Our fertile valleys, in improving channs,
With commerce smile, secure from war's alaims.
How chang'd, since Skipton's ancient tow'rs arose,
Their countiy's strength, and terror of its foes !
"Wliere Meschines, the long ejected heir,
Led to the altar Cicily the Fair,
Obtaining thus, what many a life had cost,
With his fair bride, the lands his father lost ; â
All those domains which Edwin once possess'd,
"WTiere fai'-famed Eomili fix'd his place of rest.
By ancient chiefs to Skipton then were brought
The aims with which the Normans fiercely fought ;
Cuirass and corslet, helm and brigandine,
Worn by the warriors of the Norman line.
Bows, quivers, darts, and many a massive spear,
Lances and swords, have oft been polished there ;
Banners, which wav'd when shields and helmets rung,
Were all to Skipton brought, and safely hung
High in the tower, as in a place of trust â
NoAv wasted all, and worn away with rust.
Here, gorgeous, glitter'd, once in days of old,
Satins of various dyes, adorn'd ^\'ith gold ;
The ladies' vests with gems were spangled o'er, v
And silver'd robes the ancient Cliffords vrore ;
Their arras was of silk, with silver ting'd.
And velvet canopies ^dth gold were fring'd ;
W^hole butts of wine were in the cellai- stow'd.
And in the hall the vessels oft o'erflow'd ;
Upon each dish the dragon was portray'd.
And underneath a gory lion laid ;
Warriors and amis were graven on the plate.
To show the sons their fathers once were gi^eat ;
Upon their cups emboss'd was many a shield,
And this strong charge â " The Chffords never yield!"
Upon tlie wall tlieir bright steel annour Imng,
With dints allmark'd, where many a spear had rung.
Here many a sumptuous lordly feast Avas kept.
And ladies here o'er warriors slain have wept.
Brave lords have hunted through their wide domains,
Hode o'er the rocks, and gallop'd on the plains ;
Here ancient sports, and many a Northern bard,
Pass'd not unheeded nor without regard ;
Here many a night of jollity has been,
And festive mirth enlivened every scene :
But how can scenes of cent'ries long gone by.
With all the ancient feats of chivalry â
Their feuds, their battles, revelry and sport â
Their imitations of the monarch's court â
Their priests rever'd, by superstition fed,
WTio, they believ'd, could liberate the dead ;
The sieges which the lofty tow'rs sustain'd â
Till on their tops no battlement remain'd â
Their great possessors since the Norman king â
Crowd all at once â too much for me to sing :
Then, forgive a feeble rustic bard.
When he admits the mighty task too hard !
Yet here, alone, to pass some pensive hours.
In walking roimd these desolated tow'rs,
A\Tiere once such greatness and such valour dwelt,
Beflection, sure, the hardest heart would melt.
But to the vale I turn, where Aire winds slow,
And its 2)ure waters scarcely seem to flow ;
Where cattle fed, and scarce a wall was seen,
But all one wide extended j^ark of green ;
Or, when the native butter-flow'rets blew.
The valley shone in robes of golden hue.
Tlie mountain's side ^'itli ash was spotted o'er,
Wliich Nature planted centuries before ;
Above, the huge grey rocks, which ne'er had broke,
Since the creation, with the hammer's stroke.
There prickly fm^ze for ages blossomed round,
And the brown heath the lofty mountains cro^u'd.
From whence the ciystal rills with gushing flow,
Sought sweet repose within the vale below ;
Where the young shepherds sought the cooling shade.
And, underneath the far-spread branches, laid,
Tim'd their sweet pipes, their fiocks aU grazing round,
W^ile buxom damsels listen'd to the sound.
Then near some lonely grange upon the green,
^\^le^e the old yew-trees had for cent'ries been,
In rm-al bliss, the loving pairs would play,
And quite forget the labours of the day, â
Sing of some ancient chieftains whom they Imew
Finn to their king, and to their countiy true ;
Or of some maid, who lov'd, but lov'd in vainâ
A youth whose heart was ficlde as the main.
How oft she wander'd in the fields alone,
Till beauty fled, and reason left her throne.
They sung, till tears stood trembling in each eye,
And not a heart was there but heav'd a sigh ;
Next, on his staff, oppress'd with weight of years.
The father comes, and calls them in to pray'rs.
His reverend looks they dare not disobey, â
The worst from ev'ning worship could not stay :
Then from his heart v>-ith pious rev'rence ;
He breathes the holy words the Saviour taught;
No new fanatics can with him compare,
In true devotion and in fervent pray'r.
But I must sing of scenes more ancient still.
When off rings smok'd upon the rocky hill.
In days long past, when, circled round with wood,
The lowly huts of painted Britons stood ;
There the majestic oaks their hranches spread.
And for the Druids fonn'd a sacred shade, â
"WTio, at one period of the changing year,
'Prepai'ed their victims hy a creed austere.
White as the snow their sacred vests appear'd ;
They as the Gods' vicegerents were rever'd.
On ev'ry hill the milk-white beasts were sought ;
When found, with joy they to the groves were brought.
Then virgins cull'd the flowers with greatest cai'e,
To strive who could the richest ^\Teath prepare ;
While to the harps of bards the peasants simg, ,^'
And round the victims rosy garlands hung.
The rock, which yet retains the Altar's name.
Had honours paid, and mighty was its fame.
There, haply, erst, the mistletoe was laid,
^Miile to their unknown Gods the Druids pray'd ;
There were domestic quarrels made to cease.
And foes at variance thence retm^n'd in peace.
Unlike the priests of these our modern days.
Who teach their flocks a thousand different ways ;
And though they boast superior knowledge giv'n,
Who knows but Druids taught the way to heav'n. ?
Then all returning from the Altar's height,
Some fiU'd with awe, some smiling with deHght,
While hoary bards, as slow they mov'd along,
Touch'd their wild hai'ps, and this their artless song: â
Now with the Gods our peace is made;
No witch's spell or chann
Can make our hawthorn blossoms fade,
Our flock or herbage hann.
Safe from the wolf and furious boar
We rest another yeai' ;
No fox shall take our feather'd store,
Or make our springs less cleai\
No fairy climb the lofty oak,
The sacred plant- to kill ;
No warrior wear a bloody cloak.
Or fall upon the hill.
No eagle, from the stormy north.
Shall our young lambs destroy ;
Nor hawk nor raven shall come forth,
To blast our rural joy.
But ex'ry thing we want is ours, '
Bestow'd by bounteous heav'n,
And falls like fruitful rain in show'rs.
If for them praise be giv'n.
Oft on the hills, to chase the dappled deer.
The stalwart Britons would in troops appear;
Swift as the hind they bounded o'er the plain â
The sportive chase was then their only gain.
They knew not then the sickle, scythe, nor hoe ;
No panting oxen labour'd at the plough :
Their flocks and herds were then their only store,
They liv'd content, nor cared, nor wish'd for more.
But, if their chiefs had struck upon the shield â
The well-known war-cry to the embattled field â
They left their homes, and all their rural channs.
And o'er their painted shoulders threw their arms :
The blooming \irgins, while their bows were strung,
Joia'd with the native bards, while thus they sung ; â
Britain ! the land by Gods belov'd,
The land of warriors brave,
^^Tio ever meet their foes unmov'd,
Nor dread the hero's grave,
By barbarous foes unconqner'd still.
The pastures yet our o^ati ;
And ours the grove and sacred hill,
While Cuno* wears the crown.
The northern nations, fierce, may come,
To waste oin- fruitful field ;
But those shall rue they. left their home.
And soon to Britons yield.
xAi^m, warriors, arm ! your children call â
The Gods will give you aid ;
Before your spears your foes shall fall,
The mighty army fade !
Ami, warriors, ann ! your all defend â
The Highland foe is near !
Let all upon the Gods depend,
And strano'ers be to fear !
With quivers fill'd, and brazen spears.
