Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Goat-skins or deer-hides o'er them cast,
Made a rude fence against the blast;
Their arms and feet and heads were bare,
Matted their beards, unshorn their hair;
For arms, the caitiffs bore in hand,
A club, an axe, a rusty brand.

XXII.
They reach'd the dreary cabin, made
Of sails against a rock display'd,

And there, on entering, found
A slender boy, whose form and mien
Ill suited with such savage scene,
In cap and cloak of velvet green,

Low seated on the ground.
His garb was such as minstrels wear,
Dark was his hue, and dark his hair,
His youthful cheek was marr’d by care,

His eyes in sorrow drown'd. “ Whence this poor boy?”-As Ronald

spoke,
The voice his trance of anguish broke;
As if awaked from ghastly dream,
He raised his head with start and scream,

And wildly gazed around;
Then to the wall his face he turn'd,
And his dark neck with blushes burn'd.

XX. Onward, still mute, they kept the track ;“ Tell who ye be, or else stand back," Said Bruce; “ In deserts when they meet, Men pass not as in peaceful street.” Still, at his stern command, they stood, And proffer'd greeting brief and rude, But acted courtesy so ill, As seem'd of fear, and not of will. “ Wanderers we are, as you may be ; Men hither driven by wind and sea, Who, if you list to taste our cheer, Will share with you this fallow deer.”– “ If from the sea, where lies your bark?"« Ten fathom deep in ocean dark ! Wreck'd yesternight: but we are men, Who little sense of peril ken. The shades come down--the day is shutWill you go with us to our hut?”“ Our vessel waits us in the bay;? Thanks for your proffer-have good-day.”— “ Was that your galley, then, which rode Not far from shore when evening glow'd ?”_2 " It was.”—“ Then spare your needless pain, There will she now be sought in vain. We saw her from the mountain head, When, with St. George's blazon red, A southern vessel bore in sight, And yours raised sail, and took to flight.”—

[ocr errors]

XXIII. “ Whose is the boy?” again he said.

By chance of war our captive made;
He may be yours, if you should hold
That music has more charms than gold;
For, though from earliest childhood mute,
The lad can deftly touch the lute,

And on the rote and viol play,
And well can drive the time away

For those who love such glee;
For me, the favouring breeze, when loud
It pipes upon the galley's shroud,

Makes blither melody.”— “ Hath he, then, sense of spoken sound?”–

“ Aye; so his mother bade us know, A crone in our late shipwreck drown'd,

And hence the silly stripling's woe.
More of the youth I cannot say,
Our captive but since yesterday;
When wind and weather wax'd so grim,
We little listed think of him.-
But why waste time in idle words?
Sit to your cheer-unbelt your swords.”
Sudden the captive turn’d his head,
And one quick glance to Ronald sped.
It was a keen and warning look,
And well the Chief the signal took.

XXI. “ Now, by the rood, unwelcome news!” Thus with Lord Ronald communed Bruce; “ Nor rests there light enough to show If this their tale be true or no. The men seem bred of churlish kind, Yet mellow nuts have hardest rind; We will go with them-food and fire 3 And sheltering roof our wants require. Sure guard 'gainst treachery will we keep, And watch by turns our comrades’ sleep.Good fellows, thanks; your guests we'll be, And well will pay the courtesy. Come, lead us where your lodging lies, ---Nay, soft! we mix not companies.Show us the path o’er crag and stone,4 And we will follow you ;-lead on.”

XXIV. “ Kind host," he said, “ our needs require A separate board and separate fire; For know, that on a pilgrimage Wend I, my comrade, and this page.

MS.-" Our boat and vessel cannot stay." * MS.-“ Deep in the bay when evening glow'd." 3 MS. ---" Yet rugged brow have bosoms kind;

Wend we with them for food and tire." * MS.-"Wend you the first o'er stock and stone." 6 MS. - Entrance."

6 MS.--" But on the clairshoch he can play,

And help a weary night away,

With those who love such glee.
To me, the favouring breeze, when loud
It pipes through on my galley's shroud,

Makes better mclody."

And, sworn to vigil and to fast,

Thus rank'd, to give the youthful page Long as this hallow'd task shall last,

The rest required by tender age. We never doff the plaid or sword,

What is Lord Ronald's wakeful thought, Or feast us at a stranger's board ;'

To chase the languor toil had brought?And never share one common sleep,

(For deem not that he deign'd to throw But one must still his vigil keep.

