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JAMES BEATTIE.

JAMES BEATTIE, an admired poet and a moralist, priety applied to such a person as he represents, and was born about 1735, in the county of Kincardine, the "Gothic days" in which he is placed are not hisin Scotland. His father was a small farmer, who, torically to be recognized, yet there is great beauty, though living in indigence, had imbibed so much of both moral and descriptive, in the delineation, and the spirit of his country, that he procured for his son perhaps no writer has managed the Spenserian stanza a literary education, first at a parochial school, and with more dexterity and harmony. The second part then at the college of New Aberdeen, in which he of this poem, which contains the maturer part of the entered as a bursar or exhibitioner. In the intervals education of the young bard, did not appear till 1774, of the sessions, James is supposed to have added to and then left the work a fragment. But whatever his scanty pittance by teaching at a country-school. may be the defects of the Minstrel, it possesses beauReturning to Aberdeen, he obtained the situation of ties which will secure it a place among the approved assistant to the master of the principal grammar- productions of the British muse. school, whose daughter he married. From youth he had cultivated a talent for poetry; and in 1760 he ventured to submit the fruit of his studies in this walk to the public, by a volume of "Original Poems and Translations." They were followed, in 1765, by "The Judgment of Paris;" and these performances, which displayed a familiarity with poetic diction, and harmony of versification, seem to have made him favorably known in his neighborhood.

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The interest of the Earl of Errol acquired for him the post of professor of moral philosophy and logic in the Marischal College of Aberdeen; in which capacity he published a work, entitled "An Essay on the Nature and Immutability of Truth, in opposition to Sophistry and Scepticism," 1770. Being written in a popular manner, it was much read, and gained the author many admirers, especially among the most distinguished members of the Church of England; and, at the suggestion of Lord Mansfield, he was rewarded with a pension of 2001. from the King's privy-purse.

Beattie visited London for the first time in 1771, where he was received with much cordiality by the admirers of his writings, who found equal cause to love and esteem the author. Not long afterwards, the degree of LL. D. was conferred on him by his college at Aberdeen. In 1777 a new edition, by subscription, was published of his "Essay on Truth," to which were added three Essays on subjects of polite literature. In 1783 he published Dissertations Moral and Critical," consisting of detached essays, which had formed part of a course of lectures delivered by the author as professor. His last work was "Evidences of the Christian Religion, briefly and plainly stated," 2 vols. 1786. His time was now much occupied with the duties of his station, and particularly with the education of his eldest son, a youth of uncommon promise. His death, of a decline, was a very severe trial of the father's fortitude and resignation; and it was followed some years after by that of his younger son. These afflictions, with other domestic misfortunes, entirely broke his spirits, and brought him to his grave at Aberdeen, in August, 1803, in the 68th year of his age.

In 1771 his fame was largely extended by the first part of his "Minstrel," a piece the subject of which is the imagined birth and education of a poet. Although the word Minstrel is not with much pro-|

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THE MINSTREL;

OR,

THE PROGRESS OF GENIUS.

PREFACE.

The design was, to trace the progress of a poetical genius, born in a rude age, from the first dawning of fancy and reason, till that period at which he may be supposed capable of appearing in the world as a Minstrel, that is, as an itinerant poet and musician;—a character which, according to the notions of our forefathers, was not only respectable but sacred.

Воок I.

AH! who can tell how hard it is to climb
The steep where Fame's proud temple shines afar;
Ah! who can tell how many a soul sublime
Has felt the influence of malignant star,
And waged with Fortune an eternal war;
Check'd by the scoff of Pride, by Envy's frown,
And Poverty's unconquerable bar,
In life's low vale remote has pined alone,
Then dropt into the grave, unpitied and unknown!

And yet the languor of inglorious days,
Not equally oppressive is to all;

While from his bending shoulder, decent hung
His harp, the sole companion of his way,
Which to the whistling wind responsive rung.
And ever as he went some merry lay he sung.

I have endeavored to imitate Spenser in the measure of his verse, and in the harmony, simplicity, and variety of his composition. Antique expressions I have avoided; admitting, however, some old words, where they seemed to suit the subject: but I hope none will be found that are now obsolete, or in any degree not intelligible to a reader of English poetry.

To those who may be disposed to ask, what could Liberal, not lavish, is kind Nature's hand; induce me to write in so difficult a measure, I can Nor was perfection made for man below. only answer, that it pleases my ear, and seems, Yet all her schemes with nicest art are plann'd. from its Gothic structure and original, to bear Good counteracting ill, and gladness woe. some relation to the subject and spirit of the poem. With gold and gems if Chilian mountains glow; It admits both simplicity and magnificence of sound If bleak and barren Scotia's hills arise; and of language, beyond any other stanza that I There plague and poison, lust and rapine grow; am acquainted with. It allows the sententiousness Here peaceful are the vales, and pure the skies, of the couplet, as well as the more complex modu- And freedom fires the soul, and sparkles in the eyes lation of blank verse. What some critics have remarked, of its uniformity growing at last tiresome to the ear, will be found to hold true, only when the poetry is faulty in other respects.

Fret not thyself, thou glittering child of pride,
That a poor villager inspires my strain;
With thee let Pageantry and Power abide :
The gentle Muses haunt the sylvan reign;
Where through wild groves at eve the lonely swain
Enraptur'd roams, to gaze on Nature's charms.
They hate the sensual, and scorn the vain,
The parasite their influence never warms,
Nor him whose sordid soul the love of gold alarms.

The rolls of fame I will not now explore;
Nor need I here describe in learned lay,
How forth the Minstrel far'd in days of yore,
Right glad of heart, though homely in array;
His waving locks and beard all hoary grey:

Though richest hues the peacock's plumes adorn,
Yet horror screams from his discordant throat
Rise, sons of harmony, and hail the morn,
While warbling larks on russet pinions float:
Or seek at noon the woodland scene remote,
Where the grey linnets carol from the hill.
O let them ne'er, with artificial note,
To please a tyrant, strain the little bill,
But sing what Heaven inspires, and wander where
they will.

Then grieve not, thou, to whom th' indulgent Muse
Vouchsafes a portion of celestial fire:
Nor blame the partial Fates, if they refuse
Th' imperial banquet, and the rich attire.
Know thine own worth, and reverence the lyre.
Wilt thou debase the heart which God refin'd'
No; let thy heaven-taught soul to Heaven aspire,
To fancy, freedom, harmony, resign'd;
Ambition's grovelling crew for ever left behind.

Canst thou forego the pure ethereal soul
In each fine sense so exquisitely keen,
On the dull couch of Luxury to loll,
Stung with disease, and stupefied with spleen;
Fain to implore the aid of Flattery's screen,
Even from thyself thy lothesome heart to hide,
(The mansion then no more of joy serene,)
Where fear, distrust, malevolence, abide,
And impotent desire, and disappointed pride!

Him, who ne'er listen'd to the voice of praise,
The silence of neglect can ne'er appal.
There are, who, deaf to mad Ambition's call,

O how canst thou renounce the boundless store
Of charms which Nature to her votary yields!

Would shrink to hear th' obstreperous trump of The warbling woodland, the resounding shore,
Fame;

The pomp of groves, and garniture of fields;
All that the genial ray of morning gilds,

Supremely blest, if to their portion fall

And all that echoes to the song of even,

Health, competence, and peace. Nor higher aim Had he, whose simple tale these artless lines claim.

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All that the mountain's sheltering bosom shields,
And all the dread magnificence of Heaven,
O how canst thou renounce, and hope to be forgiven?

These charms shall work thy soul's eternal health.
And love, and gentleness, and joy, impart.
But these thou must renounce, if lust of wealth
E'er win its way to thy corrupted heart:

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Why do the birds, that song and rapture brought
To all your bowers, their mansions now forsake?
Ah! why has fickle chance this ruin wrought?
For now the storm howls mournful through the
brake,

See, in the rear of the warm sunny shower
The visionary boy from shelter fly;

For now the storm of summer-rain is o'er,
And cool, and fresh, and fragrant is the sky.
And, lo! in the dark east, expanded high,

And the dead foliage flies in many a shapeless flake. The rainbow brightens to the setting Sun!

Fond fool, that deem'st the streaming glory nigh,
How vain the chase thine ardor has begun!
"Tis fled afar, ere half thy purpos'd race be run.

"Where now the rill, melodious, pure, and cool, And meads, with life, and mirth, and beauty crown'd?

Ah! see, th' unsightly slime, and sluggish pool,
Have all the solitary vale embrown'd;
Fled each fair form, and mute each melting sound,
The raven croaks forlorn on naked spray :
And hark! the river, bursting every mound,
Down the vale thunders, and with wasteful sway
Uproots the grove, and rolls the shatter'd rocks
away.

"Yet such the destiny of all on Earth:
So flourishes and fades majestic Man.
Fair is the bud his vernal morn brings forth,
And fostering gales awhile the nursling fan.
O smile, ye Heavens, serene; ye mildews wan,
Ye blighting whirlwinds, spare his balmy prime,
Nor lessen of his life the little span.
Borne on the swift, though silent, wings of Time,
Old age comes on apace, to ravage all the clime.

"And be it so. Let those deplore their doom,
Whose hope still grovels in this dark sojourn :
But lofty souls, who look beyond the tomb,
Can smile at Fate, and wonder how they mourn.
Shall Spring to these sad scenes no more return?
Is yonder wave the Sun's eternal bed?
Soon shall the orient with new lustre burn,
And Spring shall soon her vital influence shed,
Again attune the grove, again adorn the mead.

Shall I be left forgotten in the dust,
When Fate, relenting, lets the flower revive?
Shall Nature's voice, to man alone unjust,
Bid him, though doom'd to perish, hope to live?
Is it for this fair Virtue oft must strive
With disappointment, penury, and pain?
No: Heaven's immortal Spring shall yet arrive,
And man's majestic beauty bloom again,
Bright through th' eternal year of Love's triumphant
reign."

This truth sublime his simple sire had taught;
In sooth, 'twas almost all the shepherd knew.
No subtle nor superfluous lore he sought,
Nor ever wish'd his Edwin to pursue.

"And from the prayer of Want, and plaint of Woe,
O never, never turn away thine ear!
Forlorn, in this bleak wilderness below,

Yet couldst thou learn, that thus it fares with age,
When pleasure, wealth, or power, the bosom warm
This baffled hope might tame thy manhood's rage,
And disappointment of her sting disarm.
But why should foresight thy fond heart alarm?
Perish the lore that deadens young desire;
Pursue, poor imp, th' imaginary charm,
Indulge gay hope, and Fancy's pleasing fire:
Fancy and Hope too soon shall of themselves expire

When the long-sounding curfew from afar
Loaded with loud lament the lonely gale,
Young Edwin, lighted by the evening star,
Lingering and listening, wander'd down the vale.
There would he dream of graves, and corses pale;
And ghosts that to the charnel-dungeon throng,
And drag a length of clanking chain, and wail,
Till silenc'd by the owl's terrific song,

Or blast that shrieks by fits the shuddering isles along

Or, when the setting Moon, in crimson dyed,
Hung o'er the dark and melancholy deep,
To haunted stream, remote from man, he hied,
Where fays of yore their revels wont to keep;
And there let Fancy rove at large, till sleep
A vision brought to his entranced sight.
And first, a wildly-murmuring wind 'gan creep
Shrill to his ringing ear; then tapers bright,
With instantaneous gleam, illum'd the vault of night

Anon in view a portal's blazon'd arch
Arose; the trumpet bids the valves unfold:
And forth an host of little warriors march,
Grasping the diamond-lance, and targe of gold.
Their look was gentle, their demeanor bold,
And green their helms, and green their silk attire ;
And here and there, right venerably old,

The long-rob'd minstrels wake the warbling wire,
And some with mellow breath the martial pipe in-

spire.

With merriment, and song, and timbrels clear,
A troop of dames from myrtle bowers advance;
The little warriors doff the targe and spear,

"Let man's own sphere," said he, "confine his view, And loud enlivening strains provoke the dance.
Be man's peculiar work his sole delight."
And much, and oft, he warn'd him to eschew
Falsehood and guile, and aye maintain the right,
By pleasure unseduc'd, unaw'd by lawless might.

They meet, they dart away, they wheel askance;
To right, to left, they thrid the flying maze;
Now bound aloft with vigorous spring, then glance
Rapid along with many-color'd rays
Of tapers, gems, and gold, the echoing forests blaze

:

The dream is fled. Proud harbinger of day,
Who scar'd'st the vision with thy clarion shrill,

Ah! what were man, should Heaven refuse to hear? Fell chanticleer! who oft hath reft away
To others do (the law is not severe)
What to thyself thou wishest to be done.
Forgive thy foes; and love thy parents dear,
And friends, and native land; nor those alone;
All human weal and woe learn thou to make thine

own."

My fancied good, and brought substantial ill!
O to thy cursed scream, discordant still,
Let Harmony aye shut her gentle ear:
Thy boastful mirth let jealous rivals spill,
Insult thy crest, and glossy pinions tear.
And ever in thy dreams the ruthless fox appear.

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Ah me! neglected on the lonesome plain,
As yet poor Edwin never knew your lore,
Save when against the winter's drenching rain,
And driving snow, the cottage shut the door.
Then, as instructed by tradition hoar,
Her legend when the beldame 'gan impart,
Or chant the old heroic ditty o'er,
Wonder and joy ran thrilling to his heart;
Much he the tale admir'd, but more the tuneful art. For thou art but of dust; be humble, and be wise.
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One part, one little part, we dimly scan
Through the dark medium of life's feverish dream;
Yet dare arraign the whole stupendous plan,
If but that little part incongruous seem.
Nor is that part, perhaps, what mortals deem;
Oft from apparent ill our blessings rise.
O then renounce that impious self-esteem,
That aims to trace the secrets of the skies:

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