1817 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Walter Scott

H., "On a Painting of Col. John Trumbull, representing a Scene from Scott's Lady of the Lake" North American Review [Boston] 5 (May 1817) 42-43.



Amid the brilliant group, which lib'ral taste
Selects to gild its mansion, and to charm
The virtuoso's eye, the landscape fair,
The form pourtray'd that from the canvass starts,
With breathing lip and feature, one there is
That mingles all this magick. — On its front
The bold descendant of that ancient line,
Which Scotland in her better days rever'd,
Stands first. His lofty form, though mark'd by time,
Seems like the forest king, that holds in age
Preeminence, and bows, but not decays.
Born for authority, upon his brow
He bears its semblance; silently we gaze
And breathe the name of Douglass; while the glance
Piercing, yet pensive of that noble eye,
Still speaks of wrongs endur'd, yet unreveng'd,
And wakes that sympathy which generous souls
Will feel for suffering virtue. By his side
Is seen a youth of native majesty,
The fearless Malcolm, "beautiful and brave."
He, having nothing basely to conceal,
Dreads nothing, and his cloudless eye looks up,
In the pure dignity of innocence,
Ev'n as the guardian eye of angels might
Look down on him. And next, a fairer form,
Half bending, half concealed in youthful charm,
Whose list'ning eye with conscious glance reveals
That not the favour'd Lufra, or the hounds,
Whose eager haste solicits her caress,
Nor yet the falcon, perching on her hand,
Could win her soul's attention from the voice,
That speaks of Ellen with a father's love,
Or lure it from the form of him who hears
With undefin'd sensation. Allan, too!
Thou poor old Harper, sorrow worn and sad,
Lost in the scenes of other days, whose shades
Are mournful to thee, has that cherish'd harp,
On which thy arm reclines, no lingering tone
To cheer thy wither'd heart, and sooth thy Lord
In his lone exile? Hark! with shouting sounds
Of revelry and pride, the stately barge
Of Roderick cuts the wave. The rapid strokes
From Highland oars come measur'd to the song
"Row, Vassals, Row!" while the inspiring praise
Of the grim warriour echoes from each glen
Of the wild trosach, and in softer tones
Swells o'er Loch Katrine's mirror, cold and pure.
On the smooth verdure, the diminish'd groups
Await th' arrival; mists in volumes roll'd
Spread o'er the mountains, while th' aspiring trees
Blend with the clouds. Oh, thou, whose art can lend
A charm to nature, and a robe to thought,
Who thus couldst pour the soul of Scottish song
O'er the dead canvass, lightly may the hand
Of time rest on thee, while thy art shall lure
Him of his wand to give a longer date
To the bright scenes thy country's annals yield,
And twine a wreath unfading for her brow.