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But never closed the iron door
Against the desolate and poor.
The Duchess marked his weary pace,
His timid mien, and reverend face,
And bade her page the menials tell,
That they should tend the old man well:
For she had known adversity,

Though born in such a high degree;
In pride of power, in beauty's bloom,
Had wept o'er Monmouth's bloody tomb!

When kindness had his wants supplied,
And the old man was gratified,
Began to rise his minstrel pride:
And he began to talk, anon,

Of good Earl Francis, dead and gone,
And of Earl Walter, rest him God!
A braver ne'er to battle rode:
And how full many a tale he knew,
Of the old warriors of Buccleuch ;
And, would the noble Duchess deign
To listen to an old man's strain,

Though stiff his hand, his voice though weak,
He thought e'en yet, the sooth to speak,
That, if she loved the harp to hear,

He could make music to her ear.

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The humble boon was soon obtained
The aged Minstrel audience gained.
But, when he reached the room of state,
Where she, with all her ladies, sate,
Perchance he wished his boon denied:
For, when to tune his harp he tried,
His trembling hand had lost the ease,
Which marks security to please;
And scenes, long past, of joy and pain,
Came wildering o'er his aged brain-
He tried to tune his harp in vain.
The pitying Duchess praised its chime,
And gave him heart, and gave him time,
Till every string's according glee
Was blended into harmony.

And then, he said, he would full fain
He could recall an ancient strain,

He never thought to sing again.

b Anne, duchess of Buccleuch and Monmouth, representative of the ancient lords of Buccleuch, and widow of the unfortunate James, duke of Monmouth, who was beheaded in 1685.

e Francis Scott, earl of Buccleuch, father to the duchess.

d Walter, earl of Buccleuch, grandfather to the duchess, and a celebrated warrior.

It was not framed for village churls,
But for high dames and mighty earls;
He had played it to King Charles the Good,
When he kept court at Holyrood ;e
And much he wished, yet feared, to try
The long-forgotten melody.

Amid the strings his fingers strayed,
And an uncertain warbling made-
And oft he shook his hoary head:
But when he caught the measure wild,
The old man raised his face, and smiled;
And lightened up his faded eye,
With all a poet's ecstasy!

In varying cadence, soft or strong,
He swept the sounding chords along:
The present scene, the future lot,
His toils, his wants, were all forgot:
Cold diffidence, and age's frost,
In the full tide of song were lost:
Each blank, in faithless memory void,
The poet's glowing thought supplied;
And, while his harp responsive rung,
'Twas thus the LATEST MINSTREL sung.

Holyrood House is situated at the foot of the Canongate, in Edinburgh, and it was for many years the dwelling-place of the monarchs of Scotland. The abbey was founded in 1128, and a royal residence was soon afterwards built there. Very little of the ancient building now remains. In this palace David Rizzio was murdered; and here the unfortunate Mary kept her court. When Charles I. visited Scotland in 1633, for his coronation, he kept court at Holyrood. Clarendon says: "The king was very well pleased with his reception, and with all the transactions there; nor indeed was there anything to be blamed, but the luxury and vast expense, which abounded in all respects, of feasting and clothes with too much license."





THE feast was over in Branksomea tower,
And the Ladye had gone to her secret bower;
Her bower, that was guarded by word and by spell,
Deadly to hear, and deadly to tell-
Jesu Maria, shield us well!

No living wight, save the Ladye alone,
Had dared to cross the threshold stone.

The tables were drawn, it was idlesse all;
Knight, and page, and household squire,
Loitered through the lofty hall,

Or crowded round the ample fire.
The stag-hounds, weary with the chase,
Lay stretched upon the rushy floor,
And urged, in dreams, the forest race,
From Teviot-stone to Eskdale-moor.


Nine-and-twerty knights of fameb

Hung their shields in Branksome Hall;
Nine-and-twenty squires of name

Brought them their steeds from bower to stall;

a In the reign of James I., Sir William Scott, of Buccleuch, chief of the clan bearing that name, exchanged with Sir Thomas Inglis, of Manor, the estate of Murdiestone, in Lanarkshire, for one half of the barony of Branksome, or Brankholm, on the Teviot, about three miles above Hawick. Tradition imputes this exchange to a conversation between Scott and Inglis, in which the latter, a man, it would appear, of a mild and forbearing nature, complained of the injuries to which he was exposed from the English borderers, who frequently plundered his lands of Branksome. Sir William Scott instantly offered him the estate of Murdiestone, in exchange for that which was subject to such forays. When the bargain was completed, he drily remarked, that the cattle in Cumberland were as good as those of Teviot-dale, and commenced a system of reprisals upon the English, which was regularly pursued by his successors.

The ancient barons of Buccleuch, both from feudal splendour and

Nine-and-twenty yeomen tall,
Waited, duteous, on them all:
They were all knights of mettle true,
Kinsmen to the bold Buccleuch.


Ten of them were sheathed in steel,
With belted sword and spur on heel;
They quitted not their harness bright,
Neither by day, nor yet by night:
They lay down to rest
With corslet laced,

Pillowed on buckler cold and hard;
They carved at the meal
With gloves of steel,
And they drank the red wine through the helmet



Ten squires, ten yeomen, mail-clad men,
Waited the beck of the warders ten:
Thirty steeds, both fleet and wight,
Stood saddled in stable day and night,
Barbed with frontlet of steel, I trow,
And with Jedwood-axe at saddle-bow:
A hundred more fed free in stall:-
Such was the custom of Branksome Hall.


Why do these steeds stand ready dight?
Why watch thèse warriors, armed, by night?
They watch, to hear the blood-hound baying;
They watch, to hear the war-horn braying;
To see St. George's red cross streaming,
To see the midnight beacon gleaming;

They watch, against Southern force and guile,
Lest Scroop, or Howard, or Percy's powers,
Threaten Branksome's lordly towers,

From Warkworth, or Naworth, or merry Carlisle.a


Such is the custom of Branksome Hall.
Many a valiant knight is here;
But he, the Chieftain of them all,
His sword hangs rusting on the wall,
Beside his broken spear.

from their frontier situation, retained in their household, at Branksome, a number of gentlemen of their own name, who held lands from their chief for the military service of watching and warding his castle.

e This was a sort of partizan, used by horsemen, as appears from the arms of Jedburgh, which bear a cavalier mounted and armed with this weapon. It is also called a Jedwood, or Jeddart staff.

d Branksome Castle was continually exposed to the attacks of the English, both from its situation and the restless military disposition of its inhabitants, who were seldom on good terms with their neighbours.

Bards long shall tell,
How Lord Walter fell!e
When startled burghers fled, afar,
The furies of the Border war;
When the streets of high Dunedin f
Saw lances gleam, and falchions redden,
And heard the slogan's deadly yell-
Then the Chief of Branksome fell.


Can piety the discord heal,

Or stanch the death-feud's enmity?
Can Christian lore, can patriot zeal,

Can love of blessed charity?
No! vainly to each holy shrine,

In mutual pilgrimage, they drew; b
Implored, in vain, the grace divine

For chiefs their own red falchions slew.
While Cessford owns the rule of Carr,i

While Ettricke boasts the line of Scott,
The slaughtered chiefs, the mortal jar,
The havoc of the feudal war,

Shall never, never be forgot!


In sorrow, o'er Lord Walter's bier
The warlike foresters had bent,
And many a flower, and many a tear,

Old Teviot's maids and matrons lent:
But o'er her warrior's bloody bier
The Ladye dropped nor flower nor tear!
Vengeance, deep-brooding o'er the slain,

Had locked the source of softer woe;
And burning pride, and high disdain,
Forbade the rising tear to flow;

e Sir Walter Scott, of Buccleuch, succeeded to his grandfather, Sir David, in 1492. He was a brave and powerful baron, and warden of the west marches of Scotland. A deadly feud broke out betwixt the names of Scott and Kerr; and one of the acts of violence to which it gave rise, was the murder of Sir Walter Scott, of Buccleuch, who was slain by the Kerrs in the streets of Edinburgh, in 1552. This is the event alluded to, and the poem is supposed to open shortly after it had taken place.

f Edinburgh, i.e. Dun Edin, or "the hill of Edin."

The war-cry, or gathering word, of a Border clan.

h Among other expedients resorted to for stanching the feud betwixt the Scotts and the Kerrs, was a bond executed, in 1529, betwixt the heads of each clan, binding themselves to perform reciprocally the four pilgrimages of Scotland, for the benefit of the souls of those of the opposite name who had fallen in the quarrel. It never took effect, or else the feud broke out anew.

i The family of Ker, Kerr, or Carr, was very powerful on the Border. Cessford Castle, now in ruins, the ancient baronial residence of the family, is situated near the village of Morebattle, within two or three miles of the Cheviot Hills.

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