« AnteriorContinuar »
From Branksome's highest towers display'd,
XXX. « Yet hear,” quoth Howard, “ calmly hear, Nor deein my words the words of fear: For who, in field or foray slack, Saw the blanche lion e'er fall back?? But thus to risk our Border flower In strife against a kingdom's power, Ten thousand Scots 'gainst thousands three, Certes, were desperate policy. Nay, take the terms the Ladye made, Ere conscious of the advancing aid : Let Musgrave meet fierce Deloraine? In single fight, and, if he gain, He gains for us; but if he's crossid, 'Tis but a single warrior lost : The rest, retreating as they came, Avoid defeat, and death, and shame."
Though much the Ladye sage gainsay'd; For though their hearts were brave and true, From Jedwood's recent sack they knew,
How tardy was the Regent's aid: And you may guess the noble Dame
Durst not the secret prescience own, Sprung from the art she might not name,
By which the coming help was known. Closed was the compact, and agreed
That lists should be enclosed with speed,
At the fourth hour from peep of dawn ;
XXXI. Ill could the haughty Dacre brook His brother Warden's sage rebuke; And yet his forward step he staid, And slow and sullenly obey'd. But ne'er again the Border side Did these two lords in friendship ride; And this slight discontent, men say, Cost blood upon another day.
Such combat should be made on horse,
Should shiver in the course:
In guise which now I say ;
In the old Douglas' day.
Or call his song untrue:
The Bard of Reull he slew, On Teviot's side, in fight they stood, And tuneful hands were stain'd with blood; Where still the thorn's white branches wave, Memorial o'er his rival's grave.
Before the castle took his stand;
The leaders of the Scottish band;
Vanquish the Knight of Deloraine,
Shall hostage for his clan remain :
Howe'er it falls, the English band,
Shall straight retreat to Cumberland.”
How Ousenam's maidens tore their hair, Wept till their eyes were dead and dim, And wrung their hands for love of him,
Who died at Jedwood Air ?
As paused: the listening dames again
Not that, in sooth, o'er mortal urn
Those things inanimate can mourn; In pity half, and half sincere,
But that the stream, the wood, the gale, Marvell’d the Duchess how so well
Is vocal with the plaintive wail His legendary song could tell
Of those, who, else forgotten long, Of ancient deeds, so long forgot;
Lived in the poet's faithful song, Of feuds, whose memory was not;
And, with the poet's parting breath, Of forests, now laid waste and bare ;
Whose memory feels a second death. Of towers, which harbour now the hare;
The Maid's pale shade, who wails her lot, Of manners, long since changed and gone;
That love, true love, should be forgot, Of chiefs, who under their grey stone
From rose and hawthorn shakes the tear So long had slept, that fickle Fame
Upon the gentle Minstrel's bier: Had blotted from her rolls their name,
The phantom Knight, his glory fled, And twined round some new minion's head
Mourns o'er the field he heap'd with dead; The fading wreath for which they bled;
Mounts the wild blast that sweeps amain, In sooth, 'twas strange, this old man's verse
And shrieks along the battle-plain. Could call them from their marble hearse.
The Chief, whose antique crownlet long
Still sparkled in the feudal song,
Sees, in the thanedom once his own,
His ashes undistinguish'd lie, For the vain tribute of a smile;
His place, his power, his memory die: E'en when in age their flame expires,
His groans the lonely caverns fill, Her dulcet breath can fan its fires :
His tears of rage impel the rill: Their drooping fancy wakes at praise,
All mourn the Minstrel's harp unstrung, And strives to trim the short-lived blaze.
Their name unknown, their praise unsung.
And Tweed's fair borders, to the war,
And Hepburn's mingled banners come,
And shouting still, “ A Home! a Home !” i
Those bands, so fair together rangel,
Had dyed with gore the green :
And in the groan of death;
Had found a bloody sheath. 'Twixt truce and war, such sudden change Was not infrequent, nor held strange,
In the old Border-day: 4 But yet on Branksome's towers and town, In peaceful merriment, sunk down
The sun's declining ray.
And how a day of fight was ta'en
And how the Ladye pray'd them dear,
To taste of Branksome cheer.
Loud hollo, whoop, or whistle ran,
clan; Avd revellers, o'er their bowls, proclaim Douglas or Dacre's conquering name.
How these two hostile armies met!
To keep the truce which here was set;
They met on Teviot's strand;
As brothers meet in foreign land:
Were interchanged in greeting dear;
Partook of social cheer.
With dice and draughts some chased the day;
Pursued the foot-ball play.
At length the various clamours died : And you might hear, from Branksome hill,
No sound but Teviot's rushing tide; Save when the changing sentinel The challenge of his watch could tell; And save, where, through the dark profound, The clanging axe and hammer's sound
Rung from the nether lawn; For many a busy hand toild there, Strong pales to shape, and beams to square, The lists' dread barriers to preparo
Against the morrow's dawn.
Despite the Dame's reproving eye;
Full many a stifled sigh;
And many a bold ally.-
VII. Yet, be it known, had bugles blown,
Or sign of war been seen,
9 Ibid. Note 3 T.
5 Ibid. Note 3 V.
See Appendix, Note 3 S. 3 A sort of knife or poniard
* See Appendix, Note 3 U. 6 This line is not in the first edition,
In broken sleep she lay:
Sorrow, and sin, and shame; By times, from silken couch she rose;
And death to Cranstoun's gailant Knight, While yet the banner'd hosts repose,
And to the gentie ladye bright, She view'd the dawning day:
Disgrace, and loss of fame. Of all the hundreds sunk to rest,
But earthly spirit could not tell First woke the loveliest and the best.
The heart of them that loved so well.
True love's the gift which God has given
To man alone beneath the heaven:
It is not fantasy's hot fire, Which in the tower's tall shadow lay;
Whose wishes, soon as granted, fly; Where coursers' clang, and stamp, and snort,
It liveth not in fierce desire, Tlad rung the livelong yesterday;
With dead desire it doth not die;
It is the secret sympathy,
Which heart to heart, and mind to mind,
In body and in soul can bind. Blessed Mary! can it be?
Now leave we Margaret and her Knight,
To tell you of the approaching fight.
Their warning blasts the bugles blew, Oh ! if one page's slumbers break,
The pipe's shrill port aroused each clan; His blood the price must pay!
In haste, the deadly strife to view, Not all the pearls Queen Mary wears,
The trooping warriors eager ran : Not Margaret's yet more precious tears,
Thick round the lists their lances stood, Shall buy his life a day.
Like blasted pines in Ettrick wood;
To Branksome many a look they threw,
The combatants' approach to view,
And bandied many a word of boast,
About the knight each favour'd most.
Meantime full anxious was the Dame; A knight from Hermitage.
For now arose disputed claim, Unchallenged thus, the warder's post,
Of who should fight for Deloraine, The court, unchallenged, thus he crossid,
'Twixt Harden and 'twixt Thirlestaine:8 For all the vassalage:
They 'gan to reckon kin and rent, But O! what magic's quaint disguise
And frowning brow on brow was bent; Could blind fair Margaret's azure eyes !
But yet not long the strife-for, lo! She started from her seat;
Himself, the Knight of Deloraine, While with surprise and fear she strove,
Strong, as it seem'd, and free from pain, And both could scarcely master love
In armour sheath'd from top to toe, Lord Henry 's at her feet.
Appear'd, and craved the combat due.
The Dame her charm successful knew,
And the fierce chiefs their claims withdrew.
When for the lists they sought the plain, For happy love's a heavenly sight,
The stately Ladye’s silken rein And by a vile malignant sprite
Did noble Howard hold; In such no joy is found;
Unarmed by her side he walk’d, And oft I've deem'd, perchance he thought
And much, in courteous phrase, they talk'd Their erring passion might have wrought
Of feats of arms of old.
! In the first edition, “ the silver cord;"—
“ Yes, love, indeed, is light from heaven;
A spark of that immortal fire
The Giaour. ? A martial piece of music, adapted to the bagpipes.
3 It may be noticed that the late Lord Napier, the represen. tative of the Scotts of Thirlestane, was Lord Lieutenant of Selkirkshire (of which the author was sheriff depute) at the time when the poem was written; the competitor for the honour of supplying Deloraine's place was the poet's own ancestor.- Ep.
4 See Canto III. Stanza xxiü.
Costly his garb—his Flemish ruff
He sayeth, that William of Deloraine Fell o'er his doublet, shaped of buff,
Is traitor false by Border laws; With satin slash'd and lined;
This with his sword he will maintain,
So help him God, and his good cause !"
“ Here standeth William of Deloraine, Hence, in rude phrase, the Borderers still
Good knight and true, of noble strain, Callid noble Howard, Belted Will.
Who sayeth, that foul treason's stain,
Since he bore arms, ne'er soild his coat;
. And that, so help him God above! Behind Lord Howard and the Dame,
He will on Musgrave's body prove,
He lies most foully in his throat.”
Forward, brave champions, to the fight!
Sound trumpets!”Of whitest roses bound;
LORD HOME. The lordly Angus, by her side,
-“ God defend the right!" In courtesy to cheer her tried ;
Then, Teviot! how thine echoes rang, Without his aid, her hand in vain
When bugle-sound and trumpet-clang Had strove to guide her broider'd rein.
Let loose the martial foes, He deem'd, she shudder'd at the sight
And in mid list, with shield poised high, Of warriors met for mortal fight;
And measured step and wary eye,
The combatants did close.
IlI would suit your gentle ear,
Ye lovely listeners, to hear
How to the axe the helms did sound,
And blood pour'd down from many a wound; An English knight led forth to view;
For desperate was the strife and long, Scarce rued the boy his present plight,
And either warrior fierce and strong. So much he long'd to see the fight.
But, were each dame a listening knight, Within the lists, in knightly pride,
I well could tell how warriors fight! High Home and haughty Dacre ride ;
For I have seen war's lightning flashing, Their leading staffs of steel they wield,
Seen the claymore with bayonet clashing, As marshals of the mortal field;
Seen through red blood the war-horse dashWhile to each knight their care assign'd
ing, Like vantage of the sun and wind.'
And scorn'd, amid the reeling strife,
To yield a step for death or life.-
"Tis done, 'tis done! that fatal blow 3 Aid to a champion to afford,
Has stretch'd him on the bloody plain; On peril of his life;
He strives to rise - Brave Musgrave, no! And not a breath the silence broke,
Thence never shalt thou rise again! Till thus the alternate Heralds spoke :
He chokes in blood-some friendly hand
Undo the visor's barred band,
Unfix the gorget's iron clasp,
And give him room for life to gasp ! “ Here standeth Richard of Musgrave,
O, bootless aid !-haste, holy Friar,* Good knight and true, and freely born,
Haste, ere the sinner shall expire ! Amends from Deloraine to crave,
Of all his guilt let him be shriven, For foul despiteous scathe and scorn.
And smooth his path from earth to heaven! 1 This couplet was added in the second edition.
ducted according to the strictest ordinances of chivalry, and 2 After this, in the first edition, we read only,
delineated with all the minuteness of an ancient romancer. “ At the last words, with deadly blows,
The modern reader will probably find it rather tedious; all
but the concluding stanzas, which are in a loftier measure-The ready warriors fiercely close.—ED.
• 'Tis done! 'tís done!'" &c. - JEFFREY, 1 " The whole scene of the duel, or judicial combat, is con
* First Edition, " In vain--In rain! baste, holy Friar"