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Then the grim boar's-head frown'd on high,
Crested with bays and rosemary,
Well can the green-garb'd ranger tell,
How, when, and where, the monster sell;
What dogs before his death he tore,
And all the baiting of the boar.
The wassel round, in good brown bowls,
Garnish'd with ribands, blithely trowls.
There the huge surloin reek'd; hard by
Plum-porridge stood, and Christmas pie;
Nor fail'd old Scotland to produce,
At such high-tide, her savoury goose.
Then came the merry masquers in,
And carols roard with blithesome din ;
If unmelodious was the song,
It was a hearty note, and strong.
Who lists may in their mumming see
Traces of ancient mystery ;
While shirts supplied the masquerade,
And smutted cheeks the visors made;
But, O! what masquers, richly dight
Can boast of bosoms half so light!
England was merry England, when
Old Christmas brought his sports again.
'Twas Christmas broach'd the mightiest ale ;
'Twas Christmas told the merriest tale ;
A Christmas gambol oft could cheer
The poor man's heart through half the year.
Still linger in our northern clime
Some remnants of the good old time;
And still, within our valleys here,
We hold the kindred title dear,
E’en when, perchance, its far-fetch'd claim
To southern ear sounds empty name;
For course of blood, our proverbs deem,
Is warmer than the mountain stream,
And thus my Christmas still I hold
Where my great-grandsire came of old
With amber beard, and flaxen hair,
And reverend, apostolic air,
The feast and holy-tide to share,
And mix sobriety with wine,
And honest mirth with thoughts divine ;
Small thought was his, in after time,
E'er to be hitch'd into a rhyme.
The simple sire could only boast
That he was loyal to his cost;
The banish'd race of kings revered,
And lost his land,—but kept his beard.
In these dear halls, where welcome kin Is with fair liberty combined ; Where cordial friendship gives the hand, And flies constraint the magic wand Of the fair dame that rules the land, Little we heed the tempest drear, While music, mirth, and social cheer, Speed on their wings the passing year. And Mertoun's halls are fair e'en now, When not a leaf is on the bough. Tweed loves them well, and turns again, As loath to leave the sweet domain, And holds his mirror to her face, And clasps her with a close embrace :
Gladly as he, we seek the dome,
And as reluctant turns us home.
How just, that, at this time of glee,
My thoughts should, Heber, turn to thee!
For many a merry hour we've known,
And heard the chimes of midnight's tone.
Cease, then, my friend! a moment cease,
And leave these classic tones in peace!
Of Roman and of Grecian lore
Sure mortal brain can hold no more.
These ancients, as Noll Bluff might say
“Were pretty fellows in their day:"*
But time and tide o'er all prevail-
On Christmas eve a Christmas tale-
Of wonder and of war.-“ Profane !
What! leave the lofty Latin strain,
Her stately prose, her verse's charms,
To hear the clash of rustic arms;
In fairy land or limbo lost,
To jostle conjuror and ghost,
Goblin and witch !”–Nay, Heber dear,
Before you touch my charter, hear;
Though Leyden aids, alas! no more
My cause with many-languaged lore,
This may I say :-in realms of death
Ulysses meets Alcides' wraith;
Æneas, upon Thracia's shore,
The ghost of murder'd Polydore ;
For omens, we in Livy cross,
At every turn, locutus bos.
As grave and truly speaks that ox,
As if he told the price of stocks ;
Or held, in Rome republican,
The place of common-councilman.
All nations have their omens drear,
Their legends wild of wo and fear.
To Cambria look-the peasant see,
Bethink him of Glendowerdy,
And shun “ the spirit's blasted tree."
The Highlander, whose red claymore
The battle turn'd on Maida's shore,
Will, on a Friday morn, look pale,
If ask'd to tell a fairy tale ;
He fears the vengeful elfin king,
Who leaves that day his grassy ring:
Invisible to human ken,
He walks among the sons of men.
Didst e'er, dear Heber, pass along
Beneath the towers of Franchemont,
Which, like an eagle's nest in air,
Hangs o'er the stream and hamlet fair?
