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Like deer, that, rousing from their lair,
Beside Maciarlane's Cross he staid,
V. “ Kind Father, hie without delay, Across the hills to Brodick-Bay. This message to the Bruce be given; I pray him, by his hopes of Heaven, That, till he speak with me, he stay ! Or, if his haste brook no delay, That he deliver, on my suit, Into thy charge that stripling mute. Thus prays his sister Isabel, For causes more than she may tell — Away, good father! and take heed, That life and death are on thy speed.” His cowl the good old priest did on, Took his piked staff and sandall’d shoon, And, like a palmer bent by eld, O’er moss and moor his journey held.?
Far distant in the south, the ray
But as, on Carrick shore,
It kindled more and more.
Full strange to churchman's eye;
And helmets flashing high.
While, hastening all on board,
With many a haughty word.
VI. Heavy and dull the foot of age, And rugged was the pilgrimage ; But none was there beside, whose care Might such important message bear. Through birchen copse he wander'd slow, Stunted and sapless, thin and low; By many a mountain stream he pass'd, From the tall cliffs in tumult cast, Dashing to foam their waters dun, And sparkling in the summer sun. Round his grey head the wild curlew In many a fearless circle flew. O'er chasms he pass'd, where fractures
wide Craved wary eye and ample stride ; He crossd his brow beside the stone Where Druids erst heard victims groan," And at the cairns upon the wild, O’er many a heathen hero piled,5 He breathed a timid prayer for those Who died ere Shiloh's sun arose.
VIII. Through that wild throng the Father pass’d, And reach'd the Royal Bruce at last. He leant against a stranded boat, That the approaching tide must float, And counted every rippling wave, As higher yet her sides they lave, And oft the distant fire he eyed, And closer yet his hauberk tied, And loosen'd in its sheath his brand. Edward and Lennox were at hand,
I MS.-" Canst tell where they have bent their way?" 2 MS.-“And cross the island took his way,
O'er hill and holt, to Brodick-Bay." 3 See Appendix, Note 2 W. • MS.-" He cross'd him by the Druids' stone,
That heard of yore the victim's groan."
6 See Appendix, Note 2 X.
6 Ibid, Note 2 Y 7 MS.-" The shades of even more closely drew,
It brighten'd more and more.
And now amid," &c. 8 See Appendix, Note 2 Z.
Douglas and Ronald had the care The soldiers to the barks to share.The Monk approach'd and homage paid; “ And art thou come,” King Robert said, “ So far to bless us ere we part?”— -“ My Liege, and with a loyal heart! But other charge I have to tell,” — And spoke the hest of Isabel. -" Now by Saint Giles,” the monarch cried, “ This moves me much !-this morning tide, I sent the stripling to Saint Bride, With my commandment there to bide.”— -“ Thither he came the portress show'd, But there, my Liege, made brief abode.”
If seen, none can his errand guess;
IX. “ 'Twas I," said Edward," found employ Of nobler import for the boy. Deep pondering in my anxious mind, A fitting messenger to find, To bear thy written mandate o'er To Cuthbert on the Carrick shore, I chanced, at early dawn, to pass The chapel gate to snatch a mass. I found the stripling on a tomb Low-seated, weeping for the doom That gave his youth to convent gloom. I told my purpose, and his eyes Flash'd joyful at the glad surprise. He bounded to the skiff, the sail Was spread before a prosperous gale, And well my charge he hath obey'd; For, see! the ruddy signal made, That Clifford, with his merry-men all, Guards carelessly our father's hall.”—1
XI. “ Aye!” said the Priest, “ while this poor
hand Can chalice raise or cross command, While my old voice has accents' use, Can Augustine forget the Bruce!” Then to his side Lord Ronald press’d, And whisper'd,“ Bear thou this request, That when by Bruce's side I fight, For Scotland's crown and freedom's right, The princess grace her knight to bear Some token of her favouring care; It shall be shown where England's best May shrink to see it on my crest. And for the boy—since weightier care For royal Bruce the times prepare, The helpless youth is Ronald's charge, His couch my plaid, his fence my targe." He ceased; for many an eager hand Had urged the barges from the strand. Their number was a score and ten, They bore thrice threescore chosen men. With such small force did Bruce at last The die for death or empire cast !
X. “ () wild of thought, and hard of heart!” Answer'd the Monarch,“ on a part Of such deep danger to employ A mute, an orphan, and a boy !! Unfit for flight, unfit for strife, Without a tongue to plead for life! Now, were my right restored by Heaven, Edward, my crown I would have given, Ere, thrust on such adventure wild, I perild thus the helpless child.”-Offended half, and half submiss, “ Brother and Liege, of blame like this,” Edward replied, “ I little dream'd. A stranger messenger, I deem'd, Might safest seek the beadsman's cell, Where all thy squires are known so well. Noteless his presence, sharp his sense, His imperfection his defence.
XII. Now on the darkening main afloat, Ready and mann'd rocks every boat; Beneath their oars the ocean's might Was dash'd to sparks of glimmering light. Faint and more faint, as off they bore, Their armour glanced against the shore, And, mingled with the dashing tide, Their murmuring voices distant died. “ God speed them !” said the Priest, as dark On distant billows glides each bark; “ O Heaven! when swords for freedom shine, And monarch's right, the cause is thine! Edge doubly every patriot blow! Beat down the banners of the foe! And be it to the nations known, That Victory is from God alone!" 3
1 The MS. reads :
“ Keeps careless guard in Turnberry hall." See Appendix, Note 3 A.
3 MS." Said Robert, 'to assign a part
Of such deep peril, to employ
A mute, a stranger, and a boy!' 3 MS.
" is thine alone
As up the hill his path he drew,
When that strange light, which, seen afar, Seem'd steady as the polar star, Now, like a prophet's * fiery chair, Seem'd travelling the realms of air. Wide o'er the sky the splendour glows, As that portentous meteor rose; Helm, axe, and falchion glitter'd bright, And in the red and dusky light His comrade's face each warrior saw, Nor marveli'd it was pale with awe. Then high in air the beams were lost, And darkness sunk upon the coast.--Ronald to Heaven a prayer address'd, And Douglas cross'd his dauntless breast; “ Saint James protect us!” Lennox cried, But reckless Edward spoke aside, “ Deem'st thou, Kirkpatrick, in that flame Red Comyn's angry spirit came, Or would thy dauntless heart endure Once more to make assurance sure?"“ Hush!” said the Bruce,“ we soon shall knows If this be sorcerer's empty show,5 Or stratagem of southern foe. The moon shines out-upou the sand Let every leader rank his band.”
XIII. In night the fairy prospects sink, Where Cumray's isles with verdant link Close the fair entrance of the Clyde; The woods of Bute, no more descried, Are gonel--and on the placid sea The rowers ply their task with glee, While hands that knightly lances bore Impatient aid the labouring oar. The half-faced moon shone dim and pale, And glanced against the whiten'd sail; But on that ruddy beacon-light Each steersman kept the helm aright, And oft, for such the King's command, That all at once might reach the strand, From boat to boat loud shout and hail Warn’d them to crowd or slacken sail. South and by west the armada bore, And near at length the Carrick shore. As less and less the distance grows, High and more high the beacon rose; The light, that seem'd a twinkling star, Now blazed portentous, fierce, and far. Dark-red the heaven above it glow'd, Dark-red the sea beneath it flow'd, Red rose the rocks on ocean's brim, In blood-red light her islets swim; Wild scream the dazzled sea-fowl gave, Dropp'd from their crags on plashing
wave. The deer to distant covert drew, The black-cock deem'd it day, and crew. Like some tall castle given to flame, O'er half the land the lustre came. “ Now, good my Liege, and brother sage, What think ye of mine elfin page ?"“ Row on!” the noble King replied, “ We'll learn the truth whate'er betide ; Yet sure the beadsman and the child Could ne'er have waked that beacon wild.”
XV. Faintly the moon's pale beams supply That ruddy light's unnatural dye; The dubious cold reflection lay On the wet sands and quiet bay. Beneath the rocks King Robert drew His scatter'd files to order due, Till shield compact and serried spear In the cool light shone blue and clear. Then down a path that sought the tide, That speechless page was seen to glide; He knelt him lowly on the sand, And gave a scroll to Robert's hand. “ A torch," the Monarch cried, “ What, ho ! Now shall we Cuthbert's tidings know.” But evil news the letters bare, The Clifford's force was strong and ware, Augmented, too, that very morn, By mountaineers who came with Lorn. Long harrow'd by oppressor's hand, Courage and faith bad fled the land, And over Carrick, dark and deep, Had sunk dejection's iron sleep.Cuthbert had seen that beacon-flame, Unwitting from what source it came. Doubtful of perilous event, Edward's mute messenger he sent, If Bruce deceived should venture o'er, To warn him from the fatal shore.