Much care upon such coward foe, Thus, for our separate use, good friend,

He thinks of lovely Isabel, We'll hold this hut's remoter end."

When at her foeman's feet she fell, “ A churlish vow,” the eldest said,

Nor less when, placed in princely selle, “ And hard, methinks, to be obey’d.

She glanced on him with favouring eyes, How say you, if, to wreak the scorn

At Woodstocke when he won the prize. That pays our kindness harsh return,

Nor, fair in joy, in sorrow fair, We should refuse to share our meal?"

In pride of place as ’mid despair, “ Then say we, that our swords are steel!

Must she alone engross his care. And our vow binds us not to fast,

His thoughts to his betrothed bride, Where gold or force may buy repast.”—

To Edith, turn-0 how decide, Their host's dark brow grew keen and fell,

When here his love and heart are given, His teeth are clench’d, his features swell;

And there his faith stands plight to Heaven! Yet sunk the felon's moody ire

No drowsy ward 'tis his to keep, Before Lord Ronald's glance of fire,

For seldom lovers long for sleep. Nor could his craven courage brook

Till sung his midnight hymn the owl, The Monarch's calm and dauntless look.

Answer'd the dog-fox with his howl, With laugh constrain'd,—“ Let every man

Then waked the King-at his request,
Follow the fashion of his clan!

Lord Ronald stretch'd himself to rest.
Each to his separate quarters keep,
And feed or fast, or wake or sleep.”

XXVII.

What spell was good King Robert's, say, XXV.

To drive the weary night away? Their fire at separate distance burns,

His was the patriot's burning thought, By turns they eat, keep guard by turns;

Of Freedom's battle bravely fought, For evil seem'd that old man's eye,

Of castles storm’d, of cities freed, Dark and designing, fierce yet shy.

Of deep design and daring deed, Still he avoided forward look,

Of England's roses reft and torn, But slow and circumspectly took

And Scotland's cross in triumph worn, A circling, never-ceasing glance,

Of rout and rally, war and truce,By doubt and cunning mark'd at once,

As heroes think, so thought the Bruce. Which shot a mischief-boding ray,?

No marvel, ʼmid such musings high, From under eyebrows shagg'd and grey.

Sleep shunn'd the Monarch's thoughtful eye. The younger, too, who seem’d his son,

Now over Coolin's eastern head Had that dark look the timid shun;

The greyish lights begins to spread, The half-clad serfs behind them sate,

The otter to his cavern drew, And scowl'd a glare 'twixt fear and hate

And clamour'd shrill the wakening mew; Till all, as darkness onward crept,

Then watch'd the page-to needful rest Couch'd down, and seem'd to sleep, or slept. The King resign’d his anxious breast. Nor he, that boy, whose powerless tongue Must trust his eyes to wail his wrong,

XXVIII. A longer watch of sorrow made,

To Allan's eyes was harder task, But stretch'd his limbs to slumber laid.3

The weary watch their safeties ask.

He trimm'd the fire, and gave to shine
XXVI.

With bickering light the splinter'd pine; Not in his dangerous host confides

Then gazed awhile, where silent laid The King, but wary watch provides.

Their hosts were shrouded by the plaid. Ronald keeps ward till midnight past,

But little fear waked in his mind, Then wakes the King, young Allan last;

For he was bred of martial kind,

9 MS.

MS.-" And we have sworn to

(sainted
Tholy

powers
While lasts this hallow'd task of ours,
Never to doff the plaid or sword,
Nor feast us at a stranger's board."

"an ill foreboding ray." 3 MS." But seems in senseless slumber laid." 4 MS.-“ Must she alone his musings share.

They turn to his betrothed bride." 5 MS.--"The cold blue light."

And, if to manhood he arrive,

And one beneath his grasp lies prone, May match the boldest knight alive.

In mortal grapple overthrown. Then thought he of his mother's tower,

But while Lord Ronald's dagger drank His little sisters' greenwood bower,

The life-blood from his panting flank, How there the Easter-gambols pass,

The Father-ruffian of the band And of Dan Joseph's lengthen’d mass.

Behind him rears a coward hand! But still before his weary eye

-O for a moment's aid, In rays prolong’d the blazes die

Till Bruce, who deals no double blow,5 Again he roused him--on the lake

Dash to the earth another foe, Look'd forth, where now the twilight-flake

Above his comrade laid ! Of pale cold dawn began to wake.

And it is gain'd—the captive sprung On Coolin's cliffs the mist lay furld,

On the raised arm, and closely clung, The morning breeze the lake had curl'd,

And, ere he shook him loose, The short dark waves, heaved to the land,

The master'd felon press’d the ground, With ceaseless plash kiss'd cliff or sand ;

And gasp'd beneath a mortal wound,
It was a slumbrous sound-he turn'd

While o'er him stands the Bruce.
To tales at which his youth had burn'd,
Of pilgrim's path by demon crossid,

XXX.
Of sprightly elf or yelling ghost,

“ Miscreant! while lasts thy flitting spark, Of the wild witch’s baneful cot,

Give me to know the purpose dark, And mermaid's alabaster grot,

That arm’d thy hand with murderous knife, Who bathes her limbs in sunless well,

Against offenceless stranger's life?"Deep in Strathaird's enchanted cell.

“ No stranger thou !" with accent fell, Thither in fancy rapt he flies,

Murmur'd the wretch; “ I know thee well; And on his sight the vaults arise ;

And know thee for the foeman sworn That hut's dark walls he sees no more,

Of my high chief, the mighty Lorn.”— His foot is on the marble floor,

Speak yet again, and speak the truth And o'er his head the dazzling spars

For thy soul's sake!-- from whence this youth? Gleam like a firmament of stars!

His country, birth, and name declare, -Hark! hears he not the sea-nymph speak

And thus one evil deed repair.”— Her anger in that thrilling shriek !

_“ Vex me no more!... my blood runs cold .., No! all too late, with Allan's dream

No more I know than I have told. Mingled the captive's warning scream.?

We found him in a bark we sought As from the ground he strives to start,

With different purpose

and I thought”.... A ruffian's dagger finds his heart!

Fate cut him short; in blood and broil, Upward he casts his dizzy eyes,

As he had lived, died Cormac Doil.
Murmurs his master's name, and dies !3

XXXI.
XXIX.

Then resting on his bloody blade,
Not so awoke the King ! his hand

The valiant Bruce to Ronald said, Snatch'd from the flame a knotted brand,

“ Now shame upon us both !-that boy The nearest weapon of his wrath;

Lifts his mute face to heaven,
With this he cross'd the murderer's path,

And clasps his hands, to testify
And venged young Allan well!

His gratitude to God on high,
The spatter'd brain and bubbling blood

For strange deliverance given.
Hiss'd on the half-extinguish'd wood,

His speechless gesture thanks hath paid,
The miscreant gasp'd and fell! 4

Which our free tongues have left unsaid !”
Nor rose in peace the Island Lord;

He raised the youth with kindly word, One caitiff died upon his sword,

But mark'd him shudder at the sword:

9 MS.

I See Appendix, Note 2 1.

4 MS.-" What time the miscreant fell."
-“ with empty dream,
Mingled the captive's real scream,"

5 “On witnessing the disinterment of Bruce's remains at 3 “ Young Allan's turn (to watch) comes last, which gives tears; for there was the wasted skull, which once was the

Dunfermline, in 1822," says Sir Walter, " many people shed the poet the opportunity of marking, in the most natural and happy manner, that insensible transition from the reality of head that thought so wisely and boldly for his country's dewaking thoughts, to the fanciful visions of slumber, and that liverance; and there was the dry bone, which had once been delusive power of the imagination which so blends the con

the sturdy arm that killed Sir Henry de Bohun, between the fines of these separate states, as to deceive and sport with the

two armies, at a single blow, on the evening before the battle efforts even of determined vigilance."- British Critic, Feb

of Bannockburn.”- Tales of a Granıfutiuer. ruary, 1815.

6 MS.-" Holds up his speechless face to heaven."

The Lord of the Isles.

CANTO FOURTH.

Hc cleansed it from its hue of death,
And plunged the weapon in its sheath.
“ Alas, poor child! unfitting part
Fate doom’d, when with so soft a heart,

And form so slight as thine,
She made thee first a pirate's slave,
Then, in his stead, a patron gave

Of wayward lot like mine;
A landless prince, whose wandering life
Is but one scene of blood and strife ---
Yet scant of friends the Bruce shall be,
But he'll find resting-place for thee.-
Come, noble Ronald ! o'er the dead
Enough thy generous grief is paid,
And well has Allan's fate been wroke;
Come, wend we hence—the day has broke
Seek we our bark-I trust the tale
Was false, that she had hoisted sail.”

I.
STRANGER ! if e'er thine ardent step hath traced
The northern realms of ancient Caledon,
Where the proud Queen of Wilderness hath placed,
By lake and cataract, her lonely throne;
Sublime but sad delight thy soul hath known,
Gazing on pathless glen and mountain high,
Listing where from the cliffs the torrents thrown

Mingle their echoes with the eagle's cry,
And with the sounding lake, and with the moaningsky.

Yes! 'twas sublime, but sad.—The loneliness
Loaded thy heart, the desert tired thine eye;
And strange and awful fears began to press
Thy bosom with a stern solemnity.
Then hast thou wish'd some woodman's cottage nign,
Something that show'd of life, though low and mean;
Glad sight, its curling wreath of smoke to spy,

Glad sound, its cock's blithe carol would have been,
Or children whooping wild beneath the willows green.

XXXII.
Yet, ere they left that charnel-cell,
The Island Lord bade sad farewell
To Allan:-“ Who shall tell this tale,"
He said, “in halls of Donagaile!
Oh, who his widow'd mother tell,
That, ere his bloom, her fairest fell!
Rest thee, poor youth! and trust my care
For mass and knell and funeral prayer;
While o'er those caitiffs, where they lie,
The wolf shall snarl, the raven cry!”
And now the eastern mountain's head
On the dark lake threw lustre red;
Bright gleams of gold and purple streak
Ravine and precipice and peak-
(So earthly power at distance shows ;
Reveals his splendour, hides his woes.)
O’er sheets of granite, dark and broad,'
Rent and unequal, lay the road.
In sad discourse the warriors wind,
And the mute captive moves behind.”

Such are the scenes, where savage grandeur wakes
An awful thrill that softens into sighs;
Such feelings rouse them by dim Rannoch's lakes,
In dark Glencoe such gloomy raptures rise :
Or farther, where, beneath the northern skies,
Chides wild Loch-Eribol his caverns hoar-
But, be the minstrel judge, they yield the prize

Of desert dignity to that dread shore,
That sees grim Coolin rise, and hears Coriskin roar.3

II.
Through such wild scenes the champion pass'd,
When bold halloo and bugle-blast
Upon the breeze came loud and fast.

1 MS.-“ Along the lake's rude margin slow,

just quoted (stanzas xxxi ard xxxji.) The same happy mixO'er terraces of granite black they go."

ture of moral remark and vivid painting of dramatic situations,

frequently occurs, and is as frequently debased by prosaic er. 2 MS.—" And the mute page moves slow behind.”- pressions and couplets, and by every variety of ungrammatical

license, or even barbarism. Our readers, in short, will imme" This canto is full of beauties ; the first part of it, contain- diately here discover the powerful hand that has so often preing the conference of the chiefs in Bruce's chamber, might sented them with descriptions calculated at once to exalt and perhaps have been abridged, because the discussion of a mere animate their thoughts, and to lower and deaden the language matter of business is unsuited for poetry; but the remainder which is their vehicle; but, as we have before observed again of the canto is unobjectionable; the scenery in which it is laid and again, we believe, Mr. Scott is inaccessible even to the mild. excites the imagination; and the care scene affords many op- est and the most just reproof on this subject. We really boportunities for the poet, of which Mr. Scott has very success- lieve that he cannot write correct English; and we therefore fully availed himself. The description of Allan's watch is dismiss him as an incurable, with unfeigned compassion for particularly pleasing; indeed, the manner in which he is made this one fault, and with the highest admiration of his many to fall asleep, mingling the scenes of which he was thinking, redeeming virtues.”Monthly Revicu. with the scene around him, and then mingling with his dreams the captive's sudden scream, is, we think, among the most

3 “That Mr. Scott can occasionally clothe the grandeur of happy passages of the whole poem."-Quarterly Review. his thought in the majesty of expression, unobscured with the

jargon of antiquated ballads, and unencumbered by the awk“ We scarcely know whether we could have selected a pas- wardness of rugged expression, or harsh involution, we can sage from the poem that will more fairly illustrate its general with pleasure acknowledge; a finer specimen cannot perhaps merits and pervading bleinishes than the one which we have be exhibited than in this passage."British Critic

- There," said the Bruce, "rung Edward's born! Such hate was his on Solway's strand, What can have caused such brief return?

When vengeance clench'd his palsied hand, And see, brave Ronald, -see him dart

That pointed yet to Scotland's land, O'er stock and stone like hunted hart,

As his last accents pray'd Precipitate, as is the use,

Disgrace and curse upon his heir, In war or sport, of Edward Bruce.

If he one Scottish head should spare, -He marks us, and his eager cry

Till stretch'd upon the bloody lair Will tell his news ere he be nigh.”

Each rebel corpse was laid !

Such hate was his, when his last breath
III.

Renounced the peaceful house of death,
Loud Edward shouts, “What make ye here,

And bade his bones to Scotland's coast
Warring upon the mountain-deer,

Be borne by his remorseless host,
When Scotland wants her King ?

As if his dead and stony eye
A bark from Lennox cross'd our track,

Could still enjoy her misery!
With her in speed I hurried back,

Such hate was his-dark, deadly, long;
These joyful news to bring-

Mine,-as enduring, deep, and strong!'
The Stuart stirs in Teviotdale,
And Douglas wakes his native vale;

V.
Thy storm-toss'd fleet hath won its way

“ Let women, Edward, war with words, With little loss to Brodick-Bay,

With curses monks, but men with swords: And Lennox, with a gallant band,

Nor doubt of living foes, to sate Waits but thy coming and command

Deepest revenge and deadliest hate.3 To waft them o'er to Carrick strand.

Now, to the sea! behold the beach, There are blithe news —but mark the close ! And see the galleys' pendants stretcb Edward, the deadliest of our foes,

Their fluttering length down favouring gale! As with his host he northward passid,

Aboard, aboard! and hoist the sail. Hath on the Borders breathed his last."

Hold we our way for Arran first,

Where meet in arms our friends dispersed;
IV.

Lennox the loyal, De la Haye,
Still stood the Bruce—his steady cheek

And Boyd the bold in battle fray.
Was little wont his joy to speak,

I long the hardy band to head,
But then his colour rose:

And see once more my standard spread. “Now, Scotland ! shortly shalt thou see,

Does noble Ronald share our course,
With God's high will, thy children free,

Or stay to raise his island force?”–
And vengeance on thy foes !

“ Come weal, come woe, by Bruce's side,” Yet to no sense of selfish wrongs,

Replied the Chief, “ will Ronald bide.
Bear witness with me, Heaven, belongs

And since two galleys yonder ride,
My joy o'er Edward's bier;?

Be mine, so please my liege, dismiss'd
I took my knighthood at his hand,

To wake to arms the clans of Uist,
And lordship held of him, and land,

And all who hear the Minche's roar,
And well may vouch it here,

On the Long Island's lonely shore.
That, blot the story from his page,

The nearer Isles, with slight delay, Of Scotland ruin'd in his rage,

Ourselves may summon in our way;
You read a monarch brave and sage,

And soon on Arran's shore shall meet,
And to his people dear.”—

With Torquil's aid, a gallant fleet, “ Let London's burghers mourn her Lord,

If aught avails their Chieftain's hest And Croydon monks his praise record,”

Among the islesmen of the west.” The eager Edward said; “ Eternal as his own, my hate

VI.
Surmounts the bounds of mortal fate,

Thus was their venturous council said.
And dies not with the dead!

But, ere their sails the galleys spread,

1 See Appendix, Note 2 K.

passion for the sudden fate of a miscreant like this, is, we are 2 See Appendix, Note 2 L.

compelled to say it, so monstrous, and in a Scottish poet, so 3 “ The Bruce was, unquestionably, of a temper never sur- unnatural a violation of truth and decency, not to say patri. passed for its humanity, munificence, and nobleness; yet, to otism, that we are really astonished that the author could represent him sorrowing over the death of the first Plantage have conceived the idea, much more that he could suffer his Det, after the repeated and tremendous ills inflicted by that pen to record it. This wretched abasement on the part of man on Scotland-the patriot Wallace murdered by his order, The Bruce, is farther heightened by the King's half-reprehenAs well as the royal race of Wales, and the very brothers of sion of Prince Edward's noble and stern expression of undying The Bruce, slaughtered by his command-to represent the hatred against his country's spoiler, and his family's assassin. Just and generous Robert, we repeat, feeling an instant's com- --Critical Review.

2 E

« AnteriorContinuar »