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THE Scene of the Poem is laid at Bokeby, near Greta-bridge, in Yorkshire, and shifts to the adjacent fortress of Barnard Castle, and to other places in that vicinity.
, The time occupied by the Action is a space of Five l Days, Three of which are supposed to elapse between the end of the Fifth and beginning of the Sixth Canto.
The date of the supposed events is immediately subsequent to the great Battle of Marston-moor, 3d July, 1644. This period of public'confusion has been chosen, f without any purpose of combining the Fable with the i Military or Political Events of the Civil War, but only as ! affording a degree of probability to the Fictitious Nar-i rative now presented to the Public.
Far townward sounds a distant tread,
Now nigh and plain the sound appears,
Voices are heard, and torches glow,
As marshalling the stranger's way,
His answer Oswald thus express‘d
it Bring food and wine, and trim the fire; Admit the stranger, and retire.»—
, VI. The stranger came with heavy stride: The morion’s plumes his visage hide,
But yet, though Ben'rnu's harden'd look, Unmoved, could blood and danger brook, Still worse than apathy had place
On his ewart brow and callous face;
For evil passions, cherish'd long,
Had plough’d them with impressions strong. All that gives gloss to sin, all gay
Light folly, pnss’d with youth away,
But rooted stood, in manhood's hour,
Had it been tamed when life was new,
The hardier fruits of virtuous worth.
Not that, e'on then, his heart had known,
But lavish waste had been refined
To bounty in his chasten'd mind,
And lust of gold, that waste to feed,
Been lost in love of glory's meed,
And, frantic then no more, his pride
Had ta'en fair virtue for its guide.
Even now, by conscience unrestrain‘d,
And mastery o'er the mind he bore;
lle strove, by many a winding train,
To lure his sullen guest to show,
I-Iis heart,-than falter‘d from his tongue.
But still, in stern and stubborn sort,
In loose digression wild and strange, And forced the embat1'ass‘d host to buy, lly query close, direct reply.
Awhile he glozed upon the cause
Of commons, covenant, and laws,
And church reform'd—but felt rebuke
Then stammer'd— u Has a field been fought!
For sure a soldier, famed so far
In foreign fields for feats of war,
On eve of fight ne'er left the host,
Until the field were won or lost.»
tx Here, in your towers by circling Tees, You, Oswald Wycliffe, rest at ease;
Why deem it strange that others come
To share such safe and easy home,
From fields where danger, death, and toil,
u Nay, mock not, friend! since well we know The near advances of the foe,
To mar our northern army's work,
1: Wouldst hear the taleZ'—0n Marston heath Met, front to front, the ranks of death; (5) Flourish'd the trumpets fierce, and now Fired was each eye, and flush'd each brow; On either side loud clamonrs ring,
‘ God and the Cause .'—God and the King? Right English all, they rush'd to blows, With nought to win, and all to lose.
I could have langh'd—but lack'd the time—
How the fierce zealots fought and bled,
Some for a dream of public good,
Some for church-tippct, gown, and hood’,
A patriot's or a martyr’s name.
Led Bertram Risingham the hearts,
That counter'd there on adverse parts,
No superstitious fool had I
Sought El Dorados in the sky!
Chili had heard me through her states,
Rich Megico I had march'd through,
And sack‘d the splendours of Peru,
Till sunk Pizarro‘s daring name,
And, Cortez, thine, in l3erlram's fame!»--tr Still from the purpose will thou stray! Good gentle friend, how went the day?»
--u Good am I deem'd at trumpet-sound,
Was like the strife which currents wage,
Rolls to the main no tribute tide,
But ’gainst broad ocean urges far
A rival sea of roaring war;
While_ in ten thousand eddies driven,
The billows fling their foam to heaven,
Where rolls the river, where the main.
The eddyiug tides of conflict wheel’d'
Hot Rupert, on our squadrons came,
Of gallnnts, fiery as their wine;
Then ours, though stubborn in their teal,
What wouldst thou more?—in tumult tost,
A thousand men, who drew the sword
Now, stark and stiff, lie streu:h'd in gore,
Thus fared it, when I left the fight,
With the good cause and commons’ right.»
<1 Hearts are not flint, and tlints are rent; Hearts are not steel, and steel is bent. When Mortham bade me, as of yore,
Be near him in the battle's roar,
I scarcely saw the spears laid low,~
I scarcely heard the trumpets blow;
Lost was the war in inward strife,
'T was then I thought, how, lured to come
Years of piratic wandering o'er,
With him I sought our native shore.
By Mortham urged, I came again
His vassals to the fight to train.
What guerdon waited on my care?
I could not cant of creed or prayer;
And I, dishonour‘d and disdain'd,
In these poor arms to front the shot!-—
‘T is honour bids me now relate
Each circumstance of Mortham‘s fate.
1: Thoughts, from the tongue that slowly part,
And, ere the charging squadrons mix'd,
His plea was cast, his doom was fix'd.
l watch'd him through the doubtful fray,
Till, like a stream that bursts its bank,
‘T was then, ‘midst tumult, smoke, and strife,
‘T was then I fired my petronel,
And Mortham, steed and rider, fell.
One dying look he upward cast,
Of wrath and anguish—'t was his last.
What of the battle should ensue;
But ere I clear‘d that bloody press,
Our northern horse ran masterlcss;
How troops of roundheads choked the Ouse,
Spurring his palfrey northward, past,
First lured their Lesley o'er the Tweed. (6)
Had rumour learn'd another tale;
With his barb'd horse, fresh tidings say
And near the spot that gave me name, The moated mound of Ilisingham, Where Reed upon her margin sees Sweet Woodburn's cottages and trees, Some ancient sculptor's art has shown An outlavfs image on the stone; (9) Un match'd in strength, a giant he, With quiver'd back, and kirtled knee. Ask how he died, that hunter hold, The tameless monarch of the wold, And age and infancy can tell,
By brother's treachery he fell.
Thus warn'd by legends of my youth, I trust to no associates truth.
K When last we reason'd of this deed,
Or by what rule, or when, or where,
The wealth of Mortham we should share;
Our differing laws give each to claim.
They deal thee, as to nearest heir,
Thy kinsman's lands and livings fair,
The statutes of the buccaneer. (to)
To all that on her waves are borne,
His comrade heirs his portion’d spoil;
He claims his wealth who struck the blow;
Those spoils of Indian seas and mins,
I go to search, where, dark and deep,
Each varied pleasure wealth can buy;
An undecided answer hung
On Oswald's hesitating tongue.
Despite his craft, he heard with awe
He grudged the murder‘s mighty prize,
It His charge,» he said, a would ill allow