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Unaltered and collected stood,
And thus replied, in dauntless mood :-
“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,
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,
When English blood swelled Ancrain ford;
And but that Lord Dacre's steed was wight,
And bare him ably in the flight,
Himself had seen him dubbed 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.”—
Proud she looked round, applause to claim -
Then lightened Thirlestane's eye of dame,
His bugle Watt of Harden blew ;
Pensils and pennons wide were ilung,
To heaven the Border slogan rung,
“St. Mary for the young Buccleuch !" The English war-cry answered wide,
And forward bent each southern spear ;
Each Kendal archer made a stride,
And drew the bow-string to his ear;
Each miastrel's war-note loud was blown ;-
But, ere a grey-goose shaft had flown,
A horseman galloped from the rear.
“Ah! noble Lords !" he, breathless, said,
“What treason has your march betrayed ?
What make you here, from aid so far,
Before you walls, around you war ?
Your foemen triumph in the thought,
That in the toils the lion's caught.
Already on dark Ruberslaw
The Douglas holds his weapon-schaw;t
The lances, waving in his train,
Clothe the dun heath like autumn grain ;
* Lyke-wake, the watching a corpse previous to interment. + Weapon-schau, the inilitary array of a county.
And on the Liddel's northern strand,
To bar retreat to Cumberland,
Lord Maxwell ranks his merry-men good,
Beneath the eagle and the rood;
And Jedwood, Eske, and Teviotdale,
Have to proud Angus come;
And all the Merse and Lauderdale
Have risen with haughty Home. An exile from Northumberland,
In Liddlesdale I've wandered long; But still my heart was with merry England,
And cannot brook my country's wrong; And hard I've spurred all night, to show The mustering of the coming foe."
XXIX. “ And let them come !” fierce Dacre cried ; “ For soon yon crest, my father's pride, That swept the shores of Judah's sea, And waved in gales of Galilee, From Branksome's highest towers displayed, Shall mock the rescue's lingering aid ! Level each harquebuss on row; Draw, merry archers, draw the bow; Up, bill-men, to the walls, and cry, Dacre for England, win or die !"
XXX. " Yet hear," quoth Howard, “ calmly hear, Nor deem my words the words of fear : For who, in field or foray slack, Saw the blanche lion e'er fall back ? But thus to risque our Border flower In strife against a kingdom's power, Ten thousand Scots 'gainst thousands three, Certes, were desperate policy. Nay, take the terms the Ladye made, Ere conscious of the advancing aid : Let Musgrave meet fierce Deloraine In single fight, and if he gain, He gains for us ; but if he's crossed, 'Tis but a single warrior lost : The rest. retreating as they came. Avoid defeat, and death, and shame."
Ill could the haughty Dacre brcok
His brother-warden's sage rebuke :
And yet his forward step he staid,
And slow and sullenly obeyed.
But ne'er again the Border side
Did these two lords in friendship ride;
and this slight discontent, men say,
Cost blood upon another day.
The pursuivant-at-arms again
Before the castle took his stand ;
His trumpet called, with parleying strain,
The leaders of the Scottish band;
And he defied, in Musgrave's right,
Stout Deloraine to single fight;
A gauntlet at their feet he laid,
And thus the terms of fight he said :-
“If in the lists good Musgrave's sword
Vanquish the knight of Deloraine,
Your youthful chieftain, Branksome's lord,
Shall hostage for his clan remain : If Deloraine foil good Musgrave, The boy his liberty shall have.
Howe'er it falls, the English band,
Unharming Scots, by Scots unharmed,
In peaceful march, like men unarmed,
Sball straight retreat to Cumberland.”
Unconscious of the near relief,
The proffer pleased each Scottish chief,
Though much the Ladye sage gainsayed; For though their hearts were brave and true, From Jedwood's recent sack they knew,
How tardy was the regent's aid : And you may guess the noble Dame
Durst not the secret prescience own, Sprung from the art she might not name,
By which the coming help was known. Closed was the compact, and agreed, That lists should be enclosed with speed,
Beneath the castle, on a lawn :
They fixed the morrow for the strife,
On foot, with Scottish axe and knife,
At the fourth hour from peep of dawn;
When Deloraine, from sickness freed,
Or else a chanı pion in his stead,
Should for himself and chieftain stand,
Against stout Musgrave, hand to hand.
I know right well, that, in their lay,
Full many minstrels sing and say,
Such combat should be made on horse,
On foaming steed, in full career,
With brand to aid, when as the spear
Should shiver in the course:
But he, the jovial Harper, taught
Me, yet a youth, how it was fought,
In guise which now I say;
He knew each ordinance and clause
Of black Lord Archibald's battle-laws,
In the old Douglas' day.
He brooked not, he, that scoffing tongue
Should tax his minstrelsy with wrong,
Or call his song untrue:
For this, when they the goblet plied,
And such rude taunt had chafed his pride,
The bard of Reull he slew.
On Teviot's side, in fight they stood,
And tuneful hands were stained with blood;
Where still the thorn's white branches wave,
Memorial o'er his rival's grave.
Why should I tell the rigid doom,
That dragged my master to his tomb;
How Ousenam's maidens tore their hair, Wept till their eyes were dead and dim, And wrung their hands for love of him,
Who died at Jedwood Air?
He died !-his scholars, one by one,
To the cold silent grave are gone;
And I, alas ! survive alone,
To muse o'er rivalries of yore,
And grieve that I shall hear no more
The strains, with envy heard before;
For, with my minstrel brethren fled,
My jealousy of song is dead.
HE paused : the listening dames again
Applaud the hoary minstrel's strain.
With many a word of kindly cheer,-
In pity half, and half sincere,-
Marvelled the Duchess how so well
His legendary song could tell-
Of ancient deeds, so long forgot;
Of feuds, whose memory was not;
Of forests, now laid waste and bare;
Of towers, which barbour now the hare;
Of manners, long since changed and gone;
Of chiefs, who under their grey stone
So long had slept, that fickle Fame
Had blotted from her rolls their name,
And twined round some new minion's head
The fading wreath for which they bled;
In sooth, 'twas strange, this old man's verse
Could call them from their marble hearse.
The Harper smiled, well-pleased ; for ne'er
Was flattery lost on poet's ear:
A simple race! they waste their toil
For the vain tribute of a smile;
E'en when in age their flame expires,
Her dulcet breath can fan its fires :
Their drooping fancy wakes at praise,
And strives to trim the short-lived blaze.
Smiled then, well-pleased, the Aged Man, And thus his tale continued ran.
Call it not vain :- they do not err,
Who say, that, when the Poet dies,
Mute Nature mourns her worshipper,
And celebrates his obsequies ;
Who say, tall cliff, and cavern lone,
For the departed Bard make moan;
That mountains weep in crystal rill:
That flowers in tears of balm distil;
Through his loved groves that breezes sigh,
And oaks, in deeper groan, reply;
And rivers teach their rusbing wave
To murmur dirges round his grave.
Not that, in sooth, o'er mortal urn
Those things inanimate can mourn;
But that the stream, the wood, the gale,
Is vocal with the plaintive wail
Of those, who, else forgotten long,
Lived in the poet's faithful song,
And, with the poet's parting breath,
Whose memory feels a second death.
The maid's pale shade, who wails her lot,
That love, true love, should be forgot,
From rose and hawthorn shakes the tear
Upon the gentle minstrel's bier :
The phantom knight, his glory fled,
Mourns o'er the field he heaped with dead;
Mounts the wild blast that sweeps amain,
And shrieks along the battle-plain :
The chief, whose antique crownlet long
Still sparkled in the feudal song,
Now, from the mountain's misty throne,
Sees, in the thanedom once his own,
His ashes undistinguished lie,
His place, his power, his memory die :
His groans the lonely caverns fill,
His tears of rage impel the rill;
All mourn the minstrel's harp unstrung,
Their name unknown, their praise unsung.
Scarcely the hot assault was staid,
The terms of truce were scarcely made,
When they could spy, from Branksome's towers,
The advancing march of martial powers.