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The scene of this poem lies, at first, in the castle of Artornish, on the coast of Argyleshire; and, afterwards, in the Islands of Skye and Arran, and upon the coast of Ayrshire. Finally, it is laid near Stirling. The story opens in the spring of the year 1307, when Bruce, who had been driven out of Scotland by the English and the Barons who adhered to that foreign interest, returned from the Island of Rachrin on the coast of Ireland, again to assert his claims to the Scottish crown. Many of the personages and incidents introduced are of historical celebrity. The authorities used are chiefly those of the venerable Lord Hailes, as well entitled to be called the restorer of Scottish history, as Bruce the restorer of Scottish monarchy; and of Archdeacon Barbour, a correct edition of whose Metrical History of Robert Bruce' will soon, I trust, appear, under the care of my learned friend, the Rev. Dr. Jamieson.
ABBOTSFORD, 10th December, 1814.
*[The work alluded to appeared in 1820, under the title of “ The Bruce and Wallace.” 2 vols. 4to.]
LORD OF THE ISLES.
AUTUMN departs- but still his mantle's fold
And yet some tints of summer splendour tell When the broad sun sinks down on Ettrick's western
fell. Autumn departs — from Gala’s fieldsno more Come rural sounds our kindred banks to cheer ; Blent with the stream, and gale that wafts it o'er No more the distant reaper's mirth we hear.
*[John, fifteenth Lord Somerville, illustrious for his patriotic devotion to the science of agriculture, resided frequently in his beautiful villa called the Pavilion, situated on the Tweed over against Melrose, and was an intimate friend and almost daily companion of the poet, from whose windows at Abbotsford his lordship’s plantations formed a prominent object. Lord S. died in 1819.]
*[The river Gala, famous in song, flows into the Tweed a few hundred yards below Abbotsford; but probably the word Gala here stands for the poet's neighbour and kinsman, and much attached friend, John Scott, Esq. of Gala.]