Слике страница
PDF

“ Now thirty years have o'er me pass'd,

And, to the eye of man,
My lot was with the happy cast,

My heart it could not scan.
“O! I have heard in the dead of night,

My murder'd brother's groan,
And shudder'd, as the pale moonlight

On the mangled body shone.
“ My very miners, pent in gloom,

Whose toil my coffers stored,
And cursed belike their cheerless doom,

Were happier than their lord. « 1), holy man! my tale is told

With pain, with tears, with shame; May penance hard, may alms of gold,

Some ghostly favour claim ? “ The knotted scourge shall drink my blood,

The earth my bed shall be,
And bitter tears my daily food,

To earn Heaven's grace for me.”
Now, where that rueful deed was done,

Endow'd with rights and lands,
Its sharp spires brightening in the sun,

A stately abbey stands.
And the meek'st monk, whose life is there

Still spent on bended knee,
Is he who built that abbey fair,

And planted the Elden Tree.

[ocr errors]

“ With fast unbroke and thirst unslaked,

Must we on the hard ground sleep?
Or, like ghosts from vaulted charnel waked,

Our cheerless vigil keep?”
“ Hard hap this day in bloody field,

Ye bravely have sustain'd,
And for your pains this dismal bield,

And empty board have gain'd.
“Hie, Malcom, to that varlet's steed,

And search is yet remain
Some homely store, but good at need,

Spent nature to sustain.
“ Cheer up, my friends! still heart in hand,

Though few and spent we be, We are the pith of our native land,

And we shall still be free. “ Cheer up! though scant and coarse our meal,

In this our sad retreat,
We'll fill our horn to Scotland's weal,

And that will make it sweet."
Then all, full cheerly, as they could,

Their willing service lent,
Some broke the boughs, some heap'd the wood,

Some struck the sparkling flint. And a fire they kindled speedily,

Where the hall's last fire had been,
And pavement, walls, and rafters high,

In the rising blaze were seen.
Red gleam on each tall buttress pour'd

The lengthen'd hall along,
And tall and black behind them lower'd

Their shadows deep and strong.
The ceiling, ribb'd with massy oak,

From bickering flames below,
As light and shadow o'er it broke,

Seem'd wavering to and fro.
Their scanty meal was on the ground,

Spread by the friendly light,
And they made the brown horn circle round,

As cheerly as they might,
Some talk of horses, weapons, mail,

Some of their late defeat,
By treachery caused, and many a tale

of Southron spy's retreat.
“ Ay, well,” says one,“ my sinking heart

Did some disaster bode,
When faithless Fadon's wily art

Beguiled us from the road."
« But well repaid by Providence

Are such false deeds we see ; He's had his rightful recompense,

And cursed let him be.” “O! curse him not! I needs must rue

That stroke so rashly given : If he to us were false or true,

Is known to righteous Heaven.” so spoke their chief, then silent all

Remain'd in sombre mood, Till they heard a bugle's larum call | Sound distant through the wood.

THE GHOST OF FADON.

On Gask's deserted ancient hall

Was twilight closing fast,
And, in its dismal shadows, all

Seem'd lofty, void, and vast.
All sounds of life, now rest and bare,

From its walls had pass'd away,
But the stir of small birds shelter'd there,

Dull owl, or clattering jay.
Loop-hole and window, dimly seen,

With faint light passing through,
Grew dimmer still, and the dreary scene

Was fading from the view:
When the trampling sound of banded men,

Came from the court without;
Words of debate and call, and then
· A loud and angry shout.
But mingled echoes from within

A mimic mockery made,
And the bursting door, with furious din,

On jarring hinges bray'd.
An eager band, press'd rear on van,

Rush'd in with clamorous sound,
And their chief, the goodliest, bravest man

That e'er trode Scotish ground.
Then spoke forthwith that leader bold,

“ We war with wayward fate : These walls are bare, the hearth is cold,

And all is desolate.

" Rouse ye, my friends !" the chieftain said, But when the spectre raised its arm, “ That blast, from friend or foe,

And brandish'd its glittering blade, Comes from the west; through forest shade That moment broke sear's chilly charm With wary caution go,

On noble Wallace laid. “ And bring me tidings. Speed ye well !"

