« AnteriorContinuar »
To the paved court no peasant drew;
— 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,
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
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,
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."
Dizzied his brain in wild career;
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."
With them was Wilfrid, stung with ire,
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,
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,
Right heavy shall his ransom be,
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.
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."
In the wild chase their kindred spare."
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,
'Twas then—like tiger close beseta
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.
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.
Prompting to rush upon his foes,
“Suspending yet his purpose stern,
He couch'd him in the brake and fern;
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 :