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Introduction and Notes to Marmion.
Ishall, which was unoccupied, during his
INTRODUCTION TO THE FIRST EDITION. It is hardly to be expected, that an Author prepare them for the manners of the age in whom the public have honoured with some which it is laid. Any historical narrative, degree of applause, should not be again a far more an attempt at epic composition, trespasser on their kindness. Yet the Author exceeded liis plan of a romantic tale; yet of MARMIOX must be supposed to feel some he may be perinitted to hope, from the popuanxiety concerning its success, since he is larity of THE LAY OF THE LAST MINSTREL, Sensible that he hazards, by this second in. that an attempt to paint the manners of the trusion, any reputation which his first poem feudal times, upon a broader scale, and in the inay have procured him. The present story course of a more interesting story, will not turns upon the private adventures of a fic. be unacceptable to the public. titious character; but is called a Tale of The poein opens about the commencement Flodden Field, because the hero's fate is con of August, and concludes with the defeat of nected with that memorable defeat, and the Flodden, 9th September, 1513. causes which led to it. The design of the Author was, if possible, to apprise his readers
, ASHESTIEL, 1808. at the outset, of the date of his story, and to
INTRODUCTION TO THE EDITION OF 1830. What I liave to say respecting this poem very favourable for angling, surrounded by may be briefly toll. In the Introduction to the remains of natural woods, and by hills The Lay of the Last Minstrel,' I have men abounding in game. In point of society, actioned the circumstances, so far as my literary cording to the heartfelt phrase of Scripture, life is concerned, which induced me to resign we dwelt 'amongst our own people;' and as the active pursuit of an honourable profession, the distance from the metropolis was only for the more precarious resources of literature, thirty miles, we were not out of reach of our My appointment to the Sheriffdom of Selkirk Edinburgh friends, in which city we spent the called for a change of residence. I left, there terms of the summer and winter Sessions of the fore, the pleasant cottage I had upon the side Court, that is, five or six months in the year, of the Esk, for the 'pleasanter banks of the An important circumstance had, about the Tweed,' in order to comply with the law, same time, taken place in my life. Hopes had which requires that the Sheriff shall be resi. been held out to me from an influential quardent, at least during a certain number of ter, of a nature to relieve me from the anxiety months, within his jurisdiction. We found a which I must have otherwise felt, as one upon delightful retirement, by my becoming the the precarious tenure of whose own life rested tenant of my intimate friend and cousin the principal prospects of his family, and esColonel Russell, in his mansion of pecially as one who had necessarily some de
pendence upon the favour of the public, which absence on military service in India. The is proverbially capricious; though it is but house was adequate to our accommodation, justice to add, that, in my own case, I have and the exercise of a limited hospitality | not found it so. Mr. Pitt had expressed a wish The situation is uncommonly beautiful, biy to my personal friend, the Right Honourable the side of a fine river, whose streams are there . William Dundas now Lord Clerk Register
of Scotland, that some fitting opportunity | it, seemed to assure me of a quiet harbour in should be taken to be of service to me; and my old age, I did not escape my share of inas my views and wishes pointed to a future convenience from the contrary tides and rather than an immediate provision, an op- currents by which we are so often encountered portunity of accomplishing this was soon in our journey through life. Indeed, the found. One of the Principal Clerks of Session, publication of my next poetical attempt was as they are called, (official persons who occupy prematurely accelerated, from one of those an important and responsible situation, and unpleasant' accidents which can neither be enjoy a considerable income,) who had served foreseen nor avoided. upwards of thirty years, felt himself, from I had formed the prudent resolution to age, and the infirmity of deafness with which it endeavour to bestow a little more labour was accompanied, desirous of retiring from than I had yet done on my productions, and his official situation. As the law then stood, to be in no hurry again to announce myself such official persons were entitled to bargain as a candidate for literary fame. Accordingly, with their successors, either for a sum of particular passages of a poem, which was money, which was usually a considerable one, finally called 'Marmion,' were laboured with or for an interest in the emoluments of the a good deal of care, by one by whom much office during their life. My predecessor, whose care was seldom bestowed. Whether the services had been unusually meritorious, work was worth the labour or not, I am no stipulated for the emoluments of his office competent judge; but I may be permitted to during his life, while I should enjoy the sur- say, that the period of its composition was a vivorship, on the condition that I discharged very happy one in my life; so much so, that the duties of the office in the meantime. Mr.Pitt, I remember with pleasure, at this moment, however, having died in the interval, his ad- some of the spots in which particular passages ministration was dissolved, and was succeeded were composed. It is probably owing to this, by that known by the name of the Fox and that the Introductions to the several Cantos Grenville Ministry. My affair was so far assumed the form of familiar epistles to my completed, that my commission lay in the intimate friends, in which I alluded, perhaps office subscribed by his Majesty; but, from more than was necessary or graceful, to my hurry or mistake, the interest of my prede- domestic occupations and amusements-a cessor was not expressed in it, as had been loquacity which may be excused by those usual in such cases. Although, therefore, it who remember that I was still young, lightonly required payment of the fees, I could headed, and happy, and that 'out'of the abundnot in honour take out the commission in the ance of the heart the mouth speaketh.' present state, since, in the event of my dying The misfortunes of a near relation and before him, the gentleman whom I succeeded friend, which happened at this time, led me must have lost the vested interest which he to alter my prudent determination, which had had stipulated to retain. I had the honour been, to use great precaution in sending this of an interview with Earl Spencer on the poem into the world ; and made it convenient subject, and he, in the most handsome manner, at least, if not absolutely necessary, to hasten gave directions that the commission should its publication. The publishers of The Lay issue as originally intended; adding, that the of the Last Minstrel,' emboldened by the matter having received the royal assent, he success of that poem, willingly offered a regarded only as a claim of justice what he thousand pounds for 'Marmion. The transwould have willingly done as an act of favour. action being no secret, afforded Lord Byron, I never saw Mr. Fox on this, or on any other who was then at general war with all who occasion, and never made any application to blacked paper, an apology for including me him, conceiving that in doing so I might have in his satire, entitled English Bards and been supposed to express political opinions Scotch Reviewers.' I never could conceive contrary to those which I had always professed. how an arrangement between an author and In his private capacity, there is no man to his publishers, if satisfactory to the persons whom I would have been more proud to owe concerned, could afford matter of censure to an obligation, had I been so distinguished. any third party. I had taken no unusual or
By this arrangement I obtained the sur- ungenerous means of enhancing the value of vivorship of an office, the emoluments of which my merchandise -I had never higgled a mo were fully adequate to my wishes; and as the ment about the bargain, but accepted at once law respecting the mode of providing for what I considered the handsome offer of superannuated officers was, about five or my publishers. These gentlemen, at least, six years after, altered from that which ad- were not of opinion that they had been taken mitted the arrangement of assistant and advantage of in the transaction, which indeed successor, my colleague very handsomely was one of their own framing; on the contook the opportunity of the alteration, to ac- trary, the sale of the poem was so far cept of the retiring annuity provided in such beyond their expectation, as to induce them cases, and admitted me to the full benefit of to supply the Author's cellars with what is the office
always an acceptable present to a young But although the certainty of succeeding to Scottish housekeeper, namely, a hogshead of a considerable income, at the time I obtained excellent claret.
The poem was finished in too much haste
and, by good fortune, the novelty of the subto allow me an opportunity of softening down, ject, and, if I may say so, some force and if not removing, some of its most prominent vivacity of description, were allowed to atone defects. The nature of Marmion's guilt, al- for many imperfections. Thus the second exthough similar instances were found, and periment on the public patience, generally the might be quoted, as existing in feudal times, most perilous,-for the public are then most was nevertheless not sufficiently peculiar to be apt to judge with rigour, what in the first indicative of the character of the period, instance they had received, perhaps, with forgery, being the crime of a commercial, imprudent generosity, -was in my case rather than a proud and warlike age. This decidedly successful. I had the good fortune gross defect ought to have been remedied or to pass this ordeal favourably, and the return palliated. Yet I suffered the tree to lie as it of sales before me makes the copies amount had fallen. I remember my friend, Dr. to thirty-six thousand printed between 1808 Leyden, then in the East, wrote me a furious and 1825, besides a considerable sale since remonstrance on the subject. I have, never- that period. I shall here pause upon
the theless, always been of opinion, that cor- subject of Marmion,' and, in a few prefatory rections, however in themselves judicious, words to 'The Lady of the Lake,' the last have a 'bad effect-after publication. An poem of mine which obtained eminent success, author is never so decidedly condemned as on I will continue the task which I have imposed his own confession, and may long find apolo- on myself respecting the origin of my pro gists and partisans, until he gives up his own ductions.
I was not, therefore, inclined to afford matter for censure out of my own admissions; ABBOTSFORD, April, 1830.
put his shield afore him, and tooke his sword As when the Champion of the Lake
in his hand, ready to doe battaile; and they
were all armed in black harneis, ready, with Enters Morgana's fated house,
their shields and swords drawn. And when Or in the Chapel Perilous,
Sir Launcelot would have gone through Despising spells and demons' force,
them, they scattered on every side of him, Holds converse with the unburied corse.
and gave him the way; and therewith he
waxed all bold, and entered into the chapell, THE romance of the Morte Arthur contains and then he saw no light but a dimme lampe a sort of abridgement of the most celebrated burning, and then was he ware of a corps adventures of the Round Table; and, being covered with a cloath of silke; then Sir written in comparatively modern language,
Launcelot stooped downe, and cut a piece or gives the general reader an excellent idea of that cloth away, and then it fared under him what romances of chivalry actually were. It as the earth had quaked a little, whereof he has also the merit of being written in pure old was afeard, and then hee saw a faire sword English ; and many of the wild adventures Iye by the dead knight, and that he gat in his which it contains are told with a simplicity hand, and hied him out of the chappell. As bordering upon the sublime. Several of these soon as he was in the chappell-yerd, all the are referred to in the text; and I would have knights spoke to him with a grimly voice, illustrated them by more full extracts, but as and said, "" Knight, Sir Launcelot, lay that this curious work is about to be republished, sword from thee, or else thou shalt die."I confine myself to the tale of the Chapel Whether I live or die," said Sir Launcelot, Perilous, and of the quest of Sir Launcelot "with no great words get yee it againe, after the Sangreal.
