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Gliding by crag and copse-wood green,
A solitary form was seen
To trace with stealthy pace the wold,
Like fox that seeks the midnight fold,
And pauses oft, and cowers dismay'd,
breath that stirs the shade.
He passes now the ivy-bush,
The owl has seen him and is hush;
passes now the dodderd oak,
Ye heard the startled raven croak;
Lower and lower he descends,
Rustle the leaves, the brushwood bends;
The otter hears him tread the shore,
And dives, and is beheld no more;
And by the cliff of pale gray stone
The midnight wanderer stands alone.
Methinks, that by the moon we trace
A well-remember'd form and face!
That stripling shape, that cheek so pale,
Combine to tell a rueful tale,
Of powers misused, of passion's force,
Of guilt, of grief, and of remorse! .
*T is Edmund's eye at every sound
That flings that guilty glance around;
'Tis Edmund's trembling haste divides
The brushwood that the cavern hides,
And, when its narrow porch lies bare,
Tis Edmund's form that enters there.
When the red sun was setting fast,
And parting pledge Guy Denzil pass'd,
To Rokeby treasure-vaults! They quaffd,
And shouted loud and wildly laugh'd,
Pour'd maddening from the rocky door,
And parted-to return no more!
They found in Rokeby vaults their doom,-
A bloody death, a burning tomb,
There his own peasant dress he spies,
Doff to assume that quaint disguise,
And shuddering thought upon lis glee,
When prank'd in garb of minstrelsy.
« O be the fatal art accurst,»
He cried, « that moved my folly first,
Till bribed by bandils' base applause,
I burst through God's and nature's laws!
Three summer days are scantly past
Since I have trode this cavern last,
A thoughtless wretch, and prompt to err-
But O, as yet no murderer!
Even now I list my comrades' cheer,
That general laugh is in mine ear,
Which raised my pulse and steeld my heart,
As I reliearsed my treacherous part-
And would that all since then could seem
The phantom of a fever's dream!
But fatal memory notes too well
The horrors of the dying yell,
From my despairing mates that broke,
When flash'd the fire and rolld the smoke,
When the avengers shouting came,
And hemm'd us 'twixt the sword and flame!
My frantic flight, -the lifted brand,
That angel's interposing hand!--
If for my life from slaughter freed,
I yet could pay some grateful meed!
Perchance this object of my quest
May aid »–he turn'd, nor spoke the rest.
Due northward from the rugged hearth,
five he metes the earth,
Then coild with mattock to explore
The entrails of the cavern floor,
Nor paused till, deep beneath the ground,
His search a small steel casket found.
Just as he stoop'd to loose its hasp,
His shoulder felt a giant grasp;".
He started, and look'd up aghast,
Then shriek d-'t was Bertram held him fast.
« Fear not !» he said; but who could hear
That deep stern voice, and cease to fear?
« Fear not!-by Heaven he shakes as much
As partridge in the falcon's clutch !»—
He raised him, and ugloosed his hold,
While from the opening casket rol!'d
A chain and reliquaire of gold.
Bertram beheld it with surprise,
Gazed on its fashion and device,
Then, cheering Edmund as be could,
Somewhat he smooth'd his ruceed mood;
For still the youth's half-lifted eye
Quiver'd with terror's agony,
And sidelong glanced, as to explore,
In meditated flight, the door.
IV. His flint and steel have sparkled bright, A lamp hath lent the cavern light. Fearful and quick his eye surveys Each angle of the gloomy maze. Since last he left that stern abode, It seem'd as none its floor had trode; Untouch'd appeard the various spoil, The purchase of his comrades' toil; Masks and disguises grimed with mud, Arms broken and defiled with blood, And all the nameless tools that aid Night-felons in their lawless trade, Upon the gloomy walls were hung, Or lay in pooks obscurely flung. Still on the sordid board appear The relics of the noontide cheer; Flagons and emptied flasks were there, And bench o'erthrown, and shatter'd chair; And all around the semblance show'd, As when the final revel glow'd,
«'As, in the pageants of the stage, The dead awake in this wild age, Mortham-whom all men deem'd decreed In his own deadly snare to bleed, Slain by a bravo, whom, o'er sea, He train'd to aid in murthering me, Mortham has 'scaped; the coward shot The steed, but harm'd the rider nought.'»--Here, with an execration fell, Bertram leap'd up, and paced the cell; « Thine own gray head, or bosom dark,» He mutter'd, « may be surer mark!n* Then sate, and sign d to Edmund, pale With terror, to resume his tale. « Wycliffe went on :--- Mark with what flights Of wilder'd reverie he writes :
Perchanec thou wot'st not, Barnard's towers
Hare racks, of strange and ghastly powers.'
Denzil, 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 Stanmore white,
That very night, when first of all
Redmond O'Neale 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 leni, 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 I deemd it safe to bear
On mine own person gems so rare.
Small heed l of the tablets took,
But since have spellid them by the book,
When some sojourn in Eriu's land
Of their wild speech had 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.
THE LETTER. « ‘Ruler of Mortham's destiny! Though dead, thy victim lives to thee. Once had he all that binds to life, A lovely child, a lovelier wife; Wealth, fame, and friendship, were his ownThou gavest the word, and they are flown, Mark bow be 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 shalt see Mortham rise again.'
XII. « This billet while the baron read, His faltering accents show'd his dread;. He pressid his forehead with his palm, Then took a scornful tone and calm; * 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, I 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 lipe.' Thou know'st that scarcely e'en his fear Suppresses Denzil'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 won, Redmond O'Neale is Morcham's son.'
XIV. «Three days since, was that clue reveald, In Thorsgill as I lay conceal'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 then: Fair Edith was the joy Of old O'Neale of Claudeboy, But from her sire and country fled, In secret Mortham's lord to wed. O'Neale, his first resentment o'er, Dispåtch'd his son to Greta's shore, Enjoining he should make him known (Until his farther will were shown), To Edith, but to her alone. What of their ill-starr'd meeting fell, Lord Wycliffe knows, and none so well.
xv. «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 Connal's child. Soon died the nurse; the clan 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 stronger chieftains urged a claim, And wrested from the old man's hands His native towers, his father's lands.