding steel to eating rust inclin’d,
A silver chain they make from dross refin’d.
Too late, alas, they find these wicked friends,
Their hearts corrupt to gain their private ends.
In vain they fly, or boldly meet the strife.
They fall deserted by the God of life.
From past experience solid counsel flows,
And brighter prospects rise from former woes.
Then, Brothers, spurn the treacherous terms they bring,
Their gifts reject, despise their cruel king,
Their proffer’d friendship treat with just disdain,
And drive them headlong from our wide domain.
Shall warriors dread their boasted skill in war,
Since from the mighty lake remov’d so far?
Shall we refuse, who never knew to fly,
To fight for freedom, for its sake to die?
What drives them here, regardless of repose?
What makes them brave the deep and winter’s snows?
What makes them leave their wives and children dear?
Is it our hearts with precious gifts to cheer?
Delusion all. They came but to deceive.
Behold their sordid lusts and then believe;
Their pois’ning manners teach to cheat and lie,
To shrink from danger, or like women die,
To lead a dastard life with honour bought,
To stain the glorious deeds our Fathers wrought.
I know them well and did their steps attend.
For many years, young Logan was their friend—
Their faithful Friend—but mark the fell reward
That crown’d his hopes who sought their kind regard.
The villains watch till Logan goes from home,
And basely on his hut defenceless come.
His blooming sons they mangle on the shore;
His spouse they smother in her children’s gore.
Of Logan’s race no living soul remains;
His crimson blood flows in no children’s veins.
Yet think not I the tree of peace despise,
Or never wish to see its blossoms rise,
But present safety tells us peace to shun,
Or else the tribe’s trepann’d, enslav’d, undone.
Thus Logan spoke and wise Ethini rose;
His wither’d cheeks a length of years disclose.
Keen prudence, brothers, success should presage
Before we rashly in a war engage.
In peace we boldly range our hunting ground,
While num’rous warlike tribes have sunk around.
Our counsel still this precious gift secures,
And many comforts to the tribe procures.
Of Allies to support us, there are none;
If then we fight the whites, we fight alone.
The private griefs that torture Logan’s heart
The wisest counsel seldom can impart,
For to some distant tribe the Chief belong’d
When cruel whites his feeling bosom wrong’d.
These men have seldom come this far before
Who now request a station on our shore.
Much have they promis’d, nor in former times
Can we condemn them of destructive crimes.
Great Logan says the tribe will be repressed
Should we presume to grant their small request.
He says their feeble numbers will increase
When once a steady footing they possess.
A single seed may soon produce a wood;
A pregnant fish soon fill a raging flood.
But why should we regard this distant fear
With more alarms than greater dangers near?
Suppose against the strangers war we wage;
With num’rous friends assisting they’ll engage.
The whites before and hostile tribes behind,
Our race a certain grave must quickly find.
Yet Chiefs, if cruel war the gen’ral cry,
Ethini never was afraid to die.
His heart proclaims the mighty God of life
Can make the few victorious in the strife,
That firmly trust in his Almighty Power
And seek protection in the trying hour.
Of if the sacred prayer he can’t approve,
He shall reward them in the realms above.
My steady counsel, then, inclines to yield
A little station where the whites may build.
We know their vices. Let us strictly guard
Against those ills that prudence may retard.
War’s horrid frowns let ev’ry voice reject,
And plant the peaceful tree with just respect.
Thus spoke the wise Ethni and prevail’d,
Tho’ still some fears their anxious minds assail’d.
And much they grieve their kindred on the coast
Had not to death consign’d the stranger host,
Forgot in mutual love their private woes,
And hurl’d destruction on their common foes,
For now they sighing find their only course
Is by compliance to suspend their force.
With Rankins call’d, they smoke the sacred stem,
And all the pious rites of peace proclaim.
His belt the Turtle takes and gives a chain,
That smiling peace may not be made in vain.
This belt, the Warrior cries, our friendship binds,
And stamps the various duties on our minds;
And this we give in honour of the Sun
To witness long the friendship now begun.
The hatchet sunk, the peaceful tree we plant,
And spread the roots, lest nutriment they want.
The rising branches blooming round our heads
Shall oft delight us with their pleasant shades.
On saying this, his hands he lifts in air,
And seals the treaty with a solemn pray’r.
The peace concluded, Rankins straight
A proper station on the gloomy shores.
The simple Natives help with hearts sincere
To build the cursed fort that costs them dear.
They feast with sav’ry game their new allies,
And fondly bind them with the strongest ties.
Their kindness Rankins pays with crystal beads,
And shining paint to deck their shaven heads.
The better presents he conceals with care
Till once the fortress leaves him nought to fear.
This strongly built, the savage Chiefs he calls
To feast within the hospitable walls.
He spreads the chintz, the hats, and linens fine,
Beads, knives, and kettles, shining brass, and twine.
Of these he gives them, but he still demurs
To give them much, unless repaid by furs.
He chang’d the musket with the knotty spear,
The nimble moose to kill or timorous deer.
In blankets chang’d for beaver robes they dress,
And Rankins urges to begin the chase.
Impell’d by him, the warriors quickly fly
In quest of fame, and numerous martyrs die.
The skilful beaver in his dam they watch,
And in their gyves the cunning foxes catch.
The swiftness of the deer is tried in vain;
The whizzing ball outflies him on the plain.
The marten, elk, and bear their skins resign,
And ermine white, raccoon, and wolverine.
The tribes with peltries loaded soon return,
And keenly for the fav’rite liquor burn,
For all the pois’nous rum with ardour prize,
And other gifts with surly tone despise.
Intrepid Rankins gives them what they choose,
But first with water makes it fit to use.
He knows that liquor stirs the deadly strife,
But who, cries he, regards an Indian’s life?
The goblet passes round; the tumults rise.
The growing din re-echoes to the skies.
Thus, raging breasts with savage passions tore;
Those most they hate whom most they lov’d before.
So was it now for, rising in a rage
Which neither force nor kindness could assuage,
The Turtle madly stabs his darling son
And laughing wildly knows not what is done—
His darling son from slav’ry just return’d,
Whose hapless fate with bitter tears he mourned!
What grievous anguish shall the father know
When he beholds the lovely youth laid low.
The raging Chiefs both wives and children join,
For now the pois’nous draught of death decline.
Hark! Hark! The women tears of sorrow shed,
And, nearly drunk, they recollect the dead.
The wisest Sachems, too, with eager haste
Drink deep and revel equal to the rest.
The stormy tumult thickens; thoughts remote
Are now reviv’d with quarrels long forgot.
Still Rankins smiles with heart enchain’d in steel.
More rum he gives, nor can compassion feel.
Alas! ere morning dawns the tribes deplore
Six chosen warriors welt’ring in their gore.
To drink no more, the Sachems firmly swear,
But few to such a wise resolve adhere.
Temptations come again, the warriors fall.
Bewitched they seem and liquor conquers all.
The dreadful gulf they see and try to fly,
But courage fails, and passion draws them nigh.
They reach by slow degrees the horrid brink;
The eddy sucks them in and down they sink.
Thus, in a whirlpool have I seen a beam
Appear to glide along the rapid stream.
It floats a little way but all in vain.
The curling circle draws it back again.
The vortex less’ning something ev’ry round,
It whirls, at last, into the gulf profound.
Or as the birds, appal’d by danger near,
When crested snakes their glist’ning eye-balls rear,
Their feeble wings inert away to fly,
But still the savage charmers draw them nigh.
All flutt’ring round, for friendly aid they call,
And nearer to their foe each moment fall,
Till meeting with the serpents pois’nous breath,
His crushing jaws they feel and sink in death.
From drunken frolicks single nights
But longer evils follow. Dire disease,
The baneful small-pox, rages through the tribes;
No skill relieves, no incantation bribes.
They wish to fly the horrors of the sight,
But cruel death arrests their rapid flight.
And whither shall they from the pest repair?
The noxious vapours fill the circling air.
The Chiefs, dejected, sink beneath the load
And curse the judgment of their envious God.
To sickness little used, they soon despair;
For coming ills they never once prepare.
Thus hunger and disease together join,
And ’gainst the tribes their baleful force combine.
The son of Isaac, late a comely youth,
For water sighs to cool his parched mouth.
His dying mother hears his plaintive cries;
To help her darling child with joy she tries,
But nature ebbs. She scarcely reach’d his bed,
And breath’d her last while lifting up her head.