With trumpets loud and strong,
Eush to the fight â the foe appears.
But foes shall not be lom]r.
Thus sung the bards â and at their words.
At once the warriors drew
From brazen sheaths their glitt'ring swords,
And to the conflict flew.
* Cunobuline, a British Prince.
So 'tv,'RS of old, one dreadful day,
"Wliich ancient minstrels sing,
^Tien mighty warriors fled away,
Like hawks upon the vdng.
Fierce were their foes, â the savage boar
Had lent his bristled hide.
To form the helmets that they wore,
With various colours dy'd.
Monsters and beasts upon each breast
Were frightfully portrayed ;
The red-deer skins, ^vith labour dress'd.
Formed then their tartan plaid.
Dreadfully grim the van appeared,
A far extended line ;
From vnng to wing their spears uprear'd,
Did bright as silver shine.
The Britons waited not to view
Or study dangers o'er ;
But, daimtless, in their chariots flew,
And stain'd their arms with gore.
The conflicts on the fields of Troy,
To this were but a fray ;
Each Grecian warrior but a boy.
To those who fought that day.
No room to bear the banners high :
No breath to give command ;
No heart to fear, no way to fly ;
But warriors hand to hand I
Swords cut like saws, and broke in twain ;
And spears, as crimson red,
Were strew'd all o'er the bloody plain,
Or firm grasped by the dead.
Thus, when the Picts or Romans came in sight.
The Britons rush'd like torrents to the fight ;
Their chariot- wheels with sharpest scythes were hung,
And from each car were darts and arrows flung ;
Death mark'd the way where'er the chariots turn'd.
And round each chief the bloody battle burn'd :
But if the artful cohorts gain'd the field,
The Britons made the woods their nightly shield ;
And when the Romans thought the battle won.
They foimd, next morn, the conflict scarce begun.
Thus Britons fought, â by Boadicea led.
And on the slain the wolves and eagles fed.
Say, winding Aire ! ye rocks, ye woods, and hills.
How you were stain'd â and how your crystal rills
Ban crimson'd with your native warriors' blood.
When on the heights the Boman eagles stood.
When Olicano's rocky station rose,
And Britain bow'd, reluctant, to her foes !
But now, could Greece her ancient grandeur gain ;
Could Boman chiefs once more resume their reign ; '
Could Caesar leap on shore to invade our land,
And all his legions pour upon the strand ;
Could Alexander, with his mighty host,
With Xerxes in the rear â all threat'niug boast
To bring the myriads of their warriors here â
The men of Waterloo would never fear ;
For one dread day like that of Trafalgar,
Had brought to peace the ten years' Trojan war!
O Nature ! teach me how to paint the scene
Of Bingley's glories, which long since have been ;
"WTien, in full splendour were its ancient halls,
And high achievements grac'd their massy walls :
WTien oaks, which now the whirlwind's force withstand,
Had bent to earth beneath an infant's hand.
There winding Aire, enamour'd of the place,
Moves on so slow, it seems to stop and gaze :â¢â
To leave the scene the glitt'ring river mourns,
And shows reluctance in its varied turns.
Till, forc'd at last, it rushes down the steep,
Turns into rage, as if too proud to weep !
Would I could call some venerable shade,
"WTiose earthly part a thousand yeai's has laid
Within the tomb, in undisturb'd repose.
Haply it might a scene like this disclose : â
WTiere rolls the stream above yon sacred fane.
And where the hills, in Time's all-wasting reign
Have chang'd their forms â while struggling for its way,
The furious flood has torn a part away
Of yonder fields, which bear a castle's name, â
There once a castle stood, tho' lost to fame :
Eut, safely sheltered from the feudal rage.
It won no place in the historian's page ;
And as unnoticed, temples often fall,
So none can tell where stood its ancient hall ;
Its gothic arches and the strong-built keep.
Within the adjacent floods ai'e buried deep;
The strong foundations of its lofty tow'rs.
Crumbled to sand, and wash'd away with show'rs !
The river's course a thousand times has chang'd.
Since on its banks the ancient Druids rang'd.
The fords, wliicli once tlie Koman cohorts cross'd,
Fill'd up with sand, are now for ever lost.
Fields now are spread, where once the river ran â
Emblem of empires, and of changing man !
The streams of Science once thro' Eg;y'pt ilow'd,
When Thebes in all its pristine grandeur glow'd ;
Then left the margin of the fruitful Nile,
Cross'd o'er to Greece, and made great Athens smile..
Athens and Corinth fell â and Eome appear'd,
Stretched forth her empire, and no danger fear'd,
Till Gothic ignorance, with her sable robe
Of gloomy superstition, wrapt the globe ;
Then bigot Fury rear'd its hydra head ;
Then Science sunk, and all the Muses fled
To their own shades, and there for cent'ries mourn'd,
IS* or to Parnassus have they yet return'd :
At length on earth again they deign'd to smile,
And fix'd their residence on Albion's isle.
But stay, my Muse â haste not so far away !
I'll woo thee in my native vale to stay. â
Its beauties be my theme â the woods and dells,
Sequester'd bow'rs, and sweet harmonious bells ;
The flow'r-deck'd lawn, the distant heath-cro^vn'd hills,
Stupendous rocks, and softly murm'ring rills ;
The woodland echoes, whisp'ring in the trees,
Or floating loudly on the fitful breeze ;
Where nought of sameness the chami'd sight offends^
But ev'ry scene the former scene transcends ;
AMiere rocks in rich variety are dress'd,
Some in the grey, and some the auburn vest ;
Where varying Nature gives the lovely tmge,
And on the banks suspends the mossy fringe.
But Where's tlie bard can sing of Bingley's vale,
And never once in his descri^jtions fail '?
'Tis here the modest snow-drop first appears.
Drooping its head, and wet with icy tears,
Like some poor bai'd, unkno^Mi to pubhc fame
It shrinks and withers on its native stem.
And here the primrose, from its mossy bed,
Silver'd with dew, lifts up its lovely head;
Here springing woodbine to the hazel cleaves.
With snow still pressing down its velvet leaves.
How pleasant here to walk, when daises spring,
While the sweet beUs in tujicful changes ring,
When ev'ry tone the echoing woods receive,
And thus delightfully the ear deceive,
Keverberating, musically clear.
As though a far more dulcet peal were near !
Would I could sing the days of olden time,
WTien first this valley heard the vaiying chime !
I hear them yet â am present at the horn*
WTien zealous crowds from ev'ry village pour.
At early morn, upon the holy day.
To worship God, confess their sins, and pray.
No bigot sects come proudly, faults to find,
But all one creed, one doctrine, heart, and mind.
The Chm'ch Establish'd is their fav'rite place.
And rev'rence dwells on ev'ry earnest face.
The manor's lord, with all his household, comes, â
His honest tenants leave their distant homes ;
The rm'al peasant brings his frugal wife,
And ev'ry' child, without religious strife.
The aged come, with years of labour worn,
Nor stay, though distant, on the holy morn.
The daugliter here an aged mother hears,
Supports her steps, her fainting spirits cheers ;
And there the son leads on his pious sire,
Wann'd with devotion's purest, hohest fire.
'Tis rev'rence all â no lightsome smile appears â
See them, and hlush, ye modern worshij^pers !
Your fathers met their Maker to adore.
Devoutly read the Psalmist's verses o'er,
And from the priest words of affection flow'd â
He pray'd, he wept, â until the list'ning crowd
Melted to tears ; and tears that were not feigned,
Like crystal drops, from all the audience rain'd.
Such were the days when churches first were huilt,
Though days of darlmess, yet not those of guilt.
Sage history has shaded o'er with crimes
The long past period of the feudal times,
When foreign luxuries were quite unknown.
And all they wish'd was in the valley grown, â
Their wholesome food was hutter, cheese, and miik^
And Airedale's ladies never shone in silk;
The line they grew their own soft hands prepar'd;
The wool unneeded to the poor was spar'd ;
But few the poor, unless hy age opprcss'd â
At little rent some acres each possess'd.
When from the fields the golden sheaves were led,
The cottagers could glean their winter's bread ;
The husbandman could to his cottage bear
The withered boughs his frugal heai^th to cheer ;
Or oft at eve his basket, well Avas stor'd
With wholesome viands from his lib'ral lord ;
Or did he want for Lent a proper dish,
Aire's silv'ry streams produc'd needed fish ;
Their fruitful boughs the mellow apples bore,
And plurQ-trees bended with the juicy store.
The ills which crowded population brings.
Had never broken rural bhss ! thy wings ;
Then on the green the npnphs and swains would dance,
Or, in a circle tell some old romance ;
And all the group would seriously incline
To hear of Saracens and Palestine, â
Of knights in armour of each various hue.
Of ladies left, some false, and others true.
Their simple tales portrayed hov%^ warriors bled,
How virgins wept to hear of heroes dead ;
The fmious steeds swift rushing to the war ;
The turban'd Turks, the bloody scymitar ;
The cross-mark'd banners on the lofty height ;
The impious struck with terror at the sight I
Then told v/hat spectres grim were seen to glide
Along this dale, before its heroes died.
And mark'd their fall within the holy vale,
Where they lay lifeless, in their coats of mail ;
Told how some lady, frantic with despair,
Shriek'd, as she plung'd into the deeps of Aire,
When tidings reach'd her from the Holy Land,
That her lov'd lord lay deep in Jordan's sand ;
And how her cries flew echoing thro' the wood,
WTiile her rich jewels glitter'd in the flood !
Thus happy they their summer's evening spent.
Parted in peace, and homeward singing went ;
Their voices, soft as the iEohan strings,
Flew to sweet Echo on the halcyon's \\ings.
Such was this vale when Kirkstall's glories shone,
And who can help but sigh that they ai^e gone ?
'Tis pleasant yet to see how i^T clings
Around the walls where night-birds clap their wings ;
A solemn awe pei-vades the feeling breast,
To view the sacred earth with ruins press'd ;
The fallen arch, the shatter'd tow'r on high,
Eemind us of the days and years gone by.
Imagination sees the whole entire, â
The smoke yet cuiiing in the ancient choir,
And slowly, as the clouds of incense roll.
The fragrant gi-ateful scent perfumes the whole ;
"VMiile the great organ, solemn deep and strong,
Pours with the worshippers the sacred song ;
Beholds the Abbot in the robes aiTay'd,
The altar wet, where once Turgeasius pray'd ;
The tapers biu-ning, till each holy shrine
More brilliant than the thrones of monarchs shine.
The glitt'ring cross, the virgin's image there.
Before the imagination all appear,
And deep-veiled nuns, on some grand solemn night,
Bang'd on each side, stood clad in pm^est white.
Though cent'ries intervene, yet fancy hears
The Abbot reading o'er the Latin pray'rs :
How still â ^how awful ! as the solemn strain
Now swells, and now to whispers falls again !
Till the Te Deum, bursting from the crowd.
Sounds like the seas, when winds and waves are loud.
In all the diapasons deep or cleai%
Man could invent, or his weak passions bear !
The spot where once the gorgeous shrine was seen.
Is cover'd with a mossy robe of green ;
Ehns in the cloisters grow, and like a pall.
Hide the fine mouldings of the southern wall ;
Uj)on the place where many a Imight lies low.
Nettles and weeds, and the baneful nightshade grow ;
"VMiile on tlie cornice wildly waves the fem,
Like verdant plumes, in many a graceful turn.
How chang'd is Kirkstall, since to ruin turn'd,
And, slow departing, the last Abbot mourn'd ;
When ancient records, kept with pious care.
Clung to the boughs which overhung the Aire ;
Or toss'd in flames, or into pieces torn.
Like autumn leaves upon the winds were borne ;
Its riches gone, and lost its fruitful land,
"Which was bequeath'd by many a dying hand ;
The granges ruin'd, and the cattle sold.
The sheep remov'd to a far distant fold ;
All that was good and precious swept away,
And seiz'd by desolation it as its j)rey !
Of all its wealth the once-fam'd place bereft,
And but the walls now to the artist left ;
"WTiile many a pensive stranger passing by.
Stops to admire, then leaves them with a sigh !
The scenes how chang'd, since Loidis' castle stood
Encircled by the ancient park and wood !
Where streets are now, the shining pheasants flew,
Or cattle crept the daisies gem'd with dew ;
Commerce, to Albion's modern sons so dear,
Had never spread her golden pinions there.
Where churches stand, in ages long ago.
The swift-wing'd arrow left the archer's bow.
That town whose fame now spreads in every zone.
Was then of litte note, and scarcely Imown ;
Ne'er saw a vessel on the river glide.
With sails unfurling in commercial pride.
The village youth then heard but Kirkstall's bells,
And i-ustics sported where the organ swells ;
Where now extends the great commercial street.
The virgins pluck'cl the hawthorn blossoms sweet ;
And where the spacious public halls are seen,
In times remote, was once the village green ;
Where noontide hours, and many a summer's night.
Were danced away with feelings of delight.
Upon the hills where oaks for cent'ries grew.
Years, undisturbed, the glossy pheasants flew ;
Partridge and hares in eveiy field were bred,
And never fell, struck by the murd'ring lead.
From aged furze, or from the lonely rocks.
Oft nightly wander'd forth the wily fox ;
The valleys echo'd on the early morn,
With hounds, with huntsman, and the cheerful horn !
Then, as they cross'd the vale, fleet as the air,
Forsaken, lagged behind, old wi-inkled Care ;
Joy join'd the chase, and chcer'd each sportive mind,
Aiid Sorrow there could no companion find.
The life-inspiring cries the hunter laiew.
And from each breast dark ^Melancholy flew :
Pleasure and Mirth the foremost led the chase.
And rosy Health was shining on each face.
With all our modern concerts, parties, balls,
Assembly rooms, our theatres and halls,
Are we more happy than the ancient lord.
With good October sparkling on his board.
His warriors round him, and the tuneful lyre
Strung by the bards, who sung his valiant sire â
A lady lov'd, who strove her lord to please,
A priest at hand his troubled breast to ease ?
One wife he lov'd, the chase, and moral song, â
No follies broke his constitution strong ;
GENIUS AN'D INTEMPEEANCE. 91
His guests true-hearted, each a warrior brave,
And not a soul but scom'd to be a slave.
To-day they to the chase or feasting yield â
To-morrow duty calls them to the field.
With learning unrefin'd, they knew no fear,
When front to front they met the shining spear.
Such were the sons of Leeds and Towton's plam
Was crimson'd o'er with thirty thousand slain ;
Their king they lov'd, and for their king they died,
While Wharf's clear stream roU'd on a purple tide ;
And such must modern lords of Britain be,
If Britain conquer, and if Britain's free !
GENIUS AND INTEMPEEANCE.
Death and Disease my solemn muses be I
Throw o'er my soul a sickbed's canopy !
Let sorrow dictate ev'ry mournful line.
And, true repentance, let the strains be thine !
Tears wet the page, while falling like the rain.
O'er my two friends by wine untimely slain.
Their mothers met, their fathers friendly were.
Before their infant eyes could drop a tear ;
And when they felt the first of earthly joys â
When first they toddled, oft exchanging toys ;
93 GENIUS AND INTEMPERANCE.
Pluck'd in each other's gardens, flowers they chose,
And smiled together, when they knew not woes.
How oft their parents talk'd of future times,
And pray'd that they might e'er be clear from crimes,
Pleas'd to behold them in a garment new,
And lov'd them better as they older grew !
Young Philo join'd them â then the happy three
In pleasure liv'd, and knew not misery.
Far on the hills, amid the purple bloom
Of honied heath, they talk'd of bliss to come ;
Then bath'd amid the mountain's crystal spring,