Sidor som bilder

To travel half a mile alone.-Good lady!

Forgive me!
It would have come to this!-


What brings you hither? speak!
Beg. (pointing to MARMADUKE). This innocent gen-
tleman. Sweet heavens! I told him
Such tales of your dead father! - God is my judge,
I thought there was no harm: but that bad man,
He bribed me with his gold, and looked so fierce.
Mercy! I said I know not what-O, pity me-
I said, sweet lady, you were not his daughter-
Pity me, I am haunted; thrice this day
My conscience made me wish to be struck blind;
And then I would have prayed, and had no voice.
Idon. (to MARMADUKE.) Was it my father?-no,
no, no, for he

Was meek, and patient, feeble, old and blind,
Helpless, and loved me dearer than his life.
For one question, I have a heart
That will sustain me. Did you murder him?

But hear me.

Saints forgive me. Had I thought

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Mar. No, not by stroke of arm. But learn the To feed remorse, to welcome every sting


Of penitential anguish, yea with tears.

Proof after proof was pressed upon me; guilt

When seas and continents shall lie between us-
The wider space the better- we may find

Made evident, as seemed, by blacker guilt,
Whose impious folds enwrapped even thee; and truth In such a course fit links of sympathy,
And innocence, embodied in his looks,
An incommunicable rivalship
His words and tones and gestures, did but serve
Maintained, for peaceful ends beyond our view.
With me to aggravate his crimes, and heaped
Ruin upon the cause for which they pleaded.
Then pity crossed the path of my resolve:
Confounded, I looked up to Heaven, and cast,
Idonea! thy blind father, on the ordeal
Of the bleak waste- left him and so he died!-
[IDONEA sinks senseless; Beggar, ELEANOR, &c.,
crowd round, and bear her off.
Why may we speak these things, and do no more;
Why should a thrust of the arm have such a power,
And words that tell these things be heard in vain?
She is not dead. Why!-if I loved this woman,
I would take care she never woke again

[Confused voices-several of the band enter-
rush upon OSWALD and seize him..
One of them. I would have dogged him to the jaws
of hell!
Osw. Ha! is it so!-That vagrant hag!-this comes
Of having left a thing like her alive!
Several voices. Despatch him!
If I pass beneath a rock
And shout, and, with the echo of my voice,
Bring down a heap of rubbish, and it crush me,
I die without dishonour. Famished, starved,


A fool and coward blended to my wish!

But she WILL wake, and she will weep for me,
And say, no blame was mine—and so, poor fool,
Will waste her curses on another name.


OSWALD. (to himself.) Strong to o'erturn, strong
also to build up.
The starts and sallies of our last encounter
Were natural enough; but that, I trust,
Is all gone by. You have cast off the chains
That fettered your nobility of mind —
Delivered heart and head!

Your pupil is, you see, an apt proficient. (ironically.)
Start not! Here is another face hard by;
Come, let us take a peep at both together,
And, with a voice at which the dead will quake,
Resound the praise of your morality —
Of this too much.

This is a paltry field for enterprise.
Mar. Ay, what shall we encounter next?

[Drawing OSWALD towards the cottage — stops short at the door.

Men are there, millions, Oswald,

Who with bare hands would have plucked out thy heart
And flung it to the dogs: but I am raised
Above, or sunk below, all further sense
Of provocation. Leave me, with the weight
Of that old man's forgiveness on thy heart,
Pressing as heavily as it doth on mine.
Coward I have been; know, there lies not now
Within the compass of a mortal thought

A deed that I would shrink from;- but to endure,
That is my destiny. May it be thine:
Thy office, thy ambition, be henceforth

'Twas nothing more than darkness deepening darkness, And weakness crowned with the impotence of death!

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Another of the band. The ruthless traitor!
[He walks about distractedly. With that reproof I do resign a station
Of which I have been proud.

[Smiles scornfully and exultingly at MARMADUKE Wal. "T is done! (stabs him.)

Let us to Palestine; That may record my story: nor let words

A rash deed!

Wil. (approaching MARMADUKE.) O, my poor


Mar. Discerning monitor, my faithful Wilfred,
Why art thou here?
[Turning to WALLACE.
Wallace, upon these Borders,
Many there be whose eyes will not want cause
To weep that I am gone. Brothers in arms!
Raise on that dreary waste a monument


Few must they be, and delicate in their touch
This As light itself-be there withheld from her
Who, through most wicked arts, was made an orphan
By one who would have died a thousand times,
To shield her from a moment's harm. To you,

Wallace and Wilfred, I commend the lady,
By lowly nature reared, as if to make her
In all things worthier of that noble birth,
Whose long-suspended rights are now on the eve
Of restoration with your tenderest care
Watch over her, I pray sustain her.
Several of the band (eagerly.)


Mar. No more of that; in silence hear my doom: A hermitage has furnished fit relief

To some offenders; other penitents,

Less patient in their wretchedness, have fallen,


Like the old Roman, on their own sword's point.
They had their choice: a wanderer must I go,
The spectre of that innocent man, my guide.
No human ear shall ever hear me speak;
No human dwelling ever give me food,
Or sleep, or rest: but, over waste and wild,
In search of nothing that this earth can give,
But expiation, will I wander on


Note 1, p. 25.

Of the Poems in this class, "THE EVENING WALK" and "DESCRIPTIVE SKETCHES" were first published in 1793. They are reprinted with some unimportant alterations that were chiefly made very soon after their publication. It would have been easy to amend them, in many passages, both as to sentiment and expression, and I have not been altogether able to resist the temptation but attempts of this kind are made at the risk of injuring those characteristic features which, after all, will be regarded as the principal recommendation of juvenile poems.


Note 2, p. 39.

'And, hovering, round it often did a raven fly.' From a short MS. poem read to me when an undergraduate, by my schoolfellow and friend, Charles Farish, long since deceased. The verses were by a brother of his, a man of promising genius, who died young.

A man by pain and thought compelled to live, Yet loathing life— till anger is appeased

In Heaven, and mercy gives me leave to die.

Note 3, p. 45. "The Borderers.'

This Dramatic Piece, as noticed in its title-page, was composed in 1795–6. It lay nearly from that time till

within the last two or three months unregarded among my papers, without being mentioned even to my most intimate friends. Having, however, impressions upon my mind which made me unwilling to destroy the MS., I determined to undertake the responsibility of publishing it during my own life, rather than impose upon my successors the task of deciding its fate. Accordingly it has been revised with some care; but, as it was at first written, and is now published, without any view to its exhibition upon the stage, not the slightest alteration has been made in the conduct of the story, or the composition of the characters; above all, in respect to the two leading persons of the drama, I felt no inducement to make any change. The study of human nature suggests this awful truth, that, as in the trials to which life subjects us, sin and crime are apt to start from their very opposite qualities, so are there no limits to the hardening of the heart, and the perversion of the understanding to which they may carry their slaves. During my long residence in France, while the revolution was rapidly advancing to its extreme of wickedness, I had frequent opportunities of being an eye-witness of this process, and it was while that knowledge was fresh upon my memory, that the Tragedy of "The Borderers" -1842. was composed.

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