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There never toild 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, 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 ;5 And in his hand he held prepared, A naked sword without a guard.
Gramercy,' quoth our Monarch free,
XXIII. “ Soon as the midnight bell did ring, Alone, and armd, forth rode the King
To that old camp's deserted round :?
A royal city, tower and spire,
And shouting crews her navy bore,
Triumphant, to the victor shore. The moor around is brown and bare,
Such signs may learned clerks explain,
They pass the wit of simple swain.
“ The joyful King turu'd home again, That treads its circle in the night!
Headed his host, and quell'd the Dane; 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 ;6 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 3 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, Compell’d 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, 9 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,
A part, 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 190L. see Southey's Life of Nelson, chap. vii.
& See Appendix, Note 2 U.
1 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.
Oppress'd with toil and ale, they lay;
Lightly he dreamt, as youth will dream,
Wonder it seem'd, in the squire's eyes,
Should, stirr'd by idle tale,
Array'd in plate and mail.
Unfix the strongest mind;
Guide confident, though blind.
XXVIII. -“ Fitz-Eustace ! rise, I cannot rest; Yon churl's wild legend haunts my breast, And graver thoughts have chafed my mood: The air must cool my feverish blood; And fain would I ride forth, to see The scene of elfin chivalry. Arise, and saddle me my steed ; : And, gentle Eustace, take good heed Thou dost not rouse these drowsy slaves; I would not, that the prating knaves Had cause for saying, o'er their ale, That I could credit such a tale.”Then softly down the steps they slid, Eustace the stable door undid, And, darkling, Marmion’s steed array'd, While, whispering, thus the Baron said :
Come town-ward rushing on;
Return'd Lord Marmion. Down hastily he sprung from selle, And, in his haste, wellnigh he fell; To the squire's hand the rein he threw, And spoke no word as he withdrew: But yet the moonlight did betray, The falcon-crest was soil'd with clay; And plainly might Fitz-Eustace see, By stains upon the charger's knee, And his left side, that on the moor He had not kept his footing sure. Long musing on these wondrous signs, At length to rest the squire reclines, Broken and short; for still, between, Would dreams of terror intervene : Eustace did ne'er so blithely mark The first notes of the morning lark.
XXIX. “ Did'st never, good my youth, hear tell,
That on the hour when I was born, Saint George, who graced my sire's chapelle, Down from his steed of marble fell,
A weary wight forlorn ? The flattering chaplains all agree, The champion left his steed to me. I would, the omen's truth to show, That I could meet this Elfin Foe !3 Blithe would I battle, for the right To ask one question at the sprite :Vain thought! for elves, if elves there be, An empty race, by fount or sea, To dashing waters dance and sing," Or round the green oak wheel their ring." Thus speaking, he his steed bestrode, And from the hostel slowly rode.
INTRODUCTION TO CANTO FOURTH.
XXX. Fitz-Eustace followed him abroad, And mark'd him pace the village road, And listen’d to his horse's tramp,
Till, by the lessening sound, He judged that of the Pictish camp
Lord Marmion sought the round.
JAMES SKENE, Esq. 6
Ashestiel, Ettrick Forest, An ancient Minstrel sagely said, “ Where is the life which late we led ?” That motley clown in Arden wood, Whom humorous Jacques with envy view'd,
I MS." But, ere his dagger Eustace drew,
It spoke-Lord Marmion's voice he knew." 2 MS.-" 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." 5 Yode, used by old poets for toent.
6 James Skene, Esq. of Rubislaw, Aberdeenshire, was Cornet in the Royal Edinburgh Light Horse Volunteers; and Sir Walter Scott was Quartermaster of the same corps.
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 waruri, 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 months, 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,-? 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 the aid he sought in vain, The shepherd, who in summer sun,
The morn may find the stiffen'd swain : 8 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;
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 MS.-"Unsheath'd the voluntary brand."
8 Various illustrations of the Poetry and Novels of Sir
And loud winds speak the storm begun." 8 MS.-"Till thickly drives the flaky snow,
And forth the hardy swain must go,
6 MS.--"The frozen blast that sweeps the fells."
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."
in Thomson's Winter.-See Appendix, Note 8 V.
Nor, though it wake thy sorrow, deem My verse intrudes on this sad theme; For sacred was the pen that wrote,
Thy father's friend forget thou not:" And grateful title may I plead, 8 For many a kindly word and deed, To bring my tribute to his grave: 'Tis little-but 'tis all I have.
Changes not so with us, my Skene, Of human life the varying scene ? Our youthful summer oft we see a Dance by on wings of game and glee, While the dark storm reserves its rage, Against the winter of our age: As he, the ancient Chief of Troy, His manhood spent in peace and joy; But Grecian fires, and loud alarms, Call'd ancient Priam forth to arms.* Then happy those, since each must drain His share of pleasure, share of pain,Then happy those, beloved of Heaven, To whom the mingled cup is given; Whose lenient sorrows find relief, Whose joys are chasten’d by their grief. And such a lot, my Skene, was thine, When thou of late, wert doom'd to twineJust when thy bridal hour was by, The cypress with the myrtle tie. Just on thy bride her Sire had smiled, And bless'd the union of his child, When love must change its joyous cheer, And wipe affection's filial tear. Nor did the actions next his end, Speak more the father than the friend : Scarce had lamented Forbes' paid The tribute to his Minstrel's shade; The tale of friendship scarce was told, Ere the narrator's heart was cold Far may we search before we find A heart so manly and so kind! But not around his honour'd urn, Shall friends alone and kindred mourn; The thousand eyes his care had dried, Pour at his name a bitter tide; And frequent falls the grateful dew, For benefits the world ne'er knew. If mortal charity dare claim The Almighty's attributed name, Inscribe above his mouldering clay, “ The widow's shield, the orphan's stay."
To thee, perchance, this rambling strain Recalls our summer walks again; When, doing nought,-and, to speak true, Not anxious to find aught to do,The wild unbounded hills we ranged, While oft our talk its topic changed, And, desultory as our way, Ranged, unconfined, from grave to gay. Even when it flagg'd, as oft will chance, No effort made to break its trance, We could right pleasantly pursue Our sports in social silence too;' Thou gravely labouring to portray The blighted oak’s fantastic spray; I spelling o'er, with much delight, The legend of that antique knight, Tirante by name, yclep'd the White. At either's feet a trusty squire, Pandour and Camp, with eyes
fire, Jealous, each other's motions view'd, And scarce suppress'd their ancient feud." The laverock whistled from the cloud; The stream was lively, but not loud; From the white thorn the May-flower shed Its dewy fragrance round our head : Not Ariel lived more merrily Under the blossom’d bough, than we.
And blithesome nights, too, have been ours,
1 The Scottish Harvest-home.
To Marion's blithely blinking eye." * MS.-"Our youthful summer oft we see
Dance by on wings of mirth and glee,
To crush the winter of our age." * MS.—"Callid forth his feeble age to arms." 6 MS.—“Scarce on thy bride her sire had smiled." & MS.—"But even the actions next his end,
Spoke the fond sirr and faithful frici.
7 See Appendix, Note 2 W.
10 Camp was a favourite dog of the Poet's, a bull terrier of extraordinary sagacity. He is introduced in Raeburn's portrait of Sir Walter Scott, now at Dalkeith Palace.--Ed.
11 MS.--"Till oft our voice suppressid the feud." 12 MS.—“When light we heard what now I bear."
18 Colin Mackenzie, Esq. of Portmore, one of the Principal Clerks of Session at Edinburgh, and through life an intimale friend of Sir Walter Scott, died on 10th September 1890).- EÐ