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What against pity arms his heart?It is the conscious pride of art.
Lands and honors, wealth and power,
Well their loyalty repaid. Perish wealth, and power, and pride !
Mortal boons by mortals given; But let Constancy abide,
Constancy's the gift of Heaven.
XXIII. But principles in Edmund's mind Were baseless, vague, and undefined. His soul, like bark with rudder lost, On Passion's changeful tide was tost; Nor Vice nor Virtue had the power Beyond the impression of the hour ; And, O! when Passion rules, how rare The hours that fall to Virtue's share! Yet now she roused her—for the pride, That lack of sterner guilt supplied, Could scarce support him when arose The lay that mourn'd Matilda's woes.
They mingle with the song:
I must not hear them long.
The native Heir must stray,
Must part before the day.
XXV. While thus Matilda's lay was heard, A thousand thoughts in Edmund stirr'd. In peasant life he might have known As fair a face, as sweet a tone; But village notes could ne'er supply That rich and varied melody ; And ne'er in cottage-maid was seen The easy dignity of mien, Claiming respect, yet waiving state, That marks the daughters of the great. Yet not, perchance, had these alone His scheme of purposed guilt o'erthrown; But while her energy of mind Superior rose to griefs combined, Lending its kindling to her eye, Giving her form new majesty, To Edmund's thought Matilda seem'd The very object he had dream'd; When, long ere guilt his soul had known, In Winston bowers he mused alone, Taxing his fancy to combine The face, the air, the voice divine, Of princess fair, by cruel fate Reft of her honors, power, and state, Till to her rightful realm restored By destined hero's conquering sword.
Soon from the halls my fathers rear'd,
Their scutcheons may descend,
May soon obscurely end.
Shall bid those echoes swell;
The cause in which we fell.
The lady paused, and then again Resumed the lay in loftier strain."
Be our name and line forgot,
We but share our Monarch's lot. If no more our annals show
Battles won and banners taken, Still in death, defeat, and woe,
Ours be loyalty unshaken!
XXVI. “Such was my vision !" Edmund thought; “ And have I, then, the ruin wrought Of such a maid, that fancy ne'er In fairest vision form’d her peer? Was it my hand that could unclose The postern to her ruthless foes? Foes, lost to honor, law, and faith, Their kindest mercy sudden death! Have I done this? I! who have swore, That if the globe such angel bore, I would have traced its circle broad, To kiss the ground on which she trode ! And now-0! would that earth would rive, And close upon me while alive Is there no hope? Is all then lost ? Bertram's already on his post !
Constant still in danger's hour,
Princes own'd our fathers' aid;
? This couplet is not in the MS.
1 "Surely, no poet has ever paid a finer tribute to the power of his art, than in the foregoing description of its effects on the mind of this unhappy boy! and none has ever more justly appreciated the worthlessness of the sublimest genius, unrestrained by reason, and abandoned by virtue."-Critical Retier.
Even now, beside the Hall's arch'd door,
Ballad. " And whither would you lead me, then ?”
Quoth the Friar of orders gray; And the Ruffians twain replied again,
“By a dying woman to pray.”—
E'en now, in yonder shadowy nook,
" I see,” he said, “ a lovely sight,
A sight bodes little harm, A lady as a lily bright,
With an infant on her arm.”—
“ Then do thine office, Friar gray,
And see thou shrive her free 1a
Fling all its guilt on thee.
“Let mass be said, and trentrals read,
When thou'rt to convent gone, And bid the bell of St. Benedict
Toll out its deepest tone.”
The shrift is done, the Friar is gone,
Blindfolded as he came-
Were weeping for their dame.
Wild Darrell is an altered man,
The village crones can tell;
If he hears the convent bell.
If prince or peer cross Darrell's way,
He'll beard him in his pride-
He droops and turns aside.
1 The MS. has not this couplet.
4 MS."Behind him came his savage crew 2 MS." And see thy shrift be true,
File after file in order due ;
Silent from that dark portal pass,
Like forms on Banquo's magic glass."
