Walter Scott.

The poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet online

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Have drunk the monks of Saint Bothan's ale,
And driven the beeves of Lauderdale,
Harried the wives of Greenlaw's goods,
And given them light to set their hoods/ —


' Now, in good sooth,' Lord Marmion cried,

c Were I in warlike wise to ride,

A better guard I would not lack

Than your stout forayers at my back ;

But as in form of peace I go,

A friendly messenger, to know,

Why, through all Scotland, near and far,

Their king is mustering troops for war.

The sight of plundering Border spears

Might justify suspicious fears,

And deadly feud or thirst of spoil

Break out in some unseemly broil.

A herald were my fitting guide ;

Or friar, sworn in peace to bide ;

Or pardoner, or travelling priest,

Or strolling pilgrim, at the least/


The captain mused a little space,

And passed his hand across his face. —

' Fain would I find the guide you want,



But ill may spare a pursuivant,
The only men that safe can ride
Mine errands on the Scottish side :
And though a bishop built this fort,
Few holy brethren here resort ;
Even our good chaplain, as I ween,
Sin<)e our last siege we have not seen.
The mass he might not sing or say
Upon one stinted meal a-day ;
So, safe he sat in Durham aisle,
And prayed for our success the while.
Our Norham vicar, woe betide,
Is all too well in case to ride ;
The priest of Shoreswood — he could rein
The wildest war-horse in your train,
But then no spearman in the hall
Will sooner swear, or stab, or brawl.
Friar John of Tillmouth were the man ;
A blithesome brother at the can,
A welcome guest in hall and bower,
He knows each castle, town, and tower.
In which the wine and ale is good,
'Twixt Newcastle and Holy-Rood.
But that good man, as ill befalls,
Hath seldom left our castle walls,
Since, on the vigil of Saint Bede,
In evil hour he crossed the Tweed,
To teach Dame Alison her creed.
Old Bughtrig found him with his wife,
And John, an enemy to strife,
Sans frock and hood, fled for his life.
.The jealous churl hath deeply swore
That, if again he venture o'er,
He shall shrieve penitent no more.
Little he loves such risks, I know,
Yet in your guard perchance will go.'


Young Selby, at the fair hall-board,
Carved to his uncle and that lord,
And reverently took up the word :
* Kind uncle, woe were we each one,
If harm should hap to brother John.
He is a man of mirthful speech,
Can many a game and gambol teach ;
Full well at tables can he play,
And sweep at bowls the stake away.
None can a lustier carol bawl,
The needfullest among us all,
When time hangs heavy in the hall,
And snow comes thick at Christmas tide,
And we can neither hunt nor ride
A foray on the Scottish side.
The vowed revenge of Bughtrig rude
May end in worse than loss of hood.
Let Friar John in safety still
In chimney-corner snore his fill,
Roast hissing crabs, or flagons swill;
Last night, to Norham there came one
Will better guide Lord Marmion.' —

' Nephew,' quoth Heron, ' by my fay,
Well hast thou spoke ;. say forth thy say.' —


' Here is a holy Palmer come,

From Salem first, and last from Rome :

One that hath kissed the blessed tomb,

And visited each holy shrine

In Araby and Palestine ;

On hills of Armenie hath been,

Where Noah's ark may yet be seen ;

By that Red Sea, too, hath he trod,

Which parted at the Prophet's rod ;

In Sinai's wilderness he saw

The Mount where Israel heard the law,

Mid thunder-dint, and flashing levin,

And shadows, mists, and darkness, given.

He shows Saint James's cockle-shell,

Of fair Montserrat, too, can tell ;

And of that Grot where Olives nod,
Where, darling of each heart and eye,
From all the youth of Sicily,

Saint Rosalie retired to God.


' To stout Saint George of Norwich merrj.
Saint Thomas, too, of Canterbury,
Cuthbert of Durham and Saint Bede,
For his sins' pardon hath he prayed.
He knows the passes of the North,
And seeks far shrines beyond the Forth ;
Little he eats, and long will wake,
And drinks but of the stream or lake.
This were a guide o'er moor and dale ;
But when our John hath quaffed his ale.
As little as the wind that blows,
And warms itself against his nose,
Kens he, or cares, which way he goes.' —


1 Gramercy ! ' quoth Lord Marmion,
1 Full loath were I that Friar John,
That venerable man, for me
Were placed in fear or jeopardy :
If this same Palmer will me lead

From hence to Holy-Rood,
Like his good saint, I '11 pay his meed,
Instead of cockle-shell or bead,

With angels fair and good.
I love such holy ramblers ; still
They know to charm a weary hill

With song, romance, or lay :
Some jovial tale, or glee, or jest,
Some lying legend, at the least,

They bring to cheer the way.' —


• Ah ! noble sir,' young Selby said
And finger on his' lip he laid,



1 This man knows much, perchance e'en

Than he could learn by holy lore.
Still to himself he 's muttering,
And shrinks as at some unseen thing.
Last night we listened at his cell ;
Strange sounds we heard, and, sooth to tell.
He murmured on till morn, howe'er
No living mortal could be near.
Sometimes I thought I heard it plain,
As other voices spoke again.
I cannot tell — I like it not —
Friar John hath told us it is wrote,
No conscience clear and void of wrong
Can rest awake and pray so long.
Himself still sleeps before his beads
Have marked ten aves and two creeds.' —


1 Let pass,' quoth Marmion ; ' by my fay,
This man shall guide me on my way.
Although the great arch-fiend and he
Had sworn themselves of company.
So please you, gentle youth, to call
This Palmer to the castle-hall.'
The summoned Palmer came in place :
His sable cowl o'erhung his face ;
In his black mantle was he clad,
With Peter's keys, in cloth of red,

On his broad shoulders wrought;
The scallop shell his cap did deck ;
The crucifix around his neck

Was from Loretto brought ;
His sandals were with travel tore,
Staff, budget, bottle, scrip, he wore ;
The faded palm-branch in his hand
Showed pilgrim from the Holy Land.


Whenas the Palmer came in hall,

Nor lord nor knight was there more tall,

Or had a statelier step withal,

Or looked more high and keen ;
For no saluting did he wait,
But strode across the hall of state,
And fronted Marmion where he sate,

As he his peer had been.
But his gaunt frame was worn with toil ;
His cheek was sunk, alas the while !
And when he struggled at a smile

His eye looked haggard wild :
Poor wretch, the mother that him bare,
If she had been in presence there,
In his wan face and sunburnt hair

She had not known her child.
Danger, long travel, want, or woe,
Soon change the form that best we know —
For deadly fear can time outgo,

And blanch at once the hair ;
Hard toil can roughen form and face,

And want can quench the eye's bright grace,
,Nor does old age a wrinkle trace

More deeply than despair.
Happy whom none of these befall,
But this poor Palmer knew them all.


Lord Marmion then his boon did ask ;
The Palmer took on him the task.
So he would march with morning tide.
To Scottish court to be his guide.
1 But I have solemn vows to pay,
And may not linger by the way,

To fair Saint Andrew's bound,
Within the ocean-cave to pray,
Where good Saint Rule his holy lay.
From midnight to the dawn of day,

Sung to the billows' sound ;
Thence to Saint Fillan's blessed well,
Whose spring can frenzied dreams dispel.

And the crazed brain restore.
Saint Mary grant that cave or spring
Could back to peace my bosom bring,

Or bid it throb no more ! '


And now the midnight draught of sleep,
Where wine and spices richly steep,
In massive bowl of silver deep,

The page presents on knee.
Lord Marmion drank a fair good rest,
The captain pledged his noble giu
The cup went through among the rest,

Who drained it merrily ;
Alone the Palmer passed it by,
Though Selby pressed him courteously.
This was a sign the feast was o'er ;
It hushed the merry wassail roar,

The minstrels ceased to sound.
Soon in the castle nought was heard
But the slow footstep of the guard

Pacing his sober round.


With early dawn Lord Marmion rose :

And first the chapel doors unclose ;

Then, after morning rites were done —

A hasty mass from Friar John —

And knight and squire had broke their fast

On rich substantial repast,

Lord Marmion's bugles blew to horse.

Then came the stirrup-cup in course :

Between the baron and his host,

No point of courtesy was lost ;

High thanks were by Lord Marmion paid,

Solemn excuse the captain made,

Till, filing from the gate, had passed

That noble train, their lord the last.

Then loudly rung the trumpet call ;



.Thundered the cannon from the wall,

And shook the Scottish shore ;
Around the castle eddied slow
Volumes of smoke as white as snow

And hid its turrets hoar,
Till they rolled forth upon the air,
And met the river breezes there,
Which gave again the prospect fair.






Ashesiiel, Ettrick Forest.

The scenes are desert now and bare,
Where flourished once a forest fair,
When these waste glens with copse wen

And peopled with the hart and hind.
Yon thorn — perchance whose prickly spears
Have fenced him for three hundred years,
While fell around his green compeers —
Yon lonely thorn, would he could tell
The changes of his parent dell,
Since he, so gray and stubborn now.
Waved in each breeze a sapling bough !
Would he could tell how deep the shade
A thousand mingled branches made ;
How broad the shadows of the oak.
How clung the rowan to the rock,
And through the foliage showed his head.
With narrow leaves and berries red :
What pines on every mountain sprung,
O'er every dell what birches hung,
In every breeze what aspens shook,
What alders shaded every brook !

' Here, in my shade,' methinks he 'd say,
' The mighty stag at noontide lay ;
The wolf I 've seen, a fiercer game, —
The neighboring dingle bears his name, —
With lurching step around me prowl,
And stop, against the moon to howl :
The mountain-boar, on battle set,
His tusks upon my stem would whet :
While doe, and roe, and red-deer good.
Have bounded by through gay greenwood.
Then oft from Newark's riven tower
Sallied a Scottish monarch's power :
A thousand vassals mustered round,
With horse, and hawk, and horn, and hound :
And I might see the youth intent
Guard every pass with crossbow bent ;
And through the brake the rangers stalk,
And falconers hold the ready hawk :

And foresters, in greenwood trim.
Lead in the leash the ga/ehounds grim,
Attentive, as the bratcJiet's I
From the dark covert drove the pi
To slip them as he broke away.
The startled quarry bounds amain,
As fast the gallant greyhounds strain ;
Whistles the arrow horn the bow.
Answers the harquebus* below ;
While all the rocking hills reply
To hoof-clang, hound, and hunters 1 cry,
And bugles ringing lightsomely.'

Of such proud huntings main tales
Yet linger in our lonely <!.
Up pathless Ettrick and 00 Yarrow,
Where erst the outlaw drew his ait
But not more blithe that s\lvan court.
Than we have been at humbler sport ;
Though small our pomp and mean our game,
Our mirth, dear Marriot. was the same.
Remember'st thou my greyhounds true ?
O'er holt or hill there never ti
From slip or leash t: I Sprang,

More fleet of foot or sun <»t tang.
Nor dull, between each merry chai
Passed by the intermitted spa
For we had fair resource in st
In Classic and in Gothic lore :
We marked each memorable scene,
And held poetic talk between \
Nor hill, nor brook, ur paced along,
But had its legend or its song.
All silent now — for now are still
Thy bowers, untenanted Bowhill !
No longer from thy mountains dun
The yeoman hears the well-known gun,
And while his honest heart glows warm
At thought of his paternal farm,
Round to his mates a brimmer fills.
And drinks, 'The Chieftain of the I Fills I '
No fairy forms, in Yarrow "s bowers.
Trip o'er the walks or tend the flowers.
Fair as the elves whom Janet saw
By moonlight dance on Carterhaugh :
No youthful Baron 's left to grace
The Forest-Sheriff's lonely chace,
And ape, in manly step and tone,
The majesty of Oberon :
And she is gone whose lovely face
Is but her least and lowest grace ;
Though if to Sylphid Queen 't were given
To show our earth the charms of heaven,
She could not glide along the air
With form more light or face more fair.
No more the widow's deafened ear
Grows quick that lady's step to hear :
At noontide she expects her not,
Nor busies her to trim the cot ;
Pensive she turns her humming wheel,
Or pensive cooks her orphans' meal,



Yet blesses, ere she deals their bread,
The gentle hand by which they 're fed.

From Yair - which hills so closely bind,
Scarce can the Tweed his passage find,
Though much he fret, and chafe, and toil,
Till all his eddying currents boil —
Her long-descended lord is gone,
And left us by the stream alone.
And much I miss those sportive boys,
Companions of my mountain joys,
Just at the age 'twixt boy and youth,
When thought is speech, and speech is truth.
Close to my side with what delight
They pressed to hear of Wallace wight,
When, pointing to his airy mound,
I called his ramparts holy ground !
Kindled their brows to hear me speak;
And I have smiled, to feel my cheek,
I 'spite the difference of our years,
Return again the glow of theirs.
Ah. happv boys ! such feelings pure,
They will not, cannot long endure;

demned to stem the world's rude tide,
You may not linger by the side ;
.For Fate shall thrust you from the shore
And Passion ply the sail and oar.
Yet cherish the remembrance still
Of the lone mountain and the rill ;

trust, dear boys, the time will come,
When fiercer transport shall be dumb,

i you will think right frequently,
But, well I hope, without a sigh,
( )n tin- free hours that we have spent
Together on the brown hill's bent

When, musing on companions gone.
We doubly feel ourselves alone,
Something, my friend, we yet may gain ;
There is a pleasure in this pain:
It soothes the love of lonely rest,
Deep in each gentler heart impressed.

dent amid worldly toils,
And stifled soon by mental broils;
Hut. in a bosom thus prepared,
Its still small voice is often heard,
Whispering a mingled sentiment
'Twixt resignation and content.
Oft in my mind such thoughts awake
by lone Saint Mary's silent lake :
Thou know'st it well, — nor fen nor sedge
Pollute the pure lake's crystal edge;
Abrupt and sheer, the mountains sink
At once upon the level brink,
And just a trace of silver sand
Marks where the water meets the land.
Far in the mirror, bright and blue,
Each hill's huge outline you may view :
Shaggy with heath, but lonely bare,

Nor tree, nor bush, nor brake is there,
Save where of land yon slender line
Bears thwart the lake the scattered pine.
Yet even this nakedness has power,
And aids the feeling of the hour :
Nor thicket, dell, nor copse you spy,
Where living thing concealed might lie ;
Nor point retiring hides a dell
Where swain or woodman lone might dwell-
There 's nothing left to fancy's guess,
You see that all is loneliness :
And silence aids — though the steep hills
Send to the lake a thousand rills ;
In summer tide so soft they weep,
The sound but lulls the ear asleep ;
Your horse's hoof-tread sounds too rude,
So stilly is the solitude.

Nought living meets the eye or ear,
But well I ween the dead are near ;
For though, in feudal strife, a foe
Hath laid Our Lady's chapel low,
Yet still, beneath the hallowed soil,
The peasant rests him from his toil,
And dying bids his bones be laid
Where erst his simple fathers prayed.

If age had tamed the passions' strife,
And fate had cut my ties to life,
Here have I thought 't were sweet to dwell,
And rear again the chaplain's cell,
Like that same peaceful hermitage,
Where Milton longed to spend his age.
'T were sweet to mark the setting day
On Bourhope's lonely top decay,
And, as it faint and feeble died
On the broad lake and mountain's side.
To say, * Thus pleasures fade away ;
Youth, talents, beauty, thus decay,
And leave us dark, forlorn, and gray ; '
Then gaze on Dryhope's ruined tower,
And think on Yarrow's faded Flower ;
And when that mountain-sound I heard,
Which bids us be for storm prepared,
The distant rustling of his wings,
As up his force the Tempest brings,
'T were sweet, ere yet his terrors rave,
To sit upon the Wizard's grave,
That Wizard Priest's whose bones are thrust
From company of holy dust ;
On which no sunbeam ever shines —
So superstition's creed divines —
Thence view the lake with sullen roar
Heave her broad billows to the shore ;
And mark the wild-swans mount the gale,
Spread wide through mist their snowy sail,
And ever stoop again, to lave
Their bosoms on the surging wave ;
Then, when against the driving hail

7 6


No longer might my plaid avail.
Back to my lonely home retire,
And light my lamp and trim my fire ;
There ponder o'er some mystic lay,
Till the wild tale had all its sway.
And, in the bittern's distant shriek.
I heard unearthly voices speak.
And thought the Wizard Priest was come-
To claim again his ancient home !
And bade my busy fancy range,
To frame him fitting shape and strange,
Till from the task my brow I cleared,
And smiled to think that I had feared.

But chief 'twere sweet to think such
life —
Though but escape from fortune's strife —
Something most matchless good and wise,
A great and grateful sacrifice,
And deem each hour to musing given
A step upon the road to heaven.

Yet him whose heart is ill at ease
Such peaceful solitudes displease ;
He loves to drown his bosom's jar
Amid the elemental war :
And my black Palmer's choice had been
Some ruder and more savage scene,
Like that which frowns round dark Loch-

There eagles scream from isle to shore ;
I town all the rocks the torrents roar ;
O'er the black waves incessant driven,
Dark mists infect the summer heaven :
Through the rude barriers of the lake,
Away its hurrying waters break,
Faster and whiter dash and curl,
Till down yon dark abyss they hurl.
Rises the fog-smoke white as snow.
Thunders the viewless stream below,
Diving, as if condemned to lave
Some demon's subterranean cave,
Who, prisoned by enchanter's spell,
Shakes the dark rock with groan and yell.
And well that Palmer's form and mien
Had suited with the stormy scene,
Just on the edge, straining his ken
To view the bottom of the den,
Where, deep deep down, and far within,
Toils with the rocks the roaring linn :
Then, issuing forth one foamy wave,
And wheeling round the Giant's Grave,
White as the snowy charger's tail,
Drives down the pass of Moffatdale.

Marriot, thy harp, on I sis strung,
To many a Border theme has rung :
Then list to me, and thou shalt know
Of this mysterious Man of Woe.

XU arm io it-

canto SECOND.

The breeze which l) the imoke

Round Norluim Castle roUi

When all the loud artillery spoke

With lightning-Hash and thunder-stroke,

As Marmion left the hold, —
It curled not Tweed alone, that breeze,
For, far upon Northumbrian *

It freshly blew and ttTOOg,
Where, from high Whitby's cloistered pile
Bound to Saint Cuthberfs Holy I

It bore a bark along.
Upon the gale she stooped her side,
And bounded o'er the swelling tide.

As she were dancing home ;
The merry seamen laughed to see
Their gallant ship so lustily

Furrow the green sea-foam.
Much joyed they in their honored freight ;
For on the deck, in chair of state,
The Abbess of Saint Hilda placed,
With five fair nuns, the galley graced.


'T was sweet to see these holy maids,
Like birds escaped to greenwood shades,

Their first flight from the cage,
How timid, and how curious too,
For all to them was strange and new,
And all the common sights they view

Their wonderment engage.
One eyed the shrouds and swelling sail,

With many a benedicite ;
One at the rippling surge grew pale,

And would for terror pray,
Then shrieked because the sea-dog nigh
His round black head and sparkling eye

Reared o'er the foaming spray ;



And one would still adjust her veil.
Disordered by the summer gale,
Perchance lest some more worldly eye
Her dedicated charms might spy,
Perchance because such action graced
Her fair-turned arm and slender waist.
Light was each simple bosom there,
Save two, who ill mi^ht pleasure share,
The Abbess and the Novice Clare.


The Abbesa was of noble blood,
r.nt early took the veil and hood,
Ere upon life she cast a look,
( >r km w the world that she forsook.
I air too she was, and kind had been
As she was fair, but ne'er had seen
Fee her a timid lover sigh.
Nor knew the influence of her eye.
Love to her ear was but a name.
Combined with vanity and shame :
Her hopes, her fears, her joys, were all
Bounded within the cloister wall;
The deadliest sin her mind could reach
Was of monastic rule the breach.
And her ambition's highest aim
To emulate Saint Hilda's fame.
For this she gave her ample dower
To raise the convent's eastern tower ;
For this, with carving rare and quaint,
She decked the chapel of the saint.

And gave the relic-shrine of cost,
With ivory and gems embossed.
The poor her convent's bounty blest,
The pilgrim in its halls found rest.

Black was her garb, her rigid rule
Reformed on Benedictine school ;
Her cheek was pale, her form was spare;
Vigils and penitence austere
Had early quenched the light of youth :
But gentle was the dame, in sooth ;
Though, vain of her religious sway,
She loved to see her maids obey,
Yet nothing stern was she in cell,
And the nuns loved their Abbess well.
Sad was this voyage to the dame ;
Summoned to Lindisfarne, she came,
There, with Saint Cuthbert's Abbot old
And Tynemouth's Prioress, to hold
A chapter of Saint Benedict,
For inquisition stern and strict
On two apostates from the faith,
And, if need were, to doom to death.


Nought say I here of Sister Clare,
Save this, that she was young and fair ;
As yet a novice unprofessed,
Lovely and gentle, but distressed.
She was betrothed to one now dead,



Or worse, who had dishonored fled,
Her kinsmen bade her give her hand
To one who loved her for her land ;
Herself, almost heart-broken now.
Was bent to take the vestal vow,
And shroud within Saint Hilda's gloom
Her blasted hopes and withered bloom.


She sate upon the galley's prow,
And seemed to mark the waves below ;
Nay, seemed, so fixed her look and eye
To count them as they glided by.
She saw them not — 't was seeming all —
Far other scene her thoughts recall, —
A sun-scorched desert, waste and bare.
Nor waves nor breezes murmured there :
There saw she where some careless hand
O'er a dead corpse had heaped the sand,
To hide it till the jackals come
To tear it from the scanty tomb. —
. See what a woful look was given,
As she raised up her eyes to heaven !

Lovely, and gentle, and distressed —
These charms might tame the fiercest

breast :
Harpers have sung and poets told
That he, in fury uncontrolled,
The shaggy monarch of the wood,
Before a virgin, fair and good,
Hath pacified his savage mood.
But passions in the human frame
Oft put the lion's rage to shame :
And jealousy, by dark intrigue,
With sordid avarice in league.
Had practised with their bowl and knife
Against the mourner's harmless life.
This crime was charged 'gainst those who

Prisoned in Cuthbert's islet gray.


And now the vessel skirts the strand

Of mountainous Northumberland :

Towns, towers, and halls successive rise,

And catch the nuns' delighted eyes.

Monk-Wearmouth soon behind them lay.

And Tynemoutlrs priory and bay :

They marked amid her trees the hall

Of lofty Seaton-Delaval :

They saw the Blythe and Wansbeck floods

Rush to the sea through sounding woods :

They passed the tower of Widderington,

Mt>ther of many a valiant son ;

At Coquet-isle their beads they tell

To the good saint who owned the cell;

Then did the Alne attention claim,

And Warkworth, proud of Percy's name ;

And next they crossed themselves to hear
The whitening breakers sound bo near,

Where, boiling through tin- rocks, thej nur

On Dunstanborongh's caverned bin

Thy tower, proud Bamborough, marked

thev there,
King Ida's castle, huge and square.

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