Изображения страниц

Through the dark wood, in mingled tone,
Were Border pipes and bugles blown ;
The coursers' neighing he could ken,
A measured tread of marching men;
While broke at times the solemn hum,
The Almayn's sullen kettle-drum ;

And banners tall, of crimson sheen, · Above the copse appear; And, glistening through the hawthorns

green, Shine helm, and shield, and spear.

XVII. Light forayers, first, to view the ground, Spurr'd their fleet coursers loosely round; Behind, in close array, and fast,

The Kendal archers, all in green, Obedient to the bugle blast,

Advancing from the wood were seen. To back and guard the archer band, Lord Dacre's bill-men were at hand: A hardy race, on Irthing bred, With kirtles white, and crosses red, Array'd beneath the banner tall, That stream'd o'er Acre's conquer'd wall; And minstrels, as they march'd in order, Play'd, “Noble Lord Dacre, he dwells

on the Border."

xix. But louder still the clamour grew, And louder still the minstrels blew, When, from beneath the greenwood tree, Rode forth Lord Howard's chivalry; His men-at-arms, with glaive and spear, Brought up the battle's glittering rear. There many a youthful knight, full keen To gain his spurs, in arms was seen ; With favour in his crest, or glove, Memorial of his ladye-love. So rode they forth in fair array, Till full their lengthen'd lines display; Then call'd a halt, and make a stand, And cried, “St. George, for merry Eng.

[ocr errors]

Behind the English bill and bow,
The mercenaries, firm and slow,

Moved on to fight, in dark array,
By Conrad led of Wolfenstein,
Who brought the band from distant

Rhine, And sold their blood for foreign pay. The camp their home, their law the

sword, They knew no country, own'd no lord: They were not arm'd like England's sons, But bore the leven-darting guns ; Buff coats, all frounced and 'broider'd

o'er, And morsing-horns* and scarfs they

wore ; Each better knee was bared, to aid The warriors in the escalade; All, as they march’d, in rugged tongue, Songs of Teutonic feuds they sung.

* Powder-Hasks.

xx. Now every English eye, intent On Branksome's armed towers was bent; So near they were, that they might know

The straining harsh of each cross-bow; | On battlement and bartizan Gleam'd axe, and spear, and partisan ; Falcon and culver, * on each tower, Stood prompt their deadly hail to shower; And flashing armour frequent broke From eddying whirls of sable smoke, Where upon tower and turret head, The seething pitch and molten lead Reek'd, like a witch's cauldron red. While yet they gaze, the bridges fall, The wicket opes, and from the wall Rides forth the hoary Seneschal.

XXI. Armed he rode, all save the head, His white beard o'er his breast-pla.e

spread; Unbroke by age, erect his seat, He ruled his eager courser's gait; Forced him, with chasten'd fire, to prance, And, high curvetting, slow advance: In sign of truce, his better hand Display'd a peeled willow wand; His squire, attending in the rear, Bore high a gauntlet on a spear. + * Ancient pieces of artillery.

1 A glove upon a lance was the emblem of faith among the ancient Borderers, who were wont, when any one broke his word, to expose this emblem, and proclaim him a faithless villain at the first Border meeting. This ceremony was much dreaded.


When they espied him riding out, It was but last St. Cuthbert's even Lord Howard and Lord Dacre stout He prick'd to Stapleton on Leven, Sped to the front of their array,

Harried* the lands of Richard Musgrave, To hear what this old knight should say. And slew his brother by dint of glaive. XXII.

Then, since a lone and widow'd Dame

These restless riders may not tame, “Te English warden lords, of you Either receive within thy towers Demands the Ladye of Buccleuch, Two hundred of my master's powers, Why, 'gainst the truce of Border tide,

Or straight they sound their warrison. + In hostile guise ye dare to ride,

And storm and spoil thy garrison : With Kendal bow, and Gilsland brand, And this fair boy, to London led, And all yon mercenary band,

Shall good King Edward's page be Upon the bounds of fair Scotland ?

bred." My Ladye reads you swith return; And, if but one poor straw you burn,

XXV. Or do our towers so much molest

He ceased—and loud the boy did cry, As scare one swallow from her nest,

And stretch'd his little arms on high ; St. Mary! but we'll light a brand

Implored for aid each well-known face, Shall warm your hearths in Cumber

And strove to seek the Dame's embrace. land." —

A moment changed that Ladye's cheer, XXIII.

Gush'd to her eye the unbidden tear ; A wrathful man was Dacre's lord, She gazed upon the leaders round, Bat calmer Howard took the word: And dark and sad each warrior frown'd; *May't please thy Dame, Sir Seneschal, Then, deep within her sobbing breast To seek the castle's outward wall, She lock'd the struggling sigh to rest; Our pursuivant-at-arms shall show Unalter'd and collected stood, Both why we came, and when we go.”-| And thus replied, in dauntless mood:The message sped, the noble Dame To the wall's outward circle came;

XXVI. Each chief around leand on his spear, 1 « Say to your Lords of high emprize, To see the pursuivant appear.

Who war on women and on boys, All in Lord Howard's livery dress'd,

That either William of Deloraine The lion argent deck'd his breast;

Will cleanse him, by oath, of marchHe led a boy of blooming hue

treason stain, O sight to meet a mother's view !

Or else he will the combat take It was the heir of great Buccleuch.

'Gainst Musgrave, for his honour's sake. Obeisance meet the herald made,

No knight in Cumberland so good, And thus his master's will he said :

But William may count with him kin XXIV.

and blood. * It irks, high Dame, my noble Lords,

Knighthood he took of Douglas' sword, 'Gainst ladye fair to draw their swords;

When English blood swellà Ancram's Bat yet they may not tamely see,

ford ; All through the Western Wardenry,

And but Lord Dacre's steed was wight, Your law.contemning kinsmen ride,

And bare him ably in the flight, And burn and spoil the Border-side ;

Himself had seen him dubb'd a knight. And ill beseems your rank and birth

For the young heir of Branksome's line, To make your towers a flemens-firth. *

God be his aid, and God be mine; We claim from thee William of Delo

Through me no friend shall meet his raine,

doom; That he may suffer march-treason pain.

Here, while I live no foe finds room. • An asylum for outlaws

* Plundered. Note of assault.



Then, if thy Lords their purpose urge,

Take our defiance loud and high; Our slogan is their lyke-wake* dirge, Our moat, the grave where they shall lie.”

XXVII. Proud she look'd round, applause to

claimThen lighten'd Thirlestane's eye of flame;

His bugle Wat of Harden blew; Pensils and pennons wide were flung, To heaven the Border slogan rung,

“St Mary for the young Buccleuch?” The English war-cry answered wide,

And forward bent each southern spear; Each Kendal archer made a stride,

And drew the bowstring to his ear; Each minstrel's war-note loud was

blown ;But, ere a grey-goose shaft had flown, A horseman gallop'd from the rear.

XXVIII. “Ah! noble Lords !” he breathless


“What treason has your march betray'd ?
What make you here, from aid so far,
Before you walls, around you war?
Your foemen triumph in the thought,
That in the toils the lion's caught.
Already on dark Ruberslaw
The Douglas holds his weapon-schaw; +
The lances, waving in his train,
Clothe the dun heath like autumn grain;
And on the Liddel's northern strand,
To bar retreat to Cumberland,
Lord Maxwell ranks his merry men good,
Beneath the eagle and the rood;
And Jedwood, Eske, and Teviotdale,

Have to proud Angus come ;
And all the Merse and Lauderdale

Have risen with haughty Home.
An exile from Northumberland,

In Liddesdale I've wander'd long;
But still my heart was with merry

And cannot brook my country's

wrong; * Lyke-wake, the watching a corpse previous to interment.

+ Weapon-schaw, the military array of a county.

And hard I've spurr'd all night to show The mustering of coming foe.'

XXIX. “And let them come !" fierce Dacre

cried ; “For soon yon crest, my father's pride, That swept the shores of Judah's sea, And waved in gales of Galilee, From Branksome's highest towers dis

Shall mock the rescue's lingering aid !
Level each harquebuss on row;
Draw, merry archers, draw the bow;
Up, bill-men, to the walls and cry,
Dacre for England, win or die!”-

XXX, “Yet hear,” quoth Howard, “calmly

Nor deem my words the words of fear :
For who, in field or foray slack,
Saw the blanche lion e'er fall back ?
But thus to risk our Border flower
In strife against a kingdom's power,
Ten thousand Scots 'gainst thousands

Certes, were desperate policy.
Nay, take the terms the Ladye made,
Ere conscious of the advancing aid :
Let Musgrave meet fierce Deloraine
In single fight; and, if he gain,
He gains for us; but if he's cross'd,
'Tis but a single warrior lost :
The rest, retreating as they came,
Avoid defeat, and death, and shame.”

Ill could the haughty Dacre brook
His brother Warden's sage rebuke;
And yet his forward step he stay'd,
And slow and sullenly obeyed.
But ne'er again the Border side
Did these two lords in friendship ride :
And this slight discontent, men say,
Cost blood upon another day.

The pursuivant-at-arms again

Before the castle took his stand;
His trumpet call'd, with parleying strain,

The leaders of the Scottish band;

He brook'd not, he, that scoffing tongue
Should tax his minstrelsy with wrong,

Or call his song untrue:
For this, when they the goblet plied,
And such rude taunt had chafed his pride,

The bard of Reull he slew. On Teviot's side, in fight they stood, And tuneful hands were stain'd with

blood; Where still the thorn's white branches

| Memorial o'er his rival's grave.

Why should I tell the rigid doom,
That dragg'd my master to his tomb;

How Ousenam's maidens tore their


Asd he defied, in Musgrave's right,
Scoat Deloraine to single fight;
A gauntlet at their feet he laid,
And thus the terms of fight he said :-
"If in the lists-good Musgrave's sword

Vanquish the knight of Deloraine, Your youthful chieftain, Branksome's

Shall hostage for his clan remain :
If Deloraine foil good Musgrave,
The boy his liberty shall have.

