Page images

my nurse ?

But thou wilt never move from hence, In there came old Alice the nurse,
The sphere thy fate allots :

Said, "Who was this that went from Thy latter days increased with pence

thee?' Go down among the pots :

• It was my cousin,' said Lady Clare, Thou battenest by the greasy gleam

"To-morrow he weds with me.' In haunts of hungry sinners, Old boxes, larded with the steam

O God be thank'd!' said Alice the Of thirty thousand dinners.


*That all comes round so just and fair : We fret, we fume, would shift our skins, | Lord Ronald is heir of all your lands, Would quarrel with our lot ;

And you are not the Lady Clare.'
Thy care is, under polish'd tins,
To serve the hot-and-hot ;

Are ye out of your mind, my nurse, To come and go, and come again, Returning like the pewit,

Said Lady Clare, that ye speak so And watch'd by silent gentlemen,

wild ?? That trifle with the cruet.

• As God's above,' said Alice the nurse,

'I speak the truth : you are my child. Live long, ere from thy topmost head The thick-set hazel dies ;

• The old Earl's daughter died at my Long, ere the hateful crow shall tread

breast; The corners of thine eyes :

I speak the truth, as I live by bread! Live long, nor feel in head or chest I buried her like my own sweet child, Our changeful equinoxes,

And put my child in her stead.'
Till mellow Death, like some late guest,
Shall call thee from the boxes.

* Falsely, falsely have ye done,

O mother,' she said, if this be true, But when he calls, and thou shalt cease

To keep the best man under the sun
To pace the gritted floor,

So many years from his due.'
And, laying down an unctuous lease
Of life, shalt earn no more ;

• Nay now, my child,' said Alice the Nocarved cross-bones, the types of Death,

nurse, Shall show thee past to Heaven : * But keep the secret for your life, But carved cross-pipes, and, underneath, And all you have will be Lord Ronald's, A pint-pot neatly graven.

When you are man and wife.'

"If I'm a beggar born,' she said, LADY CLARE.

'I will speak out, for I dare not lie. It was the time when lilies blow,

Pull off, pull off, the brooch of gold, And clouds are highest up in air,

And fling the diamond necklace by.' Lord Ronald brought a lily-white doe

'Nay now, my child,' said Alice the To give his cousin, Lady Clare.

nurse, I trow they did not part in scorn :

• But keep the secret all ye can.' Lovers long-betroth'd were they :

She said, 'Not so: but I will know They two will wed the morrow morn :

If there be any faith in man.' God's blessing on the day!

• Nay now, what faith ?' said Alice the *He does not love me for my birth,

nurse, Nor for my lands so broad and fair ; • The man will cleave unto his right.' He loves me for my own true worth, * And he shall have it,' the lady replied,

And that is well,' said Lady Clare. • Tho' I should die to-night.'

• Vet give one kiss to your mother dear ! Alas, my child, I sinn'd for thee.'

THE CAPTAIN. O mother, mother, mother,' she said, * So strange it seems to me.

* Yet here's a kiss for my mother dear, He that only rules by terror
My mother dear, if this be so,

Doeth grievous wrong.
And lay your hand upon my head, Deep as Hell I count his error.
And bless me, mother, ere I go.' Let him hear my song.

Brave the Captain was : the seamen She clad herself in a russet gown,

Made a gallant crew,
She was no longer Lady Clare : Gallant sons of English freemen,
She went by dale, and she went by down, Sailors bold and true.
With a single rose in her hair.

But they hated his oppression,

Stern he was and rash; The lily-white doe Lord Ronald had | So for every light transgression brought

Doom'd them to the lash. Leapt up from where she lay,

Day by day more harsh and cruel Dropt her head in the maiden's hand,

Seem'd the Captain's mood. And follow'd her all the way.

Secret wrath like smother'd fuel

Burnt in each man's blood. Down stept Lord Ronald from his tower :

Yet he hoped to purchase glory, O Lady Clare, you shame your worth !

Hoped to make the name Why come you drest like a village maid, of his vessel great in story, That are the flower of the earth ?'

Wheresoe'er he came.

So they past by capes and islands, *If I come drest like a village maid,

Many a harbour-mouth, I am but as my fortunes are :

Sailing under palmy highlands I am a beggar born,' she said,

Far within the South. * And not the Lady Clare.'

On a day when they were going

O'er the lone expanse, • Play me no tricks,' said Lord Ronald, • For I am yours in word and in deed.

In the north, her canvas flowing,

Rose a ship of France.
Play me no tricks,' said Lord Ronald,
Your riddle is hard to read.'

