Imágenes de páginas

Alike to him was tide or time,
Moonless midnight, or matin primo :
Steady of heart, and stout of hand,
As ever drove prey from Cumberland ;
Five times outlawed had he been,
By England's King, and Scotland's Quicen.

XVIII. The unearthly voices ceast,

And the heavy sound was still; It died on the river's breast,

It died on the side of the hill. But round Lord David's tower

The sound still floated near; For it rung in the Ladye’s bower,

And it rung in the Ladye's ear. She raised her stately head,

And her heart throbb’d high with pride :* Your mountains shall bend, And your streams ascend,

Ere Margaret be our foeman's bride!”

“ Sir William of Deloraine, good at need,
Mount thee on the wightest steed;
Spare not to spur, nor stint to ride,
Until thou come to fair Tweedside ;
And in Melrose's holy pile
Seek thou the Monk of St. Mary's aisle.
Greet the Father well from me;

Say that the fated hour is come,
And to-night he shall watch with thee,

To win the treasure of the tomb:
For this will be St. Michael's night,
And, though stars be dim, the moon is bright;
And the Cross, of bloody red,
Will point to the grave of the mighty dead.

The Ladye sought the lofty hall,

Where many a bold retainer lay,
And, with jocund din, among them all,

Her son pursued his infant play.
A fancied moss-trooper,' the boy

The truncheon of a spear bestrode,
And round the hall, right merrily,

In mimic forayrode.
Even bearded knights, in arms grown old,

Share in his frolic gambols bore,
Albeit their hearts of rugged mould,

Were stubborn as the steel they wore. For the grey warriors prophesied,

How the brave boy, in future war, Should tame the Unicorn's pride,

Exalt the Crescent and the Star.“

“ What he gives thee, see thou keep;
Stay not thou for food or sleep:
Be it scroll, or be it book,
Into it, Knight, thou must not look ;
If thou readest, thou art lorn!
Better had'st thou ne'er been born."-

The Ladye forgot her purpose high,

One moment, and no more ;
One moment gazed with a mother's eye,

As she paused at the arched door:
Then from amid the armed train,
She call'd to her William of Deloraine,5

“ O swiftly can speed my dapple-grey steed,

Which drinks of the Teviot clear;
Ere break of day," the Warrior 'gar say,

“ Again will I be here:
And safer by none may thy errand be donc,

Than, noble dame, by me;
Letter nor line know I never a one,

Wer't my neck-verse at Hairibee."7


A stark moss-trooping Scott was he,
As e'er couch'd Border lance by knee;
Through Solway sands, through Tarras moss,
Blindfold, he knew the paths to cross;
By wily turns, by desperate bounds,
Had baffled Percy's best blood-hounds ; 6
In Eske or Liddel, fords were none,
But he would ride them, one by one;
Alike to him was time or tide,
December's snow, or July's pride;

Soon in his saddle sate he fast,
And soon the steep descent he past,
Soon cross'd the sounding barbican,
And soon the Teviot side he won.
Eastward the wooded path he rode,
Green hazels o'er his basnet nod;
He passed the Peelo of Goldiland,
And cross'd old Borthwick's roaring strand;
Dimly he view'd the Moat-hill's mound,
Where Druid shades still flitted round :10

1 See Appendix, Note N.

Miserere mei, &c., anciently read by criminals claiming the % Foray, a predatory in road.

benefit of clergy. (“In the rough but spirited sketch of the 8 This line, of which the metre appears defective, would marauding Borderer, and in the naiveté of his last declaration, have its full complement of feet according to the pronunciation the reader will recognise some of the most striking features of the poet himself-as all who were familiar with his utter- of the ancient ballad."-Critical Review. 1 ance of the letter r will bear testimony.-ED.

8 Barbican, the defence of the outer gate of a feudal castle. * See Appendix, Note 0.6 Ibid. Note P. Ibid. Note Q. 7 Hairibee, the place of executing the Border marauders at

Peel, a Border tower. Carlisle The neck-verse is the beginning of the 51st Psalm, 10 See Appendix, Note R.

In Hawick twinkled many a light;

The warrior's very plume, I say Behind him soon they set in night;

Was daggled by the dashing spray ; And soon he spurr'd his courser keen

Yet, through good heart, and Our Ladye's grace, Beneath the tower of Hazeldean.'

At length he gain’d the landing place.

[blocks in formation]

XXX. Now Bowden Moor the march-man won,

And sternly shook his plumed head, As glanced his eye o'er Halidon ; 6

For on his soul the slaughter red Of that unhallow'd morn aros: When first the Scott and Carr were foes; When royal James beheld the fray, Prize to the victor of the day; When Home and Douglas, in the van, Bore down Buccleuch's retiring clan, Till gallant Cessford's heart-blood dear Reek'd on dark Elliot's Border spear.

XXVII. A moment now he slack'd his speed, A moment breathed his panting steed; Drew saddle-girth and corslet-band, And loosen'd in the sheath his brand. On Minto-crags the moonbeams glint, Where Barnhill hew'd his bed of fint ; Who flung his outlaw'd limbs to rest, Where falcons hang their giddy nest, Mid cliffs, from whence bis eye For many a league his prey could spy; Cliffs, doubling, on their echoes borne, The terrors of the robber's horn! Cliffs, which, for many a later year, The warbling Doric reed shall hear, When some sad swain shall teach the grove, Ambition is no cure for love!

XXXI. In bitter mood he spurred fast, And soon the hated heath was past; And far beneath, in lustre wan, Old Melros' rose, and fair Tweed ran: Like some tall rock with lichens grey, Seem'd dimly huge, the dark Abbaye. When Hawick he pass’d, had curfew rung, Now midnight lands? were in Melrose sung. The sound, upon the fitful gale, In solemn wise did rise and fail, Like that wild harp, whose magic tone Is waken'd by the winds alone. But when Melrose he reach'd, 'twus silence all ; He meetly stabled his steed in stall, And sought the convent's lonely wall.8

XXVIII. Unchallenged, thence pass'd Deloraine, To ancient Riddel's fair domain,"

Where Aill, from mountains freed, Down from the lakes did raving come; Each wave was crested with tawny foam,

Like the mane of a chestnut steed. In vain ! no torrent, deep or broad, Might bar the bold moss-trooper's road.

HERE paused the harp; and with its swell
The Master's fire and courage fell;
Dejectedly, and low, he bow'd,
And, gazing timid on the crowd,
He seem'd to seek, in every eye,
If they approved his minstrelsy;
And, diffident of present praise,
Somewhat he spoke of former days,
And how old age, and wand’ring long,
Had done his hand and harp some wrong.
The Duchess, and her daughters fair,
And every gentle lady there,
Each after each, in due degree,
Gave praises to his melody;
His hand was true, his voice was clear,
And much they long’d the rest to hear.
Encouraged thus, the Aged Man,
After meet rest, again began.

XXIX. At the first plunge the horse sunk low, And the water broke o'er the saddlebow; Above the foaming tide, I ween, scarce half the charger's neck was seen; For he was barded 5 from counter to tail, And the rider was armed complete in mail; Never heavier man and horse Stemm'd a midnight torrent's force.

" See Appendix, Note S.

8 Halidon was an ancient seat of the Kerns of Cessford, now 2 An ancient Roman road, crossing through part of Rox. demolished. About a quarter of a mile to the northward lay durghshire.

the field of battle betwixt Buccleuch and Angus, which is 8 See Appendix, Note T.

• Ibid. Note U. called to this day the Skirmish Field.-See Appendix Note D. 6 Barded, or barbed,-applied to a horse accoutred with Lauds, the midnight service of the Catholic church, defensive armour

8 See Appendix, Note V.

The Lay of the Last Minstrel.

And lifted his barred aventayle,
To hail the Monk of St. Mary's aisle.


“ The Ladye of Branksome greets thee by me,

Says, that the fated hour is come,
And that to-night I shall watch with thee,

To win the treasure of the tomb."
From sackcloth couch the Monk arose,

With toil his stiffen'd limbs he rear'd;
A hundred years had flung their snows

On his thin locks and floating beard.

