Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

Yet, surely, fitter to adorn the tilt-yard,

Gallants press on to see the quarry fall. Than to be leaders of a war. Their followers, Yon steel-clad Southrons, Reynald, are no deer; Young like themselves, seem like themselves unprac- And England's Edward is no stag at bay. Look at their battle-rank.

(tised Vip. (advancing.) There needed not, to blazon Prior. I cannot gaze on’t with undazzled eye,

forth the Swinton, So thick the rays dart back from shield and helmet, His ancient burgonet, the sable Boar And sword and battle-axe, and spear and pennon.

Chain'd to the gnarld oak,3—nor his proud step, Sure 'tis a gallant show! The Bruce himself Nor giant stature, nor the ponderous mace, Hath often conquer'd at the head of fewer

Which only he, of Scotland's realm, can wield : And worse appointed followers.

[Father, His discipline and wisdom mark the leader, Vip. Ay, but 'twas Bruce that led them. Reverend | As doth his frame the champion. Hail, brave Swinton! 'Tis not the falchion's weight decides a combat; Swin. Brave Templar, thanks! Such your cross'd It is the strong and skilful band that wields it.

shoulder speaks you; Ill fate, that we should lack the noble King,

But the closed visor, which conceals your features, And all his champions now! Time call'd them not, Forbids more knowledge. Umfraville, perhapsFor when I parted bence for Palestine,

Vip. (unclosing his helmet.) No; one less worthy The brows of most were free from grizzled hair.

of our sacred Order. Prior. Tou true, alas! But well you know, in Yet, unless Syrian suns have scorch'd my features Scotland,

Swart as my sable visor, Alan Swinton Few hairs are silver'd underneath the helmet; Will welcome Symon Vipont. 'Tis cowls like mine which hide them. 'Mongst the Swin. ( embracing him.) As the blithe reaper laity,

Welcomes a practised mate, when the ripe harvest War's the rash reaper, who thrusts in his sickle Lies.deep before him, and the sun is high! Before the grain is white. In threescore years Thou’lt follow yon old pennon, wilt thou not? And ten, which I have seen, I have outlived

Tis tatter'd since thou saw'st it, and the Boar-heads Wellnigh two generations of our nobles.

Look as if brought from off some Christmas board, The race which holds' yon summit is the third. Where knives had notch'd them deeply. [Chequer, Vip. Thou mayst outlive them also.

Vip. Have with them, ne'ertheless. The Stuart's Prior.

Heaven forefend! The Bloody Heart of Douglas, Ross's Lymphads, My prayer shall be, that Heaven will close my eyes, Sutherland's Wild-cats, nor the royai Lion, Before they look upon the wrath to come. [land - Rampant in golden treasure, wins me from them.

Vip. Retire, retire, good Father !—Pray for Scot We'll back the Boar-heads bravely. I see round them Think not on me. Here comes an ancient friend, A chosen band of lances—some well known to me. Brother in arms, with whom to-day I'll join me. Where's the main body of thy followers? Back to your choir, assemble all your brotherhood, Swin. Symon de Vipont, thou dost see them all And weary Heaven with prayers for victory.' That Swinton's bugle-horn can call to battle, Prior. Heaven's blessing rest with thee,

However loud it rings. There's not a boy Champion of Heaven, and of thy suffering country! Left in my halls, whose arm has strength enough [Erit PRIOR. VIPONT draws a little aside, and

To bear a sword—there's not a man behind, lets down the beaver of his helmet.

However old, who moves without a staff.

Striplings and greybeards, every one is here, Enter Swinton, followed by REYNALD and others,

And here all should be-Scotland needs them all; to whom he speaks as he enters.

And more and better men, were each a Hercules, Swin. Halt here, and plant my pennon, till the And yonder handful centupled.

[kinsmen, Assign our band its station in the host. (Regent Vip. A thousand followers—such, with friends and

Rey. That must be by the Standard. We have had | Allies and vassals, thou wert wont to leadThat right since good Saint David's reign at least. A thousand followers shrunk to sixty lances Fain would I see the Marcher would dispute it. In twelve years' space !-And thy brave sons, Sir Swin. Peace, Reynald! Where the general plants | Alas! I fear to ask.

