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His ears were never silent; sleep forsook
His burning eyelids stretched and stiff as lead;
All night from time to time under him shook
The floor as he lay shuddering on his bed;
And oft he groaned aloud, “O God, that I were dead!"
SCENE, road in a Wood.
WALLACE and LACY.
Lacy. The troop will be impatient; let us hie
Back to our post, and strip the Scottish foray
Of their rich spoil, ere they recross the border.
-Pity that our young chief will have no part
In this good service.
Rather let us grieve
That, in the undertaking which has caused
His absence, he hath sought, whate'er his aim,
Companionship with one of crooked ways,
From whose perverted soul can come no good
Beneath their roof, but to the open air
A burthen, now with fortitude sustained,
He bore within a breast where dreadful quiet reigned. To our confiding, open-hearted, leader.
The soldier's widow lingered in the cot;
And, when he rose, he thanked her pious care
Through which his wife, to that kind shelter brought,
Died in his arms; and with those thanks a prayer
He breathed for her, and for that merciful pair.
The corse interred, not one hour he remained
Confirmed of purpose, fearlessly prepared
For act and suffering, to the city straight
He journeyed, and forthwith his crime declared:
"And from your doom," he added, "now I wait,
Nor let it linger long, the murderer's fate."
Not ineffectual was that piteous claim:
"O welcome sentence which will end though late,"
He said, "the pangs that to my conscience came
Out of that deed. My trust, Saviour! is in thy name!"
READERS already acquainted with my Poems will recognise, in the following composition, some eight or ten lines, which I have not scrupled to retain in the places where they originally stood. It 19 proper however to add, that they would not have been used else. where, if I had foreseen the time when I might be induced to publish .his Tragedy.
February 28, 1842.
Lacy. True; and, remembering how the band hav
What obstacles hath he failed to overcome?
Answer these questions, from our common knowledge,
And be at rest.
Peace, my good Wilfred;
Repair to Liddesdale, and tell the band
I shall be with them in two days, at farthest.
Wil. May He whose eye is over all protect you!
Treat him gently, Oswald;
Though I have never seen his face, methinks,
There cannot come a day when I shall cease
To love him. I remember, when a boy
Of scarcely seven years' growth, beneath the Elm
That casts its shade over our village school,
"T was my delight to sit and hear Idonea
Repeat her father's terrible adventures,
Till all the band of play-mates wept together;
And that was the beginning of my love.
That which, while it is And, through all converse of our later years,
Strong to destroy, is also strong to heal —
An image of this old man still was present,
[Looking forward. When I had been most happy. Pardon me
Not yet in sight! - We'll saunter here awhile; If this be idly spoken.
They cannot mount the hill, by us unseen.
Sec, they come,
Mar. (a letter in his hand.) It is no common thing Two travellers!
Mar. (points.) The woman is Idonea.
Osw. And leading Herbert.
We must let them pass-
This thicket will conceal us.
[They step aside
Enter OSWALD, (a bunch of plants in his hand.)
Osw. This wood is rich in plants and curious simples.
Mar. (looking at them.) The wild rose, and the
poppy, and the nightshade:
Which is your favourite, Oswald?
when one like you
Performs these delicate services, and therefore
I feel myself much bounden to you, Oswald;
Tis a strange letter this! - You saw her write it?
Osw. And saw the tears with which she blotted it.
Mar. And nothing less would satisfy him?
To end her wrongs.
Should yet be true?
Would it were possible!
Did not the soldier tell thee that himself,
And others who survived the wreck, beheld
The Baron Herbert perish in the waves
Upon the coast of Cyprus?
To make the proud and vain his tributaries,
And stir the pulse of lazy charity.
The seignories of Herbert are in Devon;
We, neighbours of the Esk and Tweed: 't is much
For that another in his child's affection
Should hold a place, as if 't were robbery,
He seemed to quarrel with the very thought.
Besides, I know not what strange prejudice
Is rooted in his mind; this band of ours,
Which you've collected for the noblest ends,
Along the confines of the Esk and Tweed
To guard the innocent-he calls us "Outlaws;"
And, for yourself, in plain terms he asserts
This garb was taken up that indolence
Might want no cover, and rapacity
Be better fed.
Mar. Ne'er may I own the heart
That cannot feel for one, helpless as he is.
I thought the convent never would appear;
It seemed to move away from us: and yet,
Osw. Thou know'st me for a man not easily moved, That you are thus the fault is mine; for the air Yet was I grievously provoked to think
Of what I witnessed.
This day will suffice
Was soft and warm, no dew lay on the grass,
And midway on the waste ere night had fallen
I spied a covert walled and roofed with sods-
A miniature; belike some shepherd-boy,
Who might have found a nothing-doing hour
Heavier than work, raised it: within that hut
We might have made a kindly bed of heath,
And thankfully there rested side by side
Wrapped in our cloaks, and, with recruited strength,
Have hailed the morning sun. But cheerily, father,-
That staff of yours, I could almost have heart
To fling 't away from you: you make no use
Of me, or of my strength; - come, let me feel
That you do press upon me. There indeed
You are quite exhausted. Let us rest awhile
[He sits down
On this green bank.
But if the blind man's tale
Yes, even so,
And I had heard the like before: in sooth,
The tale of this his quondam Barony
Is cunningly devised; and, on the back
Of his forlorn appearance, could not fail
Enter IDONEA, leading HERBERT blind.
Idon. Dear father, you sigh deeply; ever since
We left the willow shade by the brook-side,
Your natural breathing has been troubled.
You are too fearful; yet must I confess,
Our march of yesterday had better suited
A firmer step than mine.
That dismal Moor-
In spite of all the larks that cheered our path,
I never can forgive it: but how steadily
You paced along, when the bewildering moonlight
Mocked me with many a strange fantastic shape!--
Her. (after some time.) Idonea, you are silent, And I divine the cause.
Do not reproach me:
I pondered patiently your wish and will
When I gave way to your request; and now,
When I behold the ruins of that face,
Those eyeballs dark-dark beyond hope of light,
And think that they were blasted for my sake,
The name of Marmaduke is blown away:
Father, I would not change that sacred feeling
For all this world can give.
Nay, be composed:
Few minutes gone a faintness overspread
My frame, and I bethought me of two things
I ne'er had heart to separate-my grave,
And thee, my child!
Believe me, honoured sire!
"Tis weariness that breeds these gloomy fancies,
And you mistake the cause: you hear the woods
Resound with music, could you see the sun,
And took upon the pleasant face of Nature-
Her. I comprehend thee-I should be as cheerful
As if we two were twins; two songsters bred
In the same nest, my spring-time one with thine.
My fancies, fancies if they be, are such
As come, dear child! from a far deeper source
Than bodily weariness. While here we sit
I feel my strength returning.-The bequest
Of thy kind patroness, which to receive
We have thus far adventured, will suffice
To save thee from the extreme of penury;
But when thy father must lie down and die,
How wilt thou stand alone?
Is he not strong?
Is he not valiant?
Am I then so soon
Forgotten? have my warnings passed so quickly
Out of thy mind? My dear, my only child;
Thou wouldst be leaning on a broken reed
Her. Thy mother too!-scarce had I gained the door,
I caught her voice; she threw herself upon me,
I felt thy infant brother in her arms;
She saw my blasted face-a tide of soldiers
That instant rushed between us, and I heard
Her last death-shriek, distinct among a thousand.
Idon. Nay, father, stop not; let me hear it all.
Her. Dear daughter! precious relic of that time-
For my old age, it doth remain with thee
To make it what thou wilt. Thou hast been told,
That when, on our return from Palestine,
I found how my domains had been usurped,
I took thee in my arms, and we began
Our wanderings together. Providence
At length conducted us to Rossland, — there,
Our melancholy story moved a stranger
To take thee to her home and for myself,
Soon after, the good Abbot of St. Cuthbert's
Supplied my helplessness with food and raiment,
And, as thou know'st, gave me that humble cot
Where now we dwell. For many years I bore
Thy absence, till old age and fresh infirmities
Exacted thy return, and our reunion.
I did not think that, during that long absence,
My child, forgetful of the name of Herbert,
Had given her love to a wild freebooter,
Who here, upon the borders of the Tweed,
Doth prey alike on two distracted countries,
Traitor to both.
Oh, could you hear his voice!
I will not call on Heaven to vouch for me,
But let this kiss speak what is in my heart.
Enter a Pensant.
Pea. Good morrow, strangers! If you want a guide,
Let me have leave to serve you!
Hath need of rest; the sight of hut or hostel
Would be most welcome.
Yon white hawthorn gained,
You will look down into a dell, and there
Will see an ash from which a sign-board hangs;
The house is hidden by the shade. Old man,
O could you hear his voice:
Alas! you do not know him. He is one
(I wot not what ill tongue has wronged him with you) You seem worn out with travel-shall I support you?
Her. I thank you; but, a resting-place so near,
"T were wrong to trouble you.
All gentleness and love. His face bespeaks
A deep and simple meekness: and that soul,
Which with the motion of a virtuous act
Flashes a look of terror upon guilt,
Is, after conflict, quiet as the ocean,
By a miraculous finger, stilled at once.
Her. Unhappy woman!
Nay, it was my duty
Thus much to speak; but think not I forget —
Dear father! how could I forget and live-
You and the story of that doleful night
When, Antioch blazing to her topnost towers,
You rushed into the murderous flames, returned
Blind as the grave, but, as you oft have told me,
Clasping your infant daughter to your heart.
God speed you both.
Her. Idonea, we must part. Be not alarmed-
'Tis but for a few days-a thought has struck me.
Idon. That I should leave you at this house, and thence
Proceed alone. It shall be so; for strength
Would fail you ere our journey's end be reached.
[Exit HERBERT, supported by IDONEA.
Re-enter MARMADUKE and OSWALD.
Mar. This instant will we stop him
For, sometimes, in despite of my conviction,
Do we poor mortals cater for ourselves!
To see him thus provoke her tenderness
With tales of weakness and infirmity!
I'd wager on his life for twenty years.
Mar. We will not waste an hour in such a cause.
Osw. Why, this is noble! shake her off at once.
Mar. Her virtues are his instruments.
Who has so practised on the world's cold sense,
May well deceive his child — what! leave her thus,
A prey to a deceiyer?-no-no-no—
'Tis but a word and then
Hovering round Herbert's door, a man whose figure
Resembled much that cold voluptuary,
The villain, Clifford. He hates you, and he knows
Where he can stab you deepest.
Something is here
More than we see, or whence this strong aversion?
Marmaduke! I suspect unworthy tales
Have reached his ear-you have had enemies.
Mar. Enemies! - of his own coinage.
That may be,
But wherefore slight protection such as you
Have power to yield? perhaps he looks elsewhere.-
What hast thou heard or seen?
I am perplexed.
Osw. No-no the thing stands clear of mystery;
(As you have said) he coins himself the slander
With which he taints her ear; - for a plain reason;
He dreads the presence of a virtuous man
Like you; he knows your eye would search his heart,
Your justice stamp upon his evil deeds
The punishment they merit. All is plain:
It cannot be
Should in his love admit no rivalship,
And torture thus the heart of his own child-
Mar. Nay, you abuse my friendship!
Heaven forbid! -
There was a circumstance, trifling indeed -
It struck me at the time yet I believe
I never should have thought of it again
But for the scene which we by chance have witnessed. Unless I differ from the thing I am
Mar. What is your meaning?
Two days gone I saw,
l'hough at a distance and he was disguised,
When you are by my side.
Are not the enemies that move my fears.
A thing worth further notice, we must act
With caution, sift the matter artfully.
[Exeunt MARMADUKE and OSWALD.
SCENE, the door of the Hostel.
HERBERT, IDONEA, and Host.
Her. (seated.) As I am dear to you, remember, child!
This last request.
You know me, sire; farewell!
Her. And are you going then? Come, come, Idonea,
We must not part, I have measured many a league
When these old limbs had need of rest,—and now
I will not play the sluggard.
Nay, sit down.
[Turning to Host.
Good host, such tendance as you would expect
From your own children, if yourself were sick,
Let this old man find at your hands; poor Leader,
[Looking at the dog.
We soon shall meet again. If thou neglect
This charge of thine, then ill befal thee! Look,
The little fool is loth to stay behind.
Sir Host! by all the love you bear to courtesy,
Take care of him, and feed the truant well.
Host. Fear not, I will obey you; ·
but one so young.
And one so fair, it goes against my heart
That should travel unattended, lady!-
I have a palfrey and a groom: the lad
Shall squire you, (would it not be better, sir?)
And for less fee than I would let him run
For any lady I have seen this twelvemonth.
Idon. You know, sir, I have been too long your guard
Not to have learnt to laugh at little fears.
Why, if a wolf should leap from out a thicket,
A look of mine would send him scouring back,
Idon. No more, I pray, of this. Three days at farthest And, while you take your rest, think not of us; Will bring the back-protect him, Saints-farewell! We'll stroll into the wood; lean on my arm. [Exit IDONEA. [Conducts HERBERT into the house. Host. 'Tis never drought with us-St. Cuthbert and Exit MARMADUKE. his pilgrims,
Thanks to them, are to us a stream of comfort:
Pity the maiden did not wait a while;
She could not, sir, have failed of company.
Her. Now she is gone, I fain would call her back.
Host. (calling.) Holla!
No, no, the business must be done.-
What means this riotous noise?
Are flocking in -a wedding festival-
That's all God save you, sir.
Ha! as I live,
The Baron Herbert.
Mercy, the Baron Herbert!
Osw. So far into your journey! on my life,
You are a lusty Traveller. But how fare you?
Iler. Well as the wreck I am permits. And you, sir?
Osw. I do not see Idonea.
Her. Dutiful girl, She is gone before, to spare my weariness. But what has brought you hither?
That will be soon despatched.
Receive that letter?
Be at peace.
Is broken, you will hear no more of him.
Her. This is true comfort, thanks a thousand times!—
That noise! - would I had gone with her as far
As the Lord Clifford's castle: I have heard
That, in his milder moods, he has expressed
Compassion for me. His influence is great
With Henry, our good king;—the Baron might
Have heard my suit, and urged my plea at court.
No matter he's a dangerous man.— That noise!
"T is too disorderly for sleep or rest.
Idonea would have fears for me,
Will give me quiet lodging. You have a boy, good host, Upon the self-same spot, in rain or storm,
And he must lead me back.
She paces out the hour 'twixt twelve and one-
She paces round and round an infant's grave,
And in the churchyard sod her feet have worn
A hollow ring; they say it is knee-deep-
Ah! what is here?
You are most lucky;
I have been waiting in the wood hard by
For a companion-here he comes; our journey
Osw. (to himself coming out of the Hostel.) I have
prepared a most apt instrument-
The vagrant must, no doubt, be loitering somewhere
About this ground; she hath a tongue well skilled,
By mingling natural matter of her own
With all the daring fictions I have taught her,
To win belief, such as my plot requires.
Enter more Villagers, a Musician among them.
Host. (to them.) Into the court, my friend, and perch
Aloft upon the elm-tree. Pretty maids,
Garlands and flowers, and cakes and merry thoughts,
Are here, to send the sun into the west
More speedily than you belike would wish.
SCENE changes to the Wood adjoining the Hostel –
MARMADUKE and Oswald entering.
Mar. I would fain hope that we deceive ourselves:
When first I saw him sitting there, alone,
It struck upon my heart I knew not how.
Osw. To-day will clear up all. You marked a
That ragged dwelling close beneath a rock
By the brook-side: it is the abode of one,
A maiden innocent till ensnared by Clifford,
Who soon grew weary of her; but, alas!
What she had seen and suffered turned her brain.
Cast off by her betrayer, she dwells alone,
Nor moves her hands to any needful work:
She eats her food which every day the peasants
Bring to her hut; and so the wretch has lived
Ten years; and no one ever heard her voice;
But every night at the first stroke of twelve
She quits her house, and, in the neighbouring churchyard
[A female Beggar rises up, rubbing her eyes as if in sleep—a child in her arms.
Oh! gentlemen, I thank you;
I've had the saddest dream that ever troubled
The heart of living creature. My poor babe
Was crying, as I thought, crying for bread
When I had none to give him; whereupon
I put a slip of foxglove in his hand,
Which pleased him so, that he was hushed at once: