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THE MINSTREL;

OR,

THE PROGRESS OF GENIUS.

BOOK I.

Ah! who can telj how hard it is to climb,
The steep where Fame's pioul temple shines asai!
Ah! who can tell how nany a sgul sublime
Hatħ felt the influence of malignant staz, -
And wag'd with Fortune an eternal war;
Check’d by the scoff pf Fricie, jy Enyy's trovyn,
And Poverty's unconqueřable bar,

In life's low vale remote hath pin'd alone,
Then dropt into the grave, unpitied and unknown.

And yet the languor of inglorious days
Not equally oppressive is to all.
Him, who ne'er listend to the voice of praise,
The silence of neglect can ne'er appal.
There are, who, deaf to mad Ambition's call,
Would shrink to hear the obstreperous trump of

Fame;
Supremely blest, if to their portion fall

Health, competence, and peace. Nor higher aim Had He, whose simple tale these artless lines proclain:

B

The rolls of fame I will not now explore;
Nor need I here describe in learned lay,
How forth The Minstrel fard in days of yore,
Right glad of heart, but homely in array ;
His waving locks and beard all hoary gray :
And from his bending shoulder decent hung
His harp, the sole companion of his way,

Which to the whistling wind responsive rung:
And ever as he went some merry lay he sung.

Fret not thyself, thou glittering child of pride,
That a poor villager inspires my strain ;
With thee let Pageantry and Power abide :
The gentle Muses hawt the sylýan reign;
Where thre' wild groves at eve the lonely swain
Enraptura joains, to gåže on Nature's charms.
They hate the sensual, and scorn the vain,

The ptrăşite theič infuence never warms,
Nor him wācose sordid soud the love of gold alarms.

Though richest hues the peacock's plumes adorn,
Yet horror screams from his discordant throat.
Rise, sons of harmony, and hail the morn,
While warbling larks on russet pinions float:
Or seek at noon the woodland scene remote,
Where the gray linnets carol from the hill.
O let them ne’re, with artificial note,

To please a tyrant strain their little bill,
But sing what Heaven inspires, and wander where they

will.

Liberal, not lavish, is kind Nature's hand;
Nor was perfection made for man below.
Yet all her schemes with nicest art are plann'd,
Good counteracting ill, and gladness wo.
With gold and gems if Chilian mountains glow,
If bleak and barren Scotia's hills arise ;
There plague and poison, lust and rapine grow;

Here peaceful are the vales, and pure the skies, And freedom fires the soul, and sparkles in the eyes.

Then grieve not, thou, to whom the indulgent Muse
Vouchsafes a portion of celestial fire ;
Nor blame the partial Fates, if they refuse
The imperial banquet and the rich attire.
Know thine own worth, and reverence the lyre.
Wilt thou debase the heart which God refin'd?
No; let thy heaven-taught soul to heaven aspire,

To fancy, freedom, harmony, resign ;
Ambition's groveling crew for ever left behind.

Canst thou forego the pure ethereal soul,
In each fine sense so exquisitely keen,
On the dull couch of luxury to loll,
Stung with disease and stupified with spleen;
Fain to implore the aid of Flattery's screen;
Even from thyself thy loathsome heart to hide,
(The mansion then no more of joy serene,)

Where fear, distrust, malevolence, abide,
And impotent desire, and disappointed pride?

O how canst thou renounce the boundless store
Of charms which Nature to her votary yields;

The warbling woodland, the resoundine shore,
The pomp of groves, and garniture of fields;
All that the genial ray of morning gilds,
And all that echoes to the song of even,
All that the mountain's sheltering bosom shields,

And all the dread magnificence of heaven,-
O how canst thou renounce, and hope to be forgiven?

These charms shall work thy soul's eternal health,
And love, and gentleness, and joy, impart;
But these thou must renounce, if lust of wealth
E’er win its way to thy corrupted heart;
For, ah! it poisons like a scorpion's dart;
Prompting th’ungenerous wish, the selfish scheme,
The stern resolve, unmov'd by pity's smart,

The troublous day, and long distressful dream.Return, my roving muse, resume thy purposed theme.

There liy'd in Gothic days, as legends tell,
A shepherd-swain, a man of low degree;
Whose sires, perchance, in Fairyland might dwell,
Sicilian groves, or vales of Arcady;
But he, I ween, was of the north countrie :*
A nation fam'd for song, and beauty's charms;
Zealous, yet modest; innocent, though free;

Patient of toil; serene amidst alarms;
Inflexible in faith ; invincible in arms.

* There is bardly an ancient Ballad or Romance, wherein a Minstrel or Harper appears, but he is characterized, by way of eminence, to bave been “ of the North Countrie."

It is probable, that under this appellation were formerly comprehended all the provinces to the north of the Trent. Seë Percey's Essay on the English Minstrels.

The shepherd-swain of whom I mention made,
On Scotia's mountains fed his little flock;
The sickle, scythe, or plough, he never sway’d;
An honest heart was almost all his stock;
His drink the living water from the rock :
The milky dams supplied his board, and lent
Their kindly fleece to baffle winter's shock;

And he, tho' oft with dust and sweat besprent,
Did guide and guard their wanderings, wheresoe'er

they went.

From labour health, from health contentment springs,
Contentment opes the source of every joy.
He envied not, he never thought of kings:
Nor from those appetites sustain'd' annoy,
Which chance may frustrate or indulgence cloy ;
Nor fate his calm and humble hopes beguild;
He mourn'd no recreant friend, nor mistress coy,

For on his vows the blameless Phæbe smild,
And her alone he lov'd, and lov'd her from a child.

No jealousy their dawn of love o'ercast,
Nor blasted were their wedded days with strife ;
Each season look'd delightful, as it past,
To the fond husband, and the faithful wife.
Beyond the lowly vale of shepherd lise
They never roam'd; secure beneath the storm
Which in ambition's lofty land is rife,

Where peace and love are canker'd by the worm
Of pride, each, bud of joy industrious to deform.

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