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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 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,
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,
A watch-fire close before him burn'd.
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 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 25 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.'
MS.-" But now, my champion,-it shall wave." * MS.-"God, in my need, to me be true,
As I wreak this on Roderick Dhu." ISIS.—" By the decaying flame was laid
A warrior in his Higbland plaid."
6 Sce Appendix, Note 3 F.
And lights the fearful path on mountain side ; 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 bonour 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 holy 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,5 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,
It held the copse in rivalry.
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."
4 The Scottish Highlander calls himself Gadl, or Gaul, and terms the Lowlanders, Sassenach, or Saxons.
6 MS.--" The rugged mountain's stunted screen
with cliffs between." Icopse
And heap'd upon the cumber'd land
Save as an outlaw'd desperate inan,
“ Brave Gael, my pass in danger tried,
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 his 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 cast, 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 fattend 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." S 31S. -"My errant footsteps
far and wide." A knight's bold wanderings
& MS.-" Thy secret keer, I ask it not." 4 MS.-" Which else in hall had peacetul hunz." 6 See Appendix, Note 3 H.
To spoil the spoiler as we may,
Wild as the scream of the curlew,
“ Have, then, thy wish!”-he whistled shrill, And he was answer'd from the hill;
I See Appendix, Note 3 1.
breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. 2 MS._" This dark Sir Roderick and his band."
So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came This sarage Chieftain
into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an ex2 MS.-“ From copee to copee the signal flew.
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,
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«l'aurre of Walter Scott,-a scene of more vigour, nature, 8 David de Strathbogie Earl of Athole, when about to enand animation, than any other in all his poetry." Another gage Sir Andrew Moray at the battle of Kilblene, in 1335, in 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 unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind,
Even in the path was Earl Davy Thus saith the Lord God; Come om the four winds, o
And to a great stone that lay by
Short space he stood-then waved his hand : And in the plover's shrilly stram,
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 nor 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 mines The next, all unreflected, shone
On Bochastle the mouldering lines, On bracken green, and cold grey stone.
Where Rome, the Empress of the world,
Of yore her eagle wings unfurld.
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 Coilantogle 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 band,
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 brave, 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 food,
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. not affixed to any former edition -Monthly Review. of the poem.
3 See Appendix, Note 3 K. I MS.—" For aid against one brave-man's hand."
4 MS.-"And still, from copse and heather bush, 9" 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 Ibid, Note 3 M