Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

And yet the soil in which they grew,
Had it been tamed when life was new,
Had depth and vigor to bring forth
The hardier fruits of virtuous worth.
Not that, e'en then, his heart had known
The gentler feelings' kindly tone;
But lavish waste had been refined
To bounty in his chasten'd mind,
And lust of gold, that waste to feed,
Been lost in love of glory's meed,
And, frantic then no more, his pride
Had ta'en fair virtue for its guide.

For sure a soldier, famed so far
In foreign fields for feats of war,
On eve of fight ne'er left the host,
Until the field were won and lost."
“Here, in your towers by circling Tees,
You, Oswald Wycliffe, rest at ease;"
Why deem it strange that others come
To share such safe and easy home,
From fields where danger, death, and toil,
Are the reward of civil broil ?"_6
“Nay, mock not, friend! since well we know
The near advances of the foe,
To mar our northern army's work,
Encamp'd before beleaguer'd York;
Thy horse with valiant Fairfax lay,
And must have fought—how went the day ?”—

X. Even now, by conscience unrestrain’d, Clogg'd by gross vice, by slaughter stain'd, Still knew his daring soul to soar, And mastery o'er the mind he bore; For meaner guilt, or heart less hard, Quail'd beneath Bertram's bold regard.? And this felt Oswald, while in vain He strove, by many a winding train, To lure his sullen guest to show, Unask'd, the news he long'd to know, While on far other subject hung His heart, than falter'd from his tongue. Yet naught for that his guest did deign To note or spare his secret pain, But still, in stern and stubborn sort, Return'd him answer dark and short, Or started from the theme, to range In loose digression wild and strange, And forced the embarrass'd host to buy, By query close, direct reply.

XI. A while he glozed upon the cause Of Commons, Covenant, and Laws, And Church Reform'd—but felt rebuke Beneath grim Bertram's sneering look, Then stammer'd—“Has a field been fought? Has Bertram news of battle brought ?

XII. “Wouldst hear the tale ?-On Marston heath? Met, front to front, the ranks of death; Flourish'd the trumpets fierce, and now Fired was each eye, and flush'd each brow; On either side loud clamors ring, "God and the Cause! — God and the King! Right English all, they rush'd to blows, With naught to win, and all to lose. I could have laugh'd—but lack'd the timeTo see, in phrenesy sublime, How the fierce zealots fought and bled, For king or state, as humor led; Some for a dream of public good, Some for church-tippet, gown and hood, Draining their veins, in death to claim A patriot's or a martyr's name.Led Bertram Risingham the hearts, That counter'd there on adverse parts, No superstitious fool had I Sought El Dorados in the sky ! Chili had heard me through her states, And Lima oped her silver gates, Rich Mexico I had march'd through, And sack'd the splendors of Peru,

1 MS.—“Show'd depth and vigor to bring forth

The noblest fruits of virtuous worth.
Then had the last of gold accurst
Been lost in glory's pobler thirst,
And deep revenge for trivial cause,
Been zeal for freedom and for laws,
And, frantic then no more, his pride

Had ta'en fair honor for its guide." 9 MS. - stern regard."

3 "The mastery' obtained by such a being as Bertram over the timid wickedness of inferior villains, is well delineated in the condact of Oswald, who, though he had not hesitated to propose to him the murder of his kinsman, is described as fearing to ask him the direct question, whether the crime has been accomplished. We must confess, for our own parts, that we did not, till we came to the second reading of the canto, perceive the propriety, and even the moral beauty, of this circumstance. We are now quite convinced that, in introducing

it, the poet has been guided by an accurate perception of the intricacies of human nature. The scene between King John and Hubert may probably have been present to his mind when he composed the dialogue between Oswald and his terrible agent ; but it will be observed, that the situations of the respective personages are materially different; the mysterious caution in which Shakspeare's usurper is made to involve the proposal of his crime, springs from motives undoubtedly more obvious and immediate, but not more consistent with truth and probability, than that with which Wycliffe conceals the drift of his fearful interrogatories."-Critical Revior.

4 MS.- Safe sit you, Oswald, and at ease."
5 MS.-_“Award the meed of civil broil."
6 MS.--" Thy horsemen on the outposts lay."
7 See Appendix, Note E.
#MS.-"Led I but half of such bold hearts,

As counter'd there," &c.

Till sunk Pizarro's daring name,
And, Cortez, thine, in Bertram's fame."-
“Still from the purpose wilt thou stray !
Good gentle friend, how went the day !”—

While troubled joy was in his eye,
The weil-feign’d sorrow to belie.-
“Disastrous news !-when needed most,
Told ye not that your chiefs were lost ?
Complete the woful tale, and say,
Who fell upon that fatal day;
What leaders of repute and name
Bought by their death a deathless fame.'
If such my direst foeman's doom,
My tears shall dew his honor'd tomb.-
No answer?-Friend, of all our host,
Thou know'st whom I should hate the most,
Whom thou too, once, wert wont to hate,
Yet leavest me doubtful of his fate."-
With look unmoved,—“Of friend or foe,
Aught," answer'd Bertram,"wouldst thou know,
Demand in simple terms and plain,
A soldier's answer shalt thou gain;-
For question dark, or riddle high,
I have nor judgment nor reply."

XIII.
“Good am I deem'd at trumpet-sound,
And good where goblets dance the round,
Though gentle ne'er was join'd, till now,
With rugged Bertram's breast and brow.-
But I resume.

The battle's rage
Was like the strife which currents wage,
Where Orinoco, in his pride,
Rolls to the main no tribute tide,
But 'gainst broad ocean urges far
A rival sea of roaring war;
While, in ten thousand eddies driven,
The billows fling their foam to heaven,
And the pale pilot seeks in vain,
Where rolls the river, where the main.
Even thus upon the bloody field,
The eddying tides of conflict wheeld?
Ambiguous, till that heart of flame,
Hot Rupert, on our squadrons came,
Hurling against our spears a line
Of gallants, fiery as their wine ;
Then ours, though stubborn in their zeal,
In zeal's despite began to reel.
What wouldst thou more l-in tumult tost,
Our leaders fell, our ranks were lost.
A thousand men who drew the sword
For both the Houses and the Word,
Preach'd forth from hamlet, grange, and down,
To curb the crosier and the crown,
Now, stark and stiff, lie stretch'd in gore,
And ne'er shall rail at mitre more.-
Thus fared it, when I left the fight,
With the good Cause and Commons' right.”—

XV.
The wrath his art and fear suppressd,
Now blazed at once in Wycliffe's breast;
And brave, from man so meanly born,
Roused his hereditary scorn.
"Wretch! hast thou paid thy bloody debt!
PHILIP OF MORTHAM, lives he yet?
False to thy patron or thine oath,
Trait'rous or perjured, one or both.
Slave! hast thou kept thy promise plight,
To slay thy leader in the fight !"-
Then from his seat the soldier sprung,
And Wycliffe's hand he strongly wrung;
His grasp, as hard as glove of mail,
Forced the red blood-drop from the nail-
“A health !” he cried; and, ere he quaff’d,
Flung from him Wycliffe's hand, and laugh’d:
-“Now, Oswald Wycliffe, speaks thy heart!
Now play'st thou well thy genuine part !
Worthy, but for thy craven fear,
Like me to roam a bucanier.

XIV. “Disastrous news!" dark Wycliffe said; Assumed despondence bent his head.

to

1 The Quarterly Reviewer (No. xvi.) thus states thu causes

· Led Bertram Risingham the hearts,' of the hesitation he had had in arriving at the ultimate opinion, that Rokeby was worthy of the “high praise" already

* And, Cortez, thine, in Bertram's fame.' quoted from the commencement of his article :-" We con- “ The author, surely, cannot require to be told, that the fess, then, that in the language and versification of this poem, feebleness of these jingling couplets is less offensive than their we were, in the first instance, disappointed. We do not mean obscurity. The first line is unintelligible, because the condito say that either is invariably faulty ; neither is it within the tional word 'if,' on which the meaning depends, is neither expower of accident that the conceptions of a vigorous and highly pressed nor implied in it; and the third line is equally faulty, cultivated mind, should uniformly invest themselves in trivial because the sentence, when restored to its natural order, can expressions, or in dissonant rhymes ; but we do ihink that

only express the exact converse of the speaker's intention. We those golden lines, which spontaneously fasten themselves on

think it necessary to remonstrate against these barbarous inver the memory of the reader are more rare, and that instances of sions, because we consider the rules of grammar as the only a culpable and almost slovenly inattention to the usual rules shackles by which the Hudibrastic metre, already so licentious, of diction and of metre, are more frequent in this, than in any can be confined within tolerable limits." preceding work of Mr. Scott. In support of this opinion, we adduce the following quotation, which occurs in stanza xii. : » MS.-" The doubtful tides of battle reel'd." and in the course of a description which is, in some parts, unusually splendid

* MS.--"Chose death in preference to shame."

What reck'st thou of the Cause divine,
If Mortham's wealth and lands be thine ?
What carest thou for beleaguer'd York,
If this good hand have done its work?
Or what, though Fairfax and his best
Are reddening Marston's swarthy breast,
If Philip Mortham with them lie,
Lending his life-blood to the dye?
Sit, then! and as 'mid comrades free
Carousing after victory,
When tales are told of blood and fear,
That boys and women shrink to hear,
From point to point I frankly tell
The deed of death as it befell.

When Mortham bade me, as of yore, Be near him in the battle's roar, I scarcely saw the spears laid low, I scarcely heard the trumpets blow; Lost was the war in inward strife, Debating Mortham's death or life. " 'Twas then I thought, how, lured to come, As partner of his wealth and home, Years of piratic wandering o'er, With him I sought our native shore. But Mortham's lord grew far estranged From the bold heart with whom he ranged ; Doubts, horrors, superstitious fears, Sadden'd and dimmid descending years; The wily priests their victim sought, And damn'd each free-born deed and thought. Then must I seek another home : My license shook his sober dome; If gold he gave, in one wild day I revell’d thrice the sum away. An idle outcast then I stray'd, Unfit for tillage or for trade. Deem'd, like the steel of rusted lance, Useless and dangerous at once. The women fear'd my hardy look, At my approach the peaceful shook, The merchant saw my glance of flame, And lock'd his boards when Bertram came; Each child of coward peace kept far From the neglected son of war.

XVI.
* When purposed vengeance I forego,
Term me a wretch, nor deem me foe;
And when an insult I forgive,"
Then brand me as a slave, and live !
Philip of Mortham is with those
Whom Bertram Risingham calls foes;
Or whom more sure revenge attends,
If number'd with ungrateful friends.
As was his wont, ere battle glow'd,
Along the marshall’d ranks he rode,
And wore his visor up the while,
I saw his melancholy smile,
When, full opposed in front, he knew
Where ROKEBY's kindred banner flew.

And thus,' he said, will friends divide ! -
I heard, and thought how, side by side,
We two bad turn'd the battle's tide,
In many a well-debated field,
Where Bertram's breast was Philip's shield.
I thought on Darien's deserts pale,
Where death bestrides the evening gale,
How o'er my friend my cloak I threw,
And fenceless faced the deadly dew;
I thought on Quariana's cliff,
Where, rescued from our foundering skiff,
Through the white breakers' wrath I bore
Exhausted Mortham to the shore;
And when his side an arrow found,
I suck'd the Indian's venom'd wound.
These thoughts like torrents rush'd along,
To sweep away my purpose strong.

XVII. * Hearts are not flint, and flints are rent; Hearts are not steel, and steel is bent.

XVIII. “But civil discord gave the call, And made my trade the trade of all. By Mortham urged, I came again His vassals to the fight to train. What guerdon waited on my care ? I could not cant of creed or prayer; Sour fanatics each trust obtain'd, And I, dishonor'd and disdain'd, Gain'd but the high and happy lot, In these poor arms to front the shot !-All this thou know'st, thy gestures tell; Yet hear it o'er, and mark it well 'Tis honor bids me now relate Each circumstance of Mortham's fate.

XIX. “Thoughts, from the tongue that slowly part, Glance quick as lightning through the heart. As my spur press'd my courser's side,

1 MS.-" And heart's-blood lent to aid the dye ?

Sit, then! and as to comrades boon

Carousing for achievement won.' - MS.-" That boys and cowards,” &c. * MS.-** Frank, as from mate to mate, I tell

What way the deed of death befell." 4 MS. “Name when an insult I forgaye,

And, Oswald Wycliffe, call me slave."

5 MS.-“Whom surest his revenge attends,

If number'd once among his friends." 6 MS.-" These thoughts rush'd on, like torrent's sway,

To sweep my stern resolve away." 7 MS.--" Each liberal deed." 8 MS.-"But of my labor what the meed ?

I could not cant of church or creed."

Philip of Mortham's cause was tried,
And, ere the charging squadrons mix’d,
His plea was cast, his doom was fix'd.
I watch'd him through the doubtful fray,
That changed as March's moody day,'
Till, like a stream that bursts its bank,”
Fierce Rupert thunder'd on our flank.
'Twas then, midst tumult, smoke, and strife,
Where each man fought for death or life,
'Twas then I fired my petronel,
And Mortham, steed and rider, fell.
One dying look he upward cast,
Of wrath and anguish—'twas his last.
Think not that there I stopp'd, to view
What of the battle should ensue;
But ere I clear'd that bloody press,
Our northern horse ran masterless ;
Monckton and Mitton told the news,
How troops of roundheads choked the Ouse,
And many a bonny Scot, aghast,
Spurring his palfrey northward, past,
Cursing the day when zeal or meed
First lured their Lesley o'er the Tweed."
Yet when I reach'd the banks of Swale,
Had rumor learn'd another tale ;
With his barb'd horse, fresh tidings say,
Stout Cromwell has redeem'd the day:
But whether false the news, or true,
Oswald, I reck as light as you."

The shepherd sees his spectre glide.
And near the spot that gave me name,
The moated mound of Risingham,
Where Reed upon her margin sees
Sweet Woodburne's cottages and trees,
Some ancient sculptor's art has shown
An outlaw's image on the stone;"
Unmatch'd in strength, a giant be,
With quiver'd back, and kirtled knee.
Ask how he died, that hunter bold,
The tameless monarch of the wold,
And age and infancy can tell,
By brother's treachery he fell.
Thus warn'd by legends of my youth,
I trust to no associate's truth.

XX. Not then by Wycliffe might be shown, How his pride startled at the tone In which his complice, fierce and free, Asserted guilt's equality. In smoothest terms his speech he wove, Of endless friendship, faith, and love; Promised and vow'd in courteous sort, But Bertram broke profession short. “Wycliffe, be sure not here I stay, No, scarcely till the rising day; Warn’d by the legends of my youth, I trust not an associate's truth. Do not my native dales prolong Of Percy Rede the tragic song, Train'd forward to his bloody fall, By Girsonfield, that treacherous Hall ?" Oft, by the Pringle's haunted side,

XXI. “ When last we reason'd of this deed, Naught, I bethink me, was agreed, Or by what rule, or when, or where, The wealth of Mortham we should share; Then list, while I the portion name, Our differing laws give each to claim. Thou, vassal sworn to England's throne, Her rules of heritage must own; They deal thee, as to nearest heir, Thy kinsman’s lands and livings fair, And these I yield :-do thou revere The statutes of the Bucanier." Friend to the sea, and foeman sworn To all that on her waves are borne, When falls a mate in battle broil, His comrade heirs his portion'd spoil; When dies in fight a daring foe, He claims his wealth who struck the blow; And either rule to me assigns Those spoils of Indian seas and mines, Hoarded in Mortham's caverns dark; Ingot of gold and diamond spark, Chalice and plate from churches borne, And gems from shrieking beauty torn, Each string of pearl, each silver bar, And all the wealth of western war. I go to search, where, dark and deep, Those Trans-atlantic treasures sleep. Thou must along—for, lacking thee, The heir will scarce find entrance free ; And then farewell. I haste to try

2

1 MS.That changed as with a whirlwind's sway."

“dashing
On thy war-horse through the ranks,
Like a stream which burst its banks."

Byron's Works, vol. x. p. 275. 3 MS." Hot Rupert on the spur pursues ;

Whole troops of fliers choked the Ouse." * See Appendix, Note F. 6 See Appendix, Note G.

6 MS." Taught by the legends of my youth

To trust to no associate's truth." ? See Appendix, Note H. & MS." Still by the spot that gave me name,

The moated camp of Risingham,
A giant form the stranger sees,

Half hid by rifted rocks and trees." • See Appendix, Note I. 10 MS.--"With bow in hand," &c. 1 See Appendix, Note K.

Each varied pleasure wealth can buy; When cloy'd each wish, these wars afford Fresh work for Bertram's restless sword."

XXII. An undecided answer hung On Oswald's hesitating tongue. Despite his craft, he heard with awe This ruffian stabber fix the law ; While his own troubled passions veer Through hatred, joy, regret, and fear :Joy'd at the soul that Bertram flies, He grudged the murderer's mighty prize, Hated his pride's presumptuous tone, And fear'd to wend with him alone. At length, that middle course to steer, To cowardice and craft so dear, " His charge,” he said, “would ill allow His absence from the fortress now; WILFRID on Bertram should attend, His son should journey with his friend.”

Of numerous sons were Wycliffe's grace,
On Wilfrid set contemptuous brand,
For feeble heart and forceless hand;
But a fond mother's care and joy
Were centred in her sickly boy.
No touch of childhood's frolic mood
Show'd the elastic spring of blood ;
Hour after hour he loved to pore
On Shakspeare's rich and varied lore,
But turn'd from martial scenes and light,
From Falstaff's feast and Percy's flight,
To ponder Jaques' moral strain,
And muse with Hamlet, wise in vain;
Ana weep himself to soft repose
O'er gentle Desdemona's woes.

XXV. In youth he sought not pleasures found By youth in horse, and hawk, and hound, But loved the quiet joys that wake By lonely stream and silent lake; In Deepdale's solitude to lie, Where all is cliff and copsé and sky; To climb Catcastle's dizzy peak, Or lone Pendragon's mound to seek.” Such was his wont; and there his dream Soar'd on some wild fantastic theme, Of faithful love, or ceaseless spring, Till Contemplation's wearied wing The enthusiast could no more sustain, And sad he sunk to earth again.

XXIII.
Contempt kept Bertram's anger down,
And wreathed to savage smile his frown.
“ Wilfrid, or thou—'tis one to me,
Whichever bears the golden key.
Yet think not but I mark, and smile
To mark, thy poor and selfish wile !
If injury from me you fear,
What, Oswald Wycliffe, shields thee here?
I've sprung from walls more high than these,
I've swam through deeper streams than

Tees.
Might I not stab thee, ere one yell
Could rouse the distant sentinel ?
Start not—it is not my design,
But, if it were, weak fence were thine ;
And, trust me, that, in time of need,
This hand hath done more desperate deed.
Go, haste and rouse thy slumbering son;
Time calls, and I must needs be gone.

XXVI. He loved—as many a lay can tell, Preserved in Stanmore's lonely dell; For his was minstrels skill, he caught The art unteachable, untaught; He loved-his soul did nature frame For love, and fancy nursed the flame; Vainly he loved—for seldom swain Of such soft mould is loved again; Silent he loved—in every gaze Was passion, friendship in his phrase. So mused his life away-till died His brethren all, their father's pride. Wilfrid is now the only heir Of all his stratagems and care, And destined, darkling, to pursue Ambition's maze by Oswald's clue.'

XXIV. Naught of his sire's ungenerous part Polluted Wilfrid's gentle heart; A heart too soft from early life To hold with fortune needful strife. His sire, while yet a hardier race'

1 MS. " while yet around him stood

A numerous race of bardier mood." q" And oft the craggy cliff he loved to climb,

When all in mist the world below was lost.
What dreadful pleasure ! there to stand sublime,
Like shipwreck'd mariner on desert coast."

BEATTIE's Minstre. 3 MS.--" Was love, but friendship in his phrase." + “The prototype of Wilfrid may perhaps be found in

Beattie's Edwin ; but in some essential respects it is made more true to nature than that which probably served for its original. The possibility may perhaps be questioned (its great improbability is unquestionable), of such excessive refinement, such over-strained, and even morbid sensibility, as are portrayed in the character of Edwin, existing in so rude a state of society as that which Beattie has represented,--but these qualities, even when found in the most advanced and polished stages of life, are rarely, very rarely, united with a robust and

« AnteriorContinuar »