Howe'er it falls, the English band, Unharming Scots, by Scots unharm'd, In peaceful rarch, like men unarm'd, Shall straight retreat to Cumberland."

XXXIII. Cnconscious of the near relief, The proffer pleased each Scottish chief, Though much the Ladye sage gain

say'd ; For though their hearts were brave and

true, From Jedwood's recent sack they knew,

How tardy was the Regent's aid; And you may guess the noble Dame

Durst not the secret prescience own, Spring from the art she might not name,

By which the coming help was known. Closed was the compact, and agreed, That lists should be enclosed with speed,

Beneath the castle, on a lawn : They fox'd the morrow for the strife, On font, with Scottish axe and knife,

At the fourth hour from peep of dawn;
When Deloraine, from sickness freed,
Or else a champion in his stead,
Should for himself and chieftain stand,
Against stout Musgrave, hand to hand.

I know right well, that, in their lay,
Fall many minstrels sing and say,

Sach combat should be made on horse,
On foaming steed, in full career,
With brand to aid, when as the spear

Should shiver in the course :
But he, the jovial harper, taught
Me, yet a youth, how it was fought,

In guise which now I say ;
He knew each ordinance and clause
Of Black Lord Archibald's battle-laws,

In the old Douglas' day.

Wept till their eyes were dead and dim,
And rung their hands for love of him,

Who died at Jędwood Air ?
He died !-his scholars, one by one,
To the cold silent grave are gone;
And I, alas ! survive alone,
To muse o'er rivalries of yore,
And grieve that I shall hear no more
The strains, with envy heard before ;
For, with my minstrel brethren fied,
My jealousy of song is dead,

He paused : the listening dames again
Applaud the hoary Minstrel's strain.
With many a word of kindly cheer,-
In pity half, and half sincere, -
Marvell’d the Duchess how so well
His legendary song could tell-
Of ancient deeds, so long forgot ;
Of feuds, whose memory was not ;
Of forests, now laid waste and bare;
Of towers, which harbour now the hare;
of manners, long since changed and
we gone;
Of chiefs, who under their grey stone
So long had slept, that fickle Fame
Had blotted from her rolls their name,
And twined round some new minion's

head The fading wreath for which they bled; In sooth, 'twas strange, this old man's

verse Could call them from their marble hearse,

The Harper smiled, well pleased ;

for ne'er Was flattery lost on Poet's ear: A simple race ! they waste their toil For the vain tribute of a smile; E'en when in age their flame expires, Her dulcet breath can fan its fires : Their drooping fancy wakes at praise, And strives to trim the short-lived blaze.

Smiled, then, well-pleased, the Aged

And thus his tale continued ran.

Now, from the mountain's misty throne,
Sees, in the thanedom once his own,
His ashes undistinguished lie,
His place, his power, his memory die :
His groans the lonely caverns fill,
His tears of rage impel the rill ;
All mourn the Minstrel's harp unstrung,
Their name unknown, their praise un-

Scarcely the hot assault was staid,
The terms of truce were scarcely made,
When they could spy, from Branksome's

towers, The advancing march of martial powers. Thick clouds of dust afar appear'd, And trampling steeds were faintly heard ; Bright spears above the columns dun, Glanced momentary to the sun ; And feudal banners fair display'd The bands that moved to Branksome's



Call it not vain :— they do not err,

Who say, that when the Poet dies, Mute Nature mourns her worshipper,

And celebrates his obsequies :
Who say, tall cliff, and cavern lone,
For the departed Bard make moan;
That mountains weep in crystal rill;
That flowers in tears of balm distil;
Through his loved groves that breezes

And oaks, in deeper groan, reply;
And rivers teach their rushing wave
To murmur dirges round his grave.

II. Nor that, in sooth, o'er mortal urn Those things inanimate can mourn ; But that the stream, the wood, the gale, Is vocal with the plaintive wail Of those, who, else forgotten long, Lived in the poet's faithful song, And, with the poet's parting breath, Whose memory feels a second death. The Maid's pale shade, who wails her lot, That love, true love, should be forgot, From rose and hawthorn shakes the tear Upon the gentle Minstrel's bier : The phantom Knight, his glory fled, Mourns o'er the field he heap'd with

dead; Mounts the wild blast that sweeps amain, And shrieks along the battle-plain. The chief, whose antique crownlet long Still sparkled in the feudal song,

Vails not to tell each hardy clan,

From the fair Middle Marches came; The Bloody Heart blazed in the van,

Announcing Douglas, dreaded name ! Vails not to tell what steeds did spurn, Where the Seven Spears of Wedder

burne *Their men in battle-order set; And Swinton laid the lance in rest, That tamed of yore the sparkling crest

Of Clarence's Plantagenet. Nor list I say what hundreds more, From the rich Merse and Lammermore, And Tweed's fair borders to the war, Beneath the crest of old Dunbar,

And Hepburn's mingled banners come, Down the steep mountain glittering far, And shouting still, "X Home! a

Home !"

| Now squire and knight, from Branksome

sent, On many a courteous message went ; To every chief and lord they paid Meet thanks for prompt and powerful

aid ; And told them,-how a truce was made,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »