Lives of
Scottish Poets
edited by
DAVID HILL RADCLIFFE

Center for Applied Technologies
in the Humanities


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Scottish Notes & Queries

Part I. (Volume I.)
Front-matter
James the First
Thomas the Rhymer
John Barbour
Andrew Wyntoun
Gavin Douglas
Allan Ramsay
William Meston
John Home
James Beattie
Robert Burns

Part II. (Volume I.)
Front-matter
James the Fifth
William Dunbar
Sir James Inglis
Henry the Minstrel
Sir David Lyndsay
Alexander Barclay
Alexander Montgomerie
William Alexander
William Drummond
James Thomson
John Oswald

Part III. (Volume II.)
Front-matter
James the Sixth
Sir Richard Maitland
Arthur Johnston
Hamilton of Bangour
Hamilton of Gilbertfield
Samuel Colvil
Alexander Ross
John Armstrong
John Ogilvie
James Macpherson
Charles Salmon

Part IV. (Volume II.)
Front-matter
Alexander Hume
John Bellenden
Mark Alexander Boyd
Ninian Paterson
William Wilkie
Robert Fergusson
William Julius Mickle
Alexander Geddes
James Grahame

Part V. (Volume III.)
Front-matter
Robert Henryson
Alexander Scott
Walter Kennedy
John Ogilby
Alexander Pennecuik
Alexander Cunningham
David Mallet
William Falconer
Francis Garden
Robert Blair
James Moor
James Graeme
Caleb Whitefoord
James Grainger
Hector Macneill
John Wilson

Part VI. (Volume III.)
Front-matter
Robert Kerr
Richard Lord Maitland
Thomas Hamilton
Charles Hamilton
Michael Bruce
Thomas Blacklock
John Logan
Andrew Macdonald
James Mercer

Appendix. (Volume III.)
James I
Allan Ramsay
John Home
Robert Burns
William Drummond
Robert Fergusson
Alexander Scott
John Wilson
Index
Corrections

Part  III:
HAMILTON OF BANGOUR
POETS — HAMILTON OF BANGOUR.77
HAMILTON OF BANGOUR.

“There have I seen a Hamilton submitting his verses to the correction and criticism of a fair circle, who did not trust alone to beauty the most superior, for the preservation of their empire over mankind.”
Col. Caustic. Lounger, No. 14.

1

William Hamilton, of Bangour, [note] the poet of the polite world in Scotland, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, was born in 1704. He was descended from an ancient family, of independent circumstances, in Ayrshire; and, born to elegant society, wanted nothing which a liberal education could supply to render him its ornament. Amidst the lighter dissipations of gay life, he cultivated a taste for literature, and acquired an intimate acquaintance with the best writers, both of modern times and of antiquity. The bent of his own mind was to poetry, and he made some early essays in it, which, being shewn about among his friends, obtained a degree of approbation which incited him to persevere in his court to the Muses. When the rebellion of 1745 broke out, he took the side which most men of generous temperament were apt to take in those days—he joined the cause of the Pretender, [note] and celebrated his first suc-
78LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
cess at Preston-pans, in the well-known Jacobite ode of “Gladsmuir.” After the battle of Culloden, which put an end to the contest, he fled into the mountains, and passed through many perils and hardships before he succeeded in effecting his escape into France. His exile, however, was short. He had left many friends and admirers among the fortunate party behind him, who took the earliest opportunity of procuring his pardon from government, on which he returned home, and resumed possession of his paternal estate. His health, however, which was naturally delicate, and probably not a little injured by his military adventures, requiring the benefit of a warmer climate, he not long after returned to the continent, and took up his abode at Lyons, where he continued to reside, till a lingering consumption carried him off in the fiftieth year of his age.

2

A volume of poems, by Hamilton, was first published at Glasgow in 1748, and afterwards reprinted; but it was a pirated publication, made not only without the author's consent, but without his name; and, as might be expected, abounded in errors. It remained to his friends, after his death, to publish from his original manuscripts the first genuine and complete collection of his works. It appeared at Edinburgh in 1760, with a head by Strange, [note] who had been a fellow adventurer with Hamilton in the Stuart cause.

3

The poems of Hamilton failed for some time to attract any particular notice, and were becoming, indeed, almost forgotten; when an able criticism in the Lounger, from the pen of the late Professor Richardson, of Glasgow, awakened the public to a
POETS — HAMILTON OF BANGOUR.79
juster sense than they seemed before to entertain of their merits.

4

“The poems of Hamilton,” says Mr. Richardson, “display regular design, just sentiments, fanciful invention, pleasing sensibility, elegant diction, and smooth versification.” The justness of this encomium he illustrates by an analysis of Hamilton's principal poem, called Contemplation, or the Triumph of Love. He dwells particularly on the quality of fanciful invention, as being that of all others which distinguishes and is chiefly characteristic of poetical composition. He admits, that Hamilton is “not endowed with all the powers of invention, nor with those of every kind.”—“His imagination is employed among beautiful and engaging, rather than among awful and magnificent images; and even when he presents us with dignified objects, he is more grave than lofty, more solemn than sublime, as in the following passage:”

Now see the spreading gates unfold,
Display'd the sacred leaves of gold.
Let me with holy awe repair
To the solemn house of pray'r;
And as I go, O thou, my heart,
Forget each low and earthly part.
Religion, enter in my breast,
A mild and venerable guest!
Put off, in contemplation drown'd,
Each thought impure in holy ground;
And cautious tread, with awful fear,
The courts of heaven—for God is here.
Now my grateful voice I raise;
Ye angels, swell a mortal's praise,
80LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
To charm with your own harmony
The ear of Him who sits on high!
5

“It is not asserted,” adds Mr. Richardson, when exemplifying “the pleasing sensibility” which he ascribes to Hamilton, that he “displays those vehement tumults and ecstacies of passion, that belong to the higher kinds of lyric and dramatic composition. He is not shaken with excessive rage, nor melted with overwhelming sorrow; yet when he treats of grave or affecting subjects, he expresses a plaintive and engaging softness. He is never violent and abrupt, and is more tender than pathetic. Perhaps “the Braes of Yarrow,” one of the finest ballads ever written, may put in a claim to superior distinction. But even with this exception, I should think our poet more remarkable for engaging tenderness, than for deep and affecting pathos.”—“In like manner, when he expresses the joyful sentiments, or describes scenes and objects of festivity, which he does very often, he displays good humour and easy cheerfulness, rather than the transports of mirth or the brilliancy of wit.” Mr. Richardson exemplifies these characteristics by some of Hamilton's descriptions of female beauty. One of the passages which he quotes, presenting a picture of the gentler and livelier graces, is peculiarly happy, and conveys a strong impression of Hamilton's poetical powers.

In everlasting blushes seen,
Such Pringle shines of sprightly mien;
To her the power of love imparts,
Rich gift the soft successful arts
POETS — HAMILTON OF BANGOUR.81
That best the lover's fires provoke,
The lively step, the mirthful joke,
The speaking glance, the am'rous wile,
The sportful laugh, the winning smile.
Her soul, awak'ning every grace,
Is all abroad upon her face;
In bloom of youth, still to survive,
All charms are there, and all alive.
6

Mr. Mackenzie, [note] the ingenious editor of the Lounger, enforced the judgement pronounced by his critical correspondent, by a note, in which he observes, “It will not methinks require the enthusiasm of a laudator temporis acti, like Colonel Caustic, to receive a peculiar satisfaction in tracing the virtues and the beauty of a former age, in the verses of one who appears to have so warmly caught the spirit of the first, to have so warmly felt the power of the latter. Nor may it be altogether without a moral use, to see, in the poetical record of a former period, the manners of our own country in times of less luxury, but not perhaps of less refinement, when fashion seems to have conferred superiorities folly as intrinsic as any she can boast at present; to have added dignity of sentiment to pride of birth, and to have invested superior beauty with superior grace and higher accomplishments.”

7

The fame of Hamilton has also found a warm vindicator in Lord Woodhouselee, [note] who thus speaks of him in his Life of Kaimes:—“With the elegant and accomplished William Hamilton, of Bangour, whose amiable manners were long remembered with the tenderest recollection by all who knew him, Mr.
82LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
Home (Lord Kaimes)
[note] lived in the closest habits of friendship. The writer of these Memoirs has heard him dwell with delight on the scenes of their youthful days, and he has to regret, that many an anecdote, to which he listened with pleasure, was not committed to a better record titan a treacherous memory. Hamilton's mind is pictured in his verses. They are the easy and careless effusions of an elegant fancy, and a chastened taste; and the sentiments they convey are the genuine feelings of a tender and susceptible heart, which perpetually owned the dominion of some favorite mistress; but whose passion generally evaporated in song, and made no serious or permanent impression. His poems had an additional charm to his contemporaries, from being commonly addressed to his familiar friends of either sex, by name. There are few minds insensible to the soothing flattery of a poet's record.”

8

Notwithstanding this concurrence of high critical authorities, in favour of Hamilton's claims to poetical renown, the attention of the public appears to have been only called to, not fixed upon, his works. Although they have been since inserted in the new edition (by Johnson [note] and Chalmers) [note] of the English Poets, there has been no demand for a separate edition; nor is Hamilton among those writers whom we often hear quoted either by the learned or the gay.

9

Are we then to conclude, that too high a station has been attempted to be assigned to him? The public voice seems to pronounce in the affirmative; and it is not often that the public voice is in the wrong. In the present instance, however, there
POETS — HAMILTON OF BANGOUR.83
seems strong reason to question the perfect justness of its decision. Although Hamilton's claims may not reach to a place in the highest class of our poets; yet there are few of a secondary order who can, with fairness, take rank above him.

10

The period at which Hamilton wrote must always be a material circumstance for consideration, in forming a proper estimate of his merits. He was one of the first of his countrymen, who, after that long night of darkness which elapsed between 1615 and 1715, illumined only by the passing meteors, Stirling and Drummond, returned to life and nature, in returning to the use of the common language, either in its Scotch or English garb. After the accession of James to the English throne, it had, some how or other, ceased to be thought creditable, among our men of learning, to write in any language but what men of learning alone could understand. Either disdaining to cultivate that more polished dialect of the old Anglo-Saxon, which had now become the language of the court, because it happened to be that of a people still unhappily regarded with a rival feeling, or distrustful of the success they might attain in it, they threw themselves into the arms of the Latin muses, with whom they passed a joyless solitude of many ages. Men of genius no longer thought or wrote but in trammels; for, be the degree of familiarity with a foreign or dead language what it may, it can never rival the ease with which one speaks the language of his nativity; and what was worse, they no longer wrote for the multitude, without whose inspiring approbation there can be no such thing as prosperity in national literature.
84LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
Genius was thus not only repressed, but wasted; not only obscured, but wedded to obscurity. An author who writes in a living tongue, though known, at first, only to a few, may hope in time to be known to all; but the posterity, by whom alone the Latinists of those days could expect to be remembered, was the posterity of scholars, always a limited community, and not always a very caring one about the honours of departed genius. Many a worthy name may thus have been suffered to drop into oblivion, nor can we be at all sure, that it is by those whose reputation has chanced to survive, that we ought to judge of the literary talent which existed in Scotland during the long and gloomy, yet classic, period of which we have been speaking.

11

At the dawn of the eighteenth century, the scholastic spell was, at length, broken; and Ramsay, in the native Scottish dialect, and Hamilton in English, shewed how much fonder the Muses were to be wooed, even in homespun attire, than in the grave clothes of a Horace [note] or an Ovid. [note] It may, with safety, be asserted, that in the works of Hamilton alone there is more genuine poetry, than in the whole century of Latin poets who preceded him; and though not so highly esteemed as he deserves to be, still he is read, while they have long ceased to be known to the general reader, except by name.

12

As a first adventurer in English composition, Hamilton must be allowed to have obtained no ordinary success. In his language, he shews nearly all the purity of a native; his diction is various and powerful; and his versification but rarely tainted with provincial errors. He delights, indeed, in a class of
POETS — HAMILTON OF BANGOUR.85
words, which, though not rejected by the best English writers, have a certain insipidity, which only a refined English ear perhaps can perceive; such as beauteous, bounteous, dubious, and even melancholeous. The same peculiarity may, I think, be remarked of most of the early Scottish writers in the English language; in
Thomson it is particularly observable. We sometimes meet also in Hamilton with false quantities; but they seem oftener to proceed from making a Procrustian of a poetic licence, than from ignorance or inadvertence, as in the following verse.

Where'er the beauteous heart-compeller moves,
She scatters wide perdition all around:
Blest with celestial form, and crown'd with loves,
No single breast is refractory found.
13

Lord Woodhouselee [note] calls Hamilton's poems the “easy and careless effusions” of “an elegant fancy and a chastened taste.” This is not quite compatible with “the regular design ” which Richardson discovers in them; nor, indeed, with what Lord Woodhouselee himself elsewhere tells us, that “it appears from Hamilton's letters, that he communicated his poems to his friends for their critical remarks, and was easily induced to alter or amend them by their advice.” The poem of Contemplation, for instance, he sent to Mr. Home, [note] (Lord Kaimes,) who suggested some alterations, which were thus acknowledged in a letter from Hamilton, dated July, 1739. “I have made the corrections on the moral part of Contemplation, and in a post will send it to
86LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
Will. Crawford, who has the rest, and will transmit it to you. I shall write to him fully on the subject.” The Will. Crawford here mentioned was the author of the beautiful pastoral ballad of
Tweedside, “which,” says Lord Woodhouselee, “with the aid of its charming melody, will probably live as long as the language is understood.” Hamilton had evidently too passionate a devotion to the Muses, to be careless in his attentions to them. His poems themselves bear all the marks of studious production; they shew great ease, but it is the ease resulting from art. The writing of poetry, indeed, seems to have formed the chief business of Hamilton's life. We find this very pleasantly manifested in one of his letters to Mr. Home, dated September, 1748. Mr. Home had sent him some remarks on Horace, [note] of the same tenor, it would appear, with those which he afterwards published in his Elements of Criticism, and Hamilton thus alludes to them “I am entirely of your opinion with respect to your observations on Horace. He certainly wanders from his text—but still they are the wanderings of Horace. Why we are never contented with our lot, but still envy the condition of others, was a noble subject, and it were to be wished he had adorned it as well as he could from his own experience; satisfied, as he seems to have been, with his own pursuits and the fame they had acquired him. Let me put Horace's question to myself. Why don't I acquiesce in the determination of heaven, to which I have myself so much contributed? Why don't I rest contented with that small, perhaps, indeed, but sincere, portion of happiness furnished by my poetry and a few kind friends? Why concern
POETS — HAMILTON OF BANGOUR.87
myself to please Jeanie Stewart, or vex myself about that happier man to whom the lottery of life may have assigned her? Qui fit Mecenas, qui fit. Whence comes it? Alas! whence, indeed?”

Too long by love, a wandering fire, misled,
My better days in vain delusion fled.
Day after day, year after year, withdrew,
And beauty blest the minutes as they flew;
Those hours consum'd in joy, but lost to fame,
With blushes I review, but dare not blame:
A fault which easy pardon might receive,
Did lovers judge, or could the wise forgive!
But now to Wisdom's healing springs I fly,
And drink oblivion of each charmful eye.
To love revolted, quit each pleasing care,
Whate'er was witty, or whate'er was fair.
Your’s, &c.
14

Almost the whole of Hamilton's poems are of an amatory cast; but it would seem, that we must add him to the number of poets, not a few, to whom love, with all its pangs, has been only a fancy's dream. As Lord Woodhouselee truly remarks, his “heart perpetually owned the dominion of some favorite mistress; but his passion generally evaporated in song, and made no serious or permanent impression.” The “Jeanie Stewart,” of whom he speaks so lamentingly in the letter before quoted, complained to Mr. Home, that she was teazed with Hamilton's dangling attentions, which she was convinced had no serious aim, and hinted an earnest wish to get rid of him. “You are his friend,” said she, “tell him, he ex-
88LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
poses both himself and me to the ridicule of our acquaintance.” “No, madam,” said Mr. Home, who knew how to appreciate the fervor of Hamilton's passion, “you shall accomplish his cure yourself, and by the simplest method. Dance with him at tonight's assembly, and shew him every mark of your kindness, as if you believed his passion sincere, and had resolved to favour his suit. Take my word for it, you'll hear no more of him.” The lady adopted the counsel, and the success of the experiment was complete.

