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Convulsions of ecstatic trance.
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,
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,
The tumult of his laboring breast.”
€ "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.
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
His prophet-speech had spoke ;
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.
To Ronald of the Isles,
She seeks Iona's piles,
The Abbot reconciles."*
And sternly flung apart ;-
From my dear Kinsman's heart?
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."
“Such was fierce Lorn's cry."
These feuds to reconcile."
We need not to each other tell,
Then do me but the soldier grace,
Where we may meet in fight;
Thou art a noble knight.”—
But, for your brave request,
Upon my helmet-crest;
It shall be well redress'd.
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-
Up, Edward, up, I say !
Dunvegan's chief-each bent the knee
And proffer'd him his sword,
And Scotland's rightful lord.
Who rebel falchion drew,
Paid homage just and true?”— “ Alas! dear youth, the unhappy time,” Answer'd the Bruce,“ must bear the crime,
Since, guiltier far than yoa,
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.
By beam and bolt and chain;
In confidence remain.
And soon they sunk away
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,
1 See Appendix, Note 2 F.
To shun the perils of a siege.
-“ And if my words in weight shall fail,” This ponderous sword shall turn the scale."
Where Coolin stoops him to the west,
The sun's arising gleam;
He shot a western beam.
No human foot comes here,
And strike a mountain-deer!
A shaft shall mend our cheer.”
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
From out the haven bore;
And that for Erin's shore.
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."
And take them to the oar,
Of Skye's romantic shore.
For rarely human eye has known
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,
Tells of the outrage still.
And copse on Cruchan-Ben;
On mountain or in glen,
The weary eye may ken.
As if were here denied
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.”
For from the mountain hoar,
Loose crags had toppled o'er;9
A mass no host could raise,
On its precarious base.
Now left their foreheads bare,
Dispersed in middle air.
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
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;