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Weary, wet, and spent with toil,
Where his head shall Frederick hide! Where, but in yon ruin'd aisle,
By the lightning's flash descried.
To the portal, dank and low,
Fast his steed the wanderer bound : Down a ruin'd staircase slow,
Next his darkling way he wound.
These verses are a literal translation of an ancient Swiss ballad upon the battle of Sempach, fought 9th July, 1386, being the victory by which the Swiss calitons established their independence; the author, Albert Tchudi, denominated the Souter, from his profession of a shoemaker. He was a citizen of Lucerne, esteemed highly among his countrymen, both for his powers as a Meister-Singer, or minstrel, and his cou. rage as a soldier; so that he might share the praisa conferred by Collins on Æschylus, that
"—Not alone he nursed the poet's flame,
Long drear vaults before him lie!
Glimmering lights are seen to glide!* Blesse 8 Mary, hear my cry!
Deign a sinner's steps to guide!”
The Austrian nobles made their vow,
So hot their heart and bold,
And slay both young and old.”
With clarion loud, and banner proud,
From Zurich on the lake,
Their onward march they make.
“ Now list, ye lowland nobles all
Ye seek the mountain strand,
In such a dangerous land.
The circumstance of their being written by a poet returning from the well-fought field he describes, and in which his country's fortune was secured, may confer on Tchudi's verses an interest which they are not entitled to claim from their poetical merit. But ballad poetry, the more literally it is translated, the more it loses its simplicity, without acquiring either grace or strength; and, therefore, some of the faults of the verses must be imputed to the translator's feeling it a duty to keep as closely as possible to his original. The various puns, rude attempts at pleasantry, and disproportioned episodes, must be set down to Tchudi's account, or to the taste of his age.
The military antiquary will derive some amusement from the minute particulars which the martial poet bas recorded. The mode in which the Austrian menat-arms received the charge of the Swiss, was by forming a phalanx, which they defended with their long lances. The gallant Winkelreid, who sacrificed his own life by rushing among the spears, clasping in his arms as many as he could grasp, and thus opening a gap in those iron battalions, is celebrated in Swiss history. When fairly mingled together, the unwieldy length of their weapons, and cumbrous weight of their defensive armour, rendered the Austrian men-at-arms a very unequal match for the light armed mountaineers. The victories obtained by the Swiss over the German chivalry, hitherto deemed as formidable on foot as on horseback, led to important changes in the art of war. The poet describes the Austrian knights and squires as cutting the peaks from their boots ere they could act upon foot, in allusion to an inconvenient piece of foppery, often mentioned in the middle ages. Leopold III., Archduke of Austria, called “ The handsome man-at-arms," was slain in the Battle of Sempach, with the flower of his chivalry.
“ I rede ye, shrive ye of your sins,
Before ye farther go;
May send your souls to woe.”
“ But where now shall we find a priest
Our shrift that he may hear?”–
He deals a penance drear.
“ Right heavily upon your head
He'll lay his hand of steel;
Your absolution deal.”—
'Twas on a Monday morning then,
The corn was steep'd in dew,
When the host to Sempach drew.
The stalwart men of fair Lucerne
Together have they join'd;
Was none cast looks behind.
It was the Lord of Hare-castle,
And to the Duke he said,
Will meet us undismay’d.”—
THE BATTLE OF SEMPACH.
'Twas when among our linden-trees
The bees had housed in swarms, (And grey-hair'd peasants say that these
Betoken foreign arms,)
“ O Hare-castle,3 thou heart of hare !"
Fierce Oxenstern replied.-
The taunted knight replied.
Then look'd we down to Willisow,
The land was all in flame;
With all his army came.
There was lacing then of helmets bright,
And closing ranks amain;
Might wellnigh load a wain.
1 This translation first appeared in Blackwood's Edinburgh the middle ages, of wearing boots with the points or peaks Magazine for February 1818.-ED.
turned upwards, and so long, that in some cases they were 8 All the Swiss clergy who were able to bear arms fought in fastened to the knees of the wearer with small chains. When this patriotic war
they alighted to fight upon foot, it would seem that the Aus 3 In the original, Haasenstein, or Hare-stone.
trian gentlemen found it necessary to cut off these peaks, that 4 This seems to allude to the preposterous fashion, during they might move with the necessary activity
“ Two gilded fishes in the lake
I was, by birth, of the house of Moringer. This lady This morning have I caught,
he supposes to have been Moringer's daughter, menTheir silver scales may much avail,
tioned in the ballad. He quotes the same authority Their carrion flesh is naught.”
for the death of Berckhold Von Neuffen, in the same
year. The editors, on the whole, seem to embrace the It was a messenger of woe
opinion of Professor Smith of Ulm, who, from the Has sought the Austrian land:
language of the ballad, ascribes its date to the 15th “Ah! gracious lady, evil news!
century. My lord lies on the strand.
The legend itself turns on an incident not peculiar
to Germany, and which, perhaps, was not unlikely to “At Sempach, on the battle-field,
happen in more instances than one, when crusaders His bloody corpse lies there.”—
abode long in the Holy Land, and their disconsolate “ Ah, gracious God!” the lady cried,
dames received no tidings of their fate. A story, very “ What tidings of despair!”
similar in circumstances, but without the miraculous
machinery of Saint Thomas, is told of one of the anNow would you know the minstrel wight
cient Lords of Haigh-hall in Lancashire, the patriWho sings of strife so stern,
monial inheritance of the late Countess of Balcarras; Albert the Souter is he hight,
and the particulars are represented on stained glass A burgher of Lucerne.
upon a window in that ancient manor house. 2
TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN.
II. “ 'Tis I have vow'd a pilgrimage unto a distant shrine,
And I must seek Saint Thomas-land, and leave the [1819.']
land that 's mine;
Here shalt thou dwell the while in state, so thou wilt The original of these verses occurs in a collection pledge thy fay, of German popular songs, entitled, Sammlung De it. That thou for my return wilt wait seven twelvemonths schen Volkslieder, Berlin, 1807, published by Messrs. and a day.” Busching and Von der Hagen, both, and more especially the last, distinguished for their acquaintance
III. with the ancient popular poetry and legendary history Then out and spoke that Lady bright, sore troubled of Germany.
in her cheer, In the German Editor's notice of the ballad, it is “ Now tell me true, thou noble knight, what order stated to have been extracted from a manuscript takest thou here; Chronicle of Nicolaus Thomann, chaplain to Saint And who shall lead thy vassal band, and hold thy Leonard in Weisenhorn, which bears the date 1533;
lordly sway, and the song is stated by the author to have been And be thy lady’s guardian true when thou art far generally sung in the neighbourhood at that early away?” seriod. Thomann, as quoted by the German Editor, seems faithfully to have believed the event he nar
IV. rates. He quotes tombstones and obituaries to prove Out spoke the noble Moringer, “ Of that have thou the existence of the personages of the ballad, and dis
no care, covers that there actually died, on the llth May 1349, There's many a valiant gentleman of me holds living a Lady Von Neuffen, Countess of Marstetten, who
1 The translation of the Noble Moringer appeared origi- tervals of exquisite pain, to his daughter Sophia, and his friend Dally in the Edinburgh Annual Register for 1816, (published William Laidlaw.-ED. See Life of Scott, vol. vi., p. 71. in 1819.) It was composed during Sir Walter Scott's severe 2 See Introduction to “ The Betrothed," Waverley Norels and alarming illness of April 1819, and dictated, in the in- vol. xxxvii.
The trustiest shall rule my land, my vassals and my And pledge thee for my Lady's faith till seven Icng state,
years are gone, And be a guardian tried and true to thee, my lovely And guard her as Our Lady dear was guarded by
XI. " As Christian-man, I needs must keep the vow which Marstetten's heir was kind and true, but fiery, hot,
I have plight, When I am far in foreign land, remember thy true And readily he answer made with too presumptuous knight;
tongue; And cease, rey dearest dame, to grieve, for vain were “ My noble lord, cast care away, and on your journey sorrow now,
wend, But grant thy Moringer his leave, since God hath And trust this charge to me until your pilgrimage heard his vow.”
XII. It was the noble Moringer from bed he made him “ Rely upon my plighted faith, which shall be truly boune,
tried, And met him there his Chamberlain, with ewer and To guard your lands, and ward your towers, and with with gown:
your vassals ride; He fiung the mantle on his back, 'twas furr'd with And for your lovely Lady's faith, so virtuous and so miniver,
dear, He dipp'd his hand in water cold, and bathed his I'll gage my head it knows no change, be absent thirty forehead fair.
XIII. “ Now hear,” he said, “ Sir Chamberlain, true vassal The noble Moringer took cheer when thus he heard art thou mine,
him speak, And such the trust that I repose in that proved worth And doubt forsook his troubled brow, and sorrow left of thine,
his cheek; For seven years shalt thou rule my towers, and lead A long adieu he bids to all—hoists topsails, and away, my vassal train,
And wanders in Saint Thomas-land seven twelve. And pledge thee for my Lady's faith till I return months and a day. again.”
It was the noble Moringer within an orchard slept, The Chamberlain was blunt and true, and sturdily When on the Baron's slumbering sense a boding vision said he,
crept; “ Abide, my lord, and rule your own, and take this And whisper'd in his ear a voice, “ 'Tis time, Sir rede from me;
Knight, to wake, That woman's faith 's a brittle trust-Seven twelve- Thy lady and thy heritage another master take.
months didst thou say? I'll pledge me for no lady's truth beyond the seventh
XV. fair day.”
“ Thy tower another banner knows, thy steeds another
And stoop them to another's will thy gallant vassa! The noble Baron turn'd him round, his heart was full train ;
And she, the Lady of thy love, so faithful once and His gallant Esquire stood him nigh, he was Marstet- fair, ten's heir,
This night within thy fathers' hall she weds Marste-tTo whom he spoke right arxiously, “ Thou trusty ten's heir."
squire to me, Wilt thou receive this weighty trust when I am o'er
XVI. the sea ?
It is the noble Moringer starts up and tears his beard,
« Oh would that I had ne'er been born! what tidings X.
have I heard ! “ To watch and ward my castle strong, and to protect To lose my lordship and my lands the less would be my land,
my care, And to the hunting or the host to lead my vassal But, God! that e'er a squire untrue should wed my band;