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And sinks thy falchion, bold De Vere! The blows of Berkley fall less fast, And gallant Pembroke's bugle-blast
Hath lost its lively tone; Sinks, Argentine, thy battle-word, And Percy's shout was fainter heard,
“My merry-men, fight on !"
“One effort more, and Scotland's free!
Is firm as Ailsa Rock; Rush on with Highland sword and targe, I, with my Carrick spearmen, charge;"
Now, forward to the shock !" At once the spears were forward thrown, Against the sun the broadswords shone ; The pibroch lent its maddening tone, And loud King Robert's voice was
known"Carrick, press on-they fail, they fail ! Press on, brave sons of Innisgail,
The foe is fainting fast !
The battle cannot last !"
But, when mute Amadine they heard
A phrensy fired the throng;
Can bid the weak be strong.
Alone, De Argentine
And still makes good the line. Brief strife, but fierce,-his efforts raise A bright but momentary blaze. Fair Edith heard the Southron shout, Beheld them turning from the rout, Heard the wild call their trumpets sent, In notes 'twixt triumph and lament. That rallying force, combined anew, Appear’d in her distracted view
To hem the Islesmen round; “O God! the combat they renew,
And is no rescue found !
Or made but doubtful stay ;-;
The boldest broke array.
His person ’mid the spears,
And cursed their caitiff fears;
But quitted there the train :"In yonder field a gage I left,I must not live of fame bereft;
I needs must turn again. Speed hence, my Liege, for on your trace The fiery Douglas takes the chase,
I know his banner well.
1 MS. The sinking," &c.
o See Appendix, Note 4 D.
God send my Sovereign joy and bliss, And many a happier field than this !-
Once more, my Liege, farewell."
Yet, as he saw the King advance,
The effort was in vain !
He stumbled on the plain. Then foremost was the generous Bruce To raise his head, his helm to loose ;
" Lord Earl, the day is thine ! My Sovereign's charge, and adverse fate, Have made our meeting all too late ;
Yet this may Argentine,
XXXII. Again he faced the battle-field, Wildly they fly, are slain, or yield.' "Now then," he said, and couch'd his spear, “My course is run, the goal is near; One effort more, one brave career,
Must close this race of mine." Then in his stirrups rising high, He shouted loud his battle-cry,
“Saint James for Argentine !"
An axe has razed his crest;
He rode with spear in rest,
And through his gallant breast.
And swung his broadsword round ! -Stirrup, steel-boot, and cuish gave way, Beneath that blow's tremendous sway,
The blood gush'd from the wound; And the grim Lord of Colonsay
Hath turn'd him on the ground, And laugh'd in death-pang, that his blade The mortal thrust so well repaid.
XXXIV. Bruce press’d his dying hand—its grasp Kindly replied; but, in his clasp,
It stiffen'd and grew cold“And, O farewell!” the victor cried, “Of chivalry the flower and pride,
The arm in battle bold, The courteous mien, the noble race, The stainless faith, the manly face ! Bid Ninian's convent light their shrine, For late-wake of De Argentine. O'er better knight on death-bier laid, Torch never gleam'd nor mass was said !”
Fell faintly on his ear;
The wounded knight drew near ;
XXXV. Nor for De Argentine alone, Through Ninian's church these torches shone, And rose the death-prayer's awful tone." That yellow lustre glimmer'd pale, On broken plate and bloodied mail, Rent crest and shatter'd coronet, Of Baron, Earl, and Banneret; And the best names that England knew, Claim'd in the death-prayer dismal due.*
Yet mourn not, Land of Fame ! Though ne'er the leopards on thy shield Retreated from so sad a field,
Since Norman William came.
Grudge not her victory,
To none so dear as thee !
1 The MS. has not the seven lines which follow. 2 MS."Now toil'd the Bruce as leaders ought,
To use his conquest boldly bought.” 3 See Appendix, Note 4 F. 4 MS." And the best names that England owns
Swell the sad death-prayer's dismal tones." 6 MS.-"When for her rights her sword was bare,
Rights dear to all who freedom share.” 6. The fictitious part of the story is, on the whole, the least
interesting-though we think that the author has hazarded rather too little embellishment in recording the adventures of the Bruce. There are many places, at least, in which he has evidently given an air of heaviness and flatness to his narration, by adhering too closely to the authentic history; and has lowered down the tone of his poetry to the tame level of the rude chroniclers by whom the incidents were originally recorded. There is a more serious and general fault, however, in the conduct of all this part of the story,--and that is, that it is not
Our will be to the Abbot known,
“For the mute page had spoke."-
To burst the English yoke.
fame. There was—and O! how many sorrows crowd Into these two brief words !-there was a claim
By generous friendship given-had fate allow'd,
sufficiently national—and breathes nothing either of that ani- 1 MS.-"Excepted to the Island Lord,
When turning," &c.
2 MS.--"Some mingled sounds of joy and woe."
9 The MS. adds :fondly on the valor and generosity of the invaders, but actually
“That priests and choir, with morning beams, makes an elaborate apology to the English for having ventured
Prepare, with reverence as beseems,
To pay," &c.
4 "Bruce issues orders for the celebration of the nuptials; pease critics, and attract readers in the southern part of the
whether they were ever solemnized, it is impossible to say. As island and yet it is difficult to see for what other purposes it
critics, we should certainly have forbidden the banns ; be could be assumed. Mr. Scott certainly need not have been
cause, although it is conceivable that the mere lapse of time afraid either of exciting rebellion among his countrymen, or of
might not have eradicated the passion of Edith, yet how such bringing his own liberality and loyalty into question, although,
a circumstance alone, without even the assistance of an inin speaking of the events of that remote period, where an over
terview, could have created one in the bosom of Ronald, is bearing conqueror was overthrown in a lawless attempt to sub
altogether inconceivable. He must have proposed to marry due an independent kingdom, he had given full expression to the hatred and exultation which must have prevailed among the
her merely from compassion, or for the sake of her lands;
and, upon either supposition, it would have comported with victors, and are indeed the only passions which can be supposed
the delicacy of Edith to refuse his proffered hand."-Querto be excited by the story of their exploits. It is not natural, terly Reviewo. and we are sure it is not poetical, to represent the agents in such tremendous scenes as calm and indulgent judges of the " To Mr. James Ballantyne.--Dear Sir,-You have now motives or merits of their opponents; and, by lending such a the whole affair, excepting two or three concluding stanzas. character to the leaders of his host, the author has actually As your taste for bride's-cake may induce you to desire to lessened the interest of the mighty fight of Bannockburn, to know more of the wedding, I will save you some criticism by that which might be supposed to belong to a well-regulated saying, I have settled to stop short as above.--Witness my tournament among friendly rivals."-JEFFREY.
“ W. S."
Shone yet more lovely in a form so fair ::
That one poor garland, twined to deck thy hair, And, least of all, what 'vails the world should Is hung upon thy hearse, to droop and wither know,
1 The reader is referred to Mr. Hogg's “ Pilgrims of the other sauce, De Wilton; and although he certainly falls inSun" for some beautiful lines, and a highly interesting note, finitely short of that accomplished swimmer Malcolm Grame, on the death of the Duchess of Buccleuch. See ante, p. 412. yet he rises proportionably above the red-haired Redmond.
2 The Edinburgh Reviewer (Mr. Jeffrey) says, “ The story Lord Ronald, indeed, bating his intended marriage with one of the Lord of the Isles, in so far as it is fictitious, is palpably woman while he loves another, is a very noble fellow; and, deficient both in interest and probability; and, in so far as it is were he not so totally eclipsed by The Bruce,' be would have founded on historical truth, seems to us to be objectionable, served very well to give a title to any octosyllabic epic, were it both for want of incident, and want of variety and connection even as vigorous and poetical as the present. Nevertheless, it in the incidents that occur. There is a romantic grandeur, would have been just as proper to call Virgil's divine poem however, in the scenery, and a sort of savage greatness and * The Anchiseid,' as it is to call this . The Lord of the Isles.' rade antiquity in many of the characters and events, which To all intents and purposes the aforesaid quarto is, and ought relieves the insipidity of the narrative, and atones for many to be, 'The Bruce."" defects in the execution."
The Monthly Reviewer thus concludes his article :-" In After giving copious citations from what he considers as some detached passages, the present poem may challenge any " the better parts of the poem," the critic says, “to give a of Mr. Scott's compositions; and perhaps in the Abbot's incomplete and impartial idea of it, we ought to subjoin some voluntary blessing it excels any single part of any one of them. from its more faulty passages. But this is but an irksome task The battle, too, and many dispersed lines besides, have transat all times, and, with such an author as Mr. Scott, is both in- cendent merit. In point of fable, however, it has not the grace vidious and unnecessary. His faults are nearly as notorious as and elegance of The Lady of the Lake,' nor the general clearhis beauties ; and we have announced in the outset, that they ness and vivacity of its narrative; nor the unexpected happiare equally conspicuous in this as in his other productions, ness of its catastrophe; and still less does it aspire to the praise There are innumerable harsh lines and uncouth expressions of the complicated, but very proper and well-managed story passages of a coarse and heavy diction,--and details of unin- of 'Rokeby.' It has nothing so pathetic as “The Cypress teresting minuteness and oppressive explanation. It is need- Wreath ;' nothing so sweetly touching as the last evening scene less, after this, to quote such couplets as
at Rokeby, before it is broken by Bertram ; nothing (with the * A damsel tired of midnight bark,
exception of the Abbot) so awfully melancholy as much of Or wanderers of a moulding stark,'
Mortham's history, or so powerful as Bertram's farewell to
Edmund. It vies, as we have already said, with ‘Marmion,' . 'Tis a kind youth, but fanciful,
in the generally favorite part of that poem; but what has it Unfit against the tide to pull;'-—
(with the exception before stated) equal to the immurement of
Constance ? On the whole, however, we prefer it to Maror to recite the many weary pages which contain the collo- mion ;' which, in spite of much merit, always had a sort of quies of Isabel and Edith, and set forth the unintelligible rea- noisy royal-circus air with it; a clap-trappery, if we may vensons of their unreasonable conduct. The concerns of these ture on such a word. •Marmion,' in short, has become quite two young ladies, indeed, form the heaviest part of the poem. identified with Mr. Braham in our minds ; and we are thereThe mawkish generosity of the one, and the piteous fidelity fore not perhaps unbiased judges of its perfections. Finally, of the other, are equally oppressive to the reader, and do not we do not hesitate to place. The Lord of the Isles' below both tend at all to put him in good humor with Lord Ronald -- of Mr. Scott's remaining longer works; and as to · The Lay of who, though the beloved of both, and the nominal hero of the the Last Minstrel,' for numerous commonplaces and separate work, is certainly as far as possible from an interesting person. beauties, that poem, we believe, still constitutes one of the The lovers of poetry have a particular aversion to the incon- | highest steps, if not the very highest, in the ladder of the austancy of other lovers, -and especially to that sort of incon- thor's reputation. The characters of the present tale (with stancy which is liable to the suspicion of being partly inspired the exception of • The Bruce,' who is vividly painted from by worldly ambition, and partly abjured from considerations history-and of some minor sketches) are certainly, in point of of a still meaner selfishness. We suspect, therefore, that they invention, of the most novel, that is, of the most Minerva-press will have but little indulgence for the fickleness of the Lord of description ; and, as to the language and versification, the the Isles, who breaks the troth he had pledged to the heiress of poem is in its general course as inferior to · Rokeby' (by much Jorn, as soon as he sees a chance of succeeding with the the most correct and the least justly appreciated of the author's King's sister, and comes back to the slighted bride, when his works) as it is in the construction and conduct of its fable. royal mistress takes the vows in a convent, and the heiress It supplies whole pages of the most prosaic narrative ; but, as gets into possession of her lands, by the forfeiture of her bro- we conclude by recollecting, it displays also whole pages of ther. These characters, and this story, form the great blemish the noblest poetry." of the poem ; but it has rather less fire and flow and facility, we think, on the whole, than some of the author's other performances."
The British Critic says: “No poem of Mr. Scott has yet appeared with fairer claims to the public attention. If it have
less pathos than the Lady of the Lake, or less display of charThe Monthly Reviewer thus assails the title of the poem :- acter than Marmion, it surpasses them both in grandeur of * The Lord of the Isles himself, selon les règles of Mr. Scott's conception, and dignity of versification. It is in every respect com positions, being the hero, is not the first person in the decidedly superior to Rokeby; and though it may not reach poem. The attendant here is always in white muslin, and the Lay of the Last Minstrel in a few splendid passages, it is Tilburina herself in white linen. Still, among the Deutero- far more perfect as a whole. The fame of Mr. Scott, among protoi (or second best) of the author, Lord Ronald holds a re- those who are capable of distinguishing the rich ore of poetry spectable rank,
He is not so mere a magic-lantern figure, from the dross which surrounds it, will receive no small advanceonce seen in bower and once in field, as Lord Cranstoun ; he ment by this last effort of his genius. We discover in it a far exceeds that tame rabbit boiled to rags without onion or brilliancy in detached expressions, and a power of language in the combination of images, which has never yet appeared in from the poem, combined with the brief remarks subjoined to any of his previous publications.
each canto, will sufficiently show, that although the Lord of “We would also believe that as his strength has increased, the Isles is not likely to add very much to the reputation of so his glaring errors have been diminished. Bat so imbedded Mr. Scott, yet this must be imputed rather to the greatness of and ingrained are these in the gems of his excellence, that no his previous reputation, than to the absolute inferiority of the blindness can overlook, no art can divide or destroy their con- poem itself. Unfortunately, its merits are merely incidental, nection. They must be tried together at the ordeal of time, while its defects are mixed up with the very elements of the and descend unseparated to posterity. Could Mr. Scott but poem. But it is not in the power of Mr. Scott to write with * endow his parposes with words'-could he but decorate the tameness ; be the subject what it will (and he could not easily justice and the splendor of his conceptions with more unal- have chosen one more impracticable), he impresses upon whatloyed aptness of expression, and more uniform strength and ever scenes he describes, so much movement and activity,- he harmony of numbers, he would claim a place in the highest infuses into his narrative such a flow of life, and, if we may rank among the poets of natural feeling and natural imagery. 50 express ourselves, of animal spirits, that without satisfying Even as it is, with all his faults, we love him still; and when the judgment, or moving the feelings, or elevating the mind, or he shall cease to write, we shall find it difficult to supply his even very greatly interesting the curiosity, he is able to seize place with a better."
upon, and, as it were, exhilarate the imagination of his readers, in a manner which is often truly unaccountable. This quality Mr. Scott possesses in an admirable degree ; and supposing that
he had no other object in view than to convince the world of The Quarterly Reviewer, after giving his outline of the story the great poetical powers with which he is gifted, the poem of the Lord of the Isles, thus proceeds :-“ In whatever point before us would be quite sufficient for his purpose. But this of view it be regarded, whether with reference to the incidents is of very inferior importance to the public; what they want it contains, or the agents by whom it is carried on, we think is a good poem, and as experience has shown, this can only be that one less calculated to keep alive the interest and curiosity constructed upon a solid foundation of taste and judgment of the reader could not easily have been conceived. Of the and meditation." characters, we cannot say much; they are not conceived with “These passages (referring to the preceding extract from the any great degree of originality, nor delineated with any par Quarterly, and that from the Edinburgh Review, at the ticular spirit. Neither are we disposed to criticise with mi- commencement of the poem] appear to me to condense the nuteness the incidents of the story; but we conceive that the result of deliberate and candid reflection, and I have therefore whole poem, considering it as a narrative poem, is projected quoted them. The most important remarks of either Essayist upon wrong principles.
on the details of the plot and execution are annexed to the last “The story is obviously composed of two independent plots, edition of the poem ; and show such an exaet coincidence of connected with each other merely by the accidental circum- | judgment in two masters of their calling, as had not hitherto stances of time and place. The liberation of Scotland by been exemplified in the professional criticism of his metrical Bruce has not naturally any moro connection with the loves of romances. The defects which both point out, are, I presume, Ronald and the Maid of Lorn, than with those of Dido and but too completely explained by the preceding statement of Æneas ; nor are we able to conceive any possible motive which the rapidity with which this, the last of those great perfor should have induced Mr. Scott to weave them as he has done mances, had been thrown off;-(see Life, vol. v. pp. 13–15] into the same narrative, except the desire of combining the ad- -nor do I see that either Reviewer has failed to do sufficient vantages of an heroical, with what we may call, for want of an justice to the beauties which redeem the imperfections of the appropriate word, an ethical subject; an attempt which we Lord of the Isles-exæpt as regards the whole character of feel assured he never would have made, had he duly weighed Bruce, its real hero, and the picture of the Battle of Bannockthe very different principles upon which these dissimilar sorts burn, which, now that one can compare these works from of poetry are founded. Thus, had Mr. Scott introduced the something like the same point of view, does not appear to me loves of Ronald and the Maid of Lorn as an episode of an in the slightest particular inferior to the Flodden of Marmion. epic poem opon the subject of the battle of Bannockburn, its “This poem is now, I believe, about as popular as Rokeby ; want of connection with the main action might have been ex- but it has never reached the same station in general favor with cused, in favor of its intrinsic merit; bat, by a great singu- the Lay, Marmion, or the Lady of the Lake. The first edition larity of judgment, he has introduced the battle of Bannockburn of 1800 copies in quarto, was, however, rapidly disposed of, as an episode, in the loves of Ronald and the Maid of Lorn. and the separate editions in 8vo, which ensued before his
poTo say nothing of the obvious preposterousness of such a de- etical works were collected, amounted together to 15,950 copies. sign, abstractedly considered, the effect of it has, we think, This, in the case of almost any other author, would bave been decidedly been to destroy that interest which either of them splendid success ; but, as compared with what he had premight separately have created : or, if any interest remain re- viously experienced, even in his Rokeby, and still more so as specting the fate of the ill-requited Edith, it is because at no compared with the enormous circulation at once attained by moment of the poem do we feel the slightest degree of it, re- Lord Byron's early tales, which were then following each other specting the enterprise of Bruce.
in almost breathless succession, the falling off was decided."“The many beautiful passages which we have extracted LOCKHART, vol. v. p. 27.