Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

Brave Douglas, - lovely Ellen —nay,
Nought here of parting will I say.
Earth does not hold a lonesome glen,
So secret, but we meet agen-
Chieftain! we too shall find an hour.n-
He said, and left the sylvan bower.

XXXVI. Old Allan follow'd to the strand (Such was the Douglas's command), And anxious told, how, on the morn, The stern Sir Roderick deep had sworn, The fiery cross should circle o'er Dale, glen, and valley, down, and moor. Much were the peril to the Grame, From those who to the signal came; Far up the lake 't were safest land, Himself would row him to the strand. He gave his counsel to the wind, While Malcolm did, unleeding, bind, Round dirk, and pouch, and broadsword rolla, His ample plaid in tighten'd fold, And stripp'd his limbs to such array, As best might suit the watery way,

While every sob-so mute were all-
Was lieard distinctly through the hall.
The son's despair, the mother's look,
IlI might the gentle Ellen brook ;
She rose, and to her side there came,
To aid her parting steps, the Gråme.

XXXIV.
Then Roderick from the Douglas broke-
As flashes Name through sable smoke,
Kindling its wreaths, long, dark, and low,
To one broad hlaze of rudiy glow,
So the deep anguish of despair
Burst, in fierce jealousy, to air.
With stalwart

grasp

his hand he laid On Malcolm's brcast and belted plaid :

Back, beardless boy!” he sternly said,
« Back, minion! hold'st thou thus at nought
The lesson I so lately taught?
This roof, the Douglas, and that maid,
Thank thou for punishment delay d.»).
Eager as greyhound on his game,
Fiercely with Roderick grappled Græme.
« Perish my name,

if aught afford
Its chieftain safety, save his sword!»-
Thus as they strove, their desperate hand
Griped to the dagger or the brand,
And death had been - But Douglas rose,
And thrust between the struggling foes
His giant strength :-« Clicftains, forego!
I hold the first who strikes, my foe.-
Madmen, forbear your frantic jar!
What! is the Douglas fallen so far,
His daughter's band is deem'd the spoil
Of such dishonourable broil!»
Sullen and slowly they unclasp,
As struck with shame, their desperate grasp,
And each upon his rival glared,
With foot advanced, and blade half-bared.

XXXV. Ere yet the brands aloft were flung, Margaret on Roderick's mantle hung, And Malcolm heard bis Ellen's scream, As falter'd through terrific dream. Then Roderick plunged in sheath his sword, And veild his wrath in scornful word. « Rest safe till moroing;-pily 't were Such cheek should feel the midnight air!(16) Then may'st thou to James Stuart tell, Roderick will keep the lake and fell, Nor lackey, with his free-born clan, The pageant pomp of earthly man. More would he of Clan-Alpine know, Thou canst our strength and passes

show.Malise, what ho!» his benchman came; (17) «Give our safe conduct to the Greme.» Youog Malcolm answer'd, calm and bold, « Fear nothing for thy favourite hold; The spot an angel deign'd to grace, Is bless'd though robbers haunt the place. Thy churlish courtesy for those Reserve, who fear to be thy foes. As safe to me the mountain way At midnight as in blaze of day, Though, with his boldest at his back, Even Roderick Dhu beset the track.

XXXVII. Then spoke abrupt

Farewell to thee,
Pattern of old fidelity!»
The midstrel's hand he kindly pressid, -
« (! could I point a place of rest!
My sovereign holds in ward my land,
My uncle leads my vassal band,
To tame his foes, his friends to aid,
Poor Malcolm has but heart and blade.
Yet, if there be one faithful Grame,
Who loves the chieftain of his name,
Not long shall honourd Douglas dwell,
Like bunted stag, in mountain cell;
Nor, ere yon pride-swoln robber dare,-
I may not give the rest to air!
Tell Roderick Dhu, I owed him nought,
Not the poor service of a boat,
To waft mc to yon mountain-side. »-
Then plunged he in the flashing tide.
Bold o'er the flood his head he bore,
And stoutly steerd him from the shore;
And Allan straind bis anxious eye
Far mid the lake, his form to spy
Darkening across each puny wave,
To wliich the moon

her silver gave.
Fast as the cormorant could skim,
The swimmer plied cach active limb;
Then landing in the moon-light dell,
Loud shouted of his weal to tell.
The minstrel heard the far halloo,
And joyful froin the shore withdrew.

CANTO II.

THE GATHERING.

J. Time rolls his ceaseless course.

The race of yore Who danced our infancy upon their knee.

[blocks in formation]

IV. A heap of witberid bows was piled, Of juniper and rowan wild, Mingled with shivers from the oak, Rent by the lightning's recent stroke. Brian, the hermit, by it stood, Barc-footed, in his frock and hood. His grisled beard and matted hair Obscured a visage of despair; · His naked arms and legs, scam'd o'er, The scars of frantic penance bore. That monk, of savage form and face, (2) The impending danger of his race Had drawn from deepest solitude, Far in Benliarrow's bosom rude. Not his the mien of christian priest, But druid's, from the grave released, Whose harden'd heart and eye might brook On human sacrifice to look ; And much, 't was said, of leathen lore Mix'd in the charms he mutter'd o'er. The hallow'd creed gave only worse And deadlier emphasis of curse; No peasant sought that hermit's prayer, His cave the pilgrim shunn'd with care, The eager huntsinan knew his bound, And in mid chase call'd off his hound; Or if, in lonely glen or strath, The desert-dweller met liis path, He pray'd, and sign'd the cross between, While terror took devotion's mien,

round. (1)

be

U. The summer dawn's reflected hue To purple changed Loch Katrine blue; Mildly and soft the western breeze Just kiss'd the lake, just stirr'd the trees, And the pleased lake, like maiden coy, Trembled but dimpled not for joy; The mountain-shadows on her breast Were neither broken nor at rest; Io bright uncertainty they lic, Like future joys to Fancy's eye. The water-lily to the light Her chalice reard of silver bright; The doe awoke, and to the lawn, Begemm'd with dew-drops, led her fawn; The grey mist left the mountain-side, The torrent show'd ils glistening pride; Invisible in flecked sky, The lark sent down her revelry; The blackbird and the speckled thrush Good-morrow gave from brake and bush; In answer coo'd the cushal-dove, Her notes of peace, and rest, and love.

V. Of Brian's birth strange tales were told; (3) His mother watch'd a midnight fold, I uilt deep within a dreary glen, Where scatter'd lay the bones of men, In some forgotten battle slain, And bleachid by drifting wind and rain. It might have tamed a warrior's heart, To view such mockery of his art ! The knot-grass fetter'd there the hand, Which once could burst an iron band; Beneath the broad and ample bone, That buckler'd heart to fear unknown, A feeble and a timorous guest, The field-fare framed lier lowly nest; There the slow blind-worm left his slime On the fleet limbs that mock'd at time; And there, too, lay the leader's skull, Still wreathi'd with chaplet flush'd and full, For beath-bell, with her purple bloom, Supplied the bonnet and the plume. All night, in this sad glen, the maid Sale, shrouded in her mantle's shade: -She said, no shepherd sought her side, No hunter's hand her snood untied, Yet ne'er again to Lraid her hair The virgin snood did Alice wear; (4) Gone was her maiden glee and sport, Her maiden girdle all too short, Nor sought she, from that fatal night, Or holy church, or blessed rite, But lock'd her secret in her breast, And died in travail, unconfess'd.

III. No thought of peace, no thought of rest, Assuaged the storm in Roderick's breast. With sheathed broadsword in his band, abrupt he paced the islet strand, And eyed the rising sun, and laid llis hand on his impatient blade. lieneath a rock, bis vassals' care Was prompt the ritual to prepare, With deep and deathful meaning fraught; for such Antiquity had tauglit Was preface meet, ere yet abroad The cross of fire should take its road. The shrinking band stood oft aghast At the impatient glance lic cast; Such glance the mountain eagle threw, As, from the cliffs of Ben-venue, She spread her dark sails on the wind, And, high in middle heaven reclined, With her broad shadow on the lake, Silenced the warblers of the brake.

[ocr errors]

1

VI. Alone, among luis young compeers, Was Brian from his infant years; A moody and heart-broken boy, Estranged from sympathy and joy, Bearing each launt which careless tongue On his mysterious lineage flung. Whole nights he spent by moon-light pale, To wood and stream his hap to wail, Till, frantic, he as truth received What of his birth the crowd believed, And sought, in mist and meteor fire, To meet and know his phantom sire! In vain, to soothe his wayward fate, The cloister oped her pitying gate; In vain, the learning of the aye Unclasp'd the sable-letter'd page; Even in its treasures he could find Food for the fever of his mind. Eager le read whatever tells Of magic, cabala, and spells, And every dark pursuit allied To curious and presumptuous pride : Till, with fired brain and nerves o'erstrung, And heart with mystic horrors wrung, Desperate he sought Benharrow's den, And hid him from the haunts of men.

Patient the sickening victim eyed
The life-blood ebb in crimson tide,
Down his clogg'd beard and shaggy limb,
Till darkness glazed his eye-balls dim.
The grisly priest, with murmuring prayer,
A slender crosslet, formd with care,
A cubit's length in measure due ;
The shafts and limbs were rods of yew,
Whose parents in Inch-Cailliach wave
Their shadows o'er Clan-Alpine's grave, (8)
And, answering Lomond's breezes deep,
Soothe many a chieftain's endless sleep.
The cross, thus formd, he held on high,
With wasted hand, and haggard eye,
And strange and mingled feelings woke,
While his anathema he spoke.

IX.
« Woe to the clansman, who shall view
This symbol of sepulchral yew,
Forgetful that its branches grew
Where weep the heavens their holiest dew

On Alpine's dwelling low!
Deserter of his chieftain's trust,
He ne'er shall mingle with their dust,
But, from his sires and kindred thrust,
Each clansman's execration just

Shall doom him wrath and woe.»
He passed ;-the word the vassals took,
With forward step and fiery look,
On high their naked brands they shook,
Their clattering targets wildly strook ;

And first, in murmur low,
Then, like the billow in his course,
That far to seaward finds his source,
And flings to shore his muster'd force,
Burst, with loud roar, their answer hoarse,

« Woe to the traitor, woe!»
Ben-an's gray scalp the accents knew,
The joyous wolf from covert drew,
The exulting eagle scream'd afar,-
They knew the voice of Alpine's war,

VII. The desert gave him visions wild, Such as might suit the spectre's child. (5) Where with black cliffs the torrents toil, He watch'd the wheeling eddies boil, Till, from their foam, his dazzled eyes Beheld the river demon rise; The mountain mist took form and limb, Of noontide bag, or goblin grim; The midnight wind came wild and dread, Swell'd with the voices of the dead; Far on the future battle-heath His eye beheld the ranks of death: Thus the lone seer, from mankind hurld, Shaped forth a disembodied world. One lingering sympathy of mind Suill bound him to the mortal kind; The only parent he could claim of ancient Alpine's lineage came. Late had he heard in prophet's dream, The fatal Ben-Shie's boding scream ; (6) Sounds, too, had come in midnight blast, Of charging steeds, careering fast Alony Benliarrow's shingly side, Where mortal borseman ne'er might ride; (5) The thunderbolt had split the pine, All augurd ill to Alpine's line. Ile girt his loins, and came to show The signals of impending woe, And now stood prompt to bless or ban, As bade the chieftain of his clan.

X. The shout was hush'd on lake and fell, The monk resumed his mutter'd spell. Dismal and low its accents came, The while he scathed the cross with flame; And the few words that reach'd the air, Although the holiest name was there, Had more of blasphemy than prayer, But when he shook above the crowd Its kindled points, he spoke aloud :« Woe to the wretch, who fails to rear At this dread sign the ready spear! For, as the flames this symbol sear, His home, the refuge of his fear,

A kindred fate shall know;
Far o'er its roof the volumed flame
Clap-Alpine's vengeance shall proclaim,
While maids and matrons on his name
Shall call down wretchedness and shame,

And infamy and woe.»
Then rose the cry of females, shrill
As goss-hawk's whistle on the hill,

VIII. 'T was all prepared ;-and from the rock, A goat, the patriarch of the flock, Before the kindling pile was laid, And pierced by Roderick's ready blade.

[merged small][ocr errors]

Bend 'gainst the steepy liill ilıy breast,
Burst down like torrent from its crest;
With short and springing footstep pass
The trembling bog and false morass;
Across the brook like roe-buck bound,
And thread the brake like quçsting hound;
The crag is high, the scaur is deep,
Yet shrink not from the desperate leap;
Parch'd are thy burning lips and brow,
Yst by the fountain pause not now;
llerald of battle, fate, and fear,
Stretch onward in thy fleet career!
The wounded hind thou track'st not now,
Pursuest not maid through green-wood bough,
Nor pliest thou now tlıy flying pace,
With rivals in the mountain race;
But danger, death, and warrior deed,
Are in thy course-Speed, Malise, speed !

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

XI. Then deeper paused the priest anew, And bard his labouring breath he drew, While, with set teeth and clenched hand, And eyes that glow'd like fiery brand, de meditated curse more dread, And deadlier on the clansman's head, Who, summond to his chieftain's aid, The signal saw and disobey'd. The crosslet's points of sparkling wood Re quench'd among the bubbling blood, And, as again the siga he reard, Hollow and hoarse his voice was heard: «When flits this cross from man to man, Vich-Alpine's summons to his clan, Burst be the ear that fails to hced! Palsied the foot that sluns to speed! May ravens tear the careless eyes, Wolves make the coward heart their prize! As sinks that blood-stream in the earth, So may his heart's blood drench his hearth! As dies in bissing gore the spark, Quench thou his light, Destruction dark ! And be the grace to him denied, Bought by this sign to all beside !»--He ceased : no echo gave agen The murmur of the deep amen.

XIV. Fast as the fatal symbol flies, In arms the huts and hamlets rise; From winding glen, from upland brown, They pour'd each hardy tenant down. Nor slack'd the messenger his pace; He show'd the sigo, he named the place, And, pressing forward like the wind, Left clamour and surprise behind. The fisherman forsook the strand, The swarthy smith took dirk and brand; With changed cheer, the mower blithe Left in the balf-cut swathe his scythe; The herds without a keeper stray'd, The plough was in mid-furrow staid, The falc'ner toss'd his hawk away, The hunter left the stag at bay; Prompt at the signal of alarms, Each son of Alpine rush'd to arms; So swept the tumult and affray Along the margin of Achray. Alas! thou lovely lake! that err Thy banks should echo sounds of fear! The rocks, the bosky thickets, sleep So stilly on thy bosom deep, The lark's blithe carol, from the cloud, Seems for the scene too gaily loud.

XII. Then Roderick, with impatient look, From Brian's hand the symbol took : Speed, Malise, speed!» he said, and gave The crosslet to his benchman brave. • The muster-place be Lanrick meadInstant the time--speed, Malise, speed!» like heath-bird, when the hawks pursue, A barge across Loch katrinc flew; High stood the henchman on the prow, So rapidly the bargemen row, The bubbles, where they launchi'd the boat, Were all upbroken and afloat, Dancing in foam and rippie still, When it had neard the main-land hill; And from the silver beach's side Still was the prow three fathom wide, When lightly bounded to the land The messenger of blood and brand.

[ocr errors]

XV. Speed, Malise, speed! the lake is past, Duncraggan's huts appear at last, And peep, like moss-grown rocks, half seen, Half hidden in the copse so green; There mayst thou rest, thy labour donc, Their lord shall speed the signal on.As stoops the lawk upon his prey, The henchman shot him down the way. -What woful accents load the gale? The funeral yell, the female wail ! A gallant hunter's sport is o'er, A valiant warrior fights no more Who, in the battle or the chase, At Roderick's side shall fill his place?-Within the hall, where torches'ray Supplies the excluded beams of day,

XIIT. Speed, Malise, speed! the dun deer's hide Ou flecter foot was never tied. (9) Speed, Malise, speed ! such cause of haste Thine active sipews never braced.

20

Lies Duncan on his lowly bier,
And o'er him streams his widow's tear.
His stripling son stands mournful by,
His youngest weeps, but knows not why;
The village maids and matrons round
The dismal coronach'(10) resound.

XVI.

CORONACH

He is gone on the mountain,

He is lost to the forest,
Like a summer-dried fountain,

When our need was the sorest.
The font, re-appearing,

From the rain-drops shall borrow, But to us comes no cheering,

To Duncan no morrow!

Back to her open'd arms he flew, Press'd on her lips a fond adieu« Alas!» she sobb'd, -« and yet begone, And speed thee forth like Duncan's son!»One look lie cast upon the bier, Dash'd from his eye the gathering tear, Breathed deep, to clear his labouring breast, And toss'd aloft his bonnet crest, Then, like the high-bred coll, when, freed, First he essays his fire and speed, He vanish d, and o'er moor and moss Sped forward with the fiery cross. Suspended was the widow's tear, While yet his footsteps she could hear; And when she mark'd the henchman's eye Wet with unwonted sympathy, « Kinsman,” she said, « his race is run, That should have sped thinc errand on; The oak has fallen,- the sapling bough Is all Duncraygan's shelter now. Yet trust I well, his duty done, The orphan's God will guard my son.And you, in many a danger true, At Duncan's hest your blades that drew, To arms, and guard that orphan's head! Let babes and women wail the dead.»Then weapon-clang, and martial call, Resounded through the funeral hall, While from the walls the attendant band Snatch'd sword and large, with hurried hand; And short and flitting energy Glanced from the mourner's sunken eye, As if the sounds, to warrior dear, Might rouse her Duncan from his bier. But faded soon that borrow'd force; Grief claim'd his right, and tears their course.

The hand of the reaper

Takes the ears that are hoary, But the voice of the weeper

Wails manhood in glory; The autumn winds rushing

Waft the leaves that are searest, But our flower was in flushing,

When blighting was nearest.

Fleet foot on the correi,

Sage counsel in cumber, Red hand in the foray,

How sound is thy slumber! Like the dew on the mountain,

Like the foam on the river, Like the bubble on the fountain,

Thou art gone, and for ever!

XVII. See Stumal, 3 who, the bier beside, His master's corpse with wonder eyed, Poor Stumalı! whom his least halloo Could send like lightning o'er the dew, Bristles his crest, and points his ears, As if some stranger step he hears. 'T is not a mourner's muffled tread, Who comes to sorrow o'er the dead, But headlong haste, or deadly fear, Urge the precipitate career. All stand aghast :-unheeding all, The benchinan bursts into the ball; Before the dead man's bier he stood, Held forth the cross besmeard with blood; « The muster-place is Lanrick mead; Speed forth the signal ! clansmen, speed!»

XIX. Benledi saw the cross of fire, It glanced like lightning up Strath-Ire. (11) O'er dale and hill the summons flew, Nor rest nor pause young Angus knew; The tear that gather'd in his eye, He left the mountain-breeze to dry; Unul, where Teith's young waters roll, Betwixt him and a wooded knoll, That graced the sable strath with green, The chapel of Saint Bride was seen. Swoln was the stream, remote the bridge, But Angus paused not on the edge; Though the dark waves danced dizzily, Though reeld bis sympathetic eye, He dash'd amid the torrent's roar; His right hand high the crosslet bore, His left the pole-axe grasp'd, to guide And stay his footing in the tide. He stumbled twice the foam splash'd hizlı, With hoarser swell the stream raced by: And had he fallen,--forever there, Farewell Duncraggan's orphan heir! But still, as if in parting life, Firmer be grasp'd the cross of strife, Until the opposing bank be gaind, And up the chapel path-way strain d.

XVIU. Angus, the heir of Duncan's line, Sprung forth and seized the fatal sign. In haste the stripling to his side His father's dirk and broadsword tied; But when he saw his mother's eye Watch him in speechless agony, Funeral-song. See Note. · Or corri - The bollow side of the bill, there gamo usually lies. • Faithful-The namo of a dog.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »