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He placed the golden circlet on,
They say my brain is warp'd and wrungI cannot sleep on Highland brae,
I cannot pray in Highland tongue. But were I now where Allan3 glides, Or heard my native Devan's tides, So sweetly would I rest, and pray That Heaven would close my wintry day!
XX. All in the Trosach’s glen was still, Noontide was sleeping on the hill : Sudden his guide whoop'd loud and high“ Murdoch! was that a signal cry?” lle stammer'd forth,--“ I shout to scare? Yon raven from his dainty fare.” He look’d-he knew the raver.'s prey, His own brave steed:—“Ah! gallant grey! For thee—for me, perchance'twere well We ne'er had seen the Trosach's dell. Murdoch, move first-but silently; Whistle or whoop, and thou shalt die!” Jealous and sullen on they fared, Each silent, each upon his guard.
'Twas thus my hair they bade me braid,
They made me to the church repair; It was my bridal morn they said,
And my true love would meet me there. But woe betide the cruel guile, That drown’d in blood the morning sinile ! And woe betide the fairy dream! I only waked to sob and scream.
XXI. Now wound the path its dizzy ledge Around a precipice's edge, When lo! a wasted female form, Blighted by wrath of sun and storm, In tatter'd weeds and wild array, Stood on a cliff beside the way, And glancing round her restless eye, Upon the wood, the rock, the sky, Seem'd nought to mark, yet all to spy. Her brow was wreath'd with gaudy broom; With gesture wild she waved a plume Of feathers, which the eagles fling To crag and cliff from dusky wing; Such spoils her desperate step had sought, Where scarce was footing for the goat. The tartan plaid she first descried, And shriek'd till all the rocks replied ; As loud she laugh'd when near they drew, For then the Lowland garb she knew; And then her hands she wildly wrung, And then she wept, and then she sungShe sung !--the voice, in better time, Perchance to harp or lute might chime; And now, though strain’d and roughen’d, still Rung wildly sweet to dale and hill.
XXIII. “ Who is this maid? what means her lay? She hovers o'er the hollow way, And flutters wide her mantle grey, As the lone heron spreads his wing, By twilight, o'er a haunted spring." “ 'Tis Blanche of Devan,” Murdoch said, “ A crazed and captive Lowland maid,“ Ta'en on the morn she was a bride, When Roderick foray'd Deran-side. The gay bridegroom resistance made, And felt our Chief's unconquer'd blade, I marvel she is now at large, But oft she 'scapes from Maudlin's charge.Hence, brain-sick fool!”—He raised his bow : “ Now, if thou strikest her but one blow, I'll pitch thee from the cliff as far As ever peasant pitch'd a bar!”
Thanks, champion, thanks!” the Maniao
My name and this shall make thy way.' He put the little signet on."
I MS.—" He stammer'd forth confused reply: • Saxon,
}1 shouted but to scare Sir Knight
Yon raven from his dainty fare.'" : MS.--"Wrapp'd in a tatter'd mantle grey." 8 The Allan and Devan are two beautiful streams, the latter
celebrated in the poetry of Burns, which descend from the hills of Perthshire into the great carse or plain of Stirling. 4 MS.--"*A Saxon born, a crazy maid
"Tis Blanche of Devan,' Murdoch said." 6 MS.--"With thee these pennons will I share,
Then seek my true love through the air." 6 MS.—“ But I'll not lend that savage groom,
To break his fall, one downy plume!
XXIV. " Hlush thee, poor maiden, and be still !”— * 0! thou look’st kindly, and I will.Mine eye has dried and wasted been, But still it loves the Lincoln green; And, though mine ear is all unstrung, Still, still it loves the Lowland tongue.
“ For O my sweet William was forester true,'
He stole poor Blanche's heart away! His coat it was all of the greenwood hue,
And so blithely he trill'd the Lowland lay!
« It was not that I meant to tell . .. But thou art wise and guessest well.” Then, in a low and broken tone,
a And hurried note, the song went on. Still on the Clansman, fearfully, She fix'd her apprehensive eye; Then turn’d it on the Knight, and then Her look glanced wildly o’er the glen.
Not like a stag that spies the snare,
XXV. “ The toils are pitch'd, and the stakes are set,
Ever sing merrily, merrily; The bows they bend, and the knives they
whet, Hunters live so cheerily.
" It was a stag, a stag of ten,
Bearing its branches sturdily; He came stately down the glen,
Ever sing hardily, hardily.
“ It was there he met with a wounded doe,
She was bleeding deathfully; She warn'd him of the toils below,
0, so faithfully, faithfully!
XXVII. She sate beneath the birchen-tree, Her elbow resting on her knee; She had withdrawn the fatal shaft, And gazed on it, and feebly laugh'd; Her wreath of broom and feathers grey, Daggled with blood, beside her lay. The Knight to stanch the life-stream tried,
Stranger, it is in vain!” she cried. “ This hour of death has given me more Of reason's power than years before; For, as these ebbing veins decay, My frenzied visions fade away. A helpless injured wretch I die,? And something tells me in thine eye, That thou wert mine avenger born.-Seest thou this tress!-O! still I've worn This little tress of yellow hair, Through danger, frenzy, and despair ! It once was bright and clear as thine, But blood and tears have dimm'd its shine.
I MS.--"Sweet William was a woodsman true,
He stole poor Blanche's heart away!
And sweet he sung the Lowland lay." • Having ten branches on his antlers.
3 “No machinery can be conceived more clumsy for effectIng the deliverance of a distressed hero, than the introduction of a mad woman, who, without knowing or caring about the wanderer, warns him by a song, to take care of the ambush that was set for him. The maniacs of poetry have indeed had a prescriptive right to be musical, since the days of Ophelia downwards; but it is rather a rash extension of this privilege
to make them sing good sense, and to make sensible peupis be guided by them."-JEFFREY. 4 MS.-" Forth at full speed the Clansman went;
But in his race his bow he bent,
Halted--and back an arrow sent." 5 MS.
“It may not be
The thrust beiwixt his shoulder came." 6 MS.—“ Then o'er him hung, with falcon eye
And grimly smiled to see him die." . MS.-" A guiltless injured wretch I die.“
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.–O 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 dark some man,
Yet not enough from far to show Who boasts him Chief of Alpine’s Clan,
His figure to the watchfui 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 watch for thee by pass and fell ...
But every breeze, that swept the wold, Avoid the path ...0 God! ... farewell.”
Benumb'd his drenched limbs with cold.
In dread, in danger, and alone,
Famish'd and chill’d, through ways unknown, A kindly heart had brave Fitz-James;
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. Ile saw the murder'd maid expire. “ God, in my need, be my relief,9
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 hair;
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 chill'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 shout!
Each proud oppressor's mortal foe.”— If farther through the wilds 1 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 arm."
IMS.-" But now, my champion,-it shall wave." * MS.-“God, in my need, to me be true,
As I wreak this on Roderick Dhu." # MS.-" By the decaying flame was laid
A warrior in his Highland plaid."
• Sce Appendix, Note 3 P.
And lights the fearful path on mountain side ;%8 He gave him of his Highland cheer,
Fair as that beam, although the fairest far, The harden'd flesh of mountain deer;'
Giving to horror grace, to danger pride, Dry fuel on the fire he laid,
Shine martial Faith, and Courtesy's bright star, And bade the Saxon share his plaid.
Through all the wreckful storms that cloud the brow He tended him like welcome guest,
of War. Then thus his farther speech address'd. “Stranger, I am to Roderick Dhu
II. A clansman born, a kinsman true;
That early beam, so fair and sheen, Each word against his honour spoke,
Was twinkling through the hazel screen, Demands of me avenging stroke;
When, rousing at its glimmer red, Yet more,-upon thy fate, 'tis said,
The warriors left their lowly bed, A mighty augury is laid.
Look'd out upon the dappled sky, It rests with me to wind my horn,
Mutter'd their soldier matins by, Thou art with numbers overborne;
And then awaked their fire, to steal, It rests with me, here, brand to brand,
As short and rude, their soldier meal. Worn as thou art, to bid thee stand:
That o'er, the Gael* around him threw But, not for clan, nor kindred's cause,
His graceful plaid of varied hue, Will I depart from honour's laws;
And, true to promise, led the way, To assail a wearied man were shame,
By thicket green and mountain grey. And stranger is a boly name;
A wildering path they winded now Guidance and rest, and food and fire,
Along the precipice's brow, In vain he never must require.
Commanding the rich scenes beneath, Then rest thee here till dawn of day;
The windings of the Forth and Teith, Myself will guide thee on the way,
And all the vales beneath that lie, O'er stock and stone, through watch and ward,
Till Stirling's turrets melt in sky; Till past Clan-Alpine's outmost guard,
Then, sunk in copse, their farthest glance As far as Coilantogle's ford;
Gain'd not the length of horseman's lance. From thence thy warrant is thy sword.”
'Twas oft so steep, the foot was fain “I take thy courtesy, by heaven,
Assistance from the hand to gain; As freely as 'tis nobly given !”–
So tangled oft, that, bursting through, “ Well, rest thee; for the bittern's cry
Each hawthorn shed her showers of dew,Sings us the lake's wild lullaby.”
That diamond dew, so pure and clear,
It rivals all but Beauty's tear!
At length they came where, stern and steep, And slept until the dawning beam ?
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,6
With shingles bare, and cliffs between,
And patches bright of bracken green,
And heather black, that waved so high, 1.
It held the copse in Fair as the earliest beam of eastern light,
But where the lake slept deep and still, When first, by the bewilder'd pilgrim spied, Dank osiers fringed the swamp and hill; It smiles upon the dreary brow of night,
And oft both path and hill were torn, And silvers o'er the torrents foaming tide,
Where wintry torrents down had borne,
5 MS.-" At length they paced the mountain's side,
And saw beneath the waters wide."
" See Appendix, Note 3 G.
Purpled the mountain and the lake."
6 MS.-" The rugged mountain's stunted screen
shrubs Was dwarfish } with cliffs between."
4 The Scottish Highlander calls himself Gael, or Gaul, and terms the Lowlanders, Sasseruch, or Saxons.
And heap'd upon the cumber'd land
Save as an outlaw'd desperate inan,
IV. “ Brave Gael, my pass in danger tried, Hangs in my belt, and by my side; Yet, sooth to tell,” the Saxon said, “I dreamt not now to claim its aid. When here, but three days since, I came, Bewilder'd in pursuit of game, All seem'd as peaceful and as still, As the mist slumbering on yon hill; Thy dangerous Chief was then afar, Nor soon expected back from war. Thus said, at least, my mountain-guide, Though deep, perchance, the villain lied.”— “ Yet why a second venture try?”— “ A warrior thou, and ask me why ! Moves our free course by such fix'd cause, As gives the poor mechanic laws : Enough, I sought to drive away The lazy hours of peaceful day; Slight cause will then suffice to guide A Knight's free footsteps far and wide, A falcon flown, a greyhound stray’d, The merry glance of mountain maid: Or, if a path be dangerous known, The danger's self is lure alone.”
VI. Wrothful at such arraignment foul, Dark lower'd the clansman's sable scowl. A space he paused, then sternly said, “ And heard'st thou why he drew bis blade! Heard'st thou that shameful word and blow Brought Roderick’s vengeance on his foe! What reck'd the Chieftain if he stood On Highland heath, or Holy-Rood? He rights such wrong where it is given, If it were in the court of heaven.”_ “ Still was it outrage ;-yet, 'tis true, Not then claim'd sovereignty his due; While Albany, with feeble band, Held borrow'd truncheon of command, The young King, mew'd in Stirling tower, Was stranger to respect and power. But then, thy Chieftain's robber life! Winning mean prey by causeless strife, Wrenching from ruin'd Lowland swain His herds and harvest rear'd in vain.Methinks a soul, like thine, should scorn The spoils from such foul foray borne.”
“No, by my word ;-of bands prepared
VII. The Gael beheld him grim the while, And answer'd with disdainful smile,“ Saxon, from yonder mountain high, I mark’d thee send delighted eye, Far to the south and east, where lay, Extended in succession gay, Deep waving fields and pastures green, With gentle slopes and groves between :These fertile plains, that soften’d vale, Were once the birthright of the Gael; The stranger came with iron hand, And from our fathers reft the land. Where dwell we now! See, rudely swell Crag over crag, and fell o'er fell. Ask we this savage hill we tread, For fatten'd steer or household bread; Ask we for flocks these shingles dry, And well the mountain might reply,• To you, as to your sires of yore, Belong the target and claymore! I give you shelter in my breast, Your own good blades must win the rest.' Pent in this fortress of the North, Think'st thou we will not sally forth,
MS.-" I dream'd not now to draw my blade." S35.-"My errant footsteps
far and wide." A knight's bold wanderings )
8 MS.-" Thy secret keep, I ask it not." 4 MS.-" Which else in hull had peacetul hung." 6 See Appendix, Note 3 k.