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Too well his cause of grief you know,
June saw his father's overthrow,
Wo to the traitors who could bring
The princely boy against his king!
Still in his conscience burns the sting.
In offices as strict as lent,
King James's June is ever spent.
But, lighter than the whirlwind's blast
He vanish'd from our eyes, Like sunbeam on the billow cast,
That glances but, and dies.”—
XVI. « When last this ruthful month was come, And in Linlithgow's holy dome
The king, as wont, was praying;
While for his royal father's soul,
The chanters sung, the bells did toll,
The bishop mass was saying-
For now the year brought round again
The day the luckless king was slain-
In Katharine's aisle the monarch knelt,
With sackcloth shirt, and iron belt,
And eyes with sorrow streaming;
Around him, in their stalls of state,
The thistle's knight-companions sate,
Their banners o'er them beaming.
I, too, was there, and, sooth to tell,
Bedeafen'd with the jingling knell,
Was watching where the sunbeams fell,
Through the stain'd casement gleaming; But, while I mark'd what next befell,
It seem'd as I were dreaming.
Stepp'd from the crowd a ghostly wight,
In azure gown, with cincture white,
His forehead bald, his head was bare,
Down hung at length his yellow hair.-
Now mock me not when, good my lord,
I pledge to you my knightly word,
That, when I saw his placid grace,
His simple majesty of sace,
His solemn bearing, and his pace
So stately gliding on,-
Seem'd to me ne'er did limner paint
So just an image of the saint
Who propp'd the virgin in her faint, -
The loved apostle John.
While Lindesay told this marvel strange,
The twilight was so pale,
He mark'd not Marmion's colour change,
While listening to the tale:
But, after a suspended pause,
The baron spoke :-“ Of nature's laws
So strong I held the force,
That never superhuman cause
Could e'er control their course;
And, three days since, had judged your aim
Was but to make your guest your game.
But I have seen, since past the Tweed,
What much has changed my skeptic creed,
And made me credit aught.”—He staid,
And seem'd to wish his words unsaid:
But, by that strong emotion press'd,
Which prompts us to unload our breast,
E’en when discovery's pain,
To Lindesay did at length unfold
The tale his village host had told
At Gifford, to his train. Naught of the palmer says he there, And naught of Constance or of Clare: The thoughts which broke his sleep, he seems To mention but as feverish dreams.
“ In vain," said he,“ to rest I spread My burning limbs, and couch'd my head:
Fantastic thoughts return'd; And, by their wild dominion led,
My beart within me burn'd. So sore was the delirious goad, I took my steed and forth I rode, And, as the moon shone bright and cold, Soon reach'd the camp upon the wold. The southern entrance I past through, And halted, and my bugle blew. Methought an answer met my ear,Yet was the blast so low and drear, So hollow, and so faintly blown, It might be echo of my own.
“ He stepp'd before the monarch's chair,
And stood with rustic plainness there,
And little reverence made;
Nor head, nor body, bow'd nor bent,
But on the desk his arm he lent,
And words like these he said,
In a low voice,--but never tone
So thrill’d through vein, and nerve, and bone :
“My mother sent me from afar,
Sir king, to warn thee not to war,-
Wo waits on thine array ;
If war thou wilt, of woman fair,
Her witching wiles and wanton snare,
James Stuart, doubly warn'd beware:
God keep thee as he may !!
The wondering monarch seem'd to seek
For answer, and found none;
And when he raised his head to speak,
The monitor was gone.
The marshall and myself had cast
To stop him as he outward past;
XX. “ Thus judging, for a little space I listen'd, ere I left the place; But scarce could trust my eyes, Nor yet can think they served me true, When sudden in the ring I view, In form distinct shape and hue,
A mounted champion rise.I've fought, lord lion, many a day, In single fight and mix'd affray, And ever, I myself may say,
Have borne me as a knight; But when this unexpected foe Seem'd starting from the gulf below,I care not though the truth I show,
I trembled with affright;
And as I placed in rest my spear, My hand so shook for very fear,
I scarce could couch it right.
When guilt we meditate within,
Or harbour unrepented sin.”
Lord Marmion turn'd him half aside,
And twice to clear his voice he tried,
Then press'd Sir David's hand, But naught, at length, in answer said ; And here their farther converse staid,
Each ordering that his band Should bowne them with the rising day, To Scotland's camp to take their way,
Such was the king's command.
“Why need my tongue the issue tell ? We ran our course,-my charger fell ,What could he 'gainst the shock of hell ?
I rollid upon the plain.
High o'er my head, with threatening hand,
The spectre shook his naked brand,
Yet did the worst remain :
My dazzled eyes I upward cast,-
Not opening hell itself could blast
Their sight like what I saw !
Full on his face the moonbeam strook,-
A face could never be mistook!
I knew the stern vindictive look,
And held my breath for awe.
I saw the face of one who, fed
To foreign climes, has long been dead,
I well believe the last;
For ne'er, from visor raised, did stare
A human warrior, with a glare
So grimly and so ghast.
Thrice o'er my head he shook the blade :
But when to good saint George I pray'd,
(The first time e'er I ask'd his aid,)
He plunged it in his sheath; And, on his courser mounting light, He seem'd to vanish from my sight: The moonbeam droop'd, and deepest night
Sunk down upon the heath.'Twere long to tell what cause I have
To know his face that met me there,
Callid by his hatred from the grave,
To cumber upper air ;
Dead or alive, good cause had he
To be iny mortal enemy.”-
XXIII. Early they took Dun-Edin's road, And I could trace each step they trode; Hill, brook, nor dell, nor rock, nor stone, Lies on the path to me unknown. Much might it boast of storied lore; But, passing such digression o’er, Suffice it that their route was laid Across the furzy hills of Braid. They pass'd the glen and scanty rill, And climb'd the opposing bank, until They gain’d the top of Blackford Hill.
XXIV. Blackford! on whose upcultured breast,
Among the broom, and thorn, and whin,
A truant boy, I sought the nest,
Or listed, as I lay at rest,
While rose, on breezes thin,
The murmur of the city crowd,
And, from his steeple jangling loud,
Saint Gile's mingling din-
Now, from the summit of the plain,
Waves all the hill with yellow grain ;
And, o'er the lanscape as I look,
Naught do I sec unchanged remain,
Save the rude cliffs and chiming brook: To me they make a heavy moan Of early friendships past and gone.
Marvell's Sir David of the mount;
Then, learn'd in story, 'gan recount
Such chance had hap'd of old,
When once, near Norham, there did fight
A spectre fell, of fiendish might,
In likeness of a Scottish knight,
With Brian Bulmer bold,
And train’d him nigh to disallow
The aid of his baptismal vow.
“And such a phantom, too, 'tis said,
With highland broadsword, targe, and plaid,
And fingers red with gore,
Is seen in Rothiemurchus's glade,
Or where the sable pine trees shade
Dark Tomantoul, and Achnaslaid,
Dromouchty, or Glenmore.
And yet, whate'er such legends say,
Of warlike demon, host, or fay,
On mountain, moor, or plain,
Spotless in faith, in bosom bold,
True son of chivalry should hold
These midnight terrors vain;
For seldom have such spirits power
To harm, save in the evil hour,
But different far the change has been,
Since Marmion, from the crown
Of Blackford, saw that martial scene
Upon the bent so brown:
Thousand pavilions, white as snow,
Spread all the Borough-moor below,
Upland, and dale, and down :A thousand did I say? I ween, Thousand on thousands there were seen, That checker'd all the heath between
The streamlet and the town: In crossing ranks extending far, Forming a camp irregular; Oft giving way where still there stood Some relics of the old oak wood, That darkly huge did intervene, And tamed the glaring white with green: In these extended lines there lay A martial kingdom's vast array.
XXVI. For from Hebudes, dark with rain, To eastern Lodon's fertile plain,
Answer'd the bard, of milder mood :
“ Fair is the sight,—and yet 'twere good,
That kings would think withal, When peace and wealth their land has bless'd, 'Tis better to sit still at rest,
Than rise, perchance, to fall.”
And from the southern Redswire edge
To farthest Rosse's rocky ledge;
From west to east, from south to north,
Scotland sent all her warriors forth.
Marmion might hear the mingled hum
Of myriads up the mountain come;
The horses' tramp, and tingling clank
Where chiess review'd their vassal rank,
And charger's shrilling neigh;
And see the shifting lines advance,
While frequent flash'd, from shield and lance,
The sun's reflected ray.
Thin curling in the morning air,
The wreaths of falling smoke declare
To embers now the brand decay'd,
Where the night-watch their fires had made.
slow rolling on the plain,
Full many a baggage-cart and wain,
And dire artillery's clumsy car,
By sluggish oxen tugg'd to war;
And there were Bothwick's sisters seven,*
And culverins which France had given.
Ill-omen'd gift! the guns remain
The conqueror's spoil on Flodden plain.
Nor mark'd they less, where in the air
A thousand streamers flaunted fair ;
Various in shape, device, and hue,
Green, sanguine, purple, red, and blue,
Broad, narrow, swallow-tail'd, and square,
Scroll, pennon, pensil, bandrol,t there
O'er the pavilions flew.
Highest and midmost, was descried
The royal banner floating wide :
The staff a pine tree strong and straight,
Pitch'd deeply in a massive stone,
Which still in memory is shown, Yet bent beneath the standard's weight, Whene'er the western wind unroll’d, With toil, the huge and cumbrous fold,
And gave to view the dazzling field,
Where, in proud Scotland's royal shield, The ruddy lion ramp'd in gold.
Still on the spot Lord Marmion stay'd,
For fairer scene he ne'er survey'd.
When sated with the martial show
That peopled all the plain below,
The wandering eye could o'er it go,
And mark the distant city glow
With gloomy splendour red;
For on the smoke-wreaths, huge and slow
That round her sable turret's flow,
The morning beams were shed,
And tinged them with a lustre proud,
Like that which streaks a thunder-cloud.
Such dusky grandeur clothed the height,
Where the huge castle holds its state,
And all the steep slope down,
Whose ridgy back heaves to the sky,
Piled deep and massy, close and high,
Mine own romantic town!
But northward far, with purer blaze,
On Ochil mountains fell the rays,
And, as each heathy top they kiss'd,
It gleam'd a purple amethyst.
Yonder the shores of Fife you saw;
Here Preston-bay, and Berwick-law;
And, broad between them rollid,
The gallant Frith the eye might note,
Whose islands on its bosom float
Like emeralds chased in gold.
Fitz-Eustace' heart felt closely pent;
As if to give his rapture vent,
The spur he to his charger lent,
And raised his bridal hand,
And, making demi-vault in air,
Cried, “ Where's the coward that would not dare
To fight for such a land!”
The lion smiled his joy to see ;
Nor Marmion's frown repress’d his glee.
Lord Marmion view'd the landscape bright,-
He view'd it with a chief's delight,
Until within him burn'd his heart,
And lightning from his eye did part,
As on the battle-day ;
Such glance did falcon never dart,
When stooping on his prey.
“O! well, lord-lion, hast thou said,
Thy king from warfare to dissuade
Were but a vain essay;
For, by St. George, were that host mine,
Not power insernal, nor divine,
Should once to peace my soul incline,
Till I had dimm'd their armour's shine
In glorious battle-fray !"
Thus while they look'd a flourish proud,
Where mingled trump and clarion loud,
And tife, and kettle-drum,
And sackbut deep, and psaltery,
And warpipe with discordant cry,
And cymbal clattering to the sky,
Making wild music bold and high,
Did up the mountain come:
The whilst the bells, with distant chime,
Merrily toll'd the hour of prime,
And thus the lion spoke :
“ Thus clamour'd still the war-notes, when
The king to mass his way has ta’en,
Or to St. Catherine's of Sienne,
Or chapel of St. Rocque.
To you they speak of martial fame;
But me remind of peaceful game,
When blither was their cheer,
* Seven culverins, so called, cast by one Borthwick.
# Each of these feudal ensigns intimated the different rank of those entitled to display them.
Thrilling in Falkland woods the air,
In signal none his steed should spare,
But strive which foremost might repair
To the downfall of the deer.
XXXII. “Nor less,” he said," when looking forth, I view yon empress of the north
Sit on her hilly throne ;
Her palace's imperial bowers,
Her castle, proof to hostile powers,
Her stately halls and holy towers-
Nor less," he said, “I moan
To think what wo mischance may bring,
And how these merry bells may ring
The death dirge of our gallant king;
Or, with their larum, call
The burghers forth to watch and ward,
'Gainst southern sack and fires to guard
Dun-Edin's leaguer'd wall.-
But not for my presaging thought,
Dream conquest sure, or cheaply bought!
Lord Marmion, I say nay:-
God is the guider of the field,
He breaks the champion's spear and shield,
But thou thyself shalt say, When joins yon host in deadly stowre, That England's dames must weep in bower,
Her monks the death-mass sing;
For never saw'st thou such a power
Led on by such a king."
And now, down winding to the plain,
The barriers of the camp they gain,
And there they make a stay.-
There stays the minstrel, till he fling
His hand o'er every border string,
And fit his harp the pomp to sing
Of Scotland's ancient court and king,
In the succeeding lay.
When wrinkled news-page, thrice-conn'd o'er,
Beguiles the dreary hour no more,
And darkling politician, cross'd,
Inveighs against the lingering post,
And answering housewife sore complains
Of carrier's snow-impeded wains :
When such the country cheer, I come,
Well pleased, to seek our city home;
For converse, and for books to change
The forest's melancholy range,
And welcome, with renew'd delight,
The busy day and social night.
Not here need my desponding rhyme
Lament the ravages of time,
As erst by Newark's riven towers,
And Ettrick stripp'd of forest bowers."
True,-Caledonia's queen is changed,
Since, on her dusky summit ranged,
Within its steepy limits pent,
By bulwark, line, and battlement,
And flanking towers, and laky food,
Guarded and garrison'd she stood,
Denying entrance or resort,
Save at each tall embattled port;
Above whose arch, suspended, hung
Portcullis spiked with iron prong.
That long is gone,-but not so long,
Since, early closed, and opening late,
Jealous revolved the studded gate,
Whose task, from eve to morning tide,
A wicket churlishly supplied.
Stern then, and steel-girt was thy brow,
Dun-Edin! O, how alter'd now,
When safe amid thy mountain court
Thou sit'st, like empress at her sport,
And, liberal, unconfined, and free,
Flinging thy white arms to the sea,
For thy dark cloud with umber'd lower,
That hung o'er cliff, and lake, and tower,
Thou gleam'st against the western ray
Ten thousand lines of brighter day.
Not she, the championess of old,
In Spenser's magic tale enroll’d,
She for the charmed spear renown'd, Which forced each knight to kiss the ground, Not she more changed, when placed at rest, What time she was Malbecco's guest, She gave to flow her maiden vest; When from the corslet's grasp relieved, Free to the sight her bosom heaved ; Sweet was her blue eye's modest smile, Erst hidden by the aventayle; And down her shoulders graceful roll'd Her locks profuse, of paly gold. They who wbilome, in midnight fight, Had marvell'd at her matchless might, No less her maiden charms approved, But looking liked, and liking loved. The sight could jealous pangs beguile, And charm Malbecco's charms awhile;
Edinburgh. When dark December glooms the day, And takes our autumn joys away; When short and scant the sunbeam throws, Upon the weary waste of snows, A cold and profitless regard, Like patron on a needy bard; When sylvan occupation's done, And o'er the chimney rests the gun, And hang, in idle trophy, near, The game pouch, fishing-rod, and spear; When wiry terrier, rough and grim, And greyhound, with his length of limb, And pointer, now employ'd no more, Cumber our parlour's narrow floor ; When in his stall the impatient steed Is long condemnd to rest and feed ; When from our snow-encircled home, Scarce cares the hardiest step to roam, Since path is none, save that to bring The needful water fom the spring ;
* See Introduction to Canto II + See “The Fairy Queen,” Book III., Canto IX. "For every one her liked, and every one her loved,"
Spenser, as above.
And he, the wandering squire of dames,
Forgot his Columbella's claims,
And passion, erst unknown, could gain
The breast of blunt Sir Satyrane;
Nor durst light Paridel advance,
Bold as he was, a looser glance.-
She charm'd, at once, and tamed the heart,
Incomparable Britomarte !
