Anne MacVicar Grant Poems >>
To Lady Clan,

WHO INSISTED ON THE AUTHOR'S WRITING A POEM, ON
MEETING BY APPOINTMENT WITH HER AND THREE
OTHER LADIES AT AN INN ON THE ROAD BETWIXT
PERTH AND LAGGAN.

DEAR LADY CLAN , you well may know,
At least I've told you long ago,
In all things lawful and expedient,
You'd ever find me most obedient;
This gratitude and friendship bid,
They're ties of which I can't get rid;
(Though some, to pride and envy martyrs,
Conceal them as they would their garters
Yet making lists of obligations,
Is so like owning poor relations,
It makes one feel so shy and backward,
And in good company look awkward;
On second thought 'twill answer better,
Ere I conclude this rhyming letter,
Instead of owning favours due,
In long detail from me to you,
To send you here a brief recital
Of what I've given you in requital;
Then, having set my mind at rest,
At leisure answer your request.
And first, the Muse that sixteen years,
With nightcap drawn about her ears,
Lay in lethargic deep repose,
Nor teas'd by friends, nor scorn'd by foes,
I wak'd, you well remember when,
To celebrate your turkey-hen;
And as she rubb'd her drowsy eyes,
And saw the bird's white spirit rise,
A spark of inspiration came
And kindled up the torpid dame,
To sing the happy annual feast
Where HYMEN smiles on every guest.
Whenever since I wak'd the lyre,
'Twas to comply with your desire;
The total sum, whate'er the amount,
Shall all be set to your account:
Now let me trace with backward view
The favours thus conferr'd on you.
And first, the playful varied lay
I sung to cheat the lonely way,
(While frozen winter chill'd my fancy)
Though chiefly meant to please my NANCY ,
Was to your partial praises owing,
That set my grateful breast-a-glowing,
And cheer'd me up with self-dependence,
To hope the Muse's prompt attendance:
Encourag'd thus along the road,
Description smooth and lofty ode
Fill'd up the middle, while both ends
Were hung with portraits of my friends,
To cheer my soul, whene'er I miss'd them,
So like, that I had almost kiss'd them.
Next, for my neighbour Sybil's sake,
I bade the willing Muse awake,
And tell what magic ties around
Young HUNTLY'S limbs the beldam bound.
Then liquid accents soft and clear
Stole gently on attention's ear;
The blue-hair'd nymph of yonder brook
In more than mortal language spoke,
And bade aerial music swell,
To woo fair CHARLOTTE to her cell;
With feeble imitative strain
I strove to catch the sounds in vain.
Next I essay'd the up-hill road
Of "break-neck dythyrambic ode,"
Denounc'd on Spain perpetual vengeance,
And bless'd CHIAPA and his Indians;
Till, dizzy and bewilder'd grown,
The attempt beyond my powers I own.
The smarting wounds of recent woe
Now bid th' unstudied measure flow;
While wakeful anguish through the gloom
Of midnight weeps the fate of MOOME !
That night, so dismal and so long,
I strove in vain to cheat with song:
And when with dusky mantle grey
The weeping morn brought in the day,
The frequent shower and sighing wind
With mournful cadence sooth'd my mind.
But when will light restore to view
A friend so kind, so firm, so true!
Or who, when sickness sinks my head,
Will tend with equal care my bed?
Or who, when comfort crowns my toil,
With equal sympathy will smile?--
Sink all my strains in final gloom,
But live the lay inspir'd by MOOME !
Again the Muse awakes to weep
O'er hamlets waste and flocking sheep:
The dusky hill and narrow plain,
Re-echo to the mournful strain;
The sad inhabitants around
With social grief prolong the sound;
While lost in woe they scatter far
To fill the sanguine ranks of war,
Or cross th' Atlantic's stormy roar,
Or tread the burning Indian shore,
Or mingle with the sordid train
Who know no bliss, no GOD but gain:
Where'er they rest, where'er they roam,
Stung with the hopeless thoughts of home;
With aching heart and searching eyes,
Oft will they trace their northern skies,
And say, "Yon dim-seen twinkling star
"Gleams o'er my father's sepulchre,
"Where once, when fate had clos'd my day,
"I hop'd my weary limbs to lay;
"Its rays illume the shadowy vale,
"Where, lighted by the moon-beam pale,
"My faithful steps were wont to trace
"The loveliest of our far-fam'd race,
"And pour in her approving ear
"The artless vows of love sincere."
