Archive for July 13th, 2016

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

An Imitation of the Prophecy of Nereus. From Horace, Book III. Ode XXV by Thomas Tickell

Dicam insigne, recens, adhuc
Indictum ore alio. Non secus in jugis
Exsomnis stupet Evias,
Hebrum prospiciens, & nive candidam
Thracen, ac pede barbaro
Lustratam Rhodopen. — —Hor.*

As Mar his round one morning took,
(Whom some call earl, and some call duke)
And his new brethren of the blade,
Shiv’ring with fear and frost, survey’d,
On Perth’s bleak hills he chanc’d to spy
An aged wizard six foot high,
With bristled hair and visage blighted,
Wall-ey’d, bare-haunch’d, and second-sighted.

The grizly sage in thought profound
Beheld the chief with back so round,
Then roll’d his eye-balls to and fro
O’er his paternal hills of snow,
And into these tremendous speeches
Brake forth the prophet without breeches.

Into what ills betray’d by thee,
This ancient kingdom do I see!
Her realms unpeopled and forlorn!
Wae’s me! that ever thou wert born!
Proud English loons (our clans o’ercome)
On Scottish pads shall amble home;
I see them dress’d in bonnets blue,
(The spoils of thy rebellious crew)
I see the target cast away,
And chequer’d plad become their prey,
The chequer’d plad to make a gown
For many a lass in London town.

In vain the hungry mountaineers
Come forth in all their warlike geers,
The shield, the pistol, durk, and dagger,
In which they daily wont to swagger;
And oft have sally’d out to pillage
The hen-roosts of some peaceful village,
Or, while their neighbours were asleep,
Have carry’d off a low-land sheep.

What boots thy high-born host of beggars,
Mac-leans, Mac-kenzies, and Mac-gregors,
With popish cut-throats, perjur’d ruffians,
And Forster’s troops of raggamuffins?

In vain thy lads around thee bandy,
Inflam’d with bagpipe and with brandy.
Doth not bold Sutherland the trusty,
With heart so true, and voice so rusty,
(A loyal soul) thy troops affright,
While hoarsely he demands the fight?
Do’st thou not gen’rous Ilay dread,
The bravest hand, the wisest head?
Undaunted do’st thou hear th’ alarms
Of hoary Athol sheath’d in arms?

Douglas, who draws his lineage down
From thanes and peers of high renown,
Fiery and young, and uncontrol’d,
With knights and squires, and barons bold,
(His noble houshold-band) advances,
And on his milk-white courser prances.
Thee Forfar to the combat dares,
Grown swarthy in Iberian wars:
And Monroe kindled into rage
Sowrly defies thee to engage;
He’ll rout thy foot, though ne’er so many,
And horse to boot — if thou hadst any.

But see Argyle with watchful eyes,
Lodg’d in his deep intrenchments lies!
Couch’d like a lion in thy way,
He waits to spring upon his prey;
While like a herd of tim’rous deer
Thy army shakes and pants with fear,
Led by their doughty gen’ral’s skill,
From frith to frith, from hill to hill.

Is thus thy haughty promise pay’d
That to the Chevalier was made,
When thou didst oaths and duty barter
For dukedom, gen’ralship, and garter?
Three moons thy Jemmy shall command,
With highland sceptre in his hand,
Too good for his pretended birth
— Then down shall fall the king of Perth.

‘Tis so decreed: for GEORGE shall reign,
And traitors be forsworn in vain.
Heav’n shall for ever on him smile,
And bless him still with an Argyle.
While thou, pursu’d by vengeful foes,
Condemn’d to barren rocks and snows,
And hinder’d passing Inverlocky,
Shalt burn thy clan, and curse poor Jocky.

*I’ll tell of themes unknown, unsung
By other mind, by other tongue,
Into th’ Ideal rapt—as when
The Bacchanal, in some deep glen
By Hebrus’ fount uproused, surveys
The Thracian woods in wild amaze,
The snowy hills and wilderness sublime
And Rhodope’s far cliffs which barbarous footsteps climb.
—-Translation by Henry Thomas Liddell (1797-1878)


Date: 1715

By: Thomas Tickell (1685-1740)