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The birch-trees wept in fragrant balm,
beneath the sober ray! IIe felt its calm, that warrior guest, While thus he communed with his breast :
Why is it, at each turn I trace
bead of gold,
LADY OF THE LAKE.
At morn the black-cock trims his jetty wing,
'Tis morning prompts the linnet's blithest lay, All Nature's children feel the matin spring
Of life reviving, with reviving day ;
Wafting the stranger on his way again,
strain, Mix'd with the sounding harp, O white hair'd
Allan-bane ! 1
i That Highland chieftains, to a late period, retained in their service the bard, as a family officer, admits of very easy proof. The author of the Letters from the North of
“Not faster yonder rowers' might
Flings from their oars the spray,
Melts in the lake away,
Scotland, an officer of engineers, quartered at Inverness about 1720, who certainly cannot be deemed a favourable witness, gives the following account of the office, and of a bard whom he heard exercise his talent of recitation: “ The bard is skilled in the genealogy of all the Highland families, sometimes preceptor to the young laird, celebrates in Irish verse the original of the tribe, the famous warlike actions of the successive heads, and sings his own lyricks as an opiate to the chief, when indisposed for sleep; but poets are not equally esteemed and honoured in all countries. I happened to be a witness of the dishonour done to the muse, at the house of one of the chiefs, where two of these bards were set at a good distance, at the lower end of a long table, with a parcel of Highlanders of no extraordinary appearance, over a cup of ale.
Poor inspiration! They were not asked to drink a glass of wine at our table, though the whole company consisted only of the great man, one of his near relations, and myself. After some little time, the chief ordered one of them to sing me a Highland song. The bard readily obeyed, and with a hoarse voice, and in a tune of few various notes, began, as I was told, one of his own lyricks; and when he had proceeded to the fourth or fifth stanza, I perceived by the names of several persons, glens, and mountains, which I had known or heard of before, that it was an account of some clan battle. But in his going on, the chief (who piques himself upon his school-learning) at some particular passage, bid him cease, and cried out, "There's nothing like that in Virgil or Homer. I bowed and told him I believed so. This you may believe was very edifying and delightful.”—Letters, ii. 167.