« AnteriorContinuar »
Sw. (apart.) A perilous honour, that allows the Display'd beside us; and beneath its shadow enemy,
Shall the young gallants, whom we knight this day, And such an enemy as this same Edward,
Fight for their golden spurs.—Lennox, thou 'rt wise, To choose our field of battle! He knows how And wilt obey command lead thou the rear. To make our Scottish pride betray its master
LEN. The rear why I the rear? The van were Into the pitfall.
fitter [During this speech the debate among the Nobles is For him who fought abreast with Robert Bruce. continued.
Swi. (apart.) Discretion hath forsaken Lennox too ! SUTH. (aloud.) We will not back one furlong—not The wisdom he was forty years in gathering one yard,
Has left him in an instant. 'Tis contagious No, nor one inch; where'er we find the foe,
Even to witness frenzy. Or where the foe finds us, there will we fight him. Suth. The Regent hath determined well. The rear Retreat will dull the spirit of our followers,
Suits him the best who counsell'd our retreat. Who now stand prompt for battle.
LEN. Proud Northern Thane, the van were soon the Ross. My Lords, methinks great Morarchat' has
Were thy disorder'd followers planted there. That, if his Northern clans once turn the seam Suth. Then, for that very word, I make a vow, Of their check'd hose behind, it will be hard By my broad Earldom, and my father's soul, To halt and rally them.
That, if I have not leading of the van, SUTH. Say'st thou, MacDonnell 3— Add another I will not fight to-day ! falsehood,
Ross. Morarchat ! thou the leading of the van ! And name when Morarchat was coward or traitor! Not whilst MacDonnell lives. Thine island race, as chronicles can tell,
Swr. (apart.) Nay, then a stone would speak. Were oft affianced to the Southron cause;
[Addresses the REGENT.] May't please your Grace, Loving the weight and temper of their gold,
And you, great Lords, to hear an old man's counsel, More than the weight and temper of their steel. That hath seen fights enow. These open bickerings REG. Peace, my Lords, ho !
Dishearten all our host. If that your Grace, Ross (throwing down his Glove.) MacDonnell will with these great Earls and Lords, must needs debate, not peace! There lies my pledge,
Let the closed tent conceal your disagreement; Proud Morarchat, to witness thee a liar.
Else 'twill be said, ill fares it with the flock, Max. Brought I all Nithsdale from the Western If shepherds wrangle, when the wolf is nigh. Border;
Reg. The old Knight counsels well. Let every Lord Left I my towers exposed to foraying England, Or Chief, who leads five hundred men or more, And thieving Annandale, to see such misrule ? Follow to council-others are excludedJohn. Who speaks of Annandale! Dare Maxwell We 'll have no vulgar censurers of our conductslander
[Looking at SWINTON. The gentle House of Lochwood ?2
Young Gordon, your high rank and numerous followREG. Peace, Lordings, once again. We represent
ing The Majesty of Scotland—in our presence
Give you a seat with us, though yet unknighted. Brawling is treason.
GORDON. I pray you, pardon me. My youth's unfit SUTH. Were it in presence of the King himself, To sit in council, when that Knight's grey hairs What should prevent my saying
And wisdom wait without.
REG. Do as you will; we deign not bid you twice. Enter LINDESAY.
[The REGENT, Ross, SUTHERLAND, LENNOX, LIN. You must determine quickly. Scarce a mile MAXWELL, fc. enter the Tent. The rest remain Parts our vanguard from Edward's. On the plain
grouped about the Stage. Bright gleams of armour flash through clouds of dust, GOR. (observing Swi.) That helmetless old Knight, Like stars through frost-mist-steeds neigh, and wea his giant stature,
His awful accents of rebuke and wisdom,
I will accost him.
1 Morarchate is the ancient Gaelic designation of the Earls of Sutherland. See ante, page (97, note.
2 Lochwood Castle was the ancient seat of the Johnstones, Lords of Annandale,
GOR. I will but ask his name. There's in his pre- of your dear country, hold !-Has Swinton slain your
father, Something that works upon me like a spell,
And must you, therefore, be yourself a parricide, Or like the feeling made my childish ear
And stand recorded as the selfish traitor, Dote upon tales of superstitious dread,
Who in her hour of need, his country's cause Attracting while they chill'd my heart with fear. Deserts, that he may wreak a private wrong? Now, born the Gordon, I do feel right well
Look to yon banner—that is Scotland's standard ; I'm bound to fear nought earthly—and I fear nought. Look to the Regent-he is Scotland's general; I'll know who this man is
Look to the English—they are Scotland's foemen!
[Accosts SWINTON. Bethink thee, then, thou art a son of Scotland, Sir Knight, I pray you, of your gentle courtesy, And think on nought beside. To tell your honour'd name. I am ashamed,
GOR. He hath come here to brave me !-Off! unBeing unknown in arms, to say that mine
hand me Is Adam Gordon.
Thou canst not be my father's ancient friend, SWINTON (shows emotion, but instantly subdues it.) That stand'st 'twixt me and him who slew my father. It is a name that soundeth in my ear
VIP. You know not Swinton. Scarce one passing Like to a death-knell—ay, and like the call
thought Of the shrill trumpet to the mortal lists;
Of his high mind was with you; now, his soul Yet, 'tis a name which ne'er hath been dishonour'd, Is fix'd on this day's battle. You might slay him And never will, I trust-most surely never
At unawares before he saw your blade drawn. By such a youth as thou.
Stand still, and watch him close.3
Enter MAXWELL from the tent.
Swi. How go our councils, Maxwell, may I ask ! To know the name he asks ?
Max. As wild, as if the very wind and sea Swi. Worthy of all that openness and honour With every breeze and every billow battled May show to friend or foe—but, for my name,
For their precedence. Vipont will show it you; and, if it sound
Swi. Most sure they are possess'd! Some evil Harsh in your ear, remember that it knells there
spirit, But at your own request. This day, at least, To mock their valour, robs them of discretion. Though seldom wont to keep it in concealment, Fie, fie, upon't !-0, that Dunfermline's tomb As there's no cause I should, you had not heard it. Could render up The Bruce ! that Spain's red shore GOR. This strange
Could give us back the good Lord James of Douglas ! Vip. The mystery is needful. Follow me. Or that fierce Randolph, with his voice of terror,
[They retire behind the side scene. Were here, to awe these brawlers to submission ! Swi. (looking after them.) 'Tis a brave youth. How VIP. to GOR. Thou hast perused him at more leisure
blush'd his noble cheek, While youthful modesty, and the embarrassment GOR. I see the giant form which all men speak of, Of curiosity, combined with wonder,
The stately port--but not the sullen eye, And half suspicion of some slight intended,
Not the bloodthirsty look, that should belong All mingled in the flush ; but soon 'twill deepen To him that made me orphan. I shall need Into revenge’s glow. How slow is Vipont !
To name my father twice ere I can strike I wait the issue, as I've seen spectators
At such grey hairs, and face of such command; Suspend the motion even of the eyelids,
Yet my hand clenches on my falchion hilt, When the slow gunner, with his lighted match,
In token he shall die. Approach'd the charged cannon, in the act
VIP. Need I again remind you, that the place To waken its dread slumbers.-Now 'tis out; Permits not private quarrel ? He draws his sword, and rushes towards me,
Gor. I'm calm. I will not seek—nay, I will shun Who will nor seek nor shun him.
And yet methinks that such debate 's the fashion. Enter GORDON, withheld by VIPONT.
You've heard how taunts, reproaches, and the lie, VIP. Hold, for the sake of Heaven! 0, for the The lie itself, have flown from mouth to mouth; sake
As if a band of peasants were disputing
I “A name unmusical to Volscian ears,
And harsh in sound to thine."--Coriolanus.
Against the common foe-wage private quarrel.
4 "Mad as the sea and wind, when both contend
Which is the mightier."-Hamlet.
About a foot-ball match, rather than Chiefs
Enter the REGENT and Scottish Lords. Were ordering a battle. I am young,
Reg. Thus shall it be, then, since we may no better And lack experience; tell me, brave De Vipont, And, since no Lord will yield one jot of way Is such the fashion of your wars in Palestine ! To this high urgency, or give the vanguard Vip. Such it at times bath been; and then the Up to another's guidance, we will abide them Cross
Even on this bent; and as our troops are rank’d, Hath sunk before the Crescent. Heaven's cause So shall they meet the foe. Chief, nor Thane, Won us not victory where wisdom was not.
Nor Noble, can complain of the precedence Behold yon English host come slowly on,
Which chance has thus assign'd him. With equal front, rank marshall’d upon rank,
Swi. (apart.) 0, sage discipline, As if one spirit ruled one moving body;
That leaves to chance the marshalling of a battle! The leaders, in their places, each prepared
Gor. More him to speech, De Vipont.
ViP. Move him!-Move whom?
My hand did burn to put to utter silence.
Gor. We're fearfully o’ermatch'd in discipline; Swi. Had I the thousand spears which once I led, So even my inexperienced eye can judge.
I had not thus been silent. But men's wisdom What succour save in Heaven?
Is rated by their means. From the poor leader Vip. Heaven acts by human means. The artist's Of sixty lances, who seeks words of weight? skill
GOR. (steps forward.) Swinton, there's that of wisSupplies in war, as in mechanic crafts,
dom on thy brow, Deficiency of tools. There 's courage, wisdom, And valour in thine eye, and that of peril And skill enough, live in one leader here,
In this most urgent hour, that bids me say,As, flung into the balance, might avail
Bids me, thy mortal foe, say, Swinton, speak, To counterpoise the odds 'twixt that ruled host For King and Country's sake! And our wild multitude.-I must not name him. Swi. Nay, if that voice commands me, speak I will; Gor. I guess, but dare not ask.-What band is It sounds as if the dead lays charge on me. yonder,
Reg. (To LENNOX, with whom he has been consulting.) Arranged so closely as the English discipline 'Tis better than you think. This broad hill-side Hath marshall'd their best files ?
Affords fair compass for our power's display,
Rank above rank rising in seemly tiers;
Swi. As e'er stood mark before an English archer. Gor. These, then, are his,-the relics of his power; Reg. Who dares to say so? Who is't dare impeach Yet worth an host of ordinary men.
Our rule of discipline? And I must slay my country's sagest leader,
Swi. A poor Knight of these Marches, good my And crush by numbers that determined handful, When most my country needs their practised aid, Alan of Swinton, who hath kept a house here, Or men will say, " There goes degenerate Gordin; He and his ancestry, since the old days His father's blood is on the Swinton's sword, Of Malcolm, called the Maiden.
[field, And his is in his scabbard 1 59
[Muses. Reg. You have brought here, even to this pitched Vip. (apart.) High blood and mettle, mix'd with In which the Royal Banner is display'd, early wisdom,
I think some sixty spears, Sir Knight of Swinton; Sparkle in this brave youth. If he survive
Our musters name no more. This evil-omen'd day, I pawn my word,
Swi. I brought each man I had; and Chief, or Earl, That, in the ruin which I now forbode,
Thane, Duke, or dignitary, brings no more: Scotland has treasure left.-How close he eyes And with them brought I what may here be useful Each look and step of Swinton! Is it hate, An aged eye; which, what in England, Scotland, Or is it admiration, or are both
Spain, France, and Flanders, hath seen fifty battles, Commingled strangely in that steady gaze ?
And ta'en some judgment of them; a stark hand too, [SWINTON and MAXWELL return from the bottom Which plays as with a straw with this same mace,of the stage.
Which if a young arm here can wield more lightly, Max. The storm is laid at length amongst these I never more will offer word of counsel. counsellors;
LEN. Hear him, my Lord; it is the noble SwintonSee, they come forth.
He hath had high experience. Swi. And it is more than time;
He is noted For I can mark the vanguard archery
The wisest warrior ’twixt the Tweed and Solway,Handling their quivers—bending up their bows. I do beseech you, hear him.
John. Ay, hear the Swinton-hear stout old Sir I've done such work before, and love it well;
If ’tis your pleasure to give me the leading, Maxwell and Johnstone both agree for once. The dames of Sherwood, Inglewood, and Weardale, REG. Where's your impatience now?
Shall sit in widowhood and long for venison, Late you were all for battle, would not hear And long in vain. Whoe'er remembers Bannock Ourself pronounce a word-and now you gaze
burn, On yon old warrior, in his antique armour, And when shall Scotsman, till the last loud trumpet, As if he were arisen from the dead,
Forget that stirring word !-knows that great battle To bring us Bruce's counsel for the battle.
Even thus was fought and won. Swi. 'Tis a proud word to speak; but he who LEN. This is the shortest road to bandy blows; fought
For when the bills step forth and bows go back,
REG. And if your scheme secure not victory,
This much at least,-
We'll meet these Southron bravely hand to hand, All idly and in vain their branchy horns,
And eye to eye, and weapon against weapon; As we shall shake our unavailing spears.
Each man who falls shall see the foe who strikes him. Reg. Tush, tell not me! If their shot fall like hail, While our good blades are faithful to the hilts, Our unen have Milan coats to bear it out.
And our good bands to these good blades are faithful, Swi. Never did armourer temper steel on stithy Blow shall meet blow, and none fall unavenged That made sure fence against an English arrow; We shall not bleed alone. A cobweb gossamer were guard as good!
And this is all Against a wasp-sting.
Your wisdom hath devised ? Reg. Who fears a wasp-sting?
Swi. Not all; for I would pray you, noble Lords, Swi.
I, my Lord, fear none; (If one, among the guilty guiltiest, might,) Yet should a wise man brush the insect off,
For this one day to charm to ten hours' rest Dr he may smart for it.
The never-dying worm of deadly feud, Reg. We 'll keep the hill; it is the vantage-ground That gnaws our vexed hearts—think no one foe When the main battle joins.
Save Edward and his host:-days will remain, Swi. It ne'er will join, while their light archery Ay, days by far too many will remain, Can foil our spearmen and our barbed horse. To avenge old feuds or struggles for precedence ;To hope Plantagenet would seek close combat Let this one day be Scotland's.-For myself, When he can conquer riskless, is to deem
If there is any here may claim from me Sagacious Edward simpler than a babe
(As well may chance) a debt of blood and hatred, In battle-knowledge. Keep the hill, my Lord, My life is his to-morrow unresisting, With the main body, if it is your pleasure;
So he to-day will let me do the best But let a body of your chosen horse
That my old arm may achieve for the dear country Make execution on yon waspish archers.
That 's mother to us both.
hereditary foeman, the mortal antagonist of his father, to the 2 “The generous abandonment of private dissension, on the no less warm and generous devotion of feeling which is inspired part of Gordon, which the historian has described as a mo- in it by the contemplation of that foeman's valour and virmentary impulse, is depicted by the dramatist with great skill tues."— British Crilic. and knowledge of human feeling, as the result of many powerful and conflicting emotions. He has, we think, been very 3 MS." For this one day to chase our country's curse successful in his attempt to express the hesitating, and some
From your vex'd bosoms, and think no one enemy times retrograde movements of a young and ardent mind, in
But those in yonder army-days enow, its transition from the first glow of indignation against his
Ay days," &c.
[GORDON shows much emotion during this Be faithful, brave, and 0, be fortunate,
and the preceding speech of Swinton. Should this ill hour permit! Reg. It is a dream-a vision !-if one troop
[The trumpets sound; the Heralds cry Rush down upon the archers, all will follow,
“ Largesse," and the Attendants shout And order is destroy'd—we 'll keep the battle-rank
“ A Gordon! A Gordon !" Our fathers wont to do. No more on 't.-Ho!
Reg. Beggars and flatterers! Peace, peace, I say ! Where be those youths seek knighthood from our We'll to the Standard; knights shall there be made sword?
Who will with better reason crave your clamour. HER. Here are the Gordon, Somerville, and Hay, LEN. What of Swinton's counsel ? And Hepburn, with a score of gallants more. Here's Maxwell and myself think it worth noting. REG. Gordon, stand forth.
REG. (with concentrated indignation.) GOR.
I pray your Grace, forgive me. Let the best knight, and let the sagest leader,Reg. How! seek you not for knighthood?
So Gordon quotes the man who slew his father,GOR.
I do thirst for 't. With his old pedigree and heavy mace, But, pardon metis from another sword.
Essay the adventure if it pleases him, Reg. It is your Sovereign's—seek you for a worthier? With his fair threescore horse. As for ourselves, Gor. Who would drink purely, seeks the secret We will not peril aught upon the measure. fountain,
GOR. Lord Regent, you mistake; for if Sir Alan How small soever—not the general stream,
Shall venture such attack, each man who calls
In this achievement.
REG. Why, God ha' mercy! This is of a piece. - Therefore, I beg the boon on bended knee, Let young and old e'en follow their own counsel, Even from Sir Alan Swinton.
[Kneels. Since none will list to mine. REG. Degenerate boy! Abject at once and inso Ross. The Border cockerel fain would be on lent
horseback; See, Lords, he kneels to him that slew his father! 'Tis safe to be prepared for fight or flight: GOR. (starting up.) Shame be on him, who speaks And this comes of it to give Northern lands such shameful word !
To the false Norman blood. Shame be on him, whose tongue would sow dissen GOR. Hearken, proud Chief of Isles! Within my sion,
stalls When most the time demands that native Scotsmen I have two hundred horse; two hundred riders Forget each private wrong!
Mount guard upon my castle, who would tread Swi. (interrupting him.) Youth, since you crave me Into the dust a thousand of your Redshanks, To be your sire in chivalry, I remind you
Nor count it a day's service. War has it duties, Office has its reverence;
Hear I this Who governs in the Sovereign's name is Sovereign ;- From thee, young man, and on the day of battle? Crave the Lord Regent's pardon.
And to the brave MacDonnell ! GOR. You task me justly, and I crave his pardon, GOR. 'Twas he that urged me; but I am rebuked.
[Bows to the REGENT. REG. He crouches like a leash-hound to his master! His and these noble Lords'; and pray them all Swi. Each hound must do so that would head the Bear witness to my words.—Ye noble presence,
deerHere I remit unto the Knight of Swinton
"Tis mongrel curs that snatch at mate or master. All bitter memory of my father's slaughter,
REG. Too much of this. Sirs, to the Royal Stan. All thoughts of malice, hatred, and revenge;
dard ! By no base fear or composition moved,
I bid you, in the name of good King David. But by the thought, that in our country's battle Sound trumpets—sound for Scotland and King David! All hearts should be as one. I do forgive him
[The REGENT and the rest go off, and the As freely as I pray to be forgiven,
Scene closes. Manent GORDON, SWINAnd once more kneel to him to sue for knighthood.
TON, and VIPONT, with REYNALD and Swi. (affected, and drawing his sword.)
followers. LENNOX follows the REGENT ; Alas! brave youth, 'tis I should kneel to you,
but returns, and addresses SWINTON. And, tendering thee the hilt of the fell sword
LEN. O, were my western horsemen but come up, That made thee fatherless, bid thee use the point I would take part with you! After thine own discretion. For thy boon
Better that you remain. Trumpets be ready-In the Holiest name,
They lack discretion; such grey head as yours And in Our Lady's and Saint Andrew's name, May best supply that want.
[Touching his shoulder with his stoord. I dub thee Knight!-Arise, Sir Adam Gordon! 1 In the MS. this speech and the next are interpolated.