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Though many a wond'rous tale of elder When in these wilds a jocund, sportive time
child, Shall grace the wild traditionary rhyme, Each flower, self-sown, my heedless hours Yet, not of warring hosts and faulchion beguiled : wounds,
The wabret leaf, that by the pathway grew,' Again the harp of ancient minstrels | The wild-briar rose, of pale and blushful sounds :
hue, Be mine to sing the meads, the pensile The thistle's rolling wheel of silken down, groves,
The blue-bell, or the daisy's pearly crown, And silver streams, which dear Aurelia The gaudy butterfly, in wanton round, loves.
That, like a living pea-flower, skimm'd From wilds of tawny heath, and mosses
the ground. dun,
Again I view the cairn, and moss-grey Through winding glens, scarce pervious stone. to the sun,
Where oft at eve I wont to muse alone, Afraid to glitter in the noon-tide beam, And vex with curious toil mine infant eye, The Teviot leads her young, sequester'd To count the gems that stud the nightly stream:
sky, Till, far retiring from her native rills, Or think, as playful fancy wandered far, She leaves the covert of her sheltering How sweet it were to dance from star to hills,
star ! And, gathering wide her waters on their Again I view each rude romantic glade, way,
Where once with tiny steps my childhood With foamy force emerges into day.
stray'd, Where'er she sparkles o'er her silver To watch the foam-bells of the bubbling sand,
brook, The daisied meads in glowing hues expand; Or mark the motions of the clamorous Blue osiers whiten in their bending rows ; rook, Broad o'er the stream the pendent alder Who saw her nest, close thatched with grows
ceaseless toil, But, more remote, the spangled fields | At summer eve become the woodman's unfold
spoil. Their bosoms, streaked with vegetative How lightly then I chased from flower gold ;
to flower Grey downs ascending dimple into dales ; | The lazy bee, at noon-tide's languid hour, The silvery birch hangs o'er the sloping When, pausing faint beneath the swelter
ing heat, While, far remote, where flashing torrents The hive could scarce their drowsy hum shine,
repeat ! In misty verdure towers the tapering pine, Nor scenes alone with summer beauties And dusky heaths in sullen languor lie, bright, Where Cheviot's ridges swell to meet the But winter's terrors brought a wild delight, sky.
With fringed flakes of snow that idly sail, As every prospect opens on my view, I seem to live departed years anew ;
* Wabret, or Wabran, plantain.
The antiquated little town of An-, which ended William's commercial struther, in Fife, has within one gener- | career. ation been the birth-place of three During those eight years
of unconeminent men—Thomas Chalmers, Wil- genial trafficking, he did not abandon liam Tennant, and John Goodsir. his studies, but by unwearied applica
William Tennant, the second of the tion, during his leisure hours, read such group, was born on the 15th of May poets as Ariosto, Wieland, and Cam1784. He was the second son of oens, in the original, and he also Alexander Tennant, a small merchant | mastered the Hebrew Bible. Nor did and farmer in Anstruther. Physically he altogether forsake the Muses, with he was
never robust, and though whom he first dallied at St Andrews; born without any defect, he lost the for we find him, before his twentieth use of his limbs so early that he may be year, attempting to sing his enjoyment said never to have had it. In due time of the classics. he was sent to the burgh school, where His first attempt in the humorous diligent application, and a special gift vein was “ Anster Concert,” a purely of acquiring languages, placed him at local poem, of twenty-three stanzas, no the head of his classes. At the age of way above the average of such effusions. fifteen, he was sent to St Andrew's Uni-Anster Fair was completed in 1811, versity, where he made rapid progress and was published anonymously, the in Greek and Latin ; but at the end of preface being dated Edinburgh, 5th his second session, it was found that his May 1812. It
under father's means were insufficient to en- the notice of Lord Woodhouselee, who able him to complete his curriculum. was so struck with the genius it disAfter remaining some time at home, in played, that he took immediate steps to 1803 he was sent to Glasgow, to act as find out the author's name ; and in clerk to his elder brother, then in busi- August 1812, he wrote Mr Cockburn, ness there as a corn-factor. The busi- Anstruther, its publisher, in terms that ness, not a very prosperous one, was must have filled Tennant's heart with transferred to Anstruther in 1805, when joy and gratitude. both brothers returned to their native In the autumn of 1813, Tennant was place, William still acting as clerk, and appointed to the office of schoolmaster living at his father's house. He con- of Dunino, and though the salary did tinued in this capacity till 1811 when a not exceed forty pounds a-year, it was crisis occurred in his brother's affairs, more than equal to his wants. The
office, too, was congenial, and gave
His last publication,
“ Hebrew him access to the University library at Dramas,” founded on incidents of St Andrew's. Here he added Arabic, Bible history, was published in 1845. Syriac, and Persian to the list of his of this work Lord Jeffrey expressed a linguistic acquirements. In 1814, he high opinion. It served to cover his published a second edition of Anster retreat from the poetic arena with Fair, on the publication of which dignity, though it can hardly be said to Jeffrey reviewed it in The Edinburgh have increased his fame. His death in very flattering terms. In 1816 he took place at Dollar, in 1848 ; and at was promoted, chiefly through the in- his own request he was buried at Anfluence of George Thomson, the friend struther, where his friends and admirers and correspondent of Burns, to be have placed a monument over his reparish teacher of Lasswade. In 1819, mains. he was elected by the trustees of Dollar The works already noticed are all Academy, teacher of Classical and that he published in a collected form ; Oriental languages in that institution. yet, besides a number of small poems
Here settled in a highly agreeable and ballads, he contributed prose transand interesting locality, and in a posi- lations from Greek and German to the tion suited to his tastes, it was expected Edinburgh Literary Journal, in 1830, that the promise of Anster Fair would and in the same periodical, carried on a be redeemed by something worthy of correspondence with the
" Ettrick his literary and scholastic reputation. Shepherd,” anent a new metrical transAccordingly, much interest was excited lation of the Psalms, which was pubwhen, in 1822, his second poem, “ The lished separately. In 1836-37, he conThane of Fife," appeared. The public tributed a series of five
“Hebrew expectation was disappointed, for the Idylls” to the Scottish Christian Herald, poem was a manifest falling off, and it which, with a project for an edition of not an entire failure, so much so, that the Scottish poets, for which he wrote its second part never was published. a life of Allan Ramsay, and a Synopsis Of his next three poems it will be of Syriac Grammar, published in 1840, enough to give the names, seeing none form all his literary labours which apof them added to his reputation. They pear to have been published. The fame were issued in the following order: of his linguistic acquirements conveys “Papistry Stormed, or the Dingin' the impression that his power of masterDown o' the Cathedral ;” “Cardinal ing languages was something wonderBethune, a Drama in 5 acts ; " " John ful. In character he was humble Baliol, an Historical Drama."
unassuming, and unaffectedly pious In 1834, a vacancy occurred in the simple in his tastes, and fond of nature chair of Oriental languages in St Mary's and innocent enjoyment, had a quick College, St Andrew's, and he was at sense of the ludicrous in all things; and once appointed to the professorship by was an acute observer of men and his friend Jeffrey, then Lord Advocate.
“ Fair is the crystal hall for me,
With rubies and with emeralds set, And sweet the music of the sea
Shall sing, when we for love are met.
As sunbeams through the tepid air,
When clouds dissolve the dews unseen, Smile on the flowers, that bloom more
fair, And fields that grow with livelier
greenSo melting soft the music fell ; It seem'd to soothe the fluttering
spray“Say, heard'st thou not these wild notes
· Ah! 'tis the song of Colonsay." Like one that from a fearful dream
Awakes, the morning light to view, And joys to see the purple beam,
Yet fears to find the vision true
"How sweet to dance, with gliding feet,
Along the level tide so green, Responsive to the cadence sweet That breathes along the moonlight
* And soft the music of the main
Rings from the motley tortoise-shell, While moonbeams, o'er the watery plain,
Seem trembling in its fitful swell.
“How sweet, when billows heave their
head, And shake their snowy crests on high, Serene in Ocean's sapphire-bed,
Beneath the tumbling surge, to lie ;
He heard that strain, so wildly sweet,
Which bade his torpid languor fly ; He fear'd some spell had bound his feet,
And hardly dared his limbs to try. “This yellow sand, this sparry cave,
Shall bend thy soul to beauty's sway ; Canst thou the maiden of the wave
Compare to her of Colonsay ?” Roused by that voice, of silver sound,
From the paved floor he lightly sprung, And, glancing wild his eyes around, Where the fair nymph her tresses
“ To trace, with tranquil step, the deep,
Where pearly drops of frozen dew In concave shells, unconscious, sleep,
Or shine with lustre, silvery blue ! Then shall the summer sun, from far,
Pour through the waves a softer ray, While diamonds, in a bower of spar,
At eve shall shed a brighter day.
No form he saw of mortal mould ;
It shone like ocean's snowy foam ; Her ringlets waved in living gold,
Her mirror crystal, pearl her comb. Her pearly comb the siren took,
And careless bound her tresses wild ; Still o'er the mirror stole her look,
As on the wondering youth she smiled. Like music from the greenwood tree,
Again she raised the melting lay ; "Fair warrior, wilt thou dwell with me,
And leave the Maid of Colonsay ?
"Nor stormy wind, nor wintry gale,
That o'er the angry ocean sweep, Shall e'er our coral groves assail,
Calm in the bosom of the deep. “ Through the green mead beneath the
sea, Enamour'd, we shall fondly stray-Then, gentle warrior, dwell with me,
And leave the Maid of Colonsay !"
“ Though bright thy locks of glistening
gold, Fair maiden of the foamy main ! Thy life-blood is the water cold,
While mine beats high in every vein.
Thousands and tens of thousands reel | And now a section of his face appears, about,
And diving, now he ducks clean down With joyous uproar blustering along ; o'er head and ears. Elbows push boringly on sides with pain, Wives hustling come on wives, and men
Anon uprises, with blithe bagpipe's sound, dash hard on men.
And shriller din of flying fiddlestick,
On the green loan and meadow-crofts There lacks no sport : tumblers in won- around, drous pranks,
A town of tents, with blankets roofèd High staged, display their limbs'agility; quick : And now, they, mountant from the A thousand stakes are rooted in the scaffold's planks,
ground; Kick with their whirling heels the clouds A thousand hammers clank and clatter on high,
thick; like cat, upon their dexterous A thousand fiddles squeak and squeal it shanks
yare ; They light, and of new monsters cheat A thousand stormy drones out-gasp in the sky;
groans their air. Whilst motley Merry-Andrew, with his
And such a turbulence of general mirth jokes,
Rises from Anster Loan upon the sky, Wide through the incorp'rate mob the
That from his throne Jove starts, and bursting laugh provokes.
down on earth Others upon
Looks, wond'ring what may be the Enact the best of Davie Lindsay's plays;
jollity : While ballad-singing women do not spare
He rests his eye on shores of Fortha's Their throats to give good utt'rance to
Firth, their lays ;
And smirks, as knowing well the
Market nigh, And many a leather-lung'd co-chanting pair
And bids his gods and goddesses look Of wood-legg'd sailors, children's laugh
down, To mark the rage of joy that maddens
Anster town. Lift to the courts of Jove their voices loud, Y-hymning their mishaps, to please the From Cellardyke to wind-swept Pittenheedless crowd.
And from Balhouffie to Kilrennymill, Meanwhile the sun, fatigued (as well he Vaulted with blankets, crofts and meadows may)
seem, With shining on a night till seven So many tents the grassy spaces fill; o'clock,
Meantime the Moon, yet leaning on the Beams on each chimney-head a farewell
With fluid silver bathes the welkin chill, Illuming into golden shaft its smoke ;
That now earth's ball, upon the side of And now in sea, far west from Oronsay,
night, Is dipp'd his chariot-wheel's refulgent Swims in an argent sea of beautiful moonspoke,