Walter Scott.

The poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet online

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And, as firm rock or castle-roof

Against the winter shower is proof,

The foe, invulnerable still,

Foiled his wild rage by steady skill :

Till, at advantage ta'en, his brand i

Forced Roderick's weapon from his hand,

And backward borne upon the lea,

Brought the proud Chieftain to his knee.


1 Now yield thee, or by Him who made
The world, thy heart's 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 who guards her young,
Full at Fitz-James's throat he sprung;
Received, but recked not of a wound,



And locked his arms his foeman round. —
Now, gallant Saxon, hold thine own !
No maiden's hand is round thee thrown !
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 compressed,
His knee was planted on his breast;
His clotted locks he backward threw,
Across his brow his hand he drew,
From blood and mist to clear his sight,
Then gleamed 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 gleamed on high,
Reeled soul and sense, reeled brain and

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.

He faltered thanks to Heaven for life,
Redeemed, unhoped, from desperate strife
Next on his foe his look he cast,
Whose every gasp appeared his last ;
In Roderick's gore he dipped the braid, —

1 Poor Blanche ! thy wrongs are dearly paid ;
Yet with thy foe must die, or live,
The praise that faith and valor give.'
With that he blew a bugle note,
Undid the collar from his throat,
Unbonneted, and by the wave
Sat down his brow and hands to lave.
Then faint afar are heard the feet
Of rushing steeds in gallop fleet ;
The sounds increase, and now are seen
Four mounted squires in Lincoln green ;
Two who bear lance, and two who lead
By loosened rein a saddled steed ;
Each onward held his headlong course,
And by Fitz-James reined up his horse, —
With wonder viewed the bloody spot, —
' Exclaim not, gallants ! question not. —
You, Herbert and Luffness, alight,
And bind the wounds of yonder knight ;
Let the gray palfrey bear his weight,
We destined for a fairer freight,
And bring him on to Stirling straight ;
I will before at better speed,
To seek fresh horse and fitting weed.
The sun rides high : — I must be boune
To see the archer-game at noon :
But lightly Bayard clears the lea. —
De Vaux and Herries, follow me.


' Stand, Bayard, stand ! ' — the steed obeyed,
With arching neck and bended head,
And glancing eye and quivering ear,
As if he loved his lord to hear.



No foot Fitz-James in stirrup stayed,
No grasp upon the saddle laid,
But wreathed his left hand in the mane.
And lightly bounded from the plain,
Turned on the horse his armed heel,
And stirred his courage with the steel.
Bounded the fiery steed in air,

And on the opposing shore take ground,
With plash, with scramble, and with bound.
Right-hand they leave thy cliffs, Craig-

Forth !
And soon the bulwark of the North,
Gray Stirling, with her towers and town,
Upon their fleet career looked down.

The rider sat erect and fair,
Then like a bolt from steel crossbow
Forth launched, along the plain they go.
They dashed that rapid torrent through,
And up Carhonie's hill they flew;
Still at the gallop pricked the Knight,
His merrymen followed as they might.
Along thy banks, swift Teith, they ride,
And in the race they mock thy tide ;
Torry and Lendrick now are past,
And Deanstown lies behind them cast ;


As up the flinty path they strained,
Sudden his steed the leader reined;
A signal to his squire he flung,
Who instant to his stirrup sprung : —
' Seest thou, De Vaux, yon woodsman gray,
Who townward holds the rocky way,
Of stature tall and poor array ?
Mark'st thou the firm, yet active stride,
With which he scales the mountain-side ?

They rise, the bannered towers of Doune,
They sink in distant woodland soon ;
Blair-Drummond sees the hoofs strike fire,
They sweep like breeze through Ochtertyre ;
They mark just glance and disappear
The lofty brow of ancient Kier ;
They bathe their coursers' sweltering sides,
Dark Forth ! amid thy sluggish tides,

Know'st thou from whence he comes, or

whom ? '
1 No, by my word ; — a burly groom
He seems, who in the field or chase
A baron's train would nobly grace — '
' Out, out, De Vaux ! can fear supply,
And jealousy, no sharper eye ?
Afar, ere to the hill he drew,



That stately form and step I knew ;
Like form in Scotland is not seen,
Treads not such step on Scottish green.
'T is James of Douglas, by Saint Serle !
The uncle of the banished Earl.
Away, away, to court, to sliow
The near approach of dreaded foe :
The King must stand upon his guard ;
Douglas and he must meet prepared.'
Then right-hand wheeled their steeds, and

They won the Castle's postern gate.


