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Till Douglas should a bark prepare,
To waft her back to Whitby fair.
Glad was the abbess, you may guess,
And thank'd the Scottish prioress :
And tedious 'twere to tell, I ween,
The courteous speech that pass'd between.
O'erjoy'd the nuns their palfreys leave;
But when fair Clara did intend,
Like them, from horseback to descend,
Fitz-Eustace said, “I grieve,
Fair lady, grieve e'en from my heart,
Such gentle company to part ;-
Think not discourtesy,
But lords' commands must be obey'd;
And Marmion and the Douglas said,
That you must wend with me.
Lord Marmion hath a letter broad,
Which to the Scottish earl he show'd,
Commanding, that beneath his care,
Without delay, you shall repair
To your good kipsmen, Lord Fitz-Clare."
Composed her veil, and raised her head,
And—“ Bid," in solemn voice she said,
“ Thy master, bold and bad,
The records of his house turn o'er,
And, when he there shall written see,
That one of his own ancestry
Drove the monks forth of Coventry,
Bid him his fate explore !
Prancing in pride of earthly trust,
His charger hurld him to the dust,
And, by a base plebeian thrust.
He died his band before.
God judge 'twixt Marmion and me;
He is a chief of high degree,
And I a poor recluse ;
Yet oft, in holy writ, we see
Even such weak minister as me
May the oppressor bruise:
For thus, inspired, did Judith slay
The mighty in his sin,
And Jael thus, and Deborah,”-
Here hasty Blount broke in:
“ Fitz-Eustace, we must march our band;
St. Anton' fire thee! wilt thou stand
All day with bonnet in thy hand,
To hear the lady preach?
By this good light ! if thus we stay,
Lord Marmion, for our fond delay
Will sharper sermon teach.
Come, don thy cap, and mount thy horse ;
The dame must patience take perforce."-
XXX. The startled abbess loud esclaim'd; But she at whom the blow was aim'd, Grew pale as death, and cold as lead ;She deem'd she heard her death doom read. “ Cheer thee, my child !” the abbess said, “ They dare not tear thee from my hand, To ride alone with armed band.”—
“Nay, holy mother, nay” Fitz-Eustace, said “the lovely Clare Will be in Lady Angus' care,
In Scotland while we stay ;
And, when we move, an easy ride
Will bring us to the English side,
Female attendants to provide
Befitting Gloster's heir ;
Nor thinks, nor dreams, my noble lord,
By slightest look, or act, or word,
To harass lady Clare ;
Her faithful guardian he will be,
Nor sue for slightest courtesy
That even to stranger falls,
Till be shall place her, safe and free,
Within her kinsman's halls."
He spoke, and blush'd with earnest grace;
His faith was painted on his face,
And Clare's worst fear relieved.
The lady abbess loud exclaim'd
On Henry, and the Douglas blamed,
Entreated threaten'd grieved ;
To martyr, saint, and prophet pray'd,
Against Lord Marmion inveigh’d,
And call’d the prioress to aid,
To curse with candle, bell, and book.-
Her head the grave Cistertian shook:
• The Douglas and the king,” she said,
“ In their commands will be obey'd ;
Grieve not, nor dream that harm can fall
The maiden in Tantallon hall.”
“ Submit we then to force,” said Clare;
“ But let this barbarous lord despair
His purposed aim to win;
Let him take living, land, and life;
But to be Marmion's wedded wife
In me were deadly sin :
And if it be the king's decree,
That I must find no sanctuary,
Where even a homicide might come,
And safely rest his head,
Though at its open portals stood,
Thirsting to pour forth blood for blood,
The kinsmen of the dead, -
Yet one asylum is my own,
Against the dreaded hour; A low, a silent, and a lone,
Where kings have little power.
One victim is before me there.
Mother, your blessing, and in prayer
Remember your unhappy Clare !”—
Loud weeps the abbess, and bestows
Kind blessings many a one ;
Weeping and wailing loud arose
Round patient Clare, the clamorous woes
Of every simple nun.
His eyes the gentle Eustace dried,
And scarce rude Blount the sight could
Then took the squire her rein,
And gently led away her steed,
And, by each courteous word and deed,
To cheer her strove in vain.
XXXI. The abbess, seeing strife was vain, Assumed her wonted state again,
For much of state she had,
Then bade his band they should array For march against the dawning day.
INTRODUCTION TO CANTO VI.
But scant three miles the band had rode,
When o'er a height they passid,
And, sudden, close, before them show'd
His towers, Tantallon vast;
Broad, massive, highi, and stretching far,
And held impregnable in war.
On a projecting rock they rose,
And round three sides the ocean flows,
The fourth did battled walls enclose,
And double mound and fosse.
By narrow drawbridge, outworks strong,
Through studded gates, an entrance long
To the main court they cross.
It was a wide and stately square:
Around were lodgings fit and fair,
And towers of various form,
Which on the court projected far,
And broke its lines quadrangular.
Here was square keep, there turret high,
Or pinnacle that sought the sky,
Whence oft the warder could descry
The gathering ocean storm.
Here did they rest—The princely care
Of Douglas, why should I declare,
Or say they met reception fair?
Or why the tiding say,
Which, varying, to Tantallon came,
By hurrying posts or fleeter fame,
With every varying day?
And, first, they heard king James had won
Etal, and Wark, and Ford ; and then,
That Norham castle strong was ta’en.
At that sore marvellid Marmion ;
And Douglas hoped his monarch's hand
Would soon subdue Northumberland :
But whisper'd news there came,
That, while his host inactive lay,
And melted by degrees away,
King James was dallying off the day
With Heron's wily dame.
Such acts to chronicles I yield;
Go seek them there, and see
Mine is a tale of Flodden field,
And not a history.-
At length they heard the Scottish host
On that high ridge had made their post,
Which frowns o'er Millfield plain ;
And that brave Surrey many a band
Had gather'd in the southern land,
And march'd into Northumberland,
And camp at Wooler ta’en. Marmion, like charger in the stall, That hears, without, the trumpet-call,
Began to chafe and swear:
“ A sorry thing to hide my head
In castle like a fearful maid,
When such a field is near
Needs must I see this battle-day :
Death to my fame, if such a fray
Were fought, and Marmion away!
The Douglas too, I wot not why,
Hath 'bated of his courtesy : No longer in his halls I'll stay,”
HEAP on more wood !-the wind is chill;
But, let it whistle as it will,
We'll keep our Christmas merry still.
Each age has deem'd the new-born year
The fittest time for festal cheer:
Even, heathen yet, the savage Dane
At Iol more deep the mead did drain;
High on the beach his galleys drew,
And feasted all his pirate crew ;
Then in his low and pine-built hall,
Where shields and axes deck'd the wall,
They gorged upon the half-dress'd steer;
Caroused in sees of sable beer;
While round, in brutal jest, were thrown
The half-gnaw'd rib, and marrow bone;
Or listen'd all, in grim delight,
While scalds yelld out the joys of fight.
Then forth, in frenzy, would they hie,
While wildly loose their red locks fly,
And, dancing round the blazing pile,
They make such barbarous mirth the while,
As best might to the mind recall
The boisterous joys of Odin's hall.
And well our Christian sires of old
Loved when the year its course had rollid,
And brought blithe Christmas back again,
With all his hospitable train.
Domestic and religious rite
Gave honour to the holy night:
On Christmas eve the bells were rung;
On Christmas eve the mass was sung:
That only night, in all the year,
Saw the stoled priest the chalice rear.
The damsel donn'd her kirtle sheen;
The hall was dress'd with holy green ;
Forth to the wood did merry-men go,
To gather in the misletoe.
Then open'd wide the baron's hall,
To vassal, tenant, serf, and all;
Power laid his rod of rule aside,
And ceremony doff'd her pride.
The heir, with roses in his shoes :
That night might village partner choose ;
The lord, underogating, share
The vulgar game of “post and pair.".
All hail’d, with uncontroll’d delight,
And general voice, the happy night,
That to the cottage, as the crown,
Brought tidings of salvation down.
The fire, with well-dried logs supplied,
Went roaring up the chimney wide;
The huge hall-table's oaken face,
Scrubb'd till it shone, the day to grace,
Bore then upon its massive board
No mark to part the squire and lord.
Then was brought in the lusty brawn,
By old blue-coated serving-man;
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Then the grim boar’s-head frown'd on high, Gladly as he, we seek the dome,
Crested with bays and rosemary.
And as reluctant turns us home.
Well can the green-garb'd ranger tell,
How just, that, at this time of glee, How, when, and where, the monster fell; My thoughts should, Heber, turn to thee! What dogs before his death he tore,
For many a merry hour we've known, And all the baiting of the boar.
And heard the chimes of midnight's tone. The wassel round, in good brown bowls,
Cease, then, my friend! a moment cease, Garnish'd with ribands, blithely trowls.
And leave these classic tones in peace! There the huge surloin reek'd ; hard by
Of Roman and of Grecian lore Plum-porridge stood, and Christmas pie;
Sure mortal brain can hold no more. Nor fail'd old Scotland to produce,
These ancients, as Noll Bluff might say, At such high-tide, her savoury goose.
“Were pretty fellows in their day:** Then came the merry masquers in,
But time and tide o'er all prevailAnd carols roard with blithesome din ;
On Christmas eve a Christmas taleIf unmelodious was the song,
Of wonder and of war.-“ Profane! It was a hearty note, and strong.
What! leave the lofty Latin strain, Who lists may in their mumming see
Her stately prose, her verse's charms, Traces of ancient mystery;
To hear the clash of rustic arms; While shirts supplied the masquerade,
In fairy land or limbo lost, And smutted cheeks the visors made;
To jostle conjuror and ghost, But, O! what masquers, richly dight
Goblin and witch !”–Nay, Heber dear, Can boast of bosoms half so light!
Before you touch my charter, hear; England was merry England, when
Though Leyden aids, alas ! no more Old Christmas brought his sports again.
My cause with many-languaged lore, 'Twas Christmas broach'd the mightiest ale; This may I say :-in realms of death 'Twas Christmas told the merriest tale ;
Ulysses meets Alcides' wraith; A Christmas gambol oft could cheer
Æneas, upon Thracia's shore, The poor man's heart through half the year. The ghost of murder'd Polydore; Still linger in our northern clime
For omens, we in Livy cross, Some remnants of the good old time;
At every turn, locutus bos. And still, within our valleys here,
As grave and truly speaks that ox,
We hold the kindred title dear,
As if he told the price of stocks ;
E’en when, perchance, its far-fetch'd claim Or held, in Rome republican,
To southern ear sounds empty name;
The place of common-councilman.
For course of blood, our proverbs deem,
All nations have their omens drear, Is warmer than the mountain stream,*
Their legends wild of wo and fear. And thus my Christmas still I hold
To Cambria look—the peasant see, Where my great-grandsire came of old
Bethink him of Glendowerdy, With amber beard, and faxen hair,
And shun “the spirit's blasted tree." And reverend, apostolic air,
The Highlander, whose red claymore The feast and holy-tide to share,
The battle turn’d on Maida’s shore, And mix sobriety with wine,
Will, on a Friday morn, look pale, And honest mirth with thoughts divine;
If ask'd to tell a fairy tale; Small thought was his, in after time,
He fears the vengeful elfin king, E’er to be hitch'd into a rhyme.
Who leaves that day bis grassy ring: The simple sire could only boast
Invisible to human ken, That he was loyal to his cost;
He walks among the sons of men. The banish'd race of kings revered,
Didst e'er, dear Heber, pass along
And lost his land,—but kept his beard.
Beneath the towers of Franchemont,
In these dear halls, where welcome kin Which, like an eagle's nest in air,
Is with fair liberty combined ;
Hangs o'er the stream and hamlet fair? -
Where cordial friendship gives the hand,
Deep in their vaults, the peasants say, And flies constraint the magic wand
A mighty treasure buried lay, Of the fair dame that rules the land,
Amass'd, through rapine and through wrong, Little we heed the tempest drear,
By the last Lord of Franchemont. While music, mirth, and social cheer,
The iron chest is bolted hard, Speed on their wings the passing year.
A huntsman sits, its constant guard; And Mertoun's halls are fair e’en now,
Around his neck his horn is hung, When not a leaf is on the bough.
His hanger in his belt is slung; Tweed loves them well, and turns again, Before his feet his bloodhounds lie; As loath to leave the sweet domain,
An 'twere not for his gloomy eye, And holds his mirror to her face,
Whose withering glance no heart can brook, And clasps her with a close embrace :
As true a huntsman doth he look,
* “ Hannibal was a pretty fellow, sir-a very pretty fellow in his day."-Old Bachelor.
Where England's king in leaguer lay,
Before decisive battle-day ;-
While these things were, the mournful Clare
Did in the dame's devotions share:
For the good countess ceaseless pray'd,
To Heaven and saints, her sons to aid,
And, with short interval, did pass
From prayer to book, from book to mass,
And all in high baronial pride,-
A life both dull and dignified ;-
Yet as Lord Marmion nothing press'd
Upon her intervals of rest,
Dejected Clara well could bear
The formal state, the lengthen’d prayer,
Though dearest to her wounded heart
The hours that she might spend apart.
As bugle e'er in brake did sound,
Or ever halloo'd to a hound.
To chase the fiend, and win the prize,
In that same dungeon ever tries
An aged Necromantic priest;
It is an hundred years, at least,
Since 'twixt them first the strife begun,
And neither yet has lost or won.
And oft the conjuror's words will make
The stubborn demon groan and quake ;
And oft the bands of iron break,
Or bursts one lock, that still amain,
Fast as 'tis open'd, shuts again.
That magic strife within the tomb
May last until the day of doom,
Unless th' adept shall learn to tell
The very word that clench'd the spell,
When Franchemont lock'd the treasure-cell.
An hundred years are past and gone,
And scarce three letters has he won.
Such general superstition may
Excuse for old Pitscottie say ;
Whose gossip history has given
My song the messenger from heaven,
That warn'd, in Lithgow, Scotland's king,
Nor less the infernal summoning;
May pass the monk of Durham's tale,
Whose demon fought in Gothic mail;
May pardon plead for Fordon grave,
Who told of Gifford's goblin cave.
But why such instances to you,
Who, in an instant, can review
Your treasured hoards of various lore,
And furnish twenty thousand more?
Hoards, not like theirs whose volumes rest
Like treasures in the Franchemont chest;
While gripple owners still refuse
To others what they cannot use, -
Give them the priest's whole century,
They shall not spell you letters three;
Their pleasure in the books the same
The magpie takes in pilfer'd gem.
Thy volumes, open as thy heart,
Delight, amusement, science, art,
To every ear and eye impart;
Yet who, of all who thus employ them,
Can, like the owner's sell, enjoy them?
But, bark! I hear the distant drum :
The day of Flodden field is come.-
Adieu, dear Heber! life and health,
And store of literary wealth.
II. I said, Tantallon's dizzy steep Hung o'er the margin of the deep. Many a rude tower and rampart there Repellid the insult of the air, Which, when the tempest vex'd the sky, Half breeze, half spray, came whistling by Above the rest, a turret square Did o'er its Gothic entrance bear, Of sculpture rude, a stony shield; The Bloody Heart was in the field. And in the chief three mullets stood, The cognizance of Douglas blood. The turret held a narrow stair, Which, mounted, gave you access where A parapet's embattled row Did seaward round the castle go. Sometimes in dizzy steps descending, Sometimes in narrow circuit bending, Sometimes in platform broad extending, Its varying circle did combine Bulwark, and bartizan, and line, And bastion, tower, and vantage-coign ; Above the booming ocean leant The far-projecting battlement; The billows burst, in ceaseless flow, Upon the precipice below, Where'er Tantallon faced the land, Gate-works, and walls, were strongly mann'd; No need upon the sea-girt side ; The steepy rock and frantic tide, Approach of human step denied : And thus these lines and ramparts rude, Were left in deepest solitude.
I. WHILE great events were on the gale, And each hour brought a varying tale, And the demeanour, changed and cold, Of Douglas, fretted Marmion bold, And, like the impatient steed of war, He snuff’d the battle from afar; And hopes were none, that back again Herald should come from Terouenne,
And, for they were so lonely, Clare
Would to these battlements repair,
And muse upon her sorrows there,
And list the sea-bird's cry;
Or, slow like noontide ghost, would glide
Along the dark gray bulwark's side,
And ever on the heaving tide
Look down with weary eye. Oft did the cliff, and swelling main, Recall the thoughts of Whitby's fame, A home she ne'er might see again:
For she had laid adown,
So Douglas bade, the hood and veil,
And frontlet of the cloister pale,
And Benedictine gown:
It were unseemly sight he said,
A novice out of convent shade.-
Now her bright locks, with sunny glow,
Again adorn'd her brow of snow';
Her mantle rich, whose borders, round,
A deep and fretted broidery bound,
In golden foldings sought the ground;
Of holy ornament, alone
Remain'd a cross of ruby stone;
And often did she look
On that which in her hand she bore,
With velvet bound, and broider'd o'er
Her breviary book.
In such a place, so lone, so grim,
At dawning pale, or twilight dim,
It fearful would have been,
To meet a form so richly dress'd,
With book in hand, and cross on breast,
And such a woful mien.
Fitz-Eustace, loitering with his bow
To practise on the gull and crow,
Saw her, at distance, gliding slow,
And did by Mary swear,-
Some lovelorn fay she might have been,
Or, in romanee, some spell-bound queen ;
For ne'er, in work-day world, was seen
A form so witching fair.
Once walking thus at evening tide,
It chanced a gliding sail she spied,
And, sighing, thought-" The abbess there,
Perchance, does to her home repair ;
Her peaceful rule, where duty, free,
Walks hand in hand with charity ;
Where oft devotion's tranced glow
Can such a glimpse of heaven bestow,
That the enraptured sisters see
High vision, and deep mystery ;
The very form of Hilda fair,
Hovering upon the sunny air,
And smiling on her votaries' prayer.
0! wherefore, to my duller eye,
Did still the saint her form deny !
Was it, that, seared by sinful scorn,
My heart could neither melt nor burn?
Or lie my warm affections low
With him, that taught them first to glow!
Yet, gentle abbess, well I knew,
To pay thy kindness grateful due,
And well could brook the mild command,
That rule thy simple maiden band.--
How different now! condemn'd to bide
My doom from this dark tyrant's pride.
But Marmion has to learn, ere long,
That constant mind, and hate of wrong,
Descended to a feeble girl
From red De Clare, stout Gloster's earl;
Of such a stem a sapling weak,
He ne'er shall bend, although he break.
“ But see what makes this armour here?”
For in her path there lay
Targe, corselet, helm ;-she view'd them near.“ The breastplate pierced Ay, much I fear, Weak fence wert thou 'gainst foeman's spear That hath made fatal entrance here,
As these dark blood-gouts say.--
Thus Wilton 0! not corselet's ward,
Not truth, as diamond pure and hard,
Could be thy manly bosom's guard
On yon disastrous day !"-
She raised her eyes in mournful mood, -
WILTON himself before her stood!
It might have seem'd his passing ghost,
For every youthful grace was lost;
And joy unwonted, and surprise,
Gave their strange wildness to his eyes.
Expect not, noble dames and lords,
That I can tell such scene in words:
What skilful limner e'er would choose
To paint the rainbow's varying hues.
Unless to mortal it were given
To dip his brush in dies of heaven?
Far less can my weak line declare
Each changing passion's shade;
Brightening to rapture from despair,
Sorrow, surprise, and pity there,
And joy, with her angelic air,
And hope, that paints the future fair,
Their varying hues display'd:
Each o'er its rival's ground extending,
Alternate conquering, shifting, blending,
Till all, fatigued, the conflict yield,
And mighty love retains the field.
Shortly I tell what then he said,
By many a tender word delay'd,
And modest blush, ard bursting sigh,
And question kind, and fond reply.
DE WILTON'S HISTORY. “Forget we that disastrous day, When senseless in the lists I lay. Thence dragg'd,—but how I cannot know,
For sense and recollection fled, I found me on a pallet low,
Within my ancient beadsman's shed. Austin,-rememberest thou, my Clare,
How thou didst blush when the old man,
When first our infant love began,
Said we would make a matchless pair?
Menials, and friends, and kinsmen fled
From the degraded traitor's bed,
He, only, held my burning head,
And tended me for many a day!
While wounds and fever held their sway.
But far more needful was his care,
When sense return'd, to wake despair ;
For I did tear the closing wound,
And dash me frantic on the ground,
If e'er I heard the name of Clare.
At length, to calmer reason brought,
Much by his kind attendance wrought,
With him I left my native strand,
And, in a palmer's weeds array'd,
My hated name and form to shade,
I journey'd many a land;