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"Away, away! let the leech essay
Το pour the light on Allan's eyes:"
His sand is done,-his race is run;
Oh! never more shall Allan rise!
But Oscar's breast is cold as clay,
His locks are lifted by the gale;
And Allan's barbed arrow lay
With him in dark Glentanar's vale.
And whence the dreadful stranger came,
Or who, no mortal wight can tell;
But no one doubts the form of flame,
For Alva's sons knew Oscar well.
Ambition nerved young Allan's hand,
Exulting demons wing'd his dart;
While Envy waved her burning brand,
And pour'd her venom round his heart.
Swift is the shaft from Allan's bow:
Whose streaming life-blood stains his side? Dark Oscar's sable crest is low,
The dart has drunk his vital tide.
And Mora's eye could Allan move,
She bade his wounded pride rebel:
Alas! that eyes which beam'd with love
Should urge the soul to deeds of hell!
Lo! seest thou not a lonely tomb
Which rises o'er a warrior dead?
It glimmers through the twilight gloom;
Oh! that is Allan's nuptial bed.
Far, distant far, the noble grave
Which held his clan's great ashes stood; And o'er his corse no banners wave,
For they were stain'd with kindred blood.
What minstrel gray, what hoary bard,
Shall Allan's deeds on harp-strings raise?
The song is glory's chief reward,
But who can strike a murderer's praise?
Unstrung, untouch'd, the harp must stand,
No minstrel dare the theme awake;
Guilt would benumb his palsied hand,
His harp in shuddering chords would break.
No lyre of fame, no hallow'd verse,
Shall sound his glories high in air:
A dying father's bitter curse,
A brother's death-groan echoes there.
In looking over my papers to select a few additional poems for this second edition, I found the following lines, which I had totally forgotten, composed in the summer of 1805, a short time previous to my departure from H They were addressed to a young schoolfellow of high rank, who had been my frequent companion in some rambles through the neighbouring country: however, he never saw the lines, and most probably never will. As, on a re-perusal, I found them not worse than some other pieces in the collection, I have now published them, for the first time, after a slight revision.
D-R-T! whose early steps with mine have stray'd, Exploring every path of Ida's glade,
Whom still affection taught me to defend,
And made me less a tyrant than a friend;
Though the harsh custom of our youthful band
Bade thee obey, and gave me to command*;
Thee, on whose head a few short years will shower
The gift of riches and the pride of power;
At every public school the junior boys are completely subservient to the upper forms till they attain a seat in the higher classes. From this state of probation, very properly, no rank is exempt; but after a certain period they command in turn those who succeed.
E'en now a name illustrious is thine own,
Renown'd in rank, not far beneath the throne.
Yet, D-r-t, let not this seduce thy soul
To shun fair science, or evade control;
Though passive tutors*, fearful to dispraise
The titled child, whose future breath may raise,
View ducal errors with indulgent eyes,
And wink at faults they tremble to chastise.
When youthful parasites, who bend the knee
To wealth, their golden idol, not to thee,—
And even in simple boyhood's opening dawn
Some slaves are found to flatter and to fawn,-
When these declare, "that pomp alone should wait
On one by birth predestined to be great;
That books were only meant for drudging fools,
That gallant spirits scorn the common rules,"
Believe them not, they point the path to shame,
And seek to blast the honours of thy name.
Turn to the few in Ida's early throng,
Whose souls disdain not to condemn the wrong;
Or if, amidst the comrades of thy youth,
None dare to raise the sterner voice of truth,
Ask thine own heart; 'twill bid thee, boy, forbear;
For well I know that virtue lingers there.
Yes! I have mark'd thee many a passing day,
But now new scenes invite me far away;
* Allow me to disclaim any personal allusions, even the most distant; I merely mention generally what is too often the weakness of preceptors.
Yes! I have mark'd within that generous mind
A soul, if well matured, to bless mankind.
Ah! though myself by nature haughty, wild,
Whom Indiscretion hail'd her favourite child;
Though every error stamps me for her own,
And dooms my fall, I fain would fall alone;
Though my proud heart no precept now can tame,
I love the virtues which I cannot claim.
'Tis not enough, with other sons of power, To gleam the lambent meteor of an hour; To swell some peerage page in feeble pride,
With long-drawn names that grace no page beside;
Then share with titled crowds the common lot-
In life just gazed at, in the grave forgot;
While nought divides thee from the vulgar dead,
Except the dull cold stone that hides thy head,
The mouldering 'scutcheon, or the herald's roll,
That well-emblazon'd but neglected scroll,
Where lords, unhonour'd, in the tomb may find
One spot, to leave a worthless name behind.
There sleep, unnoticed as the gloomy vaults
That veil their dust, their follies, and their faults,
A race with old armorial lists o'erspread,
In records destined never to be read.
Fain would I view thee, with prophetic eyes,
Exalted more among the good and wise,
A glorious and a long career pursue,
As first in rank, the first in talent too:
Spurn every vice, each little meanness shun;
Not Fortune's minion, but her noblest son.