Deep in their vaults, the peasants say, A mighty treasure buried lay, Amass'd, through rapine and through wrong, By the last Lord of Franchemont. The iron chest is bolted hard, A huntsman sits, its constant guard; Around his neck his horn is hung, His hanger in his belt is slung; Before his feet his bloodhounds lie ; An 'twere not for his gloomy eye, Whose withering glance no heart can brook, As true a huntsman doth he look,
* “Blood is warmer than water,"--a proverb meant to andicate our family predilections,
* " Hannibal was a pretty fellow, sir-a very pretty fellow in his day."-Old Bachelor.
Where England's king in leaguer lay,
Before decisive battle-day ;-
While these things were, the mournful Clare
Did in the dame's devotions share:
For the good countess ceaseless pray'd,
To Heaven and saints, her sons to aid,
And, with short interval, did pass
From prayer to book, from book to mass,
And all in high baronial pride,-
A life both dull and dignified ;-
Yet as Lord Marmion nothing pressid
Upon her intervals of rest,
Dejected Clara well could bear
The formal state, the lengthen'd prayer,
Though dearest to her wounded heart
The hours that she might spend apart.
As bugle e'er in brake did sound,
Or ever halloo'd to a hound.
To chase the fiend, and win the prize,
In that same dungeon ever tries
An aged Necromantic priest;
It is an hundred years, at least,
Since 'twixt them first the strife begun,
And neither yet has lost or won.
And oft the conjuror's words will make
The stubborn demon groan and quake;
And oft the bands of iron break,
Or bursts one lock, that still amain,
Fast as 'tis open'd, shuts again.
That magic strife within the tomb
May last until the day of doom,
Unless th' adept shall learn to tell
The very word that clench'd the spell,
When Franchemont lock'd the treasure-cell.
An hundred years are past and gone,
And scarce three letters has he won.
Such general superstition may
Excuse for old Pitscottie say;
Whose gossip history has given
My song the messenger from heaven,
That warn’d, in Lithgow, Scotland's king,
Nor less the infernal summoning;
May pass the monk of Durham's tale,
Whose demon fought in Gothic mail;
May pardon plead for Fordon grave,
Who told of Gifford's goblin cave.
But why such instances to you,
Who, in an instant, can review
Your treasured hoards of various lore,
And furnish twenty thousand more?
Hoards, not like theirs whose volumes rest
Like treasures in the Franchemont chest;
While gripple owners still refuse
To others what they cannot use, -
Give them the priest's whole century,
They shall not spell you letters three;
Their pleasure in the books the same
The magpie takes in pilfer'd gem.
Thy volumes, open as thy heart,
Delight, amusement, science, art,
To every ear and eye impart;
Yet who, of all who thus employ them,
Can, like the owner's self, enjoy them?
But, hark! I hear the distant drum :
The day of Flodden field is come.-
Adieu, dear Heber! life and health,
And store of literary wealth.
II. I said, Tantallon's dizzy steep Hung o'er the margin of the deep. Many a rude tower and rampart there Repeli'd the insult of the air, Which, when the tempest vex'd the sky, Half breeze, half spray, came whistling by Above the rest, a turret square Did o'er its Gothic entrance bear, Of sculpture rude, a stony shield; The Bloody Heart was in the field. And in the chief three mullets stood, The cognizance of Douglas blood. The turret held a narrow stair, Which, mounted, gave you access where A parapet's embattled row Did seaward round the castle go. Sometimes in dizzy steps descending, Sometimes in narrow circuit bending, Sometimes in platform broad extending, Its varying circle did combine Bulwark, and bartizan, and line, And bastion, tower, and vantage-coign; Above the booming ocean leant The far-projecting battlement; The billows burst, in ceaseless flow, Upon the precipice below, Where'er Tantallon faced the land, Gate-works, and walls, were strongly mann'd; No need upon the sea-girt side; The steepy rock and frantic tide, Approach of human step denied : And thus these lines and ramparts rude, Were left in deepest solitude.
I. WHILE great events were on the gale, And each hour brought a varying tale, And the demeanour, changed and cold, Of Douglas, fretted Marmion bold, And, like the impatient steed of war, He snuff?d the battle from afar; And hopes were none, that back again Herald should come from Terouenne,
And, for they were so lonely, Clare
Would to these battlements repair,
And muse upon her sorrows there,
And list the sea-bird's cry;
Or, slow like noontide ghost, would glide
Along the dark gray bulwark's side,
And ever on the heaving tide
Look down with weary eye. Oft did the cliff, and swelling main, Recall the thoughts of Whitby's fame, A home she ne'er might see again :
For she had laid adown,
So Douglas bade, the hood and veil,
And frontlet of the cloister pale,
And Benedictine gown :
It were unseemly sight he said,
A novice out of convent shade.-
Now her bright locks, with sunny glow,
Again adorn'd her brow of snow';
Her mantle rich, whose borders, round,
A deep and fretted broidery bound,
In golden foldings sought the ground;
Of holy ornament, alone
Remain'd a cross of ruby stone;
And often did she look
On that which in her hand she bore,
With velvet bound, and broider'd o’er
Her breviary book.
In such a place, so lone, 50 grim,
At dawning pale, or twilight dim,
It fearful would have been,
To meet a form so richly dress'd,
With book in hand, and cross on breast,
And such a woful mien.
Fitz-Eustace, loitering with his bow
To practise on the gull and crow,
Saw her, at distance, gliding slow,
And did by Mary swear,-
Some lovelorn fay she might have been,
Or, in romance, some spell-bound queen ;
For ne'er, in work-day world, was seen
A form so witching fair.
Once walking thus at evening tide,
It chanced a gliding sail she spied,
And, sighing, thought~" The abbess there,
Perchance, does to her home repair ;
Her peaceful rule, where duty, free,
Walks band in hand with charity;
Where oft devotion's tranced glow
Can such a glimpse of heaven bestow,
That the enraptured sisters see
High vision, and deep mystery ;
The very form of Hilda fair,
Hovering upon the sunny air,
And smiling on her votaries' prayer.
0! wherefore, to my duller eye,
Did still the saint her form deny !
Was it, that, seared by sinful scorn,
My heart could neither melt nor burn?
Or lie my warm affections low
With him, that taught them first to glow!
Yet, gentle abbess, well I knew,
To pay thy kindness grateful due,
And well could brook the mild command,
That rule thy simple maiden band.--
How different now! condemn'd to bide
My doom from this dark tyrant's pride.
But Marmion has to learn, ere long,
That constant mind, and hate of wrong,
Descended to a feeble girl
From red De Clare, stout Gloster's earl;
Of such a stem a sapling weak,
He ne'er shall bend, although he break.
V. “ But see what makes this armour here?”
For in her path there lay
Targe, corselet, helm ;-she view'd them near. “ The breastplate pierced - Ay, much I fear, Weak fence wert thou 'gainst foeman's spear That hath made fatal entrance here,
As these dark blood-gouts say:-
Thus Wilton-O! not corselet's ward,
Not truth, as diamond pure and hard,
Could be thy manly bosom's guard
On yon disastrous day !"-
She raised her eyes in mournful mood,
Wilton himself before her stood!
It might have seem'd his passing ghost,
For every youthful grace was lost;
And joy unwonted, and surprise,
Gave their strange wildness to his eyes.
Expect not, noble dames and lords,
That I can tell such scene in words:
What skilful limner e'er would choose
To paint the rainbow's varying hues.
Unless to mortal it were given
To dip his brush in dies of heaven?
Far less can my weak line declare
Each changing passion's shade ;
Brightening to rapture from despair,
Sorrow, surprise, and pity there,
And joy, with her angelic air,
And hope, that paints the future fair,
Their varying hues display'd:
Each o'er its rival's ground extending,
Alternate conquering, shifting, blending,
Till all, fatigued, the conflict yield,
And mighty love retains the field.
Shortly I tell what then he said,
By many a tender word delay'd,
And modest blush, and bursting sigh,
And question kind, and fond reply.
DE WILTON'S HISTORY. “ Forget we that disastrous day, When senseless in the lists I lay. Thence dragg'd,—but how I cannot know,
For sense and recollection fled, I found me on a pallet low,
Within my ancient beadsman's shed. Austin,-rememberest thou, my Clare,
How thou didst blush when the old man,
When first our intant love began,
Said we would make a matchless pair !
Menials, and friends, and kinsmen fled
From the degraded traitor's bed,
He, only, held my burning head,
And tended me for many a day!
While wounds and fever held their sway
But far more needful was his care,
When sense return'd, to wake despair ;
For I did tear the closing wound,
And dash me frantic on the ground,
If e'er I heard the name of Clare.
At length, to calmer reason brought,
Much by his kind attendance wrought,
With him I left my native strand,
And, in a palmer's weeds array'd,
My hated name and form to shade,
I journey'd many a land;
No more a lord of rank and birth,
But mingled with the dregs of earth.
Oft Austin for my reason fear'd,
When I would sit, and deeply brood
On dark revenge, and deeds of blood,
Or wild mad schemes uprear'd.
My friend at length fell sick, and said,
God would remove him soon ;
And, while upon his dying bed,
He begg'd of me a boon-
If ere my deadliest enemy
Beneath my brand should conquer'd lie,
E'en then my mercy should awake,
And spare his life for Austin's sake.
“ Still restless as a second Cain,
To Scotland next my route was ta'en,
Full well the paths I knew.
Fame of my fate made various sound,
That death in pilgrimage I found,
That I had perish'd of my wound-
None cared which tale was true :
And living eye could never guess
De Wilton in his palmer's dress :
For, now that sable slough is shed,
And trimm'd my shaggy beard and head,
I scarcely know me in the glass.
A chance most wondrous did provide,
That I should be that baron's guide
I will not name his name -
Vengeance to God alone belongs ;
But, when I think on all my wrongs,
My blood is liquid flame!
And ne'er the time shall I forget,
When, in a Scottish hostel set,
Dark looks we did exchange ;
What were his thoughts I cannot tell;
But in my bosom muster'd hell
Its plans of dark revenge.
Perchance you heard the abbess tell
Of the strange pageantry of hell,
That broke our secret speech-
It rose from the infernal shade,
Or featly was some juggle play'd,
A tale of peace to teach.
Appeal to Heaven I judged was best,
When my name came among the rest.
“Now here, within Tantallon hold,
To Douglas late my tale I told,
To whom my house was known of old.
Won by my proofs, his falchion bright,
This eve anew shall dub me knight.
These were the arms that once did turn
The tide of fight on Otterburne,
And Harry Hotspur forced to yield,
When the dead Douglas won the field.
These Angus gave-his armour's care,
Ere morn, shall every breach repair;
For naught, he said, was in his halls,
But ancient armour on the walls,
And aged chargers in the stalls,
And women, priests, and gray-hair'd men ;
The rest were all in Twisel glen.*
And now I watch my armour here,
By law of arms, till midnight's near;
Then, once again a belted knight,
Seek Surrey's camp with dawn of light.
“ There soon again we meet, my Clare !
This baron means to guide thee there :
Douglas reveres his king's command,
Else would he take thee from his band.
And there thy kinsman, Surrey, too,
Will give De Wilton justice due.
Now meeter far for martial broil,
Firmer my limbs, and strung by toil,
Once more"- -“0, Wilton! must we then
Risk new-found happiness again,
Trust fate of arms once more?
And is there not an humble glen,
Where we, content and poor,
Might build a cottage in the shade,
A shepherd thou, and I to aid
Thy task on dale and moor?-
That reddening brow too well I know,
Not even thy Clare can peace bestow,
While falsehood stains thy name:
Go then to fight! Clare bids thee go
Clare can a warrior's feelings know,
And weep a warrior's shame;
Can Red Earl Gilbert's spirit feel,
Buckle the spurs upon thy heel,
And belt thee with thy brand of steel,
And send thee forth to fame !"
VIII. “ A word of vulgar augury, That broke from me, I scarce knew why,
Brought on a village tale ;
Which wrought upon his moody sprite,
And sent him armed forth by night.
I borrow'd steed and mail,
And weapons, from his sleeping band;
And, passing from a postern door,
We met, and 'counterd, hand to hand,
He fell on Gifford moor.
