Craigmillar Castle: An elegy.



Without the Gods, how ſhort a period ſtands
The proudeſt monument of mortal hands!

EDINBURGH: Printed for the AUTHOR, and ſold by all the Bookſellers.






THE Sun, declining o'er the weſtern ſky,
In roſeat ſplendor clos'd his circling courſe,
And ting'd the clouds with many a varied dye,
When, following Fancy's ever-flowing ſource
Of cool poetic joy, I bent my way
Tow'rd a majeſtic Caſtle's ruins wide;
Within whoſe gates once royalty bore ſway,
And for a ſeaſon laid its cares aſide.
The bleating flocks were pent within the fold;
The jovial reapers long had left the vale;
The plowman at his cheary fire-ſide told
The merry ſtory, or the mournful tale.
[Page 6]
Now SOL had gone to other worlds to riſe,
And all the place to ſilence was reſign'd;
While on the ruin fixed were my eyes,
A pleaſing melancholy fill'd my mind.
Comparing preſent things with paſt, a tear
Starting from either eye down gently ſtole;
Tho' from my heart wrung by reflection drear,
A tear which pity wiſh'd not to control!
While yielding thus to lenient grief, I deem'd
A ruſhing noiſe I heard, and looking round,
A ſudden light effulgent on me beam'd,
And all my ſoul in admiration bound.
Upon the hill deſcended from on high,
A BEING far tranſcending human kind:
I gaz'd upon him as he glided nigh,
His form engaging all my penſive mind.
An azure robe, of a celeſtial dye,
Around him wildly wanton'd in the breeze:
Bare were his feet; his looks did ſeem to vye
With new-fall'n ſnow that tips the aged trees.
Placid and mild his look, yet conſcious ſeem'd
Of majeſty, and piercing was his eye,
That flaſhing with a heav'nly ardor gleam'd,
As form'd with eaſe to ſcan earth, ſea, and ſky.
[Page 7]
His decent footſtops with a ſilver wand
Were guided, as majeſtically ſlow
Tow'rd me he calm advanc'd, and took his ſtand
Beſide me, loſt in Pity's balmy woe.
"AH, mortal! (ſaid he) thou art mov'd in vain
"To ſee all human grandeur yield to Fate,
"When from its fall thou ſhouldſt eſſay to gain
"Inſtruction, not bewail its fallen ſtate.
"'Tis my delight, at fall of dewy eve,
"To viſit and converſe with mortals good,
"My heav'nly dictates who with joy receive
"In the low cot, or 'mid the ſhady wood.
"The vain magnificence of man may prove
"My preſent mournfully inſtructive theme,
"Whoſe fate obſerv'd, might ev'n the proudeſt move
"To own all earthly pomp a fleeting dream."
Thus, while he ſpoke, I recogniz'd the pow'r
Of CONTEMPLATION, radiant ſon of Truth;
When empty joys invite, or ſorrows lowr,
The comforter of age, the guide of youth.
For often he my lone ſequeſter'd cot
Had deign'd to viſit, where he taught my ſoul
Tranquilly to enjoy life's chequer'd lot,
And each impetuous paſſion to control.
[Page 8]
"Behold (he thus reſum'd) yon turrets high,
"The once proud ornaments of that ſtrong tow'r;
"Now rent and ſhatter'd by th' inclement ſky,
"Scarce reſts the veſtige of their former pow'r.
"Th' approaching foe by no portcullis dire,
"Nor bar of maſſy iron, nor ſteady gate,
"Would now be forc'd diſdainful to retire,
"And leave a ſtrength unworthy of his hate.
"Upon this moat, once as a ſea profound,
"Which erſt no daring footſtep ever trode,
"The wanton infant now may ſportive bound,
"And harmleſs lambs chuſe a ſecure abode.
"The room where arms in horrid order plac'd
"A glimmering light reflected to the eye,
"Is now with inſtruments of labour grac'd;
"There ſword to ſickle chang'd thou may'ſt deſcry.
"That chamber, where the Queen, whoſe charms divine
"Made wond'ring nations own the pow'r of love,
"Oft bath'd her ſnowy limbs in ſparkling wine,
"Now proves a lonely refuge for the dove.
"Yon hall capacious, where the flowing bowl
"Inſpir'd convivial mirth, unblam'dly free,
"Unfolded all the ſecrets of the ſoul,
"And whelm'd each care in heart-enliv'ning glee.
[Page 9]
"Where the love-kindling lute, and ſounding lyre,
"Rapt all the mind, or in ſoft pleaſure drown'd;
"Where the hoarſe trumpet rouzing martial fire,
"Made vaulted roof and rocky walls reſound.
"There ſullen ſilence reigns, and there the owl
"Makes her abode that loves the gloomy night;
"Thence not the leaſt noiſe riſes, ſave the howl
"Of bats, and beaſts obſcene that ſhun the light.
"Yon mould'ring chapel, which in days of yore
"To ſome romantic ſaint was ſacred made,
"Where th' early prieſt his matins murmur'd o'er,
"And ſaid his numerous maſſes for the dead;
"There now each noxious animal and weed
"In baleful darkneſs dwells: And where the croſs
"Was plac'd, the henbane ſpreads a deadly ſhade;
"And the foul toad conceal'd lyes in the moſs.
"See o'er the place deep melancholy reigns
"Where ſplendor once diffus'd its brighteſt day;
"And of a palace ev'n theſe poor remains
"Will ſoon to nameleſs ruin drop a prey.
"Such fate awaits all ſublunary things,
"Save thoſe that reſt on VIRTUE'S firm ſupport;
"She aid alone 'gainſt Time's fell ravage brings,
"And ſmiles ſecure at Fortune's cruel ſport."
[Page 10]
Thus while he ſpoke, his robe expanding wide,
Majeſtic as a cherub ſtill he ſtood;
Then thro' the liquid air was ſeen to glide,
And, ſwift aſcending, gain'd his bleſt abode.
I ſilent turning from the eaſtern ſeas
Behold the full-orb'd moon refulgent riſe;
No fluttering zephyr fans the yellow trees,
Each breathe in gentle cadence ſoftly dies.
The ſtrepent horn no more the hills rebound,
But all the air is wrapt in ſtillneſs mild,
Save where the far-off curfeu's ſolemn ſound
Steals on the ear, melodiouſly wild!
Fair CYNTHIA'S ray, ſwift-gliding as ſhe roſe,
Firſt mark'd the place where a proud veſſel lay,
Which in the lulling calm ſeem'd to repoſe,
While not a gale its ſlagging ſails did ſway.
Then ſlow that tow'ring hill to view diſclos'd,
At whoſe wide baſe a princely palace ſtands;
And by it, to each ruthleſs ſtorm expos'd,
A ſacred ruin;—ſhame of modern hands!
Sure SCOTIA'S kings auguſt, and heroes brave,
Claim the moſt ſplendid honours of the tomb;
To them their country who but liv'd to ſave,
No longer be deny'd the grateful dome!
[Page 11]
Soon all EDINA'S glories roſe to ſight,
Her lofty ſpires, her caſtle proudly ſtrong;
The diſtant Forth reflecting the pale light,
As ſlow he flow'd the laughing fields among.
Autumn her golden mantle o'er the land
Had caſt; each ſound was huſh'd in ſilence ſtill,
Save where the rivulet murmur'd thro' the ſand;
The ſnowey moon-light ſleep'd on every hill.
A ſcene ſo ſweetly ſolemn Fancy's eye
Survey'd with rapture and tranquil delight;
But while ſhe ſoftly breath'd a parting ſigh,
Reſign'd its beauties to the ſilent night.


