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Torquil's rude thought and stubborn will
Heaven knows my purpose to atone,
XXVIII. The Abbot seem'd with eye severe The hardy Chieftain's speech to hear; Then on King Robert turn'd the Monk, But twice his courage came and sunk, Confronted with the hero's look; Twice fell his eye, his accents shook ; At length, resolved in tone and brow, Sternly he question’d him-_“ And thou, Unhappy! what hast thou to plead, Why I denounce not on thy deed That awful doom which canons tell Shuts paradise, and opens hell; Anathema of power so dread, It blends the living with the dead, Bids each good angel soar away, And every ill one claim his prey; Expels thee from the church's care, And deafens Heaven against thy prayer; Arms every hand against thy life, Bans all who aid thee in the strife, Nay, each whose succour, cold and scant, a With meanest alms relieves thy want; Haunts thee while living,--and, when dead, Dwells on thy yet devoted head, Rends Honour's scutcheon from thy hearse, Stills o'er thy bier the holy verse, And spurns thy corpse from hallow'd ground, Flung like vile carrion to the hound; Such is the dire and desperate doom For sacrilege, decreed by Rome; And such the well-deserved meed Of thine unhallow'd, ruthless deed."
XXX. Like man by prodigy amazed, Upon the King the Abbot gazed ; Then o'er his pallid features glance, Convulsions of ecstatic trance. His breathing came more thick and fast, And from his pale blue eyes were cast Strange rays of wild and wandering light; Uprise his locks of silver white, Flush'd is his brow, through every vein In azure tide the currents strain, And undistinguish'd accents broke The awful silence ere be spoke.
XXXI. “ De Bruce! I rose with purpose dread To speak my curse upon thy head, And give thee as an outcast o'er To him who burns to shed thy gore ;But, like the Midianite of old, Who stood on Zophim, heaven-controllid, I feel within mine aged breast
that will not be repress’d.o It prompts my voice, it swells my veins, It burns, it maddens, it constrains !-De Bruce, thy sacrilegious blow Hath at God's altar slain thy foe: O’ermaster'd yet by high behest, I bless thee, and thou shalt be bless'd!” He spoke, and o'er the astonish'd throng Was silence, awful, deep, and long.
XXIX. “ Abbot!” The Bruce replied, “thy charge It boots not to dispute at large. This much, howe'er, I bid thee know, No selfish vengeance dealt the blow, For Comyn died his country's foe. Nor blame I friends whose ill-timed speed Fulfill'd my soon-repented deed, Nor censure those from whose stern tongue The dire anathema has rung. I only blame mine own wild ire, By Scotland's wrongs incensed to fire.
The Lord of the Isles.
Till, murmuring distant first, then near and shrill,
His prophet-speech had spoke;
Before a whisper woke.
The solemn stillness broke;
1 See Appendix, Note 2 D.
characteristical beauties than of his characteristical faults. 9 “On this transcendant passage we shall only remark, that The scene itself is not of a very edifying description; nor is the of the gloomy part of the prophecy we hear nothing more want of agreeableness in the subject compensated by any de through the whole of the poem, and though the Abbot informs tached merit in the details. Of the language and versification the King that he shall be ‘On foreign shores a man exiled," in many parts, it is hardly possible to speak favourably. The the poet never speaks of him but as resident in Scotland, up to same must be said of the speeches which the different characthe period of the battle of Bannockburn."-Critical Review. ters address to each other. The rude vehemence which they 3 The MS. has not this couplet.
display seems to consist much more in the loudness and gesti. 4 " The conception and execution of these stanzas consti- culation with which the speakers express themselves, than in tute excellence which it would be difficult to match from any the force and energy of their sentiments, which, for the most other part of the poem. The surprise is grand and perfect. part, are such as the barbarous chiefs, to whom they are atThe monk, struck with the heroism of Robert, forgoes the in- tributed, might, without any great premeditation, either as to tended anathemna, and breaks out into a prophetic annuncia the thought or language, have actually uttered. To find lantion of his final triumph over all his enemies, and the venera guage and sentiments proportioned to characters of such extion in which his name will be held by posterity. These stan- traordinary dimensions as the agents in the poems of Homer zas, which conclude the second Canto, derive their chief title and Milton, is indeed an admirable effort of genius; but to to encomium from the emphatic felicity of their burden, make such as we meet with in the epic poetry of the present * I bless thee, and thou shalt be bless'd;'
day, persons often below the middle size, and never very
much above it, merely speak in character, is not likely to ocin which few and simple words, following, as they do, a series casion either much difficulty to the poet, or much pleasure to of predicated ills, there is an energy that instantaneously ap- the reader. As an example, we might adduce the speech of peals to the heart, and surpasses, all to nothing, the results of stout Dunvegan's knight, stanza xxvii., which is not the less passages less happy in their application, though more laboured wanting in taste, because it is natural and characteristic.”and tortuous in their construction."--Critical Rivico. Quarterly Review
" The story of the second canto exhibits fewer of Mr. Scott's 5 MS-" The rustling aspen bids his le f be still."
And sternly Aung apart ;
“ My horse, my mantle, and my train! “ And deem'st thou me so mean of mood,
Let none who honours Lorn remain !”As to forget the mortal feud,
Courteous, but stern, a bold request And clasp the hand with blood imbrued 1
To Bruce De Argentine express’d. From my dear Kinsman's heart?
“ Lord Earl,” he said,_“I cannot chuse Is this thy rede!-a due return
But yield such title to the Bruce, For ancient league and friendship sworn!
Though name and earldom both are gone, But well our mountain proverb shows
Since he braced rebel's armour onThe faith of Islesmen ebbs and flows.
But, Earl or Serf-rude phrase was thine Be it even so—believe, ere long,
Of late, and launch'd at Argentine ; He that now bears shall wreak the wrong.
Such as compels me to demand Call Edith-call the Maid of Lorn!
Redress of honour at thy hand. My sister, slaves !—for further scorn,
We need not to each other tell, Be sure nor she nor I will stay.
That both can wield their weapons well; Away, De Argentine, away !-
Then do me but the soldier grace, We nor ally nor brother know,
This glove upon thy helm to place In Bruce's friend, or England's foe.”
Where we may meet in fight;
And I will say, as still I've said,
Though by ambition far misled,
Thou art a noble knight.”—
“ And I,” the princely Bruce replied, He shouted, “ Falsehood !-treachery!
“ Might term it stain on knighthood's pride, Revenge and blood !-a lordly meed
That the bright sword of Argentine To him that will avenge the deed!
Should in a tyrant's quarrel shine; A Baron's lands !”—His frantic mood
But, for your brave request, Was scarcely by the news withstood,
Be sure the honour'd pledge you gave That Morag shared his sister's flight,
In every battle-field shall wave And that, in hurry of the night,
Upon my helmet-crest; Scaped noteless, and without remark,
Believe, that if my hasty tongue Two strangers sought the Abbot's bark.--
Hath done thine honour causeless wrong, “ Man every galley !-fly-pursue !
It shall be well redress'd. The priest his treachery shall rue!
Not dearer to my soul was glove, Ay, and the time shall quickly come,
Bestow'd in youth by lady's love, When we shall hear the thanks that Rome
Than this which thou hast given ! Will pay his feigned prophecy!”
Thus, then, my noble foe I greet; Such was fierce Lorn's indignant cry;3
Health and high fortune till we meet, And Cormac Doil in haste obey'd,
And then—what pleases Heaven." Hoisted his sail, his anchor weigh’d, (For, glad of each pretext for spoil,
VII. A pirate sworn was Cormac Doil.)*
Thus parted they–for now, with sound But others, lingering, spoke apart,
Like waves rollid back from rocky ground, 6. The Maid has given her maiden heart
The friends of Lorn retire; To Ronald of the Isles,
Each mainland chieftain, with his train, And, fearful lest her brother's word
Draws to his mountain towers again, Bestow her on that English Lord,
Pondering how mortal schemes prove vain, She seeks Iona's piles,
And mortal hopes expire. And wisely deems it best to dwell
But through the castle double guard, A votaress in the holy cell,
By Ronald's charge, kept wakeful ward, Until these feuds so fierce and fell
Wicket and gate were trebly barrd, The Abbot reconciles.” 5
By beam and bolt and chain;
Then of the guests, in courteous sort, v.
He pray'd excuse for mirth broke short, As, impotent of ire, the hall
And bade them in Artornish fort Echo'd to Lorn's impatient call,
In confidence remain.
Now torch and menial tendance led
| That Clifford makes, whose lordly call Chieftain and knight to bower and bed,
Now echoes through my father's hall.
But first my course to Arran led,
Where valiant Lennox gathers head,
And on the sea, by tempest tossid, Oblivion on the weary head,
Our barks dispersed, our purpose cross'd, After a toilsome day.
Mine own, a hostile sail to shun,
Far from her destined course had run,
When that wise will, which masters ours,
Compellid us to your friendly towers.” To Edward slumbering by his side, . “ Awake, or sleep for aye!
X. Even now there jarr'd a secret door
Then Torquil spoke :--- The time crates A taper-light gleams on the floor-
speed! Up, Edward, up, I say!
We must not linger in our deed, Some one glides in like midnight ghost
But instant pray our Sovereign Liege, Nay, strike not! 'tis our noble Host.”
To shun the perils of a siege. Advancing then his taper's flame,
The vengeful Lorn, with all his powers, Ronald stept forth, and with him came
Lies but too near Artornish towers, Dunvegan's chief-each bent the knee
And England's light-arm’d vessels ride,
Not distant far, the waves of Clyde,
Prompt at these tidings to unmoor,
And sweep each strait, and guard each shore. As king of mainland and of isle,
Then, till this fresh alarm pass by,
Secret and safe my Liege must lie “ And 0,” said Ronald,“ Own'd of Ileaven! In the far bounds of friendly Skye, Say, is my erring youth forgiven,
Torquil thy pilot and thy guide.”By falsehood's arts from duty driven,
“ Not so, brave Chieftain," Ronald cried; Who rebel falchion drew,
“ Myself will on my Sovereign wait,3 Yet ever to thy deeds of fame,
And raise in arms the men of Sleate, Even while I strove against thy claim,
Whilst thou, renown’d where chiefs debate, Paid homage just and true?”
Shalt sway their souls by council sage, “ Alas ! dear youth, the unhappy time,”
And awe them by thy locks of age.” Answer'd the Bruce," must bear the crime,
“ And if my words in weight shall fail, Since, guiltier far than you,
This ponderous sword shall turn the scale.”
_“ The scheme,” said Bruce, "contents me And in a sigh conceal'd the rest.
Meantime, 'twere best that Isabel,
For safety, with my bark and crew,
Again to friendly Erin drew. To repossess him in his right;
There Edward, too, shall with her wend, But well their counsels must be weighd,
In need to cheer her and defend, Ere banners raised and musters made,
And muster up each scatter'd friend.”_ For English hire and Lorn’s intrigues
Here seem'd it as Lord Ronald's ear Bound many chiefs in southern leagues.
Would other counsel gladlier hear; In answer, Bruce his purpose bold
But, all achieved as soon as plann'd, To his new vassals 2 frankly told.
Both barks, in secret arm'd and mann'd, “ The winter worn in exile o'er,
From out the haven bore; I long'd for Carrick's kindred shore.
On different voyage forth they ply, I thought upon my native Ayr,
This for the coast of winged Skye, And long'd to see the burly fare
And that for Erin's shore.
I See Appendix, Note 2 F.
Not so, kind Torquil,' Ronald cried ;
“Aye,' said the Chief, or if they fail,
This broadsword's weight shall turn the scale.""
“Our bark's departure, too, will blind
To our intent the foeman's mind."
The MS. has,