Imágenes de páginas

Convulsions of ecstatic trance.
His breathing came more thick and fast,
And from his pale blue eyes were cast
Strange rays of wild and wandering light;
Uprise his locks of silver white,
Flush'd is his brow, through every vein
In azure tide the currents strain,
And undistinguish'd accents broke
The awful silence ere he spoke.

XXXI. “De Bruce! I rose with purpose dread To speak my curse upon thy head," And give thee as an outcast o'er To him who burns to shed thy gore ;But, like the Midianite of old, Who stood on Zophim, heaven-controllid, I feel within mine aged breast A power that will not be repress’d.' It prompts my voice, it swells my veins, It burns, it maddens, it constrains ! De Bruce, thy sacrilegious blow Hath at God's altar slain thy foe: O'ermaster'd yet by high behest, I bless thee, and thou shalt be bless'd 1” He spoke, and o'er the astonish'd throng Was silence, awful, deep, and long.

“Thrice vanquish'd on the battle-plain,
Thy followers slaughter'd, fled, or ta'en,
A hunted wanderer on the wild,
On foreign shores a man exiled,
Disown'd, deserted, and distress’d,
I bless thee, and thou shalt be bless'd!
Bless'd in the hall and in the field,
Under the mantle as the shield.
Avenger of thy country's shame,
Restorer of her injured fame,
Bless'd in thy sceptre and thy sword,
De Bruce, fair Scotland's rightful Lord,
Bless'd in thy deeds and in thy fame,
What lengthen'd honors wait thy name!
In distant ages, sire to son
Shall tell thy tale of freedom won,
And teach his infants, in the use
Of earliest speech, to falter Bruce.
Go, then, triumphant ! sweep along
Thy course, the theme of many a song!
The Power, whose dictates swell my breast,
Hath bless'd thee, and thou shalt be bless'd !
Enough—my short-lived strength decays,
And sinks the momentary blaze.-
Heaven hath our destined purpose broke,
Not here must nuptial vow be spoke;'
Brethren, our errand here is o'er,
Our task discharged.-Unmoor, unmoor !".
His priests received the exhausted Monk,
As breathless in their arms he sunk.
Punctual his orders to obey,
The train refused all longer stay,
Embark’d, raised sail, and bore away.®


XXXII. Again that light has fired his eye, Again his form swells bold and high, The broken voice of age is gone, "Tis vigorous manhood's lofty tone :

1 MS.-"Swell on his wither'd brow the veins,

Each in its azure current strains,
And interrupted tears express'd

The tumult of his laboring breast.”
See Appendix, Note 2 B.
3 See the Book of NUMBERS, chap. xxiii. and xxiv.
* See Appendix, Note 2 C.
5 Ibid. Note 2 D.

€ "On this transcendent passage we shall only remark, that of the gloomy part of the prophecy we hear nothing more through the whole of the poem, and though the Abbot informs the King that he shall be on foreign shores a man exiled,' the poet never speaks of him but as resident in Scotland, op to the period of the battle of Bannockburn.”--Critical Recier.

1 The MS. has not this couplet.

* “ The conception and execution of these stanzas constitute excellence which it would be difficult to match from any other part of the poem. The surprise is grand and perfect. The monk, struck with the heroism of Robert, foregoes the intended anathema, and breaks out into a prophetic annunciation of his final triomph over all his enemies, and the veneration in which his name will be held by posterity. These stanzas, which conelude the second Canto, derive their chief title to encomium from the emphatic felicity of their burden,

'I bless thee, and thou shalt be bless’d;' in which few and simple words, following, as they do, a series

of predicated ills, there is an energy that instantaneously appeals to the heart, and surpasses, all to nothing, the results of passages less happy in their application, though more labored and tortuous in their construction."-Critical Review.

