Imágenes de páginas
[merged small][ocr errors]

To the paved court no peasant drew;
Waked to their toil no menial crew;
The maiden's carol was not heard,
As to her morning task she fared:
In the void offices around,
Rung not a hoof, nor bay'd a hound;
Nor eager steed, with shrilling neigh,
Accused the lagging groom's delay;
Untrimm'd, undress’d, neglected now,
Was alley'd walk and orchard bough;
All spoke the master's absent care,
All spoke neglect and disrepair.
South of the gate, an arrow flight,
Two mighty elms their limbs unite,
As if a canopy to spread
O'er the lone dwelling of the dead;
For their huge boughs in arches bent
Above a massive monument,
Carved o'er in ancient Gothic wise,
With many a scutcheon and device:
There, spent with toil and sunk in gloom,
Bertram stood pondering by the tomb.


Wilfrid, who scorn'd the legend wild,
In mingled mirth and pity smiled,
Much marvelling that a breast so bold
In such fond tale belief should hold ;5
But yet of Bertram sought to know
The apparition's form and show.-
The power within the guilty breast,
Oft vanquish'd, never quite suppress'd,
That unsubdued and lurking lies
To take the felon by surprise,
And force him, as by magic spell,
In his despite his guilt to tell,

— 6 That power in Bertram's breast awoke; Scarce conscious he was heard, he spoke; “ 'Twas Mortham's form, from foot to head ! His morion, with the plume of red, His shape, his mien—'twas Mortham, right As when I slew him in the fight.”— “ Thou slay him?-thou?"—With conscious start He heard, then mann'd his haughty heart, “ I slew him?-I!-I had forgot Thou, stripling, knew'st not of the plot. But it is spoken-nor will I Deed done, or spoken word, deny. I slew him; I! for thankless pride; "Twas by this hand that Mortham died!”

XVIII. “ It vanish'd, like a flitting ghost! Behind this tomb,” he said, “'twas lostThis tomb, where oft I deem'd lies stored Of Mortham's Indian wealth the hoard. 'Tis true, the aged servants said Here his lamented wife is laid ;? But weightier reasons may be guess'd For their lord's strict and stern behest, That none should on his steps intrude, Whene'er he sought this solitude.An ancient mariner I knew, What time I sail'd with Morgan's crew, Who oft, ʼmid our carousals, spake Of Raleigh, Forbisher, and Drake; Adventurous hearts! who barter'd, bold, Their English steel for Spanish gold. Trust not, would his experience say, Captain or comrade with your prey; But seek some charnel, when, at full, The moon gilds skeleton and skull: There dig, and tomb your precious heap; And bid the dead your treasure keep;3 Sure stewards they, if fitting spell Their service to the task compel. Lacks there such charnell-kill a slave, Or prisoner, on the treasure-grave; And bid his discontented ghost Stalk nightly on his lonely post.

XX. Wilfrid, of gentle hand and heart, Averse to every active part, But most averse to martial broil, From danger shrunk, and turn'd from toil; Yet the meek lover of the lyre Nursed one brave spark of noble fire, Against injustice, fraud, or wrong, His blood beat high, his hand wax'd strong. Not his the nerves that could sustain, Unshaken, danger, toil, and pain; But, when that spark blazed forth to flame,? He rose superior to his frame. And now it came, that generous mood: And, in full current of his blood, On Bertram he laid desperate hand, Placed firm his foot, and drew his brand. “ Should every fiend, to whom thour't sold, Rise in thine aid, I keep my hold.Arouse there, ho! take spear and sword! Attach the murderer of your Lord !”

All spoke the woes of}

1 MS.--"All spoke the master absent far,

neglect and

civil war. Close by the gate, an arch combined,

Two haughty elms their branches twined." 2 MS. -“Here lies the partner of his bed;

But weightier reasons should appear
For all his moonlight wanderings here,

And for the sharp rebuke they got,

That pried around his favourite spot." 3 See Appendix, Note V. 4 MS.-" Lacks there guch charnel-vault?--a slare,

Or prisoner, slaughter on the grave." 6 MS." Should faith in such a fable hold." 6 See Appendix, Note W. 7 MS.--"But, when blazed forth that noble fiame.'

Oft stopp'd, and oft on Mortham stared,
And dark as rated mastiff glared;
But when the tramp of steeds was heard,
Plunged in the glen, and disappear'd ;-
Nor longer there the Warrior stood,
Retiring eastward through the wood;8
But first to Wilfrid warning gives,
“ Tell thou to none that Mortham lives."

XXI. A moment, fix'd as by a spell, Stood Bertram-It seem'd miracle, That one so feeble, soft, and tame Set grasp on warlike Risingham.' But when he felt a feeble stroke, 2 The fiend within the ruffian woke! To wrench the sword from Wilfrid's hand, To dash him headlong on the sand, Was but one moment's work,-one more Had drench'd the blade in Wilfrid's gore; But, in the instant it arose, To end his life, his love, his woes, A warlike form, that mark'd the scene, Presents his rapier sheathed between, Parries the fast-descending blow, And steps 'twixt Wilfrid and his foc; Nor then unscabbarded his brand, But, sternly pointing with his hand, With monarch's voice forbade the fight, And motion'd Bertram from his sight. “Go, and repent,”—he said, “ while time Is given thee; add not crime to crime.”

XXIII. Still rung these words in Wilfrid's ear, Hinting he knew not what of fear; When nearer came the coursers' tread, And, with his father at their head, Of horsemen arm’d a gallant power Rein’d up their steeds before the tower.? “ Whence there pale looks, my son ?” he said: “ Where's Bertram ?-Why that naked blade?”, Wilfrid ambiguously replied, (For Mortham's charge his honour tied,) “ Bertram is gone—the villain's word Avouch'd him murderer of his lord! Even now we fought—but, when your tread Announced you nigh, the felon fled.” In Wycliffe's conscious eye appear A guilty hope, a guilty fear; On his pale brow the dewdrop broke, And his lip quiver'd as he spoke:

XXII. Mute, and uncertain, and amazed, As on a vision Bertram gazed ! 'Twas Mortham's bearing, bold and high, His sinewy frame, his falcon eye, His look and accent of command, The martial gesture of his hand, His stately form, spare-built and tall, His war-bleach'd locks-'twas Mortham

all. Through Bertram’s dizzy brain career A thousand thoughts, and all of fear; His wavering faith received not quite The form he saw as Mortham’s sprite, But more he fear'd it, if it stood His lord, in living flesh and blood.--What spectre can the charnel send, So dreadful as an injured friend? Then, too, the habit of command, Used by the leader of the band, When Risingham, for many a day, Had march'd and fought beneath his sway, Tamed him—and, with reverted face, Backwards he bore his sullen pace;s

XXIV. “ A murderer !—Philip Mortham died Amid the battle's wildest tide. Wilfrid, or Bertram raves, or you ! Yet, grant such strange confession true, Pursuit were vain-let him fly farJustice must sleep in civil war.” A gallant Youth rode near his side, Brave Rokeby's page, in battle tried ; That morn, an embassy of weight He brought to Barnard's castle gate, And follow'd now in Wycliffe's train, An answer for his lord to gain. His steed, whose arch'd and sable neck An hundred wreaths of foam bedeck, Chafed not against the curb more high Than he at Oswald's cold reply; He bit his lip, implored his saint, (His the old faith)—then burst restraint.

1 “The sudden impression made on the mind of Wilfrid by This avowal, is one of the happiest touches of moral poetry. The effect which the unexpected burst of indignation and valour produces on Bertram, is as finely imagined.”Critical Reriew.-" This most animating scene is a worthy companion to the rencounter of Fitz-James and Roderick Dhu, in the Lady of the Lake.”- Monthly Review.

3 MS.—“'Twas Mortham's spare and sinewy frame,

His falcon eye, his glance of flame."
4 MS.-"A thousand thoughts, and all of fear,

Dizzied his brain in wild career;
Doubting, and not receiving quite,
The form he saw as Mortham's sprite,
Still more he feard it, if it stood

His living lord, in flesh and blood." 6 MS." Slow he retreats with sullen pace." 6 MS.—" Retiring through the thickest wood." 7 MS.--"Rein'd up their steeds by Mortham tower."

3 MS.—"At length, at slight and feeble stroke,

s fiend That razed the skin, his } awoke."



" Yes! I beheld his bloody fall,
By that base traitor's dastard ball,
Just when I thought to measure sword,
Presumptuous hope ! with Mortham's lord.
And shall the murderer 'scape, who slew
His leader, generous, brave, and true ??
Escape, while on the dew you trace
The marks of his gigantic pace?
No! ere the sun that dew shall dry,
False Risingham shall yield or die.-
Ring out the castle ’larum bell!
Arouse the peasants with the knell!
Meantime disperse-ride, gallants, ride!
Beset the wood on every side.
But if among you one there be,
That honours Mortham's memory,
Let him dismount and follow me!
Else on your crests sit fear and shame,
And foul suspicion dog your name!"

With them was Wilfrid, stung with ire,
And envying Redmond's martial fire,
And emulous of fame. But where
Is Oswald, noble Mortham's heir ?
He, bound by honour, law, and faith,
Avenger of his kinsman's death?

Leaning against the elmin tree,
With drooping head and slacken'd knee,
And clenched teeth, and close-clasp'd hands,
In agony of soul he stands!
His downcast eye on earth is bent,
His soul to every sound is lent;
For in each shout that cleaves the air,
May ring liscovery and despair.

What 'vail'd it him, that brightly play'd
The morning sun on Mortham’s glade ?
All seems in giddy round to ride,
Like objects on a stormy tide,
Seen eddying by the moonlight dim,
Imperfectly to sink and swim.
What 'vail'd it, that the fair domain,
Its battled mansion, hill, and plain,
On which the sun so brightly shone,
Envied so long, was now his own??
The lowest dungeon, in that hour,
Of Brackenbury's dismal tower,
Had been his choice, could such a doom
Have open'd Mortham's bloody tomb !
Forced, too, to turn unwilling ear
To each surmise of hope or fear,
Murmur'd among the rustics round,
Who gather'd at the 'larum sound;
He dared not turn his head away,
E’en to look up to heaven to pray,
Or call on hell, in bitter mood,
For one sharp death-shot from the wood!

Instant to earth young REDMOND sprung;
Instant on earth the harness rung
Of twenty men of Wycliffe's band,
Who waited not their lord's command.
Redmond his spurs from buskins drew,
His mantle from his shoulders threw,
His pistols in his belt he placed,
The green-wood gain'd, the footsteps traced,
Shouted like huntsman to his hounds,
“ To cover, hark!”-and in he bounds.
Scarce heard was Oswald's anxious cry,
“ Suspicion! yes—pursue him--fly-
But venture not, in useless strife,
On ruffian desperate of his life,
Whoever finds him, shoot him dead !4
Five hundred nobles for his head!”


The horsemen gallop'd, to make good
Each path that issued from the wood.
Loud from the thickets rung the shout
Of Redmond and his eager route;

At length, o'erpast that dreadful space,
Back straggling came the scatter'd chase;
Jaded and weary, horse and man,
Return’d the troopers, one by one.

[ocr errors]

1 MS.--"Yes! I beheld him foully slain,

leave it, however, to you, only saying, that I never shun comBy that base traitor of his train."

mon words when they are to the purpose. As to your criti2 MS.--" A knight, so generous, brave and true."

cisms, I cannot but attend to them, because they touch pas

sages with which I am myself discontented.-W.S." 3 MS.

" that dew shall drain,
False Risingham shall be kill'd or ta'en."

6 MS.--"Jealous of Redmond's noble fire." 4 MS.-To the Printer.--"On the disputed line, it may

6 “Opposed to this animated picture of ardent courage and stand thus,

ingenuous youth, that of a guilty conscience, which impe'Whoever finds him, strike him dead;'

diately follows, is indescribably terrible, and calculated to Or,

achieve the highest and noblest porposes of dramatic fiction." Who first shall find him, strike him dead."

--Critical Review. But I think the addition of felon, or any such word, will im

7 "The contrast of the beautiful morning, and the prospeet pair the strength of the passage. Oswald is too anxious to of the rich domain of Mortham, which Oswald was come to use epithets, and is hallooing after the men, by this time enter- seize, with the dark remorse and misery of his mind, is powering the wood. The simpler the line the better. In my humble fully represented: (Non domus et fundus !"&c. &c.)-- Jonthly

Review, opinion, shoot him dead, was much better than any other. It implics, Do not even approach him, kill him at a distance. I 8 Sec Appendix, Note X.

Wilfrid, the last, arrived to say,
All trace was lost of Bertram’s way,
Though Redmond still, up Brignal wood,
The hopeless quest in vain pursued.-
0, fatal doom of human race!
What tyrant passions passions chase !
Remorse from Oswald's brow is gone,
Avarice and pride resume their throne;?
The pang of instant terror by,
They dictate us their slave's reply:-

Right heavy shall his ransom be,
Unless that maid compound with thee !"
Go to her nowmbe bold of cheer,
While her soul floats 'twixt hope and fcar;
It is the very change of tide,
When best the female heart is tried
Pride, prejudice, and modesty,
Are in the current swept to sea ;'
And the bold swain, who plies his oar,
May lightly row his bark to shore."



“ Ay-let him range like hasty hound !
And if the grim wolf's lair be found,
Small is my care how goes the game
With Redmond, or with Risingham.-
Nay, answer not, thou simple boy!
Thy fair Matilda, all so coy
To thee, is of another mood
To that bold youth of Erin's blood.
Thy ditties will she freely praise,
And pay thy pains with courtly phrase;
In a rough path will oft command-
Accept at least—thy friendly hand;
His she avoids, or, urged and pray'd,
Unwilling takes his proffer'd aid,
While conscious passion plainly speaks
In downcast look and blushing cheeks.
Whene'er he sings, will she glide nigh,
And all her soul is in her eye;
Yet doubts she still to tender free
The wonted words of courtesy.
These are strong signs ! — yet wherefore

And wipe, effeminate, thine eye?
Thine shall she be, if thou attend
The counsels of thy sire and friend.

I. The hunting tribes of air and earth Respect the brethren of their birth ;6 Nature, who loves the claim of kind, Less cruel chase to each assign'd. The falcon, poised on soaring wing, Watches the wild-duck by the spring; The slow-hound wakes the fox's lair; The greyhound presses on the hare; The eagle pounces on the lamb; The wolf devours the fleecy dam: Even tiger fell, and sullen bear, Their likeness and their lineage spare, Man, only, mars kind Nature's plan, And turns the fierce pursuit on man; Plying war's desultory trade, Incursion, flight, and ambuscade, Since Nimrod, Cush's mighty son, At first the bloody game begun.

[ocr errors][merged small]

II. The Indian, prowling for his prey, Who hears the settlers track his way, And knows in distant forest far Camp his red brethren of the war; He, when each double and disguise To baffle the pursuit he tries, Low crouching now his head to hide, Where swampy streams through rushes glide, Now covering with the wither'd leaves The foot-prints that the dew receives : 9


1 MS.—"Though Redmond still, as unsubdued." ? The MS. adds :

“Of Mortham's treasure now he dreams,

Now nurses more ambitious schemes." MS.-" This Redmond brought, at peep of light,

The news of Marston's happy fight." * See Appendix, Note Y.

6 MS.--"In the warm ebb are swept to sea."
6 MS.-“ The {lower }tribes of carth and air,

In the wild chase their kindred spare."
The second couplet interpolated.

7 MS.-"Invasion, flight, and ambuscade." & MS.--"Where the slow waves through runce glade." 9 Sce Appendix, Note 2.

He, skill'd in every silvan guile,
Knows not, nor tries, such various wile,
As Risingham, when on the wind
Arose the loud pursuit behind.
In Redesdale his youth had heard
Each art her wily dalesmen dared,
When Rooken-edge, and Redswair high,
To bugle rung and blood-hound's cry,'
Announcing Jedwood-axe and spear,
And Lid'sdale riders in the rear;
And well his venturous life had proved
The lessons that his childhood loved.

'Twas then—like tiger close beseta
At every pass with toil and net,
'Counter’d, where'er he turns his glare,
By clashing arms and torches' fare,
Who meditates, with furious bound,
To burst on hunter, horse, and hound,
'Twas then that Bertram's soul arose,
Prompting to rush upon his foes :
But as that crouching tiger, cow'd
By brandish'd steel and shouting crowd,
Retreats beneath the jungle's shroud,
Bertram suspends his purpose stern,
And couches in the brake and fern,
Hiding his face, lest foemen spy
The sparkle of his swarthy eye.

III. Oft had he shown, in climes afar, Each attribute of roving war; The sharpen'd ear, the piercing eye, The quick resolve in danger nigh; The speed, that in the flight or chase, Outstripp'd the Charib's rapid race; The steady brain, the sinewy limb, To leap, to climb, to dive, to swim; The iron frame, inured to bear Each dire inclemency of air. Nor less confirm’d to undergo Fatigue's faint chill, and famine's throe. These arts he proved, his life to save, In peril oft by land and wave, On Arawaca's desert shore, Or where La Plata's billows roar. When oft the sons of vengeful Spain Track'd the marauder's steps in vain. These arts, in Indian warfare tried, Must save him now by Greta's side.

Then Bertram might the bearing trace
Of the bold youth who led the chase;
Who paused to list for every sound,
Climb every height to look around,
Then rushing on with naked sword,
Each dingle's bosky depths explored.
'Twas Redmond-by the azure eye;
'Twas Redmond-by the locks that fly
Disorder'd from his glowing cheek;
Mien, face, and form, young Redmond s
A form inore active, light, and strong,
Ne'er shot the ranks of war along;
The modest, yet the manly mien,
Might grace the court of maiden queen;
A face more fair you well might find,6
For Redmond's knew the sun and wind,
Nor boasted, from their tinge when free,
The charm of regularity;
But every feature had the power
To aid the expression of the hour:
Whether gay wit, and humour sly,
Danced laughing in his light-blue eye;
Or bended brow, and glance of fire,
And kindling cheek, spoke Erin’s ire;
Or soft and sadden'd glances show
Her ready sympathy with woe;
Or in that wayward mood of mind,
When various feelings are combined,
When joy and sorrow mingle near,
And hope's bright wings are check'd by

And rising doubts keep transport down,
And anger lends a short-lived frown ;
In that strange mood which maids approve
Even when they dare not call it love;

IV. 'Twas then, in hour of utmost need, He proved his courage, art, and speed. Now slow he stalk'd with stealthy pace, Now started forth in rapid race, Oft doubling back in mazy train, To blind the trace the dews retain ;' Now clombe the rocks projecting high, To baffle the pursuer's eye; Now sought the stream, whose brawling sound The echo of his footsteps drown'd. But if the forest verge he nears, There trample steeds, and glimmer spears; If deeper down the copse he drew, He heard the rangers' loud halloo, Beating each cover while they came, As if to start the silvan game.


1 See Appendix, Note 2 A.
2 MS.-"Where traces in the dew remain."
3 MS.-“And oft his soul within him rose,

Prompting to rush upon his foes,
And oft, like tiger toil-beset,
That in each pass finds foe and net," &c.

“Suspending yet his purpose stern,

He couch'd him in the brake and fern;
Hiding his face, lest foemen spy

The sparkle of his swarthy eye." 8 See Appendix, Note 2 B.

6 These six couplets were often quoted by the late Lord Kinnedder as giving, in his opinion, an excellent portrait of the author himself.-EU.

• In the MS. the stanza concludes thus :

« AnteriorContinuar »