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The Monk, with unavailing cares,
Exhausted all the Church's prayers;
Ever, he said, that, close and near,
A lady's voice was in his ear;
And that the priest he could not hear,
For that she ever sung,
In the lost battle, borne down by the flying, Where mingles war's rattle with groans of the dying!"
So the notes rung;
"Avoid thee, Fiend!-with cruel hand,
Shake not the dying sinner's sand!-
O look, my son, upon yon sign
Of the Redeemer's grace divine;
O think on faith and bliss!-
By many a death-bed I have been,
And many a sinner's parting seen,
But never aught like this.".
The war, that for a space did fail,
Now trebly thundering swelled the gale,
And-STANLEY! was the cry:-
A light on Marmion's visage spread,
And fired his glazing eye:
With dying hand, above his head
He shook the fragment of his blade,
And shouted "Victory!—
Charge, Chester, charge! On, Stanley, on !”.........
Were the last words of Marmion.
By this, though deep the evening fell,
Still rose the battle's deadly swell;
For still the Scots, around their king,
Unbroken, fought in desperate ring.
Where's now their victor vanward wing,
Where Huntley, and where Home?-
O for a blast of that dread horn,
On Fontarabian echoes born,
That to King Charles did come,
When Rowland brave, and Oliver,
And every paladin and peer,
On Roncesvalles died!
Such blast might warn them, not in vain,
To quit the plunder of the slain,
And turn the doubtful day again,
While yet on Flodden side,
Afar, the Royal Standard flies,
And round it toils and bleeds and dies,
Our Caledonian pride!
In vain the wish-for far away,
While spoil and havoc mark their way,
Near Sybil's Cross the plunderers stray.-
"O Lady," cried the Monk, "away!"-
And placed her on her steed;
And led her to the chapel fair,
Of Tilmouth upon Tweed.
There all the night they spent in prayer,
And, at the dawn of morning, there
She met her kinsman, Lord Fitz-Clare.
But as they left the darkening heath,
More desperate grew the strife of death.
The English shafts in volleys hailed,
In headlong charge their horse assailed:
Front, flank, and rear, the squadrons sweep,
To break the Scottish circle deep,
That fought around their king.
But yet, though thick the shafts as snow,
Though charging knights like whirlwinds go,
Though bill-men ply the ghastly blow,
Unbroken was the ring;
The stubborn spearmen still made good
Their dark impenetrable wood,
Each stepping where his comrade stood,
The instant that he fell.
No thought was there of dastard flight;
Linked in the serried phalanx tight,
Groom fought like noble, squire like knight,
As fearlessly and well;
Till utter darkness olosed her wing
O'er their thin host and wounded king.
Then skilful Surrey's sage commands
Led back from strife his shattered bands;
And from the charge they drew,
As mountain-waves, from wasted lands,
Sweep back to ocean blue.
Then did their loss his foemen know;
Their king, their lords, their mightiest low,
They melted from the field as snow,
When streams are swoln, and south winds ble
Dissolves in silent dew.
Tweed's echoes heard the ceaseless plash,
While many a broken band,
Disordered, through her currents dash,
To gain the Scottish land;
To town and tower, to down and dale,
To tell red Flodden's dismal tale,
And raise the universal wail.
Tradition, legend, tune, and song,
Shall many an age that wail prolong:
Still from the sire the son shall hear
Of the stern strife, and carnage drear,
Of Flodden's fatal field,
Where shivered was fair Scotland's spear,
And broken was her shield!
Day dawns upon the mountain's side:-
There, Scotland! lay thy bravest pride,
Chiefs, knights, and nobles, many a one;
The sad survivors all are gone.-
View not that corpse mistrustfully,
Defaced and mangled though it be;
Nor to yon Border castle high
Look northward with upbraiding eye;"
Nor cherish hope in vain,
That, journeying far on foreign strand,
The Royal Pilgrim to his land
May yet return again.
He saw the wreck his rashness wrought;
Reckless of life, he desperate fought,
And fell on Flodden plain:
And well in death his trusty brand,
Firm clenched within his manly hand,
Beseemed the monarch slain.
But, O! how changed since yon blithe night!—
Gladly I turn me from the sight,
Unto my tale again.
Short is my tale :-Fitz-Eustace' care
A pierced and mangled body bare
To moated Lichfield's lofty pile;
And there, beneath the southern aisle,
A tomb, with Gothic sculpture fair,
Did long Lord Marmion's image bear.
(Now vainly for its site you look;
'Twas levelled, when fanatic Brook
The fair cathedral stormed and took;
There can be no doubt that King James fell in the battle of Flodden. He was killed, says the curious French Gazette, within a lance's length of the earl of Surrey; and the same account adds that none of his division were made prisoners, though many were killed; a circumstance that testifies the desperation of their resistance. Other reports gave a still more romantic turn to the king's fate, and averred that James, weary of greatness, after the carnage among his nobles, had gone on a pilgrimage to merit absolution for the death of his father, and the breach of his oath of amity to Henry. In particular, it was objected to the English, that they could never show the token of the iron belt; they produce a better evidence, the monarch's sword and dagger, which are still preserved in the Herald's College in London. An unhewn column marks the spot where James fell, still called the King's Stone.
This storm of Lichfield cathedral, which had been garrisoned on the part of the king, took place in the great civil war. Lord Brook, who, with Sir John Gill, commanded the assailants, was shot with a musket-ball through the visor of his helmet. The royalists remarked
But, thanks to heaven and good Saint Chad,
A guerdon meet the spoiler had!),
There erst was martial Marmion found,
His feet upon a couchant hound,
His hands to heaven upraised;
And all around, on scutcheon rich,
And tablet carved, and fretted niche,
His arms and feats were blazed.
And yet, though all was carved so fair,
And priests for Marmion breathed the prayer,
The last Lord Marmion lay not there.
From Ettricke woods, a peasant swain
Followed his lord to Flodden plain.-
One of those flowers, whom plaintive lay
In Scotland mourns as wede away:"
Sore wounded, Sybil's Cross he spied,
And dragged him to its foot, and died,
Close by the noble Marmion's side.
The spoilers stripped and gashed the slain,
And thus their corpses were mista❜en;
And thus, in the proud Baron's tomb,
The lowly woodsman took the room.
Less easy task it were, to show
Lord Marmion's nameless grave, and low.
They dug his grave e'en where he lay,
But every mark is gone;
Time's wasting hand has done away
The simple Cross of Sybil Gray,
And broke her font of stone:
But yet from out the little hill
Oozes the slender springlet still.
Oft halts the stranger there,
For thence may best his curious eye
The memorable field descry;
And shepherd boys repair
To seek the water-flag and rush,
And rest them by the hazel bush,
And plait their garlands fair;
Nor dream they sit upon the grave,
That holds the bones of Marmion brave.-
When thou shalt find the little hill,
With thy heart commune, and be still.
If ever, in temptation strong,
Thou leftst the right path for the wrong;
that he was killed by a shot fired from St. Chad's Cathedral, and upon St. Chad's day, and received his death-wound in the very eye with which, he had said, he hoped to see the ruins of all the cathedrals in England. The magnificent church in question suffered cruelly upon this, and other occasions; the principal spire being ruined by the fire of the besiegers.
If every devious step, thus trode,
Still led the farther from the road;
Dread thou to speak presumptuous doom,
On noble Marmion's lowly tomb;
He died a gallant knight,
With sword in hand, for England's right."
I do not rhyme to that dull elf,
Who cannot image to himself,
That all through Flodden's dismal night,
Wilton was foremost in the fight;
That, when brave Surrey's steed was slain,
"Twas Wilton mounted him again;
"Twas Wilton's brand that deepest hewed,
Amid the spearmen's stubborn wood:
Unnamed by Hollinshed or Hall,
He was the living soul of all;
That, after fight, his faith made plain,
He won his rank and lands again;
And charged his old paternal shield
With bearings won on Flodden field.-
Nor sing I to that simple maid,
To whom it must in terms be said,
That king and kinsmen did agree
To bless fair Clara's constancy;
Who cannot, unless I relate,
Paint to her mind the bridal's state;
That Wolsey's voice the blessing spoke;
More, Sands, and Denny, passed the joke:
That bluff King Hal the curtain drew,
And Catherine's hand the stocking threw ;
And afterwards, for many a day,
That it was held enough to say,
In blessing to a wedded pair,
"Love they like Wilton and like Clare!"
TO THE READER.
Why then a final note prolong,
Or lengthen out a closing song,
Unless to bid the gentles speed,
Who long have listed to my rede ?>-
To Statesmen grave, if such may deign
To read the Minstrel's idle strain,
Sound head, clean hand, and piercing wit,
And patriotic heart-as PITT!
Used generally for a tale or discourse.