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And Dacre to our call replies
That he is unprepared to rise.
My heart is sick; this weary pause
Must needs be fatal to the cause.
The breach is open on the wall,
This night, the banner shall be planted!”
"Twas done ;-his sons were with him-all ;-.
They belt him round with hearts undaunted;
And others follow ;-sire and son
Leap down into the court-"'Tis won"-
They shout aloud-but Heaven decreed
To that brave deed,
Which struck with terror friends and foes!
The friend shrinks back-the foe recoils
From Norton and his filial band;
But they, now caught within the toils,
Against a thousand cannot stand :-
The foe from numbers courage drew,
And overpowered that gallant few.
“A rescue for the standard !" cried
The father, from within the walls;
But, see, the sacred standard falls ! -
Confusion through the camp spread wide:
Some fled-and some their fears detained:
But ere the moon had sunk to rest
In her pale chambers of the west,
Of that rash levy nought remained.
High on a point of rugged ground,
Among the wastes of Rylstone Fell,
Above the loftiest ridge or mound
Where foresters or shepherds dwell,
An edifice of warlike frame
Stands single (Norton Tower its name);
It fronts all quarters, and looks round
O'er path and road, and plain and dell,
Dark moor, and gleam of pool and stream,
Upon a prospect without bound.
The summit of this bold ascent,
Though bleak and bare, and seldom free
As Pendle-hill or Pennygent
From wind, or frost, or vapours wet;
Had often heard the sound of glee
When there the youthful Nortons met,
To practise games and archery:
How proud and happy they! the crowd
Of lookers-on how pleased and proud!
And from the scorching noontide sun,
From showers, or when the prize was won,
They to the watch-tower did repair.
Commodious pleasure-house! and there
Would mirth run round, with generous fare;
And the stern old lord of Rylstone Hall,
He was the proudest of them all!
But now his child, with anguish pale,
Upon the height walks to and fro;
'Tis well that she hath heard the tale,
Received the bitterness of woe;
For she had hoped, had hoped and feared,
Such rights did feeble nature claim:
And oft her steps had hither steered,
Though not unconscious of self-blame;
For she her brother's charge revered,
His farewell words; and by the same,
Yea, by her brother's very name,
Had, in her solitude, been cheered.
She turned to him, who with his eye
Was watching her while on the height
She sate, or wandered restlessly,
O'erburthened by her sorrow's weight;
To him who this dire news had told,
And now beside the mourner stood.
That gray-haired man of gentle blood,
Who with her father had grown old
In friendship, rival hunters they,
And fellow-warriors in their day;
To Rylstone he the tidings brought;
Then on this place the maid had sought;
And told, as gently as could be,
The end of that sad tragedy,
Which it had been his lot to see.
To him the lady turned: “You said
That Francis lives, he is not dead ?”
“Your noble brother hath been spared, To take his life they have not dared. On him and on his high endeavour The light of praise shall shine for ever! Nor did he (such Heaven's will) in vain His solitary course maintain ; Not vainly struggled in the might Of duty, seeing with clear sight; He was their comfort to the last, Their joy till every pang was past.
“I witnessed when to York they cameWhat, lady, if their feet were tied ! They might deserve a good man's blame; But, marks of infamy and shame, These were their triumph, these their pride. Nor wanted mid the pressing crowd
Deep feeling, that found utterance loud.
'Lo, Francis comes,' there were who cried,
'A prisoner once, but now set free!
'Tis well, for he the worst defied
For the sake of natural piety;
He rose not in this quarrel, he
His father and his brothers wooed,
Both for their own and country's good,
To rest in peace-he did divide,
He parted from them: but at their side
Now walks in unanimity-
Then peace to cruelty and scorn,
While to the prison they are borne,
Peace, peace to all indignity!'
“And so in prison were they laidOh, hear me, hear me, gentle maid, For I am come with power to bless, By scattering gleams, through your distress, Of a redeeming happiness, Me did a reverent pity move And privilege of ancient love; And, in your service, I made boldAnd entrance gained to that stronghold.
"Your father gave me cordial greeting; But to his purposes, that burned Within him, instantly returnedHe was commanding and entreating, And said, 'We need not stop, my son ! But I will end what is begun; 'Tis matter which I do not fear To intrust to any living ear.' And so to Francis he renewed His words, more calmly thus pursued.
“Might this our enterprise have sped, Change wide and deep the land had seen, A renovation from the dead, A spring-tide of immortal green: The darksome altars would have blazed Like stars when clouds are rolled away; Salvation to all eyes that gazed, Once more the rood had been upraised To spread its arms, and stand for aye. Then, then, had I survived to see New life in Bolton Priory; The voice restored, the eye of truth Re-opened that inspired my youth; To see her in her pomp arrayed; This banner (for such vow I made) Should on the consecrated breast Of that same temple have found rest: I would myself have hung it high, Glad offering of glad victory!
“A shadow of such thought remains To cheer this sad and pensive time; A solemn fancy yet sustains One feeble being-bids me climb Even to the last-one effort more To attest my faith, if not restore.
“Hear then,' said he, 'while I impart, My son, the last wish of my heart. The banner strive thou to regain ; And, if the endeavour be not vain Bear it-to whom if not to thee Shall I this lonely thought consign ?Bear it to Bolton Priory, . lay it on Saint Mary's shrine,