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Far downward, in the castle-yard,
The seneschal, whose silver hair
Ride out, ride out,
The foe to scout!
That ever are true and stout.—
XXVIII. Fair Margaret, from the turret-head, Heard, far below, the coursers' tread, While loud the harness rang, As to their seats, with clamour dread, The ready horsemen sprang; And trampling hoofs, and iron coats, And leaders' voices, mingled notes, And out ! and out ! In hasty route, , The horsemen gallop'd forth; Dispersing to the south to scout, And east, and west, and north, To view their coming enemies, And warn their vassals and allies.
The ready page, with hurried hand, Awaked the need-fire's slumbering brand,
And ruddy blush'd the heaven; For a sheet of flame, from the turret high, Waved like a blood-flag on the sky,
All flaring and uneven. And soon a score of fires, I ween, From height, and hill, and cliff, were seen; Each with warlike tidings fraught; Each from each the signal caught; Each after each they glanced to sight, As stars arise upon the night. They gleam'd on many a dusky tarn," Haunted by the lonely earn;” On many a cairn's" gray pyramid, Where urns of mighty chiefs lie hid; (11) Till high Dunedin the blazes saw, From Soltra and Dumpender Law;
Mount for Branksome was the gathering word of the Scotts. Need-fire, beacon.
Tarn, a mountain lake.
Earn, a Scottish eagle.
Cairn, a pile of stones.
And Lothian heard the regent's order,
The livelong night in Branksome rang
The ceaseless sound of steel ;
Sent forth the larum peal; - *
The noble dame, amid the broil,
eld with the chiefs of riper age.
Some said, that there were thousands ten, And others ween'd that it was nought
But Leven Clans, or Tynedale men,
Might drive them lightly back agen.
CEAsed the high sound—the listening throng Applaud the master of the song; And marvel much, in helpless age, So hard should be his pilgrimage. Had he no friend—no daughter dear, His wandering toil to share and cheer; No son, to be his father's stay, And guide him on the rugged way? * Ay, once he had—but he was dead 'wUpon the harp he stoop'd his head, And busied himself the strings withal, To hide the tear that fain would fall. In solemn measure, soft and slow, Arose a father's notes of woe.
I. Sweet Teviot! on thy silver tide The glaring bale-fires blaze no more; No longer steel-clad warriors ride Along thy wild and willow'd shore; Where'er thou wind'st, by dale or hill, All, all is peaceful, all is still,
' Bowne, make ready. * Protection-money exacted by freebooters.
As if thy waves, since Time was born, Since first they roll'd upon the Tweed, Had only heard the shepherd's reed,
Nor started at the bugle-horn.
ii. Unlike the tide of human time,
Which, though it change in ceaseless flow,
Retains each grief, retains each crime,
Enough—he died with conquering Graeme !
Now over Border dale and fell,
Full wide and far was terror spread; For pathless marsh, and mountain cell,
The peasant left his lowly shed. (2) The frighten’d flocks and herds were pent Beneath the peel's rude battlement; And maids and matrons dropp'd the tear, While ready warriors seized the spear.
From Branksome's towers, the watchman's eye
Dun wreaths of distant smoke can spy, Which, curling in the rising sun, Show'd southern ravage (3) was begun.
Now loud the heedful gate-ward cried—
• Prepare ye all for blows and blood' Watt Tinlinn, (4) from the Liddel side,
Comes wading through the flood. Full oft the Tynedale snatchers knock At his lone gate, and prove the lock; It was but last St Barnabright They sieged him a whole summer night, But sled at morning; well they knew, In vain he never twang'd the yew.
Right sharp has been the evening shower, . . .
That drove him from his Liddel tower ; And, by my faith, the gate-ward said, « I think 't will prove a warden-raid.”
V. While thus he spoke, the hold yeoman Enter'd the echoing barbican. He led a small and shaggy nag, , That through a bog, from hag to hag,” Could bound like any Bilhope stag. (5) It bore his wife and children twain; A half-clothed serf 3 was all their train. His wife, stout, ruddy, and dark-browd, Of silver broach and bracelet proud, (6) Laugh'd to her friends among the crowd. " An inroad commanded by the warden in person.
* The broken ground in a bog. * Bondsman.
He was of stature passing tall.
Wi. Thus to the Ladye did Tinlinn show The tidings of the English foe. • Belted Will Howard (z) is marching here, And hot Lord Dacre, (S) with many a spear, And all the German hackbut-men,” (9) Who have long lain at Askerten. They cross'd the Liddel at curfew hour, And burnt my little lonely tower; The fiend receive their souls therefor! It had not been burnt this year and more. Harn-yard and dwelling, blazing bright, Served to guide me on my flight; But I was chased the livelong night. Black John of Akeshaw, and Fergus Graeme, Full fast upon my traces came, Until I turn'd at Priesthaugh Scrogg, And shot their horses in the bog, Slew Fergus with my lance outright— I had him long at high despite, He drove my cows last Fastern's night.”
IX. An aged knight, to danger steel'd, With many a moss-trooper, came on; And azure in a golden field, The stars and crescent graced his shield, Without the bend of Murdieston. (11) Wide lay his lands round Oakwood tower, And wide round haunted Castle-Ower; High over Borthwick's mountain-flood His wood-embosom'd mansion stood; In the dark glen, so deep below, . The herds of plunder'd England Iow, His bold retainers' daily food, And bought with danger, blows, and blood. Marauding chief! his sole delight The moon-light raid, the morning fight; Not even the Flower of Yarrow's charins, In youth, might tame his rage for arms; And still, in age, he spurn’d at rest, And still his brows the helmet press'd, Albeit the blanched locks below Were white as Dinlay's spotless suow : Five stately warriors drew the sword Before their father's band; A braver knight than Ilarden's lord Ne'er belted on a brand.
Scotts of Eskdale, a stalwart band, (12)
For he lent me his horse to escape upon.”—
Beshrew thy heart, of the Beattisons clan * If thou leavest on Esk a landed man; But spare Woodkerrick's lands alone,
A glad man then was Branksome bold,
Loudly the Beattison laugh’d in scorn;
xiii. Whitslade the Hawk, and Headshaw came, And warriors more than I may name; From Yarrow-cleugh to Hindhaugh-swair, From Woodhouselie to Chester-glen, Troop'd man and horse, and bow and spear; Their gathering word was Bellenden, (13) And better hearts o'er Border sod To siege or rescue never rode. The Ladye mark'd the aids come in, And high her heart of pride arose; She bade her youthful son attend, That he might know his father's friend, And learn to face his foes. “The boy is ripe to look on war; I saw him draw a cross-bow stiff, And his true arrow struck afar The raven's nest upon the cliff;
The red cross, on a southern breast,
Is broader than the raven's nest;
Thou, Whitslade, shalt teach him his weapon to wield,
And o'er him hold has father's shield.”
Well may you think, the wily page
The attendants to the Ladye told,
That wont to be so free and bold. Then wrathful was the noble dame; She blush'd blood-red for very shame; * Hence' ere the clan his faintness view; Hence with the weakling to Buccleuch!— Watt Tinlinn, thou shalt be his guide To Rangleburn's lonely side.— Sure some fell fiend has cursed our line, That coward should eer be son of mine!»–
A heavy task Watt Tinlinn had
But, as a shallow brook they cross'd,
And fled, and shouted, a Lost! lost! lost!»
Soon on the hill's steep verge he stood,
Above the copse appear; .
Shine helm, and shield, and spear.
XWii. Light forayers, first, to view the ground, Spurr'd their fleet coursers loosely round;
Behind, in close array, and fast,
Behind the English bill and bow,
Moved on to fight, in dark array,
And sold their blood for foreign pay; The camp their home, their law the sword, They knew no country, own'd no lord. (14) They were not arm'd like England's sons, But bore the levin-darting guns; Buff coats, all frounced and 'broidered o'er, And morsing-horns' and scarfs they wore; Each better knee was bared, to aid The warriors in the escalade; And, as they marched, in rugged tongue, Sounds of Teutonic feuds they sung.
XIX. But louder still the clamour grew, And louder still the minstrels blew, When from beneath the green-wood tree Rode forth Lord Howard's chivalry; His men-at-arms, with glaive and spear, Brought up the battle's glittering rear. There many a youthful knight, full keen To gain his spurs, in arms was seen; With favour in his crest, or glove, Memorial of his ladye-love. So rode they forth in fair array, Till full their lengthend lines display; Then call d a halt, and made a stand, And cried, “ St George for merry England!»
XX. Now every English eye, intent, On Branksome's armed towers was bent : So near they were, that they might know The straining harsh of each cross-bow; On battlement and bartizan Gleam'd axe, and spear, and partisan; Falcon and culver, on each tower, Stood prompt their deadly hail to shower; And flashing armour frequent broke From eddying whirls of sable smoke, Where, upon tower and turret-head, The seething pitch and molten lead Reek'd, like a witch's cauldron red. While yet they gaze, the bridges fall, The wicket opes, and from the wall Rides forth the hoary seneschal.
" Powder-flasks. * Ancient pieces of artillery,
XXI. Armed he rode, all save the head, His white beard o'er his breast-plate spread; Unbroke by age, erect his seat, IIe ruled his eager courser's gait; Forced him, with chasten’d fire, to prance, And, high curvetting, slow advance: In sign of truce, his better hand Display’d a peeled willow wand; His squire, attending in the rear, A Bore high a gauntlet on a spear. (15) When they espied him riding out, Lord Howard and Lord Dacre stout Sped to the front of their array, To hear what this old knight should say.
XXII. «Ye English warden lords, of you Demands the Ladye of Buccleuch, Why, gainst the truce of Border-tide, In hostile guise ye dare to ride, With Kendal bow, and Gilsland brand, And all yon mercenary band, Upon the bounds of fair Scotland? . My Ladye redes you, swith return; And, if but one poor straw you burn, Or do our towers so much molest, As scare one swallow from her nest, St Mary! but we'll light a brand, Shall warm your hearths in Cumberland.”
XXIII. A wrathful man was Dacre's lord, But calmer IIoward took the word :— « May't please thy dame, Sir Seneschal, To seek the castle's outward wall, Our pursuivant-at-arms shall show, Both why we came, and when we go.”— The message sped, the noble dame To the walls outward circle came ; Each chief around lean'd on his spear, To see the pursuivant appear. All in Lord Howard's livery dress'd, The lion argent deck'd his breast; He led a boy of blooming hae— O sight to meet a mother's view It was the heir of great Buccleuch. Obeisance meet the herald made, And thus his master's will he said:
- XXIV. « It irks, high dame, my noble lords, 'Gainst ladye fair to draw their swords; But yet they may not tamely see, All through the western wardenry, Your law-contemning kinsmen ride, And burn and spoil the Border side; And ill beseems your rank and birth To make your towers a flemen's-firth.' We claim from thee William of Deloraine, That he may suffer march-treason pain;” (16) It was but last St Cuthbert's even He prick'd to Stapleton on Leven,
• An asylum for outlaws. * Border treason.
Harried the lands of Richard Musgrave,
* XXV. He ceased—and loud the boy did cry, And stretch'd his little arms on high, Implored for aid each well-known face, And strove to seek the dame's embrace. A moment changed that Ladye's cheer; Gush'd to her eye the unbidden tear; She gazed upon the leaders round, And dark and sad each warrior frown'd; Then, deep within her sobbing breast She lock'd the struggling sigh to rest; Unalter'd and collected stood, And thus replicq, in dauntless mood—
XXVI. • Say to your lords of high emprize, Who war on women and on boys, That either William of Deloraine Will cleanse him, by oath, of march-treason stain, (17) Or else he will the combat take 'Gainst Musgrave, for his honour's sake. No knight in Cumberland so good, But William may count with him kin and blood. Knighthood he took of Douglas sword, (18) When English blood swell'd Ancram ford; (19) And but that Lord Dacre's steed was wight, And bore him ably in the slight, Himself had seen him dubb d a knight. For the young heir of Branksome's line, God be his aid, and God be mine; Through me no friend shall meet his doom; Here, while I live, no foe finds room. Then, if thy lords their purpose urge, Take our defiance loud and high : Our slogan is their lyke-wake” dirge, Our moat the grave where they shall lie.”—
xxvii. Proud she look'd round, applause to claim— Then lighten’d Thirlestane's eye of flame, His bugle Wat of Harden blew ; Pensils and pennons wide were flung, To heaven the Border slogan rung, • St Mary for the young Buccleuch!» The English war-cry answer'd wide, And forward bent each southern spear; Each Kendal archer made a stride, And drew the bow-string to his ear; Each minstrel's war-note loud was blown;– But, ere a gray-goose shaft had flown, A horseman gallop'd from the rear.
* Plundered. * Note of assault. * Lyke-wake, the watching a corpse previous to interment.