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« Though something I might plain,» he said, « Of cold respect to stranger guest,
Sent hither by your king's behest, While in Tantallon's towers I staid; Part we in friendship from your land, And, noble earl, receive
But Douglas round him drew his cloak,
Folded his arms, and thus he spoke:-
« My manors, halls, and bowers shall still
my sovereign's will,
To each one whom he lists, howe'er
Unmeet to be the owner's peer.
My castles are my king's alone,
From turret to foundation stone-
The hand of Douglas is his own;
And never shall in friendly grasp
The hand of such as Marmion clasp.»
« A royal messenger he came,
Though most unworthy of the name.-
A letter forged! Saint Jude to speed !
Did ever knight so foul a deed?(12)
At first in heart it liked me ill,
When the king praised his clerkly skill.
Thanks to Saint Bothan, son of mine,
Save Gawain, ne'er could pen a ne:
So swore I, and I swear it still,
Let my boy-bishop fret his fill.-
Saint Mary mend my fiery mood!
ne'er cools the Douglas' blood, I thought to slay him where he stood. 'T is pity of him, too,» he cried : « Bold can he speak, and fairly ride : I warrant him a warrior tried.»With this his mandate he recals, And slowly seeks his castle's halls.
Burn'd Marmion's swarthy cheek like fire,
And shook his very frame for ire,
And-« This to me!» he said, -
« An 't were not for thy hoary beard,
Such hand as Marmion's had not spared
To cleave the Douglas' head!
And, first, I tell thee, haughty peer,
He, who does England's message here,
Although the meanest in her state,
May well, proud Angus, be thy mate:
And, Douglas, more I tell thee here,
Even in thy pitch of pride,
Here, in thy hold thy vassals near
(Nay, never look upon your lord,
And lay your hands upon your sword), -
I tell thee, thou 'rt defied!
And if thou said'st, I am not peer
To any lord in Scotland here,
Lowland or Highland, far or near,
Lord Angus, thou hast lied!»--
On the earl's cheek the flush of rage
O'ercame the ashen hue of
age: Fierce he broke forth, —«And darest thou then To beard the lion in his den,
The Douglas in his hall?
And hopest thou hence unscathed to go ?—
No, by Saint Bride of Bothwell, no!-
Up draw-bridge, grooms-what, warder, ho!
Let the portcullis fall.»-(1)
Lord Marmion turn'd-well was his need,
And dash'd the rowels in his steed.
Like arrow through the archway sprung
The ponderous grate behind him rung:
To pass there was such scanty room,
The bars, descending, razed his plume.
XVI. The day in Marmion's journey wore; Yet, ere his passion's gust was o'er, They cross'd the heights of Stanrig-moor. His troop more closely there he scann'd, And miss'd the Palmer from the band.« Palmer or not;» young Blount did say, « He parted at the peep of day; Good sooth it was in strange array.» « In what array?" said Marmion, quick.
My lord, I ill can spell the trick; But all night long, with clink and bang, Close to my couch did hammers clang; At dawn the falling draw-bridge rang, And from a loop-hole while I peep, Old Bell-the-Cat came from the keep, Wrapp'd in a gown of sables fair, As fearful of the morning air; Beneath when that was blown aside, A rusty shirt of mail I spied, By Archibald won in bloody work, Against the Saracen and Turk. Last night it hung not in the hall; I thought some marvel would befal. And next I saw them saddled lead Old Cheviot forth, the earl's best steed; A matchless horse, though something old, Prompt to his paces, cool and bold. I heard the Sheriff Sholto say, The earl did much the master · pray To use him on the battle-day; But he preferr'd»-« Nay, Henry, cease! Thou sworn horse-courser, hold thy peace. Eustace, thou bear'st a brain- I pray, What did Blount see at break of day?»
XV. The steed along the draw-bridge flies, Just as it trembled on the rise; Not lighter does the swallow skim Along the smooth lake's level brim : And when Lord Marmion reach'd his band, He halts, and turns with clenched hand, And shout of loud defiance pours, And shook his gauntlet at the towers. « Horse ! horse!» the Douglas cried, « and chase!» But soon he rein'd his fury's pace;
XVII. « In brief, my lord, we both descried (For then I stood by Henry's side) The Palmer mount, and outwards ride,
Upon the earl's own favourite steed; All sheathed he was in armour bright, And much resembled that same knight Subdued by you in Cotswold fight:
Lord Angus wish'd him speed.»
