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We are determined. We will spare proud Edward
The middle ward ourselves, the royal standard
Shall the young gallants whom we knight this day,
Discretion hath forsaken Lennox too!
The wisdom he was forty years in gathering
Has left him in an instant. "I is contagious
Even to witness frenzy.
strruut./mo. The Regent hath determined well. The rear Suits him the best who counsell’d our retreat. uznuox. Proud northern thane, the van were soon the rear, Were thy disorder'd followers planted there. su-rni-znunn.
Then, for that very word, I make a vow,
By my broad earldom and my father's soul,
That ifI have not leading of the van,
Iwill not fight to-day!
noss. Morarchat! thou the leading of the van! Not whilst Mac-Donnell lives. swmron (apart).
Nay, then a stone would speak.
(/Iddresses the REGENT.) May 't please your grace,
With these great earls and lords, must needs debate,
Else 't will be said, ill fares it with the flock,
If shepherds wrangle when the wolf is nigh.
The old knight counsels well. Let every lord
Or chief, who leads five hundred men or more,
We '11 have no vulgar censurers of our conduct
[Loalt-ing at Swnnon. Young Gordon, your high rank and numerous following Give you a seat with us, though yet unknighted. cannon.
I pray you pardon me. My youth ’s unfit
To sit in council, when that knights gray hail!
I will but ask his name. There ‘s in his presence
Or like the feeling made my childish ear
Doat upon tales of superstitious dread,
Attracting while they chill'd my heart with fear.
I 'm bound to fear nought earthly-—and I fear nought.
Sir Knight, I pray you, of your gentle courtesy,
To tell your honour'd name. I am ashamed,
Being unknown in arms, to say that mine
Is Adam Gordon.
swturou (shows emotion, but instantly subdue: it).
It is a name that soundeth in my ear
Like to it death-knell—ay, and like the call
Of the shrill trumpet to the mortal lists;
Yet 't is :1 name which ne'er hath been dishonour'd,
By such a youth as thou.
There 's a mysterious courtesy in this,
And yet it yields no answer to my question.
I trust, you hold the Gordon not unworthy
To know the name he asks!
Worthy of all that openness and honour
May show to friend or foe—but, for my name,
Harsh in your ear, remember that it knells there
As there ‘s no cause I should, you had not heard it.
''I‘ is a brave youth. How hluslfd his noble cheek,
And half suspicion of some slight intended,
All mingled in the flush ; but 50011 't will deepen
I wait the issue, as I 've seen spectators
Suspend the motion even of the eye-lids,
When the slow gunner, with his lighted match,
To waken its dread slumbers.—Now 't is out;
He draws his sword, and rushes towards me,
Who will nor seek nor shun him.
Enter Goaoou, withheld by VIPONT.
VIPONT. Hold, for the sake of Heaven !—0, for the sake Of your dear country, hold‘.—-Has Swinton slain your father,
And must you, therefore, be yourself a parricide,
And stand recorded as the selfish traitor,
Who, in her hour of need, his country's cause
Deserts, that he may wreak a private wrong !
Look to you banner—-that is Scotlandis standard;
Look to the English—tl1ey are Scotland's foemen!
And think on nought beside.
He hath come here to brave me!—-Off!—Unhand me!Thou canst not be my father's ancient friend,
That standfst 'twixt me and him who slew my father.
You know not Swinton. Scarce one passing thought Of his high mind was with you; now, his soul
ls fixed on this day's battle. You might slay him
At unawares before he saw your blade drawn.-
Enter MAXWELL from the Tent.
swmron. How go our councils, Maxwell, may I ask’! llAxws|.I..
As wild, as if the very wind and sea
With every breeze and every billow battled
For their precedence.
swnvrou. Most sure they are possess'd! Some evil spirit, To mock their valour, robs them of discretion. Fie, fie, upon 't'.—O that Dunfermlinds tomb Could render up the Bruce! that Spain's red shore Could give us back the good Lord James of Douglas! Or that fierce Randolph, with his voice of terror, Were here, to awe these brawlers to submission! VIPONT (to Gannon). Thou hast perused him at more leisure now. GORDON.
lsee the giant form which all men speak of,
Not the blood-thirsty look, that should belong
To name my father twice ere I can strike
In token he shall die.
l'm calm, I will not seek—nay, I will shun it-
About a foot-ball match, rather than chiefs
Were ordering a battle. I am young,
And lack experience; tell me, brave De Vipont,
Broken, disjointed, as the tumbling surges
Which the winds wake at random. Look on both,
And dread the issue;—yet there might be succour. oosnou.
We ‘re fesrfully o'ermatch'd in discipline;
So even my inexperienced-eye can judge.
What succour save in Heaven’!
Heaven acts by human means. The artist's skill
Supplies in war, as in mechanic crafts,
Deficiency of tools. There 's-courage, wisdom,
And skill enough, live in one leader here,
As, flung into the balance, might avail .
To counterpoise the odds ’twixt that ruled host
And our wild multitude.-I must not name him.
I guess, but dare not ask.-What band is yonder,
Arranged as closely as the English discipline liath marshall‘d their best filesl
Hath sunk before the Crescent. Heaven's cause Won us not victory where wisdom was not.Behold yon English host come slowly on,
with equal front, rank marshall'd upon rank, As if one spirit ruled one moving body;
The leaders, in their places, each prepared
To charge, support, and rally, as the fortune
Know'st thou not the pennon‘!
One day, perhaps, thou ’lt see it all too closely.-— lt is Sir Alan Swinton’s.
These, then, are his,—the relics of his power;
And I must slay my country's sagest leader,
And crush by numbers that determined handful,
High blood and mettle, mix'd with early wisdom,
This evil on-en‘d day, l pawn my word,
That, in the ruin which-I now forebode,
Scotland has treasure left.--How close he eyes
Each look and step of Swinton! Is it hate,
Or is it admiration, or are both
Commingled strangely in that steady gaze?
[Swmrou and lllAXWELL return from the
The storm is laid at length amongst these counsellors;— See, they come forth.
And it is more than time; Furl can mark the van-guard archery Handling their quivers—bending up their bows.
Enter the Reosm" and Scottish Lords.
Thus shall it be then, since we may no better,
To this high urgency, or give the van-guard
Up to another’s guidance, we will abide them
swmron (apart). 0 sage discipline, That leaves to chance the marshalling of a battle! oonoon.
Move him to speech, De Vipont.
VIPONT. Move him .’-—-Move whom? ooitnox. Even him, whom, but brief space since, My hand did burn to put to utter silence. virolvr. I 'll move it to him.—Swinton, speak to them, They lack thy counsel sorely. SWINTON. Had I the thousand spears which oncel led, I had not thus been silent. But men's wisdom Is rated by their means. From the poor leader Of sixty lances, who seeks words of weight! common (sizpsforwdrd). Swinton, there ’s that of wisdom on thy brow, And valour in thine eye, and that of peril In this most urgent hour, that bids me say,Bids me, thy mortal foe, say,—Swinton, speak, For king and country’s sake! swmron. Nay, if that voice commands me, speak Iwill; It sounds as if the dead lay charge on me. REGENT. (Ta Lauuox, with whom he has been consulting.) 'T is better than you think. This broad hill-side Affords fair compass for our power's display, Rank above rank rising in seemly tiers; So that the rear-ward stands as fair and open—— swutron. As e‘er stood mark before an English archer. ' REGENT. Who dares to say so I-—Who is ‘t dare impeach Our rule of discipline‘! swmrom. A poor knight of these Marches, good my lord; Alan of Swinton, who hath kept a house here, Ile and his ancestry, since the old days Of Malcolm, called the Maiden. REGENT. You have brought here, even to this pitched field, In which the royal banner is display'd, I think, some sixty spears, Sir Knight of Swinton E Our inusters name no more. swnvrou. I brought each man I had; and chief, or earl, Thane, duke, or dignitary, brings no more: And with them broughtl what may here be usefulAn aged eye, which, what in England, Scotland, Spain, France, and Flanders, hath seen fifty battles, And ta’en somejudgment of them; a stark hand too, \\'l1ich plays as with a straw with this same mace,\\'hich if a young arm here can wield more lightly, I never more will offer word of counsel. LENNOX. Hear him, my lord; it is the noble Swinton-— He hath had high experience. MAXWELL. He is noted The wisest warrior ‘twixt the Tweed and Solway-— I do beseech you hear him. Jonusronn. Ay, hear the Swinton—hear stout old Sir Alan; Maxwell and Johnstone both agree for once. azornr. Where 's your impatience now! Late you were all for battle, would not hear
Ourself pronounce a word—and now you gaze
On you old warrior, in his antique armour,
As if he were arisen from the dead,
To bring us Bruce's counsel for the battle.
‘T is a proud word to speak; but he who fought
At what he would have counsell’d.—Bruce had biddcn ye
Here on the bare hill-side, and hidden you mark
To the green meadow-lands which stretch beneath—-
But shall find mark within a Scottish bosom,
If thus our field he order’d. The callow boys,
Who draw but four-foot bows, shall gall our front,
The cloth-yard shafts shall fall like death's own darts,
By boys and women, while they toss aloft
All idly and in vain their brancby horns,
As we shall shake our unavailing spears.
iuzosur. Tush, tell not me‘. If their shot fall like hail, Our men have Milan coats to bear it out. swmron.
Never did armourer temper steal on stitby
That made sure fence against an English arrow;
A cobweb gossamer were guard as good
Against a wasp-sting.
iuzoimr. Who fears a wasp-sting? SWINTON. I, my lord, fear none; Yet should a wise man bmsh the insect off, Or he may smart for it. naosu-r. We 'll keep the bill; it is the vantage-ground When the main battle joins. swmrou.
It ne’er will join, while their light archery
Can foil our spenrmen and our barbed horse.
To hope Plantagenet would seek close combat
Sagacious Edward simpler than a babe
In battle-knowledge. Keep the hill, my lord,
With the main body, if it is your pleasure;
But let a body of your chosen horse
Make execution on you waspish archers.
I ’ve done such work before, and love it well;
If 't is your pleasure to give me the leading,
The dames of Sherwood, Inglewood, and Weardale,
And long in vain. Wl\oe'er remembers Bannockhurn,—
This is the shortest road to handy blows;
For when the bills step forth and bows go back,
With their strong bodies, and their stubborn hearts,_
At the close tug shall foil the short-breathed southron.
This much at least,.—
We ’ll meet these southrons bravely hand to hand,
Each man who falls shall see the foe who strikes him,
And our good hands to these good blades are faithful,
Not all; for I would pray you, noble lords
(If one, among the guilty guiltiest, might),
For this one day to charm to ten hours‘ rest
The never-dying worm of deadly feud,
That gnaws our vexed hearts—think no one foe
Ay, days by far too many will remain,
To avenge old feuds or struggles for precedence,’-
If there is any here may claim from me
(As well may chance) a debt of blood and hatred,
So he to-day will let me do the best
That my old arm may achieve for the dear country That ‘a mother to us both.
[GORDUN shows much emotion during this and the preceding speech of Swmron.
nzesnr. It is a dream—-a vision !-—if one troop Ilush down upon the archers, all will follow, And order is destroy‘d—we ’ll keep the battle-rank Our fathers wont to do. No more on 't.-—H0! Where be those youths seek knighthood from our sword? HERALD. Here are the Gordon, Somcrville, and Hay, And Hepburn, with a score of gallants more. nsssivr. Gordon, stand forth. GORDON. I I pray your grace, forgive me. ssoenr. How! seek you not for knighthood? oonoou. ‘ I do thirst for 't, But, pardon me—'t is from another sword. _ REGENT. It is your sovereign's,—-seek you for a worthier7
Who would drink purely, seeks the secret fountain,
Though it be deep and wide. My lord, I seek
The boon of knighthood from the honour'd weapon _
To be your sire in chivalry, I remind you
War has its duties, Office has its reverence;
Who governs in the sovereign’s name is sovereign,-'4
His and these noble lords’; and pray them all ’ Bear witness to my words.—Ye noble presence,
Here I remit unto the Knight of Swinton
All bitter memory of my father's slaughter,
All thoughts of malice, hatred, and revenge;
By no base fear or composition moved,
But by the thought, that in our country's battle
All hearts should be as one. I do forgive him
As freely as] pray to be forgiven,
And once more kneel to him to sue for knighthood.
SWINTUN (qffectcd, and drawing his sword).
Alas! brave youth, 't is I should kneel to you,
And, tendering thee the hilt of the fell sword
That made thee fatherless, bid thee use the point
And in Our Lady's and Saint Andrew's name,
So Gordon quotes the man who slew his father,With his old pedigree and heavy mace,
Essay the adventure if it pleases him,
With his fair threescore horse. As for ourselves, We will not peril aught upon the measure:
oonoolv. Lord Rcgcnt,‘y0u mistake; for if % Alan