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Spread his broad nostrils to the wind,
To thy kind judgment seem'd excuse
M ar mion.
INTRODUCTION TO CANTO THIRD.
WILLIAM ERSKINE, ESQ.
Ashestiel, Ettrick Forest. LIKE April morning clouds, that pass, With varying shadow, o'er the grass, And imitate, on field and furrow, Life's checker'd scene of joy and sorrow; Like streamlet of the mountain north, Now in a torrent racing forth, Now winding slow its silver train, And almost slumbering on the plain; Like breezes of the autumn day, Whose voice inconstant dies away, And ever swells again as fast, When the ear deems its murmur past; Thus various, my romantic theme Flits, winds, or sinks, a morning dream. Yet pleased, our eye pursues the trace Of Light and Shade's inconstant race; Pleased, views the rivulet afar, Weaving its maze irregular; And pleased, we listen as the breeze Heaves its wild sigh through Autumn trees; Then, wild as cloud, or stream, or gale, Flow on, flow unconfined, my Tale!
“Or deem'st thou not our later time Yields topic meet for classic rhyme ? Hast thou no elegiac verse For Brunswick's venerable hearse ? What! not a line, a tear, a sigh, When valor bleeds for liberty Oh, hero of that glorious time, When, with unrivall'd light sublime,Though martial Austria, and though all The might of Russia, and the Gaul, Though banded Europe stood her foes, The star of Brandenburgh arose ! Thou couldst not live to see her beam Forever quench'd in Jena's stream. Lamented Chief!-it was not given To thee to change the doom of Heaven, And crush that dragon in its birth, Predestined scourge of guilty earth. Lamented Chief !--not thine the power, To save in that presumptuous hour, When Prussia hurried to the field, And snatch'd the spear, but left the shield ! Valor and skill 'twas thine to try, And, tried in vain, 'twas thine to die. Ill had it seem'd thy silver hair The last, the bitterest pang to share, For princedoms reft, and scutcheons riven, And birthrights to usurpers given; Thy land's, thy children's wrongs to feel, And witness woes thou couldst not heal ! On thee relenting Heaven bestows
Need I to thee, dear Erskine, tell I love the license all too well, In sounds now lowly, and now strong, To raise the desultory song ?-3 Oft, when 'mid such capricious chime, Some transient fit of lofty rhyme
1 “The sound of the knell that was rung for the parting soul | Hay Donaldson, to which Sir Walter Scott contributed seveof this victim of seduction, is described with great force and ral paragraphs.--ED. solemnity."'--JEFFREY.
3 MS.-"With sound now lowly, and now higher,
Irregular to wake the lyre." “The whole of this trial and doom presents a high-wronght
4 MS." Thine hours to thriftless rhyme are lent." scene of horror, which, at the close, rises almost to too great a
6 MS.—"Dost thou not deem oor later day pitch."-Scots Mag., March, 1808.
Yields topic meet for classic lay? William Erskine, Esq., advocate, Sheriff-depute of the
Hast thon no elegiac tone Orkneys, became a Judge of the Court of Session by the title
To join that universal moan, of Lord Kinnedder, and died at Edinburgh in August, 1822.
Which mingled with the battle's yell, He had been from early youth the most intimate of the Poet's
Where venerable Brunswick fell ?friends, and his chief confidant and adviser as to all literary
What! not a verse, a tear, a sigh, See a notice of his life and character by the late Mr.
When valor bleeds for liberty ?"
Awakening at the inspired strain,
For honor'd life an honor'd close;'
“Or of the Red-Cross hero' teach, Dauntless in dungeon as on breach : Alike to him the sea, the shore, The brand, the bridle, or the oar: Alike to him the war that calls Its votaries to the shatter'd walls, Which the grim Turk, besmear'd with blood, Against the Invincible made good; Or that, whose thundering voice could wake The silence of the polar lake, When stubborn Russ, and metald Swede, On the warp'd wave their death-game play'd; Or that, where Vengeance and Affright Howl'd round the father of the fight, Who snatch'd, on Alexandria's sand, The conqueror's wreath, with dying hand."
Thy friendship thus thy judgment wronging, With praises not to me belonging, In task more meet for mightiest powers, Wouldst thou engage my thriftless hours. But say, my Erskine, hast thou weigh'd That secret power by all obey'd, Which warps not less the passive mind, Its source conceal'd or undefined; Whether an impulse, that has birth Soon as the infant wakes on earth, One with our feelings and our powers, And rather part of us than ours; Or whether fitlier term'd the sway Of habit, form'd in early day! Howe'er derived, its force confest Rules with despotic sway the breast, And drags us on by viewless chain, While taste and reason plead in vain. Look east, and ask the Belgian why, Beneath Batavia's sultry sky, He seeks not eager to inhale The freshness of the mountain gale, Content to rear his whiten'd wall Beside the dank and dull canal ? He'll say, from youth he loved to see The white sail gliding by the tree. Or see yon weather beaten hind, Whose sluggish herds before him wind, Whose tatter'd plaid and rugged cheek His northern clime and kindred speak; Through England's laughing meads he goes, And England's wealth around him flows; Ask, if it would content him well, At ease in those gay plains to dwell,
"Or, if to touch such chord be thine, Restore the ancient tragic line, And emulate the notes that wrung From the wild harp, which silent hung By silver Avon's holy shore, Till twice an hundred years rollid o'er ; When she, the bold Enchantress, came, With fearless band and heart on flame! From the pale willow snatch'd the treasure, And swept it with a kindred measure, Till Avon swans, while rung the grove With Montfort's hate and Basil's love,
2 MS.-"For honor'd life an honor'd close
The boon which falling heroes crave,
Or if to touch such chord be thine," &c. 9" Scott seems to have communicated fragments of the poem Ters freely during the whole of its progress. As early as the 21 February, 1807, I find Mrs. Hayman acknowledging, in the name of the Princess of Wales, the receipt of a copy of the Introduction to Canto III., in which occurs the tribute to her royal highness's heroic father, mortally wounded the year before at Jena--a tribute so grateful to her feelings that she berself shortly after sent the poet an elegant silver vase as a
memorial of her thankfulness. And about the same time the Marchioness of Abercorn expresses the delight with which both she and her lord had read the generous verses on Pitt and Fox in another of those epistles."'--Life of Scott, vol. iii. p. 9
* Sir Sidney Smith.
Receives the lurking principle of death;
“Nature its mother, Habit is its nurse ;
Pope's Essay on Man.--ED.
Where hedge-rows spread a verdant screen,
And ever, by the winter hearth,
Thus while I
the measure wild Of tales that charm'd me yet a child, Rude though they be, still with the chime Return the thoughts of early time; And feelings, roused in life's first day, Glow in the line, and prompt the lay. Then rise those crags, that mountain tower, Which charm’d my fancy's wakening hour.' Though no broad river swept along, To claim, perchance, heroic song ; Though sigh'd no groves in summer gale, To prompt of love a softer tale ; Though scarce a puny streamlet's speed Claim'd homage from a shepherd's reed; Yet was poetic impulse given, By the green hill and clear blue heaven. It was a barren scene, and wild, Where naked cliffs were rudely piled; But ever and anon between Lay velvet tufts of loveliest green; And well the lonely infant knew Recesses where the wall-flower grew,' And honeysuckle loved to crawl Up the low crag and ruin'd wall. I deem'd such nooks the sweetest shade The sun in all its round survey’d; And still I thought that shatter'd tower The mightiest work of human power: And marvell'd as the aged hind With some strange tale bewitch'd my mind, Of forayers, who, with headlong force, Down from that strength had spurr'd their horse, Their southern rapine to renew, Far in the distant Cheviots blue, And, home returning, fill’d the hall With revel, wassel-rout, and brawl.' Methought that still with trump and clang, The gateway's broken arches rang; Methought grim features, seam'd with scars, Glared through the window's rusty bars,
Still, with vain fondness, could I trace, Anew, each kind familiar face, That brighten'd at our evening fire! From the thatch'd mansion’s gray-hair'd Sire," Wise without learning, plain and good, And sprung of Scotland's gentler blood; Whose eye, in age, quick, clear, and keen, Show'd what in youth its glance had been; Whose doom discording neighbors sought, Content with equity unbought ;$ To him the venerable Priest, Our frequent and familiar guest, Whose life and manners well could paint Alike the student and the saint ; Alas! whose speech too oft I broke With gambol rude and timeless joke: For I was wayward, bold, and wild, A self-will'd imp, a grandame's child; But half a plague, and half a jest, Was still endured, beloved, caress'd.
For me, thus nurtured, dost thou ask The classic poet's well-conn'd task ? Nay, Erskine, nay-On the wild hill Let the wild heath-bell flourish still; Cherish the tulip, prune the vine, But freely let the woodbine twine, And leave untrimm'd the eglantine : Nay, my friemd, nay-Since oft thy praise Hath given fresh vigor to my lays; Since oft thy judgment could refine
1 MS.-" The lonely hill, the rocky tower,
That caught attention's wakening hour." * MS." Recesses where the woodbine grew."
3 Smailholm Tower, in Berwickshire, the scene of the Author's infancy, is situated about two miles from Dryburgh Abbey. 4 The two next couplets are not in the MS. MS.-“While still with mimic hosts of shells,
Again my sport the combat tells
6 See notes on The Eve of St. John. 7 Robert Scott of Sandyknows, the grandfather of the Poet.
& Upon revising the Poem, it seems proper to mention that the lines,
“Whose doom discording neighbors sought,
Content with equity unbought :" have been unconsciously borrowed from a passage in Dryden's beautiful epistle to John Driden of Chesterton.-1808. Note to Second Edit.
MS.--" The student, gentleman, and saint." The reverend gentleman alluded to was Mr. John Martin,
My flatten'd thought, or cumbrous line;
The village inn seem'd large, though rude ;Its cheerful fire and hearty food
Might well relieve his train. Down from their seats the horsemen sprung, With jingling spurs the court-yard rung: They bind their horses to the stall, For forage, food, and firing call, And various clamor fills the hall: Weighing the labor with the cost, Toils everywhere the bustling host.
M ar mion.
The Postel, or knn.
I. The livelong day Lord Marmion rode: The mountain path the Palmer show'd, By glen and streamlet winded still, Where stunted birches hid the rill. They might not choose the lowland road, For the Merse forayers were abroad, Who, fired with hate and thirst of prey, Had scarcely fail'd to bar their way. Oft on the trampling band, from crown Of some tall cliff, the deer look'd down; On wing of jet, from his repose In the deep heath, the black-cock rose; Sprung from the gorse the timid roe, Nor waited for the bending bow; And when the stony path began, By which the naked peak they wan, Up flew the snowy ptarmigan, The noon had long been pass'd before They gain’d the height of Lammermoor ;Thence winding down the northern way, Before them, at the close of day, Old Gifford's towers and hamlet lay.
Bore wealth of winter cheer;
And savory haunch of deer.
Were tools for housewives' hand;
The buckler, lance, and brand.
On through the hamlet as they paced,
Lord Marmion drew his rein:
IV. Theirs was the glee of martial breast, And laughter theirs at little jest; And oft Lord Marmion deign'd to aid, And mingle in the mirth they madc; For though, with men of high degree, The proudest of the proud was he, Yet, train'd in camps, he knew the art To win the soldier's hardy heart. They love a captain to obey, Boisterous as March, yet fresh as May; With open hand, and brow as free, Lover of wine and minstrelsy ; Ever the first to scale a tower, As venturous in a lady's bower : Such buxom chief shall lead his host From India's fires to Zembla's frost.
minister of Mertoun, in which parish Smailholm Tower is sitbated. 1 MS.—“They might not choose the easier road,
For many a forager was abroad." * See Notes to “ The Bride of Lammermoor." Waverley Novels, vols. xiii, and xiv.
3 The village of Gifford lies about four miles from Haddington: close to it is Yester House, the seat of the Marquis of Tweeddale, and a little farther up the stream, which descends from the hills of Lammermoor, are the remains of the old cas tle of the family.
+ See Appendix, Note 2 N.
Now must I venture, as I may, To sing his favorite roundelay.”
V. Resting upon his pilgrim staff,
Right opposite the Palmer stood; His thin dark visage seen but half,
Half hidden by his hood. Still fix'd on Marmion was his look, Which he, who ill such gaze could brook,
Strove by a frown to quell; But not for that, though more than once Full met their stern encountering glance,?
The Palmer's visage fell.
Their glee and game declined.
Thus whisper'd forth his mind :-
Glances beneath his cowl!
Endure that sullen scowl.”
IX. A mellow voice Fitz-Eustace had, The air he chose was wild and sad; Such have I heard, in Scottish land, Rise from the busy harvest band, When falls before the mountaineer, On Lowland plains, the ripen'd ear. Now one shrill voice the notes prolong, Now a wild chorus swells the song: Oft have I listen'd, and stood still, As it came soften'd up the hill, And deem'd it the lament of men Who languish'd for their native glen; And thought how sad would be such sound On Susquehanna's swampy ground, Kentucky's wood-encumber'd brake, Or wild Ontario's boundless lake, Where heart-sick exiles, in the strain, Recall’d fair Scotland's hills again!
Whom the fates sever
Sounds the far billow, Where early violets die,
Under the willow.
VII. But Marmion, as to chase the awe Which thus had quell'd their hearts, who
Eleu loro, &c. Soft shall be his pillow.
The ever-varying fire-light show
Now call'd upon a squire :“Fitz-Eustace, know'st thou not some lay, To speed the lingering night away!
We slumber by the fire."
There, through the summer day,
Cool streams are laving ; There, while the tempests sway,
Scarce are boughs waving; There, thy rest shalt thou take,
Parted forever, Never again to wake,
Never, O never !
CHORUS. Eleu loro, &c. Never, O never!
VIII. “So please you,” thus the youth rejoin'd, “Our choicest minstrel's left behind. Il may we hope to please your ear, Accustom'd Constant’s strains to hear, The harp full deftly can he strike, And wake the lover's lute alike; To dear Saint Valentine, no thrush Sings livelier from a spring-tide bush, No nightingale her love-lorn tune More sweetly warbles to the moon. Woe to the cause, whate'er it be, Detains from us his melody, Lavish'd on rocks, and billows stern, Or duller monks of Lindisfarne.
XI. Where shall the traitor rest,
He the deceiver, Who could win maiden's breast,
Ruin and leave her? In the lost battle,
Borne down by the flying, Where mingles war's rattle
With groans of the dying.
1 MS.--"Full met their eyes' encountering glance."