Page images
PDF
EPUB

16

SIR WALTER SCOTT — Born, 1771 ; Died, 1832.

Sir Walter Scott, son of a solicitor in Edinburgh, was a poet of a high order, but especially excelled as a novelist. “ Marmion," "The Lady of the Lake,” and “ The Lay of the Last Minstrel ”are, indeed, romances in verse.

"The Waverley Novels,” of which he was the author, are universally known. He was made a Baronet by George IV.

[ocr errors]

MARMIONI ENTERING NORHAM CASTLE.

5

Day set on Norham's? castled steep,
And Tweed’s3 fair river, broad and deep,

And Cheviot'st mountains lone :
The battled towers, the Donjon Keep,
The loop-hole grates, where captives weep,
The flanking walis that round it sweep,

In yellow lustre shone.
The warriors on the turrets high,
Moving athwarte the evening sky,

Seemed forms of giant height:
Their armour, as it caught the rays,
Flashed back again the western blaze,

In lines of dazzling light.
St. George's? banner, broad and gay,
Now faded, as the fading ray,

"Marmion, an English knight:

the hero of the poem that bears

his name. ? Norham, a baronial castle on the

Tweed. 3 The Tweed divides England from

Scotland in its course. * Cheviot mountains, the hills

5 The Dorjon was the strong tower

of a baronial castle. The Keep was the strongest part of the Donjon, in which were the cells for prisoners. Dungeon comes

from Donjon. athwart, across. · St. George, the patron Saint of

between Scotland and England.

England.

6

Less bright, and less, was flung ;
The evening gale had scarce the power
To wave it on the Donjon tower,

So heavily it hung.
The scouts had parted on their search,

The castle gates were barr’d;
Above the gloomy portal arch,
Timing his footsteps to a march,

The warder kept his guard;
Low humming as he paced along,
Some ancient Border gathering song.
Along the bridge Lord Marmion rode,
Proudly his red-roan charger trod;
His helm hung at the saddle bow :
Well, by his visage, you might know
He was a stalwart: Knight, and keen,
And had in many a battle been;
The scar on his brown cheek revealed
A token true of Bosworth' field;
His eye-brow dark, and eye of fire,
Show'd spirit proud, and prompt to ire;
Yet lines of thought upon his cheek,
Did deep design and counsel speak.
His forehead, by his casquelo worn bare,
His thick moustache, and curly hair,
Coal black, and grizzled here and there,
But more through toil than

age: His square-turned joints, and strength of limb,

8 stalwart, brave, stroog.
, The Battle of Bosworth Field, fought,

1483, between Richard III and

the Earl of Richmond, afterwards

Henry VII. 10 helmet.

Showed him no carpet knight so trim,
But, in close fight, a champion grim-

In camp, a leader sage.
Well was he armed from head to heel,
In mail, and plate, of Milan steel ; 11
But his strong helm, of mighty cost,
Was all with burnished gold emboss'd:
Amid the plumage of the crest,
A falcon hover'd on her nest,
With wings outspread, and forward breast;
E'en such a falcon, on his shield,
Soar'd sable on an azure field :12
The golden legend13 bore aright,
66 Who CHECKS AT ME TO DEATH IS DIGIT.”
Blue was the charger's broider'd rein ;
Blue ribbons decked his arching mane;
The knightly housing's ample fold,
Was velvet blue, and trapp'd with gold.

17

MARMION AND DOUGLAS.

From Marmion," Canto VI.
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,

11 Milan steel. The finest armour of black falcon, on a blue ground,

that day came from Milan, in Italy. was the crest on Marmion's shield. 12 This line is the language of He- 13 golden legend, inscription, lit., raldry. It means that a dark or words for reading.

1 The Earl of Surrey, commander of the English army.

5

And Douglasgave a guide : The ancient earl, with stately grace, Would Clara on her palfrey place, And whispered, in an under-tone, “ Let the hawk stoop, his prey is flown.” The train from out the castle drew; But Marmion stopped to bid adieu :“ Though something I might plain,”4 he said,

“Of cold respect to stranger guest,

Sent hither by your king's behest," While in Tantallon's towers I stayedPart 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, halls, 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.”—

2 Douglas. Douglas was the Earl

of Angus, a maritime country in the north-east of Scotland, now better known by the name of

Forfarshire, 3 Clara was an English heiress,

whom Marmion had induced to

leave a Convent with him. She

was not a nun, however, as yet. • plain, complain. 5 behest, command. * Tantallon, Douglas's castle, on

a rock, on the coast, near North Berwick,

2

Burned Marmion's swarthy cheek like fire,
And shook his very frame for ire,

And—“This to me!” he said ;-
" An 'twere not for thy hoary 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,

Even 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 dar'st thou, then,
To beard the lion in his den,

The Douglas in his hall ?
And hop'st thou hence unscathed to go?-
No! by Saint Bryde of Bothwell, no!
Up drawbridge, grooms—what, Warder, ho!

Let the portcullis8 fall."

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »