THE MOON AT SEA.
THE FIRST TIME OF BEING ON THE OCEAN, GOING
THE moon's long stream of level light
Spread trembling o'er the ocean's breast,
Silent the hour and calm the night,
The time when nature sinks to rest.
The vessel held her rapid flight
Beneath the beam of silvery hue,
The glittering stars in splendour bright,
Shed glancing rays through heav'n's soft dew.
To me that awful scene was new,
Nor e'er before the sea's green wave
Was I upon, nor did the sight
Of heav'n's fair orbs before invite
My eager eyes to watch the view,
While ocean's foam its dashing motion gave.
THE HILL OF FAIRIES,
Tomna-heurich, or the Hill of Fairies, the large and beautiful
hill near Inverness, seems, notwithstanding its size, too regular not
to have been formed by art. The immense stones set up by the
Druids as altars on the tops of high rocks, and the rocking stones,
are proofs of the gigantic labours of former times. Near Ripon, in
Yorkshire, there is a tumulus called Ailcey hill. This is very lofty,
it overlooks the town, and from it are some extensive views. It
is composed of human bones and gravel. Some entire skeletons
have been found in it; also some coins of Osbright and Alla, the
Northumbrian king, who was slain in 867. That Tomna-heurich
may be a tumulus has however been presumed in the following
recollection of it.
MY harp, the inspiration breathe
Which brings to view the times gone by,
And hangs the mournful funeral wreath
High o'er the chords of minstrelsy!
There, where the hill of fairies spreads
Its verdant canopy around,
Say, if below it rest the heads
Of monarchs and of chiefs renown'd?
So regular that hill is seen
By human hands it sure is made,
While planted on its surface green
In files the firs' dark branches spread.
Funereal site, thy form would seem
The work of thousands, join'd to raise
A sacred pile, to catch the gleam
Of morning sun's investing blaze:
While o'er thy mound the wild flow'r blows
To deck the warrior's silent bed,
And its fair cup at evening shows
With dews o'ercast its weeping head.
Late as I rang'd that wondrous hill,
And from it saw the ocean's breast,
I thought on times when Denmark still
With squadrons would the coast invest.
And here perhaps the warriors lie
Who in those days of discord fell,
While duty rais'd this mound so high
O'er the lost chieftains' earthy cell.
Gigantic work of ages past,
Rear'd by pure faith o'er each lov'd head,
Thy monument through time shall last,
Thy soothing breezes mourn the dead!
The faithful vassals plac'd their lords
Where woodland genii guard their beds,
While each funereal tree affords
Its shadow o'er their rested heads:
And with mysterious awe impress'd
Of forms superior, haunting air,
Invoking them to shield each breast,
They gave them to their guardian care.
Hence, while to gentler pow'rs they pray
To guard at night each honour'd head,
From darker spirits which might pay
Malignant visits to the dead,
To them they raise this votive mound,
Call'd from that time the fairies' hill,
And in its breezes we the sound
Of fairy lyres might fancy still.
THE WEIARD SISTERS.
The heath in Murrayshire is the traditional scene of the appearance
of the witches to Macbeth. The stones shown as the spot near which
they accosted him, would seem relics of Druidism.
RISE, ye storms, ye whirlwinds blow,
Tempests rule the lurid air,
Mountains hide your heads of snow,
For the weiard three prepare!
Lo! the place, and lo! the heath,
This the desert drear and wide,
Where they rode on whirlwind's breath,
Lighting near that altar's side.
There the Druid relics stand,
There the earthy spirits stood,
Spoke and arm'd the thane's dire hand,
Staining it with monarch's blood.
Loud they laugh'd and rose in air,
When his will their words had bound,
"Macbeth, king, for pow'r prepare!"
Still he thought he heard that sound.
Now the gushing torrents flow,
Rolling through their deepen'd bed,
Mountains hide their heads of snow,
Wreath'd in vapours seem to fade:
Yet though darkening is the sky,
Though the winds the desert ride,
No mysterious forms glide by,
Resting on the heath's scath'd side.
Gloomy spirits of the night,
Ye have sunk in truth's fair ray,
Superstition takes her flight,
Science rules her Scotland's day.
Call'd no more by Druid's spell,
Ne'er again by weiard three,
Speaks the dubious oracle,
Minds are now from fetters free.
Den Fenella is in the grounds of Laurieston, Kincardineshire.
Above it are the remains of a castle, once the baronial residence
of the ancient family of Straton, of which Laurieston was the old
patrimonial seat. In the year 1411 the baron and several of his
sons were slain in the battle of Harlow.
The den is named from the Lady Fenella, who, in revenge for
the death of her son, caused by Kenneth III., invited him to her
castle, where he was killed by an automaton image of himself,
formed of brass, bearing a golden apple in one hand, which Fenella
desired the king to take, and when he had done so, some internal
springs moved a cross-bow, held by the image, which shot him.
Fenella escaped by a postern down the den.
This spot contains beautifully romantic scenery of wood, rock,
and fine falls of the river. It is now the property of John Brand, Esq.
"REVENGE is sweet," Fenella cried,
While woful meaning glanced her eye,
[∗](n15) wail, amid the pride
"Surrounding dreaded majesty.
Kenneth III. of Scotland.
"Tyrant, for thee a secret snare
"Awaits to deal the deathful blow!
"Ruthless thy heart—no feeling there
"Taught pity for a mother's woe.
'"My son, my only son! but hold
"My bursting heart, and think no more!
"The shades of death his brow enfold
"Sunk by the regal murderer's pow'r.
[∗](n16) my child, thou hast heard my vow,
"Son of my son, record it deep
"Within thy infant breast, and thou,
"O never let its memory sleep;
Macbeth is said by some historians to have been the grandson
"But tenfold vengeance on that line,
"Whose chief has pierc'd thy father's heart,
"In future years of life be thine,
"Be mine to act this day my part."
Thus said, in smiles she dress'd her face,
And to her secret tower repair'd,
That tower which erst her high-born race
Had on the steepy rock uprear'd.
And far and wide the scenes around
Beheld from her fair castle's site,
And deep and drear the den profound,
Below that castle's awful height.
Between the rocks, with stealing pace,
A river winds its crystal stream,
Lends to the scene a softening grace,
And shuns the garish noontide beam.
Far up the slope, with deepening shade,
The trees their clustering branches join,
Fair haunt, which seems for dryads made,
Or where light fairies' bowers entwine!
For no material inmates there
Would seem to break the silence deep,
Save the soft wood-birds, singing near,
Who safely there each nestling keep.
But, dashing now with silvery foam,
Where farther on the river flows,
Like traveller far from quiet home,
It breaks at once its dull repose.
And now, far o'er the deep descent,
In rushing cataracts tumbles down,
While the dark trees, with dew besprent,
Seem wearing diamond fruits alone.
And, as in eastern tales the boy,
Who in the enchanted gardens stray'd,
Upon the trees beheld with joy,
The glittering precious stones display'd:
While here the emerald, diamond there,
The sapphire and the ruby shone,
So does the river, dashing near,
Deck the fair trees of Laurieston.
But on its banks, in dark retreat,
Deep caves are near its bosom found,
Untrod by mortals' wandering feet,
They seem of mortal steps the bound.
Perhaps of yore the Druid's rite
Within some grotto here perform'd,
Call'd on the spirits of the night,
The moon with incantations storm'd.
Far hence, proclaim'd from rocky steep,
Haply the oracle was heard,
In awful accents sounding deep,
While the chief Druid's form appear'd,
In venerable age adorn'd,
In holy vestments—spotless white,
To say the offering was not scorn'd,
Propitious were the powers of night.
To ages past, by time's dark veil,
In awful mystery conceal'd,
Thus in her flight may fancy sail,
And bid them stand to sight reveal'd.
Now on her rampart's height was seen
Fenella's tall majestic form,
Tranquil in look, august in mien,
Like skies reposing from the storm.
Keen was her glance, her dark eye rov'd
Upon the ocean's distant place,
At length a speck upon it mov'd,
And pleasure gleam'd upon her face.
"It comes, it comes, revenge is mine!
"Kenneth, prepare your marble tomb,
"Be buried in a costly shrine,
"Let epitaphs record your doom:
"And be Fenella's act enroll'd
"Among the assassin's darker deeds,
"Yet be Fenella's injuries told,
"The woes with which her bosom bleeds."
The bark draws near, her streamers fly,
Her boat is launch'd—it makes the shore.
Whence comes that bark? From Germany?
What bears that bark the ocean o'er?
