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And other light was none to see, Save torches gliding far,
Before some chieftain of degree,
Who left the royal revelry To bowne him for the war.—
A solemn scene the Abbess chose;
A solemn hour, her secret to disclose.
XXI."O, holy Palmer!" she began,—
"For sure he must be sainted man,
Whose blessed feet have trod the ground
Where the Redeemer's tomb is found ;—
For his dear Church's sake, my tale
Attend, nor deem of light avail,
Though I must speak of worldly love,—
How vain to those who wed above!—
De Wilton and Lord Marmion wooed
Clara de Clare, of Gloster's blood;(Idle it were of Whitby's dame,
To say of that same blood I came;)
And once, when jealous rage was high,
Lord Marmion said despiteously,
Wilton was traitor in his heart,
And had made league with Martin Swart,*
When he came here on Simnel's part;
And only cowardice did restrain
His rebel aid on Stokefield's plain,—
And down he threw his glove:—the thing
Was tried, as wont, before the king;
Where frankly did De Wilton own,
That Swart in Guelders he had known;
And that between them then there went
Some scroll of courteous compliment.
For this he to his castle sent;
But when his messenger returned,
Judge how De Wilton's fury burned!
For in his packet there were laid
* A German general, who commanded the auxiliaries sent by the Duchess of Burgundy with Lambert Simnel. He was defeated and killed at Stokefield.
Letters that claimed disloyal aid,
And proved King Henry's cause betrayed.
His fame, thus blighted, in the field
He strove to clear, by spear and shield ;—
To clear his fame in vain he strove,
For wonderous are His ways above!
Perchance some form was unobserved;
Perchance in prayer, or faith, he swerved;
Else how could guiltless champion quail,
Or how the blessed ordeal fail?
"His squire, who now De Wilton saw As recreant doomed to suffer law,
Repentant, owned in vain, That, while he had the scrolls in care, A stranger maiden, passing fair, Had drenched him with a beverage rare ;—
His words no faith could gain. With Clare alone he credence won,Who, rather than wed Marmion,
Did to Saint Hilda's shrine repair,
To give our house her livings fair,
And die a vestal vot'ress there.
The impulse from the earth was given,
But bent her to the paths of heaven.
A purer heart, a lovelier maid,
Ne'er sheltered her in Whitby's shade,
No, not since Saxon Edelfled;Only one trace of earthly strain,
That for her lover's loss She cherishes a sorrow vain,
And murmurs at the cross.—
And then her heritage;—it goes
Along the banks of Tame;
Deep fields of grain the reaper mows,
In meadows rich the heifer lows,
The falconer, and huntsman, knows Its woodlands for the game.
Shame were it to Saint Hilda dear,
And I her humble vot'ress here
Should do a deadly sin,
Her temple spoiled before mine eyes,
If this false Marmion such a prize
By my consent should win;
Yet hath our boisterous Monarch sworn,
That Clare shall from our house be torn;
And grievous cause have I to fear,
Such mandate doth Lord Marmion bear.
"Now, prisoner, helpless, and betrayed To evil power, I claim thine aid,
By every step that thou hast trod
To holy shrine and grotto dim,
By every martyr's tortured limb,
By angel, saint, and seraphim,
And by the Church of God!
For mark:—When Wilton was betrayed,
And with his squire forged letters laid,
She was, alas! that sinful maid,
By whom the deed was done,—