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I mark'd at morn how close they ride,
And think upon the harpings slow, Thick moor'd by the lone islet's side,
That presaged this approaching woe! Like wild-ducks couching in the fen,
Sooth was my prophecy of fear; When stoops the hawk upon the glen.
Believe it when it augurs cheer. Since this rude race dare not abide
Would we had left this dismal spot! The peril on the mainland side,
Ill luck still haunts a fairy grot. Shall not thy noble father's care
Of such a wondrous tale I knowSome safe retreat for thee prepare?”
Dear lady, change that look of woe,
My harp was wont thy grief to cheer."
ELLEN. “ No, Allan, no! Pretext so kind?
« Well, be it as thou wilt; I hear, My wakeful terrors could not blind.
But cannot stop the bursting tear.” When in such tender tone, yet grave,
The Minstrel tried his simple art,
But distant far was Ellen's heart.
Merry it is in the good greenwood, He hears report of battle rife,
When the mavis* and merle are singing, He deems himself the cause of strife.
When the deer sweeps by, and the hounds are in cry I saw him redden, when the theme
And the hunter's horn is ringing.
“O Alice Brand, my native land Which I, thou saidst, about him wound.
Is lost for love of you; Think'st thou he trow'd thine omen aught?
And we must hold by wood and wold, Oh no! 'twas apprehensive thought
As outlaws wont to do. For the kind youth, for Roderick too-(Let me be just) that friend so true;
“O Alice, 'twas all for thy locks so bright, In danger both, and in our cause !
And 'twas all for thine eyes so blue, Minstrel, the Douglas dare not pause.
That on the night of our luckless flight, Why else that solemn warning given,
Thy brother bold I slew. • If not on earth, we meet in heaven !' Why else, to Cambus-kenneth’s fane,
« Now must I teach to hew the beech If eve return him not again,
The hand that held the glaive, Am I to hie, and make me known?
For leaves to spread our lowly bed,
And stakes to fence our cave.
“ And for vest of pall, thy fingers small, Had Houglas' daughter been his son !”
That wont on harp to stray,
A cloak must sheer from the slaughter'd deer, XI.
To keep the cold away.”— & Nay, lovely Ellen !-dearest, nay! If aught should his return delay,
“ O Richard ! if my brother died, He only named yon böly fane
'Twas but a fatal chance ; As fitting place to meet again.
For darkling was the battle tried,
And fortune sped the lance.
“ If pall and vair no more I wear, Nor bode of ill to him or you.
Nor thou the crimson sheen, When did my gifted dream beguile ?
As warm, we'll say, is the russet grey, Think of the stranger at the isle,
As gay the forest-green.
3 See Appendix, Note 2 Y.
1 MS.—“No, Allan, no! His words so kind
Were but pretexts my fears to blind.
Douglas a parting blessing gave.' * MS." Itself disturb'd by slightest shock,
Reflects the adamantine rock."
6 MS.-" 'Twas but a midnight chance ;
For blindfold was the battle plied,
And fortune held the iance."
“ And, Richard, if our lot be hard,
Then forward stepp'd she, Alice Brand, And lost thy native land,
And made the holy sign,Still Alice has her own Richard,
« And if there's blood on Richard's hand, And he his Alice Brand.”
A spotless hand is mine.
His martial step, his stately mien,
The price of blood is on his head, His hunting suit of Lincoln green,
With me 'twere infamy to wed. His eagle glance, remembrance claims
Still wouldst thou speak then hear the 'Tis Snowdoun's Knight, 'tis James Fitz-James. truth! Ellen beheld as in a dream,
Fitz-James, there is a nobie youth, Then, starting, scarce suppress'd a scream :
If yet he is !-exposed for me “O stranger ! in such hour of fear,
And mine to dread extremityWhat evil hap has brought thee bere?”
Thou hast the secret of my heart; “An evil hap how can it be,
Forgive, be generous, and depart !”
Fitz-James knew every wily train And marshall'd, over bank and bourne,
A lady's fickle heart to gain; The happy path of my return.”_
But here he knew and felt them vain. “The happy path !-what! said he nought
There shot no glance from Ellen's eye, Of war, of battle to be fought,
To give her steadfast speech the lie; Of guarded pass ?”-“No, by my faith!
In maiden confidence she stood, Nor saw I aught could augur scathe.”
Though mantled in her cheek the blood, “O haste thee, Allan, to the kern,
And told her love with such a sigh -Yonder his tartans I discern;
Of deep and hopeless agony, Learn thou his purpose, and conjure
As death had seal'd her Malcolm's doom, That he will guide the stranger sure !
And she sat sorrowing on his tomb. What prompted thee, unhappy man?
Hope vanish'd from Fitz-James's eye, The meanest serf in Roderick’s clan
But not with hope fled sympathy. Had not been bribed by love or fear,
He proffer'd to attend her side, Unknown to him to guide thee here.”
As brother would a sister guide.
« O! little know'st thou Roderick's heart! XVII.
Safer for both we go apart. "Sweet Ellen, dear my life must be,
O haste thee, and from Allan learn, Since it is worthy care from thee;
If thou may'st trust yon wily kern." Yet life I hold but idle breath,
With hand upon his forehead laid, When love or honour's weigh'd with death.
The conflict of his mind to shade, Then let me profit by my chance,
A parting step or two he made; And speak my purpose bold at once.
Then, as some thought had cross'd his brain, I come to bear thee from a wild,
He paused, and turn'd, and came again. Where ne'er before such blossom smiled; By this soft hand to lead thee far
XIX. From frantic scenes of feud and war.
“ Hear, lady, yet, a parting word ! Near Bochastle my horses wait;'
It chanced in fight that my poor sword They bear us soon to Stirling gate.
Preserved the life of Scotland's lord. l'll place thee in a lovely bower,
This ring the grateful Monarch gave,3 I'll guard thee like a tender flower” –
And bade, when I had boon to crave, "0! hush, Sir Knight ! 'twere female art,
To bring it back, and boldly claim To say I do not read thy heart;
The recompense that I would name. Too much, before, my selfish ear
Ellen, I am no courtly lord, Was idly soothed my praise to hear.
But one who lives by lance and sword, That fatal bait hath lured thee back,
Whose castle is his helm and shield, In deathful hour, o'er dangerous track ;
His lordship the embattled field. And how, O how, can I atone
What from a prince can I demand, The wreck my vanity brought on !
Who neither reck of state nor land? One way remains, I'll tell him all
Ellen, thy hand-the ring is thine;Yes! struggling bosom, forth it shall !
Each guard and usher knows the sign. Thou, whose light folly bears the blamo,
Seek thou the king without delay;8 Buy thine own pardon with thy shame!
This signet shall secure thy way; But first-my father is a man
And claim thy suit, whate'er it be, Outlaw'd and exiled, under ban;
As ransom of his pledge to me.”
MS.--" By Cambusmore my horses wait." 2 MS.-" Was idly fond thy praise to hear."
NB.--"This ring of gold the monarch gave."
* MS.-" Permit this hand—the ring is thine.”
Put forth thy suit, whate'er it be,
He placed the golden circlet on,
XXII. Paused-kiss'd her hand—and then was gone.
Song. The aged Minstrel stood aghast,
They bid me sleep, they bid me pray, So hastily Fitz-James shot past.
They say my brain is warp'd and wrungHe join'd his guide, and wending down
I cannot sleep on Highland brae, The ridges of the mountain brown,
I cannot pray in Highland tongue. Across the stream they took their way,
But were I now where Allan glides, That joins Loch Katrine to Achray.
Or heard my native Devan's tides,
So sweetly would I rest, and pray
That Heaven would close my wintry day!
'Twas thus my hair they bade me brai., Sudden his guide whoop'd loud and high
They made me to the church repair; “ Murdoch! was that a signal cry?”
It was my bridal morn they said, He stammer'd forth,—“ I shout to scare!
And my true love would meet me there. Yon raven from his dainty fare."
But woe betide the cruel guile, He look”d-he knew the raven.'s prey,
That drown'd in blood the morning smile! His own brave steed:“Ah! gallant grey!
And woe betide the fairy dream!
I only waked to sob and scream.
“ Who is this maid? what means her lay? Jealous and sullen on they fared,
She hovers o'er the hollow way, Each silent, each upon his guard.
And flutters wide her mantle grey,
As the lone heron spreads his wing,
By twilight, o'er a haunted spring.”-
“ 'Tis Blanche of Devan,” Murdoch said, Around a precipice's edge,
“ A crazed and captive Lowland maid, When lo! a wasted female form,
Ta'en on the morn she was a bride, Blighted by wrath of sun and storm,
When Roderick foray'd Devan-side. In tatter'd weeds and wild array,
The gay bridegroom resistance mare, Stood on a cliff beside the way,
And felt our Chief's unconquer'd blade, And glancing round her restless eye,
I marvel she is now at large, Upon the wood, the rock, the sky,
But oft she 'scapes from Maudlin's charge.Seem'd nought to mark, yet all to spy.
Hence, brain-sick fool!”—He raised his bow Her brow was wreath'd with gaudy broom;
“ Now, if thou strikest her but one blow, With gesture wild she waved a plume
I'll pitch thee from the cliff as far Of feathers, which the eagles fling
As ever peasant pitch'd a bar!”. To crag and cliff from dusky wing;
“ Thanks, champion, thanks!” the Manigo Such spoils her desperate step had sought,
cried, Where scarce was footing for the goat.
And press'd her to Fitz-James's side. The tartan plaid she first descried,
“ See the grey pennons I prepare,5 And shriek'd till all the rocks replied ;
To seek my true-love through the air? As loud she laugh'd when near they drew,
I will not lend that savage groom, For then the Lowland garb she knew;
To break his fall, one downy plume ! And then her hands she wildly wrung,
No!-deep amid disjointed stones, And then she wept, and then she sung
The wolves shall batten on his bones, She sung !--the voice, in better time,
And then shall his detested plaid, Perchance to harp or lute might chime;
By bush and brier in mid air staid, And now, though strain'd and roughen’d, still Wave forth a banner fair and free, Rung wildly sweet to dale and hill.
Meet signal for their revelry.”
My name and this shall make thy way.'
I MS." He stammer'd forth confused reply :
} I shouted but to scare
celebrated in the poetry of Burns, which descend from the
'Tis Blanche of Devan,' Murdoch said."
Then seek my true love through the air."
To break his fall, one downy plume!
# MS.-"Wrapp'd in a tatter'd mantle grey."
* The Alan and Devan are two beautiful streams, the latter
Not like a stag that spies the snare, « Hush thee, poor maiden, and be still!”
But lion of the hunt aware, "0! thou jook'st kindly, and I will.
He waved at once his blade on high, Mine eye has dried and wasted been,
“ Disclose thy treachery, or die!” But still it loves the Lincoln green;
Forth at full speed the Clansman flew, And, though mine ear is all unstrung,
But in his race his bow he drew. Still, still it loves the Lowland tongue.
The shaft just grazed Fitz-James's crest.
And thrillid in Blanche's faded breast, “ For O my sweet William was forester true,' Murdoch of Alpine! prove thy speed, He stole poor Blanche's heart away!
For ne'er had Alpine's son such need!
With heart of fire, and foot of wind,
Fate judges of the rapid strife" It was not that I meant to tell
The forfeit death—the prize is life! But thou art wise and guessest well.”
Thy kindred ambush lies before, Then, in a low and broken tone,
Close couch'd upon the heathery moor; And hurried note, the song went on.
Them couldst thou reach !-it may not be Still on the Clansman, fearfully,
Thine ambush'd kin thou ne'er shalt see, She fix'd her apprehensive eye;
The fiery Saxon gains on thee! Then turn'd it on the Knight, and then
— Resistless speeds the deadly thrust, Her look glanced wildly o'er the glen.
As lightning strikes the pine to dust;
With foot and hand Fitz-James must strain, XXV.
Ere he can win his blade again. “ The toils are pitch'd, and the stakes are set, Bent o'er the fall’n, with falcon eye, Ever sing merrily, merrily;
He grimly smiled to see him die; The bows they bend, and the knives they Then slower wended back his way, whet,
Where the poor maiden eding lay.
XXVII. " It was a stag, a stag of ten,
She sate beneath the birchen-tree,
Her elbow resting on her knee;
She had withdrawn the fatal shaft,
And gazed on it, and feebly laugh’d;
Her wreath of broom and feathers grey, " It was there he met with a wounded doe, Daggled with blood, beside her lay. She was bleeding deathfully;
The Knight to stanch the life-stream tried, She warn'd him of the toils below,
“ Stranger, it is in vain!” she cried. 0, so faithfully, faithfully!
“ This hour of death has given me more
Of reason's power than years before; “ He had an eye, and he could heed,
For, as these ebbing veins decay,
My frenzied visions fade away. fle had a foot, and he could speed
A helpless injured wretch I die,?
And something tells me in thine eye,
That thou wert mine avenger born.-
Seest thou this tress A-0! still I've worn
This little tress of yellow hair, When Ellen's hints and fears were lost;
Through danger, frenzy, and despair ! But Murdoch's shout suspicion wrought,
It once was bright and clear as thine, And Blanche's song conviction brought.
But blood and tears have dimm'd its shine.
: MS.-“ Sweet William was a woodsman true,
He stoie poor Blanche's heart away !
And sweet he sung the Lowland lay." • Having ten branches on his antlers.
"No machinery can be conceived more clumsy for effecting the deliverance of a distressed hero, than the introduction of a mad woman, who, without knowing or caring about the wangerer, warns him by a song, to take care of the ambush that was set for him. The maniacs of poetry have indeed had a prescriptive right to be musical, since the days of Ophelia downwards; but it is rather a rash extension of this privilege
to make them sing good sense, and to make sensible people
But in his race his bow he bent,
“It may not be
The thrust betwixt his shoulder came."
And grimly smiled to see him die." 7 MS." A guiltless injured wretch I die.“