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I will not tell thee when 'twas shred,
I'll couch me here till evening grey,
Then darkling try my dangerous way
The shades of eve come slowly down, And thou wilt bring it me again.-
The woods are wrapt in deeper brown, I waver still.-0 God! more bright
The owl awakens from her dell, Let reason beam her parting light !
The fox is heard upon the fell; 0! by thy knighthood's honour'd sign,
Enough remains of glimmering light And for thy life preserved by mine,
To guide the wanderer's steps aright. When thou shalt see a darksome man,
Yet not enough from far to show Who boasts him Chief of Alpine’s Clan,
His figure to the watchtui foe. With tartan's broad and shadowy plume,
With cautious step, and ear awake, And hand of blood, and brow of gloom,
He climbs the crag and threads the brake; Be thy heart bold, thy weapon strong,
And not the summer solstice, there, And wreak poor Blanche of Devan's wrong! Temper'd the midnight mountain air, They waich for thee by pass and fell ...
But every breeze, that swept the wold,
In dread, in danger, and alone,
Famish'd and chill'd, through ways unknown,
Tangled and steep, he journey'd on; Fast pour'd his eyes at pity’s claims,
Till, as a rock's huge point he turn'd, And now with mingled grief and ire,
A watch-fire close before him burn'd. He saw the murder'd maid expire. “ God, in my need, be my relief,
XXX. As I wreak this on yonder Chief !”
Beside its embers red and clear, 3 A lock from Blanche's tresses fair
Bask’d, in his plaid, a mountaineer; He blended with her bridegroom's bair;
And up he sprung with sword in hand, The mingled braid in blood he dyed,
“ Thy name and purpose! Saxon, stand !”And placed it on his bonnet-side:
“ A stranger.”_“ What dost thou require!”“ By Him whose word is truth! I swear,
“ Rest and a guide, and food and fire. No other favour will I wear,
My life's beset, my path is lost, Till this sad token I imbrue
The gale has chil!'d my limbs with frost."In the best blood of Roderick Dhu!
“ Art thou a friend to Roderick ?”_"No."— But hark! what means yon faint halloo?
“ Thou darest not call thyself a foe?” — The chase is up,—but they shall know,
“I dare! to him and all the band The stag at bay 's a dangerous foe.”
He brings to aid his murderous hand."-Barr'd from the known but guarded way,
“ Bold words !—but, though the beast of game Through copse and cliffs Fitz-James must stray, The privilege of chase may claim, And oft must change his desperate track,
Though space and law the stag we lend, By stream and precipice turn’d back.
Ere hound we slip, or bow we bend, Heartless, fatigued, and faint, at length,
Who ever reck’d, where, how, or when, From lack of food and loss of strength,
The prowling fox was trapp'd or slain ?5 He couch'd him in a thicket hoar,
Thus treacherous scouts,—yet sure they lie, And thought his toils and perils o’er:
Who say thou camest a secret spy!”“ Of all my rash adventures past,
“ They do, by heaven !--Come Roderick Dhu, This frantic feat must prove the last !
And of his clan the boldest two, Who e'er so mad but might have guess’d,
And let me but till morning rest, That all this Highland hornet’s nest
I write the falsehood on their crest."Would muster up in swarms so soon
“ If by the blaze I mark aright, As e'er they heard of bands at Doune!
Thou bear’st the belt and spur of Knight."Like bloodhounds now they search me out, “ Then by these tokens mayest thou know Hark, to the whistle and the sliout!-
Each proud oppressor's mortal foe.”If farther through the wilds I go,
“ Enough, enough; sit down and share I only fall upon the foe:
A soldier's couch, a soldier's fare.
4 MS.--" I dare! to him and all the swarm
He brings to aid his murderous armi"
I MS." But now, my chainpion,-it shall wave." 3 MS.—“God, in my need, to me be true,
As I wreak this on Roderick Dha." • MS. -" By the decaying flame was laid
A warrior in his Highland plaid."
8 See Appendix, Note 3 F.
And lights the fearful path on mountain side ;-
Fair as that beam, although the fairest far,
Giving to horror grace, to danger pride,
Shine martial Faith, and Courtesy's bright star,
Through all the wreckful storms that cloud the brow
That early beam, so fair and sheen,
Was twinkling through the hazel screen,
When, rousing at its glimmer red,
The warriors left their lowly bed,
Look'd out upon the dappled sky,
Mutter'd their soldier matins by,
And then awaked their fire, to steal,
As short and rude, their soldier meal.
That o'er, the Gaelaround him threw
His graceful plaid of varied hue,
And, true to promise, led the way,
By thicket green and mountain grey.
A wildering path !--they winded now
Along the precipice's brow,
Commanding the rich seenes beneath,
The windings of the Forth and Teith,
And all the vales beneath that lie,
Then, sunk in copse, their farthest glance
Gain’d not the length of horseman's lance.
'Twas oft so steep, the foot was fain
Assistance from the hand to gain;
So tangled oft, that, bursting through,
Each hawthorn shed her showers of dew,-
That diamond dew, so pure and clear,
It rivals all but Beauty's tear!
At length they came where, stern and steep,'
The hill sinks down upon the deep.
Here Vennachar in silver flows,
Beneath steep bank and threatening stone;
An hundred men might hold the post
The rugged mountain's scanty cloak
Was dwarfish shrubs of birch and oak,
With shingles bare, and cliffs between,
And patches bright of bracken green,
And heather black, that waved so high,
It held the copse in rivalry.
But where the lake slept deep and still,
Dank osiers fringed the swamp and hill;
And oft both path and hill were torn,
Where wintry torrents down had borne,
6 MS.-" At length they paced the mountain's side,
And saw beneath the waters wide."
I See Appendix, Note 3 G.
Purpled the mountain and the lake."
4 The Scottish Highlander calls himself Gael, or Gaul, and
6 MS.-" The rugged mountain's stunted screen
with clifts between." copse
And heap d upon the cumber'd land
Save as an outlaw'd desperate man, Its wreck of gravel, rocks, and sand.
The chief of a rebellious clan, So tvilsome was the road to trace,
Who, in the Regent's court and sight, The guide, abating of his pace,
With ruffian dagger stabb'd a knight : Led slowly through the pass's jaws,
Yet this alone might from his part
Wrothful at such arraignment foul,
Dark lower'd the clansman's sable scowl. • Brave Gael, my pass in danger tried,
A space he paused, then sternly said, Hangs in my belt, and by my side;
“ And heard'st thou why he drew his blade! Yet, sooth to tell," the Saxon said,
Heard'st thou that shameful word and blow “I dreamt not now to claim its aid.'
Brought Roderick’s vengeance on his foe! When here, but three days since, I came,
What reck'd the Chieftain if he stood Bewilder'd in pursuit of game,
On Highland heath, or Holy-Rood! All seem'd as peaceful and as still,
He rights such wrong where it is given, As the mist slumbering on yon hill;
If it were in the court of heaven.”— Thy dangerous Chief was then afar,
“ Still was it outrage ;-yet, 'tis true, Nor soon expected back from war.
Not then claim'd sovereignty his due; Thus said, at least, my mountain-guide,
While Albany, with feeble hand, Though deep, perchance, the villain lied.”_
Held borrow'd truncheon of command, “ Yet why a second venture try?”
The young King, mew'd in Stirling tower, “A warrior thou, and ask me why !
Was stranger to respect and power. Moves our free course by such fix'd cause,
But then, thy Chieftain's robber life As gives the poor mechanic laws :
Winning mean prey by causeless strife, Enough, I sought to drive away
Wrenching from ruin'd Lowland swain The lazy hours of peaceful day;
His herds and harvest rear'd in vain.-Slight cause will then suffice to guide
Methinks a soul, like thine, should scorn A Knight's free footsteps far and wide,_2
The spoils from such foul foray borne.” A falcon flown, a greyhound stray'd, The merry glance of mountain maid:
VII. Or, if a path be dangerous known,
The Gael beheld him grim the while, The danger's self is lure alone.”
And answer'd with disdainful smile,
“ Saxon, from yonder mountain high, V.
I mark'd thee send delighted eye, “ Thy secret keep, I urge thee not;—-3
Far to the south and east, where lay, Yet, ere again ye sought this spot,
Extended in succession gay, Say, heard ye nought of Lowland war,
Deep waving fields and pastures green, Against Clan-Alpine, raised by Mar ?"
With gentle slopes and groves between :_“No, by my word ;-of bands prepared
These fertile plains, that soften’d vale, To guard King James's sports I heard ;
Were once the birthright of the Gael; Nor doubt I aught, but, when they hear
The stranger came with iron hand, This muster of the mountaineer,
And from our fathers reft the land. Their pennons will abroad be flung,
Where dwell we now! See, rudely swell Which else in Doune had peaceful hung.”
Crag over crag, and fell o'er fell. “Free be they flung !—for we were loth
Ask we this savage hill we tread, Their silken folds should feast the moth.
For fatten'd steer or household bread; Free be they flung !-as free shall wave
Ask we for flocks these shingles dry, Clan-Alpine's pine in banner brave.
And well the mountain might reply,But, Stranger, peaceful since you came,
* To you, as to your sires of yore, Bewilder'd in the mountain game,
| Belong the target and claymore! Whence the bold boast by which you show
I give you shelter in my breast, Vich-Alpine's vow'd and mortal foe?”–
Your own good blades must win the rest.' “Warrior, but yester-morn, I knew
Pent in this fortress of the North, Nought of thy Chieftain, Roderick Dhu,
Think'st thou we will not sally forth,
I MS.--"I dream'd not now to draw my blade." 9 MS.-" My errant footsteps
far and wide." A knight's bold wanderings
3 MS.—" Thy secret keep, I ask it not."
To spoil the spoiler as we may,
Wild as the scream of the curlew,
IX. “ Have, then, thy wish !”-he whistled shrill, And he was answer'd from the hill;
1 See Appendix, Note 31.
breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. 2 MS.-" This dark Sir Roderick
So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came and his band." This savage Chieftain
into them, and they lived, and stodd up upon their feet, an ex. 3 MS.—“From conse to copse the signal fiew.
ceeding great army."-Chap. xxxvii. v. 9, 10. Instant, through copse and crags, arose."
7 MS.--"All silent, too, they stood, and still, 4 MS.-" The bracken bush shoots forth the dart."
Watching their leader's beck and will, 6 MS.-"And each lone tuft of broom gives life
While forward step and weapon show
They long to rush upon the foe,
Like the loose crags, whose tottering mass
Hung threatening o'er the hollow pass." & The Monthly reviewer says —" We now come to the chef-laurre of Walter Scott,-a scene of more vigour, nature, 8 David de Strathbogie Farl of Athole, when about to enand animation, than any other in all his poetry." Another gage Sir Andrew Moray at the battle of Kilhlupe, in 1335, is anonymous critic of the poem is not afraid to quote, with re
which he was slain, made an apostrophe of the same kind :ference to the effect of this passage, the sublime language of
“ — At a little path was there the Prophet Ezekiel :-" Then said he unto me, Prophesy
All samen they assembled were anto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind,
Even in the path was Earl Davy Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, 0
And to a great stone that lay by
Short space be stood, then waved his hand: And in the plover's shrilly stran,
The signal whistle heard again.
Nor breathed he free till far behind In broom or bracken, heath or wood;
The pass was left; for then they wind Sunk brand and spear and bended bow,
Along a wide and level green, In osiers pale and copses low;
Where neither tree nor tuft was seen, It seem'd as if their mother Earth
Nor rush por bush of broom was near,
To hide a bonnet or a spear.
The Chief in silence strode before, Where heath and fern were waving wide:
And reach'd that torrent's sounding shore, The sun's last glance was glinted back,
Which, daughter of three mighty lakes, From spear and glaive, from targe and
From Vennachar in silver breaks, jack,
Sweeps through the plain, and ceaseless nines The next, all unreflected, shone
On Bochastle the mouldering lines, On bracken green, and cold grey stone.
Where Rome, the Empress of the wurki,
Of yore her eagle wings unfurl d.6
And here his course the Chieftain staid,
And to the Lowland warrior said: Such apparition well might seem
“ Bold Saxon! to his promise just, Delusion of a dreadful dream.
Vich-Alpine has discharged his trust. Sir Roderick in suspense he eyed,
This murderous Chief, this ruthless man, And to his look the Chief replied,
This head of a rebellious clan, * Fear nought-nay, that I need not say
Hath led thee safe, through watch and ward, But-doubt not aught from mine array.
Far past Clan-Alpine's outmost guard. Thou art my guest ;-I pledged my word
Now, man to man, and steel to steel, As far as Coilantogie ford:
A Chieftain's vengeance thou shalt feel. Nor would I call a clansman's brand
See here, all vantageless I stand, For aid against one valiant hand,'.
Arm'd, like thyself, with single brand :: Though on our strife lay every vale
For this is Coilantogle ford,
And thou must keep thee with thy sword.”
The Saxon paused :-“ I ne'er delay d, Without a pass from Roderick Dhu.”3
When foeman bade me draw my blade; They moved :-I said Fitz-James was braie,
Nay, more, brave Chief, I vow'd thy death: As ever knight that belted glaive;
Yet sure thy fair and generous faith, Yet dare not say, that now his blood
And my deep debt for life preserved, Kept on its wont and temper'd flood,
A better meed have well deserved : As, following Roderick's stride, he drew
Can nought but blood our feud atone ? That seeming lonesome pathway through,
Are there no means !"_“ No, Stranger, none ! Which yet, by fearful proof, was rife
And hear,-to fire thy flagging zeal,With lances, that, to take his life,
The Saxon cause rests on thy steel; Waited but signal from a guide,
For thus spoke Fate, by prophet bred So late dishonour'd and defied.
Between the living and the dead; Ever, by stealth, his eye sought round
• Who spills the foremost foeman's life, The vanish'd guardians of the ground,
His party conquers in the strife.' And still, from copse and heather deep,
“ Then, by my word,” the Saxon said, Fancy saw spear and broadsword peep,*
“ The riddle is already read.
He said By God his face, we twa
him safely on his way the next morning, although he has The flight on us shall samen * ta."
spoken threatening and violent words against Roderick,
whose kinsman the mountaineer professes himself to be, * At the same time or together.
these circumstances are all admirably imagined and related." Note in the Author's MS. nol affixed to any former edition - jionthly Revicu. of the poem.
3 See Appendix, Note 3 K. 1 MS._" For kid against one brave-man's hand."
* MS.--" And still, from copse and heather bush, 3 " This scene is excellently described. The frankness and
Fancy saw spear and broadsword rush." high-souled courage of the two warriors,-the reliance which 6 MS.-"On Bochastle the martial lines." the Lowlander places on the word of the Highlander to guide 6 See Appendix, Note 3 L
7 I bid, Xote 3 M.