Walter Scott.

The poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet online

. (page 13 of 78)
Online LibraryWalter ScottThe poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet → online text (page 13 of 78)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

And loved to plead, lament, and sue, —
Suit lightly won and short-lived pain,
For monarchs seldom sigh in vain.

I said he joyed in banquet bower ;
But, mid his mirth, 'twas often strange
How suddenly his cheer would change,

His look o'ercast and lower,
If in a sudden turn he felt
The pressure of his iron belt,
That bound his breast in penance pain,
In memory of his father slain.
Even so 't was strange how evermore,
Soon as the passing pang was o'er,

Forward he rushed with double glee
Into the stream of revelry.
Thus dim-seen object of affright
Startles the courser in his flight,
And half he halts, half springs aside,
But feels the quickening spur applied,
And, straining on the tightened rein,
Scours doubly swift o'er hill and plain.

O'er James's heart, the courtiers say,
Sir Hugh the Heron's wife held sway ;

To Scotland's court she came
To be a hostage for her lord,
Who Cessford's gallant heart had gored,
And with the king to make accord

Had sent his lovely dame.
Nor to that lady free alone
Did the gay king allegiance own ;

For the fair Queen of France
Sent him a turquoise ring and glove,
And charged him, as her knight and love,

For her to break a lance,
And strike three strokes with Scottish brand.
And march three miles on Southron land,
And bid the banners of his band

In English breezes dance.
And thus for France's queen he drest
His manly limbs in mailed vest,
And thus admitted English fair
His inmost councils still to share,
And thus for both he madly planned
The ruin of himself and land !

And yet, the sooth to tell,
Nor England's fair nor France's queen
Were worth one pearl-drop, bright and

From Margaret's eyes that fell, —
JHis own Queen Margaret, who in Lithgow's

All lonely sat and wept the weary hour.


The queen sits lone in Lithgow pile,

And weeps the weary day
The war against her native soil,
Her monarch's risk in battle broil, — -
And in gay Holy-Rood the while
Dame Heron rises with a smile

Upon the harp to play.
Fair was her rounded arm, as o'er

The strings her fingers flew ;
And as she touched and tuned them all,
Ever her bosom's rise and fall

Was plainer given to view;
For, all for heat, was laid aside
Her wimple, and her hood untied.
And first she pitched her voice to sing,
Then glanced her dark eye on the king,



And then around the silent ring,

And laughed, and blushed, and oft did say

Her pretty oath, by yea and nay,

She could not, would not, durst not play !

At length, upon the harp, with glee,
Mingled with arch simplicity,
A soft yet lively air she rung.
While thus the wily lady sung : —





ILaog pjeron's Song,. ,

Oh ! yoking Lochinvar is come oiit of the

west, / / /

Through ail the wide Border his steed was

theybe/t ; > ' /

4\nd save his good broadsword he weapons

had none,
He rode all unarmed and he rode all alone.
So faithful in love and so dauntless in war,
There never was knight like the young

Lochinvar. ^

He stayed not for brake and he stopped 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 entered the Netherby Hall,

Among bridesmen, and kinsmen, and broth- .
ers, and all :

Then spoke the bride's father, his hand on
his sword, —

For the poor craven bridegroom said never
a word, —

' Oh ! come ye in peace here, or come ye in

Or to dance at our bridal, young Lord Loch-
invar ? ' —

1 1 long wooed you^daughter, my suit you

denied ; #v

Love swells like the Solway, but ebbs like

its tide —
And now am I come, with this lost love of

To lead but one measure, drink one cup of

There are maidens in Scotland more lovely

by far,
That would gladly be bride to the young


The bride kissed the goblet ; the knight

took it up,
He quaffed off the wine, and he threw down

the cup.
She looked down to blush, and she looked

up to sigh,
With a smile on her lips and a tear in her


He took her soft hand ere her mother could

bar, —
' Now tread we a measure ! ' said young


So stately his form, and so lovely her face,/
That never. a hall 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 bride-maidens whispered, ' 'Twere

better by far
To have matched our fair cousin with young


One touch to her hand and one word in her

When they reached the hall-door, and the

charger stood near ;
So light to the croupe the fair lady he swung,
So light to the saddle before her he sprung !
' She is won ! we are gone, over bank, bush,

and scaur ;
They '11 have fleet steeds that follow,' quoth

young Lochinvar.

There was mounting 'mong Graemes of the

Netherby clan ;
Forsters, Fenwicks, and Musgraves, they

rode and they ran:
There was racing and chasing on Cannobie

But the lost bride of Netherby ne'er did

they see.
So daring in love and so dauntless in war,
Have ye e'er heard of gallant like young

Lochinvar ? ••'


The monarch o'er the siren hung,
And beat the measure as she sung ;
And, pressing closer and more near,
He whispered praises in her ear.
In loud applause the courtiers vied,
And ladies winked and spoke aside.

The witching dame to Marmion threw
A glance, where seemed to reign

The pride that claims applauses due,

And of her royal conquest too
A real or feigned disdain :
Familiar was the look, and told
Marmion and she were friends of old.
The king observed their meeting eyes
With something like displeased surprise ;
For monarchs ill can rivals brook,
Even in a word, or smile, or look.
Straight took he forth the parchment broad
Which Marmion's high commission showed :



* Our Borders sacked by many a raid,
Our peaceful liege-men robbed,' he said,
' On day of truce our warden slain,
Stout Barton killed, his vessels ta'en —
Unworthy were we here to reign,
Should these for vengeance cry in vain ;
Our full defiance, hate, and scorn,
Our herald has to Henry borne.'


He paused, and led where Douglas stood
And with stern eye the pageant viewed ;
I mean that Douglas, sixth of yore,
Who coronet of Angus bore,
And, when his blood and heart were high,
Did the third James in camp defy,
And all his minions led to die

On Lauder's dreary flat.
Princes and favorites long grew tame,
And trembled at the homely name

Of Archibald Bell-the-Cat ;
The same who left the dusky vale
Of Hermitage in Liddisdale,

Its dungeons and its towers,
Where Bothwell's turrets brave the air,
And Bothwell bank is blooming fair,

To fix his princely bowers.
Though now in age he had laid down
His armor for the peaceful gown.

And for a staff his brand,
Yet often would flash forth the fire
That could in youth a monarch's ire

And minion's pride withstand ;
And even that day at council board.

Unapt to soothe his sovereign's mood,
Against the war had Angus stood,
And chafed his royal lord.


His giant-form, like ruined tower,
Though fallen its muscles' brawny vaunt,
Huge-boned, and tall, and grim, and gaunt,

Seemed o'er the gaudy scene to lower \
His locks and beard in silver grew,
His eyebrows kept their sable hue.
Near Douglas when the monarch stood,
His bitter speech he thus pursued :
' Lord Marmion, since these letters say
That in the North you needs must stay

While slightest hopes of peace remain,
Uncourteous speech it were and stern
To say — Return to Lindisfarne,

Until my herald come again.
Then rest you in Tantallon hold :
Your host shall be the Douglas bold, —
A chief unlike his sires of old.
He wears their motto on his blade,
Their blazon o'er his towers displayed. '
Yet loves his sovereign to oppose
More than to face his country's foes.

And, I bethink me, by Saint Stephen,

But e'en this morn to me was given
A prize, the first fruits of the war,
Ta'en by a galley from Dunbar,

A bevy of the maids of heaven.
Under your guard these holy maids
Shall safe return to cloister shades.
And. while they at Tantallon stay.



Requiem for Cochran's soul may say.'
And with the slaughtered favorite's name
Across the monarch's brow there came
A cloud of ire, remorse, and shame.

In answer nought could Angus speak,
His proud heart swelled well-nigh to break ;
He turned aside, and down his cheek

A burning tear there stole.
His hand the monarch sudden took,
That sight his kind heart could not brook :

' Now, by the Bruce's soul,
Angus, my hasty speech forgive !
For sure as doth his spirit live,
As he said of the Douglas old,

I well may say of you, —
That never king did subject hold,
In speech more free, in war more bold,

More tender and more true ;
Forgive me, Douglas, once again.' —
And, while the king his hand did strain,
The old man's tears fell down like rain.
To seize the moment Marmion tried.
And whispered to the king aside :
' Oh ! let such tears unwonted plead
For respite short from dubious deed !
A child will weep a bramble's .smart,
A maid to see her sparrow part,
A stripling for a woman's heart ;
But woe awaits a country when
She sees the tears of bearded men.
Then, oh ! what omen, dark and high,
When Douglas wets his manly eye ! '


Displeased was James that stranger viewed
And tampered with his changing mood.
4 Laugh those that can, weep those that may,'
Thus did the fiery monarch say,
' Southward I march by break of day ;
And if within Tantallon strong
The good Lord Marmion tarries long,
Perchance our meeting next may fall
At Tamworth in his castle-hall.' —
The haughty Marmion felt the taunt,
And answered grave the royal vaunt :
' Much honored were my humble home,
If in its halls King James should come ;
But Nottingham has archers good,
And Yorkshire men are stern of mood,
Northumbrian prickers wild and rude.
On Derby Hills the paths are steep,
In Ouse and Tyne the fords are deep ;
And many a banner will be torn,
And many a knight to earth be borne,
And many a sheaf of arrows spent,
Ere Scotland's king shall cross the Trent:
Yet pause, brave prince, while yet you
may ! ' —

The monarch lightly turned away,

And to his nobles loud did call,

' Lords, to the dance, — a hall ! a hall ! '

Himself his cloak and sword flung by,

And led Dame Heron gallantly ;

And minstrels, at the royal order,

Rung out ' Blue Bonnets o'er the Border.'


Leave we these revels now to tell
What to Saint Hilda's maids befell,
Whose galley, as they sailed again
To Whitby, by a Scot was ta'en.
Now at Dun-Edin did they bide
Till James should of their fate decide,

And soon by his command
Were gently summoned to prepare
To journey under Marmion's care,
As escort honored, safe, and fair,

Again to English land.
The abbess told her chaplet o'er,
Nor knew which Saint she should implore
For, when she thought of Constance, sore

She feared Lord Marmion's mood.
And judge what Clara must have felt !
The sword that hung in Marmion's belt

Had drunk De Wilton's blood.
Unwittingly King James had given,

As guard to Whitby's shades,
The man most dreaded under heaven

By these defenceless maids ;
Yet what petition could avail,
Or who would listen to the tale
Of woman, prisoner, and nun,
Mid bustle of a war begun ?
They deemed it hopeless to avoid
The convoy of their dangerous guide.


Their lodging, so the king assigned,
To Marmion's, as their guardian, joined ;
And thus it fell that, passing nigh,
The Palmer caught the abbess' eye,

Who warned him by a scroll
She had a secret to reveal
That much concerned the Church's weal

And health of sinner's soul ;
And, with deep charge of secrecy,

She named a place to meet
Within an open balcony,
That hung from dizzy pitch and high

Above the stately street,
To which, as common to each home,
At night they might in secret come.


At night in secret there they came,

The Palmer and the holy dame.

The moon among the clouds rode high,



And all the city hum was by.

Though I must speak of worldly love, —

Upon the street, where late before

How vain

to those who wed above ! —

Did din of war and warriors roar,

De Wiltoi

1 and Lord Marmion wooed

You might have heard a pebble fall,

Clara de Clare, of Gloster's blood ; —

A beetle hum, a cricket sing,

Idle it were of Whitby's dame

An owlet flap his boding wing

To say of that same blood I came ; —

On Giles's steeple tall.

And once

when jealous rage was high,

The antique buildings, climbing high,

Lord Marmion said despiteously,

Whose Gothic frontlets sought the sky,

Wilton was traitor in his heart,

Were here wrapt deepin shade;

And had made league with Martin Swart

There on tneir brows the moonbeam broke,

When he

came here on Simnel's part,

Through the faint wreaths of silvery smoke,

And only

cowardice did restrain


on the casements played.

His rebel aid on Stokefield's plain,—

^ JLk .7



r ;:i ■ i

- '^-'h ,£*:*V+- 'J ^aV" ?'"'"*'- : * ■ * •'



And other light was none to^see,

Save torches gliding far,'
Before some chieftain of degree
Who left the royal revelry

To bowne him for the war. —
A solemn scene the abbess chose,
A solemn hour, her secret to disclose.


J O holy Palmer ! ' she began, —
' For sure he must be sainted man,
Whose blessed feet have trod the ground
Where the Redeemer's tomb is found, —
For his dear Church's sake, my tale
Attend, nor deem of light avail,

And down he threw his glove. The thing
Was tried, as wont, before the king ;
Where frankly did De Wilton own
That Swart in Guelders he had known,
And that between them then there went
Some scroll of courteous compliment.
For this he to his castle sent ;
But when his messenger returned,
Judge how De Wilton's fury burned !
For in his packet there were laid
Letters that claimed disloyal aid
And proved King Henry's cause betrayed.
His fame, thus blighted, in the field
He strove to clear by spear and shield ; —
To clear his fame in vain he strove,



For wondrous are His ways above !
Perchance some form was unobserved,
Perchance in prayer or faith he swerved,
Else how could guiltless champion quail,
Or how the blessed ordeal fail ?


4 His squire, who now De Wilton saw
As recreant doomed to suffer law,

Repentant, owned in vain
That while he had the scrolls in care
A stranger maiden, passing fair,
Had drenched him with a beverage rare ;

His words no faith could gain.
With Clare alone he credence won,
Who, rather than wed Marmion,
Did to Saint Hilda's shrine repair.
To give our house her livings fair
And die a vestal votaress there.
The impulse from the earth was given,
But bent her to the paths of heaven.
A purer heart, a lovelier maid,
Ne'er sheltered her in Whitby's shade,
No, not since Saxon Edelfled ;
Only one trace of earthly stain,

That for her lover's loss
She cherishes a sorrow vain,

And murmurs at the cross. —
And then her heritage : — it goes

Along the banks of Tame ;
Deep fields of grain the reaper mows,
In meadows rich the heifer lows,
The falconer and huntsman knows

Its woodlands for the game.
Shame were it to Saint Hilda dear,
And I, her humble votaress here,

Should do a deadly sin,
Her temple spoiled before mine eyes,
If this false Marmion such a prize

By my consent should win ;
Yet hath our boisterous monarch sworn
That Clare shall from our house be torn,
And grievous cause have I to fear
Such mandate doth Lord Marmion bear.

' Now, prisoner, helpless, and betrayed
To evil power, I claim thine aid,

By every step that thou hast trod
To holy shrine and grotto dim.
By every martyr's tortured limb,
By angel, saint, and seraphim.

And by the Church of God !
For mark : when Wilton was betrayed,
And with his squire forged letters laid,
She was, alas ! that sinful maid

By whom the deed was done, —
Oh ! shame and horror to be said !

She was — a perjured nun !
No clerk in all the land like her

Traced quaint and varying character.
Perchance you may a marvel deem,

That Marmion's paramour —
For such vile thing she was — should

Her lover's nuptial hour
But o'er him thus she hoped to gain,
As privy to his honor's stain,

Illimitable power.
For this she secretly retained

Each proof that might the plot reveal,

Instructions with his hand and seal ;
And thus Saint Hilda deigned,

Through sinners' perfidy impure,

Her house's glory to secure

And Clare's immortal weal.


' 'T were long and needless here to tell
How to my hand these papers fell ;

With me they must not stay.
Saint Hilda keep her abbess true !
Who knows what outrage he might do

While journeying by the way? —

blessed Saint, if e'er again

1 venturous leave thy calm domain,
To travel or by land or main,

Deep penance may I pay ! —
Now, saintly Palmer, mark my prayer :
I give this packet to thy care,
For thee to stop they will not dare ;

And oh ! with cautious speed
To Wolsey's hand the papers bring,
That he may show them to the king :

And for thy well-earned meed,
Thou holy man, at Whitby's shrine
A weekly mass shall still be thine

While priests can sing and read. —
What ail'st thou ? — Speak ! ' — For as he

The charge a strong emotion shook

His frame, and ere reply
They heard a faint yet shrilly tone,
) Like distant clarion feebly blown,

That on the breeze did die ;
And loud the abbess shrieked in fear,
' Saint Withold, save us ! — What is here !

Look at yon City Cross !
See on its battled tower appear
Phantoms, that scutcheons seem to rear

And blazoned banners toss ! ' —


Dun-Edin's Cross, a pillared stone,
Rose on a turret octagon ; —
But now is razed that monument,

Whence royal edict rang,
And voice of Scotland's law was sent

In glorious trumpet-clang.



Oh ! be his tomb as lead to lead
Upon its dull destroyer's head ! —
A minstrel's malison is said. —
Then on its battlements they saw
A vision, passing Nature's law,
Strange, wild, and dimly seen ;

Figures that seemed to rise and die,
Gibber and sign, advance and fly,
While nought confirmed could ear or eye

Discern of sound or mien.
Yet darkly did it seem as there
Heralds and pursuivants prepare,


With trumpet sound and blazon fair.

A summons to proclaim :
.But indistinct the pageant proud,
:cy forms of midnight cloud
When flings the moon upon her shroud

avering tinge of flame :

It flits, expands, and shifts, till loud,

From midmost of the spectre crowd,

This awful summons came : —


4 Prince, prelate, potentate, and peer,

Whose names I now shall call,
Scottish or foreigner, give ear !
Subjects of him who sent me here,
At his tribunal to appear

I summon one and all :
I cite you by each deadly sin
That e'er hath soiled your hearts within ;
I cite vou by each brutal lust
That e er denied your earthly dust, —

By wrath, by pride, by fear.
By each overmastering passion's tone,
By the dark grave and dying groan !
When forty days are passed and gone,
I cite you, at your monarch's throne

To answer and appear/ —
Then thundered forth a roll of names: —
The first was thine, unhappy Janu -

Then all thy nobles came*;
Crawford, Glencairn, Montrose, Argvle,
Ross. Both well. Forbes, Lennox, Lyle, —
Why should I tell their separate style ?

Each chief of birth and fame.
Of Lowland. Highland, Border, Isle,
Foredoomed to Flodden's carnage pile.

Was cited there by name ;
And Marmion, Lord of Fontenaye,
Of Lutterward. and Scrivelbave ;
De Wilton, erst of Aberley.
The self-same thundering Voice did say. —

But then another spoke :
■ Thy fatal summons I deny
And thine infernal lord defy.
, Appealing me to Him on high

Who burst the sinner's yoke. ?
hat dread accent, with a scream.
Parted the pageant like a dream.

The summoner was gone.
Prone on her face the abbess fell.
And fast, and fast, her beads did tell ;
Her nuns came, startled by the yell,

And found her there alone.
She marked not, at the scene aghast.
What time or how the Palmer passed.


