Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

blishment of the Quarterly Review, and early Crusaders in 1825, Woodstock in 1826, First ambition to elevate his social position by ac Series of Chronicles of the Canongate and quiring territorial possessions.

Tales of a Grandfather in 1827, Second Series In 1805 he wrote the first chapters of a of Chronicles of the Canongate and of the novel, but the opinion of a friend to whom the Tales of a Grandfather in 1828, Anne of Geirmanuscript was submitted prevented its com stein and the Third Series of Tales of a Grandpletion. In 1808 he published Marmion, in father in 1829, and Count Robert of Paris and 1810 The Lady of the Lake, in 1811 The Vi. Castle Dangerous in 1831. sion of Don Roderick, in 1812 Rokeby, and In these years the estate of Abbotsford had in 1813 The Bridal of Triermain. His poetic | been purchased and his palace erected. In cal career closed in 1815 with The Lord of the 1820 he had been made a baronet, and from Isles and The Field of Waterloo; although he that time his house had been thronged by the subsequently published anonymously Harold most illustrious of his contemporaries. A the Dauntless and his Dramatic Writings, change, to Scott of all changes the most which were unworthy of his reputation. His terrible, awaited him. In 1826 the houses of range as a poet was limited; it had been all Ballantyne and Constable stopped payment, explored ; and the greatest of modern poets, and he was involved in their ruin. Though had in the mean time taken a place with the the amount of his debts seemed too great for sacred few who are destined to live immor a hope to exist that they could ever be paid, tally in men's hearts. Scott was among the he refused to be dealt with as a bankrupt. He first to recognise Byron's superiority. In pledged the exertions of his future life to the every field he would himself be first or no discharge of the claims of his creditors. In thing. He quitted the lyre for ever.

the two years ending with 1827 he realized Scott had already published his admirable from his writings the astonishing sum of forty editions of Swift and DRYDEN; and from this thousand pounds, and soon after his death his period till 1825 his name was not before the executors completed the payment of all his public except in connection with Paul's Let liabilities. Among his latest works, contriters to his Kinsfolk, and a few articles in the buting to this result, were The History of Quarterly Review and the Encyclopædia Bri Scotland and The Life of Napoleon. The tannica. But in these ten years he laid the last of these left a deep shadow upon his repufoundation of the highest reputation which the tation. He wanted money; to gain it he was world of letters has furnished in the nineteenth willing to pander to base prejudices; the Life century. The composition of the novel which of Napoleon Bonaparte is among the most had been commenced in 1805 was resumed, reckless and unprincipled books of the age, and finished with remarkable rapidity. The and as a history is deserving of scarcely more work appeared in the summer of 1814 under regard than The Tales of My Landlord. the title of Waverley, and its success was In 1829 Scott's health had materially deimmediate and unparalleled. The series of clined, and in the following year his intellect novels to which this gave a distinguishing began to fail under the weight of his cares title followed each other in quick succession, and labours. In September, 1831, he sailed, and were translated into almost every written in a ship of war furnished by the government, language. The Author of Waverley became for Malta and Naples, in the hope that relaxaa part of the existence of mankind, and the tion and a voyage at sea would induce his discovery of his name the great enigma of the restoration. After a few months passed in age. Guy Mannering was published in 1815, Italy, his mind became a wreck, and his The Antiquary, Old Mortality, and the Black friends made haste to reach home with him Dwarf in 1816, Rob Roy and the Heart of before his death. They arrived at Abbotsford Mid-Lothian in 1818, The Bride of Lammer on the eleventh of July, 1832; he lingered, moor and the Legend of Montrose in 1819, with a few intervals of consciousness, until Ivanhoe, The Monastery, and The Abbot in the twenty-first of September, and expired. 1820, Kenilworth in 1821, The Pirate and the His remains are buried in the romantic ruins Fortunes of Nigel in 1822, Quentin Durward of Dryburgh Abbey, which, like the tomb of and Peveril of the Peak in 1823, St. Ronan's SHAKSPEARE, has become a place of pilgrimWell and Redgauntlet in 1824, Tales of the age for the world.

THE TRIAL OF CONSTANCE.
In low dark rounds the arches hung,
From the rude rock the side-walls sprung;
The grave-stones, rudely sculptured o'er,
Half-sunk in earth, by time half-wore,
Were all the pavement of the foor;
The mildew drops fell one by one,
With tinkling plash, upon the stone.
A cresset, in an iron 'chain,
Which served to light this drear domain,
With damp and darkness seem'd to strive,
As if it scarce might keep alive;
And yet it dimly served to show
The awful conclave met below.
There, met to doom in secrecy,
Were met the heads of convents three ;
All servants of Saint Benedict,
The statutes of whose order strict

On iron table lay ;
In long black dress, on seats of stone,
Behind were these three judges shown,

By the pale cresset's ray :
The abbess of Saint Hilda's, there,
Sate for a space with visage bare,
Until, to hide her bosom's swell,
And tear-drops that for pity fell,

She closely drew her veil;
Yon shrouded figure, as I guess,
By her proud mien and flowing dress,
Is Tynemouth's haughty prioress,

And she with awe looks pale:
And he, that Ancient Man, whose sight
Has long been quench'd by age's night,
Upon whose wrinkled brow alone,
Nor ruth, nor mercy's trace is shown,

Whose look is hard and stern,-
Saint Cuthbert's Abbot is his style;
For sanctity call'd, through the isle,

The saint of Lindisfern.
Before them stood a guilty pair ;
But, though an equal fate they share,
Yet one alone deserves our care.
Her sex a page's dress belied ;
The cloak and doublet, loosely tied,
Obscured her charms, but could not hide.
Her cap down o'er her face she drew;

And, on her doublet-breast,
She tried to hide the badge of blue,

Lord Marmion's falcon crest.
But, at the prioress' command,
A monk undid the silken band,

That tied her tresses fair,
And raised the bonnet from her head,
And down her slender form they spread,

In ringlets rich and rare.
Constance de Beverley they know,
Sister profess'd of Fontevraud,
Whom the church number'd with the dead,
For broken vows, and convent filed.. ..
Her comrade was a sordid soul,

Such as does murder for a meed; Who, but of fear, knows no control, Because his conscience, sear'd and foul,

Feels not the import of his deed ; One, whose brute feeling ne'er aspires

Beyond his own more brute desires.
Such tools the Tempter ever needs
To do the savagest of deeds ;
For them no vision'd terrors daunt,
Their nights no fancied spectres haunt;
One fear with them, of all most base-
The fear of death, -alone finds place.
This wretch was clad in frock and cowl,
And shamed not loud to moan and howl,
His body on the floor to dash,
And crouch, like hound beneath the lash;
While his mute partner, standing near,
Waited her doom without a tear.
Yet well the luckless wretch might shriek,
Well might her paleness terror speak ;
For there were seen in that dark wall
Two niches, narrow, deep and tall;
Who enters at such griesly door
Shall ne'er, I ween, find exit more.
In each a slender meal was laid,
Of roots, of water, and of bread:
By each, in Benedictine dress,
Two haggard monks stood motionless ;
Who, holding high a blazing torch,
Show'd the grim entrance of the porch :
Reflecting back the smoky beam,
The dark-red walls and arches gleam.
Hewn stones and cement were display'd,
And building tools in order laid. ....
And now that blind old Abbot rose,

To speak the Chapter's doom,
On those the wall was to enclose,

Alive, within the tomb:
But stopp'd, because that woful maid,
Gathering her powers, to speak essay'd.
Twice she essay'd, and twice in vain;
Her accents might no utterance gain :
Naught but imperfect murmurs slip
From her convulsed and quivering lip:

"Twixt each attempt all was so still,
You seem'd to hear a distant rill-

"Twas ocean's swells and falls;
For though this vault of sin and fear
Was to the sounding surge so near,
A tempest there you scarce could hear,

So massive were the walls.
At length, an effort sent apart
The blood that curdled at her heart,

And light came to her eye,
And colour dawn'd upon her cheek,
Like that left on the Cheviot peak

By Autumn's stormy sky;
And when her silence broke at length,
Still as she spoke she gather'd strength,

And arm'd herself to bear;-
It was a fearful sight to see
Such high resolve and constancy,

In form so soft and fair.
“I speak not to implore your grace ;
Well know I for one minute's space

Successless might I sue:
Nor do I speak your prayers to gain ;
For if a death of lingering pain
To cleanse my sins be penance vain,

Vain are your masses too.
I listen'd to a traitor's tale,

I left the convent and the veil;
For three long years I bow'd my pride,
A horse-boy in his train to ride;
And well my folly's meed he gave,
Who forfeited, to be his slave,
All here, and all beyond the grave.
He saw young Clara's face more fair,
He knew her of broad lands the heir,
Forgot his vows, his faith forswore,
And Constance was beloved no more!
'Tis an old tale, and often told ;

But, did my fate and wish agree,
Ne'er had been read, in story old,
Of maiden true betray'd for gold,

That loved, or was avenged like me!
The king approved his favourite's aim ;
In vain a rival barr'd his claim,

Whose faith with Clare's was plight,
For he attaints that rival's fame
With treason's charge—and on they came,

In mortal lists to fight. Their oaths are said, their prayers are pray'd, Their lances in the rest are laid,

They meet in mortal shock; And hark! the throng, with thundering cry, Shout · Marmion, Marmion !' to the sky,

• De Wilton to the block ! Say ye who preach, Heaven shall decide When in the lists two champion's ride,

Say, was Heaven's justice here?
When, loval in his love and faith,
Wilton found overthrow or death,

Beneath a traitor's spear ?
How false the charge, how true he fell,
This guilty packet best can tell"-
Then drew a packet from her breast,
Paused, gather'd voice, and spoke the rest.
“ Still was false Marmion's bridal stay’d;
To Whitby's convent fled the maid,

The hated match to shun. • Ho! shifts she thus ?' King Henry cried, • Sir Marmion, she shall be thy bride,

If she were sworn a nun.'
One way remain'd—the king's command
Sent Marmion to the Scottish land :
I linger'd here, and rescue plann'd

For Clara and for me :
This catiff monk, for gold, did swear
He would to Whitby's shrine repair,
And, by his drugs, my rival fair

A saint in heaven should be.
But ill the dastard kept his oath,
Whose cowardice has undone us both.
And now my tongue the secret tells,
Not that remorse my bosom swells,
But to assure my soul that none
Shall ever wed with Marmion.
Had fortune my last hope betray'd,
This packet, to the king convey'd,
Had given him to the headsman's stroke,
Although my heart that instant broke.-
Now men of death, work forth your will,
For I can suffer and be still;
And come he slow, or come he fast,
It is but Death who comes at last.

Yet dread me, from my living tomb,
Ye vassal slaves of bloody Rome!
If Marmion's late remorse should wake,
Full soon such vengeance will he take,
That you shall wish the fiery Dane
Had rather been your guest again.
Behind, a darker hour ascends!
The altars quake, the crosier bends,
The ire of a despotic king
Rides forth upon destruction's wing.
Then shall these vaults, so strong and deep,
Burst open to the sea-winds' sweep :
Some traveller then shall find my bones,
Whitening amid disjointed stones,
And, ignorant of priests' cruelty,
Marvel such relics here should be.”
Fix'd was her look, and stern her air ;
Back from her shoulders stream'd her hair;
The locks that wont her brows to shade,
Stared up erectly from her head;
Her figure seem'd to rise more high ;
Her voice, despair's wild energy
Had given a tone of prophecy.
Appallid the astonish'd conclave sate ;
With stupid eyes, the men of fate
Gazed on the light inspired form,
And listen'd for the avenging storm;
The judges felt the victim's dread;
No hand was moved, no word was said,
Till thus the abbot's doom was given,
Raising his sightless balls to heaven :-
“ Sister, let thy sorrows cease ;
Sinful brother, part in peace !"-

From that dire dungeon, place of doom,
Of execution too, and tomb,

Paced forth the judges three ;
Sorrow it were, and shame, to tell
The butcher-work that there befell,
When they had glided from the cell

Of sin and misery.
An hundred winding steps convey
That conclave to the upper day ;
But ere they breathed the fresher air
They heard the shriekings of despair,

And many a stifled groan:
With speed their upward way they take,
(Such speed as age and fear can make,)
And cross'd themselves for terror's sake,

As hurrying, tottering on,
Even in the vesper's heavenly tone,
They seem'd to hear a dying groan,
And badle the passing knell to toll
For welfare of a parting soul.
Slow o'er the midnight wave it swung,
Northumbrian rocks in answer rung;
To Warkworth cell the echoes roll'd,
His beads the wakeful hermit told;
The Bamborough peasant raised his head,
But slept ere half a prayer he said ;
So far was heard the mighty knell,
The stag sprung up on Cheviot Fell,
Spread his broad nostril to the wind,
Then couch'd him down beside the hind,
And quaked among the mountain fern,
To hear that sound, so dull and stern.

[ocr errors]

HUNTING SONG,

But, lady, twine no wreath for me,
Or twine it of the cypress tree !
Strike the wild harp, while maids prepare
The ivy meet for minstrel's hair ;
And, while his crown of laurel-leaves
With bloody hand the victor weaves,
Let the loud trump his triumph tell;
But when you hear the passing bell,
Then, lady, twine a wreath for me,
And twine it of the cypress tree.
Yes! twine for me the cypress bough;
But, O Matilda, twine not now!
Stay till a few brief months are past,
And I have look'd and loved my last !
When villagers my shroud bestrew
With pansies, rosemary, and rue,-
Then, lady, weave a wreath for me,
And weave it of the cypress tree.

[ocr errors]

Waken, lords and ladies gay,
On the mountain dawns the day ;
All the jolly chase is here,
With hawk, and horse, and hunting-spear;
Hounds are in their couples yelling,
Hawks are whistling, horns are knelling,
Merrily, merrily mingle they,
“ Waken, lords and ladies gay.”
Waken, lords and ladies gay,
The mist has left the mountain gray,
Springlets in the dawn are streaming,
Diamonds on the brake are gleaming;
And foresters have busy been,
To track the buck in thicket green ;
Now we come to chant our lay,

Waken, lords and ladies gay.”
Waken, lords and ladies gay,
To the green-wood haste away ;
We can show you where he lies,
Fleet of foot, and tall of size;
We can show the marks he made,
When 'gainst the oak his antlers fray'd;
You shall see him brought to bay,
“ Waken, lords and ladies gay."
Louder, louder chant the lay,
Waken, lords and ladies gay !
Tell them, youth, and mirth, and glee,
Run a course as well as we.
Time, stern huntsman! who can balk,
Staunch as hound, and feet as hawk ?
Think of this, and rise with day,
Gentle lords and ladies gay.

LOCHINVAR.

THE CYPRESS WREATH.

O LADY, twine no wreath for me,
Or twine it of the cypress tree !
Too lively glow the lilies light,
The varnish'd holly's all too bright ;
The May-flower and the eglantine
May shade a brow less sad than mine;
But, lady, weave no wreath for me,
Or weave it of the cypress tree!
Let dimpled Mirth his temples twine
With tendrils of the laughing vine;
The manly oak, the pensive yew,
To patriot and to sage be due ;
The myrtle bough bids lovers live,
But that Matilda will not give ;
Then, lady, twine no wreath for me,
Or twine it of the cypress tree !
Let merry England proudly rear
Her blended roses, bought so dear;
Let Albin bind her bonnet blue
With heath and hare-bell dipp'd in dew;
On favour'd Erin's crest be seen
The flower she loves of emerald green-

The young Lochinvar is come out of the west,
Through all the wide border his steed was the best;
And save his good broadsword be weapon had none,
He rode all unarm’d, and he rode all alone.
So faithful in love, and so dauntless in war.
There never was knight like the young Lochinvar.
He stay'd not for brake, and he stopp'd not for stone,
He swam the Eske river where ford there was none;
But, ere he alighted at Netherby gate,
The bride had consented, the gallant came late :
For a laggard in love, and a dastard in war,
Was to wed the fair Ellen of brave Lochinvar.
So boldly he enter'd the Netherby Hall, (and all :
Among bridesmen, and kinsmen, and brothers,
Then spoke the bride's father, his hand on his sword,
(For the poor craven bridegroom said never a word,)
“O come ye in peace here, or come ye in war,
Or to dance at our bridal, young lord Lochinvar?”–
“I long woo'd your daughter, my suit you denied;
Love swells like the Solway, but ebbs like its tide-
And now I am come with this lost love of mine
To lead but one measure, drink one cup of wine.
There are maidens in Scotland more lovely by far,
That would gladly be bride to the young Lochinvar."
The bride kiss'd the goblet; the knight took it up,
He quaff”d off the wine, and he threw down the cup.
She look'd down to blush, and she look'd up to sigh,
With a smile on her lips, and a tear in her eye.
He took her soft hand, ere her mother could bar,-
“Now tread we a measure !" said young Lochinvar.
So stately his form, and so lovely her face,
That never a ball such a galliard did grace;
While her mother did fret, and her father did fume;
And the bridegroom stood dangling his bonnet and

plume; And the bridemaidens whisper'd, “ 'T were better

[ocr errors]

by far

To have match'd our fair cousin with young

Lochinvar."

[blocks in formation]

That desperate grasp thy frame might feel
Through bars of brass and triple steel.
They tug, they strain-down, down they go,
The Gael above, Fitz-James below!
The chieftain's gripe his throat compress’d,
His knee was planted in his breast;
His clotted locks he backward threw,
Across his brow his hand he drew,
From blood and mist to clear his sight-
Then gleam'd aloft his dagger bright;
But hate and fury ill supplied

The stream of life's exhausted tide; • And all too late the advantage came

To turn the odds of deadly game;
For while the dagger gleam'd on high,
Reel'd soul and sense, reel'd brain and eye.
Down came the blow-but in the heath
The erring blade found bloodless sheath.-
The struggling foe may now unclasp
The fainting chief's relaxing grasp.
Unwounded from the dreadful close,
But breathless all, Fitz-James arose.

FITZ-JAMES AND RODERICK DHU.

A BRIDAL.

Tuer each at once his falchion drew,
Each on the ground his scabbard threw,
Each lookd to sun, and stream, and plain,
As what he ne'er might see again;
Then, foot, and point, and eye opposed,
In dubious strife they darkly closed.-
Ill fared it now with Roderick Dhu,
That on the field his targe he threw,
Whose brazen studs, and tough bull-hide,
Had death so often turn'd aside;
For, train'd abroad his arms to wield,
Fitz-James's blade was sword and shield:
He practised every pass and ward,
To feint, to thrust, to strike, to guard :
While, less expert, though stronger far,
The Gael maintain'd unequal war.
Three times in closing strife they stood,
And thrice the Saxon sword drank blood;
No stinted draught—no scanty tide!
The gushing food the tartans dyed :
Fierce Roderick felt the fatal drain,
And shower'd his blows like wintry rain;
And as firm tower, or castle-roof,
Against the winter shower is proof,
The foe, in vulnerable still,
Foild his wild rage by steady skill ;
Till, at advantage ta'en, his brand
Forced Roderick's weapon from his hand,
And backwards borne upon the lea,
Brought the proud chieftain to his knee.
“ Now yield thee, or by him who made
The world! thy heart-blood dyes my blade.”—
* Thy threats, thy mercy, I defy;
Let recreant yield, who fears to die."-
Like adder darting from his coil-
Like wolf that dashes through the toil-
Like mountain-cat that guards her young,
Full at Fitz-James's throat he sprung:
Received, but reck'd not of a wound,
And lock'd his arms his foeman round.
Now, gallant Saxon! hold thy own;
No maiden's hand is round thee thrown!

BREATHES there the man, with soul so dead, Who never to himself hath said,

This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burned,
As home his footsteps he hath turned,

From wandering on a foreign strand !
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no minstrel raptures swell;
High though bis titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentered all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonoured, and unsung.

O Caledonia ! stern and wild,
Meet nurse for a poetic child !
Land of brown heath and shaggy wood,
Land of the mountain and the flood,
Land of my sires! what mortal hand
Can e'er untie the filial band
That knits me to thy rugged strand ?
Still, as I view each well-known scene,
Think what is now, and what hath been,
Seems, as to me, of all bereft,
Sole friends thy woods and streams were left;
And thus I love them better still,
Even in extremity of ill.
By Yarrow's stream still let me stray,
Though none should guide my feeble way;
Still feel the breeze down Ettrick break,
Although it chill my wither'd cheek ;
Still lay my head by Teviot stone,
Though there, forgotten and alone,
The bard may draw his parting groan.

Not scorn'd like me, to Branksome hall The minstrels came, at festive call;

« PreviousContinue »