Alexander Thomson

George Dyer, "Verses occasioned by the Death of John Armstrong, A.M. To Alexander Thomson, Esq."

From Lomond's light-blue lake, and verdant isles,
Long-winding glens, and rude romantic woods,
And hills, that hide their summits in the clouds,
Light, as a vessel borne by western gales,
I journey'd, musing many a rural theme.
The hours I counted not, as nimble-wing'd
They circling flew, soft smiling, as they pass'd:
Thy mansion, gentle THOMSON! I approach,
The sweet retreat of poesy and love;
Thy friendly converse, and the grateful smiles
Of fair LOUISA, chear me, while around
Thy pratlers play. — "Oh! may domestic bliss,"
Thus pray'd my soul, "here fix its lasting seat."

Then o'er poetic ground with thee I rove,
Scenes fancy-colour'd: bright before me rise
Beauty's rich Garden: soon, a mourner pale,
I tread the Vale of Pity: till the House
Of Ridicule pours forth her wanton tribe.
Soon circling high I climb the mount sublime,
Round whose bold top the muttering thunders roll,
And forked lightnings flash: with tremulous joy
The height I reach: then look triumphant down:
Till Fancy, pointing with her fairy wand,
Calls me to range her wild-enchanted bowers,
'Mid visionary forms, and shadowy scenes.
Enthusiast sweet! Oh, I could wander still
With her, the muse of Spencer, and no less
Of him, who Scotia's fairy regions sung,
From every clime would crop some fragrant flower,
Till Superstition, opening all her stores,
And gazing on me with a mother's eye,
Should bless her fondling's large credulities.

But now from Fancy's magic wilds I go
To Nature's living green: straight I repose
As wont, my head, where I may best survey
The various landscape: full before me rises
A row of well-rang'd buildings, and beyond
A thick umbrageous wood: down the fair vale
The sylvan Teath devolves her rapid stream,
As hastening on to tell the stately Forth,
E'er she commix her stores, how fair a scene
She pass'd at Deanston: on her sloping side
Towers a proud castle, beauteous in decay:
High on the bank it frowns, and still o'erlooks
The modest stream, as seeming yet to boast
Of ancient grandeur. — Here the sated eye
Inquires no farther: thence the moral muse
Pours forth the strain: — "Ah! thus shall human greatness
Sit like a mourner; thus in ruins ly
All that is mortal."

Now, once more I seek
Domestic scenes, as tho' to smooth the brow
Ruffled by too much musing: — Stern-ey'd Fate:
Say didst thou doubt my heart's sincerity?
Think, that I did but moralise in song,
A formal minstrel? that, whene'er of death
I ponder, thou resolvest to o'ertake me,
And, with blood-reeking dart, to point my eye
To some fresh victim? "Mortal here is death."—
I see! I see! while softly falls the tear;
Yes, Armstrong falls, and pity drops the tear.
Relentless Tyrant! like a vernal flower
I view him fall, thine easy-yielding prey:
Blossom of early genius, blighted soon,
Industry, like a self-destroying insect,
Beating itself to dust; a sacred love
Of Freedom, like the vestal's purer flame,
Sparkling tho' life, that but with life expires:
These tell what Armstrong was; these still proclaim
How Armstrong lives in Friendship's faithful breast.

But, Thomson, let us hear the warning voice:
"— Whatever schemes thy mind may meditate,
Dispatch with well-tim'd zeal; but yet that zeal
Let matron prudence guide: for in the grave
Satire shall drop the scourge; sage history
Cease to instruct; and rapture-breathing song,
To silence hush'd, delight the world no more."