Then the Captain's colour heighten'd,

Joyful came his speech :
O and proudly stood she up!

But a cloudy gladness lighten'd
Her heart within her did not fail : In the eyes of each.
She look'd into Lord Ronald's eyes,

Chase,' he said : the ship flew forAnd told him all her nurse's tale.


And the wind did blow; He laugh'd a laugh of merry scorn :

Stately, lightly, went she Norward, He turn'd and kiss'd her where she Till she near'd the foe. stood :

Then they look'd at him they hated, * If you are not the heiress born,

Had what they desired : And I,' said he, “the next in blood Mute with folded arms they waited

Not a gun was fired. • If you are not the heiress born,

But they heard the foeman's thunder And I,' said he, the lawful heir, Roaring out their doom ; We two will wed to-morrow morn, All the air was torn in sunder,

And you shall still be Lady Clare.' Crashing went the boom,

Spars were splinter'd, decks were shatter'd,

Bullets fell like rain ;
Over mast and deck were scatter'd

Blood and brains of men.
Spars were splinter'd; decks were broken:

Every mother's son-
Down they dropt--no word was spoken--

Each beside his gun.
On the decks as they were lying,

Were their faces grim.
In their blood, as they lay dying,

Did they smile on him.
Those, in whom he had reliance

For his noble name,
With one smile of still defiance

Sold him unto shame.
Shame and wrath his heart confounded,

Pale he turn'd and red,
Till himself was deadly wounded

Falling on the dead.
Dismal error ! fearful slaughter !

Years have wander'd by,
Side by side beneath the water

Crew and Captain lie;
There the sunlit ocean tosses

O'er them mouldering,
And the lonely seabird crosses

With one waft of the wing.

Summer woods, about them blowing,

Made a murmur in the land,
From deep thought himself he rouses,

Says to her that loves him well,
Let us see these handsome houses

Where the wealthy nobles dwell.' So she goes by him attended,

Hears him lovingly converse, Sees whatever fair and splendid

Lay betwixt his home and hers; Parks with oak and chestnut shady,

Parks and order'd gardens great, Ancient homes of lord and lady,

Built for pleasure and for state. All he shows her makes him dearer :

Evermore she seems to gaze On that cottage growing nearer,

Where they twain will spend their days O but she will love him truly !

He shall have a cheerful home; She will order all things duly,

When beneath his roof they come. Thus her heart rejoices greatly,

Till a gateway she discerns With armorial bearings stately,

And beneath the gate she turns ; Sees a mansion more majestic

Than all those she saw before : Many a gallant gay domestic

Bows before him at the door. And they speak in gentle murmur,

When they answer to his call,
While he treads with footstep firmer,

Leading on from hall to hall.
And, while now she wonders blindly,

Nor the meaning can divine,
Proudly turns he round and kindly,

All of this is mine and thine.' Here he lives in state and bounty,

Lord of Burleigh, fair and free, Not a lord in all the county

Is so great a lord as he. All at once the colour flushes

Her sweet face from brow to chin: As it were with shame she blushes,

And her spirit changed within. Then her countenance all over

Pale again as death did prove : But he clasp'd her like a lover,

And he cheer'd her soul with love.


[ocr errors]

In her ear he whispers gaily,

If my heart by signs can tell, Maiden, I have watch'd thee daily,

And I think thou lov'st me well.' She replies, in accents fainter,

• There is none I love like thee.' He is but a landscape-painter,

And a village maiden she. He to lips, that fondly falter,

Presses his without reproof : Leads her to the village altar,

And they leave her father's roof. I can make no marriage present :

Little can I give my wife. Love will make our cottage pleasant,

And I love thee more than life.' They by parks and lodges going

See the lordly castles stand :

The Lady'g-head upon the prow
Caught the shrill salt, and sheer'd the

gale. The broad seas swell'd to meet the keel,

And swept behind ; so quick the run, We felt the good ship shake and reel,

We seem'd to sail into the Sun !


So she strove against her weakness,

Tho' at times her spirit sank : Shaped her heart with woman's meekness

To all duties of her rank : And a gentle consort made he,

And her gentle mind was such That she grew a noble lady,

And the people loved her much. But a trouble weigh'd upon her,

And perplex'd her, night and morn, With the burthen of an honour

Unto which she was not born. Faint she grew, and ever fainter,

And she murmur'd, “Oh, that he Were once more that landscape-painter,

Which did win my heart from me!' So she droop'd and droop'd before him,

Fading slowly from his side :
Three fair children first she bore him,

Then before her time she died.
Weeping, weeping late and early,

Walking up and pacing down, Deeply mourn'd the Lord of Burleigh,

Burleigh-house by Stamford-town. And he came to look upon her,

And he look'd at her and said, • Bring the dress and put it on her,

That she wore when she was wed.' Then her people, softly treading,

Bore to earth her body, drest In the dress that she was wed in,

That her spirit might have rest.

How oft we saw the Sun retire,

And burn the threshold of the night, Fall from his Ocean-lane of fire,

And sleep beneath his pillar'd light ! How oft the purple-skirted robe

Of twilight slowly downward drawn, As thro' the slumber of the globe

Again we dash'd into the dawn!


New stars all night above the brim

Of waters lighten'd into view ; They climb'd as quickly, for the rim

Changed every moment as we flew. Far ran the naked moon across

The houseless ocean's heaving field, Or flying shone, the silver boss

Of her own halo's dusky shield ;



The peaky islet shifted shapes,

High towns on hills were dimly seen, We past long lines of Northern capes

And dewy Northern meadows green. We came to warmer waves, and deep

Across the boundless east we drove, Where those long swells of breaker sweep

The nutmeg rocks and isles of clove.



We left behind the painted buoy

That tosses at the harbour-mouth ; And madly danced our hearts with joy,

As fast we fleeted to the South : How fresh was every sight and sound

On open main or winding shore ! We knew the merry world was round,

And we might sail for evermore.

By peaks that flamed, or, all in shade, Gloom'd the low coast and quivering

brine With ashy rains, that spreading made

Fantastic plume or sable pine ; By sands and steaming flats, and floods

Of mighty mouth, we scudded fast, And hills and scarlet-mingled woods

Glow'd for a moment as we past.


Warm broke the breeze against the

brow, Dry sang the tackle, sang the sail :



For blasts would rise and rave and cease,

But whence were those that drove the O hundred shores of happy climes,

sail How swiftly stream'd ye by the bark ! Across the whirlwind's heart of peace, At times the whole sea burn'd, at times

And to and thro' the counter gale ?
With wakes of fire we tore the dark ;
At times a carven craft would shoot

From havens hid in fairy bowers,
With naked limbs and flowers and fruit, Again to colder climes we came,

For still we follow'd where she led : But we nor paused for fruit nor flowers.

Now mate is blind and captain lame,

And half the crew are sick or dead,

But, blind or lame or sick or sound, For one fair Vision ever fled

We follow that which flies before : Down the waste waters day and night, We know the merry world is round, And still we follow'd where she led, And we may sail for evermore.

In hope to gain upon her flight. Her face was evermore unseen, And fixt upon the far sea-line;

SIR LAUNCELOT AND But each man murmur'd, O my Queen, QUEEN GUINEVERE. I follow till I make thee mine.'





Like souls that balance joy and pain, And now we lost her, now she gleam'd With tears and smiles from heaven again

Like Fancy made of golden air, The maiden Spring upon the plain Now nearer to the prow she seem'd Came in a sun-lit fall of rain.

Like Virtue firm, like Knowledge fair, In crystal vapour everywhere Now high on waves that idly burst Blue isles of heaven laugh'd between, Like Heavenly Hope she crown'd the And far, in forest-deeps unseen, sea,

The topmost elm-tree gather'd green And now, the bloodless point reversed, From draughts of balmy air. She bore the blade of Liberty.

Sometimes the linnet piped his song :

Sometimes the throstle whistled strong : And only one among us—him

Sometimes the sparhawk, wheel'd along,

Hush'd all the groves from fear of wrong : We pleased not - he was seldom pleased :

By grassy capes with fuller sound He saw not far : his eyes were dim :

In curves the yellowing river ran, But ours he swore were all diseased.

And drooping chestnut-buds began

To spread into the perfect fan, • A ship of fools,' he shriek'd in spite,

Above the teeming ground. ‘A ship of fools,' he sneer'd and wept.

Then, in the boyhood of the year, And overboard one stormy night

Sir Launcelot and Queen Guinevere He cast his body, and on we swept. Rode thro' the coverts of the deer,

With blissful treble ringing clear.

She seem'd a part of joyous Spring And never sail of ours was furl'd, A gown of grass-green silk she wore,

Nor anchor dropt at eve or morn; Buckled with golden clasps before ; We lov'd the glories of the world, A light-green tuft of plumes she bore But laws of nature were our scorn.

Closed in a golden ring.


« PreviousContinue »