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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 supo
Excuse for old Pitscottie say ;
Whose gossip history has given
My song the messenger from heaven,
That warn's, 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 piller'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 self, enjoy them?
But, hark! 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. Somctimes 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
Remaind 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 romance, 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.
V. “ 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, and 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 fied, 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;
No more a lord of rank and birth,
But mingled with the dregs of earth.
Oft Austin for my reason fear'd,
When I would sit, and deeply brood
On dark revenge, and deeds of blood, Or wild mad schemes upreard. My friend at length fell sick, and said,
God would remove him soon; And, while upon his dying bed,
He begg'd of me a boonIf ere my deadliest enemy Beneath my brand should conquer'd lie, E’en then my mercy should awake, And spare his life for Austin's sake.
« Still restless as a second Cain,
To Scotland next my route was ta’en,
Full well the paths I knew.
Fame of my fate made various sound,
That death in pilgrimage I found,
That I had perish'd of my wound, -
None cared which tale was true :
And living eye could never guess
De Wilton in his palmer's dress :
For, now that sable slough is shed,
And trimm'd my shaggy beard and head,
I scarcely know me in the glass.
A chance most wondrouš did provide,
That I should be that baron's guide-
I will not name his name -
Vengeance to God alone belongs ;
But, when I think on all my wrongs,
My blood is liquid flame!
And ne'er the time shall I forget,
When, in a Scottish hostel set,
Dark looks we did exchange;
What were his thoughts I cannot tell;
But in my bosom muster'd hell
Its plans of dark revenge.
Perchance you heard the abbess tell
Of the strange pageantry of hell,
That broke our secret speech-
It rose from the infernal shade,
Or featly was some juggle play'd,
A tale of peace to teach.
Appeal to Heaven I judged was best,
When my name came among the rest.
“ Now here, within Tantallon hold,
To Douglas late my tale I told,
To whom my house was known of old.
Won by my proofs, his falchion bright,
This eve anew shall dub me knight.
These were the arms that once did turn
The tide of fight on Otterburne,
And Harry Hotspur forced to yield,
When the dead Douglas won the field.
These Angus gave-his armour's care,
Ere morn, shall every breach repair;
For Daught, he said, was in his halls,
But ancient armour on the walls,
And aged chargers in the stalls,
And women, priests, and gray-hair'd men;
The rest were all in Twisel glen.*
And now I watch my armour here,
By law of arms, till midnight's near;
Then, once again a belted knight,
Seek Surrey's camp with dawn of light.
“ There soon again we meet, my Clare!
This baron means to guide thee there:
Douglas reveres his king's command,
Else would he take thee from his band.
And there thy kinsman, Surrey, too,
Will give De Wilton justice due.
Now meeter far for martial broil,
Firmer my limbs, and strung by toil,
Once more" -“0, Wilton! must we then
Risk new-found happiness again,
Trust fate of arms once more?
And is there not an humble glen,
Where we, content and poor,
Might build a cottage in the shade,
A shepherd thou, and I to aid
Thy task on dale and moor?-
That reddening brow Stoo well I know,
Not even thy Clare can peace bestow,
While falsehood stains thy name :
Go then to fight ! Clare bids thee go
Clare can a warrior's feelings know,
And weep a warrior's shame;
Can Red Earl Gilbert's spirit feel,
Buckle the spurs upon thy heel,
And belt thee with thy brand of steel,
And send thee forth to fame !"
VIII. “ A word of vulgar augury, That broke from me, I scarce knew why,
Brought on a village tale ;
Which wrought upon his moody sprite,
And sent him armed forth by night.
I borrow'd steed and mail,
And weapons, from his sleeping band;
And, passing from a postern door,
We met, and 'counterd, hand to hand, -
He fell on Gifford moor.
For the death stroke my brand I drew
(O then my helmed head he knew,
The palmer's cowl was gone,)
Then had three inches of
The heavy debt of vengeance paid,
My hand the thought of Austin stay'd
I left him there alone.-
0, good old man ! e'en from the grave,
Thy spirit could thy master save:
If I had slain my foeman, ne'er
Had Whitby's abbess, in her fear,
Given to my hand this packet dear,
of power to clear my injured fame,
And vindicate De Wilton's name.-
XI. That night, upon the rocks and bay, The midnight moonbeam slumbering lay, And pour'd its silver light, and pure, Through loop hole, and through embrazure
Upon Tantallon tower and hall;
* Where James encamped before taking post at Flodden
But chief were arched windows wide
Illuminate the chapel's pride,
The sober glances fall.
Much was there need; though, seam'd with scars,
Two veterans of the Douglas' wars,
Though two gray priests were there,
And each a blazing torch held high,
You could not by their blaze descry
The chapel's carving fair.
Amid that dim and smoky light,
Checkering the silvery moonshine bright,
A bishop by the altar stood,
A noble lord of Douglas' blood,
With mitre sheen, and rocquet white.
Yet show'd his meek and thoughtful eye
But little pride of prelacy ;
More pleased that, in a barbarous age,
He gave rude Scotland Virgil's page,
Than that beneath his rule he held
The bishopric of fair Dunkeld.
Beside him ancient Angus stood,
Doff”d his fair gown and sable hood;
O’er his huge form, and visage pale,
He wore a cap and shirt of mail;
And lean’d his large and wrinkled hand
Upon the huge and sweeping brand
Which wont, of yore, in battle fray,
His foeman's limbs to shred away,
As wood-knife lops the sapling spray.
He seem'd as from the tombs around,
Rising at judgment-day,
Some giant Douglas may be found
In all his old array ;
So pale his face, so huge his limb,
So old his arms, his look so grim.
Not far advanced was morning day.
When Marmion did his troop array
To Surrey's camp to ride ;
He had safe conduct for his band,
Beneath the royal seal and hand,
And Douglas gave a guide ;
The ancient earl, with stately grace,
Would Clara on her palfrey place,
And whisper’d, in an under tone,
“Let the hawk stoop, his prey is flown.”
The train from out the castle drew,
But Marmion stopp'd to bid adieu :-
“ Though something I might plain,” he said,
“Of cold respect to stranger guest,
Sent hither by your king's behest, While in Tantallon's towers I stay'd ; Part we in friendship from your land,
And, noble earl, receive my hand.”
But Douglas round him drew his cloak,
Folded his arms, and thus he spoke:-
“My manors, halls, and bowers, shall still
Be open, at my sovereign's will,
To each one whom he lists, howe'er
Unmeet to be the owner's peer.
My castles are my king's alone,
From turret to foundation stone-
The hand of Douglas is his own;
And never shall in friendly grasp
The hand of such as Marmion clasp.”
XII. Then at the altar Wilton kneels, And Clare the spurs bound on his heels ; And think what next he must have felt, At buckling of the falchion belt,
And judge how Clara changed her hue, While fastening to her lover's side A friend, which, though in danger tried,
He once had found untrue! Then Douglas struck him with his blade : “ Saint Michael and saint Andrew aid,
I dub thee knight.
Arise, Sir Ralph, De Wilton's heir !
For king, for church, for lady fair,
See that thou fight.”—
And Bishop Gawain, as he rose,
Said—“ Wilton! grieve not for thy woes,
Disgrace, and trouble ;
For he, who honour best bestows,
May give thee double.”-
De Wilton sobb'd, for sob he must-
“ Where'er I meet a Douglas, trust,
That Douglas is my brother !"
• Nay, nay,” old Angus said, “not so;
To Surrey's camp thou now must go,
Thy wrongs no longer smother.
I have two sons in yonder field;
And, if thou meet'st them under shield,
Upon them bravely-do thy worst;
And foul fall him that blenches first !"
Burn’d Marmion's swarthy cheek like fire,
And shook his very frame for ire,
And—“ This to me!” he said, -
“ An 'twere not for thy hoary beard,
Such hand as Marmion's had not spared
To cleave the Douglas' head !
And, first, I tell thee, haughty peer,
He, who does England's message here,
Although the meanest in her state,
May well, proud Angus, be thy mate:
And, Douglas, more I tell thee here,
E’en in thy pitch of pride,
Here, in thy hold, thy vassals near,
(Nay, never look upon your lord,
And lay your hands upon your sword,)
I tell thee, thou’rt defied !
And if thou saidst, I am not peer
To any lord in Scotland here,
Lowland or highland, far or near,
Lord Angus, thou hast lied!"
On the earl's cheek the flush of rage
O’ercame the ashen hue of age :
Fierce he broke forth : “ And darest thou ther
To beard the lion in his den,
The Douglas in his hall ?
And hopest thou hence unscath'd to go?
No, by St. Bride of Bothwell, no !-
Up drawbridge, grooms-what, warder, ho !
Let the portcullis fall.”
Lord Marmion turn'd-well was his need,
And dash'd the rowels in his steed,
Like arrow through the archway sprung,
The ponderous gate behind him rung:
But he preferr'd”-“Nay, Henry, cease!
Thou sworn horse-courser, hold thy peace.-
Eustace, thou bear'st a brain—I pray,
What did Blount see at break of day?”
To pass there was such scanty room,
The bars, descending, razed his plume.
The steed along the drawbridge flies,
Just as it trembled on the rise ;
Not lighter does the swallow skim
Along the smooth lake's level brim :
And when Lord Marmion reach'd his band,
He halts and turn'd with clenched hand,
And shout of loud defiance pours,
And shook his gauntlet at the towers.
« Horse! horse!” the Douglas cried, “and
But soon he rein'd his fury's pace;
“ A royal messenger he came,
Though most unworthy of the name.-
A letter forged! St. Jude to speed !
Did ever knight so foul a deed ?
At first in heart it liked me ill,
When the king praised his clerkly skill.
Thanks to St. Bothan, son of mine,
Save Gawain, ne'er could pen a line:
So swore I, and I swear it still,
Let my boy-bishop fret his fill.-
St. Mary mend my fiery mood !
Old age ne'er cools the Douglas' blood,
I thought to slay him where he stood.-
'Tis pity of him, too,” he cried :
“ Bold can he speak, and fairly ride :
I warrant him a warrior tried.”-
With this his mandate he recalls,
And slowly seeks his castle's halls.
The day in Marmion's journey wore;
Yet, ere his passion's gust was o'er,
They cross'd the heights of Stanrig-moor.
His troop more closely there he scann'd,
And miss'd the palmer from the band.
“ Palmer or not,” young Blount did say,
“ He parted at the peep of day;
Good sooth it was in strange array.”
“ In what array ?" said Marmion, quick,
“My lord, I ill can spell the trick;
But all night long, with clink and bang,
Close to my couch did hammers clang;
At dawn the falling drawbridge rang,
And, from a loop-hole while I peep,
Old Bell-the-cat came from the keep,
Wrapp'd in a gown of sables fair,
As fearful of the morning air;
Beneath, when that was blown aside,
A rusty shirt of mail I spied,
By Archibald won in bloody work,
Against the Saracen and Turk:
Last night it hung not in the hall;
I thought some marvel would befall.
And next I saw them saddled lead
Old Cheviot forth, the earl's best steed;
A matchless horse, though something old,
Prompt to his paces, cool and bold.
I heard the sheriff Sholto say,
The earl did much the master* pray
To use him on the battle day;
XVII. “In brief, my lord, we both descried (For I then stood by Henry's side) The palmer mount, and outward ride,
Upon the earl's own favourite steed;
All sheath'd he was in armour bright,
And much resembled that same knight,
Subdued by you in Cotswold fight:
Lord Angus wish'd him speed.”
The instant that Fitz-Eustace spoke,
A sudden light on Marmion broke ;-
“Ah! dastard fool! to reason lost !”
He mutter'd; “ 'Twas not fay nor ghost,
I met upon the moonlight wold,
But living man of earthly mould.-
O dotage blind and gross !
Had I but fought as wont, one thrust
Had laid De Wilton in the dust,
My path no more to cross.
How stand we now?--he told his tale
To Douglas; and with some avail;
'Twas therefore gloom'd his rugged brow.Will Surrey dare to entertain, 'Gainst Marmion, charge disproved and vain ?
Small risk of that, I trow.
Yet Clare's sharp questions must I shun;
Must separate Constance from the nun-
O what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive
A palmer, too !--no wonder why
I felt rebuked beneath his eye :
I might have known there was but one
Whose look could quell Lord Marmion.”
Stung with these thoughts, he urged to speed
His troop, and reach'd, at eve, the Tweed,
Where Lennel's convent closed their march.
(There now is left but one frail arch,
Yet mourn thou not its cells;
Our time a fair exchange has made ;
Hard by, in hospitable shade,
A reverend pilgrim dwells,
Well worth the whole Bernardine brood,
That e'er wore sandal, frock, or hood.)
Yet did Saint Bernard's abbot there
Give Marmion entertainment fair,
And lodging for his train, and Clare.
Next morn the baron climb'd the tower,
To view afar the Scottish power,
Encamp'd on Flodden edge ;
The white pavilions made a show,
Like remnants of the winter snow,
Along the dusky ridge.
Long Marmiou look'd:-at length his eye
Unusual movement might descry,
Amid the shifting lines :
The Scottish host drawn out appears,
For, flashing on the hedge of spears
The eastern sunbeam shines.
* His eldest son, the master of Angus.