Nor in her fostering fancy perish'd

She would not e'en their folly chide,
E'en things inanimate that had supplied

But like the sun and showers of heaven,
Means of enjoyment once. Maternal love, Which to the false and true are given,
Active and warm, which nothing might restrain, Want and distress relieved on either side.
Led her once more, in years advanced, to rove
To distant southern climes, and once again

Her footsteps press'd the Belgian shore,

But soon, from fear of future change,
The town, the very street that was her home of yore. The evil took a wider range.

The northern farmers, spoil'd and bare,

No more could rent or produce spare
Fondly that homely house she eyed,

To the soil's lords. All were distress'd, The door, the windows, every thing

And on our noble dame this evil sorely pressid. Which to her back-cast thoughts could bring

Her household numerous, her means withheld; The scenes of other days.—Then she applied Shall she her helpless servants now dismiss To knocker bright her thrilling hand,

To rob or starve, in such a time as this, And begg'd, as strangers in the land,

Or wrong to others do ? but nothing quell’d Admittance from the household dame,

Her calm and upright mind.—“Go, summon here And thus preferred her gentle claim :

Those who have served me many a year." “ This house was once my happy home,

The summons went; each lowly name Its rooms, its stair, I fain would see;

Full swiftly to her presence came, Its meanest nook is dear to me,

And thus she spoke: “ Ye've served me long, Let me and mine within its threshold come.” Pure, as I think, from fraud or wrong, But no ; this might not be !

And now, my friendly neighbours, true Their feet might soil her polish'd floor,

And simply I will deal with you. The dame held fast the hostile door,

The times are shrewd, my treasures spent, A Belgian housewife she.

My farms have ceased to yield me rent;
“ Fear not such harm ! we'll doff our shoes : And it may chance that rent or grain
Do not our earnest suit refuse !

I never shall receive again.
We'll give thee thanks, we'll give thee gold; The dainties which my table fed,
Do not kind courtesy withhold !"

Will now be changed for daily bread,
But still it might not be ;

Dealt sparely, and for this I must The dull, unpliant dame refused her gentle plea.

Be debtor to your patient trust,

If ye consent."-Swift through the hall,

With eager haste, spoke one and all.
With her and her good lord, who still

“No, noble dame! this must not be ! Sweet union held of mated will,

With heart as warm and hand as free, Years pass'd away with lightsome speed;

Still thee and thine we'll serve with pride,
But ah! their bands of bliss at length were riven ; As when fair fortune graced your side.
And she was clothed in widow's sable weed, The best of all our stores afford
Submitting to the will of Heaven.

Shall daily smoke upon thy board ;
And then a prosperous race of children good And, shouldst thou never clear the score,
And tender, round their noble mother stood. Heaven for thy sake will bless our store.”
And she the while, cheer'd with their pious love,

She bent her head with courtesy,
Waited her welcome summons from above.

The big tear swelling in her eye,

And thank'd them all. Yet plain and spare, LIII.

She order'd still her household fare, But whatsoe'er the weal or wo

Till fortune's better die was cast,
That Heaven across her lot might throw,

And adverse times were past.
Full well her Christian spirit knew
Its path of virtue, straight and true.

When came the shock of evil times, menacing Good, tender, generous, firm and sage,
The peaceful land—when blood and lineage tracing Through grief and gladness, shade and sheen,
As the sole claim to Britain's throne, in spite As fortune changed life's motley scene,
Of Britain's weal or will, chiefs of the north, Thus pass'd she on to reverend age.
In warlike muster, led their clansmen forth, And when the heavenly summons came,
Brave, faithful, strong and toughly nerved, Her spirit from its mortal frame
Would they a better cause had served !

And weight of mortal cares to free, For Stuart's dynasty to fight,

It was a blessed sight to see, Distress to many a family came,

The parting saint her state of honour keeping Who dreaded more the approaching shame In gifted, dauntless faith, whilst round her, weeping, Of penury's ill-favour'd mien,

Her children's children mourn'd on bended knee. Than e'en the pang of hunger keen. How softly then her pity flow'd !

LVI. How freely then her hand bestow'd!

In London's fair imperial town She did not question their opinion

She laid her earthly burden down. of party, kingship, or dominion :

In Mellerstain, her northern home,

Was raised for her a graven tomb
Which gives to other days her modest, just renown.


[ocr errors][merged small]

The fire blazed bright till deep midnight, And now, ye polish'd fair of modern times,

And the guests sat in the hall, If such indeed will listen to my rhymes,

And the lord of the feast, Lord John of the East, What think ye of her simple, modest worth,

Was the merriest of them all.
Whom I have faintly tried to shadow forth?
How vain the thought! as if ye stood in need His dark gray eye, that wont so sly
For pattern ladies in dull books to read.

Beneath his helm to scowl,
Will she such antiquated virtues prize,

Flash'd keenly bright, like a new-waked sprite Who with superb signoras proudly vies,

As pass’d the circling bowl. Trilling before the dear admiring crowd

In laughter light, or jocund lay, With outstretchd, straining throat, bravuras loud,

That voice was heard, whose sound, Her high-heaved breast press'd hard, as if to boast

Stern, loud, and deep, in battle-fray
The inward pain such mighty efforts cost:

Did foemen fierce astound;
Or on the white-chalk'd floor, at midnight hour,
Her head with many a flaunting, full-blown flower, And stretch'd so balm, like lady's palm,
And bartisan of braided locks enlarged,

To every jester near,
Her flimsy gown with twenty flounces charged, That hand which through a prostrate foe
Wheels gayly round the room on pointed toe,

Oft thrust the ruthless spear.
Scftly supported by some dandy beau:-

The gallants sang, and the goblets rang, Will she, forsooth! or any belle of spirit,

And they revell’d in careless state, Regard such old, forgotten, homely merit?

Till a thundering sound, that shook the ground, Or she, whose cultured, high-strain'd talents soar

Was heard at the castle gate.
Through all th' ambitious range of letter'd lore
With soul enthusiastic, fondly smitten

“ Who knocks without, so loud and stout?
With all that e'er in classic page was written, Some wandering knight, I ween,
And whilst her wit in critic task engages,

Who from afar, like a guiding star, The technic praise of all praised things outrages; Our blazing hall hath seen. Whose finger, white and small, with ink-stain tipt,

“ If a stranger it be of high degree, Still scorns with vulgar thimble to be clipt;

(No churl durst make such din,) Who doth with proud pretence her claims advance

Step forth amaio, my pages twain,
To philosophic, honour'd ignorance

And soothly ask him in.
Of all, that, in divided occupation,
Gives the base stamp of female degradation ; “ Tell him our cheer is the forest deer,
Protests she knows not colour, stripe nor shade, Our bowl is mantling high,
Nor of what stuff her flowing robe is made, And the lord of the feast is John of the East,
But wears, from petty, frivolous fancies free, Who welcomes him courteously.”
TVhatever careful Betty may decree;

The pages twain return'd again,
As certes, well she may, for Betty's skill

And a wild, scared look had they ; Leaves her in purfle, furbelow, or frill,

" Why look ye so ?-is it friend or foe?No whit behind the very costliest fair

Did the angry baron say. That wooes with daily pains the public stare: Who seems almost ashamed to be a woman, “A stately knight without doth wait, And yet the palm of parts will yield to no man But further he will not hie, But holds on battle-ground eternal wrangling, Till the baron himself shall come to the gate, The plainest case in mazy words entangling :- And ask him courteously.”Will she, I trow, or any kirtled sage, Admire the subject of my artless page ?

“By my mother's shroud, he is full proud!

