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ASHESTIEL, ETTRICK Forest. The scenes are desert now and bare, Where flourish'd once a forest fair,2 When these waste glens with copse were lined, 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 compeersSee a Note to the Border Vinstrelsy, vol. iv. p. 375.
? See Appendix, Note F.
Yon lonely Thorn, would he could tell
The changes of his parent dell.
Since he, so grey 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 show'd his head,
With narrow leaves and berries red ;
What pines on every mountain sprung,
()'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 noon-tide lay:
The wolf I've seen, a fiercer game,
(The neighbouring 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 green-wood.
Then oft, from Newark's riven tower,
Sallied the Scottish monarch's power :
A thousand vassals muster'd 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 falc'ners hold the ready hawk;
And foresters, in green-wood trim,
Lead in the leash the gazehounds grim,
Attentive, as the bratchet's? bay
From the dark covert drove the prey,
To slip them as he broke away.
The startled quarry bounds amain,
As fast the gallant greyhounds strain ;
Whistles the arrow from the bow,
Answers the harquebuss below;
While all the rocking hills reply,
To hoof-clang, hound, and hunters' cry,
And bugles ringing lightsomely.”
Of such proud huntings, many tales
Yet linger in our lonely dales,
L'p pathless Ettrick and on Yarrow,
Where erst the outlaw drew his arrow.”
But not more blithe that silvan court,
Than we have been at humbler sport ;
Though small our pomp, and mean our game,
Our mirth, dear Marriott, was the same.
2 The tale of the outlaw Murray, who held out Newark Castle and Ettrick Forest against the King, may be found in the Border Minstrelsy, vol. i. In the Macfarlane MS., among other causes of James the Fifth's charter to the burgh of Selkirk, is mentioned, that the citizens assisted him to suppress this dangerous outlaw.
Remember’st thou my greyhounds true ?
O’er holt or hill there never flew,
From slip or leash there never sprang,
More fleet of foot, or sure of fang.
Nor dull, between each merry chase,
Pass'd by the intermitted space;
For we had fair resource in store,
In Classic and in Gothic lore :
We mark'd each memorable scene,
And held poetic talk between ;
Nor hill, nor brook, we 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 Hills!”
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 chase,
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 deafen'd 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 orphan's 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.