Walter Scott.

The poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet online

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' What news ? ' they roared : — 'I only know,
From noon till eve we fought with foe,
As wild and as untamable
As the rude mountains where they dwell :
On both sides store of blood is lost,
Nor much success can either boast.' —
' But whence thy captives, friend ? such



As theirs must needs reward thy toil.
Old dost thou wax, and wars grow sharp ;
Thou now hast glee-maiden and harp !
Get thee an ape, and trudge the land,
The leader of a juggler band.'


' No, comrade ; — no such fortune mine.

After the fight these sought our line,

That aged harper and the girl,

And, having audience of the Earl,

Mar bade I should purvey them steed,

And bring them hitherward with speed.

Forbear your mirth and rude alarm,

For none shall do them shame or harm. —

' Hear ye his boast ? ' cried John of Brent,

Ever to strife and jangling bent ;

' Shall he strike doe beside our lodge,

And yet the jealous niggard grudge

To pay the forester his fee ?

I '11 have my share howe'er it be,

Despite of Moray, Mar, or thee.'

Bertram his forward step withstood ;

And, burning in his vengeful mood,

Old Allan, though unfit for strife,

Laid hand upon his dagger-knife ;

But Ellen boldly stepped between,

And dropped at once the tartan screen : —

So, from his morning cloud, appears

The sun of May through summer tears.

The savage soldiery, amazed,

As on descended angel gazed ;

Even hardy Brent, abashed and tamed,

Stood half admiring, half ashamed.


Boldly she spoke : ' Soldiers, attend !
My father was the soldier's friend,
Cheered him in camps, in marches led,
And with him in the battle bled.
Not from the valiant or the strong
Should exile's daughter suffer wrong.'
Answered De Brent, most forward still
In every feat or good or ill :
1 I shame me of the part I played ;
And thou an outlaw's child, poor maid !
An outlaw I by forest laws,
And merry Needwood knows the cause.
Poor Rose, — if Rose be living now,' —
He wiped his iron eye and brow, —
' Must bear such age, I think, as thou. —
Hear ye, my mates ! I go to call
The Captain of our watch to hall :
There lies my halberd on the floor;
And he that steps my halberd o'er,
To do the maid injurious part,
My shaft shall quiver in his heart!
Beware loose speech, or jesting rough ;
Ye all know John de Brent. Enough.'

Their Captain came, a gallant young, —

Of Tullibardine's house he sprung, —

Nor wore he yet the spurs of knight ;

Gay was his mien, his humor light,

And, though by courtesy controlled,

Forward his speech, his bearing bold.

The high-born maiden ill could brook

The scanning of his curious look

And dauntless eye : — and yet, in sooth,

Young Lewis was a generous youth ;

But Ellen's lovely face and mien,

111 suited to the garb and scene,

Might lightly bear construction strange,

And give loose fancy scope to range.

' Welcome to Stirling towers, fair maid !

Come ye to seek a champion's aid,

On palfrey white, with harper hoar,

Like errant damosel of yore ?

Does thy high quest a knight require,

Or may the venture suit a squire ? '

Her dark eye flashed ; — she paused and

sighed : —
' O what have I to do with pride ! —
Through scenes of sorrow, shame, and strife,
A suppliant for 'a father's life,
I crave an audience of the King.
Behold, to back my suit, a ring,
The royal pledge of grateful claims,
Given by the Monarch to Fitz-James.'

The signet-ring young Lewis took

With deep respect and altered look,

And said : ' This ring our duties own ;

And pardon, if to worth unknown,

In semblance mean obscurely veiled,

Lady, in aught my folly failed.

Soon as the day flings wide his gates,

The King shall know what suitor waits.

Please you meanwhile in fitting bower

Repose you till his waking hour ;

Female attendance shall obey

Your hest, for service or array.

Permit I marshal you the way.'

But, ere she followed, with the grace

And open bounty of her race,

She bade her slender purse be shared

Among the soldiers of the guard.

