Walter Scott.

The poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet online

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To Richmond where his troops are laid,
And lead his force to Redmond's aid.
Say till he reaches Eglistone
A friend will watch to guard his son.
Now, fare-thee-well ; for night draws on,
Arid I would rest me here alone.'
Despite his ill-dissembled fear,
There swam in Edmund's eye a tear :
A tribute to the courage high
Which stooped not in extremity,
But strove, irregularly great,
To triumph o'er approaching fate !
Bertram beheld the dewdrop start,
It almost touched his iron heart :
' I did not think there lived,' he said,
' One who would tear for Bertram shed.'
He loosened then his baldric's hold,
A buckle broad of massive gold; —
1 Of all the spoil that paid his pains
But this with Risingham remains ;



And this, dear Edmund, thou shalt take.
And wear it long for Bertram's sake.
Once more — to Mortham speed amain ;
Farewell ! and turn thee not again.'


The night has yielded to the morn,
And far the hours of prime are worn.
Oswald, who since the dawn of day
Had cursed his messenger's delay,
Impatient questioned now his train,

' Alas, my lord ! full ill to-day

May my young master brook the way !

The leech has spoke with- grave alarm

Of unseen hurt, of secret harm,

Of sorrow lurking at the heart,

That mars and lets his healing art.'

' Tush ! tell not me ! — Romantic boys

Pine themselves sick for airy toys,

I will find cure for Wilfrid soon ;

Bid him for Eglistone be boune,

And quick ! — I hear the dull death-drum

' Was Denzil's son returned again ? '

It chanced there answered of the crew

A menial who young Edmund knew :

4 No son of Denzil this,' he said ;

4 A peasant boy from Winston glade,

For song and minstrelsy renowned

And knavish pranks the hamlets round.'

' Not Denzil's son ! — from Winston vale ! —

Then it was false, that specious tale ;

Or worse — he hath despatched the youth

To show to Mortham 's lord its truth.

Fool that I was ! — but 't is too late ; —

This is the very turn of fate ! —

The tale, or true or false, relies

On Denzil's evidence ! — He dies ! —

Ho ! Provost Marshal ! instantly

Lead Denzil to the gallows-tree !

Allow him not a parting word ;

Short be the shrift and sure the cord !

Then let his gory head appall

Marauders from the castle-wall.

Lead forth thy guard, that duty done,

With best despatch to Eglistone. —

Basil, tell Wilfrid he must straight

Attend me at the castle-gate.'


' Alas ! ' the old domestic said,
And shook his venerable head.

Tell Denzil's hour of fate is come.'
He paused with scornful smile, and then
Resumed his train of thought agen.
1 Now comes my fortune's crisis near !
Entreaty boots not — instant fear,
Naught else, can bend Matilda's pride
Or win her to be Wilfrid's bride.
But when she sees the scaffold placed,
With axe and block and headsman graced,
And when she deems that to deny
Dooms Redmond and her sire to die,
She must give way. — Then, were the line
Of Rokeby once combined with mine,
I gain the weather-gage of fate !
If Mortham come, he comes too late,
While I, allied thus and prepared,
Bid him defiance to his beard. —
If she prove stubborn, shall I dare
To drop the axe ? — Soft ! pause we there.
Mortham still lives — yon youth may tell
His tale — and Fairfax loves him well ; —
Else, wherefore should I now delay
To sweep this Redmond from my way ? —
But she to piety perforce
Must yield. — Without there ! Sound to
horse ! '

xxv :

'T was bustle in the court below, —

' Mount, and march forward ! ' Forth they go ;



Steeds neigh and trample all around,
Steel rings, spears glimmer, trumpets

sound. —
Just then was sung his parting hymn ;
And Denzil turned his eyeballs dim,
And, scarcely conscious what he sees,
Follows the horsemen down the Tees ;
And scarcely conscious what he hears,
The trumpets tingle in his ears.
O'er the long bridge they 're sweeping now,
The van is hid by greenwood bough :
But ere the rearward had passed o'er
Guy Denzil heard and saw no more !
One stroke, upon the castle bell
To Oswald rung his dying knell.

O, for that pencil, erst profuse
Of chivalry's emblazoned hues,
That traced of old in Woodstock bower
The pageant of the Leaf and Flower,
And bodied forth the tourney high
Held for the hand of Emily !
Then might I paint the tumult broad
That to the crowded abbey flowed,
And poured, as with an ocean's sound,
Into the church's ample bound!
Then might I show each varying mien,
Exulting, woful, or serene ;
Indifference, with his idiot stare,
And Sympathy, with anxious air ;
Paint the dejected Cavalier,
Doubtful, disarmed, and sad of cheer ;
And his proud foe, whose formal eye
Claimed conquest now and mastery ;
And the brute crowd, whose envious zeal
Huzzas each turn of Fortune's wheel,
And loudest shouts when lowest lie
Exalted worth and station high.
Yet what may such a wish avail ?
'T is mine to tell an onward tale,
Hurrying, as best I can, along
The hearers and the hasty song ; —
Like traveller when approaching home,
Who sees the shades of evening come,
And must not now his course delay,
Or choose the fair but winding way ;
Nay, scarcely may his pace suspend,
Where o'er his head the wildings bend,
To bless the breeze that cools his brow
Or snatch a blossom from the bough.


The reverend pile lay wild and waste,
Profaned, dishonored, and defaced.
Through storied lattices no more
In softened light the sunbeams pour,
Gilding the Gothic sculpture rich
Of shrine and monument and niche.

The civil fury of the time

Made sport of sacrilegious crime ;

For dark fanaticism rent

Altar and screen and ornament,

And peasant hands the tombs o'erthrew

Of Bowes, of Rokeby, and Fitz-Hugh.

And now was seen, unwonted sight,

In holy walls a scaffold dight !

Where once the priest of grace divine

Dealt to his flock the mystic sign,

There stood the block displayed, and there

The headsman grim his hatchet bare,

And for the word of hope and faith

Resounded loud a doom of death.

Thrice the fierce trumpet's breath was

And echoed thrice the herald's word,
Dooming, for breach of martial laws
And treason to the Commons' cause,
The Knight of Rokeby, and O'Neale,
To stoop their heads to block and steel.
The trumpets flourished high and shrill,
Then was a silence dead and still ;
And silent prayers to Heaven were cast.
And stifled sobs were bursting fast,
Till from the crowd begun to rise
Murmurs of sorrow or surprise,
And from the distant isles there came
Deep-muttered threats with Wycliffe's



But Oswald, guarded by his band.

Powerful in evil, waved' his hand.

And bade sedition's voice be dead,

On peril of the murmurer's head.

Then first his glance sought Rokeby's

Who gazed on the tremendous sight
As calm as if he came a guest
To kindred baron's feudal feast,
As calm as if that trumpet-call
Were summons to the bannered hall ;
Firm in his loyalty he stood,
And prompt to seal it with his blood.
With downcast look drew Oswald nigh, —
He durst not cope with Rokeby's eye ! —
And said with low and faltering breath,
'Thou know'st the terms of life and

The knight then turned and sternly smiled :
1 The maiden is mine only child,
Yet shall my blessing leave her head
If with a traitor's son she wed.'
Then Redmond spoke : ' The life of one
Might thy malignity atone,
On me be flung a double guilt !
Spare Rokeby's blood, let mine be spilt ! '
Wycliffe had listened to his suit,
But dread prevailed and he was mute.




And now he pours his choice of fear
In secret on Matilda's ear;
1 An union formed with me and mine
Ensures the faith of Rokeby's line.
Consent, and all this dread array
Like morning dream shall pass away :
Refuse, and by my duty pressed
I give the word — thou know'st the rest.'
Matilda, still and motionless,
With terror heard the dread address,
Pale as the sheeted maid who dies
To hopeless love a sacrifice ;
Then wrung her hands in agony,
And round her cast bewildered eye,
Now on the scaffold glanced, and now
On Wycliffe's unrelenting brow.
She veiled her face, and with a voice
Scarce audible, ' I make my choice !
Spare but their lives ! — for aught beside
Let Wilfrid's doom my fate decide.
He once was generous ! ' As she spoke,
Dark Wycliffe's joy in triumph broke :
' Wilfrid, where loitered ye so late ?
Why upon Basil rest thy weight ? —
Art spell-bound by enchanter's wand ? —
Kneel, kneel, and take her yielded hand ;
Thank her with raptures, simple boy !
Should tears and trembling speak thy joy ?
' O hush, my sire ! To prayer and tear
Of mine thou hast refused thine ear ;
But now the awful hour draws on
When truth must speak in loftier tone.'


He took Matilda's hand : ' Dear maid,

Couldst thou so injure me,' he said,

' Of thy poor friend so basely deem

As blend with him this barbarous scheme ?

Alas ! my efforts made in vain

Might well have saved this added pain.

But now, bear witness earth and heaven

That ne'er was hope to mortal given

So twisted with the strings of life

As this — to call Matilda wife !

I bid it now forever part,

And with the effort bursts my heart.'

His feeble frame was worn so low,

With wounds, with watching, and with woe

That nature could no more sustain

The agony of mental pain.

He kneeled — his lip her hand had pressed,

Just then he felt the stern arrest.

Lower and lower sunk his head, —

They raised him, — but the life was fled !

Then first alarmed his sire and train

Tried every aid, but tried in vain.

The soul, too soft its ills to bear,

Had left our mortal hemisphere,

And sought in better world the meed
To blameless life by Heaven decreed.

The wretched sire beheld aghast

With Wilfrid all his projects past,

All turned and centred on his son,

On Wilfrid all — and he was gone.

' And I am childless now,' he said ;

1 Childless, through that relentless maid !

A lifetime's arts in vain essayed

Are bursting on their artist's head.!

Here lies my Wilfrid dead — and there

Comes hated Mortham for his heir,

Eager to knit in happy band

With Rokeby's heiress Redmond's hand.

And shall their triumph soar o'er all

The schemes deep-laid to work their fall ?

No ! — deeds which prudence might not

Appall not vengeance and despair.
The murderess weeps upon his bier —
I '11 change to real that feigned tear !
They all shall share destruction's shock ; —
Ho ! lead the captives to the block ! '
But ill his provost could divine
His feelings, and forbore the sign.
' Slave ! to the block ! — or I or they
Shall face the judgment-seat this day ! '


The outmost crowd have heard a sound
Like horse's hoof on hardened ground ;
Nearer it came, and yet more near, —
The very death's-men paused to hear.
'Tis in the churchyard now — the tread
Hath waked the dwelling of the dead !
Fresh sod and old sepulchral stone
Return the tramp in varied tone.
All eyes upon the gateway hung,
When through the Gothic arch there sprung
A horseman armed at headlong speed —
Sable his cloak, his plume, his steed.
Fire from the flinty floor was spurned,
The vaults unwonted clang returned ! —
One instant's glance around he threw,
From saddlebow his pistol drew.
Grimly determined was his look !
His charger with the spurs he strook —
All scattered backward as he came,
For all knew Bertram Risingham !
Three bounds that noble courser gave ;
The first has reached the central nave,
The second cleared the chancel wide,
The third — he was at Wycliffe's side.
Full levelled at the baron's head,
Rung the report — the bullet sped —
And to his long account and last
Without a groan dark Oswald past !



All was so quick that it might seem
A flash of lightning or a dream.


While yet the smoke the deed conceals,
Bertram his ready charger wheels;
But floundered on the pavement-floor
The steed and down the rider bore,

'Gainst hacking brands and st .,bing spears.
Thrice from assailants shook him free,
Once gained his feet and twice his knee.
By tenfold odds oppressed at length,
Despite his struggles and his strength,
He took a hundred mortal wounds
As niute as fox 'mongst mangling hounds :.
And when he died his parting groan

And, bursting in the headlong sway,
The faithless saddle-girths gave way.
'T was while he toiled him to be freed,
And with the rein to raise the steed,
That from amazement's iron trance
All Wycliffe's soldiers waked at once.
Sword, halberd, musket-butt, their blows
Hailed upon Bertram as he rose ;
A score of pikes with each a wound
Bore down and pinned him to the ground ;
Hut still his struggling force he rears,

Had more of laughter than of moan !
They gazed as when a lion dies,
And hunters scarcely trust their eyes,
But bend their weapons on the slain
Lest the grim king should rouse again !
Then blow and insult some renewed,
And from the trunk the head had hewed.
But Basil's voice the deed forbade ;
A mantle o'er the corse he laid : —
1 Fell as he was in act and mind,
He left no bolder heart behind :



Then giv v &im, for a soldier meet,
A soldier's cloak for winding sheet.'


No more of death and dying pang,
No more of trump and bugle clang,
Though through the sounding woods there

Banner and bugle, trump and drum.
Armed with such powers as well had freed
Young Redmond at his utmost need,
And backed with such a band of horse
As might less ample powers enforce,
Possessed of every proof and sign
That gave an heir to Mortham's line,
And yielded to a father's arms
An image of his Edith's charms, —
Mortham is come, to hear and see
Of this strange morn the history.
What saw'he? — not the church's floor,
Cumbered with dead and stained with gore ;
What heard he ? — not the clamorous crowd,
That shout their gratulations loud :
Redmond he saw and heard alone,
Clasped him and sobbed, 'My son ! my

son! '


This chanced upon a summer morn,
When yellow waved the heavy corn :
But when brown August o'er the land
Called forth the reaper's busy band,
A gladsome sight the sylvan road
From Eglistone to Mortham showed.
Awhile the hardy rustic leaves
The task to bind and pile the sheaves,
And maids their sickles fling aside
To gaze on bridegroom and on bride,
And childhood's wondering group draws

And from the gleaner's hands the ear
Drops while she folds them for a prayer
And blessing on the lovely pair.
'T was then the Maid of Rokeby gave
Her plighted troth to Redmond brave ;
And Teesdale can remember yet
How Fate to Virtue paid her debt,
And for their troubles bade them prove
A lengthened life of peace and love.

Time and Tide had thus their sway,
Yielding, like an April day,
Smiling noon for sullen morrow,
Years of joy for hours of sorrow !

%tyt Ertoal of Crtcrmam



E\}t Brfoal of Crietmam.


Come, Lucy ! while 't is morning hour

The woodland brook we needs must pass
So ere the sun assume his power
We shelter in our poplar bower,
Where dew lies long upon the flower,

Though vanished from the velvet grass.
Curbing the stream, this stony ridge
May serve us for a sylvan bridge ;

For here compelled to disunite,

Round petty isles the runnels glide,
And chafing off their puny spite,
The shallow murmurers waste their might.

Yielding to footstep free and light
A dry-shod pass from side to side.


Nay, why this hesitating pause ?
And, Lucy, as thy step withdraws,

Why sidelong eye the streamlet's brim ?

Titania's foot without a slip,
Like thine, though timid, light, and slim,

From stone to stone might safely trip,

Nor risk the glow-worm clasp to dip
That binds her slipper's silken rim.
Or trust thy lover's strength ; nor fear

That this same stalwart arm of mine,
Which could yon oak's prone trunk uprear.
Shall shrink beneath the burden dear

Of form so slender, light, and fine. —
So — now, the danger dared at last,
Look back and smile at perils past !

And now we reach the favorite glade,

Paled in by copsewood, cliff, and stone,
Where never harsher sounds invade

To break affection's whispering tone
Than the deep breeze that waves the shade.

Than the small brooklet's feeble moan.
Come ! rest thee on thy wonted seat ;

Mossed is the stone, the turf is green,
A place where lovers best may meet

Who would not that their love be seen.



The boughs that dim the summer sky
Shall hide us from each lurking spy

That fain would spread the invidious tale,
How Lucy of the lofty eye,
Noble in birth, in fortunes high,
She for whom lords and barons sigh,

Meets her poor Arthur in the dale.


How deep that blush ! — how deep that sigh !
And why does Lucy shun mine eye ?
Is it because that crimson draws
Its color from some secret cause,
Some hidden movement of the breast,
She would not that her Arthur guessed ?
O, quicker far is lovers' ken
Than the dull glance of common men,
And by strange sympathy can spell
The thoughts the loved one will not tell!
And mine in Lucy's blush saw met
The hue of pleasure and regret ;
• Pride mingled in the sigh her voice,

And shared with Love the crimson glow,
Well pleased that thou art Arthur's choice,
Yet shamed thine own is placed so low :
Thou turn'st thy self-confessing cheek,

As if to meet the breezes cooling ;
Then, Lucy, hear thy tutor speak,

For Love too has his hours of school-


Too oft my anxious eye has spied
That secret grief thou fain wouldst hide,
The passing pang of humbled pride ;
Too oft when through the splendid hall,

The loadstar of each heart and eye,
My fair one leads the glittering ball.
Will her stolen glance on Arthur fall

With such a blush and such a sigh !
Thou wouldst not yield for wealth or rank

The heart thy worth and beauty won,
Nor leave me on this mossy bank

To meet a rival on a throne :
Why then should vain repinings rise,
That to thy lover fate denies
A nobler name, a wide domain,
A baron's birth, a menial train,

Since Heaven assigned him for his part
A lyre, a falchion, and a heart ?

My sword — its master must be dumb ;
But when a soldier names my name,

Approach, my Lucy ! fearless come,
Nor dread to hear of Arthur's shame.

My heart — mid all yon courtly crew
Of lordly rank and lofty line,

Is there to love and honor true,
That boasts a pulse so warm as mine ?
They praised thy diamonds' lustre rare —

Matched with thine eyes, I thought it faded;
They praised the pearls that bound thy hair —

I only saw the locks they braided;
They talked of wealthy dower and land,

And titles of high birth the token —
I thought of Lucy's heart and hand,

Nor knew the sense of what was spoken.
And yet, if ranked in Fortune's roll,

I might have learned their choice unwise
Who rate the dower above the soul

And Lucy's diamonds o'er her eyes.


My lyre — it is an idle toy

That borrows accents not its own,
Like warbler of Colombian sky

That sings but in a mimic tone.
Ne'er did it sound o'er sainted well,
Nor boasts it aught of Border spell ;
Its strings no feudal slogan pour,
Its heroes draw no broad claymore ;
No shouting clans applauses raise
Because it sung their fathers' praise ;
On Scottish moor, or English down,
It ne'er was graced with fair renown ;
Nor won — best meed to minstrel true —
One favoring smile from fair Buccleuch !
By one poor streamlet sounds its tone,
And heard by one dear maid alone.


But, if thou bid'st, these tones shall tell
Of errant knight, and damoselle ;
Of the dread knot a wizard tied
In punishment of maiden's pride,
In notes of marvel and of fear
That best may charm romantic ear.

For Lucy loves — like Collins, ill-starred name !
Whose lay's requital was that tardy Fame,
Who bound no laurel round his living head,
Should hang it o'er his monument when dead, —
For Lucy loves to tread enchanted strand,
And thread like him the maze of Fairy-land •
Of golden battlements to view the gleam,
And slumber soft by^ome Elysian stream ;
Such lays she loves — and, such my Lucy's choice
What other song can claim her Poet's voice 5



5Efje SSrttial of BTriermam.


Where is the maiden of mortal strain
That may match with the Baron of Trier-
main ?
She must be lovely and constant and kind.
Holy and pure and humble of mind,
Blithe of cheer and gentle of mood,
Courteous and generous and noble of

blood —
Lovely as the sun's first ray
When it breaks the clouds of an April day ;
Constant and true as the widowed dove,
Kind as a minstrel that sings of love ;
Pure as the fountain in rocky cave
Where never sunbeam kissed the wave ;
Humble as maiden that loves in vain,
Holy as hermit's vesper strain ;
Gentle as breeze that but whispers and dies,
Yet blithe as the light leaves that dance in

its sighs ;
Courteous as monarch the morn he is

Generous as spring-dews that bless the

glad ground ;
Noble her blood as the currents that met
In the veins of the noblest Plantagenet —
Such must her form be, her mood, and her

That shall match with Sir Roland of Trier-

Sir Roland de Vaux he hath laid him to

His blood it was fevered, his breathing

was deep.
He had been pricking against the Scot,
The foray was long and the skirmish hot;
His dinted helm and his buckler's plight
Bore token of a stubborn fight.

All in the castle must hold them still,
Harpers must lull him to his rest
With the slow soft tunes he loves the best
Till sleep sink down upon his breast,

Like the dew on a summer hill.


It was the dawn of an autumn day ;
The sun was struggling with frost-fog gray
That like a silvery crape was spread
Round Skiddaw's dim and distant head,
And faintly gleamed each painted pane
Of the lordly halls of Triermain,

When that baron bold awoke.
Starting he woke and loudly did call,
Rousing his menials in bower and hall

While hastily he spoke.

' Hearken, my minstrels ! Which of ye all
Touched his harp with that dying fall,

So sweet, so soft, so faint,
It seemed an angel's whispered call

To an expiring saint ?


scorrs poetical works.

And hearken, my merry-men ! What time

or where
Did she pass, that maid with her heavenly

With her look so sweet and her eyes so

And her graceful step and her angel air,
And the eagle plume in her dark-brown

That passed from my bower e'en now ! '


Answered him Richard de Bretville ; he
Was chief of the baron's minstrelsy, —
4 Silent, noble chieftain, we

Have sat since midnight close,
When such lulling sounds as the brooklet

Murmured from our melting strings,
And hushed you to repose.

Had a harp-note sounded here.

It had caught my watchful ear,
Although it fell as faint and shy
As bashful maiden's half-formed sigh

When she thinks her lover near.'
Answered Philip of Fasthwaite tall :
He kept guard in the outer-hall, —
' Since at eve our watch took post.
Not a foot has thy portal crossed ;

Else had I heard the steps, though low
And light they fell as when earth receives
In morn of frost the withered leaves

That drop when no winds blow.'


4 Then come thou hither, Henry, my page,
Whom I saved from the sack of Hermitage,
When that dark castle, tower, and spire,
Rose to the skies a pile of fire,

And reddened all the Nine-stane Hill,
And the shrieks of death, that wildly broke
Through devouring flame and smothering

Made the warrior's heart-blood chill.,
The trustiest thou of all my train,
My fleetest courser thou must rein,

And ride to Lyulph's tower,
And from the Baron of Triermain

Greet well that sage of power.
He is sprung from Druid sires
And British bards that tuned their lyres
To Arthur's and Pendragon's praise,
And his who sleeps at Dunmailraise.
Gifted like his gifted race,
He the characters can trace
Graven deep in elder time
Upon Hellvellyn's cliffs sublime ;
Sign and sigil well cloth he know,
And can bode of weal and woe.

Of kingdoms' fall and fate of wars,

From mystic dreams and course of stars.

He shall tell if middle earth

To that enchanting shape gave birth,

Or if 't was but an airy thing

Such as fantastic slumbers bring,

Framed from the rainbow's varying dyes

Or fading tints of western skies.

For, by the blessed rood I swear,

If that fair form breathe vital air.

Online LibraryWalter ScottThe poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet → online text (page 33 of 78)