Marmion, by Sir Walter Scott

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Title: Marmion

Author: Sir Walter Scott

Release Date: February, 2004  [EBook #5077]
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This EBook of Marmion: A Tale of Flodden Field by Sir Walter Scott was scanned, proofed and formatted by Sandra Laythorpe. .




Sir Walter Scott’s love of the country induced him, after his marriage in 1797, to settle in a cottage at the pretty village of Lasswade, near Edinburgh.  Four years after leaving this district he took Mr. Morritt of Rokeby to see the little dwelling, telling him that, though not worth looking at, ‘it was our first house when newly married, and many a contrivance it had to make it comfortable.’  He then enumerated various devices, by which he had secured for Mrs. Scott and himself what seemed to both, at the time, additional convenience and elegance in and about their home.  His reminiscences culminated in an account of an arch over the gate-way, which he had constructed by fastening together the tops of two convenient willows and placing above them ‘a cross made of two sticks.’  This is very beautiful and characteristic; and there is much freshness and charm in the further picture of the young cottagers rejoicing over the success of the arrangements.  ‘To be sure,’ Scott concluded, ‘it is not much of a lion to show a stranger; but I wanted to see it again myself, for I assure you after I constructed it, Mamma (Mrs. Scott) and I both of us thought it so fine, we turned out to see it by moonlight, and walked backwards from it to the cottage-door in admiration of our own magnificence and its picturesque effect.’  It was his way to invest his circumstances with an interest over and above what intrinsically belonged to them, and to prompt his friends to a share in his delight.

When, in 1804, Scott was appointed Sheriff of Selkirkshire, a condition attaching to his post was that he should reside during part of the year within the bounds of his sheriffdom.  He then removed from Lasswade, and settled at Ashestiel on the Tweed, seven miles from Selkirk.  This is his own account of the new home:--

‘We found a delightful retirement, by my becoming the tenant of my intimate friend and cousin-german, Colonel Russell, in his mansion of Ashestiel, which was unoccupied during his absence on military service in India.  The house was adequate to our accommodation, and the exercise of a limited hospitality.  The situation is uncommonly beautiful, by the side of a fine river, whose streams are there very favourable for angling, surrounded by the remains of natural woods, and by hills abounding in game.  In point of society, according to the heartfelt phrase of Scripture, we dwelt “amongst our own people”; and as the distance from the metropolis was only thirty miles, we were not out of reach of our Edinburgh friends, in which city we spent the terms of the summer and winter Sessions of the Court, that is, five or six months in the year.’

The functions of the Sheriff of Selkirkshire admitted of considerable leisure, and Scott settled at Ashestiel full of literary projects, as well as heartily prepared to meet his new responsibilities and to add to his numerous and valuable friendships.  An enterprise that early engaged his attention was a complete edition of the British poets, but the deliberations on the subject came to nothing except in so far as they helped towards the preparation of Campbell’s ‘Specimens of the British Poets,’ which appeared in 1819.  Writing Scott regarding his project of a complete edition of the poets, his friend George Ellis said, ‘Much as I wish for a corpus poetarum, edited as you would edit it, I should like still better another Minstrel Lay by the last and best Minstrel; and the general demand for the poem seems to prove that the public are of my opinion.’  The work of editing, however, he seemed at the time determined on having, and he finally abandoned the idea of an exhaustive issue of the British poetry previous to his own time and settled down to edit Dryden.  This was a work much needed, and Scott did it extremely well, as may be seen by comparing his own issue of Dryden’s Life and Works in 1808 with the recent reproduction of it, admirably edited by Mr. George Saintsbury.

He had likewise, as he mentions in the General Preface to the Novels, begun Waverley ‘about 1805,’ and other literary engagements received their share of attention.  He wrote articles for the Edinburgh Review, besides doing such minor if useful literary service as editing for Constable ‘Original Memoirs written during the Great Civil Wars,’ and so on.  At the same time, there were prospects of professional advancement, an account of which he gives in the following terms, in the 1830 Introduction to ‘Marmion’:--

‘An important circumstance had, about the same time, taken place in my life.  Hopes had been held out to me from an influential quarter, of a nature to relieve me from the anxiety which I must have otherwise felt, as one upon the precarious tenure of whose own life rested the principal prospects of his family, and especially as one who had necessarily some dependence upon the favour of the public, which is proverbially capricious; though it is but justice to add, that, in my own case, I have not found it so.  Mr. Pitt had expressed a wish to my personal friend, the Right Hon. William Dundas, now Lord Clerk Register of Scotland, that some fitting opportunity should be taken to be of service to me; and as my views and wishes pointed to a future rather than an immediate provision, an opportunity of accomplishing this was soon found.  One of the Principal Clerks of Session, as they are called, (official persons who occupy an important and responsible situation, and enjoy a considerable income,) who had served upwards of thirty years, felt himself, from age, and the infirmity of deafness with which it was accompanied, desirous of retiring from his official situation.  As the law then stood, such official persons were entitled to bargain with their successors, either for a sum of money, which was usually a considerable one, or for an interest in the emoluments of the office during their life.  My predecessor, whose services had been unusually meritorious, stipulated for the emoluments of his office during his life, while I should enjoy the survivorship, on the condition that I discharged the duties of the office in the meantime.  Mr. Pitt, however, having died in the interval, his administration was dissolved, and was succeeded by that known by the name of the Fox and Grenville Ministry.  My affair was so far completed, that my commission lay in the office subscribed by his Majesty; but, from hurry or mistake, the interest of my predecessor was not expressed in it, as had been usual in such cases.  Although, therefore, it only required payment of the fees, I could not in honour take out the commission in the present state, since, in the event of my dying before him, the gentleman whom I succeeded must have lost the vested interest which he had stipulated to retain.  I had the honour of an interview with Earl Spencer on the subject, and he, in the most handsome manner, gave directions that the commission should issue as originally intended; adding, that the matter having received the royal assent, he regarded only as a claim of justice what he would have willingly done as an act of favour.  I never saw Mr. Fox on this, or on any other occasion, and never made any application to him, conceiving that in doing so I might have been supposed to express political opinions contrary to those which I had always professed.  In his private capacity, there is no man to whom I would have been more proud to owe an obligation, had I been so distinguished.

‘By this arrangement I obtained the survivorship of an office, the emoluments of which were fully adequate to my wishes; and as the law respecting the mode of providing for superannuated officers was, about five or six years after, altered from that which admitted the arrangement of assistant and successor, my colleague very handsomely took the opportunity of the alteration, to accept of the retiring annuity provided in such cases, and admitted me to the full benefit of the office.’

At Ashestiel Scott systematically planned his day. He had his mornings for his multifarious work, and the after part of the day was given to necessary recreation and to his friends. He was an ardent member of the Edinburgh Light Horse, at a time when volunteers of a practical and energetic character seemed likely to be needed, and at Ashestiel he combined a certain military routine with his legal and literary arrangements. James Skene of Rubislaw, one of his best friends and most frequent visitors, mentions that ‘before beginning his desk-work in the morning he uniformly visited his favourite steed, and neither Captain nor Lieutenant, nor the Lieutenant’s successor, Brown Adam (so called after one of the heroes of the Minstrelsy), liked to be fed except by him.’  Skene is the friend to whom Scott addresses the Introduction to Canto IV, charged with touching and beautiful reminiscences of earlier days.  They were comrades in the Edinburgh Light Horse Volunteers, Scott being Quartermaster and Skene Cornet.  Their friendship had been one of eleven years’ standing when the dedicatory epistle was written:--

     ‘Eleven years we now may tell,
      Since we have known each other well;
      Since, riding side by side, our hand
      First drew the voluntary brand.’

With regard to the Introductions, it may now be said that they are better where they are than if the poet had published them separately, as at one time he seems to have intended (see Notes, p. 187).  It is sometimes said by those anxious to learn the story that these introductory Epistles should be steadily ignored, and the cantos read in strict succession.  In answer to an assertion of opinion like this, it is hardly necessary to say more than that probably those interested in the narrative alone could not do better than avoid the Introductions.  But it will be well for them to miss various other things besides: will they, for example, care for the impassioned address of Constance to her judges, for the landlord’s tale of grammarye, for Sir David Lyndsay’s narrative, or even for the many descriptive passages that interrupt the free progress of the tale?  Their reading would appear to be done on the plan of those who get through novels, or other works of imagination, by carefully omitting the dialogue and all those passages in which the author pauses to describe or to reflect.  It is needless to say that this is not the spirit in which to approach ‘Marmion’ as it stands.  Scott wrote with his friends about him, and it was part of his own enjoyment of his work to interest them in what for the time was receiving the main part of his attention.  His talk with Mr. Morritt in front of the little cottage at Lasswade is highly significant as illustrative of his attitude towards his friends.  His healthy, humorous, happy nature wanted sympathy, appreciation, sociality, and good cheer for its complete normal development, and this alone would explain the writing of the Introductions.  But there is more than this.  He talked over his subject and his progress with friends competent to discuss and advise, and he showed them portions of the poem as he advanced.  There are indications in the Introductions of certain discussions that had arisen over his conception and treatment, and surely few readers would like to miss from the volume the clever and humorous apology for his own method which the poet advances in the Introduction to the third canto.  William Erskine, refined critic and life-long friend, is asked to be patient and generous while the poet proceeds in his own way:--

     ‘Still kind, as is thy wont, attend,
      And in the minstrel spare the friend,
      Though wild as cloud, as stream, as gale,
      Flow forth, flow unrestrain’d, my Tale!’

Further, the Introductions do not in any case interrupt the progress of the Poem.  Scott was dealing with a great national theme--a cause he and his friends could understand and appreciate--and both before starting and at every pause he has something to say that is apposite and suggestive.  His country’s wintry state is the key-note of the first Introduction, which is an appropriate prelude to a great national tragedy; weird Border legends and the touching and mysterious silences of lone St. Mary’s Lake fitly introduce the ‘mysterious Man of Woe’; the third and the fourth Introductions, with their features of personal interest and their bright reminiscences of ‘tales that charmed’ and scenes on ‘the field-day, or the drill,’ are easily connected with the Hostel and the Camp; Spenser’s ‘wandering Squire of Dames,’ the vigorous description of the ‘Queen of the North,’ and the tribute to the notes that ‘Marie translated, Blondel sung,’ all tell in their due place as preparatory to the canto on The Court; while the ominous record, emanating from a Yule-tide retreat, could not be more fitly interrupted than by a battle of national disaster.  Scott, then, may have thought of publishing the Introductions separately, but it is well that he ultimately allowed his better judgment to prevail.  It is not necessary to dwell on their special descriptive features, which readily assert themselves and give Scott a high and honoured place among Nature-poets.  His quick and minute observation, his sense of colour and harmonious effects, and his skill of arrangement are admirable throughout.


In 1791 Scott accompanied an uncle into Northumberland, and made his first acquaintance with the scene of Flodden.  Writing to his friend William Clerk (Lockhart’s Life, ii. 182), he says, ‘Never was an affair more completely bungled than that day’s work was.  Suppose one army posted upon the face of a hill, and secured by high grounds projecting on each flank, with the river Till in front, a deep and still river, winding through a very extensive valley called Milfield Plain, and the only passage over it by a narrow bridge, which the Scots artillery, from the hill, could in a moment have demolished.  Add that the English must have hazarded a battle while their troops, which were tumultuously levied, remained together; and that the Scots, behind whom the country was open to Scotland, had nothing to do but to wait for the attack as they were posted.  Yet did two-thirds of the army, actuated by the perfervidum ingenium Scotorum, rush down and give an opportunity to Stanley to occupy the ground they had quitted, by coming over the shoulder of the hill, while the other third, under Lord Home, kept their ground, and having seen their King and about 10,000 of their countrymen cut to pieces, retired into Scotland without loss.’  Fifteen years after this was written Scott began the composition of ‘Marmion,’ and it is interesting to note that, so early in life as the date of this letter indicates, he was so keenly alive to the great blunder in military tactics made by James IV and his advisers, and so manifestly stirred to eloquent expression of his feeling.

In November 1806 Scott began ‘Marmion,’ designed as a romance of Feudalism to succeed the Border study in ‘The Lay of the Last Minstrel.’  The circumstances of the time, no doubt, to some extent prompted the choice of subject.  Napoleon was diligently working out his ambitious scheme of a Western Empire, and plotting the ruin of Great Britain as an indispensable feature of the arrangement.  Scott was not always intimately acquainted with the details of current politics, but when a subject fairly roused his interest he was not slow to take part in its discussion.  This is notably illustrated, in this very year 1806, by the outspoken and energetic political ballad he produced over the acquittal of Lord Melville from a serious charge.  This ballad, which went very straight to the heart of its subject, and left no doubt as to the party feeling of the writer, not only arrested general attention but gave considerable offence to the leaders on the side so sharply handled.  It is given, with an explanation of the circumstances that called it forth, in Lockhart’s Life, ii. 106, 1837 ed.

While, however, party politics was not always a subject that interested Scott, patriotism was a constituent element of his character.  He had a keen sense of national dignity and honour--as the extract from his Flodden letter alone sufficiently testifies--and, had circumstances demanded it of him, he would almost certainly have distinguished himself as a trooper on the field of battle.  Thus it was not only his love of a picturesque theme that inspired him with his Tale of Flodden Field, but likewise his patriotic ardour and his desire to touch the national heart.  ‘Marmion’ is epical in character and movement; and it is at the same time a brilliant and suggestive delineation of a national effort, illustrating keen sense of honour, resolute purpose, and pathetic manly devotion.  James IV was probably wrong, and he was certainly very rash, in attempting to do battle with Henry VIII, but although his people were aware of his mistake, and his advisers did all in their power to dissuade him, he was supported to the last with a heroism that recalls Thermopylae.  This was a display of national character that appealed directly and powerfully to Scott, prompting him to the production of his loftiest and most energetic verse.  Mournful associations will ever cluster around the tragic battle of Flodden--that ‘most dolent day,’ as Lyndsay aptly calls it--but all the same the record remains of what heroic men had it in them to do for King and country, where

     ‘Groom fought like noble, squire like knight,
      As fearlessly and well.’

Scott intended to work slowly and carefully through his new poem, but, as he explains in the 1830 Introduction, circumstances interrupted his design.  ‘Particular passages,’ he says, ‘of a poem, which was finally called “Marmion,” were laboured with a good deal of care, by one by whom much care was seldom bestowed.’  The publication, however, was hastened by ‘the misfortunes of a near relation and friend.’  Lockhart (Life, ii. 115) explains that the reference is to ‘his brother Thomas’s final withdrawal from the profession of Writer to the Signet, which arrangement seems to have been quite necessary towards the end of 1806.’  At any rate, the poem was finished in a shorter time than had been at first intended.  The subject suited Scott so exactly that, even in default of a special stimulus, there need be no surprise at the rapidity of his composition after he had fairly begun to move forward with it.  Dryden, it may be remembered, was so held and fascinated by his ‘Alexander’s Feast’ that he wrote it off in a night.  Cowper had a similar experience with ‘John Gilpin,’ and Burns’s powerful dramatic tale, ‘Tam O’Shanter,’ was produced with great ease and rapidity.  De Quincey records that, in his own case, his very best work was frequently done when he was writing against time.  Scott’s energy and fluency of composition are clearly indicated in the following passage in Lockharts Life, ii. 117:--

‘When the theme was of a more stirring order, he enjoyed pursuing it over brake and fell at the full speed of his Lieutenant.  I well remember his saying, as I rode with him across the hills from Ashestiel to Newark one day in his declining years--“Oh, man, I had many a grand gallop among these braes when I was thinking of ‘Marmion,’ but a trotting canny pony must serve me now.”  His friend, Mr. Skene, however, informs me that many of the more energetic descriptions, and particularly that of the battle of Flodden, were struck out while he was in quarters again with his cavalry, in the autumn of 1807.  “In the intervals of drilling,” he says, “Scott used to delight in walking his powerful black steed up and down by himself upon the Portobello sands, within the beating of the surge; and now and then you would see him plunge in his spurs and go off as if at the charge, with the spray dashing about him.  As we rode back to Musselburgh, he often came and placed himself beside me to repeat the verses that he had been composing during these pauses of our exercise.”‘

This is wholly in keeping with the production of such poetry of movement as that of ‘Marmion,’ and it deserves its due place in estimating the work of Scott, just as Wordsworth’s staid and sober walks around his garden, or among the hills by which he was surrounded, are carefully considered in connexion with his deliberate, meditative verse.  Scott wrote the Introduction to Canto IV just a year after he had begun the poem, and between that time and the middle of February 1808 the work was finished.  There is no rashness in saying that rapidity of production did not detract from excellence of result.  Indeed, it is admiration rather than criticism that is challenged by the reflection that, in these short months, the poet should have turned out so much verse of high and enduring quality.


‘Marmion’ is avowedly a descriptive poem.  It is a series of skilful and impressive pictures, not only remarkable in themselves, but conspicuous in their own kind in poetical literature.  Scott is said to have been deficient, or at any rate imperfectly trained, in certain sense activities, but there is no denying his quick perception of colour and his strong sense of the leading points in a landscape.  Even minute features are seized and utilized with ease and precision, while the larger elements of a scene are depicted with breadth, sense of proportion, and clearness and impressiveness of arrangement.  This holds true whether the description is merely a vivid presentment of what the imagination of the poet calls from the remote past, or a delineation of what has actually come under his notice.  Norham at twilight, with the solitary warder on the battlements, and Crichtoun castle, as Scott himself saw it, instantly commend themselves by their realistic vigour and their consistent verisimilitude.  Any visitor to Norham will still be able to imagine the stir and the imposing spectacle described in the opening stanzas of the first canto; and it is a pleasure to follow Scott’s minute and faithful picture of Crichtoun by examining the imposing ruin as it stands at the present day.  Then it is impossible not to feel that the Edinburgh of the sixteenth century was exactly as it is depicted in the poem, and that the troops on the Borough Moor were disposed as seen by the trained military eye of Sir Walter Scott.  It would be difficult to find anywhere a more striking ancient stronghold than Tantallon, nor would it be easy to conceive a more appropriate scene for that grim and exciting morning interview in which the venerable Douglas found that he had harboured a recreant knight.  Above all, there is the great battle scene, standing alone in literature for its carefully detailed delineation--its persistent minuteness, its rapidity of movement, its balanced effects, its energetic purpose--and surpassing everything in modern verse for its vivid Homeric realism.  Fifteen years before, as we have seen, Scott had the progress of the battle in his mind’s eye, and at length he produced his description as if he had been present in the character of a skilful and interested spectator.  There are envious people who decline to admit that Scott discovered his scenery, and who contend that others knew all about it before and appreciated it in their own way.  Be it so; and yet the fact remains that Scott likewise saw and appreciated in the way peculiar to him, and thereby enabled his numerous readers to share his enjoyment.  A very interesting and suggestive account of the new popularity given to the Flodden district by the publication of ‘Marmion’ will be found in Lockhart’s Life, iii. 12.  In the autumn of 1812 Scott visited Rokeby, doing the journey on horseback, along with his eldest boy and girl on ponies.  The following is an episode of the way:--

‘Halting at Flodden to expound the field of battle to his young folks, he found that “Marmion” had, as might have been expected, benefited the keeper of the public-house there very largely; and the village Boniface, overflowing with gratitude, expressed his anxiety to have a Scott’s Head for his sign-post.  The poet demurred to this proposal, and assured mine host that nothing could be more appropriate than the portraiture of a foaming tankard, which already surmounted his doorway.  “Why, the painter man has not made an ill job,” said the landlord, “but I would fain have something more connected with the book that has brought me so much good custom.”  He produced a well-thumbed copy, and handing it to the author, begged he would at least suggest a motto from the Tale of Flodden Field.  Scott opened the book at the death-scene of the hero, and his eye was immediately caught by the “inscription” in black letter:--

     “Drink, weary pilgrim, drink, and pray
      For the kind soul of Sibyl Grey,” &c.

“Well, my friend,” said he, “what more would you have?  You need but strike out one letter in the first of these lines, and make your painter-man, the next time he comes this way, print between the jolly tankard and your own name:--

     ‘Drink, weary pilgrim, drink, and PAY.’“

Scott was delighted to find, on his return, that this suggestion had been adopted, and for aught I know the romantic legend may still be visible.’

The characters in the poem are hardly less vigorous in conception and presentation than the descriptions.  It may be true, as Carlyle asserts in his ungenerous essay on Scott, that he was inferior to Shakespeare in delineation of character, but, even admitting that, we shall still have ample room for approval and admiration of his work.  So far as the purposes of the poem are concerned the various personages are admirably utilized.  We come to know Marmion himself very intimately, the interest gradually deepening as the real character of the Palmer and his relations to the hero are steadily developed.  These two take prominent rank with the imaginary characters of literature.  James IV, that ‘champion of the dames,’ and likewise undoubted military leader, is faithfully delineated in accordance with historical records and contemporary estimates.  Those desirous of seeing him as he struck the imagination of a poet in his own day should read the eulogy passed upon him by Barclay in his ‘Ship of Fools.’  The passage in which this occurs is an interpolation in the division of the poem entitled ‘Of the Ruine and Decay of the Holy Faith Catholique.’  The other characters are all distinctly suited to the parts they have to perform.  Acting on the licence sanctioned by Horatian authority:--

     ‘Atque ita mentitur, sic veris falsa remiscet,
      Primo ne medium, medio ne discrepet imum’--

Scott appropriates Sir David Lyndsay to his purpose, presenting him, even as he presents the stately and venerable Angus, with faithful and striking picturesqueness.  Bishop Douglas is exactly suited to his share in the development of events; and had room likewise been found for the Court poet Dunbar--author of James’s Epithalamium, the ‘Thrissill and the Rois’--it would have been both a fit and a seemly arrangement.  Had Scott remembered that Dunbar was a favourite of Queen Margaret’s he might have introduced him into an interesting episode.  The passage devoted to the Queen herself is exquisite and graceful, its restrained and effective pathos making a singularly direct and significant appeal.  The other female characters are well conceived and sustained, while Constance in the Trial scene reaches an imposing height of dramatic intensity.

After the descriptions and the characterisation, the remaining important features of the poem are its marked practical irony and its episodes.  Marmion, despite his many excellences, is throughout--and for obvious reasons--the victim of a persistent Nemesis.  Scott is much interested in his hero; one fancies that if it were only possible he would in the end extend his favour to him, and grant him absolution; but his sense of artistic fitness prevails, and he will abate no jot of the painful ordeal to which he feels bound to submit him.  Marmion is a knight with a claim to nothing more than the half of the proverbial qualifications.  He is sans peur, but not sans reproche; and it is one expression of the practical irony that constantly lurks to assail him that even his fearlessness quails for a time before the Phantom Knight on Gifford Moor.  The whole attitude of the Palmer is ironical; and, after the bitter parting with Angus at Tantallon, Marmion is weighted with the depressing reflection that numerous forces are conspiring against him, and with the knowledge that it is his old rival De Wilton that has thrown off the Palmer’s disguise and preceded him to the scene of war.  In his last hour the practical irony of his position bears upon him with a concentration of keen and bitter thrusts.  Clare, whom he intended to defraud, ministers to his last needs; he learns that Constance died a bitter death at Lindisfarne; and just when he recognises his greatest need of strength his life speedily ebbs away.  There is a certain grandeur of impressive tragical effort in his last struggles, as he feels that whatever he may himself have been he suffers in the end from the merciless machinery of a false ecclesiastical system.  The practical irony follows him even after his death, for it is a skilful stroke that leaves his neglected remains on the field of battle and places a nameless stranger in his stately tomb.

As regards the episodes, it may just be said in a word that they are appropriate, and instead of retarding the movement of the piece, as has sometimes been alleged, they serve to give it breadth and massiveness of effect.  Of course, there will always be found those who think them too long, just as there are those whose narrowness of view constrains them to wish the Introductions away.  If the poet’s conception of Marmion be fully considered, it will be seen that the Host’s Tale is an integral part of his purpose; and there is surely no need to defend either Sir David Lyndsay’s Tale or the weird display at the cross of Edinburgh.  The episode of Lady Heron’s singing carries its own defence in itself, seeing that the song of ‘Lochinvar’ holds a place of distinction among lyrics expressive of poetical motion.  After all, we must bear in mind that though it pleases Scott to speak of his tale as flowing on ‘wild as cloud, as stream, as gale,’ he was still conscious that he was engaged upon a poem, and that a poem is regulated by certain artistic laws.  If we strive to grasp his meaning we shall not be specially inclined to carp at his method.  It may at the same time be not unprofitable to look for a moment at some of the notable criticisms of the poem.


When ‘Marmion’ was little more than begun Scott’s publishers offered him a thousand pounds for the copyright, and as this soon became known it naturally gave rise to varied comment.  Lord Byron thought it sufficient to warrant a gratuitous attack on the author in his ‘English Bards and Scotch Reviewers.’  This is a portion of the passage:--

     ‘And think’st thou, Scott! by vain conceit perchance,
      On public taste to foist thy stale romance.
      Though Murray with his Miller may combine
      To yield thy muse just half-a-crown per line?
      No! when the sons of song descend to trade,
      Their bays are sear, their former laurels fade.’

As a matter of fact, there was on Scott’s part no trade whatever in the case.  If a publisher chose to secure in advance what he anticipated would be a profitable commodity, that was mainly the publisher’s affair, and the poet would have been a simpleton not to close with the offer if he liked it.  Scott admirably disposes of Byron as follows in the 1830 Introduction:--

‘The publishers of the “Lay of the Last Minstrel,” emboldened by the success of that poem, willingly offered a thousand pounds for “Marmion.”  The transaction being no secret, afforded Lord Byron, who was then at general war with all who blacked paper, an apology for including me in his satire, entitled “English Bards and Scotch Reviewers.”  I never could conceive how an arrangement between an author and his publishers, if satisfactory to the persons concerned, could afford matter of censure to any third party.  I had taken no unusual or ungenerous means of enhancing the value of my merchandise--I had never higgled a moment about the bargain, but accepted at once what I considered the handsome offer of my publishers.  These gentlemen, at least, were not of opinion that they had been taken advantage of in the transaction, which indeed was one of their own framing; on the contrary, the sale of the Poem was so far beyond their expectation, as to induce them to supply the author’s cellars with what is always an acceptable present to a young Scottish housekeeper, namely, a hogshead of excellent claret.’

A second point on which Scott was attacked was the character of Marmion.  It was held that such a knight as he undoubtedly was should have been incapable of forgery.  Scott himself; of course, knew better than his critics whether or not this was the case, but, with his usual good nature and generous regard for the opinion of others, he admitted that perhaps he had committed an artistic blunder.  Dr. Leyden, in particular, for whose judgment he had special respect, wrote him from India ‘a furious remonstrance on the subject.’ Fortunately, he made no attempt to change what he had written, his main reason being that ‘corrections, however in themselves judicious, have a bad effect after publication.’  He might have added that any modification of the hero’s guilt would have entirely altered the character of the poem, and might have ruined it altogether.  He had never, apparently, gone into the question thoroughly after his first impressions of the type of knights existing in feudal times, for though he states that ‘similar instances were found, and might be quoted,’ he is inclined to admit that the attribution of forgery was a ‘gross defect.’  Readers interested in the subject will find by reference to Pike’s ‘History of Crime,’ i. 276, that Scott was perfectly justified in his assumption that a feudal knight was capable of forgery.  Those who understand how intimate his knowledge was of the period with which he was dealing will, of course, be the readiest to believe him rather than his critics; but when he seems doubtful of himself, and ready to yield the point, it is well that the strength of his original position can thus be supported by the results of recent investigation.

Jeffrey, in the Edinburgh Review, not being able to understand and appreciate this new devotion to romance, and probably stimulated by his misreading of the reference to Fox in the Introduction to Canto I, did his utmost to cast discredit on ‘Marmion.’  Scott was too large a man to confound the separate spheres of Politics and Literature; whereas it was frequently the case with Jeffrey--as, indeed, it was to some extent with literary critics on the other side as well--to estimate an author’s work in reference to the party in the State to which he was known to belong.  It was impossible to deny merits to Scott’s descriptions, and the extraordinary energy of the most striking portions of the Poem, but Jeffrey groaned over the inequalities he professed to discover, and lamented that the poet should waste his strength on the unprofitable effort to resuscitate an old-fashioned enthusiasm.  They had been the best of friends previously--and Scott, as we have seen, worked for the Edinburgh Review--but it was now patent that the old literary intimacy could not pleasantly continue.  Nor is it surprising that Scott should have felt that the Edinburgh Review had become too autocratic, and that he should have given a helping hand towards the establishing of the Quarterly Review, as a political and literary organ necessary to the balance of parties.


Scott himself revised ‘Marmion’ in 1831, and the interleaved copy which he used formed the basis of the text given by Lockhart in the uniform edition of the Poetical Works published in 1833.  This will remain the standard text.  It is that which is followed in the present volume, in which there will be found only three--in reality only two--important instances of divergence from Lockhart’s readings.  The earlier editions have been collated with that of 1833, and Mr. W. J. Rolfe’s careful and scholarly Boston edition has likewise been consulted.  It has not been considered necessary to follow Mr. Rolfe in several alterations he has made on Lockhart; but he introduces one emendation which readily commends itself to the reader’s intelligence, and it is adopted in the present volume.  This is in the punctuation of the opening lines in the first stanza of Canto II.  Lockhart completes a sentence at the end of the fifth line, whereas the sense manifestly carries the period on to the eleventh line.  In the third Introd., line 228, the reading of the earlier editions is followed in giving ‘From me’ instead of ‘For me,’ as the meaning is thereby simplified and made more direct.  In III. xiv. 234, the modern versions of Lockhart’s text give ‘proudest princes veil their eyes,’ where Lockhart himself agrees with the earlier editions in reading ‘vail’.  The restoration of the latter form needs no defence.  The Elizabethan words in the Poem are not infrequent, giving it, as they do, a certain air of archaic dignity, and there can be little doubt that ‘vail’ was Scott’s word here, used in its Shakespearian sense of ‘lower’ or ‘cast down,’ and recalling Venus as ‘she vailed her eyelids.’


Alas! that Scottish maid should sing
The combat where her lover fell!
That Scottish Bard should wake the string,
The triumph of our foes to tell!




&c. &c. &c.




* * *
It is hardly to be expected, that an Author whom the Public have honoured with some degree of applause, should not be again a trespasser on their kindness.  Yet the Author of MARMION must be supposed to feel some anxiety concerning its success, since he is sensible that he hazards, by this second intrusion, any reputation which his first Poem may have procured him.  The present story turns upon the private adventures of a fictitious character; but is called a Tale of Flodden Field, because the hero’s fate is connected with that memorable defeat, and the causes which led to it.  The design of the Author was, if possible, to apprize his readers, at the outset, of the date of his Story, and to prepare them for the manners of the Age in which it is laid.  Any Historical Narrative, far more an attempt at Epic composition, exceeded his plan of a Romantic Tale; yet he may be permitted to hope, from the popularity of THE LAY OF THE LAST MINSTREL, that an attempt to paint the manners of the feudal times, upon a broader scale, and in the course of a more interesting story, will not be unacceptable to the Public.

The Poem opens about the commencement of August, and concludes with the defeat of Flodden, 9th September, 1513.
                                                Ashestiel, 1808,




Ashestiel, Ettrick Forest.

November’s sky is chill and drear,
November’s leaf is red and sear:
Late, gazing down the steepy linn,
That hems our little garden in,
Low in its dark and narrow glen,                            5
You scarce the rivulet might ken,
So thick the tangled greenwood grew,
So feeble trill’d the streamlet through:
Now, murmuring hoarse, and frequent seen
Through bush and brier, no longer green,                    10
An angry brook, it sweeps the glade,
Brawls over rock and wild cascade,
And, foaming brown with double speed,
Hurries its waters to the Tweed.

No longer Autumn’s glowing red                              15
Upon our Forest hills is shed;
No more, beneath the evening beam,
Fair Tweed reflects their purple gleam;
Away hath pass’d the heather-bell
That bloom’d so rich on Needpath-fell;                      20
Sallow his brow, and russet bare
Are now the sister-heights of Yair.
The sheep, before the pinching heaven,
To sheltered dale and down are driven,
Where yet some faded herbage pines,                        25
And yet a watery sunbeam shines:
In meek despondency they eye
The withered sward and wintry sky,
And far beneath their summer hill,
Stray sadly by Glenkinnon’s rill:                          30
The shepherd shifts his mantle’s fold,
And wraps him closer from the cold;
His dogs no merry circles wheel,
But, shivering, follow at his heel;
A cowering glance they often cast,                          35
As deeper moans the gathering blast.

My imps, though hardy, bold, and wild,
As best befits the mountain child,
Feel the sad influence of the hour,
And wail the daisy’s vanish’d flower;                      40
Their summer gambols tell, and mourn,
And anxious ask,-Will spring return,
And birds and lambs again be gay,
And blossoms clothe the hawthorn spray?

  Yes, prattlers, yes.  The daisy’s flower                  45
Again shall paint your summer bower;
Again the hawthorn shall supply
The garlands you delight to tie;
The lambs upon the lea shall bound,
The wild birds carol to the round,                          50
And while you frolic light as they,
Too short shall seem the summer day.

  To mute and to material things
New life revolving summer brings;
The genial call dead Nature hears,                          55
And in her glory reappears.
But oh! my Country’s wintry state
What second spring shall renovate?
What powerful call shall bid arise
The buried warlike and the wise;                            60
The mind that thought for Britain’s weal,
The hand that grasp’d the victor steel?
The vernal sun new life bestows
Even on the meanest flower that blows;
But vainly, vainly may he shine,                            65
Where Glory weeps o’er NELSON’S shrine:
And vainly pierce the solemn gloom,
That shrouds, O PITT, thy hallow’d tomb!

  Deep graved in every British heart,
O never let those names depart!                            70
Say to your sons,-Lo, here his grave,
Who victor died on Gadite wave;
To him, as to the burning levin,
Short, bright, resistless course was given.
Where’er his country’s foes were found,                    75
Was heard the fated thunder’s sound,
Till burst the bolt on yonder shore,
Roll’d, blazed, destroyed,-and was no more.

  Nor mourn ye less his perished worth,
Who bade the conqueror go forth,                            80
And launch’d that thunderbolt of war
On Egypt, Hafnia, Trafalgar;
Who, born to guide such high emprize,
For Britain’s weal was early wise;
Alas! to whom the Almighty gave,                            85
For Britain’s sins, an early grave!
His worth, who, in his mightiest hour,
A bauble held the pride of power,
Spum’d at the sordid lust of pelf,
And served his Albion for herself;                          90
Who, when the frantic crowd amain
Strain’d at subjection’s bursting rein,
O’er their wild mood full conquest gain’d,
The pride, he would not crush, restrain’d,
Show’d their fierce zeal a worthier cause,                  95
And brought the freeman’s arm, to aid the freeman’s laws.

  Had’st thou but lived, though stripp’d of power,
A watchman on the lonely tower,
Thy thrilling trump had roused the land,
When fraud or danger were at hand;                        100
By thee, as by the beacon-light,
Our pilots had kept course aright;
As some proud column, though alone,
Thy strength had propp’d the tottering throne:
Now is the stately column broke,                          105
The beacon-light is quench’d in smoke,
The trumpet’s silver sound is still,
The warder silent on the hill!

Oh, think, how to his latest day,
When Death, just hovering, claim’d his prey,              110
With Palinure’s unalter’d mood,
Firm at his dangerous post he stood;
Each call for needful rest repell’d,
With dying hand the rudder held,
Till, in his fall, with fateful sway,                      115
The steerage of the realm gave way!
Then, while on Britain’s thousand plains,
One unpolluted church remains,
Whose peaceful bells ne’er sent around
The bloody tocsin’s maddening sound,                      120
But still, upon the hallow’d day,
Convoke the swains to praise and pray;
While faith and civil peace are dear,
Grace this cold marble with a tear,
He, who preserved them, PITT, lies here!                  125

  Nor yet suppress the generous sigh,
Because his rival slumbers nigh;
Nor be thy requiescat dumb,
Lest it be said o’er Fox’s tomb.
For talents mourn, untimely lost,                          130
When best employ’d, and wanted most;
Mourn genius high, and lore profound,
And wit that loved to play, not wound;
And all the reasoning powers divine,
To penetrate, resolve, combine;                            135
And feelings keen, and fancy’s glow,-
They sleep with him who sleeps below:
And, if thou mourn’st they could not save
From error him who owns this grave,
Be every harsher thought suppress’d,                      140
And sacred be the last long rest.
Here, where the end of earthly things
Lays heroes, patriots, bards, and kings;
Where stiff the hand, and still the tongue,
Of those who fought, and spoke, and sung;                  145
Here, where the fretted aisles prolong
The distant notes of holy song,
As if some angel spoke agen,
‘All peace on earth, good-will to men;’
If ever from an English heart,                            150
O, here let prejudice depart,
And, partial feeling cast aside,
Record, that Fox a Briton died!
When Europe crouch’d to France’s yoke,
And Austria bent, and Prussia broke,                      155
And the firm Russian’s purpose brave,
Was barter’d by a timorous slave,
Even then dishonour’s peace he spurn’d,
The sullied olive-branch return’d,
Stood for his country’s glory fast,                        160
And nail’d her colours to the mast!
Heaven, to reward his firmness, gave
A portion in this honour’d grave,
And ne’er held marble in its trust
Of two such wondrous men the dust.                        165

  With more than mortal powers endow’d,
How high they soar’d above the crowd!
Theirs was no common party race,
Jostling by dark intrigue for place;
Like fabled Gods, their mighty war                        170
Shook realms and nations in its jar;
Beneath each banner proud to stand,
Look’d up the noblest of the land,
Till through the British world were known
The names of PITT and Fox alone.                          175
Spells of such force no wizard grave
E’er framed in dark Thessalian cave,
Though his could drain the ocean dry,
And force the planets from the sky.
These spells are spent, and, spent with these,            180
The wine of life is on the lees.
Genius, and taste, and talent gone,
For ever tomb’d beneath the stone,
Where-taming thought to human pride!-
The mighty chiefs sleep side by side.                      185
Drop upon Fox’s grave the tear,
‘Twill trickle to his rival’s bier;
O’er PITT’S the mournful requiem sound,
And Fox’s shall the notes rebound.
The solemn echo seems to cry,-                            190
‘Here let their discord with them die.
Speak not for those a separate doom,
Whom Fate made Brothers in the tomb;
But search the land of living men,
Where wilt thou find their like agen?’                    195

  Rest, ardent Spirits! till the cries
Of dying Nature bid you rise;
Not even your Britain’s groans can pierce
The leaden silence of your hearse;
Then, O, how impotent and vain                            200
This grateful tributary strain!
Though not unmark’d from northern clime,
Ye heard the Border Minstrel’s rhyme:
His Gothic harp has o’er you rung;
The Bard you deign’d to praise, your deathless names has sung.

  Stay yet, illusion, stay a while,
My wilder’d fancy still beguile!
From this high theme how can I part,
Ere half unloaded is my heart!
For all the tears e’er sorrow drew,                        210
And all the raptures fancy knew,
And all the keener rush of blood,
That throbs through bard in bard-like mood,
Were here a tribute mean and low,
Though all their mingled streams could flow-              215
Woe, wonder, and sensation high,
In one spring-tide of ecstasy!-
It will not be-it may not last-
The vision of enchantment’s past:
Like frostwork in the morning ray,                        220
The fancied fabric melts away;
Each Gothic arch, memorial-stone,
And long, dim, lofty aisle, are gone;
And, lingering last, deception dear,
The choir’s high sounds die on my ear.                    225
Now slow return the lonely down,
The silent pastures bleak and brown,
The farm begirt with copsewood wild
The gambols of each frolic child,
Mixing their shrill cries with the tone                    230
Of Tweed’s dark waters rushing on.

  Prompt on unequal tasks to run,
Thus Nature disciplines her son:
Meeter, she says, for me to stray,
And waste the solitary day,                                235
In plucking from yon fen the reed,
And watch it floating down the Tweed;
Or idly list the shrilling lay,
With which the milkmaid cheers her way,
Marking its cadence rise and fail,                        240
As from the field, beneath her pail,
She trips it down the uneven dale:
Meeter for me, by yonder cairn,
The ancient shepherd’s tale to learn;
Though oft he stop in rustic fear,                        245
Lest his old legends tire the ear
Of one, who, in his simple mind,
May boast of book-learn’d taste refined.

  But thou, my friend, canst fitly tell,
(For few have read romance so well,)                      250
How still the legendary lay
O’er poet’s bosom holds its sway;
How on the ancient minstrel strain
Time lays his palsied hand in vain;
And how our hearts at doughty deeds,                      255
By warriors wrought in steely weeds,
Still throb for fear and pity’s sake;
As when the Champion of the Lake
Enters Morgana’s fated house,
Or in the Chapel Perilous,                                260
Despising spells and demons’ force,
Holds converse with the unburied corse;
Or when, Dame Ganore’s grace to move,
(Alas, that lawless was their love!)
He sought proud Tarquin in his den,                        265
And freed full sixty knights; or when,
A sinful man, and unconfess’d,
He took the Sangreal’s holy quest,
And, slumbering, saw the vision high,
He might not view with waking eye.                        270

  The mightiest chiefs of British song
Scorn’d not such legends to prolong:
They gleam through Spenser’s elfin dream,
And mix in Milton’s heavenly theme;
And Dryden, in immortal strain,                            275
Had raised the Table Round again,
But that a ribald King and Court
Bade him toil on, to make them sport;
Demanded for their niggard pay,
Fit for their souls, a looser lay,                        280
Licentious satire, song, and play;
The world defrauded of the high design,
Profaned the God-given strength, and marr’d the lofty line.

Warm’d by such names, well may we then,
Though dwindled sons of little men,                        285
Essay to break a feeble lance
In the fair fields of old romance;
Or seek the moated castle’s cell,
Where long through talisman and spell,
While tyrants ruled, and damsels wept,                    290
Thy Genius, Chivalry, hath slept:
There sound the harpings of the North,
Till he awake and sally forth,
On venturous quest to prick again,
In all his arms, with all his train,                      295
Shield, lance, and brand, and plume, and scarf,
Fay, giant, dragon, squire, and dwarf,
And wizard with his wand of might,
And errant maid on palfrey white.
Around the Genius weave their spells,                      300
Pure Love, who scarce his passion tells;
Mystery, half veil’d and half reveal’d;
And Honour, with his spotless shield;
Attention, with fix’d eye; and Fear,
That loves the tale she shrinks to hear;                  305
And gentle Courtesy; and Faith,
Unchanged by sufferings, time, or death;
And Valour, lion-mettled lord,
Leaning upon his own good sword.
  Well has thy fair achievement shown,                    310
A worthy meed may thus be won;
Ytene’s oaks-beneath whose shade
Their theme the merry minstrels made,
Of Ascapart, and Bevis bold,
And that Red King, who, while of old,                      315
Through Boldrewood the chase he led,
By his loved huntsman’s arrow bled-
Ytene’s oaks have heard again
Renew’d such legendary strain;
For thou hast sung, how He of Gaul,                        320
That Amadis so famed in hall,
For Oriana, foil’d in fight
The Necromancer’s felon might;
And well in modern verse hast wove
Partenopex’s mystic love;                                  325
Hear, then, attentive to my lay,
A knightly tale of Albion’s elder day.




Day set on Norham’s castled steep,
And Tweed’s fair river, broad and deep,
  And Cheviot’s mountains lone:
The battled towers, the donjon keep,
The loophole grates, where captives weep,                    5
The flanking walls that round it sweep,
  In yellow lustre shone.
The warriors on the turrets high,
Moving athwart the evening sky,
Seem’d forms of giant height:                              10
Their armour, as it caught the rays,
Flash’d back again the western blaze,
  In lines of dazzling light.


Saint George’s banner, broad and gay,
Now faded, as the fading ray                                15
  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,                      20
  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,                            25
Some ancient Border gathering-song.


A distant trampling sound he hears;
He looks abroad, and soon appears,
O’er Horncliff-hill a plump of spears,
  Beneath a pennon gay;                                    30
A horseman, darting from the crowd,
Like lightning from a summer cloud,
Spurs on his mettled courser proud,
  Before the dark array.
Beneath the sable palisade,                                35
That closed the Castle barricade,
  His buglehorn he blew;
The warder hasted from the wall,
And warn’d the Captain in the hall,
  For well the blast he knew;                              40
And joyfully that knight did call,
To sewer, squire, and seneschal.


‘Now broach ye a pipe of Malvoisie,
  Bring pasties of the doe,
And quickly make the entrance free                          45
And bid my heralds ready be,
And every minstrel sound his glee,
  And all our trumpets blow;
And, from the platform, spare ye not
To fire a noble salvo-shot;                                50
  Lord MARMION waits below!’
Then to the Castle’s lower ward
  Sped forty yeomen tall,
The iron-studded gates unbarr’d,
Raised the portcullis’ ponderous guard,                    55
The lofty palisade unsparr’d,
  And let the drawbridge fall.


Along the bridge Lord Marmion rode,
Proudly his red-roan charger trode,
His helm hung at the saddlebow;                            60
Well by his visage you might know
He was a stalworth knight, and keen,
And had in many a battle been;
The scar on his brown cheek reveal’d
A token true of Bosworth field;                            65
His eyebrow 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 casque worn bare,                      70
His thick mustache, and curly hair,
Coal-black, and grizzled here and there,
  But more through toil than age;
His square-turn’d joints, and strength of limb,
Show’d him no carpet knight so trim,                        75
But in close fight a champion grim,
  In camps a leader sage.


Well was he arm’d from head to heel,
In mail and plate of Milan steel;
But his strong helm, of mighty cost,                        80
Was all with burnish’d 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,                          85
Soar’d sable in an azure field:
The golden legend bore aright,
Who checks at me, to death is dight.
Blue was the charger’s broider’d rein;
Blue ribbons deck’d his arching mane;                      90
The knightly housing’s ample fold
Was velvet blue, and trapp’d with gold.


Behind him rode two gallant squires,
Of noble name, and knightly sires;
They burn’d the gilded spurs to claim:                      95
For well could each a warhorse tame,
Could draw the bow, the sword could sway,
And lightly bear the ring away;
Nor less with courteous precepts stored,
Could dance in hall, and carve at board,                  100
And frame love-ditties passing rare,
And sing them to a lady fair.


Four men-at-arms came at their backs,
With halbert, bill, and battle-axe:
They bore Lord Marmion’s lance so strong,                  105
And led his sumpter-mules along,
And ambling palfrey, when at need
Him listed ease his battle-steed.
The last and trustiest of the four,
On high his forky pennon bore;                            110
Like swallow’s tail, in shape and hue,
Flutter’d the streamer glossy blue,
Where, blazon’d sable, as before,
The towering falcon seem’d to soar.
Last, twenty yeomen, two and two,                          115
In hosen black, and jerkins blue,
With falcons broider’d on each breast,
Attended on their lord’s behest.
Each, chosen for an archer good,
Knew hunting-craft by lake or wood;                        120
Each one a six-foot bow could bend,
And far a cloth-yard shaft could send;
Each held a boar-spear tough and strong,
And at their belts their quivers rung.
Their dusty palfreys, and array,                          125
Show’d they had march’d a weary way.


‘Tis meet that I should tell you now,
How fairly arm’d, and order’d how,
  The soldiers of the guard,
With musket, pike, and morion,                            130
To welcome noble Marmion,
  Stood in the Castle-yard;
Minstrels and trumpeters were there,
The gunner held his linstock yare,
  For welcome-shot prepared:                              135
Enter’d the train, and such a clang,
As then through all his turrets rang,
  Old Norham never heard.


The guards their morrice-pikes advanced,
  The trumpets flourish’d brave,                          140
The cannon from the ramparts glanced,
  And thundering welcome gave.
A blithe salute, in martial sort,
  The minstrels well might sound,
For, as Lord Marmion cross’d the court,                    145
  He scatter’d angels round.
‘Welcome to Norham, Marmion!
  Stout heart, and open hand!
Well dost thou brook thy gallant roan,
  Thou flower of English land!’                            150


Two pursuivants, whom tabarts deck,
With silver scutcheon round their neck,
  Stood on the steps of stone,
By which you reach the donjon gate,
And there, with herald pomp and state,                    155
  They hail’d Lord Marmion:
They hail’d him Lord of Fontenaye,
Of Lutterward, and Scrivelbaye,
  Of Tamworth tower and town;
And he, their courtesy to requite,                        160
Gave them a chain of twelve marks’ weight,
  All as he lighted down.
‘Now, largesse, largesse, Lord Marmion,
  Knight of the crest of gold!
A blazon’d shield, in battle won,                          165
Ne’er guarded heart so bold.’


They marshall’d him to the Castle-hall,
  Where the guests stood all aside,
And loudly nourish’d the trumpet-call,
  And the heralds loudly cried,                            170
--‘Room, lordings, room for Lord Marmion,
  With the crest and helm of gold!
Full well we know the trophies won
  In the lists at Cottiswold:
There, vainly Ralph de Wilton strove                      175
  ‘Gainst Marmion’s force to stand;
To him he lost his lady-love,
  And to the King his land.
Ourselves beheld the listed field,
  A sight both sad and fair;                              180
We saw Lord Marmion pierce his shield,
  And saw his saddle bare;
We saw the victor win the crest,
  He wears with worthy pride;
And on the gibbet-tree, reversed,                          185
  His foeman’s scutcheon tied.
Place, nobles, for the Falcon-Knight!
  Room, room, ye gentles gay,
For him who conquer’d in the right,
  Marmion of Fontenaye!’                                  190


Then stepp’d, to meet that noble Lord,
  Sir Hugh the Heron bold,
Baron of Twisell, and of Ford,
  And Captain of the Hold.
He led Lord Marmion to the deas,                          195
  Raised o’er the pavement high,
And placed him in the upper place
  They feasted full and high;
The whiles a Northern harper rude
Chanted a rhyme of deadly feud,                            200
  ‘How the fierce Thirwalls, and Ridleys all,
    Stout Willimondswick,
      And Hardriding Dick,
     And Hughie of Hawdon, and Will o’ the Wall,
    Have set on Sir Albany Featherstonhaugh,   
And taken his life at the Deadman’s-shaw.’
  Scantly Lord Marmion’s ear could brook
    The harper’s barbarous lay;
  Yet much he praised the pains he took,
    And well those pains did pay                          210
For lady’s suit, and minstrel’s strain,
By knight should ne’er be heard in vain,


‘Now, good Lord Marmion,’ Heron says,
  ‘Of your fair courtesy,
I pray you bide some little space                          215
  In this poor tower with me.
Here may you keep your arms from rust,
  May breathe your war-horse well;
Seldom hath pass’d a week but giust
  Or feat of arms befell:                                  220
The Scots can rein a mettled steed;
  And love to couch a spear:-
Saint George! a stirring life they lead,
  That have such neighbours near.
Then stay with us a little space,                          225
  Our northern wars to learn;
I pray you, for your lady’s grace!’-
  Lord Marmion’s brow grew stern.


The Captain mark’d his alter’d look,
  And gave a squire the sign;                              230
A mighty wassell-bowl he took,
  And crown’d it high with wine.
‘Now pledge me here, Lord Marmion:
  But first I pray thee fair,
Where hast thou left that page of thine,                  235
  That used to serve thy cup of wine,
  Whose beauty was so rare?
When last in Raby towers we met,
  The boy I closely eyed,
And often mark’d his cheeks were wet,                      240
  With tears he fain would hide:
His was no rugged horse-boy’s hand,
To burnish shield or sharpen brand,
  Or saddle battle-steed;
But meeter seem’d for lady fair,                          245
To fan her cheek, or curl her hair,
Or through embroidery, rich and rare,
  The slender silk to lead:
His skin was fair, his ringlets gold,
  His bosom-when he sigh’d,                              250
The russet doublet’s rugged fold
  Could scarce repel its pride!
Say, hast thou given that lovely youth
  To serve in lady’s bower?
Or was the gentle page, in sooth,                          255
  A gentle paramour?’


Lord Marmion ill could brook such jest;
  He roll’d his kindling eye,
With pain his rising wrath suppress’d,
  Yet made a calm reply:                                  260
‘That boy thou thought’st so goodly fair,
  He might not brook the northern air.
More of his fate if thou wouldst learn,
  I left him sick in Lindisfarn:
Enough of him.-But, Heron, say,                          265
Why does thy lovely lady gay
Disdain to grace the hall to-day?
Or has that dame, so fair and sage,
Gone on some pious pilgrimage?’-
He spoke in covert scorn, for fame                        270
Whisper’d light tales of Heron’s dame.


Unmark’d, at least unreck’d, the taunt,
  Careless the Knight replied,
‘No bird, whose feathers gaily flaunt,
  Delights in cage to bide:                                275
Norham is grim and grated close,
Hemm’d in by battlement and fosse,
  And many a darksome tower;
And better loves my lady bright
To sit in liberty and light,                              280
  In fair Queen Margaret’s bower.
We hold our greyhound in our hand,
  Our falcon on our glove;
But where shall we find leash or band,
  For dame that loves to rove?                            285
Let the wild falcon soar her swing,
She’ll stoop when she has tired her wing.’--


‘Nay, if with Royal James’s bride
The lovely Lady Heron bide,
Behold me here a messenger,                                290
Your tender greetings prompt to bear;
For, to the Scottish court address’d,
I journey at our King’s behest,
And pray you, of your grace, provide
For me, and mine, a trusty guide.                          295
I have not ridden in Scotland since
James back’d the cause of that mock prince,
Warbeck, that Flemish counterfeit,
Who on the gibbet paid the cheat.
Then did I march with Surrey’s power,                      300
What time we razed old Ayton tower.’-


‘For such-like need, my lord, I trow,
Norham can find you guides enow;
For here be some have prick’d as far,
On Scottish ground, as to Dunbar;                          305
Have drunk the monks of St. Bothan’s ale,
And driven the beeves of Lauderdale;
Harried the wives of Greenlaw’s goods,
And given them light to set their hoods.’-


‘Now, in good sooth,’ Lord Marmion cried,                  310
‘Were I in warlike wise to ride,
A better guard I would not lack,
Than your stout forayers at my back;
But as in form of peace I go,
A friendly messenger, to know,                            315
Why through all Scotland, near and far,
Their King is mustering troops for war,
The sight of plundering Border spears
Might justify suspicious fears,
And deadly feud, or thirst of spoil,                      320
Break out in some unseemly broil:
A herald were my fitting guide;
Or friar, sworn in peace to bide;
Or pardoner, or travelling priest,
Or strolling pilgrim, at the least.’                      325


The Captain mused a little space,
And pass’d his hand across his face.
-’Fain would I find the guide you want,
But ill may spare a pursuivant,
The only men that safe can ride                            330
Mine errands on the Scottish side:
And though a bishop built this fort,
Few holy brethren here resort;
Even our good chaplain, as I ween,
Since our last siege, we have not seen:                    335
The mass he might not sing or say,
Upon one stinted meal a-day;
So, safe he sat in Durham aisle,
And pray’d for our success the while.
Our Norham vicar, woe betide,                              340
Is all too well in case to ride;
The priest of Shoreswood-he could rein
The wildest war-horse in your train;
But then, no spearman in the hall
Will sooner swear, or stab, or brawl.                      345
Friar John of Tillmouth were the man:
A blithesome brother at the can,
A welcome guest in hall and bower,
He knows each castle, town, and tower,
In which the wine and ale is good,                        350
‘Twixt Newcastle and Holy-Rood.
But that good man, as ill befalls,
Hath seldom left our castle walls,
Since, on the vigil of St. Bede,
In evil hour, he cross’d the Tweed,                        355
To teach Dame Alison her creed.
Old Bughtrig found him with his wife;
And John, an enemy to strife,
Sans frock and hood, fled for his life.
The jealous churl hath deeply swore,                      360
That, if again he venture o’er,
He shall shrieve penitent no more.
Little he loves such risks, I know;
Yet, in your guard, perchance will go.’


Young Selby, at the fair hall-board,                      365
Carved to his uncle and that lord,
And reverently took up the word.
‘Kind uncle, woe were we each one,
If harm should hap to brother John.
He is a man of mirthful speech,                            370
Can many a game and gambol teach;
Full well at tables can he play,
And sweep at bowls the stake away.
None can a lustier carol bawl,
The needfullest among us all,                              375
When time hangs heavy in the hall,
And snow comes thick at Christmas tide,
And we can neither hunt, nor ride
A foray on the Scottish side.
The vow’d revenge of Bughtrig rude,                        380
May end in worse than loss of hood.
Let Friar John, in safety, still
In chimney-corner snore his fill,
Roast hissing crabs, or flagons swill:
Last night, to Norham there came one,                      385
Will better guide Lord Marmion.’-
‘Nephew,’ quoth Heron, ‘by my fay,
Well hast thou spoke; say forth thy say,’-


‘Here is a holy Palmer come,
From Salem first, and last from Rome;                      390
One, that hath kiss’d the blessed tomb,
And visited each holy shrine,
In Araby and Palestine;
On hills of Armenie hath been,
Where Noah’s ark may yet be seen;                          395
By that Red Sea, too, hath he trod,
Which parted at the Prophet’s rod;
In Sinai’s wilderness he saw
The Mount, where Israel heard the law,
‘Mid thunder-dint and flashing levin,                      400
And shadows, mists, and darkness, given.
He shows Saint James’s cockle-shell,
Of fair Montserrat, too, can tell;
  And of that Grot where Olives nod,
Where, darling of each heart and eye,                      405
From all the youth of Sicily,
  Saint Rosalie retired to God.


‘To stout Saint George of Norwich merry,
Saint Thomas, too, of Canterbury,
Cuthbert of Durham and Saint Bede,                        410
For his sins’ pardon hath he pray’d.
He knows the passes of the North,
And seeks far shrines beyond the Forth;
Little he eats, and long will wake,
And drinks but of the stream or lake.                      415
This were a guide o’er moor and dale;
But, when our John hath quaff’d his ale,
As little as the wind that blows,
And warms itself against his nose,
Kens he, or cares, which way he goes.’-                  420


‘Gramercy!’ quoth Lord Marmion,
‘Full loth were I, that Friar John,
That venerable man, for me,
Were placed in fear or jeopardy.
If this same Palmer will me lead                          425
  From hence to Holy-Rood,
Like his good saint, I’ll pay his meed,
Instead of cockle-shell, or bead,
  With angels fair and good.
I love such holy ramblers; still                          430
They know to charm a weary hill,
  With song, romance, or lay:
Some jovial tale, or glee, or jest,
Some lying legend, at the least,
  They bring to cheer the way.’-                          435


‘Ah! noble sir,’ young Selby said,
And finger on his lip he laid,
‘This man knows much, perchance e’en more
Than he could learn by holy lore.
Still to himself he’s muttering,                          440
And shrinks as at some unseen thing.
Last night we listen’d at his cell;
Strange sounds we heard, and, sooth to tell,
He murmur’d on till morn, howe’er
No living mortal could be near.                            445
Sometimes I thought I heard it plain,
As other voices spoke again.
I cannot tell-I like it not-
Friar John hath told us it is wrote,
No conscience clear, and void of wrong,                    450
Can rest awake, and pray so long.
Himself still sleeps before his beads
Have mark’d ten aves, and two creeds.’-


-‘Let pass,’ quoth Marmion; ‘by my fay,
This man shall guide me on my way,                        455
Although the great arch-fiend and he
Had sworn themselves of company.
So please you, gentle youth, to call
This Palmer to the Castle-hall.’
The summon’d Palmer came in place;                        460
His sable cowl o’erhung his face;
In his black mantle was he clad,
With Peter’s keys, in cloth of red,
  On his broad shoulders wrought;
The scallop shell his cap did deck;                        465
The crucifix around his neck
  Was from Loretto brought;
His sandals were with travel tore,
Staff, budget, bottle, scrip, he wore;
The faded palm-branch in his hand                          470
Show’d pilgrim from the Holy Land.


When as the Palmer came in hall,
Nor lord, nor knight, was there more tall,
Or had a statelier step withal,
  Or look’d more high and keen;                            475
For no saluting did he wait,
But strode across the hall of state,
And fronted Marmion where he sate,
  As he his peer had been.
But his gaunt frame was worn with toil;                    480
His cheek was sunk, alas the while!
And when he struggled at a smile,
  His eye look ‘d haggard wild:
Poor wretch! the mother that him bare,
If she had been in presence there,                        485
In his wan face, and sun-burn’d hair,
  She had not known her child.
Danger, long travel, want, or woe,
Soon change the form that best we know-
For deadly fear can time outgo,                            490
  And blanch at once the hair;
Hard toil can roughen form and face,
And want can quench the eye’s bright grace,
Nor does old age a wrinkle trace
  More deeply than despair.                                495
Happy whom none of these befall,
But this poor Palmer knew them all.


Lord Marmion then his boon did ask;
The Palmer took on him the task,
So he would march with morning tide,                      500
To Scottish court to be his guide.
‘But I have solemn vows to pay,
And may not linger by the way,
  To fair St. Andrews bound,
Within the ocean-cave to pray,                            505
Where good Saint Rule his holy lay,
From midnight to the dawn of day,
  Sung to the billows’ sound;
Thence to Saint Fillan’s blessed well,
Whose spring can frenzied dreams dispel,                  510
  And the crazed brain restore:
Saint Mary grant, that cave or spring
Could back to peace my bosom bring,
  Or bid it throb no more!’


And now the midnight draught of sleep,                    515
Where wine and spices richly steep,
In massive bowl of silver deep,
  The page presents on knee.
Lord Marmion drank a fair good rest,
The Captain pledged his noble guest,                      520
The cup went through among the rest,
  Who drain’d it merrily;
Alone the Palmer pass’d it by,
Though Selby press’d him courteously.
This was a sign the feast was o’er;                        525
It hush’d the merry wassel roar,
  The minstrels ceased to sound.
Soon in the castle nought was heard,
But the slow footstep of the guard,
  Pacing his sober round.                                  530


With early dawn Lord Marmion rose:
And first the chapel doors unclose;
Then, after morning rites were done,
(A hasty mass from Friar John,)
And knight and squire had broke their fast,                535
On rich substantial repast,
Lord Marmion’s bugles blew to horse:
Then came the stirrup-cup in course:
Between the Baron and his host,
No point of courtesy was lost;                            540
High thanks were by Lord Marmion paid,
Solemn excuse the Captain made,
Till, filing from the gate, had pass’d
That noble train, their Lord the last.
Then loudly rung the trumpet call;                        545
Thunder’d the cannon from the wall,
  And shook the Scottish shore;
Around the castle eddied slow,
Volumes of smoke as white as snow,
  And hid its turrets hoar;                                550
Till they roli’d forth upon the air,
And met the river breezes there,
Which gave again the prospect fair.