So thou, fair city! disarray'd
Of battled wall, and rampart's aid,
As stately seem'st, but lovelier far
Than in that panoply of war.
Nor deem that from thy fenceless throne
Strength and security are nown;
Still, as of yore, the queen of the north!
Still canst thou send thy children forth.
Ne'er readier at alarm-bell's call
Thy burghers rose to man thy wall,
Than now, in danger, shall be thine,
Thy dauntless voluntary line;
For fosse and turret proud to stand,
Their breasts the bulwarks of the land.
Thy thousands, traind to martial toil,
Full red would stain their native soil,
Ere from thy mural crown there fell
The slightest knosp, or pinnacle.
And if it come,-as come it may,
Dun-Edin! that eventful day,
Renown'd for hospitable deed,
That virtue much with heaven may plead,
In patriarchal times whose care
Descending angels deign'd to share :
That claim may wrestle blessings down
On those who fight for the good town,
Destined in every age to be
Refuge of injured royalty;
Since first, when conquering York arose,
To Henry meek she gave repose,
Till late, with wonder, grief, and awe,
Great Bourbon's relics, sad she saw.
'Truce to these thoughts !-for, as they rise,
How gladly I avert mine eyes,
Bodings, or true or false, to change,
For fiction's fair romantic range,
Or for tradition's dubious light,
That hovers 'twixt the day and night:
Dazzling alternately and dim,
Her wavering lamp I'd rather trim,
Knights, squires, and lovely dames to see,
Creation of my fantasy,
Then gaze abroad on reeky fen,
And make of mists invading men.-
Who loves not more the night of June
Than dull December's gloomy noon?
The moonlight than the fog of frost?
And can we say, which cheats the most?
But who shall teach my harp to gain
A sound of the romantic strain,
Whose Anglo-Norman tones whilere
Could win the royal Henry's ear,
Famed Beauclerc call'd, for that he loved
The minstrel, and his lay approved ?
Who shall these lingering notes redeem,
Decaying on oblivion's stream;
Such notes as from the Breton tongue
Marie translated, Blondal sung ?-
0! born, time's ravage to repair,
And make the dying muse thy care ;
Who, when his scythe her boary foe
Was poising for the final blow,
The weapon from his hand could wring
And break his glass, and shear his wing,
And bid, seviving in his strain,
The gentle poet live again;
Thou, who canst give to lightest lay
An un pedantic moral gay,
Nor less the dullest theme bid flit
On wings of unexpected wit;
In letters, as in life, approved,
Example honour'd, and beloved,
Dear Ellis ! to the bard impart
A lesson of thy magic art,
To win at once the head and heart,-
At once to charm, instruct, and mend,
My guide, my pattern, and my friend !
Such minstrel lesson to bestow
Be long thy pleasing task,-but, 0!
No more by thy example teach
What few can practise, all can preach,
With even patience to endure
Lingering disease, and painful cure,
And boast affliction's pangs subdued
By mild and manly fortitude.
Enough the lesson has been given;
Forbid the repitition, Heaven!
Come listen, then! for thou hast known,
And loved the minstrel's varying tone,
Who, like his border sires of old,
Waked a wild measure, rude and bold,
Till Windsor's oaks, and Ascot plain,
With wonder heard the northern strain.
Come, listen !-bold in thy applause,
The bard shall scorn pedantic laws,
And as the ancient art could stain
Achievements on the storied pane,
Irregularly traced and plann'd,
But yet so glowing and so grand,
So shall he strive, in changeful hue,
Field, feast, and combat, to renew,
And loves, and arm, and harpers’ glee,
And all the pomp of chivalry.
The train has left the hills of Braid ;-
The barrier guard have open made
(So Lindesay bade) the palisade,
That closed the tented ground,
Their men the warders backward drew,
And carried pikes as they rode through,
Into its ample bound. Fast ran the Scottish warriors there, Upon the southern band to stare; And envy with their wonder rose, To see such well-appointed foes ; Such length of shafts, such mighty bows, So huge, that many simply thought, But for a vaunt such weapons wrought;