1781
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Linton, a Tweedale Pastoral.

Linton, a Tweedale Pastoral. By A. Geddes, L.L.D.

Rev. Alexander Geddes


A patronage poem in the manner of Virgil's Pollio Eclogue celebrating the brith of an heir to the Traquaire family. While Geddes's manner is Virgilian rather than Spenserian — the poet was a Catholic and works in something like the Stuart mode of the last century — the locality of the poem aligns it with developments in Spenserian and Miltonic verse. The poet fathers his prophecy of golden days on the legendary poet Thomas the Rymer, who had declared "When from the RAVEN and the ROOK shall spring | And EAGLET-BIRD, (the forest's future king), | Then, men of Tweedale, banish ev'ry fear; | For gladsome days and glorious times are near" p. 4. He imagines a time when Catholics and Protestants will live in harmony, and in the closing lines adapts Virgil in a description that is decidedly Scottish.

Geddes, who was a thoroughgoing classicist, would later translate eclogues by Virgil and Theocritus into "Skottis Verse." He was the farthest thing from a Jacobite, and would later get into trouble with the authorities for what was perceived as deistic tendencies. This "Tweedale Pastoral" was not reviewed and likely had limited circulation.

W. M.: "In the summer of 1781, Dr. Geddes paid a visit to Scotland, during which he wrote Linton, a Tweedale Pastoral, in honor of the birth of a son and heir to the noble house of Traquair. According to an ancient prophecy of Thomas of Lermont, when an eagle should be the offspring of a raven and a rook, joyful tidings were to arise for 'the bonny men of Tweedale;' and this popular impression Geddes availed himself of very happily on the present occasion. The rook constituted the crest in the armorial bearings of the Traquaires; and his friend and patron the Earl, having married into the family of the Ravenscrofts, in whose arms the raven holds a chief place, the poet hailed in the offspring of this alliance, the eagle predicted by the prophet, on whose arrival at majority, the 'bonny men of Tweedale' would be in full possession of the golden days of Saturn" Joseph Robertson, Lives of the Scottish Poets (1821-22) 2:4:140-41.



Ye NYMPHS and NAIADS of the silver TWEED,
To louder notes attune the vocal reed!

No more the limpid brook, and purling rill,
The flow'ry meadow, and the green-topt hill,
The mossy fountain, and the shadowy grove,
And all the other scenes of rural love,
Invite my song — A nobler theme inspires
A shepherd's breast with more than shepherd's fires!

Oh! did the muse, that erst, on Mincio's plains,
Taught heav'nly numbers to the Mantuan swains,
But deign, propitious, on my verse to smile,
And breathe the beauties of a courtly stile,
Not Tityrus self should sing a loftier lay,
Nor Pollio bear the past'ral palm away.

For now approaches that expected age
So clerly mark'd in THOMAS' mystic page—
THOMAS the True, who never told a like.
Read! — and revere the well-known prophecy!

"When from the RAVEN and the ROOK shall spring
And EAGLET-BIRD, (the forest's future king),
Then, men of Tweedale, banish ev'ry fear;
For gladsome days and glorious times are near."

He said — and streight the sister-Fates begin
Those gladsome days and glorious times to spin.
Already swells the glomering clue,
And the last threads are of a finer hue!
But let them of a finer still be drawn,
To usher in young LINTON'S natal dawn.
With richer colours mark th' auspicious morn
On which the HOPE of swains is to be borne.

'Tis done — The Heav'ns assume a brighter dye;
Calm is the air, and cloudless is the sky:
With such a splendour Phoebe never shone,
And stars display a lustre not their own!

At length the Sun starts from his nuptial bed,
With beams of new-born radiance round his head:
Joyous he springs to run th' ethereal course,
And, like a giant, glories in his force,
The Hours and Seasons wait upon his nod,
And own the empire of the ruling God!

Lo! Winter quits a part of his domain,
And gives the year to Spring's more gentle reign:
All nature feels the Spring's more gentle sway,
And sickly Februa blooms like healthful May!
If such a Winter, such a Spring, we see;
What must our Summers and our Autumns be?

Yet still remain some dregs of former times,
(The just atonement of our Fathers crimes):
Still horrid Mars, besprent with human gore,
Drives the swoln tide of blood from shore to shore;
And grins with joy, to see his thunder hurl'd,
In spite of Jove, o'er all th' astonish'd world!
Still Lux'ry, seated on her silken throne,
Calls half the great-ones of the earth her own!
Still, some few Ministers betray their trust!
Still, some few Judges are not always just!
Still, some few Consciences are to be sold!
Still, some few Patriots may be brib'd with gold!
Still, some few Fair Ones scruple not to spread
A pair of antlers on their Husbands head!
More than one Lawyer — Doctor — and Divine,
Still meanly cringe at Mammon's dirty shrine!
More than one purse-proud Fool, and titled Knave,
To needy Worth with insolence behave!
Not only B * * cheats and circumvenes!
Not only T * * speaks not as he means!
Ev'n in the Muses and the Swains retreat,
O shame! remain some falsehood and deceit!
Nor shall the promis'd BLISS complete appear,
'Till the fair YOUTH have reach'd his twentieth year.

Then war, and discord, and domestic strife,
And all the other woes of human life,
Dearth, famine, plague, mortality, shall cease;
And all be health — and harmony — and peace.

No more Religion, with fanatic hand,
Shall fan the fire of Faction in the land;
But, mild and gentle, like her heav'nly SIRE,
No other flames but those of LOVE inspire.
Papist and Protestant shall strive to raise,
In diff'rent notes, ONE great CREATOR'S praise.
Polemic volumes on their shelves shall rot;
And Hays and Abernethies be forgot.

No more the weeping mother shall bemoan
Her sons, unburied, on some coast unknown:
Nor widow'd matron curse the fatal day
That tore her dearest — best-belov'd away.

No more the injur'd maiden shall complain
Of broken vows, and promises in vain;
But ev'ry swain shall, like the turtle, prove
Faithful and constant to his constant love.
No more th' oppressed villager shall roam
To seek, in foreign climes, a kindlier home;
But, fixt for ever to his native spot,
To sons of sons transmit his happy lot.

Old mother EARTH shall (now no longer curst)
Become as fecund a she was at first;
And yield, as erst in Eden's virgin soil,
Her fruits to man's amusement — not his toil.
Each barren heath, each thistle-bearing plain,
Shall wave with harvests of the bearded grain.
On bitter crabs shall golden apples glow,
And grapes hang clust'ring with the misletoe;
Sweet-smelling balsams every shrub adorn,
And Sharon-roses grow on ev'ry thorn;
Clear crystal springs from ev'ry mountain gush,
And Philomela chant in ev'ry bush.

No pois'nous herb shall taint our pregnant ewes,
Nor early lambkins feel the noxious dews:
With sportive kids shall sportive foxes play,
(As artless and as innocent as they):
The timid goslin shall no longer dread
The rav'nous vulture and rapacious glede:
Nor shall the trembling linnet cease his lay,
Altho' the hawk be on the neighb'ring spray.

No snarling cur shall guard the fleecy store,
Nor fright the weary pilgrim from the door:
But spread shall be the hospitable board
To all alike — the peasant and the lord.
Plenty, and peace, and genuine joy, shall reign
From Tweed to Teviot — over all the plain.
SATURN shall smile — and wonder, to behold,
In iron days, a little age of gold;
And TWEEDALE then shall be what Latium was of old.

[pp. 3-9]