But lo! the awaiting servants stand,
Fenella's servants, busy throng,
See, from the boat a chest they land,
And bear it cautiously along—
That chest mysterious, fraught with death,
Bears mischief! better had the deep
Ingulfed that chest, far, far beneath
Its coral beds, where nereids sleep!
The lessening boat returns again,
Again the bark pursues her way,
Proudly she cuts the liquid main,
And proudly float her streamers gay.
But hark! the neighing horse is heard!
See, numerous glittering arms appear!
The royal banners are uprear'd,
And solemn music floats in air!
A beauteous pageant, awful seems
To steal along the winding vale,
Now rocks conceal it, now it gleams
In splendid colouring up the dale.
Say, who are these?—Fenella knows,
And meditates with thoughtful eye,
Descends at length, and open throws
The portals wide to majesty.
For Kenneth comes, 'tis Scotland's king,
He comes in peace to greet the fair,
And full atonement hopes to bring
For his fell deed so dark and drear.
Her throng'd attendants, rang'd in state,
Advance to meet dread royalty,
Each minstrel strikes his harp elate,
And shouts of welcome rend the sky.
Fenella, graceful, moves along,
And issues from her castle's gate,
Amid a bright and beauteous throng
Of ladies, who upon her wait.
The king, advancing from his train,
Alights, accosts the noble fair:
She checks her heart's indignant pain,
And bids the monarch welcome there.
Kenneth her shuddering hand retains,
And leads her to the banner'd hall,
The banquet waits, and both the trains
Are marshall'd by the seneschal.
And now began the feast, the song
Of minstrels shook the hollow dome,
And Scotia's glories held them long,
Her past, her present, and to come.
"Hail to the land still unsubdued,"
They sung, "O hail, our native land!
"Her arm the Roman legions rued,
"They ne'er could rule our rugged strand.
"Hail to the soul, the eye of fire,
"That shine amid her rocky heights,
"That bid her mountaineers aspire
"To glory like the eagle's flights.
"And ours be still to dare the deed
"Which leads to glory's paths along,
"And ours to breathe the tuneful reed,
"And feel the energies of song.
"Genius in ancient Caledon
"Her high front rears and pours her strain,
"And, while she animates each son,
"How glorious o'er such sons to reign!"
A lower note the minstrels strike,
Fenella's ancestry they sing,
Their virtues and their deeds alike
In changeful songs to view they bring.
And now Fenella's noble deeds,
Her kindness to her vassals tell,
How the poor traveller she feeds,
And pities woes which near her dwell.
The song is done, the feast is o'er,
The king is asked to view within
A figure, which by skilful pow'r
Of artist made, like him is seen.
Like him the form, the look, the face,
The monarch seems himself to view;
It bears aloft with mimic grace
An apple of a golden hue.
"Take, king, the fruit," Fenella said,
"Nor let the image longer hold,
"It is for you that thus array'd
"Its glittering coat, bedeck'd with gold!"
His ready hand extends the king
To take the fruit thus gorgeous dress'd,
But at his touch a secret spring
Fixes an arrow in his breast.
Where is Fenella?—She is gone;
Low through the postern swift she hies,
Bears from the spot her son's dear son,
And through the deepening den she flies.
Swift to the strand her flight she bends,
And swift the awaiting boat receives,
It bears her to her ship and friends,
And far behind she Scotland leaves.
Still from that day where Kenneth died,
And where Fenella fled away,
That den, in all its sylvan pride,
Fenella's name bears from that day.
FALL OF FYERS
THE boat is launch'd—it cuts the lake,
In silvery stream the waters flow,
Upon the eye the mountains break,
In alpine grandeur as we go.
And may no gale deform the stream,
As on its deepening wave we ride,
[∗](n17) that wave we deem,
And awful danger forms its tide.
It is said to be fathomless in some parts.
On the sloped bank, a beauteous scene,
In wooded grandeur, rocks appear,
Fringed to the brink with varied green,
And flowers and shadowy trees are there.
We land where low that bank declines,
And eager seek the mountain's height,
Mid winding groves, through waving pines,
We rise to view the water's flight.
At length the steepy top we gain,
Mid beauteous views around us spread,
We move along, a social train,
Upon the mountain's rocky head.
Then stooping o'er the gulf below,
We gaze with wonder on the scene,
Down the steep rock the waters flow,
And fall in foam the chasm within.
