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Harold the Dauntless:


Upon another occasion," says Sir Walter, " I sent up another of these trifles, which, like schoolboys' kites, served lo show how the wind of popular taste was setting. The manner was supposed to be that of a rude minstrel, or Scald, in opposition to 'The Bridal of Triermain, which was designed to belong rather to the Italian school. This new fugitive piece was called Harold the Dauntless;' and I am still astonished at my having committed the gross error of selecting the very name which Lord Byron had made so famous. It encountered rather an odd fate. My ingenious friend, Mr. James Hogg, had published, about the same time, a work called the Poetic Mirror, containing imüiations of the principal living poets. There was in it a very good imitation of my own style, which bore such a resemblance to Harold the Dauntless,' that there was no discovering the original from the imitation, and I believe that many who took the trouble of thinking upon the subject, were rather of opinion that my ingenious friend was the true, and not the fictitious Simon Pure.”—INTRODUCTION TO THE LORD OF THE ISLES. 1830.2

78. 6d.

Published by Constable and Co., January 1817, in 12mo, | placed on a level with Triermain; and, though it contains

many vigorous pictures, and splendid verses, and here and 2 "Within less than a month, the Black Dwarf and Old there some happy humour, the confusion and harsh transiMortality were followed by Harold the Dauntless, by the tions of the fable, and the dim rudeness of character and author of the Bridal of Triermain.' This poem had been, it manners, seem sufficient to account for this inferiority in appears, begun several years back; nay, part of it had been public favour. It is not surprising that the author should actually printed before the appearance of Childe Harold, have redoubled his aversion to the notion of any more serious though that circumstance had escaped the author's remem- performances in verse. He had seized on an instrument of brance when he penned, in 1830, his Introduction to the Lord wider compass, and which, handled with whatever rapidity, of the Isles; for he there says, 'I am still astonished at my seemed to reveal at every touch treasures that had hitherto having committed the gross error of selecting the very name siept unconsciously within him. He had thrown off his fetwhich Lord Byron had made so famous.' The volume was ters. and might well go forth rejoicing in the native olasticity published by Messrs. Constable, and had, in those booksellers' | of his strength."-Life of Scott, vol. v., p. 181. phrase, considerable success. It has never, however, been

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On Erin's shores was his outrage known,
The winds of France had his banners blown;
Little was there to plunder, yet still
His pirates had foray'd on Scottish hill:
But upon merry England's coast
More frequent he sail'd, for he won the most.
So wide and so far his ravage they knew,

If a sail but gleam'd white 'gainst the welkin blue,
Trumpet and bugle to arms did call,
Burghers hasten'd to man the wall,
Peasants fled inland his fury to 'scape,
Beacons were lighted on headland and cape,
Bells were toll'd out, and aye as they rung
Fearful and faintly the grey brother's sung,
"Bless us, St. Mary, from flood and from fire,
From famine and pest, and Count Witikind's ire!"


He liked the wealth of fair England so well,
That he sought in her bosom as native to dwell.
He enter'd the Humber in fearful hour,
And disembark'd with his Danish power.
Three Earls came against him with all their train,—
Two hath he taken, and one hath he slain.
Count Witikind left the Humber's rich strand,
And he wasted and warr'd in Northumberland.
But the Saxon King was a sire in age,
Weak in battle. in council sage;

Peace of that heathen leader he sought,
Gifts he gave, and quiet he bought;

And the Count took upon him the peaceable style
Of a vassal and liegeman of Britain's broad isla.


Time will rust the sharpest sword,
Time will consume the strongest cord;
That which moulders hemp and steel,
Mortal arm and nerve must feel.

Of the Danish band, whom Count Witikind led,
Many wax'd aged, and many were dead:
Himself found his armour full weighty to bear,
Wrinkled his brows grew, and hoary his hair;
He lean'd on a staff, when his step went abroad,
And patient his palfrey, when steed he bestrode.
As he grew feebler, his wildness ceased,

He made himself peace with prelate and priest.→→
Made his peace, and, stooping his head,
Patiently listed the counsel they said:
Saint Cuthbert's Bishop was holy and grave,
Wise and good was the counsel he gave.


"Thou hast murder'd, robb'd, and spoil'd,
Time it is thy poor soul were assoil'd;
Priests didst thou slay, and churches burn,
Time it is now to repentance to turn;
Fiends hast thou worshipp'd, with fiendish rite,
Leave now the darkness, and wend into light:
O! while life and space are given,
Turn thee yet, and think of Heaven!"
That stern old heathen his head he raised,

And on the good prelate he stedfastly gazed; "Give me broad lands on the Wear and the Tyne, My faith I will leave, and I'll cleave unto thine."


Broad lands he gave him on Tyne and Wear,
To be held of the church by bridle and spear;
Part of Monkwearmouth, of Tynedale part,
To better his will, and to soften his heart:
Count Witikind was a joyful man,

Less for the faith than the lands that he wan.
The high church of Durham is dress'd for the day,
The clergy are rank'd in their solemn array:
There came the Count, in a bear-skin warm,
Leaning on Hilda his concubine's arm.
He kneel'd before Saint Cuthbert's shrine,
With patience unwonted at rites divine;
He abjured the gods of heathen race,

And he bent his head at the font of grace.
But such was the grisly old proselyte's look,
That the priest who baptized him grew pale and shook
And the old monks mutter'd beneath their hood,
"Of a stem so stubborn can never spring good!"


Up then arose that grim convertite, Homeward he hied him when ended the rite; 2 K


The Prelate in honour will with him ride,
And feast in his castle on Tyne's fair side.
Banners and banderols danced in the wind,
Monks rode before them, and spearmen behind;
Onward they pass'd, till fairly did shine
Pennon and cross on the bosom of Tyne;
And full in front did that fortress lower,

In darksome strength with its buttress and tower:
At the castle gate was young Harold there,
Count Witikind's only offspring and heir.


Young Harold was fear'd for his hardihood,
His strength of frame, and his fury of mood.
Rude he was and wild to behold,
Wore neither collar nor bracelet of gold,
Cap of vair nor rich array,

Such as should grace that festal day:

His doublet of bull's hide was all unbraced,
Uncover'd his head, and his sandal unlaced:
His shaggy black locks on his brow hung low,
And his eyes glanced through them a swarthy glow;
A Danish club in his hand he bore,

The spikes were clotted with recent gore;

At his back a she-wolf, and her wolf-cubs twain,
In the dangerous chase that morning slain.
Rude was the greeting his father he made,
None to the Bishop,-while thus he said:-


"What priest-led hypocrite art thou,

With thy humbled look and thy monkish brow,
Like a shaveling who studies to cheat his vow?
Can'st thou be Witikind the Waster known,
Royal Eric's fearless son,

Haughty Gunhilda's haughtier lord,
Who won his bride by the axe and sword;
From the shrine of St. Peter the chalice who tore,
And melted to bracelets for Freya and Thor;
With one blow of his gauntlet who burst the skull,
Before Odin's stone, of the Mountain Bull?
Then ye worshipp'd with rites that to war-gods belong,
With the deed of the brave, and the blow of the strong;
And now, in thine age to dotage sunk,
Wilt thou patter thy crimes to a shaven monk,—
Lay down thy mail-shirt for clothing of hair,-
Fasting and scourge, like a slave, wilt thou bear?
Or, at best, be admitted in slothful bower
To batten with priest and with paramour?
Oh! out upon thine endless shame!

Each Scald's high harp shall blast thy fame,
And thy son will refuse thee a father's name!"


Ireful wax'd old Witikind's look,
His faltering voice with fury shook:-
"Hear me, Harold of harden'd heart!
Stubborn and wilful ever thou wert.

Thine outrage insane I command thee to cease,
Fear my wrath and remain at peace:-

Just is the debt of repentance I've paid,
Richly the church has a recompense made,

And the truth of her doctrines I prove with my blade,

But reckoning to none of my actions I owe,
And least to my son such accounting will show.
Why speak I to thee of repentance or truth,
Who ne'er from thy childhood knew reason or ruth!
Hence! to the wolf and the bear in her den;
These are thy mates, and not rational men."

Grimly smiled Harold, and coldly replied, "We must honour our sires, if we fear when they chide. For me, I am yet what thy lessons have made, I was rock'd in a buckler and fed from a blade; An infant, was taught to clasp hands and to shout From the roofs of the tower when the flame had broke out;

In the blood of slain foemen my finger to dip, And tinge with its purple my cheek and my lip."Tis thou know'st not truth, that hast barter'd in eld, For a price, the brave faith that thine ancestors held When this wolf," and the carcass he flung on the plain,

"Shall awake and give food to her nurslings again, The face of his father will Harold review;

Till then, aged Heathen, young Christian, adieu!"

Priest, monk, and prelate, stood aghast,
As through the pageant the heathen pass'd.
A cross-bearer out of his saddle he flung,
Laid his hand on the pommel, and into it sprung.

Loud was the shriek, and deep the groan,
When the holy sign on the earth was thrown!
The fierce old Count unsheathed his brand,
But the calmer Prelate stay'd his hand.
"Let him pass free!-Heaven knows its hour,-
But he must own repentance's power,
Pray and weep, and penance bear,
Ere he hold land by the Tyne and the Wear."
Thus in scorn and in wrath from his father is gone
Young Harold the Dauntless, Count Witikind's son.

High was the feasting in Witikind's hall,
Revell'd priests, soldiers, and pagans, and all;
And e'en the good Bishop was fain to endure
The scandal, which time and instruction might cure:
It were dangerous, he deem'd, at the first to restrain,
In his wine and his wassail, a half-christen'd Dane.
The mead flow'd around, and the ale was drain'd


Wild was the laughter, the song, and the cry;
With Kyrie Eleison, came clamorously in
The war-songs of Danesmen, Norweyan, and Finn,
Till man after man the contention gave o'er,
Outstretch'd on the rushes that strew'd the hall floor
And the tempest within, having ceased its wild rout,
Gave place to the tempest that thunder'd without

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