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The grave-stones, rudely sculptured o'er,
Yet one alone deserves our care.
And, on her doublet breast,
Lord Marmion's falcon crest.
That tied her tresses fair,
In ringlets rich and rare. Constance de Beverley they know, Sister profess'd of Fontevraud, Whom the church number'd with the
dead, For broken vows, and convent fled.
On iron table lay;3
By the pale cresset's ray:
She closely drew her veil:
And she with awe looks pale:
Whose look is hard and stern, Saint Cuthbert's Abbot is his style; For sanctity call’d, through the isle,
The Saint of Lindisfarne.
XXI. When thus her face was given to view, (Although so pallid was her hue, It did a ghastly contrast bear To those bright ringlets glistering fair,) Her look composed, and steady eye, Bespoke a matchless constancy; And there she stood so calm and pale, That, but her breathing did not fail, And motion slight of eye and head, And of her bosom, warranted That neither sense nor pulse she lacks, You might have thought a form of wax, Wrought to the very life, was there; So still she was, so pale, so fair.5
XXII. Her comrade was a sordid soul,
Such as does murder for a meed; Who, but of fear, knows no control, Because his conscience, sear'd and foul,
Feels not the import of his deed;
XX. Before them stood a guilty pair; But, though an equal fate they share,
I Antique chandelier.
5“ The picture of Constance before her judges, though more laboured than that of the voyage of the Lady Abbess, is not, to our taste, so pleasing; though it has beauty of a kind fally as popular."-JEFFREY.
“ I sent for • Marmion,' because it occurred to me there might be a resemblance between part of Parisina,' and a similar scene in the second canto of “Marmion.' I fear there is, though I never thought of it before, and could hardly wish to imitate that which is inimitable. I wish you would ask Mr. Gifford whether I ought to say any thing upon it. I had completed the story on the passage from Gibbon, which indeed leads to a like scene naturally, without a thought of the kind; but it comes upon me not very comfortably,"-Lord Byron to Mr. Murray, Feb. 3, 1916.-Compare :
Parisina's fatal charms
So large and slowly gather'd slid
It was a thing to see, not hear!
One, whose brute-feeling ne'er aspires!
Or thought more grace to gain, Beyond his own more brute desires.
If, in her cause, they wrestled down Such tools the Tempter ever needs,
Feelings their nature strove to own. To do the savagest of deeds ;
By strange device were they brought there, For them no vision'd terrors daunt,
They knew not how, nor knew not where. Their nights no fancied spectres haunt, One fear with them, of all most base,
XXV. The fear of death,-alone finds place.
And now that blind old Abbot rose, This wretch was clad in frock and cowl,
To speak the Chapter's doom, And shamed not loud to moan and howl,
On those the wall was to enclose, His body on the floor to dash,
Alive, within the tomb;* And crouch, like hound beneath the lash;
But stopp'd, because that woful Maid, While his mute partner, standing near,
Gathering her powers, to speak essay'd. Waited her doom without a tear.
Twice she essay'd, and twice in vain;
Her accents might no utterance gain; XXIII.
Nought but imperfect murmurs slip Yet well the luckless wretch might shriek,
From her convulsed and quivering lip; Well might her paleness terror speak!
'Twixt each attempt all was so still, For there were seen in that dark wall,
You seem’d to hear a distant rillTwo niches, narrow, deep and tall ;
'Twas ocean's swells and falls ; Who enters at such grisly door,
For though this vault of sin and fear Shall ne'er, I ween, find exit more.
Was to the sounding surge so near, In each a slender meal was laid,
A tempest there you scarce could hear, Of roots, of water, and of bread:
So massive were the walls.
At length, an effort sent apart Show'd the grim entrance of the porch:
The blood that curdled to her heart, Reflecting back the smoky beam,
And light came to her eye, The dark-red walls and arches gleam.
And colour dawn’d upon her cheek, Hewn stones and cement were display'd,
A hectic and a futter'd streak, And building tools in order laid.
Like that left on the Cheviot peak,
By Autumn's stormy sky;
And when her silence broke at length, These executioners were chose,
Still as she spoke she gather'd strength, As men who were with mankind foes,
And arm'd herself to bear. And with despite and envy fired,
It was a fearful sight to see Into the cloister had retired;
Such high resolve and constancy,
In form so soft and fair. 5
« I speak not to implore your grace, Such men the Church selected still,
Well know I, for one minute's space As either joyd in doing ill,
Successless might I sue:
To speak she thought-the imperfect note
Byrox's Works, vol. X. p. 171.
“One whose brute-feeling ne'er aspires." . See Appendix, Note 2 M. 8 MS.—" A feeble and a flutter'd streak,
Like that with which the mornings break
In Autumn's sober sky." 4 "Mr. S. has judiciously combined the horrors of the punishment with a very beautiful picture of the offender, so as to heighten the interest which the situation itself must necessarily excite; and the struggle of Constance to speak, before the fatal sentence, is finely painted."- Donthly Recicu.
6 MS.-" And mann'd herself to bear.
It was a fearful thing to see
In form so soft and fair;
But dreadful was her tale to tell."
For well I know one minute's space
Your mercy scarce would grant:
Your prayers I cannot want.
To fly with him I loved;
One way remain'd—the King's command
For Clara and for me:
A saint in heaven should be.
Nor do I speak your prayers to gain ;
Vain are your masses too.-
But did my fate and wish agree,
That loved, or was avenged, like me!
XXX. “And now my tongue the secret tells, Not that remorse my bosom swells, But to assure my soul that none Shall ever wed with Marmion. Had fortune my last hope betray'd, This packet, to the King convey'd, Had given him to the headsman's stroke, Although my heart that instant broke.Now, men of death, work forth your will, For I can suffer, and be still; And come he slow, or come he fast, It is but Death who comes at last.
Whose fate with Clare's was plight,
Their oaths are said,
Their lances in the rest are laid,
De Wilton to the block!'
Say, was Heaven's justice here?
Beneath a traitor's spear? How false the charge, how true he fell, This guilty packet best can tell.”— Then drew a packet from her breast, Paused, gather'd voice, and spoke the rest.
XXIX. “ Still was false Marmion's bridal staid; To Whitby's convent fled the maid, The hated match
shun. Ho! shifts she thus?' King Henry cried, 'Sir Marmion, she shall be thy bride,
If she were sworn a nun.'
XXXII. Fix'd was her look, and stern her air: Back from her shoulders stream'd her
hair; The locks, that wont her brow to shade, Stared up erectly from her head ;* Her figure seem'd to rise more high; Her voice, despair's wild energy Had given a tone of prophecy.
And faithless hath he proved;
And Constance loved no more-
Had wander'd Europe o'er.“
MS.-"Say, ye who preach the heavens decide
When in the lists the warriors ride." 2 The MS. adds—"His schemes reveal'd, his honour gone." 3 MS." And, witless of priests' cruelty."
aspiring from her headl." 4 MS. "Stared up iuncurling
Appalld the astonish'd conclave sate;
INTRODUCTION TO CANTO THIRD.
WILLIAM ERSKINE, Esq.5
Ashestiel, Ettrick Forest. Paced forth the judges three;
LIKE April morning clouds, that pass, Sorrow it were, and shame, to tell
With varying shadow, o'er the grass, The butcher-work that there befell,
And imitate, on field and furrow, When they had glided from the cell
Life's chequer'd scene of joy and sorrow; Of sin and misery.
Like streamlet of the mountain north,
Now in a torrent racing forth,
Now winding slow its silver train,
And almost slumbering on the plain; That conclave to the upper day ;*
Like breezes of the autumn day, But, ere they breathed the fresher air,
Whose voice inconstant dies away, They heard the shriekings of despair,
And ever swells again as fast, And many a stifled groan:
When the ear dtems its murmur past; With speed their upward way they take,
Thus various, my romantic theme (Such speed as age and fear can make,)
Flits, winds, or sinks, a morning dream. And cross'd themselves for terror's sake,
Yet pleased, our eye pursues the trace As hurrying, tottering on :
Of Light and Shade's inconstant race; Even in the vesper's heavenly tone,
Pleased, views the rivulet afar, They seem'd to hear a dying groan,
Weaving its maze irregular; And bade the passing knell to toll
And pleased, we listen as the breeze For welfare of a parting soul.
Heaves its wild sigh through Autumn trees ; Slow o'er the midnight wave it swung,
Then, wild as cloud, or stream, or gale,
Flow on, flow unconfined, my Tale!
Need I to thee, dear Erskine, tell
I love the license all too well, But slept ere half a prayer he said;
In sounds now lowly, and now strong, So far was heard the mighty knell,
To raise the desultory song!—6 The stag sprung up on Cheviot Fell,
Oft, when ʼmid such capricious chime, Spread his broad nostril to the wind,
Some transient fit of lofty rhyme Listed before, aside, behind,
To thy kind judgment seem'd excuse Then couch'd him down beside the hind,
For many an error of the muse, And quaked among the mountain fern,
Oft hast thou said, “ If, still mis-spent, To hear that sound so dull and stern.*
Thine hours to poetry are lent, 7
(to, and to tame thy wandering course,
On thee relenting Heaven bestows
« Or deem'st thou not our later time? Yields topic meet for classic rhyme ? Hast thou no elegiac verse For Brunswick's venerable hearse ? What! not a line, a tear, a sigh, When valour bleeds for liberty ?Oh, hero of that glorious time, When, with unrivall’d light sublime,-Though martial Austria, and though all The might of Russia, and the Gaul, Though banded Europe stood ber foes The star of Brandenburgh arose ! Thou couldst not live to see her beam For ever quench'd in Jena's stream, Lamented Chief !-it was not given To thee to change the doom of Heaven, And crush that dragon in its birth, Predestined scourge of guilty earth. Lamented Chief not thine the power, To save in that presumptuous hour, When Prussia hurried to the field, And snatch'd the spear, but left the shield ! Valour and skill 'twas thine to try, And, tried in vain, 'twas thine to die. mi bad it seem'd thy silver bair The last, the bitterest pang to share, For princedoms reft, and scutcheons riven, And birthrights to usurpers given; Thy land's, thy children's wrongs to feel, And witness woes thou couldst not heal!
“ Or of the Red-Cross hero* teach,
“ Or, if to touch such chord be thine, Restore the ancient tragic line, And emulate the notes that wrung From the wild harp, which silent hung By silver Avon's holy shore, Till twice an hundred years rolld o'er; When she, the bold Enchantress, came, With fearless hand and heart on fame! From the pale willow snatch'd the treasure, And swept it with a kindred measure, Till Avon's swans, while rung the grove With Montfort's hate and Basil's love, Awakening at the inspired strain, Deen'd their own Shakspeare lived again."
The general's eye, the pilot's aft,
1 MS." Dost thou not deem our later day
Yields topic meet for classic lay?
When valour bleeds for liberty?" MS_"For honour'd life an honour'd close
The boon which falling heroes crave,
3 " Scott seems to have communicated fragments of the poem very freely during the whole of its progtess. As early as the 22d February 1807, I find Mrs. Hayman acknowledging, in the name of the Princess of Wales, the receipt of a copy of the Introduction to Canto III., in which occurs the tribute to her royal highness's heroic father, mortally wounded the year before at Jena—a tribute so grateful to her feelings that she herself shortly after sent the poet an elegant silver vase as a memorial of her thankfulness. And ahout the same time the Marchioness of Abercorn expresses the delight with which both she and her lord had read the generous verses on Pitt and Fox in another of those epistles."— Life Scult, vol iii. p. 9. • Sir Sidney Smith.
Sir Ralph Abercromby. & Joanna Baillie.