The threaten'd combat was to him Forth three bold warriors pass'd,

Relief; with weapon bare, Then from the east with fuller swell

He rush'd upon the warrior grim, Was heard the bugle blast.

But his sword shore empty air. Out pass'd three warriors more; then shrill Then the spectre smiled with a ghastly grin, The horn blew from the north,

And its warrior-semblance fled, And other eager warriors still,

And its features grew stony, fix’d, and thin, As banded scouts, went forth.

Like the face of the stiffen'd dead. Till from their chief each war-mate good

The head a further moment crown'd, Had to the forest gone,

The body's stately wreck And he, who fear'd not flesh and blood,

Shook hideously, and to the ground Stood by the fire alone.

Dropt from the bolter'd neck. He stood, wrapp'd in a musing dream,

Back shrunk the noble chief aghast, Nor raised his drooping head,

And longer tarried not, Till a sudden, alter'd, paly gleam

But quickly to the portal pass’d, On all around was spread.

To shun the horrid spot. Such dull, diminish'd, sombre sheen

But in the portal, stiff and tall, From moon eclipsed, by swain

The apparition stood, Belated, or lone herd is seen

And Wallace turn'd and cross'd the hall, O’er-mantling hill and plain.

Where entrance to the wood. Then to the fitful fire he turn'd,

By other door he hoped to snatch, Which higher and brighter grew,

Whose pent arch darkly lower'd, Till the flame like a baleful meteor burn'd

But there, like sentry on his watch, Of clear sulphureous blue.

The dreadful phantom tower'd. Then wist the chief, some soul unblest,

Then up the ruin'd stairs so steep, Of spirit of power was near;

He ran with panting breath, And his eyes adown the hall he cast,

And from a window-desperate leap ! Yet naught did there appear.

Sprang to the court beneath. But he felt a strange, unearthly breath

O'er wall and ditch he quickly got, Upon the chill air borne,

Through brake and bushy stream, And he heard at the gate, like a blast of wrath, When suddenly through darkness shot The sound of Fadon's horn.

A red and lurid gleam. Owls, bats, and swallows, fluttering, out

He look'd behind, and that lurid light From hole and crevice flew,

Forth from the castle came; Circling the lofty roof about,

Within its circuit through the night As loud and long it blew.

Appear'd an elrich flame. His noble hound sprang from his lair,

Red glow'd each window, slit, and door, The midnight rouse to greet,

Like mouths of furnace hot, Then, like a timid trembling hare,

And tint of deepest blackness wore Couch'd at his master's feet.

The walls and steepy moat. Between his legs his drooping tail,

But soon it rose with brightening power, Like dog of vulgar race,

Till bush and ivy green, He hid, and with strange piteous wail

And wall-flower, fringing breach and tower, Look'd in his master's face.

Distinctly might be seen. The porch seem'd void, but vapour dim

Then a spreading blaze with eddying sweep, Soon fill'd the lowering room,

Its spiral surges rear'd, Then was he aware of a figure grim,

And then aloft on the stately keep, Approaching through the gloom.

Fadon's Ghost appear'd. And striding as it onward came,

A burning rafter, blazing bright, The vapour wore away,

It wielded in its hand; Till it stood distinctly by the flame,

And its warrior form, of human height, Like a form in the noon of day.

Dilated grew, and grand. Well Wallace knew that form, that head,

Coped by a curling tawny cloud, That throat unbraced and bare,

With tints sulphureous blent, Mark'd deep with streaming circlet red,

It rose with burst of thunder loud, And he uttered a rapid prayer.

And up the welkin went.

High, high it rose with widening glare,

Sent far o'er land and main,
And shut into the lofty air,

And all was dark again.
A spell of horror lapt him round,

Chillid, motionless, amazed,
His very pulse of life was bound

As on black night he gazed.
Till harness'd warriors' heavy tread,

From echoing dell arose ;
" Thank God !” with utter'd voice, he said,

“For here come living foes.” With kindling soul that brand he drew

Which boldest Southron fears,
But soon the friendly call he knew,

Of his gallant, brave compeers.
With haste each wondrous tale was told,

How still, in vain pursuit,
They follow'd the horn through wood and wold,

And Wallace alone was mute.

Day rose ; but silent, sad and pale,

Stood the bravest of Scottish race; And each warrior's heart began to quail,

When ho look'd in his leader's face.

A NOVEMBER NIGHT'S TRAVELLER.

He, who with journey well begun,
Beneath the beam of morning's sun,
Stretching his view o'er hill and dale,
And distant city, (through its veil
Of smoke, dark spires and chimneys showing,)
O'er harvest lands with plenty Rowing,
What time the roused and busy, meeting
On king's highway, exchange their greeting,
Feels his cheer'd heart with pleasure beat,
As on his way he holds. And great
Delight hath he, who travels late,
What time the moon doth hold her state
In the clear sky, while down and dale
Repose in light so pure and pale !
While lake, and pool, and stream are seen
Weaving their maze of silvery sheen,-
While cot and mansion, rock and glade,
And tower and street, in light and shade
Strongly contrasted, are, I trow!
Grander than aught of noonday show,
Soothing the pensive mind.

And yet,
When moon is dark, and sun is set,
Not reft of pleasure is the wight,
Who, in snug chaise, at close of night
Begins bis journey in the dark,
With crack of whip and ban-dog's bark,
And jarring wheels, and children bawling,
And voice of surly ostler, calling
To postboy, through the mingled din,
Some message to a neighbouring inn,
Which sound confusedly in his ear;
The lonely way's commencing cheer.

With dull November's starless sky
O'er head, his fancy soars not high.

The carriage lamps a white light throw
Along the road, and strangely show
Familiar things which cheat the eyes,
Like friends in motley masker's guise.
“What's that? or dame, or mantled maid,
Or herdboy gather'd in his plaid,
Which leans against yon wall his back?
No; 'tis in sooth a tiny stack
Of turf or peat, or rooty wood,
For cottage fire the winter's food.”_
“Ha! yonder shady nook discovers
A gentle pair of rustic lovers.
Out on't! a pair of harmless calves,
Through straggling bushes seen by halves.”_
“What thing of strange unshapely height
Approaches slowly on the light,
That like a hunchback'd giant seems,
And now is whitening in its beams?
'Tis but a hind, whose burly back
Is bearing home a loaded sack."-
“ What's that, like spots of flecker'd snow,
Which on the road's wide margin show?
'Tis linen left to bleach by night.”-
“Graʼmercy on us ! see I right?
Some witch is casting cantraips there;
The linen hovers in the air!-
Pooh! soon or late all wonders cease,
We have but scared a flock of geese.”-
Thus oft through life we do misdeem
Of things that are not what they seem.
Ah! could we there with as slight scathe
Divest us of our cheated faith!
And then belike, when chiming bells
The near approach of wagon tells,
He wistful looks to see it come,
Its bulk emerging from the gloom,
With dun tarpauling o'er it thrown,
Like a huge mammoth, moving on.
But yet more pleased, throngh murky air
He spies the distant bonfire's glare;
And, nearer to the spot advancing,
Black imps and goblins round it dancing ;
And, nearer still, distinctly traces
The featured disks of happy faces,
Grinning aud roaring in their glory,
Like Bacchants wild of ancient story,
And making murgeons to the flame,
As it were playmate of their game.
Full well, I trow, could modern stage
Such acting for the nonce engage,
A crowded audience every night
Would press to see the jovial sight;
And this, from cost and squeezing free,
November's nightly travellers see.

Through village, lane, or hamlet going,
The light from cottage window showing
Its inmates at their evening fare,
By rousing fire, and earthenware-
And pewter trenches on the shelf,-
Harmless display of worldly pelf -
Is transient vision to the eye
Of hasty traveller passing by ;
Yet much of pleasing import tells,
And cherish'd in the fancy dwells,
Where simple innocence and mirth
Encircle still the cottage hearth.

Across the road a fiery glare
Doth blacksmith's open forge declare,
Where furnace blast, and measured din
Of hammers twain, and all within,-
The brawny mates their labour plying,
From heated bar the red sparks flying,
And idle neighbours standing by
With open mouth and dazzled eye,
The rough and sooty walls with store
Of chains and horseshoes studded o'er,-
An armory of sullied sheen,-
All momently are heard and seen.
Nor does he often fail to meet,
In market town's dark narrow street,
(E’en when the night on pitchy wings
The sober hour of bed-time brings,)
Amusement. From the alehouse door,
Having full bravely paid his score,
Issues the tipsy artizan,
With tipsier brother of the can,
And oft to wile him homeward tries
With coaxing words, so wondrous wise !
The dame demure, from visit late,
Her lantern borne before in stato
By sloven footboy, paces slow,
With patten'd feet and hooded brow.
Where the seam'd window-board betrays
Interior light, full closely lays
The eavesdropper his curious ear,
Some neighbour's fireside talk to hear;
While, from an upper casement bending,
A household maid, belike, is sending
From jug or ewer a slopy shower,
That makes him homeward fleetly scour.
From lower rooms few gleams are sent,
From blazing hearth, through chink or rent;
But from the loftier chambers peer,
(Where damsels doff their gentle geer,
For rest preparing,) tapers bright,
Which give a momentary sight
Of some fair form with visage glowing,
With loosen'd braids and tresses flowing,
Who, busied, by the mirror stands,
With bending head and upraised hands,
Whose moving shadow strangely falls
With size enlarged on roof and walls.
Ah! lovely are the things, I ween,
By arrowy speed's light glam'rie seen!
Fancy, so touch'd, will long retain
That quickly seen, nor seen again.

But now he spies the flaring door
Of bridled Swan or gilded Boar,
At which the bowing waiter stands
To know th’alighting guest's commands.
A place of bustle, dirt, and din,
Cursing without, scolding within ;
Of narrow means and ample boast,
The traveller's stated halting post,
Where trunks are missing or deranged,
And parcels lost and horses changed.

Yet this short scene of noisy coil
But serves our traveller as a foil,
Enhancing what succeeds, and lending
A charm to pensive quiet, sending
To home and friends, left far behind,
The kindliest musings of his mind;

Or, should they stray to thoughts of pain,
A dimness o'er the haggard train,
A mood and hour like this will throw,
As vex'd and burden'd spirits know.

Night, loneliness, and motion are
Agents of power to distance care;
To distance, not discard; for then,
Withdrawn from busy haunts of men,
Necessity to act suspended,
The present, past, and future blended,
Like figures of a mazy dance,
Weave round the soul a dreamy trance,
Till jolting stone, or turnpike gate
Arouse him from the soothing state.

And when the midnight hour is past,
If through the night his journey last,
When still and lonely is the road,
Nor living creature moves abroad,
Then most of all, like fabled wizard,
Night slily dons her cloak and vizard,
His eyes at every corner greeting,
With some new slight of dexterous cheating,
And cunningly his sight betrays,
E'en with his own lamps' partial rays.

The road, that in fair simple day
Through pasture land or corn-fields lay,
A broken hedge-row's ragged screen
Skirting its weedy margin green,-
With boughs projecting, interlaced
With thorn and brier, distinctly traced
On the deep shadows at their back,
That deeper sink to pitchy black,
Appearing oft to fancy's eye,
Like woven boughs of tapestrie,
Seems now to wind through tangled wood,
Or forest wild, where Robin Hood,
With all his outlaws, stout and bold,
In olden days his reign might hold,
Where vagrant school-boy fears to roam,
The gipsy's haunt, the woodman's home.
Yea, roofless barn, and ruin’d wall,
As passing lights upon them fall,
When favour'd by surrounding gloom,
The castle's ruin'd state assume.

The steamy vapour that proceeds
From moistend hide of weary steeds,
And high on either hand doth rise,
Like clouds, storm-drifted, past him flies ;
While liquid mire, by their hoof'd feet
Cast up, adds magic to the cheat,
Glancing presumptuously before him,
Like yellow diamonds of Cairngorum.

How many are the subtle ways,
By which sly night the eye betrays,
When in her wild fantastic mood,
By lone and wakeful traveller wooed !
Shall I proceed? O no! for now
Upon the black horizon's brow
Appears a line of tawny light;
Thy reign is ended, witching night!
And soon thy place a wizard elf,
(But only second to thyself
In glam’rie's art) will quickly take,
Spreading o'er meadow, vale, and brake,
* Her misty shroud of pearly white :-

A modest, though deceitful wight,

[ocr errors]

Who in a softer, gentler way,
Will with the wakeful fancy play,
When knolls of woods, their bases losing,
Are islands on a lake reposing,
And streeted town, of high pretence,
As rolls away the vapour dense,
With all its wavy, curling billows,
Is but a row of pollard willows.-
O no! my traveller, still and lone,
A far, fatiguing way hath gone ;
His eyes are dim, he stoops his crest,
And folds his arins, and goes to rest.

SIR MAURICE.

A BALLAD.
SIR MAURICE was a wealthy lord,

He lived in the north countrie,
Well would he cope with foeman's sword,

Or the glance of a lady's eye. Now all his armed vassals wait,

A stanch and burly band,
Before his stately castle's gate,

Bound for the Holy Land.
Above the spearmen's lengthen'd file,

Are figured ensigns flying;
Stroked by their keeper's hand the while,

Are harness'd chargers neighing. And looks of wo, and looks of cheer,

And looks the two between, On many a warlike face appear,

Where tears have lately been.
For all they love is left behind;

Hope beckons them before:
Their parting sails spread to the wind,

Blown from their native shore.
Then through the crowded portal pass'd

Six goodly knights and tall ;
Sir Maurice himself, who came the last,

Was goodliest of them all.
And proudly roved with hasty eye

O'er all the warlike train ; “ Save ye, brave comrades ! prosperously,

Heaven send us o'er the main !

“ Nay, good my lord ! for had his life

Been lost on battle-ground,
When ceased that sell and fatal strife,

His body had been found.
“ No faith to such delusions give;

His mortal term is past.”— « Not so! not so ! he is alive,

And will be found at last !” These latter words right eagerly

From a slender stripling broke,
Who stood the ancient warrior by,

And trembled as he spoke.
Sir Maurice started at the sound,

And all from top to toe
The stripling scann'd, who to the ground

His blushing face bent low. “ Is this thy kinsman, seneschal ?

Thine own or thy sister's son? A gentler page, in tent or hall,

Mine eyes ne'er look'd upon.“ To thine own home return, fair youth,

To thine own home return; Give ear to likely, sober truth,

Nor prudent counsel spurn. “War suits thee not, if boy thou art;

And if a sweeter name
Befit thee, do not lightly part

With maiden's honour'd fame.”
He turn'd him from his liegemen all,

Who round their chieftain press'd ;
His very shadow on the wall

His troubled mind express'd.
As sometimes slow and sometimes fast

He paced to and fro,
His plumy crest now upward cast

In air, now drooping low.
Sometimes like one in frantic mood,

Short words of sound he utter'd, And sometimes, stopping short, he stood,

As to himself he mutter'd.
“A daughter's love, a maiden's pride!

And may they not agree?
Could man desire a lovelier bride,

A truer friend than she ?
“ Down, cursed thought! a boy's garb

Betrays not wanton will,
Yet, sharper than an arrow's barb,

That fear might haunt me still.”
He mutter'd long, then to the gate,

Return'd and look'd around, But the seneschal and his stripling mate

Were nowhere to be found.
With outward cheer and inward smart,

In warlike fair array,
Did Maurice with his bands depart,

And shoreward bent his way.
Their stately ship rode near the port,

The warriors to receive;
And there, with blessings kind, but short,

Did friends of friends take leave.

“ But see I right? an armed band

From Moorham's lordless hall;
And he who bears the high command,

Its ancient seneschal!
“ Return; your stately keep defend ;

Defend your lady's bower,
Lest rude and lawless hands should rend

That lone and lovely flower.”u God will defend our lady dear,

And we will cross the sea,
From slavery's chain, his lot severe,

Our noble lord to free.”— “Nay, nay! some wandering minstrel's tongue,

Hath framed a story vain;
Thy lord, his liegemen brave among,
Near Acre's wall was slain.”-

« ПретходнаНастави »