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Wearied from doubt to doubt to flee,
We welcome fond credulity,
Guide confident, though blind.
Little for this Fitz-Eustace cared,
But, patient, waited till he heard,
At distance, prick'd to utmost speed,
The foot-tramp of a flying steed,
Come townward rushing on :
First, dead, as if on turf it trod,
Then clattering on the village road,
In other pace than forth be yode, *
Return'd Lord Marmion.
Down hastily he sprang from selle,
And, in his haste, well nigh he fell;
To the squire's hand the rein he threw,
And spoke no word as he withdrew :
But yet the moonlight did betray,
The falcon crest was soild with clay ;
might Fitz-Eustace see, By stains upon the charger's knee, And his left side, that on the moor He had not kept his footing sure. Long musing on these wondrous signs, At length to rest the squire reclinesBroken and short; for still between, Would dreams of terror intervene: Eustace did ne'er so blithely mark The first notes of the morning lark.
INTRODUCTION TO CANTO IV.
Scarce by the pale moonlight, were seen
The foldings of his mantle green:
Lightly he dreamt, as youth will dream,
Of sport by thicket, or by stream,
Of hawk or hound, of ring or glove,
Or, lighter yet, of lady's love.
A cautious tread his slumber broke,
And close beside him, when he woke,
In moonbeam half, and half in gloom,
Stood a tall form with nodding plume;
But, ere his dagger Eustace drew,
His master Marmion's voice he knew.
-“ Fitz-Eustace! rise, I cannot rest,
Yon churls wild legend haunts my breast,
And graver thoughts have chafed my mood,
The air must cool my severish blood;
And fain would I ride forth, to see
The scene of elfin chivalry.
Arise, and saddle me my steed,
And, gentle Eustace, take good heed
Thou dost not rouse the drowsy slaves;
I would not that the prating knaves
Had cause for saying, o'er their ale,
That I could credit such a tale.”
Then softly down the steps they slid,
Eustace tne stable door undid,
And, darkling, Marmion's steed array'd,
While, whispering, thus the baron said :-
XXIX. “ Didst never, good my youth, hear tell
That on the hour when I was born, St. George, who graced my sire's chapelle, Down from his steed of marble fell,
A weary wight forlorn ?
The flattering chaplains all agree,
The champion left his steed to me.
I would, the omen's truth to show,
That I could meet this elfin foe!
Blithe would I battle for the right
To ask one question at the sprite :-
Vain thought! for elves, if elves there be,
An empty race, by fount or sea,
To dashing waters dance and sing,
Or round the green oak wheel they ring.”-
Thus speaking, he his steed bestrode,
And from the hostel slowly rode.
Fitz-Eustace follow'd him abroad,
And mark'd him pace the village road,
And listen'd to his horse's tramp,
Till, by the lessening sound,
He judged that of the Pictish camp
Lord Marmion sought the round.
Wonder it seem'd, in the squire's eyes,
That one, so wary held, and wise, -
Of whom, 'twas said, he scarce received
For gospel what the church believed,
Should, stirr'd by idle tale,
Ride forth in silence of the night,
As hoping half to meet a sprite,
Array'd in plate and mail.
For little did Fitz-Eustace know,
That passions, in contending flow
Unfix the strongest mind :
Ashestiel, Ettrick Forest. An ancient minstrel sagely said, “ Where is the life which late we led ?" That motely clown, in Ardenwood, Whom humorous Jaques with envy view'd, Not e'en that clown could amplify, On this trite text, so long as I. Eleven years we now may tell, Since we have known each other well; Since, riding side by side, our hand First drew the voluntary brand; And sure, through many a varied scene, Unkindness dever came between. Away these winged years have flown, To join the mass of ages gone; And though deep mark'd, like all below, With checker'd shades of joy and wo; Though thou o'er realms, and seas hast ranged, Mark'd cities lost, and empires changed, While here, at home, my narrower ken Somewhat of manner saw, and men ; Though varying wishes, hopes, and fears, Fever'd the progress of these years, Yet now days, weeks, and months, but seem The recollection of a dream; So still we glide down to the sea Of fathomless eternity. Even now it scarcely seems a day, Since first I turn'd this idle lay;
* Used by old poets for went.
A task so often thrown aside,
When leisure graver cares denied,
That now, November's dreary gale,
Whose voice inspired my opening tale,
That same November gale once more
Whirls the dry leaves on Yarrow shore.
Their vex'd boughs streaming to the sky,
Once more our naked birches sigh,
And Blackhouse heights, and Ettrick Pen,
Have donn'd their wintry shrouds again ;
And mountain dark, and flooded mead,
Bid us forsake the banks of Tweed.
Earlier than wont along the sky,
Mix'd with the rack, the snowmists fly;
The shepherd, who, in summer sun,
Has something of our envy won,
As thou with pencil, I with pen,
The features traced of hill and glen ;
He who, outstretch'd the livelong day,
At ease among the heath-flowers lay,
View'd the light clouds with vacant look
Or slumber'd o'er his tatter'd book,
Or idly busied him to guide
His angle o'er the lessen'd tide ;-
At midnight now, the snowy plain
Finds sterner labour for the swain.
When red hath set the beamless sun,
Through heavy vapours dank and dun;
When the tired ploughman, dry and warm,
Hears, half asleep, the rising storm
Hurling the bail and sleeted rain,
Against the casement's tinkling pane:
The sounds that drive wild deer, and fox,
To shelter in the brake and rocks,
Are warnings which the shepherd ask
To dismal and to dangerous task.
Oft he looks forth, and hopes, in vain,
The blast may sink in mellowing rain ;
Till, dark above and white below,
Decided drives the flakes of snow,
And forth the hardy swain must go.
Long, with dejected look and whine,
To leave his hearth the dogs repine ;
Whistling and cheering them to aid,
Around his backs he wreathes the plaid :
His flock he gathers, and he guides
To open downs and mountain sides,
Where fiercest though the tempest blow,
Least deeply lies the drift below.
The blast, that whistles o'er the fells,
Stiffens his locks to icicles;
Oft he looks back, while, streaming far,
His cottage window seems a star,-
Loses its feeble gleam,—and then
Turns patient to the blast again,
And, facing to the tempest's sweep,
Drives through the gloom his lagging sheep.
If fails his heart, if his limbs fail,
Benumbing death is in the gale;
His paths, his landmarks, all unknown,
Close to the hut no more his own,
Close to the aid he sought in vain,
The morn may find the stiffen'd swain:
The widow sees, at dawning pale,
His orphans raise their feeble wail:
And, close beside him, in the snow,
Poor Yarrow, partner of their wo,
Couches upon his master's breast,
And licks his cheek to break his rest.
Who envies now the shepherd's let,
His healthy fare, his rural cot,
His summer couch by greenwood tree,
His rustic kirn's* loud revelry,
His native bill-notes, tuned on high,
To Marion of the blithesome eye ;
His crook, his scrip, his oaten reed,
And all Arcadia's golden creed?
Changes not so with us, my Skene,
Of human life the varying scene?
Our youthful summer oft we see
Dance by on wings of game and glee,
While the dark storm reserves its rage,
Against the winter of our age:
As he, the ancient chief of Troy,
His manhood spent in peace and joy,
But Grecian fires, and loud alarms,
Call's ancient Priam forth to arms.
Then happy those-since earth must drain
His share of pleasure, share of pain.
Then happy those, beloved of heaven,
To whom the mingled cup is given
Whose lenient sorrows find relief,
Whose joys are chasten'd by their grief,
And such a lot, my Skene, was thine,
When thou of late wert doom'd to twine,-
Just when thy bridal bour was by,-
The cypress with the myrtle tie.
Just on thy bride her sire had smiled,
And bless'd the union of his child,
When love must change its joyous cheer,
And wipe affection's filial tear.
Nor did the actions, next his end,
Speak more the father than the friend :
Scarce had lamented Forbes paid
The tribute to his minstrel's shade;
The tale of friendship scarce was told,
Ere the narrator's heart was cold-
Far we may search before we find
A heart so manly and so kind!
But not around his honour'd urn,
Shall friends alone and kindred mourn;
The thousand eyes his care had dried,
Pour at his name a bitter tide;
And frequent falls the grateful dew,
For benefits the world ne'er knew.
If mortal charity dare claim
The Almighty's attributed name,
Inscribe above his mouldering clay,
“ The widow's shield, the orphan's stay.”
Nor, though it wake thy sorrow, deem
My verse intrudes on this sad theme;
For sacred was the pen that wrote,
“ Thy father's friend forget thou not.”
And grateful title may I plead,
For many a kindly word and deed,
To bring my tribute to his grave :-
'Tis little—but 'tis all I have.
To thee, perchance, this rambling strain Recalls our summer walks again ; When, doing naught,-and, to speak true, Not anxious to find aught to do,
* The Scottish harvest-home.
The wild unbounded hills we ranged,
While oft our talk its topic changed,
And desultory as our way,
Ranged, unconfined, from grave to gay.
Even when it Aagg'd, as oft will chance,
No effort made to break its trance,
We could right pleasantly pursue
Our sports in social silence, too ;
Thou gravely labouring to portray
The blighted oak’s fantastic spray ;
I spelling o'er, with much delight,
The legend of that antique knight,
Tirante by name, ycleped the White.
At either's feet a trusty squire,
Pandour and Camp, with eyes of fire,
Jealous, each other's motions view'd,
And scarce suppress'd their ancient feud.
The laverock whistled from the cloud;
The stream was lively, but not loud;
From the white thorn the Mayflower shed
Its dewy fragrance round our head :
Not Ariel lived more merrily
Under the blossom’d bough, than we.
And blithesome nights, too, have been ours,
When winter stript the summer's bowers.
Careless we heard, what now I hear,
The wild blast sighing deep and drear,
When fires were bright and lamps beam'd gay,
And ladies tuned the lovely lay;
And he was held a laggard soul,
Who shunn'd to quaff the sparkling bowl
Then he, whose absence we deplore,
Who breathes the gales of Devon's shure,
The longer iniss'd, bewaild the more ;
And thou, and I, and dear loved R-
And one whose name I may not say, -
For not Mimosa's tender tree
Shrinks sooner from the touch than he,-
In merry chorus well combined,
With laughter drown'd the whistling wind.
Mirth was within; and care, without,
Might gnaw her nails to hear our shout.
Not but amid the buxom scene
Some grave discourse might intervene-
Of the good horse that bore him best,
His shoulder, hoof, and arching crest:
For, like mad Tom's,* our chiefest care,
Was horse to ride, and weapon wear.
Such nights we've had; and, though the game
Of manhood be more sober tame,
And though the field day, or the drill,
Seem less important now-yet still
Such may we hope to share again.
The sprightly thought inspires my strain !
And mark, how, like a horseman true,
Lord Marmion's march I thus renew.
The lark sung shrill, the cock he crew,
And loudly Marmion's bugle blew,
And, with their light and lively call,
Brought groom and yeoman to the stall.
Whistling they came, and free of heart,
But soon their mood was changed;
Complaint was heard on every part
Of something disarranged.
Some clamour'd loud for armour lost;
Some brawld and wrangled with the host;
By Becket's bones,” cried one “I fear
That some false Scot has stolen my spear !"
Young Blount, Lord Marmion's second squire,
Found his steed wet with sweat and mire;
Although the rated horseboy sware,
Last night he dress’d him sleek and fair.
While chafed the impatient squire like thunder,
Old Hubert shouts, in fear and wonder,
“ Help gentle Blount ! help, comrades all!
Bevis lies dying in his stall;
To Marmion who the plight dare tell,
Of the good steed he loves so well?”—
Gaping for fear and ruth they saw
The charger panting on his straw;
Till one, who would seemn wisest cried, -
" What else but evil could betide,
With that cursed palmer for our guide ?
Better we had through mire and bush
Been lanternled by friar Rush.”
Fitz-Eustace, who the cause but guess'd,
Nor wholly understood, His comrade's clamorous plaints suppress'd ;
He knew Lord Marmion's mood. Him, ere he issued forth, he sought, And found deep plunged in gloomy thought,
And did his tale display
Simply, as if he knew of naught
To cause such disarray.
Lord Marmion gave attention cold,
Nor marvelld at the wonders told, -
Pass'd them as accidents of course,
And bade his clarions sound to horse.
III. Young Henry Blount, meanwhile, the cost Had reckon'd with their Scottish host; And as the charge he cast and paid, “ III thou deservest thy bire,” he said ;
“ Dost see, thou knave, my horse's plight? Fairies have ridden him all the night,
And left him in a foam !
I trust that soon a conjuring band,
With English cross, and blazing brand,
Shall drive the devils from this land
To their infernal home:
For in this haunted den, I trow,
All night they trampled to and fro,"
The laughing host look'd on the hire,
“Gramercy, gentle southern squire,
And if thou comest among the rest,
With Scottish broad sword to be blest,
I. Eustace, I said, did blithely mark The first notes of the merry lark.
Whose hand the armorial truncheon held, That feudal strife had often quell'd,
When wildest its alarms.
Sharp be the brand, and sure the blow,
And short the pang to undergo.”—
Here stay'd their talk,- for Marmion
Gave now the signal to set on.
The palmer showing forth the way,
They journey'd all the morning day.
The green-sward way was smooth and good,
Through Humbie's and through Saltoun's wood;
A forest glade which, varying still,
Here gave a view of dale and hill;
There narrower closed, till over head
A vaulted screen the branches made.
“A pleasant path,” Fitz-Eustace said ;
“Such as were errant-knights might see
Adventures of high chivalry ;
Might meet some damsel flying fast,
With hair unbound, and looks aghast ;
And smooth and level course were here,
In her defence to break a spear.
Here, too, are twilight nooks and dells
And oft, in such, the story tells,
The damsel kind, from danger freed,
Did grateful pay her champion's meed.”—
He spoke to cheer lord Marmion's mind;
Perchance to show his lore design'd;
For Eustace much had pored
Upon a huge romantic tome,
In the hall-window of his home,
Imprinted at the antique dome
Of Caxton or De Worde.
Therefore he spoke,—but spoke in vain,
For Marmion answer'd naught again.
He was a man of middle age;
In aspect manly, grave, and sage,
As on king's errand come ;
But in the glances of his eye,
A penetrating, keen, and sly
Expression found its home
The flash of that satiric rage,
Which, bursting on the early stage,
Branded the vices of the age,
And broke the keys of Rome.
On milk-white palfrey forth he paced;
His cap of maintenance was graced
With the proud heron plume.
From his steed's shoulder, loin and breast,
Silk housings swept the ground,
With Scotland's arms, device, and crest,
Embroider'd round and round.
The double treasure might you see,
First by Achaius borne,
The thistle, and the fleur-de-lis,
And gallant unicorn.
So bright the kings armorial coat,
That scarce the dazzled eye could note,
In living colours blazon'd brave,
The lion, which his title gave.
A train, which well beseem'd his state,
But all unarm’d, around him wait.
Still is thy name in high account,
And still thy verse has charms,
Sir David Lindesay of the Mount,
Lord lion-king-at-arms !
Down from his horse did Marmion spring,
Soon as he saw the lion-king;
For well the stately baron knew
To him such courtesy was due,
Whom royal James himself had crown'd,
And on his temples placed the round
of Scotland's ancient diadem ;
And wet his brow with hallow'd wine,
And on his finger given to shine
The emblematic gem.
Their mutual greetings duly made,
The lion thus his message said :-
“ Though Scotland's king hath deeply swore
Ne'er to knit faith with Henry more,
And strictly hath forbid resort
From England to his royal court;
Yet, for he knows lord Marmion's name,
And honours much his warlike fame,
My liege hath deem'd it shame, and lack
Of courtesy, to turn him back :
And, by his order, I, your guide,
Must lodging fit and fair provide,
Till finds king James meet time to see
The flower of English chivalry.”
V. Now sudden, distant trumpets shrill, In notes prolong'd by wood and hill,
Were heard to echo far; Each ready archer grasp'd his bow, But by the flourish soon they know,
They breathed no point of war. Yet cautious, as in foeman's land, Lord Marmion's order speeds the band
Some opener ground to gain ;
And scarce a furlong had they rode,
When thinner trees, receding, show'd
A little woodland plain.
Just in that advantageous glade
The halting troop a line had made,
As forth from the opposing shade
Issued a gallant train.
First came the trumpets at whose clang
So late the forest echoes rang;
On prancing steeds they forward press'd,
With scarlet mantle, azure vest;
Each at his trump a banner wore,
Which Scotland's royal scutcheon bore ;
Heralds and pursuivants, by name
Bute, Islay, Marchmount, Rothsay, came,
In painted tabards, proudly showing
Gules, argent, or, and azure glowing,
Attendant on a king-at-arms,
IX. Though inly chafed at this delay, Lord Marmion bears it as he may,
For none were in the castle then
But women, boys, or aged men.
With eyes scarce dried, the sorrowing dame,
To welcome noble Marmion, came;
Her son, a stripling twelve years old,
Proffer'd the baron's rein to hold;
For each man that could draw a sword
Had march'd that morning with their lord,
Earl Adam Hepburn, -he who died
On Flodden by his sovereign's side.
Long may his lady look in vain !
She ne'er shall see his gallant train
Come sweeping back through Crichtoun-dear.
'Twas a brave race, before the name
Of hated Bothwell stain'd their fame.
The palmer, his mysterious guide,
Beholding thus his place supplied,
Sought to take leave in vain :
Strict was the lion-king's command,
That none who rode in Marmion's band
Should sever from the train :
“ England has here enow of spies
In lady Heron's witching eyes :"
To Marchmount thus, apart, he said,
But fair pretext to Marmion made.
The right hand path they now decline,
And trace against the stream the Tyne.
At length up that wild dale they wind,
Where Critchtoun-castle crowns the bank; For there the lion's care assign'd
A lodging meet for Marmion's rank.
That castle rises on the steep
Of the green vale of Tyne ;
And far beneath, where slow they creep
From pool to eddy, dark and deep,
Where alders moist, and willows weep,
You hear her streams repine.
The towers in different ages rose ;
Their various architecture shows
The builders' various hands;
A mighty mass that could oppose,
When deadliest hatred fired its foes,
The vengeful Douglas bands.
Critchtoun ! though now thy miry court
But pens the lazy steer and sheep,
Thy turrets rude and totter'd keep Have been the minstrel's loved resort. Oft have I traced, within thy fort,
Of mouldering shields the mystic sense,
Scutcheons of honour, or pretence, Quarter'd in old armorial sort,
Remains of rude magnificence.
Nor wholly yet hath time defaced
Thy lordly gallery fair;
Nor yet the stony chord unbraced,
Whose twisted knots, with roses laced,
Adorn thy ruin'd stair.
Still rises unimpair'd, below,
The court-yard's graceful portico ;
Above its cornice, row and row,
Of fairhewn facets richly show
Their pointed diamond form,
Though there but homeless cattle go
To shield them from the storm.
And, shuddering, still may we explore,
Where oft whilome were captives pent,
The darkness of thy massy-more :
Or, from thy grass-grown battlement,
May trace, in undulating line,
The sluggish mazes of the Tyne.
Another aspect Crichtoun show'd,
As through its portal Marmion rode;
But yet 'twas melancholy state
Received him at the outer gate ;
And here two days did Marmion rest,
With every rite that honour claims,
Attended as the king's own guest;
Such the command of royal James, Who marshall’d them his lands array, Upon the Borough-moor that lay. Perchance he would not foeman's eye Upon his gathering host should pry, Till full prepared was every band To march against the English land. Here while they dwelt, did Lindesay's wit Oft cheer the baron's moodier fit: And, in his turn, he knew to prize Lord Marmion's powerful mind, and wise Train'd in the lore of Rome and Greece, And policies of war and peace.
It chanced, as fell the second night,
That on the battlement they walk'a, And, by the slowly fading light,
On varying topics talk'd;
And, unaware, the herald-bard
Said, Marmion might his toil have spared
In travelling so far;
For that a messenger from heaven
In vain to James had counsel given
Against the English war:
And, closer question'd, thus he told
A tale which chronicles of old
In Scottish story have enrolld :-
XV. SIR DAVID LINDESAY'S TALE. “Of all the palaces so fair,
Built for the royal dwelling,
In Scotland, far beyond compare
Linlithgow is excelling;
And in its park, in jovial June,
How sweet the merry linnet's tune,
How blithe the blackbird's lay!
The wild buck bells* from ferny brake,
The coot dives merry on the lake,
The saddest heart might pleasure take
To see all nature gay.
But June is to our sovereign dear
The heaviest month in all the year:
* The pil, or prison vault.
* An ancient word for the cry of deer.