1811 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Walter Scott

M. A. S. (Martin Archer Shee?), "On Walter Scott" 1811; The Sun (1 January 1812).



The following lines were written last July, on authentic intelligence that WALTER SCOTT Esq. was again going to treat the lovers of minstrelsy; and that the Portuguese Sufferers were to derive the benefit of the sale.

"Oh! it comes o'er my ear" in softer tones
Than rippling waters in meandering flow;
Or noontide zephyrs torrid Leo owns,
On light umbrageous foliage can bestow,
Sweeter than warbled roll the night-bird pours
Upon the listener of fitful mood;
Or sky-lark's song melodious as he soars;
Or chorus full and varied of the world,
The mind from pilgrim wearinesses stealing,
And freshness of Elysian rest revealing.

From "the wtich-elm that shades Saint Fillan's spring"
The all-pervading energies diffuse;
Waking responsive sound from kindred string
Wherever consecrated to the muse.
All lucid as Saint Fillan's spring and pure,
And bearing virtues of sallubrious kind,
Which ills obliviate, though they can not cure;
And shed refinement on the most refin'd;
The smart of human suffering allaying,
The deeds of lofty sentiment displaying.

Said I, the smart of suffering they allay?
And truly said — and literally true;
Exalted genius claims perennial bay—
Ardent benevolence deserves it too—
Benevolence expanded, honest, chaste,
Kindled at patriot sensibility,
Which reaches far Bellona's crimson waste,
Where victim warriors in masses lie;
Which reaches styptic to the heart that's bleeding,
And gives to misery the whole that's needing.

Well may such dulcet minstrelsy transcend
Terrestrial music's most transcendent notes!
It is the hallow'd medium of its end,
More ravishing than the congregated throats,
It is a Seraph's voice — it is much more—
It is the voice of Him who kiss'd the rod
Humanity's best blessings to restore—
It is the voice of universal God!
His spirit gave the generous purpose being;
And He will guard it, with an eye all-seeing.

Long have we lov'd, sweet Bard of Caledon!
The harmonies that issue from thy lyre,
Affording illustration all thine own,
Of moral bearing and heroic fire—
Long have we lov'd thine high-wrought sentiment;
Thy nature's feelings delicate and strong;
Thy rich imagination's full intent;
And all the wonders of thy lavish song;
But Mercy! attribute divine combining
Spreads here in ever page, benignant shining.

The poem was written in answer to THE CALEDONIAN COMET.