XIV. With that the boats approach'd the land, But Edward's grounded on the sand; The eager Knight leap'd in the sea Waist-deep, and first on shore was he, Though every barge's hardy band Contended which should gain the land,
1 MS.--"Have sunk." 9 M8.-" And from their crags plash'd in the wave." 8 MS.-" With that the barges neard the land." 4 MS.--"A wizard's."
Startling the traveller late and lone, As round the torch the leaders crowd,
I know not-and it pe’er was known. Bruce read these chilling news aloud. “ What council, nobles, have we now?
XVIII. To ambush us in greenwood bough,
Now up the rocky pass they drew, And take the chance which fate
And Ronald, to his promise true, To bring our enterprize to end,
Still made his arm the stripling's stay, Or shall we turn us to the main
To aid him on the rugged way. As exiles, and embark again?”–
“ Now cheer thee, simple Amadine! Answer'd fierce Edward, “ Hap what may,
Why throbs that silly heart of thine?” – In Carrick, Carrick’s Lord must stay.
- That name the pirates to their slave I would not minstrels told the tale,
(In Gaelic 'tis the Changeling) gave Wildfire or meteor' made us quail.”—
“ Dost thou not rest thee on my arm? Answer'd the Douglas, “ If my Liege
Do not my plaid-folds hold thee warm? May win yon walls by storm or siege,
Hath not the wild bull's treble hide Then were each brave and patriot heart
This targe for thee and me supplied ? Kindled of new for loyal part.”_:
Is not Clan-Colla's sword of steel ! Answer'd Lord Ronald, “ Not for shame
And, trembler, canst thou terror feel! Would I that aged Torquil came,
Cheer thee, and still that throbbing heart; And found, for all our empty boast,
From Ronald's guard thou shalt not part.” Without a blow we fled the coast.
-O! many a shaft, at random sent, I will not credit that this land,
Finds mark the archer little meant ! So famed for warlike heart and hand,
And many a word, at random spoken, The nurse of Wallace and of Bruce,
May soothe or wound a heart that's broken! Will long with tyrants hold a truce.”—
Half soothed, half grieved, half terrified, “ Prove we our fate—the brunt we'll bide!”
Close drew the page to Ronald's side; So Boyd and Haye and Lennox cried;
A wild delirious thrill of joy So said, so vow'd, the leaders all;
Was in that hour of agony, So Bruce resolved: “ And in my hall
As the steepy pass he strove,
Fear, toil, and sorrow, lost in love!
The barrier of that iron shore, Meantime, through well-known bosk and dell, The rock's steep ledge, is now climb'd o'er; I'll lead where we may shelter well.”
And from the castle's distant wall,
From tower to tower the warders call: XVII.
The sound swings over land and sea, Now ask you whence that wondrous light,
And marks a watchful enemy.-Whose fairy glow beguiled their sight?
They gain'd the Chase, a wide domain It ne'er was known-yet grey-hair'd eld
Left for the Castle's silvan reign, A superstitious credence held,
(Seek not the scene the axe, the plough, That never did a mortal hand
The boor's dull fence, have marr'd it now,) Wake its broad glare on Carrick strand;
But then, soft swept in velvet green Nay, and that on the self-same night
The plain with many a glade between, When Bruce cross'd o'er, still gleams the Whose tangled alleys far invade light.
The depth of the brown forest shade. Yearly it gleams o'er mount and moor,
Here the tall fern obscured the lawn, And glittering wave and crimson'd shore-
Fair shelter for the sportive fawn; But whether beam celestial, lent
There, tufted close with copsewood green, By Heaven to aid the King's descent,
Was many a swelling hillock seen; Or fire hell-kindled from beneath,
And all around was verdure meet To lure him to defeat and death,
For pressure of the fairies' feet. Or were it but some meteor strange,
The glossy holly loved the park, Of such as oft through midnight range,
The yew-tree lent its shadow dark,
1 MS.-"A wildfire meteor," &c. 2 MS.
-“ to play their part." 3 MS." Since Clifford needs will make his home,
The hour of reckoning soon shall come." • MS.-" The Knight shall reckon," &c.