The loathsome carcasses unburned lie,
Obscenely mangled by the beasts of prey.
The wolves rapacious drag them from their huts,
Nor wait till death the door of mis’ry shuts.
The famish’d dog devours his master dead,
And gnaws the hand from which he often fed.
Ethini weeps, his family left alone,
His best and faithful friends already gone.
Resolv’d he stands and wipes his children’s tears.
Be calm! he cries, and banish dastard fears.
Behold our hapless kindred’s dismal fate;
The fierce contagion sweeps our sinking state.
Some evil spirit sov’reign power obtains,
And kills our dearest friends with ling’ring pains.
A moment hence, at us he’ll aim his blow.
Then let us disappoint the cruel foe.
This shining dagger points a rapid flight
To those who dare reject this mortal light.
With dreadful joy they raise the song of death,
And bless their murd’rer with their latest breath.
This horrid work perform’d, Ethini sighs;
Yet death his dismal calmness still defies.
He turns to view his bleeding friends again
And feels rejoic’d at cutting off their pain;
Then, bending gently o’er his lovely wife,
His heart transfixt and yields the load of life.
Thus, Indians from disease no refuge find,
But sickening die and leave no trace behind,
Just as fire before autumnal rains
Converts the lofty woods to dreary plains.
The raging pest, with anguish, Rankins sees,
But wants the skill to give the needful ease,
Not that compassion touch’d his harden’d soul,
For interest always bore resistless rule.
He sadly mourns that cruel death had come
Before his debts were paid and cargo home.
Yet Rankins’ conscience, now extremely sear’d
By frequent crimes, is sometimes to be fear’d.
It calls him forth, his impious cause to plead,
To prove his innocence about the dead.
Have I, says he, these savage ruffians slain
Or murder’d any of the swarthy train?
Can I repel the ravage of disease,
Or tell the king of terrors when to cease?
And if my coming brought an earlier tomb,
Wise Providence had first resolv’d their doom;
And how can polish’d colonies increase,
Unless mischance cut off the barb’rous race?
If policy sometimes prolongs their fate,
The whites may justly crush them for their hate.
My feelings shudder at the sport they make
When roasting throbbing prisoners at the stake.
In drunken routs they revel all the night,
And in the deepest gambling take delight.
Their savage hearts all sacred truth decline,
Nor have they knowledge human or divine.
What blessings can they lose by timely graves,
And what’s their use, unless we make them slaves?
Thus Rankins tries to veil his wicked deeds,
But virtuous conduct no excuses needs.
O savage Monster, view that pile of
Which scarcely hide the warriors mould’ring bones.
Were you to blame when these bright spirits fell,
The victim of the pois’nous draughts you sell?
Can you, the source of all their dismal woes,
Expect to taste the sweets of calm repose,
Their vile instructor in the paths of vice
Who plung’d them deep in mis’ry’s dire abyss?
No, injur’d heaven for such no pardon knows,
But gives them up to never ending woes.
Preface for Miss Lunn’s Album
December 8th, 1831. Sent to Mrs. Washburn.
I send Miss Lunn’s Album to your care and, tho’
sent to me by mistake, I have scratched some things in it. I fear rather
dull for two causes. In the first place, my poetical vein, if ever I had
one, is rapidly drying up from age and non-usage. In the second place,
the little that remains stands frozen by the frost. I must put off Mrs.
Monro till the spring thaw which may do much.
York, December 12th, 1831
This little book presumes to claim
A favour in its Mistress’ name,
From buoyant youth and sober age
Who look upon its varying page.
Gay, moral, witty, as they please—
The product of some heart at ease—
A tiny sprig, a wreath, a flower,
Is fit to deck a Lady bower
In Proverb wise that shall impart
Instruction to the weary heart,
In graver moral to control
The wand’rings of the craving soul,
Or higher still, some truth sublime
Which mocks at length of space and time,
Lifts far aloft this eye of clay
To scenes where bliss is to obey.
A boon so just none may refuse
Who love to court the virgin Muse.
How bright the star . . .
How bright the star of fading twilight glows,
How mild the Moon slow stealing on the view,
How sweet the blushes of the morning rose,
The Queen of Heaven adorn’d with sparkling dew;
But sweeter far, the heavenly motion’d heart
That bids the ready hand extend relief,
That blunts the force of death’s relentless dart,
And turns to joy the lonely orphan’s grief.
I love the bursting tear, the gem of woe,
That fills Miranda’s soul-enkindled eye.
I love the voice that smooths the path below,
And points to glorious realms beyond the sky,
For still to heaven our longing spirits soar.
No home they find in this condemned abode
And, self abas’d, in fervent faith implore
The tender mercy of the incarnate God.
He smiles; his love dispels the darkest gloom,
Bids hope supplant the tremblings of dismay,
And calls the inmates of the dreary tomb
To share the glories of eternal day.
For Mrs. Monro’s Album
York , July 23rd, 1833.
I had put away your Album so carefully as to have
forgotten it till searching for a paper a few days ago. I now return it
with a few lines. "The Sonnet" and "David’s Lamentation
over Saul and Jonathan" will be found to have some merit, but I
have so many duties on my hands that little time is left me for lighter
matters. The subjects are serious but I supposed you would like them
better on that account.
The Husband to his Wife
Sweet Eden’s happy land appears,
Rejoicing in the Solar rays.
Her gayest liv’ry Nature wears,
And all her richest bloom displays.
The feather’d songsters warbling love
In every verdant bush are found.
The balmy zephyrs fan the grove,
And scatter rich perfumes around.
Here scenes like these crown ev’ry year,
And on that morning doubly shine,
That whisper’d, banish love and fear;
Your Clara is forever thine.
New ties of union God bestows.
How dear the pledges he has given.
May every moment, as it flows,
Bring them and us still nearer heaven.
Love Not the World: a Sonnet
Love not the world, still changing as the wind;
Lost are the souls that shall in thee confide.
Thy brittle chain, alas, no virtues bind,
Light as the fish that skims along the tide,
Thy smile, the sunbeam of an April morn,
And transient as the drops of dew that swell
The lily’s cup, and tip the blossom’d thorn
Or, quiv’ring, glitter on the tulip bell.
Go fickle sinful world! Attempt to
Some heart that never trusted thee before.
But I so oft have witness’d thy deceit,
Thy Syren song shall ne’er delude me more,
Nor will I at thy wayward frowns repine,
For look! The Saviour smiles, and inward joy is mine.
David’s Lamentation for Saul and Jonathan
2 Samuel, chapter 1, verse 19 to the end.
The beauty of Israel is mantl’d in night.
The mighty have fallen! How the heathen delight!
Exulting, they tread on the hearts of the brave,
And grudge God’s anointed the rest of the grave.
O tell not in Gath that our glory is fled.
O grant not dark Beth Shan to mangle the dead,
Nor infidel virgins in triumph to raise
To profligate Dagon their incense of praise.
Gilboa, Gilboa, thou barren shalt be.
The gladness of harvest thou never shalt see,
Nor life quick’ning rain, nor dew drops be shed
From the clouds that encircle thy dark frowning head,
But light’ning’s swift arrow and thunder’s dread roar
Shall sweep o’er thy bosom, now crimson’d with gore.
The crown’d son of Kush has fought his
Disgrac’d in the dust, his the warrior’s shield.
His armies no longer the combat sustain,
And his three gallant sons around him be slain.
O never before did great Jonathan’s
Or Saul’s mighty falchion succumb to the foe;
For swifter than eagles, than lions more strong,
Where the fight strongly rages, they mix in the throng.
Their voice thrills with terror the hearts of the brave,
And their deeds more than satiate the wants of the grave.
Tho’ now left forsaken, no hope from above,
Adversity chills not their friendship and love.
United through life, the heart’s sweetest tie,
They glory in sadness, united to die.
Weep, daughters of Zion, for Saul, your
Lament over Jonathan, valiant in fight.
They bade you in scarlet your persons enfold,
And your foreheads embellish with jewels of gold.
The rocks and the mountains that witness’d
Re-echo in sorrow great Jonathan’s name.
For him, more than brother in sunshine or woe,
Who lov’d passing woman, my tears sharply flow.
No more shall his eyes beaming love on me shine,
Nor the bliss of our soul’s mingled counsel be mine.
The mighty have fallen, for the hand of
Hath palsied their valour and broken their sword.