Shift we the scene. — The camp doth move :
Dun-Edin's streets are empty now,

Save when, for weal of those they love

To pray the prayer and vow the vow.
The tottering child, the anxious fair.
The gray-haired sire, with pious care.
To chapels and to shrines repair. —
Where is the Palmer now ? and where
The abbess. Marmion, and Clare ? —
Bold Douglas ! to Tantallon fair

They journey in thy charge :
Lord Marmion rode on his right hand,
The Palmer still was with the band;
Angus, like Lindesay, did command

That none should roam at large.
But in that Palmers altered mien
A wondrous change might now be seen :

Freely he spoke of
Of marvels wrought by single hand
When lifted for a native land.
And still looked high, as if he planned

Some desperate deed afar.
His courser would he feed and stroke.
And, tucking up his sable frock.
Would first nis mettle bold provoke.

Then soothe or quell his pride.
Old Hubert said that never one
He saw, except Lord Marmion,

A steed so fairly ride.


Some half-hours march behind there came,
By Eustace governed fair,

A troop escorting Hilda's dame,
With all her nuns and Clare.

No audience had Lord Marmion sought ;
Ever he feared to aggravate
Clara de Qare ? s suspicious hate ;

And safer *t was, he thought,

To wait till, from the nuns removed,
The influence of kinsmen loved,
And suit by Henry's self approved,

Her slow consent had wrought.

His was no flickering flame, that dies
Unless when fanned by looks and sighs
And lighted oft at lady s
He longed to stretch his wide command
O'er luckless Clara's ample land :
Besides, when Wilton with him vied,
Although the pang of humbled pride
The place of jealousy supplied;
Yet conquest by that meanness won
He almost loathed to think upon,
Led him, at times, to hate the cause
Which made him burst through honor's

If e'er he loved, T t was her alone
Who died within that vault of stone.


And now, when close at hand they saw
North Berwick's town and lofty Law,



Fitz-Eustace bade them pause awhile
Before a venerable pile

Whose turrets viewed afar
The lofty Bass, the Lambie Isle,

The ocean's peace or war.
At tolling of a bell, forth came
The convent's venerable dame,
And prayed Saint Hilda's abbess rest
With her, a loved and honored guest,
Till Douglas should a bark prepare
To waft her back to Whitby fair.
Glad was the abbess, you may guess,
And thanked the Scottish prioress ;
And tedious were to tell, I ween,
The courteous speech that passed be-

O'erjoyed the nuns their palfreys leave;
But when fair Clara did intend,
Like them, from horseback to descend,

Fitz-Eustace said : ' I grieve,
Fair lady, grieve e'en from my heart,
Such gentle company to part : —

Think not discourtesy,
But lords' commands must be obeyed,
And Marmion and the Douglas said

That you must wend with me.
Lord Marmion hath a letter broad,
Which to the Scottish earl he showed,
Commanding that beneath his care
Without delay you shall repair
To your good kinsman, Lord Fitz-Clare.'


The startled abbess loud exclaimed ;
But she at whom the blow was aimed
Grew pale as death and cold as lead, —
She deemed she heard her death-doom read.
4 Cheer thee, my child ! ' the abbess said,
' They dare not tear thee from my hand,
To ride alone with armed band.' —

' Nay, holy mother, nay,'
Fitz-Eustace said, ' the lovely Clare
Will be in Lady Angus' care,

In Scotland while we stay ;
And when we move an easy ride
Will bring us to the English side,
Female attendance to provide

Befitting Gloster's heir ;
Nor thinks nor dreams my noble lord,
By slightest look, or act, or word,

To harass Lady Clare.
Her faithful guardian he will be,
Nor sue for slightest courtesy

That e'en to stranger falls,
Till he shall place her safe and free

Within her kinsman's halls.'
He spoke, and blushed with earnest grace ;
His faith was painted on his face,

And Clare's worst fear relieved.
The Lady Abbess loud exclaimed
On Henry, and the Douglas blamed,

Entreated, threatened, grieved,

Online LibraryWalter ScottThe poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet → online text (page 13 of 78)