Ashestiel, Ettrick Forest

The scenes are desert now, and bare
Where flourish’d once a forest fair,
When these waste glens with copse were lined,
And peopled with the hart and hind.
Yon Thorn-perchance whose prickly spears                    5
Have fenced him for three hundred years,
While fell around his green compeers-
Yon lonely Thorn, would he could tell
The changes of his parent dell,
Since he, so grey and stubborn now,                        10
Waved in each breeze a sapling bough;
Would he could tell how deep the shade
A thousand mingled branches made;
How broad the shadows of the oak,
How clung the rowan to the rock,                            15
And through the foliage show’d his head,
With narrow leaves and berries red;
What pines on every mountain sprung,
O’er every dell what birches hung,
In every breeze what aspens shook,                          20
What alders shaded every brook!

  ‘Here, in my shade,’ methinks he’d say,
‘The mighty stag at noon-tide lay:
The wolf I’ve seen, a fiercer game,
(The neighbouring dingle bears his name,)                  25
With lurching step around me prowl,
And stop, against the moon to howl;
The mountain-boar, on battle set,
His tusks upon my stem would whet;
While doe, and roe, and red-deer good,                      30
Have bounded by, through gay green-wood.
Then oft, from Newark’s riven tower,
Sallied a Scottish monarch’s power:
A thousand vassals muster’d round,
With horse, and hawk, and horn, and hound;                  35
And I might see the youth intent,
Guard every pass with crossbow bent;
And through the brake the rangers stalk,
And falc’ners hold the ready hawk,
And foresters, in green-wood trim,                          40
Lead in the leash the gazehounds grim,
Attentive, as the bratchet’s bay
From the dark covert drove the prey,
To slip them as he broke away.
The startled quarry bounds amain,                          45
As fast the gallant greyhounds strain;
Whistles the arrow from the bow,
Answers the harquebuss below;
While all the rocking hills reply,
To hoof-clang, hound, and hunters’ cry,                    50
And bugles ringing lightsomely.’

  Of such proud huntings, many tales
Yet linger in our lonely dales,
Up pathless Ettrick and on Yarrow,
Where erst the outlaw drew his arrow.                      55
But not more blithe that silvan court,
Than we have been at humbler sport;
Though small our pomp, and mean our game,
Our mirth, dear Marriott, was the same.
Remember’st thou my greyhounds true?                        60
O’er holt or hill there never flew,
From slip or leash there never sprang,
More fleet of foot, or sure of fang.
Nor dull, between each merry chase,
Pass’d by the intermitted space;                            65
For we had fair resource in store,
In Classic and in Gothic lore:
We mark’d each memorable scene,
And held poetic talk between;
Nor hill, nor brook, we paced along,                        70
But had its legend or its song.
All silent now-for now are still
Thy bowers, untenanted Bowhill!
No longer, from thy mountains dun,
The yeoman hears the well-known gun,                        75
And while his honest heart glows warm,
At thought of his paternal farm,
Round to his mates a brimmer fills,
And drinks, ‘The Chieftain of the Hills!’
No fairy forms, in Yarrow’s bowers,                        80
Trip o’er the walks, or tend the flowers,
Fair as the elves whom Janet saw
By moonlight dance on Carterhaugh;
No youthful Baron’s left to grace
The Forest-Sheriff’s lonely chase,                          85
And ape, in manly step and tone,
The majesty of Oberon:
And she is gone, whose lovely face
Is but her least and lowest grace;
Though if to Sylphid Queen ‘twere given,                    90
To show our earth the charms of Heaven,
She could not glide along the air,
With form more light, or face more fair.
No more the widow’s deafen’d ear
Grows quick that lady’s step to hear:                      95
At noontide she expects her not,
Nor busies her to trim the cot;
Pensive she turns her humming wheel,
Or pensive cooks her orphans’ meal,
Yet blesses, ere she deals their bread,                    100
The gentle hand by which they’re fed.

  From Yair,-which hills so closely bind,
Scarce can the Tweed his passage find,
Though much he fret, and chafe, and toil,
Till all his eddying currents boil,-                      105
Her long descended lord is gone,
And left us by the stream alone.
And much I miss those sportive boys,
Companions of my mountain joys,
Just at the age ‘twixt boy and youth,                      110
When thought is speech, and speech is truth.
Close to my side, with what delight
They press’d to hear of Wallace wight,
When, pointing to his airy mound,
I call’d his ramparts holy ground!                        115
Kindled their brows to hear me speak;
And I have smiled, to feel my cheek,
Despite the difference of our years,
Return again the glow of theirs.
Ah, happy boys! such feelings pure,                        120
They will not, cannot long endure;
Condemn’d to stem the world’s rude tide,
You may not linger by the side;
For Fate shall thrust you from the shore,
And passion ply the sail and oar.                          125
Yet cherish the remembrance still,
Of the lone mountain, and the rill;
For trust, dear boys, the time will come,
When fiercer transport shall be dumb,
And you will think right frequently,                      130
But, well I hope, without a sigh,
On the free hours that we have spent,
Together, on the brown hill’s bent.

  When, musing on companions gone,
We doubly feel ourselves alone,                            135
Something, my friend, we yet may gain,
There is a pleasure in this pain:
It soothes the love of lonely rest,
Deep in each gentler heart impress’d.
‘Tis silent amid worldly toils,                            140
And stifled soon by mental broils;
But, in a bosom thus prepared,
Its still small voice is often heard,
Whispering a mingled sentiment,
‘Twixt resignation and content.                            145
Oft in my mind such thoughts awake,
By lone Saint Mary’s silent lake;
Thou know’st it well,-nor fen, nor sedge,
Pollute the pure lake’s crystal edge;
Abrupt and sheer, the mountains sink                      150
At once upon the level brink;
And just a trace of silver sand
Marks where the water meets the land.
Far in the mirror, bright and blue,
Each hill’s huge outline you may view;                    155
Shaggy with heath, but lonely bare,
Nor tree, nor bush, nor brake, is there,
Save where, of land, yon slender line
Bears thwart the lake the scatter’d pine.
Yet even this nakedness has power,                        160
And aids the feeling of the hour:
Nor thicket, dell, nor copse you spy,
Where living thing conceal’d might lie;
Nor point, retiring, hides a dell,
Where swain, or woodman lone, might dwell;                165
There’s nothing left to fancy’s guess,
You see that all is loneliness:
And silence aids-though the steep hills
Send to the lake a thousand rills;
In summer tide, so soft they weep,                        170
The sound but lulls the ear asleep;
Your horse’s hoof-tread sounds too rude,
So stilly is the solitude.

  Nought living meets the eye or ear,
But well I ween the dead are near;                        175
For though, in feudal strife, a foe
Hath laid Our Lady’s chapel low,
Yet still, beneath the hallow’d soil,
The peasant rests him from his toil,
And, dying, bids his bones be laid,                        180
Where erst his simple fathers pray’d.

  If age had tamed the passions’ strife,
And fate had cut my ties to life,
Here have I thought, ‘twere sweet to dwell,
And rear again the chaplain’s cell,                        185
Like that same peaceful hermitage,
Where Milton long’d to spend his age.
‘Twere sweet to mark the setting day,
On Bourhope’s lonely top decay;
And, as it faint and feeble died                          190
On the broad lake, and mountain’s side,
To say, ‘Thus pleasures fade away;
Youth, talents, beauty thus decay,
And leave us dark, forlorn, and grey;’
Then gaze on Dryhope’s ruin’d tower,                      195
And think on Yarrow’s faded Flower:
And when that mountain-sound I heard,
Which bids us be for storm prepared,
The distant rustling of his wings,
As up his force the Tempest brings,                        200
‘Twere sweet, ere yet his terrors rave,
To sit upon the Wizard’s grave;
That Wizard Priest’s, whose bones are thrust,
From company of holy dust;
On which no sunbeam ever shines-                          205
(So superstition’s creed divines)-
Thence view the lake, with sullen roar,
Heave her broad billows to the shore;
And mark the wild-swans mount the gale,
Spread wide through mist their snowy sail,                210
And ever stoop again, to lave
Their bosoms on the surging wave;
Then, when against the driving hail
No longer might my plaid avail,
Back to my lonely home retire,                            215
And light my lamp, and trim my fire;
There ponder o’er some mystic lay,
Till the wild tale had all its sway,
And, in the bittern’s distant shriek,
I heard unearthly voices speak,                            220
And thought the Wizard Priest was come,
To claim again his ancient home!
And bade my busy fancy range,
To frame him fitting shape and strange,
Till from the task my brow I clear’d,                      225
And smiled to think that I had fear’d.

  But chief, ‘twere sweet to think such life,
(Though but escape from fortune’s strife,)
Something most matchless good and wise,
A great and grateful sacrifice;                            230
And deem each hour, to musing given,
A step upon the road to heaven.

  Yet him, whose heart is ill at ease,
Such peaceful solitudes displease;
He loves to drown his bosom’s jar                          235
Amid the elemental war:
And my black Palmer’s choice had been
Some ruder and more savage scene,
Like that which frowns round dark Loch-skene.
There eagles scream from isle to shore;                    240
Down all the rocks the torrents roar;
O’er the black waves incessant driven,
Dark mists infect the summer heaven;
Through the rude barriers of the lake,
Away its hurrying waters break,                            245
Faster and whiter dash and curl,
Till down yon dark abyss they hurl.
Rises the fog-smoke white as snow,
Thunders the viewless stream below,
Diving, as if condemn’d to lave                            250
Some demon’s subterranean cave,
Who, prison’d by enchanter’s spell,
Shakes the dark rock with groan and yell.
And well that Palmer’s form and mien
Had suited with the stormy scene,                          255
Just on the edge, straining his ken
To view the bottom of the den,
Where, deep deep down, and far within,
Toils with the rocks the roaring linn;
Then, issuing forth one foamy wave,                        260
And wheeling round the Giant’s Grave,
White as the snowy charger’s tail,
Drives down the pass of Moffatdale.

  Marriott, thy harp, on Isis strung,
To many a Border theme has rung:                          265
Then list to me, and thou shalt know
Of this mysterious Man of Woe.




THE breeze, which swept away the smoke
  Round Norham Castle roll’d,
When all the loud artillery spoke,
With lightning-flash, and thunder-stroke,
As Marmion left the Hold,-                                  5
It curl’d not Tweed alone, that breeze,
For, far upon Northumbrian seas,
  It freshly blew, and strong,
Where, from high Whitby’s cloister’d pile,
Bound to Saint Cuthbert’s Holy Isle,                        10
  It bore a bark along.
Upon the gale she stoop’d her side,
And bounded o’er the swelling tide,
  As she were dancing home;
The merry seamen laugh’d, to see                            15
Their gallant ship so lustily
Furrow the green sea-foam.
Much joy’d they in their honour’d freight;
For, on the deck, in chair of state,
The Abbess of Saint Hilda placed,                          20
With five fair nuns, the galley graced.


‘Twas sweet, to see these holy maids,
Like birds escaped to green-wood shades,
  Their first flight from the cage,
How timid, and how curious too,                            25
For all to them was strange and new,
And all the common sights they view,
  Their wonderment engage.
One eyed the shrouds and swelling sail,
  With many a benedicite;                                  30
One at the rippling surge grew pale,
  And would for terror pray;
Then shriek’d, because the seadog, nigh,
His round black head, and sparkling eye,
  Rear’d o’er the foaming spray;                            35
And one would still adjust her veil,
Disorder’d by the summer gale,
Perchance lest some more worldly eye
Her dedicated charms might spy;
Perchance, because such action graced                      40
Her fair-turn’d arm and slender waist.
Light was each simple bosom there,
Save two, who ill might pleasure share,-
The Abbess, and the Novice Clare.


The Abbess was of noble blood,                              45
But early took the veil and hood,
Ere upon life she cast a look,
Or knew the world that she forsook.
Fair too she was, and kind had been
As she was fair, but ne’er had seen                        50
For her a timid lover sigh,
Nor knew the influence of her eye.
Love, to her ear, was but a name,
Combined with vanity and shame;
Her hopes, her fears, her joys, were all                    55
Bounded within the cloister wall:
The deadliest sin her mind could reach
Was of monastic rule the breach;
And her ambition’s highest aim
To emulate Saint Hilda’s fame.                              60
For this she gave her ample dower,
To raise the convent’s eastern tower;
For this, with carving rare and quaint,
She deck’d the chapel of the saint,
And gave the relic-shrine of cost,                          65
With ivory and gems emboss’d.
The poor her Convent’s bounty blest,
The pilgrim in its halls found rest.


Black was her garb, her rigid rule
Reform’d on Benedictine school;                            70
Her cheek was pale, her form was spare:
Vigils, and penitence austere,
Had early quench’d the light of youth,
But gentle was the dame, in sooth;
Though, vain of her religious sway,                        75
She loved to see her maids obey,
Yet nothing stern was she in cell,
And the nuns loved their Abbess well.
Sad was this voyage to the dame;
Summon’d to Lindisfame, she came,                          80
There, with Saint Cuthbert’s Abbot old,
And Tynemouth’s Prioress, to hold
A chapter of Saint Benedict,
For inquisition stern and strict,
On two apostates from the faith,                            85
And, if need were, to doom to death.


Nought say I here of Sister Clare,
Save this, that she was young and fair;
As yet a novice unprofess’d,
Lovely and gentle, but distress’d.                          90
She was betroth’d to one now dead,
Or worse, who had dishonour’d fled.
Her kinsmen bade her give her hand
To one, who loved her for her land:
Herself, almost broken-hearted now,                        95
Was bent to take the vestal vow,
And shroud, within Saint Hilda’s gloom,
Her blasted hopes and wither’d bloom.


She sate upon the galley’s prow,
And seem’d to mark the waves below;                        100
Nay, seem’d, so fix’d her look and eye,
To count them as they glided by.
She saw them not-‘twas seeming all-
Far other scene her thoughts recall,-
A sun-scorch’d desert, waste and bare,                    105
Nor waves, nor breezes, murmur’d there;
There saw she, where some careless hand
O’er a dead corpse had heap’d the sand,
To hide it till the jackals come,
To tear it from the scanty tomb.-                        110
See what a woful look was given,
As she raised up her eyes to heaven!


Lovely, and gentle, and distress’d-
These charms might tame the fiercest breast:
Harpers have sung, and poets told,                        115
That he, in fury uncontroll’d,
The shaggy monarch of the wood,
Before a virgin, fair and good,
Hath pacified his savage mood.
But passions in the human frame,                          120
Oft put the lion’s rage to shame:
And jealousy, by dark intrigue,
With sordid avarice in league,
Had practised with their bowl and knife,
Against the mourner’s harmless life.                      125
This crime was charged ‘gainst those who lay
Prison’d in Cuthbert’s islet grey.


And now the vessel skirts the strand
Of mountainous Northumberland;
Towns, towers, and halls, successive rise,                130
And catch the nuns’ delighted eyes.
Monk-Wearmouth soon behind them lay,
And Tynemouth’s priory and bay;
They mark’d, amid her trees, the hall
Of lofty Seaton-Delaval;                                  135
They saw the Blythe and Wansbeck floods
Rush to the sea through sounding woods;
They pass’d the tower of Widderington,
Mother of many a valiant son;
At Coquet-isle their beads they tell                      140
To the good Saint who own’d the cell;
Then did the Alne attention claim,
And Warkworth, proud of Percy’s name;
And next, they cross’d themselves, to hear
The whitening breakers sound so near,                      145
There, boiling through the rocks, they roar,
On Dunstanborough’s cavern’d shore;
Thy tower, proud Bamborough, mark’d they there,
King Ida’s castle, huge and square,
From its tall rock look grimly down,                      150
And on the swelling ocean frown;
Then from the coast they bore away,
And reach’d the Holy Island’s bay.


The tide did now its flood-mark gain,
And girdled in the Saint’s domain:                        155
For, with the flow and ebb, its style
Varies from continent to isle;
Dry-shod, o’er sands, twice every day,
The pilgrims to the shrine find way;
Twice every day, the waves efface                          160
Of staves and sandall’d feet the trace.
As to the port the galley flew,
Higher and higher rose to view
The Castle with its battled walls,
The ancient Monastery’s halls,                            165
A solemn, huge, and dark-red pile,
Placed on the margin of the isle.


In Saxon strength that Abbey frown’d,
With massive arches broad and round,
  That rose alternate, row and row,                        170
  On ponderous columns, short and low,
    Built ere the art was known,
  By pointed aisle, and shafted stalk,
  The arcades of an alley’d walk
    To emulate in stone.                                  175
On the deep walls, the heathen Dane
Had pour’d his impious rage in vain;
And needful was such strength to these,
Exposed to the tempestuous seas,
Scourged by the winds’ eternal sway,                      180
Open to rovers fierce as they,
Which could twelve hundred years withstand
Winds, waves, and northern pirates’ hand.
Not but that portions of the pile,
Rebuilded in a later style,                                185
Show’d where the spoiler’s hand had been;
Not but the wasting sea-breeze keen
Had worn the pillar’s carving quaint,
And moulder’d in his niche the saint,
And rounded, with consuming power,                        190
The pointed angles of each tower;
Yet still entire the Abbey stood,
Like veteran, worn, but unsubdued.


Soon as they near’d his turrets strong,
The maidens raised Saint Hilda’s song,                    195
And with the sea-wave and the wind,
Their voices, sweetly shrill, combined,
  And made harmonious close;
Then, answering from the sandy shore,
Half-drown’d amid the breakers’ roar,                      200
  According chorus rose:
Down to the haven of the Isle,
The monks and nuns in order file,
  From Cuthbert’s cloisters grim;
Banner, and cross, and relics there,                      205
To meet Saint Hilda’s maids, they bare;
And, as they caught the sounds on air,
  They echoed back the hymn.
The islanders, in joyous mood,
Rush’d emulously through the flood,                        210
  To hale the bark to land;
Conspicuous by her veil and hood,
Signing the cross, the Abbess stood,
  And bless’d them with her hand.


Suppose we now the welcome said,                          215
Suppose the Convent banquet made:
  All through the holy dome,
Through cloister, aisle, and gallery,
Wherever vestal maid might pry,
No risk to meet unhallow’d eye,                            220
  The stranger sisters roam:
Till fell the evening damp with dew,
And the sharp sea-breeze coldly blew,
For there, even summer night is chill.
Then, having stray’d and gazed their fill,                225
  They closed around the fire;
And all, in turn, essay’d to paint
The rival merits of their saint,
  A theme that ne’er can tire
A holy maid; for, be it known,                            230
That their saint’s honour is their own.


Then Whitby’s nuns exulting told,
How to their house three Barons bold
  Must menial service do;
While horns blow out a note of shame,                      235
And monks cry ‘Fye upon your name!
In wrath, for loss of silvan game,
  Saint Hilda’s priest ye slew.’-
‘This, on Ascension-day, each year,
While labouring on our harbour-pier,                      240
Must Herbert, Bruce, and Percy hear.’-
They told how in their convent-cell
A Saxon princess once did dwell,
  The lovely Edelfled;
And how, of thousand snakes, each one                      245
Was changed into a coil of stone,
  When holy Hilda pray’d;
Themselves, within their holy bound,
Their stony folds had often found.
They told, how sea-fowls’ pinions fail,                    250
As over Whitby’s towers they sail,
And, sinking down, with flutterings faint,
They do their homage to the saint.


Nor did Saint Cuthbert’s daughters fail,
To vie with these in holy tale;                            255
His body’s resting-place, of old,
How oft their patron changed, they told;
How, when the rude Dane burn’d their pile,
The monks fled forth from Holy Isle;
O’er northern mountain, marsh, and moor,                  260
From sea to sea, from shore to shore,
Seven years Saint Cuthbert’s corpse they bore.
  They rested them in fair Melrose;
    But though, alive, he loved it well,
  Not there his relics might repose;                      265
    For, wondrous tale to tell!
  In his stone-coffin forth he rides,
  A ponderous bark for river tides,
  Yet light as gossamer it glides,
    Downward to Tilmouth cell.                            270
Nor long was his abiding there,
Far southward did the saint repair;
Chester-le-Street, and Rippon, saw
His holy corpse, ere Wardilaw
  Hail’d him with joy and fear;                            275
And, after many wanderings past,
He chose his lordly seat at last,
Where his cathedral, huge and vast,
  Looks down upon the Wear;
There, deep in Durham’s Gothic shade,                      280
His relics are in secret laid;
  But none may know the place,
Save of his holiest servants three,
Deep sworn to solemn secrecy,
  Who share that wondrous grace.                          285


Who may his miracles declare!
Even Scotland’s dauntless king, and heir,
  (Although with them they led
Galwegians, wild as ocean’s gale,
And Lodon’s knights, all sheathed in mail,                290
And the bold men of Teviotdale,)
  Before his standard fled.
‘Twas he, to vindicate his reign,
Edged Alfred’s falchion on the Dane,
And turn’d the Conqueror back again,                      295
When, with his Norman bowyer band,
He came to waste Northumberland.


But fain Saint Hilda’s nuns would learn
If, on a rock, by Lindisfarne,
Saint Cuthbert sits, and toils to frame                    300
The sea-born beads that bear his name:
Such tales had Whitby’s fishers told,
And said they might his shape behold,
  And hear his anvil sound;
A deaden’d clang,-a huge dim form,                        305
Seen but, and heard, when gathering storm
  And night were closing round.
But this, as tale of idle fame,
The nuns of Lindisfarne disclaim.


While round the fire such legends go,                      310
Far different was the scene of woe,
Where, in a secret aisle beneath,
Council was held of life and death.
  It was more dark and lone that vault,
    Than the worst dungeon cell:                          315
  Old Colwulf built it, for his fault,
    In penitence to dwell,
When he, for cowl and beads, laid down
The Saxon battle-axe and crown.
This den, which, chilling every sense                      320
  Of feeling, hearing, sight,
Was call’d the Vault of Penitence,
  Excluding air and light,
Was, by the prelate Sexhelm, made
A place of burial for such dead,                          325
As, having died in mortal sin,
Might not be laid the church within.
‘Twas now a place of punishment;
Whence if so loud a shriek were sent,
  As reach’d the upper air,                                330
The hearers bless’d themselves, and said,
The spirits of the sinful dead
  Bemoan’d their torments there.


But though, in the monastic pile,
Did of this penitential aisle                              335
  Some vague tradition go,
Few only, save the Abbot, knew
Where the place lay; and still more few
Were those, who had from him the clew
  To that dread vault to go.                              340
Victim and executioner
Were blindfold when transported there.
In low dark rounds the arches hung,
From the rude rock the side-walls sprung;
The grave-stones, rudely sculptured o’er,                  345
Half sunk in earth, by time half wore,
Were all the pavement of the floor;
The mildew-drops fell one by one,
With tinkling plash, upon the stone.
A cresset, in an iron chain,                              350
Which served to light this drear domain,
With damp and darkness seem’d to strive,
As if it scarce might keep alive;
And yet it dimly served to show
The awful conclave met below.                              355


There, met to doom in secrecy,
Were placed the heads of convents three:
All servants of Saint Benedict,
The statutes of whose order strict
  On iron table lay;                                      360
In long black dress, on seats of stone,
Behind were these three judges shown
  By the pale cresset’s ray:
The Abbess of Saint Hilda’s, there,
Sat for a space with visage bare,                          365
Until, to hide her bosom’s swell,
And tear-drops that for pity fell,
  She closely drew her veil:
Yon shrouded figure, as I guess,
By her proud mien and flowing dress,                      370
Is Tynemouth’s haughty Prioress,
  And she with awe looks pale:
And he, that Ancient Man, whose sight
Has long been quench’d by age’s night,
Upon whose wrinkled brow alone,                            375
Nor ruth, nor mercy’s trace, is shown,
  Whose look is hard and stern,-
Saint Cuthbert’s Abbot is his style;
For sanctity call’d, through the isle,
The Saint of Lindisfarne.                                  380


Before them stood a guilty pair;
But, though an equal fate they share,
Yet one alone deserves our care.
Her sex a page’s dress belied;
The cloak and doublet, loosely tied,                      385
Obscured her charms, but could not hide.
  Her cap down o’er her face she drew;
    And, on her doublet breast,
She tried to hide the badge of blue,
    Lord Marmion’s falcon crest.                          390
But, at the Prioress’ command,
A Monk undid the silken band
  That tied her tresses fair,
And raised the bonnet from her head,
And down her slender form they spread,                    395
  In ringlets rich and rare.
Constance de Beverley they know,
Sister profess’d of Fontevraud,
Whom the Church number’d with the dead,
For broken vows, and convent fled.                        400


When thus her face was given to view,
(Although so pallid was her hue,
It did a ghastly contrast bear
To those bright ringlets glistering fair),
Her look composed, and steady eye,                        405
Bespoke a matchless constancy;
And there she stood so calm and pale,
That, bur her breathing did not fail,
And motion slight of eye and head,
And of her bosom, warranted                                410
That neither sense nor pulse she lacks,
You might have thought a form of wax,
Wrought to the very life, was there;
So still she was, so pale, so fair.


Her comrade was a sordid soul,                            415
  Such as does murder for a meed;
Who, but of fear, knows no control,
Because his conscience, sear’d and foul,
  Feels not the import of his deed;
One, whose brute-feeling ne’er aspires                    420
Beyond his own more brute desires.
Such tools the Tempter ever needs,
To do the savagest of deeds;
For them no vision’d terrors daunt,
Their nights no fancied spectres haunt,                    425
One fear with them, of all most base,
The fear of death,-alone finds place.
This wretch was clad in frock and cowl,
And ‘shamed not loud to moan and howl,
His body on the floor to dash,                            430
And crouch, like hound beneath the lash;
While his mute partner, standing near,
Waited her doom without a tear.


Yet well the luckless wretch might shriek,
Well might her paleness terror speak!                      435
For there were seen in that dark wall,
Two niches, narrow, deep, and tall;-
Who enters at such grisly door,
Shall ne’er, I ween, find exit more.
In each a slender meal was laid,                          440
Of roots, of water, and of bread:
By each, in Benedictine dress,
Two haggard monks stood motionless;
Who, holding high a blazing torch,
Show’d the grim entrance of the porch:                    445
Reflecting back the smoky beam,
The dark-red walls and arches gleam.
Hewn stones and cement were display’d,
And building tools in order laid.


These executioners were chose,                            450
As men who were with mankind foes,
And with despite and envy fired,
Into the cloister had retired;
  Or who, in desperate doubt of grace,
  Strove, by deep penance, to efface                      455
    Of some foul crime the stain;
  For, as the vassals of her will,
  Such men the Church selected still,
  As either joy’d in doing ill,
    Or thought more grace to gain,                        460
If, in her cause, they wrestled down
Feelings their nature strove to own.
By strange device were they brought there,
They knew not how, and knew not where.


And now that blind old Abbot rose,                        465
  To speak the Chapter’s doom,
On those the wall was to enclose,
  Alive, within the tomb;
But stopp’d, because that woful Maid,
Gathering her powers, to speak essay’d.                    470
Twice she essay’d, and twice in vain;
Her accents might no utterance gain;
Nought but imperfect murmurs slip
From her convulsed and quivering lip;
  Twixt each attempt all was so still,                    475
  You seem’d to hear a distant rill-
    ‘Twas ocean’s swells and falls;
  For though this vault of sin and fear
  Was to the sounding surge so near,
  A tempest there you scarce could hear,                  480
    So massive were the walls.


At length, an effort sent apart
The blood that curdled to her heart,
  And light came to her eye,
And colour dawn’d upon her cheek,                          485
A hectic and a flutter’d streak,
Like that left on the Cheviot peak,
  By Autumn’s stormy sky;
And when her silence broke at length,
Still as she spoke she gather’d strength,                  490
  And arm’d herself to bear.
It was a fearful sight to see
Such high resolve and constancy,
  In form so soft and fair.


‘I speak not to implore your grace,                        495
Well know I, for one minute’s space
  Successless might I sue:
Nor do I speak your prayers to gain;
For if a death of lingering pain,
To cleanse my sins, be penance vain,                      500
  Vain are your masses too.-
I listen’d to a traitor’s tale,
I left the convent and the veil;
For three long years I bow’d my pride,
A horse-boy in his train to ride;                          505
And well my folly’s meed he gave,
Who forfeited, to be his slave,
All here, and all beyond the grave.-
He saw young Clara’s face more fair,
He knew her of broad lands the heir,                      510
Forgot his vows, his faith forswore,
And Constance was beloved no more.-
  ‘Tis an old tale, and often told;
    But did my fate and wish agree,
  Ne’er had been read, in story old,                      515
  Of maiden true betray’d for gold,
    That loved, or was avenged, like me!


‘The King approved his favourite’s aim;
In vain a rival barr’d his claim,
  Whose fate with Clare’s was plight,                      520
For he attaints that rival’s fame
With treason’s charge-and on they came,
  In mortal lists to fight.
    Their oaths are said,
    Their prayers are pray’d,                              525
    Their lances in the rest are laid,
  They meet in mortal shock;
And hark! the throng, with thundering cry,
Shout “Marmion, Marmion I to the sky,
  De Wilton to the block!”                                530
Say ye, who preach Heaven shall decide
When in the lists two champions ride,
  Say, was Heaven’s justice here?
When, loyal in his love and faith,
Wilton found overthrow or death,                          535
  Beneath a traitor’s spear?
How false the charge, how true he fell,
This guilty packet best can tell.’-
Then drew a packet from her breast,
Paused, gather’d voice, and spoke the rest.                540


‘Still was false Marmion’s bridal staid;
To Whitby’s convent fled the maid,
  The hated match to shun.
“Ho! shifts she thus?” King Henry cried,
“Sir Marmion, she shall be thy bride,                      545
  If she were sworn a nun.”
One way remain’d-the King’s command
Sent Marmion to the Scottish land!
I linger’d here, and rescue plann’d
  For Clara and for me:                                    550
This caitiff Monk, for gold, did swear,
He would to Whitby’s shrine repair,
And, by his drugs, my rival fair
  A saint in heaven should be.
But ill the dastard kept his oath,                        555
Whose cowardice has undone us both.


‘And now my tongue the secret tells,
Not that remorse my bosom swells,
But to assure my soul that none
Shall ever wed with Marmion.                              560
Had fortune my last hope betray’d,
This packet, to the King convey’d,
Had given him to the headsman’s stroke,
Although my heart that instant broke.-
Now, men of death, work forth your will,                  565
For I can suffer, and be still;
And come he slow, or come he fast,
It is but Death who comes at last.


‘Yet dread me, from my living tomb,
Ye vassal slaves of bloody Rome!                          570
If Marmion’s late remorse should wake,
Full soon such vengeance will he take,
That you shall wish the fiery Dane
Had rather been your guest again.
Behind, a darker hour ascends!                            575
The altars quake, the crosier bends,
The ire of a despotic King
Rides forth upon destruction’s wing;
Then shall these vaults, so strong and deep,
Burst open to the sea-winds’ sweep;                        580
Some traveller then shall find my bones
Whitening amid disjointed stones,
And, ignorant of priests’ cruelty,
Marvel such relics here should be.’


Fix’d was her look, and stern her air:                    585
Back from her shoulders stream’d her hair;
The locks, that wont her brow to shade,
Stared up erectly from her head;
Her figure seem’d to rise more high;
Her voice, despair’s wild energy                          590
Had given a tone of prophecy.
Appall’d the astonish’d conclave sate;
With stupid eyes, the men of fate
Gazed on the light inspired form,
And listen’d for the avenging storm;                      595
The judges felt the victim’s dread;
No hand was moved, no word was said,
Till thus the Abbot’s doom was given,
Raising his sightless balls to heaven:-
‘Sister, let thy sorrows cease;                            600
Sinful brother, part in peace!’
  From that dire dungeon, place of doom,
  Of execution too, and tomb,
    Paced forth the judges three;
  Sorrow it were, and shame, to tell                      605
  The butcher-work that there befell,
  When they had glided from the cell
    Of sin and misery.


An hundred winding steps convey
That conclave to the upper day;                            610
But, ere they breathed the fresher air,
They heard the shriekings of despair,
  And many a stifled groan:
With speed their upward way they take,
(Such speed as age and fear can make,)                    615
And cross’d themselves for terror’s sake,
  As hurrying, tottering on,
Even in the vesper’s heavenly tone,
They seem’d to hear a dying groan,
And bade the passing knell to toll                        620
For welfare of a parting soul.
Slow o’er the midnight wave it swung,
Northumbrian rocks in answer rung;
To Warkworth cell the echoes roll’d,
His beads the wakeful hermit told,                        625
The Bamborough peasant raised his head,
But slept ere half a prayer he said;
So far was heard the mighty knell,
The stag sprung up on Cheviot Fell,
Spread his broad nostril to the wind,                      630
Listed before, aside, behind,
Then couch’d him down beside the hind,
And quaked among the mountain fern,
To hear that sound, so dull and stern.



Ashestiel, Ettrick Forest.

Like April morning clouds, that pass,
With varying shadow, o’er the grass,
And imitate, on field and furrow,
Life’s chequer’d scene of joy and sorrow;
Like streamlet of the mountain north,                        5
Now in a torrent racing forth,
Now winding slow its silver train,
And almost slumbering on the plain;
Like breezes of the autumn day,
Whose voice inconstant dies away,                          10
And ever swells again as fast,
When the ear deems its murmur past;
Thus various, my romantic theme
Flits, winds, or sinks, a morning dream.
Yet pleased, our eye pursues the trace                      15
Of Light and Shade’s inconstant race;
Pleased, views the rivulet afar,
Weaving its maze irregular;
And pleased, we listen as the breeze
Heaves its wild sigh through Autumn trees;                  20
Then, wild as cloud, or stream, or gale,
Flow on, flow unconfined, my Tale!

Need I to thee, dear Erskine, tell
I love the license all too well,
In sounds now lowly, and now strong,                        25
To raise the desultory song?
Oft, when ‘mid such capricious chime,
Some transient fit of lofty rhyme
To thy kind judgment seem’d excuse
For many an error of the muse,                              30
Oft hast thou said, ‘If, still misspent,
Thine hours to poetry are lent,
Go, and to tame thy wandering course,
Quaff from the fountain at the source;
Approach those masters, o’er whose tomb                    35
Immortal laurels ever bloom:
Instructive of the feebler bard,
Still from the grave their voice is heard;
From them, and from the paths they show’d,
Choose honour’d guide and practised road;                  40
Nor ramble on through brake and maze,
With harpers rude of barbarous days.

  ‘Or deem’st thou not our later time
Yields topic meet for classic rhyme?
Hast thou no elegiac verse                                  45
For Brunswick’s venerable hearse?
What! not a line, a tear, a sigh,
When valour bleeds for liberty?-
Oh, hero of that glorious time,
When, with unrivall’d light sublime,-                      50
Though martial Austria, and though all
The might of Russia, and the Gaul,
Though banded Europe stood her foes-
The star of Brandenburgh arose!
Thou couldst not live to see her beam                      55
For ever quench’d in Jena’s stream.
Lamented Chief!-it was not given
To thee to change the doom of Heaven,
And crush that dragon in its birth,
Predestined scourge of guilty earth.                        60
Lamented Chief!-not thine the power,
To save in that presumptuous hour,
When Prussia hurried to the field,
And snatch’d the spear, but left the shield!
Valour and skill ‘twas thine to try,                        65
And, tried in vain, ‘twas thine to die.
Ill had it seem’d thy silver hair
The last, the bitterest pang to share,
For princedoms reft, and scutcheons riven,
And birthrights to usurpers given;                          70
Thy land’s, thy children’s wrongs to feel,
And witness woes thou could’st not heal!
On thee relenting Heaven bestows
For honour’d life an honour’d close;
And when revolves, in time’s sure change,                  75
The hour of Germany’s revenge,
When, breathing fury for her sake,
Some new Arminius shall awake,
Her champion, ere he strike, shall come
To whet his sword on BRUNSWICK’S tomb,                      80

  ‘Or of the Red-Cross hero teach
Dauntless in dungeon as on breach:
Alike to him the sea, the shore,
The brand, the bridle, or the oar:
Alike to him the war that calls                            85
Its votaries to the shatter’d walls,
Which the grim Turk, besmear’d with blood,
Against the Invincible made good;
Or that, whose thundering voice could wake
The silence of the polar lake,                              90
When stubborn Russ, and metal’d Swede,
On the warp’d wave their death-game play’d;
Or that, where Vengeance and Affright
Howl’d round the father of the fight,
Who snatch’d, on Alexandria’s sand,                        95
The conqueror’s wreath with dying hand.

  ‘Or, if to touch such chord be thine,
Restore the ancient tragic line,
And emulate the notes that rung
From the wild harp, which silent hung                      100
By silver Avon’s holy shore,
Till twice an hundred years roll’d o’er;
When she, the bold Enchantress, came,
With fearless hand and heart on flame!
From the pale willow snatch’d the treasure,                105
And swept it with a kindred measure,
Till Avon’s swans, while rung the grove
With Montfort’s hate and Basil’s love,
Awakening at the inspired strain,
Deem’d their own Shakspeare lived again.’                  110

  Thy friendship thus thy judgment wronging,
With praises not to me belonging,
In task more meet for mightiest powers,
Wouldst thou engage my thriftless hours.
But say, my Erskine, hast thou weigh’d                    115
That secret power by all obey’d,
Which warps not less the passive mind,
Its source conceal’d or undefined;
Whether an impulse, that has birth
Soon as the infant wakes on earth,                        120
One with our feelings and our powers,
And rather part of us than ours;
Or whether fitlier term’d the sway
Of habit, form’d in early day?
Howe’er derived, its force confest                        125
Rules with despotic sway the breast,
And drags us on by viewless chain,
While taste and reason plead in vain.
Look east, and ask the Belgian why,
Beneath Batavia’s sultry sky,                              130
He seeks not eager to inhale
The freshness of the mountain gale,
Content to rear his whiten’d wall
Beside the dank and dull canal?
He’ll say, from youth he loved to see                      135
The white sail gliding by the tree.
Or see yon weatherbeaten hind,
Whose sluggish herds before him wind,
Whose tatter’d plaid and rugged cheek
His northern clime and kindred speak;                      140
Through England’s laughing meads he goes,
And England’s wealth around him flows;
Ask, if it would content him well,
At ease in those gay plains to dwell,
Where hedge-rows spread a verdant screen,                  145
And spires and forests intervene,
And the neat cottage peeps between?
No! not for these will he exchange
His dark Lochaber’s boundless range;
Not for fair Devon’s meads forsake                        150
Bennevis grey, and Carry’s lake.

  Thus while I ape the measure wild
Of tales that charm’d me yet a child,
Rude though they be, still with the chime
Return the thoughts of early time;                        155
And feelings, roused in life’s first day,
Glow in the line, and prompt the lay.
Then rise those crags, that mountain tower
Which charm’d my fancy’s wakening hour.
Though no broad river swept along,                        160
To claim, perchance, heroic song;
Though sigh’d no groves in summer gale,
To prompt of love a softer tale;
Though scarce a puny streamlet’s speed
Claim’d homage from a shepherd’s reed;                    165
Yet was poetic impulse given,
By the green hill and clear blue heaven.
It was a barren scene, and wild,
Where naked cliff’s were rudely piled;
But ever and anon between                                  170
Lay velvet tufts of loveliest green;
And well the lonely infant knew
Recesses where the wall-flower grew,
And honey-suckle loved to crawl
Up the low crag and ruin’d wall.                          175
I deem’d such nooks the sweetest shade
The sun in all its round survey’d;
And still I thought that shatter’d tower
The mightiest work of human power;
And marvell’d as the aged hind                            180
With some strange tale bewitch’d my mind,
Of forayers, who, with headlong force,
Down from that strength had spurr’d their horse,
Their southern rapine to renew,
Far in the distant Cheviots blue,                          185
And, home returning, fill’d the hall
With revel, wassel-rout, and brawl.
Methought that still with trump and clang,
The gateway’s broken arches rang;
Methought grim features, seam’d with scars,                190
Glared through the window’s rusty bars,
And ever, by the winter hearth,
Old tales I heard of woe or mirth,
Of lovers’ slights, of ladies’ charms,
Of witches’ spells, of warriors’ arms;                    195
Of patriot battles, won of old
By Wallace wight and Bruce the bold;
Of later fields of feud and fight,
When, pouring from their Highland height,
The Scottish clans, in headlong sway,                      200
Had swept the scarlet ranks away.
While stretch’d at length upon the floor,
Again I fought each combat o’er,
Pebbles and shells, in order laid,
The mimic ranks of war display’d;                          205
And onward still the Scottish Lion bore,
And still the scattered Southron fled before.

  Still, with vain fondness, could I trace,
Anew, each kind familiar face,
That brighten’d at our evening fire!                      210
From the thatch’d mansion’s grey-hair’d Sire,
Wise without learning, plain and good,
And sprung of Scotland’s gentler blood;
Whose eye, in age, quick, clear, and keen,
Show’d what in youth its glance had been;                  215
Whose doom discording neighbours sought,
Content with equity unbought;
To him the venerable Priest,
Our frequent and familiar guest,
Whose life and manners well could paint                    220
Alike the student and the saint;
Alas! whose speech too oft I broke
With gambol rude and timeless joke:
For I was wayward, bold, and wild,
A self-will’d imp, a grandame’s child;                    225
But half a plague, and half a jest,
Was still endured, beloved, caress’d.

  From me, thus nurtured, dost thou ask
The classic poet’s well-conn’d task?
Nay, Erskine, nay-On the wild hill                        230
Let the wild heath-bell flourish still;
Cherish the tulip, prune the vine,
But freely let the woodbine twine,
And leave untrimm’d the eglantine:
Nay, my friend, nay-Since oft thy praise                  235
Hath given fresh vigour to my lays;
Since oft thy judgment could refine
My flatten’d thought, or cumbrous line;
Still kind, as is thy wont, attend,
And in the minstrel spare the friend.                      240
Though wild as cloud, as stream, as gale,
Flow forth, flow unrestrain’d, my Tale!




The livelong day Lord Marmion rode:
The mountain path the Palmer show’d
By glen and streamlet winded still,
Where stunted birches hid the rill.
They might not choose the lowland road,                      5
For the Merse forayers were abroad,
Who, fired with hate and thirst of prey,
Had scarcely fail’d to bar their way.
Oft on the trampling band, from crown
Of some tall cliff, the deer look’d down;                  10
On wing of jet, from his repose
In the deep heath, the black-cock rose;
Sprung from the gorse the timid roe,
Nor waited for the bending bow;
And when the stony path began,                              15
By which the naked peak they wan,
Up flew the snowy ptarmigan.
The noon had long been pass’d before
They gain’d the height of Lammermoor;
Thence winding down the northern way,                      20
Before them, at the close of day,
Old Gifford’s towers and hamlet lay.


No summons calls them to the tower,
To spend the hospitable hour.
To Scotland’s camp the Lord was gone;                      25
His cautious dame, in bower alone,
Dreaded her castle to unclose,
So late, to unknown friends or foes.
  On through the hamlet as they paced,
  Before a porch, whose front was graced                    30
  With bush and flagon trimly placed,
    Lord Marmion drew his rein:
  The village inn seem’d large, though rude;
  Its cheerful fire and hearty food
    Might well relieve his train.                          35
Down from their seats the horsemen sprung,
With jingling spurs the court-yard rung;
They bind their horses to the stall,
For forage, food, and firing call,
And various clamour fills the hall:                        40
Weighing the labour with the cost,
Toils everywhere the bustling host.


Soon, by the chimney’s merry blaze,
Through the rude hostel might you gaze;
Might see, where, in dark nook aloof,                      45
The rafters of the sooty roof
  Bore wealth of winter cheer;
Of sea-fowl dried, and solands store,
And gammons of the tusky boar,
  And savoury haunch of deer.                              50
The chimney arch projected wide;
Above, around it, and beside,
  Were tools for housewives’ hand;
Nor wanted, in that martial day,
The implements of Scottish fray,                            55
  The buckler, lance, and brand.
Beneath its shade, the place of state,
On oaken settle Marmion sate,
And view’d around the blazing hearth.
His followers mix in noisy mirth;                          60
Whom with brown ale, in jolly tide,
From ancient vessels ranged aside,
Full actively their host supplied.


Theirs was the glee of martial breast,
And laughter theirs at little jest;                        65
And oft Lord Marmion deign’d to aid,
And mingle in the mirth they made;
For though, with men of high degree,
The proudest of the proud was he,
Yet, train’d in camps, he knew the art                      70
To win the soldier’s hardy heart.
They love a captain to obey,
Boisterous as March, yet fresh as May;
With open hand, and brow as free,
Lover of wine and minstrelsy;                              75
Ever the first to scale a tower,
As venturous in a lady’s bower:-
Such buxom chief shall lead his host
From India’s fires to Zembla’s frost.


Resting upon his pilgrim staff,                            80
  Right opposite the Palmer stood;
His thin dark visage seen but half,
  Half hidden by his hood.
Still fix’d on Marmion was his look,
Which he, who ill such gaze could brook,                    85
  Strove by a frown to quell;
But not for that, though more than once
Full met their stern encountering glance,
The Palmer’s visage fell.


By fits less frequent from the crowd                        90
Was heard the burst of laughter loud;
For still, as squire and archer stared
On that dark face and matted beard,
  Their glee and game declined.
All gazed at length in silence drear,                      95
Unbroke, save when in comrade’s ear
Some yeoman, wondering in his fear,
  Thus whispered forth his mind:-
‘Saint Mary! saw’st thou e’er such sight?
How pale his cheek, his eye how bright,                    100
Whene’er the firebrand’s fickle light
  Glances beneath his cowl!
Full on our Lord he sets his eye;
For his best palfrey, would not I
  Endure that sullen scowl.’                              105


But Marmion, as to chase the awe
Which thus had quell’d their hearts, who saw
The ever-varying fire-light show
That figure stern and face of woe,
  Now call’d upon a squire:-                              110
‘Fitz-Eustace, know’st thou not some lay,
To speed the lingering night away?
  We slumber by the fire.’-


‘So please you,’ thus the youth rejoin’d,
‘Our choicest minstrel’s left behind.                      115
Ill may we hope to please your ear,
Accustom’d Constant’s strains to hear.
The harp full deftly can he strike,
And wake the lover’s lute alike;
To dear Saint Valentine, no thrush                        120
Sings livelier from a spring-tide bush,
No nightingale her love-lorn tune
More sweetly warbles to the moon.
Woe to the cause, whate’er it be,
Detains from us his melody,                                125
Lavish’d on rocks, and billows stern,
Or duller monks of Lindisfarne.
Now must I venture as I may,
To sing his favourite roundelay.’


A mellow voice Fitz-Eustace had,                          130
The air he chose was wild and sad;
Such have I heard, in Scottish land,
Rise from the busy harvest band,
When falls before the mountaineer,
On Lowland plains, the ripen’d ear.                        135
Now one shrill voice the notes prolong,
Now a wild chorus swells the song:
Oft have I listen’d, and stood still,
As it came soften’d up the hill,
And deem’d it the lament of men                            140
Who languish’d for their native glen;
And thought how sad would be such sound,
On Susquehanna’s swampy ground,
Kentucky’s wood-encumber’d brake,
Or wild Ontario’s boundless lake,                          145
Where heart-sick exiles, in the strain,
Recall’d fair Scotland’s hills again!



Where shall the lover rest,
  Whom the fates sever
From his true maiden’s breast,                            150
  Parted for ever?
Where, through groves deep and high,
  Sounds the far billow,
Where early violets die,
  Under the willow.                                        155

Eleu loro, &c. Soft shall be his pillow.

There, through the summer day,
  Cool streams are laving;
There, while the tempests sway,
  Scarce are boughs waving;                                160
There, thy rest shalt thou take,
  Parted for ever,
Never again to wake,
  Never, O never!

Eleu loro, &c. Never, O never!                            165


Where shall the traitor rest,
  He, the deceiver,
Who could win maiden’s breast,
  Ruin, and leave her?
In the lost battle,                                        170
  Borne down by the flying,
Where mingles war’s rattle
  With groans of the dying.

Eleu loro, &c. There shall he be lying.

Her wing shall the eagle flap                              175
  O’er the false-hearted;
His warm blood the wolf shall lap,
  Ere life be parted.
Shame and dishonour sit
  By his grave ever;                                      180
Blessing shall hallow it,-
Never, O never.

Eleu loro, &c. Never, O never!


It ceased, the melancholy sound;
And silence sunk on all around.                            185
The air was sad; but sadder still
  It fell on Marmion’s ear,
And plain’d as if disgrace and ill,
  And shameful death, were near.
He drew his mantle past his face,                          190
  Between it and the band,
And rested with his head a space,
Reclining on his hand.
His thoughts I scan not; but I ween,
That, could their import have been seen,                  195
The meanest groom in all the hall,
That e’er tied courser to a stall,
Would scarce have wished to be their prey,
For Lutterward and Fontenaye.


High minds, of native pride and force,                    200
Most deeply feel thy pangs, Remorse!
Fear, for their scourge, mean villains have,
Thou art the torturer of the brave!
Yet fatal strength they boast to steel
Their minds to bear the wounds they feel,                  205
Even while they writhe beneath the smart
Of civil conflict in the heart.
For soon Lord Marmion raised his head,
And, smiling, to Fitz-Eustace said,
‘Is it not strange, that, as ye sung,                      210
Seem’d in mine ear a death-peal rung,
Such as in nunneries they toll
For some departing sister’s soul?
  Say, what may this portend?’-
Then first the Palmer silence broke,                      215
(The livelong day he had not spoke)
  ‘The death of a dear friend.’


Marmion, whose steady heart and eye
Ne’er changed in worst extremity;
Marmion, whose soul could scantly brook,                  220
Even from his King, a haughty look;
Whose accents of command controll’d,
In camps, the boldest of the bold-
Thought, look, and utterance fail’d him now,
Fall’n was his glance, and flush’d his brow:              225
  For either in the tone,
Or something in the Palmer’s look,
So full upon his conscience strook,
  That answer he found none.
Thus oft it haps, that when within                        230
They shrink at sense of secret sin,
  A feather daunts the brave;
A fool’s wild speech confounds the wise,
And proudest princes vail their eyes
  Before their meanest slave.                              235


Well might he falter!-By his aid
Was Constance Beverley betray’d.
Not that he augur’d of the doom,
Which on the living closed the tomb:
But, tired to hear the desperate maid                      240
Threaten by turns, beseech, upbraid;
And wroth, because, in wild despair,
She practised on the life of Clare;
Its fugitive the Church he gave,
Though not a victim, but a slave;                          245
And deem’d restraint in convent strange
Would hide her wrongs, and her revenge,
Himself, proud Henry’s favourite peer,
Held Romish thunders idle fear,
Secure his pardon he might hold,                          250
For some slight mulct of penance-gold.
Thus judging, he gave secret way,
When the stern priests surprised their prey.
His train but deem’d the favourite page
Was left behind, to spare his age;                        255
Or other if they deem’d, none dared
To mutter what he thought and heard:
Woe to the vassal, who durst pry
Into Lord Marmion’s privacy!


His conscience slept-he deem’d her well,                  260
And safe secured in yonder cell;
But, waken’d by her favourite lay,
And that strange Palmer’s boding say,
That fell so ominous and drear,
Full on the object of his fear,                            265
To aid remorse’s venom’d throes,
Dark tales of convent-vengeance rose;
And Constance, late betray’d and scorn’d,
All lovely on his soul return’d;
Lovely as when, at treacherous call,                      270
She left her convent’s peaceful wall,
Crimson’d with shame, with terror mute,
Dreading alike escape, pursuit,
Till love, victorious o’er alarms,
Hid fears and blushes in his arms.                        275

‘Alas!’ he thought, ‘how changed that mien!
How changed these timid looks have been,
Since years of guilt, and of disguise,
Have steel’d her brow, and arm’d her eyes!
No more of virgin terror speaks                            280
The blood that mantles in her cheeks;
Fierce, and unfeminine, are there,
Frenzy for joy, for grief despair;
And I the cause-for whom were given
Her peace on earth, her hopes in heaven!-                285
Would,’ thought he, as the picture grows,
‘I on its stalk had left the rose!
Oh, why should man’s success remove
The very charms that wake his love!-
Her convent’s peaceful solitude                            290
Is now a prison harsh and rude;
And, pent within the narrow cell,
How will her spirit chafe and swell!
How brook the stern monastic laws!
The penance how-and I the cause!-                        295
Vigil, and scourge-perchance even worse!’-
And twice he rose to cry, ‘To horse!’
And twice his Sovereign’s mandate came,
Like damp upon a kindling flame;
And twice he thought, ‘Gave I not charge                  300
She should be safe, though not at large?
They durst not, for their island, shred
One golden ringlet from her head.’


While thus in Marmion’s bosom strove
Repentance and reviving love,                              305
Like whirlwinds, whose contending sway
I’ve seen Loch Vennachar obey,
Their Host the Palmer’s speech had heard,
And, talkative, took up the word:
  ‘Ay, reverend Pilgrim, you, who stray                    310
From Scotland’s simple land away,
  To visit realms afar,
Full often learn the art to know
Of future weal, or future woe,
  By word, or sign, or star;                              315
Yet might a knight his fortune hear,
If, knight-like, he despises fear,
Not far from hence;-if fathers old
Aright our hamlet legend told.’-
These broken words the menials move,
(For marvels still the vulgar love,)                      320
And, Marmion giving license cold,
His tale the host thus gladly told:-


The Host’s Tale

‘A Clerk could tell what years have flown
Since Alexander fill’d our throne,                        325
(Third monarch of that warlike name,)
And eke the time when here he came
To seek Sir Hugo, then our lord:
A braver never drew a sword;
A wiser never, at the hour                                330
Of midnight, spoke the word of power:
The same, whom ancient records call
The founder of the Goblin-Hall.
I would, Sir Knight, your longer stay
Gave you that cavern to survey.                            335
Of lofty roof, and ample size,
Beneath the castle deep it lies:
To hew the living rock profound,
The floor to pave, the arch to round,
There never toil’d a mortal arm,                          340
It all was wrought by word and charm;
And I have heard my grandsire say,
That the wild clamour and affray
Of those dread artisans of hell,
Who labour’d under Hugo’s spell,                          345
Sounded as loud as ocean’s war,
Among the caverns of Dunbar.


‘The King Lord Gifford’s castle sought,
Deep labouring with uncertain thought;
Even then he mustered all his host,                        350
To meet upon the western coast;
For Norse and Danish galleys plied
Their oars within the Frith of Clyde.
There floated Haco’s banner trim,
Above Norweyan warriors grim,                              355
Savage of heart, and large of limb;
Threatening both continent and isle,
Bute, Arran, Cunninghame, and Kyle.
Lord Gifford, deep beneath the ground,
Heard Alexander’s bugle sound,                            360
And tarried not his garb to change,
But, in his wizard habit strange,
Came forth,-a quaint and fearful sight;
His mantle lined with fox-skins white;
His high and wrinkled forehead bore                        365
A pointed cap, such as of yore
Clerks say that Pharaoh’s Magi wore:
His shoes were mark’d with cross and spell,
Upon his breast a pentacle;
His zone, of virgin parchment thin,                        370
Or, as some tell, of dead man’s skin,
Bore many a planetary sign,
Combust, and retrograde, and trine;
And in his hand he held prepared,
A naked sword without a guard.                            375


‘Dire dealings with the fiendish race
Had mark’d strange lines upon his face;
Vigil and fast had worn him grim,
His eyesight dazzled seem’d and dim,
As one unused to upper day;                                380
Even his own menials with dismay
Beheld, Sir Knight, the grisly Sire,
In his unwonted wild attire;
Unwonted, for traditions run,
He seldom thus beheld the sun.-                          385
“I know,” he said,-his voice was hoarse,
And broken seem’d its hollow force,-
“I know the cause, although untold,
Why the King seeks his vassal’s hold:
Vainly from me my liege would know                        390
His kingdom’s future weal or woe;
But yet, if strong his arm and heart,
His courage may do more than art.


‘“Of middle air the demons proud,
Who ride upon the racking cloud,                          395
Can read, in fix’d or wandering star,
The issue of events afar;
But still their sullen aid withhold,
Save when by mightier force controll’d.
Such late I summon’d to my hall;                          400
And though so potent was the call,
That scarce the deepest nook of hell
I deem’d a refuge from the spell,
Yet, obstinate in silence still,
The haughty demon mocks my skill.                          405
But thou,-who little know’st thy might,
As born upon that blessed night
When yawning graves, and dying groan,
Proclaim’d hell’s empire overthrown,-
With untaught valour shalt compel                          410
Response denied to magic spell.”-
“Gramercy,” quoth our Monarch free,
“Place him but front to front with me,
And, by this good and honour’d brand,
The gift of Coeur-de-Lion’s hand,                          415
Soothly I swear, that, tide what tide,
The demon shall a buffet bide.”-
His bearing bold the wizard view’d,
And thus, well pleased, his speech renew’d:-
“There spoke the blood of Malcolm!-mark:                  420
Forth pacing hence, at midnight dark,
The rampart seek, whose circling crown
Crests the ascent of yonder down:
A southern entrance shalt thou find;
There halt, and there thy bugle wind,                      425
And trust thine elfin foe to see,
In guise of thy worst enemy:
Couch then thy lance, and spur thy steed-
Upon him! and Saint George to speed!
If he go down, thou soon shalt know                        430
Whate’er these airy sprites can show:-
If thy heart fail thee in the strife,
I am no warrant for thy life.”


‘Soon as the midnight bell did ring,
Alone, and arm’d, forth rode the King                      435
To that old camp’s deserted round:
Sir Knight, you well might mark the mound,
Left hand the town,-the Pictish race,
The trench, long since, in blood did trace;
The moor around is brown and bare,                        440
The space within is green and fair.
The spot our village children know,
For there the earliest wild-flowers grow;
But woe betide the wandering wight,
That treads its circle in the night!                      445
The breadth across, a bowshot clear,
Gives ample space for full career;
Opposed to the four points of heaven,
By four deep gaps are entrance given.
The southernmost our Monarch past,                        450
Halted, and blew a gallant blast;
And on the north, within the ring,
Appeared the form of England’s King,
Who then a thousand leagues afar,
In Palestine waged holy war:                              455
Yet arms like England’s did he wield,
Alike the leopards in the shield,
Alike his Syrian courser’s frame,
The rider’s length of limb the same:
Long afterwards did Scotland know,                        460
Fell Edward was her deadliest foe.


‘The vision made our Monarch start,
But soon he mann’d his noble heart,
And in the first career they ran,
The Elfin Knight fell, horse and man;                      465
Yet did a splinter of his lance
Through Alexander’s visor glance,
And razed the skin-a puny wound.
The King, light leaping to the ground,
With naked blade his phantom foe                          470
Compell’d the future war to show.
Of Largs he saw the glorious plain,
Where still gigantic bones remain,
  Memorial of the Danish war;
Himself he saw, amid the field,                            475
On high his brandish’d war-axe wield,
  And strike proud Haco from his car,
While all around the shadowy Kings
Denmark’s grim ravens cower’d their wings.
‘Tis said, that, in that awful night,                      480
Remoter visions met his sight,
Foreshowing future conquest far,
When our sons’ sons wage northern war;
A royal city, tower and spire,
Redden’d the midnight sky with fire,                      485
And shouting crews her navy bore,
Triumphant, to the victor shore.
Such signs may learned clerks explain,
They pass the wit of simple swain.


‘The joyful King turn’d home again,                        490
Headed his host, and quell’d the Dane;
But yearly, when return’d the night
Of his strange combat with the sprite,
  His wound must bleed and smart;
Lord Gifford then would gibing say,                        495
“Bold as ye were, my liege, ye pay
  The penance of your start.”
Long since, beneath Dunfermline’s nave,
King Alexander fills his grave,
  Our Lady give him rest!                                  500
Yet still the knightly spear and shield
The Elfin Warrior doth wield,
  Upon the brown hill’s breast;
And many a knight hath proved his chance,
In the charm’d ring to break a lance,                      505
  But all have foully sped;
Save two, as legends tell, and they
Were Wallace wight, and Gilbert Hay.-
Gentles, my tale is said.’


The quaighs were deep, the liquor strong,                  510
And on the tale the yeoman-throng
Had made a comment sage and long,
  But Marmion gave a sign:
And, with their lord, the squires retire;
The rest around the hostel fire,                          515
  Their drowsy limbs recline:
For pillow, underneath each head,
The quiver and the targe were laid.
Deep slumbering on the hostel floor,
Oppress’d with toil and ale, they snore:                  520
The dying flame, in fitful change,
Threw on the group its shadows strange.


Apart, and nestling in the hay
Of a waste loft, Fitz-Eustace lay;
Scarce, by the pale moonlight, were seen                  525
The foldings of his mantle green:
Lightly he dreamt, as youth will dream,
Of sport by thicket, or by stream,
Of hawk or hound, of ring or glove,
Or, lighter yet, of lady’s love.                          530
A cautious tread his slumber broke,
And, close beside him, when he woke,
In moonbeam half, and half in gloom,
Stood a tall form, with nodding plume;
But, ere his dagger Eustace drew,                          535
His master Marmion’s voice he knew.


-‘Fitz-Eustace! rise,-I cannot rest;
Yon churl’s wild legend haunts my breast,
And graver thoughts have chafed my mood:
The air must cool my feverish blood;                      540
And fain would I ride forth, to see
The scene of elfin chivalry.
Arise, and saddle me my steed;
And, gentle Eustace, take good heed
Thou dost not rouse these drowsy slaves;                  545
I would not, that the prating knaves
Had cause for saying, o’er their ale,
That I could credit such a tale.’-
Then softly down the steps they slid,
Eustace the stable door undid,                            550
And, darkling, Marmion’s steed array’d,
While, whispering, thus the Baron said:-


‘Did’st never, good my youth, hear tell,
  That on the hour when I was born,
Saint George, who graced my sire’s chapelle,              555
Down from his steed of marble fell,
  A weary wight forlorn?
The flattering chaplains all agree,
The champion left his steed to me.
I would, the omen’s truth to show,                        560
That I could meet this Elfin Foe!
Blithe would I battle, for the right
To ask one question at the sprite:
Vain thought! for elves, if elves there be,
An empty race, by fount or sea,                            565
To dashing waters dance and sing,
Or round the green oak wheel their ring.’
Thus speaking, he his steed bestrode,
And from the hostel slowly rode.


