Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

Now drawing back, and now descend

ing, The skilful Marmion well could know They watched the motions of some foe Who traversed on the plain below.

The instant that Fitz-Eustace spoke,
A sudden light on Marmion broke :
“ Ah! dastard fool, to reason lost !”
He muttered ; “ 'T was nor fay nor ghost
I met upon the moonlight wold,
But living man of earthly mould.

O dotage blind and gross !
Har I but fought as wont, one thrust
Had laid De Wilton in the dust,

My path no more to cross.---
How stand we now ?-he told his tale
To Douglas, and with some avail;
’T was therefore gloomed his rugged

brow, Will Surrey dare to entertain 'Gainst Marmion charge disproved and

vain ? Small risk of that, I trow. Yet Clare's sharp questions must I shun, Must separate Constance from the nun-Oh! what a tangled web we weave When first we practise to deceive ! A Palmer too!--no wonder why I felt rebuked beneath his eye; I might have known there was but one Whose look could quell Lord Marmion.”

Even so it was. From Flodden ridge

The Scots beheld the English host Leave Barmore-wood, their evening

post, And heedful watched thein as they

crossed
The Till by Twisel Bridge.

High sight it is and haughty, while
They dive into the deep defile;
Beneath the caverned cliff they fall,

Beneath the castle's airy wall.
By rock, by oak, by hawthorn-tree.

Troop after troop are disappearing;
Troop after troop their banners rear-

ing
Upon the eastern bank you see ;
Still pouring down the rocky den

Where flows the sullen Till,
And rising from the dim-wood glen,
Standards on standards, men on men,

In slow succession still,
And sweeping o'er the Gothic arch,
And pressing on, in ceaseless march,

To gain the opposing hill.
That morn, to many a trumpet clang,
Twisel! thy rock's deep echo rang,
And many a chief of birth and rank,
Saint Helen ! at thy fountain drank.
Thy hawthorn glade, which now we see
In spring-tide bloom so lavishly,
Had then from many an axe its doom,
To give the marching columns room.
And why stands Scotland idly now,
Dark Flodden! on thy airy brow,

Stung with these thoughts, he urged to

speed His troop, and reached at eve the Tweed, Where Lennel's convent closed their

march,
There now is left but one frail arch,

Yet mourn thou not its cells;
Our time a fair exchange has made :
Hard by, in hospitable shade

A reverend pilgrim dwells,
Well worth the whole Bernardine brood
That e'er wore sandal, frock, or hood.
Yet did Saint Bernard's abbot there
Give Marmion entertainment fair,
And lodging for his train and Clare.
Next morn the baron climbed the tower,
To view afar the Scottish power,

Encamped on Flodden edge; The white pavilions made a show Like remnants of the winter snow

Along the dusky ridge. Long Marmion looked :-at length his

eye
Unusual movement might descry

Amid the shifting lines ;
The Scottish host drawn out appears,
For, flashing on the hedge of spears,

The eastern sunbeam shines.
Their front now deepening, now extend-

ing, Their flank inclining, wheeling, bend

ing,

1 On the evening previous to the memorable battle of Flodden, Surrey's head quarters were at Barmore-wood, and King James held an inaccessible position on the ridge of Flodden-hill, one of the last and lowest eminences detached from the ridge of Cheviot. The Till, a deep and slow river, winded between the armies, On the morning of the 9th September, 1513, Surrey marched in a northwesterly direction, and crossed the Till, with his van and artillery, at Twifel-bridge, nigh where that river joins the Tweed, his rear-guard column passing about a mile higher, by a ford. This movement had the double effect of placing his army between King James and his supplies from Scotland and of striking the Scottish monarch with surprise, as he seems to have relied on the depth of the river in his front. But as the passage, both over the bridge and through the ford, was difficult and slow, it seems possible that the English night have been attacked to great ad. vantage, while struggling with these natural ob. stacles.-(Scott).

Since England gains the pass the while,

And struggles through the deep defile? What checks the fiery soul of James ? Why sits that champion of the dames

Ivactive on bis steed, Ind sees, between him and his land, Between him and Tweed's southern

strand, His host Lord Surrey lead? What vails the vain knight-errant's

brand ?O Douglas, for thy leading wand !

Fierce Randolph, for thy speed ! Ol! for one lour of Wallace wight, Or well-skilled Bruce, to rule the fight And cry,“ Saint Andrew and our right!” Another sight had seen that morn, Fronı Fate's dark book a leaf been torn, And Flodden had been Bannock

bourne! The precious hour has passed in vain, And England's lost has gained the plain. Wheeling their march and circling still Around the base of Flodden hill.

“The pheasant in the falcon's claw, He scarce will yield to please a daw; Lord Angus may the abbot awe,

So Clare shall bide with me.
Then on that dangerous ford and deep
Where to the Tweed Leat's eddies creep,

He ventured desperately :
And not a moment will he bide
Till squire or groom before him ride ;
Headmost of all he stems the tide,

And stems it gallantly.
Eustace held Clare upon her horse,

Old Hubert led her rein,
Stoutly they braved the current's course,
And, though far downward driven per:

force, The southern bank they gain. Behind them straggling came to shore,

As best they might, the train : Each o'er his head his yew-bow bore,

A caution not in vain ;
Deep need that day that every string,
By wet unharmed, should sharply ring.
A moment then Lord Marmion stayed,
And breathed his steed, his men arrayed,

Then forward moved his band,
Until. Lord Surrey's rear-guard won,
He halted by a croșs of stone,
That on a hillock standing lone

Did all the field command.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Ere yet the bands met Marmion's eye,
Fitz-Eustace shouted loud and high,
** Hark! hark! my lori,an English drum!
Aud see ascending squa Irons come

Between Tweed's river and the hill, Foot, horse, and cannon! Hap what hap, My basnet to a prentice cap,

Lord Surrey's o'er the Till! Yet more! yet more !-how fair arrared They file from out the hawthorn shade,

And sweep so gallant by! With all their banners bravely spread,

And all their armor flashing high, Saint George might waken from the

dead, To see fair England's standards fly."“Stint in thy prate," quoth Blount,

* thou ’dst best, And listen to our lord's beliest.”. With kindling brow Lord Marmion said, " This instant be our band arrayed ; The river must be quickly crossed, That we may join Lord Surrey's host. If fight King James,-as well I trust That fight he will, and fight he must,The Lady Clare behind our lines Shall tarry while the battle joins." Himself he swift on horseback threw, Searce to the abbot bade adieu, Far less would listen to his prayer To leave behind the helpless Clare. Down to the Tweed his band he drew, And muttered as the flood they view,

Hence might they see the full array
Of either host for deadly fray ;
Their marshalled lines stretched east

and west,
And fronted north and south,
And distant salutation passed

From the loud cannon mouth ; Not in the close successive rattle That breathes the voice of modern battle,

But slow and far between. The hillock gained, Lord Marmion

stayed : " Here, by this cross," he gently said,

" You well may view the scene. Here shalt thou tarry, lovely Clare : Oh! think of Marmion in thy prayer !-Thou wilt not ?--well, no less my care Shall, watchful, for thy weal prepare.You, Blount and Eustace, are her guard,

With ten picked archers of my train ; With England if the day go hard,

To Berwick speed amain.-
But if we conquer, cruel maid,
My spoils shall at your feet be laid,

When here we meet again."
He waited not for answer there,
And would not mark the maid's despair,

Nor heed the discontented look

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

1

From either squire, but spurred amain, And, dashing through the battle-plain,

His way to Surrey took. “ The good Lord Marmnion, by my life!

Welcome to danger's hourlShort greeting serves in time of strife.

Thus have I ranged my power: Myself will rule this central host,

Stout Stanley fronts their right, My sons command the vaward post, With Brian Tunstall, stainless knight; Lord Dacre, with his horsemen light,

Shall be in rearward of the fight. And succor those that need it most.

Now, gallant Marinion, well I know,

Would gladly to the vanguard go; Elmund, the Admiral, Tunstall there, With thee their charge will blithely

share ; There fight thine own retainers too Beneath De Burg, thy steward true.” " Thanks, noble Surrey !” Marmion said, Nor further greeting there he paid, Bit, parting like a thunderbolt, First in the vanguard made a halt,

Where such a shout there rose Of" Marmion ! Marmion!” that the cry, Up Flodden mountain shrilling high,

Startled the Scottish foes.

With sword-sway and with lance's

thrust;
And such a yell was there.
Of sudden and portentous birth,
As if men fought upon the earth,

And fiends in upper air :
Oh ! life and death were in the shout,
Recoil and rally, charge and rout,

And triumph and despair.
Long looked the anxious squires; their

eye
Could in the darkness nought descry,
At length the freshening western blast
Asicle the shroud of battle cast;
And first the ridge of mingled spears
Above the brightening cloud appears,
And in the smoke the pennons flew,
As in the storm the white seamew.
Then marked they, dashing broad and

far,
The broken billows of the war,
And plumed crests of chieftains brave
Floating like foam upon the wave;

But nought distinct they see:
Wide raged the battle on the plain ;
Spears shook and falchions flashed

amain ; Fell England's arrow-flight like rain ; Crests rose, and stooped, and rose again,

Wild and disorderly. Amid the scene of tumult, high They saw Lord Marmion's falcon fly; And stainless Tunstall's banner white, And Edmund Howard's lion bright, Still bear them bravely in the fight,

Although against them come Of gallant Gordons many a one, And many a stubborn Badenoch-man, And many a rugged Border clan,

With Huntly and with Home. Far on the left, unseen the while, Stanley broke Lennox and Argyle, Though there the western mountaineer Rushed with bare bosom on the spear, And flung the feeble targe aside, And with both hands the broadsword

plied. 'Twas vain.-But Fortune, on the right, With fickle smile cheered Scotland's

fight.
Then fell that spotless banner white,

The Howard's lion fell;
Yet still Lord Marmion's falcon flew
With wavering flight, while

Around the battle-yell.
The Border slogan rent the sky !
A Home ! a Gordon I was the cry:

[ocr errors]

Blount and Fitz-Eustace rested still
With Lady Clare upon the hill,
On which-for far the day was spent-
The western sunbeams now were bent ;
The cry they heard, its meaning knew,
Could plain their distant comrades view :

Sadly to Blount did Eustace say,
“Unworthy office here to stay !
No hope of gilded spurs to-day:-
But see ! look up on Flodden bent
The Scottish foe has fired his tent."

And sudden, as he spoke,
From the sharp ridges of the hill,
All downward to the banks of Till,

Was wreathed in sable smoke.
Volumed and vast, and rolling far,
The cloud enveloped Scotland's war

As down the hill they broke ; Nor martial shout, nor minstrel tone, Announced their march; their tread

alone, At times one warning trumpet blown,

At times a stifled hum. Told England, from his mountain-throne

King James did rushing come. Scarce could they hear or see their foes Until at weapon-point they close.They close in clouds of smoke and dust,

rcer grew

[blocks in formation]

66

Loud were the clanging blows ; Advanced,-forced back,-now low,

now high, The pennon sunk and rose; As bends the bark's mast in the gale, When rent are rigging, shrouds, and sail,

It wavered mid the foes. No longer Blount the view could bear : “By heaven and all its saints! I swear

I will not see it lost! Fitz-Eustace, you with Lady Clare May bid your beads and patter prayer,

I gallop to the host.' And to the fray he rode amain, Followed by all the archer train. The fiery youth, with desperate charge, Made for a space an opening large,

The rescued banner rose,But darkly closed the war around, Like pine-tree rooted from the ground

It sank among the foes. Then Eustace mounted too,-yet stayed, As loath to leave the helpless maid,

When, fast as shaft can fly, Bloodshot his eyes, his nostrils spread, The loose rein dangling from his head, Housing and saddle bloody red,

Lord Marmion's steed rushed by : And Eustace, maddening at the sight,

A look and sign to Clara cast

To mark he would return in haste,
Then plunged into the fight.
Ask me not what the maiden feels,

Left in that dreadful hour alone : Perchance her reason stoops or reels ; Perchance a courage, not her own,

Braces her mind to desperate tone.The scattered van of England wheels ;

She only said, as loud in air The tumult roared, “ Is Wilton there?"-They fly, or, maddened by despair,

Fight but to die. --- Is Wilton there ?" With that, straight up the hill there rode

Two horsemen drenched with gore, And in their arms, a helpless load,

A wounded knight they bore. His hand still strained the broken brand ; His arms where smeared with blood and

sand. Dragged from among the horses' feet, With dinted shield and helmet beat, The falcon-crest and plumage gone, Can that be haughty Marmioni. Young Blount his armor did unlace, And, gazing on his ghastly face,

Said, “ By Saint George, he's gone! That spear-wound has our master sped, And see the deep cut on his head!

When, doffed his casque, he felt free air, Around gan Marmion wildly stare : • Where's Harry Blount? Fitz-Eustace

where? Linger ye here, ye hearts of hare ! Redeem my pennon,-charge again! Cry, · Marmion to the rescue!'-Vain! Last of my race, on battle-plain That shout shall ne'er be heard again ! Yet my last thought is England's--fly,

To Dacre bear my signet-ring :

Tell him his squadrons up to bring.-Fitz-Eustace, to Lord Surrey hie :

Tunstall lies dead upon the field,
His lifeblood stains the spotless shiell;
Edmund is down; my life is reft;

The Admiral alone is left.
Let Stanley charge with spur of fire.--
With Chester charge, and Lancashire,
Full upon Scotland's central liost,
Or victory and England's lost.-
Just I bid twice?-hence, varlets ! fly!--

Leave Marmion here alone--to die.
They parted and alone he lay;

Clare drew her from the sight away, Till pain wrung forth lowly moan, And half he murmured, Is there none

Of all my halls have nurstue
Page, squire, or groom, one cp to bring
Of blessed water from the spring,

To slake my dying thirsti"
O Woman! in our hours of ease
Uncertain, coy, and hard to please,
And variable as the shade
By the light quivering aspen made ;
When pain and anguish wring

he brows, A ministering angel thou ! Scarce were the piteous accents said, When with the baron's casque the mi

id
To the nigh streamlet ran :
Forgot were hatred, wrongs, and fears
The plaintive voice alone she hears,

Sees but the dying man,
She stooped her by the runnel's side,

But in abhorrence backward drew ;
For, oozing from the mountain's side
Where raged the war, a dark-rell tida

llas curdling in streamlet blu Where shall she turn P-belold her

mark
A little fountain cell,

1

1

157

Where water, clear as diamond spark,

In a stone basin fell. Above, some half-worn letters say, Drink. weary. pilgrim. drink. and.

pray for. tbe. kind. soul. oľ, Sibyl. Grey.

Wbo. built. this. cross. and. well. She filled the helm and back she bied, And with surprise and joy espied

A monk supporting Marmion's head ; A pious man, whom duty brought To dubious verge of battle fought,

To shrive the dying, bless the dead.

Where mingles war's rattle with groans

of the dying! So the notes rung: “ Avoid thee, Fiend with cruel hand Shake not the dying sinner's sand !-Oh ! look, son, upon yon sign Of the Redeemer's grace divine ;

Oh! think on faith and bliss By many a death-bed I have been, And many a sinner's parting seen,

But never aught like this." The war, that for a space did fail, Now trebly thundering swelled the

gale,
And“ Stanley!" was the cry.-
A light on Marmion's visage spread,

And fired his glazing eye ;
With dying hand above his head
He shook the fragment of his blade,

And shouted " Victory !-
Charge, Chester, charge! On, Stanley,

on !"

Were the last words of Marmion.

Deep drank Lord Marmion of the wave, And, as she stooped his brow to lave

Is it the hand of Clare," he said, " Or injured Constance, bathes my

head?” Then, as remembrance rose,“ Speak not to me of shrift or prayer !

I must redress her woes. Short space, few words, are mine to

spare ; Forgive and listen, gentle Clare !"

" Alas!” she said, ** the while. Oh! think of your immortal weal! In vain for Constance is your zeal !

She-died at Holy Isle.”-
Lord Marmion started from the ground
As light as if he felt no wound,
Though in the action burst the tide
In torrents from his wounded side.
* Then it was truth,” he said--“I knew
That the dark presage must be true.-
I would the Fiend, to whom belongs
The vengeance due to all her wrongs,

Would spare me but a day!
For wasting fire, and dying groan,
And priests slain on the altar stone,

Might bribe him for delay.
It may not be !-this dizzy trance-
Carse on yon base marauder's lance,
And doubly cursed my failing brand !
A sinful heart makes feeble hand."
Then fainting down on earth he sunk,
Supported by the trembling monk.
With fruitless labor Clara bound
And strove to stanch the gushing

wound:
The monk with unavailing cares
Exhausted all the Church's prayers.
Ever, he said, that, close and near,
A lady's voice was in his ear,
And that the priest he could not hear;

For that she ever sung. " In the lost battle borne doun by the fly

ing.

By this, though deep the evening fell,
Still rose the battle's deadly swell,
For still the Scots around their king,
Unbroken, fought in desperate ring:
Where's now their victor vaward wing,

Where Huntley, and where Home?
Oh! for a blast of that dread horn,
On Fontarabian echoes borne,

That to King Charles did come, When Rowland brave, and Olivier, And every paladin and peer,

On Roncesvalles died ! Such blasts might warn them, not in

vain,
To quit the plunder of the slain
And turn the doubtful day again,

While yet on Flodden side
Afar the Royal Standard flies,
And round it toils and bleeds and dies

Our Caledonian pride!
In vain the wish--for far away,
While spoil and havoc mark their way,
Near Sibyl's Cross the plunderers stray.-
“O lady," cried the monk,

And placed her on her steed, And led her to the chapel fair

Of Tilmouth upon Tweed, There all the night they spent in prayer, And at the dawn of morning there She met her kinsman, Lord Fitz-Clare.

a way!"

But as they left the darkening heath
More desperate grew the strife of death.
The English shafts in volleys hailed,
In headlong charge their horse assailed;

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »