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For the Bee.
Elegy, occafioned by the Death of a Friend.
-Longas in fletum ducere voces.
WHAT means that doleful knell from yonder fane,
And vibrates flowly through the placid air.
My throbbing heart in quick disorder beats,
A fudden horror fteals upon the mind,
And gamefome frolic stops her wild career;
"Ye fons of men this folemn scene attend,
"The mournful dirge proclaims in fancy's ear,
May 25, 1791.}
For the Bee.
Written after giving a Gentleman a Breaft Buckle.
For the Bee.
The Harper of Mull, a Tale, written in the year 1780, never before printed.
Ah crudele genus, nec fidum femina nomen!
In the days of yore, there lived in the ifle of Mull a celebrated harper, who married for love a young woman of exquifite beauty. This musician was fuperior to all his contemporaries in taste and execution; but perhaps he owed part of his fame, to a harp fo happily conftructed, that no artist could hope to equal, much lefs furpafs it. Next to his wife, it was the pride and joy of his heart, and his companion wherever he went.
This pair had a relation on the oppofite coaft, whom they were called to vifit on a fudden. They who are acquainted with that rugged island, will not wonder, that a woman should fink under the cold and fatigue of the journey. And accordingly, on a high hill, which they could not avoid paffing, the fainted away quite exhaufted. The husband, with the utmost tenderness, exerted himself for the prefervation of a life fo precious; and feeing fome figns of recovery, made hafte to kindle a fire to warm her. He ftruck a flint, and received the fparks among a little, heather which he gathered with difficulty; for the place was too high and expofed, to produce that plant in abundance, though a native of barren foils. In this penury fuel, the good man fcrupled not to facrifice his beloved harp, breaking it in pieces, and feeding the flames with its fragments.
Meanwhile a young gentleman remarkably handfome and genteel, happened to be at no great distance a hunting; and fpying the fmoke, made towards it. He appeared, to be greatly ftruck on feeing in that wilderness a fine woman in diftrefs, whilft fhe was fo much difordered at the fight of the ftranger, that the husband dreaded another fit. The
youth made many profeffions of fympathy and concern, and offered to them fome provifions and ufquebagh he had with him. This was too feasonable a propofal not to be accepted with gratitude; for they had fet out in a violent hurry, ill prepared for any accident; and without fome cordial, the wife's ailments might return before they got to an inhabited place.
By degrees however, her agitation fubfided; and the was prevailed on with fome intreaty to partake of the repast. In a little while her fpirits revived, and the feemed to make light of her late difafter. The joy of the hufband was exceffive ; nor did he once regard the lofs of his harp. He was even pleased to fee his wife exert herfelf with fuch alacrity to entertain the youth, to whofe courtefy they were fo highly indebted. Their converfation became foon fo animated and particular, that a lefs happy husband, with the flighteft tincture of jealousy in his temper, would have fufpected that this was not their first meeting. And indeed they were old acquaintance, though, as the young man saw her not difpofed to recognize him, he chofe to behave as a ftranger.
Our heroine had been bred with a grandmother, whofe name the bore, and from whom her family had expectations. The old woman's house was a great way to the northward, and very near that of the youth's father. From early in fancy they had been companions; and in all the little purfuits and paftimes of childhood, had ever chofen each other as affociates. As they advanced in years, their fondness increased, which was not a little encouraged by the idle paftoral life then led by the young Highlanders of both fexes: For at a time when boys of his age in another country would have been confined to a fchool or college, he was employed in hunting, fishing, or liftening to the fongs and tales that were the delight of all ranks of people. Of courfe, he had numberlefs interviews with our fair one, whose beauty and fweetnefs of difpofition daily increased. Their friendship was fait ripening into love, when her grandmother died, and the returned to her father's houfe. From that time to the prefent they had never met, though the was not married till full two years after.
They were both much afflicted at the feparation. Not that they thought of marriage; for he was too young; and befides, there was an unfurmountable bar to their union. He was born a Duin-waffal or gentleman; fhe a commoner of an inferior tribe. And whilst ancient manners and cuftoms were religiously adhered to by a primitive people, the two claffes kept as unmixed in their alliances, as the coasts of Indostan. In thofe times, a gentleman of no fortune, or in Dr. Johnson's phrase, a beggar of high birth, was respected by his countrymen, and addreffed in the plural number; whereas, a commoner, though ten times more fubstantial, was faluted with thou and thee, and, with all his pelf, could not pretend to the pooreft gentlewoman.
But this had been no bar to their friendship. In every age and country, boys and girls, left to themselves, pay little regard to rank or external circumstances in the choice of their companions. Spirit, generofity, and complacency of manners, are the qualities that knit young hearts together. Befides, in every other article but marriage, the old Highland gentry and commons lived together in habits of kindness and familiarity, of which, at prefent, there are few examples.
It is not furprifing then, that the young woman fhould in time get the better of a hopeless paffion; at leaft, confider it as no bar to an establishment in life. Her marriage, therefore, was what is called a prudential one: She had no objection to the man; only when the confented to give him her hand, her heart was not at her own difpofal. Her firft love still lurked there, though reafon and virtue whif pered the impoffibility of his being ever her's. In the courfe of a few months, her husband's worth and tendernefs, and the defire of ftanding well in the opinion of the world, had greatly weakened thefe impreffions; so that hitherto she had acted her part in the marriage state with propriety and applaufe. A meeting however fo romantic and unexpected as the prefent, was a temptation too ftrong to be withstood. A thousand tender incidents of childhood and youth crowded into his mind, and too fuccessfully fuggefted, that the comparifon of his happiest years was alone worthy of her love. VOL. III.