The Muses Threnodie: Third Muse

Henry Adamson

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as we did behold the salmon sporting,
We spied some countrie clowns to us resorting,
Who striken were with sudden admiration,
To see us graithed in such antique fashion,
Their staring eyes grew blind, their tongues were dumb,
A chilling cold their senses did benumb:
Said we, What moves yon ghosts to look so griesly?
They scarcely muttering, answered, and not wiselie,
Oft have we heard of such strange wights as ye,
But to this time we did them never see;
If ye be men or not, scarce can we tell—
Ye look like men, yet none such here do dwell;
Then said good Gall, Monsier, these fellows stupid,
Doubtless take me for Mars, and you for Cupid:
Therefore let us begone, we will not tarie,
Yon clowns will swear that they have seen the fairie;
When they come home at night, and by the fire,
Will tell such uncouth tales, all will admire,
Both man ane wife, the lads and all the lasses;
For be ye sure such clowns are very asses.
Thence down the river bank as we did walk,
And merrilie began to chant and talk,
A pretty boat with two oars we espy'd,
Fleeting upon the waters, then we cry'd,
HOW, boatmen, come; two fisher men near by,
Thus answer'd us again, and who doth cry?
Said we, good friends, to favour us delay not,—
The day is very hot, and walk we may not;
Therefore your kindly courtesie implores,
To let us have these little pair of oars;
For down the river we would make our way,
And land at Perth;—With all our heart, said they;
For we likewise at Perth would gladly be,
Only we want such companie as yee.
All men were glad of us, none did refuse,
Whatever thing it pleasde us, ask or chuse;
Then we imbarked with two boys in train,
Who recollect our shafts, and these two men,
As down the river did we softly slide;
The banks most sweetly smil'd on either side:
To see the flowres our hearts did much rejoice—
The banwort, dazie, and the fragrant rose;
Favonius in our faces sweetly blew
His breath, which did our fainting sp'rits renew;
Then with Sicilian muse, can we dissemble
Our secret flames? making our voices tremble;
While as we sweetly sung kind Amaryllis,
And did complain of four sweet lovely Phyllis:
So sadly, that the nymphs of woods and mountains,
And these which also haunt the plains and fountains;
Barelegged to the brawns, arms bare,—and breast,
Like whitest ivory,—bare unto the waste:
The lillies and the roses of their faces,
Running more pleasant made their waving tresses,
Well curled with the winde: all these drew nigh,
The waters brink, in song to keep reply,
Treading the flowres, when Gall them so espy'd:
O! how he cast his eyes on either side
And wish'd t'have smell'd on flow'r where they had trac'd.
Judge what he would have given to have embraced.
But chiefly echo fetter'd was in love.
At everie work we spoke her tongue did move,
Then did we call, sweet nymph, pray thee draw nigh:
She answer'd us most willingly, said, I.
Draw near, said Gall, for gladly would I please thee;
Do not deny to hear me, she said, ease thee:
Then come, sweet nymph, thy face fain would I know,
She quickly answered him again, said, No:
Why so? said he:—Here is there no Narcissus:
To this her old love's name did answer, Kiss us;
Kiss us! said she, with all my heart again.
This is the thing I would: She answered, gain:
Gain! such a gain, said he, I crave alway;—
No countenance she shews, yet answers, ay;
And bashfully obscures her blushing face,
Lest from Cephisus son, she finds disgrace;
But if that she had known Gall's tender mind,
She had not prov'd so bashful and unkind:

When ended were our songs with perfect close,
We thought it best to merrie be in prose:
Then seriously and truely to discourse,
Of diverse matters grave, we fell by course,
But chiefly of this blind world's practice had,
Preferring unto learning any trade;
For these ill times had not in such account
Men learned, as the former ages wont;
But if the worth of learning well they knew,
Good Gall, quoth I, they would make much of you,
In poetry so skill'd, and so well read
In all antiquitie, what can be said,
Whereof you fluently can now discourse,
Even like the current of this river's course:—
Things absent, you can present make appear,
And things far distant, as if they were near;
Things senseless, unto them give sense can yee,
And make them touch, taste, smell, and hear and see:
What cannot poets do? they life can give,
And after fatal stroke can make men live;
And if they please to change their tune or note,
They'l make mens' names to stink and rot.
Who did fix Hercules among the stars?
And Diomedes for his wit in wars
Made equal to the gods; but odious
For vice Thersites vile, and Sisyphus?
Thus were the immortal Muses, who do sing,
As vice and virtue do their subjects bring;
Therefore this counsel wisdom doth impart you,
Flee filthie vice and entertain fair virtue:—

Yet 'tis not so that everie spirit fell,
Whose wicked tongue is set on fire of hell;
Nor everie Momus nor Archilochus,
Whose mouths do vomit venom poysonous,
Hath inspiration of the sacred Muses,
Such wickednesse the Aonian band refuses;
But he who will most gravely censure can,
And virtues praise advance in any man
With perfect numbers, such one is a poet,
But in thir days, alasse! few men do know it,
Like my dear Gall who gravely did reply,
A good Mœcenas lets no poets die;
Poets make men on gold-wing'd fame to flie,
When lands with loss, life chang'd with death shall be.
As we thus talk'd, our barge did sweetly pass
By Scone's fair palace, sometime abbay was:
Strange change indeed! yet is it no new guyse,
Both spiritual lands, and men to temporize;
But palace fair which doth so richly stand,
With gardens, orchards, parks on either hand,
Where flowers, and fruits, the hart, and fallow-deer;
For smell, for taste, for venison and cheer,
The nose, the mouth, and palate which may please,
For gardens, chambers, for delight and ease—
Damask't with porphyrie and alabaster;
Thou art not subject for each poetaster,
But for a poet master, in his art,
Which thee could whole describe, and everie part;
So to the life as 'twere in perspective,
As readers that they see thee might believe:
Mean while our boat doth with the river slide,
The countrie nymphs who in these parts abide,
With many a shout moving both head and hand,
Did us invite that we might come a land,
Not now, said we, and think it not disdain;
For we do promise for to come again,
And view where sometime stood your cathedral
And mount, which omnis terra you do call.

Just by this time we see the bridge of Tay,
Oh happy sight indeed was it that day;
A bridge so stately with eleven arches,
Joining the south and north, and common march is
Unto them both, a bridge of squared stone,
So great and fair, which when I think upon,
How in these days it did so proudlie stand,
O'erlooking both the river and the land,
So fair, so high, a bridge for many ages
Most famous; but, alas! now through the rages
Of furious swelling waters thrown in deep,
My heart for sorrow sobs, myne eyes do weep:
And if my tongue should cease to cry and speak,
Undoubtedlie my griefs swoln heart would break.
But courage, Monsier, my good genius says,
Remember ye not how Gall in those days
Did you comfort, lest melancholius fits
Had you opprest, your spleen so nearly sits,
And told you in the year threescore thirteen,
The first down-fall this bridge did e'er sustain,
By ruin of three arches next the town,
Yet were rebuilt, thereafter were thrown down
Five arches in the year fourscore and two
Re edified likewise, and who doth know
Monsier, but ah, mine heart can scarcely tober!
Even that great fal the fourteenth of October,
Six hundred twenty one, repair'd may be:
And I do wish, the same that I might see:
For Britain's monarch will it sure repair,
Courage, therefore, Monsier, do not despair!
Is't credible to be believed or told,
That these our Kings who did possess of old
Scotland alone, should such a work erect,
And Britain's mighty Monarch it neglect?
Absurd it is to think, much more to speak it;
Therefore, good Monsier, yee do far mistake it,
For never yet a King was more inclin'd,
To do great works, nor of a braver mind,
Providing he can have due information,
His word will prove of powerful operation:
For Kings are gods on earth, and all their actions
Do represent the Almightie's great perfections.

Thus Gall's sweet words often do me comfort,
And my good genius truly doth report
Them unto me, else sure my splene would wholy
Be evercome with fits of melancholie.
Therefore I courage take, and hope to see
A bridge yet built, although I aged be;
More stately, firm, more sumptuous and fair,
Than any former age could yet compare.
Thus Gall assured me it would be so,
And my good genius truly doth it know:
For what we do presage is not in grosse,
For we be brethren of the rosie cross;
We have the mason-word and second sight,
Things for to come we can foretell aright,
And shall we show what misterie we mean,
In fair acrosticks Carolus Rex is seen,
Describ'd upon that bridge in perfect gold,
By skilfull art this cleerlie we behold,
With all the scutcheon of Great Britain's king,
Which unto Perth most joyfull news shall bring.
Loath would we be this misterie to unfold,
But for King Charles his honour we are bold,

And as our boat most pleasantly did pass,
Upon the crystal river clear as glass:
My dearest Gall, quoth I, long time I spend,
Revolving from beginning to the end;
All our records yet searching cannot finde,
First when this bridge was built, therefore thy mind
Fain would I know, for I am verrie sorrie
Such things should be omitted in our storie
Monsier, said Gall, things many of that kind
To be omitted often do we find;
Yea, time hath also greatest works destroyed,
Wherein the learn'dest pennes have been employed:
But if that I should tell what I do know,
An antient storie I could to you show,
Which I have found in an old manuscript,
But in our late records is overslipt:
Which storie no less probable is than true,
And my good Monsier I will shew it you.
I leave to speak what Hollinshed hath told
Of Cunidad, was Britane's King of old,
The time Uzziah was of Judah King,
And Jeroboam did over Israel reign;
Ere Rome a city was years forty-five;
Ere sons of Rhea did for masterie strive;
How that this heathen built three cells of stone:
To Mercurie at Bongor built he one,
His way for to direct: then to Apollo
At Cornuel another did he hallow,
For favourable response: the third to Mars,
Where Perth now stands, for to assist his wars.
But good Monsier this story is too old,
Therefore I leave the rest of it untold.
The time will not permit me to out read it,
I'm sure in Hollinshed yee often read it.
I will a storie of no less credit tell,
In after ages truely what befell.

When mightie Romaines came into this soil,
With endless labour and undaunted toil,
After great conflicts and uncertain chance
Of fortune's dye, they did in arms advance;
At length unto these parts where Perth doth stand,
Under the conduct and victorious hand
Of that most valiant chieftain of great fame,
Brave Julius Agricola by name;
And there, hard by a river side, they found
The fairest and most pleasant plat of ground,
That since by bank of Tiber they had been,
The like for beauty seldom had they seen,
Of eighteen hundred paces good in length,
From Muretown braes to foot of Carnac's strength,
King of the Pights which stood on Moredun hill,
The foot thereof from Friers dwelt thereintill,
Now named is, in breadth eight hundred paces,
Painted with white, red, yellow, flowerie faces.
So equal fair, which when they did espy,
Incontinent they Campus Martius cry,
And as an happie presage they had seen,
They fix their tents amidst that spacious green,
Right where now Perth doth stand, and cast their trenches,
Even where Perth's fowsies are, between these inches,
The south and north; and bastiles they make,
The power and strength of Scots and Picts to break,
Who presentlie would fight, by wise cunctation,
They frustrate all their hope and expectation:
For well this most victorious Roman knew,
T'abate his enemies rage and courage too,
Finding the place even to their hearts desire,
With grass for pasture stored, and wood for fire.
The river likewise very opportune,
For lighter vessels to pass up and down,
And correspondence with their navy make,
As soldiers wise, they all occasions take.
And do conclude to winter in that place,
To foil their foes by voluntarie chace.

Mean while courageouslie they do advise,
A bridge to build, for further enterprise;
Then furthwith fall they with redoubled stroaks,
To fell the tall fir trees, and aged oaks,
Some square the timber with a stretched line,
Some do the tenons and the morties joine,
Some frame an oval, others make a cub,
Some cut a section, other some go grub,
Some with great compasse semicircles forme,
Some drive the wages, painfullie some worme,
Some do hoise up the standers, others fixe them;
And some lay goodlie rafters o'er betwixt them;
What strength or skill can work from point to point,
They cunninglie contrive with angular joint,
And do most stronglie bind these contignations,
To make them stand against all inundations.
All men are set to frame, all hands are working,
And all engines are busied without irking:
Thus in short space, a bridge they stronglie make,
With passage fair, and for their safties sake,
A mightie strength to be; they frame withall,
On either end, a bridge to lift and fall,
That soldiers might within it keep at ease,
Admitting or repelling as they please,

Thus fortified, lest that they should neglect
Due honour to their gods, they did erect,
To Mars a temple—rather did restore
The temple built by Cunidad before;
For time on all things worketh demolition,
And heathen men maintaine like superstition.
Then did this valiant chieftaine name the river
In Italies rememberance New Tiber,
Which afterwards it kept for many a day—
How long I know not; now 'tis called Tay;
Likewise an house of mighty stone he framed,
From whence our Castle-gavil as yet is named;
And if Domitian had not call'd him home,
I think he should have built another Rome.

But all these monuments were worn away,
Ere did King William Perth's foundations lay,
Only Mar's temple stood upon that greene,
And th'house built by Agricola was seene,
And some characters cunninglie incisde,
With Julius Agricola imprisde
In solid marmor; and some print was found,
Where camped had an armie, and the ground
Where there had been a bridge: all which did yield
Occasion to King William for to build
After old Bertha's overthrow, that city,
These antient walls, and famous bridge; ah! pitie
If they were as! but what doth not the rage
Of men demolish, and consuming age?
For good King William seeing where had beene
Of old a passage, forthwith did ordaine
A mightie bridge of squaired stone to be,
These famous walls and fowsies which we see,
Perth his chief strength to make, and seat of power,
Did with most ample priviledge indue her.

These be the first memorials of a bridge,
Good Monsier, that we truely can alledge.
Thus spoke good Gall, and I did much rejoyce
To hear him these antiquities disclose;
Which I remembering now, of force must cry—
Gall, sweetest Gall, what ailed thee to die?

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