« AnteriorContinuar »
The Lord of the Isles.
ADVERTISEMENT TO THE FIRST EDITION.
The scene of this Poem lies, at first, in the Castle of Artornish, on the coast of Argyleshire ; and, afterwards, in the Islands of Skye and Arran, and upon the coast of Ayrshire. Finally, it is laid near Stirling. The story opens in the spring of the year 1307, when Bruce, who had been driven out of Scotland by the English, and the Barons who adhered to that foreign interest, returned from the Island of Rachrin on the coast of Ireland, again to assert his claims to the Scottish crown. Many of the personages and incidents introduced are of historical celebrity. The authorities used are chiefly those of the venerable Lord Hailes, as well entitled to be called the restorer of Scottish history, as Bruce the restorer of Scottish monarchy; and of Archdeacon Barbour, a correct edition of whose Metrical History of Robert Bruce will soon, I trust, appear, under the care of my learned friend, the Rev. Dr. Jamieson.
ABBOTSFORD, 10th December, 1814.9
· The work alluded to appeared in 1820, under the title of presumc, to match that of 'The Lady of the Lake;' hut there * The Bruce and Wallace." 2 vols. 4to.
is no analogy in the stories--nor does the title, on this occa2 "Here is another genuine lay of the great Minstrel, with sion, correspond very exactly with the contents. It is no unall his characteristic faults, beauties, and irregularities. The usual misfortune, indeed, for the author of a modern Epic to same glow of colouring-the same energy of narration-the have his hero turn out but a secondary personage, in the grasame amplitude of description, are conspicuous here, which dual unfolding of the story, while some unruly underling runs distinguish all his Other productions : with the same still more off with the whole glory and interest of the poem. But here characteristic disdain of puny graces and small originalities, the author, we conceive, must have been aware of the misthe true poetical hardihood, in the strength of which he urges nomer from the beginning; the true, and indeed the ostenon his Pegasus fearlessly through dense and rare, and aiming sible hero being, from the very first, no less a person than gallantly at the great ends of truth and effect, stoops but King Robert Bruce."--Edinburgh Revicư, No. xlviii. 1815 rarely to study the means hy which they are to be attained -- “If it be possible for a poet to bestow upon his writings a avails himself, without scruple. of common sentiments and superfluous degree of care and correction, it may also be poscommon images wherever they seem fitted for his purposes sible, we should suppose, to bestow too little. Whether this and is original by the very boldness of his borrowing, and im- be the case in the poem before us, is a point upon which Mr. pressive by his disregard of epigram and emphasis.
Scott can possibly form a much more competent judgment "Though bearing all these marks of the master's hand, the than ourselves; we can only say, that without possessing work before us does not come up, in interest, to the Lady of greater beauties than its predecessors, it has certain violations the lake, or even to Marmion. There is less connected story; of propriety, both in the language and in the composition of and, what there is, is less skilfully complicated and disen- the story, of which the former efforts of his muse afforded tangled, and less diversified with change of scene, or variety neither so many nor such striking examples. of character. In the scantiness of the narrative, and the "We have not now any quarrel with Mr. Scott on account broken and discontinuous order of the events, as well as the in- of the measure which he has chosen; still less on account of artificial insertion of detached descriptions and morsels of his subjects : we believe that they are both of them not only ethical reflection, it bears more resemblance to the earliest of pleasing in themselves, but well adapted to each other, and the author's greater productions; and suggests a corrison, to the bent of his peculiar genius. On the contrary, it is beperhaps not altogether to his advantage, with the structura cause we admire his genius, and are partial to the subjects and execution of the Lay of the Last Minstrel :-for though which he delights in, that we so much regret he should leave there is probably more force and substance in the latter parts room for any difference of opinion respecting them, merely of the present work, it is certainly inferior to that enchanting from not bestowing upon his publications that common degree performance in delicacy and sweetness, and even-is it to be of labour and meditation which we cannot help saying it is wondered at, after four such publications ?- in originality. scarcely decorous to withhold."- Quarterly Review, No. IXVI.
"The title of. The Lord of the Isles,' has been adopted, we July, 1816.
So shalt thou list, and haply not unmored,
To a wild tale of Albyn's warrior day;
"T'is known amid the pathless wastes of Reay, AUTUMN departs—but still his mantle's fold In Harries known, and in Iona's piles, Rests on the groves of noble Somerville,
Where rest from mortal coil the Mighty of the Isles.
And yet some tints of summer splendour tell
“ WAKE, Maid of Lorn!” the Minstrels sung.
Thy rugged halls, Artornish! rung, 5
The diapason of the Deep.
As if wild woods and waves bad pleasure
Gave mountain echoes answer meet,
Since, met from mainland and from isle, Deem'st thou these saddend scenes have pleasure Ross, Arran, Ilay, and Argyle, still,
Each minstrels tributary lay Lovest thou through Autumn's fading realms to Paid homage to the festal day. stray,
Dull and dishonour'd were the bard, To see the heath-flower wither'd on the hill,
Worthless of guerdon and regard, To listen to the wood’s expiring lay,
Deaf to the hope of minstrel fame, To note the red leaf shivering on the spray,
Or lady's smiles, his noblest aim, To mark the last bright tints the mountain stain, Who on that morn's resistless call On the waste fields to trace the gleaner's way,
Were silent in Artornish hall. And moralize on mortal joy and pain! 0! if such scenes thou lovest, scorn not the minstrel
“ Wake, Maid of Lorn!” 'twas thus they sung,
And yet more proud the descant rung,
To charm dull sleep? from Beauty's bowers;
Rude Heiskar’s seal through surges dark
To list his notes, the eagle proud found.
Will poise him on Ben-Cailliach's cloud;
1 John, fifteenth Lord Somerville, illustrious for his patrio- Gala here stands for the poet's neighbour and kinsman, and tic devotion to the science of agriculture, resided freqnently much attached friend, John Scott, Esq. of Gala.
3 MS. in his beautiful villa called the Pavilion, situated on the Tweed
"an humble gleaner l."
4 MS. over against Melrose, and was an intimate friend and almost
"the aged of Skye." daily companion of the poet, from whose windows at Abbots. 5 See Appendix, Note A. ford his lordship's plantations formed a prominent object.
6 MS.-“ dlade mountain echoes," &c Lord S. died in 1819.
-" for right is oun 2 The river Gala, famous in song, flows into the Tweed a
To summon sleep," &c. few hundred yards below Abbotsford, but probably the word * See Appendix, Note B.
Then let not Maiden's ear disdain
Her locks, in dark-brown length array'd,
III. “O wake, while Dawn, with dewy shine, Wakes Nature's charms to vie with thine! She bids the mottled thrush rejoice 'To mate thy melody of voice; The dew that on the violet lies Mocks the dark lustre of thine eyes ; But, Edith, wake, and all we see Of sweet and fair shall yield to thee!”. “ She comes not yet,” grey Ferrand cried; “ Brethren, let softer spell be tried, Those notes prolong’d, that soothing theme, Which best may mix with Beauty's dream, And whisper, with their silvery tone, The hope she loves, yet fears to own.” He spoke, and on the harp-strings died The strains of flattery and of pride; More soft, more low, more tender fell The lay of love he bade them tell.
VI. 0! lives there now so cold a maid, Who thus in beauty's pomp array'd, In beauty's proudest pitch of power, And conquest won-the bridal hourWith every charm that wins the heart, By Nature given, enhanced by Art, Could yet the fair reflection view, In the bright mirror pictured true, And not one dimple on her cheek A tell-iale consciousness bespeak?Lives still such maid ?-Fair damsels, say, For further vouches not my lay, Save that such lived in Britain's isle, When Lorn's bright Edith scorn d to smile.
IV. “ Wake, Maid of Lorn! the moments fly,
Which yet that maiden-name allow; Wake, Maiden, wake! the hour is nigh,
When Love shall claim a plighted vow. By Fear, thy bosom's fluttering guest,
By Hope, that soon shall fears remove, We bid thee break the bonds of rest,
And wake thee at the call of Love!
“ Wake, Edith, wake! in yonder bay
Lies many a galley gaily mann'd, We hear the merry pibrochs play,
We see the streamers' silken band. What Chieftain's praise these pibrochs swell,
What crest is on these banners wove, The harp, the minstrel, dare not tell
The riddle must be read by Love."
VII. But Morag, to whose fostering care Proud Lorn had given his daughter fair, Morag, who saw a mother's aid 3 By all a daughter's love repaid, (Strict was that bond-most kind of all Inviolate in Highland hall) -Grey Morag sate a space apart, In Edith's eyes to read her heart. In vain the attendants' fond appeal To Morag's skill, to Morag's zeal; She mark'd her child receive their care, Cold as the image sculptured fair, (Form of some sainted patroness,). Which cloister'd maids combine to dress; She mark'd-and knew her nursling's
heart In the vain pomp took little part. Wistful a while she gazed—then press'd The maiden to her anxious breast In finish'd loveliness- and led To where a turret's airy head, Slender and steep, and battled round, O'erlook'd, dark Mull! thy mighty Sound,
V. Retired her maiden train among, Edith of Lorn received the song,' But tamed the minstrel's pride had been That had her cold demeanour seen; For not upon her cheek awoke The glow of pride when Flattery spoke, Nor could their tenderest numbers bring One sigh responsive to the string. As vainly had her maidens vied In skill to deck the princely bride.
1 MS." Retired amid her medial train,
Edith of Lorn received the strain." * MS.-" The train upon the pavement
flow'd." Then to the floor descending
3 MS." But Morag, who the maid had pressid,
An infant, to her fostering breast,
And seen a mother's early aid," &c. + See Appendix, Note C.
Where thwarting tides, with mingled roar,
Telling of banners proudly borne, Part thy swarth hills from Horren's shore.
Of paling bell and bugle-horn,
Or, theme more dear, of robes of price,
Crownlets and gauds of rare device. “ Daughter,” she said, “ these seas behold,
But thou, experienced as thou art, Round twice a hundred islands rollid,
Think'st thou with these to cheat the heart, From Hirt, that hears their northern roar,
That, bound in strong affection's chain, To the green Ilay's fertile shore;'
Looks for return and looks in vain? Or mainland turn, where many a tower
No! sum thine Edith's wretched lot
In these brief words—He loves her not!
« Debate it not-too long I strove O'erawes the woodland and the waste,
To call his cold observance love, To where Dunstaffnage hears the raging
All blinded by the league that styled Of Connal with his rocks engaging.
Edith of Lorn,-while yet a child, Think'st thou, amid this ample round,
She tripp'd the heath by Morag's side, A single brow but thine has frown'u,
The brave Lord Ronald's destined bride. To sadden this auspicious morn,
Ere yet I saw him, while afar That bids the daughter of high Lorn
His broadsword blazed in Scotland's war, Impledge her spousal faith to wed
Train'd to believe our fates the same, The heir of mighty Somerled! 4
My bosom throbb'd when Ronald's name Ronald, from many a hero sprung,
Came gracing Farr.e's heroic tale, The fair, the valiant, and the young,
Like perfume on the summer gale. LORD OF THE ISLES, whose lofty names
What pilgrim sought our halls, nor told A thousand bards have given to fame,
Of Ronald's deeds in battle bold; The mate of monarchs, and allied
Who touch'd the harp to heroes' praise, On equal terms with England's pride.
But his achievements swellid the lays? From chieftain's tower to bondsman's cot,
Even Morag-not a tale of fame Who hears the tale, and triumphs not?
Was hers but closed with Ronald's name. The damsel dons her best attire,
lle came! and all that had been told The shepherd lights his beltane fire,
Of his high worth seem'd poor and cold, Joy, joy! each warder's horn hath sung,
Tame, lifeless, void of energy,
Unjust to Ronald and to me!
.“ Since then, what thought had Edith's heart Of heart so dull, of soul so poor,
And gave not plighted love its part! But he hath flung his task aside,
And what requital?? cold delayAnd claim'd this morn for holy-tide;
Excuse that shunn'd the spousal day.Yet, empress of this joyful day,
It dawns, and Ronald is not here ! Edith is sad while all are gay.”—
Hunts he Bentalla's nimble deer, 8
Or loiters he in secret dell
To bid some lighter love farewell,
And swear, that though he may not scorn Resentment check'd the struggling sig.
A daughter of the House of Lorn, Her hurrying hand indignapt dried
Yet, when these formal rites are o'er, The burning tears of injured pride
Again they meet, to part no more?” “ Morag, forbear! or lend thy praise To swell yon bireling harpers' lays;
XII. Make to yon maids thy boast of power,
-“ Hush, daughter, hush! thy doubts remore, That they may waste a wondering hour,
More nobly think of Ronald's love.
1 See Appendix, Note D. 3 MS.
-“father's feudal power." 3 See Appendix, Note E. 4 See Appendix, Note F. 5 See Appendix, Note O OMS.-“The news,"
7 MS." When, from that hour, had Edith's heart
A thought, and Ronald lack'd his part!
And what her guerdon ?" 8 MS." And on its dawn the bridegroom lags;
Hunts he Bentalla's nimble stags?" 9 See Appendix, Note H.