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XXXIV.

Here did they rest.--The princely care
Of Douglas, why should I declare,
Or say they met reception fair?

Or why the tidings say,
Which, varying, to Tantallon came,
By hurrying posts, or fleeter fame,

With every varying day?
And, first, they heard King James had won

Ettall, and Wark, and Ford; and then,

That Norham castle strong was ta'en.
At that sore marvelled Marmion ;-
And Douglas hoped his Monarch's hand
Would soon subdue Northumberland:

But whispered neis there came,
That, while his host inactive lay,
And melted by degrees away,
King James was dallying off the day

With Heron's wily dame.-
Such acts to chronicles I yield;

Go seek them there, and see:
Mine is a tale of Flodden Field,

And not a history.--
At length they heard the Scottish host
On that high ridge had made their post,

Which frowns o'er Millfield Plain;
And that brave Surrey many a band
Had gathered in the southern land,
And marched into Northumberland,

And camp at Wooler ta’en. Marmion, like charger in the stall, That hears without

the trumpet call, Began to chafe, and swear: “ A sorry thing to hide my head In castle, like a fearful maid,

When such a field is near! Needs must I see this battle-day: Death to my fame, if such a fray Were fought, and Marmion away!

The Douglas, too, I wot not why,

Hath 'bated of his courtesy:
No longer in his halls I'll stay.
Then bade his band, they should array
For march against the dawning day.

INTRODUCTION TO CANTO SIXTH.

To RICHARD HEBER, Esq.

Mertoun-House, Christmas

HEAP on more wood!-the wind is chill;
But let it whistle as it will,
We'll keep our Christmas merry still.
Each age has deemed the new-born year
The fittest time for festal cheer:
Even heathen yet, the savage Dane
At Iol more deep the mead did drain;
High on the beach his galleys drew,
And feasted all his pirate crew;
Then in his low and pine-built hall,
Where shields and axes decked the wall,
They gorged upon the half-dressed steer;
Caroused in seas of sable beer;
While round, in brutal jest, were thrown
The half-gnawed rib, and marrow-bone;
Or listened all, in grim delight,
While scalds yelled out the joys of fight.
Then furth, in frenzy, would they hie,
While wildy loose their red locks fly,
And dancing round the blazing pile,
They make such barbarous mirth the while,
As best might to the mind recall
The boisterous joys of Odin's hall.

And well our Christian sires of old
Loved when the year its course had rolled,
And brought blithe Christmas back again,
With all his hospitable train.
Domestic and religious rite
Gave honour to the holy night:
On Christmas eve the bells were rung;
On Christmas eve the mass was sung;
That only night, in all the year,
Saw the stoled priest the chalice rear,
The damsel donned her kirtle sheen;
The hall was dressed with holly green;

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Forth to the wood did merry-men go,
To gather in the misletoe.
Then opened wide the baron's hall
To vassal, tenant, serf, and all;
Power laid his rod of rule aside,
And Ceremony doffed his pride.
The heir, with roses in his shoes,
That night might village partner choose;
The lord, underogating, share
The vulgar game of “post and pair."
All hailed, with uncontrolled delight,
And general voice, the happy night,
That to the cottage, as the crown,
Brought tidings of salvation down.

The fire, with well-dried logs supplied,
Went roaring up the chimney wide;
The huge hall-table’s oaken face,
Scrubbed till it shone, the day to grace,
Bore then upon its massive board
No mark to part the squire and lord.
Then was brought in the lusty brawn,
By old blue-coated serving-man;
Then the grim boar's-head frowned on high,
Crested with bays and rosemary.
Well can the green-garbed ranger tell,
How, when, and where, the monster fell;
What dogs before his death he tore,
And all the baiting of the boar.
The wassel round in good brown bowis,
Garnished with ribbons, blithely trowls.
There the huge sirloin reeked; hard by
Plumb-porridge stood, and Christmas pie;
Nor failed old Scotland to produce,
At such high-tide, her savoury goose.
Then came the merry masquers in,
And carols roared with blythesome din;
If unmelodious was the song,
It was a hearty note, and strong.
Who lists may in their mumming see
Traces of ancient mystery;
White shirts supplied the masquerade,
And smutted cheeks the visors made;
But, O! what masquers richly dight
Can boast of bosoms half so light!

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England was merry England, when
Old Christmas brought his sports again.
'Twas Christmas broached the mightiest alo;
''Twas Christmas told the merriest tale;
A Christmas gambol oft could cheer
The poor man's heart through half the years.

Still linger in our northern clime
Some remnants of the good old time;
And still, within our valleyshere,
We hold the kindred title dear,
Even when perchance its far-fetched claim
To Southron ear sounds empty name;
For course of blood, our proverbs deem,
Is warmer than the mountain-stream.
And thus, my Christmas still I hold
Where my great-grandsire came of old;
With amber beard, and flaxen hair,
And reverend apostolic air,
The feast and holy-tide to share,
And mix sobriety with wine,
And honest mirth with thoughts divine:
Small thought was his, in after time
E'er to be hitched into a rhyme.
The simple sire could only boast,
That he was loyal to his cost;
The bạnished race of kings revered,
And lost his land--but kept his beard.

In these dear halls, where welcome kind,
Is with fair liberty combined;
Where cordial friendship gives the hand,
And flies constraint the magic wand
Of the fair dame that rules the land.
Little we heed the tempest drear,
While music, mirth, and social cheer,
Speed on their wings the passing year.
And Mertoun's halls are fair e'en now,
When not a leaf is on the bough.
Tweed loves them well, and turns again,
As loath to leave the sweet domain;
And holds his mirror to her face,
And clips her with a close embrace
Gladly as he, we seek the dome,
And as reluctant turn us home.

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How just, that, at this time of glee,
My thoughts should, Heber, turn to thee:
For many a merry hour we've known,
And heard the chimes of midnight's tone.
Cease, then, my friend! a moment cease,
And leave these classic tomes in peace!
Of Roman and of Grecian lore,
Sure niortal brain can hold no more.
These ancients, as Noll Bluff might say,
Were “ pretty fellows in their day,
But time and tide o'er all prevail-
On Christmas eve a Christmas tale
Of wonder and of war-“ Profane!
What! leave the lofty Latian strain,
Her stately prose, her verse's charms,
To hear the clash of rusty arms;
In Fairy-land or Limbo lost,
To jostle conjuror and ghost,
Goblin and witch!”-Nay, Heber, dear,
Before you touch my charter, hear,
Though Leyden aids, alas! no more,
My cause with many-languaged lore,
This may I say:-in realms of death
Ulysses meets Alcides' wraith;
Æneas, upon Thracia’s shore,
The ghost of murdered Polydorez
For omens, we in Livy cross,
At every turn, locutus Bos.
As grave and duly speaks that ox,
As if he told the price of stocks;
Or held, in Rome republican,
The place of Common-councilman.

All nations have their omens drear,
Their legends wild of woe and fear.
To Cambria look--the peasant see,
Bethink him of Glendowerdy,
And shun "the spirit's blasted tree."
The Highlander, whose red claymoro
The battle turned on Maida's shore,
Will, on a Friday morn, look pale,
If asked to tell a fairy tale:
He fears the vengeful Elfin King,
Who leaves that day his grassy ringi

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