Fitz-Eustace follow’d him abroad,                          570
And mark’d him pace the village road,
  And listen’d to his horse’s tramp,
    Till, by the lessening sound,
  He judged that of the Pictish camp
    Lord Marmion sought the round.                        575
Wonder it seem’d, in the squire’s eyes,
That one, so wary held, and wise,--
Of whom ‘twas said, he scarce received
For gospel, what the Church believed,-
  Should, stirr’d by idle tale,                            580
Ride forth in silence of the night,
As hoping half to meet a sprite,
  Array’d in plate and mail.
For little did Fitz-Eustace know,
That passions, in contending flow,                        585
  Unfix the strongest mind;
Wearied from doubt to doubt to flee,
We welcome fond credulity,
  Guide confident, though blind.


Little for this Fitz-Eustace cared,                        590
But, patient, waited till he heard,
At distance, prick’d to utmost speed,
The foot-tramp of a flying steed,
  Come town-ward rushing on;
First, dead, as if on turf it trode,                      595
Then, clattering on the village road,-
In other pace than forth he yode,
  Return’d Lord Marmion.
Down hastily he sprung from selle,
And, in his haste, wellnigh he fell;                      600
To the squire’s hand the rein he threw,
And spoke no word as he withdrew:
But yet the moonlight did betray,
The falcon-crest was soil’d with clay;
And plainly might Fitz-Eustace see,                        605
By stains upon the charger’s knee,
And his left side, that on the moor
He had not kept his footing sure.
Long musing on these wondrous signs,
At length to rest the squire reclines,                    610
Broken and short; for still, between,
Would dreams of terror intervene:
Eustace did ne’er so blithely mark
The first notes of the morning lark.



Ashestiel, Ettrick Forest

An ancient Minstrel sagely said,
‘Where is the life which late we led?’
That motley clown in Arden wood,
Whom humorous Jacques with envy view’d,
Not even that clown could amplify,                          5
On this trite text, so long as I.
Eleven years we now may tell,
Since we have known each other well;
Since, riding side by side, our hand
First drew the voluntary brand;                            10
And sure, through many a varied scene,,
Unkindness never came between.
Away these winged years have flown,
To join the mass of ages gone;
And though deep mark’d, like all below,                    15
With chequer’d shades of joy and woe;
Though thou o’er realms and seas hast ranged,
Mark’d cities lost, and empires changed,
While here, at home, my narrower ken
Somewhat of manners saw, and men;                          20
Though varying wishes, hopes, and fears,
Fever’d the progress of these years,
Vet now, days, weeks, and months, but seem
The recollection of a dream,
So still we glide down to the sea                          25
Of fathomless eternity.

  Even now it scarcely seems a day,
Since first I tuned this idle lay;
A task so often’ thrown aside,
When leisure graver cares denied,                          30
That now, November’s dreary gale,
Whose voice inspired my opening tale,
That same November gale once more
Whirls the dry leaves on Yarrow shore.
Their vex’d boughs streaming to the sky,                    35
Once more our naked birches sigh,
And Blackhouse heights, and Ettrick Pen,
Have donn’d their wintry shrouds again:
And mountain dark, and flooded mead,
Bid us forsake the banks of Tweed.                          40
Earlier than wont along the sky,
Mix’d with the rack, the snow mists fly;
The shepherd who, in summer sun,
Had something of our envy won,
As thou with pencil, I with pen,                            45
The features traced of hill and glen;-
He who, outstretch’d the livelong day,
At ease among the heath-flowers lay,
View’d the light clouds with vacant look,
Or slumber’d o’er his tatter’d book,                        50
Or idly busied him to guide
His angle o’er the lessen’d tide;-
At midnight now, the snowy plain
Finds sterner labour for the swain.

  When red hath set the beamless sun,                      55
Through heavy vapours dark and dun;
When the tired ploughman, dry and warm,
Hears, half asleep, the rising storm
Hurling the hail, and sleeted rain,
Against the casement’s tinkling pane;                      60
The sounds that drive wild deer, and fox,
To shelter in the brake and rocks,
Are warnings which the shepherd ask
To dismal and to dangerous task.
Oft he looks forth, and hopes, in vain,                    65
The blast may sink in mellowing rain;
Till, dark above, and white below,
Decided drives the flaky snow,
And forth the hardy swain must go.
Long, with dejected look and whine,                        70
To leave the hearth his dogs repine;
Whistling and cheering them to aid,
Around his back he wreathes the plaid:
His flock he gathers, and he guides,
To open downs, and mountain-sides,                          75
Where fiercest though the tempest blow,
Least deeply lies the drift below.
The blast, that whistles o’er the fells,
Stiffens his locks to icicles;
Oft he looks back, while streaming far,                    80
His cottage window seems a star,-
Loses its feeble gleam,-and then
Turns patient to the blast again,
And, facing to the tempest’s sweep,
Drives through the gloom his lagging sheep.                85
If fails his heart, if his limbs fail,
Benumbing death is in the gale;
His paths, his landmarks, all unknown,
Close to the hut, no more his own,
Close to the aid he sought in vain,                        90
The morn may find the stiffen’d swain:
The widow sees, at dawning pale,
His orphans raise their feeble wail;
And, close beside him, in the snow,
Poor Yarrow, partner of their woe,                          95
Couches upon his master’s breast,
And licks his cheek to break his rest.

  Who envies now the shepherd’s lot,
His healthy fare, his rural cot,
His summer couch by greenwood tree,                        100
His rustic kirn’s loud revelry,
His native hill-notes, tuned on high,
To Marion of the blithesome eye;
His crook, his scrip, his oaten reed,
And all Arcadia’s golden creed?                            105

  Changes not so with us, my Skene,
Of human life the varying scene?
Our youthful summer oft we see
Dance by on wings of game and glee,
While the dark storm reserves its rage,                    110
Against the winter of our age:
As he, the ancient Chief of Troy,
His manhood spent in peace and joy;
But Grecian fires, and loud alarms,
Call’d ancient Priam forth to arms.                        115
Then happy those, since each must drain
His share of pleasure, share of pain,-
Then happy those, beloved of Heaven,
To whom the mingled cup is given;
Whose lenient sorrows find relief,                        120
Whose joys are chasten’d by their grief.
And such a lot, my Skene, was thine,
When thou, of late, wert doom’d to twine,--
Just when thy bridal hour was by,-
The cypress with the myrtle tie.                          125
Just on thy bride her Sire had smiled,
And bless’d the union of his child,
When love must change its joyous cheer,
And wipe affection’s filial tear.
Nor did the actions next his end,                          130
Speak more the father than the friend:
Scarce had lamented Forbes paid
The tribute to his Minstrel’s shade;
The tale of friendship scarce was told,
Ere the narrator’s heart was cold-                        135
Far may we search before we find
A heart so manly and so kind!
But not around his honour’d urn,
Shall friends alone and kindred mourn;
The thousand eyes his care had dried,                      140
Pour at his name a bitter tide;
And frequent falls the grateful dew,
For benefits the world ne’er knew.
If mortal charity dare claim
The Almighty’s attributed name,                            145
Inscribe above his mouldering clay,
‘The widow’s shield, the orphan’s stay.’
Nor, though it wake thy sorrow, deem
My verse intrudes on this sad theme;
for sacred was the pen that wrote,                        150
‘Thy father’s friend forget thou not:’
And grateful title may I plead,
For many a kindly word and deed,
To bring my tribute to his grave:-
‘Tis little-but ‘tis all I have.                          155

  To thee, perchance, this rambling strain
Recalls our summer walks again;
When, doing nought,-and, to speak true,
Not anxious to find aught to do,-
The wild unbounded hills we ranged,                        160
While oft our talk its topic changed,
And, desultory as our way,
Ranged, unconfined, from grave to gay.
Even when it flagged, as oft will chance,
No effort made to break its trance,                        165
We could right pleasantly pursue
Our sports in social silence too;
Thou gravely labouring to pourtray
The blighted oak’s fantastic spray;
I spelling o’er, with much delight,                        170
The legend of that antique knight,
Tirante by name, yclep’d the White.
At either’s feet a trusty squire,
Pandour and Camp, with eyes of fire,
Jealous, each other’s motions view’d,                      175
And scarce suppress’d their ancient feud.
The laverock whistled from the cloud;
The stream was lively, but not loud;
From the white thorn the May-flower shed
Its dewy fragrance round our head:                        180
Not Ariel lived more merrily
Under the blossom’d bough, than we.

  And blithesome nights, too, have been ours,
When Winter stript the summer’s bowers.
Careless we heard, what now I hear,                        185
The wild blast sighing deep and drear,
When fires were bright, and lamps beam’d gay,
And ladies tuned the lovely lay;
And he was held a laggard soul,
Who shunn’d to quaff the sparkling bowl.                  190
Then he, whose absence we deplore,
Who breathes the gales of Devon’s shore,
The longer miss’d, bewail’d the more;
And thou, and I, and dear-loved R-,
And one whose name I may not say,-                        195
For not Mimosa’s tender tree
Shrinks sooner from the touch than he,-
In merry chorus well combined,
With laughter drown’d the whistling wind.
Mirth was within; and care without                        200
Might gnaw her nails to hear our shout.
Not but amid the buxom scene
Some grave discourse might intervene-
Of the good horse that bore him best,
His shoulder, hoof, and arching crest:                    205
For, like mad Tom’s, our chiefest care,
Was horse to ride, and weapon wear.
Such nights we’ve had; and, though the game
Of manhood be more sober tame,
And though the field-day, or the drill,                    210
Seem less important now-yet still
Such may we hope to share again.
The sprightly thought inspires my strain!
And mark, how, like a horseman true,
Lord Marmion’s march I thus renew.                        215



Eustace, I said, did blithely mark
The first notes of the merry lark.
The lark sang shrill, the cock he crew,
And loudly Marmion’s bugles blew,
And with their light and lively call,                        5
Brought groom and yeoman to the stall.
  Whistling they came, and free of heart,
    But soon their mood was changed;
  Complaint was heard on every part,
    Of something disarranged.                              10
Some clamour’d loud for armour lost;
Some brawl’d and wrangled with the host;
‘By Becket’s bones,’ cried one, ‘I fear,
That some false Scot has stolen my spear!’-
Young Blount, Lord Marmion’s second squire,                15
Found his steed wet with sweat and mire;
Although the rated horse-boy sware,
Last night he dress’d him sleek and fair.
While chafed the impatient squire like thunder,
Old Hubert shouts, in fear and wonder,-                    20
‘Help, gentle Blount! help, comrades all!
Bevis lies dying in his stall:
To Marmion who the plight dare tell,
Of the good steed he loves so well?’-
Gaping for fear and ruth, they saw                          25
The charger panting on his straw;
Till one, who would seem wisest, cried,-
‘What else but evil could betide,
With that cursed Palmer for our guide?
Better we had through mire and bush                        30
Been lantern-led by Friar Rush.’


  Fitz-Eustace, who the cause but guess’d,
    Nor wholly understood,
  His comrades’ clamorous plaints suppress’d;
    He knew Lord Marmion’s mood.                            35
  Him, ere he issued forth, he sought,
  And found deep plunged in gloomy thought,
    And did his tale display
  Simply, as if he knew of nought
    To cause such disarray.                                40
Lord Marmion gave attention cold,
Nor marvell’d at the wonders told,-
Pass’d them as accidents of course,
And bade his clarions sound to horse.


Young Henry Blount, meanwhile, the cost                    45
Had reckon’d with their Scottish host;
And, as the charge he cast and paid,
‘Ill thou deservest thy hire,’ he said;
‘Dost see, thou knave, my horse’s plight?
Fairies have ridden him all the night,                      50
  And left him in a foam!
I trust, that soon a conjuring band,
With English cross, and blazing brand,
Shall drive the devils from this land,
  To their infernal home:                                  55
For in this haunted den, I trow,
All night they trampled to and fro.’-
The laughing host look’d on the hire,-
‘Gramercy, gentle southern squire,
And if thou comest among the rest,                          60
With Scottish broadsword to be blest,
Sharp be the brand, and sure the blow,
And short the pang to undergo.’
Here stay’d their talk,-for Marmion
Gave now the signal to set on.                              65
The Palmer showing forth the way,
They journey’d all the morning day.


The green-sward way was smooth and good,
Through Humbie’s and through Saltoun’s wood;
A forest-glade, which, varying still,                      70
Here gave a view of dale and hill,
There narrower closed, till over head
A vaulted screen the branches made.
‘A pleasant path,’ Fitz-Eustace said;
‘Such as where errant-knights might see                    75
Adventures of high chivalry;
Might meet some damsel flying fast,
With hair unbound, and looks aghast;
And smooth and level course were here,
In her defence to break a spear.                            80
Here, too, are twilight nooks and dells;
And oft, in such, the story tells,
The damsel kind, from danger freed,
Did grateful pay her champion’s meed.’
He spoke to cheer Lord Marmion’s mind;                      85
Perchance to show his lore design’d;
  For Eustace much had pored
Upon a huge romantic tome,
In the hall-window of his home,
Imprinted at the antique dome                              90
  Of Caxton, or de Worde.
Therefore he spoke,-but spoke in vain,
For Marmion answer’d nought again.


Now sudden, distant trumpets shrill,
In notes prolong’d by wood and hill,                        95
  Were heard to echo far;
Each ready archer grasp’d his bow,
But by the flourish soon they know,
  They breathed no point of war.
Yet cautious, as in foeman’s land,                        100
Lord Marmion’s order speeds the band,
  Some opener ground to gain;
And scarce a furlong had they rode,
When thinner trees, receding, show’d
  A little woodland plain.                                105
Just in that advantageous glade,
The halting troop a line had made,
As forth from the opposing shade
  Issued a gallant train.


First came the trumpets, at whose clang                    110
So late the forest echoes rang;
On prancing steeds they forward press’d,
With scarlet mantle, azure vest;
Each at his trump a banner wore,
Which Scotland’s royal scutcheon bore:                    115
Heralds and pursuivants, by name
Bute, Islay, Marchmount, Rothsay, came,
In painted tabards, proudly showing
Gules, Argent, Or, and Azure glowing,
  Attendant on a King-at-arms,                            120
Whose hand the armorial truncheon held,
That feudal strife had often quell’d,
  When wildest its alarms.


  He was a man of middle age;
  In aspect manly, grave, and sage,                        125
    As on King’s errand come;
  But in the glances of his eye,
  A penetrating, keen, and sly
    Expression found its home;
  The flash of that satiric rage,                          130
  Which, bursting on the early stage,
  Branded the vices of the age,
    And broke the keys of Rome.
  On milk-white palfrey forth he paced;
  His cap of maintenance was graced                        135
    With the proud heron-plume.
  From his steed’s shoulder, loin, and breast,
    Silk housings swept the ground,
  With Scotland’s arms, device, and crest,
    Embroider’d round and round.                          140
  The double tressure might you see,
    First by Achaius borne,
  The thistle and the fleur-de-lis,
    And gallant unicorn.
So bright the King’s armorial coat,                        145
That scarce the dazzled eye could note,
In living colours, blazon’d brave,
The Lion, which his title gave;
A train, which well beseem’d his state,
But all unarm’d, around him wait.                          150
  Still is thy name in high account,
    And still thy verse has charms,
  Sir David Lindesay of the Mount,
    Lord Lion King-at-arms!


Down from his horse did Marmion spring,                    155
Soon as he saw the Lion-King;
For well the stately Baron knew
To him such courtesy was due,
Whom Royal James himself had crown’d,
And on his temples placed the round                        160
  Of Scotland’s ancient diadem:
And wet his brow with hallow’d wine,
And on his finger given to shine
  The emblematic gem.
Their mutual greetings duly made,                          165
The Lion thus his message said:-
‘Though Scotland’s King hath deeply swore
Ne’er to knit faith with Henry more,
And strictly hath forbid resort
From England to his royal court;                          170
Yet, for he knows Lord Marmion’s name,
And honours much his warlike fame,
My liege hath deem’d it shame, and lack
Of courtesy, to turn him back;
And, by his order, I, your guide,                          175
Must lodging fit and fair provide,
Till finds King James meet time to see
The flower of English chivalry.’


Though inly chafed at this delay,
Lord Marmion bears it as he may.                          180
The Palmer, his mysterious guide,
Beholding thus his place supplied,
  Sought to take leave in vain:
Strict was the Lion-King’s command,
That none, who rode in Marmion’s band,                    185
  Should sever from the train:
‘England has here enow of spies
In Lady Heron’s witching eyes;’
To Marchmount thus, apart, he said,
But fair pretext to Marmion made.                          190
The right hand path they now decline,
And trace against the stream the Tyne.


At length up that wild dale they wind,
  Where Crichtoun Castle crowns the bank;
For there the Lion’s care assign’d                        195
  A lodging meet for Marmion’s rank.
That Castle rises on the steep
  Of the green vale of Tyne:
And far beneath, where slow they creep,
From pool to eddy, dark and deep,                          200
Where alders moist, and willows weep,
  You hear her streams repine.
The towers in different ages rose;
Their various architecture shows
  The builders’ various hands;                            205
A mighty mass, that could oppose,
When deadliest hatred fired its foes,
  The vengeful Douglas bands.


Crichtoun! though now thy miry court
  But pens the lazy steer and sheep,                      210
  Thy turrets rude, and totter’d Keep,
Have been the minstrel’s loved resort.
Oft have I traced, within thy fort,
  Of mouldering shields the mystic sense,
  Scutcheons of honour, or pretence,                      215
Quarter’d in old armorial sort,
  Remains of rude magnificence.
Nor wholly yet had time defaced
  Thy lordly gallery fair;
Nor yet the stony cord unbraced,                          220
Whose twisted knots, with roses laced,
  Adorn thy ruin’d stair.
Still rises unimpair’d below,
The court-yard’s graceful portico;
Above its cornice, row and row                            225
  Of fair hewn facets richly show
    Their pointed diamond form,
  Though there but houseless cattle go,
    To shield them from the storm.
  And, shuddering, still may we explore,                  230
    Where oft whilom were captives pent,
  The darkness of thy Massy More;
    Or, from thy grass-grown battlement,
May trace, in undulating line,
The sluggish mazes of the Tyne.                            235


Another aspect Crichtoun show’d,
As through its portal Marmion rode;
But yet ‘twas melancholy state
Received him at the outer gate;
For none were in the Castle then,                          240
But women, boys, or aged men.
With eyes scarce dried, the sorrowing dame,
To welcome noble Marmion, came;
Her son, a stripling twelve years old,
Proffer’d the Baron’s rein to hold;                        245
For each man that could draw a sword
Had march’d that morning with their lord,
Earl Adam Hepburn,-he who died
On Flodden, by his sovereign’s side.
Long may his Lady look in vain!                            250
She ne’er shall see his gallant train,
Come sweeping back through Crichtoun-Dean.
‘Twas a brave race, before the name
Of hated Bothwell stain’d their fame.


And here two days did Marmion rest,                        255
  With every rite that honour claims,
Attended as the King’s own guest;-
  Such the command of Royal James,
Who marshall’d then his land’s array,
Upon the Borough-moor that lay.                            260
Perchance he would not foeman’s eye
Upon his gathering host should pry,
Till full prepared was every band
To march against the English land.
Here while they dwelt, did Lindesay’s wit                  265
Oft cheer the Baron’s moodier fit;
And, in his turn, he knew to prize
Lord Marmion’s powerful mind, and wise,-
Train’d in the lore of Rome and Greece,
And policies of war and peace.                            270


It chanced, as fell the second night,
  That on the battlements they walk’d,
And, by the slowly fading light,
  Of varying topics talk’d;
And, unaware, the Herald-bard                              275
Said, Marmion might his toil have spared,
  In travelling so far;
For that a messenger from heaven
In vain to James had counsel given
  Against the English war:                                280
And, closer question’d, thus he told
A tale, which chronicles of old
In Scottish story have enroll’d:


Sir David Lindsey’s Tale.

‘Of all the palaces so fair,
  Built for the royal dwelling,                            285
In Scotland, far beyond compare
  Linlithgow is excelling;
And in its park, in jovial June,
How sweet the merry linnet’s tune,
  How blithe the blackbird’s lay!                          290
The wild buck bells from ferny brake,
The coot dives merry on the lake,
The saddest heart might pleasure take
  To see all nature gay.
But June is to our Sovereign dear                          295
The heaviest month in all the year:
Too well his cause of grief you know,
June saw his father’s overthrow.
Woe to the traitors, who could bring
The princely boy against his King!                        300
Still in his conscience burns the sting.
In offices as strict as Lent,
King James’s June is ever spent.


‘When last this ruthful month was come,
And in Linlithgow’s holy dome                              305
  The King, as wont, was praying;
While, for his royal father’s soul,
The chanters sung, the bells did toll,
  The Bishop mass was saying-
For now the year brought round again                      310
The day the luckless King was slain-
In Katharine’s aisle the monarch knelt,
With sackcloth-shirt, and iron belt,
  And eyes with sorrow streaming;
Around him in their stalls of state,                      315
The Thistle’s Knight-Companions sate,
  Their banners o’er them beaming.
I too was there, and, sooth to tell,
Bedeafen’d with the jangling knell,
Was watching where the sunbeams fell,                      320
  Through the stain’d casement gleaming;
But, while I mark’d what next befell,
  It seem’d as I were dreaming.
Stepp’d from the crowd a ghostly wight,
In azure gown, with cincture white;                        325
His forehead bald, his head was bare,
Down hung at length his yellow hair.-
Now, mock me not, when, good my Lord,
I pledge to you my knightly word,
That, when I saw his placid grace,                        330
His simple majesty of face,
His solemn bearing, and his pace
  So stately gliding on,-
Seem’d to me ne’er did limner paint
So just an image of the Saint,                            335
Who propp’d the Virgin in her faint,-
  The loved Apostle John!


‘He stepp’d before the Monarch’s chair,
And stood with rustic plainness there,
And little reverence made;                                340
Nor head, nor body, bow’d nor bent,
But on the desk his arm he leant,
  And words like these he said,
In a low voice,-but never tone
So thrill’d through vein, and nerve, and bone:-
“My mother sent me from afar,                              346
Sir King, to warn thee not to war,-
  Woe waits on thine array;
If war thou wilt, of woman fair,
Her witching wiles and wanton snare,                      350
James Stuart, doubly warn’d, beware:
  God keep thee as He may!”-
    The wondering monarch seem’d to seek
      For answer, and found none;
    And when he raised his head to speak,                  355
      The monitor was gone.
The Marshal and myself had cast
To stop him as he outward pass’d;
But, lighter than the whirlwind’s blast,
  He vanish’d from our eyes,                              360
Like sunbeam on the billow cast,
  That glances but, and dies.’


  While Lindesay told his marvel strange,
    The twilight was so pale,
  He mark’d not Marmion’s colour change,                  365
    While listening to the tale:
  But, after a suspended pause,
  The Baron spoke:-‘Of Nature’s laws
    So strong I held the force,
  That never superhuman cause                              370
    Could e’er control their course;
And, three days since, had judged your aim
Was but to make your guest your game.
But I have seen, since past the Tweed,
What much has changed my sceptic creed,                    375
And made me credit aught.’-He staid,
And seem’d to wish his words unsaid:
But, by that strong emotion press’d,
Which prompts us to unload our breast,
  Even when discovery’s pain,                              380
To Lindesay did at length unfold
The tale his village host had told,
  At Gifford, to his train.
Nought of the Palmer says he there,
And nought of Constance, or of Clare;                      385
The thoughts, which broke his sleep, he seems
To mention but as feverish dreams.


‘In vain,’ said he, ‘to rest I spread
My burning limbs, and couch’d my head:
  Fantastic thoughts return’d;                            390
And, by their wild dominion led,
  My heart within me burn’d.
So sore was the delirious goad,
I took my steed, and forth I rode,
And, as the moon shone bright and cold,                    395
Soon reach’d the camp upon the wold.
The southern entrance I pass’d through,
And halted, and my bugle blew.
Methought an answer met my ear,-
Yet was the blast so low and drear,                        400
So hollow, and so faintly blown,
It might be echo of my own.


‘Thus judging, for a little space
I listen’d, ere I left the place;
  But scarce could trust my eyes,                          405
Nor yet can think they serve me true,
When sudden in the ring I view,
In form distinct of shape and hue,
  A mounted champion rise.-
I’ve fought, Lord-Lion, many a day,                        410
In single fight, and mix’d affray,
And ever, I myself may say,
  Have borne me as a knight;
But when this unexpected foe
Seem’d starting from the gulf below,-                    415
I care not though the truth I show,-
  I trembled with affright;
And as I placed in rest my spear,
My hand so shook for very fear,
I scarce could couch it right.                            420


‘Why need my tongue the issue tell?
We ran our course,-my charger fell;-
What could he ‘gainst the shock of hell?
  I roll’d upon the plain.
High o’er my head, with threatening hand,                  425
The spectre shook his naked brand,-
  Yet did the worst remain:
My dazzled eyes I upward cast,-
Not opening hell itself could blast
  Their sight, like what I saw!                            430
Full on his face the moonbeam strook!-
A face could never be mistook!
I knew the stern vindictive look,
  And held my breath for awe.
I saw the face of one who, fled                            435
To foreign climes, has long been dead,-
  I well believe the last;
For ne’er, from vizor raised, did stare
A human warrior, with a glare
  So grimly and so ghast.                                  440
Thrice o’er my head he shook the blade;
But when to good Saint George I pray’d,
(The first time e’er I ask’d his aid),
  He plunged it in the sheath;
And, on his courser mounting light,                        445
He seem’d to vanish from my sight:
The moonbeam droop’d, and deepest night
  Sunk down upon the heath.-
    ‘Twere long to tell what cause I have
      To know his face, that met me there,                450
    Call’d by his hatred from the grave,
      To cumber upper air:
Dead, or alive, good cause had he
To be my mortal enemy.’


Marvell’d Sir David of the Mount;                          455
Then, learn’d in story, ‘gan recount
  Such chance had happ’d of old,
When once, near Norham, there did fight
A spectre fell of fiendish might,
In likeness of a Scottish knight,                          460
  With Brian Bulmer bold,
And train’d him nigh to disallow
The aid of his baptismal vow.
‘And such a phantom, too, ‘tis said,
With Highland broadsword, targe, and plaid                465
  And fingers red with gore,
Is seen in Rothiemurcus glade,
Or where the sable pine-tree shade
Dark Tomantoul, and Auchnaslaid,
  Dromouchty, or Glenmore.                                470
And yet, whate’er such legends say,
Of warlike demon, ghost, or lay,
  On mountain, moor, or plain,
Spotless in faith, in bosom bold,
True son of chivalry should hold                          475
  These midnight terrors vain;
For seldom have such spirits power
To harm, save in the evil hour,
When guilt we meditate within,
Or harbour unrepented sin.’-                              480
Lord Marmion turn’d him half aside,
And twice to clear his voice he tried,
  Then press’d Sir David’s hand,-
But nought, at length, in answer said;
And here their farther converse staid,                    485
  Each ordering that his band
Should bowne them with the rising day,
To Scotland’s camp to take their way,
  Such was the King’s command.


Early they took Dun-Edin’s road,                          490
And I could trace each step they trode:
Hill, brook, nor dell, nor rock, nor stone,
Lies on the path to me unknown.
Much might if boast of storied lore;
But, passing such digression o’er,                        495
Suffice it that their route was laid
Across the furzy hills of Braid.
They pass’d the glen and scanty rill,
And climb’d the opposing bank, until
They gain’d the top of Blackford Hill.                    500


Blackford! on whose uncultured breast,
  Among the broom, and thorn, and whin,
A truant-boy, I sought the nest,
Or listed, as I lay at rest,
  While rose, on breezes thin,                            505
The murmur of the city crowd,
And, from his steeple jangling loud,
  Saint Giles’s mingling din.
Now, from the summit to the plain,
Waves all the hill with yellow grain;                      510
  And o’er the landscape as I look,
Nought do I see unchanged remain,
  Save the rude cliffs and chiming brook.
To me they make a heavy moan,
Of early friendships past and gone.                        515


But different far the change has been,
  Since Marmion, from the crown
Of Blackford, saw that martial scene
  Upon the bent so brown:
Thousand pavilions, white as snow,                        520
Spread all the Borough-moor below,
  Upland, and dale, and down:-
A thousand did I say? I ween,
Thousands on thousands there were seen
That chequer’d all the heath between                      525
  The streamlet and the town;
In crossing ranks extending far,
Forming a camp irregular;
Oft giving way, where still there stood
Some relics of the old oak wood,                          530
That darkly huge did intervene,
And tamed the glaring white with green:
In these extended lines there lay
A martial kingdom’s vast array.


For from Hebudes, dark with rain,                          535
To eastern Lodon’s fertile plain,
And from the southern Redswire edge,
To farthest Rosse’s rocky ledge:
From west to east, from south to north,
Scotland sent all her warriors forth.                      540
Marmion might hear the mingled hum
Of myriads up the mountain come;
The horses’ tramp, and tingling clank,
Where chiefs review’d their vassal rank,
  And charger’s shrilling neigh;                          545
And see the shifting lines advance,
While frequent flash’d, from shield and lance,
  The sun’s reflected ray.


Thin curling in the morning air,
The wreaths of failing smoke declare                      550
To embers now the brands decay’d,
Where the night-watch their fires had made.
They saw, slow rolling on the plain,
Full many a baggage-cart and wain,
And dire artillery’s clumsy car,                          555
By sluggish oxen tugg’d to war;
And there were Borthwick’s Sisters Seven,
And culverins which France had given.
Ill-omen’d gift! the guns remain
The conqueror’s spoil on Flodden plain.                    560


Nor mark’d they less, where in the air
A thousand streamers flaunted fair;
  Various in shape, device, and hue,
  Green, sanguine, purple, red, and blue,
Broad, narrow, swallow-tail’d, and square,                565
Scroll, pennon, pensil, bandrol, there
  O’er the pavilions flew.
Highest, and midmost, was descried
The royal banner floating wide;
  The staff, a pine-tree, strong and straight,            570
Pitch’d deeply in a massive stone,
Which still in memory is shown,
  Yet bent beneath the standard’s weight
    Whene’er the western wind unroll’d,
    With toil, the huge and cumbrous fold,                575
And gave to view the dazzling field,
Where, in proud Scotland’s royal shield,
    The ruddy lion ramp’d in gold.


Lord Marmion view’d the landscape bright,-
He view’d it with a chiefs delight,-                      580
  Until within him burn’d his heart,
  And lightning from his eye did part,
    As on the battle-day;
  Such glance did falcon never dart,
    When stooping on his prey.                            585
‘Oh! well, Lord-Lion, hast thou said,
Thy King from warfare to dissuade
  Were but a vain essay:
For, by St. George, were that host mine,
Not power infernal, nor divine,                            590
Should once to peace my soul incline,
Till I had dimm’d their armour’s shine
  In glorious battle-fray!’
Answer’d the Bard, of milder mood:
‘Fair is the sight,-and yet ‘twere good,                  595
  That Kings would think withal,
When peace and wealth their land has bless’d,
‘Tis better to sit still at rest,
  Than rise, perchance to fall.’


Still on the spot Lord Marmion stay’d,                    600
For fairer scene he ne’er survey’d.
  When sated with the martial show
  That peopled all the plain below,
  The wandering eye could o’er it go,
  And mark the distant city glow                          605
    With gloomy splendour red;
  For on the smoke-wreaths, huge and slow,
  That round her sable turrets flow,
    The morning beams were shed,
  And tinged them with a lustre proud,                    610
  Like that which streaks a thunder-cloud.
Such dusky grandeur clothed the height,
Where the huge Castle holds its state,
  And all the steep slope down,
Whose ridgy back heaves to the sky,                        615
Piled deep and massy, close and high,
  Mine own romantic town!
But northward far, with purer blaze,
On Ochil mountains fell the rays,
And as each heathy top they kiss’d,                        620
It gleam’d a purple amethyst.
Yonder the shores of Fife you saw;
Here Preston-Bay, and Berwick-Law;
  And, broad between them roll’d,
The gallant Frith the eye might note,                      625
Whose islands on its bosom float,
  Like emeralds chased in gold.
Fitz-Eustace’ heart felt closely pent;
As if to give his rapture vent,
The spur he to his charger lent,                          630
  And raised his bridle hand,
And, making demi-volte in air,
Cried, ‘Where’s the coward that would not dare
  To fight for such a land!’
The Lindesay smiled his joy to see;                        635
Nor Marmion’s frown repress’d his glee.


Thus while they look’d, a flourish proud,
Where mingled trump, and clarion loud,
  And fife, and kettle-drum,
And sackbut deep, and psaltery,                            640
And war-pipe with discordant cry,
And cymbal clattering to the sky,
Making wild music bold and high,
  Did up the mountain come;
The whilst the bells, with distant chime,                  645
Merrily toll’d the hour of prime,
  And thus the Lindesay spoke:
‘Thus clamour still the war-notes when
The King to mass his way has ta’en,
Or to Saint Katharine’s of Sienne,                        650
  Or Chapel of Saint Rocque.
To you they speak of martial fame;
But me remind of peaceful game,
  When blither was their cheer,
Thrilling in Falkland-woods the air,                      655
In signal none his steed should spare,
But strive which foremost might repair
  To the downfall of the deer.


‘Nor less,’ he said,-‘when looking forth,
I view yon Empress of the North                            660
  Sit on her hilly throne;
Her palace’s imperial bowers,
Her castle, proof to hostile powers,
Her stately halls and holy towers-
  Nor less,’ he said, ‘I moan,                            665
To think what woe mischance may bring,
And how these merry bells may ring
The death-dirge of our gallant King;
  Or with the larum call
The burghers forth to watch and ward,                      670
‘Gainst southern sack and fires to guard
  Dun-Edin’s leaguer’d wall.-
But not for my presaging thought,
Dream conquest sure, or cheaply bought!
  Lord Marmion, I say nay:                                675
God is the guider of the field,
He breaks the champion’s spear and shield,--
  But thou thyself shalt say,
When joins yon host in deadly stowre,
That England’s dames must weep in bower,                  680
  Her monks the death-mass sing;
For never saw’st thou such a power
  Led on by such a King.’-
And now, down winding to the plain,
The barriers of the camp they gain,                        685
  And there they made a stay.-
There stays the Minstrel, till he fling
His hand o’er every Border string,
And fit his harp the pomp to sing,
Of Scotland’s ancient Court and King,                      695
  In the succeeding lay.




When dark December glooms the day,
And takes our autumn joys away;
When short and scant the sunbeam throws,
Upon the weary waste of snows,
A cold and profitless regard,                                5
Like patron on a needy bard;
When silvan occupation’s done,
And o’er the chimney rests the gun,
And hang, in idle trophy, near,
The game-pouch, fishing-rod, and spear;                    10
When wiry terrier, rough and grim,
And greyhound, with his length of limb,
And pointer, now employ’d no more,
Cumber our parlour’s narrow floor;
When in his stall the impatient steed                      15
Is long condemn’d to rest and feed;
When from our snow-encircled home,
Scarce cares the hardiest step to roam
Since path is none, save that to bring
The needful water from the spring;                          20
When wrinkled news-page, thrice conn’d o’er,
Beguiles the dreary hour no more,
And darkling politician, cross’d,
Inveighs against the lingering post,
And answering housewife sore complains                      25
Of carriers’ snow-impeded wains;
When such the country cheer, I come,
Well pleased, to seek our city home;
For converse, and for books, to change
The Forest’s melancholy range,                              30
And welcome, with renew’d delight,
The busy day and social night.

  Not here need my desponding rhyme
Lament the ravages of time,
As erst by Newark’s riven towers,                          35
And Ettrick stripp’d of forest bowers.
True,-Caledonia’s Queen is changed,
Since on her dusky summit ranged,
Within its steepy limits pent,
By bulwark, line, and battlement,                          40
And flanking towers, and laky flood,
Guarded and garrison’d she stood,
Denying entrance or resort,
Save at each tall embattled port;
Above whose arch, suspended, hung                          45
Portcullis spiked with iron prong.
That long is gone,-but not so long,
Since, early closed, and opening late,
Jealous revolved the studded gate,
Whose task, from eve to morning tide,                      50
A wicket churlishly supplied.
Stern then, and steel-girt was thy brow,
Dun-Edin! O, how altered now,
When safe amid thy mountain court
Thou sitt’st, like Empress at her sport,                    55
And liberal, unconfined, and free,
Flinging thy white arms to the sea,
For thy dark cloud, with umber’d lower,
That hung o’er cliff, and lake, and tower,
Thou gleam’st against the western ray                      60
Ten thousand lines of brighter day.

  Not she, the Championess of old,
In Spenser’s magic tale enroll’d,
She for the charmed spear renown’d,
Which forced each knight to kiss the ground,-
Not she more changed, when, placed at rest,                66
What time she was Malbecco’s guest,
She gave to flow her maiden vest;
When from the corselet’s grasp relieved,
Free to the sight her bosom heaved;                        70
Sweet was her blue eye’s modest smile,
Erst hidden by the aventayle;
And down her shoulders graceful roll’d
Her locks profuse, of paly gold.
They who whilom, in midnight fight,                        75
Had marvell’d at her matchless might,
No less her maiden charms approved,
But looking liked, and liking loved.
The sight could jealous pangs beguile,
And charm Malbecco’s cares a while;                        80
And he, the wandering Squire of Dames,
Forgot his Columbella’s claims,
And passion, erst unknown, could gain
The breast of blunt Sir Satyrane;
Nor durst light Paridel advance,                            85
Bold as he was, a looser glance.
She charm’d, at once, and tamed the heart,
Incomparable Britomane!

  So thou, fair City! disarray’d
Of battled wall, and rampart’s aid,                        90
As stately seem’st, but lovelier far
Than in that panoply of war.
Nor deem that from thy fenceless throne
Strength and security are flown;
Still as of yore, Queen of the North!                      95
Still canst thou send thy children forth.
Ne’er readier at alarm-bell’s call
Thy burghers rose to man thy wall,
Than now, in danger, shall be thine,
Thy dauntless voluntary line;                              100
For fosse and turret proud to stand,
Their breasts the bulwarks of the land.
Thy thousands, train’d to martial toil,
Full red would stain their native soil,
Ere from thy mural crown there fell                        105
The slightest knosp, or pinnacle.
And if it come,-as come it may,
Dun-Edin! that eventful day,-
Renown’d for hospitable deed,
That virtue much with Heaven may plead,                    110
In patriarchal times whose care
Descending angels deign’d to share;
That claim may wrestle blessings down
On those who fight for The Good Town,
Destined in every age to be                                115
Refuge of injured royalty;
Since first, when conquering York arose,
To Henry meek she gave repose,
Till late, with wonder, grief, and awe,
Great Bourbon’s relics, sad she saw.                      120

  Truce to these thoughts!-for, as they rise,
How gladly I avert mine eyes,
Bodings, or true or false, to change,
For Fiction’s fair romantic range,
Or for Tradition’s dubious light,                          125
That hovers ‘twixt the day and night:
Dazzling alternately and dim
Her wavering lamp I’d rather trim,
Knights, squires, and lovely dames, to see,
Creation of my fantasy,                                    130
Than gaze abroad on reeky fen,
And make of mists invading men.-
Who loves not more the night of June
Than dull December’s gloomy noon?
The moonlight than the fog of frost?                      135
But can we say, which cheats the most?

  But who shall teach my harp to gain
A sound of the romantic strain,
Whose Anglo-Norman tones whilere
Could win the royal Henry’s ear,                          140
Famed Beauclerk call’d, for that he loved
The minstrel, and his lay approved?
Who shall these lingering notes redeem,
Decaying on Oblivion’s stream;
Such notes as from the Breton tongue                      145
Marie translated, Blondel sung?-
O! born, Time’s ravage to repair,
And make the dying Muse thy care;
Who, when his scythe her hoary foe
Was poising for the final blow,                            150
The weapon from his hand could wring,
And break his glass, and shear his wing,
And bid, reviving in his strain,
The gentle poet live again;
Thou, who canst give to lightest lay                      155
An unpedantic moral gay,
Nor less the dullest theme bid flit
On wings of unexpected wit;
In letters as in life approved,
Example honour’d, and beloved,-                          160
Dear ELLIS! to the bard impart
A lesson of thy magic art,
To win at once the head and heart,-
At once to charm, instruct, and mend,
My guide, my pattern, and my friend!                      165

  Such minstrel lesson to bestow
Be long thy pleasing task,-but, O!
No more by thy example teach,-
What few can practise, all can preach,-
With even patience to endure                              170
Lingering disease, and painful cure,
And boast affliction’s pangs subdued
By mild and manly fortitude.
Enough, the lesson has been given:
Forbid the repetition, Heaven!                            175

  Come listen, then! for thou hast known,
And loved the Minstrel’s varying tone,
Who, like his Border sires of old,
Waked a wild measure rude and bold,
Till Windsor’s oaks, and Ascot plain,                      180
With wonder heard the northern strain.
Come listen! bold in thy applause,
The Bard shall scorn pedantic laws;
And, as the ancient art could stain
Achievements on the storied pane,                          185
Irregularly traced and plann’d,
But yet so glowing and so grand,-
So shall he strive, in changeful hue,
Field, feast, and combat, to renew,
And loves, and arms, and harpers’ glee,                    191
And all the pomp of chivalry.




The train has left the hills of Braid;
The barrier guard have open made
(So Lindesay bade) the palisade,
  That closed the tented ground;
Their men the warders backward drew,                        5
And carried pikes as they rode through,
  Into its ample bound.
Fast ran the Scottish warriors there,
Upon the Southern band to stare.
And envy with their wonder rose,                            10
To see such well-appointed foes;
Such length of shafts, such mighty bows,
So huge, that many simply thought,
But for a vaunt such weapons wrought;
And little deem’d their force to feel,                      15
Through links of mail, and plates of steel,
When rattling upon Flodden vale,
The cloth-yard arrows flew like hail.


Nor less did Marmion’s skilful view
Glance every line and squadron through;                    20
And much he marvell’d one small land
Could marshal forth such various band;
  For men-at-arms were here,
Heavily sheathed in mail and plate,
Like iron towers for strength and weight,                  25
On Flemish steeds of bone and height,
  With battle-axe and spear.
Young knights and squires, a lighter train,
Practised their chargers on the plain,
By aid of leg, of hand, and rein,                          30
  Each warlike feat to show,
To pass, to wheel, the croupe to gain,
And high curvett, that not in vain
The sword sway might descend amain
  On foeman’s casque below.                                35
He saw the hardy burghers there
March arm’d, on foot, with faces bare,
  For vizor they wore none,
Nor waving plume, nor crest of knight;
But burnish’d were their corslets bright,                  40
Their brigantines, and gorgets light,
  Like very silver shone.
Long pikes they had for standing fight,
  Two-handed swords they wore,
And many wielded mace of weight,                            45
  And bucklers bright they bore.


On foot the yeoman too, but dress’d
In his steel-jack, a swarthy vest,
  With iron quilted well;
Each at his back (a slender store)                          50
His forty days’ provision bore,
  As feudal statutes tell.
His arms were halbert, axe, or spear,
A crossbow there, a hagbut here,
  A dagger-knife, and brand.                                55
Sober he seem’d, and sad of cheer,
As loath to leave his cottage dear,
  And march to foreign strand;
Or musing, who would guide his steer,
  To till the fallow land.                                  60
Yet deem not in his thoughtful eye
Did aught of dastard terror lie;
More dreadful far his ire,
Than theirs, who, scorning danger’s name,
In eager mood to battle came,                              65
Their valour like light straw on name,
A fierce but fading fire.


Not so the Borderer:-bred to war,
He knew the battle’s din afar,
  And joy’d to hear it swell.                              70
His peaceful day was slothful ease;
Nor harp, nor pipe, his ear could please,
  Like the loud slogan yell.
On active steed, with lance and blade,
The light-arm’d pricker plied his trade,-                  75
  Let nobles fight for fame;
Let vassals follow where they lead,
Burghers, to guard their townships, bleed,
  But war’s the Borderer’s game.
Their gain, their glory, their delight,                    80
To sleep the day, maraud the night,
  O’er mountain, moss, and moor;
Joyful to fight they took their way,
Scarce caring who might win the day,
  Their booty was secure.                                  85
These, as Lord Marmion’s train pass’d by,
Look’d on at first with careless eye,
Nor marvell’d aught, well taught to know
The form and force of English bow.
But when they saw the Lord array’d                          90
In splendid arms, and rich brocade,
Each Borderer to his kinsman said,-
  ‘Hist, Ringan! seest thou there!
Canst guess which road they’ll homeward ride?-
O! could we but on Border side,                            95
By Eusedale glen, or Liddell’s tide,
  Beset a prize so fair!
That fangless Lion, too, their guide,
Might chance to lose his glistering hide;
Brown Maudlin, of that doublet pied,                      100
Could make a kirtle rare.’


Next, Marmion marked the Celtic race,
Of different language, form, and face,
  A various race of man;
Just then the Chiefs their tribes array’d,                105
And wild and garish semblance made,
The chequer’d trews, and belted plaid,
And varying notes the war-pipes bray’d,
  To every varying clan,
Wild through their red or sable hair                      110
Look’d out their eyes with savage stare,
  On Marmion as he pass’d;
Their legs above the knee were bare;
Their frame was sinewy, short, and spare,
  And harden’d to the blast;                              115
Of taller race, the chiefs they own
Were by the eagle’s plumage known.
The hunted red-deer’s undress’d hide
Their hairy buskins well supplied;
The graceful bonnet deck’d their head:                    120
Back from their shoulders hung the plaid;
A broadsword of unwieldy length,
A dagger proved for edge and strength,
  A studded targe they wore,
And quivers, bows, and shafts,-but, O!                    125
Short was the shaft, and weak the bow,
  To that which England bore.
The Isles-men carried at their backs
The ancient Danish battle-axe.
They raised a wild and wondering cry,                      130
As with his guide rode Marmion by.
Loud were their clamouring tongues, as when
The clanging sea-fowl leave the fen,
And, with their cries discordant mix’d,
Grumbled and yell’d the pipes betwixt.                    135


Thus through the Scottish camp they pass’d,
And reach’d the City gate at last,
Where all around, a wakeful guard,
Arm’d burghers kept their watch and ward.
Well had they cause of jealous fear,                      140
When lay encamp’d, in field so near,
The Borderer and the Mountaineer.
As through the bustling streets they go,
All was alive with martial show:
At every turn, with dinning clang,                        145
The armourer’s anvil clash’d and rang;
Or toil’d the swarthy smith, to wheel
The bar that arms the charger’s heel;
Or axe, or falchion, to the side
Of jarring grindstone was applied.                        150
Page, groom, and squire, with hurrying pace
Through street, and lane, and market-place,
  Bore lance, or casque, or sword;
While burghers, with important face,
  Described each new-come lord,                            155
Discuss’d his lineage, told his name,
His following, and his warlike fame.
The Lion led to lodging meet,
Which high o’erlook’d the crowded street;
  There must the Baron rest,                              160
Till past the hour of vesper tide,
And then to Holy-Rood must ride,-
  Such was the King’s behest.
Meanwhile the Lion’s care assigns
A banquet rich, and costly wines,                          165
  To Marmion and his train;
And when the appointed hour succeeds,
The Baron dons his peaceful weeds,
And following Lindesay as he leads,
The palace-halls they gain.                                170


Old Holy-Rood rung merrily,
That night, with wassell, mirth, and glee:
King James within her princely bower
Feasted the Chiefs of Scotland’s power,
Summon’d to spend the parting hour;                        175
For he had charged, that his array
Should southward march by break of day.
Well loved that splendid monarch aye
  The banquet and the song,
By day the tourney, and by night                          180
The merry dance, traced fast and light,
The maskers quaint, the pageant bright,
  The revel loud and long.
This feast outshone his banquets past;
It was his blithest,-and his last.                        185
The dazzling lamps, from gallery gay,
Cast on the Court a dancing ray;
Here to the harp did minstrels sing;
There ladies touched a softer string;
With long-ear’d cap, and motley vest,                      190
The licensed fool retail’d his jest;
His magic tricks the juggler plied;
At dice and draughts the gallants vied;
While some, in close recess apart,
Courted the ladies of their heart,                        195
  Nor courted them in vain;
For often, in the parting hour,
Victorious Love asserts his power
  O’er coldness and disdain;
And flinty is her heart, can view                          200
To battle march a lover true-
Can hear, perchance, his last adieu,
  Nor own her share of pain.


Through this mix’d crowd of glee and game,
The King to greet Lord Marmion came,                      205
  While, reverent, all made room.
An easy task it was, I trow,
King James’s manly form to know,
Although, his courtesy to show,
He doff’d, to Marmion bending low,                        210
  His broider’d cap and plume.
For royal was his garb and mien,
  His cloak, of crimson velvet piled,
  Trimm’d with the fur of marten wild;
His vest of changeful satin sheen,                        215
  The dazzled eye beguiled;
His gorgeous collar hung adown,
Wrought with the badge of Scotland’s crown,
The thistle brave, of old renown:
His trusty blade, Toledo right,                            220
Descended from a baldric bright;
White were his buskins, on the heel
His spurs inlaid of gold and steel;
His bonnet, all of crimson fair,
Was button’d with a ruby rare:                            225
And Marmion deem’d he ne’er had seen
A prince of such a noble mien.


The Monarch’s form was middle size;
For feat of strength, or exercise,
  Shaped in proportion fair;                              230
And hazel was his eagle eye,
And auburn of the darkest dye,
  His short curl’d beard and hair.
Light was his footstep in the dance,
  And firm his stirrup in the lists;                      235
And, oh! he had that merry glance,
  That seldom lady’s heart resists.
Lightly from fair to fair he flew,
And loved to plead, lament, and sue;-
Suit lightly won, and short-lived pain,                    240
For monarchs seldom sigh in vain.
  I said he joy’d in banquet bower;
But, ‘mid his mirth, ‘twas often strange,
How suddenly his cheer would change,
  His look o’ercast and lower,                            245
If, in a sudden turn, he felt
The pressure of his iron belt,
That bound his breast in penance pain,
In memory of his father slain.
Even so ‘twas strange how, evermore,                      250
Soon as the passing pang was o’er,
Forward he rush’d, with double glee,
Into the stream of revelry:
Thus, dim-seen object of affright
Startles the courser in his flight,                        255
And half he halts, half springs aside;
But feels the quickening spur applied,
And, straining on the tighten’d rein,
Scours doubly swift o’er hill and plain.


O’er James’s heart, the courtiers say,                    260
Sir Hugh the Heron’s wife held sway:
  To Scotland’s Court she came,
To be a hostage for her lord,
Who Cessford’s gallant heart had gored,
And with the King to make accord,                          265
  Had sent his lovely dame.
Nor to that lady free alone
Did the gay King allegiance own;
  For the fair Queen of France
Sent him a turquois ring and glove,                        270
And charged him, as her knight and love,
  For her to break a lance;
And strike three strokes with Scottish brand,
And march three miles on Southron land,
And bid the banners of his band                            275
  In English breezes dance.
And thus, for France’s Queen he drest
His manly limbs in mailed vest;
    And thus admitted English fair
    His inmost counsels still to share;                    280
    And thus, for both, he madly plann’d
    The ruin of himself and land!
      And yet, the sooth to tell,
    Nor England’s fair, nor France’s Queen,
    Were worth one pearl-drop, bright and sheen,          285
      From Margaret’s eyes that fell,-
His own Queen Margaret, who, in Lithgow’s bower,
All lonely sat, and wept the weary hour.


The Queen sits lone in Lithgow pile,
  And weeps the weary day,                                290
The war against her native soil,
Her monarch’s risk in battle broil:-
And in gay Holy-Rood, the while,
Dame Heron rises with a smile
  Upon the harp to play.                                  295
Fair was her rounded arm, as o’er
  The strings her fingers flew;
And as she touch’d and tuned them all,
Ever her bosom’s rise and fall
  Was plainer given to view;                              300
For, all for heat, was laid aside
Her wimple, and her hood untied.
And first she pitch’d her voice to sing,
Then glanced her dark eye on the King,
And then around the silent ring;                          305
And laugh’d, and blush’d, and oft did say
Her pretty oath, by Yea, and Nay,
She could not, would not, durst not play!
At length, upon the harp, with glee,
Mingled with arch simplicity,                              310
A soft, yet lively, air she rung,
While thus the wily lady sung:-



Lady Heron’s Song

O, young Lochinvar is come out of the west,
Through all the wide Border his steed was the best;
And save his good broadsword, he weapons had none,        315
He rode all unarm’d, and he rode all alone.
So faithful in love, and so dauntless in war,
There never was knight like the young Lochinvar.

He staid not for brake, and he stopp’d not for stone,
He swam the Eske river where ford there was none;          320
But ere he alighted at Netherby gate,
The bride had consented, the gallant came late:
For a laggard in love, and a dastard in war,
Was to wed the fair Ellen of brave Lochinvar.

So boldly he enter’d the Netherby Hall,                    325
Among bride’s-men, and kinsmen, and brothers, and all:
Then spoke the bride’s father, his hand on his sword,
(For the poor craven bridegroom said never a word,)
‘O come ye in peace here, or come ye in war,
Or to dance at our bridal, young Lord Lochinvar?’-        330

‘I long woo’d your daughter, my suit you denied;-
Love swells like the Solway, but ebbs like its tide-
And now am I come, with this lost love of mine,
To lead but one measure, drink one cup of wine.
There are maidens in Scotland more lovely by far,          335
That would gladly be bride to the young Lochinvar.’

The bride kiss’d the goblet: the knight took it up,
He quaff’d off the wine, and he threw down the cup.
She look’d down to blush, and she look’d up to sigh,
With a smile on her lips, and a tear in her eye.          340
He took her soft hand, ere her mother could bar,-
‘Now tread we a measure!’ said young Lochinvar.

So stately his form, and so lovely her face,
That never a hall such a galliard did grace;
While her mother did fret, and her father did fume,        345
And the bridegroom stood dangling his bonnet and plume;
And the bride-maidens whisper’d, ‘‘Twere better by far,
To have match’d our fair cousin with young Lochinvar.’

One touch to her hand, and one word in her ear,
When they reach’d the hall-door, and the charger stood near; 350
So light to the croupe the fair lady he swung,
So light to the saddle before her he sprung!
‘She is won! we are gone, over bank, bush, and scaur;
They’ll have fleet steeds that follow,’ quoth young Lochinvar.

There was mounting ‘mong Graemes of the Netherby clan;    355
Forsters, Fenwicks, and Musgraves, they rode and they ran:
There was racing and chasing, on Cannobie Lee,
But the lost bride of Netherby ne’er did they see.
So daring in love, and so dauntless in war,
Have ye e’er heard of gallant like young Lochinvar?        360


The Monarch o’er the siren hung,
And beat the measure as she sung;
And, pressing closer, and more near,
He whisper’d praises in her ear.
In loud applause the courtiers vied;                      365
And ladies wink’d, and spoke aside.
  The witching dame to Marmion threw
    A glance, where seem’d to reign
  The pride that claims applauses due,
  And of her royal conquest too,                          370
    A real or feign’d disdain:
Familiar was the look, and told,
Marmion and she were friends of old.
The King observed their meeting eyes,
With something like displeased surprise;                  375
For monarchs ill can rivals brook,
Even in a word, or smile, or look.
Straight took he forth the parchment broad,
Which Marmion’s high commission show’d:
‘Our Borders sack’d by many a raid,                        380
Our peaceful liege-men robb’d,’ he said;
‘On day of truce our Warden slain,
Stout Barton kill’d, his vessels ta’en-
Unworthy were we here to reign,
Should these for vengeance cry in vain;                    385
Our full defiance, hate, and scorn,
Our herald has to Henry borne.’


He paused, and led where Douglas stood,
And with stern eye the pageant view’d:
I mean that Douglas, sixth of yore,                        390
Who coronet of Angus bore,
And, when his blood and heart were high,
Did the third James in camp defy,
And all his minions led to die
  On Lauder’s dreary flat:                                395
Princes and favourites long grew tame,
And trembled at the homely name
  Of Archibald Bell-the-Cat;
The same who left the dusky vale
Of Hermitage in Liddisdale,                                400
  Its dungeons, and its towers,
Where Bothwell’s turrets brave the air,
And Bothwell bank is blooming fair,
  To fix his princely bowers.
Though now, in age, he had laid down                      405
His armour for the peaceful gown,
  And for a staff his brand,
Yet often would flash forth the fire,
That could, in youth, a monarch’s ire
  And minion’s pride withstand;                            410
And even that day, at council board,
  Unapt to soothe his sovereign’s mood,
  Against the war had Angus stood,
And chafed his royal Lord.


  His giant-form, like ruin’d tower,                      415
Though fall’n its muscles’ brawny vaunt,
Huge-boned, and tall, and grim, and gaunt,
  Seem’d o’er the gaudy scene to lower:
His locks and beard in silver grew;
His eyebrows kept their sable hue.                        420
Near Douglas when the Monarch stood,
His bitter speech he thus pursued :
‘Lord Marmion, since these letters say
That in the North you needs must stay,
  While slightest hopes of peace remain,                  425
Uncourteous speech it were, and stern,
To say-Return to Lindisfarne,
  Until my herald come again.-
Then rest you in Tantallon Hold;
Your host shall be the Douglas bold,-                    430
A chief unlike his sires of old.
He wears their motto on his blade,
Their blazon o’er his towers display’d;
Yet loves his sovereign to oppose,
More than to face his country’s foes.                      435
And, I bethink me, by Saint Stephen,
  But e’en this morn to me was given
A prize, the first fruits of the war,
Ta’en by a galley from Dunbar,
  A bevy of the maids of Heaven.                          440
Under your guard, these holy maids
Shall safe return to cloister shades,
And, while they at Tantallon stay,
Requiem for Cochran’s soul may say.’
And, with the slaughter’d favourite’s name,                445
Across the Monarch’s brow there came
A cloud of ire, remorse, and shame.


In answer nought could Angus speak;
His proud heart swell’d wellnigh to break:
He turn’d aside, and down his cheek                        450
  A burning tear there stole.
His hand the Monarch sudden took,
That sight his kind heart could not brook:
  ‘Now, by the Bruce’s soul,
Angus, my hasty speech forgive!                            455
For sure as doth his spirit live,
As he said of the Douglas old,
  I well may say of you,-
That never King did subject hold,
In speech more free, in war more bold,                    460
  More tender and more true:
Forgive me, Douglas, once again.’-
And, while the King his hand did strain,
The old man’s tears fell down like rain.
To seize the moment Marmion tried,                        465
And whisper’d to the King aside:
‘Oh! let such tears unwonted plead
For respite short from dubious deed!
A child will weep a bramble’s smart,
A maid to see her sparrow part,                            470
A stripling for a woman’s heart:
But woe awaits a country, when
She sees the tears of bearded men.
Then, oh! what omen, dark and high,
When Douglas wets his manly eye!’                          475


Displeased was James, that stranger view’d
And tamper’d with his changing mood.
‘Laugh those that can, weep those that may,’
Thus did the fiery Monarch say,
‘Southward I march by break of day;                        480
And if within Tantallon strong,
The good Lord Marmion tarries long,
Perchance our meeting next may fall
At Tamworth, in his castle-hall.’-
The haughty Marmion felt the taunt,                        485
And answer’d, grave, the royal vaunt:
‘Much honour’d were my humble home,
If in its halls King James should come;
But Nottingham has archers good,
And Yorkshire men are stem of mood;                        490
Northumbrian prickers wild and rude.
On Derby Hills the paths are steep;
In Ouse and Tyne the fords are deep;
And many a banner will be torn,
And many a knight to earth be borne,                      495
And many a sheaf of arrows spent,
Ere Scotland’s King shall cross the Trent:
Yet pause, brave Prince, while yet you may!’-
The Monarch lightly turn’d away,
And to his nobles loud did call,-                        500
‘Lords, to the dance,-a hall! a hall!’
Himself his cloak and sword flung by,
And led Dame Heron gallantly;
And Minstrels, at the royal order,
Rung out-‘Blue Bonnets o’er the Border.’                  505


Leave we these revels now, to tell
What to Saint Hilda’s maids befell,
Whose galley, as they sail’d again
To Whitby, by a Scot was ta’en.
Now at Dun-Edin did they bide,                            510
Till James should of their fate decide;
  And soon, by his command,
Were gently summon’d to prepare
To journey under Marmion’s care,
As escort honour’d, safe, and fair,                        515
  Again to English land.
The Abbess told her chaplet o’er,
Nor knew which Saint she should implore;
For, when she thought of Constance, sore
  She fear’d Lord Marmion’s mood.                          520
And judge what Clara must have felt!
The sword, that hung in Marmion’s belt,
  Had drunk De Wilton’s blood.
Unwittingly, King James had given,
  As guard to Whitby’s shades,                            525
The man most dreaded under heaven
  By these defenceless maids:
Yet what petition could avail,
Or who would listen to the tale
Of woman, prisoner, and nun,                              530
Mid bustle of a war begun?
They deem’d it hopeless to avoid
The convoy of their dangerous guide.


Their lodging, so the King assign’d,
To Marmion’s, as their guardian, join’d;                  535
And thus it fell, that, passing nigh,
The Palmer caught the Abbess’ eye,
  Who warn’d him by a scroll,
She had a secret to reveal,
That much concern’d the Church’s weal,                    540
  And health of sinner’s soul;
And, with deep charge of secrecy,
  She named a place to meet,
Within an open balcony,
That hung from dizzy pitch, and high,                      545
  Above the stately street;
To which, as common to each home,
At night they might in secret come.


At night, in secret, there they came,
The Palmer and the holy dame.                              550
The moon among the clouds rose high,
And all the city hum was by.
Upon the street, where late before
Did din of war and warriors roar,
  You might have heard a pebble fall,                      555
A beetle hum, a cricket sing,
An owlet flap his boding wing
  On Giles’s steeple tall.
The antique buildings, climbing high,
Whose Gothic frontlets sought the sky,                    560
  Were here wrapt deep in shade;
There on their brows the moon-beam broke,
Through the faint wreaths of silvery smoke,
  And on the casements play’d.
  And other light was none to see,                        565
    Save torches gliding far,
  Before some chieftain of degree,
  Who left the royal revelry
    To bowne him for the war.-
A solemn scene the Abbess chose;                          570
A solemn hour, her secret to disclose.


