« AnteriorContinuar »
And thou didst bid thy little band
XXIX. Upon the instant turn and stand,
“ Brother, I well believe,” she said, And dare the worst the foe might do,
“ Even so would Edward's part be play'd. Rather than, like a knight untrue,
Kindly in heart, in word severe, Leave to pursuers merciless
A foe to thought, and grief, and fear, A woman in her last distress.
He holds his humour uncontrollid; And wilt thou now deny thine aid
But thou art of another mould. To an oppress’d and injured maid,
Say then to Ronald, as I say, Even plead for Ronald's perfidy,
Unless before my feet he lay And press his fickle faith on me?
The ring which bound the faith he gwore, So witness Heaven, as true I vow,
By Edith freely yielded o'er, Had I those earthly feelings now,
He moves his suit to me no more. Which could my former vosom move
Nor do I promise, even if now Ere taught to set its hopes above,
He stood absolved of spousal vow, I'd spurn each proffer he could bring,
That I would change my purpose made Till at my feet he laid the ring,
To shelter me in holy shade.The ring and spousal contract both,
Brother, for little space, farewell!
To other duties warns the bell."-
“Lost to the world,” Kirg Robert said, XXVIII.
When he had left the royal maid, With sudden impulse forward sprung
“ Lost to the world by lot severe, The page, and on her neck he hung;
O what a gem lies buried here, Then, recollected instantly,
Nipp'd by misfortune's cruel frost, His head he stoop'd, and bent his knee,
The buds of fair affection lost !_2 Kiss'd twice the hand of Isabel,
But what have I with love to do! Arose, and sudden left the cell.
Far sterner cares my lot pursue. The princess, loosen'd from his hold,
-Pent in this isle we may not lie,a Blush'd angry at his bearing bold;
Nor would it long our wants supply. But good King Robert cried,
Right opposite, the mainland towers “ Chafe not-by signs he speaks his mind,
Of my own Turnberry court our powers, He heard the plan my care design'd,
- Might not my father's beadsman hoar, Nor could his transports hide.
Cuthbert, who dwells upon the shore, But, sister, now bethink thee well;
Kindle a signal-flame, to show No easy choice the convent cell;
The time propitious for the blow? Trust, I shall play no tyrant part,
It shall be so—some friend shall bear Either to force thy hand or heart,
Our mandate with despatch and care; Or suffer that Lord Ronald scorn,
-Edward shall find the messenger. Or wrong for thee, the Maid of Lorn.
That fortress ours, the island fleet But think,—not long the time has
May on the coast of Carrick meet. been,
O Scotland! shall it e'er be mine That thou wert wont to sigh unseen,
To wreak thy wrongs in battle-line, And wouldst the ditties best approve,
To raise my victor-head, and see That told some lay of hapless love.
Thy hills, thy dales, thy people free,Now are thy wishes in thy power,
That glance of bliss is all I crave, And thou art bent on cloister bower!
Betwixt my labours and my grave!” 0! if our Edward knew the change,
Then down the hill he slowly went, How would his busy satire range,
Oft pausing on the steep descent, With many a sarcasm varied still
And reach'd the spot where his bold train On woman's wish, and woman's will!”_
Held rustic camp upon the plain.*
I See Appendix, Note 2 V.
She yields one shade of empty hope ;
And still my importunity."
1 " The fourth canto cannot be very greatly pre ised. It contains, indeed, many pleasing passages; but the merit which they possess is too much detached from the general interest of the poem. The only business is Bruce's arrival at the islo of Arran. The voyage is certainly described with spirit; bus the remainder of the canto is rather tedious, and might, without any considerable inconvenience. have been left a good deal to the reader's imagination. Mr. Scoit ought to reserve
Thou pledge of vows too well belioved,
Of man ingrate and maid deceived,
Where worldly thoughts are overawed,
And worldly splendours sink debased.”
Then by the cross the ring she placed.
How came it here through bolt and bar ?
Courting the sunbeam as she plied her toil,- A light short step had brush'd anew, For, wake where'er he may, Man wakes to care and And there were foot-prints seen toil.
On the carved buttress rising still,
Till on the mossy window-sill But other duties call'd each convent maid,
Their track effaced the green. Roused by the summons of the moss-grown bell; The ivy twigs were torn and fray'd, Sung were the matins, and the mass was said, As if some climber's steps to aid.And every sister sought her separate cell,
But who the hardy messenger, Such was the rule, her rosary to tell.
Whose venturous path these signs infer? And Isabel has knelt in lonely prayer;
“Strange doubts are mine !-Mona, draw nigh; The sunbeam, through the narrow lattice, feli -Nought 'scapes old Mona's curious eye Upon the snowy neck and long dark hair,
What strangers, gentle mother, say,
“ None, Lady, none of note or name;
Only your brother's foot-page came, She raised her eyes, that duty done,
At peep of dawn-I pray'd him pass When glanced upon the pavement-stone,
To chapel where they said the mass ; Gemm’d and enchased, a golden ring,
But like an arrow he shot by, Bound to a scroll with silken string,
And tears seem'd bursting from his eye.” With few brief words inscribed to tell, “ This for the Lady Isabel.”
IV. Within, the writing farther bore,
The truth at once on Isabel, “ 'Twas with this ring his plight he swore,
As darted by a sunbeam, fell.With this his promise I restore ;
66 'Tis Edith's self ! 3_her speechless woe, To her who can the heart command,
Her form, her looks, the secret show ! Well may I yield the plighted hand.
-Instant, good Mona, to the bay, And O! for better fortune born,
And to my royal brother say, Grudge not a passing sigh to mourn
I do conjure him seek my cell, Her who was Edith once of Loru !”
With that mute page he loves so well.”One single flash of glad surprise
“ What ! know'st thou not his warlike host Just glanced from Isabel's dark eyes,
At break of day has left our coast ? 4 But vanish'd in the blush of shame,
My old eyes saw them from the tower. That, as its penance, instant came.
At eve they couch'd in greenwood bower, “O thought unworthy of my race !
At dawn a bugle signal, made Selfish, ungenerous, mean, and base,
By their bold Lord, their ranks array'd; A moment's throb of joy to own,
Up sprung the spears through bush and tree, That rose upon her hopes o’erthrown !
No time for benedicite !
Like deer, that, rousing from their lair,
Beside Mactarlane's Cross he staia, Just shake the dewdrops from their hair,
There told his hours within the shade, And toss their armed crests aloft,
And at the stream his thirst allay'd. Such matins theirs !”-“Good mother, soft
Thence onward journeying slowly stil, Where does my brother nd his way?”_
As evening closed he reach'd the hill, “As I have heard, for Brodick-Bay,
Where, rising through the woodland green, Across the isle—of barks a score
Old Brodick's gothic towers were seen, Lie there, 'tis said, to waft them o'er,
From Hastings, late their English lord, On sudden news, to Carrick-shore."-
Douglas had won them by the sword. “If such their purpose, deep the need,"
The sun that sunk behind the isle,
Now tinged them with a parting smile.
But though the beams of light decay,
'Twas bustle all in Brodick-Bay. “Kind Father, hie without delay,
The Bruce's followers crowd the shore, Across the hills to Brodick-Bay.
And boats and barges some unmoor, This message to the Bruce be given;
Some raise the sail, some seize the oar; I pray him, by his hopes of Heaven,
Their eyes oft turn'd where glimmer'd far That, till he speak with me, he stay!
What might have seem’d an early star Or, if his haste brook no delay,
On heaven's blue arch, save that its light That he deliver, on my suit,
Was all too flickering, fierce, and bright. Into thy charge that stripling mute.
Far distant in the south, the ray Thus prays his sister Isabel,
Shone pale amid retiring day, For causes more than she may tell
But as, on Carrick shore, Away, good father! and take heed,
Dim seen in outline faintly blue, That life and death are on thy speed.”
The shades of evening closer drew,7 His cowl the good old priest did on,
It kindled more and more. Took his piked staff and sandall'd shoon,
The monk's slow steps now press the sands, And, like a palmer bent by eld,
And now amid a scene he stands, O'er moss and moor his journey held.
Full strange to churchman's eye;
Warriors, who, arming for the fight,
Rivet and clasp their harness light,
And twinkling spears, and axes bright, And rugged was the pilgrimage;
And helmets flashing high. But none was there beside, whose care
Oft, too, with unaccustom'd ears, Might such important message bear.
A language much unmeet he hears, Through birchen copse he wander'd slow,
While, hastening all on board, Stunted and sapless, thin and low;
As stormy as the swelling surge By many a mountain stream he pass d,
That mix'd its roar, the leaders urge From the tall cliffs in tumult cast,
Their followers to the ocean verge,
With many a haughty word.
Through that wild throng the Father pass'd O'er chasms he pass’d, where fractures
And reach'd the Royal Bruce at last. wide
He leant against a stranded boat, Craved wary eye and ample stride; 3
That the approaching tide must float, He cross'd his brow beside the stone
And counted every rippling wave, Where Druids erst heard victims groan,
As higher yet her sides they lave, And at the cairns upon the wild,
And oft the distant fire he eyed, O'er many a heathen hero piled,
And closer yet his hauberk tied, He breathed a timid prayer for those
And loosen'd in its sheath his brand. Who died ere Shiloh's sun arose.
Edward and Lennox were at hand,
1 MS.—" Canst tell where they have bent their way?" 2 MS.-" And cross the island took his way,
O'er hill and holt, to Brodick-Bay." * See Appendix, Note 2 W. • MS.—“He cross'd him by the Druids' stone,
That heard of yore the victim's groan
6 See Appendix, Note 2 X.
6 Ibid, Note 2 Y 7 MS.-" The shades of even more closely drew,
It brighten'd more and more.
And now amid," &c.
lix, Note 2 7
Douglas and Ronald had the care
If seen, none can his errand guess; The soldiers to the barks to share.
If ta'en, his words no tale expressThe Monk approach'd and homage paid ;
Methinks, too, yonder beacon's shine “ And art thou come,” King Robert said,
Might expiate greater fault than mine."“ So far to bless us ere we part?”—
“ Rash,” said King Robert, “ was the deed _“ My Liege, and with a loyal heart !
But it is done.—Embark with speedBut other charge I have to tell," —
Good Father, say to Isabel And spoke the hest of Isabel.
How this unhappy chance befell ; • Now by Saint Giles," the monarch cried, If well we thrive on yonder shore, “ This moves me much !-this morning tide,
Soon shall my care her page restore. I sent the stripling to Saint Bride,
Our greeting to our sister bear, With my commandment there to bide.”
And think of us in mass and prayer.”— -- Thither he came the portress show'd, But there, my Liege, made brief abode."
“ Aye!” said the Priest, “ while this pour IX.
hand “ 'Twas I,” said Edward, “ found employ
Can chalice raise or cross command, Of nobler import for the boy.
While my old voice has accents' use, Deep pondering in my anxious mind,
Can Augustine forget the Bruce!” A fitting messenger to find,
Then to his side Lord Ronald press’d, To bear thy written mandate o'er
And whisper’d, “ Bear thou this request, To Cuthbert on the Carrick shore,
That when by Bruce's side I fight, I chanced, at early dawn, to pass
For Scotland's crown and freedom's right, The chapel gate to snatch a mass.
The princess grace her knight to bear I found the stripling on a tomb
Some token of her favouring care; Low-seated, weeping for the doom
It shall be shown where England's best That gave his youth to convent gloom.
May shrink to see it on my crest. I told my purpose, and his eyes
And for the boy-since weightier care Flash'd joyful at the glad surprise.
For royal Bruce the times prepare, He bounded to the skiff, the sail
The helpless youth is Ronald's charge, Was spread before a prosperous gale,
His couch my plaid, his fence my targe." And well my charge he hath obey'd;
He ceased; for many an eager hand For, see! the ruddy signal made,
Had urged the barges from the strand. That Clifford, with his merry-men all,
Their number was a score and ten, Guards carelessly our father's hall.”—
They bore thrice threescore chosen men.
With such small force did Bruce at last X.
The die for death or empire cast ! “ O wild of thought, and hard of heart !” Answer'd the Monarch,“ on a part
XII. Of such deep danger to employ
Now on the darkening main afloat, A mute, an orphan, and a boy!
Ready and mann'd rocks every boat; Unfit for flight, unfit for strife,
Beneath their oars the ocean's might Without a tongue to plead for life!
Was dash'd to sparks of glimmering light. Now, were my right restored by Heaven,
Faint and more faint, as off they bore, Edward, my crown I would have given,
Their armour glanced against the shore, Ere, thrust on such adventure wild,
And, mingled with the dashing tide, I peril'd thus the helpless child.”—
Their murmuring voices distant died.--Offended half, and half submiss,
“ God speed them !” said the Priest, as darl. “ Brother and Liege, of blame like this,'
On distant billows glides each bark; Edward replied, “ I little dream'd.
“ O Heaven! when swords for freedom shine, A stranger messenger, I deem'd,
And monarch's right, the cause is thine ! Might safest seek the beadsman's cell,
Edge doubly every patriot blow! Where all thy squires are known so well.
Beat down the banners of the foe! Noteless his presence, sharp his sense,
And be it to the nations known, His imperfection his defence.
That Victory is from God alone!” 8
1 The MS. reads:
* Keeps careless guard in Turnherry hall."
2 MS." Said Robert, ‘to assign a part
of such deep peril, to employ
A mute, a stranger, and a boy!' 3 MS.
“is thine alone per
See Appendix, Note 3 A.
As up the hill his path he drew,
When that strange light, which, seen akar, He turn'd his blessings to renew,
Seem'd steady as the polar sta", Oft turn’d, till on the darken'd coast
Now, like a prophet's * fiery chair, All traces of their course were lost;
Seem'd travelling the realms of air. Then slowly bent to Brodick tower,
Wide o'er the sky the splendour glows, To shelter for the evening hour.
As that portentous meteor rose;
Helm, axe, and falchion glitter'd bright,
And in the red and dusky light
His comrade's face each warrior saw, Where Cumray’s isles with verdant link
Nor marveli'd it was pale with awe. Close the fair entrance of the Clyde;
Then high in air the beams were lost, The woods of Bute, no more descried,
And darkness sunk upon the coast.Are gone'-and on the placid sea
Ronald to Heaven a prayer address’d, The rowers ply their task with glee,
And Douglas cross'd his dauntless breast; While hands that knightly lances bore
“ Saint James protect us !” Lennox cried, Impatient aid the labouring oar.
But reckless Edward spoke aside, The half-faced moon shone dim and pale,
“ Deem'st thou, Kirkpatrick, in that flame And glanced against the whiten'd sail;
Red Comyn's angry spirit came, But on that ruddy beacon-light
Or would thy dauntless heart endure Each steersman kept the helm aright,
Once more to make assurance sure?” And oft, for such the King's command,
“ Hush!” said the Bruce,“ we soon shall know, That all at once might reach the strand,
If this be sorcerer's empty show,5 From boat to boat loud shout and hail
Or stratagem of southern foe. Warn'd them to crowd or slacken sail.
The moon shines out-upon the sand
Let every leader rank his band.”
Faintly the moon's pale beams supply The light, that seem’d a twinkling star,
That ruddy light's unnatural dye; Now blazed portentous, fierce, and far.
The dubious cold reflection lay Dark-red the heaven above it glow'd,
On the wet sands and quiet bay. Dark-red the sea beneath it flow'd,
Beneath the rocks King Robert drew Red rose the rocks on ocean's brim,
His scatter'd files to order due, In blood-red light her islets swim;
Till shield compact and serried spear Wild scream the dazzled sea-fowl gave,
In the cool light shone blue and clear. Dropp'd from their crags on plashing
Then down a path that sought the tide, wave.?
That speechless page was seen to glide; The deer to distant covert drew,
He knelt him lowly on the sand, The black-cock deem'd it day, and crew.
And gave a scroll to Robert's hand. Like some tall castle given to flame,
A torch,” the Monarch cried, “ What, ho! O'er half the land the lustre came.
Now shall we Cuthbert's tidings know.” “ Now, good my Liege, and brother sage,
But evil news the letters bare, What think ye of mine elfin page ?”—
The Clifford's force was strong and ware, “ Row on!” the noble King replied,
Augmented, too, that very morn, “ We'll learn the truth whate'er betide ;
By mountaineers who came with Lorn. Yet sure the beadsman and the child
Long harrow'd by oppressor's hand, Could ne'er have waked that beacon wild.”
Courage and faith had fled the land,
And over Carrick, dark and deep,
Had sunk dejection's iron sleep.
Cuthbert had seen that beacon-flame, But Edward's grounded on the sand;
Unwitting from what source it came. The eager Knight leap'd in the sea
Doubtful of perilous event, Waist-deep, and first on shore was he,
Edward's mute messenger he sent, Though every barge's hardy band
If Bruce deceived should venture o'er, Contended which should gain the land,
To warn him from the fatal shore.
1 MS.-“Hove sunk."
MS.--“ A wizard's"
3 MS.-"Gallants be hush'd; we soon shall know.'
Said Bruce, if this be sorcerer's show.'" 6 MS.
" on the moisten'd sand." 7 MS.-" That Clifford's force in watch were ware