Walter Scott.

The poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet online

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Sunk down upon the heath. —
'T were long to tell what cause I have

To know his face that met me there,
Called by his hatred from the grave

To cumber upper air ;
Dead or alive, good cause had he
To be my mortal enemy.'


Marvelled Sir David of the Mount ;
Then, learned in story, gan recount

Such chance had happed 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 trained him nigh to disallow
The aid of his baptismal vow.
' And such a phantom, too, 't is said,
With Highland broadsword, targe, and

And fingers red with gore,
Is seen in Rothiemurcus glade,
Or where the sable pine-trees shade
Dark Tomantoul, and Auchnaslaid,

Dromouchty, or Glenmore.
And yet, whate'er such legends say
Of warlike demon, ghost, 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
When guilt we meditate within
Or harbor unrepented sin.' —
Lord Marmion turned him half aside.

And twice to clear his voice he tried,
Then pressed Sir David's hand, —
But nought, at length, in answer said :
And here their further converse stayed,
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.


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

Now, from the summit to the plain,
Waves all the hill with yellow grain ;

And o'er the landscape as I look,
Nought do I see unchanged remain,

Save the rude cliffs and chiming brook.
To me they make a heavy moan
Of early friendships past and gone.

But different far the change has been,

Since Marmion from the crown
Of Blackford saw that martial scene

Across the furzy hills of Braid.
They passed the glen and scanty rill.
And climbed the opposing bank, until
They gained the top of Blackford Hill.

Blackford! on whose uncultured 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 Giles's mingling din.

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,
Thousands on thousands there were seen,
That checkered 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.


For from Hebudes, dark with rain,
To eastern Lodon's fertile plain,
And from the southern Redswire edge
To furthest 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 tinkling clank,
Where chiefs reviewed their vassal rank,

And charger's shrilling neigh, —
And see the shifting lines advance,
While frequent flashed from shield and

The sun's reflected ray.


Thin curling in the morning air,
The wreaths of failing smoke declare
To embers now the brands decayed,
Where the night-watch their fires had made.
They saw, slow rolling on the plain,
Full many a baggage-cart and wain,

And dire artillery's clumsy car,

By sluggish oxen tugged to war ;

And there were Borthwick's Sisters Seven,

And culverins which France had given.

Ill-omened gift ! the guns remain

The conqueror's spoil on Flodden plain.


Nor marked 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-tailed, and square,
Scroll, pennon, pencil, bandrol, there

O'er the pavilions flew.
Highest and midmost, was descried
The royal banner floating wide ;

The staff, a pine-tree, strong and straight,
Pitched deeply in a massive stone,
Which still in memory is shown,
Yet bent beneath the standard's weight,
Whene'er the western wind unrolled
With toil the huge and cumbrous
And gave to view the dazzling field,
Where in proud Scotland's royal shield
The ruddy lion ramped in gold.




Lord Marmion viewed the landscape bright,
He viewed it with a chief's delight,

Until within him burned 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.
' Oh ! well, Lord-Lion, hast thou said,
Thy king from warfare to dissuade

Were but a vain essay ;
For, by Saint George, were that host mine,
Not power infernal nor divine
Should once to peace my soul incline,
Till I had dimmed their armor's shine

In glorious battle-fray ! '
Answered 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 blessed,
'T is better to sit still at rest

Than rise, perchance to fall.'


Still on the spot Lord Marmion stayed,
For fairer scene he ne'er surveyed.
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 splendor red ;
For on the smoke-wreaths, huge and slow,
That round her sable turrets 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 kissed,
It gleamed a purple amethyst.
Yonder the shores of Fife you saw,
Here Preston-Bay and Berwick-Law ;

And, broad between them rolled,
The gallant Firth 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 bridle hand,
And making demi-volt in air,
Cried, ' Where 's the coward that would
not dare

To fight for such a land !

The Lindesay smiled his joy to see,
Nor Marmion's frown repressed his glee.


Thus while they looked, a flourish proud.
Where mingled trump, and clarion loud,

And fife, and kettle-drum,
And sackbut deep, and psaltery,
And war-pipe 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 tolled the hour of prime,

And thus the Lindesay spoke :
' Thus clamor still the war-notes when
The king to mass his way has ta'en.
Or to Saint Catherine's of Sienne,

Or Chapel of Saint Rocque.
To you they speak of martial fame,
But me remind of peaceful game,

When blither was their cheer,
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.


' 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 woe 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 leaguered 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 made 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.