‘O, holy Palmer!’ she began,-
‘For sure he must be sainted man,
Whose blessed feet have trod the ground
Where the Redeemer’s tomb is found,-                      575
For His dear Church’s sake, my tale
Attend, nor deem of light avail,
Though I must speak of worldly love,-
How vain to those who wed above!-
De Wilton and Lord Marmion woo’d                          580
Clara de Clare, of Gloster’s blood;
(Idle it were of Whitby’s dame,
To say of that same blood I came;)
And once, when jealous rage was high,
Lord Marmion said despiteously,                            585
Wilton was traitor in his heart,
And had made league with Martin Swart,
When he came here on Simnel’s part;
And only cowardice did restrain
His rebel aid on Stokefield’s plain,-                    590
And down he threw his glove:-the thing
Was tried, as wont, before the King;
Where frankly did De Wilton own,
That Swart in Guelders he had known;
And that between them then there went                      595
Some scroll of courteous compliment.
For this he to his castle sent;
But when his messenger return’d,
Judge how De Wilton’s fury burn’d!
For in his packet there were laid                          600
Letters that claim’d disloyal aid,
And proved King Henry’s cause betray’d.
His fame, thus blighted, in the field
He strove to clear, by spear and shield;-
To clear his fame in vain he strove,                      605
For wondrous are His ways above!
Perchance some form was unobserved;
Perchance in prayer, or faith, he swerved;
Else how could guiltless champion quail,
Or how the blessed ordeal fail?                            610


‘His squire, who now De Wilton saw
As recreant doom’d to suffer law,
  Repentant, own’d in vain,
That, while he had the scrolls in care,
A stranger maiden, passing fair,                          615
Had drench’d him with a beverage rare;
  His words no faith could gain.
With Clare alone he credence won,
Who, rather than wed Marmion,
Did to Saint Hilda’s shrine repair,                        620
To give our house her livings fair,
And die a vestal vot’ress there.
The impulse from the earth was given,
But bent her to the paths of heaven.
A purer heart, a lovelier maid,                            625
Ne’er shelter’d her in Whitby’s shade,
No, not since Saxon Edelfled;
  Only one trace of earthly strain,
    That for her lover’s loss
  She cherishes a sorrow vain,                            630
    And murmurs at the cross.
  And then her heritage;-it goes
    Along the banks of Tame;
  Deep fields of grain the reaper mows,
  In meadows rich the heifer lows,                        635
  The falconer and huntsman knows
    Its woodlands for the game.
Shame were it to Saint Hilda dear,
And I, her humble vot’ress here,
  Should do a deadly sin,                                  640
Her temple spoil’d before mine eyes,
If this false Marmion such a prize
  By my consent should win;
Yet hath our boisterous monarch sworn,
That Clare shall from our house be torn;                  645
And grievous cause have I to fear,
Such mandate doth Lord Marmion bear.


‘Now, prisoner, helpless, and betray’d
To evil power, I claim thine aid,
  By every step that thou hast trod                        650
To holy shrine and grotto dim,
By every martyr’s tortured limb,
By angel, saint, and seraphim,
And by the Church of God!
For mark:-When Wilton was betray’d,                      655
And with his squire forged letters laid,
She was, alas! that sinful maid,
  By whom the deed was done,-
Oh! shame and horror to be said!
  She was a perjured nun!                                  660
No clerk in all the land, like her,
Traced quaint and varying character.
Perchance you may a marvel deem,
  That Marmion’s paramour
(For such vile thing she was) should scheme                665
  Her lover’s nuptial hour;
But o’er him thus she hoped to gain,
As privy to his honour’s stain,
  Illimitable power:
For this she secretly retain’d                            670
  Each proof that might the plot reveal,
  Instructions with his hand and seal;
And thus Saint Hilda deign’d,
  Through sinners’ perfidy impure,
  Her house’s glory to secure,                            675
And Clare’s immortal weal.


‘Twere long, and needless, here to tell,
How to my hand these papers fell;
  With me they must not stay.
Saint Hilda keep her Abbess true!                          680
Who knows what outrage he might do,
  While journeying by the way?-
O, blessed Saint, if e’er again
I venturous leave thy calm domain,
To travel or by land or main,                              685
  Deep penance may I pay!-
Now, saintly Palmer, mark my prayer:
I give this packet to thy care,
For thee to stop they will not dare;
And O! with cautious speed,                                690
To Wolsey’s hand the papers ‘bring,
That he may show them to the King:
  And, for thy well-earn’d meed,
Thou holy man, at Whitby’s shrine
A weekly mass shall still be thine,                        695
  While priests can sing and read.
What ail’st thou?-Speak!’-For as he took
The charge, a strong emotion shook
  His frame; and, ere reply,
They heard a faint, yet shrilly tone,                      700
Like distant clarion feebly blown,
  That on the breeze did die;
And loud the Abbess shriek’d in fear,
‘Saint Withold, save us!-What is here!
  Look at yon City Cross!                                  705
See on its battled tower appear
Phantoms, that scutcheons seem to rear,
And blazon’d banners toss!’-


Dun-Edin’s Cross, a pillar’d stone,
Rose on a turret octagon;                                  710
  (But now is razed that monument,
    Whence royal edict rang,
  And voice of Scotland’s law was sent
    In glorious trumpet-clang.
O! be his tomb as lead to lead,                            715
Upon its dull destroyer’s head!-
A minstrel’s malison is said.)-
Then on its battlements they saw
A vision, passing Nature’s law,
  Strange, wild, and dimly seen;                          720
Figures that seem’d to rise and die,
Gibber and sign, advance and fly,
While nought confirm’d could ear or eye
  Discern of sound or mien.
Yet darkly did it seem, as there                          725
Heralds and Pursuivants prepare,
With trumpet sound, and blazon fair,
  A summons to proclaim;
But indistinct the pageant proud,
As fancy forms of midnight cloud,                          730
When flings the moon upon her shroud
  A wavering tinge of flame;
It flits, expands, and shifts, till loud,
From midmost of the spectre crowd,
  This awful summons came:-                              735


‘Prince, prelate, potentate, and peer,
  Whose names I now shall call,
Scottish, or foreigner, give ear!
Subjects of him who sent me here,
At his tribunal to appear,                                740
  I summon one and all:
I cite you by each deadly sin,
That e’er hath soil’d your hearts within;
I cite you by each brutal lust,
That e’er defiled your earthly dust,-                    745
  By wrath, by pride, by fear,
By each o’er-mastering passion’s tone,
By the dark grave, and dying groan!
When forty days are pass’d and gone,
I cite you at your Monarch’s throne,                      750
  To answer and appear.’-
Then thundered forth a roll of names:-
The first was thine, unhappy James!
  Then all thy nobles came;
Crawford, Glencairn, Montrose, Argyle,                    755
Ross, Bothwell, Forbes, Lennox, Lyle,
Why should I tell their separate style?
  Each chief of birth and fame,
Of Lowland, Highland, Border, Isle,
Fore-doom’d to Flodden’s carnage pile,                    760
  Was cited there by name;
And Marmion, Lord of Fontenaye,
Of Lutterward, and Scrivelbaye;
De Wilton, erst of Aberley,
The self-same thundering voice did say.-                  765
  But then another spoke:
‘Thy fatal summons I deny,
And thine infernal Lord defy,
Appealing me to Him on high,
  Who burst the sinner’s yoke.’                            770
At that dread accent, with a scream,
Parted the pageant like a dream,
  The summoner was gone.
Prone on her face the Abbess fell,
And fast, and fast, her beads did tell;                    775
Her nuns came, startled by the yell,
  And found her there alone.
She mark’d not, at the scene aghast,
What time, or how, the Palmer pass’d.


Shift we the scene.-The camp doth move,                  780
  Dun-Edin’s streets are empty now,
Save when, for weal of those they love,
  To pray the prayer, and vow the vow,
The tottering child, the anxious fair,
The grey-hair’d sire, with pious care,                    785
To chapels and to shrines repair-
Where is the Palmer now? and where
The Abbess, Marmion, and Clare?-
Bold Douglas! to Tantallon fair
  They journey in thy charge:                              790
Lord Marmion rode on his right hand,
The Palmer still was with the band;
Angus, like Lindesay, did command,
  That none should roam at large.
But in that Palmer’s altered mien                          795
A wondrous change might now be seen;
  Freely he spoke of war,
Of marvels wrought by single hand,
When lifted for a native land;
And still look’d high, as if he plann’d                    800
  Some desperate deed afar.
His courser would he feed and stroke,
And, tucking up his sable frocke,
Would first his mettle bold provoke,
  Then soothe or quell his pride.                          805
Old Hubert said, that never one
He saw, except Lord Marmion,
  A steed so fairly ride.


Some half-hour’s march behind, there came,
  By Eustace govern’d fair,                                810
A troop escorting Hilda’s Dame,
  With all her nuns, and Clare.
No audience had Lord Marmion sought;
  Ever he fear’d to aggravate
  Clara de Clare’s suspicious hate;                        815
And safer ‘twas, he thought,
  To wait till, from the nuns removed,
  The influence of kinsmen loved,
And suit by Henry’s self approved,
Her slow consent had wrought.                              820
  His was no flickering flame, that dies
  Unless when fann’d by looks and sighs,
  And lighted oft at lady’s eyes;
  He long’d to stretch his wide command
  O’er luckless Clara’s ample land:                        825
  Besides, when Wilton with him vied,
  Although the pang of humbled pride
  The place of jealousy supplied,
Yet conquest, by that meanness won
He almost loath’d to think upon,                          830
Led him, at times, to hate the cause,
Which made him burst through honour’s laws.
If e’er he loved, ‘twas her alone,
Who died within that vault of stone.


And now, when close at hand they saw                      835
North Berwick’s town, and lofty Law,
Fitz-Eustace bade them pause a while,
Before a venerable pile,
  Whose turrets view’d, afar,
The lofty Bass, the Lambie Isle,                          840
  The ocean’s peace or war.
At tolling of a bell, forth came
The convent’s venerable Dame,
And pray’d Saint Hilda’s Abbess rest
With her, a loved and honour’d guest,                      845
Till Douglas should a bark prepare
To wait her back to Whitby fair.
Glad was the Abbess, you may guess,
And thank’d the Scottish Prioress;
And tedious were to tell, I ween,                          850
The courteous speech that pass’d between.
  O’erjoy’d the nuns their palfreys leave;
But when fair Clara did intend,
Like them, from horseback to descend,
  Fitz-Eustace said,-’I grieve,                          855
Fair lady, grieve e’en from my heart,
Such gentle company to part;-
  Think not discourtesy,
But lords’ commands must be obey’d;
And Marmion and the Douglas said,                          860
  That you must wend with me.
Lord Marmion hath a letter broad,
Which to the Scottish Earl he show’d,
Commanding, that, beneath his care,
Without delay, you shall repair                            865
To your good kinsman, Lord Fitz-Clare.’


The startled Abbess loud exclaim’d;
But she, at whom the blow was aim’d,
Grew pale as death, and cold as lead,-
She deem’d she heard her death-doom read.                  870
‘Cheer thee, my child!’ the Abbess said,
‘They dare not tear thee from my hand,
To ride alone with armed band.’-
  ‘Nay, holy mother, nay,’
Fitz-Eustace said, ‘the lovely Clare                      875
Will be in Lady Angus’ care,
  In Scotland while we stay;
And, when we move, an easy ride
Will bring us to the English side,
Female attendance to provide                              880
  Befitting Gloster’s heir;
Nor thinks, nor dreams, my noble lord,
By slightest look, or act, or word,
  To harass Lady Clare.
Her faithful guardian he will be,                          885
Nor sue for slightest courtesy
  That e’en to stranger falls,
Till he shall place her, safe and free,
  Within her kinsman’s halls.’
He spoke, and blush’d with earnest grace;                  890
His faith was painted on his face,
  And Clare’s worst fear relieved.
The Lady Abbess loud exclaim’d
On Henry, and the Douglas blamed,
  Entreated, threaten’d, grieved;                          895
To martyr, saint, and prophet pray’d,
Against Lord Marmion inveigh’d,
And call’d the Prioress to aid,
To curse with candle, bell, and book.
Her head the grave Cistertian shook:                      900
‘The Douglas, and the King,’ she said,
‘In their commands will be obey’d;
Grieve not, nor dream that harm can fall
The maiden in Tantallon hall.’


The Abbess, seeing strife was vain,                        905
Assumed her wonted state again,
  For much of state she had,-
Composed her veil, and raised her head,
And-‘Bid,’ in solemn voice she said,
  ‘Thy master, bold and bad,                              910
The records of his house turn o’er,
  And, when he shall there written see,
  That one of his own ancestry
  Drove the monks forth of Coventry,
Bid him his fate explore!                                  915
  Prancing in pride of earthly trust,
  His charger hurl’d him to the dust,
  And, by a base plebeian thrust,
He died his band before.
  God judge ‘twixt Marmion and me;                        920
  He is a Chief of high degree,
And I a poor recluse;
  Yet oft, in holy writ, we see
  Even such weak minister as me
May the oppressor bruise:                                  925
  For thus, inspired, did Judith slay
    The mighty in his sin,
  And Jael thus, and Deborah’-
    Here hasty Blount broke in:
‘Fitz-Eustace, we must march our band;                    930
Saint Anton’ fire thee! wilt thou stand
All day, with bonnet in thy hand,
  To hear the Lady preach?
By this good light! if thus we stay,
Lord Marmion, for our fond delay,                          935
  Will sharper sermon teach.
Come, don thy cap, and mount thy horse;
The Dame must patience take perforce.’-


‘Submit we then to force,’ said Clare,
‘But let this barbarous lord despair                      940
  His purposed aim to win;
Let him take living, land, and life;
But to be Marmion’s wedded wife
  In me were deadly sin:
And if it be the King’s decree,                            945
That I must find no sanctuary,
In that inviolable dome,
Where even a homicide might come,
  And safely rest his head,
Though at its open portals stood,                          950
Thirsting to pour forth blood for blood,
  The kinsmen of the dead;
Yet one asylum is my own
  Against the dreaded hour;
A low, a silent, and a lone,                              955
  Where kings have little power.
One victim is before me there.-
Mother, your blessing, and in prayer
Remember your unhappy Clare!’
Loud weeps the Abbess, and bestows                        960
  Kind blessings many a one:
Weeping and wailing loud arose,
Round patient Clare, the clamorous woes
  Of every simple nun.
His eyes the gentle Eustace dried,                        965
And scarce rude Blount the sight could bide.
  Then took the squire her rein,
And gently led away her steed,
And, by each courteous word and deed,
  To cheer her strove in vain.                            970


But scant three miles the band had rode,
  When o’er a height they pass’d,
And, sudden, close before them show’d
  His towers, Tantallon vast;
Broad, massive, high, and stretching far,                  975
And held impregnable in war.
On a projecting rock they rose,
And round three sides the ocean flows,
The fourth did battled walls enclose,
  And double mound and fosse.                              980
By narrow drawbridge, outworks strong,
Through studded gates, an entrance long,
  To the main court they cross.
It was a wide and stately square:
Around were lodgings, fit and fair,                        985
  And towers of various form,
Which on the court projected far,
And broke its lines quadrangular.
Here was square keep, there turret high,
Or pinnacle that sought the sky,                          990
Whence oft the Warder could descry
  The gathering ocean-storm.


Here did they rest.-The princely care
Of Douglas, why should I declare,
Or say they met reception fair?                            995
  Or why the tidings say,
Which, varying, to Tantallon came,
By hurrying posts, or fleeter fame,
  With every varying day?
And, first, they heard King James had won                1000
  Etall, and Wark, and Ford; and then,
  That Norham Castle strong was ta’en.
At that sore marvell’d Marmion;-
And Douglas hoped his Monarch’s hand
Would soon subdue Northumberland:                        1005
  But whisper’d news there came,
That, while his host inactive lay,
And melted by degrees away,
King James was dallying off the day
  With Heron’s wily dame.-                              1010
Such acts to chronicles I yield;
  Go seek them there, and see:
Mine is a tale of Flodden Field,
  And not a history.-
At length they heard the Scottish host                    1015
On that high ridge had made their post,
 Which frowns o’er Millfield Plain;
And that brave Surrey many a band
Had gather’d in the Southern land,
And march’d into Northumberland,                          1020
  And camp at Wooler ta’en.
Marmion, like charger in the stall,
That hears, without, the trumpet-call,
  Began to chafe, and swear:-
‘A sorry thing to hide my head                            1025
In castle, like a fearful maid,
  When such a field is near!
Needs must I see this battle-day:
Death to my fame if such a fray
Were fought, and Marmion away!                            1030
The Douglas, too, I wot not why,
Hath ‘bated of his courtesy:
No longer in his halls I’ll stay.’
Then bade his band they should array
For march against the dawning day.                        1035



Mertoun-House, Christmas

Heap on more wood!-the wind is chill;
But let it whistle as it will,
We’ll keep our Christmas merry still.
Each age has deem’d the new-born year
The fittest time for festal cheer:                          5
Even, heathen yet, the savage Dane
At Iol more deep the mead did drain;
High on the beach his galleys drew,
And feasted all his pirate crew;
Then in his low and pine-built hall,                        10
Where shields and axes deck’d the wall,
They gorged upon the half-dress’d steer;
Caroused in seas of sable beer;
While round, in brutal jest, were thrown
The half-gnaw’d rib, and marrow-bone,                      15
Or listen’d all, in grim delight,
While scalds yell’d out the joys of fight.
Then forth, in frenzy, would they hie,
While wildly-loose their red locks fly,
And dancing round the blazing pile,                        20
They make such barbarous mirth the while,
As best might to the mind recall
The boisterous joys of Odin’s hall.

  And well our Christian sires of old
Loved when the year its course had roll’d,                  25
And brought blithe Christmas back again,
With all his hospitable train.
Domestic and religious rite
Gave honour to the holy night;
On Christmas eve the bells were rung;                      30
On Christmas eve the mass was sung:
That only night in all the year,
Saw the stoled priest the chalice rear.
The damsel donn’d her kirtle sheen;
The hall was dress’d with holly green;                      35
Forth to the wood did merry-men go,
To gather in the mistletoe.
Then open’d wide the Baron’s hall
To vassal, tenant, serf, and all;
Power laid his rod of rule aside,                          40
And Ceremony doff’d his pride.
The heir, with roses in his shoes,
That night might village partner choose;
The Lord, underogating, share
The vulgar game of ‘post and pair.’                        45
All hail’d, with uncontroll’d delight,
And general voice, the happy night,
That to the cottage, as the crown,
Brought tidings of salvation down.

  The fire, with well-dried logs supplied,                  50
Went roaring up the chimney wide:
The huge hall-table’s oaken face,
Scrubb’d till it shone, the day to grace,
Bore then upon its massive board
No mark to part the squire and lord.                        55
Then was brought in the lusty brawn,
By old blue-coated serving-man;
Then the grim boar’s head frown’d on high,
Crested with bays and rosemary.
Well can the green-garb’d ranger tell,                      60
How, when, and where, the monster fell;
What dogs before his death he tore,
And all the baiting of the boar.
The wassel round, in good brown bowls,
Garnish’d with ribbons, blithely trowls.                    65
There the huge sirloin reek’d; hard by
Plum-porridge stood, and Christmas pie:
Nor fail’d old Scotland to produce,
At such high tide, her savoury goose.
Then came the merry maskers in,                            70
And carols roar’d with blithesome din;
If unmelodious was the song,
It was a hearty note, and strong.
Who lists may in their mumming see
Traces of ancient mystery;                                  75
White shirts supplied the masquerade,
And smutted cheeks the visors made;
But, O! what maskers, richly dight,
Can boast of bosoms half so light!
England was merry England, when                            80
Old Christmas brought his sports again.
‘Twas Christmas broach’d the mightiest ale;
‘Twas Christmas told the merriest tale;
A Christmas gambol oft could cheer
The poor man’s heart through half the year.                85

  Still linger, in our northern clime,
Some remnants of the good old time;
And still, within our valleys here,
We hold the kindred title dear,
Even when, perchance, its far-fetch’d claim                90
To Southron ear sounds empty name;
For course of blood, our proverbs deem,
Is warmer than the mountain-stream.
And thus, my Christmas still I hold
Where my great-grandsire came of old,                      95
With amber beard, and flaxen hair,
And reverend apostolic air-
The feast and holy-tide to share,
And mix sobriety with wine,
And honest mirth with thoughts divine:                    100
Small thought was his, in after time
E’er to be hitch’d into a rhyme.
The simple sire could only boast,
That he was loyal to his cost;
The banish’d race of kings revered,                        105
And lost his land,-but kept his beard.

In these dear halls, where welcome kind
Is with fair liberty combined;
Where cordial friendship gives the hand,
And flies constraint the magic wand                        110
Of the fair dame that rules the land.
Little we heed the tempest drear,
While music, mirth, and social cheer,
Speed on their wings the passing year.
And Mertoun’s halls are fair e’en now,                    115
When not a leaf is on the bough.
Tweed loves them well, and turns again,
As loth to leave the sweet domain,
And holds his mirror to her face,
And clips her with a close embrace:-                      120
Gladly as he, we seek the dome,
And as reluctant turn us home.

How just that, at this time of glee,
My thoughts should, Heber, turn to thee!
For many a merry hour we’ve known,                        125
And heard the chimes of midnight’s tone.
Cease, then, my friend! a moment cease,
And leave these classic tomes in peace!
Of Roman and of Grecian lore,
Sure mortal brain can hold no more.                        130
These ancients, as Noll Bluff might say,
‘Were pretty fellows in their day;’
But time and tide o’er all prevail-
On Christmas eve a Christmas tale-
Of wonder and of war-‘Profane!                            135
What! leave the lofty Latian strain,
Her stately prose, her verse’s charms,
To hear the clash of rusty arms:
In Fairy Land or Limbo lost,
To jostle conjurer and ghost,                              140
Goblin and witch!’-Nay, Heber dear,
Before you touch my charter, hear;
Though Leyden aids, alas! no more,
My cause with many-languaged lore,
This may I say:-in realms of death                        145
Ulysses meets Alcides’ wraith;
Aeneas, upon Thracia’s shore,
The ghost of murder’d Polydore;
For omens, we in Livy cross,
At every turn, locutus Bos.                                150
As grave and duly speaks that ox,
As if he told the price of stocks;
Or held, in Rome republican,
The place of Common-councilman.

  All nations have their omens drear,                      155
Their legends wild of woe and fear.
To Cambria look-the peasant see,
Bethink him of Glendowerdy,
And shun ‘the Spirit’s Blasted Tree.’
The Highlander, whose red claymore                        160
The battle turn’d on Maida’s shore,
Will, on a Friday morn, look pale,
If ask’d to tell a fairy tale:
He fears the vengeful Elfin King,
Who leaves that day his grassy ring:                      165
Invisible to human ken,
He walks among the sons of men.

  Did’st e’er, dear Heber, pass along
Beneath the towers of Franchemont,
Which, like an eagle’s nest in air,                        170
Hang o’er the stream and hamlet fair?
Deep in their vaults, the peasants say,
A mighty treasure buried lay,
Amass’d through rapine and through wrong
By the last Lord of Franchemont.                          175
The iron chest is bolted hard,
A Huntsman sits, its constant guard;
Around his neck his horn is hung,
His hanger in his belt is slung;
Before his feet his blood-hounds lie:                      180
An ‘twere not for his gloomy eye,
Whose withering glance no heart can brook,
As true a huntsman doth he look,
As bugle e’er in brake did sound,
Or ever hollow’d to a hound.                              185
To chase the fiend, and win the prize,
In that same dungeon ever tries
An aged Necromantic Priest;
It is an hundred years at least,
Since ‘twixt them first the strife begun,                  190
And neither yet has lost nor won.
And oft the Conjurer’s words will make
The stubborn Demon groan and quake;
And oft the bands of iron break,
Or bursts one lock, that still amain,                      195
Fast as ‘tis open’d, shuts again.
That magic strife within the tomb
May last until the day of doom,
Unless the Adept shall learn to tell
The very word that clench’d the spell,                    200
When Franch’mont lock’d the treasure cell.
An hundred years are pass’d and gone,
And scarce three letters has he won.

  Such general superstition may
Excuse for old Pitscottie say;                            205
Whose gossip history has given
My song the messenger from Heaven,
That warn’d, in Lithgow, Scotland’s King,
Nor less the infernal summoning;
May pass the Monk of Durham’s tale,                        210
Whose Demon fought in Gothic mail;
May pardon plead for Fordun grave,
Who told of Gifford’s Goblin-Cave.
But why such instances to you,
Who, in an instant, can renew                              215
Your treasured hoards of various lore,
And furnish twenty thousand more?
Hoards, not like theirs whose volumes rest
Like treasures in the Franch’mont chest,
While gripple owners still refuse                          220
To others what they cannot use;
Give them the priest’s whole century,
They shall not spell you letters three;
Their pleasure in the books the same
The magpie takes in pilfer’d gem.                          225
Thy volumes, open as thy heart,
Delight, amusement, science, art,
To every ear and eye impart;
Yet who, of all who thus employ them,
Can like the owner’s self enjoy them?-                    230
But, hark! I hear the distant drum!
The day of Flodden Field is come.-
Adieu, dear Heber! life and health,
And store of literary wealth.



While great events were on the gale,
And each hour brought a varying tale,
And the demeanour, changed and cold,
Of Douglas, fretted Marmion bold,
And, like the impatient steed of war,                        5
He snuff’d the battle from afar;
And hopes were none, that back again
Herald should come from Terouenne,
Where England’s King in leaguer lay,
Before decisive battle-day;                                10
Whilst these things were, the mournful Clare
Did in the Dame’s devotions share:
For the good Countess ceaseless pray’d
To Heaven and Saints, her sons to aid.
And, with short interval, did pass                          15
From prayer to book, from book to mass,
And all in high Baronial pride,-
A life both dull and dignified;-
Yet as Lord Marmion nothing press’d
Upon her intervals of rest,                                20
Dejected Clara well could bear
The formal state, the lengthen’d prayer,
Though dearest to her wounded heart
The hours that she might spend apart.


I said, Tantallon’s dizzy steep                            25
Hung o’er the margin of the deep.
Many a rude tower and rampart there
Repell’d the insult of the air,
Which, when the tempest vex’d the sky,
Half breeze, half spray, came whistling by.                30
Above the rest, a turret square
Did o’er its Gothic entrance bear,
Of sculpture rude, a stony shield;
The Bloody Heart was in the Field,
And in the chief three mullets stood,                      35
The cognizance of Douglas blood.
The turret held a narrow stair,
Which, mounted, gave you access where
A parapet’s embattled row
Did seaward round the castle go.                            40
Sometimes in dizzy steps descending,
Sometimes in narrow circuit bending,
Sometimes in platform broad extending,
Its varying circle did combine
Bulwark, and bartisan, and line,                            45
And bastion, tower, and vantage-coign:
Above the booming ocean leant
The far-projecting battlement;
The billows burst, in ceaseless flow,
Upon the precipice below.                                  50
Where’er Tantallon faced the land,
Gate-works, and walls, were strongly mann’d;
No need upon the sea-girt side;
The steepy rock, and frantic tide,
Approach of human step denied;                              55
And thus these lines, and ramparts rude,
Were left in deepest solitude.


And, for they were so lonely, Clare
Would to these battlements repair,
And muse upon her sorrows there,                            60
  And list the sea-bird’s cry;
Or slow, like noontide ghost, would glide
Along the dark-grey bulwarks’ side,
And ever on the heaving tide
  Look down with weary eye.                                65
Oft did the cliff, and swelling main,
Recall the thoughts of Whitby’s fane,--
A home she ne’er might see again;
  For she had laid adown,
So Douglas bade, the hood and veil,                        70
And frontlet of the cloister pale,
  And Benedictine gown:
It were unseemly sight, he said,
A novice out of convent shade.-
Now her bright locks, with sunny glow,                      75
Again adorn’d her brow of snow;
Her mantle rich, whose borders, round,
A deep and fretted broidery bound,
In golden foldings sought the ground;
Of holy ornament, alone                                    80
Remain’d a cross with ruby stone;
  And often did she look
On that which in her hand she bore,
With velvet bound, and broider’d o’er,
  Her breviary book.                                        85
In such a place, so lone, so grim,
At dawning pale, or twilight dim,
  It fearful would have been
To meet a form so richly dress’d,
With book in hand, and cross on breast,                    90
  And such a woeful mien.
Fitz-Eustace, loitering with his bow,
To practise on the gull and crow,
Saw her, at distance, gliding slow,
  And did by Mary swear,-                                  95
Some love-lorn Fay she might have been,
Or, in Romance, some spell-bound Queen;
For ne’er, in work-day world, was seen
A form so witching fair.


Once walking thus, at evening tide,                        100
It chanced a gliding sail she spied,
And, sighing, thought-‘The Abbess, there,
Perchance, does to her home repair;
Her peaceful rule, where Duty, free,
Walks hand in hand with Charity;                          105
Where oft Devotion’s tranced glow
Can such a glimpse of heaven bestow,
That the enraptured sisters see
High vision, and deep mystery;
The very form of Hilda fair,                              110
Hovering upon the sunny air,
And smiling on her votaries’ prayer.
O! wherefore, to my duller eye,
Did still the Saint her form deny!
Was it, that, sear’d by sinful scorn,                      115
My heart could neither melt nor burn?
Or lie my warm affections low,
With him, that taught them first to glow?
Yet, gentle Abbess, well I knew,
To pay thy kindness grateful due,                          120
And well could brook the mild command,
That ruled thy simple maiden band.
How different now! condemn’d to bide
My doom from this dark tyrant’s pride.-
But Marmion has to learn, ere long,                        125
That constant mind, and hate of wrong,
Descended to a feeble girl,
From Red De Clare, stout Gloster’s Earl:
Of such a stem, a sapling weak,
He ne’er shall bend, although he break.                    130


‘But see!-what makes this armour here?’-
  For in her path there lay
Targe, corslet, helm;-she view’d them near.-
‘The breast-plate pierced!-Ay, much I fear,
Weak fence wert thou ‘gainst foeman’s spear,              135
That hath made fatal entrance here,
  As these dark blood-gouts say.-
Thus Wilton!-Oh! not corslet’s ward,
Not truth, as diamond pure and hard,
Could be thy manly bosom’s guard,                          140
  On yon disastrous day!’-
She raised her eyes in mournful mood,-
WILTON himself before her stood!
It might have seem’d his passing ghost,
For every youthful grace was lost;                        145
And joy unwonted, and surprise,
Gave their strange wildness to his eyes.-
Expect not, noble dames and lords,
That I can tell such scene in words:
What skilful limner e’er would choose                      150
To paint the rainbow’s varying hues,
Unless to mortal it were given
To dip his brush in dyes of heaven?
Far less can my weak line declare
  Each changing passion’s shade;                          155
Brightening to rapture from despair,
Sorrow, surprise, and pity there,
And joy, with her angelic air,
And hope, that paints the future fair,
  Their varying hues display’d:                            160
Each o’er its rival’s ground extending,
Alternate conquering, shifting, blending,
Till all, fatigued, the conflict yield,
And mighty Love retains the field,
Shortly I tell what then he said,                          165
By many a tender word delay’d,
And modest blush, and bursting sigh,
And question kind, and fond reply:-


De Wilton’s History.

‘Forget we that disastrous day,
When senseless in the lists I lay.                        170
  Thence dragg’d,-but how I cannot know,
    For sense and recollection fled,
  I found me on a pallet low,
    Within my ancient beadsman’s shed.
Austin,-remember’st thou, my Clare,                      175
How thou didst blush, when the old man,
When first our infant love began,
  Said we would make a matchless pair?-
Menials, and friends, and kinsmen fled
From the degraded traitor’s bed,-                        180
He only held my burning head,
And tended me for many a day,
While wounds and fever held their sway.
But far more needful was his care,
When sense return’d to wake despair;                      185
  For I did tear the closing wound,
  And dash me frantic on the ground,
If e’er I heard the name of Clare.
At length, to calmer reason brought,
Much by his kind attendance wrought,                      190
  With him I left my native strand,
And, in a Palmer’s weeds array’d
My hated name and form to shade,
  I journey’d many a land;
No more a lord of rank and birth,                          195
But mingled with the dregs of earth.
  Oft Austin for my reason fear’d,
When I would sit, and deeply brood
On dark revenge, and deeds of blood,
  Or wild mad schemes uprear’d.                            200
My friend at length fell sick, and said,
  God would remove him soon:
And, while upon his dying bed,
He begg’d of me a boon-
If e’er my deadliest enemy                                205
Beneath my brand should conquer’d lie,
Even then my mercy should awake,
And spare his life for Austin’s sake.


‘Still restless as a second Cain,
To Scotland next my route was ta’en,                      210
  Full well the paths I knew.
Fame of my fate made various sound,
That death in pilgrimage I found,
That I had perish’d of my wound,-
  None cared which tale was true:                          215
And living eye could never guess
De Wilton in his Palmer’s dress;
For now that sable slough is shed,
And trimm’d my shaggy beard and head,
I scarcely know me in the glass.                          220
A chance most wondrous did provide,
That I should be that Baron’s guide-
  I will not name his name!-
Vengeance to God alone belongs;
But, when I think on all my wrongs,                        225
  My blood is liquid flame!
And ne’er the time shall I forget,
When in a Scottish hostel set,
  Dark looks we did exchange:
What were his thoughts I cannot tell;                      230
But in my bosom muster’d Hell
Its plans of dark revenge.


‘A word of vulgar augury,
That broke from me, I scarce knew why,
  Brought on a village tale;                              235
Which wrought upon his moody sprite,
And sent him armed forth by night.
I borrow’d steed and mail,
And weapons, from his sleeping band;
  And, passing from a postern door,                        240
We met, and ‘counter’d, hand to hand,-
  He fell on Gifford-moor.
For the death-stroke my brand I drew,
(O then my helmed head he knew,
  The Palmer’s cowl was gone,)                            245
Then had three inches of my blade
The heavy debt of vengeance paid,-
My hand the thought of Austin staid;
  I left him there alone.-
O good old man! even from the grave,                      250
Thy spirit could thy master save:
If I had slain my foeman, ne’er
Had Whitby’s Abbess, in her fear,
Given to my hand this packet dear,
Of power to clear my injured fame,                        255
And vindicate De Wilton’s name.-
Perchance you heard the Abbess tell
Of the strange pageantry of Hell,
  That broke our secret speech-
It rose from the infernal shade,                          260
Or featly was some juggle play’d,
  A tale of peace to teach.
Appeal to Heaven I judged was best,
When my name came among the rest.


‘Now here, within Tantallon Hold,                          265
To Douglas late my tale I told,
To whom my house was known of old.
Won by my proofs, his falchion bright
This eve anew shall dub me knight.
These were the arms that once did turn                    270
The tide of fight on Otterburne,
And Harry Hotspur forced to yield,
When the Dead Douglas won the field.
These Angus gave-his armourer’s care,
Ere morn, shall every breach repair;                      275
For nought, he said, was in his halls,
But ancient armour on the walls,
And aged chargers in the stalls,
And women, priests, and grey-hair’d men;
The rest were all in Twisel glen.                          280
And now I watch my armour here,
By law of arms, till midnight’s near;
Then, once again a belted knight,
Seek Surrey’s camp with dawn of light.


‘There soon again we meet, my Clare!                      285
This Baron means to guide thee there:
Douglas reveres his King’s command,
Else would he take thee from his band.
And there thy kinsman, Surrey, too,
Will give De Wilton justice due.                          290
Now meeter far for martial broil,
Firmer my limbs, and strung by toil,
Once more’-‘O Wilton! must we then
Risk new-found happiness again,
  Trust fate of arms once more?                            295
And is there not an humble glen,
  Where we, content and poor,
Might build a cottage in the shade,
A shepherd thou, and I to aid
  Thy task on dale and moor?-                            300
That reddening brow!-too well I know,
Not even thy Clare can peace bestow,
  While falsehood stains thy name:
Go then to fight!  Clare bids thee go!
Clare can a warrior’s feelings know,                      305
  And weep a warrior’s shame;
Can Red Earl Gilbert’s spirit feel,
Buckle the spurs upon thy heel,
And belt thee with thy brand of steel,
  And send thee forth to fame!’                            310


That night, upon the rocks and bay,
The midnight moon-beam slumbering lay,
And pour’d its silver light, and pure,
Through loop-hole, and through embrazure,
  Upon Tantallon tower and hall;                          315
But chief where arched windows wide
Illuminate the chapel’s pride,
  The sober glances fall.
Much was there need; though seam’d with scars,
Two veterans of the Douglas’ wars,                        320
  Though two grey priests were there,
And each a blazing torch held high,
You could not by their blaze descry
  The chapel’s carving fair.
Amid that dim and smoky light,                            325
Chequering the silvery moon-shine bright,
  A bishop by the altar stood,
  A noble lord of Douglas blood,
With mitre sheen, and rocquet white.
Yet show’d his meek and thoughtful eye                    330
But little pride of prelacy;
More pleased that, in a barbarous age,
He gave rude Scotland Virgil’s page,
Than that beneath his rule he held
The bishopric of fair Dunkeld.                            335
Beside him ancient Angus stood,
Doff’d his furr’d gown, and sable hood:
O’er his huge form and visage pale,
He wore a cap and shirt of mail;
And lean’d his large and wrinkled hand                    340
Upon the huge and sweeping brand
Which wont of yore, in battle fray,
His foeman’s limbs to shred away,
As wood-knife lops the sapling spray.
  He seem’d as, from the tombs around                      345
    Rising at judgment-day,
  Some giant Douglas may be found
    In all his old array;
So pale his face, so huge his limb,
So old his arms, his look so grim.                        350


Then at the altar Wilton kneels,
And Clare the spurs bound on his heels;
And think what next he must have felt,
At buckling of the falchion belt!
  And judge how Clara changed her hue,                    355
While fastening to her lover’s side
A friend, which, though in danger tried,
  He once had found untrue!
Then Douglas struck him with his blade:
‘Saint Michael and Saint Andrew aid,                      360
  I dub thee knight.
Arise, Sir Ralph, De Wilton’s heir!
For King, for Church, for Lady fair,
  See that thou fight.’-
And Bishop Gawain, as he rose,                            365
Said-‘Wilton! grieve not for thy woes,
  Disgrace, and trouble;
For He, who honour best bestows,
  May give thee double.’-
De Wilton sobb’d, for sob he must-                        370
‘Where’er I meet a Douglas, trust
  That Douglas is my brother!’
‘Nay, nay,’ old Angus said, ‘not so;
To Surrey’s camp thou now must go,
  Thy wrongs no longer smother.                            375
I have two sons in yonder field;
And, if thou meet’st them under shield,
Upon them bravely-do thy worst;
And foul fall him that blenches first!’


Not far advanced was morning day,                          380
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,
  And Douglas gave a guide:                                385
The ancient Earl, with stately grace,
Would Clara on her palfrey place,
And whisper’d in an under tone,
‘Let the hawk stoop, his prey is flown.’-
The train from out the castle drew,                        390
But Marmion stopp’d to bid adieu:
  ‘Though something I might plain,’ he said,
‘Of cold respect to stranger guest,
Sent hither by your King’s behest,
  While in Tantallon’s towers I staid;                    395
Part 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                400
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-                          405
The hand of Douglas is his own;
And never shall in friendly grasp
The hand of such as Marmion clasp.’-


Burn’d Marmion’s swarthy cheek like fire,
And shook his very frame for ire,                          410
  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,                    415
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,                              420
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 said’st, I am not peer                        425
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:                            430
Fierce he broke forth,-‘And darest thou then
To beard the lion in his den,
  The Douglas in his hall?
And hopest thou hence unscathed to go?-
No, by Saint Bride of Bothwell, no!                        435
Up drawbridge, grooms-what, Warder, ho!
  Let the portcullis fall.’-
Lord Marmion turn’d,-well was his need,
And dash’d the rowels in his steed,
Like arrow through the archway sprung,                    440
The ponderous grate behind him rung:
To pass there was such scanty room,
The bars, descending, razed his plume.


The steed along the drawbridge flies,
Just as it trembled on the rise;                          445
Nor lighter does the swallow skim
Along the smooth lake’s level brim:
And when Lord Marmion reach’d his band,
He halts, and turns with clenched hand,
And shout of loud defiance pours,                          450
And shook his gauntlet at the towers.
‘Horse! horse!’ the Douglas cried, ‘and chase!’
But soon he rein’d his fury’s pace:
‘A royal messenger he came,
Though most unworthy of the name.-                        455
A letter forged! Saint Jude to speed!
Did ever knight so foul a deed!
At first in heart it liked me ill,
When the King praised his clerkly skill.
Thanks to Saint Bothan, son of mine,                      460
Save Gawain, ne’er could pen a line:
So swore I, and I swear it still,
Let my boy-bishop fret his fill.-
Saint Mary mend my fiery mood!
Old age ne’er cools the Douglas blood,                    465
I thought to slay him where he stood.
‘Tis pity of him too,’ he cried;
‘Bold can he speak, and fairly ride,
I warrant him a warrior tried.’
With this his mandate he recalls,                          470
And slowly seeks his castle halls.


The day in Marmion’s journey wore;
Yet, e’er his passion’s gust was o’er,
They cross’d the heights of Stanrig-moor.
His troop more closely there he scann’d,                  475
And miss’d the Palmer from the band.-
‘Palmer or not,’ young Blount did say,
‘ He parted at the peep of day;
Good sooth, it was in strange array.’-
‘In what array?’ said Marmion, quick.                      480
‘My Lord, I ill can spell the trick;
But all night long, with clink and bang,
Close to my couch did hammers clang;
At dawn the falling drawbridge rang,
And from a loop-hole while I peep,                        485
Old Bell-the-Cat came from the Keep,
Wrapp’d in a gown of sables fair,
As fearful of the morning air;
Beneath, when that was blown aside,
A rusty shirt of mail I spied,                            490
By Archibald won in bloody work,
Against the Saracen and Turk:
Last night it hung not in the hall;
I thought some marvel would befall.
And next I saw them saddled lead                          495
Old Cheviot forth, the Earl’s best steed;
A matchless horse, though something old,
Prompt to his paces, cool and bold.
I heard the Sheriff Sholto say,
The Earl did much the Master pray                          500
To use him on the battle-day;
But he preferr’d’-’Nay, Henry, cease!
Thou sworn horse-courser, hold thy peace.-
Eustace, thou bear’st a brain-I pray,
What did Blount see at break of day?’                      505


‘In brief, my lord, we both descried
(For then I stood by Henry’s side)
The Palmer mount, and outwards ride,
  Upon the Earl’s own favourite steed:
All sheathed he was in armour bright,                      510
And much resembled that same knight,
Subdued by you in Cotswold fight:
  Lord Angus wish’d him speed.’-
The instant that Fitz-Eustace spoke,
A sudden light on Marmion broke;-                        515
‘Ah! dastard fool, to reason lost!’
He mutter’d; ‘Twas nor fay nor ghost
I met upon the moonlight wold,
But living man of earthly mould.-
  O dotage blind and gross!                                520
Had I but fought as wont, one thrust
Had laid De Wilton in the dust,
  My path no more to cross.-
How stand we now?-he told his tale
To Douglas; and with some avail;                          525
  ‘Twas therefore gloom’d his rugged brow.-
Will Surrey dare to entertain,
‘Gainst Marmion, charge disproved and vain?
Small risk of that, I trow.
Yet Clare’s sharp questions must I shun;                  330
Must separate Constance from the Nun-
O, what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive!
A Palmer too!-no wonder why
I felt rebuked beneath his eye:                            535
I might have known there was but one,
Whose look could quell Lord Marmion.’


Stung with these thoughts, he urged to speed
His troop, and reach’d, at eve, the Tweed,
Where Lennel’s convent closed their march;                540
(There now is left but one frail arch,
  Yet mourn thou not its cells;
Our time a fair exchange has made;
Hard by, in hospitable shade,
  A reverend pilgrim dwells,                              545
Well worth the whole Bernardine brood,
That e’er wore sandal, frock, or hood.)
Yet did Saint Bernard’s Abbot there
Give Marmion entertainment fair,
And lodging for his train and Clare.                      550
Next morn the Baron climb’d the tower,
To view afar the Scottish power,
  Encamp’d on Flodden edge:
The white pavilions made a show,
Like remnants of the winter snow,                          555
  Along the dusky ridge.
Long Marmion look’d:-at length his eye
Unusual movement might descry
Amid the shifting lines:
The Scottish host drawn out appears,                      560
For, flashing on the hedge of spears,
  The eastern sunbeam shines.
Their front now deepening, now extending;
Their flank inclining, wheeling, bending,
Now drawing back, and now descending,                      565
The skilful Marmion well could know,
They watch’d the motions of some foe,
Who traversed on the plain below.


Even so it was.  From Flodden ridge
  The Scots beheld the English host                        570
  Leave Barmore-wood, their evening post,
  And heedful watch’d them as they cross’d
The Till by Twisel Bridge.
  High sight it is, and haughty, while
  They dive into the deep defile;                          575
  Beneath the cavern’d cliff they fall,
  Beneath the castle’s airy wall.
By rock, by oak, by hawthorn-tree,
  Troop after troop are disappearing;
  Troop after troop their banners rearing,                580
Upon the eastern bank you see.
Still pouring down the rocky den,
  Where flows the sullen Till,
And rising from the dim-wood glen,
Standards on standards, men on men,                        585
  In slow succession still,
And, sweeping o’er the Gothic arch,
And pressing on, in ceaseless march,
  To gain the opposing hill.
That morn, to many a trumpet clang,                        590
Twisel! thy rock’s deep echo rang;
And many a chief of birth and rank,
Saint Helen! at thy fountain drank.
Thy hawthorn glade, which now we see
In spring-tide bloom so lavishly,                          595
Had then from many an axe its doom,
To give the marching columns room.


And why stands Scotland idly now,
Dark Flodden! on thy airy brow,
Since England gains the pass the while,                    600
And struggles through the deep defile?
What checks the fiery soul of James?
Why sits that champion of the dames
  Inactive on his steed,
And sees, between him and his land,                        605
Between him and Tweed’s southern strand,
  His host Lord Surrey lead?
What ‘vails the vain knight-errant’s brand?--
O, Douglas, for thy leading wand!
  Fierce Randolph, for thy speed!                          610
O for one hour of Wallace wight,
Or well-skill’d Bruce, to rule the fight,
And cry-‘Saint Andrew and our right!’
Another sight had seen that morn,
From Fate’s dark book a leaf been torn,                    615
And Flodden had been Bannockbourne!-
The precious hour has pass’d in vain,
And England’s host has gain’d the plain;
Wheeling their march, and circling still,
Around the base of Flodden hill.                          620


Ere yet the bands met Marmion’s eye,
Fitz-Eustace shouted loud and high,
‘Hark! hark! my lord, an English drum!
And see ascending squadrons come
  Between Tweed’s river and the hill,                      625
Foot, horse, and cannon:-hap what hap,
My basnet to a prentice cap,
  Lord Surrey’s o’er the Till!-
Yet more! yet more!-how far array’d
They file from out the hawthorn shade,                    630
  And sweep so gallant by!
With all their banners bravely spread,
  And all their armour flashing high,
Saint George might waken from the dead,
To see fair England’s standards fly.’-                    635
‘Stint in thy prate,’ quoth Blount, ‘thou’dst best,
And listen to our lord’s behest.’-
With kindling brow Lord Marmion said,-
‘This instant be our band array’d;
The river must be quickly cross’d,                        640
That we may join Lord Surrey’s host.
If fight King James,-as well I trust,
That fight he will, and fight he must,-
The Lady Clare behind our lines
Shall tarry, while the battle joins.’                      645


Himself he swift on horseback threw,
Scarce to the Abbot bade adieu;
Far less would listen to his prayer,
To leave behind the helpless Clare.
Down to the Tweed his band he drew,                        650
And mutter’d as the flood they view,
‘The pheasant in the falcon’s claw,
He scarce will yield to please a daw:
Lord Angus may the Abbot awe,
  So Clare shall bide with me.’                            655
Then on that dangerous ford, and deep,
Where to the Tweed Leat’s eddies creep,
  He ventured desperately:
And not a moment will he bide,
Till squire, or groom, before him ride;                    660
Headmost of all he stems the tide,
  And stems it gallantly.
Eustace held Clare upon her horse,
  Old Hubert led her rein,
Stoutly they braved the current’s course,                  665
And, though far downward driven per force,
  The southern bank they gain;
Behind them, straggling, came to shore,
  As best they might, the train:
Each o’er his head his yew-bow bore,                      670
A caution not in vain;
Deep need that day that every string,
By wet unharm’d, should sharply ring.
A moment then Lord Marmion staid,
And breathed his steed, his men array’d,                  675
  Then forward moved his band,
Until, Lord Surrey’s rear-guard won,
He halted by a Cross of Stone,
That, on a hillock standing lone,
Did all the field command.                                680


Hence might they see the full array
Of either host, for deadly fray;
Their marshall’d lines stretch’d east and west,
  And fronted north and south,
And distant salutation pass’d                              685
  From the loud cannon mouth;
Not in the close successive rattle,
That breathes the voice of modern battle,
  But slow and far between.-
The hillock gain’d, Lord Marmion staid:                    690
‘Here, by this Cross,’ he gently said,
  ‘You well may view the scene.
Here shalt thou tarry, lovely Clare:
O! think of Marmion in thy prayer!-
Thou wilt not?-well, no less my care                      695
Shall, watchful, for thy weal prepare.-
You, Blount and Eustace, are her guard,
  With ten pick’d archers of my train;
With England if the day go hard,
  To Berwick speed amain.-                                700
But if we conquer, cruel maid,
My spoils shall at your feet be laid,
  When here we meet again.’
He waited not for answer there,
And would not mark the maid’s despair,                    705
  Nor heed the discontented look
From either squire; but spurr’d amain,
And, dashing through the battle-plain,
His way to Surrey took.


‘-The good Lord Marmion, by my life!                      710
  Welcome to danger’s hour!-
Short greeting serves in time of strife :
  Thus have I ranged my power:
Myself will rule this central host,
  Stout Stanley fronts their right,                        715
My sons command the vaward post,
  With Brian Tunstall, stainless knight;
  Lord Dacre, with his horsemen light,
  Shall be in rear-ward of the fight,
And succour those that need it most.                      720
  Now, gallant Marmion, well I know,
  Would gladly to the vanguard go;
Edmund, the Admiral, Tunstall there,
With thee their charge will blithely share;
There fight thine own retainers too,                      725
Beneath De Burg, thy steward true.’-
‘Thanks, noble Surrey!’ Marmion said,
Nor farther greeting there he paid;
But, parting like a thunderbolt,
First in the vanguard made a halt,                        730
  Where such a shout there rose
Of ‘Marmion! Marmion!’ that the cry,
Up Flodden mountain shrilling high,
Startled the Scottish foes.


Blount and Fitz-Eustace rested still                      735
With Lady Clare upon the hill;
On which, (for far the day was spent,)
The western sunbeams now were bent.
The cry they heard, its meaning knew,
Could plain their distant comrades view:                  740
Sadly to Blount did Eustace say,
‘Unworthy office here to stay!
No hope of gilded spurs to-day.-
But see! look up-on Flodden bent
The Scottish foe has fired his tent.’                      745
  And sudden, as he spoke,
From the sharp ridges of the hill,
All downward to the banks of Till,
  Was wreathed in sable smoke.
Volumed and fast, and rolling far,                        750
The cloud enveloped Scotland’s war,
  As down the hill they broke;
Nor martial shout, nor minstrel tone,
Announced their march; their tread alone,
At times one warning trumpet blown,                        755
  At times a stifled hum,
Told England, from his mountain-throne
  King James did rushing come.-
Scarce could they hear, or see their foes,
  Until at weapon-point they close.-                      760
They close, in clouds of smoke and dust,
With sword-sway, and with lance’s thrust;
  And such a yell was there,
Of sudden and portentous birth,
As if men fought upon the earth,                          765
  And fiends in upper air;
Oh, life and death were in the shout,
Recoil and rally, charge and rout,
  And triumph and despair.
Long look’d the anxious squires; their eye                770
Could in the darkness nought descry.


At length the freshening western blast
Aside the shroud of battle cast;
And, first, the ridge of mingled spears
Above the brightening cloud appears;                      775
And in the smoke the pennons flew,
As in the storm the white sea-mew.
Then mark’d they, dashing broad and far,
The broken billows of the war,
And plumed crests of chieftains brave,                    780
Floating like foam upon the wave;
  But nought distinct they see:
Wide raged the battle on the plain;
Spears shook, and falchions flash’d amain;
Fell England’s arrow-flight like rain;                    785
Crests rose, and stoop’d, and rose again,
  Wild and disorderly.
Amid the scene of tumult, high
They saw Lord Marmion’s falcon fly:
And stainless Tunstall’s banner white,                    790
And Edmund Howard’s lion bright,
Still bear them bravely in the fight;
  Although against them come,
Of gallant Gordons many a one,
And many a stubborn Badenoch-man,                          795
And many a rugged Border clan,
  With Huntly, and with Home.


Far on the left, unseen the while,
Stanley broke Lennox and Argyle;
Though there the western mountaineer                      800
Rush’d with bare bosom on the spear,
And flung the feeble targe aside,
And with both hands the broadsword plied.
‘Twas vain:-But Fortune, on the right,
With fickle smile, cheer’d Scotland’s fight.              805
Then fell that spotless banner white,
  The Howard’s lion fell;
Yet still Lord Marmion’s falcon flew
With wavering flight, while fiercer grew
  Around the battle-yell.                                  810
The Border slogan rent the sky!
A Home! a Gordon! was the cry:
  Loud were the clanging blows;
Advanced,-forced back,-now low, now high,
  The pennon sunk and rose;                                815
As bends the bark’s mast in the gale,
When rent are rigging, shrouds, and sail,
  It waver’d ‘mid the foes.
No longer Blount the view could bear:
‘By Heaven, and all its saints! I swear                    820
  I will not see it lost!
Fitz-Eustace, you with Lady Clare
May bid your beads, and patter prayer,-
  I gallop to the host.’
And to the fray he rode amain,                            825
Follow’d by all the archer train.
The fiery youth, with desperate charge,
Made, for a space, an opening large,-
  The rescued banner rose,-
But darkly closed the war around,                          830
Like pine-tree rooted from the ground,
  It sank among the foes.
Then Eustace mounted too:-yet staid,
As loath to leave the helpless maid,
  When, fast as shaft can fly,                            835
Blood-shot his eyes, his nostrils spread,
The loose rein dangling from his head,
Housing and saddle bloody red,
  Lord Marmion’s steed rush’d by;
And Eustace, maddening at the sight,                      840
  A look and sign to Clara cast,
  To mark he would return in haste,
Then plunged into the fight.


Ask me not what the maiden feels,
  Left in that dreadful hour alone:                        845
Perchance her reason stoops, or reels;
  Perchance a courage, not her own,
Braces her mind to desperate tone.-
The scatter’d van of England wheels;-
She only said, as loud in air                              850
  The tumult roar’d, ‘Is Wilton there?’-
  They fly, or, madden’d by despair,
Fight but to die,-’Is Wilton there?’-
With that, straight up the hill there rode
  Two horsemen drench’d with gore,                        855
And in their arms, a helpless load,
  A wounded knight they bore.
His hand still strain’d the broken brand;
His arms were smear’d with blood and sand:
Dragg’d from among the horses’ feet,                      860
With dinted shield, and helmet beat,
The falcon-crest and plumage gone,
Can that be haughty Marmion! . . .
Young Blount his armour did unlace,
And gazing on his ghastly face,                            865
  Said-’By Saint George, he’s gone!
That spear-wound has our master sped,
And see the deep cut on his head!
  Good-night to Marmion.’-
‘Unnurtured Blount! thy brawling cease:                    870
He opes his eyes,’ said Eustace; ‘peace!’


When, doff’d his casque, he felt free air,
Around ‘gan Marmion wildly stare:-
‘Where’s Harry Blount?  Fitz-Eustace where?
Linger ye here, ye hearts of hare!                        875
Redeem my pennon,-charge again!
Cry”Marmion to the rescue!”-Vain!
Last of my race, on battle-plain
That shout shall ne’er be heard again!-
Yet my last thought is England’s-fly,                    880
  To Dacre bear my signet-ring:
  Tell him his squadrons up to bring.-
Fitz-Eustace, to Lord Surrey hie;
  Tunstall lies dead upon the field,
  His life-blood stains the spotless shield:              885
  Edmund is down;-my life is reft;
  The Admiral alone is left.
  Let Stanley charge with spur of fire,-
  With Chester charge, and Lancashire,
  Full upon Scotland’s central host,                      890
  Or victory and England’s lost.-
  Must I bid twice?-hence, varlets! fly!
  Leave Marmion here alone-to die.’
  They parted, and alone he lay;
  Clare drew her from the sight away,                      895
Till pain wrung forth a lowly moan,
And half he murmur’d,-‘Is there none,
  Of all my halls have nurst,
Page, squire, or groom, one cup to bring
Of blessed water from the spring,                          900
  To slake my dying thirst!’


O, Woman! in our hours of ease,
Uncertain, coy, and hard to please,
And variable as the shade
By the light quivering aspen made;                        905
When pain and anguish wring the brow,
A ministering angel thou!-
Scarce were the piteous accents said,
When, with the Baron’s casque, the maid
  To the nigh streamlet ran:                              910
Forgot were hatred, wrongs, and fears;
The plaintive voice alone she hears,
  Sees but the dying man.
She stoop’d her by the runnel’s side,
  But in abhorrence backward drew;                        915
For, oozing from the mountain’s side,
Where raged the war, a dark-red tide
  Was curdling in the streamlet blue.
Where shall she turn!-behold her mark
  A little fountain cell,                                  920
Where water, clear as diamond-spark,
  In a stone basin fell.
Above, some half-worn letters say,
Drink . weary . pilgrim . drink . and . pray .
 for . the . kind . soul . of . Sybil .Grey .                      925
  Who . built . this . cross . and . well .
She fill’d the helm, and back she hied,
And with surprise and joy espied
  A Monk supporting Marmion’s head;
A pious man, whom duty brought                            930
To dubious verge of battle fought,
  To shrieve the dying, bless the dead.


Deep drank Lord Marmion of the wave,
And, as she stoop’d his brow to lave-
‘Is it the hand of Clare,’ he said,                        935
‘Or injured Constance, bathes my head?’
  Then, as remembrance rose,-
‘Speak not to me of shrift or prayer!
  I must redress her woes.
Short space, few words, are mine to spare                  940
Forgive and listen, gentle Clare!’-
  ‘Alas!’ she said, ‘the while,-
O, think of your immortal weal!
In vain for Constance is your zeal;
  She-died at Holy Isle.’-                              945
Lord Marmion started from the ground,
As light as if he felt no wound;
Though in the action burst the tide,
In torrents, from his wounded side.
‘Then it was truth,’-he said-’I knew                    950
That the dark presage must be true.-
I would the Fiend, to whom belongs
The vengeance due to all her wrongs,
  Would spare me but a day!
For wasting fire, and dying groan,                        955
And priests slain on the altar stone,
Might bribe him for delay.
It may not be!-this dizzy trance-
Curse on yon base marauder’s lance,
And doubly cursed my failing brand!                        960
A sinful heart makes feeble hand.’
Then, fainting, down on earth he sunk,
Supported by the trembling Monk.


With fruitless labour, Clara bound,
And strove to stanch the gushing wound:                    965
The Monk, with unavailing cares,
Exhausted all the Church’s prayers.
Ever, he said, that, close and near,
A lady’s voice was in his ear,
And that the priest he could not hear;                    970
  For that she ever sung,
‘In the lost battle, borne down by the flying,
Where mingles war’s rattle with groans of the dying
  So the notes rung;-
‘Avoid thee, Fiend!-with cruel hand,                      975
Shake not the dying sinner’s sand!-
O, look, my son, upon yon sign
Of the Redeemer’s grace divine;
  O, think on faith and bliss!
By many a death-bed I have been,                          980
And many a sinner’s parting seen,
  But never aught like this.’-
The war, that for a space did fail,
Now trebly thundering swell’d the gale,
  And-STANLEY! was the cry;-                            985
A light on Marmion’s visage spread,
  And fired his glazing eye:
With dying hand, above his head,
He shook the fragment of his blade,
  And shouted ‘Victory!-                                  990
Charge, Chester, charge!  On, Stanley, on!’
Were the last words of Marmion.


By this, though deep the evening fell,
Still rose the battle’s deadly swell,
For still the Scots, around their King,                    995
Unbroken, fought in desperate ring.
Where’s now their victor vaward wing,
  Where Huntly, and where Home?-
O, for a blast of that dread horn,
On Fontarabian echoes borne,                              1000
  That to King Charles did come,
When Rowland brave, and Olivier,
And every paladin and peer,
  On Roncesvalles died!
Such blasts might warn them, not in vain,                1005
To quit the plunder of the slain,
And turn the doubtful day again,
  While yet on Flodden side,
Afar, the Royal Standard flies,
And round it toils, and bleeds, and dies,                1010
  Our Caledonian pride!
In vain the wish-for far away,
While spoil and havoc mark their way,
Near Sybil’s Cross the plunderers stray.-
‘O Lady,’ cried the Monk, ‘away!’                        1015
  And placed her on her steed,
And led her to the chapel fair,
  Of Tilmouth upon Tweed.
There all the night they spent in prayer,
And at the dawn of morning, there                        1020
She met her kinsman, Lord Fitz-Clare.


But as they left the dark’ning heath,
More desperate grew the strife of death,
The English shafts in volleys hail’d,
In headlong charge their horse assail’d;                  1025
Front, flank, and rear, the squadrons sweep
To break the Scottish circle deep,
  That fought around their King.
But yet, though thick the shafts as snow,
Though charging knights like whirlwinds go,              1030
Though bill-men ply the ghastly blow,
  Unbroken was the ring;
The stubborn spear-men still made good
Their dark impenetrable wood,
Each stepping where his comrade stood,                    1035
  The instant that he fell.
No thought was there of dastard flight;
Link’d in the serried phalanx tight,
Groom fought like noble, squire like knight,
  As fearlessly and well;                                1040
Till utter darkness closed her wing
O’er their thin host and wounded King.
Then skilful Surrey’s sage commands
Led back from strife his shatter’d bands;
  And from the charge they drew,                          1045
As mountain-waves, from wasted lands,
  Sweep back to ocean blue.
Then did their loss his foemen know;
Their King, their Lords, their mightiest low,
They melted from the field, as snow,                      1050
When streams are swoln and south winds blow
  Dissolves in silent dew.
Tweed’s echoes heard the ceaseless plash,
  While many a broken band,
Disorder’d, through her currents dash,                    1055
  To gain the Scottish land;
To town and tower, to down and dale,
To tell red Flodden’s dismal tale,
And raise the universal wail.
Tradition, legend, tune, and song,                        1060
Shall many an age that wail prolong:
Still from the sire the son shall hear
Of the stern strife, and carnage drear,
  Of Flodden’s fatal field,
Where shiver’d was fair Scotland’s spear,
And broken was her shield!


