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XXI. A stark mosstrooping Scott was he, As e'er couched Border lance by knee: Through Solway sands, through Tarras moss, Blindfold, he knew the paths to cross ; By wily turns, by desperate bounds, Had baffled Percy's best bloodhounds; In Eske, or Liddel, fords were none, But he would ride them, one by one ; Alike to him was time, or tide, December's snow, or July's pride ; Alike to him was tide, or time, Moonless midnight, or matin prime : Steady of heart, and stout of hand, As ever drove prey from Cumberland; Five times outlawed had he been, By England's king, and Scotland's queen.
“Sir William of Deloraine, good at need,
Mount thee on the wightest steed ;
Spare not to spur, nor stint to ride,
Until thou come to fair Tweed side ;
And in Melrose's holy pile
Seek thou the monk of St. Mary's aisle.
Greet the father well from me ;
Say, that the fated hour is come,
And to might he shall watch with thee,
To win the treasure of the tomb :
For this will be saint Michael's might,
And, though stars be dim, the moon is bright;
And the cross, of bloody red,
Will point to the grave of the mighty dead."
“What he gives thee, see thou keep ;
Stay not thou for food or sleep.
Be it scroll, or be it book,
Into it, knight, thou must not look;
If thou readest, thou art lorn 1
Better hadst thou ne'er been born.”
“O swiftly can speed my dapplegray steed,
Which drinks of the Teviot clear;
Ere break of day,” the warrior 'gan say,
“Again will I be here:
And safer by none may thy errand be done,
* Than, noble dame, by me;
Letter nor line know I never a one,
Wer’t my neck-verse at Hairibee.”
Soon in his saddle sate he fast,
And soon the steep descent he past,
Soon crossed the sounding barbican,t
And soon the Teviot's side he won.
Eastward the wooded path he rode,
Green hazels o'er his basnet mod:
* Hairibee, the place of executing the Border ma: rauders at Carlisle. The neck-verse is the beginning of the fifty first psalm. Miserere mei, &c. anciently read by criminals, claiming the benefit of clergy
+ Barbican, the defence of the outer gate of a feudal castle.
He passed the Peel" of Goldiland,
And crossed old Borthwick's roaring strand;
Dimly he viewed the moathill's mound, \
Where Druid shades still flitted round:
In Hawick twinkled many a light;
Behind him soon they set in might;
And soon he spurred his courser keen
Beneath the tower of Hazeldean.
The clattering hoofs the watchmen mark;-
“Stand, ho! thou courier of the dark.”
“For Branksome, ho!” the knight rejoined,
And left the friendly tower behind.
He turned him now from Teviot side,
And, guided by the tinkling rill,
Northward the dark ascent did ride,
And gained the moor at Horselie hill;
Broad on the left before him lay,
For many a mile, the Roman way.f
A moment now he slacked his speed,
A moment breathed his panting steed;
Drew saddlegirth and corselet-band,
And loosened in the sheath his brand.
On mintocrags the moonbeams glimt,
Where Barnhill hewed his bed of flint:
Who flung his outlawed limbs to rest,
Where falcons hang their giddy nest,
Mid cliffs, from whence his eagle eye
For many a league his prey could spy;
Cliffs, doubling, on their echoes borne,
The terrors of the robber's horn;
Cliffs, which, for many a later year,
The warbling Doric reed shall hear,
When some sad swain shall teach the grove,
Ambition is no cure for Love.
Unchallenged, thence past Deloraine
To ancient Riddell's fair domain,
Where Aill, from mountains freed,
Down from the lakes did raving come;)
Each wave was crested with tawny foam,
Like the mane of a chesnut steed.
In vain no torrent, deep or broad,
Might bar the bold mosstrooper's road.
At the first plunge the horse sunk low,
And the water broke o'er the saddle bow;
Above the foaming tide, I ween,
Scarce half the charger's neck was seen;
For he was barded" from counter to tail,
And the rider was armed complete in mail;
Never heavier man nor-horse
Stemmed a midnight torrent's force.
The warrior's very plume, I say,
Was daggled by the dashing spray;
* Barded, or barbed, applied to a horse atcottres with defensive armour.
Yet, thro' good heart, and our Ladye's grace, At length he gained the landing place
Now Bowden moor the marchman wom,
And sternly shook his plumed head,
As glanced his eye o'er Halidon;"
For on his soul the slaughter red
Of that unhallowed morn arose,
When first the Scott and Car were foes;
When royal James beheld the fray,
Prize to the victor of the day;
When Home and Douglas, in the van
Bore down Buccleuch's retiring clan,
Till gallant Cessford's heartblood dear
Reeked on dark Elliot's Border spear.
In bitter mood he spurred fast,
And soon the hated heath was past;
And far beneath, in lustre wan,
Old Melrose rose, and fair Tweed ran:
Like some tall rock, with lichens gray,
Seemed, dimly huge, the dark Abbaye.
When Hawick he passed, had curfew rung,
Now midnight laudst were in Melrose sung.
The sound upon the fitful gale,
In solemn wise did rise and fail,
Like that wild harp, whose magic tone
Is wakened by the winds alone.
* Halidon-hill, on which the battle of Melrose was fought.
of Lauds the midnight service of the Catholic churgh .