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Whose downcast eye and cheek disclose
XXI. Who meets them at the churchyard gate ? The messenger of fear and fate ! Haste in his hurried accent lies, And grief is swimming in his eyes. All dripping from the recent flood, Panting and travel-soil'd he stood, The fatal sign of fire and sword Held forth, and spoke the appointed word: “The muster-place is Lanrick mead; Speed forth the signal! Norman, speed !" And must he change so soon the hand, Just link'd to his by holy band, For the fell Cross of blood and brand ? And must the day, so blithe that rose, And promised rapture in the close, Before its setting hour, divide The bridegroom from the plighted bride ?
(MS.-"And must he then exchange the hand." |
O fatal doom !-it must! it must!
XXII. Yet slow he laid his plaid aside, And, lingering, eyed his lovely bride, Until he saw the starting tear Speak woe he might not stop to cheer; Then, trusting not a second look, In haste he sped him up the brook, Nor backward glanced, till on the heath Where Lubnaig's lake supplies the Teith.
- What in the racer's bosom stirr'd ? The sickening pang of hope deferr'd, And memory, with a torturing train Of all his morning visions vain. Mingled with love's impatience, came The manly thirst for martial fame; The stormy joy of mountaineers, Ere yet they rush upon the spears; And zeal for Clan and Chieftain burning, And hope, from well-fought field returning, With war's red honours on his crest, To clasp his Mary to his breast.
? [MS.-" And memory brought the torturing train
Of all his morning visions rain;
Stung by such thoughts, o'er bank and brae,
Far, far, from love and thee, Mary :
It will not waken me, Mary!
And all it promised me, Mary.
His foot like arrow free, Mary.
A time will come with feeling fraught,
Bracken.-Fern. 2 (MS.-"I may not, dare not, image now."j VIII.
Thy hapless lover's dying thought
Shall be a thought on thee, Mary." And if return’d from conquer'd foes, How blithely will the evening close, How sweet the linnet sing repose,
To my young bride and me, Mary!
For should thy bridegroom yield his breath,
The boasted right to thee, Mary.”] 2 It may be necessary to inform the southern reader, that the heath on the Scottish moorlands is often set fire to, that the sheep may have the advantage of the young herbage produced, in room of the tough old heather plants. This custom (execrated by sportsmen) produces occasionally the most beautiful nocturnal appearances, similar almost to the discharge of a volcano This simile is not new to poetry. The charge of a warrior, in the fine ballad of Hardyknute, is said to be “like fire to heather set.”
3 ["The eager fidelity with which this fatal signal is hurried on and obeyed, is represented with great spirit and felicity." JEFFREY.)
Waked still Loch Doine, and to the source
1 The deep and implicit respect paid by the Highland clansmen to their chief, rendered this both a common and a solemn oath. In other respects they were like most savage nations, capricious in their ideas concerning the obligatory power of oaths. One solemn mode of swearing was by kissing the dirk, imprecating upon themselves death by that, or a similar weapon, if they broke their vow. But for oaths in the usual form, they are said to have paid little respect. As for the reverence due to the chief, it may