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Dire caterpillars, with voracious haste,
Devour the verdure, and lay summer waste;
Till, gorged at last, the gluttons loath the day,
And, self-entombed, their surfeit sleep away :
Their dull gross natures thus by death refine;
Thence burst to life, in brighter hues to shine;
At large through all the fields of ether scour,
On odours feast, or banquet on the flower.
But here, behold a wondrous scene displayed!
A mighty pomp of little creatures made!
For when the winds are hushed, serene the day,
On filmy wings the swarming insects play;
Some first in pools scarce moving, mud appear,
And after flutter through the fields of air;
And some in verdant leaves their eggs conceal,
Where tumours from the wound around them swell.
Of these, the gnats with speckled wings we find,
And crests adorned, a small but angry kind!
In living columns from the flood they rise,
With turbid motion, trembling to the skies;
With stings infixed, they plague the toiling swain,
Disturb his labours, and augment his pain.
See how their arms these sturdy mowers wield!
How smooth behind them shines the ravished field.
Swinging their formidable scythes around,
Each sweep lays bare a mighty length of ground.
Their work behind the active rakers ply,
The fragrant herbs around them lightly fly;
The panting steeds drag slow the groaning wain,
And deep the wheels imprint the yielding plain,
The maids pile up the stack, while from below
The hay into their arms their lovers throw.
The reapers next appear, a merry band;
A sharp-toothed sickle shines in every hand,
Subdued before them falls the yielding grain,
Behind, long lines of sheaves load thick the plain.
Band strives with band, and harmless dispute breeds;
The rustic jest, the noisy laugh succeeds.
As they advance, their lord with lessening fear,
Sees crowned the hopes and labours of the year;
And in his barn-yard lodged, a treasure shines,
More precious than the wealth of Indian mines.
His weary nymphs and swains, behold him call
To dear-earned banquet in his rustic hall.
With ale and music their plain hearts they cheer,
Dance, and forget the labours of the year.
Such copious plenty crowns Carnwath's domains,
And the fair fields where noble Hyndford reigns:
For where vast Tinto heaves his bulk on high, (1)
His shoulders bear the clouds, his head the sky;
Mists for a robe o'er his large limbs extend,
And gushing fountains from his skirts descend,
O'er the bleak mountain poured: The traveller sees
The yellow corn studded with verdant trees:
He doubts the place; who wrought the change inquires, And hearing Hyndford's name, no more admires. (2)
(1) [Tinto-that is, 'Hill of Fire'-the topmost of the range of the Tinto mountains, stretches about 2 miles from north-east to south-west; and, as measured from a cairn of a circular form at the east end, is 2,312 feet above the level of the sea, and 1,740 above that of the Clyde. From Roberton burn to its junction with the Douglas water the Clyde traverses a district of about 20 miles in extent, yet moves so circuitously that these two points are not more than 7 miles distant in a direct line. It passes on to its magnificent falls shaping its course by the configuration of this far-viewing range, and receiving from the west and south, the rills and streams which it pours down upon the plains.]
(2) [Hyndford, the nobleman referred to here and in previous passages is the celebrated John, 3d Earl of Hyndford, born 1701. Devotedly attached to the house of Brunswick, the Earl was always high in favour with his Majesty, George II., by whom he was appointed envoy-extraordinary to the court of Russia, upon a special mission; and upon the accession of George III. he was nominated Vice-Admiral of Scotland. Some idea may be formed of his lordship's assiduity, from the fact that, in the
For what is hard for that extensive mind,
Which Naples charmed, luxuriant and refined?
Revered on hardy Russia's stormy coast,
By spirits tempered in eternal frost;
Esteemed alike by Austria's haughty dame,
And Prussia's prince, the loudest boast of fame;
Whose pictured forms adorn his stately halls,
F'rown dread, or smile enchantment, from the walls.
His sires to warlike Douglas' race allied,
Proud of their clan, were faithful to his side.
Their honourable crest shall ever tell,
By whom the dread of France, great Clarence, fell.
Mark the dark stream that bears the Douglas' name,
Proud of his ancient chieftain's martial fame;
Who on his brink still views his castle tower,
O'er time triumphant, and o'er hostile power.
For, true as strange! whene'er the fabric falls,
Stronger and fairer mount the lofty walls.
Thus the sure fates to good Sir James declared,
Of his unrivalled worth the high reward,
When with strong arm he razed his native towers,
In scorn of Edward and his southern powers.
For this they lengthened out the mansion's date,
Till the supporting earth should yield to fate:
library in Westraw, there are 23 manuscript volumes of his political life, in his own hand-writing. Besides, during the whole of his stay abroad, he kept up a regular correspondence with his factor at Carmichael, in which he evinces an accurate knowledge of architecture, agriculture and rural affairs in general. A few years before his death, he granted leases of 57 years' duration, in order to improve his lands; and even at that early period when the rudest agricultural practices were transmitted from sire to son, and the most slovenly habits, both in the field and in the dairy, were in general use-the Earl introduced clauses into the new leases which have since been adopted as the most approved mode of farming. The greater part of the beautiful plantations which adorn the now deserted family-mansion of Carmichael house, and which are excelled by none in Scotland, were reared from seeds which the ambassador selected when abroad, but particularly from Russia.}
Or if it fell, propitiously decreed,
A nobler fabric always should succeed. (1)
In vain may time, may foes their rage renew,
No earthly power shall Douglas e'er subdue.
As Scotia's sons, in every clime, excelled
In hardy feats, on every dangerous field,
Among the Scots supreme in martial grace,
Bright shone the valiant chiefs of Sholto's race.
When Scotia's king, oppressed with speechless woe,
Viewed his spent squadrons yielding to the foe;
Before the van he saw the hero dart,
Scorn on his brow, and vengeance in his heart;
Fresh to the charge the fainting troops he led ;
By his wide-wasting sword the foemen bled;
His single arm restored the doubtful day,
And tore from foes the laurel and the prey.
The battle won, when Scotia's prince inquired
What arm performed the deed by all admired;
Sholto Du Glas! an ancient chieftain cried;
Sholto Du Glas! the wondering prince replied,
As black with dust, and all-besmeared with blood,
He marked the sable hero where he stood.
When every peer with Edward's power complies,
Douglas alone his baffled rage defies ; (2)
By flattery, fraud, and force unmoved remains,
And, firm to liberty, expires in chains.
Thrice twenty times victorious for the right,
His son returned illustrious from the fight;
But most, when hasting to redeem from fate
His friend, surrounded in the hard debate;
As faints the foe his generous aid he stays,
And yields him unimpaired the victor's praise.
(1) See Note DOUGLAS CASTLE, at end of Canto.
(2) See Note THE DOUGLAS FAMILY, at end of Canto.
Dread Hotspur yielded to a Douglas' might, Who bare his spear triumphant from the fight.
When bleeding in the field the hero lies,
His name, though dead, brought victory from the skies. When England's lord ignoble dread confest,
Exposing subjects in the royal vest,
A prey so tempting whets the Douglas' ire,
And seeming kings on seeming kings expire;
So had the true; but rescued from the fight,
By France-subduing Henry's matchless might;
Checked in her conquests, England feels their wound,
And rescued Gauls the Douglas' triumph sound.
Scarce Europe could their dreadful deeds contain,
From Russia's frozen coast to sultry Spain.
Nor time has yet subdued the mighty line;
Still bright their vigour, and their honours shine.
These, generous Morton, thy famed line support;
Hence sprightly March attends his sovereign's court;
Queensberry, who latest of his race resigned
To fate, the lustre of a princely mind.
Ah! let me yet the mournful theme pursue,
The mansion of a generous friend in view;
From which no more his graceful form is seen
To mount the hill, or tread the flowery green.
No more his smiles the clouded brow shall clear,
Nor my sad heart his friendly converse cheer:
For his kind speech the fiercest griefs beguiled,
And all were cheerful round when William smiled.
His words were true, his smiles were void of art;
The kindest friend, with the sincerest heart.
As mild his manners as his soul was brave;
He never frowned but when he marked a knave.
No more he bids the swains' contentions cease,
Restrains their rage, or smiles them into peace.