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WILLIAM ERSKINE, Esq.
Ashestiel, Ettricke Forest.
Like April morning clouds, that pass,
With varying shadow, o'er the grass,
And imitate, on field and furrow,
Life's chequered scene of joy and sorrow;
Now in a torrent racing forth,
Now winding slow its silver train,
And ever swells again as fast,
When the ear deems its murmur past ;
Thus various, my romantic theme
Yet pleased, our eye pursues the trace
Need I to thee dear Erskine, tell, I love the license all too well,
In sound now lowly, and now strong,
To thy kind judgment seemed excuse
Oft hast thou said, “ If still mis-spent,
Thine hours to poetry are lent,
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 shew'd,
Chuse honoured 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?
For Brunswick's venerable hearse?
What! not a line, a tear, a sigh,
Oh, hero of that glorious time,
Though martial Austria, and though all
The might of Russia, and the Gaul,
Though banded Europe stood her foes--
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,
Lamented chief !_not thine the power,
To save in that presumptuous hour,
When Prussia hurried to the field,
And snatched the spear, but left the shield;
Valour and skill 'twas thine to try,
And, tried in vain, 'twas thine to die.
Ill had it seemed thy silver hair
Thy land's, thy children's wrongs to feel,
And witness woes thou could'st not heal!
On thee relenting heaven bestows
And when revolves, in time's sure change,
The hour of Germany's revenge,
When, breathing fury for her sake,
“ Or of the Red-Cross hero teach,
Dauntless in dungeon as on breach :
Alike to him the war that calls
It's votaries to the shattered walls,
The silence of the polar lake,