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Soon from the halls my fathers rear'd,
Their scutcheons may descend,
A line so long beloved and fear'd
May soon obscurely end.
No longer here Matilda's tone
Shall bid those echoes swell;
Yet shall they hear her proudly own
The cause in which we fell.
The Lady paused, and then again
Resumed the lay in loftier strain.--
As yet, the conscious pride of art
Had steel'd him in his treacherous part;
A powerful spring, of force unguess'd,
That hath each gentler mood suppress'd,
And reign'd in many a human breast;
From his that plans the red campaign,
To his that wastes the woodland reign.
The failing wing, the blood-shot eye, -
The sportsman marks with apathy,
Each feeling of his victim's ill
Drown'd in his own successful skill.
The veteran, too, who now no more
Aspires to head the battle's roar,
Loves still the triumph of his art,
And traces on the pencill'd chart
Some stern invader's destined way,
Through blood and ruin, to his prey;
Patriots to death, and towns to flame,
He dooms, to raise another's name,
And shares the guilt, though not the fame.
What pays him for his span of time
Spent in premeditating crime?
What against pity arms his heart ?-
It is the conscious pride of art.
But principles in Edmund's mind
Were baseless, vague, and undefined.
His soul, like bark with rudder lost,
On Passion's changeful tide was tost;
Nor Vice' nor Virtue had the power
Beyond the impression of the hour;
And, O! when Passion rules, how rare
The hours that fall to Virtue's share !
Yet now she roused her—for the pride,
That lack of sterner guilt supplied,
Could scarce support
him when arose The lay that mourned Matilda's woes.
Let our halls and towers decay,
Be our name and line forgot,
Lands and manors pass away,
We but share our Monarch's lot. If no more our annals show
Battles won and Banners taken, Still in death, defeat, and woe,
Ours be loyalty unshaken ! Constant still in danger's hour,
Princes own'd our fathers' aid ; Lands and honours, wealth and power,
Well their loyalty repaid. Perish wealth, and power, and pride!
Mortal boons by mortals given; But let Constancy abide, Constancy's the gift of Heaven.
XXV. While thus Matilda's lay was heard, A thousand thoughts in Edmund stirr'd. In peasant life he might have known As fair a face, as sweet a tone ; But village notes could ne'er supply That rich and varied melody; And ne'er in cottage maid was seen The easy dignity of mien, Claiming respect, yet waving state, That marks the daughters of the great. Yet not, perchance, had these alone His scheme of purposed guilt o'erthrown; But while her energy of mind Superior rose to griefs combined, Lending its kindling to her eye, Giving her form new majesty, To Edmund's thought Matilda seem'd The very object he had dream'd; When, long ere guilt his soul had knowi, In Winston bowers he mused alone,
THE FAREWELL. The sound of Rokeby's woods I hear,
They mingle with the song : Dark Greta's voice is in mine ear,
I must not hear them long. From every loved and native haunt
The native Heir must stray,
And, like a ghost whom sunbeams
Must part before the day.
And by the hawk scared from her nest, And ravens croaking o'er their guest, Who deem his forfeit limbs shall pay The tribute of his bold essay.
XIII. Thus, as a man, a youth, a child, Train'd in the mystic and the wild, With this on Bertram's soul at times Rush'd a dark feeling of his crimes; Such to his troubled soul their form, As the pale Death-ship to the storm, And such their omen dim and dread, As shrieks and voices of the dead,That pang, whose transitory force Hover'a 'twixt horror and remorseThat pang, perchance, his bosom press'd, As Wilfrid sudden he address'd :“Wilfrid, this glen is never trod Until the sun rides high abroad; Yet twice have I beheld to-day A Form, that seem’d to dog our way; Twice from my glance it seem'd to fíee, And shroud itself by cliff or tree. How think'st thou ?-Is our path way.
laid? Or hath thy sire my trust betray'd ? If so"--Ere, starting from his dream, That turn'd upon a gentler theme, Wilfrid had roused him to reply, Bertram sprung forward, shouting high, “ Whate'er thou art, thou now shalt
stand!"And forth he darted, sword in hand.
XV. See, he emerges !- desperate now All farther course-Yon beetling brow, In craggy nakedness sublime, What heart or foot shall dare to climb ? It bears no tendril for his clasp, Presents no angle to his grasp : Sole stay his foot may rest upon, Is yon earth-bedded jetting stone. Balanced on such precarious prop, He strains his grasp to reach the top. Just as the dangerous stretch he makes, By heaven, his faithless footstool shakes! Beneath his tottering bulk it bends, It sways, ... it loosens, ... it descends! And downward holds its headlong way, Crashing o'er rock and copsewood spray. Loud thunders shake the echoing dell! Fell it alone ?--alone it fell. Just on the very verge of fate, The hardy Bertram's falling weight He trusted to his sinewy hands, And on the top unharm'd, he stands !
XIV. As bursts the levin in its wrath, He shot him down the sounding path; Rock,wood, and stream, rang wildly out, To his loud step and savage shout. Seems that the object of his race Hath scal'd the cliffs; his frantic chase Sidelong he turns, and now 'tis bent Right up the rock's tall battlement; Straining each sinew to ascend, Foot, hand, and knee, their aid must lend. Wilfrid, all dizzy with dismay, Views, from beneath, his dreadful way: Now to the oak's warp'd roots he clings, Now trusts his weight to ivy strings; Now, like the wild-goat, must he dare An unsupported leap in air ; Hid in the shrubby rain-course now, You mark him by the crashing bough, And by his corslet's sullen clank, And by the stones spurn'd from the bank,
XVI. Wilfrid a safer path pursued ; At intervals, where roughly hew'd, Rude steps ascending from the dell Render'd the cliffs accessible. By circuit slow he thus attain'd The height that Risingham had gain'd, And when he issued from the wood, Before the gate of Mortham stood. 'Twas a fair scene ! the sunbeam lay On battled tower and portal grey : And from the grassy slope he sees The Greta flow to meet the Tees; Where, issuing from her darksome bed, She caught the morning's eastern red, And through the softening vale below Rolld her bright waves, in rosy glow, All blushing to her bridal bed, Like some shy maid in convent bred ; While linnet, lark, and blackbird gay, Sing forth her nuptial roundelay.
'Twas sweetly sung that roundelay;
That summer morn shone blithe and gay;
But morning beam, and wild-bird's call,
Awaked not Mortham's silent hall.
No porter, by the low-brow'd gate,
Took in the wonted niche his seat;
To the paved court no peasant drew ;
Waked to their toil no menial crew;
The maiden's carol was not heard,
As to her morning task she fared :
In the void offices around, | Rung not a hoof, nor bay'd a hound;
Nor eager steed, with shrilling neigh,
Accused the lagging groom's delay;
Untrimm'd, undress'd, neglected now,
Was alley'd walk and orchard bough;
All spoke the master's absent care,
All spoke neglect and disrepair.
South of the gate, an arrow flight,
Two mighty elms their limbs unite,
As if a canopy, to spread
O'er the lone dwelling of the dead;
For their huge boughs in arches bent
Above a massive monument,
Cary'd o'er in ancient Gothic wise,
With many a scutcheon and device:
There, spent with toil and sunk in gloom,
Bertram stood pondering by the tomb.
“ It vanish'd like a flitting ghost !
Behind this tomb," he said, "'twas lost-
This tomb, where oft I deem'd lies stored
Or Mortham's Indian wealth the hoard.
'Tis true, the aged servants said
Here his lamented wife is laid ;
But weightier reasons may be guess'd
For their lord's strict and stern behest,
That none should on his steps intrude,
Whene'er he sought this solitude. -
An ancient mariner I knew,
What time I sail'd with Morgan's crew,
Who oft, 'mid our carousals, spake
Of Raleigh, Frobisher, and Drake;
Adventurous hearts! who barter'd, bold,
Their English steel for Spanish gold.
Trust not, would his experience say,
Captain or comrade with your prey;
But seek some charnel, when, at full,
The moon gilds skeleton and skull:
There dig, and tomb your precious heap;
And bid the dead your treasure keep;
Sure stewards they, if fitting spell
Their service to the task compel.
Lacks there such charnel ?-kill a slave,
Or prisoner, on the treasure-grave;
And bid his discontented ghost
Stalk nightly on his lonely post. -
Such was his tale. Its truth, I ween,
Is in my morning vision seen.”-
Wilfrid, who scorn'd the legend wild,
In mingled mirth and pity smiled,
Much marvelling that a breast so bold
In such fond tale belief should hold;
But yet of Bertram sought to know
The apparition's form and show.-
The power within the guilty breast,
Oft vanquished, never quite suppress'd,
That unsubdued and lurking lies
To take the felon by surprise,
And force him, as by magic spell,
In his despite his guilt to tell, -
That power in Bertram's breast awoke;
Scarce conscious he was heard, he spoke;
“'Twas Mortham's form, from foot to
head ! His morion, with the plume of red, His shape, his mien—'twas Mortham,
right As when I slew him in the fight.”Thou slay him?—thou?"-With con
scious start He heard, then mann'd his haughty
heart“ I slew him ?-I !-1 had forgot Thou, stripling, knew'st not of the plot. But it is spoken-nor will I Deed done, or spoken word, deny. I slew him ; I! for thankless pride ; 'Twas by this hand that Mortham died."
xx. Wilfrid, of gentle hand and heart, Averse to every active part, But most averse to martial broil, From danger shrunk, and turn'd from
toil; Yet the meek lover of the lyre Nursed one brave spark of noble fire;
While on the few defenders close
The Bandits, with redoubled blows,
And, twice driven back, yet fierce and fell
Renew the charge with frantic yell.
Wilfrid has fall'n—but o'er him stood
Young Redmond, soild with smoke and
blood, Cheering his mates with heart and hand Still to make good their desperate
stand. — “Up, comrades, up! In Rokeby halls Ne'er be it said our courage falls. What! faint ye for their savage cry, Or do the smoke-wreaths dauntyoureye? These rafters have return'd a shout As loud at Rokeby's wassail rout, Asthick a smoke these hearths have given At Hallow-tide or Christmas-even. Stand to it yet ! renew the fight, For Rokeby's and Matilda's right! These slaves ! they dare not, hand to
hand, Bide buffet from a true man's brand." Impetuous, active, fierce, and young, Upon the advancing foes he sprung. Woe to the wretch at whom is bent His brandish'd falchion's sheer descent! Backward they scatter'd as he came, Like wolves before the levin flame, When, 'mid their howling conclave
Hath glanced the thunderbolt of heaven.
Bertram rush'd on-But Harpool clasp'd
His knees, although in death he gasp'd,
His falling corpse before him flung,
And round the trammell'd ruffian clung.
Just then, the soldiers fill'd the dome,
And, shouting, charged the felons home
So fiercely, that, in panic dread,
They broke, they yielded, fell, or fled,
Bertram's stern voice they heed no more,
Though heard above the battle's roar;
While, trampling down the dying man,
He strove, with volley'd threat and ban,
In scorn of odds, in fate's despite,
To rally up the desperate fight.
Soon murkier clouds the Hall enfold,
Than e'er from battle-thunders rollid,
So dense, the combatants scarce know
To aim or to avoid the blow.
Smothering and blindfold grows the
But soon shall dawn a dismal light!
Mid cries, and clashing arms, there came
The hollow sound of rushing flame;
New horrors on the tumult dire
Arise--the Castle is on fire !
Doubtful, if chance had cast the brand,
Or frantic Bertram's desperate hand.
Matilda saw—for frequent broke
From the dim casements gusts of smoke,
Yon tower, which late so clear defined
On the fair hemisphere reclined,
That, pencill'd on its azure pure,
The eye could count each embrazure,
Now, swath'd within the sweeping cloud,
Seems giant-spectre in his shroud;
Till, from each loop-hole flashing light,
A spout of fire shines ruddy bright,
And, gathering to united glare,
Streams high into the midnight air ;
A dismal beacon, far and wide
That waken'd Greta's slumbering side.
Soon all beneath, through gallery long,
And pendant arch, the fire flash'd strong,
Snatching whatever could maintain,
Raise, or extend, its furious reign;
Startling, with closer cause of dread,
The females who the conflict fled,
And now rush'd forth upon the plain,
Filling the air with clamours vain.
But ceased not yet, the Hall within,
The shriek, the shout, the carnage-din,
Till bursting lattices give proof
The flames have caught the rafter'd roof.
What! wait they till its beams amain
Crash on the slayers and the slain ?
The alarm is caught-the drawbridge
The warriors hurry from the walls,
But, by the conflagration's light,
Upon the lawn renew the fight.
Each straggling felon down was hew'd,
Not one could gain the sheltering wood;
But forth the affrighted harper sprung,
And to Matilda's robe he clung.
Her shriek, entreaty, and command,
Stopp'd the pursuer's lifted hand.
Denzil and he alive were ta'en ;
The rest, save Bertram, all are slain.
Where far the mansion of her sires
Beacon'd the dale with midnight fires.
In gloomy arch above them spread,
The clouded heaven lower'd bloody red;
Beneath, in sombre light, the flood
Appear'd to roll in waves of blood.
Then, one by one, was heard to fall
The tower, the donjon-keep, the hall.
Each rushing down with thunder sound,
A space the conflagration drown'd ;
Till, gathering strength, again it rose,
Announced its triumph in its close,
Shook wide its light the landscape o'er,
Then sunk--and Rokeby was no more !
And where is Bertram ?-Soaring high,
The general flame ascends the sky;
In gather'd group the soldiers gaze
Upon the broad and roaring blaze,
When, like infernal demon, sent
Red from his penal element,
To plague and to pollute the air,-
His face all gore, on fire his hair,
Forth from the central mass of smoke
The giant form of Bertram broke!
His brandish'd sword on high he rears,
Then plunged among opposing spears;
Round his left arm his mantle truss'd,
Received and foil'd three lances' thrust;
Nor these his headlong course withstood,
Like reeds he snapp'd the tough ash-
In vain his foes around him clung;
With matchless force aside he flung
Their boldest, -as the bull, at bay,
Tosses the ban-dogs from his way,
Through forty foes his path he made,
And safely gain'd the forest glade.
XXXVII. Scarce was this final conflict o'er, When from the postern Redmond bore Wilfrid, who, as of life bereft, Had in the fatal Hall been left, Deserted there by all his train ; But Redmond saw, and turn'd again. Beneath an oak he laid him down, That in the blaze gleam'd ruddy brown, And then his mantle's clasp undid; Matilda held his drooping head, Till, given to breathe the freer air, Returning life repaid their care. He gazed on them with heavy sigh, — “I could have wish'd even thus to die!" No more he said, -for now with speed Each trooper had regain'd his steed; The ready palfreys stood array'd,
For Redmond and for Rokeby's Maid ; | Two Wilfrid on his horse sustain,
One leads his charger by the rein.
But oft Matilda look'd behind,
As up the vale of Tees they wind,
The summer sun, whose early power
Was wont to gild Matilda's bower,
And rouse her with his matin ray
Her duteous orisons to pay,
That morning sun has three times seen
The flowers unfold on Rokeby green,
But sees no more the slumbers fly
From fair Matilda's hazel eye ;
That morning sun has three times broke
On Rokeby's glades of elm and oak,
But, rising from their silvan screen,
Marks no grey turrets glance between.
A shapeless mass lie keep and tower,
That, hissing to the morning shower,
Can but with smouldering vapour pay
The early smile of summer day.
The peasant, to his labour bound,
Pauses to view the blacken'd mound,
Striving, amid the ruin'd space,
Each well-remember'd spot to trace.
That length of frail and fire-scorch'd wall
Once screen'd the hospitable hall;
When yonder broken arch was whole,
'Twas there was dealt the weekly dole ;
And where yon tottering columns nod,
The chapel sent the hymn to God. -
So flits the world's uncertain span !
Nor zeal for God, nor love for man,
Gives mortal monuments a date
Beyond the power of Time and Fate.
The towers must share the builder's
Ruin is theirs, and his a tomb :