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Abbotsford a helpless and almost unconscious wreck. and institutions of feudalism, were constantly present He lingered on for some time, listening occasionally to his thoughts and imagination. Then, his powers to passages read to him from the Bible, and from his of description were unequalled-certainly never surfavourite author Crabbe. Once he tried to write, passed. His landscapes, his characters and situabut his fingers would not close upon the pen. He tions, were all real delineations ; in general effect and never spoke of his literary labours or success. At individual details, they were equally perfect. None times his imagination was busy preparing for the of his contemporaries had the same picturesqueness, reception of the Duke of Wellington at Abbotsford; fancy, or invention; none so graphic in depicting at other times he was exercising the functions of a manners and customs; none so fertile in inventing Scottish judge, as if presiding at the trial of mem- incidents ; none so fascinating in narrative, or so bers of his own family. His mind never appeared various and powerful in description. His diction to wander in its delirium towards those works which was proverbially careless and incorrect. Neither in had filled all Europe with his fame. This we learn prose nor poetry was Scott a polished writer. He from undoubted authority, and the fact is of interest looked only at broad and general effects ; his words in literary history. But the contest was soon to be had to make pictures, not melody. Whatever could over ; 'the plough was nearing the end of the fur- be grouped and described, whatever was visible and row.' 'About half-past one, P.M.,' says Mr Lock- tangible, lay within his reach. Below the surface hart, 'on the 21st of September 1832, Sir Walter he had less power. The language of the heart was breathed his last, in the presence of all his children. not his familiar study ; the passions did not obey It was a beautiful day-so warm that every window his call. The contrasted effects of passion and situawas wide open-and so perfectly still that the soundtion he could portray vividly and distinctly—the sin of all others most delicious to his ear, the gentle and suffering of Constance, the remorse of Marmion ripple of the Tweed over its pebbles, was distinctly and Bertram, the pathetic character of Wilfrid, audible as we knelt around the bed, and his eldest the knightly grace of Fitz-James, and the rugged son kissed and closed his eyes.'
virtues and savage death of Roderick Dhu, are all
fine specimens of moral painting. Byron has nothing Call it not vain ; they do not err
better, and indeed the noble poet in some of his tales Who say, that when the poet dies,
copied or paraphrased the sterner passages of Scott. Mute nature mourns her worshipper,
But even in these gloomy and powerful traits of And celebrates his obsequies ;
his genius, the force lies in the situation, not in the Who say tall cliff and cavern lone,
thoughts and expression. There are no talismanic For the departed bard make moan;
words that pierce the heart or usurp the memory; That mountains weep in crystal rill;
none of the impassioned and reflective yle of That flowers in tears of balm distil;
Byron, the melodious pathos of Campbell, or the Through his loved groves that breezes sigh, And oaks, in deeper groans, reply ;
profound sympathy of Wordsworth.
The great And rivers teach their rushing wave
strength of Scott undoubtedly lay in the prolific To murmur dirges round his grave.
richness of his fancy, and the abundant stores of his Lay of the Last Minstrel.
memory, that could create, collect, and arrange such
a multitude of scenes and adventures; that could The novelty and originality of Scott's style of find materials for stirring and romantic poetry in poetry, though exhausted by himself, and debased the most minute and barren antiquarian details ; by imitators, formed his first passport to public and that could reanimate the past, and paint the favour and applause. The English reader had to present, in scenery and manners with a vividness go back to Spenser and Chaucer ere he could find and energy unknown since the period of Homer. so knightly and chivalrous a poet, or such paintings The ‘Lay of the Last Minstrel' is a Border story of antique manners and institutions. The works of of the sixteenth century, related by a minstrel, the the elder worthies were also obscured by a dim and last of his race. The character of the aged minstrel, obsolete phraseology ; while Scott, in expression, sen- and that of Margaret of Branksome, are very finely timent, and description, could be read and under- drawn: Deloraine, a coarse Border chief, or mossstood by all. The perfect clearness and transparency trooper, is also a vigorous portrait ; and in the of his style is one of his distinguishing features; and description of the march of the English army, the it was further aided by his peculiar versification. personal combat with Musgrave, and the other Coleridge had exemplified the fitness of the octo- feudal accessories of the piece, we have finished syllabic measure for romantic narrative poetry, and pictures of the olden time. The goblin page is no parts of his Christabel' having been recited to favourite of ours, except in so far as it makes the Scott, he adopted its wild rhythm and harmony, story more accordant with the times in which it is joining to it some of the abruptness and irregularity placed. The introductory lines to each canto form of the old ballad metre. In his hands it became a an exquisite setting to the dark feudal tale, and powerful and flexible instrument, whether for light tended greatly to cause the popularity of the poem. narrative and pure description, or for scenes of The minstrel is thus described:tragic wildness and terror, such as the trial and death of Constance in Marmion,' or the swell and The way was long, the wind was cold, agitation of a battle-field. The knowledge and en The minstrel was infirm and old; thusiasm requisite for a chivalrous poet Scott pos His withered cheek and tresses gray, sessed in an eminent degree. He was an early wor Seemed to have known a better day; shipper of hoar antiquity. He was in the maturity The harp, his sole remaining joy, of his powers (thirty-four years of age) when the Was carried by an orphan boy. Lay was published, and was perhaps better in The last of all the bards was he formed on such subjects than any other man living. Who sung of Border chivalry; Border story and romance had been the study and For, well-a-day! their date was fled; the passion of his whole life. In writing · Marmion' His tuneful brethren all were dead; and Ivanhoe,' or in building, Abbotsford, he was And he, neglected and oppressed, impelled by a natural and irresistible impulse. The Wished to be with them, and at rest. baronial castle, the court and camp—the wild High No more on prancing palfry borne, land chase, feud, and foray-the antique blazonry, He carolled, light as lark at morn;
No longer courted and caressed,
The harp a king had loved to hear. Not less picturesque are the following passages, which instantly became popular :
[Description of Merose Abbey.] If thou would'st view fair Melrose aright, Go visit it by the pale moonlight; For the gay beams of lightsome day Gild, but to flout, the ruins gray. When the broken arches are black in night, And each shafted oriel glimmers white; When the cold light's uncertain shower Streams on the ruined central tower ; When buttress and buttress, alternately, Seem framed of ebon and ivory; When silver edges the imagery, And the scrolls that teach thee to live and die; When distant Tweed is heard to rave, And the owlet to hoot o'er the dead man's grave, Then go—but go alone the while Then view St David's ruined pile ; And, home returning, soothly swear, Was never scene so sad and fair! The moon on the east oriel shone, Through slender shafts of shapely stone,
By foliaged tracery combined ;
In many a freakish knot, had twined ;
The silver light, so pale and faint,
Whose image on the glass was dyed ;
And trampled the apostate's pride.
[Love of Country.]
This is my own, my native land!
From wandering on a foreign strand!
O Caledonia ! stern and wild,
Still as I view each well-known scene,
The bard may draw his parting groan. • Marmion' is a tale of Flodden Field, the fate of the hero being connected with that memorable engagement. The poem does not possess the unity and completeness of the Lay, but if it has greater faults, it has also greater beauties. Nothing can be more strikingly picturesque than the two opening stanzas of this romance:
Day set on Norham's castled steep,
And Cheviot's mountains lone;
In yellow lustre shone.
Seemed forms of giant height;
In lines of dazzling light.
Less bright, and less, was flung;
So heavily it hung.
The castle gates were barred;
The warder kept his guard,
Some ancient border-gathering song. The same minute painting of feudal times characterises both poems, but by a strange oversight (soon seen and regretted by the author) the hero is made to commit the crime of forgery, a crime unsuited to a chivalrous and half-civilized age. The battle of Flodden, and the death of Marmion, are among Scott's most spirited descriptions. The former is related as seen from a neighbouring hill; and the progress of the action—the hurry, impetuosity, and confusion of the fight below, as the different armies rally or are repulsed- is given with such animation, that the whole scene is brought before the reader with the vividness of reality. The first tremendous onset is thus dashed off, with inimitable power, by the mighty minstrel:
[Battle of Flodden.] ' But see ! look up-on Flodden bent, The Scottish foe has fired his tent,'
And sudden as he spoke,
Was wreathed in sable smoke; Volumed and vast, and rolling far, The cloud enveloped Scotland's war,
As down the hill they broke;
Still from the sire the son shall hear
Of Flodden's fatal field,
And broken was her shield! The hero receives his death-wound, and is borne off the field. The description, detached from the context, loses much of its interest; but the mingled effects of mental agony and physical suffering, of remorse and death, on a bad but brave spirit trained to war, is described with much sublimity :
Nor martial shout, nor minstrel tone,
At times a stifled hum,
King James did rushing come.
And such a yell was there,
And fiends in upper air.
But nought distinct they see: Wide raged the battle on the plain; Spears shook, and falchions flashed amain ; Fell England's arrow-flight like rain ; Crests rose, and stooped, and rose again,
Wild and disorderly.
(Evening fell on the deadly struggle, and the spectators were
forced from the agitating scene.]
But as they left the darkening heath,
That fought around their king.
Unbroken was the ring;
The instant that he fell.
As fearlessly and well;
And from the charge they drew,
Sweep back to ocean blue.
Dissolves in silent dew.
To gain the Scottish land;
[Death of Marmion.] When, doffed his casque, he felt free air, Around 'gan Marmion wildly stare : "Where's Harry Blount? Fitz-Eustace where ? Linger ye here, ye hearts of hare! Redeem my pennon-charge again! Cry—“Marmion to the rescue!”–Vain ! Last of my race, on battle plain That shout shall ne'er be heard again! Yet my last thought is England's :-fly;
To Dacre bear my signet-ring ;
Tell him his squadrons up to bring.
Tunstall lies dead upon the field;
Of all my halls have nurst,
To slake my dying thirst !!
To the nigh streamlet ran :
Sees but the dying man.
But in abhorrence backward drew;
Was curdling in the streamlet blue.
A little fountain-cell,
Drink. Wearp. pilgrim. drink. and. pray. for. the. kind. coul. of. Sybil. Grep.
Ulho. built. this. cross. and. well.
A monk supporting Marmion's head ;
Deep drank Lord Marmion of the wave,
Thus motionless and moanless drew And, as she stooped his brow to lave
His parting breath, stout Roderick Dhu. Is it the hand of Clare,' he said, • Or injured Constance, bathes my head ?"
The ‘Lady of the Lake' is more richly picturesque
than either of the former poems, and the plot is Then, as remembrance rose Speak not to me of shrift or prayer !
more regular and interesting. "The subject,' says
Sir James Mackintosh, “is a common Highland I must redress her woes.
irruption; but at a point where the neighbourhood Short space, few words, are mine to spare ;
of the Lowlands affords the best contrast of manners Forgive and listen, gentle Clare!' • Alas !' she said, the while
-where the scenery affords the noblest subject of
description—and where the wild clan is so near to O think of your immortal weal ! In vain for Constance is your zeal;
the court, that their robberies can be connected with
the romantic adventures of a disguised king, an She -died at Holy Isle.' Lord Marmion started from the ground,
exiled lord, and a high-born beauty. The whole As light as if he felt no wound;
narrative is very fine.' It was the most popular of Though in the action burst the tide,
the author's poems: in a few months twenty thouIn torrents, from his wounded side.
sand copies were sold, and the district where the "Then it was truth !'-he said, I knew
action of the poem lay was visited by countless
thousands of tourists. With this work closed the That the dark presage must be true. I would the fiend, to whom belongs
great popularity of Scott as a poet. “Rokeby,' a tale The vengeance due to all her wrongs,
of the English Cavaliers and Roundheads, was conWould spare me but a day!
sidered a failure, though displaying the utmost art For wasting fire, and dying groan,
and talent in the delineation of character and pasAnd priests slain on the altar stone,
sion. •Don Roderick'is vastly inferior to 'Rokeby;' Might bribe him for delay.
and “Harold' and 'Triermain' are but faint copies It may not be !-this dizzy trance
of the Gothic epics, however finely finished in some Curse on yon base marauder's lance,
of the tender passages. The Lord of the Isles' is And doubly cursed my failing brand !
of a higher mood. It is a Scottish story of the days A sinful heart makes feeble hand.'
of Bruce, and has the characteristic fire and animaThen, fainting, down on earth he sunk,
tion of the minstrel, when, like Rob Roy, he has his Supported by the trembling monk.
foot on his native heath. Bannockburn may be
compared with Flodden Field in energy of descripWith fruitless labour Clara bound,
tion, though the poet is sometimes lost in the And strove to stanch the gushing wound:
chronicler and antiquary. The interest of the tale The monk, with unavailing cares,
is not well sustained throughout, and its chief atExhausted all the church's prayers ;
traction consists in the descriptive powers of the Ever, he said, that, close and near,
author, who, besides his feudal halls and battles, has A lady's voice was in his ear,
drawn the magnificent scenery of the West HighAnd that the priest he could not hear,
lands (the cave of Staffa, and the dark desolate granFor that she ever sung,
deur of the Coriusk lakes and mountains) with equal • In the lost battle, borne down by the flying,
truth and sublimity. The lyrical pieces of Scott are Where mingles war's rattle with groans of the dying!' often very happy. The old ballad strains may be So the notes rung ;
said to have been his original nutriment as a poet, * Avoid thee, fiend with cruel hand,
and he is consequently often warlike and romantic Shake not the dying sinner's sand!
in his songs. But he has also gaiety, archness, and O look, my son, upon yon sign
tenderness, and if he does not touch deeply the heart, Of the Redeemer's grace divine ;
he never fails to paint to the eye and imagination. O think on faith and bliss ! By many a death-bed I have been,
[From Marmnion.'] The war, that for a space did fail,
Oh, young Lochinvar is come out of the west, Now trebly thundering, swelled the gale,
Through all the wide Border his steed was the best; And-Stanley! was the cry;
And save his good broad-sword he weapon had none, A light on Marmion's visage spread,
He rode all unarmed, and he rode all alone! And fired his glazing eye :
So faithful in love, and so dauntless in war, With dying hand above his head
There never was knight like the young Lochinrar! He shook the fragment of his blade, And shouted Victory!
He stayed not for brake, and he stopped not for stone,
He swam the Esk river where ford there was noneCharge, Chester, charge! On, Stanley, on!'
But, ere he alighted at Netherby gate, Were the last words of Marmion.
The bride had consented, the gallant came late : We may contrast with this the silent and appalling For a laggard in love, and a dastard in war, death-scene of Roderick Dhu, in the Lady of the Was to wed the fair Ellen of brave Lochinvar. Lake. The savage chief expires while listening to So boldly he entered the Netherby Hall, a tale chanted by the bard or minstrel of his clan:- 'Mong bride's-men, and kinsmen, and brothers, and all! At first, the chieftain to his chime
Then spoke the bride's father, his hand on his swordWith lifted hand kept feeble time;
For the poor craven bridegroom said nerer a word That motion ceased ; yet feeling strong,
O come ye in peace here, or come ye in war? Varied his look as changed the song:
Or to dance at our bridal ? young Lord Lochinvar!' At length no more his deafened ear
I long wooed your daughter, my suit you denied: The minstrel's melody can hear;
Love swells like the Solway, but ebbs like its tide! His face grows sharp; his hands are clenched, And now am I come, with this lost love of mine, As if some pang his heart-strings wrenched; To lead but one measure, drink one cup of wine ! Set are his teeth, his fading eye
There be maidens in Scotland, more lovely by far, Is sternly fixed on vacancy:
That would gladly be bride to the young Lochinvar!'
The bride kissed the goblet; the knight took it up,
plume, And the bride-maidens whispered, “ 'Twere better by
far To have matched our fair cousin with young Lochin
var! One touch to her hand, and one word in her ear, When they reached the hall door, and the charger
stood near, So light to the croupe the fair lady he swung, So light to the saddle before her he sprung! "She is won! we are gone, over bank, bush, and scaur; They'll have fleet steeds that follow ! quoth young
Lochinvar. There was mounting ʼmong Græmes of the Netherby
clan; Fosters, Fenwicks, and Musgraves, they rode and they
ran; There was racing and chasing on Cannobie Lea, But the lost bride of Netherby ne'er did they see ! So daring in love, and so dauntless in war, Have ye e'er heard of gallant like young Lochinvar?
Come from deep glen, and
From mountain so rocky;
Are at Inverlochy.
True heart that wears one;
Strong hand that bears one! Leave untended the herd,
The flock without shelter;
The bride at the altar.
Leave nets and barges;
Broadswords and targes.
Forests are rended :
Navies are stranded.
Faster and faster:
Tenant and master.
See how they gather!
Blended with heather.
Forward each man set; Pibroch of Donuil Dhu,
Knell for the onset!
He is lost to the forest,
When our need was the sorest.
From the rain-drops shall borrow, But to us comes no cheering,
To Duncan no morrow ! The hand of the reaper
Takes the ears that are hoary, But the voice of the weeper
Wails manhood in glory; The autumn winds rushing,
Waft the leaves that are searest, But our flower was in flushing
When blighting was nearest. Fleet foot on the correi,
Sage counsel in cumber, Red hand in the foray,
How sound is thy slumber! Like the dew on the mountain,
Like the foam on the river, Like the bubble on the fountain,
Thou art gone, and for ever!
[From the 'Antiquary.') Why sitt'st thou by that ruined hall,
Thou aged carle so stern and gray! Dost thou its former pride recall,
Or ponder how it passed away? * Know'st thou not me?' the Deep Voice cried,
“So long enjoyed, so oft misused Alternate, in thy fickle pride,
Desired, neglected, and accused ? Before my breath, like blazing flax,
Man and his marvels pass away ; And changing empires wane and wax,
Are founded, flourish, and decay. Redeem mine hours—the space is brief
While in my glass the sand-grains shiver, And measureless thy joy or grief,
When Time and thou shalt part for ever!'
Pibroch of Donuil Dku. (Written for Campbell's “ Albyn's Anthology,' 1816.]
Pibroch of Donuil Dhu,
Pibroch of Donuil,
Summon Clan Conuil.
Hark to the summons !
Gentles and Commons !
[Hymn of the Hebrew Maid.]
[From Ivanhoe.') When Israel, of the Lord beloved,
Out from the land of bondage came, Her father's God before her moved,
An awful guide in smoke and flame. By day, along the astonished lands
The cloudy pillar glided slow; By night, Arabia's crimsoned sands
Returned the fiery column's glow. There rose the choral hymn of praise,
And trump and timbrel answered keen; And Zion's daughters poured their lays,
With priest’s and warrior's voice between. No portents now our foes amaze,
Forsaken Israel wanders lone;
Or corri: the hollow side of the hill, where game usually lies