I know it well—he would not yield
XXX, The unjust reproach, the angry look, The heart of Wilfrid could not brook, " Lady," he said, “my band so near, In safety thou mayst rest thee here. For Redmond's death thou shalt not mourn, If mine can buy his safe return." He turn'd away-his heart throbb’d high, The tear was bursting from his eye; The sense of her injustice press'd Upon the Maid's distracted breast, * Stay, Wilfrid, stay! all aid is vain !" He heard, but turn'd him not again ; He reaches now the postern-door, Now enters and is seen no more.
It is, it is, the tramp of steeds,
XXXI. With all the agony that e'er Was gender'd 'twixt suspense and fear, She watch'd the line of windows tall, Whose Gothic lattice lights the Hall, Distinguish'd by the paly red The lamps in dim reflection shed, While all beside in wan moonlight Each grated casement glimmer'd white. No sight of harm, no sound of ill, It is a deep and midnight still. Who look'd upon the scene, had guess'd All in the Castle were at rest : When sudden on the windows shone A lightning flash, just seen and gone ! A shot is heard-Again the flame Flash'd thick and fast-a volley came Then echo'd wildly, from within, Of shout and scream the mingled din, And weapon-clash and maddening cry, Of those who kill, and those who die ! As fill'd the Hall with sulphurous smoke, More red, more dark, the death-flash broke ; And forms were on the lattice cast, That struck, or struggled, as they past.
XXXIII. Wilfrid has fall'n--but o'er him stood Young Redmond, soild with smoke and blood, Cheering his mates with heart and hand Still to make good their desperate stand. “Up, comrades, up! In Rokeby halls Ne'er be it said our courage falls. What! faint ye for their savage cry, Or do the smoke-wreaths daunt your eye? These rafters have return'd a shout As loud at Rokeby's wassail rout, As thick a smoke these hearths have given At Hallow-tide or Christmas-even.” Stand to it yet! renew the fight, For Rokeby's and Matilda's right! These slaves ! they dare not, hand to hand, Bide buffet from a true man's brand." Impetuous, active, fierce, and young, Upon the advancing foes he sprung. Woe to the wretch at whom is bent His brandish'd falchion's sheer descent ! Backward they scatter'd as he came, Like wolves before the levin flame,
XXXII. What sounds upon the midnight wind Approach so rapidly behind ?
1 MS."Matilda, shrouded by the trees,
The line of lofty windows sees."
While all around the moon's wan light,
No sights bode harm, no sounds bode ill,
. It is as calm as midnight still." * MS.-"A brief short flash," &c.
* MS.-" Haste to-postern-gain the Hall !'
Sprung from their steeds the troopers all." 6 MS.-"For as it hap'd they were prepared." o In place of this couplet the MS. reads,
" And as the hall the troopers gain,
Their aid had wellnigh been in vain." See Appendix, Note 3 H. 8 MS.--"Like wolves at lightning's midnight flame."
Startling, with closer cause of dread, The females who the conflict fled, And now rush'd forth upon the plain, Filling the air with clamors vain.
When, 'mid their howling conclave driven,
XXXV. But ceased not yet, the Hall within, The shriek, the shout, the carnage-din, Till bursting lattices give proof The flames have caught the rafter'd roof. What! wait they till its beams amain Crash on the slayers and the slain ? The alarm is caught-the drawbridge falls, The warriors hurry from the walls, But, by the conflagration's light, Upon the lawn renew the fight. Each struggling felon down was hew'd, Not one could gain the sheltering wood; But forth the affrighted harper sprung, And to Matilda's robe he clung. Her shriek, entreaty, and command, Stopp'd the pursuer's lifted hand.' Denzil and he alive were ta'en; The rest, save Bertram, all are slain.
XXXIV. Soon murkier clouds the Hall enfold Than e'er from battle-thunders rollid, So dense, the combatants scarce know To aim or to avoid the blow. Smothering and blindfold grows the fightBut soon shall dawn a dismal light ! : Mid cries, and clashing arms, there came The hollow sound of rushing flame; . New horrors on the tumult dire Arise-the Castle is on fire ! Doubtful, if chance had cast the brand, Or frantic Bertram's desperate hand. Matilda saw--for frequent broke From the dim casements gusts of smoke. Yon tower, which late so clear defined On the fair hemisphere reclined, That, pencilld on its azure pure, The eye could count each embrazure, Now, swathed within the sweeping cloud, Seems giant-spectre in its shroud; Till, from each loop-hole flashing light, A spout of fire shines ruddy bright, And, gathering to united glare, Streams high into the midnight air; A dismal beacon, far and wide That waken'd Greta's slumbering side. Soon all beneath, through gallery long, And pendent arch, the fire flash'd strong, Snatching whatever could maintain, Raise, or extend, its furious reign;
XXXVI. And where is Bertram !-Soaring high The general flame ascends the sky; In gather'd group the soldiers gaze Upon the broad and roaring blaze, When, like infernal demon, sent, Red from his penal element, To plague and to pollute the air,His face all gore, on fire his hair, Forth from the central mass of smoke The giant form of Bertram broke! His brandish'd sword on high he rears, Then plunged among opposing spears; Round his left arm his mantle truss'd, Received and foil'd three lances' thrust; Nor these his headlong course withstood, Like reeds he snapp'd the tough ash-wood. In vain his foes around him clung; With matchless force aside he flung Their boldest, -as the bull, at bay, Tosses the ban-dogs from his way, Through forty foes his path he made, And safely gain'd the forest glade.
The MS. has not this couplet. 6 MS.--"The glowing lattices give proof.” 7 MS.-"Her shrieks, entreaties, and commands,
Avail'd to stop pursuing brands." 8 MS.-"Where's Bertram now? In fury driven,
The general flame ascends to heaven;
Upon the red and roaring blaze." The MS, wants this couplet. 10 MS." In vain the opposing spears withstood."
XXXVII. Scarce was this final conflict o'er, When from the postern Redmond bore Wilfrid, who, as of life bereft, Had in the fatal Hall been left," Deserted there by all his train ; But Redmond saw, and turn'd again. Beneath an oak he laid him down, That in the blaze gleam'd ruddy brown, And then his mantle's clasp undid; Matilda held his drooping head, Till, given to breathe the freer air, Returning life repaid their care. He gazed on them with heavy sigh, "I could have wish'd even thus to die !" No more he said-for now with speed Each trooper had regain'd his steed; The ready palfreys stood array'd, For Redmond and for Rokeby's Maid; Two Wilfrid on his horse sustain, One leads his charger by the rein. But oft Matilda look'd behind, As up the Vale of Tees they wind, Where far the mansion of her sires Beacon'd the dale with midnight fires. In gloomy arch above them spread, The clouded heaven lower'd bloody red; Beneath, in sombre light, the flood Appear'd to roll in waves of blood. Then, one by one, was heard to fall The tower, the donjon-keep, the hall. Each rushing down with thunder sound, A space the conflagration drown'd; Till, gathering strength, again it rose, Announced its triumph in its close, Shook wide its light the landscape o'er, Then sunk—and Rokeby was no more !"
Her duteous orisons to pay,-
Now the third night of summer came,
The summer sun, whose early power Was wont to gild Matilda's bower, And rouse her with his matin ray:
4 MS.-"And bids our hopes ascend sublime
Beyond the bounds of Fate and Time."
1 MS.- Had in the smouldering hall been left." * « The castle on fire has an awful sublimity, which would throw at a humble distance the boldest reaches of the pictorial art. ... We refer our readers to Virgil's ships, or to his Troy in flames; and though the Virgilian pictures be drawn on a very extensive canyas, with confidence, we assert that the castle on fire is much more magnificent. It is, in truth, incomparably grand."--British Critic.
3 M8.- glancing ray."
"Faith, prevailing o'er his sullen doom,
As bursts che morn on night's unfathom'd gloom,
CAMPBELL 5 The MS. has not this couplet.