Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

That dingle's deep and funeral shade,
With the bright tints of early day,
Which, glimmering through the iry spray,
On the opposing summit lay.

X. The lated peasant shunn'd the dell; For Superstition wont to tell Of many a grisly sound and sight, Scaring its path at dead of night. When Christmas logs blaze high and wide, Such wonders speed the festal tide; While Curiosity and Fear, Pleasure and Pain, sit crouching near, Till childhood's cheek no longer glows, And village maidens lose the rose. The thrilling interest rises higher," The circle closes nigh and nigher, And shuddering glance is cast behind, As louder moans the wintry wind. Believe, that fitting scene was laid For such wild tales in Mortham glade! For who had seen, on Greta's side, By that dim light fierce Bertram stride, In such a spot, at such an hour,If touch'd by Superstition's power, Might well have deem'd that Hell had given A murderer's ghost to upper Heaven, While Wilfrid's form had seem'd to glide Like his pale victim by his side.

Nor less his wild adventurous youth
Believed in every legend's truth;
Learn'd when, beneath the tropic gale,
Full swell’d the vessel's steady sail,
And the broad Indian moon her light
Pour'd on the watch of middle night,
When seamen love to hear and tell
Of portent, prodigy, and spell ::
What gales are sold on Lapland's shore,
How whistle rash bids tempests roar,"
Of witch, of mermaid, and of sprite,
Of Erick's cap and Elmo's light ;
Or of that Phantom Ship, whose form
Shoots like 'a meteor through the storm;
When the dark scud comes driving hard,
And lower'd is every topsail-yard,
And canvas, wove in earthly looms,
No more to brave the storm presumes !
Then, 'mid the war of sea and sky,
Top and top-gallant hoisted high,
Full spread and crowded every sail,
The Demon Frigate braves the gale ;8
And well the doom'd spectators know
The harbinger of wreck and woe.

XI. Nor think to village swains alone Are these unearthly terrors known; For not to rank nor sex confined Is this vain ague of the mind : Hearts firm as steel, as marble hard, 'Gainst faith and love, and pity barr'd, Have quaked, like aspen leaves in May, Beneath its universal sway. Bertram had listed many a tale Of wonder in his native dale, That in his secret soul retain'd The credence they in childhood gain'd:

XII. Then, too, were told, in stifled tone, Marvels and omens all their own; How, by some desert isle or key," Where Spaniards wrought their cruelty, Or where the savage pirate's mood Repaid it home in deeds of blood, Strange nightly sounds of woe and fear Appall'd the listening Bucanier, Whose light-arm'd shallop anchor'd lay In ambush by the lonely bay. The groan of grief, the shriek of pain, Ring from the moonlight groves of cane ; The fierce adventurer's heart they scare, Who wearies memory for a prayer, Curses the road-stead, and with gale Of early morning lifts the sail, To give, in thirst of blood and prey, A legend for another bay.

1 MS.—“The interest rises high and higher."
: The MS. has not the two following couplets.

3 "* Also I shall shew very briefly what force conjurers and witches have in constraining the elements enchanted by them or others, that they may exceed or fall short of their natural order: premising this, that the extream land of North Finland ant Lapland was so taught witchcraft formerly in heathenish times, as if they had learned this cursed art from Zoroastres the Persian ; though other inhabitants by the sea-coasts are reported to be bewitched with the same madness; for they exercise this devilish art, of all the arts of the world, to admiration ; and in this, or other such like mischief, they commonly agree. The Finlanders were wont formerly, amongst their other errors of gentilisme, to sell winds to merchants that were stopt on their coasts by contrary weather; and when they had their price, they knit three magical knots, not like to the laws of Cassius,

bound up with a thong, and they gave them unto the mer
chants ; observing that rule, that when they unloosed the first,
they should have a good gale of wind; when the second, a
stronger wind; but when they antied the third, they should
bave such cruel tempests, that they should not be able to look
out of the forecastle to avoid the rocks, nor move a foot to pull
down the sails, nor stand at the helm to govern the shiv; and
they made an unhappy trial of the truth of it who denied that
there was any such power in those knots."'-Olaus Magnus':
History of the Goths, Swedes, and Vandals. Lond. 1658, fol
p. 47.--[See Note to The Pirate, “Sale of Winds." Waver
ley Novels, vol. xxiv. p. 136.]

4 See Appendix, Note Q.
5 Ibid. Note R.
& Ibid, Note S.

7 Ibid. Note T.

You mark him by the crashing bough,
And by his corselet's sullen clank,
And by the stones spurn'd from the bank,
And by the hawk scared from her nest,
And ravens croaking o'er their guest,
Who deem his forfeit limbs shall pay
The tribute of his bold essay.

XIII. Thus, as a man, a youth, a child, Train’d in the mystic and the wild, With this on Bertram's soul at times Rush'd a dark feeling of his crimes ; Such to his troubled soul their form, As the pale Death-ship to the storm, And such their omen dim and dread, As shrieks and voices of the dead, That pang, whose transitory force Hover'd 'twixt horror and remorse; That pang, perchance, his bosom pressid, As Wilfrid sudden he address'd : " Wilfrid, this glen is never trode Until the sun rides high abroad; Yet twice have I beheld to-day A Form, that seem'd to dog our way; Twice from my glance it seem'd to flee, And shroud itself by cliff or tree. How think'st thou !—Is our path waylaid ? Or hath thy sire my trust betray'd ? If so"- -Ere, starting from his dream, That turn’d upon a gentler theme, Wilfrid had roused him to reply, Bertram sprung forward, shouting high, “Whate'er thou art, thou now shalt stand !"And forth he darted, sword in hand.

XV. See, he emerges !—desperate now All farther course-Yon beetling brow, In craggy nakedness sublime, What heart or foot shall dare to climb! It bears no tendril for his clasp, Presents no angle to his grasp: Sole stay his foot may rest upon, Is yon earth-bedded jetting stone. Balanced on such precarious prop, He strains his grasp to reach the top. Just as the dangerous stretch he makes, By heaven, his faithless footstool shakes! Beneath his tottering bulk it bends, It sways, ... it loosens, ... it descends! And downward holds its headlong way, Crashing o'er rock and copsewood spray. Loud thunders shake the echoing dell ! Fell it alone -alone it fell. Just on the very verge of fate, The hardy Bertram's falling weight He trusted to his sinewy hands, And on the top unharm'd he stands !

XIV. As bursts the levin in its wrath, He shot him down the sounding path; Rock, wood, and stream, rang wildly out, To his loud step and savage shout.' Seems that the object of his race Hath scaled the cliffs; his frantic chase Sidelong he turns, and now 'tis bent Right up the rock's tall battlement; Straining each sinew to ascend, Foot, hand, and knee, their aid must lend. Wilfrid, all dizzy with dismay, Views from beneath his dreadful way: Now to the oak's warp'd roots he clings Now trusts his weight to ivy strings; Now, like the wild-goat, must he dare An unsupported leap in air ;' Hid in the shrubby rain-course now,

XVI. Wilfrid a safer path pursued ; At intervals where, roughly hew'd, Rude steps ascending from the dell Render'd the cliffs accessible. By circuit slow he thus attain'd The height that Risingham had gain'd, And when he issued from the wood, Before the gate of Mortham stood." 'Twas a fair scene! the sunbeam lay On battled tower and portal gray: And from the grassy slope he sees The Greta flow to meet the Tees; Where, issuing from her darksome bed,

race

1 MS.--" Its fell, though transitory force

Hovers, 'twixt pity and remorse." 3 MS.-“ As bursts the levin-bolt { in wrath.” 3 MS.-" To his fierce step and savage shout, Seems that the object of his

chase Had scaled the cliffs; his desperate chase." * MS.—"A desperate leap through empty air ;

Hid in the copse-clad rain-course now." 6 MS." See, he emerges ! -desperate now

Toward the naked beetling brow,

His progress-heart and foot must fail

Yon upmost crag's bare peak to scale." 6 MS." Perch'd like an eagle on its top,

Balanced on its uncertain prop.
Just as the perilous stretch he makes,

By heaven, his tottering footstool shakes." 7 Opposite to this line, the MS. has this note, meant to amuse Mr. Ballantyne :--"If my readers will not allow that I have climbed Parnassus, they must grant that I have turnel the Kittle Nine Steps."-See note to Redgauntlet.-Waverley Novels, vol. xxxv. p. 6.

* See Appendix, Note U.

[ocr errors][merged small]

That none should on his steps intrude,
Whene'er he sought this solitude.-
An ancient mariner I knew,
What time I saild with Morgan's crew,
Who oft, 'mid our carousals, spake
Of Raleigh, Forbisher, and Drake;
Adventurous hearts! who barter'd, bold,
Their English steel for Spanish gold.
Trust not, would his experience say,
Captain or comrade with your prey;
But seek some charnel, when, at full,
The moon gilds skeleton and skull:
There dig, and tomb your precious heap;
And hid the dead your treasure keep;o
Sure stewards they, if fitting spell
Their service to the task compel.
Lacks there such charnel ?-kill-a slave,
Or prisoner, on the treasure-grave;
And bid his discontented ghost
Stalk nightly on his lonely post.-
Such was the tale. Its truth, I ween,
Is in my morning vision seen.”

XVII. 'Twas sweetly sung that roundelay; That summer morn shone blithe and gay; But morning beam, and wild-bird's call, Awaked not Mortham's silent hall." No porter, by the low-brow'd gate, Took in the wonted niche his seat; To the paved court no peasant drew; Waked to their toil no menial crew; The maiden's carol was not heard, As to her morning task she fared: In the void offices around, Rung not a hoof, nor bay'd a hound; Nor eager steed, with shrilling neigh, Accused the lagging groom's delay; Untrimm'd, undress’d, neglected now, Was alley'd walk and orchard bough: All spoke the master's absent care, All spoke neglect and disrepair. South of the gate, an arrow flight, Two mighty elms their limbs unite, As if a canopy to spread O'er the lone dwelling of the dead; For their huge boughs in arches bent Above a massive monument, Carved o'er in ancient Gothic wise, With many a scutcheon and device : There, spent with toil and sunk in gloom, Bertram stood pondering by the tomb.

XIX. Wilfrid, who scorn'd the legend wild, In mingled mirth and pity smiled, Much marvelling that a breast so bold In such fond tale belief should hold;" But yet of Bertram sought to know The apparition's form and show.The power within the guilty breast, Oft vanquish’d, never quite suppress’d, That unsubdued and lurking lies To take the felon by surprise, And force him, as by magic spell, In his despite his guilt to tell,—8 That power in Bertram's breast awoke: Scarce conscious he was heard, he spoke; “ 'Twas Mortham's form, from foot to head! His morion, with the plume of red, His shape, his mien—'twas Mortham, right As when I slew him in the fight." “ Thou slay him?-thou!"-With conscious start He heard, then mann'd his haughty heart, “I slew him l-I-I had forgot Thou, stripling, knew'st not of the plot. But it is spoken-nor will I

XVIII. ** It vanish'd, like a flitting ghost ! Behind this tomb,” he said, " 'twas lostThis tomb, where oft I deem'd lies stored Of Mortham's Indian wealth the hoard. "Tis true, the aged servants said Here his lamented wife is laid ;But weightier reasons may be guess'd For their lord's strict and stern behest,

1 MS.-"As some fair maid in cloister bred,

Is blushing to her bridal led.' ? " The beautiful prospect commanded by that eminence, seen under the cheerful light of a summer's morning, is finely contrasted with the silence and solitude of the place."--Critical Review. 3 MS.-" All spoke the master absent far, All spoke neglect and

civil war. the woes of Close by the gate, an arch combined, Two haughty elms their branches twined.”

4 MS.—“Here lies the partner of his bed ;

But weightier reasons should appear
For all his moonlight wanderings here,
And for the sharp rebuke they got,

That pried around his favorite spot." 6 See Appendix, Note V. 6 MS.-"Lacks there such charnel-vault ?-a slave,

Or prisoner, slaughter on the grave." 7 MS." Should faith in such a fable hold." 8 See Appendix, Note W.

Deed done, or spoken word, deny. I slew him; I! for thankless pride; 'Twas by this hand that Mortham died !”

"Go, and repent,”—he said, “ while time Is given thee; add not crime to crime."

XX. Wilfrid, of gentle hand and heart, Averse to every active part, But most averse to martial broil, From danger shrunk, and turn'd from toil; Yet the meek lover of the lyre Nursed one brave spark of noble fire, Against injustice, fraud, or wrong, His blood beat high, his hand wax'd strong. Not his the nerves that could sustain, Unshaken, danger, toil, and pain ; But, when that spark blazed forth to flame,' He rose superior to his frame. And now it came, that generous mood; And, in full current of his blood, On Bertram he laid desperate hand, Placed firm his foot, and drew his brand. “Should every fiend, to whom thou’rt

sold, Rise in thine aid, I keep my hold.Arouse there, hol take spear and sword ! Attach the murderer of your Lord !"

XXII. Mute, and uncertain, and amazed, As on a vision Bertram gazed ! 'Twas Mortham’s bearing, bold and high, His sinewy frame, his falcon eye, His look and accent of command, The martial gesture of his hand, His stately form, spare-built and tall, His war-bleach'd locks—'twas Mortham all. Through Bertram's dizzy brain career A thousand thoughts, and all of fear; His wavering faith received not quite The form he saw as Mortham's sprite, But more he fear'd it, if it stood His lord, in living flesh and blood. What spectre can the charnel send, So dreadful as an injured friend? Then, too, the habit of command, Used by the leader of the band, When Risingham, for many a day, Had march'd and fought beneath his sway, Tamed him-and, with reverted face, Backwards he bore his sullen pace;o Oft stopp'd, and oft on Mortham stared, And dark as rated mastiff glared; But when the tramp of steeds was heard, Plunged in the glen, and disappear'd ;Nor longer there the Warrior stood, Retiring eastward through the wood;" But first to Wilfrid warning gives, “ Tell thou to none that Mortham lives.”

3

XXI. A moment, fix'd as by a spell, Stood Bertram-It seem'd miracle, That one so feeble, soft, and tame, Set grasp on warlike Risingham.” But when he felt a feeble stroke, The fiend within the ruffian woke! To wrench the sword from Wilfrid's hand, To dash him headlong on the sand, Was but one moment's work,—one more Had drench'd the blade in Wilfrid's gore: But, in the instant it arose, To end his life, his love, his woes, A warlike form, that mark'd the scene, Presents his rapier sheathed between, Parries the fast-descending blow, And steps 'twixt Wilfrid and his foe; Nor then unscabbarded his brand, But, sternly pointing with his hand, With monarch's voice forbade the fight, And motion'd Bertram from his sight.

XXIII. Still rung these words in Wilfrid's ear, Hinting he knew not what of fear; When nearer came the coursers' tread, And, with his father at their head, Of horsemen arm’d a gallant power• Rein'd up their steeds before the tower. "Whence these pale looks, my son ?" he said: Where's Bertram ?— Why that naked blader"— Wilfrid ambiguously replied (For Mortham's charge his honor tied), “ Bertram is gone—the villain's word Avouch'd him murderer of his lord !

1 MS.--"But, when blazed forth that noble flame."

9 “ The sudden impression made on the mind of Wilfrid by this arowal, is one of the happiest touches of moral poetry. The effect which the unexpected burst of indignation and valor produces on Bertram, is as finely imagined."-Critical Review.-" This most animating scene is a worthy companion to the rencounter of Fitz-James and Roderick Dhu, in the Lady of the Lake."- Monthly Review. 3 MS.—" At length, at slight and feeble stroke,

fiend
That razed the skin, his awoke."

rages

4 MS.—"'Twas Mortham's spare and sinewy frame,

His falcon eye, his glance of flame."
6 MS.-" A thousand thoughts, and all of fear,

Dizzied his brain in wild career;
Doubting, and not receiving quite,
The form he saw as Mortham's sprite,
Still more he fear'd it, if it stood

His living lord, in flesh and blood." 6 MS._"Slow he retreats with sullen pace." 7 MS." Retiring through the thickest wood." & MS.-"Rein'd up their steeds by Mortham tower."

[ocr errors]

Else on your crests sit fear and shame, And foul suspicion dog your name !"

Even now we fought—but, when your tread
Announced you nigh, the felon fled.”
In Wycliffe's conscious eye appear
A guilty hope, a guilty fear;
On his pale brow the dewdrop broke,
And his lip quiver'd as he spoke :-

XXIV. "A murderer !—Philip Mortham died Amid the battle's wildest tide. Wilfrid, or Bertram raves, or you! Yet, grant such strange confession true, Pursuit were vain-let him fly farJustice must sleep in civil war.” A gallant Youth rode near his side, Brave Rokeby's page, in battle tried; That morn, an embassy of weight He brought to Barnard's castle gate, And follow'd now in Wycliffe's train, An answer for his lord to gain. His steed, whose arch'd and sable neck An hundred wreaths of foam bedeck, Chafed not against the curb more high Than he at Oswald's cold reply; He bit his lip, implored his saint, (His the old faith)then burst restraint.

XXVI. Instant to earth young REDMOND. sprung; Instant on earth the harness rung Of twenty men of Wycliffe's band, Who waited not their lord's command. Redmond his spurs from buskins drew, His mantle from his shoulders threw, His pistols in his belt he placed, The green-wood gain'd, the footsteps traced, Shouted like huntsman to his hounds, “To cover, hark!"-and in he bounds. Scarce heard was Oswald's anxious cry, “Suspicion! yes—pursue him-flyBut venture not, in useless strife, On ruffian desperate of his life, Whoever finds him, shoot him dead!" Five hundred nobles for his head!"

XXV. "Yes! I beheld his bloody fall,' By that base traitor's dastard ball, Just when I thought to measure sword, Presumptuous hope ! with Mortham's lord. And shall the murderer 'scape who slew His leader, generous, brave, and true a Escape, while on the dew you trace The marks of his gigantic pace? No! ere the sun that dew shall dry,3 False Risingham shall yield or die. Ring out the castle 'larum bell! Arouse the peasants with the knell ! Meantime disperse-ride, gallants, ride ! Beset the wood on every side. But if among you one there be, That honors Mortham's memory, Let him dismount and follow me!

XXVII. The horsemen gallop'd, to make good Each path that issued from the wood. Loud from the thickets rung the shout Of Redmond and his eager rout; With them was Wilfrid, stung with ire, And envying Redmond's martial fire, And emulous of fame.But where Is Oswald, noble Mortham's heir He, bound by honor, law, and faith, Avenger of his kinsman's death Leaning against the elmin tree, With drooping head and slacken'd knee, And clenched teeth, and close-clasp'd hands, In agony of soul he stands ! His downcast eye on earth is bent, His soul to every sound is lent: For in each shout that cleaves the air, May ring discovery and despair.

XXVIII. What 'vail'd it him, that brightly play'd The morning sun on Mortham's glade ? All seems in giddy round to ride,

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

use epithets, and is hallooing after the men, by this time entering the wood. The simpler the line the better. In my humble opinion, shoot him dead, was much better than any other. It implies, Do not even approach him; kill him at a distance. I leave it, however, to you, only saying, that I never shun common words when they are to the purpose. As to your criticisms, I cannot but attend to them, because they touch passages with which I am myself discontented.-W. S.” 6 MS." Jealous of Redmond's noble fire."

Opposed to this animated picture of ardent courage and ingenuous youth, that of a guilty conscience, which immediately follows, is indescribably terrible, and calculated to achieve the highest and noblest purposes of dramatic fiction.” -Critical Review.

[blocks in formation]

'Who first shall find him, strike him dead.' But I think the addition of felon, or any such word, will impair the strength of the passage. Oswald is too anxions to

« AnteriorContinuar »