Walter Scott.

The poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet online

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If this be sorcerer's empty show
Or stratagem of southern foe.
The moon shines out — upon the sand
Let every leader rank his band.'

Faintly the moon's pale beams supply
That ruddy light's unnatural dye ;
The dubious cold reflection lay
On the wet sands and quiet bay.
Beneath the rocks King Robert drew
His scattered files to order due,
Till shield compact and serried spear
In the cool light shone blue and clear.
Then down a path that sought the tide
That speechless page was seen to glide ;
He knelt him lowly on the sand,
And gave a scroll to Robert's hand.
1 A torch,' the monarch cried, ' What, ho !
Now shall we Cuthbert's tidings know.'
But evil news the letters bear,
The Clifford's force was strong and ware,
Augmented too, that very morn,
By mountaineers who came with Lorn.
Long harrowed by oppressor's hand,
Courage and faith had fled the land.
And over Carrick, dark and deep,
Had sunk dejection's iron sleep. —
Cuthbert had seen that beacon flame,
Unwitting from what source it came.
Doubtful of perilous event,
Edward's mute messenger he sent,
If Bruce deceived should venture o'er,
To warn him from the fatal shore.


As round the torch the leaders crowd,
Bruce read these chilling news aloud.
' What council, nobles, have we now ? —
To ambush us in greenwood bough,
And take the chance which fate may send
To bring our enterprise to end ?
Or shall we turn us to the main
As exiles, and embark again ? '
Answered fierce Edward, < Hap what may
In Carrick Carrick's lord must stay.
I would not minstrels told the tale
Wildfire or meteor made us quail.'
Answered the Douglas, ' If my liege
May win yon walls by storm or siege,



Then were each brave and patriot heart
Kindled of new for loyal part.'
Answered Lord Ronald, ' Not for shame
Would I that aged Torquil came
And found, for all our empty boact,
Without a blow we fled the coast.
I will not credit that this land,
So famed for warlike heart and hand,
The nurse of Wallace and of Bruce,
Will long with tyrants hold a truce.'
1 Prove we our fate — the brunt we '11 bide ! '
So Boyd and Haye and Lennox cried ;
So said, so vowed the leaders all ;
So Bruce resolved : ' And in my hall
Since the bold Southern make their home,
The hour of payment soon shall come,
When with a rough and rugged host
Clifford may reckon to his cost.
Meantime, through well-known bosk and

I '11 lead where we may shelter well.'


Now ask you whence that wondrous light,
Whose fairy glow beguiled their sight? —
It ne'er was known — yet gray-haired eld
A superstitious credence held
That never did a mortal hand
Wake its broad glare on Carrick strand ;
Nay, and that on the selfsame night
When Bruce crossed o'er still gleams the

Yearly it gleams o'er mount and moor
And glittering wave and crimsoned shore —
But whether beam celestial, lent
By Heaven to aid the king's descent,
Or fire hell-kindled from beneath
To lure him to defeat and death,
Or were it but some meteor strange
Of such as oft through midnight range,
Startling the traveller late and lone,
I know not — and it ne'er was known.


Now up the rocky pass they drew,
And Ronald, to his promise true,
Still made his arm the stripling's stay,
To aid him on the rugged way.
• Now cheer thee, simple Amadine !
Why throbs that silly heart of thine ? ' —
That name the pirates to their slave —
In Gaelic 't is the Changeling — gave —
' Dost thou not rest thee on my arm ?
Do not my plaid-folds hold thee warm ?
Hath not the wild bull's treble hide
This targe for thee and me supplied ?
Is not Clan-Colla's sword of steel?
And, trembler, canst thou terror feel ?
Cheer thee, and still that throbbing heart ;
From Ronald's guard thou shalt not part.' —

! many a shaft at random sent
Finds mark the archer little meant !
And many a word at random spoken

May soothe or wound a heart that 's broken !

Half soothed, half grieved, half terrified,

Close drew the page to Ronald's side ;

A wild delirious thrill of joy

Was in that hour of agony,

As up the steepy pass he strove,

Fear, toil, and sorrow, lost in love !


The barrier of that iron shore,
The rock's steep ledge, is now climbed o'er;
And from the castle's distant wall,
From tower to tower the warders call :
The sound swings over land and sea,
And marks a watchful enemy. —
They gained the Chase, a wide domain
Left for the castle's sylvan reign —
Seek not the scene ; the axe, the plough,
The boor's dull fence, have marred it now,
But then soft swept in velvet green
The plain with many a glade between,
Whose tangled alleys far invade
The depth of the brown forest shade.
Here the tall fern obscured the lawn,
Fair shelter for the sportive fawn ;
There, tufted close with copsewood green,
Was many a swelling hillock seen ;
And all around was verdure meet
For pressure of the fairies' feet.
The glossy holly loved the park,
The yew-tree lent its shadow dark,
And many an old oak, worn and bare,
With all its shivered boughs was there.
Lovely between, the moonbeams fell
On lawn and hillock, glade and dell.
The gallant monarch sighed to see
These glades so loved in childhood free,
Bethinking that as outlaw now
He ranged beneath the forest bough.


Fast o'er the moonlight Chase they sped.
Well knew the band that measured tread
When, in retreat or in advance,
The serried warriors move at once ;
And evil were the luck if dawn
Descried them on the open lawn.
Copses they traverse, brooks they cross,
Strain up the bank and o'er the moss.
From the exhausted page's brow
Cold drops of toil are streaming now ;
With effort faint and lengthened pause,
His weary step the stripling draws.
' Nay, droop not yet ! ' the warrior said ;

1 Come, let me give thee ease and aid !
Strong are mine arms, and little care
A weight so slight as thine to bear. —



What ! wilt thou not ? — capricious boy ! —
Then thine own limbs and strength employ.
Pass but this night and pass thy care,
I '11 place thee with a lady fair,
Where thou shalt tune thy lute to tell
How Ronald loves fair Isabel ! '
Worn out, disheartened, and dismayed,
Here Amadine let go the plaid ;
His trembling limbs their aid refuse,
He sunk among the midnight dews !


What may be done ? — the night is gone —
The Bruce's band moves swiftly on —
Eternal shame if at the brunt
Lord Ronald grace not battle's front! —
• See yonder oak within whose trunk
Decay a darkened cell hath sunk ;
Enter and rest thee there a space,
Wrap in my plaid thy limbs, thy face.
I will not be, believe me, far,
But must not quit the ranks of war.
Well will I mark the bosky bourne,
And soon, to guard thee hence, return. —
Nay, weep not so, thou simple boy !
But sleep in peace and wake in joy.'
In sylvan lodging close bestowed,
He placed the page and onward strode
With strength put forth o'er moss and brook,
And soon the marching band o'ertook.


Thus strangely left, long sobbed and wept

The page till wearied out he slept —

A rough voice waked his dream — 'Nay,

Here by this thicket passed the deer —
Beneath that oak old Ryno staid —
\Y T hat have we here ? — A Scottish plaid
And in its folds a stripling laid ? —
Come forth ! thy name and business tell !
What, silent ? — then I guess thee well,
The spy that sought old Cuthbert's cell,
Wafted from Arran yester morn —
Come, comrades, we will straight return.
Our lord may choose the rack should teach
To this young lurcher use of speech.
Thy bow-string, till I bind him fast.' —
' Nay, but he weeps and stands aghast;
Unbound we Ml lead him, fear it not ;
T is a fair stripling, though a Scot.'
The hunters to the castle sped,
And there the hapless captive led.


Stout Clifford in the castle-court
Prepared him for the morning sport;
And now with Lorn held deep discourse,
Now gave command for hound and horse.

War-steeds and palfreys pawed the ground.

And many a deer-dog howled around.

To Amadine Lorn's well-known word

Replying to that Southern lord,

Mixed with this clanging din, might seem

The phantasm of a fevered dream.

The tone upon his ringing ears

Came like the sounds which fancy hears

When in rude waves or roaring winds

Some words of woe the muser finds,

Until more loudly and more near

Their speech arrests the page's ear.


* And was she thus,' said Clifford, ' lost ?
The priest should rue it to his cost !
What says the monk ? ' — ' The holy sire
Owns that in masquer's quaint attire
She sought his skiff disguised, unknown
To all except to him alone.
But, says the priest, a bark from Lorn
Laid them aboard that very morn,
And pirates seized her for their prey.
He proffered ransom gold to pay
And they agreed — but ere told "o'er,
The winds blow loud, the billows roar ;
They severed and they met no more.
He deems — such tempests vexed the

coast —
Ship, crew, and fugitive were lost.
So let it be, with the disgrace
And scandal of her lofty race !
Thrice better she had ne'er been born
Than brought her infamy on Lorn ! '


Lord Clifford now the captive spied; —
1 Whom, Herbert, hast thou there?' he

' A spy we seized within the Chase,
A hollow oak his lurking-place.' —
1 What tidings can the youth afford? ' —
' He plays the mute.' — ' Then noose a

cord —
Unless brave Lorn reverse the doom
For his plaid's sake.' — < Clan-Colla's loom.'
Said Lorn, whose careless glances trace
Rather the vesture than the face,
* Clan-Colla's dames such tartans twine ;
Wearer nor plaid claims care of mine.
Give him, if my advice you crave,
His own scathed oak ; and let him wave
In air unless, by terror wrung,
A frank confession find his tongue. —
Nor shall he die without his rite ;
Thou, Angus Roy, attend the sight,
And give Clan-Colla's dirge thy breath
As they convey him to his death.' —
1 O brother ! cruel to the last ! '
Through the poor captive's bosom passed



The thought, but, to his purpose true,
He said not, though he sighed, ' Adieu ! '


And will he keep his purpose still

In sight of that last closing ill,

When one poor breath, one single word,

May freedom, safety, life, afford ?

Can he resist the instinctive call

For life that bids us barter all ? —

Love, strong as death, his heart hath steeled,

His nerves hath strung — he will not yield !

Since that poor breath, that little word,

May*yield Lord Ronald to the sword.* —

Clan-Colla's dirge is pealing wide,

The griesly headsman 's by his side ;

Along the greenwood Chase they bend,

And now their march has ghastly end !

That old and shattered oak beneath,

They destine for the place of death.

What thoughts are his, while all in vain

His eye for aid explores the plain?

What thoughts, while with a dizzy ear

He hears the death-prayer muttered near ?

And must he die such death accurst,

Or will that bosom-secret burst ?

Cold on his brow breaks terror's dew,

His trembling lips are livid blue ;

The agony of parting life

Has naught to match that moment's strife !


But other witnesses are nigh,

Who mock at fear, and death defy !

Soon as the dire lament was played

It waked the lurking ambuscade.

The Island Lord looked forth and spied

The cause, and loud in fury cried,

1 By Heaven, they lead the page to die,

And mock me in his agony !

They shall aby it ! ' — On his arm

Bruce laid strong grasp, 'They shall not

A ringlet of the stripling's hair ;
But.till I give the word forbear. —
Douglas, lead fifty of our force
Up yonder hollow water-course,
And couch thee midway on the wold,
Between the flyers and their hold :
A spear above the copse displayed,
Be signal of the ambush made. —
Edward, with forty spearmen straight
Through yonder copse approach the gate,
And when thou hear'st the battle-din
Rush forward and the passage win,
Secure the drawbridge, storm the port,
And man and guard the castle-court. —
The rest move slowly forth with me,
In shelter of the forest-tree,
Till Douglas at his post I see.'

Like war-horse eager to rush on,
Compelled to wait the signal blown,
Hid, and scarce hid, by greenwood bough,
Trembling with rage stands Ronald now.
And in his grasp his sword gleams blue.
Soon to be dyed with deadlier hue. —
Meanwhile the Bruce with steady eye
Sees the dark death-train moving by,
And heedful measures oft the space
The Douglas and his band must trace,
Ere they can reach their destined ground-
Now sinks the dirge's wailing sound.
Now cluster round the direful tree
That slow and solemn company,
While hymn mistuned and muttered prayer
The victim for his fate prepare. —
What glances o'er the greenwood shade ?
The spear that marks the ambuscade ! —
' Now, noble chief ! I leave thee loose ;
Upon them, Ronald ! ' said the Bruce.


' The Bruce ! the Bruce ! ' to well-known cry
His native rocks and woods reply.
1 The Bruce ! the Bruce ! ' in that dread word
The knell of hundred deaths was heard.
The astonished Southern gazed at first
Where the wild tempest was to burst
That waked in that presaging name.
Before, behind, around it came !
Half-armed, surprised, on every side
Hemmed in, hewed down, they bled and

Deep in the ring the Bruce engaged,
And fierce Clan-Colla's broadsword raged !
Full soon the few who fought were sped,
Nor better was their lot who fled
And met mid terror's wild career
The Douglas's redoubted spear !
Two hundred yeomen on that morn
The castle left, and none return.

Not on their flight pressed Ronald's brand,
A gentler duty claimed his hand.
He raised the page where on the plain
His fear had sunk him with the slain :
And twice that morn surprise well near
Betrayed the secret kept by fear ;
Once when with life returning came
To the boy's lip Lord Ronald's name,
And hardly recollection drowned
The accerits in a murmuring sound ;
And once when scarce he could resist
The chieftain's care to loose the vest
Drawn tightly o'er his laboring breast.
But then the Bruce 's bugle blew,
For martial work was yet to do.



A harder task fierce Edward waits.
Ere signal given the castle gates

His fury had assailed ;
Such was his wonted reckless mood,
Yet desperate valor oft made good,
Even by its daring, venture rude

Where prudence might have failed.
Upon the bridge his strength he threw,
And struck the iron chain in two,

By which its planks arose ;
The warder next his axe's edge
Struck down upon the threshold ledge,
'Twixt door and post a ghastly wedge !

The gate they may not close.
Well fought the Southern in the fray,
Clifford and Lorn fought well that day,
But stubborn Edward forced his way

Against a hundred foes.
Loud came the cry, ' The Bruce ! the Bruce !
No hope or in defence or truce, —

Fresh combatants pour in ;
Mad with success and drunk with gore,
They drive the struggling foe before

And ward on ward they win.
Unsparing was the vengeful sword,
And limbs were lopped and life-blood poured,
The cry of death and conflict roared,

And fearful was the din !
The startling horses plunged and flung,
Clamored the dogs till turrets rung,

Nor sunk the fearful cry
Till not a foeman was there found
Alive save those who on the ground

Groaned in their agony !


The valiant Clifford is no more ;

On Ronald's broadsword streamed his gore.

But better hap had he of Lorn,

Who, by the foeman backward borne,

Yet gained with slender train the port

Where lay his bark beneath the fort,

And cut the cable loose.
Short were his shrift in that debate,
That hour of fury and of fate,

If Lorn encountered Bruce !
Tin n long and loud the victor shout
From turret and from tower rung out,

The rugged vaults replied;
And from the donjon tower on high

The men of Carrick may descry
Saint Andrew's cross in blazonry
Of silver waving wide !


The Bruce hath won his father's hall ! —
1 Welcome, brave friends and comrades all,

Welcome to mirth and joy !
The first, the last, is welcome here,
From lord and chieftain, prince and peer.

To this poor speechless boy.
Great God ! once more my sire's abode
Is mine — behold the floor I. trode

In tottering infancy ! •

And there the vaulted arch whose sound
Echoed my joyous shout and bound
In boyhood, and that rung around

To youth's unthinking glee !
O, first to thee, all-gracious Heaven,
Then to my friends, my thanks be given ! ' —
He paused a space, his brow he crossed —
Then on the board his sword he tossed,
Yet steaming hot; with Southern gore
From hilt to point 'twas crimsoned o'er.


' Bring here,' he said, ' the mazers four
My noble fathers loved of yore.
Thrice let them circle round the board,
The pledge, fair Scotland's rights restored !
And he whose lip shall touch the wine
Without a vow as true as mine,
To hold both lands and life at naught
Until her freedom shall be bought, —
Be brand of a disloyal Scot
And lasting infamy his lot !
Sit, gentle friends ! our hour of glee
Is brief, we '11 spend it joyously !
Blithest of all the sun's bright beams,
When betwixt storm and storm he gleams.
Well is our country's work begun,
But more, far more, must yet be done.
Speed messengers the country through ;
Arouse old friends and gather new;
Warn Lanark's knights to gird their mail,
Rouse the brave sons of Teviotdale,
Let Ettrick's archers sharp their darts,
The fairest forms, the truest hearts !
Call all, call all ! from Reedswair-Path
To the wild confines of Cape-Wrath ;
Wide let the news through Scotland ring, —
The Northern Eagle claps his wing ! '




E\)t ILoro of tjje Isles.


O who that shared them ever shall forget
The emotions of the spirit-rousing time,
When breathless in the mart the couriers met
Early and late, at evening and at prime ;
When the loud cannon and the merry chime
Hailed news on news, as field on field was won,
When Hope, long doubtful, soared at length sublime,
And our glad eyes, awake as day begun,
Watched Joy's broad banner rise to meet the rising sun !

O these were hours when thrilling joy repaid
A long, long course of darkness, doubts, and fears !
The heart-sick faintness of the hope delayed,
The waste, the woe, the bloodshed, and the tears,
That tracked with terror twenty rolling years,
All was forgot in that blithe jubilee !
Her downcast eye even pale Affliction rears,
To sigh a thankful prayer amid the glee
That hailed the Despot's fall, and peace and liberty !



Such news o'er Scotland's hills triumphant rode
When 'gainst the invaders turned the battle's scale,
When Bruce's banner had victorious flowed
O'er Loudoun's mountain and in Ury's vale ;
When English blood oft deluged Douglas-dale,
And fiery Edward routed stout Saint John,
When Randolph's war-cry swelled the southern gale,
And many a fortress, town, and tower was won,
And Fame still sounded forth fresh deeds of glory done.

Blithe tidings flew from baron's tower
To peasant's cot, to forest-bower,
And waked the solitary cell
Where lone Saint Bride's recluses dwell.
Princess no t.iore, fair Isabel,

A votaress of the order now,
Say, did the rule that bid thee wear
Dim veil and woollen scapulare,
And reft thy locks of dark-brown hair,

That stern and rigid vow,
Did it condemn the transport high
Which glistened in thy watery eye
When minstrel or when palmer told
Each fresh exploit of Bruce the bold ? —
And whose the lovely form that shares
Thy anxious hopes, thy fears, thy prayers ?
No sister she of convent shade ;
So say these locks in lengthened braid,
So say the blushes and the sighs,
The tremors that unbidden rise,
When, mingled with the Bruce's fame,
The brave Lord Ronald's praises came.


Believe, his father's castle won
And his bold enterprise begun,
That Bruce's earliest cares restore
The speechless page to Arran's shore :
Nor think that long the quaint disguise
Concealed her from a sister's eyes ;
And sister-like in love they dwell
In that lone convent's silent cell.
There Bruce's slow assent allows
Fair Isabel the veil and vows ;
And there, her sex's dress regained,
The lovely Maid of Lorn remained,
Unnamed, unknown, while Scotland far
Resounded with the din of war ;
And many a month and many a day
In calm seclusion wore away.

to years had


These days, these months,

When tidings of high weight were borne

To that lone island's shore ;
Of all the Scottish conquests made

By the First Edward's ruthless blade

His son retained no more,
Northward of Tweed, but Stirling's towers,
Beleaguered by King Robert's powers ;

And they took term of truce,
If England's King should not relieve
The siege ere John the Baptist's eve,

To yield them to the Bruce.
England was roused — on every side
Courier and post and herald hied

To summon prince and peer,
At Berwick-bounds to meet their liege,
Prepared to raise fair Stirling's siege

With buckler, brand, and spear.
The term was nigh — they mustered fast.
By beacon and by bugle-blast

Forth marshalled for the field ;
There rode each knight of noble name,
There England's hardy archers came,
The land they trode seemed all on flame

With banner, blade, and shield !
And not famed England's powers alone,
Renowned in arms, the summons own ;

For Neustria's knights obeyed,
Gascogne hath lent her horsemen good,
And Cambria, but of late subdued,
Sent forth her mountain-multitude,
And Connoght poured from waste and wood
Her hundred tribes, whose sceptre rude

Dark Eth O'Connor swayed.

Right to devoted Caledon
The storm of war rolls slowly on

With menace deep and dread ;
So the dark clouds with gathering power
Suspend awhile the threatened shower,
Till every peak and summit lower

Round the pale pilgrim's head.
Not with such pilgrim's startled eye
King Robert marked the tempest nigh !

Resolved the brunt to bide,
His royal summons warned the land
That all who owned their king's command
Should instant take the spear and brand

lo combat at his side.
O, who may tell the sons of fame
That at King Robert's bidding came

I o battle for the right !



From Cheviot to the shores of Ross,
From Solway-Sands to Marshal's-Moss,

All bouned them for the fight.
Such news the royal courier tells
Who came to rouse dark Arran's dells ;
But farther tidings must the ear
Of Isabel in secret hear.
These in her cloister walk next morn
Thus shared she with the Maid of Lorn


1 My Edith, can I tell how dear
Our intercourse of hearts sincere


1 No ! never to Lord Ronald's bower
Will I again as paramour ' —
1 Nay, hush thee, too impatient maid,
Until my final tale be said ! —
The goo'd King Robert would engage
Edith once more his elfin page,
By her own heart and her own eye
Her lover's penitence to try —
Safe in his royal charge and free,
Should such thy final purpose be,
Again unknown to seek the cell,
And live and die with Isabel.*

Hath been to Isabel ? —
Judge then the sorrow of my heart
When I must say the words, We part !

The cheerless convent-cell
Was not, sweet maiden, made for thee ;
Go thou where thy vocation free

On happier fortunes fell.
Nor, Edith, judge thyself betrayed,
Though Robert knows that Lorn's high

And his poor silent page were one.
Versed in the fickle heart of man,
Earnest and anxious hath he looked
How Ronald's heart the message brooked
That gave him with her last farewell
The charge of Sister Isabel,
To think upon thy better right
And keep the faith his promise plight.
Forgive him for thy sister's sake
At first if vain repinings wake —

Long since that mood is gone :
Now dwells he on thy juster claims,
And oft his breach of faith he blames —

Forgive him for thine own ! ' —

Thus spoke the maid — King Robert's eye
Might have some glance of policy ;
Dunstaffnage had the monarch ta'en,
And Lorn had owned King Robert's reign ;
Her brother had to England fled,
And there in banishment was dead ;
Ample, through exile, death, and flight,
O'er tower and land was Edith's right ;
This ample right o'er tower and land
Were safe in Ronald's faithful hand.


Embarrassed eye and blushing cheek
Pleasure and shame and fear bespeak !
Yet much the reasoning Edith made :
1 Her sister's faith she must upbraid,
Who gave such secret, dark and dear,
In council to another's ear.
Why should she leave the peaceful cell ? —

Online LibraryWalter ScottThe poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet → online text (page 42 of 78)