" The story of the second Canto exhibits fewer of Mr. Scott's characteristical beauties than of his characteristical faults. The scene itself is not of a very edifying description ; nor is the want of agreeableness in the subject compensated by any detached merit in the details. Of the language and versification in many parts, it is hardly possible to speak favorably. The same must be said of the speeches which the different characters address to each other. The rude vehemence which they display seems to consist much more in the loudness and gesticulation with which the speakers express themselves, than in the force and energy of their sentiments, which, for the most part, are such as the barbarous chiefs, to whom they are attributed, might, without any great premeditation, either as to the thought or language, have actually uttered. To find language and sentiments proportioned to characters of such extraordinary dimensions as the agents in the poems of Homer and Milton, is indeed an admirable effort of genius; but to make such as we meet with in the epic poetry of the present day, persons often below the middle size, and never very much above it, merely speak in character, is not likely to occasion either much difficulty to the poet, or much pleasure to the reader. As an example, we might adduce the speech of stout Dunvegan's knight, stanza xxvii., which is not the less wanting in taste, because it is natural and characteristic."-Quarterly Review.

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


I. Hast thou not mark'd, when o'er thy startled

head Sudden and deep the thunder-peal has rollid, How, when its echoes fell, a silence dead Sunk on the wood, the meadow, and the wold ? The rye-grass shakes not on the sod-built fold, The rustling aspen’s leaves are mute and still,' The wall-flower waves not on the ruin'd hold, Till, murmuring distant first, then near and shrill,

[groaning hill. The savage whirlwind wakes, and sweeps the

Artornish! such a silence sunk
Upon thy halls, when that gray Monk

His prophet-speech had spoke ;
And his obedient brethren's sail
Was stretch'd to meet the southern gale

Before a whisper woke. Then murmuring sounds of doubt and fear, Close pour'd in many an anxious ear,

The solemn stillness broke; And still they gazed with eager guess, Where, in an oriel's deep recess, The Island Prince seem'd bent to press What Lorn, by his impatient cheer, And gesture fierce, scarce deign’d to hear.

But who the Chieftain's rage can tell,
When, sought from lowest dungeon cell
To highest tower the castle round,
No Lady Edith was there found !
He shouted, “ Falsehood !-treachery!-
Revenge and blood !-a lordly meed
To him that will avenge the deed!
A Baron's lands !"--His frantic mood
Was scarcely by the news withstood,
That Morag shared his sister's flight,
And that, in hurry of the night,
'Scaped noteless, and without remark,
Two strangers sought the Abbot's bark.-
“Man every galley !-fly-pursue !
The priest his treachery shall rue!
Ay, and the time shall quickly come,
When we shall hear the thanks that Rome
Will pay his feigned prophecy !"
Such was fierce Lorn's indignant cry!"
And Cormac Doil in haste obey'd,
Hoisted his sail, his anchor weigh'd
(For, glad of each pretext for spoil,
A pirate sworn was Cormac Doil).
But others, lingering, spoke apart, -
“ The Maid has given her maiden heart

To Ronald of the Isles,
And, fearful lest her brother's word
Bestow her on that English Lord,

She seeks Iona's piles,
And wisely deems it best to dwell
A votaress in the holy cell,
Until these feuds so fierce and fell

The Abbot reconciles."*

Starting at length, with frowning look,
His hand he clench'd, his head he shook,

And sternly flung apart ;-
“ And deem'st thou me so mean of mood,
As to forget the mortal feud,
And clasp the hand with blood imbrued?

From my dear Kinsman's heart?
Is this thy rede?-a due return
For ancient league and friendship sworn!
But well our mountain proverb shows
The faith of Islesmen ebbs and flows.
Be it even so—believe, ere long,
He that now bears shall wreak the

Call Edith-call the Maid of Lorn!
My sister, slaves !—for further scorn,
Be sure nor she nor I will stay.-
Away, De Argentine, away!

V. As, impotent of ire, the hall Echo'd to Lorn's impatient call, “My horse, my mantle, and my train! Let none who honors Lorn remain !"Courteous, but stern, a bold request To Bruce De Argentine express'd. “Lord Earl,” he said,—“I cannot chuse But yield such title to the Bruce, Though name and earldom both are gone, Since he braced rebel's armor onBut, Earl or Serf-rude phrase was thine Of late, and launch'd at Argentine; Such as compels me to demand Redress of honor at thy hand.

See a note on a line in the Lay of the Last Minstrel, ante, p.


1 MS.-"The rastling aspen bids his leaf be still."
2 MS.—"And clasp the bloody hand imbrued."
3 MS.--"Nor brother we, nor ally know.'
The MS. has,-

“Such was fierce Lorn's cry."

5 See Appendix, Note 2 E.
6 MS.-" While friends shall labor fair and well

These feuds to reconcile."

We need not to each other tell,
That both can wield their weapons well;

Then do me but the soldier grace,
This glove upon thy helm to place

Where we may meet in fight;
And I will say, as still I've said,
Though by ambition far misled,

Thou art a noble knight.”—

[ocr errors]

And I,” the princely Bruce replied,
Might term it stain on knighthood's pride,
That the bright sword of Argentine
Should in a tyrant's quarrel shine ;

But, for your brave request,
Be sure the honor'd pledge you gave
In every battle-field shall wave

Upon my helmet-crest;
Believe, that if my hasty tongue
Hath done thine honor causeless wrong,

It shall be well redress'd.
Not dearer to my soul was glove,
Bestow'd in youth by lady's love,

Than this which thou hast given ! Thus, then, my noble foe I greet; Health and high fortune till we meet,

And then-what pleases Heaven."

Even now there jarr'd a secret door-
A taper-light gleams on the floor-

Up, Edward, up, I say !
Some one glides in like midnight ghost
Nay, strike not ! 'tis our noble Host."
Advancing then his taper's flame,
Ronald stept forth, and with him came

Dunvegan's chief-each bent the knee
To Bruce in sign of fealty,

And proffer'd him his sword,
And hail'd him, in a monarch's style,
As king of mainland and of isle,

And Scotland's rightful lord.
" And 0," said Ronald, “Own'd of Heaven!
Say, is my erring youth forgiven,
By falsehood's arts from duty driven,

Who rebel falchion drew,
Yet ever to thy deeds of fame,
Even while I strove against thy claim,

Paid homage just and true?”— “ Alas! dear youth, the unhappy time,” Answer'd the Bruce,“ must bear the crime,

Since, guiltier far than yoa,
Even I”—he paused; for Falkirk's woes
Upon his conscious soul arose.
The Chieftain to his breast he press’d,
And in a sigh conceald the rest.

VIL Thus parted they-for now, with sound Like waves rolld back from rocky ground,

The friends of Lorn retire; Each mainland chieftain, with his train, Draws to his mountain towers again, Pondering how mortal schemes provė vain

And mortal hopes expire.
But through the castle double guard,
By Ronald's charge, kept wakeful ward,
Wicket and gate wore trebly barr'd,

By beam and bolt and chain;
Then of the guests, in courteous sort,
He pray'd excuse for mirth broke short,
And bade them in Artornish fort

In confidence remain.
Now torch and menial tendance led
Chieftain and knight to bower and bed,
And beads were told, and Aves said,

And soon they sunk away
Into such sleep, as wont to shed
Oblivion on the weary head,

After a toilsome day.

IX. They proffer'd aid, by arms and might, To repossess him in his right; But well their counsels must be weigh’d, Ere banners raised and musters made, For English hire and Lorn’s intrigues Bound many chiefs in southern leagues. In answer, Bruce his purpose bold To his new vassals' frankly told. “The winter worn in exile o'er, I long'd for Carrick's kindred shore. I thought upon my native Ayr, And long'd to see the burly fare That Clifford makes, whose lordly call Now echoes through my father's hall. But first my course to Arran led, Where valiant Lennox gathers head, And on the sea, by tempest toss'd, Our barks dispersed, our purpose cross’d, Mine own, a hostile sail to shun, Far from her destined course had run, When that wise will, which masters ours, Compellid us to your friendly towers."

VIII. But soon uproused, the Monarch cried To Edward slumbering by his side,

"Awake, or sleep for aye!

X. Then Torquil spoke :—“The time craves speed ! We must not linger in our deed, But instant pray our Sovereign Liege,

M8.-" Allies."

1 See Appendix, Note 2 F.


To shun the perils of a siege.
The vengeful Lorn, with all his powers,
Lies but too near Artornish towers,
And England's light-arm'd vessels ride,
Not distant far, the waves of Clyde,
Prompt at these tidings to unmoor,
And sweep each strait, and guard each shore.
Then, till this fresh alarm pass by,
Secret and safe my Liege must lie
In the far bounds of friendly Skye,
Torquil thy pilot and thy guide.”
“Not so, brave Chieftain," Ronald cried;
"Myself will on my Sovereign wait,
And raise in arms the men of Sleate,
Whilst thou, renown'd where chiefs debate,
Shalt sway their souls by council sage,
And awe them by thy locks of age.”

-“ And if my words in weight shall fail,” This ponderous sword shall turn the scale."

Where Coolin stoops him to the west,
They saw upon his shiver'd crest

The sun's arising gleam;
But such the labor and delay,
Ere they were moord in Scavigh bay
(For calmer heaven compell’d to stay),

He shot a western beam.
Then Ronald said, “ If true mine eye,
These are the savage wilds that lie
North of Strathnardill and Dunskye ;o

No human foot comes here,
And, since these adverse breezes blow,
If my good Liege love hunter's bow,
What hinders that on land we go,

And strike a mountain-deer!
Allan, my page, shall with us wend;
A bow full deftly can he bend,
And, if we meet a herd, may send

A shaft shall mend our cheer.”
Then each took bow and bolts in hand,
Their row-boat launch'd and leapt to land,

And left their skiff and train, Where a wild stream, with headlong shock, Came brawling down its bed of rock,

To mingle with the main.

XI. -“The scheme," said Bruce, contents me

Meantime, 'twere best that Isabel,
For safety, with my bark and crew,
Again to friendly Erin drew.
There Edward, too, shall with her wend,
In need to cheer her and defend,
And muster up each scatter'd friend.”_
Here seem'd it as Lord Ronald's ear
Would other counsel gladlier hear;
But, all achieved as soon as plann'd,
Both barks, in secret arm’d and mann'd,

From out the haven bore;
On different voyage forth they ply,
This for the coast of winged Skye,

And that for Erin's shore.

A while their route they silent made,

As men who stalk for mountain-deer, Till the good Bruce to Ronald said,

“St. Mary! what a scene is here ! I've traversed many a mountain-strand, Abroad and in my native land, And it has been my lot to troad Where safety more than pleasure led; Thus, many a waste I've wander'd o'er, Clombe many a crag, cross'd many a moor,

But, by my halidome, A scene so rude, so wild as this, Yet so sublime in barrenness, Ne'er did my wandering footsteps press,

Where'er I happ'd to roam."

With Bruce and Ronald bides the tale.
To favoring winds they gave the sail,
Till Mull's dark headlands scarce they knew,
And Ardnamurchan's hills were blue.*
But then the squalls blew close and hard,
And, fain to strike the galley's yard,

And take them to the oar,
With these rude seas, in weary plight,
They strove the livelong day and night,
Nor till the dawning had a sight

Of Skye's romantic shore.

No marvel thus the Monarch spake;

For rarely human eye has known
A scene so stern as that dread lake,

With its dark ledge' of barren stone. Seems that primeval earthquake's sway Hath rent a strange and shatter'd way

1 MS.-"Myself thy pilot and thy guide.'

* Not so, kind Torquil,' Ronald cried ;

''Tis I will on my sovereign wait.'2 The MS. has,

Aye,' said the Chief, or if they fail,

This broadsword's weight shall turn the scale."" In altering this passage, the poet appears to have lost a link. -ED.

3 The MS. adds :

“Our bark's departure, too, will blind

To our intent the foeman's mind." * MS.-" Till Mall's dark isle no more they knew,

Nor Ardnamarchan's mountains blue." 6 MS.--"' For favoring gales compellid to stay." 6 See Appendix, Note 2 G. 7 MS.-"Dark banks."

And when return the sun's glad beams, Whiten'd with foam a thousand streams

Leap from the mountain's crown.'

Through the rude bosom of the hill,
And that each naked precipice,
Sable ravine, and dark abyss,

Tells of the outrage still.
The wildest glen, but this, can show
Some touch of Nature's genial glow;
On high Benmore green mosses grow,
And heath-bells bud in deep Glencroe,'

And copse on Cruchan-Ben;
But here,-above, around, below,

On mountain or in glen,
Nor tree, nor shrub, nor plant, nor flower,
Nor aught of vegetative power,

The weary eye may ken.
For all is rocks at random thrown,
Black waves, bare crags, and banks of stone,

As if were here denied
The summer sun, the spring's sweet dew,
That clothe with many a varied hue

The bleakest mountain-side.

XVI. “ This lake,” said Bruce, “whose barriers

drear Are precipices sharp and sheer, Yielding no track for goat or deer,

Save the black shelves we tread, How term you its dark waves ? and how Yon northern mountain's pathless brow,

And yonder peak of dread, That to the evening sun uplifts The grisly gulfs and slaty rifts,

Which seam its shiver'd head ?”– “Coriskin call the dark lake's name, Coolin the ridge, as bards proclaim, From old Cuchullin, chief of fame. But bards, familiar in our isles Rather with Nature's frowns than smiles, Full oft their careless humors please By sportive names from scenes like these. I would old Torquil were to show His maidens with their breasts of snow, Or that my noble Liege were nigh To hear his Nurse sing lullaby! (The Maids—tall cliffs with breakers white, The Nurse-a torrent's roaring might), Or that your eye could see the mood Of Corryvrekin's whirlpool rude, When dons the Hag her whiten'd hood'Tis thus our islesmen's fancy frames, For scenes so stern, fantastic names.”

And wilder, forward, as they wound,
Were the proud cliffs and lake profound.
Huge terraces of granite black
Afforded rude and cumber'd track;

For from the mountain hoar,
Hurld headlong in some night of fear,
When yell’d the wolf and fled the deer,

Loose crags had toppled o'er;9
And some, chance-poised and balanced, lay,
So that a stripling arm might sway

A mass no host could raise,
In Nature's rage at random thrown,
Yet trembling like the Druid's stone

On its precarious base.
The evening mists, with ceaseless change,
Now clothed the mountains' lofty range,

Now left their foreheads bare,
And round the skirts their mantle furl'd,
Or on the sable waters curl d,
Or on the eddying breezes whirld,

Dispersed in middle air.
And oft, condensed, at once they lower,"
When, brief and fierce, the mountain shower

Pours like a torrent down,

XVII. Answer'd the Bruce, " And musing mind Might here a graver moral find. These mighty cliffs, that heave on high Their naked brows to middle sky, Indifferent to the sun or snow, Where naught can fade, and naught can blow, May they not mark a Monarch's fate, Raised high mid storms of strife and state, Beyond life's lowlier pleasures placed, His soul a rock, his heart a waste ?10

MS.-" And

deers have buds 1

} in deep Glencoe." heather-bells

Wildest 3 MS.-"}

Rarest. 3 The Quarterly Reviewer says, “ This picture of barren desolation is admirably touched ;" and if the opinion of Mr. Turner be worth any thing, “ No words could have given a truer picture of this, one of the wildest of Nature's landscapes." Mr. Turner adds, however, that he dissents in one particular ; but for one or two tufts of grass he must have broken bis neck, having slipped when trying to attain the best position for taking the view which embellishes volume tenth, edition 1833.

4 MS." And wilder, at each step they take,

Turn the proud cliffs and yawning lake;

Huge naked sheets of granite black," &c. 6 MS.-“For from the mountain's crown." 6 MS.-" Huge crags had toppled down." 7 MS.—“Oft closing too, at once they lower." 8 MS.-"Pour'd like a torrent dread." 9 MS.—“Leap from the mountain's head." 10 " He who ascends to mountain-tops, shall find

The loftiest peaks most wrapt in clouds and snow;
He who surpasses or subdues mankind,
Must look down on the hate of those below.
Though high above the son of glory glow,

« AnteriorContinuar »