What earthly man is he?And yet there be of British fair, I know,

“ I know not, in truth," quoth the trembling youth, Who to this legend will some favour show

“ If earthly man it be. From kindred sympathy; whose life proceeds In one unwearied course of gentle deeds,

“ In Raveller's plight, he is bedight, And pass untainted through the earthly throng, With a vest of the crim'sy meet; Like souls that to some better world belong. But his mantle behind, that streams on the wind, Nor will I think, as sullen cynics do,

Is a corse's bloody sheet.” Still libelling present times, their number few,

“Out, paltry child! thy wits are wild, Yea, leagued for good they act, a virtuous band,

Thy comrade will tell me true: The young, the rich, the loveliest of the land,

Say plainly, then, what hast thou seen?
Who clothe the naked, and, each passing week,

Or dearly shalt thou rue."
The wretched poor in their sad dwelling seek,
Who, cheer'd and grateful, feebly press and bless Faint spoke the second page with fear,
The hands which princes might be proud to kiss :- And bent him on his knee,
Such will regard my tale, and give to fame “ Were I on your father's sword to swear,
A generous, helpful maid,-a good and noble dame. The same it appear'd to me.”

Then dark, dark lower'd the baron's eye,

But his loosen'd limbs shook fast, and pour'd And his red cheek changed to wan;

The big drops from his brow, For again at the gate more furiously,

As louder still the third time roar'd The thundering din began.

The thundering gate below. “And is there ne'er of my vassals here,

“O rouse thee, baron, for manhood's worth! Of high or low degree,

Let good or ill befall, That will unto this stranger go,

Thou must to the stranger knight go forth, Will go for the love of me?"

And ask him to your hall.” Then spoke and said, fierce Donald the Red, “Rouse thy bold breast,” said each eager guest, (A fearless man was he,)

“ What boots it shrinking so ? “ Yes; I will straight to the castle gate,

Be it fiend, or sprite, or murder'd knight, Lord John, for the love of thee.”

In God's name thou must go. With heart full stout, he hied him out,

“ Why shouldst thou fear? dost thou not wear Whilst silent all remain ;

A gift from the great Glendower, Nor moved a tongue those gallants among,

Sandals blest by a holy priest, Till Donald return'd again.

O’er which naught ill hath power?” “O speak,” said his lord,“ by thy hopes of grace, All ghastly pale did the baron quail, What stranger must we hail ?”

As he turn'd him to the door, But the haggard look of Donald's face

And his sandals blest, by a holy priest, Made his faltering words to fail.

Sound feebly on the floor. “It is a knight in some foreign guise,

Then back to the hall and his merry mates all, His like did I never behold;

He cast his parting eye, For the stony look of his beamless eyes

“God send thee amain, safe back again !" Made my very life-blood cold.

He heaved a heavy sigh. “I did him greet in fashion meet,

Then listen’d they, on the lengthen'd way, And bade him your feast partake,

To his faint and lessening tread, But the voice that spoke, when he silence broke, And, when that was past, to the wailing blast, Made the earth beneath me quake.

That wail'd as for the dead. “(such a tone did tongue ne'er own

But wilder it grew, and stronger it blew,
That dwelt in mortal head ;-

And it rose with an elrich sound,
It is like a sound from the hollow ground, Till the lofty keep on its rocky steep,
Like the voice of the coffin'd dead.

Fell hurling to the ground. “ I bade him to your social board.

Each fearful eye then glanced on high, But in he will not hie,

To the lofty-window'd wall, Until at the gate this castle's lord

When a fiery trace of the baron's face Shall entreat him courteously.

Through the casements shone on all. “ And he stretch'd him the while with a ghastly But the vision'd glare pass'd through the air, smile,

And the raging tempest ceased, And sternly bade me say,

And never more on sea or shore, 'Twas no depute's task your guest to ask

Was seen Lord John of the East. To the feast of the woody bay.”

The sandals, blest by a holy priest, Pale grew the baron, and faintly said,

Lay unscath'd on the swarded green, As he heaved his breath with pain,

But never again on land or main, “ From such a feast as there was spread,

Lord John of the East was seen.
Do any return again?
“ I bade my guest to a bloody feast,

Where the death's wound was his fare,
And the isle's bright maid, who my love betray'd,
She tore her raven hair,


“ The seafowl screams, and the watch-tower gleams, O Go not by Duntorloch's walls And the deafening billows roar,

When the moon is in the wane, Where he unblest was put to rest,

And cross not o'er Duntorloch's bridge, On a wild and distant shore.

The farther bank to gain. “ Do the hollow grave and the whelming wave For there the Lady of the Stream Give up their dead again?

In dripping robes you'll spy, Doth the surgy waste waft o'er its broast

A-singing to her pale, wan babe, The spirits of the slain ?”

An elrich lullaby.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

And stop not at the house of Merne,

On the eve of good Saint John,
For then the Swathed Knight walks his rounds

With many a heavy moan.
All swathed is he in coffin weeds,

And a wound is in his breast,
And he points still to the gloomy vault,

Where they say his corse doth rest.
But pass not near Glencromar's tower,

Though the sun shine e'er so bright;
More dreaded is that in the noon of day,

Than these in the noon of night.
The nightshade rank grows in the court,

And snakes coil in the wall,
And bats lodge in the rifted spire,

And owls in the murky hall.
On it there shines no cheerful light,

But the deep-red setting sun
Gleams bloody red on its battlements

When day's fair course is run. And fearfully in night's pale beams,

When the moon peers o'er the wood,
Its shadow grim stretch'd o'er the ground

Lies blackening many a rood.
No sweet bird's chirping there is heard,

No herd-boy's horn doth blow;
But the owlet hoots, and the pent blast sobs,

And loud croaks the carrion crow.
No marvel! for within its walls

Was done the deed unblest,
And in its noisome vaults the bones

Of a father's murderer rest.
He laid his father in the tomb

With deep and solemn wo,
As rumour tells, but righteous Heaven

Would not be mocked so.
There rest his bones in the mouldering earth,

By lord and by carle forgot ;
But the foul, fell spirit that in them dwelt,

Rest hath it none, I wot!
“ Another night," quoth Malcom's heir,

As he turn'd him fiercely round, And closely clench'd his ireful hand,

And stamp'd upon the ground: “ Another night within your walls

I will not lay my head, Though the clouds of heaven my roof should be,

And the cold, dank earth my bed. “ Your younger son has now your love,

And my step-dame false your ear; And his are your hawks, and his are your hounds,

And his your dark-brown deer.
“ To him you have given your noble steed,

As fleet as the passing wind;
But me have you shamed before my friends,

Like the son of a base-born hind.”
Then answered him the white-hair'd chief,

Dim was his tearful eye,
“ Proud son, thy anger is all too keen,

Thy spirit is all too high.

“ Yet rest this night beneath my roof,

The wind blows cold and shrill,
With to-morrow's dawn, if it so must be,

E’en follow thy wayward will."
But nothing moved was Malcom's heir,

And never a word did he say,
But cursed his father in his heart,

And sternly strode away.
And his coal-black steed he mounted straight,

As twilight gather'd round,
And at his feet with eager speed

Ran Swain, his faithful hound.
Loud rose the blast, yet ne'ertheless

With furious speed rode he,
Till night, like the gloom of a cavern'd mine,

Had closed o'er tower and tree.
Loud rose the blast, thick fell the rain,

Keen flash'd the lightning red,
And loud the awful thunder roar'd

O'er his upshelter'd head.
At length full close before him shot

A Aash of sheeted light,
And the high-arch'd gate of Glencromar's tower,

Glared on his dazzled sight.
His steed stood still, nor step would move,

Up look'd his wistful Swain,
And wagg’d his tail, and feebly whined;

He lighted down amain.
Through porch and court he pass'd, and still

His listening ear he bow'd,
Till beneath the hoofs of his trampling steed

The paved hall echoed loud.
And other echoes answer gave

From arches far and grand;
Close to his horse and his faithful dog

He took his fearful stand.
The night-birds shriek'd from the creviced roof,

And the fitful blast sung shrill; But ere the midwatch of the night,

Were all things hush'd and still. But in the midwatch of the night,

When hush'd was every sound, Faint, doleful music struck his ear,

As if waked from the hollow ground.
And loud and louder still it grew,

And upward still it wore,
Till it seemd at the end of the farthest aisle

To enter the eastern door.
0! never did music of mortal make

Such dismal sounds contain ;
A horrid elrich dirge it seem'd,

A wild, unearthly strain.
The yell of pain, and the wail of wo,

And the short, shrill shriek of fear,
Through the winnowing sound of a furnace flame.