15

In poetry, however, no man could breath a fiercer flame. In some rather conceited lines, “Upon hearing his picture was in a Lady's Breast,” he chides it for

Ingrossing all that beauteous heaven
That Chloe, lavish maid, has given;
16

And then passionately exclaims:

I cannot blame thee: were I lord
Of all the wealth these breasts afford,
I'd be a miser too, nor give
An alms to keep a God alive.
17

A noble burst of fancy! The most genuine passion will seek in vain for a more expressive image of the boundless avarice of love.

18

To the merit of the poem of Contemplation, Professor Richardson has done such ample justice, as to leave little room for additional observation. He remarks, with great truth, that Hamilton is here more grave than lofty, more solemn than sublime. When he attempts “to soar the heights of Deity,” to dis-
POETS — HAMILTON OF BANGOUR.89
cover the designs of the Creator with respect to the present and future state of man, to
———search the perfect laws,
That constant bind th' unerring cause,
his conceptions are without either the grandeur suited to the subject, or the novelty which might excuse the attempt to scan what Milton [note] had scanned with almost more than mortal ken before. Some of the questions, into which he throws his cogitations, are strange enough.

When Time shall let his curtain fall,
Must dreary nothing swallow all?
Must we th' unfinished piece deplore,
Ere half the pompous piece be o'er? &c.
19

Mr. Richardson has observed, with equal truth, that he is “more tender than pathetic;” but he has passed unnoticed the marked effect which this cast of mind has had on the character of this particular poem. The “struggles, relapses, recoveries, and final discomfiture, of a mind, striving with an obstinate and habituated passion,” might have been supposed to present many situations of deep interest; but it cannot be said, that deep interest is the sort of feeling excited by any part of the poem of Contemplation. We see love alternately driven away and returning, without feeling moved to more than a smile at the archness of the sly intruder. We see him triumph at last, without pitying his victim, though compelled to admire the elegance of the strains in which the vanquished Strephon resigns himself to his fate.

90LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
Pass but some fleeting moments o'er,
This rebel heart shall beat no more;
Then from my dark and closing eye
The form belov'd shall ever fly,
The tyranny of love shall cease,
Both laid down to sleep in peace;
To share alike our mortal lot,
Her beauties and my cares forgot.
20

Of the poems by Hamilton, not devoted to love, the most deserving of notice is “The Episode of the Thistle,” which appears to have been intended as part of a larger work, never completed, called “The Flowers.” It is an ingenious attempt, by a well devised fable, to account for the selection of the thistle as the national emblem of Scotland. The poet opens the subject with the following elegant apostrophe:

Thrice happy plant fair Scotia's greatest pride;
Emblem of modest valour, unprovok'd
That harmeth not; provok'd that will not bear
Wrong unreveng'd.
*    *    *    *    *    *    *
———How oft beneath
Its martial influence, have Scotia's sons
Through every age with dauntless valour fought
On every hostile ground! while o'er their breast,
Companion to the silver star, blest type
Of fame, unsullied and superior deed,
Distinguished ornament! this native plant
Surrounds the sainted cross, with costly row
Of gems emblaz'd, and flame of radiant gold,
A sacred mark, their glory and their pride!
POETS — HAMILTON OF BANGOUR.91
21

The poet then proceeds to relate how the illustrious plant first rose to renown. The Scots and Picts had long been inveterate enemies; but,

———when Achaius [note] reign'd,
By the disposing will of gracious Heav'n
Ordain'd the prince of peace, fair Ethelind,
Grace of the Pictish throne, in rosy youth
Of beauty's bloom, in his young heart inspir'd
Spousal desires; soft love and dove-ey'd peace
Her dowry. Then his hymeneal torch
Concord high brandish'd, and in bonds of love
Link'd the contending race.
22

This union had not long taken place, when the Picts were invaded by the Saxons under Athelstane. [note] Hungus, King of the Picts, solicits the aid of his new friend and relation, Achaius, [note] who joins him with a chosen band of Scottish warriors. The two armies are on the eve of battle, when, as Achaius lay slumbering in his tent, the tutelar saint of Scotland, St. Andrew, appeared to him in a vision:

———in his right hand beheld
A cross, far beaming through the night; his left
A pointed thistle rear'd. “Fear not,” he cry'd,
“Thy country's early pride, for lo! to thee
Commission'd, I from Heav'n's eternal king,
Ethereal messenger of tidings glad,
Propitious now am sent: then be thou bold,
To-morrow shall deliver to thy hand
The troops of Athelstane. But, oh! attend,
Instructed from the skies, the terms of fate
Conditional assign'd; for if misled
92LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
By sacred lust of arbitrary sway,
Thou, or of thee to come, thy race shall wage
Injurious war, unrighteous to invade
His neighbour's realms; who dares the guilty deed,
Him, Heaven shall desert in needful hour
Of sad distress, deliver'd o'er a prey
To all the nations round. This plant I bear,
Expressive emblem of thy equal deed:
This, inoffensive in its native field,
Peaceful inhabitant and lowly grows;
Yet who with hostile hands its bristly spears
Unpunish'd may provoke? And such be thou,
Unprompt t' invade and active to defend.”
23

The Saxons are defeated; and Achaius, returning home, is not unmindful of the heavenly dream.

———to inspire
Love of heroic worth and kindle seeds
Of virtuous emulation in the soul
Ripening to deed, he crown'd his manly breast
With a refulgent star, and in the star,
Amidst the rubies' blaze, distinguish'd shines
The sainted cross, around whose golden verge
Th' embroider'd thistle, blest inclosure! winds
A warlike foliage of ported spears
Defenceful.
24

He confers similar insignia on a chosen number of his followers, and institutes the order of the Thistle,

Inviolate and sacred, to preserve
The ordinance of Heav'n.
25

The poet then glances briefly at the fortunes of the
POETS — HAMILTON OF BANGOUR.93
thistle, till

———In Britain's shield
The northern star mingles with George's beams.
Consorted light! and with Hibernia's harp
Breathing the spirit of peace and social love,
Harmonious power! the Scottish thistle fills
Distinguish'd place, and guards the English rose.
26

The plan of this episode, and the political sentiments of which it is made the vehicle, are alike deserving of praise. History might supply us with a more authentic origin for our national emblem, but it could not supply us with one more fraught with moral purpose, or more accordant with every patriotic feeling. The blank verse which the author has adopted in this poem, does not seem to have been altogether adapted to his powers; yet a reader must be struck with the felicity with which more than one of the passages which have been quoted are modulated.

27

The only piece which Hamilton wrote in his native language was “the Braes of Yarrow,” designated by Mr. Richardson, as “one of the finest ballads ever written.” Another critic, whose opinion of the ancient ballad poetry of Scotland must be allowed to have considerable weight, has passed a very different judgment upon it. “It is,” says Mr. Pinkerton, [note] “in very bad taste, and quite unlike the ancient Scottish manner, being even inferior to the poorest of the old ballads with this title. His repeated words and lines causing an eternal jingle, his confused narration and affected pathos, throw this piece among the rubbish of poetry.” Although a warm participator in Mr. Rich-
94LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
ardson's general admiration of Hamilton, I am inclined, in this instance, to agree with Mr. Pinkerton. The jingle and affected pathos of which he complains, are indeed sickening.

Lang maun she weep, lang maun she, maun she weep,
Lang maun she weep with dole and sorrow, &c.
Then build, then build, ye sisters, sisters sad,
Ye sisters sad, his tomb with sorrow, &c.
28

It is for those who can attune their voices to such rant, to discover where the pathos of it lies. Simplicity and melody were never surely so departed from before.

29

There exists in MS. a fragment of a poem by Hamilton, not published in his works, called the “Maid of Gallowshiels.” It is an epic of the heroi-comic kind, intended to celebrate the contest between a piper and fiddler, for the fair Maid of Gallowshiels. Hamilton had designed to extend it to twelve books, but has only completed the first and a portion of the second. Dr. Leyden, who owns himself indebted to the friendship of Dr. Robert Anderson [note] for his knowledge of this MS. gives the following account of it in his preface to the “Complaynt of Scotland.” [note] —“In the first (book) the fiddler challenges the piper to a trial of musical skill, and proposes that the maid herself should be the umpire of the contest.”

Sole in her breast the favourite youth shall reign,
Whose hand shall sweetest wake the warbled strain;
And if to use the ill-fated piper yield,
As sure I trust, this well contested field,
POETS — HAMILTON OF BANGOUR.95
High in the sacred dome his pipes I raise,
The trophy of my fame to after days;
That all may know as they the pipes survey,
The fiddler's deed and this the signal day.
All Gallowshiels the daring challenge heard,
Full blank they stood, and for their piper fear'd;
Fearless alone he rose in open view,
And in the midst his sounding bagpipe threw.
30

“The history of the two heroes is related with various episodes; and the piper deduces his origin from Colin of Gallowshiels, who bore the identical bagpipe at the battle of Harlaw, with which his descendant resolves to maintain the glory of the piper race. The second book, the subject of which is the trial of skill, commences with the following exquisite description of the bagpipe.”

Now in his artful hand the bagpipe held,
Elate, the piper wide surveys the field.
O'er all he throws his quick discerning eyes,
And views their hopes and fears alternate rise.
Old Glenderule, in Gallowshiels long fam'd
For works of skill, the perfect wonder fram'd;
His shining steel first lopp'd, with dexterous toil,
From a tall spreading elm the branchy spoil.
The clouded wood he next divides in twain,
And smoothes them equal to an oval plane.
Six leather folds in still connected rows
To either plank conformed, the sides compose;
The wimble perforates the base with care,
A destin'd passage opening to the air;
But once inclosed within the narrow space,
The opposing valve forbids the backward race.
96LIVES OF EMINENT SCOTSMEN.
Fast to the swelling bag, two reeds combin'd,
Receive the blasts of the melodious wind.
Round from the twining loom, with skill divine
Embost, the joints in silver circles shine;
In secret prison pent, the accents lie,
Until his arm the lab'ring artist ply:
Then duteous they forsake their dark abode,
Fellows no more, and wing a sep'rate road.
These upward through the narrow channel glide
In ways unseen, a solemn murmuring tide;
Those thro' the narrow part, their journey bend
Of sweeter sort, and to the earth descend.
O'er the small pipe at equal distance, lye
Eight shining holes o'er which his fingers fly.
From side to side the aerial spirit bounds:
The flying fingers form the passing sounds,
That, issuing gently thro' the polish'd door,
Mix with the common air and charm no more.
This gift long since old Glenderule consign'd,
The lasting witness of his friendly mind,
To the fam'd author of the piper's line.
Each empty space shone rich in fair design:
Himself appears high in the sculptur'd wood,
As bold in the Harlean field he stood.
Serene, amidst the dangers of the day,
Full in the van you might behold him play;
There in the humble mood of peace he stands,
Before him pleas'd are seen the dancing bands,
In mazy roads the flying ring they blend,
So lively fram'd they seem from earth t' ascend.
Four gilded straps the artist's arm surround,
Two knit by clasps, and two by buckles bound.
His artful elbow now the youth essays,
A tuneful squeeze to wake the sleeping lays.
POETS — HAMILTON OF BANGOUR.97
With lab'ring bellows thus the smith inspires
To frame the polish'd lock, the forge's fires;
Conceal'd in ashes lie the flames below,
'Till the resounding lungs of bellows blow;
Then mounting high, o'er the illumin'd room
Spreads the brown light, and gilds the dusky gloom;
The bursting sounds in narrow prisons pent,
Rouse, in their cells, loud rumbling for a vent.
Loud tempests now the deafen'd ear assail;
Now gently sweet is breath'd a sober gale:
As when the hawk his mountain nest forsakes,
Fierce for his prey his rustling wings he shakes;
The air impell'd by th' unharmonious shock,
Sounds clattering and abrupt through all the rock.
But as she flies, she shapes to smoother space
Her winnowing vans, and swims the aërial space.
G. R.