And loud the rush, and deep the sound,
Far down the torrent's hollow bed,
The earth appears to tremble round,
The wreathing mist is o'er it spread.
But down the precipice we best
Behold the grandeur of its shock,
In Iris' beauty it is dress'd,
And falls in sheets from rock to rock.
To smooth the dangerous path we tread,
Music regales us with its song,
The highland minstrel
[∗](n18) tunes his reed,
Which sounds the echoing rocks among.
The beauteous lake below us lies,
And now again we reach its tide,
On its deep wave our boat now hies,
And calm upon its face we glide.
A highlander attended the party, playing national airs upon the
"Farewell to Fyers," now we say,
"Farewell, stupendous waterfall,
"Fancy will oft your view portray,
"And memory the fair scene recall!"
THE BIRTHPLACE OF MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS.
THE dark walls of this princely dome
Which echoed once the festal sound,
When royal splendour fill'd each room,
Now moulder in repose profound.
The hall where once the banquet shone,
Grass-grown o'er all its lengthen'd floor,
Now echoes but the night bird's moan,
Or the faint dash of distant oar:
For on the glassy lake below,
The gliding boats, in gentle sweep,
Oft smoothly o'er the waters go,
While measur'd strokes the boatmen keep.
And where yon isle amid the wave
Its spreading trees reflected shows,
Its welcome shade delighted crave
Aquatic groups when summer glows.
Seen from the royal chamber's height,
Linlithgow's lake in beauty shines,
While from that room we mark it bright
As o'er it the dun wall inclines.
And though stern war with sweeping hand,
And party's rancour left within
But splendid ruins, still they stand
To mark the birthplace of a queen.
And still they paint upon the eye
At distance seen, their brown remains,
Contrasted from some point on high,
With cultivation's fair domains.
Near them the church in sombre hue,
Fam'd in tradition's tale,
[∗](n19) we see,
Soften'd by distance in the view,
Fine picture in the scenery.
Poor princess, in these dusky walls,
Mid scenes of discord, times of woe,
Thy eyes first oped, nor in thy halls
The minstrel's gladsome strain could flow
To hail thy birth, for deep around
From yonder lane the death-bell peal'd,
Thy father died—and the sad sound
His fate to trembling crowds reveal'd.
Thou, beauteous mid the deathful doom
Which laid that father's splendour low,
Camest, like a phoenix from his tomb,
And his crown rested on thy brow!
In this church, it was said, a mysterious person, supposed supernatural, warned James IV. not to go to Flodden field.
Thus was fair Mary born, frail flower,
Doom'd from her birth to chilling blight,
Yet smiling in that stormful hour
To cheer her widow'd mother's sight.
Linlithgow, now the dusky veil
Of time o'er all these scenes is cast,
They seem but like to fancy's tale,
Which still in fables paints the past.
And though in thee the deed was done
Which laid proud Murray's greatness low,
When fell despair arm'd Hamilton
To deal revenge upon his foe:
We hear of such sad deeds of yore,
Amid the peaceful scenery round,
As if but fiction—never more
May truths so sad in it be found!
A VISIT TO CADYOW CASTLE.
Cadyow castle and its domains were given by Robert Bruce
to sir Gilbert Hamilton, the founder of the Hamilton family in
Scotland. He was a gentleman of family in England, and had fled
to Scotland from the court of Edward II., in consequence of a quarrel
with one of the Spencers, upon the subject of Robert Bruce, whose
cause sir Gilbert defended. The quarrel ended fatally for Spencer.
The family was afterwards ennobled, and lord Hamilton married
the daughter of James II., and was created earl of Arran. The
castle is now a picturesque object in the noble park of the duke
of Hamilton; its ruins, covered with ivy, and the gigantic oaks near
it, the remains of the Caledonian forest, form the most interesting
The earl of Arran, whose unhappy state is the principal subject
of the following poem, was the eldest son of the duke of Chatelherault, first peer of Scotland, and presumptive heir to the crown.
