1832 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Walter Scott

Anonymous, "Monody on the Death of Sir Walter Scott" Fraser's Magazine 6 (November 1832) 605-06.



Our fathers boasted ('twas an honest pride)
The muse had done her best when Shakespeare died;
Told us that other bards would rise in vain,
For none would look upon his like again:
The Muse, half-piqued, their boasting to belie,
Another moulded ere she broke the die;
Once more her mighty energies brought forth,
And gave a second Shakespeare to the north.

Oh! who but they could soar from zone to zone,
And paint alike the cottage and the throne;
Joy in her wildness, anguish in her throes,
The rich man's splendour, and the poor man's woes;
Nature, the same in all her various climes,
The picture of all countries, and all times;
Feelings that still from every bosom flow,
Yet flowed the same a thousand years ago—
Warming each heart to soar on fancy's wings,
And making peasants intimate with kings.

Be this his highest praise, — by Shakespeare's side,
To sail on fame's illimitable tide:
Though past from hence, his own proud song denies
That nature's worshipper, the poet, dies;
His spirit lingers on his native shore,
Though there the minstrel's footsteps rove no more.
Oh! as each tale came pictur'd from his pen,
What interest hung on each sequestered glen;
Enraptured thousands, kindling as they read,
Desert the banks of Arno for the Tweed.

Thousands must full to build a nation's fame—
Yet living thousands swell the hero's name
'Twas his a country's glory to uprear,
Unstained by blood, unsullied by a tear!

All are his debtors! — not that land alone
O'er which he sheds a halo, all his own;
His name is blazed in many a distant land,
By foreign tongues his magic words are scanned;
Millions unborn, those raptures to partake,
Shall learn the language for the poet's sake:
Him, too, shall virtue mourn, whose muse forgot
"No line which dying he could wish to blot;"
Who mingled in those tales so wild and bright
A love of goodness, — where he flung delight;
The master-spirit, whose unequalled mind
Could draw the sympathy he leaves behind!

Now from the bard a moment turn, to scan
The softer virtues that adorn the man!
Kind to the meanest, courteous to the end,
Of humbler worth the never-varying friend;
Even in the close of life, when racked with pain,
Whose blame or praise was never asked in vain;
He who could lull, with most peculiar art,
The poet's envy, or the critic's smart;
And boast, 'midst all the fame that man can know,
He passed through life without a single foe!

Oh! had ye seen him heave the generous sigh,
Where anguish groaned, and death stood threatening by;
Seen how his glance in gentlest pity fell,
To soothe those pangs his pen could draw so well;
Or, where the circle closed around the fire,
Known the fond husband, and the indulgent sire;
Warm from your hearts would flow the kind regard,—
Ye'd love the Christian as ye prize the bard!

Even when he wandered on a foreign shore,
To seek that health that must return no more,
Even then, from that worn frame no groan was rung,
No fretful murmur faultered on that tongue;
But one, fond wish his native land to reach,
And fix his dying eyes on that loved beach;
That land his childhood roamed his manhood prized,
The land his genius has immortalised!

Peace to the minstrel! — little recks his dust,
Who rears the storied urn or imaged bust;
Yet, if his shade, from yonder fields of bliss,
Can deign to glance upon a land like this;
May not his spirit look complacent here,
Where thousands shed the homage of a tear?