1 WHY weeps the Genius of the arid waste,
2 Bending thus pensive from her fulgent sky?
3 Can beings pure like thee of sorrow taste
4 Those next to Angel ever breathe a sigh!
5 Sage, yet unlearn'd! 'tis now thy hour to know
6 That the dear privilege to feel to sigh
7 To bid the tear from sacred pity flow,
8 Is not alone for man, or earth-form'd eye.
9 Where the pre-eminence that Angels boast,
10 If coldly conscious, in eternal rest
[Page 2]
11 They form a bright, insensate, vap'ry host
12 By Heav'n's most precious gift to FEEL unblest?
13 The keenest feelings of the human mind
14 Exist more keenly in the angelic frame,
15 More elevated, poignant, and refin'd
16 As earth's more sordid than ethereal flame.
17 Wonder not therefore that an Angel's brows
18 Thus drooping, should no cheering lustre shed;
19 But give attention so thy fate allows!
20 Whilst I record the woes for which it fled.
21 Behold this plain, stretch'd by Creation's hand,
22 When each chaotic element arous'd
23 Sprung forth elastic at the dread command
24 Fled to its home, and there obedient hous'd.
25 Since that first instant of the young-born time,
26 Guiltless the moments of this plain have run;
27 Each closing year, and summer's happy prime,
28 In sweet simplicity its hours have spun.
[Page 3]
29 The yellow broom that gilds its farthest bounds,
30 And verdant carpet softly spread between,
31 Mark, where light fairies nightly trip their rounds,
32 Happy to gambol secret and unseen.
33 Here calmest zephires waft their airy wings,
34 And birds of solitude flit musing by,
35 And sometimes too the bird that sweetly sings,
36 Chants forth its pleasures to the lucid sky;
37 Whilst in the blushing chambers of the west,
38 A thousand tender dies their tints prepare,
39 Which rapidly th' horizon round invest,
40 Streaming prismatic glories thro' the air!
41 That russet mountain, on whose farthest side
42 The modest beams of morn first ever play,
43 Till from its top the ardent sun looks down,
44 And gilds the valley with a bolder ray
45 Owns in its riven base a cavern dank,
46 Where oozing, filter'd drops of doubtful green,
[Page 4]
47 Harden'd, suspended, hang like willows lank,
48 A sparkling, jewell'd, vegetative scene!
49 In that resplendent grove a hermit read
50 Mysterious nature's laws that never swerve,
51 His life, the virtues and religion led
52 To sanctify the space you now observe.
53 Here, rapt in SECOND SIGHT he frequent saw
54 The future scene appear, and fade away;
55 His country groan beneath the feudal law,
56 Or glut with power, the tyrant of the day:
57 Its neighbour England with irruptive bands
58 Watching each turn, and shadings of its fate,
59 To bind with manacles its warlike hands,
60 And make it feodal to her haughtier state.
61 At length with pride he saw his Scotland give
62 Monarchs, to wear its rival's splendid crown;
63 Blest in THE UNION, saw each kingdom live
64 Bound in one Empire tasting one Renown!
[Page 5]
65 Sacred, to visions grand like these, was kept
66 The varied circle this horizon bounds,
67 And when with Seers long past, the Hermit slept,
68 Still shadowy visitants breath'd heav'nly sounds.
69 'Twas thus when feuds unfilial tore the land,
70 And horrid war her crimson flag unfurl'd,
71 And dread rebellion, with its sanguine hand,
72 Midst peaceful swains its sharpest mis'ries hurl'd
73 'Twas thus this hallow'd spot misfortune spar'd,
74 Nor war nor mis'ry in its precincts dwelt,
75 No cry of woe its peaceful bound'ries scar'd,
76 No mother by her bleeding offspring knelt.
77 Did turbid clans e'er press this mossy heath,
78 Have rival Thanes here proudly clash'd the shield?
79 'Twas not with hostile thoughts, nor vows of death,
80 They came not here to conquer, but to yield.
81 Here hath the oath of mutual peace been bound,
82 Here melting Chiefs their melting foes embrace,
[Page 6]
83 And all the sounds that martial joy breathes round,
84 Erst, have reach'd Heaven, from this selected place.
85 But rolling years have drawn their veil between,
86 Nay ages, born of ages, past away,
87 Since the soft calm which blest this modest green,
88 Knew the loud clamours of a martial day:
89 Repose and peace have hover'd near,
90 Whilst vice and shame their haunts at distance keep;
91 Unknown alike to violence, and fear,
92 Here terrors shrink not, and no sorrows weep.
93 But now approacheth fast the hour of change;
94 E'en whilst I speak, the scene I vaunt is past;
95 Here shall no more the feath'ry fairies range
96 The late nocturnal revel, was their last!
97 See, quick advance the num'rous motley croud,
98 Mechanics, Pedants, Traders pour along;
99 Their joy breaks forth in carols rude and loud,
100 And beauty's presence animates the song.
[Page 7]
101 The verdant face of this once happy plain,
102 The sharp-tooth'd mattock shall deform and tear,
103 That evil first, and then an endless train,
104 Follow the footsteps of yon graceful Fair!
105 They bid!
106 The future Town, submissive to their will,
107 Rises from Earth, and spreads its skirts around
108 Oh! that the marble, in its quarry still,
109 Unhewn, unform'd, had kept its rest profound!
110 With it, the social evils all rush in,
111 Th' opposing passions that distract mankind,
112 The blazon'd crime, the sly, well-cover'd sin,
113 Nor will one petty vice remain behind.
114 Slander, and avarice, and pen'ry scant,
115 The proud man's scorn, the rich man's sturdy mien,
116 Wide-squand'ring luxury, and pallid want,
117 All haste to form the varied, wretched scene.
118 And shall the mighty woes of hapless love
119 Be here unfelt; the heart not here be torn?
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120 Oh no! in all their violence they'll rove
121 Swains shall betray, and maidens feel their scorn.
122 Already sure, the dismal sounds I hear,
123 The broken vow accus'd, the rending sigh
124 Ah see! the love-lorn stretch'd upon her bier,
125 Rent from all joy, she only knew to die!
126 False friendship too, spreads out its close-wove net,
127 And stabs the trusting with a barbed spear;
128 Its arrows, black ingratitude has set
129 Yonder a robber skulks; a murd'rer here!
130 Ah, canst thou wonder, Sage! I mourn the hour?
131 Thou'st heard the cause that swell'd my starting tear;
132 Haste and reflect within thy secret bower
133 Ponder the change, and be thy grief sincere!
134 Here paus'd the Genius! Age bent low its head,
135 Its hoary tresses floating on the wind;
136 Oh bright Intelligence! then firmly said,
137 Permit a mortal to unveil his mind.
[Page 9]
138 Sad is your prophecy, and oh too sure
139 Fate will its utmost latitude fill up;
140 Each promis'd ill 'tis fix'd we must endure,
141 And drink from sorrow's still replenish'd cup;
142 But not unmix'd the bitter draught shall flow,
143 Not unallay'd the hov'ring mis'ries sting,
144 Felicities shall blunt the sense of woe,
145 And o'er it, joys their downy mantle fling.
146 If social evils overspread thy plain,
147 The social blessings too will haste along,
148 And on the spot where vice shall lead its train,
149 Illustrious virtues eagerly shall throng.
150 Yonder rude circuit, where th' obtrusive fern
151 In "sullen vegetation" chills the glance,
152 A few revolving halcyon months shall turn
153 To an all-cheering, lucid, gay expanse.
[Page 10]
154 SCOTLAND's GRAND STAPLE there shall glad the sight,
155 Courting the blanching beams of day's bright orb,
156 Who'll give enduring lustre to its white,
157 And ev'ry slight impurity absorb:
158 There from the loom the costly web be brought,
159 By Pallas taught in soft festoons to rise;
160 Which late from Belgia, distant kingdoms sought,
161 But now 'tis Caledonia grants the prize!
162 There the rich damask spread its fruit and flowers,
163 For royal tables, and for halls of state:
164 There the transparent lawn display its powers,
165 To soften beauty, and new charms create.
166 Proud Manchester will here her fame divide,
167 Her varied works, her fashion, and her taste;
168 This, bind in snowy vest Horatio's side,
169 That, flow in graceful folds from Chloe's waist.
[Page 11]
170 The stripe so well dispos'd, the glowing bloom
171 Which overspreads the whole, shall here be seen:
172 Go MANCHESTER, and weep thy slighted loom
173 Its arts are cherish'd now on PI'TCAIRNE GREEN!
174 For these, whilst Labour chants her jocund song,
175 Shall foreign prows be pointed to our shores;
176 Each rival port our ample harbours throng,
177 Pouring its tribute, for our native stores.
178 Thus blest, this village shall some unborn age
179 Behold a city, grac'd with many a dome;
180 Of note in commerce, and of arts the stage,
181 Where taste industrious, ne'er shall want a home.
182 If here the craving miser heaps his gold,
183 And frowns upon the shiv'ring needy wretch;
184 Here shall benevolence her charger hold,
185 And pity, wide her fost'ring arms outstretch.
186 Soft elegance shall bid around us rise
187 The spell all feel, but never can describe,
[Page 12]
188 Scarce tangible by thought, the pen it flies,
189 Pride cannot catch it, nor importance bribe;
190 Not sense, not loveliness, nor wealth, nor wit,
191 But form'd of all, the charming phantom rose,
192 Adorns each time and place with graces fit,
193 But in domestic hours supremely glows!
194 And who like Scotland's daughters so prepar'd
195 To spread the fascinating sweet around?
196 When thro' the Sex, great Nature beauty shar'd,
197 Who knows not, here the richest gift was found?
198 Thus, tho' disast'rous love should find a grave,
199 Or mourn the violated vow of bliss,
200 Yet here shall faithful Love the maiden save,
201 And parents cheer her with the nuptial kiss.
202 The song of rapture shall the bridegroom pour,
203 As oft he wanders thro' the sunny glades,
[Page 13]
204 And brides shall bless the sacred binding hour;
205 Whisp'ring their transports in the secret shades;
206 For shades SHALL be, where now the thistle red
207 Spreads o'er the heath its slender prickly stalks;
208 And where the tangley furze conceals its bed,
209 There shall the grove divide its tepid
* If this word is objected to, it may be recollected, that though a grove in Africa would be cool, in Scotland it must be warm.
210 For Nature's self to Commerce ever yields,
211 Commerce, whose power each hemisphere adorns
212 Which bids the dunny heath bloom forth in fields,
213 And in the Desert pours the Naiades' urns.
214 Yes, that blest power will here exert her force,
215 And wooing sterile nature to its arms,
216 Bid stranger riv'lets wind their silv'ry course,
217 And native moors conceal with foreign charms.
218 But happier still! LEARNING shall raise the pile
219 Design'd the fret of ages to withstand;
[Page 14]
