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Ancram ford;
And but Lord Dacre's steed

was wight,
And bare him ably in the flight,
Himself had seen him dubbed

a knight.
For the young heir of Brank-

some's line,
God be his aid, and God be

mine !
Through me no friend shall

meet his doom ;
Here, while I live, no foe finds

room.
Then, if thy lords their purpose

urge,
Take our defiance loud and

high ;
Our slogan is their lyke-wake

dirge,
Our moat the grave where

they shall lie.'

XXVII.

Proud she looked round, ap-
plause to claim —
Then lightened Thirlestane's
eye of flame ;

His' bugle Wat of Harden
blew ;
Pensils and pennons wide were flung,
To heaven the Border slogan rung,

' Saint Mary for the young Buccleuch ! '
The English war-cry answered wide,

And forward bent each Southern spear ;
Each Kendal archer made a stride,

And drew the bowstring to his ear;
Each minstrel's war-note loud was blown ; —
But, ere a gray-goose shaft had flown,

A horseman galloped from the rear.



XXVIII.

' Ah ! noble lords ! ' he breathless said,
' What treason has your march betrayed ?
What make you here from aid so far,
Before you walls, around you war ?
Your foerhen triumph in the thought
That in the toils the lion 's caught.
Already on dark Ruberslaw
The Douglas holds his weapon-schaw ;
The lances, waving in his train,
Clothe the dun heath like autumn grain ;
And on the Liddel's northern strand,
To bar retreat to Cumberland,
Lord Maxwell ranks his merrymen good
Beneath the eagle and the rood;
And Jedwood, Eske, and Teviotdale,
Have to proud Angus come ;




And all the Merse and Lauderdale
Have risen with haughty Home.

An exile from Northumberland,
In Liddesdale I 've wandered long,

But still my heart was with merry England,
And cannot brook my country's wrong ;

And hard I 've spurred all night, to show

The mustering of the coming foe.'

XXIX.

' And let them come ! ' fierce Dacre cried ;
' For soon yon crest, my father's pride,
That swept the shores of Judah's sea,
And waved in gales of Galilee,
From Branksome's highest towers dis-
played,
Shall mock the rescue's lingering aid ! — ■
Level each harquebuss on row ;
Draw, merry archers, draw the bow ;
Up, billmen, to the walls, and cry,
Dacre for England, win or die ! ' '— *"



' Yet hear,' quoth Howard, 'calmly hear,
Nor deem my words the words of fear :
For who, in field or foray slack,
Saw the Blanche Lion e'er fall back ?
But thus to risk our Border flower
In strife against a kingdom's power,



36



scorrs poetical works.



Ten thousand Scots 'gainst thousands three,

Certes, were desperate policy.

Nay, take the terms the Ladye made

Ere conscious of the advancing aid :

Let Musgrave meet fierce Deloraine

In single fight, and if he gain,

He gains for us ; but if he 's crossed,

'T is but a single warrior lost :

The rest, retreating as they came,

Avoid defeat and death and shame.'

XXXI.

Ill could the haughty Dacre brook
His brother warden's sage rebuke ;
And yet his forward step he stayed,
And slow and sullenly obeyed.
But ne'er again the Border side
Did these two lords in friendship ride ;
And this slight discontent, men say,
Cost blood upon another day.



The pursuivant-at-arms again
Before the castle took his stand :

His trumpet called with parleying strain
The leaders of the Scottish band ;

And he defied, in Musgrave's right.

Stout Deloraine to single fight.



A gauntlet at their feet he laid.
And thus the terms of fight he said :
' If in the lists good Musgrave's sword

Vanquish the Knight of Deloraine,
Your youthful chieftain, Branksome's lord,

Shall hostage for his clan remain ;
If Deloraine foil good Musgrave,
The boy his liberty shall have.

Howe'er it falls,' the English band,
Unharming Scots, by Scots unharmed,
In peaceful march, like men unarmed,

Shall straight retreat to Cumberland.'

XXXIII.

Unconscious of the near relief,

The proffer pleased each Scottish chief,

Though much the Ladye sage gainsaid :
For though their hearts were brave and true.
From Jedwood's recent sack they knew

How tardy was the Regent's aid :
And you may guess the noble dame

Durst not the secret prescience own,
Sprung from the art she might not name,

By which the coming help was known.
Closed was the compact, and agreed
That lists should be enclosed with speed

Beneath the castle on a lawn :
Thev fixed the morrow for the strife,




THE LAY OF THE LAST MINSTREL. 3;




On foot, with Scottish axe and knife,

At the fourth hour from peep of dawn ;
When Deloraine, from sickness freed,
Or else a champion in his stead,
Should for himself and chieftain stand
Against stout Musgrave, hand to hand.

xxxiv.

I know right well that in their lay
Full many minstrels sing and say

Such combat should be made on horse,
On foaming steed, in full career,
With brand to aid, whenas the spear

Should shiver in the course :
But he, the jovial harper, taught
Me, yet a youth, how it was fought,

In guise which now I say ;
He knew each ordinance and clause
Of Black Lord Archibald's bat'tle-laws,

In the old Douglas' day.
He brooked not, he, that scoffing tongue
Should tax his minstrelsy with wrong,

Or call his song untrue :



For this, when they the goblet plied,
And such rude taunt had chafed his pride,

The Bard of Reull he slew.
On Teviot's side in fight they stood,
And tuneful hands were stained with blood,
Where still the thorn's white branches wave,
Memorial o'er his rival's grave.

xxxv.

Why should I tell the rigid doom
That dragged my master to his tomb ;

How Ousenam's maidens tore their hair,
Wept till their eyes were dead and dim,
And wrung their hands for love of him

Who died at Jedwood Air ?
He died ! — his scholars, one by one,
To the cold silent grave are gone ;
And I, alas ! survive alone,
To muse o'er rivalries of yore,
And grieve that I shall hear no more
The strains, with envy heard before ;
For, with my minstrel brethren fled,
My jealousy of song is dead.



38



SCOTT'S POETICAL WORKS.



He paused : the listening dames again
Applaud the hoary Minstrel's strain.
With many a word of kindly cheer, —
In pity half, and half sincere, —
Marvelled the Duchess how so well
His legendary song could tell
Of ancient deeds, so long forgot ;
Of feuds, whose memory was not ;
Of forests, now laid waste and bare ;
Of towers, which harbor now the hare ;
Of manners, long since changed and gone ;
Of chiefs, who under their gray stone
So long had slept that fickle Fame
Had blotted from her rolls their name,
And twined round some new minion's head
The fading wreath for which they bled :
In sooth, X was strange this old man's verse
Could call them from their marble hearse.

P
The harper smiled, well pleased ; for ne'er

Was flattery lost on poet's ear.

A simple race ! they waste their toil

For the vain tribute of a smile ;

E'en when in age their flame expires,

Her dulcet breath can fan its fires :

Their drooping fancy wakes at praise,

And strives to trim the short-lived blaze.

Smiled then, well pleased, the aged man,
And thus his tale continued ran.



&J)e Hag of tlje Hast fKinstwl.



CAXTO FIFTH.



Call it not vain : — they do not err,
Who say that when the poet dies

Mute Nature mourns her worshipper
And celebrates his obsequies ;

Who say tall cliff and cavern lone

For the departed bard make moan ;

That mountains weep in crystal rill ;

That flowers in tears of balm distil;

Through his loved groves that breezes sigh,

And oaks in deeper groan reply,

And rivers teach their rushing wave

To murmur dirges round his grave.



Not that, in sooth, o'er mortal urn
Those things inanimate can mourn,
But that the stream, the wood, the gale,
Is vocal with the plaintive wail



Of those who, else forgotten long,

Lived in the poet's faithful song,

And, with the poet's parting breath,

Whose memory feels a second death.

The maid's pale shade, who wails her lot.

That love, true love, should be forgot,

From rose and hawthorn shakes the tear

Upon the gentle minstrel's bier :

The phantom knight, his glory fled,

Mourns o'er the field he heaped with dead,

Mounts the wild blast that sweeps amain

And shrieks along the battle-plain ;

The chief, whose antique crownlet long

Still sparkled in the feudal song,

Now, from the mountain's misty throne,

Sees, in the thanedom once his own,

His ashes undistinguished lie,

His place, his power, his memory die ;

His groans the lonely caverns fill,

His tears of rage impel the rill ;

All mourn the minstrel's harp unstrung,

Their name unknown, their praise unsung.

in.

Scarcely the hot assault was stayed,
The terms of truce were scarcely made,
When they could spy, from Branksome's

towers,
The advancing march of martial powers.
Thick clouds of dust afar appeared,
And trampling steeds were faintly heard ;
Bright spears above the columns dun
Glanced momentary to the sun :
And feudal banners fair displayed
The bands that moved to Branksome's aid.



IV.

Vails not to tell each hardy clan,

From the fair Middle Marches came
The Bloody Heart blazed in the van,

Announcing Douglas, dreaded name !
Vails not to tell what steeds did spurn,
Where the Seven Spears of Wedderburne

Their men in battle-order set,
And Swinton laid the lance in rest
That tamed of yore the sparkling crest

Of Clarence's Plantagenet.
Nor list I say what hundreds more,
From the rich Merse and Lammermore,
And Tweed's fair borders, to the war,
Beneath the crest of Old Dunbar

And Hepburn's mingled banners, come
Down the steep mountain glittering far,

And shouting still, 'A Home ! a Home !



Now squire and knight, from Branksome

sent,
On many a courteous message went :



THE LAY OF THE LAST MINSTREL.



39




To every chief and lord they paid
Meet thanks for prompt and powerful aid,
And told them how a truce was made,
And how a day of fight was ta'en
'Twixt Musgrave and stout Deloraine ;

And how the Ladye prayed them dear
That all would stay the fight to see,
And deign, in love and courtesy,

To taste of Branksome cheer.
Nor, while they bade to feast each Scot,
Were England's noble lords forgot.
Himself, the hoary seneschal,
Rode forth, in seemly terms to call
Those gallant foes to Branksome Hall.
Accepted Howard, than whom knight
Was never dubbed, more bold in fight.
Nor, when from war and armor free,
More famed for stately courtesy ;
But angry Dacre rather chose
In his pavilion to repose.



Now, noble dame, perchance you ask
How these two hostile armies met,

Deeming it were no easy task
To keep the truce which here was set ;

Where martial spirits, all on fire,

Breathed only blood and mortal ire.

By mutual inroads, mutual blows,

By habit, and by nation, foes,
They met on Teviot's strand ;



They met and sate them mingled down,
Without a threat, without a frown,

As brothers meet in foreign land :
The hands, the spear that lately grasped,
Still in the mailed gauntlet clasped,

Were interchanged in greeting dear;
Visors were raised and faces shown,
And many a friend, to friend made known,

Partook of social cheer.
Some drove the jolly bowl about ;

With dice and draughts some chased the
day;
And some, with many a merry shout,
In riot, revelry, and rout,

Pursued the football play.

VII.

Yet, be it known, had bugles blown

Or sign of war been seen,
Those bands, so fair together ranged.
Those hands, so frankly interchanged,

Had dyed with gore the green :
The merry shout by Teviot-side
Had sunk in war-cries wild and wide,

And in the groan of death ;
And whingers, now in friendship bare,
The social meal to part and share,

Had found a bloody sheath.
'Twixt truce and war, such sudden change
Was not infrequent, nor held strange,

In the old Border-day ;



40



SCOTT'S POETICAL WORKS.



But yet on Branksome's towers and town,
In peaceful merriment, sunk down
The sun's declining ray.

VIII.

The blithesome signs of wassail gay
Decayed not with the dying day ;
Soon through the latticed windows tall
Of lofty Branksome's lordly hall,
Divided square by shafts of stone,
Huge flakes of ruddy lustre shone ;



Nor less the gilded rafters rang
With merry harp and beakers' clang ;
And frequent, on the darkening plain,

Loud hollo, whoop, or whistle ran,
As bands, their stragglers to regain,

Give the shrill watchword of their clan
And revellers, o'er their bowls, proclaim
Douglas' or Dacre's conquering name.



Less frequent heard, and fainter still,

At length the various clamors died,
And you might hear from Branksome hill

No sound but Teviot's rushing tide ;
Save when the changing sentinel
The challenge of his watch could tell ;
And save where, through the dark profound,
The clanging axe and hammer's sound

Rung from the nether lawn;
For many a busy hand toiled there,
Strong pales to shape and beams to square,
The lists' dread barriers to prepare

Against the morrow's dawn.




Margaret from hall did soon retreat.
Despite the dame's reproving eye ;
Nor marked she, as she left her seat.

Full many a stifled sigh :
For many a noble warrior strove
To win the Flower of Teviot's love,

And many a bold ally.
With throbbing head and anxious heart,
All in her lonely bower apart,
In broken sleep she lay.

By times, from silken couch she rose :
While yet the bannered hosts repose.

She viewed the dawning day :
Of all the hundreds sunk to rest,
First woke the loveliest and the best.



XI.

She gazed upon the inner court,
Which in the tower's tall shadow-
lay,
Where coursers' clang and stamp and
snort
Had rung the livelong yesterday :
Now still as death ; till stalking slow, —
The jingling spurs announced his
tread, —
A stately warrior passed below ;
But when he raised his plumed
head —
Blessed Mary ! can it be ? —
Secure, as if in Ousenam bowers,
He walks through Branksome's hostile
towers,
With fearless step and free.
She dared not sign, she dared not speak —
O, if one page's slumbers break,
His blood the price must pay !
Not all the pearls Queen Mary wears,
Not Margaret's yet more precious tears,
Shall buy his life a day.



XII.

Yet was his hazard small; for well
You may bethink you of the spell

Of that sly urchin page :
This to his lord he did impart,
And made him seem, by glamour art,

A knight from Hermitage.
Unchallenged, thus, the warder's post,
The court, unchallenged, thus he crossed,

For all the vassalage ;
But O, what magic's quaint disguise
Could blind fair Margaret's azure eyes !

She started from her seat ;
While with surprise and fear she strove,
And both could scarcely master love —

Lord Henry 's at her feet.



THE LAY OF THE LAST MINSTREL.



41




Oft have I mused what purpose bad
That foul malicious urchin had
To bring this meeting round,
For happy love 's a heavenly sight,
And by a vile malignant sprite



In such no joy is found ;
And oft I 've deemed, perchance he thought
Their erring passion might have wrought

Sorrow and sin and shame,
And death to Cranstoun's gallant Knight,
And to the gentle Ladye bright



42



SCOTT'S POETICAL WORKS.



Disgrace and loss of fame.
But earthly spirit could not tell
The heart of them that loved so well.
True love 's the gift which God has given
To man alone beneath the heaven :
It is not fantasy's hot fire,

Whose wishes, soon as granted, fly
It liveth not in fierce desire,

With dead desire it doth not die;
It is the secret sympathy,
The silver link, the silken tie,
Which heart to heart, and mind to mind,
In body and in soul can bind. —
Now leave we Margaret and her knight,
To tell you of the approaching fight.

XIV.

Their warning blasts the bugles blew,

The pipe's shrill port aroused each clan
In haste the deadly strife to view,

The trooping warriors eager ran :
Thick round the lists their lances stood,
Like blasted pines in Ettrick wood ;
To Branksome many a look they threw.
The combatants' approach to view,
And bandied many a word of boast
About the knight each favored most.

xv.

Meantime full anxious was the dame:

For now arose disputed claim

Of who should fight for Deloraine,



'Twixt Harden and 'twixt Thirlestane.
They gan to reckon kin and rent,
And frowning brow on brow was bent ;

But yet not long the strife — for, lo !
Himself, the Knight of Deloraine,
Strong, as it seemed, and free from pain,

In armor sheathed from top to toe,
Appeared and craved the combat due.
The dame her charm successful knew,
And the fierce chiefs their claims withdrew.

XVI.

When for the lists they sought the plain,
The stately Ladye's silken rein

Did noble Howard hold :
Unarmed by her side he walked,
And much in courteous phrase they talked

Of feats of arms of old.
Costly his garb — his Flemish ruff
Fell o'er his doublet, shaped of buff.

With satin slashed and lined ;
Tawny his boot, and gold his spur,
His cloak was all of Poland fur,

His hose with silver twined ;
His Bilboa blade, by Marchmen felt,
Hung in a broad and studded belt ;
Hence, in rude phrase, the Borderers still
Called noble Howard Belted Will.

XVII.

Behind Lord Howard and the dame
Fair Margaret on her palfrey came.




THE LA V OF THE LAST MINSTREL.



43




Whose footcloth swept the ground ;
White was her wimple and her veil,
And her loose locks a chaplet pale

Of whitest roses bound ;
The lordly Angus, by her side,
In courtesy to cheer her tried ;
Without his aid, her hand in vain
Had strove to guide her broidered rein.
He deemed she shuddered at the sight
Of warriors met for mortal fight ;
But cause of terror, all unguessed,
Was fluttering in her gentle breast,
When, in their chairs of crimson placed,
The dame and she the barriers graced.

XVIII.

Prize of the field, the young Buccleuch
An English knight led forth to view ;
Scarce rued the boy his present plight,
So much he longed to see the fight.
Within the lists in knightly pride
High. Home and haughty Dacre ride;
Their leading staffs of steel they wield,
As marshals of the mortal field,
While to each knight their care assigned
Like vantage of the sun and. wind.
Then heralds hoarse did loud proclaim,
In King and Queen and Warden's name,



That none, while lasts the strife,
Should dare, by look or sign or word,
Aid to a champion to afford,

On peril of his life ;
And not a breath the silence broke
Till thus the alternate heralds spoke : —

XIX.

ENGLISH HERALD.

' Here standeth Richard of Musgrave,

Good knight and true, and freely born,
Amends from Deloraine to crave,

For foul despiteous scathe and scorn.
He sayeth that William of Deloraine

Is traitor false by Border laws ;
This with his sword he will maintain,

So help him God and his good cause ! '

xx.

SCOTTISH HERALD.

' Here standeth William of Deloraine,
Good knight and true, of noble strain,
Who sayeth that foul treason's stain,
Since he bore arms, ne'er soiled his coat ;

And that, so help him God above !

He will on Musgrave's body prove
He lies most foully in his throat'



44



SCOTT'S POETICAL WORKS.



LORD DACRE.

1 Forward, brave champions, to the fight !
Sound trumpets ! '

LORD HOME.

1 God defend the right ! ' -

Then, Teviot, how thine echoes rang,
When bugle-sound and trumpet-clang
Let loose the martial foes,



XXIII.

In haste the holy friar sped ; —
His naked foot was dyed with red,

As through the lists he ran ;
Unmindful of the shouts on high
That hailed the conqueror's victory,

He raised the dying man ;
Loose waved his silver beard and hair,
As o'er him he kneeled down in prayer




And in mid-list, with shield poised high,
And measured step and wary eye,
The combatants did close !

XXI.

Ill would it suit your gentle ear,

Ye lovely listeners, to hear

How to the axe the helms did sound,

And blood poured down from many a

wound ;
For desperate was the strife and long,
And either warrior fierce and strong.
But, were each dame a listening knight,
I well could tell how warriors fight ;
For I have seen war's lightning flashing,
Seen the claymore with bayonet clashing,
Seen through red blood the v/ar-horse

dashing,
And scorned, amid the reeling strife,
To yield a step for death or life.

XXII.

'T is done, 't is done ! that fatal blow

Has stretched him on the bloody plain ;
He strives to rise — brave Musgrave, no !

Thence never shalt thou rise again !
He chokes in blood — some friendly hand
Undo the visor's barred band,
Unfix the gorget's iron clasp,
And give him room for life to gasp ! —
O, bootless aid ! — haste, holy friar,
Haste, ere the sinner shall expire !
Of all his guilt let him be shriven,
And smooth his path from earth to heaven !



And still the crucifix on high
He holds before his darkening eye;
And still he bends an anxious ear,
His faltering penitence to hear ;

Still props him from the bloody sod,
Still, even when soul and body part,
Pours ghostly comfort on his heart,

And bids him trust in God !
Unheard he prays ; — the death-pang 's o'er
Richard of Musgrave breathes no more.

xxiv.
As if exhausted in the fight,
Or musing o'er the piteous sight,

The silent victor stands ;
His beaver did he not unclasp,
Marked not the shouts, felt not the grasp

Of gratulating hands.
When lo ! strange cries of wild surprise,
Mingled with seeming terror, rise

Among the Scottish bands ;
And all, amid the thronged array,
In panic haste gave open way
To a half-naked ghastly man,
Who downward from the castle ran :
He crossed the barriers at a bound,
And wild and haggard looked around,

As dizzy and in pain ;
And all upon the armed ground

Knew William of Deloraine !
Each ladye sprung from seat with speed ;
Vaulted each marshal from his steed;

' And who art thou,' they cried,
' Who hast this battle fought and won ? '






THE LA Y OF THE LAST MINSTREL.



45



His plumed helm was soon undone —

1 Cranstoun of Teviot-side !
For this fair prize I 've fought and won,
And to the Ladye led her son.



XXV.



Full oft the rescued boy she kissed,
And often pressed him to her breast,



Their influence kindly stars may shower
On Teviot's tide and Branksome's tower,

For pride is quelled and love is free.'
She took fair Margaret by the hand,
Who, breathless, trembling, scarce might
stand ;

That hand to Cranstoun's lord gave she :
1 As I am true to thee and thine,
Do thou be true to me and mine !




For, under all her dauntless show,

Her heart had throbbed at every blow;

Yet not Lord Cranstoun deigned she greet,

Though low he kneeled at her feet.

Me lists not tell what words were made,

What Douglas, Home, and Howard said —

For Howard was a generous foe —
And how the clan united prayed

The Ladye would the feud forego,
And deign to bless the nuptial hour
Of Cranstoun's lord and Teviot's Flower.



XXVI.



She looked to river, looked to hill,
Thought on the Spirit's prophecy,

Then broke her silence stern and still :
; Not you, but Fate, has vanquished me ;



This clasp of love our bond shall be,
For this is your betrothing day,
And all these noble lords shall stay,

To grace it with their company.'

XXVII.

All as they left the listed plain,

•Much of the story she did gain :

How Cranstoun fought with Deloraine,

And of his page, and of the book.

Which from the wounded knight he took ;

And how he sought her castle high,

That morn, by help of gramarye ;

Hqw, in Sir William's armor dight,

Stolen by his page, while slept the knight,

He took on him the single fight.

But half his tale he left unsaid,



4 6



SCOTT'S POETICAL WORKS.




And lingered till he joined the maid. —
Cared not the Ladye to betray
Her mystic arts in view of day ;
But well she thought, ere midnight came,
Of that strange page the pride to tame,
From his foul hands the book to save,
And send it back to Michael's grave. —
Needs not to tell each tender word
'Twixt Margaret .and 'twixt Cranstoun's

lord ;
Nor how she told of former woes,
And how her bosom fell and rose
While he and Musgrave bandied blows. —
Needs not these lovers' joys to tell ;
One day, fair maids, you '11 know them well.

XXVIII.

William of Deloraine some chance
Had wakened from his deathlike trance,

And taught that in the listed plain
Another, in his arms and shield,
Against fierce Musgrave axe did wield,

Under the name of Deloraine.
Hence, to the field unarmed he ran,
And hence his presence scared the clan,
Who held him for some fleeting wraith,
And not a man of blood and breath.
Not much this new ally he loved,
Yet, when he saw what hap had proved,

He greeted him" right heartilie :
He would not waken old debate,



For he was void of rancorous hate.



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