See Appendix, Note 3 B.
6 MS.—“Such as through midnight ether range,
Affrightening oft the traveller lone." 7 MS.-"Sounds sadly over land and sea." 8 See Appendix, Note 3 C. 9 M$._" The dark-green holly loved the down,
The yew-tree lent its shadow brown.
And many an old oak, worn and bare,
I will not be, believe me, far; With all its shiver’d boughs, was there.
But must not quit the ranks of war. Lovely between, the moonbeams fell
Well will I mark the bosky bourne, On lawn and hillock, glade and dell.
And soon, to guard thee hence, return. The gallant Monarch sigh'd to see
Nay, weep not so, thou simple boy! These glades so loved in childhood free.
But sleep in peace, and wake in joy." Bethinking that, as outlaw now,
In silvan lodging close bestow'd, He ranged beneath the forest bough.?
He placed the page, and onward strode
With strength put forth, o'er moss and brook,
And soon the marching band o’ertook.
Thus strangely left, long sobb’d and wept The serried warriors move at once ;
The page, till, wearied out, he sleptAnd evil were the luck, if dawn
A rough voice waked his dream—“ Nay, here, Descried them on the open lawn.
Here by this thicket, pass’d the deerCopses they traverse, brooks they cross,
Beneath that oak old Ryno staid Strain up the bank and o'er the moss.
What have we here?-a Scottish plaid, From the exhausted page's brow 2
And in its folds a stripling laid? Cold drops of toil are streaming now;
Come forth! thy name and business tellWith effort faint 3 and lengthen'd pause,
What, silent?-then I guess thee well, His weary step the stripling draws.
The spy that sought old Cuthbert's cell, “ Nay, droop not yet!” 4 the warrior said;
Wafted from Arran yester morn“ Come, let me give thee ease and aid !
Come, comrades, we will straight return. Strong are mine arms, and little care
Our Lord may choose the rack should teach A weight so slight as thine to bear.
To this young lurcher use of speech. What! wilt thou not ?-capricious boy!
Thy bow-string, till I bind him fast.”-Then thine own limbs and strength employ.
“ Nay, but he weeps and stands aghast; Pass but this night, and pass thy care,
Unbound we'll lead him, fear it not; I'll place thee with a lady fair,
'Tis a fair stripling, though a Scot.” Where thou shalt tune thy lute to tell
The hunters to the castle sped,
And there the hapless captive led.
Stout Clifford in the castle-court He sunk among the midnight dews ! 6
Prepared him for the morning sport;
And now with Lorn held deep discourse,
Now gave command for hound and horse.'
War-steeds and palfreys paw'd the ground, The Bruce's band moves swiftly on-
And many a deer-dog howld around. Eternal shame, if at the brunt
To Amadine, Lorn's well-known word Lord Ronald grace not battle's front!-
Replying to that Southern Lord, “ See yonder oak, within whose trunk
Mix'd with this clanging din, might seem Decay a darken’d cell hath sunk;
The phantasm of a fever'd dream. Enter, and rest thee there a space,
The tone upon his ringing ears Wrap in my plaid thy limbs, thy face.?
Came like the sounds which fancy hears,
I “Their moonlight muster on the beach, after the sudden frequent in the poem, it is, upon the whole, spirited and pleasextinction of this portentous flame, and their midnight march ing. The scene in which Ronald is described sheltering Edith through the paternal fields of their royal leader, also display under his plaid, for the love which he bears to Isabel, is, we much beautiful painting, (stanzas 15 and 19.) After the think, more poetically conceived than any other in the whole castle is won, the same strain is pursued."-JEFFREY. poem, and contains some touches of great pathos and beauty.'
-Quarterly Review. 2 MS.—“From Amadine's exhausted brow.” 3 MS.--" And double toil," &c.
7 MS.—" And mantle in my plaid thy face.” 4 MS.—"Nay, fear not yet," &c.
8 MS.-“ In silvan castle warm bestow'd,
He left the page." 5 MS.
-“ his weight refuse." 6 " This canto is not distinguished by many passages of ex- 9 MS.-"And now with Lorn he spoke aside, traordinary merit; as it is, however, full of business, and com
And now to squire and yeoman cried. paratively free from those long rhyming dialogues which are so
War-horse and palfrey,' &c.