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And, by his drugs, my rival fair
A saint in heaven should be. But ill the dastard kept his oath, Whose cowardice has undone us both.
XXX. « And now my tongue the secret tells, Not that remorse my bosom swells, But to assure my soul that none Shall ever wed with Marmion. Had fortune my last hope betray'd, This packet, to the king convey'd, Had given him to the headsman's stroke, Although my heart that instant broke. Now, men of death, work forth your will, For I can suffer, and be still; And, come he slow, or come he fast, It is but Death who comes at last.
But, ere they breathed the fresher air,
And many a stitled groan:
As hurrying, lottering on; Even in the vesper's heavenly tone They seem'd to hear a dying groan, And bade the passing knell to toll For welfare of a parling soul. Slow o'er the midnight wave it swung, Northumbrian rocks in answer rung: To Warkworth cell the echoes rollid, His beads the wakeful hermit told: The Bamborough peasant raised his head, But slept ere half a prayer he said; So far was heard the mighty knell, The stag sprung up on Cheviot Fell, Spread his broad nostril to the wind, Listed before, aside, behind, Then couch'd him down beside the hind, And quaked among the mountain fern, To hear that sound, so dull and stern.
INTRODUCTION TO CANTO III.
WILLIAM ERSKINE, ESQ.
XXXI. « Yet dread me, from my living tomb, Ye vassal slaves of bloody Rome! If Marmjon's late remorse should wake, Full soon such vengeance will he take, That you shall wish the fiery Dane Had rather been your guest again. Behind, a darker hour ascends! The altars quake, the crosier bends, The ire of a despotic king Rides forth upon destruction's wing. Then shall these vaults, so strong and deep, Burst open to the sea-wind's sweep; Some traveller then shall find my bones, Whitening amid disjointed stones, And, ignorant of priests' cruelty, Marvel such relics here should be.»—
Sister, let thy sorrows cease ;
Paced forth the judges three ;
Ashestiel, Ettrick Forest. Lixe April morning clouds, that
flow unconfined, my tale.
Need I to thee, dear Erskine, tell, I love the license all too well, In sounds now lowly, and now strong, To raise the desultory song ?Oft, when 'mid such capricious chimic, Some transient fit of losty rhyme To thy kind judgmeut seem'd excuse For many an error of the muse,
Who soatch'd, on Alexandria's sand,
« Or, if to touch such chord be thine, Restore the ancient tragic line, And emulate the notes that rung From the wild harp, which silent húng By silver Avon's holy shore, Till iwice an hundred years roll'd o'er : When she, the bold Enchantress, came, With fearless hand and heart on flame! From the pale willow snatch'd the treasure, And swept it with a kindred measure, Till Avon's swans, while rung.the grove With Montfort's hate and Basil's love, Awakening at the inspired strain, Deem'd their own Shakspeare lived again.»
Oft hast thou said, « Jf, still mis-spent,
« Or, deem'st thou not our later time
Thy friendship thus thy judgment wronging,
Thus, while I ape the measure wild
« Or of the Red-Cross hero teach,
Lord Marmion drew his rein: The village inn (1) seem'd large, though rude ; Its cheerful fire and hearty food
Might well relieve his train. Down from their seats the horsemen sprang, With jingling spurs the court-yard rang; They bind their horses to the stall, For forage, food, and firing call, And various clamour fills the hall; Weighing the labour with the cost, Toils every where the bustling host.
Their glee and game declined.
Thus whisperd forth his mind:
Glances beneath his cowl! Full on our lord he sets his eye; For his best palfrey, would not I
Endure that sullen scowl.»
Bore wealth of winter cheer;
And savoury haunch of decr.
Were tools for housewives' hand; Nor wanted, in that martial day, The implements of Scottish fray,
The buckler, lance, and brand. Beneath its shade, the place of state, On oaken sette Marmion sate, And view'd, around the blazing hearth, His followers mix in noisy mirth, Whom with brown ale, in jolly tide, From ancient vessels ranged aside, Full actively their bost supplied.