220 Within, the classic scholar form his stile,
221 And pour instruction thro' the list'ning land.
222 Ah! from its walls some future sage may burst
223 To charm or awe the centuries to come;
224 A THOMSON in its cells be haply nurs'd,
225 A BLAIR shed splendor o'er the chosen dome.
226 The Lawgiver from thence shall draw the seeds
227 Of growing honour, dignity, and fame,
228 Here shall ensure the future splendid meeds,
229 That crown his labours, and extend his name.
231 The boast of genius in untasted times,
232 Spreading our glory round the distant skies,
233 And mark us ENVIED by more happy climes.
234 Philosophy's profound disciples too,
235 Shall in its ayles a new Lyceum find;
[Page 15]
236 Platonic ethics, system plain, and true,
237 Shall there be honour'd in the tutor'd mind.
238 A HUME! a second HUME from thence may shine,
239 In lustre like the first, but oh his heart
240 Shall humbly melt before Religion's shrine,
241 And prompt his talents to a better part!
242 A ROBERTSON shall bid the copious stream
243 Of long-collected knowledge fill his page;
244 Dark ages make with light reverted gleam,
245 And bright-stept freedom trace from stage to stage.
246 So a vast reservoir's compacted flood
247 To bless a famish'd people spends its wealth,
248 Pours out itself to renovate their blood
249 By Heaven supplied with future stores of health.
250 A polish'd STUART too will then be known,
251 To scatter roses o'er the slander'd Fair;
[Page 16]
252 To bind the cypress round the riven crown,
253 And steal our tears, for miseries so rare!
254 His name shall ever tender Beauty prize
255 First, in the climax of the literate few,
256 Who from the mold of time still bright arise,
257 And ev'ry rapid cent'ry keep in view.
258 And ah! whilst future Bayes luxuriant spread,
259 Shall not the Myrtle in our gardens glow?
260 Yes; whilst the laurel crowns the manly head,
261 The blossoms for the fair shall gladlier blow.
262 A Scottish SEWARD shall demand the prize
263 She from whose pensive and mellifluous throat,
264 Where e'er misfortune scowls her cheerless eyes,
265 Is pour'd the pitying, melancholy note!
266 Thus the sad Nightingale throughout the night
267 Her fond complaint rings thro' the leafy grove;
[Page 17]
268 And so endears the scene, we dread the light
269 Detest the sprightlier note, and sorrow love.
270 For glowing BARBAULD shall another Isle
271 Be found, amidst some distant frozen waves,
272 Which deck'd in all the fervors of her stile,
273 Shall bloom like that
* Corsica.
, she from oblivion saves.
274 Perchance that Isle, convulsive nature tore
275 Wrathful! from sad Messina's once-fam'd port,
276 When the proud marbles which adorn'd its shore,
277 Were dash'd on rocks, and made the billows' sport.
278 When the mad mother, and the swallow'd child,
279 The tott'ring palace, and the tower prone,
280 Gave at one view, ruin so vast and wild,
281 As chills the quicken'd flesh almost to stone.
282 Then! in that lab'ring moment of the earth,
283 Midst the Norwegian seas an island sprung
[Page 18]
284 Let Barbauld celebrate the wond'rous birth,
285 And all its grandeur by her muse be sung!
286 She'll lift the veil of time, and shew us how,
287 The climate works upon the cind'ry
* The island on its emerging, about three years since, was said to make this appearance, and afterwards to disgorge flames.
288 What, the vast prospects of the unborn NOW
289 And all its figures, in her magic glass.
290 She'll shew that land which when beneath the skies
291 Of soft Italia, bloom'd in scented flowers,
292 Painted its surface with the richest dyes,
293 And burst in hills, and gave its shade in bowers;
294 She'll shew it then, divest of ev'ry sweet
295 That once endear'd it to the eye of taste;
296 No flowers, no rills, the wand'ring eye shall meet
297 No soft embroid'ry o'er the snowy waste.
298 But tho' not sweet, the scen'ry will be grand!
299 Not rills but torrents, will her muse display;
[Page 19]
300 That roar when rigid winds become more bland
301 Grow dumb and stiffen, in the wint'ry ray.
302 No gentle hill, but mountains vast she'll shew,
303 Whose cracking pines confess strong Boreas' arm,
304 Where wild volcanoes from their summits glow,
305 And give the plains beneath an awful charm.
306 Arcades and temples, perhaps her muse will sing,
307 But not of marble form'd, nor part for part
308 O no!
309 Nature will here the noble sculpture bring
310 Wildly magnificent, not cramp'd by art.
311 Th' arrested cataract a dome will form,
312 And rapid torrents bound, in pillars rise,
313 Their capitals be sculptur'd from a storm
314 Snatch'd, as 'tis rushing from the Zemblian skies;
315 On these the polar sun will pour its beams,
316 Tinting the glacid scene with shifting hues,
[Page 20]
317 Now strong, now fading into fainter gleams
318 And then at once, a ruddy blaze infuse.
319 These are but outlines an unskilful sketch;
320 A powerful Barbauld must the shadings give
321 No colder genius on its utmost stretch,
322 Can bid the frigid, cheerless landschape live.
323 Attention tired with fancied scenes like these,
324 Recoils, and wishes for familiar hours;
325 Pants for the pillow'd chair, the robe of ease,
326 And gladly yields to common life, its powers.
327 What pen but BURNEY's then, can sooth the breast?
328 Who draw from nature with a skill so true?
329 In ev'ry varying mode it stands confest,
330 When brought by her before th' enquirer's view.
331 A power peculiar, all her portraits fill.
332 When lines are bold and strong, a vulgar pen
[Page 21]
333 May take the sketch; it asks no mighty skill
334 Misers to paint, or mad, or wayward men.
335 But human nature in its faintest dye
336 Burney detects; drags it to open day
337 Makes evident what slip'd the unmarking eye,
338 And bids it glare, with truth's pervading ray.
339 The huddled beings of the common mass,
340 Who to themselves appear of equal sort,
341 Must not in unawaken'd error pass
342 And sure 'tis this, is keen-ey'd Burney's fort!
343 Touch'd by her spear, they sudden spring to sight,
344 But not new form'd she shews them as they are;
345 She molds no character, but gives the light
346 Which makes them clear, as Herschel sees a star!
347 Yes, such as these, thy plain may one day boast:
348 Prize! sweet INTELLIGENCE, oh prize the change!
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349 Laurels will then surround our letter'd coast,
350 And here, the muses from Parnassus range.
351 This vacant wild, till now expanse unblest!
352 Unknown, and useless in the general scale,
353 Slumb'ring its ages in ignoble rest,
354 Scorn'd, or unheeded in th' historic tale,
355 Shall hence assume a rank, confess a name
356 Nor hid a barren disregarded spot,
357 But living in the breath of future fame,
358 Shall bless its happy, tho' its late-drawn lot.
359 Thus stopt the Sage; the Genius paus'd awhile,
360 As tho' his honied words revolving o'er;
361 First rais'd her eye with a celestial smile,
362 Which seem'd to promise she would mourn no more,
363 Then in sweet tone Oh man of snowy years!
364 'Tis truth inspires thee, and her force I own;
[Page 23]
365 'Tis she hath chid away the falling tears,
366 And bad my fading joys again be blown.
367 Yes! the CREAT GUARDIAN of the gen'ral weal
368 Ne'er gives a mis'ry, but he sends a cure;
369 As herbs, their antidotes will e'er reveal,
370 In the same fields which pois'nous herbs endure.
371 To thee I leave the bliss which just men know,
372 Felicities which pious acts attend
373 O'er thy white tresses they shall ever flow,
374 And cheer the anxious moments of thy end!
375 Then darting upwards as the Sage ador'd,
376 Her golden pinions clave the liquid way,
377 A blushing radiance mark'd the path she soar'd,
378 Till lost amidst the blaze of azure day!


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About this text

Themes: rural life
Genres: georgic

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Source edition

Cowley, Mrs. (Hannah), 1743-1809. The Scottish village: or, Pitcairne Green. A poem. By Mrs. Cowley. London: printed for G. G. J. and J. Robinson, in Paternoster-Row. MDCCLXXXVII., 1787, pp. []-23. viii,23,[1]p.; 4⁰. (ESTC T128955; OTA K102562.000)

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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.