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And wroth, because in wild despair,
| And, pent within the narrow cell, She practised on the life of Clare;
How will her spirit chafe and swell! lis fugitive the Church he gave,
How brook the stern monastic lawe! Though not a victim, but a slave;
The penance how—and I the cause ! And deem'd restraint in convent strange
Vigil and scourge--perchance even worse!"Would hide her wrongs, and her revenge.
And twice be rose to cry, “To horse!”Himself, proud Henry's favourite peer,
And twice his Sovereign's mandate came, Held Ronuish thunders idle fear,
Like damp upon a kindling flame; Secure his pardon he might hold,
And twice he thought, “ Gave I not eharge For some slight mulct of penance-gold.
She should be safe, though not at large? Thus judging, he gave secret way,
They durst not, for their island, shred
One golden ringlet from her head.”
While thus in Marmion's bosom strove To mutter what he thought and heard :
Repentance and reviving love, Woe to the vassal, who durst pry
Like whirlwinds, whose contending sway Into Lord Marmion's privacy!
I've seen Loch Vennachar obey,
Their Host the Palmer's speech had XVI.
heard, His conscience slept—he deem'd her well,
And, talkative, took up the word: And safe secured in distant cell;
“Ay, reverend Pilgrim, you, who stray But, waken'd by her favourite lay,
From Scotland's simple land away, And that strange Palmer's boding say,
To visit realms afar, That fell so ominous and drear,
Full often learn the art to know Full on the object of his fear,
Of future weal, or future woe, To aid remorse's venom'd throes,
By word, or sign, or star; Dark tales of convent-vengeance rose;
Yet might a knight his fortune hear, And Constance, late betray'd and scorn'd,
If, knight-like, he despises fear, All lovely on his soul return'd;
Not far from hence ;-if fathers old Lovely as when, at treacherous call,
Aright our hamlet legend told.”She left her convent's peaceful wall,
These broken words the menials movs, Crimson'd with shame, with terror mute,
(For marvels still the vulgar love,) Dreading alike escape, pursuit,
And, Marmion giving license cold, Till love, victorious o'er alarms,
His tale the host thus gladly told :-
The Wast's Tale. “ Alas!” he thought,“ how changed that mien ! “ A Clerk could tell what years have flown How changed these timid looks have been,
Since Alexander fillid our throne, Since years of guilt, and of disguise,
(Third monarch of that warlike name,) Have steel'd her brow, and arm'd her eyes !
And eke the time when here he came No more of virgin terror speaks
To seek Sir Hugo, then our lord: The blood that mantles in her cheeks;
A braver never drew a sword; Fierce, and unfeminine, are there,
A wiser never, at the hour Frenzy for joy, for grief despair;
Of midnight, spoke the word of power: And I the cause--for whom were given
The same, whom ancient records call Her peace on earth, her hopes in heaven!-
The founder of the Goblin-Hall.4 Would,” thought he, as the picture grows,
I would, Sir Knight, your longer stay “ I on its stalk had left the rose!
Gave you that cavern to survey. Oh, why should man's success remove
Of lofty roof, and ample size, The very charms that wake his love !
Beneath the castle deep it lies: Her convent's peaceful solitude
To hew the living rock profound, Is now a prison harsh and rude;
The floor to pave, the arch to round,
1 MS.--" Incensed, because in wild despair."
“ Since fiercer passions wild and high,
And I the cause--for whom were given
And chafe within the narrow cell!"
There never toil'd a mortal arm,
• I know the cause, although untold, Why the King seeks his vassal's hold : Vainly from me my liege would know His kingdom's future weal or woe; But yet, if strong his arm and heart, His courage may do more than art.
XX. “ The King Lord Gifford's castle sought, Deep labouring with uncertain thought; Even then he muster'd all his host, To meet upon the western coast : For Norse and Danish galleys plied Their oars within the frith of Clyde. There floated Haco's banner trim,' Above Norweyan warriors grim, Savage of heart, and large of limb; Threatening both continent and isle, Bute, Arran, Cunninghame, and Kyle. Lord Gifford, deep beneath the ground, Heard Alexander's bugle sound, And tarried not his garb to change, But, in his wizard habit strange, 3 Came forth,--a quaint and fearful sight; His mantle lined with fox-skins white; His high and wrinkled forehead bore A pointed cap, such as of yore Clerks say that Pharaoh's Magi wore: His shoes were mark'd with cross and spell, Upon his breast a pentacle;* His zone, of virgin parchment thin, Or, as some tell, of dead man's skin, Bore many a planetary sign, Combust, ard retrograde, and trine;' And in his hand he held prepared, A naked sword without a guard.
XXII. « • Of middle air the demons proud, Who ride upon the racking cloud, Can read, in fix'd or wandering star, The issue of events afar; But still their sullen aid withhold, Save when by mightier force controllid. Such late I summond to my hall; And though so potent was the call, That scarce the deepest nook of hell I deem'd a refuge from the spell, Yet, obstinate in silence still, The haughty demon mocks my skill. But thou-who little know'st thy might, As born upon that blessed night 6 When yawning graves, and dying groan, Proclaim'd hell's empire overthrown,With untaught valour shalt compel Response denied to magic spell.'-7 * Gramercy,' quoth our Monarch free, • Place him but front to front with me, And, by this good and honour'd brand, The gift of Caur-de-Lion's hand, Soothly I swear, that, tide what tide, The demon shall a buffet bide.'_6 His bearing bold the wizard view'd, And thus, well pleased, his speech renew'd :-• There spoke the blood of Malcolm !-mark ; Forth pacing hence, at midnight dark, The rampart seek, whose circling crown Crests the ascent of yonder down: A southern entrance shalt thou find; There halt, and there thy bugle wind, And trust thine elfin foe to see, In guise of thy worst enemy: Couch then thy lance, and spur thy steedUpon him! and Saint George to speed ! If he go down, thou soon shalt know Whate'er these airy sprites can show ;If thy heart fail thee in the strife, I am no warrant for thy life.'
XXI. “ Dire dealings with the fiendish race Had mark'd strange lines upon his face; Vigil and fast had worn him grim, His eyesight dazzled seem'd and dim, As one unused to upper day; Even his own menials with dismay Beheld, Sir Knight, the grisly Sire, In his unwonted wild attire; Unwonted, for traditions run, He seldom thus beheld the sun.
I know,' he said—his voice was hoarse, And broken seem'd its hollow force,
XXIII. “ Soon as the midnight bell did ring, Alone, and arm’d, forth rode the King
To that old camp's deserted round :'
- royal city, tower and spire, Sir Knight, you well might mark the mound, Redden'd the midnight sky with fire, Left hand the town,-the Pictish race,
And shouting crews her navy bore, The trench, long since, in blood did trace;
Triumphant, to the victor shore.5 The moor around is brown and bare,
Such signs may learned clerks explain,
They pass the wit of simple swain.
“ The joyful King turn’d home again, That treads its circle in the night!
Headed his host, and quell’d the Dano; The breadth across, a bowshot clear,
But yearly, when return'd the night Gives ample space for full career:
Of his strange combat with the sprite, Opposed to the four points of heaven,
His wound must bleed and smart; By four deep gaps are entrance given.
Lord Gifford then would gibing say, The southernmost our Monarch past,
• Bold as ye were, my liege, ye pay Halted, and blew a gallant blast;
The penance of your start.' And on the north, within the ring,
Long since, beneath Dunfermline's nave, Appear'd the form of England's King,
King Alexander fills his grave, Who then, a thousand leagues afar,
Our Lady give him rest! In Palestine waged holy war:
Yet still the knightly spear and shield Yet arms like England's did he wield,
The Elfin Warrior doth wield, Alike the leopards in the shield,
Upon the brown hill's breast;8 Alike his Syrian courser's frame,
And many a knight hath proved his The rider's length of limb the same:
chance, Long afterwards did Scotland know,
In the charm'd ring to break a lance, Fell Edward' was her deadliest foe.
But all have foully sped;
Save two, as legends tell, and they
Were Wallace wight, and Gilbert Hay “ The vision made our Monarch start,
Gentles, my tale is said.”
The quaighs were deep, the liquor strong, Yet did a splinter of his lance
And on the tale the yeoman-throng Through Alexander's visor glance,
Had made a comment sage and long, And razed the skin--a puny wound.
But Marmion gave a sign: The King, light leaping to the ground,
And, with their lord, the squires retire; With naked blade his phantom foe
The rest, around the hostel fire, Compellid the future war to show.
Their drowsy limbs recline; Of Largs he saw the glorious plain,
For pillow, underneath each head, Where still gigantic bones remain,
The quiver and the targe were laid. Memorial of the Danish war;
Deep slumbering on the hostel floor, 8 Himself he saw, amid the field,
Oppress’d with toil and ale, they snore: On high his brandish'd war-axe wield,
The dying flame, in fitful change,
Threw on the group its shadows strange.
XXVII. "Tis said, that, in that awful night,
Apart, and nestling in the hay Remoter visions met his sight,
Of a waste loft, Fitz-Eustace lay; Foreshowing future conquests far,"
Scarce, by the pale moonlight, were seen When our sons' sons wage northern war;
The foldings of his mantle green:
5 For an account of the expedition to Copenhagen in 1801 see Southey's Life of Nelson, chap. vii.
6 See Appendix, Note 2 U.
I MS.-“ Alone, and arm'd, rode forth the King
To that encampment's haunted round."
When our sons' sons wage northern war;
7 A wooden cup, composed of staves hooped together.
8 MS." Deep slumbering on the floor of clay,
Oppress'd with toil and ale, they lay;
Lightly he dreamt, as youth will dream,
Wonder it seem'd, in the squire's eyes, Of sport by thicket, or by stream.
That one, so wary held, and wise,Of hawk or hound, of ring or glove,
Of whom 'twas said, he scarce received Or, lighter yet, of lady's love.
For gospel, what the church believed, A cautious tread his slumber broke,
Should, stirr’d by idle tale, And, close beside him, when he woke,
Ride forth in silence of the night, In moonbeam half, and half in gloom,
As hoping half to meet a sprite, Stood a tall form, with nodding plume;
Array'd in plate and mail. But, ere his dagger Eustace drew,
For little did Fitz-Eustace know, llis master Marmion's voice he knew.'
That passions, in contending flow,
Unfix the strongest mind;
Wearied from doubt to doubt to flee, -“ Fitz-Eustace! rise, I cannot rest;
We welcome fond credulity,
Guide confident, though blind.
Little for this Fitz-Eustace cared, The scene of elfin chivalry.
But, patient, waited till he heard, Arise, and saddle me my steed;'
At distance, prick'd to utmost speed, And, gentle Eustace, take good heed
The foot-tramp of a flying steed, Thou dost not rouse these drowsy slaves;
Come town-ward rushing on; I would not, that the prating knaves
First, dead, as if on turf it trode, Had cause for saying, o'er their ale,
Then, clattering on the village road,That I could credit such a tale.”
In other pace than forth he yode, Then softly down the steps they slid,
Return'd Lord Marmion. Eustace the stable door undid,
Down hastily he sprung from selle, And, darkling, Marmion's steed array’d,
And, in his haste, wellnigh he fell; While, whispering, thus the Baron said :
To the squire's hand the rein he threw,
And spoke no word as he withdrew:
But yet the moonlight did betray, “ Did'st never, good my youth, hear tell,
The falcon-crest was soil'd with clay; That on the hour when I was born,
And plainly might Fitz-Eustace see, Saint George, who graced my sire's chapelle, By stains upon the charger's knee, Down from his steed of marble fell,
And his left side, that on the moor A weary wight forlorn ?
He had not kept his footing sure. The flattering chaplains all agree,
Long musing on these wondrous signs, The champion left his steed to me.
At length to rest the squire reclines, I would, the omen's truth to show,
Broken and short; for still, between, That I could meet this Elfin Foe !3
Would dreams of terror intervene: Blithe would I battle, for the right
Eustace did ne'er so blithely mark
The first notes of the morning lark.
INTRODUCTION TO CANTO FOURTI.
Till, by the lessening sound,
Lord Marmion sought the round.
