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theus. I have already hinted that the materials were enough to retreat when the battle should be more de. collected for a poem on the subject of Bruce, and cidedly lost. The sale of “ Rokeby,” excepting as fragments of it had been shown to some of my friends, compared with that of “ The Lady of the Lake,” and received with applause. Notwithstanding, there was in the highest degree respectable ; and as it infore, the eminent success of Byron, and the great cluded fifteen hundred quartos, in those quarto-readchance of his taking the wind out of my sails,' there ing days, the trade had no reason to be dissatisfied. was, I judged, a species of cowardice in desisting from

W. S. the task which I had undertaken, and it was time ABBOTSFORD, April 1830.

I "George Ellis and Murray have been talking something vex him, and do me no good."— Bryon's Diary, Nov. 1813– about Scott and me, George pro Scoto,--and very right too. Works, vol. ii. p. 259. If they want to depose him, I only wish they would not set me up as a competitor. I like the man-and admire his works to 2 The 410, Edition was published by John Ballantyne and what Mr. Braham calls Entusymusy. All such stuff can only Co. £2, 25. in January, 1813.










The Scene of this poem is laid at Rokeby, near Greta Bridge, in Yorkshire, and shifts to the adjacent fortress of Birnard Castle, and to other places in that Vicinity.

The Tine occupied by the Action is a space of Five Duys, Three of which are supposed to elapse between the end of the Fifth and beginning of the Sixth Canto.

The date of the supposed events is immediately subsequent to the great Battle of Marston Mour, 3d July, 1014, This period of public confusion has been chosen, without any purpose of combining the Fable with the Military or Political Erents of the Civil War, but only as affording a degree of probability to the Fictitious Narrative now presented to the Public.?



When conscience, with remorse and fear,
Goads sleeping Fancy's wild career.

Her light seems now the blush of shame,

Seems now fierce anger's darker flame,

Shifting that shade, to come and go,

Like apprehension's hurried glow;
The Moon is in her summer glow,

Then sorrow's livery dims the air, But hoarse and high the breezes blow,

And dies in darkness, like despair. And, racking o'er her face, the cloud

Such varied hues the warder sees Varies the tincture of her shroud;

Reflected from the woodland Tees, On Barnard's towers, and Tees's stream,

Then from old Baliol's tower looks forth, She changes as a guilty dream,

Sees the clouds mustering in the north, 1 Dec. 31, 1812.

now is, it be likely to satisfy the just expectations which that 2“ Behold another lay from the harp of that indefatigable reputation has excited, is a question which, perhaps, will not minstrel, who has so often provoked the censure, and extort- be decided with the same unanimity. Our own opinion is in ed the admiration of his critics; and who, regardless of both, the affirmative, but we confess that this is our revised opinion; and following every impulse of his own inclination, has yet and that when we concluded our first perusal of Rokeby, our raised himself at once, and apparently with little effort, to the gratification was not quite unmixed with disappointment. pinnacle of public favour.

The reflections by which this impression has been subsequent“ A poem thus recommended may be presumed to have ly modified, arise out of our general view of the poem; of the already reached the whole circle of our readers, and we be- interest inspired by the fable; of the masterly delineations of lieve that all those readers will concur with us in considering the characters by whose agency the plot is unravelled; and of Rokeby as a composition, which, if it had preceded, instead of the spirited nervous conciseness of the narrative.”—Quarterly following, Marmion, and the Lady of the Lake, would have

Reriew, No. xvi. contributed, as effectually as they have done, to the establishment of Mr. Scott's high reputation. Whether, timed as it 3 See Appendix, Note A.

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Hears, upon turret-roof and wall,
By fits the plashing rain-drop fall,
Lists to the breeze's boding sound,
And wraps his shaggy mantle round.

