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Yet pleased, our eye pursues the trace
Of Light and Shade's inconstant race;
Pleased, views the rivulet afar,
Weaving its maze irregular;
And pleased, we listen as the breeze
Heaves its wild sigh through Autumn
Then, wild as cloud, or stream, or gale,
Flow on, flow unconfined, my Tale !
Need I to thee, dear Erskine, tell
I love the licence all too well,
In sounds now lowly, and now strong,
To raise the desultory song ?-
Oft, when 'mid such capricious chime,
Some transient fit of lofty rhyme
To thy kind judgment seem'd excuse
For many an error of the muse,
Oft hast thou said, “If, still mis-spent,
Thine hours to poetry are lent,
Go, and to tame thy wandering course,
Quaff from the fountain at the source ;
Approach those masters, o'er whose tomb
Immortal laurels ever bloom :
Instructive of the feebler bard,
Still from the grave their voice is heard ;
From them, and from the paths they show'd,
Choose honour'd guide and practised road ;,
Nor ramble on through brake and maze,
With harpers rude of barbarous days.
Or deem'st thou not our later time
Yields topic meet for classic rhyme ?
Hast thou no elegiac verse
For Brunswick's venerable hearse?
What ! not a line, a tear, a sigh,
When valour bleeds for liberty ?-
Oh, hero of that glorious time,
When, with unrivall’d light sublime,-
Though martial Austria, and though all
The might of Russia, and the Gaul,
Though banded Europe stood her foes-
The star of Brandenburgh arose !
Thou could'st not live to see her beam
For ever quenched in Jena's stream.
Lamented Chief !-it was not given
To thee to change the doom of Heaven,
And crush that dragon in its birth,
Predestined scourge of guilty earth.
Lamented Chief !-not thine the power,
To save in that presumptuous hour,
When Prussia hurried to the field,
And snatch'd the spear, but left the shield !
Valour and skill 'twas thine to try,
And, tried in vain, 'twas thine to die.
Ill had it seem'd thy silver hair
The last, the bitterest pang to share,
For princedoms reft, and scutcheons riven,
And birthrights to usurpers given ;
Thy land's, thy children's wrongs to feel,
And witness woes thou could'st not heal !
On thee relenting Heaven bestows
For honour'd life an honour'd close;
And when revolves, in time's sure change,
The hour of Germany's revenge,
When, breathing fury for her sake,
Some new Arminius shall awake,
Her champion, ere he strike, shall come
To whet his sword on BRUNSWICK'S tomb.
“ Or of the Red-Cross hero teach, Dauntless in dungeon as on breach : Alike to him the sea, the shore, The brand, the bridle, or the oar. Alike to him the war that calls Its votaries to the shatter'd walls, Which the grim Turk, besmear'd with blood, Against the Invincible made good ; Or that, whose thundering voice could wake The silence of the polar lake, When stubborn Russ, and metal'd Swede, On the warp'd wave their death-game play'd; Or that, where Vengeance and Affright Howl'd round the father of the fight, Who snatch'd, on Alexandria's sand, The conqueror's wreath with dying hand.
“Or, if to touch such chord be thine,
Restore the ancient tragic line,
And emulate the notes that rung
From the wild harp, which silent hung
By silver Avon's holy shore,
Till twice an hundred years roll'd o'er :
When she, the bold Enchantress came,
With fearless hand and heart on flame!
From the pale willow snatch'd the treasure,
And swept it with a kindred measure,
Till Avon's swans, while rung the grove
With Montfort's hate and Basil's love,
Awakening at the inspired strain,
Deem'd their own Shakspeare lived again.”-
Thy friendship thus thy judgment wronging, With praises not to me belonging, In task more meet for mightiest powers, Wouldst thou engage my thriftless hours. But say, my Erskine, hast thou weigh'd That secret power by all obey'd, Which warps not less the passive mind, Its source conceal’d, or undefined ; Whether an impulse, that has birth Soon as the infant wakes on earth, One with our feelings and our powers, And rather part of us than ours ; Or whether fitlier term'd the sway Of habit form'd in early day?