JAMES SKENE, Esq. 6
Ashestiel, Ettrick Forest.
I MS _" But, ere his dagger Eustace drew,
It spoke-Lord Marmion's voice he knew." : M8.-" Come down and saddle me my steed." • MS." I would, to prove the omen right,
That I could meet this Elfin Knight!"
4 MS.-“ Dance to the wild waves' murmuring."
6 James Skene. Esq. of Rubislaw, Aberdeenshire, was
Not even that clown could amplify,
At midnight now, the snowy plain
Finds sterner labour for the swain.
When red hath set the beamless sun,
Through heavy vapours dark and dun; First drew the voluntary brand;'
When the tired ploughman, dry and warm, And sure, through many a varied scene,
Hears, half asleep, the rising storm Unkindness never came between.
Hurling the hail, and sleeted rain, Away these winged years have flown,
Against the casement's tinkling pane; To join the mass of ages gone;
The sounds that drive wild deer, and fox, And though deep mark’d, like all below,
To shelter in the brake and rocks, With chequer'd shades of joy and woe;
Are warnings which the shepherd ask Though thou o'er realms and seas hast ranged, To dismal and to dangerous task. Mark'd cities lost, and empires changed,
Oft he looks forth, and hopes, in vain, While here, at home, my narrower ken
The blast may sink in mellowing rain; Somewhat of manners saw, and men ;
Till, dark above, and white below,5 Though varying wishes, hopes, and fears,
Decided drives the flaky snow, Fever'd the progress of these years,
And forth the hardy swain must go. Yet now, days, weeks, and monthis, but seem Long, with dejected look and whine, The recollection of a dream,
To leave the hearth his dogs repine; So still we glide down to the sea
Whistling and cheering them to aid, Of fathomless eternity.
Around his back he wreathes the plaid:
His flock he gathers, and he guides, Even now it scarcely seems a day,
To open downs, and mountain-sides, Since first I tuned this idle lay ;
Where fiercest though the tempest blow, A task so often thrown aside,
Least deeply lies the drift below. When leisure graver cares denied,
The blast, that whistles o'er the fells, That now, November's dreary gale,
Stiffens his locks to icicles ; Whose voice inspir'd my opening tale,
Oft he looks back, while streaming far, That same November gale once more
His cottage window seems a star,—7 Whirls the dry leaves on Yarrow shore.
Loses its feeble gleam,--and then Their vex'd boughs streaming to the sky,
Turns patient to the blast again, Once more our naked birches sigh,
And, facing to the tempest's sweep, And Blackhouse heights, and Ettrick Pen,
Drives through the gloom his lagging sheep Have donn’d their wintry shrouds again:
If fails his heart, if his limbs fail, And mountain dark, and flooded mead,
Benumbing death is in the gale: Bid us forsake the banks of Tweed.
His paths, his landmarks, all unknown, Earlier than wont along the sky,
Close to the hut, no more his own, Mix'd with the rack, the snow mists fly;
Close to the aid he sought in vain, The shepherd, who in summer sun,
The morn may find the stiffen'd swain :* Had something of our envy won,
The widow sees, at dawning pale, As thou with pencil, I with pen,
His orphans raise their feeble wail ; The features traced of hill and glen ;_3
And, close beside him, in the snow, He who, outstretch'd the livelong day,
Poor Yarrow, partner of their woe, At ease among the heath-flowers lay,
Couches upon his master's breast,"
And licks his cheek to break his rest.
Who envies now the shepherd's lot,
His healthy fare, his rural cot,
1 M8.-“ Unsheath'd the voluntary brand."
8 Various illustrations of the Poetry and Novels of Sir
And loud winds speak the storm begun." 6 M8.-"Till thickly drives the flaky snow,
And forth the hardy swain must go,
6 MS._"The frozen blast that sweeps the fella.
But soon he loses it,-and then
Turns patient to his task again."
His widow sees, at morning pale,
His children rise, and raise their wail." Compare the celebrated description of a man poriebing is the snow, in Thomson's Winter. --See Appendix, Note 2 V.
* MS.--"Couches upon his frozen breast."