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Whose eye, in age, quick, clear, and keen,
Show'd what in youth its glance had been ;
Whose doom discording neighbours sought,
Content with equity unbought;
To him the venerable Priest,
Our frequent and familiar guest,
Whose life and manners well could paint
Alike the student and the saint;
Alas! whose speech too oft I broke
With gambol rude and timeless joke :
For I was wayward, bold, and wild,
A self-will'd imp, a grandame's child ;
But half a plague, and half a jest,
Was still endured, beloved, caress’d.

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From me, thus nurtured, dost thou ask
The classic poet's well-conn'd task?
Nay, Erskine, nay-On the wild hill
Let the wild heath-bell flourish still ;
Cherish the tulip, prune the vine,
But freely let the woodbine twine,
And leave untrimm'd the eglantine :
Nay, my friend, nay–Since oft thy praise
Hath given fresh vigour to my lays ;
Since oft thy judgment could refine
My flatten'd thought, or cumbrous line;
Still kind, as is thy wont, attend,
And in the minstrel spare the friend.
Though wild as cloud, as stream, as gale,
Flow forth, flow unrestrain’d, my Tale !

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24

CANTO THIRD.

THE HOSTEL, OR INN.

THE livelong day Lord Marmion rode :
The mountain path the Palmer show'd
By glen and streamlet winded still,
Where stunted birches hid the rill.
They might not choose the lowland road,
For the Merse forayers were abroad,
Who, fired with hate and thirst of prey,
Had scarcely faild to bar their way.
Oft on the trampling band, from crown
Of some tall cliff, the deer look'd down ;
On wing of jet, from his repose
In the deep heath, the black-cock rose;
Sprung from the gorse the timid roe,
Nor waited for the bending bow;
And when the stony path began,
By which the naked peak they wan,
Up flew the snowy ptarmigan.
The noon had long been pass'd before
They gain'd the height of Lammermoor;
Thence winding down the norther way,
Before them, at the close of day,
Old Gifford's towers and hamlet lay.

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II.
No summons calls them to the tower,
To spend the hospitable hour.
To Scotland's camp the Lord was gone ;
His cautious dame, in bower alone,

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Dreaded her castle to unclose,
So late, to unknown friends or foes..

On through the hamlet as they paced,
Before a porch, whose front was graced
With bush and flagon trimly placed,

Lord Marmion drew his rein :
The village inn seem'd large, though rude;
Its cheerful fire and hearty food

Might well relieve his train.
Down from their seats the horsemen sprung,
With jingling spurs the court-yard rung ;
They bind their horses to the stall,
For forage, food, and firing call,
And various clamour fills the hall :
Weighing the labour with the cost,
Toils everywhere the bustling host.

III.
Soon, by the chimney's merry blaze,
Through the rude hostel might you gaze ;
Might see, where, in dark nook aloof,
The rafters of the sooty roof

Bore wealth of winter cheer;
Of sea-fowl dried, and solands store,
And gammons of the tusky boar,

And savoury haunch of deer.
The chimney arch projected wide ;
Above, around it, and beside,

Were tools for housewives' hand;
Nor wanted, in that martial day,
The implements of Scottish fray,

The buckler, lance, and brand.
Beneath its shade, the place of state,
On oaken settle Marmion sate,
And view'd around the blazing hearth.
His followers mix in noisy mirth;
Whom with brown ale, in jolly tide,
From ancient vessels ranged aside,
Full actively their host supplied.

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IV.

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Theirs was the glee of martial breast,
And laughter theirs at little jest ;
And oft Lord Marmion deign'd to aid,
And mingle in the mirth they made ;
For though, with men of high degree,
The proudest of the proud was he,
Yet, train’d in camps, he knew the art
To win the soldier's hardy heart.
They love a captain to obey,
Boisterous as March, yet fresh as May;
With open hand, and brow as free,
Lover of wine and minstrelsy ;
Ever the first to scale a tower,
As venturous in a lady's bower :-
Such buxom chief shall lead his host
From India's fires to Zembla's frost.

V.
Resting upon his pilgrim staff,

Right opposite the Palmer stood ;
His thin dark visage seen but half,.

Half hidden by his hood.
Still fix'd on Marmion was his look,
Which he, who ill such gaze could brook,

Strove by a frown to quell;
But not for that, though more than once
Full met their stern encountering glance,
The Palmer's visage fell.

VI.
By fits less frequent from the crowd
Was heard the burst of laughter loud ;
For still, as squire and archer stared
On that dark face and matted beard,

Their glee and game declined.
All gazed at length in silence drear,
Unbroke, save when in comrade's ear
Some yeoman, wondering in his fear,

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Thus whispered forth his mind :-
‘Saint Mary! saw'st thou e'er such sight?
How pale his cheek, his eye how bright,
Whene'er the firebrand's fickle light

Glances beneath his cowl !
Full on our Lord he sets his eye ;
For his best palfrey, would not I
Endure'that sullen scowl.'

VII.
But Marmion, as to chase the awe
Which thus had quelld their hearts, who saw
The ever-varying fire-light show
That figure stern and face of woe,

Now call’d upon a squire :-
'Fitz-Eustace, know'st thou not some lay,
To speed the lingering night away ?
We slumber by the fire.'—

VIII.
'So please you,' thus the youth rejoin’d,
'Our choicest minstrel's left behind.
Ill may we hope to please your ear,
Accustom'd Constant's strains to hear.
The harp full deftly can he strike,
And wake the lover's lute alike;
To dear Saint Valentine, no thrush
Sings livelier from a spring-tide bush,
No nightingale her love-lorn tune
More sweetly warbles to the moon.
Woe to the cause, whate'er it be,
Detains from us his melody,
Lavish'd on rocks, and billows stern,
Or duller monks of Lindisfarne.
Now must I venture as I may,
To sing his favourite roundelay.'

· IX.
A mellow voice Fitz-Eustace had,
The air he chose was wild and sad ;

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