Thus, frequent does the exile's heart
With tender sad remembrance smart;
Some leisure will come, ere long,
T' arrange and prune th' unfinish'd song;
When winter's icy bolts are hurl'd,
And snow and silence wrap the world,
And cares and children sink in sleep,
The Muse shall faithful vigils keep;
And summon wisdom and reflection,
And critic powers of mild correction,
And diction chaste, and lucid order,
Like flowers arrang'd to grace a border;
My thoughts shall rise in fair succession
Unbroke by playful wild digression:
With heedless haste I now dispense them,
But then you'll see how I'll condense them.
But from my subject how I wander,--
I sung the sorrows of the gander,
And if you'll re-peruse his letter,
You'll own no goose could sing them better,
You see what mighty debts you're owing
For benefits of my bestowing.
Can you forget the rainy morning,
When toil, fatigue, and danger scorning,
I headlong plung'd through new-swol'n Spey ,
And o'er Drumochter urg'd my way,
Try'd to o'ertake the fleeting wind,
And left the slow express behind?
Arriv'd with fluttering hearts at Blair ,
In chasing joy ye met despair:
No matrons with benignant smile
Appear'd our labours to beguile;
No sprightly nymphs, in rapt'rous guise,
With pleasure beaming from their eyes;
The gallant soul of HARDYKNUTE ,
When thrill'd with fear, with anguish mute,
He saw his castle dark and still,
Felt not a more horrific chill.
To cheer our souls and soothe our pain,
Our gentle hostess tries in vain;
In vain the Captain strives t' amuse
With foreign and domestic news;
Tells with delight how much he doats
Upon the frankness of Miss COATES ,
And how he tender'd her his help,
To nurse and rear her terrier whelp:
How sad our state, when themes like these,
By him rehears'd, could fail to please.
But now resolv'd with unanimity
T' exert our native magnanimity,
When changing clouds of purple dye
Were drawn o'er day's declining eye;
Again we urge th' impatient chase,
Invoke the stars to light our race,
And reach in thought the wish'd-for place.
Through the still shadowy veil of night,
While VENUS sent her glimmering light,
Our view the soften'd landscape charm'd,
And disappointment's pangs disarm'd;
And hope, in smiling graces dress'd,
Resum'd her influence o'er the breast.
The rising moon with friendly ray
Now led us to the banks of Tay ,
With raptur'd view while we begin
To trace a taper at the inn,
LEANDER thus transported, view'd
His HERO'S torch illumine the flood.
Why should the Muse attempt in vain
The morning's pleasures to explain?
To tell the tender explanations,
Embraces kind, and true narrations,
'Twould fill I'm sure a quarto volume,--
'Twere best methinks to raise a column
To mark the spot to future times,
Nor vainly trust to fleeting rhymes:
That scene, while memory holds her seat,
Shall still be new and still be sweet:
I will not tell you of your merit,
Your sense, integrity, and spirit;
These have their value in their places,
But I am charm'd by other graces;
That heart, whose cordial warmth so true,
Blooms ever fresh and ever new;
Affections, which, in spite of time,
Have all the glow of youthful prime;
With all the firmness, weight, and truth,
Which sage experience adds to youth,--
These make me count, with anxious pain,
The weeks till we shall meet again,
And treasure up the joys so fleeting,
That smil'd upon our short-liv'd meeting:
Dear ERSKINE too, whose eyes dispense
Her pure soul's bright intelligence,
Whose look is truth, whose speech is verity,
Whose genius, honour, and sincerity,
Live ever in my recollection,
I'd almost said my best affection,
I would not shock with adulation,
But view with silent admiration:
Her mother's dignity commanding,
And more than female understanding,
And probity so prais'd by you,
Esteem demand as tribute due.
Kind COATES! could I her worth rehearse,
Might likewise claim a grateful verse;
Her quickness, humour, lively ease,
Her never-failing wish to please,
Might with her friendly warmth combine,
To win a harder heart than mine;
But children nurs'd in fortune's lap,
Are fed so soon with flattery's pap,
And so surrounded by duplicity,
They loose all relish for simplicity:
Folks jealous, rusticated, shy,
Shrink from gay fashion's critic eye:
Nor pour the cordial soul in vain,
Check'd by the dread of cold disdain.
I'm tir'd, and so I swear are you,
And sleep now claims her drowsy due:
May pleasing visions gently spread
Their airy wings around your head!
For my part, I devoutly hope
To see six ladies in a group,
And COATES , with ladle in her hand,
Dispensing mirth and negus bland;
Since our best pleasures will not last,
Let us in dreams live o'er the past.