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The Island.


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 ;
And while yon little bark glides down the bay,

Wafting the stranger on his way again,
Morn's genial influence roused a minstrel grey,

And sweetly o’er the lake was heard thy strain, Mix'd with the sounding harp, 0 white hair'd Al


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 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



“ Not faster yonder rowers' might

Flings from their oars the spray,
Not faster yonder rippling bright,
That tracks the shallop's course in light,

Melts in the lake away,
Than men from memory erase,
The benefits of former days ;
Then, Stranger, go! good speed the while,
Nor think again of the lonely isle.


High place to thee in royal court,

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, 1 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 cryed 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."-Lelters, ii. 167.

High place in battle line, Good hawk and hound for silvan sport, Where beauty sees the brave resort,'

The honour'd meed be thine! True be thy sword, thy friend sincere, Thy lady constant, kind, and dear, And lost in love and friendship’s smile Be memory of the lonely isle.



“But if beneath yon southern sky

A plaided stranger roam, Whose drooping crest and stifled sigh, And sunken cheek and heavy eye,

Pine for his Highland home; Then, warrior, then be thine to show The care that soothes a wanderer's woe; Remember then thy hap ere while, A stranger in the lonely isle.

" Or if on life's uncertain main

Mishap shall mar thy sail ;
If faithful, wise, and brave in vain,
Woe, want, and exile thou sustain

Beneath the fickle gale;
Waste not a sigh on fortune changed,

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On thankless courts, or friends estranged, But come where kindred worth shall smile, To greet thee in the lonely isle.”


As died the sounds upon the tide,
The shallop reach'd the mainland side,
And ere his onward way he took,
The stranger cast a lingering look,
Where easily his eye might reach
The Harper on the islet beach,
Reclined against a blighted tree,
As wasted, grey, and worn as he.
To minstrel meditation given,
His reverend brow was raised to heaven,
As from the rising sun to claim

sparkle of inspiring flame.
His hand, reclined upon the wire,
Seem'd watching the awakening fire;
So still he sate, as those who wait
Till judgment speak the doom of fate;
So still, as if no breeze might dare
To lift one lock of hoary hair;
So still, as life itself were fled,
In the last sound his harp had sped.

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Upon a rock with lichens wild,
Beside him Ellen sate and smiled-
Smiled she to see the stately drake

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