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But every jealous post of ward “ Bold stranger, no—'gainst claim like thine, Was now defenceless and unbarr'd, No bolt revolves by hand of mine,"
And all the passage free Though urged in tone that more express'd
To one low-brow'd and vaulted room, A monarch than a suppliant guest.
Where squire and yeoman, page and Be what ye will, Artornish Hall
groom, On this glad eve is free to all.
Plied their loud revelry. Though ye had drawn a hostile sword 'Gainst our ally, great England's Lord,
XXX. Or mail upon your shoulders borne,
And “ Rest ye here,” the Warder bade, To battle with the Lord of Lorn,
“ Till to our Lord your suit is said.Or, outlaw'd, dwelt by greenwood tree
And, comrades, gaze not on the maid, With the fierce Knight of Ellerslie,
And on these men who ask our aid, Or aided even the murderous strife,
As if ye ne'er had seen When Comyn fell beneath the knife
A damsel tired of midnight bark, Of that fell homicide The Bruce,
Or wanderers of a moulding stark, This night had been a term of truce.
And bearing martial micn.” Ho, vassals! give these guests your care,
But not for Eachin's reproof And show the narrow postern stair.”
Would page or vassal stand aloof,
But crowded on to stare,
As men of courtesy untaught,
Till fiery Edward roughly caught, (The weary crew their vessel kept,)
From one the foremost there, And, lighted by the torches' Hare,
His chequer'd plaid, and in its shroud, That seaward fung their smoky glare,
To hide her from the vulgar crowd,
Involved his sister fair.
His brother, as the clansman bent
His sullen brow in discontent, And down her long dark tresses shed,
Made brief and stern excuse;As the wild vine in tendrils spread,
“ Vassal, were thine the cloak of pall Droops from the mountain oak.
That decks thy Lord in bridal hall, Him follow'd close that elder Lord,
"Twere honour'd by her use." And in his hand a sheathed sword, Such as few arms could wield;
XXXI. But when he boun'd him to such task,
Proud was his tone, but calm; his eye Well could it cleave the strongest casque,
Had that compelling dignity, And rend the surest shield.“
His mien that bearing haught and high,
Which common spirits fear! 8
Needed nor word nor signal more,
Nod, wink, and laughter, all were o'er; The wicket with its bars of brass,
Upon each other back they bore, The entrance long and low,5
And gazed like startled deer. Flank'd at each turn by loop-holes strait,
But now appear'd the Seneschal, Where bowmen might in ambush wait,
Commission'd by his lord to call (If force or fraud should burst the gate,)
The strangers to the Baron's hall, To gall an entering foe.
Where feasted fair and free
8“ Still sways their souls with that commanding art
That dazzles, leads, yet chills the vulgar heart.
That Island Prince in nuptial tide,
Of Western land and sea.
Here pause we, gentles, for a space;
The vacant brow, the unlistening ear,
The Lord of the Isles.
Fill the bright goblet, spread the festive board!
Lift not the festal mask !-enough to know,
IV. She watch'd-yet fear'd to meet his glance, And he shunn'd hers;—till when by chance They met, the point of foeman's lance
Had given a milder pang!
And from the table sprang.
Of Lorn, this pledge I drink--
By this fair bridal-link!"
And call for pledge and lay,
Seem gayest of the gay.s
V. “ Let it pass round!” quoth He of Lorn, “ And in good time-that winded horn
Must of the Abbot tell;
The untasted goblet fell.
Returns like sun of May,
As glad of brief delay,
III. Yet nought amiss the bridal throng Mark'd in brief mirth, or musing long;
1 MS.—“ Of mountain chivalry."
2 “ The first Canto is full of business and description, and the scenes are such as Mr. Scott's muse generally excels in. The scene between Edith and her nurse is spirited, and contains many very pleasing lines. The description of Lord Ronald's ficet, and of the bark endeavouring to make her way against the wind, more particularly of the last, is executed with extraordinary beauty and fidelity."-Quarterly Rivieur.