[Page 12]

Stanza II. 3. Royalty bore ſway, &c.]

QUEEN MARY reſided at Craigmillar Caſtle in the month of November 1566, during the time that preparations were made for baptizing her ſon JAMES VI. at Stirling. Knox, Buchan. lib. 18. &c.—It appears from the letters ſuppoſed to have been wrote by her to Bothwell, that ſhe intended to have brought her huſband Henry Darnly to the bath at this place; but he not chuſing it, and proceeding to the Kirk of Field, was there murdered. Goodal, vol. II.

Page 7. St. IV. 3. Whoſe fate, &c.]

Muoiono le citta▪ muoiono i regni,
Copre i faſti e le pompe arena, ed herba.
E l' huom d' eſſer mortal parche ſi ſdegni:
O noſtra mente cupida e ſuperba!

P. S. St. V. 3. Oft hath'd, &c.]

It was a cuſtom of this beautiful Princeſs to bathe herſelf in white wine, as a preſervative of her charms. In this ſhe was not ſingular, it being frequent with the Ladies of that age, when the progreſs of the liberal arts began to be attended with proportional refinements in luxury. Jaques du Fouilloux, one of the Beaux Eſprits of that period, enumerating the arts with which a country girl, of whom he was enamoured, diſdained to improve her perſon, particularly mentions this: ‘Point ne prenoit vin blanc pour ſe baigner. L' Adoleſcence de Jaques du Fouilloux.

P. 9. St. V. 1. See o'er the place, &c.]

Haec ſunt quas merito quondam eſt mirata Vetuſtas
Magnarum rerum magna ſepulchra vides.
C. LABERIUS de ruinis Athen.

St. penult. l. 4. Snowey Moon-light.]

Quo ſolet et niveae vuttum confundere lunae. OVID.

Ib. Moon-light ſleep'd.]

This bold figure is taken from the Poet of Nature: ‘How ſweet the moon-light ſleeps upon this bank! Merchant of Venice, Act V. Sc. 1.