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The Wreath.

THE MINSTREL;

OR,

THE PROGRESS OF GENIUS.

BOOK I.

An! 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
Hath felt the influence of malignant star,
And wag'd 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 hath pin'd alone,

Then dropt into the grave, unpitied and unknown.

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

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, Would shrink to hear the obstreperous trump of

Fame;

Supremely blest, if to their portion fall

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

B

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, but homely in array;
His waving locks and beard all hoary gray:
And 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.

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 thro' 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.

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 gray linnets carol from the hill.
O let them ne'er, with artificial note,
To please a tyrant strain their little bill,

But sing what Heaven inspires, and wander where they

Liberal, not lavish, is kind Nature's hand;
Nor was perfection made for man below.
Yet all her schemes with nicest art are plann'd,
Good counteracting ill, and gladness wo.
With gold and gems if Chilian mountains glow,
If bleak and barren Scotia's hills arise;
There plague and poison, lust and rapine grow;

Here peaceful are the vales, and pure the skies, And freedom fires the soul, and sparkles in the eyes.

Then grieve not, thou, to whom the indulgent Muse Vouchsafes a portion of celestial fire ;

Nor blame the partial Fates, if they refuse The 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; Ambition's groveling 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 stupified with spleen;
Fain to implore the aid of Flattery's screen;
Even from thyself thy loathsome heart to hide,
(The mansion then no more of joy serene,)
Where fear, distrust, malevolence, abide,
And impotent desire, and disappointed pride?

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

The wight, whose tale these artless lines unfold,
Was all the offspring of this humble pair.
His birth no oracle or seer foretold:
No prodigy appear'd in earth or air,

Nor aught that might a strange event declare,
You guess each circumstance of Edwin's birth;
The parent's transport, and the parent's care;
The gossip's prayer for wealth, and wit, and worth;
And one long summer-day of indolence and mirth,

And yet poor Edwin was no vulgar boy; Deep thought oft seem'd to fix his infant eye. Dainties he heeded not, nor gaude, nor toy, Save one short pipe of rudest minstrelsy. Silent when glad; affectionate though shy; And now his look was most demurely sad, And now he laugh'd aloud, yet none knew why. The neighbours star'd and sigh'd, yet bless'd the lad; Some deem'd him wondrous wise, and some believ'd him mad.

But why should I his childish feats display? Concourse, and noise, and toil, he ever fled : Nor cared to mingle in the clamorous fray Of squabbling imps, but to the forest sped, Or roam'd at large the lonely mountain's head; Or, where the maze of some bewilder'd stream To deep untrodden groves his footsteps led, There would he wander wild, till Phœbus' beam, Shot from the western cliff, releas'd the weary team,

The exploit of strength, dexterity, or speed,
To him nor vanity nor joy could bring.
His heart, from cruel sport estrang'd, would bleed
To work the wo of any living thing,

By trap, or net; by arrow, or by sling;
These he detested, those he scorn'd to wield:

He wish'd to be the guardian, not the king, Tyrant far less, or traitor of the field; And sure the sylvan reign unbloody joy might yield.

Lo! where the stripling, wrapt in wonder, roves Beneath the precipice o'erhung with pine; And sees, on high, amidst the encircling groves, From cliff to cliff the foaming torrents shine: While waters, woods, and winds, in concert join, And echo swells the chorus to the skies. Would Edwin this majestic scene resign For aught the huntsman's puny craft supplies? Ah! no he better knows great Nature's charms, to prize.

And oft he trac'd the uplands to survey,
When o'er the sky advanc'd the kindling dawn,
The crimson cloud, blue main, and mountain gray,
And lake, dim gleaming, on the smoky lawn;
Far to the west the long, long vale withdrawn,
Where twilight loves to linger for a while;
And now he faintly kens the bounding fawn,
And villager abroad at early toil.-

But, lo! the sun appears! and heaven, earth, ocean,

smile.

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