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THE LETTER.

*< * Ruler of Mortham's destiny!
Though dead, thy victim lives to thee.
Once bad he all that binds to life,
A lovely child, a lovelier wife;
Wealth, fame, and friendship, were his own-
Thou gavest the word, and they are flown.
Mark how he pays thee:—to thy hand
He yields his honours and his land,
One boon premised ;—Restore his child!
And, from his native land exiled,
Mortham no more returns, to claim
His lands, his honours, or his name;
Refuse him this, and from the slain
Thou shall see Mortham rise again.'—

XII.
« Tiiis billet while the baron read,
His faltering accents show'd his dread;
He prcss'd his forehead with bis palm,
Then took a scornful tone and calm;
1 Wild as the winds, as billows wild!
What wot I of his spouse or child?
Hither he brought a joyous dame,-
Unknown her lineage or her name;
Her, in some frantic fit, he slew;
The nurse and child in fear withdrew.
Heaven be my witness, wist I where
To find this youth, my kinsman's heir,—
Unguerdon'd, 1 would give with joy
The father's arms to fold his boy,
And Mortham's lands and towers resign
To the just heir of Mortham's line."—
Thou know'st that scarcely ecu his fear
Suppresses Dentil's cynic sneer;—
'Then happy is thy vassal's part,'
He said, 'to ease his patron's heart!
In thine own jailer's watchful care
Lies Mortham's just and rightful heir;
Thy generous wish is fully woo,
Redmond O'NeaJe is Mortham's son.'—

XIII.
« Up starting with a frenzied look,
His clenched hand the baron shook:
'Is hell at work? or dost thou rave.
Or darest thou palter with me, slave!

Perchance thou wot'st not, Barnard's covers
Have racks, of strange and ghastly powers."
Dcnzil, who well his safety knew-.
Firmly rejoin'd, 'I tell thee true.
Thy racks could give thee but to know
The proofs, which I, untortured, show.—
It chanced upon a winter night,
When early snow made Sianmore white.
That very night, when first of all
Redmond O'Ncalc saw Rokeby-hall,
It was my goodly lot to gain
A reliquary and a chain,
Twisted and chased of massive gold.
—Demand not how the prize I hold!
It was not given, nor lent, nor sold.—
Gilt tablets to the chain were hung.
With letters in the Irish tongue.
I hid my spoil, for there was need.
That I should leave the land with speed;
Nor then 1 deem'd it safe to bear
On mine own person gems so rare.
Small heed I of the tablets took,
But since have s pel I'd .them by the book.
When some sojourn in Erin's land
Of their wild speech bad given command-
But darkling was the sense; the phrase
And language those of other days.
Involved of purpose, as to foil
An interloper's prying toil.
The words, but not the sense, I knew.
Till fortune gave the guiding clue.

XIV.

«* Three days since, was that clue reveaTd,

In Thorsgill as I lay conccal'd,

And heard at full when Rokeby's maid

Her uncle's history display'd;

And now I can interpret well;

Each syllable the tablets tell.

Mark theu: Fair Edith was the joy

Of old O'Neale of Clandcboy,

Rut from her sire and country fled,

In secret Mortham's lord to wed.

O'Neale, his first resentment o'er,

Dispatch'd his son to Greta's shore.

Enjoining he should make him known

(Until his farther will were shown).

To Edith, hut to her alone.

What of their ill-starr'd meeting fell.

Lord Wycliffe knows, and none so weJL

XV.

x'O'Neale it was, who, in despair,
Robb'd Mortham of his infant heir;
He bred him in their nurture wild,
And call d him murder d Gonual's child.
Soon died the nurse; the elan believed
What from their chieftain they received.
His purpose was, that ne'er again
The boy should cross the Irish main,
But, like his mountain sires, enjoy
The woods and wastes of Clandeboy.
Then on the land wild troubles came.
And strouger chieftains urged a claim,
And wrested from the old man's bands
His native towers, his father's lands.

laable then, amid the strife.

To guard young Redmond's rights or life,

Late and reluctant he restores

The infant to his native shores,

With goodly gifts and letters stored,

With many a deep conjuring word,

To Mortham and to Rokeby's lord.

Nought knew the clod of Irish carrli,

Who was the guide, of Redmond's birth;

But decm'd his chiefs commands were laid

On both, by both to be obey'd.

How be was wounded by the way,

I need not, and I list not say.'—

XVI.
• 'A wond'rons tale! and grant it true,
What,' Wycliffe aoswer'd; 'might I dol
llearfn knows, as willingly as now
I raise Ihe bonnet from my brow,
Would 1 my kinsman's manors fair
Restore to Mortham or his heir;
But Mortham is distrauT<ht—O'Neale
Ha* drawn for tyranny his steel.
Malignant to our rightful cause,
And train d in Rome's delusive laws.
Bark thee apart!'—They whisper'd long,

Till Deniils voice grew bold aud strong:

'My proofs! I never will,' he said,

'Show mortal man where they arc laid.

Nor hope discovery to foreclose,

It giving me to feed the crows;

Tor I have mates at large, who know

Where I am wont such toys to stow.

Free me from peril and from band,

These tablets are at thy command;

Nor were it hard to form some train.

To wile old Moriham o'er the main.

Then, lunatic's nor papist's hand

Should wrest from thine the goodly land.'—

—•I like thy wit,' said Wycliffe, 'well;

But here in hostage shall thou dwell.

Thy too, unless my purpose err.

May prove the trustier messenger.

A stroll to Moriham shall he hear

From me, and fetch these tokens rare.

Gold shall thou have, ami that good store,

And freedom, his commission o'er;

But if his faith should chance to fail.

The gibbet freei thee from the jail.'—

XVII, ■ Mesb'd in the net liimsclf had twined, What subterfuge could Deniil find! He told me, villi reluctant sigh, That hidden here the tokens lie; Conjured my swift return and aid, By ill be scoffd and disobey'd; And look d as if the noose were tied. And I the priest mho left his side. This scroll for Mortham, Wycliffe gave, Whom I must seek by Greta's wave, Or in the hut where chief he hides. Where ThorsgiU's forester resides (Thence chanced it, wandering in the glade, Tb-at he descried our ambuscade). I was ditmias'd as eveniug fell, And reach'd hut now this rocky cell e—

« Give Oswald's letter.*—Bertram read.
And tore it fiercely, shred by shred:
« All lies and villany! to blind
His noble kinsman's generous mind,
And train him on from day to day,

Till he can take his life away.

And now, declare thy purpose, youth,
Nor dare to answer, save the truth;
If aught I mark of Denzii's art,
I II tear the secret from thy beart!» ■

XVIII.

- It needs not. I renounce,* he said,

« My tutor and his deadly trade.

Fix'd was my purpose to declare

To Mortham, Redmond is his heir;

To tell him in what risk he stands,

And yield these tokens to his hands.

Fix'd was my purpose to atone,

Far as I may, the evil done,

And fix'd it rests—if I survive

This night, and leave this cave alive.»—

« And Demil?»—.. Let them ply the rack,

Even till his joints and sinews crack!

If Oswald tear him limb from limb,

What ruth can Deniil claim from him.

Whose thoughtless youth he led astray,

And damn'd to this unhallowd wayT

He school'd me, faith and vows were vain;

Now let my master reap his gain..—

«True,» answer'd Remain, «'t is his meed;

There 's retribution in the deed.

But thou—thou art not for our course.

Hast fear, hast pity, ',ast remorse;

And he with us the gale who braves,

Musi heave such cargo to the waves.

Or lag with overloaded prore,

While barks unburlhen'd reach the shore...

3IX.

He paused, and, stretching him at length,

Seem'd to repose his bulky strength.

Communing with his secret mind.

As half he sale, and half reclined,

One ample hand his forehead press'd,

And one was dropp'd across his breast.

The shaggy eyebrows deeper came

Above his eyes of swarthy llame;

His lip of pride awhile forbore

The haughty curve till then it wore;

The unalter'd fierceness of his look

A shade of dark, ud sadness took,

For dark aud sad a presage press'd
Resisllessly on Bertram's breast.—
And when he spoke, his wonted tone.
So fierce, abrupt, and brief, was gone.
His voice was steady, low, and deep,
Like distant waves when breezes sleep;
And sorrow mix'd with Edmund's fear,
Its low unbroken depth to hear.

XX.

« Edmund, in thy sad tale I find
The woe that warp'd my patron's mind;
T would wake the fountains of the eye'
In other men, but mine are dry.

Mortham must never see the fool,
That sold himself base Wycliffes tool!
Yet less from thirst of sordid gain,
Than to avenge supposed disdain.
Say, Bertram rues his fault;—a word,
Till now, from Bertram never heard:
Say, too, that Hortham's lord he prays
To think but on their former days,
On Quariana's beach and rook,
On Cayo's bursting battle-shock.
On Daricn's sands and deadly dew.
And on the dart Ttatieca threw;—
Perchance my patron yet may hear
More than may grace his comrade's bier.
My soul hath felt a secret weight,
A warning of approaching fate:
A priest had said, Return, repent!
As well to bid that rock be rent.
Firm as that Hint, I face mine end;
My heart may burst, but cannot bend.

XXI.

«< The dawning of my youth, with awe
And prophecy, the dalesmen saw;
For over Redesdale it came,
As bodeful as their beacon-flame.
Edmund, thy years were scarcely mine,
When, challenging the clans of Tyne,
To bring their best my brand to prove,
O'er Hexham's altar hung my glove; (i)
But Tynedale, nor in tower nor town.
Held champiou meet to take it down.
My noontide India may declare;
Like her fierce sun, I tired the air!
Like him, to wood and cave bade fly
Her natives, from mine angry eye.
Panama's maids shall long look pale
When Risiugham inspires the tale;
Chili's dark matrons long shall tame
The froWard child with Bertram's name.
And now, my race of terror run,
Mine be the eve of tropic sun!
No pale gradations quench his ray,
No twilight dews his wrath allay;
With disk like battle-target red,
He rushes to his burning bed,
Dyes the wide wave with bloody light,
Then sinks at once—and all is night.

XXII.
« Now to thy mission, Edmund. Fly,
Seek Mortlnm out, And bid him hie
To Richmond, where his troops are laid.
And lead his force to Redmond's aid.
Say, till he reaches Eglisione,
A friend will watch to guard his son.
Now, fare thee well; for night draws on,
And I would rest me here alone.»—
Despite his ill-dissembled fear,
There swam iu Edmund's eye a tear;
A tribute to the courage high.
Which stoop'd not iu extremity,
But strove, irregularly great,
To triumph o'er approaching fate!
Bertram beheld the dew-drop start,
It almost touch'd his iron heart:

M I did not think there lived,» he said,

« One who would tear for Bertram shed.*—

He loosen d then his baldric's hold,

A buckle broad of massive gold;—

« Of all the spoil that paid his pains.

But this with Risingbam remains;

And this, dear Edmund, thou shalt take.

And wear it long for Bertram's sake.

Once more—to Mortham speed amain;

Farewell! and turn thee not again.*—

XXIII. The night has yielded to the morn. And far the hours of prime are worn. Oswald, who, since the dawn of day, Had cursed his messenger's delay. Impatient questiond now his train, « Was Dcnzil's son rcturu'd again?*— It chanced there answer'd of the crew, A menial, who young Edmund knew: « No son of Denzil thjs,» he said; «A peasant hoy from Winston glade. For song and minstrelsy renown'd, And knavish pranks, the hamlets round.*— —« Not Dcnzil's son!—from Wiu&ion vale!— Then it was false, that specious tale; Or, worse—he hath dispalch'd the youth To show to Mortham s lord its truth. Fool that I was!—but 't is loo late;— This is the very turn of fate!— The tale, or true or false, relies On Denzil's evidence:—He dies!— —Ho! provost-marshal ! instantly Lead Denzil to the gallows tree! Allow him not a parting word; Short he the shrift, and sure the cord! Then let his gory head appal Marauders from the castle-wall. Lead forth thy guard, that duty done. With best dispatch to Eglisione.— —Basil, tell Wilfrid he must straight Attend me at the castlc-gatc*—

XXIV.

« Alas!» the old domestic said.

And shook his venerable head,

« Alas! my lord! full ill to-day

May my young master brook the way!

The leech has spoke with grave alarm.

Of unseen hurt, of secret harm.

Of sorrow lurking at the heart,

That mars and lets his healing art.*—

—uTush, tell not mc !—Romantic boys

Pine themselves sick for airy toys.

I will Hud cure for Wilfrid soon,

Bid him for Eglistone be boune,

And quick—I hear the dull death-drum

Tell Denzil's hour of fate is come.*—

He paused with scornful smile, and then

Resumed his train of thought agen.

« Now comes my fortune's crisis near'

Entreaty boots not—instant fear,

Nought else, can bend Matilda's pride,

Or win her to be Wilfrid's bride.

Hut when she sees the scaffold placed.

With axe and block and headsman grated .

And when she deems, that to deny
Dooms Redmond and her sire to die,
She must give way.—Then, were the line
Of Rokeby once combined with mine,
I sain the weather-gage of fate!
If Monliam come, he comes too late,
NTiile I, allied thus and prepared,

Bid him defiance to his beard.

-If she prove stubborn, shall I dare

To drop the axe?—soft! pause we there.

Hortbam still lives—yon youth may tell

Bk tale—and Fairfax loves him well ;—

Else, wherefore should I now delay

To sweep this Redmond from my way!

Bat the to piety perforce

Most yield.—Without there! Sound to horse.»

XXV.

T To bustle in the court below,

■Mount,and march forward!"—forth they go;

Sleedi neigh and trample all around,

Steel rings, spears glimmer, trumpets sound.—

Just then was sung his parting hymn;

And Dentil turii'd his eye-balls dim.

And scarcely conscious what he sees,

Follows the horsemen down the Tees,

And scarcely conscious what he hears,

The trumpets tingle in his cars.

O'er the long bridge they re sweeping now,

The van is hid by green-wood bough;

Bat ere the rearward had pass'd o'er,

Guy Denzil heard and saw no more!

(me stroke, upon the castle bell,

To Oswald rung his dying kuelL

XXVI.

0 for that pencil, erst profuse

Of chivalry's emblazon'd hues,

That traced, of old, in Woodstock bower,

The pageant of the Leaf and Flower,

And bodied forth the tourney high,

Held for the hand of Emily!

Then might I paint the tumult broad,

That to the crowded abbey How .1,

Andpour'd, as with an ocean's sound,

Into the church's ample bound!

Then might I show each varying mien.

Faulting, woeful, or serene;

ladifn-renre with his idiot stare,

And sympathy with anxious air;

him the dejected cavalier,

Doubtful, disarm'd, and sad of cheer;

And Ins proud foe, whose formal eye

Claimd conquest now and mastery;

And the brute crowd, whose envious zeal

Buwas each turn of Fortune's wheel,

And loudest shouts when lowest lie

lulled worth, and station high.

'« what may such a wish avail?

T is mine to tell an onward tale,

Hurrying, as best | caDi a|on6t

"« hearers and the hasty song ;—

Like traveller when approaching home,

"ho sees the shades of evening come,

**A must not now his course delay,

°f chuse the fair, but winding way;

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Nay, scarcely may his pace suspend,
Where o'er his head the wildings bend.
To bless the breeze that cools his brow
Or snatch a blossom from the bough.

XXVII.

The reverend pile lay wild and waste,

Profaned, dishonoured and defaced.

Through storied lattices no more

In soften'd light the suo-beams pour,

Gilding the Gothic sculpture rich

Of shrine, and monument, and niche.

The civil fury of the time

Made sport of sacrilegious crime;

For dark Fanaticism rent

Altar, and screen, and ornament,

And peasant hands the tombs overthrew

Of Bowes, of Rokeby, and Fltz-Hugh.

And now was seen unwonted sight,

In holy walls a scaffold dight!

Where once the priest, of grace divine.

Dealt to his (lock the mystic sign,

There stood the block display'd, and tliere

The headsman grim his hatchet bare;

And for the word of Hope and Faith,'

Resounded loud a doom of death.

Thrice the fierce trumpet's breath was heard

And echoed thrice the herald's word,

Dooming, for breach of martial laws,

And treason to the Commons' cause,'

The Knight of Jlokiby and O'Neale'

To stoop their heads to block and steel.

The trumpets flourished high and shrill,

Then was a silence dead and still ■

And silent prayers to heaven were cast,

And stifling sobs were bursting fast.

Till from the crowd begun to rise

Murmurs of sorrow or surprise,

And from the distant aisles there came

Dcep-mutterd threats, with WyclifrV. name.

XXVIII.

But Oswald, guarded by his band,

Powerful in evil, waved his hand.

And bade Sedition's voice be dead.

On peril of the murmurer's head.

Then first his glance sought Rokeby's knight;

Who gazed on the tremendous sight,

As calm as if he came a guest

To kindred baron's feudal feast,

As calm as if that trumpet-call
Were summons to the banner'd hall •
Firm in his loyally he stood,
And prompt to seal it with his blood.
With downcast look drew Oswald nigh,—
He durst not cope with Rokeby's eye!—
And said, with low.and faltering breath,
•'Thou know'st the terms of life and death.*—
The knight then turnd, and sternly smiled;
"The maiden is mine only child.
Yet shall my blessing leave her head,
If with a traitor's son she wed.n
Then Redmond spoke; « The life of one
Might thy malignity atone.
On me be flung a double guilt!
Spare Rokeby's blood, let mine be spilt !»—

Wycliffe had listen'd to his suit,
But dread prevail'd, and he was mate.

XXIX.
And now he pours his choice of fear
In secret on Matilda's ear;
« An union form'd with me and mine
Eosures the faith of Rokeby's line.
Consent, and all this dread array
Like morning dream shall pass away;
Refuse, and, T>y my duty press'd,
I give the -word—thou know'st the rest."
Matilda, still and motionless,
With terror heard the dread address,
Pale as the sheeted maid who dies
To hopeless love a sacrifice;
Then wrung her hands in agony,
And round her cast bewilder'd eye.
Now on the scaffold glanced, and now
On Wycliffe's unrelenting brow.
She vcil'd her face, and, with a voice
Scarce audible,—" I make my choice!
Spare but their lives '.—for aught beside,
Let Wilfrid's doom my fate decide.
He once was generous'.»—As she spoke,
Dark Wycliffe's joy in triumph broke:
.Wilfrid, where loiter'd ye so late?—
Why upon Basil rest thy weight 1
Art spell-bound by enchanter's wand 7 —
Kneel, kneel, and take her yielded hand j
Thank her with raptures, simple boy 1
Should tears and trembling speak thy joyI»-
« 0 hush, my sire! to pray'r and tear
Of mine thou hast refused thine ear;
But now the awful hour draws on,
When truth must speakin loftier tone.»—

XXX.
He took Matilda's hand :-«Dear maid!
Gouldst thou so injure me,» be said,
i, Of thy poor frieud so basely deem,
As blend him with this barbarous scheme?
Alas! my efforts, made in vain,
Might well have saved this added pain.
But now, bear witness earth and heaven,
That ne'er was hope to mortal given,
So twisted with the strings of life,
As this—to call Matilda wife!
I bid it now for ever part.
And with the effort bursts my heart."—
His feeble frame was worn so low.
With wounds, with watching, and with woe,
That nature could no more sustain
The agony of mental pain.
He kneel'd—his lip her hand had press'd,—
Just then he felt the stern arrest;
Lower and lower sunk his head,
They raised him,—but the life was fled!
Then first alarm'd, his sire and train
Tried every aid, but tried in vain.
The soul, too soft its ills to bear.
Had left our mortal hemisphere,
And sought, in better world, the meed
To blameless life by Heaven decreed.

XXXI.
The wretched sire beheld, aghast,
With Wilfrid all his projects past.

All turn'd and center'd on his son,

On Wilfrid all—and he was gone.

• And I am childless now,» he said,

« Childless, through that relentless maid!

A lifetime's arts, in vain essay'd.

Are bursting on their artist's head!—

Here lies my Wilfrid dead—and there

Comes hated Mortham for his heir,

Eager to knit in happy band

With Rokeby's heiress Redmond's hand.

And shall their triumph soar o'er all

The schemes deep-laid to work their fall »

No! deeds which prudence might not dare.

Appal not vengeance and despair.
The murderess weeps upon his bier—
I 'II change to real that feigned tear!
They all shall share destructions shock:—
Ho! lead the captives to the block !»—
But ill his provost could divine
His feelings, and forbore the sign.
« Slave! to the block!—or I, or they,
Shall face the judgment-seat this day!»—

XXXII.

The outmost crowd have heard a sound.

Like horse's hoof on harden'd ground;

Nearer it came, and yet more near,—

The very deaths-men paused to hear.

T is in the church-yard now—the tread

Hath waked the dwelling of the dead I

Fresh sod, and old sepulchral stone.

Return the tramp in varied tone.

All eyes upon the gale-way hung,

When through the Gothic arch there sprung

A horseman arm'd, at headlong speed—(l)

Sable his cloak, his plume, his steed.

Fire from the flinty floor was spurn'd,

The vaults unwonted clang retum'd !—

One instant's glance around he threw,

From saddle-bow his pistol drew.

Grimly determined was his look!

His charger with the spurs be slrook—

All scatter'd backward as he came.

For all knew Bertram Risingham!

Three bounds that noble coarser gave;

The first has reach'd the central nave,

The second clear'd the chancel wide.

The third—he was at Wycliffe's side.

Full lcvell'd at the baron's head.

Rung the report—the bullet sped—

And to his long account, and last,

witlimit a groan dark Oswald past!

All was so quick, that it might seem

A flash of lightning, or a dream.

xxxm.

While yet the smoke the deed conceals,
Bertram his ready charger wheels;
But tlounder'd on the pavement floor
The steed, and down the rider bore.
And bursting in the headlong sway.
The faithless saddle-girths gave way.
T was while he toil'd him to be freed.
And with the rein to raise the steed.
That from amaiement's iron trance
All Wycliffe's soldiers waked at once.

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