« 前へ次へ »
I. 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 gray, And sweetly o'er the lake was heard thy strain, \ Mix'd with the sounding harp, O white hair'd Allan-bane !” 1 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 lnverness 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.
Than men from memory erase
“High place to thee in royal court,
“But if beneath yon southern sky
A plaided stranger roam,
Pine for his Highland home;
“Or if on life's uncertain main
1 [MS.—“At tourneys where the brave resort.”
If faithful, wise, and brave in vain,
IV. 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, gray, and worn as he. To minstrel meditation given, His reverend brow was raised to heaven, As from the rising sun to claim A 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.