VJI. But Marmion, as to chase the awe Which thus had quelld their hearts, who saw The ever-varying fire-light show That figure stern and face of woe,
Now call'd upon a squire :
Fitz-Eustace, know'st thou not some lay, To speed the lingering night away?
We slumber by the fire.»
iv. Theirs was the glee of martial breast, And laughter theirs at little jest; And oft Lord Marmion deigo'd to aid, And mingle in the mirųh they made : For though, with men of high degree, The proudest of the proud was he, Yet, traind in camps, he knew the art To win the soldier's hardy heart. They love a captain to obey, Boisterous as March, yet fresh as May; With open hand, and brow as free, Lover of wine and minstrelsy; Ever the first to scale a tower, As venturous in a lady's bower :Such buxom chief shall lead his host From India's fires to Zembla's frost.
VIII. «So please you,» thus the youth rejoin'd, « Our choicest minstrel's left behind. Ill may we hope to please your ear, Accustom'd Constant's strains to hear. The harp full defuy can he strike, And wake the lover's lute alike; To dear St Valentine, no thrush Sings livelier from a spring-tide bush; No nightingale her love-lorn tune More sweetly warbles to the moon. Woe to the cause, whate'er it be, Detains from us his melody, Lavish'd on rocks and billows stern, Or duller monks of Lindisfarn. Now must I venture, as I may, To sing his favourite roundelay.»
V. Resting upon his pilgrim staff,
Right opposite the Palmer stood : His thin dark visage seen but half,
Half hidden by his hood. Still fix'd on Marmion was his look, Which he, who ill such gaze could brook,
Strove by a frown to quell; But not for that, though more than once Full met their stero encountering glance,
The Palmer's visage fell.
IX. A mellow voice Fitz-Eustace had, The air he chose was wild and sad; Such have I heard, in Scoçtish land, Rise from the busy harvest band, When falls before the mountaineer, On Lowland plains, the ripen'd ear. Now one shrill voice the notes prolong, Now a wild chorus swells the song: Oft have I listen'd, and stood still, As it came soften'd up the hill, And deem'd it the lament of men Who languish'd for their native glen; And thought how sad would be such sound, Od Susquehanna's swampy ground, Kentucky's wood-encumber'd brake, Or wild Ontario's boundless lake, Where heart-sick exiles, in the strain, Recall'd fair Scotland's hills again!
Whom the fates sever
Parted for ever?,
Sounds the far billow, Where early violets die,
Under the willow.
XII. High minds, of native pride and force, Most deeply feel thy pangs, remorse! Fear, for their scourge, mean villains have Thou art the torturer of the brave! Yet fatal strength they boast, to steel Their minds to bear the wounds, they feel. Even while they writhe beneath the smart Of civil conflict in the heart. For soon Lord Marmion raised his head, And, smiling, to Fitz-Eustace said, « Is it not strange, that as ye sung, Seem'd in mine ear a death-peal rung, Such as in nuvperies they toll For some departing sister's soul ?
Say, what may this portend ?»— Then first the Palmaer silence broke (The livelong day he had not spoke),
« The death of a dear friend.»(2)
CHORUS Eleu loro, etc.
Soft shall be his pillow. There through the summer day,
Cool streams are laving; There, while the tempests sway,
Scarce are boughs waving; There, thy rest shalt thou take,
Parted for ever, Never again to wake, - Never, O never.
CHORUS. Eleu loro, etc. Never, 0 never.
He, the deceiver,
Ruin, and leave her?
Borne down by the flying,
of the dying
For either in the tone,
A feather daunts the brave,
So full upon
CHORUS. Eleu loro, etc. There shall he be lying.
Her wing shall the eagle flap
O'er the false-hearted, His warm blood the wolf shall lap,
Ere life be parted. Shame and dishonour sit
By his grave ever; Blessing shall hallow it,
Never, 0 never!
CHORUS. Eleu loro, èlc. Never, O never.
It fell on Marmion's ear,
And shameful death, were near.
Between it and the band,
Reclining on his hand.
Well might he falter !– By his aid