1 His eldest son, the Master of Angus.
The instant that Fitz-Eustace spoke,
A sudden light on Marmion broke;
« Ah! dastard fool, to reason lost!»
He mutter'd; «’T was not fay nor ghost,
I met upon the moon-light wold,
But living man of earthly mould.--
O dotage blind and gross!
Had I but fought as wont, one thrust
Had laid De Wilton in the dust,
My path no more to cross.-
How stand we now?-he told his tale
To Douglas; and with some avail;
'T was therefore gloom'd his rugged brow.Will Surrey dare to entertain, 'Gainst Marmion, charge disproved and vain ?
Small risk of that, I trow.
Yet Clare's sharp questions must I shun;
Must separate Constance from the nun-
O what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive !-
A palmer too!-no wonder why
I felt rebuked beneath his
I might have known there was but one
Whose look could quell Lord Marmion.»
Beneath the cavern'd cliff they fall,
Beneath the castle's airy wall.
By rock, by oak, by hawthorn-tree, Troop after troop are disappearing; Troop after troop their banners rearing, Upon the eastern bank
you see, Still pouring down the rocky den,
Where flows the sullen Till,
And rising from the dim-wood glen,
Standards on standards, men on men,
In slow succession still,
And sweeping o'er the Gothic arch,
And pressing on in ceaseless march,
To gain the opposing hill.
That morn, to many a trumpet-clang,
Twisel! thy rocks' deep echo rang ;
And many a chief of birth and rank,
Saint Helen! at thy fountain drank.
Thy hawthorn glade, which now we see
In spring-tide bloom so lavishly,
Had then from many an axe its doom,
To give the marching columns room.
Stung with these thoughts, he urged to speed
His troop, and reach'd, at eve, the Tweed,
Where Lennel's convent closed their march (13)
(There now is left but one frail arch,
Yet mourn thou not its cells;
Our time a fair exchange has made;
Hard by, in hospitable shade,
A reverend pilgrim dwells,
Well worth the whole bernardine brood,
That e'er wore sandal, frock, or hood).
Yet did Saint Bernard's Abbot there
Give Marmion entertainment fair,
And lodging for his train and Clare.
Next morn the baron climb'd the tower,
To view afar the Scottish power,
Encamp'd on Flodden edge:
The white pavilions made a show,
Like remnants of the winter snow,
Along the dusky ridge.
Long Marmion look'd:—at length his eye
Unusual movement might descry
Amid the shifting lines:
The Scottish host drawn out appears,
For flashing on the hedge of spears
The eastern sun-beam shines.
Their front now deepening, now extending,
Their flank inclining, wheeling, bending,
Now drawing back, and now descending:
The skilful Marmion well could know
They watch'd the motions of some foe,
Who traversed on the plain below.
And why stands Scotland idly now,
Dark Flodden! on thy airy brow,
Since England gains the pass the while,
And struggles through the deep defile?
What checks the fiery soul of James ?
Why sits that champion of the dames
Inactive on his steed,
And sees, between him and his land,
Between him and Tweed's southern strand,
His host Lord Surrey lead ? What 'vails the vain knight-errant's brand ? -0, Douglas, for thy leading wand !
Fierce Randolph, for thy speed ! O for one hour of Wallace wight, Or well-skill'd Bruce, to rule the fight, And cry-«Saint Andrew and our right!» Another sight had seen that morn, From Fate's dark book a leaf been torn, And Flodden had been Bannock-bourne!The precious hour has pass'd in vain, And England's host has gain'd the plain; Wheeling their march, and circling still, Around the base of Flodden-hill.
Ere yet the bands met Marmion's eye,
Fitz-Eustace shouted loud and high,-
« Hark! hark! my lord, an English drum!
see, ascending squadrons come
Between Tweed's river and the hill,
Foot, horse, and cannon :-hap what hap,
My basnet to a 'prentice cap,
Lord Surrey 's o'er the Till!
Yet more! yet more !-how fair array'd
They file from out the hawthorn shade,
And sweep so gallant by!
With all their banners bravely spread,
And all their armour flashing highi,
Saint George might waken from the dead,
To see fair England's standards fly.»« Stint in thy prate,» quoth Blount, « thou 'dst best, And listen to our lord's behest.»
Even so it was;—from Flodden ridge
The Scots beheld the English host
Leave Barmore-wood, their evening post,
And heedful watch'd them as they cross'd
The Till by Twisel Bridge. (14)
High sight it is, and haughty, while
They dive into the deep defile;
With kindling brow Lord Marmion said, -
« This instant be our band array'd;
The river must be quickly cross'd,
That we may join Lord Surrey's host.
If fight King James, -as well. I trust,
That fight he will, and fight he must,-
The Lady Clare behind our lines
Shall tarry while the battle joins.»-
With England if the day go hard,
To Berwick speed amain.
But, if we conquer, cruel maid !
My spoils shall at your feet be laid,
When here we meet again.»
He waited not for answer there,
And would not mark the maid's despair,
Nor heed the discontented look From either squire; but spurr'd amain, And, dashing through the battle-plain,
His way to Surrey took.
Himself he swift on horseback threw,
Scarce to the abbot bade adieu,
Far less would listen to his prayer,
To leave behind the helpless Clare.
Down to the Tweed the band be drew,
And mutter'd, as the flood they view,
« The pheasant in the falcon's claw,
He scarce will yield to please a daw:
Lord Angus may the abbot awe,
So Clare shall bide with me.»
Then on that dangerous ford, and deep,
Where to the Tweed Leat's eddies creep,
He ventured desperately:
And not a moment will he bide,
Till squire or groom, before him ride;
Headmostlof all he stems the tide,
And stems it gallạntly.
Eustace held Clare upon her horse,
Old Hubert led her rein,
Stoutly they braved the current's course,
And though far downward driven per force,
The southern bank they gain;
Behind them, straggling, came to shore,
As best they might, the train :
Each o'er his head his yew-bow bore,
A caution not in vain;
Deep need that day that every string,
By wet unharm’d, should sharply ring.
A moment then Lord Marmion staid,
And breathed his steed, his men array'd,
Then forward moved his band,
Until Lord Surrey's rear-guard won,
He halted by a cross of stone,
That on a hillock standing lone,
Did all the field command.
XXIV. - The good Lord Marmion, by my life! Welcome to danger's hour!-Short greeting serves in time of strife:
Thus have I ranged my power: Myself will rule this central host,
Stout Stanley fronts their right, My sons command the va'ward post,
With Brian Tunstall, stainless knight; (16) Lord Dacre, with his horsemen light,
Shall be in rear-ward of the fight,
And succour those that need it most.
Now, gallant Marmion, well I know,
Would gladly to the van-guard go;
Edmund, the Admiral, Tunstall there,
With thee their charge will blithely share;
There fight thine own retainers too,
Beneath De Burgh, thy steward true.»
« Thanks, noble Surrey!» Marmion said,
Nor further greeting there be paid;
But, parting like a thunderbolt,
First in the van-guard made a halt,
Where such a shout there rose
Of « Marmion! Marmion!» that the cry
Up Flodden mountain shrilling high,
Startled the Scottish foes.
XXUL. Hence might they see the full array Of either host, for deadly fray; (15) Their marshall'd lines stretch'd east and west,
And fronted north and south,
And distant salutation past
From the loud cannon mouth;
Not in the close successive rattle,
That breathes the voice of modern battle,
But slow and far between.
The hillock gain'd, Lord Marmion staid :
« Here, by this cross,» he gently said,
« You well may view the scene.
Here shalt thou tarry, lovely Clare:
O think of Marmion in thy prayer!
Thou wilt not!-well, -no less my care
Shall, watchful, for thy weal prepare.-
You, Blount and Eustace, are her guard,
With ten pick'd archers of my train;
Blount and Fitz-Eustace rested still
With Lady Clare upon the hill;
On which (for far the day was spent)
The western sun-beams now were bent;
The cry they heard, its meaning knew,
Could plain their distant comrades view;
Sadly to Blount did Eustace say,
« Unworthy office here to stay!
No hope of gilded spurs to-day.-
But, see! look up-on Flodden bent,
The Scottish foe has fired his tent.»
And sudden, as he spoke,
From the sharp ridges of the hill,
All downward to the banks of Tijl,
Was wreath'd in sable smoke;
Volumed and vast, and rolling far,
The cloud enveloped Scotland's war,
As down the hill they broke; Nor martial shout, nor minstreytone, Announced their march; their tread alone, At times one warning trumpet biown,
At times a stifled lium, Told England, from his mountain-throne
King James did rushing come.Scarce could they hear, or see their foes, Until at weapon-point they close.
Fitz-Eustace, you with Lady Clare
May bid your beads, and patter prayer,–
I gallop to the host. »
And to the fray he rode amain,
Follow'd by all the archer train.
The fiery youth, with desperate charge,
Made, for a space, an opening large, -
The rescued banner rose,
But darkly closed the war around,
Like pine-tree, rooted from the ground,
It sunk among the foes.
Then Eustace mounted too; yet staid,
As loth to leave the helpless maid,
When, fast as shaft can fly,
Blood-shot his eyes, his nostrils spread,
The loose rein dangling from his head,
Housing and saddle bloody red,
Lord Marmion's steed rush'd by; And Eustace, maddening at the sight,
A look and sign to Clara cast,
To mark he would return in haste, Then plunged into the fight.
XXVI. At length the freshening western blast Aside the shroud of battle cast;. And, first, the ridge of mingled spears Above the brightening cloud appears; And in the smoke the pennons flew, As in the storm the white sea-mew. Then mark'd they, dashing broad and far, The broken billows of the war, And plumed crests of chieftains brave, Floating like foam
But nought distinct they see :
Wide raged the battle on the plain;
Spears shook, and falchions flash'd amain;
Fell England's arrow-flight like rain ;
and stoop'd, and rose again,
Wild and disorderly.
Amid the scene of tumult, high
They saw Lord Marmion's falcon fly:
And stainless Tunstall's banner white,
And Edmund Howard's lion bright,
Still bear them bravely in the fight;
Although against them come,
Of gallant Gordons many a one,
And many a stubborn Highlandman,
And many a rugged Border clan,
With Huntley, and with Home.
Ask me not what the maiden feels,
Left in that dreadful hour alone:
Perchance her reason stoops, or reels;
Perchance a courage,
not her own, Braces her mind to desperate tone.
The scatter'd van of England wheels;»---
She only said, as loud in air
The tumult roard, « Is Wilton there?»-
They fly, or, madden'd by despair,
Fight but to die,-«Is Wilton there ?»-
With that, straight up the bill there rode
Two horsemen drench'd with gore,
And in their arms, a helpless load,
A wounded knight they bore. His hand still straind the broken brand; His arms were smear'd with blood and sand : Dragg‘d from among the horses' feet, With dinted shield, and helmet beat, The falcon crest and plumage gone, Can that be haughty Marmion! Young Blount his armour did unlace, And, gazing on his ghastly face,
Said — « By Saint George, he's gone! That spear-wound has our master sped, And see the deep cut on his head!
Good night to Marmion.»—
« Unnurtured Blount! thy brawling cease :
Far on the left, unseen the while,
Stanley broke Lennox and Argyle;
Though there the western mountaineer
Rush'd with bare bosom on the spear,
And flung the feeble targe aside,
And with both hands the broadsword plied :
'T was vain :-But Fortune, on the right,
With fickle smile, cheer'd Scotland's fight.
Then fell that spotless banner white,
The Howard's lion fell;
Yet still Lord Marmion's falcon flew
With wavering flight, while fiercer grew
Around the battle-yell.
The Border slogan rent the sky!
A Home! a Gordon! was the cry;
Loud were the clanging blows;
Advanced,--forced back,-now low, now high,
The pennon sunk and rose;
As bends the bark's mast in the gale,
When rent are rigging, shrouds, and sail,
It waver'd mid the foes.
No longer Blount the sight could bear:-
By heaven, and all its saints, I swear,
I will not see it lost!
XXIX. When, doff'd 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 :Fitz-Eustace, to Lord Surrey hie;
Tunstall lies dead upon the field,
His life-blood stains the spotless shield :
Edmund is down :-my life is reft;
The Admiral alone is left.