The rest with thanks their guerdon took,

But Brent, with shy and awkward look,

On the reluctant maiden's hold

Forced bluntly back the proffered gold :

' Forgive a haughty English heart,

And O, forget its ruder part !

The vacant purse shall be my share,

Which in my barret-cap I '11 bear,

Perchance, in jeopardy of war,

Where gayer crests may keep afar.'



With thanks — 't was all she could — the

His rugged courtesy repaid.


When Ellen forth with Lewis went,
Allan made suit to John of Brent : —
4 My lady safe, let your grace
Give me to see my master's face !
His minstrel I, — to share his doom
Bound from the cradle to the tomb.
Tenth in descent, since first my sires
Waked for his noble house their lyres,
Nor one of all the race was known
But prized its weal above their own.
With the Chief's birth begins our care ;
Our harp must soothe the infant heir,
Teach the youth tales of fight, and grace
His earliest feat of field or chase ;
In peace, in war, our rank we keep,
We cheer his board, we soothe his sleep,
Nor leave him till we pour our verse —
A doleful tribute ! — o'er his hearse.
Then let me share his captive lot ;
It is my right, — deny it not ! '

' Little we reck,' said John of Brent,
1 We Southern men, of long descent ;
Nor wot we how a name — a word —
Makes clansmen vassals to a lord :
Yet kind my noble landlord's part, —
God bless the house of Beaudesert !
And, but I loved to drive the deer
More than to guide the laboring steer,
I had not dwelt an outcast here.
Come, good old Minstrel, follow me ;
Thy Lord and Chieftain shalt thou see.'


Then, from a rusted iron hook,
A bunch of ponderous keys he took,
Lighted a torch, and Allan led
Through grated arch and passage dread.
Portals they passed, where, deep within,
Spoke prisoner's moan and fetters' din ;
Through rugged vaults, where, loosely

Lay wheel, and axe, and headsman's sword,
And many a hideous engine grim,
For wrenching joint and crushing limb,



By artists formed who deemed it shame
And sin to give their work a name.
They halted at a low-browed porch,
And Brent to Allan gave the torch,

While bolt and chain he backward rolled,
And made the bar unhasp its hold.
They entered : — 't was a prison-room
Of stern security and gloom,
Yet not a dungeon ; for the day
Through lofty gratings found its way,
And rude and antique garniture
Decked the sad walls and oaken floor,
Such as the rugged days of old
Deemed fit for captive noble's hold.
' Here,' said De Brent, ' thou mayst remain
Till the Leech visit him again.
Strict is his charge, the warders tell,
To tend the noble prisoner well.'
Retiring then the bolt he drew,
And the lock's murmurs growled anew.
Roused at the sound, from lowly bed
A captive feebly raised his head ;
The wondering Minstrel looked, and knew —
Not his dear lord, but Roderick Dhu !
For, come from where Clan-Alpine fought,
They, erring, deemed the Chief he sought.


As the tall ship, whose lofty prore

Shall never stem the billows more,

Deserted by her gallant band,

Amid the breakers lies astrand, —

So on his couch lay Roderick Dhu !

And oft his fevered limbs he threw

In toss abrupt, as when her sides

Lie rocking in the advancing tides,

That shake her frame with ceaseless beat,

Yet cannot heave her from her seat ; —
O, how unlike her course at sea !
Or his free step on hill and lea ! —
Soon as the Minstrel he could scan, —
' What of thy lady ? — of my clan ? —
My mother ? — Douglas ? — tell me all !
Have they been ruined in my fall?
Ah, yes ! or wherefore art thou here ?
Yet speak, — speak boldly, — do not fear.'
For Allan, who his mood well knew,
Was choked with grief and terror too.
• Who fought ? — who fled ? — Old man, be

brief ; —
Some might, — for they had lost their Chief.
Who basely live ? — who bravely died ? '
1 O, calm thee, Chief ! ' the Minstrel cried,
' Ellen is safe ! ' ' For that thank Heaven ! '
' And hopes are for the Douglas given ; —
The Lady Margaret, too, is well ;
And, for thy clan, — on field or fell,
Has never harp of minstrel told
Of combat fought so true and bold.
Thy stately Pine is yet unbent,
Though many a goodly bough is rent.'

The Chieftain reared his form on high,
And fever's fire was in his eye ;
But ghastly, pale, and livid streaks
Checkered his swarthy brow and cheeks.
' Hark, Minstrel ! I have heard thee play,
With measure bold on festal day,
In yon lone isle, — again where ne'er
Shall harper play or warrior hear ! —
That stirring air that peals on high,
O'er Dermid's race our victory. —
Strike it ! — and then, — for well thou

canst, —
Free from thy minstrel-spirit glanced,
Fling me the picture of the fight,
When met my clan the Saxon might.
I '11 listen, till my fancy hears
The clang of swords, the crash of spears !
These grates, these walls, shall vanish

For the fair field of fighting men,
And my free spirit burst away,
As if it soared from battle fray.'
The trembling Bard with awe obeyed, —
Slow on the harp his hand he laid ;
But soon remembrance of the sight
He witnessed from the mountain's height,
With what old Bertram told at night,
Awakened the full power of song,
And bore him in career along ; —
As shallop launched on river's tide,
That slow and fearful leaves the side,
But, when it feels the middle stream,
Drives downward swift as lightning's beam.




battle of 38caP an Qume.

' The Minstrel came once more to view
The eastern ridge of Benvenue,
For ere he parted he would say
Farewell to lovely Loch Achray —
Where shall he find; in foreign land,
So lone a lake, so sweet a strand ! —
There is no breeze upon the fern,

No ripple on the lake,
Upon her eyry nods the erne,

The deer has sought the brake;
The small birds will not sing aloud,

The springing trout lies still,
So darkly glooms yon thunder-cloud.
That swathes, as with a purple shroud,

Benledi's distant hill.
Is it the thunder's solemn sound
That mutters deep and dread,
Or echoes from the groaning ground

The warrior's measured tread ?
Is it the lightning's quivering glance

That on the thicket streams,
Or do they flash on spear and lance
The sun's retiring beams ? —
I see the dagger-crest of Mar,
I see the Moray's silver star,
Wave o'er the cloud of Saxon war,
That up the lake comes winding far !
To hero boune for battle-strife,
Or bard of martial lay,

'T were worth ten years of peaceful life,
One glance at their array !


1 Their light-armed archers far and near

Surveyed the tangled ground,
Their centre ranks, with pike and spear,

A twilight forest frowned,
Their barded horsemen in the rear
The stern battalia crowned.
1 No cymbal clashed, no clarion rang,
Still were the pipe and drum ;
Save heavy tread, and armor's clang,

The sullen march was dumb.
There breathed no wind their crests to
Or wave their flags abroad ;
Scarce the frail aspen seemed to quake,

That shadowed o'er their road.
Their vaward scouts no tidings bring,

Can rouse no lurking foe,
Nor spy a trace of living thing,

Save when they stirred the roe ;
The host moves like a deep-sea wave,
Where rise no rocks its pride to brave,
High-swelling, dark, and slow.
The lake is passed, and now they gain
A narrow and a broken plain,
Before the Trosachs' rugged jaws ;
And here the horse and spearmen pause,
While, to explore the dangerous glen,
Dive through the pass the archer-men.




1 At once there rose so wild a yell
Within that dark and narrow dell,
As all the fiends from heaven that fell
Had pealed the banner-cry of hell !

Forth from the pass in tumult driven,
. Like chaff before the wind of heaven,
The archery appear :
For life ! for life ! their flight they ply
And shriek, and shout, and battle-cry,
And plaids and bonnets waving high,
And broadswords flashing to the sky.

Are maddening in the rear.
Onward they drive in dreadful race,
Pursuers and pursued ;

* Bearing before them in their course
The relics of the archer force,
Like wave with crest of sparkling foam,
Right onward did Clan-Alpine come.
Above the tide, each broadsword bright
Was brandishing like beam of light.

Each targe was dark below :
And with the ocean's mighty swing,
When heaving to the tempest's wing,
They hurled them on the foe.
I heard the lance's shivering crash,
As when the whirlwind rends the ash ;
I heard the broadsword's deadly clang,
As if a hundred anvils rang !

Before that tide of flight and chase,
How shall it keep its rooted place.

The spearmen's twilight wood? —
" Down, down," cried Mar, " your lances
down !

Bear back both friend and foe ! " —
Like reeds before the tempests frown,
That serried grove of lances brown

At once lay levelled low ;
And closely shouldering side to side,
The bristling ranks the onset bide. —
" We '11 quell the savage mountaineer,

As their Tinchel cows the game !
They come as fleet as forest deer,

We '11 drive them back as tame."

But Moray wheeled his rearward rank
Of horsemen on Clan-Alpine's flank, —

" My banner-men, advance J
I see," he cried, " their column shake.
Now, gallants ! for your ladies' sake,

Upon them with the lance ! " —
The horsemen dashed among the rout,

As deer break through the broom;
Their steeds are stout, their swords are

They soon make lightsome room.
Clan- Alpine's best are backward borne —

Where, where was Roderick then !
One blast upon his bugle-horn

Were worth a thousand men.



And refluent through the pass of fear

The battle's tide was poured ;
Vanished the Saxon's struggling spear,

Vanished the mountain-sword.
As Bracklinn's chasm, so black and steep,

Receives her roaring linn,
As the dark caverns of the deep
Suck the wild whirlpool in,
So did the deep and darksome pass
Devour the battle's mingled mass ;
None linger now upon the plain,
Save those who ne'er shall fight again.


4 Now westward rolls the battle's din,
That deep and doubling pass within. —
Minstrel, away ! the work of fate
Is bearing on ; its issue wait,
Where the rude Trosachs' dread defile
Opens on Katrine's lake and isle.
Gray Benvenue I soon repassed,
Loch Katrine lay beneath me cast.
The sun is set ; — the clouds are met,
The lowering scowl of heaven


To the deep lake has given ;
Strange gusts of wind from mountain glen
Swept o'er the lake, then sunk again.
I heeded not the eddying surge,
Mine eye but saw the Trosachs' gorge,
Mine ear but heard that sullen sound,
Which like an earthquake shook the ground,
And spoke the stern and desperate strife
That parts not but with parting life,
Seeming, to minstrel ear, to toll
The dirge of many a passing soul.
Nearer it comes — the dim-wood glen
The martial flood disgorged again,

But not in mingled tide ;
The plaided warriors of the North
High on the mountain thunder forth

And overhang its side,
While by the lake below appears
The darkening cloud of Saxon spears.
At weary bay each shattered band,
Eying their foemen; sternly stand;
Their banners stream like tattered sail,
That flings its fragments to the gale,

2 4 :


And broken arms and disarray
Marked the fell havoc of the day.

' Viewing the mountain's ridge askance,
The Saxons stood in sullen trance,
Till Moray pointed with his lance,

' And cried : " Behold yon isle ! —
See ! none are left to guard its strand
But women weak, that wring the hand :
'T is there of yore the robber band

Their booty wont to pile ; —
My purse, with bonnet-pieces store,
To him will swim a bow-shot o'er,
And loose a shallop from the shore.
Lightly we "11 tame the war-^plf then,
Lords of his mate, and brood, and den.'*
Forth from the ranks a spearman sprung,
On earth his casque and corselet rung,

He plunged him in the wave : —
All saw the deed, — the purpose knew.
And to their clamors Benvenue

A mingled echo gave ;
The Saxons shout, their mate to cheer,
The helpless females scream for fear,
And yells for rage the mountaineer.
'T was then, as by the outcry riven,
Poured down at once the lowering heaven
A whirlwind swept Loch Katrine's breast,
Her billows reared their snowy crest.
Well for the swimmer swelled they high,

To mar the Highland marksman's eye ;

For round him showered, mid rain and hail.

The vengeful arrows of the Gael.

In vain. — He nears the isle — and lo !

His hand is on a shallop's bow.

Just then a flash of lightning came,

It tinged the waves and strand with flame :

I marked Duncraggan's widowed dame,

Behind an oak I saw her stand,

A naked dirk gleamed in her hand : —

It darkened, — but amid the moan

Of waves I heard a dying groan ; —

Another flash ! — the spearman floats

A weltering corse beside the boats,

And the stern matron o'er him stood.

Her hand and dagger streaming blood.


' " Revenge ! revenge ! " the Saxons cried,

The Gaels' exulting shout replied.

Despite the elemental rage,

Again they hurried to engage ;

But, ere they closed in desperate fight,

Bloody with spurring came a knight,

Sprung from his horse, and from a crag

Waved 'twixt the hosts a milk-white flag.

Clarion and trumpet by his side

Rung forth a truce-note high and wide.

While, in the Monarch's name, afar

A herald's voice forbade the war,

For Both well's lord and Roderick bold



Were both, he said, in captive hold.' —
But here the lay made sudden stand,
The harp escaped the Minstrel's hand !
Oft had he stolen a glance, to spy
How Roderick brooked his minstrelsy :
At first, the Chieftain, to the chime,
With lifted hand kept feeble time ;
That motion ceased, — yet feeling strong
Varied his look as changed the song ;
At length, no more his deafened ear
The minstrel melody can hear ;
His face grows sharp, — his hands are

As if some pang his heart-strings wrenched ;
Set are his teeth, his fading eye
Is sternly fixed on vacancy;
Thus, motionless and moanless, drew
His parting breath stout Roderick Dhu ! —
Old Allan-bane looked on aghast,
While grim and still his spirit passed ;
But when he saw that life was fled,
He poured his wailing o'er the dead.



' And art thou cold and lowly laid,
Thy foeman's dread, thy people's aid,
Breadalbane's boast, Clan-Alpine's shade !
For thee shall none a requiem say? —

For thee, who loved the minstrel's lay.
For thee, of Bothwell's house the stay,
The shelter of her exiled line,
E'en in this prison-house of thine,
I '11 wail for Alpine's honored Pine !

' What groans shall yonder valleys fill !
What shrieks of grief shall rend yon hill !
What tears of burning rage shall thrill,
When mourns thy tribe thy battles done,
Thy fall before the race was won,
Thy sword ungirt ere set of sun !
There breathes not clansman of thy line,
But would have given his life for thine.
O, woe for Alpine's honored Pine !

' Sad was thy lot on mortal stage ! —
The captive thrush may brook the cage,
The prisoned eagle dies for rage.
Brave spirit, do not scorn my strain !
And, when its notes awake again,
Even she, so long beloved in vain,
Shall with my harp her voice combine,
And mix her woe and tears with mine,
To wail Clan- Alpine's honored. Pine.'

Ellen the while, with bursting heart,

Remained in lordly bower apart,

Where played, with many-colored gleams,



And lightened up a tapestried wall,
And for her use a menial train
A rich collation spread in vain.
The banquet proud, the chamber gay,
Scarce drew one curious glance astray;
Or if she looked, 't was but to say,
With better omen dawned the day
In that lone isle, where waved on high
The dun-deer's hide for canopy ;
Where oft her noble father shared
The simple meal her care prepared,
While Lufra, crouching by her side,
Her station claimed with jealous pride,
And Douglas, bent on woodland game,
Spoke of the chase to Malcolm Graeme,
Whose answer, oft at random made,
The wandering of his thoughts betrayed.
Those who such simple joys have known
Are taught to prize them when they 're gone.

Through storied pane the rising beams.
In vain on gilded roof they fall,

But sudden, see, she lifts her head,
The window seeks with cautious tread.
What distant music has the power
To win her in this woful hour ?
'T was from a turret that o'erhung
Her latticed bower, the strain was sung.

xxiv. „

2Las of tlje Emprisoneo huntsman.

' My hawk is tired of perch and hood,
My idle greyhound loathes his food,
My horse is weary of his stall,
And I am sick of captive thrall.
I wish I were as I have been,
Hunting the hart in forest green,
With bended bow and bloodhound free,
For that 's the life is meet for me.



* I hate to learn the ebb of time
From yon dull steeple's drowsy chime,
Or mark it as the sunbeams crawl,
Inch after inch, along the wall.
The lark was wont my matins ring,
The sable rook my vespers sing,
These towers, although a king's they be,
Have not a hall of joy for me.

x No more at dawning morn I rise,
And sun myself in Ellen's eyes,
Drive the fleet deer the forest through,
And homeward wend with evening dew ;
A blithesome welcome blithely meet,
And lay my trophies at her feet,
While fled the eve on wing of glee, —
That life is lost to love and me ! '


The heart-sick lay was hardly said,
The listener had not turned her head,
It trickled still, the starting tear,
When light a footstep struck her ear,
And Snowdoun's graceful Knight was near.
She turned the hastier, lest again
The prisoner should renew his strain.
' O welcome, brave Fitz-James ! ' she said ;
' How may an almost orphan maid
Pay the deep debt — ' ' O say not so !
To me no gratitude you owe.
Not mine, alas ! 'the boon to give.

And bid thy noble father live ;

I can but be thy guide, sweet maid,

With Scotland's King thy suit to aid.

No tyrant he, though ire and pride

May lay his better mood aside.

Come, Ellen, come ! 't is more than time,

He holds his court at morning prime.'

With beating heart, and bosom wrung,

As to a brother's arm she clung.

Gently he dried the falling tear,

And gently whispered hope and cheer ;

Her faltering steps half led, half stayed,

Through gallery fair and high arcade,

Till at his touch its wings of pride

A portal arch unfolded wide.


Within 't was brilliant all and light,
A thronging scene of figures bright ;
It glowed on Ellen's dazzled sight,
As when the setting sun has given
Ten thousand hues to summer even,
And from their tissue fancy frames
Aerial knights and fairy dames.
Still by Fitz-James her footing staid ;
A few faint steps she forward made,
Then slow her drooping head she raised,
And fearful round the presence gazed ;
For him she sought who owned this state,
The dreaded Prince whose will was fate ! —
She gazed on many a princely port



Might well have ruled a royal court ;
On many a splendid garb she gazed, —
Then turned bewildered and amazed,
For all stood bare ; and in the room
Fitz-James alone wore cap and plume.
To him each lady's look was lent,
On him each courtier's eye was bent ;
Midst furs and silks and jewels sheen,
He stood, in simple Lincoln green,

The fealty of Scotland claims.

To him thy woes, thy wishes, bring ;

He will redeem his signet ring.

Ask naught for Douglas ; — yester even,

His Prince and he have much forgiven;

Wrong hath he had from slanderous tongue,

I, from his rebel kinsmen, wrong.

We would not, to the vulgar crowd,

Yield what they craved with clamor loud ;

The centre of the glittering ring, —

And Snowdoun's Knight is Scotland's King !


As wreath of snow on mountain-breast

Slides from the rock that gave it rest,

Poor Ellen glided from her stay,

And at the Monarch's feet she lay ;

No word her choking voice commands, —

She showed the ring, — she clasped her

O, not a moment could he brook,
The generous Prince, that suppliant look !
Gently he raised her, — and, the while,
Checked with a glance the circle's smile ;
Graceful, but grave, her brow he kissed,
And bade her terrors be dismissed : —
'Yes, fair; the wandering poor Fitz-James

Calmly we heard and judged his cause.

Online LibraryWalter ScottThe poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet → online text (page 23 of 78)