Relax'd that grasp, the heavý sigh,
The tear in the half-opening eye,
The pallid cheek and brow, confess'd
That grief was busy in his breast;
Nor paused that mood—a sudden start
Impell’d the life-blood from the heart:
Features convulsed, and mutterings dread,
Show terror reigns in sorrow's stead.
That pang the painful slumber broke,
And Oswald with a start awoke.5

II. Those towers, which in the changeful gleam? Throw murky shadows on the stream, Those towers of Barnard hold a guest, The emotions of whose troubled breast, In wild and strange confusion driven, Rival the flitting rack of heaven. Ere sleep stern Oswald's senses tied, Oft had he changed his weary side, Composed his limbs, and vainly sought By effort strong to banish thought. Sleep came at length, but with a train Of feelings trues and fancies vain, Mingling, in wild disorder cast, The expected future with the past. Conscience, anticipating time, Already rues the enacted crime, And calls her furies forth, to shake The sounding scourge and hissing snake; While her poor victim's outward throes Bear witness to his mental woes, And show what lesson may be read Beside a sinner's restless bed.

IV. He woke, and fear'd again to close His eyelids in such dire repose ; He woke,—to watch the lamp, and tell From hour to hour the castle-bell. Or listen to the owlet's cry, Or the sad breeze that whistles by, Or catch, by fits, the tuneless rhyme With which the warder cheats the time, And envying think, how, when the sun Bids the poor soldier's watch be done, Couch'd on his straw, and fancy-free, He sleeps like careless infancy.

III. Thus Oswald's labouring feelings trace Strange changes in his sleeping face, Rapid and ominous as these With which the moonbeams tinge the Tees. There might be seen of shame the blush, There anger's dark and fiercer flush, While the perturbed sleeper's hand Seem'd grasping dagger-knife, or brand,

V. Far town-ward sounds a distant tread, And Oswald, starting from his bed, Hath caught it, though no human ear, Unsharpen’d by revenge and fear, Could e'er distinguish horse's clank, Until it reach'd the castle bank. Now nigh and plain the sound appears, The warder's challenge now he bears, Then clanking chains and levers tell, That o'er the moat the drawbridge fell, And, in the castle court below, Voices are heard, and torches glow,

This couplet is not in the Original MS. 2 MS.

"shifting gleam." 3 MS.-" Of feelings real, and fancies vain." 4 MS.-" Nor longer nature bears the shock,


pang the slumberer awoke." 5 There appears some resemblance betwixt the visions of Oswald's sleep and the waking-dream of the Giaour

The spor hath lanced his courser's sides;
Away, away, for life he rides.
"Twas but a moment that he stood,
Then sped as if by death pursued,
But in that instant o'er his soul,
Winters of memory seem'd to roll,
And gather in that drop of time,
A life of pain, an age of crime."

Byron's Works, vol. ix. p. 157.

6 MS." Til underneath the castle bank.

Nigh and more nigh the sound appeara,
The warder's challenge next he hears."

“He stood.--Some dread was on his face.
Soon Hatred settled in its place:
It rose not with the reddening flash
Of transient Anger's hasty blush,
But pale as marble o'er the tomb,
Whose ghastly whiteness aids its gloom.
His brow was bent, his eye was glazed;
He raised his arm, and fiercely raised,
And sternly shook his hand on high,
As doubting to return or fly;
Impatient of his flight delay'd,
Here loud his raven charger neigh'd-
Down glanced that hand, and grasp'd his blade ;
That sound had burst his waking-dream,
As slumber starts at owlet's seream.

7 See Appendix, Note B.

“ The natural superiority of the instrument over the emplover, of bold, unhesitating, practised vice, over timid, selfish, erafty iniquity, is very finely painted throughout the whole of this scene, and the dialogue that ensues. That the mind of Wycliffe, wrought to the utmost agony of suspense, has given such acuteness to his bodily organs, as to enable him to distinguish the approach of his hired bravo, while at a distance beyond the reach of common hearing, is grandly imagined, and admirably true to nature."-Critical Review.

As marshalling the stranger's way,
Straight for the room where Oswald lay;
The cry was,—“ Tidings from the host,'
Of weight-a messenger comes post.”
Stilling the tumult of his breast,
His answer Oswald thus express'd-

Bring food and wine, and trim the fire; Admit the stranger, and retire."

Cursing each moment that his guest
Protracted o'er his ruffian feast.8
Yet, viewing with alarm, at last,
The end of that uncouth repast,
Almost he seem'd their haste to rue,
As, at his sign, his train withdrew,
And left him with the stranger, free
To question of his mystery.
Then did his silence long proclaim
A struggle between fear and shame.

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VI. The stranger came with heavy stride, The morion's plumes his visage hide, And the buff-coat, an ample fold, Mantles his form's gigantic mould.3 Full slender answer deigned he To Oswald's anxious courtesy, But mark’d, by a disdainful smile, He saw and scorn'd the petty wile, When Oswald changed the torch's place, Anxious that on the soldier's face* Its partial lustre might be thrown, To show his looks, yet hide his own. His guest, the while, laid low aside The ponderous cloak of tough bull's hide, And to the torch glanced broad and clear The corslet of a cuirassier; Then from his brows the casque he drew, And from the dank plume dash'd the dew, From gloves of mail relieved his hands,5 And spread them to the kindling brands, And, turning to the genial board, Without a health, or pledge, or word Of meet and social reverence said, Deeply he drank, and fiercely fed ;) As free from ceremony's sway, As famish'd wolf that tears his prey.

VIII. Much in the stranger's mien appears, To justify suspicious fears. On his dark face a scorching clime', And toil, had done the work of time, Roughen'd the brow, the temples bared, And sable hairs with silver shared, Yet left—what age alone could tame The lip of pride, the eye of fame;' The full-drawn lip that upward curl'd, The eye, that seem'd to scorn the world. That lip had terror never blench’d; Ne’er in that eye had tear-drop quench'd The flash severe of swarthy glow, That mock'd at pain, and knew not woe. Inured to danger’s direst form, Tornade and earthquake, flood and storm, Death had he seen by sudden blow, By wasting plague, by tortures slow, 10 By mine or breach, by steel or ball, Knew all his shapes, and scorn'd them all.

VII. With deep impatience, tinged with fear, His host beheld him gorge his cheer, And quaff the full carouse, that lent His brow a fiercer hardiment. Now Oswald stood a space aside, Now paced the room with hasty stride In feverish agony to learn Tidings of deep and dread concern,

IX. But yet, though BERTRAM's harden'd look, Unmoved, could blood and danger brook, Still worse than apathy had place On his swart brow and callous face; For evil passions, cherish'd long, Had plough'd them with impressions strong. All that gives gloss to sin, all gay Light folly, past with youth away, But rooted stood, in manhood's hour, The weeds of vice without their flower. And yet the soil in which they grew, Had it been tamed when life was new,

1 M8.-" The cry was, - Heringham comes post,

With tidings of a battle lost.'
As one that roused himself from rest,

His answer,” &c. 2 MS,

-" with heavy pace,

The plumed morion hid his face." 8 See Appendix, Note C. * MS.-" That fell upon the stranger's face." 5 MS.--"he freed his hands." 6 MS.--" Then turn'd to the replenish'd board."

7 “ The description of Bertram which follows, is highly picturesque; and the rude air of conscious superiority with which be treats his employer, prepares the reader to enter into the full spirit of his character. These, and many other little cir

cumstances, which none but a poetical mind could have conceived, give great relief to the stronger touches with which this excellent sketch is completed."-Critical Review. 8 MS.—" Protracted o'er his savage feast.

Yet with alarm he saw at last.” 9 " As Roderick rises above Marmion, so Bertram ascends above Roderick Dhu in awfulness of stature and strength of colouring. We have trembled at Roderick ; but we look with doubt and suspicion at the very shadow of Bertram--and, as we approach him, we shrink with terror and antipathy from * The lip of pride, the eye of fame.""

British Crilic. 10 See Appendix, Note D.

Had depth and vigour to bring forth'
The hardier fruits of virtuous worth.
Not that, e'en then, his heart had known
The gentler feelings' kindly tone;
But lavish waste bad been refined
To bounty in his chasten'd mind,
And lust of gold, that waste to feed,
Been lost in love of glory's meed,
And, frantic then no more, his pride
Had ta'en fair virtue for its guide.

On eve of fight ne'er left the host,
Until the field were won and lost.
“ Here, in your towers by circling Tees,
You, Oswald Wycliffe, rest at ease;"
Why deem it strange that others come
To share such safe and easy home,
From fields where danger, death, and toil,
Are the reward of civil broil ?”_5
“ Nay, mock not, friend ! since well we know
The near advances of the foe,
To mar our northern army's work,
Encamp'd before beleaguer'd York ;
Thy horse with valiant Fairfax lay,
And must have fought-how went the day?”—

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Even now, by conscience unrestrain'd,
Clogg'd by gross vice, by slaughter stain’d,
Still knew his daring soul to soar,
And mastery o'er the mind he bore ;
For meaner guilt, or heart less hard,
Quail'd beneath Bertram’s bold regard.?
And this felt Oswald, while in vain
He strove, by many a winding train,
To lure his sullen guest to show,
Unask’d, the news he long'd to know,
While on far other subject hung
His heart, than falter'd from his tongue.3
Yet nought for that his guest did deign
To note or spare his secret pain,
But still, in stern and stubborn sort,
Return'd him answer dark and short,
Or started from the theme, to range
In loose digression wild and strange,
And forced the embarrass'd host to buy,
By query close, direct reply.

“ Wouldst hear the tale ?-On Marston heath 7
Met, front to front, the ranks of death;
Flourish'd the trumpets fierce, and now
Fired was each eye, and flush'd each brow;
On either side loud clamours ring,
• God and the Cause !?- God and the King!'
Right English all, they rush'd to blows,
With nought to win, and all to lose.
I could have laugh'd—but lack'd the time
To see, in phrenesy sublime,
How the fierce zealots fought and bled,
For king or state, as humour led;
Some for a dream of public good,
Some for church-tippet, gown and hood,
Draining their veins, in death to claim
A patriot's or a martyr's name.-
Led Bertram Risingham the hearts,
That counter'd there on adverse parts,
No superstitious fool had I
Sought El Dorados in the sky !
Chili had heard me through her states,
And Lima oped her silver gates,
Rich Mexico I had march'd through,
And sack'd the splendours of Peru,
Till sunk Pizarro's daring name,
And, Cortez, thine, in Bertram's fame.”-

A while he glozed upon the cause
Of Commons, Covenant, and Laws,
And Church Reform’d—but felt rebuke
Beneath grim Bertram's sneering look,
Then stammer'd—“ Has a field been fought?
Has Bertram news of battle brought ?
For sure a soldier, famed so far
In foreign fields for feats of war,

& MS.

1 MS.-—" Shew'd depth and vigour to bring forth

and Hubert may probably have been present to his mind when The noblest fruits of virtuous worth.

he composed the dialogue between Oswald and his terrible Then had the lust of gold accurst

agent; but it will be observed, that the situations of the reBeen lost in glory's nobler thirst,

spective personages are materially different; the mysterious And deep revenge for trivial cause,

caution in which Shakspeare's usurper is made to involve the Been zeal for freedom and for lawy,

proposal of his crime, springs from motives undoubtedly more And, frantic then no more, his pride

obvious and immediate, but not more consistent with truth Had ta'en fair honour for its guide."

and probability, than that with which Wycliffe conceals the "stern regard."

drift of his fearful interrogatories."-Critical Revicu. 3“ The mastery' obtained by such a being as Bertram 4 MS.—“Safe sit you, Oswald, and at ease." orer the timid wickedness of inferior villains, is well delineat- 6 MS.-“ Award the meed of civil broil." ed in the conduct of Oswald, who, though he had not hesitated 6 MS.-" Thy horsemen on the outposts lay." to propose to him the murder of his kinsman, is described as 7 See Appendix, Note E. fearing to ask him the direct question, whether the crime has been & MS.-“ Led I but half of such bold hearts, accomplished. We must confess, for our own parts, that we

As counter'd there," &c. did not, till we came to the second reading of the canto, per- 9 The quarterly Reviewer (No. xvi.) thus states the causes ceive the propriety, and even the moral beauty, of this cir- of the hesitation he had had in arriving at the ultimate opinion, cumstance. We are now quite convinced that, in introducing that Rokery was worthy of the “high praise " already quoted it, the poet has been guided by an accurate perception of the from the commencement of his article :-"We confess, then, intricacies of human nature. The scene between King John that in the language and versification of this poem, we were, in

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