Let Stanley charge with spur of fire,
With Chester charge, and Lancashire,
Scotland's central host,
Or victory and England 's lost.
Must I bid twice?-hence, varlets, fly!
Leave Marmion here alone-to die.»-
They parted, and alone he lay;
Clare drew her from the sight away,
Till pain wrung forth a lowly moan.
And half he murmur'd,- « Is there none,
Of all my halls have nurst, Page, squire, or groom, one cup to bring Of blessed water from the spring,
To slake my dying thirst !»-
Lord Marmion started from the ground,
As light as if he felt no wound;
Though in the action burst the tide,
In torrents, from his wounded side.
« Then it was truth !»- he said-« I knew
That the dark presage must be true.-
I would the fiend, to whom belongs
The vengeance due to all her wrongs,
Would spare me but a day!
For wasting fire, and dying groan,
And priests slain on the altar stone,
Might bribe him for delay.
It may not be!—this dizzy trance-
Curse on yon base marauder's lance,
And doubly cursed my failing brand!
A sinful heart makes feeble hand.»—
Then, fainting, down on earth he sunk,
Supported by the trembling monk.
0, Woman! in our hours of ease,
Uncertain, coy, and hard to please,
And variable as the shade
By the light quivering aspen made,
When pain and anguish wring the brow,
A ministering angel thou! -
Scarce were the piteous accents said,
When, with the baron's casque, the maid
To the nigh streamlet ran :
Forgot were hatred, wrongs, and fears,
The plaintive voice alone she hears,
Sees but the dying man.
She stoop'd her by the runnel's side,
But in abhorrence backward drew;
For, oozing from the mountain's side,
Where raged the war, a dark-red tide
Was curdling in the streamlet blue.
Where shall she turn?-behold her mark
A little fountain cell,
Where water, clear as diamond-spark,
In a stone basin fell.
Above some half-worn letters say,
DRINK. WEARY. PILGRIM. DRINK. AND. PRAY.
FOR. THE. KIND. SOUL. OF. SYBIL, GREY.
Who. BUILT. THIS. CROSS.AND. WELL.
She filld the helm, and back she bied,
And with surprise and joy espied
A monk supporting Marmion's head;
A pious man, whom duty brought
To dubious verge
of battle fought,
To shrieve the dying, bless the dead.
With fruitless labour, Clarą bound,
And strove to staunch, the gushing wound :
The monk, with unavailing cares,
Exhausted all the church's prayers.
Ever, he said, that, close and near,
A lady's voice was on his ear,
And that the priest he could not hear,
For that she ever sung, « In the lost battle, borne down by the flying, Where mingles war's rattle with groans of the dying !»
So the notes rung;
« Avoid thee, fiend !- with cruel hand,
not the dying sinner's sand!
O look, my son, upon yon sign
of the Redeemer's
O think on faith and bliss ! -
By many a death-bed I have been,
And many a sinner's parting seen,
But never aught like this.»
The war, that for a space did fail,
Now trebly thundering swell’d the gale,
And-STANLEY! was the cry;
A light on Marmion's visage spread,
And fired his glazing eye:
With dying hand, above his head,
He shook the fragment of his blade,
And shouted « Victory!
Charge, Chester, charge! On, Stanley, on!»
Were the last words of Marmion.
Deep drank Lord Marmion of the wave,
And as she stoop'd his brow to lave-
« Is it the hand of Clare,» he said,
« Or injured Constance, bathes
Then, as remembrance rose, -
Speak not to me of shrift or prayer !
I must redress her woes.
few words are mine, to spare : Forgive and listen, gentle Clare!»
« Alas!» she said, « the while, O think of your immortal weal! In vain for Constance is your zeal;
She--died at Holy Isle.»
By this, though deep the evening fell,
Still rose the battle's deadly swell,
For still the Scots, around their king,
Unbroken, fought in desperate ring.
Where's now their victor va'ward wing,
Where Huntley, and where Home?
O for a blast of that dread horn,
On Fontarabian echoes borne,
That to King Charles did come,
When Rowland brave, and Olivier,
every paladin and
On Roncesvalles died !
Such blast might warn them, not in vain,
To quit the plunder of the slain,