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I should but teach him how to tell my story;
Now stood Eliza on the wood-crown'd height, O'er Minden's plain, spectatress of the fight; Sought with bold eye, amid the bloody strife, Her dearer self, the partner of her life; From hill to hill the rushing host pursued, And view'd his banner, or believed she viewed. Pleased with the distant roar, with quicker tread, Fast by his hand one lisping boy she led ; And one fair girl, amid the loud alarm, Slept on her 'kerchief, cradled by her arm: While round her brows bright beams of honour dart, And love's warm eddies circle round her heart. Near, and more near, th' intrepid beauty press'd, Saw through the driving smoke, his dancing crest; Heard the exulting shout, "They run, they run!" "O heavens!" she cried, "he's safe! the battle's won!" A ball now hisses through the airy tides, (Some Fury winged it, and some Demon guides!) Parts the fine locks, her graceful head that deck, Wounds her fair ear, and sinks into her neck; The red stream issuing from her azure veins, Dyes her white veil, her ivory bosom stains.
Ah, me," she cried, and sinking on the ground, Kissed her sweet babes, regardless of the wound.
'Oh, cease not yet to beat, thou vital urn!
"Oh, spare, ye war-hounds, spare their tender age.
Eliza" echoes through the canvass walls;
Quick through the murm'ring gloom his footsteps tread,
"O heavens," he cried, "my first rash vow forgive,
Oн, listen, listen, ladies gay!
No haughty feat of arms I tell;
"Moor, moor the barge, ye gallant crew! And, gentle ladye, deign to stay! Rest thee in Castle Ravensheuch,
Nor tempt the stormy firth to-day. "The black'ning wave is edged with white; To inch and rock the sea-mews fly; The fishers have heard the water-sprite, Whose screams forebode that wreck is nigh.
"Last night the gifted seer did view
A wet shroud swathed round ladye gay;
Sits lonely in her castle-hall.
""Tis not because the ring they ride,
And Lindesay at the ring rides well, But that my sire the wine will chide,
If 'tis not fill'd by Rosabelle."
O'er Roslin all that dreary night
A wondrous blaze was seen to gleam; "Twas broader than the watch-fire light, And redder than the bright moonbeam.
It glared on Roslin's castled rock,
It ruddied all the copse-wood glen; "Twas seen from Dryden's groves of oak,
And seen from cavern'd Hawthornden.
Seem'd all on fire that chapel proud,
Where Roslin's chiefs uncoffin'd lie; Each baron for a sable shroud, Sheath'd in his iron panoply.
Seem'd all on fire within, around,
Blazed battlement and pinnet high,
Blazed every rose-carved buttress fair;
The lordly line of high St. Clair.
There are twenty of Roslin's barons bold
But the sea holds lovely Rosabelle !
And each St. Clair was buried there,
HISTORICAL AND BIOGRAPHICAL READINGS.
I.THE LOVE OF HISTORY NATURAL-ITS TRUE USE.
THE love of history seems inseparable from human nature, because it seems inseparable from self-love. The same principle in this instance carries us forward and backward, to future and to past ages. We imagine that the things which affect us must affect posterity; this sentiment runs through mankind, from Cæsar down to the parish-clerk in Pope's Miscellany. We are fond of preserving, as far as it is in our frail power, the memory of our own adventures, of those of our own time, and of those that preceded it. Rude heaps of stones have been raised, and ruder hymns have been composed, for this purpose, by nations who had not yet the use of arts and letters. To go no farther back, the triumphs of Odin were celebrated in Runic songs, and the feats of our
British ancestors were recorded in those of their bards. The savages of America have the same custom at this day: and long historical ballads of their hunting and wars are sung at all their funerals. There is no need of saying how this passion grows among all civilized nations, in proportion to the means of gratifying it: but let us observe, that the same principle of nature directs us as strongly, and more generally, as well as more early, to indulge our own curiosity, instead of preparing to gratify that of others. The child hearkens with delight to the tales of his nurse; he learns to read, and he devours with eagerness fabulous legends and novels. In riper years he applies to history, or to that which he takes for history, to authorized romance: and even in age, the desire of knowing what has happened to other men, yields to the desire alone of relating what has happened to ourselves. Thus history, true or false, speaks to our passions always. What pity is it, that even the best should speak to our understandings so seldom! That it does so, we have none to blame but ourselves. Nature has done her part. She has opened this study to every man who can read and think; and what she has made the most agreeable, reason can make the most useful application of our minds.
Nature gave us curiosity to excite the industry of our minds; but she never intended it to be made the principal, much less the sole, object of their application. The true and proper object of this application is, a constant improvement in private and in public virtue. An application to any study, that tends neither directly nor indirectly to make us better men and better citizens, is at best, to use an expression of Tillotson, but a specious and ingenious sort of idleness and the knowledge we acquire is a creditable kind of ignorance-nothing more. This creditable kind of ignorance is, in my opinion, the whole benefit which the generality of men, even of the most learned, reap from the study of history: and yet the study of history seems to me, of all other, the most proper to train us up to private and public virtue.