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 employed no more,
Cumber our parlor's narrow floor ;
When in his stall the impatient steed
Is long condemned 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 from the spring ;
When wrinkled news-page, thrice conned

Beguiles the dreary hour no more,
And darkling politician, crossed,
Inveighs against the lingering post,
And answering housewife sore complains
Of carriers' 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 renewed 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 stripped 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 flood,
Guarded and garrisoned 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 ! Oh, how altered now,
When safe amid thy mountain court
Thou sitt'st, like empress at her sport,
And liberal, unconfined, and free,
Flinging thy white arms to the sea,
For thy dark cloud, with umbered 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 enrolled,
She for the charmed spear renowned,
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 corselet'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 rolled
Her locks profuse of paly gold.
They who whilom in midnight fight
Had marvelled 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 cares awhile ;
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 Paridell advance,
Bold as he was, a looser glance.
She charmed, at once, and tamed the heart,
Incomparable Britomart !

So thou, fair City ! disarrayed
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 flown ;
Still as of yore, 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, trained 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,
Renowned for hospitable deed,
That virtue much with Heaven may plead,
In patriarchal times whose care
Descending angels deigned 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
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,
Than 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 Beauclerk called, 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, Blondel sung? —

Oh ! born Time's ravage to repair,

And make the dying Muse thy care ;

Who, when his scythe her hoary foe

Was poising for the final blow,

The weapon from his hand could wring,

And break his glass and shear his wing,

And bid, reviving in his strain,

The gentle poet live again ;

Thou, who canst give to lightest lay

An unpedantic moral gay,

Nor less the dullest theme bid flit

On wings of unexpected wit ;

In letters as in life approved,

Example honored 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, oh !
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 repetition, 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 planned,
But yet so glowing and so grand,
So shall he strive, in changeful hue,
Field, feast, and combat to renew,
And loves, and arms, and harpers' glee,
And all the pomp of chivalry.



ill ar mi on.



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 v/onder 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,
And little deemed their force to feel
Through links of mail and plates of steel
When, rattling upon Flodden vale,
The cloth-yard arrows flew like hail.

Nor less did Marmion's skilful view
Glance every line and squadron through,

And much he marvelled one small land
Could marshal forth such various band ;

For men-at-arms were here,
Heavily sheathed in mail and plate,
Like iron towers for strength and weight,
On Flemish steeds of bone and height,

With battle-axe and spear.
Young knights and squires, a lighter train,
Practised their chargers on the plain,
By aid of leg, of hand, and rein,

Each warlike feat to show,
To pass, to wheel, the croupe to gain,
And high curvet, that not in vain
The sword-sway might descend amain

On foeman's casque below.
He saw the hardy burghers there
March armed on foot with faces bare,

For visor they wore none,
Nor waving plume, nor crest of knight ;
But burnished were their corselets bright,
Their brigantines and gorgets light

Like very silver shone.
Long pikes they had for standing fight,

Two-handed swords they wore,
And many wielded mace of weight,

And bucklers bright they bore.


On foot the jeoman too, but dressed
In his steel-jack, a swarthy vest.



With iron quilted well ;
Each at his back — a slender store —
His forty days' provision bore,

As feudal statutes tell.
His arms were halbert, axe, or spear,
A crossbow there, a hagbut here,

A dagger-knife, and brand.
Sober he seemed and sad of cheer,
As loath to leave his cottage dear

And march to foreign strand,
Or musing who would guide his steer

To till the fallow land.
Yet deem not in his thoughtful eye

Did aught of dastard terror lie ;

More dreadful far his ire
Than theirs who, scorning danger's name,
In eager mood to battle came,
Their valor like light straw on flame,

A fierce but fading fire.


Not so the Borderer: — bred to war,
He knew the battle's din afar,

And joyed to hear it swell.
His peaceful day was slothful ease ;
Nor harp nor pipe his ear could please

Like the loud slogan yell.
On active steed, with lance and blade,
The light-armed pricker plied his trade, —

Let nobles fight for fame ;
Let vassals follow where they lead,
Burghers, to guard their townships, bleed,

But war 's the Borderers' game.

Their gain, their glory, their delight,
To sleep the day, maraud the night,

O'er mountain, moss, and moor ;
Joyful to fight they took their way,
Scarce caring who might win the day,

Their booty was secure.
These, as Lord Marmion's train passed by.
Looked on at first with careless eye,
Nor marvelled aught, well taught to know
The form and force of English bow.
But when they saw the lord arrayed
In splendid arms and rich brocade,
Each Borderer to his kinsman said, —

' Hist, Ringan ! seest thou there !
Canst guess which road they '11 homeward

ride ?
Oh ! could we but on Border side,
By Eusedale glen,«or Liddell's tide,

Beset a prize so fair !
That fangless Lion, too, their guide,
Might chance to lose his glistering hide ;
Brown Maudlin of that doublet pied

Could make a kirtle rare.'


Next, Marmion marked the Celtic race,
Of different language, form, and face,

A various race of man ;
Just then the chiefs their tribes arrayed,
And wild and garish semblance made
The checkered trews and belted plaid,
And varying notes the war-pipes brayed

To every varying clan.
Wild through their red or sable hair
Looked out their eyes with savage stare

On Marmion as he passed ;
Their legs above the knee were bare ;
Their frame was sinewy, short, and spare,

And hardened to the blast ;
Of taller race, the chiefs they own
Were by the eagle's plumage known.
The hunted red-deer's undressed hide
Their hairy buskins well supplied ;
The graceful bonnet decked their head ;
Back from their shoulders hung the plaid ;
A broadsword of unwieldy length,
A dagger proved for edge and strength,

A studded targe they wore,
And quivers, bows, and shafts, — but, oh !
Short was the shaft and weak the bow

To that which England bore.
The Isles-men carried at their backs
The ancient Danish battle-axe.
They raised a wild and wondering cry,
As with his guide rode Marmion by.
Loud were their clamoring tongues, as

The clanging sea-fowl leave the fen,
And, with their cries discordant mixed,
Grumbled and yelled the pipes betwixt.




Thus through the Scottish camp they

And reached the city gate at last,
Where all around, a wakeful guard,
Armed burghers kept their watch and ward.
Well had they cause of jealous fear,
When lay encamped in fields so near
The Borderer and the Mountaineer.
As through the bustling streets they go,
All was alive with martial show ;
At every turn with dinning clang
The armorer's anvil clashed and rang,
Or toiled the swarthy smith to wheel
The bar that arms the charger's heel,
Or axe or falchion to the side
Of jarring grindstone was applied.
Page, groom, and squire, with hurrying

Through street and lane and market-place,

Bore lance or casque or sword ;
While burghers, with important face,

Described each new-come lord,
Discussed his lineage, told his name,
His following, and his warlike fame.
The Lion led to lodging meet,
Which high o'erlooked the crowded street ;

There must the baron rest
Till past the hour of vesper tide,
And then to Holy-Rood must ride, —

Such was the king's behest.
Meanwhile the Lion's care assigns
A banquet rich and costly wines

To Marmion and his train ;
And when the appointed hour succeeds,
The baron dons his peaceful weeds,
And following Lindesay as he leads,

The palace halls they gain.


Old Holy-Rood rung merrily
That night with wassail, mirth, and glee :
King James within her princely bower
Feasted the chiefs of Scotland's power,
Summoned to spend the parting hour ;
For he had charged that his array
Should southward march by break of day.
Well loved that splendid monarch aye

The banquet and the song,
By day the tourney, and by night
The merry dance, traced fast and light,
The maskers quaint, the pageant bright,

The revel loud and long.
This feast outshone his banquets past ;
It was his blithest — and his last.
The dazzling lamps from gallery gay
Cast on the court a dancing ray ;
Here to the harp did minstrels sing,
There ladies touched a softer string ;
With long-eared cap and motley vest,
The licensed fool retailed his jest ;
His magic tricks the juggler plied ;
At dice and draughts the gallants vied :
While some, in close recess apart,
Courted the ladies of their heart,

Nor courted them in vain ;



For often in the parting hour
Victorious Love asserts his power

O'er coldness and disdain ;
And flinty is her heart can view
To battle march a lover true —
Can hear, perchance, his last adieu,

Nor own her share of pain.

Through this mixed crowd of glee and game
The king to greet Lord Marmion came,

While, reverent, all made room.
An easy task it was. I trow,
King James's manly form to know,
Although, his courtesy to show,
He doffed to Marmion bending low

His broidered cap and plume.
For royal were his garb and mien :

His cloak of crimson velvet piled,

Trimmed with the fur of marten wild,
His vest of changeful satin sheen,

The dazzled eye beguiled ;
His gorgeous collar hung adown,
Wrought with the badge of Scotland's

The thistle brave of old renown ;
His trusty blade, Toledo right,
Descended from a baldric bright ;
White were his buskins, on the heel
His spurs inlaid of gold and steel ;
His bonnet, all of crimson fair,
Was buttoned with a ruby rare :
And Marmion deemed he ne'er had seen
A prince of such a noble mien.


The monarch's form was middle size,
For feat of strength or exercise

Shaped in proportion fair ;
i And hazel was his eagle eye,
And auburn of the darkest dye

His short curled beard and hair.
Light was his footstep in the dance,

And firm his stirrup in the lists :
And, oh ! he had. that merry glance

That seldom lady's heart resists.
Lightly from fair to fair he flew,

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