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but his country overflows with romantic reading and traditions, and his genius seems to have taken its inspirations and the subjects of invention chiefly from these sources—from the state of society, the character and sentiments of men of various ranks, as they are recorded to have existed under the influences of the fedual system, and the times immediately succeeding. Like Shakspeare, he had the talent, each change of many-coloured life to draw, to move laughter and to excite tears. The parallelism between these great men, however, applies rather to the attributes of their genius than to their condition in life. Mediocrity of fortune, and a moderate estimate of his talents, was all the outward meed awarded to Shakspeare by his contemporaries.

Homer says of poets, they are regarded as divine beings," far as the sun displays his vital fire."—But few poets have the happiness to live in the " blaze of their fame" as Scott did — Wherever English is read, there the poems and the novels of the immortal Nothern Minstrel are known, and from every region where they are known the tribute of praise and admiration is offered to him. On the accession of George IV. (1820) one of the first acts of his reign was to bestow on Mr. Scott the rank of baronet, and he has since been known as Sir Walter Scott. Scott died in 1832, at the age of sixty-two years.

The Lay of the Last Minstrel consists of a tale in verse, supposed to be recited by a wandering minstrel who took refuge in the castle of Anne, Dutchess of Buccleuch and Monmouth, representative of the ancient lords of Buccleuch, and widow of the unfortunate James, Duke of Monmouth, who was beheaded in 1685.

The minstrel recites to the Dutchess and her ladies a story of her ancestors.


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- The way was long, the wind was cold,
The minstrel was infirm and old ;
His withered cheek, and tresses gray,
Seemed to have known a better day;
The harp, his sole remaining joy,
Was carried by an orphan boy,
The last of all the bards was he,

of border chivalry.
For, well-a-day! their date was fled,
His tuneful, brethern all were dead,

And he, neglected and oppressed,
Wished to be with them and at rest.

No more, on prancing palfrey borne,
He carolled light as lark at morn ;
No longer courted and caressed,
High placed in hall, a welcome guest,
He poured to lord and lady gay,
The unpremeditated lay :
Old times were changed, old manners gone ;
A stranger filled the Stuart's throne;
The bigots of the iron time
Had call'd his harmless art a crime.
A wandering Harper, scorned and poor,
He begged his bread from door to door;
And tuned, to please a peasant's ear,
The harp, a king had loved to hear.

He passed where Newark's stately tower Looks out from Yarrow's birchen bower : The minstrel gazed with wishful eye : No humbler resting place was nigh. With hesitating step at last, The embattled portal-arch he passed, Whose ponderous grate and massy bar Had oft rolled back the tide of war, But never closed the iron door Against the desolate and poor. The Dutchess marked his weary pace, His timid mein, and reverned face, And bade her page the menials tell, That they should tend the old man well ; For she had known adversity, Though born in such a high degree ; In pride of power, in beauty's bloom, Had wept o'er Monmouth's bloody tomb!

When kindness had his wants supplied, And the old man was gratified, Began to rise his minstrel pride : And he began to talk anon, Of good Earl Francis, dead and gone, And of Earl Walter, rest him God ! A braver never to battle rode : And how full many a tale he knew, Of the old warriors of Buccleuch ; And, would the noble Dutchess deign

To listen to an old man's strain,
Though stiff his hand, his voice though weak,
He thought even yet, the sooth to speak,
That, if she loved the harp to hear,
He could make music to her ear.

The humble boon was soon obtained ;
The aged Minstrel audience gained.
But when he reached the room of state,
Where she, with all her ladies, sate,
Perchance he wished his boon denied :
For when to tune his harp he tried,
His trembling hand had lost the ease,
Which marks security to please ;
And scenes, long past, of joy and pain,
Came wildering o'er his aged brain-
He tried to tune his harp in vain.
The pitying Dutchess praised its chime,
And gave him heart, and gave him time,
Till every string's according glee
Was blended into harmony.

And then, he said, he would full fain
He could recall an ancient strain,
He never thought to sing again.
It was not framed for village churls,
But for high dames and mighty earls ;
He had played it to king Charles the Good,
When he kept court in Holyrood ;
And much he wished, yet feared, to try
The long-forgotten melody.

Amid the strings his fingers strayed,
And an uncertain warbling made,
And oft he shook his hoary head.
But when he caught the measure wild,
The old man raised his face, and smiled ;
And lightened up his faded eye,
With all a poet's ecstacy!
In varying cadence, soft or strong,
He swept the sounding chords along :
The present scene, the future lot,
His toils, his wants, were all forgot :
Cold diffidence, and age's frost,
In the full tide of song were lost;

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Each blank, in faithless memory void,
The poet's glowing thought supplied ;
And, while his harp responsive rung,
'Twas thus the Latest Minstrel sung."

Of good Earl Francis, &c. Francis Scott, Earl of Buccleuch, father of the Dutchess.

And of Earl Walter, &c. Walter, Earl of Buccleuch, grandfather to the Dutchess, and a celebrated warrior.

“ Hushed is the harp- the Minstrel gone.
And did he wander forth alone ?
Alone, in indigence and age,
To linger out his pilgrimage ?
No :— close beneath proud Newark's tower,
Arose the Minstrel's lowly bower ;
A simple hut; but there was seen
The little garden hedged with green,
The cheerful hearth, and lattice clean,
There sheltered wanderers, by the blaze,
Oft heard the tale of other days ;
For much he loved to ope his door,
And give the aid he begged before.

So passed the winter's day ; but still,
When summer smiled on sweet Bowhill,
And July's eve, with balmy breath,
Waved the blue-bells on Newark heath;
When throstles sung in Hare-head shaw,
And corn was green on Carterhaugh,
And flourished, broad, Blacandro's oak,
The aged Harper's soul awoke !
Then would he sing achievements high,
And circumstance of chivalry,
Till the rapt traveller would stay,
Forgetful of the closing day;
An noble youths, the strain to hear,
Forsook the hunting of the deer;
And Yarrow, as he rolled along,
Bore burden to the Minstrel's song."


From the beginning of the seventeenth century, minstrelsy went out of practice in Britain, but in Italy the recitation of extemporary poetry still constitutes a popular amusement.

About seventy years ago Benjamin West, a native of America, went to Rome to study the art of painting. His biographer, Mr. Gait, relates the manner in which this celebrated artist was once entertained by an Improvisatore, one of the extemporaneous Italian poets.

“ One night, soon after his arrival in Rome, Mr. Gavin Hamilton, the painter, to whom he had been introduced by Mr. Robinson, took him to a coffee-house, the usual resort of British travellers. While they were sitting at one of the tables, a venerable old man, with a guitar suspended from his shoulder, entered the room, and coming immediately to their table, Mr. Hamilton addressed him by the name of Homer. He was the most celebrated improvisatore in all Italy, and the richness of expression, and nobleness of conception which he displayed in his effusions, had obtained for him that distinguished name.

“ Those who once heard his poetry, never ceased to lament that it was lost in the same moment, affirming that it often was so regular and dignified, as to equal the finest compositions of Tasso and Ariosto. It will, perhaps, afford some gratification to the admirers of native genius to learn, that this old man, though led by the fine frenzy of his imagination to prefer a wild and wandering life to the offer of a settled independence, which had been made him in his youth, enjoyed in his old age, by the liber. ality of several Englishmen, who had raised a subscription for the purpose, a small pension, sufficient to keep him comfortable, in his own way, when he became incapable of amusing the public.

“ After some conversation, Homer requested Mr. Hamilton to give him a subject for a poem. In the meantime, a number of Italians had gathered round them to look at West, who they had heard was an American, and whom like Cardinal Albani,* they imagined to be an Indian. Some of them, on hearing Homer's request, observed, that he had exhausted his vein, and had already said and sung every subject over and over. Mr. Hamilton, however, remarked that he thought he could propose something new to the bard, and pointing to Mr. West, said, that he was an Ame

* A Spanish Cardinal, who presumed that American signified Indian:

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