[Alan! the soldier,

Swin. All slain, De Vipont. In my empty home There is his place of honour, and there only A puny babe lisps to a widow'd mother, His valour can win worship. Thou’rt of those, “ Where is my grandsire? wherefore do you weep?" Who would have war's deep art bear the wild sem But for that prattler, Lyulph's house is heirless. blance

I'm an old oak, from which the foresters Of some disorder'd hunting, where, pell-mell, Have hew'd four goodly boughs, and left beside me Each trusting to the swiftness of his horse,

Only a sapling, which the fawn may crush

(MS. "The youths who hold," etc., "are.")

(MS.--~" with prayers for Scotland's weal.") 3 [“The armorial bearings of the ancient family of Swinton are sable, a cheveron, or, between three boars' heads erased, ar

gent. Crest-a boar chained to a tree, and above, on an escroll, J'espère. SUPPORTERS—two boars standing on a compartment, whereon are the words, Je pense."-Douglas's Baronage, p.132.]

As he springs over it.

The bounding Stag, with a brave host around it; Vip. All slain ?-alas!

There the young Gordon makes his earliest field, Swin. Ay, all, De Vipont. And their attributes, And pants to win his spurs. His father's friend, John with the Long Spear-Archibald with the Axe As well as mine, thou wert-go, join his pennon, Richard the Ready—and my youngest darling, And grace him with thy presence. y Fair-hair'd William-do but now survive

Vip. When you were friends, I was the friend of In measures which the grey-hair’d minstrels sing, And now I can be enemy to neither;

[both, When they make maidens weep.

[out But my poor person, though but slight the aid, Vip. These wars with England, they have rooted Joins on this field the banner of the two The flowers of Christendom. Knights, who might win Which hath the smallest following. The sepulchre of Christ from the rude heathen, Swin. Spoke like the generous Knight, who gave Fall in unholy warfare!

[it; Leading and lordship, in a heathen land (up all, Swin. Unholy warfare? ay, well hast thou named To fighte a Christian soldier! Yet, in earnest, But not with England—would her cloth-yard shafts I pray, De Vipont, you would join the Gordon Had bored their cuirasses! Their lives had been In this high battle. 'Tis a noble youth, Lost like their grandsire's, in the bold defence Sofame doth vouch him,-amorous, quick, and valiant; Of their dear country'-- but in private feud

Takes knighthood, too, this day, and well may use With the proud Gordon, fell my Long-spear'd John, His spurs too rashly · in the wish to win them. He with the Axe, and he men called the Ready, A friend like thee beside bim in the fight, Ay, and my Fair-hair'd Will—the Gordon's wrath Were worth a hundred spears, to rein his valour Devour'd my gallant issue.

(venged? And temper it with prudence :-'tis the aged eagle Vip. Since thou dost weep, their death is una Teaches his brood to gaze upon the sun, Swin. Templar, what think'st thou me ?-See With eye undazzled.

(hunter yonder rock,

Vip. Alas, brave Swinton! Wouldst thou train the From which the fountain gushes-is it less

That soon must bring thee to the bay? Your custom,
Compact of adamant, though waters Now from it? Your most unchristian, savage, fiend-like custom,
Firın hearts have moister eyes.—They are avenged; Binds Gordon to avenge his father's death.
I wept not till they were-till the proud Gordon Swin. Why, be it so! I look for nothing else :
Had with his life-blood dyed my father's sword, My part was acted when I slew his father,
In guerdon that he thinn'd my father's lineage, Avenging my four sons-Young Gordon's sword,
And then I wept my sons; and, as the Gordon If it should find my heart, can ne'er inflict there
Lay at my feet, there was a tear for him,

A pang so poignant as his father's did.
Wbich mingled with the rest. We had been friends, But I would perish by a noble hand,
Had shared the banquet and the chase together, And such will his be if he bear him nobly,
Fought side by side,-and our first cause of strife, Nobly and wisely on this field of Halidon.
Woe to the pride of both, was but a light one!

Enter a PURSUIVANT.
Vip. You are at feud, then, with the mighty Gordon?

Swin. At deadly feud. Here in this Border-land, Purs. Sir Knights, to council!—'tis the Regent's Where the sire's quarrels descend upon the son,

order, As due a part of his inheritance,

That knights and men of leading meet him instantly As the strong castle and the ancient blazon,

Before the royal standard. Edward's army
Where private Vengeance holds the scales of justice, Is seen from the hill-summit.
Weighing each drop of blood as scrupulously

Swin. Say to the Regent, we obey his orders. As Jews or Lombards balance silver pence,

[Exit PURSUIVANT. Not in this land, 'twixt Solway and Saint Abb's, [To Reyn.]Hold thou my casque, and furl my pennon up Rages a bitterer feud than mine and theirs,

Close to the staff. I will not show my crest, The Swinton and the Gordon.

Nor standard, till the common foe shall challenge them. Vip. You, with some threescore lances—and the i'll wake no civil strife, nor tempt the Gordon Leading a thousand followers.

[Gordon With aught that's like defiance. Swin. You rate him far too low. Since you sought Vip. Will be not know your features ? Palestine,

Swin. He never saw me. In the distant North, He hath had grants of baronies and lordships Against his will, 'tis said, his friends detain'd him In the far-distant North. A thousand horse

During his nurture—caring not, belike, His southern friends and vassals always number'd. To trust a pledge so precious near the Boar-tusks. Add Badenoch kerne, and horse from Dey and Spey, It was a natural but needless caution : He'll count a thousand more.—And now, De Vipont, I wage no war with children, for I think If the Boar-heads seem in your eyes less worthy Too deeply on mine own. For lack of followers-seek yonder standard

Vip. I have thought on it, and will see the Gordon

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

SCENE II.

As we go hence' to council. I do bear

Ross (throwing down his glove). MacDonnell will A cross, which binds me to be Christian priest,

not peace! There lies my pledge, As well as Christian champion.' God may grant Proud Morarchat, to witness thee a liar. [Border; That I, at once his father's friend and yours,

Max. Brought I all Nithsdale from the Western May make some peace betwixt you. 3 [valour, Left I my towers exposed to foraying England,

Swin. When that your priestly zeal, and knightly And thieving Annandale, to see such misrule? Shall force the grave to render up the dead.

John. Who speaks of Annandale? Dare Maxwell [Exeunt severally. The gentle House of Lochwood ? 5

[slander Reg. Peace, Lordings, once again. We represent The Majesty of Scotland-in our presence

Brawling is treason. The summit of Halidon Hill, before the Regent's Tent. The

Suth. Were it in presence of the King himself, Royal standard of Scotland is seen in the background, with

What should prevent my sayingthe Pennons and Banners of the principal nobles around il.

Enter LINDESAY. Council of Scottish Nobles and Chiefs. SUTHERLAND,

Ross, LENNOX, MAXWELL, and other Nobles of the Lin. You must determine quickly. Scarce a mile highest rank, are close to the REGENT's person, and in

Parts our vanguard from Edward's. On the plain, the act of keen debate. Vipont, with Gordon and others, Bright gleams of armour flash through clouds of dust, remain grouped at some distance on the right hand of Like stars through frost-mist-steeds neigh, and the Stage. On the left, standing also apart, is SWINTON, alone and bare-headed. The Nobles are dressed

weapons clashin Highland or Lowland habits, as historical costume And arrows soon will whistle-the worst sound requires. Trumpets, Heralds, etc. are in attendance. That waits on English war.-You must determine.

Reg. We are determined. We will spare proud Len. Nay, Lordings, put no shame upon my coun

Edward I did but say, if we retired a little,

[sels. Half of the ground that parts us.-Onward, Lords; We should have fairer field and better vantage. Saint Andrew strike for Scotland! We will lead I've seen King Robert-ay, The Bruce himself The middle ward ourselves, the Royal Standard Retreat six leagues in length, and think no shame on't. Display'd beside us; and beneath its shadow

Reg. Ay, but King Edward sent a haughty message, Shall the young gallants, whom we knight this day, Defying us to battle on this field,

Fight for their golden spurs.--Lennox, thou'rt wise, This very bill of Halidon; if we leave it

And wilt obey command-lead thou the rear. Unfought withal, it squares not with our honour. Len. The rear !-why I the rear? The van were Swin. (apart.) A perilous honour, that allows the

fitter And such an enemy as this same Edward, [enemy, For him who fought abreast with Robert Bruce. To choose our field of battle! He knows how

Swin. (apart.) Discretion hath forsaken Lennox too!
To make our Scottish pride betray its master The wisdom he was forty years in gathering
Into the pitfall.

Has left him in an instant. 'Tis contagious
[During this speech the debate among Even to witness frenzy.
the Nobles is continued.

Suth. The Regent hath determined well. The rear Sulh. (aloud.) We will not back one furlong_not Suits him the best who counsell’d our retreat. one yard,

Len. Proud Northern Thane, the van were soon the No, nor one inch; where'er we find the foe,

Were thy disorder'd followers planted there. (rear, Or where the foe finds us, there will we fight him. Suth. Then, for that very word, I make a vow, Retreat will dull the spirit of our followers,

By my broad Earldom, and my father's soul, Who now stand prompt for battle. [doubts, That if I have not leading of the van,

Ross. My Lords, methinks great Morarchat* has I will not fight to-day! That, if his Northern clans once turn the seam

Ross. Morarchat! thou the leading of the van! Of their check'd hose behind, it will be hard

Not whilst MacDonnell lives. To balt and rally them.

[hood, Swin. (apart.) Nay, then a stone would speak. Suth.Say'st thou, MacDonnell ?--Add another false

[Addresses the REGENT. And name when Morarchat was coward or traitor ?

May't please your Grace, Thine island race, as chronicles can tell,

And you, great Lords, to hear an old man's counsel, Were oft affianced to the Southron cause;

That hath seen fights enow. These open bickerings Loving the weight and temper of their gold,

Dishearten all our host. If that your Grace, More than the weight and temper of their steel. With these great Earls and Lords, must needs debate, Reg. Peace, my Lords, ho!

Let the closed tent conceal your disagreement;

1

(MS. "As we do pass,' 'etc.]
[MS.-"The cross 1 wear appoints me Christian priest,

As well as Christian warrior," etc.)
3 (In the MS, the scene terminates with this line.]

4 (Morarchate is the ancient Gaelic designation of the Earls of Sutherland.

5 ( Lochwood Castle was the ancient scat of the Johnstoncs. Lords of Annandale.)

Else'twill be said, ill fares it with the flock, But at your own request. This day, at least,
If shepherds wrangle wben the wolf is nigh.

Though seldom wont to keep it in concealment,
Reg. The old Knight counsels well. Let every Lord As there's no cause I should, you had not heard it.
Or Chief, who leads five hundred men or more, Gor. This strange-
Follow to council-others are excluded -

Vip. The mystery is needful. Follow me. We'll have no vulgar censurers of our conduct

[They retire behind the side Scene. (Looking at SWINTON. Swin. (looking after them.) 'Tis a brave youth. Young Gordon, your high rank and numerous fol How blush'd his noble cheek, lowing

While youthful modesty, and the embarrassment Give you a seat with us, though yet unknighted. Of curiosity, combined with wonder,

Gor. I pray you, pardon me. My youth's unfit And half suspicion of some slight intended, To sit in council, when that Knight's grey hairs All mingled in the flush; but soon 'twill deepen And wisdom wait without.

Into revenge's glow. How slow is Vipont! Reg. Do as you will; we deigu not bid you twice.

I wait the issue, as I've seen spectators [The REGENT, Ross, SUTHERLAND, LENNOX, Suspend the motion even of the eyelids, MAXWELL, etc. enter the Tent. The rest When the slow gunner, with bis lighted match, remain grouped about the Stage.

Approach'd the charged cannon, in the act Gor. (observing Swin.) That helmetless old Knight, To waken its dread slumbers.—Now'tis out; his giant stature,

He draws his sword, and rushes towards me, His awful accents of rebuke and wisdom,

Who will nor seek nor shun him.
Have caught my fancy strangely. He doth seem

Enter GORDON, withheld by VIPONT.
Like to some vision’d form which I have dream'd of,
But never saw with waking eyes till now.

Vip. Hold, for the sake of Heaven !-0, for the sake I will accost him.

Of your dear country, hold !-Has Swinton slain your Vip. Pray you, do not so;

father, Anon I'll give you reason why you should not. And must you, therefore, be yourself a parricide, There's other work in hand

(sence

And stand recorded as the selfish traitor, Gor. I will but ask his name. There's in his pre

Who, in her hour of need, his country's cause Something that works upon me like a spell,

Deserts, that he may wreak a private wrong ?Or like the feeling made my childish ear

Look to yon banner-that is Scotland's standard; Dote upon tales of superstitious dread,

Look to the Regent-he is Scotland's general; Attracting while they chill?d my heart with fear. Look to the English-they are Scotland's foemen! Now, born the Gordon, I do feel right well

Bethink thee, then, thou art a son of Scotland, I'm bound to fear nought earthly-and I fear nought. And think on nought beside.”

[me!I'll know who this man is

Gor. He hath come here to brave me!-Off! unhand

[Accosts SWINTON. Thou canst not be my father's ancient friend, Sir Knight, I pray you, of your gentle courtesy, That stand'st 'twixt ne and him who slew my father. To tell your honour'd name. I am ashamed,

Vip. You know not Swinton. Scarce one passing Being unknown in arms, to say that mine

thought Is Adam Gordon.

Of his high mind was with you; now, his soul Swin. (shows emotion, but instantly subdues it.) It Is fix’d on this day's battle. You might slay him is a name that soundeth in my ear

At unawares before he saw your blade drawn.Like to a death-knell-ay, and like the call

Stand still, and watch him close.?
Of the shrill trumpet to the mortal lists;

Enter MAXWELL from the Tent.
Yet 'tis a name which ne'er bath been dishonour'd,
And never will, I trust-most surely never

Swin. How go our councils, Maxwell, may I ask? By such a youth as thou.

Mar. As wild, as if the very wind and sea Gor. There's a mysterious courtesy in this, With every breeze and every billow battled And yet it yields no answer to my question.

For their precedence. I trust you hold the Gordon not unworthy

Swin. Most sure they are possess’d! Some evil spirit, To know the name he asks ?

To mock their valour, robs them of discretion. Swin. Worthy of all that openness and honour Fie, fie, upon't!—0, that Dunfermline's tomb May show to friend or foe—but, for my name, Could render up The Bruce! that Spain's red shore Vipont will show it you; and, if it sound

Could give us back the good Lord James of Douglas! Harsh in your ear,' remember that it knells there Or that fierce Randolph, with his voice of terror,

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

sure now.

Were here, to awe these brawlers to submission! Sparkle in this brave youth. If he survive
Vip. (lo Gor.) Thou hast perused him at more lei. This evil-omen'd day, I pawn my word,

That, in the ruin which I now forebode,
Gor. I see the giant form which all men speak of, 'Scotland has treasure left. How close he eyes
The stately port—but not the sullen eye,

Each look and step of Swinton! Is it hate,
Not the bloodthirsty look, that should belong Or is it admiration, or are both
To him that made me orphan. I shall need

Commingled strangely in that steady gaze?
To name my father twice ere I can strike

(SWINTON and MAXWELL return from

the bottom of the Stage. At such grey hairs, and face of such command; Yet my hand clenches on my falchion-hilt,

Max. The storm is laid at length amongst these In token he shall die.

See, they come forth.

(counsellors;

Swin. And it is more than time;
Vip. Need I again remind you that the place
Permits not private quarrel ?

fit - For I can mark the vanguard archery Gor. I'm calm. I will not seek—nay, I will shun Handling their quivers—bending up their bows. And yet methinks that such debate's the fashion.

Enter the REGENT and Scottish Lords. You've heard how taunts, reproaches, and the lie, The lie itself, have pown from mouth to mouth; Reg. Thus shall it be, then, since we may no better : As if a band of peasants were disputing

And, since no Lord will yield one jot of way About a foot-ball match, rather than Chiefs

To this high urgency, or give the vanguard Were ordering a battle. I am young,

Up to another's guidance, we will abide them And lack experience; tell me, brave De Vipont, Even on this bent; and as our troops are rank’d, Is such the fashion of your wars in Palestine? So shall they meet the foe. Chief, nor Thane,

Vip. Such it at times hath been; and then the Cross Nor Noble, can complain of the precedence
Hath sunk before the Crescent. Heaven's cause Which chance has thus assign’d him.
Won us not victory where wisdom was not.-

Swin. (apart.) O sage discipline,
Behold yon English host come slowly on,

That leaves to chance the marshalling of a battle! With equal front, rank marshall'd upon rank,

Gor. Move him to speech, De Vipont. As if one spirit ruled one moving body;

Vip. Move him!—Move whom? The leaders, in their places, each prepared

Gor. Even him, whom, but brief space since, To charge, support, and rally, as the fortune My hand did burn to put to utter silence. Of changeful battle needs :—then look on ours, Vip. I'll move it to him.-Swinton, speak to them, Broken, disjointed, as the tumbling surges

They lack thy counsel sorely. Which the winds wake at random. Look on both, Swin. Had I the thousand spears which once I led, And dread the issue; yet there might be succour. I had not thus been silent. But men's wisdom

Gor. We're fearfully o’ermatch'd in discipline; Is rated by their means. From the poor leader So even my inexperienced eye can judge.

Of sixty lances, who seeks words of weight? What succour save in Heaven?

Gor. (steps forward.) Swinton, there's that of wisVip. Heaven acts by human means. The artist's skill dom on thy brow, Supplies in war, as in mechanic crafts,

And valour in thine eye, and that of peril Deficiency of tools. There's courage, wisdom, In this most urgent hour, that bids me say, And skill enough, live in one leader here,

Bids me, thy mortal foe, say, Swinton, speak, As, flung into the balance, might avail

For King and Country's sake! To counterpoise the odds 'twixt that ruled host Swin. Nay, if that voice commands me, speak I will; And our wild multitude. I must not name bim. It sounds as if the dead lays charge on me.

Gor. I guess, but dare not ask.-What band is yon Reg. (lo Len., with whom he has been consulting.) Arranged so closely as the English discipline [der, 'Tis better than you think. This broad bill-side Hath marshall'd their best files ?

Affords fair compass for our power's display,
Vip. Know'st thou not the pennon?

Rank above rank rising in seemly tiers;
One day, perhaps, thou'lt see it all too closely, - So that the rearward stands as fair and open-
It is Sir Alan Swinton's.

Swin. As e'er stood mark before an English archer. Gor. These, then, are his,-the relics of his power; Reg. Who dares to say so?-Who is't dare impeach Yet worth an host of ordinary men.

Our rule of discipline? And I must slay my country's sagest leader,

Swin. A poor Knight of these Marches,good my Lord; And crush by numbers that determined handful, Alan of Swinton, who hath kept a house here, When most my country needs their practised aid, He and his ancestry, since the old days Or men will say, “ There goes degenerate Gordon; Of Malcolm, called the Maiden.

[field, His father's blood is on the Swinton's sword,

Reg. You have brought here, even to this pitched And his is in his scabbard !”

In which the royal Banner is display'd,

(Muses. I think some sixty spears, Sir Knight of Swinton; Vip. (apart.) High blood and mettle, mix’d with Our musters name no more. early wisdom,

Swin. I brought each man I had; and Chief, or Earl,

« PreviousContinue »