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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,
In whose high-toned impartial mind
Degrees of mortal rank and state
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' her form's fair symmetry."
Suspicious doubt and lordly scorn
Lour'd 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, high 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 eye 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,12
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." 9 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. 5 MS.--"Aside then lords and ladies spake,
And ushers censured the mistake." 6 " The first entry of the illustrious strangers into the castle
of the Celtic chief, is in the accustomed and peculiar style of
Am qualified by minstrel craft.'"
.“ the festal roat." 9 MS.-"Nor hide," &c. 10 See Appendix, Note 0. 11 MS.-" That younger stranger, nought out-dared,
Was prompt the haughty Chief to bearu." 12 MS._" Men say that he has sworn."
Fled the deer from wild Teyndrum,
“ Brother, it better suits the time
Then whisper'd Argentine,-
If right this guess of mine.”
The Brooch of Lorn.3
“ Farthest fied its former Lord,
“ 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. Sonthly Rerieu, 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 stan zas) 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 breathless Lorn had left the trifo.*
Enough of thisAnd, Minstrel, hold,
Fergus, of Canna's castled pay,
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 shriek 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 ancient 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." 2 31S.--"While thus for blood and blows prepared
Raised was each hand,“ &c.
3 MS. --- each Chieftain rude,
Like that famed Swordsman's statge stood."
4 MS.--" To waken him to deadly strife."
To Argentine she turn'd her word,
And by Columba's stone.
To cheer his penance lone,
With Aves many a one-
XXII. Scarcely this fair accord was o'er, When through the wide revolving door
The black-stoled brethren wind; Twelve sandall’d monks, who relics bore, With many a torch-bearer before,
And many a cross behind.5
Dropp'd swiftly at the sight;
Dart from the vault of night.
XX. Now rose De Argentine, to claim The prisoners in his sovereign's name, To England's crown, who, vassals sworn, 'Gainst their liege lord had weapon borne(Such speech, I ween, was but to hide His care their safety to provide; For knight more true in thought and deed Than Argentino ne'er spurr'd a steed)And Ronald, who his meaning guess'd, Seem'd half to sanction the request. This purpose fiery Torquil broke:“ Somewhat we've heard of England's yoke,” He said, “and, in our islands, Fame Hath whisper'd of a lawful claim, That calls the Bruce fair Scotland's Lord, Though dispossess'd by foreign sword. This craves reflection—but though right And just the charge of England's Knight, Let England's crown her rebels seize Where she has power ;-in towers like these, Midst Scottish Chieftains summon’d here To bridal mirth and bridal cheer, Be sure, with no consent of mine, Shall either Lorn or Argentine With chains or violence, in our sight, Oppress a brave and banish'd Knight.”
The torch's glaring ray
His tresses scant and grey.
Or are these naked brands
XXI. Then waked the wild debate again, With brawling threat and clamour vain. Vassals and menials, thronging in, Lent their brute rage to gwell the din; When, far and wide, a bugle-clang From the dark ocean upward rang.
« The Abbot comes !” they cry at once, “ The holy man, whose favour'd glance
Hath sainted visions known; Angels have met him on the way, Beside the blessed martyrs' bay,
XXIV. Then, cloaking hate with fiery zeal, Proud Lorn first answer'd the appeal ;
“ Thou comest, O holy Man, True sons of blessed church to greet, But little deeming here to meet
A wretch, beneath the ban
1 The MS. adds:
“ With such a frantic fond appeal,
As only lovers make and feel." 21S.--" What time at every cross of old." 8 MS.-" We will his holy rede obey,
The Abbot's voice shall end the fray." • MS.--"Scarce was this peaceful paction o'er."
5 MS.--"Did slow procession wind;
Twelve monks, who stole and mantle wore
With many," &c. 6 The MS. here adds:
“ Men bound in her communion sweet,
And duteous to the Papal seat.'
Of Pope and Church, for murder done
Since matchless Wallace first had been
7 The MS. adds 2 In place of the couplet which follows, the MS. has
“ He raised the suppliants from the fioor,
And bade their sorrowing be o'er,
And bade them give their weeping o'er,
But in a tone that well explain'd
How little grace their prayers had gain'd;
For though he purposed true and well,
Still stubborn and inflexible
In what he deem'd his duty high,
Was Abbot Ademar of Y." 8 The MS. adds:
8 MS.-" For Bruce's custody made claim."-In place of “ Secure such foul offenders find
the two couplets which follow, the MS. has No favour in a holy mind."
“And Torqnil, stout Dunvegan's Knight, 4 The MS. has:
As well defended Scotland's right.
Enough of," &c.
9 See Appendix, Note W.
10 See Appendix, Note X.
11 Ibid, Note Y. The refuge due to the distress'd,
19 See Appendix, Note Z. The oath which binds each generous knight 13 In the MS. this couplet is wanting, and, without breaking Still to prevent unequal fight;
the stanza, Lord Ronald continues, And Isabel," &c.
“ By saints of isle," &e. MS.—“And wept alike and knelt and pray'd.”—The nine 14 The MacLeods, and most other distinguished Hebridean lines which intervene betwixt this and the concluding couplet families, were of Scandinavian extraction, and some were late of the stan za are not in the MS.
or imperfect converts to Christianity. The family names of See Appendix, Note V.
Torquil, Thormod, &c. are all Norwegian.