For the death stroke my brand I drew
(O then my helmed head he knew,
The palmer's cowl was gone,)
Then had three inches of my blade
The heavy debt of vengeance paid,--
My hand the thought of Austin stay'd
I left him there alone.
0, good old man! e'en from the grave,
Thy spirit could thy master save :
If I had slain my foeman, ne'er
Had Whitby's abbess, in her fear,
Given to my hand this packet dear,
Of power to clear my injured fame,
And vindicate De Wilton's name.-
XI. That night, upon the rocks and bay, The midnight moonbeam slumbering lay, And pour'd its silver light, and pure, Through loop hole, and through embrazure
Upon Tantallon tower and hall;
* Where James encamped before taking post at Flodden
But chief were arched windows wide
Illuminate the chapel's pride,
The sober glances fall.
Much was there need; though, seam'd with scars,
Two veterans of the Douglas' wars,
Though two gray priests were there,
And each a blazing torch held high,
You could not by their blaze descry
The chapel's carving fair.
Amid that dim and smoky light,
Checkering the silvery moonshine bright,
A bishop by the altar stood,
A noble lord of Douglas' blood,
With mitre sheen, and rocquet white.
Yet show'd his meek and thoughtful eye
But little pride of prelacy;
More pleased that, in a barbarous age,
He gave rude Scotland Virgil's page,
Than that beneath bis rule he held
The bishopric of fair Dunkeld.
Beside him ancient Angus stood,
Doff d his fair gown and sable hood;
O’er his huge form, and visage pale,
He wore a cap and shirt of mail;
And lean'd his large and wrinkled hand
Upon the huge and sweeping brand
Which wont, of yore, in battle fray,
His foeman's limbs to shred away,
As wood-knife lops the sapling spray.
He seem'd as from the tombs around,
Rising at judgment-day,
Some giant Douglas may be found
In all his old array ;
So pale his face, so huge his limb,
So old bis arms, his look so grim.
Not far advanced was morning day,
When Marmion did his troop array
To Surrey's camp to ride ;
He had safe conduct for his band,
Beneath the royal seal and hand,
And Douglas gave a guide ;
The ancient earl, with stately grace,
Would Clara on her palfrey place,
And whisper'd, in an under tone,
“ Let the hawk stoop, his prey is flown."
The train from out the castle drew,
But Marmion stopp'd to bid adieu :-
“ Though something I might plain,” he said,
“Of cold respect to stranger guest,
Sent hither by your king's bebest,
While in Tantallon's towers I stay'd;
Part we in friendship from your land,
And, noble earl, receive my hand.”
But Douglas round him drew his cloak,
Folded his arms, and thus he spoke :
“My manors, balls, and bowers, shall still
Be open, at 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."
XII. Then at the altar Wilton kneels, And Clare the spurs bound on his heels ; And think what next he must have felt, At buckling of the falchion belt,
And judge how Clara changed her hue, While fastening to her lover's side A friend, which, though in danger tried,
He once had found untrue ! Then Douglas struck him with his blade: “ Saint Michael and saint Andrew aid,
I dub thee knight.
Arise, Sir Ralph, De Wilton's heir !
For king, for church, for lady fair,
See that thou fight.”-
And Bishop Gawain, as he rose,
Said" Wilton! grieve not for thy woes,
Disgrace, and trouble ;
For he, who honour best bestows,
May give thee double.”—
De Wilton sobb’d, for sob he must-
“Where'er I meet a Douglas, trust,
That Douglas is my brother !"
“Nay, nay,” old Angus said, “not so;
To Surrey's camp thou now must go,
Thy wrongs no longer smother.
I have two sons in yonder field;
And, if thou meet'st them under shield,
Upon them bravely-do thy worst;
And foul fall him that blenches first !”
Burn'd Marmion's swarthy cheek like fire,
And shook his very frame for ire,
And_“ This to me!” he said, -
“ An 'twere not for thy boary 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,
E'en 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 saidst, 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 unscath'd to go?
No, by St. Bride of Bothwell, no-
Up drawbridge, grooms-what, warder, ho!
Let the portcullis fall.”
Lord Marmion turn'd-well was his need,
And dash'd the rowels in his steed,
Like arrow through the archway sprung,
The ponderous gate bebind him rung: