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XVI.

Then up sprung many a main-land lord,
Obedient to their chieftain's word.
BarcaIdine's arm is high in air,

And Kinloch-Alliue's blade is bare,
Black Murthok's dirk has left its sheath, _
And clench'd is Dermid's hand of death.
Their mutter‘d threats of vengeance swell
Into a wild and warlike yell;

Onward they press with weapons high,
The affrighted females shriek and fly,
And, Scotland, then thy brightest ray
llad darken‘d ere its noon of day,

But every chief of birth and fame,

That from the Isles of Ocean came,

At Bonalds side that hour withstood
Fierce Lom's relentless thirst for blood.

XVII.

Brave Torquil from Dunvegan high,
Lord of the misty hills of Skye,

Mac-Niel, wild Bara's ancient thane,
Duart, of bold Clan Gillian's strain,
Fergus, of Canna's castlcd bay,
Mac-Duffith, Lord of Colnnsay,

Soon as they saw the broadswords glance,
With ready weapons rose at once,

More prompt, that many an ancient feud, Full oft suppress'd, full oft rencw'd, Glow‘d 'twixt the chieftains of Argyle,

And many a lord of ocean's isle.

Wild was the scene—oach sword was hare, Back stream'd each chicftain‘s shaggy hair, In gloomy opposition set,

Eyes, hands, and brandish'd weapons met;
Blue gleaming o'er the social board,
Flaslfd to the torches many a sword;

And soon those bridal lights may shine
On purple blood for rosy wine.

XVIII.

While thus for blows and death prepared, Each heart was up, each weapon bared, Each foot advanced,—a surly pause

Still reverenced hospitable laws.

All menaced violence, but alike
Reluctant each the first to strike

(For aye accursed in minstrel line

Is he who brawls ‘mid song and wine), And, match'd in numbers and in might, Doubtful and desperate seem’d the fight. Thus threat and murmur died away,

Till on the crowded hall there lay

Such silence, as the deadly still,

Ere bursts the thunder on the hill.

With blade advanced, each chieftain bold
Show'd like the Sworders form of old,
As wanting still the torch of life,

To wake the marble into strife.

XIX.

That awful pause the stranger maid,
And Edith, seized to pray for aid.;

As to De Argentine she clung,

Away her veil the stranger flung,

And lovely, ‘mid her wild despair,

Fast stream'd her eyes, wide tIow'd her hair.
K O thou, of knighthood once the flower,
Sure refuge in distressful hour,

Thou, who in Judah well hast fought
For our dear faith, and oft hast sought
Renown in knightly exercise,

When this poor hand has dealt the prize,
Say, can thy soul of honour brook

On the unequal strife to look,

When, butcher'd thus in peaceful hall, Those once thy friends, my brethren fall !» To Argentine she turnid her word,

But her eye sought the Island Lord.

A flush like evening's setting flame
Glow'd on his cheek; his hardy frame,
As with a brief convulsion, shook :

With hurried voice and eager look,

\< Fear not,» he said, a my Isabel‘.

What said I-—Edith !—aIl is well

Nay, fear not—l will well provide

The safety of my lovely bride

My bride!»--but there the accents clung
In tremor to his falt'ring tongue.

XX.

Now rose De Argentine, to claim

The prisoners in his sovereign‘s name,

To England's crown, who, vassals sworn, 'Gainst their liege lord had weapon borne-— (Such speech, I ween, was but to hide

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His care their safety to provide;

For knight more true in thought and deed
Than Argentine ne'er spurr’d a steed)-—
And Ronald, who his meaning guess’d,
Seem‘d half to sanction the request.

This purpose fiery Torquil broke :

n Somewhat we ‘ve heard of England's yoke,» He said, u and in our islands, Fame

Hath whisper'd of a lawful claim,

That calls the Bruce fair Scotland's lord,
Though dispossess'd by foreign sword.
This craves reflection—but though right
And just the charge of England's knight,
Let England's crown her rebels seize,
Where she has power ;—in towers like these,
'Midst Scottish chieftains summon'd here
To bridal mirth and bridal cheer,

Be sure, with no consent of mine,

Shall either Lorn or Argentine

With chains or violence, in our sight,
Oppress a brave and banish’dJtnight.»