Confusedly struck his ear.
And the serpent's biss, and the tiger's growl,

And the famish'd vulture's cry,
Were mix'd at times, as with measured skill,
In this horrid harmony.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Back from the bier with strong recoil,

Still onward as they go,
Doth he in vain his harrow'd head,

And writhing body throw.
For, closing round, a band of fiends

Full fiercely with him deal,
And force him o'er the bier to bend,

With their fangs of red-hot steel.
Still on they moved, and stopp'd at length,

In the midst of the trembling hall,
When the dismal dirge, from its loudest pitch,

Şunk to a dying fall.
But what of horror next ensued,

No mortal tongue can tell,
For the thrill'd life paused in Malcom's heir,

In a death-like trance he fell.
The morning rose with cheerful light,

On the country far and near,
But neither in country, tower, nor town,

Could they find Sir Malcom's heir.
They sought him east, they sought him west,

O’er hill and vale they ran,
And met him at last on the blasted heath,

A crazed and wretched man.
He will to no one utter his tale,

But the priest of St. Cuthbert's cell, And aye, when the midnight warning sounds,

He hastens his beads to tell.

Up brizzled the locks of Malcom's heir,

And his heart it quickly beat, And his trembling steed shook under his hand,

And Swain cower'd close to his feet.
When, lo! a faint light through the porch

Still strong and stronger grew,
And shed o'er the walls and the lofty roof

Its wan and dismal hue.
And slowly entering then appear'd,

Approaching with soundless tread,
A funeral band in dark array,

As in honour of the dead.
The first that walk'd were torchmen ten

To lighten their gloomy road,
And each wore the face of an angry fiend,

And on cloven goats' feet trod.
And the next that walk'd as mourners meet,

Were murderers twain and twain,
With bloody hands and surtout red,

Befoul'd with many a stain.
Each with a cut-cord round his neck,

And red-strain'd, starting eyen,
Show'd that upon the gibbet tree

His earthly end had been.
And after these, in solemn state,

There came an open bier,
Borne on black, shapeless, rampant forms,

That did but half appear.
And on that bier a corse was laid,

As corse could never lie,
That did by decent hands composed

In nature's struggles die.
Nor stretch'd, nor swathed, but every limb

In strong distortion lay,
As in the throes of a violent death

Is fix'd the lifeless clay.
And in its breast was a broken knife,

With the black blood bolter'd round;
And its face was the face of an aged man,

With the filleted locks unbound.
Its features were fix'd in horrid strength,

And the glaze of its half-closed eye
A last dread parting look express'd,

Of wo and agony.
But, oh! the horrid form to trace,

That follow'd it close behind,
In fashion of the chief mourner,

What words shall minstrel find ?
In his lifted hand, with straining grasp,

A broken knife he press'd,
The other half of the cursed blade

Was that in the corse's breast.
And in his blasted, horrid face,

Full strongly mark'd, I ween, The features of the aged corse

In life's full prime were seen. ... gnash thy teeth and tear thy hair,

And roll thine eyeballs wild, Thou horrible, accursed son,

With a father's blood defiled!


A FEAST was spread in the baron's hall,

And loud was the merry sound, As minstrels play'd at lady's call,

And the cup went sparkling round. For gentle dames sat there, I trow,

By men of mickle might,
And many a chief with dark-red brow,

And many a burly knight.
Each had fought in war's grim ranks,

And some on the surgy sea,
And some on Jordan's sacred banks,

For the cause of Christentie.
But who thinks now of blood or strife,

Or Moorish or Paynim foe? Their eyes beam bright with social life,

And their hearts with kindness glow. “Gramercie, chieftain, on thy tale!

It smacks of thy merry mood.”“ Ay, monks are sly, and women frail,

Since rock and mountain stood." “ Fy, fy! sir knight, thy tongue is keen,

'Tis sharper than thy steel.”— “So, gentle lady, are thine eyen,

As we poor lovers feel. « Come, pledge me well, my lady gay,

Come, pledge me, noble frere ; Each cheerful mate on such a day,

Is friend or mistress dear,”

« ForrigeFortsett »