*“ Eren in laughter the heart is sorrowful; and the end of that mirth is hcaviness."- Proverbs, xiv. 13.
" and give birth To jest, to wassail, and to mirth." 5 MS.-" Would seem the loudest of the loud,
And gayest of the gay." 6 MS. --“Since Lorn, the proudest of the proud.” 7 MS.--" And since the keen De Argentine." 8 See Appendix, Note L. ? See Appendix, Note M.
As some poor criminal might feel,
Mark'd ye the younger stranger's eye,
My mates, how quick, how keen, how high,
How fierce its flashes fell,
Glancing among the noble rout 8
As if to seek the noblest out, “ Brother of Lorn,” with hurried voice
Because the owner might not brook
On any save his peers to look?
And yet it moves me more,
That steady, calm, majestic brow,
With which the elder chief even now
Scann’d the gay presence o'er,
Like being of superior kind, As best their presences may grace,
In whose high-toned impartial mind And bid them welcome free!”
Degrees of mortal rank and state With solemn step, and silver wand,
Seem objects of indifferent weight. The Seneschal the presence scann'd
The lady too_though closely tied Of these strange guests ;? and well he
The mantle veil both face and eye, knew
Her motions' grace it could not hide,
Nor could 9 her form’s fair symmetry.”
Suspicious doubt and lordly scorn
Lourd on the haughty front of Lorn.
From underneath his brows of pride, Was in their mien and in their face,
The stranger guests he sternly eyed,
And whisper'd closely what the ear
Of Argentine alone might hear;
Then question’d, ligh and brief,
If, in their voyage, aught they knew
Of the rebellious Scottish crew,
Who to Rath-Erin's shelter drew,
With Carrick's outlaw'd Chief ? 10 And angry looks the error chide,5
And if, their winter's exile o’er, That gave to guests unnamed, unknown,
They harbour'd still by Ulster's shore,
Or launch'd their galleys on the main,
To vex their native land again?
That younger stranger, fierce and high,
At once confronts the Chieftain's By look, by bearing, and by tone,
With look of equal scorn; Not by furr'd robe or broider'd zone;
“ Of rebels have we nought to show; And 'gainst an oaken bough
But if of Royal Bruce thou’dst know, I'll gage my silver wand of state,
I warn thee he has sworn,l?
Ere thrice three days shall come and go,
His banner Scottish winds shall blow,
Despite each mean or mighty foe,
From England's every bill and bow, “ I, too,” the aged Ferrand said,
To Allaster of Lorn.” “ Am qualified by minstrel trade 7
Kindled the mountain Chieftain's ire,
But Ronald quench'd the rising fire;
1 MS.—“As may their presence fittest grace." 3 MS.-“With solemn pace, and silver rod,
The Seneschal the entrance show'd
To these strange guests." * See Appendix, Note N.
4 Dais--the great hall-table--elevated a step or two above the rest of the room. 6 MS.--"Aside then lords and ladies spake,
And ushers censured the mistake." " The first entry of the illustrious strangers into the castle
of the Celtic chief, is in the accustomed and peculiar style ot
‘Am qualified by minstrel craft.'"
-" the festal rout." 9 M$._" Nor hide," &c. 10 See Appendix, Note 0. 11 MS.-" That younger stranger, nought out-dared,
Was prompt the haughty Chief to beard." 12 MS.-"Men say that he has sworn."
“ Gem ! ne'er wrought on Highland mountain,
" When the gem was won and lost,
1 " The description of the bridal feast, in the second Canto, tions. In the struggle, however, the brooch which fastened has several animated lines; but the real power and poetry of his royal mantle had been torn off by the assailants; and it the author do not appear to us to be called out until the occa- is on the subject of this trophy that the Celtic poet pours sion of the Highland quarrel which follows the feast."- forth this wild, rapid, and spirited strain."—Jeffrey. Honthly Reviere, March, 1815.
3 See Appendix, Note P.
4 Ibid, Note Q. 9 “In a very different style of excellence (from that of the 6 See Appendix, Note R.
6 Ibid, Note S. first three stanzas) is the triumphant and insulting song of the 7 See Appendix, Note T. bard of Lorn, commemorating the pretended victory of his 8 MS.-" Left his followers to the sword." chief over Robert Bruce, in one of their rencontres. Bruce, 9 See Appendix, Note U. in truth, had been set on by some of that clan, and had extri- 10 The MS. has not this couplet. tated himself from a fearful overmatch by stupendous exer- 11 MS.--"When brcathless Lorn had left the strifo."
Enough of this—And, Minstrel, hold,
Fergus, of Canna's castled oay,
XV. “Now, by Columba's shrine, I swear, And every saint that's buried there, 'Tis he himself !” Lorn sternly cries, “ And for my kinsman's death he dies.” As loudly Ronald calls,-“ Forbear ! Not in my sight while brand I wear, O’ermatch'd by odds, shall warrior fall, Or blood of stranger stain my hall! This ancient fortress of my race Shall be misfortune's resting-place, Shelter and shield of the distress'd, No slaughter-house for shipwreck’d guest.”“Talk not to me,” fierce Lorn replied, “ Of odds or match !-when Comyn died, Three daggers clash'd within his side ! Talk not to me of sheltering hall, The Church of God saw Comyn fall ! On God's own altar stream'd his blood, While o'er my prostrate kinsman stood The ruthless murderer-e'en as nowWith armed hand and scornful brow! Up, all who love me ! blow on blow ! And lay the outlaw'd felons low !”
XVIII. While thus for blows and death prepared, Each heart was up, each weapon bared, Each foot advanced,-a surly pause Still reverenced hospitable laws. All menaced violence, but alike Reluctant each the first to strike, (For aye accursed in minstrel line Is he who brawls 'mid song and wine,) And, match'd in numbers and in might, Doubtful and desperate seem'd the fight. Thus threat and murmur died away, Till on the crowded hall there lay Such silence, as the deadly still, Ere bursts the thunder on the hill. With blade advanced, each Chieftain bold Show'd like the Sworder's form of old, 3 As wanting still the torch of life, To wake the marble into strife.*
XVI. Then up sprang many a mainland Lord, Obedient to their Chieftain's word. Barcaldine's arm is high in air, And Kinloch-Alline's blade is bare, Black Murthok's dirk has left its sheath, And clench'd is Dermid's hand of death. Their mutter'd threats of vengeance
swell Into a wild and warlike yell; Onward they press with weapons high, The affrighted females shrick and fly, And, Scotland, then thy brightest ray Had darken'd ere its noon of day,-But every chief of birth and fame, That from the Isles of Ocean came, At Ronald's side that hour withstood Fierce Lorn's relentless thirst for blood.
XIX. That awful pause the stranger maid, And Edith, seized to pray for aid. As to De Argentine she clung, Away her veil the stranger flung, And, lovely ’mid her wild despair, Fast stream'd her eyes, wide flow'd her hair, “O thou, of knighthood once the flower, Sure refuge in distressful hour, Thou, who in Judah well hast fought For our dear faith, and oft hast sought Renown in knightly exercise, When this poor hand has dealt the prize, Say, can thy soul of honour brook On the unequal strife to look, When, butcher'd thus in peaceful hall, Those once thy friends, my brethren, fall ! ”
XVII. Brave Torquil from Dunvegan high, Lord of the misty hills of Skye, Mac-Niel, wild Bara's ancieat thane, Duart, of bold Clan-Gillian's strain,
i For these four lines the MS. has,
" But stern the Island Lord withstood
The vengeful Chieftain's thirst of blood." i 1!. --" While thus for blood and blows prepared
Raised was each hand,“ &c.
"each Chieftain rude, Like that famed Swordsman's statue stood."
4 MS.--" To waken him to deadly strife."