The Douglas who had bent his way
From Cambus-kenneth's abbey gray,
Now, as he climbed the rocky shelf,
Held sad communion with himself : —
' Yes ! all is true my fears could frame ;
A prisoner lies the noble Graeme,
And fiery Roderick soon will feel
The vengeance of the royal steel.
I, only I, can ward their fate, —
God grant the ransom come not late !
The Abbess hath her promise given,
My child shall be the bride of Heaven ;
Be pardoned one repining tear !
For He who gave her knows how dear,
How excellent ! — but that is by,
And now my business is — to die. —
Ye towers ! within whose circuit dread
A Douglas by his sovereign bled ;
And thou, O sad and fatal mound !

That oft hast heard the death-axe sound,

As on the noblest of the land

Fell the stern headsman's bloody hand, —

The dungeon, block, and nameless tomb

Prepare — for Douglas seeks his doom !

But hark ! what blithe and jolly peal

Makes the Franciscan steeple reel?

And see ! upon the crowded street,

In motley groups what masquers meet !

Banner and pageant* pipe and drum,

And merry morrice-dancers come.

I guess, by all this quaint array,

The burghers hold their sports to-day.

James will be there ; he loves such show,

Where the good yeoman bends his bow,

And the tough wrestler foils his foe,

As well as where, in proud career,

The high-born tilter shivers spear.

I '11 follow to the Castle-park,

And play my prize ; — King James shall

If age has tamed these sinews stark,
Whose force so oft in happier days
His boyish wonder loved to praise.'


The Castle gates were open flung,

The quivering drawbridge rocked and rung,

And echoed loud the flinty street

Beneath the courser's clattering feet,

As slowly down the steep descent

Fair Scotland's King and nobles went,

While all along the crowded way



Was jubilee and loud huzza.

And ever James was bending low

To his white jennet's saddle-bow,

Doffing his cap to city dame,

Who smiled and blushed for pride and

And well the simperer might be vain, —
He chose the fairest of the train.
Gravely he greets each city sire,
Commends each pageant's quaint attire,
Gives to the dancers thanks aloud,
And smiles and nods upon the crowd,
Who rend the heavens with their acclaims, —
'Longlivethe Commons' King, King James!'


Now, in the Castle-park, drew out
Their checkered bands the joyous rout.
There morricers, with bell at heel
And blade in hand, their mazes wheel ;
But chief, beside the butts, there stand
Bold Robin Hood and all his band, —
Friar Tuck with quarterstaff and cowl,
Old Scathelocke with his surly scowl,
Maid Marian, fair as ivory bone,
Scarlet, and Mutch, and Little John ;
Their bugles challenge all that will.
In archery to prove their skill.
The Douglas bent a bow of might, —

Behind the King thronged peer and knight,
And noble dame and damsel bright,
Whose fiery steeds ill brooked the stay
Of the steep street and crowded way.
But in the train you might discern
Dark lowering brow and visage stern ;
There nobles mourned their pride restrained,
And the mean burgher's joys disdained ;
And chiefs, who, hostage for their clan,
Were each from home a banished man,
There thought upon their own gray tower,
Their waving woods, their feudal power,
And deemed themselves a shameful part
Of pageant which they cursed in heart.

His first shaft centred in the white, •

And when in turn he shot again,

His second split the first in twain.

From the King's hand must Douglas take

A silver dart, the archer's stake ;

Fondly he watched, with watery eye,

Some answering glance of sympathy, —

No kind emotion made reply !

Indifferent as to archer wight,

The monarch gave the arrow bright.


Now, clear the ring ! for, hand to hand,
The manly wrestlers take their stand.



Two o'er the rest superior rose,
And proud demanded mightier foes, —
Nor called in vain, for Douglas came. —
For life is Hugh of Larbert lame ;
Scarce better John of Alloa's fare.
Whom senseless home his comrades bare.
Prize of the wrestling match, the King
To Douglas gave a golden ring,
While coldly glanced his eye of blue,
As frozen drop of wintry dew.
Douglas would speak, but in his breast
His struggling soul his words suppressed ;
Indignant then he turned him where
Their arms the brawny yeomen bare,
To hurl the massive bar in air.
When each his utmost strength had shown,
The Douglas rent an earth-fast stone
From its deep bed, then heaved it high,
.And sent the fragment through the sky
A rood beyond the farthest mark ;
And still in Stirling's royal park,
The gray-haired sires, who know the past,
To strangers point the Douglas cast,
And moralize on the decay
Of Scottish strength in modern day.


The vale with loud applauses rang,
The Ladies' Rock sent back the clang.
The King, with look unmoved, bestowed
A purse well filled with pieces broad.
Indignant smiled the Douglas proud,
And threw the gold among the crowd,
Who now with anxious wonder scan,
And sharper glance, the dark gray man ;
Till whispers rose among the throng,

That heart so free, and hand so strong,
Must to the Douglas blood belong.
The old men marked and shook the head,
To see his hair with silver spread,
And winked aside, and told each son
Of feats upon the English done,
Ere Douglas of the stalwart hand
Was exiled from his native land.
The women praised his stately form,
Though wrecked by many a winter's storm
The youth with awe and wonder saw
His strength surpassing Nature's law.
Thus judged, as is their wont, the crowd,
Till murmurs rose to clamors loud.
But not a glance from that proud ring
Of peers who circled round the King
With. Douglas held communion kind,
Or called the banished man to mind ;
No, not from those who at the chase
Once held his side the honored place,
Begirt his board, and in the field
Found safety underneath his shield ;
For he whom royal eyes disown,
When was his form to courtiers known !

The Monarch saw the gambols flag,
And bade let loose a gallant stag,
Whose pride, the holiday to crown,
Two favorite greyhounds should pull down,
That venison free and Bourdeaux wine
Might serve the archery to dine.
But Lufra, — whom from Douglas' side
Nor bribe nor threat could e'er divide,
The fleetest hound in all the North, —
Brave Lufra saw, and darted forth.



She left the royal hounds midway,
And dashing on the antlered prey,
Sunk her sharp muzzle in his flank,
And deep the flowing life-blood drank.
The king's stout huntsman saw the sport
By strange intruder broken short,
Came up, and with his leash unbound
In anger struck the noble hound.
The Douglas had endured, that morn,
The King's cold look, the nobles' scorn,
And last, and worst to spirit proud,
Had borne the pity of the crowd ;
But Lufra had been fondly bred,
To share his board, to watch his bed,
And oft would Ellen Lufra's neck
In maiden glee with garlands deck ;
They were such playmates that with name
Of Lufra Ellen's image came.
His stifled wrath is brimming high,
In darkened brow and flashing eye ;
As waves before the bark divide,
The crowd gave way before his stride :
Needs but a buffet and no more,
The groom lies senseless in his gore.
Such blow no other hand could deal,
Though gauntleted in glove of steel.

Then clamored loud the royal train,
And brandished swords and staves amain,
But stern the Baron's warning : ' Back !
Back, on your lives, ye menial pack !
Beware the Douglas. — Yes ! behold,
King James ! The Douglas, doomed of

And vainly sought for near and far,
A victim to atone the war,
A willing victim, now attends,
Nor craves thy grace but for his friends. — '
4 Thus is my clemency repaid ?
Presumptuous Lord ! ' the Monarch said :
* Of thy misproud ambitious clan,
Thou, James of Bothwell, wert the man,
The only man, in whom a foe
My woman-mercy would not know ;
But shall a Monarch's presence brook
Injurious blow and haughty look ? —
What ho ! the Captain of our Guard !
Give the offender fitting ward. —
Break off the sports ! ' — for tumult rose,
And yeomen 'gan to bend their bows, —
1 Break off the sports ! ' he said and frowned,
' And bid our horsemen clear the ground.'


Then uproar wild and misarray
Marred the fair form of festal day.
The horsemen pricked among the crowd,
Repelled by threats and insult loud ;
To earth are borne the old and weak,

The timorous fly, the women shriek ;

With flint, with shaft, with staff, with bar,

The hardier urge tumultuous war.

At once round Douglas darkly sweep

The royal spears in circle deep,

And slowly scale the pathway steep,

While on the rear in thunder pour

The rabble with disordered roar.

With grief the noble Douglas saw

The Commons rise against the law,

And to the leading soldier said :

' Sir John of Hyndford, 't was my blade,

That knighthood on thy shoulder laid ;

For that good deed permit me then

A word with these misguided men. —


' Hear, gentle friends, ere yet for me

Ye break the bands of fealty.

My life, my honor, and my cause,

I tender free to Scotland's laws.

Are these so weak as must require

The aid of your misguided ire ?

Or if I suffer causeless wrong,

Is then my selfish rage so strong,

My sense of public weal so low,

That, for mean vengeance on a foe,

Those cords of love I should unbind

Which knit my country and my kind ?

O no ! Believe, in yonder tower

It will not soothe my captive hour,

To know those spears our foes should dread

For me in kindred gore are red :

To know, in fruitless brawl begun,

For me that mother wails her son,

For me that widow's mate expires,

For me that orphans weep their sires,

That patriots mourn insulted laws,

And curse the Douglas for the cause.

O let your patience ward such ill,

And keep your right to love me still ! '


The crowd's wild fury sunk again

In tears, as tempests melt in rain.

With lifted hands and eyes, they prayed

For blessings on his generous head

Who for his country felt alone,

And prized her blood beyond his own.

Old men upon the verge of life

Blessed him who stayed the civil strife ;

And mothers held their babes on high,

The self-devoted Chief to spy,

Triumphant over wrongs and ire,

To whom the prattlers owed a sire.

Even the rough soldier's heart was moved:

As if behind some bier beloved,

With trailing arms and drooping head,

The Douglas up the hill h*e led,

And at the Castle's battled verge,

With sighs resigned his honored charge.




The offended Monarch rode apart,
With bitter thought and swelling heart,
And would not now vouchsafe again
Through Stirling streets to lead his train.
1 O Lennox, who would wish to rule
This changeling crowd, this common fool ?
Hear'st thou,' he said, ' the loud acclaim
With which they shout the Douglas name?
With like acclaim the vulgar throat
Strained for King James their morning note ;

I guess his cognizance afar —

What from our cousin, John of Mar?'

' He prays, my liege, your sports keep bound

Within the safe and guarded ground ;

For some foul purpose yet unknown, —

Most sure for evil to the throne, —

The outlawed Chieftain, Roderick Dhu,

Has summoned his rebellious crew;

'T is said, in James of Bothwell's aid

These loose banditti stand arrayed.

The Earl of Mar this morn from Doune

With like acclaim they hailed the day
When first I broke the Douglas sway ;
And like acclaim would Douglas greet
If he could hurl me from my seat.
Who o'er the herd would wish to reign,
Fantastic, fickle, fierce, and vain ?
Vain as the leaf upon the stream,
And fickle as a changeful dream ;
Fantastic as a woman's mood,
And fierce as Frenzy's fevered blood.
Thou many-headed monster-thing,
O who would wish to be thy king ? —


4 But soft ! what messenger of speed
Spurs hitherward his panting steed ?

To break their muster marched, and soon
Your Grace will hear of battle fought ;
But earnestly the Earl besought,
Till for such danger he provide,
With scanty train you will not ride.'


1 Thou warn'st me I have done amiss, —
I should have earlier looked to this ;
I lost it in this bustling day. —
Retrace with speed thy former way ;
Spare not for spoiling of thy steed,
The best of mine shall be thy meed.
Say to our faithful Lord of Mar,
We do forbid the intended war ;
Roderick this morn in single fight



Was made our prisoner by a knight,
And Douglas hath himself and cause
Submitted to our kingdom's laws.
The tidings of their leaders lost
Will soon dissolve the mountain host,
Nor would we that the vulgar feel,
For their Chief's crimes, avenging steel.
Bear Mar our message, Braco, fly ! '
He turned his steed, — ' My liege, I hie.
Yet ere I cross this lily lawn
I fear the broadswords will be drawn.'
The turf the flying courser spurned,
And to his towers the King returned.


Ill with King James's mood that day
Suited gay feast and minstrel lay ;
Soon were dismissed the courtly throng,
And soon cut short the festal song.

Nor less upon the saddened town

The evening sunk in sorrow down.

The burghers spoke of civil jar,

Of rumored feuds and mountain war,

Of Moray, Mar, and Roderick Dhu,

All up in arms ; — the Douglas too,

They mourned him pent within the hold.

'Where stout Earl William was of old.' —

And there his word the speaker stayed,

And finger on his lip he laid,

Or pointed to his dagger blade.

But jaded horsemen from the west

At evening to the Castle pressed,

And busy talkers said they bore

Tidings of fight on Katrine's shore ;

At noon the deadly fray begun,

And lasted till the set of sun.

Thus giddy rumor shook the town,

Till closed the Night her pennons brown.



f- ' _

4 fl



',** ^§ *W \ "*^5?* ' ^ -^A '^' ^ = W/



1 7 I •■ 1


2Efte ILaog of tjje ILafce.


The sun, awakening, through the smoky air

Of the dark city casts a sullen glance,
Rousing each caitiff to his task of care,

Of sinful man the sad inheritance ;
Summoning revellers from the lagging
Scaring the prowling robber to his den ;
Gilding on battled tower the warder's lance,
And warning student pale to leave his
And yield his drowsy eyes to the kind nurse
of men.

What various scenes, and O, what scenes
of woe,
Are witnessed by that red and struggling
beam !
The fevered patient, from his pallet low,
Through crowded hospital beholds it
stream ;
The ruined maiden trembles at its gleam,
The debtor wakes to thought of gyve and

The love-lorn wretch starts from torment-
ing dream ;
The wakeful mother, by the glimmering

Trims her sick infant's couch, and soothes
his feeble wail.


At dawn the towers of Stirling rang
With soldier-step and weapon-clang,
While drums with rolling note foretell
Relief to weary sentinel.
Through narrow loop and casement barred,
The sunbeams sought the Court of Guard,
And, struggling with the smoky air,
Deadened the torches' yellow glare.
In comfortless alliance shone
The lights through arch of blackened stone,
And showed wild shapes in garb of war,
Faces deformed with beard and scar,
All haggard from the midnight watch,
And fevered with the stern debauch ;
For the oak table's massive board,
Flooded with wine, with fragments stored,
And beakers drained, and cups o'erthrown,
Showed in what sport the night had flown.
Some, weary, snored on floor and bench ;
Some labored still their thirst to quench ;
Some, chilled with watching, spread their

O'er the huge chimney's dying brands.



While round them, or beside them flung.
At every step their harness rung.


These drew not for their fields the sword.
Like tenants of a feudal lord,
Nor owned the patriarchal claim
Of Chieftain in their leader's name ;
Adventurers they, from far who roved,

They held debate of bloody fray,
Fought 'twixt Loch Katrine and Achray.
Fierce was their speech, and mid their words
Their hands oft grappled to their swords :
Nor sunk their tone to spare the ear
Of wounded comrades groaning near,
Whose mangled limbs and bodies gored
Bore token of the mountain sword,

To live by battle which they loved.
There the Italian's clouded face,
The swarthy Spaniard's there you trace :
The mountain-loving Switzer there
More freely breathed in mountain-air ;
The Fleming there despised the soil
That paid so ill the laborer's toil ;
Their rolls showed French and German

name ;
And merry England's exiles came,
To share, with ill-concealed disdain.
Of Scotland's pay the scanty gain.
All brave in arms, well trained to wield
The heavy halberd, brand, and shield :
In camps licentious, wild, and bold;
In pillage fierce and uncontrolled;
And now, by holytide and feast,
From rules of discipline released.

Though, neighboring to the Court of Guard,
Their prayers and feverish wails were

heard, —
Sad burden to the ruffian joke,
And savage oath by fury spoke ! —
At length up started John of Brent,
A yeoman from the banks of Trent ;
A stranger to respect or fear,
In peace a chaser of the deer,
In host a hardy mutineer,
But still the boldest of the crew
When deed of danger was to do.
He grieved that day their games cut short,
And marred the dicer's brawling sport,
And shouted loud, ' Renew the bowl !
And, while a merry catch I troll,
Let each the buxom chorus bear,
Like brethren of the brand and spear.'



Pointer's Song.

Our vicar still preaches that Peter and

Laid a swinging long curse on the bonny

brown bowl,
That there 's wrath and despair in the

jolly black-jack,
And the seven deadly sins in a flagon of

sack ;
Yet whoop, Barnaby ! off with thy liquor,
Drink upsees out, and a fig for the vicar !

Our vicar he calls it damnation to sip
The ripe ruddy dew of a woman's dear lip,
Says that Beelzebub lurks in her kerchief

so sly,
And Apollyon shoots darts from her merry

black eye ;
Yet whoop, Jack ! kiss Gillian the quicker,
Till she bloom like a rose, and a fig for the

Our vicar thus preaches, — and why should

he not ?
For the dues of his cure are the placket

and pot :

And 't is right of his office poor laymen to

Who infringe the domains of our good

Mother Church.
Yet whoop, bully-boys ! off with your liquor,
Sweet Marjorie 's the word, and a fig for

the vicar !


The warder's challenge, heard without,
Stayed in mid-roar the merry shout.
A soldier to the portal went, —
' Here is old Bertram, sirs, of Ghent j
And — beat for jubilee the drum ! —
A maid and minstrel with him come.'
Bertram, a Fleming, gray and scarred,
Was entering now the Court of Guard,
A harper with him, and, in plaid
All muffled close, a mountain maid,
Who backward shrunk to 'scape the view
Of the loose scene and boisterous crew.

Online LibraryWalter ScottThe poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet → online text (page 22 of 78)