XXI.

Then waked the wild debate again,
With brawling threat and clamour vain.
Vassals and menials, thronging in,
Lent their brute rage to swell the din;
When, far and wide, a bugle-clang
From the dark ocean upward rang.

01 The abbot comes !» they cry at once,
u The holy man, whose favour‘d glance

Hath sainted visions known; Angels have met him on the way, Beside the blessed martyrs bay, And by Columba's stone. His monks have heard their hymnings high, Sound from the summit of Dun-Y, To cheer his penance lone, When at each cross, on girth and wold (Their number thrice an hundred-fold), His prayer he made, his beads he told, With aves many a one

He comes our feuds to reconcile,

A sninted man from sainted isle;

We will his holy doom abide,-—

The abbot shall our strife decide.»

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Show'd, in its red and flashing light,

His wither’d cheek and amice white,

His blue eye glistening cold and bright,
His tresses scant and gray. '

It Fair lords.» he said, (K Our Lady's love,

And peace be with you from above,
And benedicite !—

—But what means this I no peace is here !-—

Do dirks unsheathed suit bridal cheer 7
Or are these naked brands

A seemly show for churchman's sight,

When he comes summon'd to unite
Betrothed hearts and hands?»

XXIV.

Then, cloaking hate with fiery zeal,
Proud Lorn first answer’d the appeal:

a Thou comest, O holy man,
True sons of blessed church to greet,
lint little deeming here to meet

A wretch, beneath the ban Of pope and church, for murder done Even on the sacred altar-stone! Well mayst thou wonder we should know Such miscreant here, not lay him low, Or dream of greeting, peace, or truce, With excommunicated Bruce ! Yet well I grant, to end debate, Thy sainted voice decide his fate.»

XXV.

Then Ronald pled the stranger’ s cause,
And knighthood’s oath and honour’s laws;
And Isabel, on bended knee,

Brought prayers and tears to back the plea;
And Edith lent her generous aid,

And wept, and Lorn for mercy pray'd.

u Hence,» he exclaim'd, a degenerate maid ! Was 't not enough to Ronald's bower

I brought thee, like a paramour, (1 1)

Or bond-maid at her master's gate,

His careless cold approach to wait '.'-—

But the bold' Lord of Cumberland,

The gallant Clifford, seeks thy hand;

His it shall be—Nay, no reply!

Hence! till those rebel eyes be dry.»-
With grief the abbot heard and saw,

Yet nought relax'd his brow of awe.

XXVI.

Then Argentine, in England's name,

So highly urged his sovereign’s claim,
He waked a spark, that, long suppress'd,
llad smoulder'd in Lord Ronald's breast;
And now, as from the flint the fire,
Fla.sh’d forth at once his generous ire.—
<< Enough of noble blood,» he said,

N By English Edward had been shed,
Since matchless Wallace first had been
In n1ock'ry crown'd with wreaths of green, (12)
And done to death by felon hand,

For guarding well his fathers‘ land.
\Vhere '1; Nigel Bruce? and De la llaye,
And valiant Seton—where are they?
Where Somerville, the kind and free?
And Fraser, llower of chivalry? (13)

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Have they not been on gibbet hound,
Their quarters flung to hawk and bound,
And hold we here a cold debate,

To yield more victims to their fate I
What! can the English leopard's mood
Never be gorged with northern blood !
Was not the life of Athole shed,

To soothe the tyrant's sicken’d bed! (14)
And must his word, at dying day,

Be nought but quarter, hang, and slay !--(15)
Thou frowu'st, De Argentine.—My gage
Is prompt to prove the strife I wage.»—-

XXV".

<1 Nor deem,» said stout Dunvegan's knight, a That thou shalt brave alone the fight!

By saints of isle and main-land both,

By Woden wild (my grandsire's oath), (I6)
Let Rome and England do their worst,
I-lowe’er attainted or accursed,

If Bruce shall e'er find friends again,

Once more to brave a battle-plain,

If Douglas couch again his lance,

Or Randolph dare another chance,

Old Torquil will not be to lack,

With twice a thousand at his back.

Nay, chafe not at my bearing bold,

Good abbot! for thou know‘st of old,
Torquil's rude thought and stubborn will
Smack of the wild Norwegian still;

Nor will I barter Freedom's cause

For England's wealth or Rome’: applause.»

XXVIII.

The abbot seem’d, with eye severe,

The hardy chieftain's speech to hear.
Then on King Robert turn'd the monk,
But twice his courage came and sunk,
Confronted with the hero's look;

Twice fell his eye, his accents shook.

At length, resolved in tone and brow,
Sternly he question’d him—<: And thou,
Unhappy! what hast thou to plead,

Why I denounce not on thy deed

That awful doom which canons tell
Shuts paradise and opens hell;
Anathema of power so dread,

It blends the living with the dead,

Bids each good angel soar away,

And every ill one claim his prey;

Expels thee from the church’s care,

And deafens Heaven against thy prayer;
Arms every hand against thy life,

Bans all who aid thee in the strife,

Nay, each whose succour, cold and scant,
With meanest alms relieves thy want;
Haunts thee while living,—and, when dead,
Dwells on thy yet devoted head,

Bends honour's scutcheon from thy hearse,
Stills o'er thy bier the holy verse,

And spurns thy corpse from hallow'd ground,
Flung like vile carrion to the hound!
Such is the dire and desperate doom

For sacrilcge, decreed by Rome;

And such the well-deserved mecd

Of thine uuhallow’d, ruthless dced.o—

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XXIX.

u Abbot!» the Bruce replied, ~< thy charge It boots not to dispute at large.

This much, howe'er, 1 bid thee know,

No selfish vengeance dealt the blow,

For Comyn died his country's foe.

Nor blame I friends whose ill-timed speed Fulfill'd my soon-repented deed,

Nor censure those from whose stern tongue The dire anathema has rung.

I only blame mine own wild ire,

By Scotland's wrongs incensed to fire.
Heaven knows my purpose to atone,

Far as I may, the evil done,

And hears a penitent's appeal

From papal curse and prelate's zeal.

My first and dearest task achieved,

Fair Scotland from her thrall relieved,
Shall many a priest in cope and stole

Say requiem for red Comyn's soul,

While I the blessed cross advance,

And expiate this unhappy chance,

In Palestine, with sword and lance. (17) But, while content the church should know My conscience owns the debt I owe,

Unto De Argentine and Lorn

The name of traitor I return,

Bid them defiance stern and high,

And give them in their throats the lie! These brief words spoke, I speak no more. Do what thou wilt; my shrift is o'er.»

XXX.

Like man by prodigy amazed,

Upon the king the abbot gazed;

Then o’er his pallid features glance
Convulsions of ecstatic trance.

His breathing came more thick and fast,
And from his pale blue eyes were cast
Strange rays of wild and wandering light;
Uprise his locks of silver white,

Flush'd is his brow, through every vein
In azure tide the currents strain,

And undistinguish'd accents broke

The awful silence are he spoke.

XXXI.

a De Bruce! I rose with purpose dread

To speak my curse upon thy head, (18)
And give thee as an outcast o'er

To him who burns to shed thy gore ;—
But, like the Ilrlidianile of old,

Who stood on Zophim, Heaven-controll'd,
I feel within mine aged breast

A power that will not be repress'd. (19)

It prompts my voice, it swells my veins, It burns, it maddens, it constraius!—

De Bruce, thy sacrilegions blow

Hath at God's altar slain thy foe:
O'ermaster'd yet by high behest,

I bless thee, and thou shalt be bless’d !»—
He spoke, and o'er the astonislfd throng
Was silence, awful, deep, and long.

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Again his form swells bold and high,
The broken voice of age is gone,

‘T is vigorous manhood’s lofty tone :-—
or Thrice vanquish‘d on the battle-plain,
Thy followers slaughter‘d, fled, or ta'en,
A hunted wanderer on the wild, (20)
On foreign shores a man exiled,
Disown’d, deserted, and distress'd.

I bless thee, and thou shalt be bles-s'd
Bless’d in the hall and in the field,
Under the mantle as the shield.
Avenger of thy country's shame,
Restorer of her injured fame,

Bless‘d in thy sceptre and thy sword,
De Bruce, fair Scotland's rightful lord,
Bless'd in thy deeds and in thy fame,

What leugthen'd honours wait thy name!

In distant ages, sire to son

Shall tell thy tale of freedom won,

And teach his infants, in the use

Of earliest speech, to falter Bruce,

Go, then, triumphant! sweep along

Thy course, the theme of many a song!

The Power, whose dictates swell my breast,
Hath bless'd thee, and thou shalt be bless'd!
Enough—my short-lived strength decays,
And sinks the momentary blaze.—

Heaven hath our destined purpose broke,
Not here must nuptial vow he spoke;
Brethren, our errand here is o'er,

Our task discharged.—Unmoor, unmoor lu-
His priests received the exhausted monk,

As breathless in their arms he sunk.
Punctual his orders to obey,

The train refused all longer stay,

Embark‘d, raised sail, and bore away.

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What Lorn, by his impatient cheer,
And gesture fierce, scarce deign'd to hear.

Ill.
Starting at length with frowning look,
His hand he clench'd, his head he shook,
And sternly flung apart ;—

0 And deem'st thou me so mean of mood, As to forget the mortal fend,

And clasp the hand with blood emhrued

From my dear kinsman‘s heart‘!

Is this thy rede t—a due return

For ancient league and friendship sworn '.'
But well our mountain—proverb shows
The faith of lslesmen ehbs and flows.
Be it e'en so-believe, ere long,

He that now hears shall wreak the wrong.—
Call Edith-—call the Maid of Lorn!

My sister, slaves !—for further scorn,

Be sure nor she nor I will stay.-—

Away, De Argentine, away!

We nor ally nor brother know,

In Bruce's friend, or England's foe.»

- IV.

But who the chieftains rage can tell,
When, sought from lowest dungeon cell
To highest tower the castle round,

No Lady Edith was there found!

He shouted, tt Falsehood !—treachery!-—
Itevenge and blood !—a lordly meed

To him that will avenge the deed !

A baron's lands !»—-His frantic mood
Was scarcely by the news withstood,
That Morag shared his sister's flight,
And that, in hurry of the night,

'Scaped noteless, and without remark,
Two strangers sought the ahhot's hark.

(1 Man every galley!—fly—-pursue!

The priest his treachery shall rucl

Ay, and the time shall quickly come,
When we shall bear the thanks that Rome
Will pay his feigned prophecy!»—-
Such was fierce Lorn's indignant cry;
And Cormac Doil in haste obey'd,
Hoisted his sail, his anchor weigh'd
(For, glad of each pretext for spoil,

A pirate sworn was Cormac Doil). (I)
But others, lingering, spoke apart,

'4: The maid has given her maiden heart

To Ronald of the Isles;
And, fearful lest her brother's word
Bestow her on that English lord,
She seeks lona's piles;

And wisely deems it best to dwell

A votaress in the holy cell,

Until these feuds so fierce and fell

The abbot reconciles.»

V.

As, impotent of ire, the hall

Echoed to Lorn‘s impatient call,

a My horse, my mantle, and my tflin !
Let none who honours Lorn remain lav
Courteous, but stern, a bold request
To Bruce De Argentine eXpress'd—

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