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-Now another day is come,
On the blood of Clifford calls;-*
'Quell the Scot,' exclaims the Lance-
Tell thy name, thou trembling Field;
Happy day, and mighty hour,
When our Shepherd, in his power,
Mailed and horsed, with lance and sword,
To his ancestors restored
Like a re-appearing Star,
Like a glory from afar,
First shall head the flock of war!"
Alas! the impassioned minstrel did not know
How, by Heaven's grace this Clifford's heart was framed: How he, long forced in humble walks to go,
Was softened into feeling, soothed and tamed.1
Alas! the fervent Harper did not know
* The martial character of the Cliffords is well known to the readers of English History; but it may not be improper here to say, by way of comment on these lines and what follows, that, besides several others who perished in the same manner, the four immediate Progenitors of the Person in whose hearing this is supposed to be spoken, all died in the Field. W. W., 1807.
Compare The Borderers, Vol. I. P. 155
"They say Lord Clifford is a savage man."
Love had he found in huts where poor men lie;
The sleep that is among the lonely hills.
In him the savage virtue of the Race,
Glad were the vales, and every cottage-hearth;
"The good Lord Clifford " was the name he bore.
The original text of this Song was altered but little in succeeding editions, and was not changed at all till 1836 and 1845. It was always ranked amongst the "Poems of the Imagination." The following is Wordsworth's Explanatory Note, appended to the poem in all the editions:
Henry Lord Clifford, &c., &c., who is the subject of this Poem, was the son of John Lord Clifford, who was slain at Towton Field,* which John Lord Clifford, as is known to the Reader of English History, was the person who after the battle of Wakefield slew, in the pursuit, the young Earl of Rutland, son of the Duke of York who had fallen in the battle, in part of revenge' (say the Authors of the History of Cumberland and Westmoreland); 'for the Earl's Father had slain his.' A deed which worthily blemished the author (says Speed); But who, as he adds, 'dare promise any thing temperate of himself in the heat of martial fury? chiefly, when it was resolved not to leave any branch of the York line standing; for so one maketh this Lord to speak.' This, no doubt, I would observe by the by, was an action sufficiently in the vindictive spirit of the times, and yet not altogether so bad as represented; 'for the Earl was no Child, as some writers would have him, but able to bear arms, being sixteen or seventeen years of age, as is evident from this (say the Memoirs of the Countess of Pembroke, who was laudably anxious to wipe away, as far as could be, this stigma from the illustrious name to which she was born); that he was the
* He was killed at Ferrybridge the day before the battle of Towton. -ED.
next Child to King Edward the Fourth, which his mother had by Richard Duke of York, and that King was then eighteen years of age: and for the small distance betwixt her Children, see Austin Vincent in his book of Nobility, page 622, where he writes of them all. It may further be observed, that Lord Clifford, who was then himself only twenty-five years of age, had been a leading Man and Commander, two or three years together in the army of Lancaster, before this time; and, therefore, would be less likely to think that the Earl of Rutland might be entitled to mercy from his youth.—But, independent of this act, at best a cruel and savage one, the Family of Clifford had done enough to draw upon them the vehement hatred of the House of York: so that after the Battle of Towton there was no hope for them but in flight and concealment. Henry, the subject of the Poem, was deprived of his estate and honours during the space of twenty-four years; all which time he lived as a shepherd in Yorkshire, or in Cumberland, where the estate of his Father-in-law (Sir Lancelot Threlkeld) lay. He was restored to his estate and honours in the first year of Henry the Seventh. It is recorded that, 'when called to parliament, he behaved nobly and wisely; but otherwise came seldom to London or the Court; and rather delighted to live in the country, where he repaired several of his Castles, which had gone to decay during the late troubles.' Thus far is chiefly collected from Nicholson and Burn; and I can add, from my own knowledge, that there is a tradition current in the village of Threlkeld and its neighbourhood, his principal retreat, that, in the course of his shepherd life, he had acquired great astronomical knowledge. I cannot conclude this note without adding a word upon the subject of those numerous and noble feudal Edifices, spoken of in the Poem, the ruins of some of which are, at this day, so great an ornament to that interesting country. The Cliffords had always been distinguished for an honourable pride in these Castles; and we have seen that after the wars of York and Lancaster they were rebuilt; in the civil Wars of Charles the First, they were again laid waste, and again restored almost to their former magnificence by the celebrated Lady Ann Clifford, Countess of Pembroke, &c., &c. Not more than twenty-five years after this was done, when the Estates of Clifford had passed into the Family of Tufton, three of these Castles, namely Brough, Brougham, and Pendragon, were demolished, and the timber and other materials sold by Thomas Earl of Thanet. We will hope that, when this order was issued, the Earl had not consulted the text of Isaiah, 58th Chap. 12th Verse, to which the inscription placed over the gate of Pendragon Castle, by the Countess of Pembroke (I believe his Grandmother) at the time she repaired that structure, refers the reader. And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places; thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations, and thou shalt be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of paths to dwell in.' The Earl of Thanet, the present possessor of the Estates, with a due respect for the memory of his ancestors, and
a proper sense of the value and beauty of these remains of antiquity, has (I am told) given orders that they shall be preserved from all depredations."
Compare the reference to the "Shepherd Lord," in the first canto of The White Doe of Rylstone, and the topographical allusions there, with this Song.
High in the breathless Hall the Minstrel sate, And Emont's murmur mingled with the song. Brougham Castle, past which the river Emont flows, is about two miles out of Penrith, on the Appleby Road. It is now a ruin, but was once a place of importance. The larger part of it was built by Roger, Lord Clifford, son of Isabella de Veteripont, who placed over the inner door the inscription, "This made Roger." His grandson added the eastern part. The castle was frequently laid waste by the Scottish Bands, and during the Wars of the Roses. The Earl of Cumberland entertained James I. within it, in 1617, on the occasion of the king's last return from Scotland; but it seems to have "layen ruinous" from that date, and to have suffered much during the civil wars in the reign of Charles I. In 1651-52 it was repaired by Lady Anne Clifford, Countess Dowager of Pembroke, who wrote thus-" After I had been there myself to direct the building of it, did I cause my old decayed castle of Brougham to be repaired, and also the tower called the Roman Tower, in the same old castle, and the court-house, for keeping my courts in, with some dozen or fourteen rooms to be built in it upon the old foundation.” (Pembroke Memoirs, I. p. 216.) After the time of the Countess Anne, the castle was neglected, and much of the stone, timber, and lead disposed of at public sales: the wainscotting being purchased by the neighbouring villagers.
Her thirty years of winter past,
The red rose is revived at last.
This refers to the thirty years interval between 1455 (the first battle of St Albans in the wars of the Roses) and 1485 (the battle of Bosworth and the accession of Henry VII.)
Both roses flourish, red and white,
Alluding to the marriage of Henry VII. with Elizabeth, which united the two warring lines of York and Lancaster.
And it was found at Bosworth-field.
The Battle of Bosworth Field, in Leicestershire, was fought in 1485.
Not long the Avenger was withstood
Earth helped him with the cry of blood.
Henry VII.-who, as Henry, Earl of Richmond, last scion of the line
of Lancaster, had fled to Brittany-returned with Morton, the exiled Bishop of Ely, landed at Milford, advanced through Wales, and met the royal army at Bosworth, where Richard was slain, and Henry crowned king on the battlefield. The "cry of blood" refers, doubtless, to the murder of the young princes in the Tower.
How glad is Skipton at this hour,
Though lonely, a deserted Tower.
Skipton is the "capital" of the Craven district of Yorkshire, as Barrow is the capital of the Furness district of Lancashire and Westmoreland. The castle of Skipton was the chief residence of the Cliffords. Architecturally it is of two periods: the round tower dating from the reign of Edward II., and the rest from that of Henry VIII. From the time of Robert de Clifford, who fell at Bannockburn (1314), until the seventeenth century, the estates of the Cliffords extended from Skipton to Brougham Castle-seventy miles-with only a short interruption of ten miles. The "Shepherd Lord" Clifford of this poem was attainted -as explained in Wordsworth's note-by the triumphant House of York. He was "committed by his mother to the care of certain shepherds, whose wives had served her," and who kept him concealed both in Cumberland, and at Londesborough, in Yorkshire, where his mother's (Lady Margaret Vesci) own estates lay. The old "Tower" of Skipton Castle was “deserted" during these years when the "Shepherd Lord" was concealed in Cumberland.
How glad Pendragon-though the sleep
Pendragon Castle, in a narrow dell in the forest of Mallerstang, near the source of the Eden, south of Kirkby-Stephen, was another of the castles of the Cliffords. Its building was traditionally ascribed to Uter Pendragon, of Stonehenge celebrity, who was fabled to have tried to make the Eden flow round the castle of Pendragon: hence the distich
Let Uter Pendragon do what he can,
In the Countess of Pembroke's Memoirs (Vol. I. pp. 22, 228), we are told that Idonea de Veteripont "made a great part of her residence in Westmoreland at Brough Castle, near Stanemore, and at Pendragon Castle, in Mallerstang." The castle was burned and destroyed by Scottish raiders in 1341, and for 140 years it was in a ruinous state. It is probably to this that reference is made in the phrase, "Though the sleep of years be on her." During the attainder of Henry Lord Clifford, in the reign of Edward IV., part of this estate of Mallerstang was granted to Sir William Parr of Kendal Castle. It was again destroyed during the civil wars of the Stewarts, and was restored,