The earl lost his senses from love of Mary queen of Scots, whom
he aspired to marry, but who rejected him. The alliance of the
earl of Arran had been proposed to two queens, for in 1560 the
ambassadors of the Scottish parliament to England had requested
Elizabeth to marry him. The Hamilton family suffered in all its
branches, in lives and fortunes, in the cause of Mary. Two ecclesiastics of the name, in 1571, lost their lives in that cause: one, the
archbishop of St. Andrew's, taken in Dumbarton castle, was executed
by Lenox, the regent, without any formal trial, from party rage
and personal enmity, and was the first bishop who suffered by the
hands of an executioner in Scotland; Gavin Hamilton, the other,
of the family of Roplock, was the last commendatory abbot of
Kilwinning, in Ayrshire. He was killed at the water-gate in the
OLD castle, as I mark thee near
Where time has laid his mouldering hand,
Enthusiast fancy still is here,
While on thy ivied walls I stand.
I think on times long past away,
When Hamilton here first was seen;
I muse on scenes of later day,
When sunk the splendour of a queen.
When Bruce with liberal hand bestow'd
This ancient castle on his friend,
Rock-built where Evan rolls its flood,
While round it richest scenes extend—
And as his fair descendant held
The sceptre with unsteady hand,
To aid her cause when zeal impell'd
The Hamiltons' united band.
Faithful to her they vainly bled,
For vain was every effort found
To save from direful foes that head
Which fate had doom'd to be uncrown'd.
And here I think was Arran seen
Wild as he pour'd his love-lorn tale;
For Arran sought that beauteous queen,
But Arran's love could not prevail.
And fancy in her pictures drear
Paints him as if still here he roves,
Wild to the breezes flows his hair,
Deep are his groans—they fill the groves.
Now flashing rage illumes his brow,
His eyes with maddening fury roll,
Then change again to looks of woe,
As sinks the frenzy of his soul.
Hopeless in love, he hears the gleam
Which shoots from heav'n's meridian ray,
Nor heeds the cold moon's dewy beam,
Which bathes his head at setting day.
Ah! what avails the sylvan scene
Where spread the broad oak's mighty arms?
He views it with distorted mien,
Nor feels great nature's awful charms.
Mary, the ruthless fates decree
That Hamilton must sigh in vain,
Yet true his hopeless heart to thee,
Though disappointment fire his brain.
Yet 'twas not that she wore a crown
That Arran sought the beauteous queen,
He lov'd the merits all her own,
Though royal she had never been:
Her lovely form, her cultur'd mind,
Her manners elegant and sweet!
To her his heart he had resign'd,
For her his senses leave their seat.
Yet, to the wind as wild he raves,
Are not some boding prophets nigh,
To view afar the yawning graves
That threat the pomp of majesty?
From the deep glen with moaning sound,
Does no dark spirit mount the air,
Sigh in yon ancient grove around,
And tell this victim of despair,
What are the future scenes of woe
Which shall the death-fraught mandate bring,
To sink in earth's dark bosom low
Yon showy pageant of a king?
Thy prison's gloom, say, does he see
While the prophetic spirit's near,
Mary?—thy years of misery?
Then well may flow sad Arran's tear!
For Scotland's scath, for Scotland's wounds,
Deep might her son in sorrow mourn,
But frenzy all his soul confounds,
Each image to the winds is borne.
Wandering by Evan's winding stream,
See Arran's earl indignant stray,
His life a visionary dream,
While sorrows fill the weary day.
Yet, Hamilton, thy name shall rise,
Though now obscur'd by injur'd love,
Thy crest still boldly meet the eyes,
The dauntless sovereign of the grove!
Ye noble oaks, I take one spray
From ye to mark those times of yore
Which ye have seen, and bear away
This ivy from the castle hoar:
For verdant o'er the ancient seat
Its tendrils it supporting twines,
And beauteous looks its dark retreat,
High on the rock as it inclines.
O bow'rs of verdure, fairy shades,
Oaks waving in majestic size,
While far around burst glades on glades,
And woods in all their splendour rise;
Far from your scenes to fancy's eye
Portray'd again shall ye appear,
My harp will give its minstrelsy,
And aid me fancy's views to rear.
FAREWELL TO SCOTLAND.
IN THE FIRTH OF FORTH, IN SIGHT OF EDINBURGH,
JUST GOING OFF TO SEA.
RECEDING shore, my father's land,
I bid your antique towers adieu,
And still I see that castle stand,
And mark its turrets' dusky hue:
And though the curling waves now bear
The swift-wing'd vessel on her way,
The mental vision still shall rear
The painting of your mountains grey.
Dear land, where native sense abounds,
Land of my fathers, O adieu,
Your hospitality confounds
Each thought which would waft thanks to you.