1843 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Hamilton of Bangour

John Holland, in Psalmists of Britain. Records of upwards of One Hundred and Fifty Authors, who have rendered the Whole or Parts of The Book of Psalms, into English Verse (1843) 2:184-86.



For the little that is known of this Scotch Poet — one of the earliest of his countrymen who wrote English verse with propriety and taste, we are chiefly indebted to the late Lord Woodhouselee, who has mentioned him in his life of Lord Kames, and to Mr. Chalmers, who has included his works in the voluminous collection of English Poets. To those sources, therefore, the reader is referred for fuller information concerning the author of a number of very graceful poetical compositions, than can be given in this place. Hamilton "of Bangour," as he is generally called, from the place of his residence, was born in 1704, and died in France in 1754, to which country he had fled ten years before, in consequence of having been concerned in the cause of the Pretender at the battle of Culloden. Elegant and accomplished in mind and manners, Hamilton's character has been considered to be pictured in his verses. "They are the easy and careless effusions of an elegant fancy and a chastened taste: and the sentiments they convey are the genuine feelings of a tender and susceptible heart which perpetually owned the dominion of some favourite mistress: but whose passion generally evaporated in song, and made no serious or permanent impression." He has few specimens of religious verse besides the subjoined imitation of—

PSALM LXV.
Thrice happy he! whom thy paternal love
Allows to tread the radiant courts above,
To range the climes where pure enjoyments grow,
Where blessings spring and endless pleasures flow:
Awful in Majesty thy glories shine,
Thy mercy speaks its author all divine.
Thy tender and amazing care is own'd,
Where-e'er old Ocean walks his wavy round;
Those that explore the terrours of the main,
Embroil'd with storms in search of paltry gain,
Where tides encounter with tumultuous roar,
Derive their safety from thy boundless power:
Within their stated mounds thy nod contains
The lawless waves, where headlong tumult reigns;
At thy despotic call the rebels cease,
Sink to a smiling calm, — and all is peace.
Those that inhabit earth's remotest bound
Trembling survey thy terrors all around,
When kindling meteors redden in the air,
And shake thy judgments from their sanguine hair;
At thy command fair blushes lead the day,
And orient pearls glow from each tender spray,
Night with her solemn gloom adores a God,
And spreads her sable horrours at his nod,
Whole nature cheerful owns her Maker's voice,
Each creature smiles and all his works rejoice,
Thy bounty streams in soft descending showers,
And wakens into bloom the drooping flowers;
Pregnant on high thy cloudy cisterns move,
And pour their genial treasures from above;
Earth smiles, array'd in all her youthful charms,
Her flowery infants ope their blushing arms,
And kindling life each vernal blossom warms,
Thus the glad year, with circling mercies crown'd,
Enjoys thy goodness in an endless round.
Whene'er thou smil'st, fresh beauties paint the Earth,
And flowers awaken'd vegetate to birth.
The dreary wilds, where no delights are found,
Where never Spring adorn'd the sterile ground,
At thy command a pompous dress assume,
Fair roses glow, and opening lilies bloom:
Here verdant hills arise on every side,
And shoot their tops aloft with conscious pride;
There lowing herds adorn the fertile soil,
And crown with fleecy wool the Shepherd's toil;
While tender lambs their infant voices raise,
And sweetly bleat th' Almighty giver's praise.
Here loaded valleys smile with waving corn,
And golden prospects every field adorn,
They shout for joy, and lowly bending sing,
With sweet harmonious notes their gracious King!