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The fresh and desperate onset bore
The foes three furlongs back and more,
Leaving their noblest in their gore.
Alone, De Argentine
Yet bears on high his red-cross shield,
Gathers the relics of the field,
Renews the ranks where they have reeld,
And still makes good the line.
Brief strife, but fierce, his efforts raise,
A bright but momentary blaze.
Fair Edith heard the Southern shout,
Beheld them turning from the rout,
Heard the wild call their trumpets sent,
In notes 'twixt triumph and lament.
That rallying force, combined anew,
Appear'd in her distracted view,
To hem the Islesmen round;
“O God! the combat they renew,
And is no rescue found !
And ye that look thus tamely on,
And see your native land o’erthrown,
O! are your hearts of flesh or stone ?.”
- XXX. The multitude that watch'd afar, Rejected from the ranks of war, Had not unmoved beheld the fight, When strove the Bruce for Scotland's right; Each heart had caught the patriot spark, Old man and stripling, priest and clerk, Bondsman and serf; even female hand Stretch'd to the hatchet or the brand;
But, when mute Amadine they heard
Give to their zeal his signal-word,
A frenzy fired the throng;
“ Portents and miracles impeach
Our sloth— the dumb our duties teach-
And he that gives the mute his speech,
Can bid the weak be strong.
To us, as to our lords, are given
A native earth, a promised heaven;
To us, as to our lords, belongs
The vengeance for our nation's wrongs;
The choice, 'twixt death or freedom, warms
Our breasts as theirs — To arms, to arms ! "
To arms they flew,-axe, club, or spear;
And mimic ensigns high they rear,
And, like a banner'd host afar,
Bear down on England's wearied war.
Already scatter'd o'er the plain,
Reproof, command, and counsel vain,
The rearward squadrons fled amain,
Or made but doubtful stay ;-
But when they mark'd the seeming show
Of fresh and fierce and marshallid foe,
The boldest broke array.
O give their hapless prince his due ! 2
In vain the royal Edward threw
His person ’mid the spears,
Cried “Fight!” to terror and despair,
Menaced, and wept, and tore bis hair,
* [See Appendix, Note A 2.]
[See Appendix, Note B 2.]
And cursed their caitiff fears;
Till Pembroke turn'd his bridle rein,
And forced him from the fatal plain.
With them rode Argentine, until
- They gain'd the summit of the hill,
But quitted there the train :-
“In yonder field a gage I left,-
I must not live of fame bereft;
I needs must turn again.
Speed hence, my Liege, for on your trace
The fiery Douglas takes the chase,
I know his banner well.
God send my Sovereign joy and bliss,
And many a happier field than this ! -
Once more, my Liege, farewell.”
XXXII. Again he faced the battle-field, Wildly they fly, are slain, or yield. “ Now then,” he said, and couch'd his spear, “ My course is run, the goal is near; One effort more, one brave career,
Must close this race of mine."
Then in his stirrups rising high,
He shouted loud his battle-cry,
“Saint James for Argentine.!”
And, of the bold pursuers, four
The gallant knight from saddle bore;
But not unharm'd - a lance's point
Has found his breastplate's loosen'd joint,
An axe has razed his crest;
Yet still on Colonsay's fierce lord,
Who press'd the chase with gory sword,
Vol. V._ 19
He rode with spear in rest,
And through his bloody tartans bored,
And through his gallant breast.
Naild to the earth, the mountaineer
Yet writhed him up against the spear,
And swung his broadsword round! - Stirrup, steel-boot, and cuish gave way, Beneath that blow's tremendous sway,
The blood gush'd from the wound;
And the grim Lord of Colonsay
Hath turn'd him on the ground,
And laugh'd in death-pang, that his blade
The mortal ihrust so well repaid.
Now toild the Bruce, the battle done,
To use his conquest boldly won ;
And gave command for horse and spear
To press the Southern's scatter'd rear,
Nor let his broken force combine,
-When the war-cry of Argentine
Fell faintly on his ear; “ Save, save his life," he cried, “O save
The kind, the noble, and the brave !" · The squadrons round free passage gave,
The wounded knight drew near;
He raised his red-cross shield no more,
Helm, cuish, and breastplate stream'd with gore,
Yet, as he saw the King advance,
He strove even then to couch his lance-
The effort was in vain!
The spur-stroke fail'd to rouse the horse;
Wounded and weary, in mid course
He stumbled on the plain.
Then foremost was the generous Bruce
To raise his head, his helm to loose;
“Lord Earl, the day is thine !
My Sovereign's charge, and adverse fate,
Have made our meeting all too late:
Yet this may Argentine,
As boon from ancient comrade, crave-
A Christian's mass, a soldier's grave.”
Bruce press'd his dying hand-its grasp
Kindly replied; but, in his clasp,
It stiffen'd and grew cold
“ And, O farewell !” the victor cried,
“Of chivalry the flower and pride,
The arm in battle bold,
The courteous mien, the noble race,
The stainless faith, the manly face! -
Bid Ninian's convent light their shrine,
For late-wake of De Argentine.
O'er better knight on death-bier laid,
Torch never gleam'd nor mass was said !"
Nor for De Argentine alone,
Through Ninian's church these torches shone,
And rose the death-prayer's awful tone.'
That yellow lustre glimmer'd pale,
On broken plate and bloodied mail,
Rent crest and shatter'd coronet,
Of Baron, Earl, and Banneret ;
And the best names that England knew,
Claim'd in the death-prayer dismal due.
*[See Appendix, Note C 2.]