Page images
PDF

The garden pool's dark surface, stirred By the night insects in their play, Breaks into dimples small and bright; A thousand, thousand rings of light, That shape themselves and disappear Almost as soon as seen: and, lo! Not distant far, the milk-white doe: The same fair creature who was nigh, Feeding in tranquillity, When Francis uttered to the maid His last words in the yew-tree shade; The same fair creature, who hath found Her way into forbidden ground; Where now, within this spacious plot For pleasure made, a goodly spot, With lawns and beds of flowers, and shades Of trellis-work in long arcades, And cirque and crescent framed by wall Of close-clipped foliage green and tall, Converging walks, and fountains gay, And terraces in trim arrayBeneath yon cypress spiring high, With pine and cedar spreading wide Their darksome boughs on either side, In open moonlight doth she lie; Happy as others of her kind, That, far from human neighbourhood, Range unrestricted as the wind, Through park, or chase, or savage wood.

But where at this still hour is she,
The consecrated Emily?
Even while I speak behold the maid
Emerging from the cedar shade
To open moonshine, where the doe

Beneath the cypress-spire is laid;
Like a patch of April snow,
Upon a bed of herbage green,
Lingering in a woody glade,
Or behind a rocky screen;
Lonely relic! which, if seen
By the shepherd, is passed by
With an inattentive eye.
Nor more regard doth she bestow
Upon the uncomplaining doe!

Yet the meek creature was not free, Erewhile, from some perplexity: For thrice hath she approached, this day, The thought-bewildered Emily; Endeavouring in her gentle way, Some smile or look of love to gain Encouragement to sport or play ; Attempts which by the unhappy maid Have all been slighted or gainsaid. Yet is she soothed: the viewless breeze Comes fraught with kindlier sympathies : Ere she hath reached yon rustic shed Hung with late-flowering woodbine, spread Along the walls and overhead; The fragrance of the breathing flowers Revives a memory of those hours When here, in this remote alcove, (While from the pendant woodbine came Like odours, sweet as if the same) A fondly-anxious mother strove To teach her salutary fears, And mysteries above her years. Yes, she is soothed-an image faintAnd yet not faint-a presence bright

Returns to her-'tis that blest saint
Who with mild looks and language mild
Instructed here her darling child,
While yet a prattler on the knee,
To worship in simplicity
The invisible God, and take for guide
The faith reformed and purified.
'Tis flown-the vision, and the sense
Of that beguiling influence !
“ But oh, thou angel from above !
Thou spirit of maternal love,
That stood'st before my eyes more clear
Than ghosts are fabled to appear
Sent on embassies of fear;
As thou thy presence hast to me
Vouchsafed, in radiant ministry,
Descend on Francis-through the air
Of this sad earth to him repair,
Speak to him with a voice and say,
That he must cast despair away!"

Then from within the embowered retreat Where she had found a grateful seat Perturbed she issues. She will go; Herself will follow to the war, And clasp her father's knees ;-ah, no! She meets the insuperable bar, The injunctions by her brother laid ; His parting charge—but ill obeyed ! That interdicted all debate, All prayer for this cause or for that ; All efforts that would turn aside The headlong current of their fate; Her duty is to stand and wait; In resignation to abide

The shock, AND FINALLY SECURE
O'ER PAIN AND GRIEF A TRIUMPH PURE.
She knows, she feels it, and is cheered;
At least her present pangs are checked.
But now an ancient man appeared,
Approaching her with grave respect.
Down the smooth walk which then she trod
He paced along the silent sod,
And greeting her thus gently spake :.
“An old man's privilege I take;
Dark is the time—a woeful day!
Dear daughter of affliction, say
How can I serve you? point the way.”

“Rights have you, and may well be bold: You with my father have grown old In friendship ;-go-from him—from me Strive to avert this misery This would I beg; but on my mind A passive stillness is enjoined. If prudence offer help or aid, On you is no restriction laid; You not forbidden to recline Will hope upon the Will divine."

“Hope," said the sufferer's zealous friend, “Must not forsake us till the end. In Craven's wilds is many a den, To shelter persecuted men: Far under ground is many a cave, Where they might lie as in the grave, Until this storm hath ceased to rave; Or let them cross the river Tweed, And be at once from peril freed !” “Ah, tempt me not !” she faintly sighed;

“I will not counsel nor exhort,-
With my condition satisfied;
But you, at least, may make report
Of what befalls ;-be this your task-
This may be done ;-'tis all I ask !"

She spake--and from the lady's sight The sire, unconscious of his age, Departed promptly as a page Bound on some errand of delight. The noble Francis-wise as brave, Thought he, may have the skill to save: With hopes in tenderness concealed, Unarmed he followed to the field. Him will I seek! the insurgent powers Are now besieging Barnard's towers,Grant that the moon which shines this night May guide them in a prudent flight !".

But quick the turns of chance and change, And knowledge has a narrow range ; Whence idle fears, and needless pain, And wishes blind, and efforts vain. Their flight the fair moon may not sec; For, from mid-heaven, already she Hath witnessed their captivity. She saw the desperate assault Upon that hostile castle made ;But dark and dismal is the vault Where Norton and his sons are laid Disastrous issue! He had said “ This night yon haughty towers must yield, Or we for ever quit the field. Neville is utterly dismayed, For promise fails of Howard's aid;

« PreviousContinue »