Day dawns upon the mountain’s side:-
There, Scotland! lay thy bravest pride,
Chiefs, knights, and nobles, many a one:
The sad survivors all are gone.--                        1072
View not that corpse mistrustfully,
Defaced and mangled though it be;
Nor to yon Border castle high,
Look northward with upbraiding eye;
  Nor cherish hope in vain,                              1075
That, journeying far on foreign strand,
The Royal Pilgrim to his land
  May yet return again.
He saw the wreck his rashness wrought;
Reckless of life, he desperate fought,                    1080
  And fell on Flodden plain:
And well in death his trusty brand,
Firm clench’d within his manly hand,
  Beseem’d the monarch slain.
But, O! how changed since yon blithe night!              1085
Gladly I turn me from the sight,
  Unto my tale again.


Short is my tale:-Fitz-Eustace’ care
A pierced and mangled body bare
To moated Lichfield’s lofty pile;                        1090
And there, beneath the southern aisle,
A tomb, with Gothic sculpture fair,
Did long Lord Marmion’s image bear,
(Now vainly for its site you look;
‘Twas levell’d, when fanatic Brook                        1095
The fair cathedral storm’d and took;
But, thanks to Heaven, and good Saint Chad,
A guerdon meet the spoiler had!)
There erst was martial Marmion found,
His feet upon a couchant hound,                          1100
  His hands to Heaven upraised;
And all around, on scutcheon rich,
And tablet carved, and fretted niche,
  His arms and feats were blazed.
And yet, though all was carved so fair,                  1105
And priest for Marmion breathed the prayer,
The last Lord Marmion lay not there.
From Ettrick woods, a peasant swain
Follow’d his lord to Flodden plain,-
One of those flowers, whom plaintive lay                  1110
In Scotland mourns as ‘wede away’:
Sore wounded, Sybil’s Cross he spied,
And dragg’d him to its foot, and died,
Close by the noble Marmion’s side.
The spoilers stripp’d and gash’d the slain,              1115
And thus their corpses were mista’en;
And thus, in the proud Baron’s tomb,
The lowly woodsman took the room.


Less easy task it were, to show
Lord Marmion’s nameless grave, and low.                  1120
  They dug his grave e’en where he lay,
    But every mark is gone;
  Time’s wasting hand has done away
  The simple Cross of Sybil Grey,
    And broke her font of stone:                          1123
But yet from out the little hill
Oozes the slender springlet still,
Oft halts the stranger there,
For thence may best his curious eye
The memorable field descry;                              1130
  And shepherd boys repair
To seek the water-flag and rush,
And rest them by the hazel bush,
  And plait their garlands fair;
Nor dream they sit upon the grave,                        1135
That holds the bones of Marmion brave.-
When thou shalt find the little hill,
With thy heart commune, and be still.
If ever, in temptation strong,
Thou left’st the right path for the wrong;                1140
If every devious step, thus trod,
Still led thee farther from the road;
Dread thou to speak presumptuous doom
On noble Marmion’s lowly tomb;
But say, ‘He died a gallant knight,                      1145
With sword in hand, for England’s right.’


I do not rhyme to that dull elf,
Who cannot image to himself,
That all through Flodden’s dismal night,
Wilton was foremost in the fight;                        1150
That, when brave Surrey’s steed was slain,
‘Twas Wilton mounted him again;
‘Twas Wilton’s brand that deepest hew’d,
Amid the spearmen’s stubborn wood:
Unnamed by Hollinshed or Hall,                            1155
He was the living soul of all;
That, after fight, his faith made plain,
He won his rank and lands again;
And charged his old paternal shield
With bearings won on Flodden Field.                      1160
Nor sing I to that simple maid,
To whom it must in terms be said,
That King and kinsmen did agree,
To bless fair Clara’s constancy;
Who cannot, unless I relate,                              1165
Paint to her mind the bridal’s state;
That Wolsey’s voice the blessing spoke,
More, Sands, and Denny, pass’d the joke:
That bluff King Hal the curtain drew,
And Catherine’s hand the stocking threw;                  1170
And afterwards, for many a day,
That it was held enough to say,
In blessing to a wedded pair,
‘Love they like Wilton and like Clare!’



Why then a final note prolong,
Or lengthen out a closing song,
Unless to bid the gentles speed,
Who long have listed to my rede?
To Statesmen grave, if such may deign                        5
To read the Minstrel’s idle strain,
Sound head, clean hand, and piercing wit,
And patriotic heart-as PITT!
A garland for the hero’s crest,
And twined by her he loves the best;                        10
To every lovely lady bright,
What can I wish but faithful knight?
To every faithful lover too,
What can I wish but lady true?
And knowledge to the studious sage;                        15
And pillow to the head of age.
To thee, dear school-boy, whom my lay
Has cheated of thy hour of play,
Light task, and merry holiday!
To all, to each, a fair good-night,                        20
And pleasing dreams, and slumbers light!



Thomas Bayne
With regard to the Introductions generally, Lockhart writes, in Life of Scott, ii. 150:-‘Though the author himself does not allude to, and had perhaps forgotten the circumstance, when writing the Introductory Essay of 1830-they were announced, by an advertisement early in 1807, as “Six Epistles from Ettrick Forest,” to be published in a separate volume, similar to that of the Ballads and Lyrical Pieces; and perhaps it might have been better that this first plan had been adhered to. But however that may be, are there any pages, among all he ever wrote, that one would be more sorry he should not have written? They are among the most delicious portraitures that genius ever painted of itself-buoyant, virtuous, happy genius-exulting in its own energies, yet possessed and mastered by a clear, calm, modest mind, and happy only in diffusing happiness around it.

‘With what gratification those Epistles were read by the friends to whom they were addressed it is superfluous to show. He had, in fact, painted them almost as fully as himself; and who might not have been proud to find a place in such a gallery? The tastes and habits of six of those men, in whose intercourse Scott found the greatest pleasure when his fame was approaching its meridian splendour, are thus preserved for posterity; and when I reflect with what avidity we catch at the least hint which seems to afford us a glimpse of the intimate circle of any great poet of former ages, I cannot but believe that posterity would have held this record precious, even had the individuals been in themselves far less remarkable than a Rose, an Ellis, a Heber, a Skene, a Marriott, and an Erskine.’

William Stewart Rose (1775-1843), to whom Scott addresses the Introduction to Canto First, was a well-known man of letters in his time. He addressed to Hallam, in 1819, a work in two vols., entitled ‘Letters from the North of Italy,’ and escaped a prohibitory order from the Emperor of Austria by ingeniously changing his title to ‘A Treatise upon Sour Krout,’ &c. His other original works are, ‘Apology addressed to the Travellers’ Club; or, Anecdotes of Monkeys’; ‘Thoughts and Recollections by one of the Last Century’; and ‘Epistle to the Hon. J. Hookham Frere in Malta.’ His translations are these:-‘Amadis of Gaul: a Poem in three Books, freely translated from the French version of Nicholas de Herberay’ (1803); ‘Partenopex de Blois, a Romance in four Cantos, from the French of M. Le Grand’ (1807); ‘Court and Parliament of Beasts, translated from the Animali Parlanti of Giambatista Casti’ (1819); and ‘Orlando Furioso, translated into English Verse’ (1825-1831). The closing lines of this Introduction refer to Rose’s ‘Amadis’ and ‘Partenopex.’

Ashestiel, whence the Introduction to the First Canto is dated, is on the Tweed, about six miles above Abbotsford. ‘The valley there is narrow,’ says Lockhart, ‘and the aspect in every direction is that of perfect pastoral repose.’ This was Scott’s home from 1804 to l812, when he removed to Abbotsford.


lines 1-52. This notable winter piece is the best modern contribution to that series of poetical descriptions by Scottish writers which includes Dunbar’s ‘Meditatioun in Winter,’ Gavin Douglas’s Scottish winter scene in the Prologue to his Virgil’s Aeneid VII, Hamilton of Bangour’s Ode III, and, of course, Thomson’s ‘Winter’ in ‘The Seasons.’ The details of the piece are given with admirable skill, and the local place-names are used with characteristic effect. The note of regret over winter’s ravages, common to all early Scottish poets, is skilfully struck and preserved, and thus the contrast designed between the wintry landscape and ‘my Country’s wintry state’ is rendered sharper and more decisive.

line 3. steepy linn. Steepy is Elizabethan = steep, precipitous. Linn (Gael. linne = pool; A.S. hlinna = brook) is variously used for ‘pool under a waterfall,’ ‘cascade,’ ‘precipice,’ and ‘ravine.’ The reference here is to the ravine close by Ashestiel, mentioned in Lockhart’s description of the surroundings:-’On one side, close under the windows, is a deep ravine clothed with venerable trees, down which a mountain rivulet is heard, more than seen, in its progress to the Tweed.’

line 16. our forest hills. Selkirkshire is poetically called ‘Ettrick Forest’; hence the description of the soldiers from that district killed at Flodden as ‘the flowers of the forest.’

line 22. Cp. Hamilton of Bangour’s allusion (Ode III. 43) to the appearance of winter on these heights;-

     ‘Cast up thy eyes, how bleak and bare
      He wanders on the tops of Yare!’

line 37. imps (Gr. emphutos, Swed. ympa). See ‘Faery Queene,’ Book I. (Clarendon Press), note to Introd. The word means (1) a graft; (2) a scion of a noble house; (3) a little demon; (4) a mischievous child. The context implies that the last is the sense in which the word is used here. Cp. Beattie’s ‘Minstrel,’ i. 17:-

     ‘Nor cared to mingle in the clamorous fray
      Of squabbling imps,’

line 50. round. Strictly speaking, a round is a circular dance in which the performers hold each other by the hands. The term, however, is fairly applicable to the frolicsome gambols of a group of lambs in a spring meadow. Certain rounds became famous enough to be individualised, as e.g. Sellenger’s or St. Leger’s round, mentioned in the May-day song, ‘Come Lasses and Lads.’ Cp. Macbeth, iv. 1; Midsummer Night’s Dream, ii. 2; and see note on Comus, line 144, in ‘English Poems of Milton,’ vol. i. (Clarendon Press).

line 53. Lockhart, in a foot-note to his edition of ‘Marmion,’ quotes from the ‘Monthly Review’ of May, 1808: ‘The “chance and change” of nature-the vicissitudes which are observable in the moral as well as the physical part of the creation-have given occasion to more exquisite poetry than any other general subject.... The Ai, ai, tai Malaki of Moschus is worked up again to some advantage in the following passage- “To mute,” &c.’

lines 61, 62. The inversion of reference in these lines is an illustration of the rhetorical figure ‘chiasmus.’ Cp. the arrangement of the demonstrative pronouns in these sentences from ‘Kenilworth’:-‘Your eyes contradict your tongue. That speaks of a protector, willing and able to watch over you; but these tell me you are ruined.’

line 64. Cp. closing lines of Wordsworth’s ‘Ode on Intimations of Immortality’ (finished in 1806):-

     ‘To me the meanest flower that blows can give
      Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.’

lines 65-8. Nelson fell at Trafalgar, Oct. 21, 1805; Pitt died Jan. 23, 1806.

line 72. Gadite wave. The epithet is derived from Gades, the Roman name of the modern Cadiz.

line 73. Levin = lightning. See Canto I, line 400. Spenser uses the phrase ‘piercing levin’ in the July eclogue of the ‘Shepheards Calendar,’ and in ‘Faery Queene,’ III. v. 48. The word still occasionally occurs in poetry. Cp. Longfellow, ‘Golden Legend,’ v., near end:-

     ‘See! from its summit the lurid levin
      Flashes downward without warning! ‘

line 76. fated = charged with determination of fate. Cp. All’s Well that Ends Well, i. I. 221-

                ‘The fated sky
      Gives us free scope.’

line 82. Hafnia, is Copenhagen. The three victories are, the battle of the Nile, 1798; the battle of the Baltic, 1801; and Trafalgar, 1805.

lines 84-86. Pitt (1759-1806) became First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1783, and from 1785 onwards the facts of his career are a constituent part of national history. He faced with success difficulties like bread riots, mutinies in the fleet in 1797, disturbances by the ‘United Irishmen,’ and the alarming threats of Napoleon. In 1800 the Union of Ireland with Great Britain gave Irishmen new motives for living, and in 1803 national patriotism, stirred and guided by Pitt, was manifested in the enrolment of over three hundred thousand volunteers prepared to withstand the vaunted ‘Army of England.’ In spite of his distinguished position and eminent services, Pitt died L40,000 in debt, and his responsibilities were promptly met by a vote of the House of Commons.

lines 97-108. These picturesque lines, with their varied and suggestive metaphors, were interpolated on the blank page of the MS. The reference in the expression ‘tottering throne’ in line 104 is to the threatened insanity of George III.

lines 109-125. Pitt’s patriotism was consistent and thorough. The anxious, troubled expression his face, betrayed in his latest appearances in the House of Commons, Wilberforce spoke of as ‘his Austerlitz look,’ and there seems little doubt that the burden of his public cares hastened his end. This gives point to the comparison of his fate with that of Aeneas’s pilot Palinurus (Aeneid v. 833).

lines 127-141. Charles James Fox (1749-1806) was second son of the first Lord Holland, whose indulgence tended to spoil a youth of unusual ability and precocity. Extravagant habits, contracted at an early age, were not easily thrown off afterwards, but they did not interfere with Fox’s efficiency as a statesman. His rivalry with Pitt dates from 1783. Their tombs are near each other in Westminster Abbey.

line 146. Cp. in Gray’s ‘Elegy’:--

     ‘Where through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault
      The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.’

line 153. Jeffrey, in his criticism of ‘Marmion’ in the ‘Edinburgh Review,’ found fault with the tribute to Fox, and cavilled in particular at the expression ‘Fox a Briton died.’ He argued that Scott praised only the action of Fox in breaking off the negotiations for peace with Napoleon, while insinuating that the previous part of his career was unpatriotic. Only a special pleader could put such an unworthy interpretation on the words.

lines 155-65. By the result of the battle of Austerlitz (December, 1805) Napoleon seemed advancing towards general victory. Prussia hastily patched up a dishonourable peace on terms inconsistent with very binding pledges, and the Russian minister at Paris compromised his country by yielding to humiliating proposals on the part of France. All this changed Fox’s view of the position, and he broke off the negotiations for peace which had been begun in accordance with a policy he had long advocated.

line 161. There is a probable reference here to Nelson’s action at the battle of the Baltic. He disregarded the signal for cessation of fighting given by Sir Hyde Parker, and ordered his own signal to be nailed to the mast.

line 176. Thessaly was noted for witchcraft. The scene of Virgil’s eighth Eclogue is laid in Thessaly as appropriate to the introduction of such machinery as enchantments, love-spells, &c. Cp. Horace, Epode v. 21, and Ode I. xxvii. 21:-

     ‘Quae saga, quis te solvere Thessalis
      Magus venenis, quis poterit deus?’

In his ‘Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft,’ Letter III., Scott, obviously basing his information on Horace, writes thus:-‘The classic mythology presented numerous points in which it readily coalesced with that of the Germans, Danes, and Northmen of a later period. They recognised the power of Erictho, Canidia, and other sorceresses, whose spells could perplex the course of the elements, intercept the influence of the sun, and prevent his beneficial operation upon the fruits of the earth; call down the moon from her appointed sphere, and disturb the original and destined course of nature by their words and charms, and the power of the evil spirits whom they evoked.’

line 181. Lees is properly pl. of lee (Fr.lie = dregs), the sediment or coarser parts of a liquid which settle at the bottom, but it has come to be used as a collective word without reference to a singular form. For phrase, cp. Macbeth, ii. 3. 96:-

     ‘The wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees
      Is left this vault to brag of.’

line 185. Cp. Byron’s ‘Age of Bronze’:-

     ‘But where are they-the rivals!-a few feet
      Of sullen earth divide each winding-sheet.’

line 199. hearse, from Old Fr. herce = harrow, portcullis. In early English the word is used in the sense of ‘harrow’ and also of ‘triangle,’ in reference to the shape of the harrow. By-and-by it came to be used variously for ‘bier,’ ‘funeral carriage,’ ornamental canopy with lighted candles over the coffins of notable people during the funeral ceremony, the permanent framework over a tomb, and even the tomb itself. Cp. Spenser’s Shep. Cal., November Eclogue:-

     ‘Dido, my deare, alas! is dead,
      Dead, and lyeth wrapt in lead.
        O heavie herse!’

The gloss to this is, ‘Herse is the solemne obsequie in funeralles.’ Cp. also Ben Jonson’s ‘Epitaph on the Countess of Pembroke’:-

     ‘Underneath this sable herse
      Lies the subject of all verse.’

line 203. The ‘Border Minstrel’ is an appropriate designation of the author of ‘Contributions to the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border’ and the ‘Lay of the Last Minstrel.’ In the preface to the latter work, written in 1830, Scott refers to the two great statesmen as having ‘smiled on the adventurous minstrel.’ This is the only existing evidence of Fox’s appreciation. Pitt’s praise of the Lay his niece, Lady Hester Stanhope, reported to W. S. Rose, who very naturally passed it on to Scott himself. The Right Hon. William Dundas, in a letter to Scott, mentions a conversation he had had with Pitt at his table, in 1805, and says that Pitt both expressed his desire to advance Scott’s professional interests and quoted from the Lay the lines describing the embarrassment of the harper when asked to play. ‘This,’ said he, ‘is a sort of thing which I might have expected in painting, but could never have fancied capable of being given in poetry.’-Lockhart’s Life of Scott, ii. 34.

line 204. Gothic. This refers to both subject and style, neither being classical.

line 220. Lockhart quotes from Rogers’s ‘Pleasures of Memory’:-

     ‘If but a beam of sober reason play,
      Lo! Fancy’s fairy frostwork melts away.’

lines 233-48. In these lines the poet indicates the sphere in which he had previously worked with independence and success. Like Virgil when proceeding to write the AEneid, he is doubtful whether his devotion to legendary and pastoral themes is sufficient warrant for attempting heroic verse. The reference to the tales of shepherds in the closing lines of the passage recalls the advice given (about 1880) to his students by Prof. Shairp, when lecturing from the Poetry Chair at Oxford. ‘To become steeped,’ he said, ‘in the true atmosphere of romantic poetry they should proceed to the Borders and learn their legends, under the twofold guidance of Scott’s “Border Minstrelsy” and an intelligent local shepherd.’

line 256. steely weeds = steel armour. ‘Steely’ in Elizabethan times was used both literally and figuratively. Shakespeare, 3 Henry VI. ii. 3. 16, has ‘The steely point of Clifford’s lance,’ and Fisher in his ‘Seuen Psalmes’ has ‘tough and stely hertes.’ For a modern literal example, see Crabbe’s ‘Parish Register’:-

     ‘Steel through opposing plates the magnet draws,
      And steely atoms calls from dust and straws.’

Weeds in the sense of dress is confined, in modern English, to widows’ robes. In Elizabethan times it had a general reference, as e.g. Spenser’s ‘lowly Shephards weeds’ in the Introduction to ‘Faery Queene.’ Cp. below, Canto V. line 168, VI. line 192.

line 258. The Champion is Launcelot, the most famous of King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table. See Tennyson’s ‘Idylls of the King,’ especially ‘Lancelot and Elaine,’ and William Morris’s ‘Defence of Guenevere.’

line 263. Dame Ganore is Guenevere, Arthur’s Queen.

lines 258-262. Scott annotates these lines as follows:-

‘The Romance of the Morte Arthur contains a sort of abridgment of the most celebrated adventures of the Round Table; and, being written in comparatively modern language, gives the general reader an excellent idea of what romances of chivalry actually were. It has also the merit of being written in pure old English; and many of the wild adventures which it contains are told with a simplicity bordering upon the sublime. Several of these are referred to in the text; and I would have illustrated them by more full extracts, but as this curious work is about to be republished, I confine myself to the tale of the Chapel Perilous, and of the quest of Sir Launcelot after the Sangreal.

‘“Right so Sir Lanncelot departed, and when he came to the Chapell Perilous, he alighted downe, and tied his horse to a little gate. And as soon as he was within the churchyard, he saw, on the front of the chapell, many faire rich shields turned upside downe; and many of the shields Sir Launcelot had seene knights have before; with that he saw stand by him thirtie great knights, more, by a yard, than any man that ever he had seene, and all those grinned and gnashed at Sir Launcelot; and when he saw their countenance, hee dread them sore, and so put his shield afore him, and tooke his sword in his hand ready to doe battaile; and they were all armed in black harneis, ready, with their shields and swords drawen. And when Sir Launcelot would have gone through them, they scattered on every side of him, and gave him the way; and therewith he waxed all bold, and entered into the chapell, and then hee saw no light but a dimme lampe burning, and then was he ware of a corps covered with a cloath of silke; then Sir Launcelot stooped downe, and cut a piece of that cloath away, and then it fared under him as the earth had quaked a little, whereof he was afeard, and then hee saw a faire sword lye by the dead knight, and that he gat in his hand, and hied him out of the chappell. As soon as he was in the chappell-yerd, all the knights spoke to him with a grimly voice, and said, ‘Knight, Sir Launcelot, lay that sword from thee, or else thou shalt die.’-’Whether I live or die,’ said Sir Launcelot, ‘with no great words get yee it againe, therefore fight for it and ye list.’ Therewith he passed through them; and beyond the chappell-yerd, there met him a faire damosell, and said, ‘Sir Launcelot, leave that sword behind thee, or thou wilt die for it.’-’I will not leave it,’ said Sir Launcelot, ‘for no threats.’-’No?’ said she; ‘and ye did leave that sword, Queen Guenever should ye never see.’-‘Then were I a foole and I would leave this sword,’ said Sir Launcelot. ‘Now, gentle knight,’ said the damosell, ‘I require thee to kisse me once.’-’Nay,’ said Sir Launcelot, ‘that God forbid!’-‘Well, sir,’ said she, ‘and thou hadest kissed me thy life dayes had been done; but now, alas!’ said she, ‘I have lost all my labour; for I ordeined this chappell for thy sake, and for Sir Gawaine: and once I had Sir Gawaine within it; and at that time he fought with that knight which there lieth dead in yonder chappell, Sir Gilbert the bastard, and at that time hee smote off Sir Gilbert the bastard’s left hand. And so, Sir Launcelot, now I tell thee, that I have loved thee this seaven yeare; but there may no woman have thy love but Queene Guenever; but sithen I may not rejoyice thee to have thy body alive, I had kept no more joy in this world but to have had thy dead body; and I would have balmed it and served, and so have kept it in my life daies, and daily I should have clipped thee, and kissed thee, in the despite of Queen Guenever.’-’Yee say well,’ said Sir Launcelot; ‘Jesus preserve me from your subtill craft.” And therewith he took his horse, and departed from her.”‘

Sir Thomas Malory’s ‘Morte D’Arthure’ was first printed by Caxton in 4to., 1485. A new issue of this belongs to 1634. The republication referred to by Scott is probably the edition published in 1816, in two vols. l8mo. The Roxburghe Club made a sumptuous reprint in 1819, and Thomas Wright, in 1858, edited the work in three handy 8vo. vols. from the text of 1634. This edition is furnished with a very useful introduction and notes.

lines 267-70. ‘One day when Arthur was holding a high feast with his Knights of the Round Table, the Sangreal, or vessel out of which the last passover was eaten, (a precious relic, which had long remained concealed from human eyes, because of the sins of the land,) suddenly appeared to him and all his chivalry. The consequence of this vision was, that all the knights took on them a solemn vow to seek the Sangreal. But, alas! it could only be revealed to a knight at once accomplished in earthly chivalry, and pure and guiltless of evil conversation. All Sir Launcelot’s noble accomplishments were therefore rendered vain by his guilty intrigue with Queen Guenever, or Ganore; and in this holy quest he encountered only such disgraceful disasters as that which follows:-

‘But Sir Launcelot rode overthwart and endlong in a wild forest, and held no path, but as wild adventure led him; and at the last, he came unto a stone crosse, which departed two wayes, in wast land; and, by the crosse, was a stone that was of marble; but it was so dark, that Sir Launcelot might not well know what it was. Then Sir Launcelot looked by him, and saw an old chappell, and there he wend to have found people. And so Sir Launcelot tied his horse to a tree, and there he put off his shield, and hung it upon a tree, and then hee went unto the chappell doore, and found it wasted and broken. And within he found a faire altar, full richly arrayed with cloth of silk, and there stood a faire candlestick, which beare six great candles, and the candlesticke was of silver. And when Sir Launcelot saw this light, hee had a great will for to enter into the chappell, but he could find no place where hee might enter. Then was he passing heavie and dismaied. Then he returned, and came again to his horse, and tooke off his saddle and his bridle, and let him pasture, and unlaced his helme, and ungirded his sword, and laid him downe to sleepe upon his shield, before the crosse.

‘And so hee fell on sleepe; and, halfe waking and halfe sleeping, hee saw come by him two palfreys, both faire and white, the which beare a litter, therein lying a sicke knight. And when he was nigh the crosse, he there abode still. All this Sir Launcelot saw and beheld, for hee slept not verily, and hee heard him say, “O sweete Lord, when shall this sorrow leave me, and when shall the holy vessell come by me, where through I shall be blessed, for I have endured thus long for little trespasse!” And thus a great while complained the knight, and allwaies Sir Launcelot heard it. With that Sir Launcelot saw the candlesticke, with the fire tapers, come before the crosse; but he could see no body that brought it. Also there came a table of silver, and the holy vessel of the Sancgreall, the which Sir Launcelot had seen before that time in King Petchour’s house. And therewithall the sicke knight set him upright, and held up both his hands, and said, “Faire sweete Lord, which is here within the holy vessell, take heed to mee, that I may bee hole of this great malady!” And therewith upon his hands, and upon his knees, he went so nigh, that he touched the holy vessell, and kissed it: And anon he was hole, and then he said, “Lord God, I thank thee, for I am healed of this malady.” Soo when the holy vessell had been there a great while, it went into the chappell againe, with the candlesticke and the light, so that Sir Launcelot wist not where it became, for he was overtaken with sinne, that he had no power to arise against the holy vessell, wherefore afterward many men said of him shame. But he tooke repentance afterward. Then the sicke knight dressed him upright, and kissed the crosse. Then anon his squire brought him his armes, and asked his lord how he did. “Certainly,” said hee, I thanke God right heartily, for through the holy vessell I am healed: But I have right great mervaile of this sleeping knight, which hath had neither grace nor power to awake during the time that this holy vessell hath beene here present.”-“I dare it right well say,” said the squire, “that this same knight is defouled with some manner of deadly sinne, whereof he has never confessed.”-”By my faith,” said the knight, “whatsoeer he be, he is unhappie; for, as I deeme, hee is of the fellowship of the Round Table, the which is entered into the quest of the Sancgreall.”-“Sir,” said the squire, “here I have brought you all your armes, save your helme and your sword; and, therefore, by mine assent, now may ye take this knight’s helme and his sword;’ and so he did. And when he was cleane armed, he took Sir Launcelot’s horse, for he was better than his owne, and so they departed from the crosse.

‘Then anon Sir Launcelot awaked, and set himselfe upright, and he thought him what hee had there seene, and whether it were dreames or not; right so he heard a voice that said, “Sir Launcelot, more hardy than is the stone, and more bitter than is the wood, and more naked and bare than is the liefe of the fig-tree, therefore go thou from hence, and withdraw thee from this holy place;” and when Sir Launcelot heard this, he was passing heavy, and wist not what to doe. And so he departed sore weeping, and cursed the time that he was borne; for then he deemed never to have had more worship; for the words went unto his heart, till that he knew wherefore that hee was so called.’-SCOTT.

line 273. Arthur is the hero of the ‘Faery Queene.’ In his explanatory letter to Sir Walter Raleigh, Spenser says, ‘I chose the historye of King Arthure, as most fitte for the excellency of his person, being made famous by many mens former workes, and also furthest from the daunger of envy, and suspicion of present time.’

line 274. Milton is said to have meditated in his youth the composition of an epic poem on Arthur and the Round Table. In ‘Paradise Lost’ ix. 26, he states that the subject of that poem pleased him ‘long choosing and beginning late,’ and references both in ‘Paradise Lost’ and ‘Paradise Regained’ prove his familiarity with the Arthurian legend. Cp. Par. Lost, i. 580, and Par. Reg. ii. 358.

line 275. Scott quotes from Dryden’s ‘Essay on Satire,’ prefixed to the translation of Juvenal, regarding his projected Epic. ‘Of two subjects,’ says Dryden, ‘I was doubtful whether I should choose that of King Arthur conquering the Saxons, which, being further distant in time, gives the greater scope to my invention; or that of Edward the Black Prince, in subduing Spain, and restoring it to the lawful prince, though a great tyrant, Pedro the Cruel....I might perhaps have done as well as some of my predecessors, or at least chalked out a way for others to amend my errors in a like design; but being encouraged only with fair words by King Charles II, my little salary ill paid, and no prospect of a future subsistence, I was then discouraged in the beginning of my attempt; and now age has overtaken me, and want, a more insufferable evil, through the change of the times, has wholly disabled me.’

lines 281-3. Dryden’s dramas, certain of his translations, and various minor pieces adapted to the prevalent taste of his time, are unworthy of his genius. Pope’s reflections on the poet forgetful of the dignity of his office, with the allusion to Dryden as an illustration (‘Satires and Epistles,’ v. 209), may be compared with this passage;-

     ‘I scarce can think him such a worthless thing,
      Unless he praise some monster of a king;
      Or virtue, or religion turn to sport,
      To please a lewd, or unbelieving court.
      Unhappy Dryden! In all Charles’s days,
      Roscommon only boasts unspotted bays.’

line 283. Cp. Gray’s ‘Progress of Poesy,’ 103-

     ‘Behold, where Dryden’s less presumptuous car
      Wide o’er the fields of glory bear
      Two coursers of ethereal race,
      With necks in thunder cloth’d, and long-resounding pace’;

and Pope’s ‘Satires and Epistles,’ v. 267-

                            ‘Dryden taught to join
      The varying verse, the full-resounding line,
      The long majestic march, and energy divine.’

line 286. To break a lance is to enter the lists, to try one’s strength. The concussion of two powerful knights would suffice to shiver the lances. Hence comes the figurative use. Cp. I Henry VI. iii. 2,-

     ‘What will you do, good greybeard? break a lance,
      And run a tilt at death within a chair?’

lines 288-309. The Genius of Chivalry is to be resuscitated from the deep slumber under which baneful spells have long effectually held him. The appropriateness of this is apparent when the true meaning of Chivalry is considered. Scott opens his ‘Essay on Chivalry’ thus:-’The primitive sense of this well-known word, derived from the French Chevalier, signifies merely cavalry, or a body of soldiers serving on horseback; and it has been used in that general acceptation by the best of our poets, ancient and modern, from Milton to Thomas Campbell.’ See Par. Lost, i. 307, and Battle of Hohenlinden.

line 294. To spur forward his horse on an expedition of adventures, like Spenser’s Red Cross Knight. For the accoutrements and the duties of a knight see Scott’s ‘Essay on Chivalry’ (Miscellaneous Works, vol. vi.). Cp. ‘Faery Queene,’ Book I, and (especially for the personified abstractions from line 300 onwards) Montgomerie’s allegory, ‘The Cherrie and the Slae.’

line 312. Ytene’s oaks. ‘The New Forest in Hampshire, anciently so called.’-SCOTT. Gundimore, the residence of W. S. Rose, was in this neighbourhood, and in an unpublished piece entitled ‘Gundimore,’ Rose thus alludes to a visit of Scott’s:-

     ‘Here Walter Scott has woo’d the northern muse;
      Here he with me has joy’d to walk or cruise;
      And hence has prick’d through Yten’s holt, where we
      Have called to mind how under greenwood tree,
      Pierced by the partner of his “woodland craft,”
      King Rufus fell by Tyrrell’s random shaft.’

line 314. ‘The “History of Bevis of Hampton” is abridged by my friend Mr. George Ellis, with that liveliness which extracts amusement even out of the most rude and unpromising of our old tales of chivalry. Ascapart, a most important personage in the romance, is thus described in an extract:-

     “This geaunt was mighty and strong,
      And full thirty foot was long.
      He was bristled like a sow;
      A foot he had between each brow;
      His lips were great, and hung aside;
      His eyen were hollow, his mouth was wide;
      Lothly he was to look on than,
      And liker a devil than a man.
      His staff was a young oak,
      Hard and heavy was his stroke.”
                 Specimens of Metrical Romances, vol. ii. p. 136.

‘I am happy to say, that the memory of Sir Bevis is still fragrant in his town of Southampton; the gate of which is sentinelled by the effigies of that doughty knight errant and his gigantic associate.’-SCOTT.

The Introduction is written on a basis of regular four-beat couplets, each line being technically an iambic tetrameter; lines 96, 205, and 283 are Alexandrines, or iambic hexameters, each serving to give emphasis and resonance (like the ninth of the Spenserian stanza) to the passage which it closes.  Intensity of expression is given by the triplet which closes the passage ending with line 125. The metrical basis of the movement in the Canto is likewise iambic tetrameter, but the trimeter or three-beat line is freely introduced, and the poet allows himself great scope in his arrangement.

Stanza I. line 1. ‘The ruinous castle of Norham (anciently called Ubbanford) is situated on the southern bank of the Tweed, about six miles above Berwick, and where that river is still the boundary between England and Scotland. The extent of its ruins, as well as its historical importance, shows it to have been a place of magnificence, as well as strength. Edward I resided there when he was created umpire of the dispute concerning the Scottish succession. It was repeatedly taken and retaken during the wars between England and Scotland; and, indeed, scarce any happened, in which it had not a principal share. Norham Castle is situated on a steep bank, which overhangs the river. The repeated sieges which the castle had sustained, rendered frequent repairs necessary. In 1164, it was almost rebuilt by Hugh Pudsey, Bishop of Durham, who added a huge keep, or donjon; notwithstanding which, King Henry II, in 1174, took the castle from the bishop, and committed the keeping of it to William de Neville. After this period it seems to have been chiefly garrisoned by the King, and considered as a royal fortress. The Greys of Chillinghame Castle were frequently the castellans, or captains of the garrison: Yet, as the castle was situated in the patrimony of St. Cuthbert, the property was in the see of Durham till the Reformation. After that period, it passed through various hands. At the union of the crowns, it was in the possession of Sir Robert Carey, (afterwards Earl of Monmouth,) for his own life, and that of two of his sons. After King James’s accession, Carey sold Norham Castle to George Home, Earl of Dunbar, for L6000. See his curious Memoirs, published by Mr. Constable of Edinburgh.

‘According to Mr. Pinkerton, there is, in the British Museum. Cal. B. 6. 216, a curious memoir of the Dacres on the state of Norham Castle in 1522, not long after the battle of Flodden. The inner ward, or keep, is represented as impregnable:-“The provisions are three great vats of salt eels, forty-four kine, three hogsheads of salted salmon, forty quarters of grain, besides many cows and four hundred sheep, lying under the castle-wall nightly; but a number of the arrows wanted feathers, and a good Fletcher [i.e. maker of arrows] was required.”-History of Scotland, vol. ii. p. 201, note.

‘The ruins of the castle are at present considerable, as well as picturesque. They consist of a large shattered tower, with many vaults, and fragments of other edifices, enclosed within an outward wall of great circuit.’-SCOTT.

line 4. battled = embattled, furnished with battlements. See Introd. to Canto V. line 90, and cp. Tennyson’s ‘Dream of Fair Women,’ line 220:-

     ‘The valleys of grape-loaded vines that glow
      Beneath the battled tower.’

  the donjon keep. ‘It is perhaps unnecessary to remind my readers, that the donjon, in its proper signification, means the strongest part of a feudal castle; a high square tower, with walls of tremendous thickness, situated in the centre of the other buildings, from which, however, it was usually detached. Here, in case of the outward defences being gained, the garrison retreated to make their last stand. The donjon contained the great hall, and principal rooms of state for solemn occasions, and also the prison of the fortress; from which last circumstance we derive the modern and restricted use of the word dungeon. Ducange (voce DUNJO) conjectures plausibly, that the name is derived from these keeps being usually built upon a hill, which in Celtic is called DUN. Borlase supposes the word came from the darkness of the apartments in these towers, which were thence figuratively called Dungeons; thus deriving the ancient word from the modern application of it.’-SCOTT.

line 6. flanking walls, walls protecting it on the sides. Cp. the use of flanked in Dryden’s ‘Annus Mirabilis’ xxvi;-

     ‘By the rich scent we found our perfumed prey,
      Which, flanked with rocks, did close in covert lie.’

Stanza II. line 14. St. George’s banner. St. George’s red cross on a white field was the emblem on the English national standard. Saint George is the legendary patron saint who slew the dragon.

Stanza III. line 29. Horncliff-hill is one of the numerous hillocks to the east of Norham. There is a village of the same name.

  A plump of spears. Scott writes, ‘This word applies to flight of water-fowl; but is applied by analogy to a body of horse:-

     “There is a knight of the North Country,
      Which leads a lusty plump of spears.”
                                   Flodden Field’

line 33. mettled, same as metalled (mettle being a variant of metall, spirited, ardent. So ‘mettled hound’ in ‘Jock o’ Hazeldean.’ Cp. Julius Caesar, iv. 2. 23:-

     ‘But hollow men, like horses hot at hand,
      Make gallant show and promise of their mettle.’

‘Metal’ in the same sense is frequent in Shakespeare. See Meas. for Meas. i. I; Julius Caesar, i. 2; Hamlet, iii 2.

line 35. palisade (Fr. paliser, to enclose with pales), a firm row of stakes presenting a sharp point to an advancing party.

line 38. hasted, Elizabethanism = hastened. Cp. Merch. of Venice, ii. 2. 104-‘Let it be so hasted that supper be ready at the farthest by five of the clock.’

line 42. sewer, taster; squire, knight’s attendant; seneschal, steward. See ‘Lay of the Last Minstrel,’ vi. 6, and note on Par. Lost, ix. 38, in Clarendon Press Milton:-

                            ‘Then marshalled feast
     Served up in hall with sewers, and seneschals.’

Stanza IV. line 43. Malvoisie = Malmsey, from Malvasia, now Napoli di Malvasia, in the Morea.

line 55. portcullis, a strong timber framework within the gateway of a castle, let down in grooves and having iron spikes at the bottom.

Stanzas V and VI. Marmion, strenuous in arms and prudent in counsel, has a kinship in spirit and achievement with the Homeric heroes.  Compare him also with the typical knight in Chaucer’s Prologue and the Red Cross Knight at the opening of the ‘Faerie Queene.’ Scott annotates ‘Milan steel’ and the legend thus:-

‘The artists of Milan were famous in the middle ages for their skill in armoury, as appears from the following passage, in which Froissart gives an account of the preparations made by Henry, Earl of Hereford, afterwards Henry IV, and Thomas, Duke of Norfolk, Earl Marischal, for their proposed combat in the lists at Coventry:-”These two lords made ample provisions of all things necessary for the combat; and the Earl of Derby sent off messengers to Lombardy, to have armour from Sir Galeas, Duke of Milan. The Duke complied with joy, and gave the knight, called Sir Francis, who had brought the message, the choice of all his armour for the Earl of Derby. When he had selected what he wished for in plated and mail armour, the Lord of Milan, out of his abundant love for the Earl, ordered four of the best armourers in Milan to accompany the knight to England, that the Earl of Derby might be more completely armed.”-JOHNES’ Froissart, vol. iv. p.597.

‘The crest and motto of Marmion are borrowed from the following story:-

Sir David de Lindsay, first Earl of Cranford, was, among other gentlemen of quality, attended, during a visit to London in 1390, by Sir William Dalzell, who was, according to my authority, Bower, not only excelling in wisdom, but also of a lively wit. Chancing to be at the Court, he there saw Sir Piers Conrtenay, an English knight, famous for skill in tilting, and for the beauty of his person, parading the palace, arrayed in a new mantle, bearing for device an embroidered falcon, with this rhyme,-

     “I bear a falcon, fairest of night,
      Whoso pinches at her, his death is dight1
                                      In graith2.”
                  1prepared.        2armour.
‘The Scottish knight, being a wag, appeared next day in a dress exactly similar to that of Courtenay, but bearing a magpie instead of the falcon, with a motto ingeniously contrived to rhyme to the vaunting inscription of Sir Piers:-

     “I bear a pie picking at a piece,
      Whoso picks at her, I shall pick at his nese3,
                                           In faith.”
‘This affront could only be expiated by a just with sharp lances. In the course, Dalzell left his helmet unlaced, so that it gave way at the touch of his antagonist’s lance, and he thus avoided the shock of the encounter. This happened twice:-in the third encounter, the handsome Courtenay lost two of his front teeth. As the Englishman complained bitterly of Dalzell’s fraud in not fastening his helmet, the Scottishman agreed to run six courses more, each champion staking in the hand of the King two hundred pounds, to be forfeited, if, on entering the lists, any unequal advantage should be detected. This being agreed to, the wily Scot demanded that Sir Piers, in addition to the loss of his teeth, should consent to the extinction of one of his eyes, he himself having lost an eye in the fight of Otterburn. As Courtenay demurred to this equalisation of optical powers, Dalzell demanded the forfeit; which, after much altercation, the King appointed to be paid to him, saying, he surpassed the English both in wit and valour. This must appear to the reader a singular specimen of the humour of that time. I suspect the Jockey Club would have given a different decision from Henry IV.’

lines 85-6. ‘The arms of Marmion would be Vairee, a fesse gules-a simple bearing, testifying to the antiquity of the race. The badge was An ape passant argent, ringed and chained with gold. The Marmions were the hereditary champions of England.  The office passed to the Dymokes, through marriage, in the reign of Edward III.’-’Notes and Queries,’ 7th S. III. 37.

Stanza VII. line 95. ‘The principal distinction between the independent esquire (terming him such who was attached to no knight’s service) and the knight was the spurs, which the esquire might wear of silver, but by no means gilded.’-Scott’s ‘Essay on Chivalry,’ p.64.

With the squire’s ‘courteous precepts’ compare those of Chaucer’s squire in the Prologue,-

     ‘He cowde songes make and wel endite,
      Juste and eek daunce, and wel purtreye and write.
                     . . .
      Curteys he was, lowely, and servysable,
      And carf byforn his fader at the table.’

Stanza VIII. line 108. Him listed is an Early English form. Cp. Chaucer’s Prologue, 583,-

     ‘Or lyve as scarsly as hym list desire.’

In Elizabethan English, which retains many impersonal forms, list is mainly used as a personal verb, as in Much Ado, iii. 4,-

     ‘I am not such a fool to think what I list,’

and in John iii. 8, ‘The wind bloweth where it listeth.’ Even then, however, it was sometimes used impersonally, as in Surrey’s translation of AEneid ii. 1064,-

     ‘By sliding seas me listed them to lede.’

line 116. Hosen = hose, tight trousers reaching to the knees. The form hosen is archaic, though it lingered provincially in Scotland till modern times. For a standard use of the word, see in A. V., Daniel iii. 21, ‘Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments.’

line 121. The English archers under the Tudors were famous. Holinshed specially mentions that at the battle of Blackheath, in 1496, Dartford bridge was defended by archers ‘whose arrows were in length a full cloth yard.’

Stanza IX. line 130. morion (Sp. morra, the crown of the head), a kind of helmet without a visor, frequently surmounted with a crest, introduced into England about the beginning of the sixteenth century.

line 134. linstock (lont, a match, and stok, a stick), ‘a gunner’s forked staff to hold a match of lint dipped in saltpetre.’

  yare, ready; common as a nautical term. Cp. Tempest, i. I. 6, ‘Cheerly, my hearts! Yare, yare!’ and see note to Clarendon Press edition of the play.

Stanza X. line 146. The angel was a gold coin struck in France in 1340, and introduced into England by Edward IV, 1465. It varied in value from 6s. 8d, to 10s. The last struck in England were in the reign of Charles I. The name was due to the fact that on one side of the coin was a representation of the Archangel Michael and the dragon (Rev. xii. 7). Used again, St. xxv. below.

line 149. brook (A. S. brucan, to use, eat, enjoy, bear, discharge, fulfil), to use, handle, manage. Cp. Chaucer, ‘Nonnes Prestes Tale,’ line 479,--

     ‘So mote I brouken wel min eyen twey,’

and ‘Lady of the Lake,’ I. xxviii-

     ‘Whose stalwart arm might brook to wield
      A blade like this in battle-field. ‘

For other meaning of the word see xiii. and xvi. below.

Stanza XI. line 151. Pursuivants, attendants on the heralds, their tabard being a sleeveless coat. Chaucer applies the name to the loose frock of the ploughman (Prologue, 541). See Clarendon Press ed. of Chaucer’s Prologue, &c.

line 152. scutcheon = escutcheon, shield.

line 156. ‘Lord Marmion, the principal character of the present romance, is entirely a fictitious personage. In earlier times, indeed, the family of Marmion, Lords of Fontenay, in Normandy, was highly distinguished.  Robert de Marmion, Lord of Fontenay, a distinguished follower of the Conqueror, obtained a grant of the castle and town of Tamworth, and also of the manor of Scrivelby, in Lincolnshire. One, or both, of these noble possessions was held by the honourable service of being the royal champion, as the ancestors of Marmion had formerly been to the Dukes of Normandy. But after the castle and demesne of Tamworth had passed through four successive barons from Robert, the family became extinct in the person of Philip de Marmion, who died in 20th Edward I without issue male.  He was succeeded in his castle of Tamworth by Alexander de Freville, who married Mazera, his grand-daughter. Baldwin de Freville, Alexander’s descendant, in the reign of Richard I, by the supposed tenure of his castle of Tamworth, claimed the office of royal champion, and to do the service appertaining; namely, on the day of coronation, to ride, completely armed, upon a barbed horse, into Westminster Hall, and there to challenge the combat against any who would gainsay the King’s title. But this office was adjudged to Sir John Dymoke, to whom the manor of Scrivelby had descended by another of the co-heiresses of Robert de Marmion; and it remains in that family, whose representative is Hereditary Champion of England at the present day. The family and possessions of Freville have merged in the Earls of Ferrars. I have not, therefore, created a new family, but only revived the titles of an old one in an imaginary personage.’-SCOTT.

‘The last occasion on which the Champion officiated was at the coronation of George IV.’-’Notes and Queries,’ 7th S. III, 236.

line 161. mark, a weight for gold and silver, differing in amount in different countries. The English coin so called was worth 13s. 4d. sterling.

line 163. ‘This was the cry with which heralds and pursuivants were wont to acknowledge the bounty received from the knights. Stewart of Lorn distinguishes a ballad, in which he satirises the narrowness of James V and his courtiers by the ironical burden-

     “Lerges, lerges, lerges, hay,
      Lerges of this new year day.
First lerges of the King, my chief,
      Quhilk come als quiet as a theif,
      And in my hand slid schillingis tway1,
      To put his lergnes to the preif2,
      For lerges of this new-yeir day.”

                        1two    2proof

‘The heralds, like the minstrels, were a race allowed to have great claims upon the liberality of the knights, of whose feats they kept a record, and proclaimed them aloud, as in the text, upon suitable occasions.

‘At Berwick, Norham, and other Border fortresses of importance, pursuivants usually resided, whose inviolable character rendered them the only persons that could, with perfect assurance of safety, be sent on necessary embassies into Scotland. This is alluded to in Stanza xxi. p. 25.’-SCOTT.

line 165. Blazon’d shield, a shield with a coat of arms painted on it, especially with bearings quartered in commemoration of victory in battle.  See below V. xv, VI. xxxviii, and cp. Tennyson, ‘The Lady of Shalott,’ Part 3:-

     ‘And from his blazon’d baldric slung
      A mighty silver bugle hung.’

line 174. The Cotswold downs, Gloucestershire, were famous as a hunting-ground. Cp. Merry Wives of Windsor, I. i. 92, ‘How does your fallow greyhound, sir? I heard say he was outrun on Cotsall.’

line 185. The reversed shield, hung on the gallows, indicated the degraded knight.

Stanza XIII. line 192. Scott writes:-‘Were accuracy of any consequence in a fictitious narrative, this castellan’s name ought to have been William; for William Heron of Ford was husband to the famous Lady Ford, whose syren charms are said to have cost our James IV so dear. Moreover, the said William Heron was, at the time supposed, a prisoner in Scotland, being surrendered by Henry VIII, on account of his share in the slaughter of Sir Robert Ker of Cessford. His wife, represented in the text as residing at the Court of Scotland, was, in fact, living in her own castle at Ford.-See Sir RICHARD HERON’S curious Genealogy of the Heron Family.’

Ford Castle is about a mile to the north-east of Flodden Hill. It was repaired in 1761 in accordance with the style of the original architecture. Latterly the owner, the Countess of Waterford, utilizing the natural beauty of the property, has enhanced its value and its interest by improvements exhibiting not only exquisite taste but a true philanthropic spirit. It was at Ford Castle that James IV spent the night preceding the battle of Flodden.

line 195. Deas, dais, or chief seat on the platform at the upper end of the hall.

line 200. Scott mentions in a note that his friend, R. Surtees, of Mainsforth, had taken down this ballad from the lips of an old woman, who said it used ‘to be sung at the merry-makings.’ He likewise gave it a place in the ‘Border Minstrelsy.’ These things being so, it is unpleasant to learn from Lockhart that ‘the ballad here quoted was the production of Mr. R. Surtees, and palmed off by him upon Scott as a genuine relic of antiquity. ‘The title of the ballad in the ‘Border Minstrelsy’ is ‘The Death of Featherstonhaugh.’

line 203. ‘Hardriding Dick is not an epithet referring to horsemanship, but means Richard Ridley of Hardriding.’-SCOTT. The families named all belonged to the north and north-east of Northumberland. Scott adds (from Surtees), ‘A feud did certainly exist between the Ridleys and Featherstons, productive of such consequences as the ballad narrates.’ In regard to the ‘Northern harper,’ see Prof. Minto’s ‘Lay of the Last Minstrel,’ p. 121.

Stanza XV. line 231. wassail-bowl. ‘Wassell’ or ‘wassail’ (A. S. waes hael) was first the wish of health, then it came to denote festivity (especially at Christmas). As an adj. it is compounded not only with bowl, but with cup, candle, &c. Cp. Comus, line 179:-

                           ‘I should be loth
      To meet the rudeness and swill’d insolence
      Of such late wassailers.’

Cp. also note on ‘gossip’s bowl’ of Midsummer Night’s Dream, ii. I. 47, in Clarendon Press edition, and Prof. Minto’s ‘Lay of the Last Minstrel,’ p. 174.

line 232. Cp. Iliad i. 470, and ix. 175, and Chapman’s translation, ‘The youths crowned cups of wine.’

line 238. Raby Castle, in the county of Durham, the property of the Duke of Cleveland.

line 254. As a page in a lady’s chamber. ‘Bower’ is often contrasted with ‘hall,’ as in ‘Jock o’ Hazeldean’:-

     ‘They socht her baith by bower an’ ha’.’

Cp. below, 281.

Stanza XVI. line 264. For Lindisfarn, or Holy Island, see note to Canto II. St. i.

Stanza XVII. line 284. leash, the cord by which the greyhound is restrained till the moment when he is slipt in pursuit of the game.  Cp. Coriolanus, i. 6. 38:-

     ‘Even like a fawning greyhound in the leash.’

Stanza XVIII. line 289. bide, abide. Cp. above, 215.

line 294. pray you = I pray you. Cp. ‘Prithee,’ so common in Elizabethan drama.

line 298. Scott annotates as follows:

‘The story of Perkin Warbeck, or Richard, Duke of York, is well known. In 1496, he was received honourably in Scotland; and James IV, after conferring upon him in marriage his own relation, the Lady Catharine Gordon, made war on England in behalf of his pretensions.  To retaliate an invasion of England, Surrey advanced into Berwickshire at the head of considerable forces, but retreated, after taking the inconsiderable fortress of Ayton. Ford, in his Dramatic Chronicle of Perkin Warbeck, makes the most of this inroad:-


     “Are all our braving enemies shrunk back,
      Hid in the fogges of their distemper’d climate,
      Not daring to behold our colours wave
      In spight of this infected ayre? Can they
      Looke on the strength of Cundrestine defac’t;
      The glorie of Heydonhall devasted: that
      Of Edington cast downe; the pile of Fulden
      Orethrowne: And this, the strongest of their forts,
      Old Ayton Castle, yeelded and demolished,
      And yet not peepe abroad? The Scots are bold,
      Hardie in battayle, but it seems the cause
      They undertake considered, appeares
      Unjoynted in the frame on’t”.’-SCOTT.

line 301. Ayton is on the Eye, a little above Eyemouth, in Berwickshire.

Stanza XIX. line 305. ‘The garrisons of the English castles of Wark, Norham, and Berwick were, as may be easily supposed, very troublesome neighbours to Scotland. Sir Richard Maitland of Ledington wrote a poem, called “The Blind Baron’s Comfort,” when his barony of Blythe, in Lauderdale, was harried by Rowland Foster, the English captain of Wark, with his company, to the number of 300 men. They spoiled the poetical knight of 5000 sheep, 200 nolt, 30 horses and mares; the whole furniture of his house of Blythe, worth 100 pounds Scots (L8. 6s. 8d.), and every thing else that was portable. “This spoil was committed the 16th day of May, 1570, (and the said Sir Richard was threescore and fourteen years of age, and grown blind,) in time of peace; when nane of that country lippened [expected] such a thing.”-”The Blind Baron’s Comfort” consists in a string of puns on the word Blythe, the name of the lands thus despoiled. Like John Littlewit, he had “a conceit left him in his misery-a miserable conceit.”

‘The last line of the text contains a phrase, by which the Borderers jocularly intimated the burning a house. When the Maxwells, in 1685, burned the castle of Lochwood, they said they did so to give the Lady Johnstone “light to set her hood.” Nor was the phrase inapplicable; for, in a letter, to which I have mislaid the reference, the Earl of Northumberland writes to the King and Council, that he dressed himself at midnight, at Warkworth, by the blaze of the neighbouring villages burned by the Scottish marauders.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XXI. line 332.  Bp. Pudsey, in 1154, restored the castle and added the donjon. See Jemingham’s ‘Norham Castle,’ v. 87.

line 341. too well in case, in too good condition, too stout. For a somewhat similar meaning of case, see Tempest, iii. 2. 25:-

     ‘I am in case to justle a constable.’

line 342. Scott here refers to Holinshed’s account of Welsh, the vicar of St. Thomas of Exeter, a leader among the Cornish insurgents in 1549:-

‘“This man,” says Holinshed, “had many good things in him. He was of no great stature, but well set, and mightilie compact. He was a very good wrestler; shot well, both in the long-bow, and also in the cross-bow; he handled his hand-gun and peece very well; he was a very good woodman, and a hardie, and such a one as would not give his head for the polling, or his beard for the washing. He was a companion in any exercise of activitie, and of a courteous and gentle behaviour. He descended of a good honest parentage, being borne at Peneverin, in Cornwall; and yet, in this rebellion, an arch-captain, and a principal doer.”-Vol. iv. p. 958, 4to edition. This model of clerical talents had the misfortune to be hanged upon the steeple of his own church.’-SCOTT.

‘The reader,’ Lockhart adds, ‘needs hardly to be reminded of Ivanhoe.’

line 349. Cp. Chaucer’s friar in Prologue, line 240:-

     ‘He knew wel the tavernes in every toun,’ &c.

The character and adventures of Friar John owe something both to the ‘Canterbury Tales’ and to a remarkable poem, probably Dunbar’s, entitled ‘The Friars of Berwick.’

line 354. St. Bede’s day in the Calendar is May 27. See below, line 410.

Stanza XXII. line 372. tables, backgammon.

line 387. fay = faith, word of honour. See below 454, and cp. Hamlet, ii. 2. 271, ‘By my fay, I cannot reason.’

Stanza XXIII. line 402. St. James or Santiago of Spain. Cp. ‘Piers the Plowman,’ i. 48 (with Prof. Skeat’s note), Chaucer’s Prologue, 465, and Southey’s ‘Pilgrim to Compostella,’ valuable both for its poetic beauty and its ample notes. In regard to the cockleshell, Southey gives some important information in extracts from ‘Anales de Galicia,’ and he says-

     ‘For the scallop shows in a coat of arms
        That of the bearer’s line.
      Some one, in former days, hath been
        To Santiago’s shrine.’

line 403. Montserrat, a mountain, with a Benedictine abbey on it, in Catalonia. The inhabitants of the neighbourhood cherish a myth to the effect that the fantastic peaks and gorges of the mountain were formed at the Crucifixion.

lines 404-7. Scott annotates as follows:-

‘Sante Rosalie was of Palermo, and born of a very noble family, and, when very young, abhorred so much the vanities of this world, and avoided the converse of mankind, resolving to dedicate herself wholly to God Almighty, that she, by divine inspiration, forsook her father’s house, and never was more heard of, till her body was found in that cleft of a rock, on that almost inaccessible mountain, where now the chapel is built; and they affirm she was carried up there by the hands of angels; for that place was not formerly so accessible (as now it is) in the days of the Saint; and even now it is a very bad, and steepy, and break-neck way. In this frightful place, this holy woman lived a great many years, feeding only on what she found growing on that barren mountain, and creeping into a narrow and dreadful cleft in a rock, which was always dropping wet, and was her place of retirement, as well as prayer; having worn out even the rock with her knees, in a certain place, which is now open’d on purpose to show it to those who come here. This chapel is very richly adorn’d; and on the spot where the saint’s dead body was discover’d, which is just beneath the hole in the rock, which is open’d on purpose, as I said, there is a very fine statue of marble, representing her in a lying posture, railed in all about with fine iron and brass work; and the altar, on which they say mass, is built just over it.’-Voyage to Sicily and Malta, by Mr. John Dryden, (son to the poet,) p. 107.

Stanza XXIV. line 408. The national motto is ‘St. George for Merrie England.’ The records of various central and eastern English towns tell of a very ancient custom of ‘carrying the dragon in procession, in great jollity, on Midsummer Eve.’ See Brand’s ‘Popular Antiquities,’ i. 321. In reference to the ‘Birth of St George’ and his deeds, see Percy’s ‘Reliques.’

line 409. Becket (1119-70), Archbishop of Canterbury. See ‘Canterbury Tales’ and Aubrey de Vere’s ‘St. Thomas of Canterbury: a dramatic poem.’

line 410. For Cuthbert, see below, II. xiv. 257. Bede (673-735), a monk of Jarrow on Tyne; called the Venerable Bede; author of an important ‘Ecclesiastical History’ and an English translation of St. John’s Gospel.

lines 419-20. Lord Jeffrey’s sense of humour was not adequate to the appreciation of these two lines, which he specialised for condemnation.

Stanza. XXV. line 421. Gramercy, from Fr. grand merci, sometimes used as an emphatic exclamation, although fundamentally implying the thanks of the speaker.

line 430 still = always. Cp., inter alia, 440 and 452 below. See ‘still vexed Bermoothes,’ Tempest, i. 2. 229, and cp. Hamlet, ii. 2. 42,-

     ‘Thou still hast been the father of good news.’

Stanza XXVI. line 452. Scott quotes from Rabelais the passage in which the monk suggests to Gargantua that in order to induce sleep they might together try the repetition of the seven penitential psalms. ‘The conceit pleased Gargantua very well; and, beginning the first of these psalms, as soon as they came to Beati quorum they fell asleep, both the one and the other.’ Cp. Chaucer’s Monk and the character of Accidia in ‘Piers the Plowman,’ Passus V.

line 453. ave, an address to the Virgin Mary, beginning ‘Ave Maria’; creed, a profession of faith, beginning with Credo. It has been objected to this line that the creed is not an essential part of the rosary, and that ten aves and one paternoster would have been more accurate. It should, however, be noticed that both Friar John and young Selby know more of other matters than the details of religious devotion.

Stanza XXVII. line 459. ‘A Palmer, opposed to a Pilgrim, was one who made it his sole business to visit different holy shrines; travelling incessantly, and subsisting by charity: whereas the Pilgrim retired to his usual home and occupations, when he had paid his devotions at the particular spot which was the object of his pilgrimage. The Palmers seem to have been the Quaestionarii of the ancient Scottish canons 1242 and 1296. There is in the Bannatyne MS. a burlesque account of two such persons, entitled, “Simmy and his Brother.” Their accoutrements are thus ludicrously described (I discard the ancient spelling):-

     “Syne shaped them up, to loup on leas,
        Two tabards of the tartan;
      They counted nought what their clouts were
        When sew’d them on, in certain.
      Syne clampit up St. Peter’s keys,
        Made of an old red gartane;
      St. James’s shells, on t’other side, shews
        As pretty as a partane
      On Symmye and his brother.”‘-SCOTT.

With this account of the Palmer, cp. ‘Piers the Plowman,’ v. 523:-

     ‘He bare a burdoun ybounde  with a brode liste,
      In a withewyndes wise  ywounden aboute.
      A bolle and a bagge  he bare by his syde;
      An hundredth of ampulles  on his hatt seten,
      Signes of Synay  and shelles of Galice;
      And many a cruche on his cloke  and keyes of Rome,
      And the vernicle bifore  for men shulde knowe,
      And se bi his signes  whom he soughte hadde.’

In connexion with this, Prof. Skeat draws attention to the romance of Sir Isumbras and to Chaucer’s Prol. line 13.

line 467. Loretto, in Ancona, Italy, is the site of a sanctuary of the Virgin, entitled Santa Casa, Holy House, which enjoys the reputation of having been the Virgin’s residence in Nazareth, and the scene of the Annunciation, &c.

Stanza XXVIII. line 483. haggard wild is a twofold adj. in the Elizabethan fashion, like ‘bitter sweet,’ ‘childish foolish,’ and other familiar examples.

line 490. Science appears to support this theory. See various examples in Sir Erasmus Wilson’s little work, ‘Healthy Skin.’ Many of the cases are within the writer’s own knowledge, and all the others are historical or otherwise well authenticated. He mentions Sir T. More the night before his execution; two cases reported by Borellus; three by Daniel Turner; one by Dr. Cassan; and in a note he recalls John Libeny, a would-be assassin of the Emperor of Austria, ‘whose hair turned snow-white in the forty-eight hours preceding his execution.’ See ‘Notes and Queries,’ 6th S. vols. vi. to ix., and 7th S. ii. Not only fear but sorrow is said to cause the hair to turn white very suddenly. Byron makes his Prisoner of Chillon say that his white hairs have not come to him

                      ‘In a single night,
      As men’s have grown from sudden fears.’

Stanza XXIX. line 506. ‘St. Regulus (Scottice, St. Rule), a monk of Patrae, in Achaia, warned by a vision, is said, A. D. 370, to have sailed westward, until he landed at St. Andrews, in Scotland, where he founded a chapel and tower. The latter is still standing; and, though we may doubt the precise date of its foundation, is certainly one of the most ancient edifices in Scotland. A cave, nearly fronting the ruinous castle of the Archbishops of St. Andrews, bears the name of this religion person. It is difficult of access; and the rock in which it is hewed is washed by the German Ocean. It is nearly round, about ten feet in diameter, and the same in height. On one side is a sort of stone altar; on the other an aperture into an inner den, where the miserable ascetic, who inhabited this dwelling, probably slept. At full tide, egress and regress are hardly practicable. As Regulus first colonised the metropolitan see of Scotland, and converted the inhabitants in the vicinity, he has some reason to complain that the ancient name of Killrule (Cella Reguli) should have been superseded, even in favour of the tutelar saint of Scotland. The reason of the change was, that St. Rule is said to have brought to Scotland the relics of Saint Andrew.’-SCOTT.

line 509. ‘St. Fillan was a Scottish saint of some reputation. Although Popery is, with us, matter of abomination, yet the common people still retain some of the superstitions connected with it. There are in Perthshire several wells and springs dedicated to St. Fillan, which are still places of pilgrimage and offerings, even among the Protestants. They are held powerful in cases of madness; and, in some of very late occurrence, lunatics have been left all night bound to the holy stone, in confidence that the saint would cure and unloose them before morning. [See various notes to the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border.]’-SCOTT.

line 513. Cp. Macbeth, v. 3. 40:-

     ‘Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased?’

and Lear, iii. 4. 12:-

                  ‘The tempest in my mind
      Doth from my senses take all feeling else
      Save what beats there.’

Stanza XXX. line 515. With ‘midnight draught,’ cp. Macbeth’s ‘drink,’ ii. 1. 31, and the ‘posset,’ ii. 2. 6. See notes to these passages in Clarendon Press Macbeth.

Stanza XXXI. line 534. ‘In Catholic countries, in order to reconcile the pleasures of the great with the observances of religion, it was common, when a party was bent for the chase, to celebrate mass, abridged and maimed of its rites, called a hunting-mass, the brevity of which was designed to correspond with the impatience of the audience.’-Note to ‘The Abbot,’ new edition.

line 538. Stirrup-cup, or stirrup-glass, is a parting-glass of liquor given to a guest when on horseback and ready to go.


The Rev. John Marriott, A. M., to whom this introductory poem is dedicated, was tutor to George Henry, Lord Scott, son of Charles, Earl of Dalkeith, afterwards fourth Duke of Buccleuch and sixth of Queensberry. Lord Scott died early, in 1808. Marriott, while still at Oxford, proved himself a capable poet, and Scott shewed his appreciation of him by including two of his ballads at the close of the ‘Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border.’ The concluding lines of this Introduction refer to Marriott’s ballads.

line 2. ‘Ettrick Forest, now a range of mountainous sheep-walks, was anciently reserved for the pleasure of the royal chase. Since it was disparked, the wood has been, by degrees, almost totally destroyed, although, wherever protected from the sheep, copses soon arise without any planting. When the King hunted there, he often summoned the array of the country to meet and assist his sport. Thus, in 1528, James V “made proclamation to all lords, barons, gentlemen, landward-men, and freeholders, that they should compear at Edinburgh, with a month’s victuals, to pass with the King where he pleased, to danton the thieves of Tiviotdale, Annandale, Liddisdale, and other parts of that country; and also warned all gentlemen that had good dogs to bring them, that he might hunt in the said country as he pleased: The whilk the Earl of Argyle, the Earl of Huntley, the Earl of Athole, and so all the rest of the gentlemen of the Highland, did, and brought their hounds with them in like manner, to hunt with the King, as he pleased.

‘“The second day of June the King past out of Edinburgh to the hunting, with many of the nobles and gentlemen of Scotland with him, to the number of twelve thousand men; and then past to Meggitland, and hounded and hawked all the country and bounds; that is to say, Crammat, Pappert-law, St. Mary-laws, Carlavirick, Chapel, Ewindoores, and Langhope. I heard say, he slew, in these bounds, eighteen score of harts.” PITSCOTTIE’S History of Scotland, folio edition, p. 143.

‘These huntings had, of course, a military character, and attendance upon them was part of the duty of a vassal. The act for abolishing ward or military tenures in Scotland, enumerates the services of hunting, hosting, watching and warding, as those which were in future to be illegal.’-SCOTT.

lines 5-11. Cp. Wordsworth’s ‘Thorn’:-

     ‘There is a Thorn-it looks so old,
      In truth, you’d find it hard to say
      How it could ever have been young,
      It looks so old and grey.’

There is a special suggestion of antiquity in the wrinkled, lichen-covered thorn of a wintry landscape, and thus it is a fitting object to stir and sustain the poet’s tendency to note ‘chance and change’ and to lament the loss of the days that are no more. The exceeding appropriateness of this in a narrative poem dealing with departed habits and customs must be quite apparent. The thorn grows to a very great age, and many an unpretentious Scottish homestead receives a pathetic grace and dignity from the presence of its ancestral thorn-tree.

line 15. The rowan is the mountain ash. One of the most tender and haunting of Scottish songs is Lady Nairne’s ‘Oh, Rowan tree!’-

     ‘How fair wert thou in summer time, wi’ a’ thy clusters white,
      How rich and gay thy autumn dress, wi’ berries red and bright.’

line 27. There are some notable allusions in the poets to the moonlight baying of dogs and wolves. Cp. Julius Caesar, iv. 3. 27:-

     ‘I had rather be a dog and bay the moon.’

See also Shield’s great English song, ‘The Wolf’:-

     ‘While the wolf, in nightly prowl,
      Bays the moon with hideous howl!’

One of the best lines in English verse on the wolf-both skilfully onomatopoeic and suggestively picturesque-is Campbell’s, line 66 of ‘Pleasures of Hope’:-

     ‘The wolf’s long howl from Oonalaska’s shore.’

line 30. Cp. the movement of this line with line 3 in ‘Sang of the Outlaw Murray’:-

     ‘There’s hart and hynd, and dae and rae.’

line 31. ‘Grene wode’ is a phrase of the ‘Robyn Hode Ballads.’ Cp.:--

     ‘She set her on a gode palfray,
      To grene wode anon rode she.’

line 32. The ruins of Newark Castle are above the confluence of the Ettrick and the Yarrow, on the latter river, and a few miles from Selkirk. Close by is Bowhill, mentioned below, 73. See Prof. Minto’s ‘Lay of the Last Minstrel’ (Clarendon Press), pp. 122-3. In the days of the ‘last minstrel’ it was appropriate to describe this ‘riven’ relic as ‘Newark’s stately tower.’

line 33. James II built Newark as a fortress.

line 41. The gazehound or greyhound hunts by sight, not scent. The Encyclopedic Dictionary quotes Tickell ‘On Hunting’:-

     ‘See’st thou the gazehound! how with glance severe
      From the close herd he marks the destined deer.’

line 42. ‘Bratchet, slowhound.’-SCOTT. The older spelling is brachet (from brach or brache), as:-

     ‘Brachetes bayed that best, as bidden the maystarez.’
                                 Sir Gaw. and the Green Knyght, 1603.

In contrast with the gazehound the brachet hunts by scent.

line 44. Cp. Julius Caesar, iii. I. 273, ‘Let slip the dogs of war.’

line 48. Harquebuss, arquebus, or hagbut, a heavy musket. Cp. below, V. 54.

line 49. Cp. Dryden’s ‘Alexander’s Feast,’ ‘The vocal hills reply.’

line 54. Yarrow stream is the ideal scene of Border romance. See the Border Minstrelsy, and cp. the works of Hamilton of Bangour, John Leyden, Wordsworth’s Yarrow poems, the poems of the Ettrick Shepherd, Prof. Veitch, and Principal Shairp. John Logan’s ‘Braes of Yarrow’ also deserves special mention, and many singers of Scottish song know Scott Riddell’s ‘Dowie Dens o’ Yarrow.’

line 61. Holt, an Anglo-Saxon word for wood or grove, has been a favourite with poet’s since Chaucer’s employment of it (Prol. 6):-

     ‘Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breethe
      Enspired hath in every holte and heethe
      The tendre croppes.’

See Dr. Morris’s Glossary to Chaucer’s Prologue, &c. (Clarendon Press).

line 68. Cp. Wordsworth’s two Matthew poems, ‘The Two April Mornings’ and ‘The Fountain’; also Matthew Arnold’s ‘Thyrsis’-

     ‘Too rare, too rare grow now my visits here!
      But once I knew each field, each flower, each stick;
        And with the country-folk acquaintance made
      By barn in threshing-time, by new-built rick,
        Here, too, our shepherd-pipes we first assay’d.’

line 82. Janet in the ballad of ‘The Young Tamlane’ in the Border Minstrelsy. The dissertation Scott prefixed to this ballad is most interesting and valuable.

line 84. See above, note on Rev. J. Marriott.

line 85. Scott was sheriff-substitute of Selkirkshire. As the law requires residence within the limits of the sheriffdom, Scott dwelt at Ashestiel at least four months of every year. Prof. Veitch, in his descriptive poem ‘The Tweed,’ writes warmly on Ashestiel, as Scott’s residence in his happiest time:-

     ‘Sweet Ashestiel! that peers ‘mid woody braes,
      And lists the ripple of Glenkinnon’s rill-
      Fair girdled by Tweed’s ampler gleaming wave-
      His well loved home of early happy days,
      Ere noon of Fame, and ere dark Ruin’s eve,
      When life lay unrevealed, with hopeful thrill
      Of all that might be in the reach of powers
      Whose very flow was a continued joy-
      Strong-rushing as the dawn, and fresh and fair
      In outcome as that morning of the world,
      Which gilded all his kindled fancy’s dream!’

line 88. Harriet, Countess of Dalkeith, afterwards Duchess of Buccleuch. A suggestion of hers led to the composition of the ‘Lay of the Last Minstrel.’ See Prof. Minto’s Introduction to Clarendon Press edition of the poem, p. 8.

lines 90-93. ‘These lines were not in the original MS.’-LOCKHART.

line 106. ‘The late Alexander Pringle, Esq., of Whytbank-whose beautiful seat of the Yair stands on the Tweed, about two miles below Ashestiel.’-LOCKHART.

line 108. ‘The sons of Mr. Pringle of Whytbank.’-LOCKHART.

line 113. Cp. VI. 611, below.

line 115. ‘There is, on a high mountainous ridge above the farm of Ashestiel, a fosse called Wallace’s Trench.’-SCOTT.

line 124. Cp. Gray’s ‘Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College,’ especially lines 6l-2:-

     ‘These shall the fury Passions tear,
         The vultures of the mind.’

lines 126-33. Cp. Wordsworth variously, particularly in the Matthew poems, the Ode on Intimations of Immortality, and Tintern Abbey, especially in its last twenty-five lines:-

                  ‘Therefore let the moon
      Shine on thee in thy solitary walk,’ &c.

line 143. Cp. I Kings xix. 12.

lines 147-73. ‘This beautiful sheet of water forms the reservoir from which the Yarrow takes its source. It is connected with a smaller lake, called the Loch of the Lowes, and surrounded by mountains. In the winter, it is still frequented by flights of wild swans; hence my friend Mr. Wordsworth’s lines:-

     “The swan on sweet St. Mary’s lake
      Floats double, swan and shadow.”

Near the lower extremity of the lake are the ruins of Dryhope tower, the birth-place of Mary Scott, daughter of Philip Scott of Dryhope, and famous by the traditional name of the Flower of Yarrow. She was married to Walter Scott of Harden, no less renowned for his depredations than his bride for her beauty. Her romantic appellation was, in latter days, with equal justice, conferred on Miss Mary Lilias Scott, the last of the elder branch of the Harden family. The author well remembers the talent and spirit of the latter Flower of Yarrow, though age had then injured the charms which procured her the name. The words usually sung to the air of “Tweedside,” beginning “What beauties does Flora disclose,” were composed in her honour.’-SCOTT.

Quoting from memory, Scott gives ‘sweet’ for still in Wordsworth’s lines. Mr. Aubrey de Vere, in ‘Essays Chiefly on Poetry,’ ii. 277, reports an interview with Wordsworth, in which the poet, referring to St. Mary’s Lake, says: ‘The scene when I saw it, with its still and dim lake, under the dusky hills, was one of utter loneliness; there was one swan, and one only, stemming the water, and the pathetic loneliness of the region gave importance to the one companion of that swan-its own white image in the water.’ For a criticism, deeply sympathetic and appreciative, of Scott’s description of St. Mary’s Loch in calm, see Prof. Veitch’s ‘Feeling for Nature in Scottish Poetry,’ ii. 196. The scene remains very much what it was in Scott’s time, ‘notwithstanding that the hand of the Philistine,’ says Prof. Veitch, ‘has set along the north shore of St. Mary’s, as far as his power extended, a strip of planting.’

line 177. ‘The chapel of St. Mary of the Lowes {de lacubus} was situated on the eastern side of the lake, to which it gives name. It was injured by the clan of Scott, in a feud with the Cranstouns; but continued to be a place of worship during the seventeenth century. The vestiges of the building can now scarcely be traced; but the burial-ground is still used as a cemetery. A funeral, in a spot so very retired, has an uncommonly striking effect. The vestiges of the chaplain’s house are yet visible. Being in a high situation, it commanded a full view of the lake, with the opposite mountain of Bourhope, belonging, with the lake itself, to Lord Napier. On the left hand is the tower of Dryhope, mentioned in a preceding note.’-SCOTT.

line 187. See ‘Il Penseroso,’ line 167.

line 197. Cp. Thomson’s ‘Winter,’ line 66:-

     ‘Along the woods, along the moorish fens,
      Sighs the sad genius of the coming storm;
      And up among the loose disjointed cliffs,
      And fractured mountains wild, the brawling brook
      And cave, presageful, send a hollow moan,
      Resounding long in listening fancy’s ear.’

line 204. ‘At one corner of the burial-ground of the demolished chapel, but without its precincts, is a small mound, called Binrams Corse, where tradition deposits the remains of a necromantic priest, the former tenant of the chaplainry. His story much resembles that of Ambrosio in “The Monk,” and has been made the theme of a ballad by my friend Mr. James Hogg, more poetically designed the Ettrick Shepherd. To his volume, entitled “The Mountain Bard,” which contains this, and many other legendary stories and ballads of great merit, I refer the curious reader.’-SCOTT.

line 239. ‘Loch-skene is a mountain lake, of considerable size, at the head of the Moffat-water. The character of the scenery is uncommonly savage; and the earn, or Scottish eagle, has, for many ages, built its nest yearly upon an islet in the lake. Loch-skene discharges itself into a brook, which, after a short and precipitate course, falls from a cataract of immense height and gloomy grandeur, called, from its appearance, the “Grey Mare’s Tail.” The “Giant’s Grave,” afterwards mentioned, is a sort of trench, which bears that name, a little way from the foot of the cataract. It has the appearance of a battery designed to command the pass.’-SCOTT.

Cp. ‘Loch Skene,’ a descriptive and meditative poem by Thomas Tod Stoddart, well known as poet and angler on the Borders during the third quarter of the nineteenth century:-

     ‘Like a pillar of Parian stone,
      That in some old temple shone,
      Or a slender shaft of living star,
      Gleams that foam-fall from afar;
      But the column is melted down below
      Into a gulf of seething snow,
      And the stream steals away from its whirl of hoar,
      As bright and as lovely as before.’


lines 1-6. The earlier editions have a period at the end of line 5, and neither Scott himself nor Lockhart changed that punctuation. But, undoubtedly, the first sentence ends with line 11, ‘roll’d’ in the second line being a part, and not a finite verb. Mr. Rolfe is the first to punctuate the passage thus.

line 9. ‘The Abbey of Whitby, in the Archdeaconry of Cleaveland, on the coast of Yorkshire, was founded A. D. 657, in consequence of a vow of Oswy, King of Northumberland. It contained both monks and nuns of the Benedictine order; but, contrary to what was usual in such establishments, the abbess was superior to the abbot. The monastery was afterwards mined by the Danes, and rebuilded by William Percy, in the reign of the Conqueror. There were no nuns there in Henry the Eighth’s time, nor long before it. The ruins of Whitby Abbey are very magnificent.’-SCOTT.

line 10. ‘Lindisfarne, an isle on the coast of Northumberland, was called Holy Island, from the sanctity of its ancient monastery, and from its having been the episcopal seat of the see of Durham during the early ages of British Christianity. A succession of holy men held that office: but their merits were swallowed up in the superior fame of St. Cuthbert, who was sixth bishop of Durham, and who bestowed the name of his “patrimony” upon the extensive property of the see. The ruins of the monastery upon Holy Island betoken great antiquity. The arches are, in general, strictly Saxon, and the pillars which support them, short, strong, and massy. In some places, however, there are pointed windows, which indicate that the building has been repaired at a period long subsequent to the original foundation. The exterior ornaments of the building, being of a light sandy stone, have been wasted, as described in the text. Lindisfarne is not properly an island, but rather, as the Venerable Bede has termed it, a semi-isle; for, although surrounded by the sea at full tide, the ebb leaves the sands dry between it and the opposite coast of Northumberland, from which it is about three miles distant.’-SCOTT.

The monastery, of which the present ruins remain, was built, between 1093 and 1120, by Benedictine monks under the direction of William Carileph, Bishop of Durham. There were sixteen bishops in Holy Island between St. Aidan (635 A. D.) and Eardulph (875 A. D.). The Christians were dispersed after the violent inroad of the Danes in 868, and for two centuries Lindisfarne suffered apparent relapse. Lindisfarne (Gael. farne, a retreat) signifies ‘a place of retreat by the brook Lindis.’ The name Holy Island was given by Carileph’s monks, to commemorate, they said, ‘the sacred blood which had been shed by the Danes.’ See Raine’s ‘History of North Durham,’ F. R. Wilson’s ‘Churches of Lindisfarne,’ and Mr. Keeling’s ‘Lindisfarne, or Holy Island: its History and Associations.’

line 17. Cp. Coleridge’s ‘Ancient Mariner’:-

     ‘The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
      The farrow followed free.’

line 20. For Saint Hilda, see below, note on line 244.

Stanza II. line 33. sea-dog, the seal.

line 36. still. Cp. above, I. 430.

line 44. A Novice is one under probation for a term extending to at least a year, and it may extend to two or three years, after which vows are either taken or declined.

Stanza IV. line 70. Benedictine school. St. Benedict founded his order-sometimes, because of their dark garb, called Black Friars-in the beginning of the sixth century. Benedict of Aniana, in the eighth century, reformed the discipline of the order.

line 74. Cp. Chaucer’s Prioress in the Prologue:-

     ‘And sikerly sche was of gret disport,
      And ful plesaunt, and amyable of port.’

Stanza V. line 90. Cp. Spenser’s Una, ‘Faery Queene,’ I. iv:-

     ‘A lovely Ladie rode him faire beside.
                   * * *
      As one that inly mournd, so was she sad,
      And heavie sat upon her palfrey slow.’

Stanza VI. With this ‘brown study,’ cp. Wordsworth’s ‘Reverie of Poor Susan.’

Stanza. VII. line 114. Reference to the lion of ‘Faery Queene,’ I. iii:-

     ‘Forsaken Truth long seekes her love,
      And makes the Lyon mylde.’

line 124. bowl and knife. Poisoning and stabbing.

Stanza VIII. Monk-Wearmouth. A monastery, founded here in 674 A. D., was destroyed by the Danes in the ninth century, and restored after the Norman Conquest. For Tynemouth, see below, 371, Seaton-Delaval, the seat of the Delavals, who by marriage came into possession of Ford Castle. Widderington. It was a ‘squyar off Northombarlonde, Ric. Wytharynton,’ that showed notable valour and persistent endurance at Chevy Chase:-

     ‘For Wetharryngton my harte was wo,
      That ever he slayne shulde be;
      For when both his leggis wear hewyne in te,
      He knyled and fought on hys kne.’

Butler, fully appreciating this doughty champion, uses him in a descriptive illustration, ‘Hudibras,’ I. iii. 95:-

     ‘As Widdrington, in doleful dumps,
      Is said to fight upon his stumps.’

Widderington Castle, with the exception of one tower, was destroyed by fire. Warkworth Castle is about a mile from the mouth of the Alne, and is the seat of the Duke of Northumberland. Bamborough, the finest specimen of a feudal castle in the north of England, is said to have been founded by King Ida about the middle of the sixth century. Lord Crewe, Bishop of Durham, purchased the Bamborough estates between 1709 and 1720, and left them for charitable purposes. This charity maintains, inter alia, a national school in the village of Bamborough, and an officer to fire a cannon from the dangerous rocks every fifteen minutes in foggy weather, besides providing for the education of thirty girls within the castle walls.

Stanza IX. line 164. battled. See above, I. 4.

Stanza X. line 173. Pointed or Gothic architecture came in towards the end of the twelfth century.

Stanza XII. line 215. Suppose we = Let us suppose. This is an Elizabethanism. Cp. Macbeth, i. I. 10:-

     ‘Hover through the fog and filthy air,’

where hover = hover we.

Stanza XIII. line 234. Scott quotes from ‘A True Account,’ circulated at Whitby, concerning the consequences of a boar-hunt on Eskdale-side, belonging to the Abbot of Whitby. The boar, being hard pressed, made for a hermitage and died just within the door. Coming up, the three leaders-William de Bruce, Lord of Uglebarnby, Ralph de Percy, Lord of Smeaton, and a freeholder named Allatson-in their disappointment and wrath set upon the hermit, whom they fatally wounded. When the abbot afterwards came to the dying hermit, and told him his assailants would suffer extreme penalty for their ruthless conduct, the hermit asked the gentlemen to be sent for, and said he would pardon them on certain conditions. ‘The gentlemen being present bade him save their lives.-Then said the hermit, “You and yours shall hold your lands of the Abbot of Whitby, and his successors, in this manner: That, upon Ascension-day, you, or some of you, shall come to the wood of the Stray-heads, which is in Eskdale-side, the same day at sun-rising, and there shall the abbot’s officer blow his horn, to the intent that you may know where to find him; and he shall deliver unto you, William de Bruce, ten stakes, eleven strout stowers, and eleven yethers, to be cut by you, or some of you, with a knife of one penny price: and you, Ralph de Percy, shall take twenty-one of each sort, to be cut in the same manner; and you, Allatson, shall take nine of each sort, to be cut as aforesaid, and to be taken on your backs and carried to the town of Whitby, and to be there before nine of the clock the same day before mentioned. At the same hour of nine of the clock, if it be full sea, your labour and service shall cease; and if low water, each of you shall set your stakes to the brim, each stake one yard from the other, and so yether them on each side with your yethers; and so stake on each side with your strout stowers, that they may stand three tides, without removing by the force thereof. Each of you shall do, make, and execute the said service, at that very hour, every year, except it be fall sea at that hour; but when it shall so fall out, this service shall cease. You shall faithfully do this, in remembrance that you did most cruelly slay me; and that you may the better call to God for mercy, repent unfeignedly of your sins, and do good works. The officer of Eskdale-side shall blow, Out on you! Out on you! Out on you! for this heinous crime. If you, or your successors, shall refuse this service, so long as it shall not be full sea at the aforesaid hour, you or yours shall forfeit your lands to the Abbot of Whitby, or his successors. This I entreat, and earnestly beg, that you may have lives and goods preserved for this service: and I request of you to promise, by your parts in Heaven, that it shall be done by you and your successors, as is aforesaid requested; and I will confirm it by the faith of an honest man.”-Then the hermit said, “My soul longeth for the Lord: and I do as freely forgive these men my death, as Christ forgave the thieves on the cross.” And, in the presence of the abbot and the rest, he said moreover these words: “In manus tuos, Domine, commendo spiritum meum, a vinculis enim mortis redemisti me, Domine veritatis, Amen.”-So he yielded up the ghost the eighth day of December, anno Domini 1159, whose soul God have mercy upon. Amen.

‘“This service,” it is added, “still continues to be performed with the prescribed ceremonies, though not by the proprietors in person. Part of the lands charged therewith are now held by a gentleman of the name of Herbert.”‘-SCOTT.

line 244. Edelfled ‘was the daughter of King Oswy, who, in gratitude to Heaven for the great victory which he won in 655, against Penda, the pagan King of Mercia, dedicated Edelfleda, then but a year old, to the service of God, in the monastery of Whitby, of which St. Hilda was then abbess. She afterwards adorned the place of her education with great magnificence.’-SCOTT.

line 251. ‘These two miracles are much insisted on by all ancient writers who have occasion to mention either Whitby or St. Hilda. The relics of the snakes, which infested the precincts of the convent, and were at the abbess’s prayer not only beheaded but petrified, are still found about the rocks, and are termed by Protestant fossilists, Ammonitae.

‘The other miracle is thus mentioned by Camden: “It is also ascribed to the power of her sanctity, that these wild geese, which, in the winter, fly in great flocks to the lakes and rivers unfrozen in the southern parts, to the great amazement of every one, fall down suddenly upon the ground, when they are in their flight over certain ‘neighbouring fields hereabouts: a relation I should not have made, if I had not received it from several credible men. But those who are less inclined to heed superstition, attribute it to some occult quality in the ground, and to somewhat of antipathy between it and the geese, such as they say is betwixt wolves and scyllaroots: for that such hidden tendencies and aversions, as we call sympathies and antipathies, are implanted in many things by provident Nature for the preservation of them, is a thing so evident, that everybody grants it.” Mr. Chariton, in his History of Whitby, points out the true origin of the fable, from the number of sea-gulls that, when flying from a storm, often alight near Whitby; and from the woodcocks, and other birds of passage, who do the same upon their arrival on shore, after a long flight.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XIV. line 257. ‘St. Cuthbert was, in the choice of his sepulchre, one of the most mutable and unreasonable saints in the Calendar. He died A. D. 688, in a hermitage upon the Farne Islands, having resigned the bishopric of Lindisfarne, or Holy Island, about two years before. {1}  His body was brought to Lindisfarne, where it remained until a descent of the Danes, about 793, when the monastery was nearly destroyed. The monks fled to Scotland, with what they deemed their chief treasure, the relics of St. Cuthbert. The Saint was, however, a most capricious fellow-traveller; which was the more intolerable, as, like Sinbad’s Old Man of the Sea, he journeyed upon the shoulders of his companions. They paraded him through Scotland for several years, and came as far west as Whithorn, in Galloway, whence they attempted to sail for Ireland, but were driven back by tempests. He at length made a halt at Norham; from thence he went to Melrose, where he remained stationary for a short time, and then caused himself to be launched upon the Tweed in a stone coffin, which landed him at Tilmouth, in Northumberland. This boat is finely shaped, ten feet long, three feet and a half in diameter, and only four inches thick; so that, with very little assistance, it might certainly have swam: it still lies, or at least did so a few years ago, in two pieces, beside the ruined chapel at Tilmouth. From Tilmouth, Cuthbert wandered into Yorkshire; and at length made a long stay at Chester-le-street, to which the bishop’s see was transferred. At length, the Danes continuing to infest the country, the monks removed to Rippon for a season; and it was in return from thence to Chester-le-street, that, passing through a forest called Dunholme, the Saint and his carriage became immovable at a place named Wardlaw, or Wardilaw. Here the Saint chose his place of residence; and all who have seen Durham must admit, that, if difficult in his choice, he evinced taste in at last fixing it. It is said, that the Northumbrian Catholics still keep secret the precise spot of the Saint’s sepulture, which is only intrusted to three persons at a time. When one dies the survivors associate to them, in his room, a person judged fit to be the depositary of so valuable a secret.’-SCOTT.

‘The resting-place of the remains of this Saint is not now matter of uncertainty. So recently as 17th May, 1827,-1139 years after his death-their discovery and disinterment were effected. Under a blue stone, in the middle of the shrine of St. Cuthbert, at the eastern extremity of the choir of Durham Cathedral, there was then found a walled grave, containing the coffins of the Saint. The first, or outer one, was ascertained to be that of 1541, the second of 1041; the third, or inner one, answering in every particular to the description of that of 698, was found to contain, not indeed, as had been averred then, and even until 1539, the incorruptible body, but the entire skeleton of the Saint; the bottom of the grave being perfectly dry, free from offensive smell, and without the slightest symptom that a human body had ever undergone decomposition within its walls. The skeleton was found swathed in five silk robes of emblematical embroidery, the ornamental parts laid with gold leaf, and these again covered with a robe of linen. Beside the skeleton were also deposited several gold and silver insignia, and other relics of the Saint.

‘(The Roman Catholics now allow that the coffin was that of St. Cuthbert.)

‘The bones of the Saint were again restored to the grave in a new coffin, amid the fragments of the former ones. Those portions of the inner coffin which could be preserved, including one of its rings, with the silver altar, golden cross, stole, comb, two maniples, bracelets, girdle, gold wire of the skeleton, and fragments of the five silk robes, and seme of the rings of the outer coffin made in 1541, were deposited in the library of the Dean and Chapter, where they are now preserved.’-LOCKHART.

For ample details regarding St. Cuthbert, see ‘St. Cuthbert,’ by James Raine, M. A. (4to, Durham, 1828).

line 263. For ‘fair Melrose’ see opening of Canto II, ‘Lay of the Last Minstrel,’ and Prof. Minto’s note in the Clarendon Press edition.

Stanza XV. line 292. ‘Every one has heard, that when David I, with his son Henry, invaded Northumberland in 1136, the English host marched against them under the holy banner of St. Cuthbert; to the efficacy of which was imputed the great victory which they obtained in the bloody battle of Northallerton, or Cuton-moor. The conquerors were at least as much indebted to the jealousy and intractability of the different tribes who composed David’s army; among whom, as mentioned in the text, were the Galwegians, the Britons of Strath-Clyde, the men of Teviotdale and Lothian, with many Norman and German warriors, who asserted the cause of the Empress Maud. See Chalmers’s “Caledonia,” vol. i. p. 622; a most laborious, curious, and interesting publication, from which considerable defects of style and manner ought not to turn aside the Scottish antiquary.

‘Cuthbert, we have seen, had no great reason, to spare the Danes, when opportunity offered. Accordingly, I find in Simeon of Durham, that the Saint appeared in a vision to Alfred, when lurking in the marches of Glastonbury, and promised him assistance and victory over his heathen enemies; a consolation which, as was reasonable, Alfred, after the battle of Ashendown, rewarded, by a royal offering at the shrine of the Saint. As to William the Conqueror, the terror spread before his army, when he marched to punish the revolt of the Northumbrians, in 1096, had forced the monks to fly once more to Holy Island with the body of the Saint. It was, however, replaced before William left the north; and, to balance accounts, the Conqueror having intimated an indiscreet curiosity to view the Saint’s body, he was, while in the act of commanding the shrine to be opened, seized with heat and sickness, accompanied with such a panic terror, that, notwithstanding there was a sumptuous dinner prepared for him, he fled without eating a morsel (which the monkish historian seems to have thought no small part both of the miracle and the penance,) and never drew his bridle till he got to the river Tees.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XVI. line 300. ‘Although we do not learn that Cuthbert was, during his life, such an artificer as Dunstan, his brother in sanctity, yet, since his death, he has acquired the reputation of forging those Entrochi which are found among the rocks of Holy Island, and pass there by the name of St. Cuthbert’s Beads. While at this task, he is supposed to sit during the night upon a certain rock, and use another as his anvil. This story was perhaps credited in former days; at least the Saint’s legend contains some not more probable.’-SCOTT.

See in Mr. Aubrey de Vere’s ‘Legends of the Saxon Saints’ a fine poem entitled ‘How Saint Cuthbert kept his Pentecost at Carlisle.’ The ‘beads’ are there referred to thus:-

     ‘And many an age, when slept that Saint in death,
      Passing his isle by night the sailor heard
      Saint Cuthbert’s hammer clinking on the rock.’

The recognised name of these shells is still ‘St. Cuthbert’s beads.”

Stanza XVII. line 316. ‘Ceolwolf, or Colwulf, King of Northumberland, flourished in the eighth century. He was a man of some learning; for the venerable Bede dedicates to him his “Ecclesiastical History.” He abdicated the throne about 738, and retired to Holy Island, where he died in the odour of sanctity. Saint as Colwulf was, however, I fear the foundation of the penance-vault does not correspond with his character; for it is recorded among his memorabilia, that, finding the air of the island raw and cold, he indulged the monks, whose rule had hitherto confined them to milk or water, with the comfortable privilege of using wine or ale. If any rigid antiquary insists on this objection, he is welcome to suppose the penance-vault was intended by the founder for the more genial purposes of a cellar.

‘These penitential vaults were the Geissel-gewolbe of German convents. In the earlier and more rigid times of monastic discipline, they were sometimes used as a cemetery for the lay benefactor of the convent, whose unsanctified corpses were then seldom permitted to pollute the choir. They also served as places of meeting for the chapter, when measures of uncommon severity were to be adopted. But their most frequent use, as implied by the name,
was as places for performing penances, or undergoing punishment.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XVIII. line 350. ‘Antique chandelier.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XIX. line 371. ‘That there was an ancient priory at Tynemouth is certain. Its ruins are situated on a high rocky point; and, doubtless, many a vow was made to the shrine by the distressed mariners, who drove towards the iron-bound coast of Northumberland in stormy weather. It was anciently a nunnery; for Virca, abbess of Tynemouth, presented St. Cuthbert (yet alive) with a rare winding-sheet, in emulation of a holy lady called Tuda, who had sent him a coffin: but, as in the case of Whitby, and of Holy Island, the introduction of nuns at Tynemouth, in the reign of Henry VIII, is an anachronism. The nunnery of Holy Island is altogether fictitious. Indeed, St. Cuthbert was unlikely to permit such an establishment; for, notwithstanding his accepting the mortuary gifts above mentioned, and his carrying on a visiting acquaintance with the abbess of Coldingham, he certainly hated the whole female sex; and, in revenge of a slippery trick played to him by an Irish princess, he, after death, inflicted severe penances on such as presumed to approach within a certain distance of his shrine.’-SCOTT.

line 376. ruth (A. S. hreow, pity) in Early and Middle English was used both for ‘disaster’ and ‘pity.’ These two shades of meaning are illustrated by Spenser in F. Q., Bk. ii. I. Introd. to Canto where Falsehood beguiles the Red Cross Knight, and ‘workes him woefull ruth,’ and in F. Q. I. v. 9:

     ‘Great ruth in all the gazers hearts did grow.’

Milton (Lycidas, 163) favours the poetical employment of the word, which modern poets continue to use. Cp. Wordsworth, ‘Ode for a General Thanksgiving’:-

     ‘Assaulting without ruth
The citadels of truth;’

and Tennyson’s ‘Geraint and Enid,’ II. 102:-

                             ‘Ruth began to work
      Against his anger in him, while he watch’d
      The being he lov’d best in all the world.’

Stanza XX. line 385. doublet, a close-fitting jacket, introduced from France in the fourteenth century, and fashionable in all ranks till the time of Charles II. Cp. As You Like It, ii. 4. 6:-’Doublet and hose ought to show itself courageous to petticoat.’

line 398. Fontevraud, on the Loire, 8 miles from Saumur, had one of the richest abbeys in France. It was a retreat for penitents of both sexes, and presided over by an abbess. ‘The old monastic buildings and courtyards, surrounded by walls, and covering from 40 to 50 acres, now form one of the larger prisons of France, in which about 2000 men and boys are confined, and kept at industrial occupations.’ See Chambers’s ‘Encyclopaedia,’ s. v., and Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal, 2d. S, I. 104.

Stanza XXI. line 408. but = except that. Cp. Tempest, i. 2. 414:-

                            ‘And, but he’s something stain’d
      With grief that’s beauty’s canker, thou might’st call him
      A goodly person.’

line 414. Byron, writing to Murray on 3 Feb., 1816, expresses his belief that he has unwittingly imitated this passage in ‘Parisina.’ ‘I had,’ he says, ‘completed the story on the passage from Gibbon, which indeed leads to a like scene naturally, without a thought of the kind; but it comes upon me not very comfortably.’ Byron is quite right in his assertion that, if he had taken this striking description of Constance as a model for his Parisina, he would have been attempting ‘to imitate that which is inimitable.’ See ‘Parisina,’ st. xiv:-

     ‘She stood, I said, all pale and still,
      The living cause of Hugo’s ill.’

Stanza XXII. line 415. a sordid soul, &c. For such a character in the drama see Lightborn in Marlowe’s Edward II, and those trusty agents in Richard III, whose avowed hardness of heart drew from Gloucester the appreciative remark:-

     ‘Your eyes drop millstones, when fools’ eyes drop tears.’
                                         Richard III, i. 3. 353.

Stanza XXIII. line 438. grisly, grim, horrible; still an effective poetic word. It is, e.g., very expressive in Tennyson’s ‘Princess,’ sect. vi, where Ida sees

     ‘The haggard father’s face and reverend beard
      Of grisly twine, all dabbled with the blood,’ &c.

See below, III. 382.

Stanza XXV. line 468. ‘It is well known, that the religious, who broke their vows of chastity, were subjected to the same penalty as the Roman vestals in a similar case. A small niche, sufficient to enclose their bodies, was made in the massive wall of the convent; a slender pittance of food and water was deposited in it, and the awful words, VADE IN PACE, were the signal for immuring the criminal. It is not likely that, in latter times, this punishment was often resorted to; but among the ruins of the abbey of Coldingham, were some years ago discovered the remains of a female skeleton, which, from the shape of the niche, and position of the figure, seemed to be that of an immured nun.’-SCOTT.

Lockhart adds:-‘The Edinburgh Reviewer, on st. xxxii, post, suggests that the proper reading of the sentence is vade in pacem-not part in peace, but go into peace, or eternal rest, a pretty intelligible mittimus to another world.’

Stanza XXVII. line 506. my = ‘of me,’ retains the old genitive force as in Elizabethan English. Cp. Julius Caesar, i. I. 55:-

                                    ‘In his way
      That comes in triumph over Pompey’s blood.’

line 516. The very old fancy of a forsaken lover’s revenge has been powerfully utilized in D. G. Rossetti’s fascinating ballad, ‘Sister Helen’:-

     ‘Pale, pale her cheeks, that in pride did glow,
                                 Sister Helen,
      ‘Neath the bridal-wreath three days ago.’

     ‘One morn for pride and three days for woe,
                                 Little brother!’

Stanza XXVIII. line 520. plight, woven, united, as in Spenser F. Q., II. vi. 7:-

                                ‘Fresh flowerets dight
      About her necke, or rings of rushes plight.’

lines 524-40. The reference in these lines is to what was known as the appeal to the judgment of God. On this subject, Scott at the close of the second head in his ‘Essay on Chivalry,’ says, ‘In the appeal to this awful criterion, the combatants, whether personally concerned, or appearing as champions, were understood, in martial law, to take on themselves the full risk of all consequences. And, as the defendant, or his champion, in case of being overcome, was subjected to the punishment proper to the crime of which he was accused, so the appellant, if vanquished, was, whether a principal or substitute, condemned to the same doom to which his success would have exposed the accused. Whichever combatant was vanquished he was liable to the penalty of degradation; and, if he survived the combat, the disgrace to which he was subjected was worse than death. His spurs were cut off close to his heels, with a cook’s cleaver; his arms were baffled and reversed by the common hangman; his belt was cut to pieces, and his sword broken. Even his horse shared his disgrace, the animal’s tail being cut off, close by the rump, and thrown on a dunghill. The death-bell tolled, and the funeral service was said for a knight thus degraded as for one dead to knightly honour. And if he fell in the appeal to the judgment of God, the same dishonour was done to his senseless corpse. If alive, he was only rescued from death to be confined in the cloister. Such at least were the strict roles of Chivalry, though the courtesy of the victor, or the clemency of the prince, might remit them in favourable cases.’

For illustration of forms observed at such contests, see Richard II, i. 3.

line 524. Each knight declared on oath that he ‘had his quarrel just.’ The fall of an unworthy knight is referred to below, VI. 961.

Stanza XXIX. line 545. This illustrates Henry’s impulsive and imperious character, and is not, necessarily, a premonition of his final attitude towards Roman Catholicism.

line 555. dastard (Icel. doestr = exhausted, breathless; O. Dut. dasaert = a fool) is very appropriately used here, after the description above, St. xxii, to designate the poltroon that quails only before death. Cp. Pope’s Iliad, II. 427:-

     ‘And die the dastard first, who dreads to die.’

Stanza XXX. line 568. Cp. Julius Caesar, ii. 2. 35:-

     ‘It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
      Seeing that death, a necessary end,
      Will come when it will come.’

Stanza XXXI. line 573. the fiery Dane. See note on line 10 above. Passing northwards after destroying York and Tynemouth, the Danes in 875 burned the monastery on Lindisfarne. The bishop and monks, with their relics and the body of St. Cuthbert, fled over the Kylve hills. See Raine, &c.

line 576. the crosier bends. Crosier (O. Fr. croiser; Fr. croix = cross) is used both for the staff of an archbishop with a cross on the top, and for the staff of a bishop or an abbot, terminating in a carved or ornamented curve or crook. The word is used here metaphorically for Papal power, as Bacon uses it, speaking of Anselm and Becket, ‘who with their crosiers did almost try it with the king’s sword.’ Constance’s prophecy refers to Henry VIII’s victorious collision with the Pope.

Stanza XXXII. lines 585-91. It is impossible not to connect this striking picture with that of Virgil’s Sibyl (Aeneid, VI. 45):-

     ‘Ventum erat ad limen, cum virgo, ‘poscere fata
      Tempus,’ ait; ‘deus, ecce, deus.’ Cui talia fanti
      Ante fores subito non voltus, non color unus,
      Non comptae mansere comae; sed pectus anhelum,
      Et rabie fera corda tument; maiorque videri
      Nec mortale sonans, adflata est numine quando
      Iam propiore dei.’

line 588. Stared, stood up stiffly. Cp. Julius Caesar, iv. 3. 280, and Tempest, i. 2. 213, ‘with hair upstaring.’

line 600. See above, line 468, and note.

Stanza XXXIII. line 616. for terror’s sake = because of terror. Cp. ‘For fashion’s sake,’ As You Like It, iii. 2. 55.

line 620. The custom of ringing the passing bell grew out of the belief that a church bell, rung when the soul was passing from the body, terrified the devils that were waiting to attack it at the moment of its escape. ‘The tolling of the passing bell was retained at the Reformation; and the people were instructed that its use was to admonish the living, and excite them to pray for the dying. But by the beginning of the l8th century the passing bell in the proper sense of the term had almost ceased to be heard. ‘A mourning bell is still rung during funeral services as a mark of respect. See s. v. ‘Bell,’ Chambers’s Encyclopaedia. Cp. Byron’s ‘Parisina,’ St. xv.

     ‘The convent bells are ringing,
        But mournfully and slow;
      In the grey square turret swinging
        With a deep sound to and fro.’

In criticising ‘Marmion,’ in the Edinburgh Review, Lord Jeffrey says that the sound of the knell rung for Constance ‘is described with great force and solemnity;’ while a writer in the Scots Magazine of 1808 considers that ‘the whole of this trial and doom presents a high-wrought scene of horror, which, at the close, rises almost to too great a pitch.’


‘William Erskine, Esq. advocate, sheriff-depute of the Orkneys, became a Judge of the Court of Session by the title of Lord Kinnedder, and died in Edinburgh in August, 1823. He had been from early youth the most intimate of the Poet’s friends, and his chief confidant and adviser as to all literary matters. See a notice of his life and character by the late Mr. Hay Donaldson, to which Sir Walter Scott contributed several paragraphs.’-LOCKHART.

There are frequent references to Erskine throughout Lockhart’s Life of Scott. The critics of the time were of his opinion that Scott as a poet was not giving his powers their proper direction. Jeffrey considered Marmion ‘a misapplication in some degree of extraordinary talents.’ Fortunately, Scott decided for himself in the matter, and the self-criticism of this Introduction is characterised not only by good humour and poetic beauty but by discrimination and strong common-sense.

line 14. a morning dream. This may simply be a poetic way of saying that his method is unsystematic, but Horace’s account of the vision he saw when he was once tempted to write Greek verses is irresistibly suggested by the expression:-

                   ‘Vetuit me tali voce Quirinus
      Post mediam noctem visus, cum somnia vera:
      “In silvam non ligna feras insanius, ac si
      Magnas Graecorum malis implere catervas?’
                                       Sat. I. x. 32.

line 24. all too well. This use of ‘all too’ is a development of the Elizabethan expression ‘all-to’ = altogether, quite, as ‘all to topple,’ Pericles, iii. 2. 17; ‘all to ruffled,’ Comus, 380. In this usage the original force of to as a verbal prefix is lost sight of. Chaucer has ‘The pot to breaketh’ in Prologue to Chanon Yeomanes Tale. See note in Clarendon Press Milton, i. 290.

line 26. Desultory song may naturally command a very wide class of those intelligent readers, for whom the Earl of Iddesleigh, in ‘lectures and Essays,’ puts forward a courageous plea in his informing and genial address on the uses of Desultory Reading.

line 28. The reading of the first edition is ‘loftier,’ which conveys an estimate of his own achievements more characteristic of Scott than the bare assertion of his ability to ‘build the lofty rhyme’ which is implied in the line as it stands. Perhaps the expression just quoted from ‘Lycidas’ may have led to the reading of all subsequent editions.

line 46. The Duke of Brunswick commanded the Prussian forces at Jena, 14 Oct., 1806, and was mortally wounded. He was 72. For ‘hearse,’ cp. above, Introd. to I. 199.

line 54. The reigning house of Prussia comes from the Electors of Brandenburg. In 1415 Frederick VI. of Hohenzollern and Nuremberg became Frederick the First, Elector of Brandenburg. The Duchy of Prussia fell under the sway of the Elector John Sigismund (1608-19), and from that time to the present there has been a very remarkable development of government and power. See Carlyle’s ‘Frederick the Great,’ and Mr. Baring-Gould’s ‘Germany’ in the series ‘Stories of the Nations.’

lines 57-60. The Duke of Brunswick was defeated at Valmy in 1792, and so failed to crush the dragon of the French Revolution in its birth, as in all likelihood he would have done had he been victorious on the occasion.

line 64. Prussia, without an ally, took the field instead of acting on the defensive.

line 67. seem’d = beseemed, befitted; as in Spenser’s May eclogue, ‘Nought seemeth sike strife,’ i.e. such strife is not befitting or seemly.

line 69. Various German princes lost their dominions after Napoleon conquered Prussia.

line 78. By defeating Varus, A. D. 9, Arminius saved Germany from Roman conquest. See the first two books of the Annals of Tacitus, at the close of which this tribute is paid to the hero: ‘liberator haud dubie Germaniae et qui non primordia populi Romani, sicut alii reges ducesque, sed florentissimum imperium lacessierit, proeliis ambiguus, bello non victus.’

lines 46-80. This undoubtedly vigorous and well-sustained tribute is not without its special purpose. The Princess Caroline was daughter of the Duke of Brunswick, and Scott was one of those who believed in her, in spite of that ‘careless levity’ which he did not fail to note in her demeanour when presented at her Court at Blackheath in 1806. This passage on the Duke of Brunswick had been read by the Princess before the appearance of ‘Marmion.’ Lockhart (Life of Scott, ii. 117) says: ‘He seems to have communicated fragments of the poem very freely during the whole of its progress. As early as the 22nd February, 1807, I find Mrs. Hayman acknowledging, in the name of the Princess of Wales, the receipt of a copy of the Introduction to Canto III, in which occurs the tribute to her Royal Highness’s heroic father, mortally wounded the year before at Jena-a tribute so grateful to her feelings that she herself shortly after sent the poet an elegant silver vase as a memorial of her thankfulness.’

line 81. The Red-Cross hero is Sir Sidney Smith, the famous admiral, who belonged to the Order of Knights Templars. The eight-pointed Templar’s cross which he wore throughout his career is said to have belonged to Richard Coeur-de-Lion. In early life, with consent of the Government, Smith distinguished himself with the Swedes in their war with Russia. He was frequently entrusted with the duty of alarming the French coast, and once was captured and imprisoned, in the Temple at Paris, for two years. His escape was effected by a daring stratagem on the part of the French Royalist party. He and his sailors helped the Turks to retain St. Jean d’Acre against Napoleon, till then the ‘Invincible,’ who retired baffled after a vain siege of sixty days (May, 1799). Had Acre been won, said Napoleon afterwards, ‘I would have reached Constantinople and the Indies-I would have changed the face of the world.’ See Scott’s ‘Life of Napoleon,’ chap. xiii.

line 91. For metal’d see above, Introd. to I. 308.

line 92. For warped = ‘frozen,’ cp. As You Like It, ii. 7. 187, where, addressing the bitter sky, the singer says:-

     ‘Though thou the waters warp,
      Thy sting is not so sharp,
          As friends remember’d not.’

line 94. The reference is to Sir Ralph Abercromby, who commanded the expedition to Egypt, 1800-1, and fell at the battle of Alexandria. Sir Sidney Smith was wounded in the same battle, and had to go home.

lines 100-10. Scott pays compliment to his friend Joanna Baillie (1764-1851), with chivalrous courtesy asserting that she is the first worthy successor of Shakespeare. ‘Count Basil’ and ‘De Montfort’ are the two most remarkable of her ‘Plays of the Passions,’ of which she published three volumes. ‘De Montfort’ was played in London, Kemble enacting the hero. Several of Miss Baillie’s Scottish songs are among standard national lyrics.

line 100. Cp. opening of ‘Lady of the Lake.’

lines 115-28. Lockhart notes the resemblance between this passage and Pope’s ‘Essay on Man,’ II. 133-148.

line 134. Cp. Goldsmith’s ‘Traveller,’ 293:-

     ‘The slow canal, the yellow-blossom’d vale,
      The willow-tufted bank, the gliding sail.’

Batavia is the capital of the Dutch East Indies, with canals, architecture, &c., after the home model.

line 137. hind, from Early Eng. hyne, servant (A. S. hina) is quite distinct from hind, a female stag. Gavin Douglas, translating Tyrii coloni of Aen. I. 12, makes them ‘hynis of Tyre.’ Shakespeare (Merry Wives, iii. 5. 94) uses the word as servant, ‘A couple of Ford’s knaves, his hinds, were called forth.’ The modern usage implies a farm-bailiff or simply a farm-servant.

line 149. Lochaber is a large district in the south of Invernesshire, having Ben Nevis and other Grampian heights within its compass. It is a classic name in Scottish literature owing to Allan Ramsay’s plaintive lyric, ‘Lochaber no more.’

line 153. For early influences, see Lockhart’s Life, vol. i.

line 178. ‘Smailholm Tower, in Berwickshire, the scene of the author’s infancy, is situated about two miles from Dryburgh Abbey.’-LOCKHART.

line 180. The aged hind was ‘Auld Sandy Ormiston,’ the cow-herd on Sandyknows, Scott’s grandfather’s farm. ‘If the child saw him in the morning,’ says Lockhart, ‘he could not be satisfied unless the old man would set him astride on his shoulder, and take him to keep him company as he lay watching his charge.’

line 183. strength, stronghold. Cp. Par. Lost, vii. 141:-

     ‘This inaccessible high strength...
      He trusted to have seiz’d.’

line 194. slights, as pointed out by Mr. Rolfe, was ‘sleights’ in the original, and, as lovers’ stratagems are manifestly referred to, this is the preferable reading. But both spellings occur in this sense.

line 201. The Highlanders displayed such valour at Killiecrankie (1689), and Prestonpans (1745).

line 207. ‘See notes on the Eve of St. John, in the Border Minstrelsy, vol. iv; and the author’s Introduction to the Minstrelsy, vol. i. p. 101.’-LOCKHART.

line 211. ‘Robert Scott of Sandyknows, the grandfather of the Poet.’-LOCKHART.

line 216. doom, judgment or decision. ‘Discording,’ in the sense of disagreeing, is still in common use in Scotland both as an adj. and a participle. ‘They discorded’ indicates that two disputants approached without quite reaching a serious quarrel. In a note to the second edition of the poem Scott states that the couplet beginning ‘whose doom’ is ‘unconsciously borrowed from a passage in Dryden’s beautiful epistle to John Driden of Chesterton.’ Dryden’s lines are:-

     ‘Just, good, and wise, contending neighbours come,
      From your award to wait their final doom.’

line 221. ‘Mr. John Martin, minister of Mertoun, in which parish Smailholm Tower is situated.’-LOCKHART. With the tribute to the clergyman’s worth, cp. Walton’s eulogy on George Herbert, ‘Thus he lived, and thus he died, like a saint,’ &c.

line 225. For imp, cp. above Introd. to I. 37. A ‘grandame’s child’ is almost certainly spoiled. Shakespeare (King John, ii. i. 161) utilizes the fact:-

                     ‘It grandam will
      Give it a plum, a cherry, and a fig.’


Stanza I. Mr. Guthrie Wright, advocate, prosaically objected to the indirect route chosen by the poet for his troopers. Scott gave the true poetic answer, that it pleased him to take them by the road chosen. He is careful, however, to assign (11.6-8) an adequate reason for his preference.

line 16. wan, won, gained; still used in Scotland. Cp. Principal Shairp’s ‘Bush Aboon Traquair’:-

         ‘And then they wan a rest,
          The lownest an’ the best,
      I’ Traquair kirkyard when a’ was dune.’

line 19. Lammermoor. ‘See notes to the Bride of Lammermoor, Waverley Novels, vols. xiii. and xiv.’-LOCKHART.

line 22. ‘The village of Gifford lies about four miles from Haddington; close to it is Yester House, the seat of the Marquis of Tweeddale, and a little farther up the stream, which descends from the hills of Lammermoor, are the remains of the old castle of the family.’-LOCKHART.

Many hold that Gifford and not Gifford-gate, at the outskirts of Haddington, was the birthplace of John Knox.

Stanza II. line 31. An ivy-bush or garland was a tavern sign, and the flagon is an appropriate accompaniment. Chaucer’s Sompnour (Prol. 666) suggested the tavern sign by his head-gear:-

     ‘A garland hadde he set upon his heed,
      As gret as it were for an ale-stake.’

See note in Clarendon Press ed., and cp. Epilogue of As You Like It (and note) in same series:-’If it be true that good wine needs no bush,’ &c.

line 33. ‘The accommodations of a Scottish hostelrie, or inn, in the sixteenth century, may be collected from Dunbar’s admirable tale of “The Friars of Berwick.” Simon Lawder, “the gay ostlier,” seems to have lived very comfortably; and his wife decorated her person with a scarlet kirtle, and a belt of silk and silver, and rings upon her fingers; and feasted her paramour with rabbits, capons, partridges, and Bourdeaux wine. At least, if the Scottish inns were not good, it was not from want of encouragement from the legislature; who, so early as the reign of James I, not only enacted, that in all boroughs and fairs there be hostellaries, having stables and chambers, and provision for man and horse, but by another statute, ordained that no man, travelling on horse or foot, should presume to lodge anywhere except in these hostellaries; and that no person, save innkeepers, should receive such travellers, under the penalty of forty shillings, for exercising such hospitality. But, in spite of these provident enactments, the Scottish hostels are but indifferent, and strangers continue to find reception in the houses of individuals.’-SCOTT.

It is important to supplement this note by saying that the most competent judges still doubt whether Dunbar wrote ‘The Friars of Berwick.’ It is printed among his doubtful works.

Stanza III. Such a kitchen as that described was common in Scotland till recent times, and relics of a similar interior exist in remote parts still. The wide chimney, projecting well into the floor, formed a capacious tunnel to the roof, and numerous sitters could be accommodated with comfort in front and around the fire. Smoke and soot from the wood and peat fuel were abundant, and the ‘winter cheer,’-hams, venison, &c.-hung from the uncovered rafters, were well begrimed before coming to the table.

line 48. The solan goose frequents Scottish haunts in summer. There are thousands of them on Ailsa Craig, in the Frith of Clyde, and on the Bass Rock, in the Frith of Forth, opposite Tantallon.

line 49. gammon (O. Fr. gambon, Lat. gamba, ‘joint of a leg’), the buttock or thigh of a hog salted and dried; the lower end of a flitch.

Stanza IV. line 73. ‘The winds of March’ (Winter’s Tale, iv. 3. 120), are a prominent feature of the month. The freshness of May has fascinated the poets since it was told by Chaucer (Knightes’ Tale, 175) how Emelie arose one fine morning in early summer:-

     ‘Emilie, that fairer was to scene
      Than is the lilie on hire stalke grene,
      And fresscher than the May with floures newe.’

line 76. Cp. ‘Jock o’ Hazeldean’:-

     ‘His step is first in peaceful ha’,
      His sword in battle keen.’

line 78. buxom (A. S. bocsum, flexible, obedient, from bugan, to bend) here means lively, fresh, brisk. Cp. Henry V, iii. 6. 27:-

     ‘Bardolph, a soldier firm and sound of heart,
      And of buxom valour.

Stanza VII. line 112. Cp. Spenser’s Epithalamium:-

     ‘Yet never day so long but late would passe,
      Ring ye the bels to make it weare away.’

A familiar instance of ‘speed’ as a trans. verb is in Pope’s Odyssey, XV. 83:-’Welcome the coming, speed the parting guest.’

Stanza VIII. line 120. St. Valentine’s day is Feb. 14, when birds pair and lovers (till at any rate recent times) exchange artistic tokens of affection. The latter observance is sadly degenerated. See Professor Skeat’s note to ‘Parlement of Foules,’ line 309, in Chaucer’s Minor Poems (Clarendon Press).

line 122. The myth of Philomela has been a favourite with English sentimental poets. The Elizabethan Barnefield writes the typical lyric on the theme. These lines contain the myth :--

     ‘She, poor bird, as all forlorn,
      Lean’d her breast against a thorn,
      And there sung the dolefullest ditty
      That to hear it was great pity.’

Stanza IX. In days when harvesting was done with the sickle, reapers from the Highlands and from Ireland came in large numbers to the Scottish Lowlands and cut the crops. At one time a piper played characteristic melodies behind the reapers to give them spirit for their work. Hence comes-

     ‘Wha will gar our shearers shear?
      Wha will bind up the brags of weir?’

in a lyric by Hamilton of Gilbertfield (1665-1751). The reaper’s song is the later representative of this practice. See Wordsworth’s ‘Solitary Highland Reaper’-immortalized by her suggestive and memorable singing-and compare the pathetic ‘Exile’s Song’ of Robert Gilfillan (1798-1850):-

     ‘Oh! here no Sabbath bell
      Awakes the Sabbath morn;
      Nor song of reapers heard
      Among the yellow corn.’

For references to Susquehanna and the home-longing of the exile, see Campbell’s ‘Gertrude of Wyoming,’ I. i.-vi. The introduction of reaping-machines has minimised the music and poetry of the harvest field.

Stanzas X, XI. The two pictures in the song are very effectively contrasted both in spirit and style.  The lover’s resting-place has features that recall the house of Morpheus, ‘Faery Queene,’ I. i. 40-1. Note the recurrence of the traitor’s doom in Marmion’s troubled thoughts, in VI. xxxii. The burden ‘eleu loro’ has been somewhat uncertainly connected with the Italian ela loro, ‘alas! for them.’

Stanza XIII. lines 201-7. One of the most striking illustrations of this is in Shakespeare’s delineation of Brutus, who is himself made to say (Julius Caesar, ii. I. 18):-

     ‘The abuse of greatness is, when it disjoins
      Remorse from power.’

For the sentiment of the text cp. the character of Ordonio in Coleridge’s ‘Remorse,’ the concentrated force of whose dying words is terrible, while indicative of native nobility:-

     ‘I stood in silence like a slave before her
      That I might taste the wormwood and the gall,
      And satiate this self-accusing heart
      With bitterer agonies than death can give.’

line 211. ‘Among other omens to which faithful credit is given among the Scottish peasantry, is what is called the “dead-bell,” explained by my friend James Hogg to be that tinkling in the ears which the country people regard as the secret intelligence of some friend’s decease. He tells a story to the purpose in the “Mountain Bard,” p. 26 [pp. 31-2, 3rd edit.].’-SCOTT.

Cp. Tickell’s ‘Lucy and Colin,’ and this perfect stanza in Mickle’s ‘Cumnor Hall,’ quoted in Introd. to ‘Kenilworth’:-

     ‘The death-bell thrice was heard to ring,
        An aerial voice was heard to call,
      And thrice the raven flapp’d its wing
        Around the towers of Cumnor Hall.’

line 217. Cp. Midsummer Night’s Dream, v. I. 286: ‘The death of a dear friend would go near to make a man look sad.’

Stanza XIV. lines 230-5. Cp. the effect of Polonius on the King (Hamlet, iii. I. 50):-

     ‘How smart a lash that speech doth give my conscience!’

Hamlet himself, ib. line 83, says:-

     ‘Thus conscience does make cowards of us all.’

line 234. For vail = lower, see close of Editor’s Preface.

Stanza XV. line 243. For practised on = plotted against, cp. King Lear, iii. 2. 57, ‘Hast practised on man’s life.’

lines 248-51. See above, II. xxix.

Stanza XVII. line 286. Cp. Burns’s ‘Bonnie Doon’:-

     ‘And my fause lover staw my rose,
        But ah! he left the thorn wi’ me.’

Stanza XVIII. line 307. Loch Vennachar, in the south of Perthshire, is the most easterly of the three lakes celebrated in the ‘Lady of the Lake.’

line 321. Cp. ‘wonder-wounded hearers,’ Hamlet, v. I. 265.

Stanza XIX. line 324. Clerk is a scholar, as in Chaucer’s ‘Clerk of Oxenford,’ &c., and the ‘learned clerks’ of 2 Henry VI, iv. 7. 76. See below, VI. xv. 459, ‘clerkly skill.’

line 325. Alexander III (1240-1286) came to the throne at the age of nine, and proved himself a vigorous and large-hearted king. He was killed by a fall from his horse, near Kinghorn, Fife, where there is a suitable monument to his memory. The contemporary lament for his death bewails him as one that ‘Scotland led in love and lee.’ Sir Walter Scott (Introductory Remarks to ‘Border Minstrelsy’) calls him ‘the last Scottish king of the pure Celtic race.’

line 333. ‘A vaulted hall under the ancient castle of Gifford, or Yester (for it bears either name indifferently), the construction of which has, from a very remote period, been ascribed to magic. The Statistical Account of the Parish of Garvald and Baro, gives the following account of the present state of this castle and apartment:-”Upon a peninsula, formed by the water of Hopes on the east, and a large rivulet on the west, stands the ancient castle of Yester. Sir David Dalrymple, in his annals, relates that ‘Hugh Gifford de Yester died in 1267; that in his castle there was a capacious cavern, formed by magical art, and called in the country Bo-Hall, i.e. Hobgoblin Hall.’  A stair of twenty-four steps led down to this apartment, which is a large and spacious hall, with an arched roof; and though it hath stood for so many centuries, and been exposed to the external air for a period of fifty or sixty years, it is still as firm and entire as if it had only stood a few years. From the floor of this hall, another stair of thirty-six steps leads down to a pit which hath a communication with Hopes-water. A great part of the walls of this large and ancient castle are still standing. There is a tradition that the castle of Yester was the last fortification, in this country, that surrendered to General Gray, sent into Scotland by Protector Somerset.”-Statistical Account, vol. xiii. I have only to add, that, in 1737, the Goblin Hall was tenanted by the Marquis of Tweedale’s falconer, as I learn from a poem by Boyse, entitled “Retirement,” written upon visiting Yester.  It is now rendered inaccessible by the fall of the stair.

‘Sir David Dalrymple’s authority for the anecdote is in Fordun, whose words are:-”A. D. MCCLXVII. Hugo Giffard de Yester moritur; cujus castrum, vel saltem caveam, et donglonem, arte daemonica antique relationes ferunt fabrifactas: nam ibidem habetur mirabilis specus subterraneus, opere mirifico constructus, magno terrarum spatio protelatus, qui communiter BO-HALL appellatus est.” Lib. x. cap. 21.-Sir David conjectures, that Hugh de Gifford must either have been a very wise man, or a great oppressor.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XX. line 354. ‘In 1263, Haco, King of Norway, came into the Frith of Clyde with a powerful armament, and made a descent at Largs, in Ayrshire. Here he was encountered and defeated, on the 2nd October, by Alexander III. Haco retreated to Orkney, where he died soon after this disgrace to his arms. There are still existing, near the place of battle, many barrows, some of which, having been opened, were found, as usual, to contain bones and urns.’-SCOTT.

line 358. Ayrshire in early times comprised three divisions, Cunninghame in the north, Kyle between the Irvine and the Doon, and Carrick to the south of that stream. Burns, by his song ‘There was a Lad was born in Kyle,’ has immortalised the middle division, which an old proverb had distinguished as productive of men, in contradistinction to the dairy produce and the stock of the other two.

line 362. ‘“Magicians, as is well known, were very curious in the choice and form of their vestments. Their caps are oval, or like pyramids, with lappets on each side, and fur within. Their gowns are long, and furred with fox-skins, under which they have a linen garment reaching to the knee. Their girdles are three inches broad, and have many cabalistical names, with crosses, trines, and circles inscribed on them. Their shoes should be of new russet leather, with a cross cut upon them. Their knives are dagger-fashion; and their swords have neither guard nor scabbard.”-See these, and many other particulars, in the Discourse concerning Devils and Spirits, annexed to REGINALD SCOTT’S Discovery of Witchcraft, edition 1665.’-SCOTT.

line 369. Scott quotes thus from Reginald Scott’s ‘Discovery of Witchcraft’ (1665):-

‘A pentacle is a piece of fine linen, folded with five corners, according to the five senses, and suitably inscribed with characters. This the magician extends towards the spirits which he invokes, when they are stubborn and rebellious, and refuse to be conformable unto the ceremonies and rights of magic.’

line 373. The term ‘Combust’ is applied to the moon or the planets, when, through being not more than eight and a half degrees from the sun, they are invisible in his light. Chaucer, in the ‘Astrolabe,’ has ‘that he be not retrograd ne combust.’ ‘Retrograde’ is  the term descriptive of the motion of the planets from east to west. This is the case when the planets are visible on the side opposite to the sun. See Airy’s ‘Popular Astronomy,’ p. 124. ‘Trine’ refers to the appearance of planets ‘distant from each other 120°, or the third part of the zodiac. ‘Trine was considered a favourable conjunction. Cp. note on Par. Lost, X. 659, in Clarendon Press Milton-

     ‘In sextile, square, and trine, and opposite.’

Stanza XXII. line 407. ‘It is a popular article of faith that those who are born on Christmas or Good Friday have the power of seeing spirits and even of commanding them. The Spaniards imputed the haggard and downcast looks of their Philip II to the disagreeable visions to which this privilege subjected him.’-SCOTT.

line 408. See St. Matthew xxvii. 50-53.

line 415. Richard I of England (1189-99) could not himself have presented the sword, but the line is a spirited example of poetic licence.

line 416. Tide what tide is happen what may. Cp. Thomas the Rhymer’s remarkable forecast regarding the family of Haig in Scott’s country;-

     ‘Betide, betide, whate’er betide,
      Haig shall be Haig of Bemerside.’

line 420. Alexander III was the last of his line, which included three famous Malcolms, viz. Malcolm II, grandfather of the ‘gracious Duncan,’ who died in 1033; Malcolm Canmore, who fell at Alnwick in 1093; and Malcolm IV, ‘The Maiden,’ who was only 34 at his death in 1165. The reference here is probably to Canmore.

Stanza XXIII. line 438. See Chambers’s ‘Encyclopaedia,’ articles on ‘Earth-houses’ and ‘Picts’ Houses.’

line 445. Legends tell of belated travellers being spell-bound in such spots.

line 461. The reference is to Edward I, who went as Prince Edward to Palestine in 1270, so that the legend at this point embodies an anachronism, Edward became king in 1274. His shield and banner were emblazoned with ‘three leopards courant of fine gold set on red.’

Stanza XXIV. line 472. Largs, on the coast of Ayrshire, opposite Bute.

line 479. The ravens on the Norse banners were said to flutter their wings before a victory, and to let them droop in prospect of a defeat.

line 487. ‘For an account of the expedition to Copenhagen in 1801, see Southey’s “Life of Nelson,” chap. vii.’-LOCKHART. There may possibly be a reference to the bombardment of Copenhagen in 1807.

Stanza XXV. line 497. The slight wound was due to the start mentioned in line 462. He had been warned against letting his heart fail him.

line 503. Scott quotes thus from the essay on ‘Fairy Superstitions’ in the ‘Border Minstrelsy,’ vol. ii., to show ‘whence many of the particulars of the combat between Alexander III and the Goblin Knight are derived’:-

‘Gervase of Tilbury (Otia Imperial ap. Script, rer. Brunsvic, vol. i. p. 797), relates the following popular story concerning a fairy knight: “Osbert, a bold and powerful baron, visited a noble family in the vicinity of Wandlebury, in the bishopric of Ely. Among other stories related in the social circle of his friends, who, according to custom, amused each other by repeating ancient tales and traditions, he was informed, that if any knight, unattended, entered an adjacent plain by moonlight, and challenged an adversary to appear, he would be immediately encountered by a spirit in the form of a knight. Osbert resolved to make the experiment, and set out, attended by a single squire, whom he ordered to remain without the limits of the plain, which was surrounded by an ancient intrenchment. On repeating the challenge, he was instantly assailed by an adversary, whom he quickly unhorsed, and seized the reins of his steed. Daring this operation, his ghostly opponent sprung up, and darting his spear, like a javelin, at Osbert, wounded him in the thigh. Osbert returned in triumph with the horse, which he committed to the care of his servants. The horse was of a sable colour, as well as his whole accoutrements, and apparently of great beauty and vigour. He remained with his keeper till cock-crowing, when, with eyes flashing fire, he reared, spurned the ground, and vanished. On disarming himself, Osbert perceived that he was wounded, and that one of his steel boots was full of blood.” Gervase adds, that, “as long as he lived, the scar of his wound opened afresh on the anniversary of the eve on which he encountered the spirit.” Less fortunate was the gallant Bohemian knight, who travelling by night with a single companion, “came in sight of a fairy host, arrayed under displayed banners. Despising the remonstrances of his friend, the knight pricked forward to break a lance with a champion, who advanced from the ranks apparently in defiance. His companion beheld the Bohemian overthrown, horse and man, by his aerial adversary; and returning to the spot next morning, he found the mangled corpses of the knight and steed.”-Hierarchy of Blessed Angels, p. 554.

‘Besides these instances of Elfin chivalry above quoted, many others might be alleged in support of employing fairy machinery in this manner. The forest of Glenmore, in the North Highlands, is believed to be haunted by a spirit called Lham-dearg, in the array of an ancient warrior, having a bloody hand, from which he takes his name. He insists upon those with whom he meets doing battle with him; and the clergyman, who makes up an account of the district, extant in the Macfarlane MS., in the Advocates’ Library, gravely assures us, that, in his time, Lham-dearg fought with three brothers whom he met in his walk, none of whom long survived the ghostly conflict. Barclay, in his “Euphormion,” gives a singular account of an officer who had ventured, with his servant, rather to intrude upon a haunted house, in a town in Flanders, than to put up with worse quarters elsewhere. After taking the usual precautions of providing fires, lights, and arms, they watched till midnight, when, behold! the severed arm of a man dropped from the ceiling; this was followed by the legs, the other arm, the trunk, and the head of the body, all separately. The members rolled together, united themselves in the presence of the astonished soldiers, and formed a gigantic warrior, who defied them both to combat. Their blows, although they penetrated the body, and amputated the limbs, of their strange antagonist, had, as the reader may easily believe, little effect on an enemy who possessed such powers of self-union; nor did his efforts make more effectual impression upon them. How the combat terminated I do not exactly remember, and have not the book by me; but I think the spirit made to the intruders on his mansion the usual proposal, that they should renounce their redemption; which being declined, he was obliged to retreat.

‘The most singular tale of this kind is contained in an extract communicated to me by my friend Mr. Surtees of Mainsforth, in the Bishopric, who copied it from a MS. note in a copy of Burthogge  “On the Nature of Spirits,” 8vo, 1694, which had been the property of the late Mr. Gill, attorney-general to Egerton, Bishop of Durham. “It was not,” says my obliging correspondent” in Mr. Gill’s own hand, but probably an hundred years older, and was said to be, E libro Convent. Dunelm. per T. C. extract., whom I believe to have been Thomas Cradocke, Esq., barrister, who held several offices under the See of Durham a hundred years ago. Mr. Gill was possessed of most of his manuscripts.” The extract, which, in fact, suggested the introduction of the tale into the present poem, runs thus:-

“Rem miram hujusmodi que nostris temporibus evenit, teste viro nobili ac fide dignissimo, enarrare haud pigebit. Radulphus Bulmer, cum e castris, quae tunc temporis prope Norham posita erant, oblectationis causa, exiisset, ac in ulteriore Tuedae ripa praaedam cum canibus leporariis insequeretur, forte cum Scoto quodam nobili, sibi antehac, ut videbatur, familiariter cognito, congressus est; ac, ut fas erat inter inimicos, flagrante bello, brevissima interrogationis mora interposita, alterutros invicem incitato cursu infestis animis petiere. Noster, primo occursu, equo praeacerrimo hostis impetu labante, in terram eversus pectore et capite laeso, sanguinem, mortuo similis, evomebat. Quern ut se aegre habentem comiter allocutus est alter, pollicitusque, modo auxilium non abnegaret, monitisque obtemperans ab omni rerum sacrarum cogitatione abstineret, nec Deo, Deiparae Virgini, Sanctove ullo, preces aut vota efferret vel inter sese conciperet, se brevi eum sanum validumque restiturum esse. Prae angore oblata conditio accepta est; ac veterator ille nescio quid obscaeni murmuris insusurrans, prehensa manu, dicto citius in pedes sanum ut antea sublevavit. Noster autem, maxima prae rei inaudita novitate formidine perculsus, MI JESU! exclamat, vel quid simile; ac subito respiciens nec hostem nec ullum alium conspicit, equum solum gravissimo nuper casu afflictum, per summam pacem in rivo fluvii pascentem. Ad castra itaque mirabundus revertens, fidei dubius, rem primo occultavit, dein, confecto bello, Confessori suo totam asseruit. Delusoria procul dubio res tota, ac mala veteratoris illius aperitur fraus, qua hominem Christianum ad vetitum tale auxilium pelliceret. Nomen utcunque illius (nobilis alias ac clari) reticendum duco, cum haud dubium sit quin Diabolus, Deo permittente, formam quam libuerit, immo angeli lucis, sacro oculo Dei teste, posse assumere.”

‘The MS. chronicle, from which Mr. Cradocke took this curious extract, cannot now be found in the Chapter Library of Durham, or, at least, has hitherto escaped the researches of my friendly correspondent.

‘Lindesay is made to allude to this adventure of Ralph Bulmer, as a well-known story, in the 4th Canto, Stanza xxii. p. 103.

‘The northern champions of old were accustomed peculiarly to search for, and delight in, encounters with such military spectres. See a whole chapter on the subject in BARTHOLINUS De Causis contemptae Mortis a Danis, p. 253.’

line 508. Sir Gilbert Hay, as a faithful adherent of Bruce, was created Lord High Constable of Scotland. See note in ‘Lord of the Isles,’ II. xiii. How ‘the Haies had their beginning of nobilitie’ is told in Holinshed’s ‘Scottish Chronicle,’ I. 308.

Stanza XXVI. line 510. Quaigh, ‘a wooden cup, composed of staves hooped together.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XXVIII. line 551. Darkling, adv. (not adj. as in Keats’s ‘darkling way’ in ‘Eve of St. Agnes’), really means ‘in the dark.’ Cp. ‘Lady of the Lake,’ IV. (Alice Brand):-

     ‘For darkling was the battle tried’;

and see Midsummer Night’s Dream, ii. 2. 86; King Lear, i. 4. 237. Lord Tennyson, like Keats, uses the word as an adj. in ‘In Memoriam,’ xcix:-

     ‘Who tremblest through thy darkling red.’

Cp. below, V. Introd. 23, ‘darkling politician.’ For scholarly discussion of the term, see Notes and Queries, VII iii. 191.

Stanza XXX. lines 585-9. Iago understands the ‘contending flow’ of passions when in a glow of self-satisfied feeling he exclaims;

     ‘Work on,
      My medicine, work! Thus credulous fools are caught.’
                                              Othello, iv. I. 44.

Stanza XXXI. line 597. ‘Yode, used by old poets for went.’-SCOTT. It is a variant of ‘yod’ or ‘yede,’ from A. S. eode, I went. Cp. Lat. eo, I go. See Clarendon Press ‘Specimens of Early English,’ II. 71:-

    ‘Thair scrippes, quer thai rade or yode,
     Tham failed neuer o drinc ne fode.’

Spenser writes, ‘Faerie Queene,’ II. vii. 2:-

     ‘So, long he yode, yet no adventure found.’

line 599. Selle, saddle. Cp. ‘Faerie Queene,’ II. v. 4:-

     On his horse necke before the quilted sell.’


‘James Skene, Esq., of Rubislaw, Aberdeenshire, was Cornet in the Royal Edinburgh Light Horse Volunteers; and Sir Walter Scott was Quartermaster of the same corps.’-LOCKHART.

For Skene’s account of the origin of this regiment, due in large measure to ‘Scott’s ardour,’ see ‘Life of Scott,’ i. 258.

line 2. See Taming of the Shrew, i. 4. 135, and 2 Henry IV, v. 3. 143, where a line of an old song is quoted:-

     ‘Where is the life that late I led?’

line 3. See As you Like It, ii. 7. 12.

line 7. Scott made the acquaintance of Skene, recently returned from a lengthened stay in Saxony, about the end of 1796, and profited much by his friend’s German knowledge and his German books. In later days he utilized suggestions of Skene’s in ‘Ivanhoe’ and ‘Quentin Durward.’ See ‘Life of Scott,’ passim, and specially i. 257, and iv. 342.

line 37. Blackhouse, a farm ‘situated on the Douglas-burn, then tenanted by a remarkable family, to which I have already made allusion-that of William Laidlaw.’-’Life,’ i. 328. Ettrick Pen is a hill in the south of Selkirkshire.

line 46. ‘Various illustrations of the Poetry and Novels of Sir Walter Scott, from designs by Mr. Skene, have since been published.’-LOCKHART.

line 48. Probably the first reference in poetry to the Scottish heather is, says Prof. Veitch (‘Feeling for Nature,’ ii. 52), in Thomson’s ‘Spring,’ where the bees are represented as daring

     ‘The purple heath, or where the wild thyme grows.’

lines 55-97. With this striking typical winter piece, cp. in Thomson’s ‘Winter,’ the vivid and pathetic picture beginning:--

     ‘In his own loose-revolving fields, the swain
      Disastered stands.’

See also Burns’s ‘Winter Night,’ which by these lines may have suggested Scott’s ‘beamless sun’:-

     ‘When Phoebus gies a short-liv’d glow’r
                        Far south the lift;
      Dim-dark’ning thro’ the flaky show’r,
                        Or whirling drift.’

The ‘tired ploughman,’ too, may owe something to this farther line of Burns:-

     ‘Poor labour sweet in sleep was lock’d’;

while the animals seeking shelter may well follow this inimitable and touching description:-

     ‘List’ning the doors an’ winnocks rattle,
      I thought me on the ourie cattle,
      Or silly sheep, wha bide this brattle
                             O’ winter war,
      And thro’ the drift, deep-lairing, sprattle
                             Beneath a scaur.’

line 91. ‘I cannot help here mentioning that, on the night on which these lines were written, suggested as they were by a sudden fall of snow, beginning after sunset, an unfortunate man perished exactly in the manner here described, and his body was next morning found close to his own house. The accident happened within five miles of the farm of Ashestiel.’-SCOTT.

line 101. ‘The Scottish Harvest-home.’-SCOTT. Perhaps the name ‘kirn’ is due to the fact that a churnful of cream is a feature of the night’s entertainment. In Chambers’s Burns, iii. 151, Robert Ainslie gives an account of a kirn at Ellisland in 1790.

line 102. Cp. the ‘wood-notes wild’ with which Milton credits Shakespeare, ‘L’Allegro,’ 131.

lines 104-5. The ideal pastoral life of the Golden Age.

line 132. ‘Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo, Baronet; unequalled, perhaps, in the degree of individual affection entertained for him by his friends, as well as in the general respect and esteem of Scotland at large. His “Life of Beattie,” whom he befriended and patronised in life, as well as celebrated after his decease, was not long published, before the benevolent and affectionate biographer was called to follow the subject of his narrative. This melancholy event very shortly succeeded the marriage of the friend, to whom this introduction is addressed, with one of Sir William’s daughters.’-SCOTT.

line 133. ‘The Minstrel’ is Beattie’s chief poem; it is one of the few poems in well-written Spenserian stanza.

line 147. Ps. lxviii. 5.

line 151. Prov. xxvii. 10.

line 155. For account of Sir W. Forbes, see his autobiographical ‘Memoirs of a Banking House’; Chambers’s ‘Eminent Scotsmen’; and ‘Dictionary of National Biography.’

line 163. Cp. Pope, ‘Essay on Man,’ IV. 380, and Boileau, ‘L’Art Poetique, ‘Chant I:-

     ‘Heureux qui, dans ses vers, sait d’une voix legere
      Passer du grave au doux, du plaisant an severe.’

line 172. ‘Tirante el Blanco,’ a Spanish romance by Johann Martorell (1480), praised in ‘Don Quixote.’

line 174. ‘Camp was a favourite dog of the Poet’s, a bull terrier of extraordinary sagacity. He is introduced in Raeburn’s portrait of Sir Walter Scott, now at Dalkeith Palace.’-LOCKHART.

line 181. Cp. Tempest, v. i. 93.

line 191. ‘Colin Mackenzie, Esq., of Portmore. See “Border Minstrelsy,” iv. 351.’-LOCKHART. Mackenzie had been Scott’s friend from boyhood, and he received his copy of ‘Marmion’ at Lympstone, where he was, owing to feeble health, as mentioned in the text. He was a son-in-law of Sir William Forbes, and in acknowledging receipt of the poem he said, ‘I must thank you for the elegant and delicate allusion in which you express your friendship for myself-Forbes-and, above all, that sweet memorial of his late excellent father.’-’Life of Scott,’ ii. 152.

line 194. ‘Sir William Rae of St. Catherine’s, Bart., subsequently Lord Advocate of Scotland, was a distinguished member of the volunteer corps to which Sir Walter Scott belonged; and he, the Poet, Mr. Skene, Mr. Mackenzie, and a few other friends, had formed themselves into a little semi-military club, the meetings of which were held at their family supper tables in rotation.’-LOCKHART.

line 195. ‘The late Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo, Bart., son of the author of the “Life of Beattie.”‘-LOCKHART.

line 196. The Mimosa pudica, or sensitive plant. See Shelley’s poem on the subject:-

     ‘The Sensitive Plant was the earliest
      Upgathered into the bosom of rest;
      A sweet child weary of its delight,
      The feeblest and yet the favourite,
      Cradled within the embrace of night.’

line 200. Cp. ‘L’Allegro,’ 31, ‘Sport that wrinkled Care derides.’

line 206. See King Lear, iii. 4. 138, where Edgar, as Poor Tom, says that he has had ‘three suits to his back, six shirts to his body, horse to ride, and weapon to wear.’


line 31. ‘Alias “Will o’ the Wisp.” This personage is a strolling demon or esprit follet, who, once upon a time, got admittance into a monastery as a scullion, and played the monks many pranks. He was also a sort of Robin Goodfellow, and Jack o’ Lanthern. It is in allusion to this mischievous demon that Milton’s clown speaks,-

     “She was pinched, and pulled, she said,
      And he by Friar’s lanthern led.”

‘“The History of Friar Rush” is of extreme rarity, and, for some time, even the existence of such a book was doubted, although it is expressly alluded to by Reginald Scot, in his “Discovery of Witchcraft.” I have perused a copy in the valuable library of my friend Mr. Heber; and I observe, from Mr. Beloe’s “Anecdotes of Literature,” that there is one in the excellent collection of the Marquis of Stafford.’-SCOTT.

It may be added, on the authority of Keightley, that Friar Rush ‘haunted houses, not fields, and was never the same with Jack-o’-the-Lanthorn.’ See note on Milton’s ‘L’Allegro,’ 104, in Clarendon Press edition, also Preface to Midsummer Night’s Dream in same series.

Stanza IV. line 69. Humbie and Saltoun are adjoining parishes in S. W. of Haddingtonshire. To this day there is a charm in the remote rural character of the district. There are, about Humble in particular, wooded glades that might well represent the remains of the scene witnessed by Marmion and his troopers. East and West Saltoun are two decayed villages, about five miles S. W. of the county town. Between them is Saltoun Hall, the seat of the Fletchers.

line 91. ‘William Caxton, the earliest English printer, was born in Kent, A. D. 1412, and died 1401. Wynken de Worde was his next successor in the production of those

     “Rare volumes, dark with tarnished gold,”

which are now the delight of bibliomaniacs.’-LOCKHART.

Stanza VI. line 119. The four heraldic terms used are for the colours-red, silver, gold, and blue.

line 120, The King-at-arms was superintendent of the heralds.

Stanza VII. line 133. Sir David Lyndsay’s exposure of ecclesiastical abuses in his various satires, especially in his ‘Complaynts’ and his Dialog, ‘powerfully forwarded the movement that culminated in the Reformation. It would, however, be a mistake to consider him an avowed Protestant reformer. He was concerned about the existing wrongs both of Church and State, and thought of rectifying these without revolutionary measures.

line 135. The cap of the Lion King’ was of scarlet velvet turned up with ermine.’

lines 141-4. The double tressure was an ornamental tracing round the shield, at a fixed distance from the border. As to the fleur-de-lis (flower of the lily, emblem of France) Scott quotes Boethius and Buchanan as saying that it was ‘first assumed by Achaius, king of Scotland, contemporary of Charlemagne, and founder of, the celebrated League with France.’ Historical evidence, however, would seem to show that ‘the lion is first seen on the seal of Alexander II, and the tressure on that of Alexander III.’ This is the heraldic description of the arms of Scotland: ‘Or, a lion rampant gules, armed and langued azure, within a double tressure flory counterflory of fleur-de-lis of the second.’ The supporters are ‘two unicorns argent maned and unguled, or gorged with open crowns.’ The crest is ‘a lion sejant affronte gules crowned or,’ &c. The adoption of the thistle as the national Scottish emblem is wrapt in obscurity, although an early poet attributes it to a suggestion of Venus.

line 153. Scott mentions Chalmers’s edition of Lyndsay’s works, published in 1806. More recent and very satisfactory editions are those of Dr. David Laing, (1) a library edition in three volumes, and (2) a popular edition in two. Lyndsay was born about 1490 and died about 1555. The Mount was his estate, near Cupar-Fife. ‘I am uncertain,’ says Scott, ‘if I abuse poetic license, by introducing Sir David Lindesay in the character of Lion-Herald, sixteen years before he obtained that office. At any rate, I am not the first who has been guilty of that anachronism; for the author of “Flodden Field” despatches Dallamount, which can mean nobody but Sir David de la Mont, to France on the message of defiance from James IV to Henry VIII. It was often an office imposed on the Lion King-at-arms, to receive foreign ambassadors; and Lindesay himself did this honour to Sir Ralph Sadler, in 1539-40. Indeed, the oath of the Lion, in its first article, bears reference to his frequent employment upon royal messages and embassies. The office of heralds, in feudal times, being held of the utmost importance, the inauguration of the Kings-at-arms, who presided over their colleges, was proportionally solemn. In fact, it was the mimicry of a royal coronation, except that the unction was made with wine instead of oil. In Scotland, a namesake and kinsman of Sir David Lindesay, inaugurated in 1502, “was crowned by King James with the ancient crown of Scotland, which was used before the Scottish Kings assumed a close Crown;” and, on occasion of the same solemnity, dined at the King’s table, wearing the crown. It is probable that the coronation of his predecessor was not less solemn. So sacred was the herald’s office, that, in 1515, Lord Drummond was by Parliament declared guilty of treason, and his lands forfeited, because he had struck, with his fist, the Lion King-at-arms, when he reproved him for his follies. Nor was he restored, but at the Lion’s earnest solicitation.’

Stanza X. line 194. ‘A large ruinous castle on the banks of the Tyne, about ten miles from Edinburgh. As indicated in the text, it was built at different times, and with a very differing regard to splendour and accommodation. The oldest part of the building is a narrow keep, or tower, such as formed the mansion of a lesser Scottish baron; but so many additions have been made to it, that there is now a large courtyard, surrounded by buildings of different ages. The eastern front of the court is raised above a portico, and decorated with entablatures, bearing anchors. All the stones of this front are cut into diamond facets, the angular projections of which have an uncommonly rich appearance. The inside of this part of the building appears to have contained a gallery of great length, and uncommon elegance. Access was given to it by a magnificent stair-case, now quite destroyed. The soffits are ornamented with twining cordage and rosettes: and the whole seems to have been far more splendid than was usual in Scottish castles. The castle belonged originally to the Chancellor, Sir William Crichton, and probably owed to him its first enlargement, as well as its being taken by the Earl of Douglas, who imputed to Crichton’s counsels the death of his predecessor, Earl William, beheaded in Edinburgh Castle, with his brother, in 1440. It is said to have been totally demolished on that occasion; but the present state of the ruin shows the contrary. In 1483 it was garrisoned by Lord Crichton, then its proprietor, against King James III, whose displeasure he had incurred by seducing his sister Margaret, in revenge, it is said, for the Monarch having dishonoured his bed. From the Crichton family the castle passed to that of the Hepburns, Earls Bothwell; and when the forfeitures of Stewart, the last Earl Bothwell, were divided, the barony and cattle of Crichton fell to the share of the Earl of Buccleuch. They were afterwards the property of the Pringles of Clifton, and are now that of Sir John Callander, Baronet. It were to be wished the proprietor would take a little pains to preserve those splendid remains of antiquity, which are at present used as a fold for sheep, and wintering cattle; although, perhaps, there are very few ruins in Scotland which display so well the style and beauty of castle-architecture.’-SCOTT.

The ruin is now carefully protected, visitors being admitted on application at Crichtoun Manse adjoining.

Stanza XI. line 232. ‘The castle of Crichton has a dungeon vault, called the Massy More. The epithet, which is not uncommonly applied to the prisons of other old castles in Scotland, is of Saracenic origin. It occurs twice in the “Epistolae Itineriae” of Tollius. “Carcer subterraneus, sive, ut Mauri appellant, MAZMORRA,” p. 147; and again, “Coguntur omnes Captivi sub noctem in ergastula subterranea, quae Turcae Algezerani vocant MAZMORRAS,” p. 243. The same word applies to the dungeons of the ancient Moorish castles in Spain, and serves to show from what nation the Gothic style of castle building was originally derived.’-SCOTT.

See further, Sir W. Scott’s ‘Provincial Antiquities,’ vol. i.

Stanza XII. line 249. ‘He was the second Earl of Bothwell, and fell in the field of Flodden, where, according to an ancient English poet, he distinguished himself by a furious attempt to retrieve the day:-

     “Then on the Scottish part, right proud,
        The Earl of Bothwell then out brast,
      And stepping forth, with stomach good,
        Into the enemies’ throng he thrast;
      And Bothwell! Bothwell! cried bold,
        To cause his souldiers to ensue,
      But there he caught a wellcome cold,
        The Englishmen straight down him threw.
      Thus Haburn through his hardy heart
        His fatal fine in conflict found,”&c.
                   Flodden Field, a Poem; edited by H. Weber. Edin. 1808.’--SCOTT.

line 254. ‘Adam was grandfather to James, Earl of Bothwell, too well known in the history of Queen Mary.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XIII. line 260. The Borough-moor extended from Edinburgh south to the Braid Hills.

Stanza XIV. line 280. Scott quotes from Lindsay of Pitscottie the story of the apparition seen at Linlithgow by James IV, when undergoing his annual penance for having taken the field against his father. Some of the younger men about the Court had devised what they felt might be an impressive warning to the King against going to war, and their show of supernatural interference was well managed. Lindsay’s narrative proceeds thus:-

‘The King came to Lithgow, where he happened to be for the time at the Council, very sad and dolorous, making his devotion to God, to send him good chance and fortune in his voyage. In this meantime, there came a man, clad in a blue gown, in at the kirk door, and belted about him in a roll of linen-cloth; a pair of brotikings1 on his feet, to the great of his legs; with all other hose and clothes conform thereto; but he had nothing on his head, but syde2 red yellow hair behind, and on his haffets3, which wan down to his shoulders; but his forehead was bald and bare. He seemed to be a man of two-and-fifty years, with a great pike-staff in his hand, and came first forward among the lords, crying and speiring4 for the King, saying, he desired to speak with him. While, at the last, he came where the King was sitting in the desk, at his prayers, but when he saw the King, he made him little reverence or salutation, but leaned down groffling on the desk before him, and said to him in this manner, as after follows: “Sir King, my mother hath sent me to you, desiring you not to pass, at this time, where thou art purposed; for if thou does, thou wilt not fare well in thy journey, nor none that passeth with thee. Further, she bade thee mell5 with no woman, nor use their counsel, nor let them touch thy body, nor thou theirs; for, if thou do it, thou wilt be confounded and brought to shame.”
buskins1    long2    cheeks3    asking4    meddle5

‘By this man had spoken thir words unto the King’s grace, the evening-song was near done, and the King paused on thir words, studying to give him an answer; but, in the meantime, before the King’s eyes, and in the presence of all the lords that were about him for the time, this man vanished away, and could no ways be seen nor comprehended, but vanished away as he had been a blink of the sun, or a whip of the whirlwind, and could no more be seen. I heard say. Sir David Lindesay, Lyon-herauld, and John Inglis the marshal, who were, at that time, young men, and special servants to the King’s grace, were standing presently beside the King, who thought to have laid hands on this man, that they might have speired further tidings at him: But all for nought; they could not touch him; for he vanished away betwixt them, and was no more seen.’
Buchanan, in more elegant, though not more impressive language, tells the same story, and quotes the personal information of our Sir David Lindesay: ‘In iis, (i.e. qui propius astiterant) fuit David Lindesius, Montanus, homo spectatae fidei et probitatis, nec a literarum studiis alienus, et cujus totius vitae tenor longissime a mentiendo aberat; a quo nisi ego haec uti tradidi, pro certis accepissem, ut vulgatam vanis rumoribus fabulam omissurus eram.”-Lib. xiii. The King’s throne, in St. Catherine’s aisle, which he had constructed for himself, with twelve stalls for the Knights Companions of the Order of the Thistle, is still shown as the place where the apparition was seen. I know not by what means St. Andrew got the credit of having been the celebrated monitor of James IV; for the expression in Lindesay’s narrative, “My mother has sent me,” could only be used by St. John, the adopted son of the Virgin Mary. The whole story is so well attested, that we have only the choice between a miracle or an imposture. Mr. Pinkerton plausibly argues, from the caution against incontinence, that the Queen was privy to the scheme of those who had recourse to this expedient, to deter King James from his impolitic war.’

Stanza XV. line 287. ‘In Scotland there are about twenty palaces, castles, and remains, or sites of such,

     “Where Scotia’s kings of other years”

had their royal home.

‘Linlithgow, distinguished by the combined strength and beauty of its situation, must have been early selected as a royal residence. David, who bought the title of saint by his liberality to the Church, refers several of his charters to his town of Linlithgow; and in that of Holyrood expressly bestows on the new monastery all the skins of the rams, ewes, and lambs, belonging to his castle of Linlitcu, which shall die during the year....The convenience afforded for the sport of falconry, which was so great a favourite during the feudal ages, was probably one cause of the attachment of the ancient Scottish monarchs to Linlithgow and its fine lake. The sport of hunting was also followed with success in the neighbourhood, from which circumstance it probably arises that the ancient arms of the city represent a black greyhound bitch tied to a tree....The situation of Linlithgow Palace is eminently beautiful. It stands on a promontory of some elevation, which advances almost into the midst of the lake. The form is that of a square court, composed of buildings of four storeys high, with towers at the angles. The fronts with the square, and the windows, are highly ornamented, and the size of the rooms, as well as the width and character of the staircases, are upon a magnificent scale. One banquet-room is ninety-four feet long, thirty feet wide, and thirty-three feet high, with a gallery for music. The King’s wardrobe, or dressing-room, looking to the west, projects over the walls, so as to have a delicious prospect on three aides, and is one of the most enviable boudoirs we have ever seen.’-SIR WALTER SCOTT’S Provincial Antiquities.-Prose Works, vol. vii. p. 382.

line 288. With ‘jovial June’ cp. Gavin Douglas’s ‘joyous moneth tyme of June,’ in prologue to the 13th AEneid, ‘ekit to Virgill be Maphaeus Vegius,’ and the description of the month in Lyndsay’s ‘Dreme,’ as:-

     ‘Weill bordourit with dasyis of delyte.’

line 291. ‘I am glad of an opportunity to describe the cry of the deer by another word than braying, although the latter has been sanctified by the use of the Scottish metrical translation of the Psalms. Bell seems to be an abbreviation of bellow. This silvan sound conveyed great delight to our ancestors, chiefly, I suppose, from association. A gentle knight in the reign of Henry VIII, Sir Thomas Wortley, built Wantley Lodge, in Wancliffe Forest, for the pleasure (as an ancient inscription testifies) of “listening to the hart’s bell”‘-SCOTT.

line 298. Sauchie-burn, where James III fell, was fought 18 June, 1488., ‘James IV,’ says Scott, ‘after the battle passed to Stirling, and hearing the monks of the chapel-royal deploring the death of his father, he was seized with deep remorse, which manifested itself
in severe penances.’ See below, note on V. ix.

line 300. ‘When the King saw his own banner displayed against him, and his son in the faction of his enemies, he lost the little courage he ever possessed, fled out of the field, fell from his horse as it started at a woman and water-pitcher, and was slain, it was not well understood by whom.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XVI. line 312. In the church of St. Michael, adjoining the palace.

line 316. The earliest known mention of the thistle as the national badge is in the inventory of the effects of James III, Thistles were inscribed on the coins of the next four reigns, and they were accompanied in the reign of James VI for the first time by the motto Nemo me impune lacessit. James II of Great Britain formally inaugurated the Order of the Thistle on 29 May, 1687, but it was not till the reign of Anne, 31 Dec. 1703, that it became a fully defined legal institution. The Order is also known as the Order of St. Andrew.-See CHAMBERS’S Encyclopedia.

line 318. It was natural and fit that Lyndsay should be present. It is more than likely that he had a leading hand in the enterprise. As tutor to the young Prince, it had been a recognised part of his duty to amuse him by various disguises; and he was likewise the first Scottish poet with an adequate dramatic sense.

line 336. See St. John xix. 25-27.

Stanza XVII. line 350. The special reference here is to the influence of Lady Heron. See above, I. xvi. 265, and below, V. x. 261.

Stanza XIX. The skilful descriptive touches of this stanza are noteworthy. Cp. opening passages of Coleridge’s ‘Christabel,’ especially the seven lines beginning, ‘Is the night chilly and dark?’

Stanza XXI. line 440. Grimly is not unknown as a poetical adj. ‘Margaret’s grimly ghost,’ in Beaumont and FIetcher’s ‘Knight of the Burning Pestle,’ II. i, is a familiar example. See above, p. 194, line 25, ‘grimly voice.’ For ‘ghast’ as an adj., cp. Keats’s ‘Otho the Great,’ V. v. 11, ‘How ghast a train!’

line. 449. See below, V. xxiv, ‘‘Twere long and needless here to tell,’ and cp. AEneid I. 341:-

                   ‘Longa est iniuria, longae
      Ambages; sed summa sequar fastigia rerum.’

Stanza XXII. line 461. See above, III. xxv. 503, and note.

lines 467-470. Rothiemurchus, near Alvie, co. of Inverness, on Highland Railway; Tomantoul in co. of Banff, N. E. of Rothiemurchus; Auchnaslaid in co. of Inverness, near S. W. border  of Aberdeen; Forest of Dromouchty on Inverness border eastward of Loch Ericht; Glenmore, co-extensive with Caledonian Canal.

lines 477-480. Cp. the teaching of Coleridge’s ‘Ancient Mariner’ and ‘Christabel.’ In the former these stanzas are specially notable:-

     ‘O happy living things! no tongue
      Their beauty might declare:
      A spring of love gushed from my heart,
      And I blessed them unaware:
      Sure my kind saint took pity on me,
      And I blessed them unaware.

      The selfsame moment I could pray;
      And from my neck so free
      The Albatross fell off, and sank
      Like lead into the sea.’

line 487. bowne = prepare. See below, V. xx, ‘to bowne him for the war’; and ‘Lay of the Last Minstrel,’ V. xx, ‘bowning back to Cumberland.’ Cp. ‘Piers the Plowman,’ III. 173 (C Text):-

     ‘And bed hem alle ben boun . beggeres and othere,
      To wenden with hem to Westemynstre.’

Stanza XXIII. line 490. Dun-Edin = Edwin’s hill-fort, poetic for Edinburgh.

line 497. The Braid Hills, S. E. of Edinburgh, recently added to the recreation grounds of the citizens.

Stanza XXIV. Blackford Hill has now been acquired by the City of Edinburgh as a public resort. The view from it, not only of the city but of the landscape generally, is striking and memorable.

lines 511-15. Cp. Wordsworth’s ‘The Fountain-a Conversation’:-

     ‘No check, no stay, this Streamlet fears:
        How merrily it goes!
      ‘Twill murmur on a thousand years,
        And flow as now it flows.

      And here on this delightful day,
        I cannot choose but think
      How oft, a vigorous man, I lay
        Beside this fountain’s brink.

      My eyes are dim with childish tears,
        My heart is idly stirred,
      For the same sound is in my ears
        Which in those days I heard.’

Stanza XXV. line 521. ‘The Borough, or Common Moor of Edinburgh, was of very great extent, reaching from the southern walls of the city to the bottom of Braid Hills. It was anciently a forest; and, in that state, was so great a nuisance, that the inhabitants of Edinburgh had permission granted to them of building wooden galleries, projecting over the street, in order to encourage them to consume the timber; which they seem to have done very effectually. When James IV mustered the array of the kingdom there, in 1513, the Borough-moor was, according to Hawthornden, “a field spacious, and delightful by the shade of many stately and aged oaks.” Upon that, and similar occasions, the royal standard is traditionally said to have been displayed from the Hare Stane, a high stone, now built into the wall, on the left hand of the highway leading towards Braid, not far from the head of Bruntsfield Links. The Hare Stane probably derives its name from the British word Har, signifying an army.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XXVI. lines 535-538. The proper names in these lines are Hebrides; East Lothian; Redswire, part of Carter Fell near Jedburgh; and co. of Ross.

Stanza XXVII. line 557. ‘Seven culverins so called, cast by one Borthwick.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XXVIII. line 566. ‘Each ensign intimated a different rank.’-SCOTT.

line 567. As illustrating an early mode of English encampment, Scott quotes from Patten’s description of what he saw after Pinkie, 1547:-

‘As they had no pavilions, or round houses, of any commendable compass, so wear there few other tentes with posts, as the used manner of making is; and of these few also, none of above twenty foot length, but most far under; for the most part all very sumptuously beset, (after their fashion,) for the love of France, with fleur-de-lys, some of blue buckeram, some of black, and some of some other colours. These white ridges, as I call them, that, as we stood on Fauxsyde Bray, did make so great muster toward us, which I did take then to be a number of tentes, when we came, we found it a linen drapery, of the coarser cambryk in dede, for it was all of canvas sheets, and wear the tenticles, or rather cabyns and couches of their soldiers; the which (much after the common building of their country beside) had they framed of four sticks, about an ell long a piece, whereof two fastened together at one end aloft, and the two endes beneath stuck in the ground, an ell asunder, standing in fashion like the bowes of a sowes yoke; over two such bowes (one, as it were, at their head, the other at their feet), they stretched a sheet down on both sides, whereby their cabin became roofed like a ridge, but skant shut at both ends, and not very close beneath on the sides, unless their sticks were the shorter, or their wives the more liberal to lend them larger napery; howbeit, when they had lined them, and stuff’d them so thick with straw, with the weather as it was not very cold, when they wear ones couched, they were as warm as they had been wrapt in horses dung.’-PATTEN’S Account of Somerset’s Expedition.

line 578. ‘The well-known arms of Scotland. If you will believe Boethius and Buchanan, the double tressure round the shield (mentioned above, vii. 141), counter fleur-de-lysed, or lingued and armed azure, was first assumed by Achaias, King of Scotland, contemporary of Charlemagne, and founder of the celebrated League with France but later antiquaries make poor Eochy, or Achy, little better than a sort of King of Brentford, whom old Grig (who has also swelled into Gregorius Magnus) associated with himself in the important duty of governing some part of the north-eastern coast of Scotland.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XXIX. lines 595-9. Cp. the ‘rash, fruitless war,’ &c., of Thomson’s ‘Edwin and Eleonora,’ i. 1, and Cowper’s ‘Task,’ v. 187:-

     ‘War’s a game which, were their subjects wise,
      Kings would not play at.’

Stanza XXX. This description of Edinburgh is one of the passages mentioned by Mr. Ruskin in ‘Modern Painters’ as illustrative of Scott’s quick and certain perception of the relations of form and colour. ‘Observe,’ he says, ‘the only hints at form given throughout are in the somewhat vague words “ridgy,” “ massy,” “close,” and “high,” the whole being still more obscured by modern mystery, in its most tangible form of smoke. But the colours are all definite; note the rainbow band of them-gloomy or dusky red, sable (pure black), amethyst (pure purple), green and gold-a noble chord throughout; and then, moved doubtless less by the smoky than the amethystine part of the group,

     “Fitz-Eustace’ heart felt closely pent,” &c.’

line 632. In the demi-volte (one of seven artificial equestrian movements) the horse rises on his hind feet and makes a half-turn. Cp. below, v. 33.

Stanza XXXI. line 646. 6 o’clock a.m., the first canonical hour of prayer.

lines 650-1. St. Catherine of Siena, a famous female Spanish saint, and St. Roque of France, patron of those sick of the plague, who died at Montpelier about 1327.

line 655. Falkland, in the west of Fife, at base of Lomond Hills, a favourite residence of the Stuart kings, and well situated for hunting purposes. The ancient stately palace is now the property of the Marquis of Bute.

Stanza XXXII. line 679. stowre, noise and confusion of battle. Cp. ‘Faery Queene,’ I. ii. 7, ‘woeful stowre.’


‘GEORGE ELLIS, to whom this Introduction is addressed, is “the well-known coadjutor of Mr. Canning and Mr. Frere in the “Anti-Jacobin,” and editor of “Specimens of Ancient English Romances,” &c. He died 10th April, 1815, aged 70 years; being succeeded in his estates by his brother, Charles Ellis, Esq., created in 1827 Lord Seaford.’-LOCKHART. See ‘Life of Scott’ and ‘Dictionary of National Biography.’

line 36. See Introd. to Canto II.

line 37. ‘The Old Town of Edinburgh was secured on the north side by a lake, now drained, and on the south by a wall, which there was some attempt to make defensible even so late as 1745. The gates, and the greater part of the wall, have been pulled down, in the course of the late extensive and beautiful enlargement of the city. My ingenious and valued friend, Mr. Thomas Campbell, proposed to celebrate Edinburgh under the epithet here borrowed. But the “Queen of the North” has not been so fortunate as to receive from so eminent a pen the proposed distinction.’-SCOTT.

line 57. ‘Since writing this line, I find I have inadvertently borrowed it almost verbatim, though with somewhat a different meaning, from a chorus in “Caractacus”:-

     “Britain heard the descant bold,
      She flung her white arms o’er the sea,
      Proud in her leafy bosom to enfold
      The freight of harmony.”‘SCOTT.

line 58. For = instead of.

lines 60-1. gleam’st, with trans. force, is an Elizabethanism. Cp. Shakespeare’s Lucrece, line 1378:-

     ‘Dying eyes gleamed forth their ashy lights.’

line 67. See ‘Faerie Queene,’ III. iv.

line 78. “For every one her liked, and every one her loved.” Spenser, as above.’-SCOTT.

line 106. A knosp is an architectural ornament in form of a bud.

lines 111-12. See Genesis xviii.

line 118. ‘Henry VI, with his Queen, his heir, and the chiefs of his family, fled to Scotland after the battle of Towton. In this note a doubt was formerly expressed whether Henry VI came to Edinburgh, though his Queen certainly did; Mr. Pinkerton inclining to believe that he remained at Kirkcudbright. But my noble friend, Lord Napier, has pointed out to me a grant by Henry, of an annuity of forty marks to his Lordship’s ancestor, John Napier, subscribed by the King himself, at Edinburgh, the 28th day of August, in the thirtyninth year of his reign, which corresponds to the year of God, 1461. This grant, Douglas, with his usual neglect of accuracy, dates in 1368. But this error being corrected from the copy of Macfarlane’s MSS., p. 119, to, removes all scepticism on the subject of Henry VI being really at Edinburgh. John Napier was son and heir of Sir Alexander Napier, and about this time was Provost of Edinburgh. The hospitable reception of the distressed monarch and his family, called forth on Scotland the encomium of Molinet, a contemporary poet. The English people, he says,-

     “Ung nouveau roy creerent,
        Par despiteux vouloir,
      Le vieil en debouterent,
        Et son legitime hoir,
      Qui fuytyf alia prendre
        D’Ecosse le garand,
      De tous siecles le mendre,
        Et le plus tollerant.”
                 Recollection des Avantures’-SCOTT.

line 120. ‘In January, 1796, the exiled Count d’Artois, afterwards Charles X of France, took up his residence in Holyrood, where he remained until August, 1799. When again driven from his country, by the revolution of July, 1830, the same unfortunate Prince, with all the immediate members of his family, sought refuge once more in the ancient palace of the Stuarts, and remained there until 18th September, 1833.’-LOCKHART.

line 140. ‘Mr. Ellis, in his valuable Introduction to the “Specimens of Romance,” has proved, by the concurring testimony of La Ravaillere, Tressan, but especially the Abbe de la Rue, that the courts of our Anglo-Norman Kings, rather than those of the French monarch, produced the birth of Romance literature. Marie, soon after mentioned, compiled from Armorican originals, and translated into Norman-French, or Romance language, the twelve curious Lays of which Mr. Ellis has given us a precis in the Appendix to his Introduction. The story of Blondel, the famous and faithful minstrel of Richard I, needs no commentary.’-SCOTT.

line 141. for that = ‘because,’ a common Elizabethan connective.

line 165. ‘“Come then, my friend, my genius, come along,
            Oh master of the poet and the song!”
                           Pope to Bolingbroke.’-LOCKHART.

Cp. also the famous ‘guide, philosopher, and friend,’ in ‘Essay on Man,’ IV. 390.

lines 166-175. For a curious and characteristic ballad by Leyden on Ellis, see ‘Life of Scott’ i. 368; and for references to his state of ealth see ‘Life,’ ii, 17, in one of Scott’s letters.

line 181. ‘At Sunning-hill, Mr. Ellis’s seat, near Windsor, part of the first two cantos of Marmion were written.’-LOCKHART. Ascot Heath is about six miles off.


Stanza I. line 18. ‘This is no poetical exaggeration. In some of the counties of England, distinguished for archery, shafts of this extraordinary length were actually used. Thus, at the battle of Blackheath, between the troops of Henry VII and the Cornish insurgents, in 1496, the bridge of Dartford was defended by a picked band of archers from the rebel army, “whose arrows,” says Holinshed, “were in length a full cloth yard.” The Scottish, according to Ascham, had a proverb, that every English archer carried under his belt twenty-four Scots, in allusion to his bundle of unerring shafts.’-SCOTT.

Stanza II. line 32. croupe = (1) the buttocks of the horse, as in Chaucer’s ‘Fryars Tale,’ line 7141, ‘thakketh his horse upon the croupe’; (2) the place behind the saddle, as here and in ‘Young Lochinvar,’ below, 351.

line 33. ‘The most useful air, as the Frenchmen term it, is territerr, the courbettes, cabrioles, or un pas et un sault, being fitter for horses of parade and triumph than for soldiers: yet I cannot deny but a demivolte with courbettes, so that they be not too high, may be useful in a fight or meslee; for, as Labroue hath it, in his Book of Horsemanship, Monsieur de Montmorency having a horse that was excellent in performing the demivolte, did, with his sword, strike down two adversaries from their horses in a tourney, where divers of the prime gallants of France did meet; for, taking his time, when the horse was in the height of his courbette, and discharging a blow then, his sword fell with such weight and force upon the two cavaliers, one after another, that he struck them from their horses to the ground.’-Lord Herbert of Cherbury’s Life, p. 48.-SCOTT.

line 35. ‘The Scottish burgesses were, like yeomen, appointed to be armed with bows and sheaves, sword, buckler, knife, spear, or a good axe instead of a bow, if worth L100: their armour to be of white or bright harness. They wore white hats, i.e. bright steel caps, without crest or visor. By an act of James IV their weapon-schawings are appointed to be held four times a year, under the aldermen or bailiffs.’-SCOTT.

lines 40-48. Corslet, a light cuirass protecting the front of the body; brigantine, a jacket quilted with iron (also spelt ‘brigandine’); gorget, a metal covering for the throat; mace, a heavy club, plain or spiked, designed to bruise armour.

‘Bows and quivers were in vain recommended to the peasantry of Scotland, by repeated statutes; spears and axes seem universally to have been used instead of them. The defensive armour was the plate-jack, hauberk, or brigantine; and their missile weapons crossbows and culverins. All wore swords of excellent temper, according to Patten; and a voluminous handkerchief round their neck, “not for cold, but for cutting.” The mace also was much used in the Scottish army! The old poem on the battle of Flodden mentions a band-

     “Who manfully did meet their foes,
      With leaden mauls, and lances long.”

‘When the feudal array of the kingdom was called forth, each man was obliged to appear with forty days’ provision. When this was expended, which took place before the battle of Flodden, the army melted away of course. Almost all the Scottish forces, except a few knights, men-at-arms, and the Border-prickers, who formed excellent light-cavalry, acted upon foot.’-SCOTT.

Stanza III. line 48. swarthy, because of the dark leather of which it was constructed.

line 54. See above, Introd. to II. line 48.

line 56. Cheer, countenance, as below, line 244. Cp. Chaucer, ‘Knightes Tale,’ line 55:-

     ‘The eldeste lady of hem alle spak
      When sche hadde swowned with a dedly chere.’

Stanza IV. line 73. slogan, the war-cry. Cp. Aytoun’s ‘Burial March of Dundee’:-

     ‘Sound the fife and cry the slogan.’

line 96. The Euse and the Liddell flow into the Esk. For some miles the Liddell is the boundary between England and Scotland.

line 100. Brown Maudlin, dark or bronzed Magdalene. pied, variegated, as in Shakespeare’s ‘daisies pied.’ kirtle = short skirt, and so applied to a gown or a petticoat.

Stanza V. For unrivalled illustration of what Celtic chiefs and clansmen were, see ‘Waverley’ and ‘Rob Roy.’

lines 130-5 Cp. opening of Chapman’s Homer’s Iliad III.:-

               ‘The Trojans would have frayed
      The Greeks with noises, crying out, in coming rudely on
      At all parts, like the cranes that fill with harsh confusion
      Of brutish clanges all the air. ‘

Stanza VI. lines 143-157. Cp. Dryden’s ‘Palamon and Arcite,’ iii. 1719-1739:-

     ‘The neighing of the generous horse was heard,
      For battle by the busy groom prepar’d:
      Rustling of harness, rattling of the shield,
      Clattering of armour furbish’d for the field,’ &c.

line 157. following = feudal retainers.-SCOTT. To the poet’s explanation Lockhart appends the remark that since Scott thought his note necessary the word has been ‘completely adopted into English, and especially into Parliamentary parlance.’

line 166. Scott says:-‘In all transactions of great or petty importance, and among whomsoever taking place, it would seem that a present of wine was a uniform and indispensable preliminary. It was not to Sir John Falstaff alone that such an introductory preface was necessary, however well judged and acceptable on the part of Mr. Brook; for Sir Ralph Sadler, while on an embassy to Scotland in 1539-40, mentions, with complacency, ‘the same night came Rothesay (the herald so called) to me again, and brought me wine from the King both white and red.’-Clifford’s Edition, p. 39.

line 168. For weeds see above, I. Introd. 256.

Stanza VII. line 172. For wassell see above, I. xv. 231; and cp. ‘merry wassail’ in ‘Rokeby,’ III. xv.

line 190. Cp. above, IV. Introd. 3.

line 200. An Elizabethan omission of relative.

Stanza VIII. The admirable characterisation, by which in this and the two following stanzas the King, the Queen, and Lady Heron are individually delineated and vividly contrasted, deserves special attention. There is every reason to believe that the delineations, besides being vivid and impressive, have the additional merit of historical accuracy.

line 213. piled = covered with a pile or nap. The Encyclopaedic Dict., s. v., quotes: ‘With that money I would make thee several cloaks and line them with black crimson, and tawny, three filed veluet.’-Barry; Ram Alley, III. i.

line 221. A baldric (remotely from Lat. balteus, a girdle) was an ornamental belt passing over one shoulder and round the other side, and having the sword suspended from it. Cp. Pope’s Iliad, III. 415:-

     ‘A radiant baldric, o’er his shoulder tied,
      Sustained the sword that glittered at his side.’

See also the ‘wolf-skin baldric’ in ‘Lay of the Last Minstrel,’ III. xvi.

Stanza IX. line 249. ‘Few readers need to be reminded of this belt, to the weight of which James added certain ounces every year that he lived. Pitscottie founds his belief that James was not slain in the battle of Flodden, because the English never had this token of the iron-belt to show to any Scottishman. The person and character of James are delineated according to our best historians. His romantic disposition, which led him highly to relish gaiety, approaching to license, was, at the same time, tinged with enthusiastic devotion. These propensities sometimes formed a strange contrast. He was wont, during his fits of devotion, to assume the dress, and conform to the rules, of the order of Franciscans; and when he had thus done penance for some time in Stirling, to plunge again into the tide of pleasure. Probably, too, with no unusual inconsistency, he sometimes laughed at the superstitions observances to which he at other times subjected himself. There is a very singular poem by Dunbar, seemingly addressed to James IV, on one of these occasions of monastic seclusion. It is a most daring and profane parody on the services of the Church of Rome, entitled:-

         “Dunbar’s Dirige to the King,
          Byding ewer lang in Striviling
      We that are here, in heaven’s glory,
      To you that are in Purgatory,
      Commend us on our hearty wise;
      I mean we folks in Paradise,
      In Edinburgh, with all merriness,
      To you in Stirling with distress,
      Where neither pleasure nor delight is,
      For pity this epistle wrytis,” &c.

See the whole in Sibbald’s Collection, vol. i. p. 234.’-SCOTT.

Since Scott’s time Dunbar’s poems have been edited, with perfect scholarship and skill, by David Laing (2 vols. post 8vo. 1824), and by John Small (in l885) for the Scottish Text Society. See Dict. of Nat. Biog.

lines 254-9. This perfect description may be compared, for accuracy of observation and dexterous presentment, with the steed in ‘Venus and Adonis,’ the paragon of horses in English verse. Both writers give ample evidence of direct personal knowledge.

Stanza X. line 261. ‘It has been already noticed [see note to stanza xiii. of Canto I.] that King James’s acquaintance with Lady Heron of Ford did not commence until he marched into England. Our historians impute to the King’s infatuated passion the delays which led to the fatal defeat of Flodden. The author of “The Genealogy of the Heron Family” endeavours, with laudable anxiety, to clear the Lady Ford from this scandal; that she came and went, however, between the armies of James and Surrey, is certain. See PINKERTON’S History, and the authorities he refers to, vol. ii. p. 99. Heron of Ford had been, in 1511, in some sort accessory to the slaughter of Sir Robert Kerr of Cessford, Warden of the Middle Marches. It was committed by his brother the bastard, Lilburn, and Starked, three Borderers. Lilburn and Heron of Ford were delivered up by Henry to James, and were imprisoned in the fortress of Fastcastle, where the former died. Part of the pretence of Lady Ford’s negotiations with James was the liberty of her husband.’-SCOTT.

line 271. love = beloved. Cp. Burns’s ‘O my love is like a red red rose.’

line 273. ‘“Also the Queen of France wrote a love-letter to the King of Scotland, calling him her love, showing him that she had suffered much rebuke in France for the defending of his honour. She believed surely that he would recompense her again with some of his kingly support in her necessity; that is to say, that he would raise her an army, and come three foot of ground on English ground, for her sake. To that effect she sent him a ring off her finger, with fourteen thousand French crowns to pay bis expenses.” PITSCOTTIE, p.110.-A turquois ring-probably this fatal gift-is, with James’s sword and dagger, preserved in the College of Heralds, London.’-SCOTT.

lines 287-8. The change of movement introduced by this couplet has the intended effect of arresting the attention and lending pathos to the description and sentiment.

Stanza XI. line 302. The wimple was a covering for the neck, said to have been introduced in the reign of Edward I. See Chaucer’s ‘Prologue,’ 151:-

     ‘Ful semely hire wympel i-pynched was.’

line 307. Cp. 2 Henry IV, iii. 2. 9, ‘By yea and nay, sir.’

line 308. Cp. refrain of song, ‘‘Twas within a mile o’ Edinburgh Town,’ in Johnson’s Museum :-

     ‘The lassie blush’d, and frowning cried, “No, no, it will not do;
      I cannot, cannot, wonnot, wonnot, mannot buckle too.”‘

Stanza XII. The skilful application of the anapaest for the production of the brilliant gallop of ‘Lochinvar’ has been equalled only by Scott himself in his ‘Bonnets o’ Bonnie Dundee.’ Cp. Lord Tennyson’s ‘Northern Farmer’ (specially New Style), and Mr. Browning’s ‘How they brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix.’ ‘The ballad of Lochinvar,’ says Scott, ‘is in a very slight degree founded on a ballad called “ Katharine Janfarie,” which may be found in the “Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border,” vol. ii. Mr. Charles Gibbon’s ‘Laird o’ Lamington’ is based on the same legend.

line 332. ‘See the novel of “Redgauntlet” for a detailed picture of some of the extraordinary phenomena of the spring-tides in the Solway Frith.’-LOCKHART.

line 344. galliard (Sp. gallarda, Fr. gaillarda), a lively dance. Cp. Henry V, i. 2, 252, ‘a nimble galliard,’ and note on expression in Clarendon Press ed.

line 353. scaur, cliff or river bank. Cp. Blackie’s ‘Ascent of Cruachan’ in ‘Lays of the Highlands and Islands,’ p. 98:-

     ‘Scale the scaur that gleams so red.’

Stanza XIII. line 376. Cp. Dryden’s ‘Aurengzebe’:

     ‘Love and a crown no rivalship can bear.’

line 382. Sir R. Kerr. See above, line 261.

line 383. Andrew Barton, High Admiral of Scotland, was one of a family of seamen, to whom James IV granted letters of reprisal against Portuguese traders for the violent death of their father. Both the King and the Bartons profited much by their successes. At length the Earl of Surrey, accusing Andrew Barton of attacking English as well as Portuguese vessels, sent two powerful men-of-war against him, and a sharp battle, fought in the Downs, resulted in Barton’s death and the capture of his vessels. See Chambers’s ‘Eminent Scotsmen,’ vol. v.

line 386. James sent his herald to Henry before Terouenne, calling upon him to desist from hostilities against Scotland’s ally, the king of France, and sternly reminding him of the various insults to which Henry’s supercilious policy had subjected him. Flodden had been fought before the messenger returned with his answer. Barclay a contemporary poet, had written about seven years earlier, in his ‘Ship of Fooles’:-

     ‘If the Englishe Lion his wisedome and riches
      Conjoyne with true love, peace, and fidelitie
      With the Scottishe Unicornes might and hardines,
      There is no doubt but all whole Christentie
      Shall live in peace, wealth, and tranquilitie.’

But such a desirable consummation was to wait yet a while.

Stanza XIV. line 398. ‘Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus,’ says Scott, ‘a man remarkable for strength of body and mind, acquired the popular name of Bell-the-Cat, upon the following remarkable occasion:-James the Third, of whom Pitscottie complains that he delighted more in music, and “policies of building,” than in hunting, hawking, and other noble exercises, was so ill advised as to make favourites of his architects and musicians, whom the same historian irreverently terms masons and fiddlers. His nobility, who did not sympathise in the King’s respect for the fine arts, were extremely incensed at the honours conferred on those persons, particularly on Cochrane, a mason, who had been created Earl of Mar; and, seizing the opportunity, when, in 1482, the King had convoked the whole array of the country to march against the English, they held a midnight council in the church of Lauder, for the purpose of forcibly removing these minions from the King’s person. When all had agreed on the propriety of this measure, Lord Gray told the assembly the apologue of the Mice, who had formed a resolution, that it would be highly advantageous to their community to tie a bell round the cat’s neck, that they might hear her approach at a distance; but which public measure unfortunately miscarried, from no mouse being willing to undertake the task of fastening the bell. “I understand the moral,” said Angus, “and, that what we propose may not lack execution, I will bell the cat.”‘

The rest of the strange scene is thus told by Pitscottie:-

‘By this was advised and spoken by thir lords foresaid, Cochran, the Earl of Mar, came from the King to the council, (which council was holden in the kirk of Lauder for the time,) who was well accompanied with a band of men of war; to the number of three hundred light axes, all clad in white livery, and black bends thereon, that they might be known for Cochran the Earl of Mar’s men. Himself was clad in a riding-pie of black velvet, with a great chain of gold about his neck, to the value of five hundred crowns, and four blowing horns, with both the ends of gold and silk, set with a precious stone, called a berryl, hanging in the midst. This Cochran had his heumont born before him, overgilt with gold, and so were all the rest of his horns, and all his pallions were of fine canvas of silk, and the cords thereof fine twined silk, and the chains upon his pallions were double overgilt with gold.

‘This Cochran was so proud in his conceit, that he counted no lords to be marrows to him, therefore he rushed rudely at the kirk-door. The council inquired who it was that perturbed them at that time. Sir Robert Douglas, Laird of Lochleven, was keeper of the kirk-door at that time, who inquired who that was that knocked so rudely; and Cochran answered, “This is I, the Earl of Mar.” The which news pleased well the lords, because they were ready boun to cause take him, as is before rehearsed. Then the Earl of Angus past hastily to the door, and with him Sir Robert Douglas of Lochleven, there to receive in the Earl of Mar, and go many of his complices who were there, as they thought good. And the Earl of Angus met with the Earl of Mar, as he came in at the door, and pulled the golden chain from his craig, and said to him, a tow1 would set him better. Sir Robert Douglas syne pulled the blowing horn from him in like manner, and said, “He had been the hunter of mischief over long.” This Cochran asked, “My lords, is it mows2, or earnest?” They answered, and said, “It is good earnest, and so thou shalt find; for thou and thy complices have abused our prince this long time; of whom thou shalt hare no more credence, but shalt have thy reward according to thy good service, as thou hast deserved in times bypast; right so the rest of thy followers.”
           1rope.    2jest.
‘Notwithstanding, the lords held them quiet till they caused certain armed men to pass into the King’s pallion, and two or three wise men to pass with them, and give the King fair pleasant words, till they laid hands on all the King’s servants and took them and hanged them before his eyes over the bridge of Lawder. Incontinent they brought forth Cochran, and his hands bound with a tow, who desired them to take one of his own pallion tows and bind his hands, for he thought shame to have his hands bound with such tow of hemp, like a thief. The lords answered, he was a traitor, he deserved no better; and, for despight, they took a hair tether3, and hanged him over the bridge of Lawder, above the rest of his complices.’-PITSCOTTIE, p. 78, folio edit.
line 400. Hermitage Castle is on Hermitage water, which falls into the Liddell. The ruins still exist.

line 402. Bothwell Castle is on the right bank of the Clyde, a few miles above Glasgow. While staying there in 1799 Scott began a ballad entitled ‘Bothwell Castle,’ which remains a fragment. Lockhart gave it in the ‘Life,’ i. 305, ed. 1837. There, as here, he makes reference to the touching legendary ballad, ‘Bothwell bank thou bloomest fair,’ which a traveller before 1605 heard a woman singing in Palestine.

line 406. Reference to Cicero’s cedant arma togae, a relic of an attempt at verse.

line 414. ‘Angus was an old man when the war against England was resolved upon. He earnestly spoke against that measure from its commencement; and, on the eve of the battle of Flodden, remonstrated so freely upon the impolicy of fighting, that the King said to him, with scorn and indignation, “if he was afraid, he might go home.” The Earl burst into tears at this insupportable insult, and retired accordingly, leaving his sons, George, Master of Angus, and Sir William of Glenbervie, to command his followers. They were both slain in the battle, with two hundred gentlemen of the name of Douglas. The aged Earl, broken-hearted at the calamities of his house and his country, retired into a religious house, where he died about a year after the field of Flodden.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XV. lines 415-20. Cp. description of Sir H. Osbaldistone, ‘Rob Roy,’ chap. vi.

line 429. ‘The ruins of Tantallon Castle occupy a high rock projecting into the German Ocean, about two miles east of North Berwick. The building is not seen till a close approach, as there is rising ground betwixt it and the land. The circuit is of large extent, fenced upon three sides by the precipice which overhangs the sea, and on the fourth by a double ditch and very strong outworks. Tantallon was a principal castle of the Douglas family, and when the Earl of Angus was banished, in 1527, it continued to hold out against James V. The King went in person against it, and for its reduction, borrowed from the Castle of Dunbar, then belonging to the Duke of Albany, two great cannons, whose names, as Pitscottie informs us with laudable minuteness, were “Thrawn mouth’d Meg and her Marrow”; also, “two great botcards, and two moyan, two double falcons, and four quarter falcons”; for the safe guiding and re-delivery of which, three lords were laid in pawn at Dunbar. Yet, notwithstanding all this apparatus, James was forced to raise the siege, and only afterwards obtained possession of Tantallon by treaty with the governor, Simon Panango, When the Earl of Angus returned from banishment, upon the death of James, he again obtained possession of Tantallon, and it actually afforded refuge to an English ambassador, under circumstances similar to those described in the text. This was no other than the celebrated Sir Ralph Sadler, who resided there for some time under Angus’s protection, after the failure of his negotiation for matching the infant Mary with Edward VI. He says, that though this place was poorly furnished, it was of such strength as might warrant him against the malice of his enemies, and that he now thought himself out of danger. (His State papers were published in 1810, with certain notes by Scott.)

‘There is a military tradition, that the old Scottish March was meant to express the words,

     “Ding down Tantallon,
      Mak a brig to the Bass.”

‘Tantallon was at length “dung down” and ruined by the Covenanters; its lord, the Marquis of Douglas, being a favourer of the royal cause. The castle and barony were sold in the beginning of the eighteenth century to President Dalrymple of North Berwick, by the then Marquis of Douglas.’-SCOTT.

In 1888, under the direction of Mr. Walter Dalrymple, son of the proprietor, certain closed staircases in the ruins were opened, and various excavations were made, with the purpose of discovering as fully as possible what the original character of the structure had been. These operations have added greatly to the interest of the ruin, which both by position and aspect is one of the most imposing in the country.

line 432. ‘A very ancient sword, in possession of Lord Douglas, bears, among a great deal of flourishing, two hands pointing to a heart which is placed betwixt them, and the date 1329, being the year in which Bruce charged the Good Lord Douglas to carry his heart to the Holy Land. The following lines (the first couplet of which is quoted by Godscroft, as a popular saying in his time) are inscribed around the emblem:-

     “So mony guid as of ye Dovglas beinge,
      Of ane surname was ne’er in Scotland seine.

      I will ye charge, efter yat I depart,
      To holy grawe, and thair bury my hart;
      Let it remane ever BOTHE TYME AND HOWR,
      To ye last day I sie my Saviour.

      I do protest in tyme of al my ringe,
      Ye lyk subject had never ony keing.”

‘This curious and valuable relic was nearly lost during the Civil War of 1745-6, being carried away from Douglas Castle by some of those in arms for Prince Charles. But great interest having been made by the Duke of Douglas among the chief partisans of the Stuart, it was at length restored. It resembles a Highland claymore, of the usual size, is of an excellent temper, and admirably poised.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XVI. line 461. Scott quotes:--

     ‘O Dowglas! Dowglas
      Tender and trew.’-The Houlate.

line 470. There are two famous sparrows in literature, the one Lesbia’s sparrow, tenderly lamented by Catullus, and the other Jane Scrope’s sparrow, memorialised by Skelton in the ‘ Boke of Phyllyp Sparowe.’

line 475. The tears of such as Douglas are of the kind mentioned in Cowley’s ‘Prophet,’ line 20:-

     ‘Words that weep, and tears that speak.’

Stanza XVII. line 501. ‘The ancient cry to make room for a dance or pageant.’-SCOTT.

Cp. Romeo and Juliet, i. 5. 28: ‘A hall! a hall! give room,’ &c.

line 505. The tune is significant of a Scottish invasion of England. See Scott’s appropriate song to the ‘ancient air,’ ‘Monastery,’ xxv. Reference is made in I Henry II, ii. 4. 368, to the head-dress of the Scottish soldiers, when Falstaff informs Prince Hal that Douglas is in England, ‘and a thousand blue-caps more.’

Stanza XIX. line 545. Many of the houses in Old Edinburgh are built to a great height, so that the common stairs leading up among a group of them have sometimes been called ‘perpendicular streets.’ Pitch, meaning ‘height,’ is taken from hawking, the height to which a bird rose depending largely on the pitch given it.

Stanza XX. line 558. St. Giles’s massive steeple is one of the features of Edinburgh. The ancient church, recently renovated by the munificence of the late William Chambers, is now one of the most imposing Presbyterian places of worship in Scotland.

line 569. For bowne see above, IV. 487.

line 571. A certain impressiveness is given by the sudden introduction of this pentameter.

Stanza XXI. Jeffrey, in reviewing’ Marmion, ‘fixed on this narrative of the Abbess as a passage marked by ‘flatness and tediousness,’ and could see in it ‘no sort of beauty nor elegance of diction.’ The answer to such criticism is that the narrative is direct and practical, and admirably suited to its purpose.

line 585. Despiteously, despitefully. ‘Despiteous’ is used in ‘Lay of the Last Minstrel,’ V. xix. Cp. Chaucer’s ‘Man of Lawe,’ 605 (Clarendon Press ed.):-

     ‘And sey his wyf despitously yslayn.’

line 587. ‘A German general, who commanded the auxiliaries sent by the Duchess of Burgundy with Lambert Simnel. He was defeated and killed at Stokefield. The name of this German general is preserved by that of the field of battle, which is called, after him, Swart-moor.-There were songs about him long current in England. See Dissertation prefixed to RITSON’S Ancient Songs, 1792, p. lxi.’-SCOTT.

line 588. Lambert Simnel, the Pretender, made a scullion after his overthrow by Henry VII.

line 590. Stokefield (Stoke, near Newark, county Nottingham) was fought 16 June, 1487.

line 607. ‘It was early necessary for those who felt themselves obliged to believe in the divine judgment being enunciated in the trial by duel, to find salvos for the strange and obviously precarious chances of the combat. Various curious evasive shifts, used by those who took up an unrighteous quarrel, were supposed sufficient to convert it into a just one. Thus, in the romance of “Amys and Amelion,” the one brother-in-arms, fighting for the other, disguised in his armour, swears that he did not commit the crime of which the Steward, his antagonist, truly, though maliciously, accused him whom he represented. Brantome tells a story of an Italian, who entered the lists upon an unjust quarrel, but, to make his cause good, fled from his enemy at the first onset. “Turn, coward!” exclaimed his antagonist. “Thou liest,” said the Italian, “coward am I none; and in this quarrel will I fight to the death, but my first cause of combat was unjust, and I abandon it.” “Je vous laisse a penser,” adds Brantome, “s’il n’y a pas de l’abus la.” Elsewhere he says, very sensibly, upon the confidence which those who had a righteous cause entertained of victory: “Un autre abus y avoit-il, que ceux qui avoient un juste subjet de querelle, et qu’on les faisoit jurer avant entrer au camp, pensoient estre aussitost vainqueurs, voire s’en assuroient-t-ils du tout, mesmes que leurs confesseurs, parrains et confidants leurs en respondoient tout-a-fait, comme si Dieu leur en eust donne une patente; et ne regardant point a d’autres fautes passes, et que Dieu en garde la punition a ce coup la pour plus grande, despiteuse, et exemplaire.”-Discours sur le Duels.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XXII. line 612. Recreant, a coward, a disgraced knight. See ‘Lady of the Lake,’ V. xvi:-

     ‘Let recreant yield who fears to die’;

and cp. ‘caitiff recreant,’ Richard II, i. 2. 53.

line 633. The Tame falls into the Trent above Tamworth.

Stanza XXIII. line 662. Quaint, neat, pretty, as in Much Ado, iii. 4. 21: ‘A fine, quaint, graceful, and excellent fashion.’

Stanza XXIV. line 704. St. Withold, St. Vitalis. Cp. King Lear, iii. 4. III. Clarendon Press ed., and note. This saint was invoked in nightmare.

Stanza XXV. line 717. Malison, curse.

line 717. ‘The Cross of Edinburgh was an ancient and curious structure. The lower part was an octagonal tower, sixteen feet in diameter, and about fifteen feet high. At each angle there was a pillar, and between them an arch, of the Grecian shape. Above these was a projecting battlement, with a turret at each corner, and medallions, of rude but curious workmanship, between them. Above this rose the proper Cross, a column of one stone, upwards of twenty feet high, surmounted with a unicorn. This pillar is preserved in the grounds of the property of Drum, near Edinburgh. The Magistrates of Edinburgh, in 1756, with consent of the Lords of Session, (proh pudor!) destroyed this curious monument, under a wanton pretext that it encumbered the street; while, on the one hand, they left an ugly mass called the Luckenbooths, and, on the other, an awkward, long, and low guard-house, which were fifty times more encumbrance than the venerable and inoffensive Cross.

‘From the tower of the Cross, so long as it remained, the heralds published the acts of Parliament; and its site, marked by radii, diverging from a stone centre, in the High Street, is still the place where proclamations are made.’-SCOTT.

See Fergusson’s ‘Plainstanes,’ Poems, p. 48. The Cross was restored by Mr. Gladstone in 1885, to commemorate his connexion with Midlothian as its parliamentary representative.

line 735. ‘This supernatural citation is mentioned by all our Scottish historians. It was, probably, like the apparition at Linlithgow, an attempt, by those averse to the war, to impose upon the superstitious temper of James IV. The following account from Pitscottie is characteristically minute, and furnishes, besides, some curious particulars of the equipment of the army of James IV. I need only add to it, that Plotcock, or Plutock, is no other than Pluto. The Christians of the middle ages by no means disbelieved in the existence of the heathen deities; they only considered them as devils, and Plotcock, so far from implying any thing fabulous, was a synonyme of the grand enemy of mankind.” {2}  “Yet all thir warnings, and uncouth tidings, nor no good counsel, might stop the King, at this present, from his vain purpose, and wicked enterprize, but hasted him fast to Edinburgh, and there to make his provision and famishing, in having forth of his army against the day appointed, that they should meet in the Barrow-muir of Edinburgh: That is to say, seven cannons that he had forth of the Castle of Edinburgh, which were called the Seven Sisters, casten by Robert Borthwick, the master-gunner, with other small artillery, bullet, powder, and all manner of order, as the master-gunner could devise.

‘“In this meantime, when they were taking forth their artillery, and the King being in the Abbey for the time, there was a cry heard at the Market-cross of Edinburgh at the hour of midnight, proclaiming as it had been a summons, which was named and called by the proclaimer thereof, the summons of Plotcock; which desired all men to compear, both Earl, and Lord, and Baron, and all honest gentlemen within the town, (every man specified by his own name,) to compear, within the space of forty days, before his master, where it should happen him to appoint, and be for the time, under the pain of disobedience. But whether this summons was proclaimed by vain persons, night-walkers, or drunken men, for their pastime, or if it was a spirit, I cannot tell truly: but it was shewn to me, that an indweller of the town, Mr. Richard Lawson, being evil disposed, ganging in his gallery-stair foreanent the Cross, hearing this voice proclaiming this summons, thought marvel what it should be, cried on his servant to bring him his purse; and when he had brought him it, he took out a crown, and cast over the stair, saying, ‘I appeal from that summons, judgment, and sentence thereof, and take me all whole in the mercy of God, and Christ Jesus his son.’ Verily, the author of this, that caused me write the manner of this summons, was a landed gentleman, who was at that time twenty years of age, and was in the town the time of the said summons; and thereafter, when the field was stricken, he swore to me, there was no man that escaped that was called in this summons, but that one man alone which made his protestation, and appealed from the said summons: but all the lave were perished in the field with the king.”‘

Stanza XXIX. line 838. ‘The convent alluded to is a foundation of Cistertian nuns, near North Berwick, of which there are still some remains. It was founded by Duncan, Earl of Fife, in 1216.’--SCOTT.

line 840. Two rocky islands off North Berwick.

Stanza XXX. line 899. Nares says: ‘In the solemn form of excommunication used in the Romish Church, the bell was tolled, the book of offices for the purpose used, and three candles extinguished, with certain ceremonies.’ Cp. ‘Lay of the Last Minstrel,’ VI. xxiii. 400, for the observance at a burial service.

Stanza. XXXI. line 914. ‘This relates to the catastrophe of a real Robert de Marmion, in the reign of King Stephen, whom William of Newbury describes with some attributes of my fictitious hero: “Homo bellicosus, ferosia, et astucia, fere nullo suo tempore impar.” This Baron, having expelled the monks from the church of Coventry, was not long of experiencing the divine judgment, as the same monks, no doubt, termed his disaster. Having waged a feudal war with the Earl of Chester, Marmion’s horse fell, as he charged in the van of his troop, against a body of the Earl’s followers: the rider’s thigh being broken by the fall, his head was cut off by a common foot-soldier, ere he could receive any succour. The whole story is told by William of Newbury.’-SCOTT.

line 926. The story of Judith and Holofernes is in the Apocrypha.

line 928. See Judges iv.

line 931. St. Antony’s fire is erysipelas.

Stanza XXXII. line 947. This line, omitted in early editions, was supplied by Lockhart from the MS.

Stanza XXXIII. line 973. Tantallon, owing to its position, presents itself suddenly to those approaching it from the south.

line 980. Lockhart annotates thus:-

‘During the regency (subsequent to the death of James V) the Dowager Queen Regent, Mary of Guise, became desirous of putting a French garrison into Tantallon, as she had into Dunbar and Inchkeith,  in order the better to bridle the lords and barons, who inclined to the reformed faith, and to secure by citadels the sea-coast of the Frith of Forth. For this purpose, the Regent, to use the phrase of the time “dealed with” the (then) Earl of Angus for his consent to the proposed measure. He occupied himself, while she was speaking, in feeding a falcon which sat upon his wrist, and only replied by addressing the bird, but leaving the Queen to make the application. “The devil is in this greedy gled-she will never be fou.” But when the Queen, without appearing to notice this hint, continued to press her obnoxious request, Angus replied, in the true spirit of a feudal noble, “Yes, Madam, the castle is yours; God forbid else. But by the might of God, Madam!” such was his usual oath, “I must be your Captain and Keeper for you, and I will keep it as well as any you can place there.’“SIR WALTER SCOTT’S Provincial Antiquities, vol. ii. p. 167.-Prose Works, vol. vii. p. 436.

Stanza XXXIV. line 998. Cp. AEneid, IV. 174:-

     ‘Fama, malum qua non aliud velocius ullum.’

line 1001. Strongholds in Northumberland, near Flodden.

line 1017. Opposite Flodden, beyond the Till.

line 1032. ‘bated of, diminished. Cp. Timon of Athens, ii. 2. 208:-

                      ‘ You do yourselves
      Much wrong; you bate too much of your own merits.’


Richard Heber (1773-1833) half-brother of Bishop Heber, was for some time M. P. for Oxford University. His large inherited fortune enabled him freely to indulge his love of books, and his, English library of 105,000 volumes cost him L180,000. He had thousands besides on the continent. As a cherished friend of Scott’s he is frequently mentioned in the ‘Life.’ He introduced Leyden to Scott (Life, i. 333, 1837 ed.).

‘Mertoun House, the seat of Hugh Scott, Esq., of Harden, is beautifully situated on the Tweed, about two miles below Dryburgh Abbey.’-LOCKHART.

line 7. ‘The Iol of the heathen Danes (a word still applied to Christmas in Scotland; was solemnized with great festivity. The humour of the Danes at table displayed itself in pelting each other with bones, and Torfaeus tells a long and curious story, in the History of Hrolfe Kraka, of one Hottus, an inmate of the Court of Denmark, who was so generally assailed with these missiles, that he constructed, out of the bones with which he was overwhelmed, a very respectable intrenchment, against those who continued the raillery. The dances of the northern warriors round the great fires of pine-trees, are commemorated by Olaus Magnus, who says, they danced with such fury, holding each other by the hands, that, if the grasp of any failed, he was pitched into the fire with the velocity of a sling. The sufferer, on such occasions, was instantly plucked out, and obliged to quaff off a certain measure of ale, as a penalty for “spoiling the king’s fire.”‘SCOTT.

line 33. Scott, after explaining that in Roman Catholic countries mass is never said at night except on Christmas eve, quotes as illustrative of early celebrations of the festival the names and descriptions of the allegorical characters in Jonson’s ‘Christmas his Masque. ‘The personages are Father Christmas himself and his ten sons and daughters, led in by Cupid. ‘Baby-Cake,’ the youngest child, is misprinted ‘Baby-Cocke in Scott.

line 45. Post and pair, a game at cards, is one of the sons of Father Christmas in Jonson’s Masque. He comes in with ‘a pair-royal of aces in his hat; his garment all done over with pairs and purs; his squire carrying a box, cards, and counters.’

line 55. The reference is to the ancient salt-cellar, which parted superiors from inferiors at table.

line 75. ‘It seems certain that the Mummers of England, who (in Northumberland at least) used to go about in disguise to the neighbouring houses, bearing the then useless ploughshares; and the Guisards of Scotland, not yet in total disuse, present, in some indistinct degree, a shadow of the old mysteries, which were the origin of the English drama. In Scotland, (me ipso teste,) we were wont, during my boyhood, to take the characters of the apostles, at least of Peter, Paul, and Judas Iscariot; the first had the keys, the second carried a sword, and the last the bag, in which the dole of our neighbours’ plum-cake was deposited. One played as a champion, and recited some traditional rhymes; another was:-

              ....“Alexander, King of Macedon,
      Who conquer’d all the world but Scotland alone.
      When he came to Scotland his courage grew cold,
      To see a little nation courageous and bold.”

These, and many such verses, were repeated, but by rote, and unconnectedly. There were also, occasionally, I believe, a Saint George. In all, there was a confused resemblance of the ancient mysteries, in which the characters of Scripture, the Nine Worthies, and other popular personages, were usually exhibited. It were much to be wished that the Chester Mysteries were published from the MS. in the Museum, with the annotations which a diligent investigator of popular antiquities might still supply. The late acute and valuable antiquary, Mr. Ritson, showed me several memoranda towards such a task, which are probably now dispersed or lost. See, however, his “Remarks on Shakspeare,” 1783, p. 38.

‘Since the first edition of “Marmion” appeared, this subject has received much elucidation from the learned and extensive labours of Mr. Douce; and the Chester Mysteries (edited by J. H. Markland, Esq.) have been printed in a style of great elegance and accuracy (in 1818) by Bensley and Sons, London, for the Roxburghe Club. 1830.’-SCOTT.

line 93. The proverb ‘Blood is warmer than water’ is also common in the form ‘Blood is thicker than water.’

line 96. ‘Mr. Scott of Harden, my kind and affectionate friend, and distant relation, has the original of a poetical invitation, addressed from his grandfather to my relative, from which a few lines in the text are imitated. They are dated, as the epistle in the text, from Mertoun-house, the seat of the Harden family:-

     “With amber beard, and flaxen hair,
      And reverend apostolic air,
      Free of anxiety and care,
      Come hither, Christmas-day, and dine;
      We’ll mix sobriety with wine,
      And easy mirth with thoughts divine.
      We Christians think it holiday,
      On it no sin to feast or play;
      Others, in spite, may fast and pray.
      No superstition in the use
      Our ancestors made of a goose;
      Why may not we, as well as they,
      Be innocently blithe that day,
      On goose or pie, on wine or ale,
      And scorn enthusiastic zeal?-
      Pray come, and welcome, or plague rott
      Your friend and landlord, Walter Scott.
                       “Mr. Walter Scott, Lessuden

‘The venerable old gentleman, to whom the lines are addressed was the younger brother of William Scott of Raeburn. Being the cadet of a cadet of the Harden family, he had very little to lose; yet he contrived to lose the small property he had, by engaging in the civil wars and intrigues of the house of Stuart. His veneration for the exiled family was so great, that he swore he would not shave his beard till they were restored: a mark of attachment, which, I suppose, had been common during Cromwell’s usurpation; for, in Cowley’s “Cutter of Coleman Street,” one drunken cavalier upbraids another, that, when he was not able to afford to pay a barber, he affected to “wear a beard for the King.” I sincerely hope this was not absolutely the original reason of my ancestor’s beard; which, as appears from a portrait in the possession of Sir Henry Hay Macdougal, Bart., and another painted for the famous Dr. Pitcairn, was a beard of a most dignified and venerable appearance.’- SCOTT.

line 111. ‘See Introduction to the ‘Minstrelsy,’ vol. iv. p. 59.’-LOCKHART.

lines 117-20. The Tweed winds and loiters around Mertoun and its grounds as if fascinated by their attractiveness. With line. 120 cp. ‘clipped in with the sea,’ I Henry IV, iii. I. 45.

line 126. Cp. 2 Henry IV, iii. 2. 228: ‘We have heard the chimes at midnight, Master Shallow!’

line 132. Scott quotes from Congreve’s ‘Old Bachelor,’-’Hannibal was a pretty fellow, sir-a very pretty fellow in his day,’ which is part of a speech by Noll Bluffe, one of the characters.

line 139. With ‘Limbo lost,’ cp. the ‘Limbo large and broad’ of ‘Paradise Lost,’ iii. 495. Limbo is the borders of hell, and also hell itself.

line 143. ‘John Leyden, M. D., who had been of great service to Sir Walter Scott in the preparation of the ‘Border Minstrelsy,’ sailed for India in April, 1803, and died at Java in August, 1811, before completing his 36th year.

     “Scenes sung by him who sings no more!
      His brief and bright career is o’er,
         And mute his tuneful strains;
      Quench’d is his lamp of varied lore,
      That loved the light of song to pour;
      A distant and a deadly shore
         Has LEYDEN’S cold remains.”
                        Lord of the Isles, Canto IV.

‘See a notice of his life in the Author’s Miscellaneous Prose Works, vol. iv.’-LOCKHART.

line 146. For the solemn and powerful interview of Hercules and Ulysses, see close of Odyssey XI. Wraith (Icel. vordhr, guardian) is here used for shade. In Scottish superstition it signifies the shadow of a person seen before death, as in ‘Guy Mannering,’ chap. x: ‘she was uncertain if it were the gipsy, or her wraith.’ The most notable use of the word and the superstition in recent poetry is in Rossetti’s ‘King’s Tragedy’:-

     ‘And the woman held his eyes with her eyes:-
        “O King; thou art come at last;
      But thy wraith has haunted the Scottish sea
        To my sight for four years past.
      “Four years it is since first I met,
       ‘Twixt the Duchray and the Dhu,
      A shape whose feet clung close in a shroud,
        And that shape for thine I knew,”‘ &c.

line 148. AEneid, III. 19.

line 159. ‘This passage is illustrated by “Ceubren yr Ellyll, or the Spirit’s Blasted Tree,” a legendary tale, by the Reverend George Warrington, who says:-

‘“The event, on which the tale is founded, is preserved by tradition in the family of the Vaughans of Hengwyrt; nor is it entirely lost, even among the common people, who still point out this oak to the passenger. The enmity between the two Welsh chieftains, Howel Sele, and Owen Glendwr, was extreme, and marked by vile treachery in the one, and ferocious cruelty in the other. {3}  The story is somewhat changed and softened, as more favourable to the character of the two chiefs, and as better answering the purpose of poetry, by admitting the passion of pity, and a greater degree of sentiment in the description. Some trace of Howel Sele’s mansion was to be seen a few years ago, and may perhaps be still visible, in the park of Nannau, now belonging to Sir Robert Vaughan, Baronet, in the wild and romantic tracks of Merionethshire. The abbey mentioned passes under two names, Vener and Cymmer. The former is retained, as more generally used.”-See the Metrical Tale in Sir
Walter Scott’s Poetical Works, vol. vii. pp. 396-402.’-LOCKHART.

line 161. By a victory gained at Maida, 6 July 1806, Sir John Stuart broke the power of the French in southern Italy.

line 163. ‘The Daoine shi,’ or Men of Peace, of the Scottish Highlanders, rather resemble the Scandinavian Duergar, than the English Fairies. Notwithstanding their name, they are, if not absolutely malevolent, at least peevish, discontented, and apt to do mischief on slight provocation. The belief of their existence is deeply impressed on the Highlanders, who think they are particularly offended at mortals, who talk of them, who wear their favourite colour green, or in any respect interfere with their affairs. This is especially to be avoided on Friday, when, whether as dedicated to Venus, with whom, in Germany, this subterraneous people are held nearly connected, or for a more solemn reason, they are more active and possessed of greater power. Some curious particulars concerning the popular superstitions of the Highlanders may be found in Dr. Graham’s Picturesque Sketches of Perthshire.’-SCOTT.

Friday (the day of the goddess Freya) is regarded as lucky for marriages. Mr. Thiselton Dyer in ‘Domestic Folk-lore,’ p. 39, quotes the City Chamberlain of Glasgow as affirming that ‘nine-tenths of the marriages in Glasgow are celebrated on a Friday.’ In Hungary nothing of any importance is undertaken on a Friday, and there is a Hungarian proverb which says that ‘whoever is merry on a Friday is sure to weep on the Sunday.’ The Sicilians make the exception for weddings. In America Friday is a lucky daythe New World, no doubt, upsetting in this as other matters the conservatism of the Old. The superstition of sailors about Friday is famous. Cp. the old English song ‘The Mermaid.’ For further discussion of the subject see ‘Notes and Queries,’ 6th S. vol. vi.

line 175. ‘The journal of the Friend, to whom the Fourth Canto of the poem is inscribed, furnished me with the following account of a striking superstition:-

‘“Passed the pretty little village of Franchemont (near Spaw), with the romantic ruins of the old castle of the counts of that name. The road leads through many delightful vales, on a rising ground: at the extremity of one of them stands the ancient castle, now the subject of many superstitions legends. It is firmly believed by the neighbouring peasantry, that the last Baron of Franchemont deposited, in one of the vaults of the castle, a ponderous chest, containing an immense treasure in gold and silver, which, by some magic spell, was intrusted to the care of the Devil, who is constantly found sitting on the chest in the shape of a huntsman. Any one adventurous enough to touch the chest is instantly seized with the palsy. Upon one occasion, a priest of noted piety was brought to the vault: he used all the arts of exorcism to persuade his infernal majesty to vacate his seat, but in vain; the huntsman remained immovable. At last, moved by the earnestness of the priest, he told him, that he would agree to resign the chest, if the exorciser would sign his name with blood. But the priest understood his meaning, and refused, as by that act he would have delivered over his soul to the Devil. Yet if any body can discover the mystic words used by the person who deposited the treasure, and pronounced them, the fiend must instantly decamp. I had many stories of a similar nature from a peasant, who had himself seen the Devil, in the shape of a great cat.”‘-SCOTT.

line 190. Begun has always been a possible past tense in poetry, and living poets continue its use. There is an example in Mr. Browning’s ‘Waring’:-

     ‘Give me my so-long promised son,
      Let Waring end what I begun;

and Lord Tennyson writes:-

     ‘The light of days when life begun!

in the memorial verses prefixed to his brother’s ‘Collected Sonnets’ (1879).

line 205. Robert Lindsay of Pittscottie (a Fife estate, eastward of Cupar) lived in the first half of the sixteenth century, and wrote ‘Chronicles of Scotland’ from James II to Mary. Nothing further of him is known with certainty. Like the Lion King he was a cadet of the noble family of Lindsay, including Crawford and Lindsay and Lindsay of the Byres.

line 207. See above, IV. xiv.

line 212. John of Fordun (a village in Kincardineshire) about the end of the fourteenth century wrote the first five of the sixteen books of the ‘Scotochronicon,’ the work being completed by Walter Bower, appointed Abbot of St. Colm’s, 1418.

line 220. Gripple, tenacious, narrow. See ‘Waverley,’ chap. lxvii. -’Naebody wad be sae gripple as to take his gear’; and cp. ‘Faerie Queene,’ VI. iv. 6:-

     ‘On his shield he gripple hold did lay.’

line 225. They hide away their treasures without using them, as the magpie or the jackdaw does with the articles it steals.


Stanza I. line 6. Cp. Job xxxix. 25.

line 8. Terouenne, about thirty miles S. E. of Calais.

line 9. Leaguer, the besiegers’ camp. Cp. Longfellow’s ‘Evangeline,’ I. 5,--

     ‘Like to a gipsy camp, or a leaguer after a battle.’

Stanza II. lines 27-30. Cp. ‘Faerie Queene,’ III. iv. 7.:-

                                     ‘The surges hore
      That ‘gainst the craggy clifts did loudly rore,
      And in their raging surquedry disdaynd
      That the fast earth affronted them so sore.’

lines 34-6. The cognizance was derived from the commission Brace gave the Good Lord James Douglas to carry his heart to Palestine. The Field is the whole surface of the shield, the Chief the upper portion. The Mullet is a star-shaped figure resembling the rowel of a spur, and having five points.

line 45. Bartisan, a small overhanging turret.

line 46. With vantage-coign, or advantageous corner, cp. ‘Macbeth,’ i. 6. 7.

Stanza III. line 69. Adown, poetical for down. Cp. Chaucer, ‘Monkes Tale,’ 3630, Clarendon Press ed.:-

     ‘Thus day by day this child bigan to crye
      Til in his fadres barme adoun it lay.’

lines 86-91. Cp. Coleridge’s ‘Christabel,’ line 68.

     ‘I guess, ‘twas frightful there to see
      A lady so richly clad as she-
        Beautiful exceedingly.’

Stanza IV. lines 106-9. Cp. ‘Il Penseroso,’ 161-6,-

     ‘There let the pealing organ blow
      To the full voic’d quire below,
      In service high, and anthems clear,
      As may with sweetness, through mine ear,
      Dissolve me into ecstasies,
      And bring all Heav’n before mine eyes.’

See also Coleridge’s ‘Dejection,’ v.:-

     ‘O pure of heart! thou need’st not ask of me
      What this strong music in the soul may be!’ &c.

line 112. ‘I shall only produce one instance more of the great veneration paid to Lady Hilda, which still prevails even in these our days; and that is, the constant opinion, that she rendered, and still renders herself visible, on some occasions, in the Abbey of Streamshalh, or Whitby, where she so long resided. At a particular time of the year (viz. in the summer months), at ten or eleven in the forenoon, the sunbeams fall in the inside of the northern part of the choir; and ‘tis then that the spectators, who stand on the west side of Whitby churchyard, so as just to see the most northerly part of the abbey pass the north end of Whitby church, imagine they perceive, in one of the highest windows there, the resemblance of a woman, arrayed in a shroud. Though we are certain this is only a reflection caused by the splendour of the sunbeams, yet fame reports it, and it is constantly believed among the vulgar, to be an appearance of Lady Hilda in her shroud, or rather in a glorified state; before which, I make no doubt, the Papists, even in these our days, offer up their prayers with as much zeal and devotion, as before any other image of their most glorified saint.” CHARLTON’S History of Whitby, p. 33.’-SCOTT.

Stanza V. line 131. What makes, what is it doing? Cp. Judges xviii. 3: ‘What makest thou in this place?’ The usage is frequent in Shakespeare; as e.g. As Yo Like It, i. I. 31: ‘Now sir! what make you here?’

line 137. Blood-gouts, spots of blood. Cp. ‘gouts of blood,’ Macbeth, ii. I. 46.

line 150. Shakespeare, King John, iv. 2. 13, makes Salisbury say that-

     ‘To smooth the ice, or add another hue
      Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light
      To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish
      Is wasteful, and ridiculous excess.’

Stanza VI. line 174. Beadsman, one hired to pray for another. Cp. ‘Piers the Plowman,’ B, III. 40:-

     ‘I shal assoille the my-selue  for a seme of whete,
      And also be thi bedeman.’

Edie Ochiltree, the Blue-gown in ‘The Antiquary,’ belongs to the class called King’s Bedesmen, ‘an order of paupers to whom the kings of Scotland were in the custom of distributing a certain alms, in conformity with the ordinances of the Catholic Church, and who were expected in return to pray for the royal welfare and that of the state.’ See Introd. to the novel. Cp. also Henry V, iv. I. 315:-

     ‘Five hundred poor I have in yearly pay,’ &c.

Stanza VII. line 218. The Palmer’s dress is put off like the serpent’s slough. Cp. the Earl of Surrey’s Spring sonnet-

     ‘The adder all her slough away she flings.’

Stanza VIII. line 261. Featly, cleverly, dexterously. Cp. Tempest, i. 2. 380:-

     ‘Foot it featly here and there.’

Stanza IX. line 271. See Otterbourne, ‘Border Minstrelsy,’ i. p. 345. Douglas’s death, during the battle was kept secret, so that when his men conquered, as if still under his command, the old prophecy was fulfilled that a dead Douglas should, win the field.

line 280. James encamped in Twisel glen (local spelling ‘Twizel’) before taking post on Flodden.

line 282. The squire’s final act of qualification for knighthood was to watch by his armour till midnight. In his Essay on ‘Chivalry’ Scott says: ‘The candidates watched their arms all night in a church or chapel, and prepared for the honour to be conferred on them by vigil, fast, and prayer.’ For a hasty and picturesque ceremony of knighthood see Scott’s ‘Halidon Hill,’ I. ii.

Stanza XI. With the moonlight scene opening this stanza, cp. ‘Lay of Last Minstrel,’ II. i. Scott is fond of moonlight effects, and he always succeeds with them. See e.g. a passage in ‘Woodstock,’ chap. xix, beginning ‘There is, I know not why, something peculiarly pleasing to the imagination in contemplating the Queen of Night,’ &c.

line 327. ‘The well-known Gawain Douglas, Bishop of Dunkeld, son of Archibald Bell-the-Cat, Earl of Angus. He was author of a Scottish metrical version of the “AEneid,” and of many other poetical pieces of great merit. He had not at this period attained the mitre.’-SCOTT.

A word of caution is necessary as to the ‘many pieces’ mentioned here. Besides his ‘AEneid, ‘ Douglas’s extant works are ‘Palice of Honour,’ ‘King Hart,’ and a poem of four stanzas entitled ‘Conscience.’ To each book of the ‘AEneid,’ however, as well as to the supplementary thirteenth book of Maphaeus Vegius, which he also translates, he prefixes an introductory poem, so that there is a sense in which it is correct to call him the author of ‘many pieces.’ His works were first published in complete form in 1874, in four volumes,
admirably edited by the late Dr. John Small. See ‘Dict. of Nat. Biog.’

line 329. Rocquet, a linen surplice.

line 344, ‘Angus had strength and personal activity corresponding to his courage. Spens of Kilspindie, a favourite of James IV, having spoken of him lightly, the Earl met him while hawking, and, compelling him to single combat, at one blow cut asunder his thigh-bone, and killed him on the spot. But ere he could obtain James’s pardon for this slaughter, Angus was obliged to yield his castle of Hermitage, in exchange for that of Bothwell, which was some diminution to the family greatness. The sword with which he struck so remarkable a blow, was presented by his descendant, James Earl of Morton, afterwards Regent of Scotland, to Lord Lindesay of the Byres, when he defied Bothwell to single combat on Carberry-hill. See Introduction to the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border’-SCOTT.

Stanza XII. line 379. With the use of fall = befall cp. Antony and Cleopatra, iii. 7. 38:-

                               ‘No disgrace
      Shall fall you for refusing him at sea.’

Stanza XIV. line. Saint Bride is Saint Bridget of Ireland, who became popular in England and Scotland under the abbreviated form of her name. She was ‘a favourite saint of the house of Douglas, and of the Earl of Angus in particular.’ See note to Clarendon Press ‘Lay of Last Minstrel,’ VI. 469.

line 437. ‘This ebullition of violence in the potent Earl of Angus is not without its example in the real history of the house of Douglas, whose chieftains possessed the ferocity, with the heroic virtues, of a savage state. The most curious instance occurred in the case of Maclellan, Tutor of Bombay, who, having refused to acknowledge the pre-eminence claimed by Douglas over the gentlemen and Barons of Galloway, was seized and imprisoned by the Earl, in his castle of the Thrieve, on the borders of Kirkcudbrightshire. Sir Patrick Gray, commander of King James the Second’s guard, was uncle to the Tutor of Bombay, and obtained from the King a “sweet letter of supplication,” praying the Earl to deliver his prisoner into Gray’s hand. When Sir Patrick arrived at the castle, he was received with all the honour due to a favourite servant of the King’s household; but while he was at dinner, the Earl, who suspected his errand, caused his prisoner to be led forth and beheaded. After dinner, Sir Patrick presented the King’s letter to the Earl, who received it with great affectation of reverence; “and took him by the hand, and led him forth to the green, where the gentleman was lying dead, and showed him the manner, and said, ‘Sir Patrick, you are come a little too late; yonder is your sister’s son lying, but he wants the head; take his body, and do with it what you will.’-Sir Patrick answered again with a sore heart, and said, ‘My lord, if ye have taken from him his head, dispone upon the body as ye please;’ and with that called for his horse, and leaped thereon; and when he was on horseback, he said to the Earl on this manner: ‘My Lord, if I live, you shall be rewarded for your labours, that you have used at this time, according to your demerits.’

‘“At this saying the Earl was highly offended, and cried for horse. Sir Patrick, seeing the Earl’s fury, spurred his horse, but he was chased near Edinburgh ere they left him; and had it not been his led horse was so tried and good, he had been taken.”‘-PITSCOTTIE’S History, p. 39.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XV. line 456. Cp. above, III. 429, and see As You Like It, i. 2. 222: ‘Hercules be thy speed!’ The short epistle of St. Jude is uncompromising in its condemnation of those who have fallen from their faith-who have forgotten, so to speak, their vows of true knighthood. It closes with the beautiful ascription-‘To Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.’ There is deep significance, therefore, in this appeal of the venerable and outraged knight for the protection of St. Jude.

line 457. ‘Lest the reader should partake of the Earl’s astonishment, and consider the crime as inconsistent with the manners of the period, I have to remind him of the numerous forgeries (partly executed by a female assistant) devised by Robert of Artois, to forward his suit against the Countess Matilda; which, being detected, occasioned his flight into England, and proved the remote cause of Edward the Third’s memorable wars in France.  John Harding, also, was expressly hired by Edward IV to forge such documents as might appear to establish the claim of fealty asserted over Scotland by the English monarchs.’-SCOTT.

line 458. It likes was long used impersonally, in the sense of it pleases. Cp. King John, ii. 2. 234: ‘It likes us well.’

line 460. St. Bothan, Bythen, or Bethan is said to have been a cousin of St. Columba and his successor at Iona.  His name is preserved in the Berwickshire parish, Abbey-Saint-Bathan’s; where, towards the close of the twelfth century, a Cistertian nunnery, with the title of a priory, was dedicated to him by Ada, daughter of William the Lion. There is no remaining trace of this structure.

line 461. The other sons could at least sign their names. Their signatures are reproduced in facsimile in ‘The Douglas Book’ by Sir William Eraser, 4 vols. 4to, Edin. 1886 (privately printed).

line 468. Fairly, well, elegantly, as in Chaucer’s Prol. 94:-

     ‘Well cowde he sitte on hors, and faire ryde’;

and in ‘Faerie Queene,’ I. i. 8:-

     ‘Full jolly knight he seemed, and faire did sitt.’

Stanza XVI. line 498. This line is a comprehensive description of a perfectly satisfactory charger or hunter.

line 499. Sholto is one of the Douglas family names. One of the Earl’s sons, being sheriff, could not go with his brothers to the war.

line 500. ‘His eldest son, the Master of Angus.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XVII. line 532. In Bacon’s ingenious essay, ‘Of Simulation and Dissimulation,’ he states these as the three disadvantages of the qualities:-’The first, that Simulation and Dissimulation commonly carry with them a show of fearfulness, which, in any business, doth spoil the feathers of round flying up to the mark. The second, that it puzzleth and perplexeth the conceits of many, that would otherwise co-operate with him, and makes a man almost alone to his own ends. The third, and greatest, is that it depriveth a man of one of the most principal instruments for action; which is trust and belief.’

Stanza XVIII. line 540. ‘This was a Cistertian house of religion, now almost entirely demolished. Lennel House is now the residence of my venerable friend, Patrick Brydone, Esquire, so well known in the literary world. {4}  It is situated near Coldstream, almost opposite Cornhill, and consequently very near to Flodden Field.’-SCOTT.

line 568. traversed, moved in opposition, as in fencing. Cp. Merry Wives, ii. 3. 23: ‘To see thee fight, to see thee foin, to see thee traverse,’ &c.

Stanza XIX line 573, ‘On the evening previous to the memorable battle of Flodden, Surrey’s headquarters were at Barmoor Wood, and King James held an inaccessible position on the ridge of Flodden-hill, one of the last and lowest eminences detached from the ridge of Cheviot. The Till, a deep and slow river, winded between the armies. On the morning of the 9th September, 1513, Surrey marched in a north-westerly direction, and crossed the Till, with his van and artillery, at Twisel Bridge, nigh where that river joins the Tweed, his rear-guard column passing about a mile higher, by a ford. This movement had the double effect of placing his army between King James and his supplies from Scotland, and of striking the Scottish monarch with surprise, as he seems to have relied on the depth of the river in his front. But as the passage, both over the bridge and through the ford, was difficult and slow, it seems possible that the English might have been attacked to great advantage while straggling with these natural obstacles. I know not if we are to impute James’s forbearance to want of military skill, or to the romantic declaration which Pitscottie puts in his mouth, “that he was determined to have his enemies before him on a plain field,” and therefore would suffer no interruption to be given, even by artillery, to their passing the river.

‘The ancient bridge of Twisel, by which the English crossed the Till, is still standing beneath Twisel Castle, a splendid pile of Gothic architecture, as now rebuilt by Sir Francis Blake, Bart., whose extensive plantations have so much improved the country around. The glen is romantic and delightful, with steep banks on each side, covered with copse, particularly with hawthorn.  Beneath a tall rock, near the bridge, is a plentiful fountain, called St. Helen’s Well.’-SCOTT.

That James was credited by his contemporaries with military skill and ample courage will be seen by reference to Barclay’s ‘Ship of Fooles,’ formerly referred to. The poet proposes a grand general European movement against the Turks, and suggests James IV as the military leader.  The following complimentary acrostic is a feature of the passage:-

     ‘I n prudence pereles is this moste comely kinge;
      A nd as for his strength and magnanimitie
      C onceming his noble dedes in every thinge,
      O ne founde on grounde like to him can not be.
      B y birth borne to boldenes and audacitie,
      U nder the bolde planet of Mars the champion,
      S urely to subdue his enemies eche one.’

line 583. Sullen is admirably descriptive of the leading feature in the appearance of the Till just below Twisel Bridge. No one contrasting it with the Tweed at Norham will have difficulty in understanding the saying that:-

     ‘For a’e man that Tweed droons, Till droons three.’

Stanza XX. line 608. The earlier editions have vails, ‘lowers’ or ‘checks’; as in Venus and Adonis, 956, ‘She vailed her eyelids.’ The edition of 1833 reads ‘vails, contr. for ‘avails.’

line 610. Douglas and Randolph were two of Bruce’s most trusted leaders.

line 611. See anecdote in ‘Border Minstrelsy,’ ii. 245 (1833 ed.), with its culmination, ‘O, for one hour of Dundee!’ Cp. ‘Pleasures of Hope’ (close of Poland passage):-

     ‘Oh! once again to Freedom’s cause return
      The Patriot Tell-the Bruce of Bannockburn!’

and Wordsworth’s sonnet, ‘In the Pass of Killicranky,’ in which the aspiration for ‘one hour of that Dundee’ is prompted by the fear of an invasion in 1803.

Stanza XXI. line 626. Hap what hap, come what may. Cp. above ‘tide what tide,’ III. 416.

line 627. Basnet, a light helmet.

Stanza XXIII. line 682. ‘The reader cannot here expect a full account of the Battle of Flodden: but, so far as is necessary to understand the romance, I beg to remind him, that, when the English army, by their skilful countermarch, were fairly placed between King James and his own country, the Scottish monarch resolved to fight; and, setting fire to his tents, descended from the ridge of Flodden to secure the neighbouring eminence of Brankstone, on which that village is built. Thus the two armies met, almost without seeing each other, when, according to the old poem of “Flodden Field,”-

     “The English line stretch’d east and west,
        And southward were their faces set;
      The Scottish northward proudly prest,
        And manfully their foes they met.”

The English army advanced in four divisions. On the right, which first engaged, were the sons of Earl Surrey, namely, Thomas Howard, the Admiral of England, and Sir Edmund, the Knight Marshal of the army. Their divisions were separated from each other; but, at the request of Sir Edmund, his brother’s battalion was drawn very near to his own. The centre was commanded by Surrey in person; the left wing by Sir Edward Stanley, with the men of Lancashire, and of the palatinate of Chester. Lord Dacres, with a large body of horse, formed a reserve. When the smoke, which the wind had driven between the armies, was somewhat dispersed, they perceived the Scots, who had moved down the hill in a similar order of battle, and in deep silence. {5}  The Earls of Huntley and of Home commanded their left wing, and charged Sir Edmund Howard with such success as entirely to defeat his part of the English right wing. Sir Edmund’s banner was beaten down, and he himself escaped with difficulty to his brother’s division. The Admiral, however, stood firm; and Dacre advancing to his support with the reserve of cavalry, probably between the interval of the divisions commanded by the brothers Howard, appears to have kept the victors in effectual check. Home’s men, chiefly Borderers, began to pillage the baggage of both armies; and their leader is branded, by the Scottish historians, with negligence or treachery. On the other hand, Huntley, on whom they bestow many encomiums, is said, by the English historians, to have left the field after the first charge. Meanwhile the Admiral, whose flank these chiefs ought to have attacked, availed himself of their inactivity, and pushed forward against another large division of the Scottish army in his front, headed by the Earls of Crawford and Montrose, both of whom were slain, and their forces routed. On the left, the success of the English was yet more decisive; for the Scottish right wing, consisting of undisciplined Highlanders, commanded by Lennox and Argyle, was unable to sustain the charge of Sir Edward Stanley, and especially the severe execution of the Lancashire archers. The King and Surrey, who commanded the respective centres of their armies, were meanwhile engaged in close and dubious conflict. James, surrounded by the flower of his kingdom, and impatient of the galling discharge of arrows, supported also by his reserve under Bothwell, charged with such fury that the standard of Surrey was in danger. At that critical moment, Stanley, who had routed the left wing of the Scottish, pursued his career of victory, and arrived on the right flank, and in the rear of James’s division, which, throwing itself into a circle, disputed the battle till night came on. Surrey then drew back his forces; for the Scottish centre not having been broken, and the left wing being victorious, he yet doubted the event of the field. The Scottish army, however, felt their loss, and abandoned the field of battle in disorder, before dawn. They lost, perhaps, from eight to ten thousand men; but that included the very prime of their nobility, gentry, and even clergy.  Scarce a family of eminence but has an ancestor killed at Flodden; and there is no province in Scotland, even at this day, where the battle is mentioned without a sensation of terror and sorrow. The English also lost a great number of men, perhaps within one-third of the vanquished, but they were of inferior note.-See the only distinct detail of the Field of Flodden in PINKERTON’S History, Book xi; all former accounts being full of blunders and inconsistency.

‘The spot from which Clara views the battle, must be supposed to have been on a hillock commanding the rear of the English right wing, which was defeated, and in which conflict Marmion is supposed to have fallen.’-SCOTT.

Lockhart adds this quotation:-’In 1810, as Sir Carnaby Haggerstone’s workmen were digging in Flodden Field, they came to a pit filled with human bones, and which seemed of great extent; but, alarmed at the sight, they immediately filled up the excavation, and proceeded no farther.

‘In 1817, Mr. Grey of Millfield Hill found, near the traces of an ancient encampment, a short distance from Flodden Field, a tumulus, which, on removing, exhibited a very singular sepulchre. In the centre, a large urn was found, but in a thousand pieces. It had either been broken to pieces by the stones falling upon it when digging, or had gone to pieces on the admission of the air. This urn was surrounded by a number of cells formed of flat stones, in the shape of graves, but too small to hold the body in its natural state. These sepulchral recesses contained nothing except ashes, or dust of the same kind as that in the urn.”-Sykes’ Local Records (2 vols. 8vo, 1833), vol. ii. pp. 60 and 109.’

Stanza XXIV. line 717. ‘Sir Brian Tunstall, called in the romantic language of the time, Tunstall the Undefiled, was one of the few Englishmen of rank slain at Flodden. He figures in the ancient English poem, to which I may safely refer my readers, as an edition, with full explanatory notes, has been published by my friend, Mr. Henry Weber. Tunstall, perhaps, derived his epithet of undefiled from his white armour and banner, the latter bearing a white cock, about to crow, as well as from his unstained loyalty and knightly faith. His place of residence was Thurland Castle.’--SCOTT.

Stanza XXV. line 744. Bent, the slope of the hill. It is less likely to mean the coarse grass on the hill-also a possible meaning of the word-because spectators would see the declivity and not what was on it. For the former usage see Dryden, ‘Palamon and Arcite,’
II. 342-45:-

                       ‘A mountain stood,
      Threat’ning from high, and overlook’d the wood;
      Beneath the low’ring brow, and on a bent,
      The temple stood of Mars armipotent.’

line 745. The tent was fired so that the forces might descend amid the rolling smoke.

line 747. As a poetical critic Jeffrey was right for once when he wrote thus of this great battle piece:-

‘Of all the poetical battles which have been fought, from the days of Homer to those of Mr. Southey, there is none, in our opinion, at all comparable, for interest and animation-for breadth of drawing and magnificence of effect-with this of Mr. Scott’s.’

line 757. To this day a commanding position to the west of the hill is called the ‘King’s Chair.’

Stanza XXVI. line 795. ‘Badenoch-man,’ says Lockhart, ‘is the correction of the author’s interleaved copy of the ed. of 1830.’ Highlandman was the previous reading. Badenoch is in the S. E. of co. of Inverness, between Monagh Lea mountains and Grampians.

Stanza XXVIII. line 867 Sped, undone, killed. Cp. Merchant of Venice, ii. 9. 70: ‘ So be gone; you are sped.’ See also note on ‘Lycidas’ 122, Clarendon Press Milton, vol. i.

Stanza XXX. The two prominent features of this stanza are the sweet tenderness of the verses, and the illustration of the irony of events in the striking culmination of the hero’s career.

line 904. Cp. Pope, ‘Moral Epistles,’ II. 269:-

     ‘And yet, believe me, good as well as ill,
      Woman’s at best a contradiction still.’

line 906. Cp. Byron’s ‘Sardanapalus,’ I. ii. 511:-

                             ‘Your last sighs
      Too often breathed out in a woman’s hearing,
      When men have shrunk from the ignoble care
      Of watching the last hour of him who led them.’

Stanza XXXII. line 972. See above, III. x.

line 976. Metaphor from the sand-glass. Cp. Pericles, v. 2. 26:-

     ‘Now our sands are almost run.’

Stanza XXXIII. lines 999-1004. Charlemagne’s rear-guard under Roland was cut to pieces by heathen forces at Roncesvalles, a valley in Navarre, in 778. Roland might have summoned his uncle Charlemagne by blowing his magic horn, but this his valour prevented him from doing till too late. He was fatally wounded, and the ‘Song of Roland,’ telling of his worth and prowess, is one of the best of the mediaeval romances. Olivier was also a distinguished paladin, and the names of the two are immortalized in the proverb ‘A Rowland for an Oliver.’  Fontarabia is on the coast of Spain, about thirty miles from Roncesvalles. See Paradise Lost, I. 586, and note in Clarendon Press ed.

line 1011 Our Caledonian pride, fitly and tenderly named ‘the flowers of the forest.’

Stanza XXXIV. line 1034. Cp. ‘spearmen’s twilight wood,’ ‘Lady of the Lake,’ VI. xvii.

line 1035. Cp. Aytoun’s ‘Edinburgh after Flodden,’ vii, where Randolph Murray tells of the ‘riven banner’:-

        ‘It was guarded well and long
      By your brothers and your children,
        By the valiant and the strong.
      One by one they fell around it,
        As the archers laid them low,
      Grimly dying, still unconquered,
        With their faces to the foe.’

line 1059. Lockhart here gives an extract from Jeffrey:-‘The powerful poetry of these passages can receive no illustration from any praise or observations of ours. It is superior, in our apprehension, to all that this author has hitherto produced; and, with a few faults of diction, equal to any thing that has ever been written upon similar subjects. From the moment the author gets in sight of FIodden Field, indeed, to the end of the poem, there is no tame writing, and no intervention of ordinary passages. He does not once flag or grow tedious; and neither stops to describe dresses and ceremonies, nor to commemorate the harsh names of feudal barons from the Border. There is a flight of five or six hundred lines, in short, in which he never stoops his wing, nor wavers in his course; but carries the reader forward with a more rapid, sustained, and lofty movement, than any epic bard that we can at present remember.’

Stanza XXXV. 1. 1067. Lockhart quotes from Byron’s ‘Lara’ as a parallel,-

     ‘Day glimmers on the dying and the dead,
      The cloven cuirass, and the helmless head,’ &c.

line 1084. ‘There can be no doubt that King James fell in the battle of Flodden. He was killed, says the curious French Gazette, within a lance’s length of the Earl of Surrey; and the same account adds, that none of his division were made prisoners, though many were killed; a circumstance that testifies the desperation of their resistance. The Scottish historians record many of the idle reports which passed among the vulgar of their day. Home was accused, by the popular voice, not only of failing to support the King, but even of having carried him out of the field, and murdered him. And this tale was revived in my remembrance, by an unauthenticated story of a skeleton, wrapped in a bull’s hide, and surrounded with an iron chain, said to have been found in the well of Home Castle, for which, on enquiry, I could never find any better authority than the sexton of the parish having said, that, if the well were cleaned out, he would not be surprised at such a discovery. Home was the chamberlain of the King, and his prime favourite; he had much to lose (in fact did lose all) in consequence of James’s death, and nothing earthly to gain by that event: but the retreat, or inactivity, of the left wing, which he commanded, after defeating Sir Edmund Howard, and even the circumstance of his returning unhurt, and loaded with spoil, from so fatal a conflict, rendered the propagation of any calumny against him easy and acceptable. Other reports gave a still more romantic turn to the King’s fate, and averred, that James, weary of greatness after the carnage among his nobles, had gone on a pilgrimage, to merit absolution for the death of his father, and the breach of his oath of amity to Henry. In particular, it was objected to the English, that they could never show the token of the iron belt; which, however, he was likely enough to have laid aside on the day of battle, as encumbering his personal exertions. They produce a better evidence, the monarch’s sword and dagger, which are still preserved in the Herald’s College in London. Stowe has recorded a degrading story of the disgrace with which the remains of the unfortunate monarch were treated in his time. An unhewn column marks the spot where James fell, still called the King’s Stone.’-SCOTT. See also Mr. Jerningham’s ‘Norham Castle,’ chap. xi.

line 1084. See above, V. vii, &c.

Stanza XXXVI. line 1096. ‘This storm of Lichfield Cathedral, which had been garrisoned on the part of the King, took place in the Great Civil War. Lord Brook, who, with Sir John Gill, commanded the assailants, was shot with a musket-ball through the vizor of his helmet. The royalists remarked that he was killed by a shot fired from St. Chad’s Cathedral, and upon St. Chad’s day, and received his death-wound in the very eye with which, he had said, he hoped to see the ruin of all the cathedrals in England. The magnificent church in question suffered cruelly upon this, and other occasions; the principal spire being ruined by the fire of the besiegers.’-SCOTT.

Ceadda, or Chad, after resigning the bishopric of York in 669 A. D., was appointed Bp. of Lichfield, where he ‘lived for a little while in great holiness.’ See Hunt’s ‘English Church in the Middle Ages,’ p. 17.

line 1110. The allusion is to the old fragment on Flodden, which has been so skilfully extended by Jean Elliot and also by Mrs. Cockburn in their national lyrics, ‘The Flowers o’ the Forest.’

line 1117. Once more the poet uses the irony of events with significant force.

Stanza XXXVII. line 1125. There is now a font of stone with a drinking cup, and an inscription on the back of the font runs thus:-

     ‘Drink, weary pilgrim, drink and stay,
      Rest by the well of Sybil Grey.’

Stanza XXXVIII. In this stanza the poet indicates the spirit in which romances are written, clearly indicating that those only that have ears will be able to hear. ‘Phonanta sunetoisin’ might be the watchword of all imaginative writers. Cp. Thackeray’s ‘Rebecca and Rowena.’

line 1155. Hall and Holinshed were chroniclers of the sixteenth century, to both of whom Shakespeare was indebted for pliant material.

line 1168. Sir Thomas More, Lord Sands, and Anthony Denny. See Henry VIII.

lines 1169-70. The references are to old homely customs at weddings. See Brand’s ‘Popular Antiquities.’


Scott’s fondness for archaisms makes him add his L’Envoy in the manner of early English and Scottish poets. See e.g. Spenser’s ‘Shepherd’s Calendar’ and the ‘Phoenix’ of James VI.

line 4. Rede, ‘used generally for tale or discourse.’-SCOTT.

line 6. Cp. William Morris’s introduction to ‘Earthly Paradise,’ where the poet calls himself

     ‘The idle singer of an empty day.’

line 17. This hearty wish is uttered, no doubt, with certain reminiscences of the author’s own school days. His youthful spirit, and his genial sympathy with the young, are prominent features in the character of Sir Walter Scott.



{1}  Lockhart quotes:-‘He resumed the bishopric of Lindisfarne, which, owing to bad health, he again relinquished within less than three months before his death.’-RAINE’S St. Cuthbert.

{2}  See, on this curious subject, the Essay on Fairies, in the “Border Minstrelsy,” vol. ii, under the fourth head; also Jackson on Unbelief, p. 175. Chaucer calls Pluto the “King of Faerie”; and Dunbar names him, “Pluto, that elrich incubus.” If he was not actually the devil, he must be considered as the “prince of the power of the air.” The most curious instance of these surviving classical superstitions is that of the Germans, concerning the Hill of Venus, into which she attempts to entice all gallant knights, and detains them there in a sort of Fools’ Paradise.

{3}  See Pennant’s Tour in Wales.

{4}  ‘First Edition-Mr. Brydone has been many years dead. 1825.’

{5}  ‘“Lesquels Escossois descendirent la montaigne in bonne ordre, en la maniere que marchent Its Allemans, sans parler, ne faire aucun bruit”-Gazette of the Battle, PINKERTON’S History, Appendix, vol. ii. p. 456.’