Page images

The dextrous huntsman wounds not these afar
With shafts or darts, or makes a distant war
With dogs, or pitches toils to stop their flight;
But close engages in unequal fight;
And while they strive in vain to make their way
Through hills of snow, and pitifully bray,
Assaults with dint of sword, or pointed spears,
And homeward, on his back, the burden bears.
The men to subterranean caves retire
Secure from cold, and crowd the cheerful fire;
With trunks of elms and oaks the hearth they load,
Nor tempt th' inclemency of heaven abroad.
Their jovial nights in frolic and in play
They pass, to drive the tedious hours away.”

“No very inviting, though, doubtless, a very accurate description of the mode of life passed in those frigid realms, where summer breezes seldom blow, and where


beautiful virgin,' Clara, or rather the charms she is accustomed to disperse around her, are totally unknown," said Mr. C., as Fanny concluded.

The rest of the children following their sister's example, began to repeat

what specimens they recollected of descriptive poetry, until it came to Clara's turn, and she selected some stanzas from her favourite “Minstrel,' in which the beauties of a summer morning are portrayed in lively colours : - But who the melodies of morn can tell ? The wild brook babbling down the mountain's side, The lowing herd; the sheepfold's simple bell; The pipe of early shepherd dim descried In the lone valley; echoing far and wide The clamorous horn along the cliffs above ; The hollow murmur of the ocean-tide; The hum of bees and linnet's lay of love, And the full choir that wakes the universal

grove. The cottage curs at early pilgrim bark ; Crowned with her pail the tripping milkmaid

sings; The whistling ploughman stalks afield, and hark ! Down the rough slope the ponderous waggon

rings; Through rustling corn the hare astonished springs; Slow tolls the village clock the drowsy hour; The partridge bursts away on whirring wings; Deep mourns the turtle in sequestered bower, And shrill lark carols clear from her aërial tour.",

Surely, papa, you will allow that this is the very essence of descriptive poetry. What can be more admirable

-more natural than this account of the sweet sounds that are heard, the interesting objects that are seen on a summer's morning, just such a morning, I suppose, as that when you and I were walking, in the spring, and talking about metaphorical poetry? And then

[ocr errors]

• The hollow inurmur of the ocean-tide,

-that is beautifully descriptive! How I love to hear this gentle hollow murmur! In fact, every part of the “ Minstrel abounds in delightful descriptions. I think, papa, that Dr. Beattie must have been fond of nature, or he would not have been able to describe it so correctly."

“ You are right, my love." The au thor of the Minstrel,' whose prototypo is the youthful Edwin, was an enthusiastic admirer of nature; from his earliest childhood he delighted to wander alone amidst the romantic and sublime scenery of his native country, and to explore those beauties with which it abounds. It is true, as you observe, that a poet who writes good descriptive poetry must draw his images from real objects : nature must constitute the charm of his compositions, for without it they will inevitably be destitute of their greatest ornament, and of that which ought to constitute their beauty."

“ Of what country was Dr. Beattie a native, papa ; and how do you know that he was fond of nature ?"

“ He was born at an obscure hamlet in the north of Scotland, near the foot of the Grampian mountains,” replied Mr. C.; " and if any proof be required to convince you that my assertion is

correct with regard to his partiality for the beauties of nature, further than the evidence he has left us of it in his poems, you may find it in his · Life, in which we are told that the wild and romantic scenery of his native place furnished him with never-failing amusement. He was 'addicted to poetry, as I have already said, from his very

infancy, and, when only eight years of age, was known among his young companions by the appellation of the Poet. At a small distance from the village in which he resided, a beautifully wooded glen or valley runs up into the mountains; thither the little Beattie used to repair, and in that wild and solitary spot some of his finest descriptions and most interesting pictures of nature were composed. Nothing, at that period, afforded him more delight than to wander in the fields the live-long night; contem

« PreviousContinue »