IF thou would'st view fair Melrose aright,'
Go visit it by the pale moonlight;
For the gay beams of lightsome day
Gild, but to flout, the ruins grey.
When the broken arches are black in night,
And each shafted oriel glimmers white;
When the cold light's uncertain shower
Streams on the ruin'd central tower;
When buttress and buttress, alternately,
Seem framed of ebon and ivory;
When silver edges the imagery,
And the scrolls that teach thee to live and die ;?
When distant Tweed is heard to rave,
And the owlet to hoot o'er the dead man's grave,
Then go-but go alone the while
Then view St. David's ruin'd pile ;3
And, home returning, soothly swear,
Was never scene so sad and fair!

And strangely on the Knight look'd he,

And his blue eyes gleam'd wild and wide;
And, darest thou, Warrior ! seek to see

What heaven and hell alike would hide!
My breast, in belt of iron pent,

With shirt of hair and scourge of thorn;
For threescore years, in penance spent,

My knees those flinty stones have worn:
Yet all too little to atone
For knowing what should ne'er be known.
Would'st thou thy every future year

In ceaseless prayer and penance drie,
Yet wait thy latter end with fear-

Then, daring Warrior, follow me!”

[ocr errors]

Short halt did Deloraine make there;
Little reck'd he of the scene so fair:
With dagger's hilt, on the wicket strong,
He struck full loud, and struck full long.
The porter hurried to the gate-
“ Who knocks so loud, and knocks so late ?”
“ From Branksome I," the warrior cried ;
And straight the wicket open'd wide :
For Branksome's Chiefs had in battle stood,

To fence the rights of fair Melrose;
And lands and livings, many a rood,
Had gifted the shrine for their souls' repose.

Penance, father, will I none;
Prayer know I hardly one;
For mass or prayer can I rarely tarry,
Save to patter an Ave Mary,
When I ride on a Border foray.
Other prayer can I none;
So speed me my errand, and let me be gone.”-

Bold Deloraine his errand said;
The porter bent his humble head;
With torch in hand, and feet unshod,
And noiseless step, the path he trod:
The arched cloister, far and wide,
Rang to the warrior's clanking stride,
Till, stooping low his lofty crest,
He enter'd the cell of the ancient priest,

Again on the Knight look'd the Churchman old,

And again he sighed heavily;
For he had himself been a warrior bold,

And fought in Spain and Italy.
And he thought on the days that were long since by,
When his limbs were strong, and his courage was

high :-
Now, slow and faint, he led the way,
Where, cloister'd round, the garden lay;
The pillar'd arches were over their head,
And beneath their feet were the bones of the dead.

1 “In the description of Melrose, which introduces the 4 The Buccleuch family were great benefactors to the Abbey Second Canto, the reader will observe how skilfully the Au- of Melrose. As early as the reign of Robert II., Robert Scott, thor calls in the aid of sentimental associations to heighten the Baron of Murdieston and Rankleburn, (now Buccleuch,) gave effect of the picture which he presents to the eye."-JEFFREY. to the monks the lands of Hinkery, in Ettrick Forest, pro sa2 See Appendix, Note W.

lute animæ suæ.-Chartulary of Melrose, 28th May, 1415. 3 David I. of Scotland, purchased the reputation of sanctity,

6 Aventayle, visor of the helmet. by founding, and liberally endowing, not only the monastery 6 See Appendix, Note X. of Melrose, but those of Kelso, Jedburgh, and many others; 7 The cloisters were frequently used as places of sepulture. which led to the well-known observation of his successor, that An instance occurs in Dryburgh Abbey, where the cloister bas be was a sore saint for the crown.

an inscription, bearing, Hic jacet frater Archibaldus.



The silver light, so pale and faint, Spreading herbs, and flowerets bright,

Shew'd many a prophet, and many a saint, Glisten'd with the dew of night;

Whose image on the glass was dyed; Nor herb, nor floweret, glisten'd there,

Full in the midst, his Cross of Red But was carved in the cloister-arches as fair.

Triumphant Michael brandished,
The Monk gazed long on the lovely moon,

And trampled the Apostate's pride.
Then into the night he looked forth;

The moon-beam kiss'd the holy pane,
And red and bright the streamers light

And threw on the pavement a bloody stain."
Were dancing in the glowing north.
So had he seen, in fair Castile,

The youth in glittering squadrons start;' They sate them down on a marble stone, &
Sudden the flying jennet wheel,

(A Scottish monarch slept below;) And hurl the unexpected dart.

Thus spoke the Monk, in solemn tone : fle knew, by the streamers that shot so bright, “ I was not always a man of woe; That spirits were riding the northern light.

For Paynim countries I have trod,

And fought beneath the Cross of God:

Now, strange to my eyes thine arms appear,
By a steel-clenched postern door,

And their iron clang sounds strange to my ear. They enter'd now the chancel tall; The darken'd roof rose high aloof

XIII. On pillars lofty and light and small :

“ In these far climes it was my lot The key-stone, that lock'd each ribbed aisle,

To meet the wondrous Michael Scott; Was a fleur-de-lys, or a quatre-feuille;

A wizard, of such dreaded fame, The corbells? were carved grotesque and grim; That when, in Salamanca's cave, And the pillars, with cluster'd shafts so trim, Him listed his magic wand to wave, With base and with capital flourish'd around,

The bells would ring in Notre Dame !" Seem'd bundles of lances which garlands had Some of his skill he taught to me; bound.

And, Warrior, I could say to thee

The words that cleft Eildon hills in three, la

And bridled the Tweed with a curb of stone : Full many a scutcheon and banner riven,

But to speak them were a deadly sin; Shook to the cold night-wind of heaven,

And for having but thought them my heart within Around the screened altar's pale;

A treble penance must be done.
And there the dying lamps did burn,
Before thy low and lonely urn,

O gallant Chief of Otterburne !4

“ When Michael lay on his dying bed, And thine, dark Knight of Liddesdale !5

His conscience was awakened: O fading honours of the dead !

He bethought him of his sinful deed, O high ambition, lowly laid !

And he gave me a sign to come with speed:

I was in Spain when the morning rose,

But I stood by his bed ere evening close.
The moon on the east oriel shone

The words may not again be said, Through slender shafts of shapely stone,

That he spoke to me, on death-bed laid;
By foliaged tracery combined;

They would rend this Abbaye’s massy navo,
Thou would'st have thought some fairy's hand And pile it in heaps above his grave.
'Twixt poplars straight the ozier wand,
In many a freakish knot, had twined;

Then framed a spell, when the work was done, “ I swore to bury his Mighty Book,
And changed the willow-wreaths to stone.

That never mortal might therein look;
I See Appendix, Note Y.

the middle ages. “ November 2, 1805.-We are perfectly on * Corbells, the projections from which the arches spring, chanted with Walter Scott's Lay of the Last Minstrel. Ho usually cut in a fantastic face, or mask.

is surely the man born at last to translate the Iliad. Are not 3" With plinth and with capital flourish'd around." the good parts of his poem the most Homeric of any thing in

First Edition. our language? There are tedious passages, and so are there in 4 See Appendix, Note Z. 8 Ibid. Note 2 A. 6 Ibid. Note 2 B. Homer."--SIR JAMES MACKINTOSH, Life, Vol. I., pp. 254, 262. 7Bombay, September 25, 1805.- I began last night to read

8 A large marble stone, in the chancel of Melrose, is pointed Walter Scott's Lay of the Last Minstrel, as part of my out as the monument of Alexander II., one of the greatest of evenmg readings to my children. I was extremely delighted our early kings; others say, it is the resting place of Waldeve, by the poetical beauty of some passages, the Abbey of Melrose

one of the early abbots, who died in the odour of sanctity. for example, and most of the prologues to the cantos. The costume, too, is admirable. The tone is antique; and it

2 See Appendix, Note 2 C.

10 lbid. Note 2 D. might be rend for instruction as a picture of the manners of 11 See Appendix, Note 2 E.

18 Ibid. Note 2 P.

And never to tell where it was hid,
Save at his Chief of Branksome's need:
And when that need was past and o'er,
Again the volume to restore.
I buried him on St. Michael's night,
When the bell tolld one, and the moon was

And I dug his chamber among the dead,
When the floor of the chancel was stained red,
That his patron's cross might over him wave,
And scare the fiends from the Wizard's grave.

Before their eyes the Wizard lay,
As if he had not been dead a day.
His hoary board in silver roll'd,
He seem'd some seventy winters old;

A palmer's amice wrapp'd him round,
With a wrought Spanish baldric bound,

Like a pilgrim from beyond the sea : His left hand held his Book of Might; A silver cross was in his right;

The lamp was placed beside his knee: High and majestic was his look, At which the fellest fiends had shook, And all unrufiled was his face: They trusted his soul had gotten grace.3

XVI. “ It was a night of woe and dread, When Michael in the tomb I laid ! Strange sounds along the chancel pass'd, The banners waved without a blast”-Still spoke the Monk, when the bell tolld one! I tell you, that a braver man Than William of Deloraine. good at need, Against a foe ne'er spurr'd a steed ; Yet somewhat was he chill'd with dread, And his hair did bristle upon his head.

Often had William of Deloraine
Rode through the battle's bloody plain,
And trampled down the warriors slain,

And neither known remorse nor awe;
Yet now remorse and awe he own'd;
His breath came thick, his head swam round,

When this strange scene of death he saw. Bewilder'd and unnerved he stood, And the priest pray'd fervently and loud: With eyes averted prayed he; He might not endure the sight to see, Of the man he had loved so brotherly.

XVII. “ Lo, Warrior!


the Cross of Red Points to the grave of the mighty dead; Within it burns a wondrous light, To chase the spirits that love the night: That lamp shall burn unquenchably, Until the eternal doom shall be.”_ Slow moved the Monk to the broad flag-stone, Which the bloody Cross was traced upon : He pointed to a secret nook ; An iron bar the Warrior took ;) And the Monk made a sign with his wither'd hand, The grave's huge portal to expand.

XXI. And when the priest his death-prayer had pray'd, Thus unto Deloraine he said :“ Now, speed thee what thou hast to do, Or, Warrior, we may dearly rue; For those, thou may'st not look upon, Are gathering fast round the yawning stone !”Then Deloraine, in terror, took From the cold hand the Mighty Book, With iron clasp'd, and with iron bound: He thought, as he took it, the dead man frown'd;. But the glare of the sepulchral light, Perchance, had dazzled the warrior's sight.

With beating heart to the task he went;
His sinewy frame o'er the grave-stone bent;
With bar of iron heaved amain,
Till the toil-drops fell from his brows, like rain.
It was by dint of passing strength,
That he moved the massy stone at length.
I would you had been there, to see
How the light broke forth so gloriously,
Stream’d upward to the chancel roof,
And through the galleries far aloof!
No earthly flame blazed e'er so bright:
It shone like heaven's own blessed light,

And, issuing from the tomb,
Show'd the Monk's cowl, and visage pale,
Danced on the dark-brow'd Warrior's mail,

And kiss'd his waving plume.

XXII. When the huge stone sunk o'er the tomb, The night return'd in double gloom; For the moon had gone down, and the stars were few; And, as the Knight and Priest withdrew, With wavering steps and dizzy brain, They hardly might the postern gain, 'Tis said, as through the aisles they pass'd, They heard strange noises on the blast; And through the cloister-galleries small, Which at mid-height thread the chancel wall,

See Appendix, Note 2 G.

Diagic volume from its grasp, are, in a succeeding part of the 2 Orig.--A bar frorn thence the warrior took.

narrative, circumstances not more happily conceived than 2" The agitation of the monk at the sight of the man whom exquisitely wrought."-Critical Review. he had loved with brotherly affection-the horror of Deloraine, and his belief that the corpse frowned, as he withdrew the 4 See Appendix, Note 2 H.

« AnteriorContinuar »