therefore fight for it and yee list.” Therewith Right so Sir Launcelot departed, and he passed through them; and beyond the when he came to the Chapell Perilous, he chappell-yerd, there met him a faire damosell, alighted downe, and tied his horse to a little and said, "Sir Launcelot, leave that sword gate. And as soon as he was within the behind thee, or thou wilt die for it."-"I will churchyard, he saw, on the front of the not leave it,” said Sir Launcelot, "for no chapell, many faire rich shields turned upside threats."-"No?" id she; "and ye did leave downe; and many of the shields Sir Launcelot that sword, Queen Guenever should ye never had seene knights have before; with that he
Then were I a fool and I would leave saw stand by him thirtie great knights, more, this sword," said Sir Launcelot. by a yard, than any man that ever he had gentle knight,” said the damosell, I require seene, and all those grinned and gnashed at thee to kiss me once."-"Nay,” said Sir Sir Launcelot; and when he saw their Launcelot," that God forbid!" – "Well, sir," countenance, hee dread them sore, and so said she, "and thou haddest kissed me thy
life dayes had been done: but now, alas!" there stood a faire candlestick, which beare said she, "I have lost all my labour; for I six great candles, and the candlesticke was ordeined this chappell for thy sake, and for of silver. And when Sir Launcelot saw this Sir Gawaine: and once I had Sir Gawaine light, hee had a great will for to enter into within it; and at that time he fought with the chappell, but he could find no place where that knight which there lieth dead in yonder hee might enter. Then was he passing heavie chappell, Sir Gilbert the bastard, and at that and dismaied. Then he returned, and came time hee smote off Sir Gilbert the bastard's againe to his horse, and tooke off his saddle left hand. And so, Sir Launcelot, now I tell and his bridle, and let him pasture, and thee, that I have loved thee this seaven yeare: unlaced his helme, and ungirded his sword, but there may no woman have thy love but and laid him downe to sleepe upon his shield, Queene Guenever; but sithen I may not before the crosse. rejoyice thee to have thy body alive, I had And so hee fell on sleepe; and, halfe kept no more joy in this world but to have waking and halfe sleeping, he saw come by had thy dead body; and I would have balmed him two palfreys, both faire and white, the it and served, and so have kept it in my life which beare a litter, therein lying a sicke daies, and daily I should have clipped thee, knight. And when he was nigh the crosse, and kissed thee, in the despite of Queen he there abode still. All this Sir Launcelot Guenever."-"Yee say well,” said Sir saw and beheld, for hee slept not verily, and Launcelot; "Jesus preserve me from your hee heard him say, "O sweete Lord, when subtill craft."' And therewith he took his shall this sorrow leave me, and when shall horse, and departed from her.'
the holy vessell come by me, where through I shall be blessed, for 1 have endured thus long for little trespasse!". And thus a great
while complained the knight, and allwaies NOTE II.
Sir Launcelot heard it. With that Sir
Launcelot saw the candlesticke, with the fire A sinful man, and unconfessid,
tapers, come before the crosse ; but he could He took the Sangreal's holy quest,
see nobody that brought it. Also there came And, slumbering, saw the vision high, a table of silver, and the holy vessell of the He might not view with waking eye. Sancgreall, the which Sir Launcelot had seen
before that time in King Petchour's house.
And therewithall the sicke knight set him One day, when Arthur was holding a high upright, and held up both his hands, and said, feast with his Knights of the Round Table, "Faire sweete Lord, which is here within the the Sangreal, or vessel out of which the last holy vessell, take heede to mee, that I may passover was eaten, (a precious relic, which bee hole of this great malady!" And there had long remained concealed from 'human with upon his hands, and upon his knees, he eyes, because of the sins of the land,) suddenly went so nigh, that he touched the holy appeared to him and all his chivalry. The vessell, and kissed it: And anon he was hole, consequence of this vision was, that all the and then he said, "Lord God, I thank thee, knights took on them a solemn vow to seek for I am healed of this malady.” Soo when the Sangreal. But, alas! it could only be the holy vessell had been there a great while, revealed to a knight at once accomplished in it went into the chappelle againe, with the earthly chivalry, and pure and guiltless of candlesticke and the light, so that Şir evil conversation. All Sir Launcelot's noble Launcelot wist not where it became, for he accomplishments were therefore rendered was overtaken with sinne, that hee had no vain by his guilty intrigue with Queen Gue- power to arise against the holy vessell, never, or Ganore; and in his holy quest he wherefore afterward many men said of him encountered only such disgraceful disasters shame. But he tooke repentance afterward. as that which follows:
Then the sicke knight dressed him upright, "But Sir Launcelot rode overthwart and and kissed the crosse. Then anon his squire endlong in a wild forest, and held no path brought him his armes, and asked his lord but as wild adventure led him; and at the how he did. "Certainly,” said hee, "I thanke last, he came unto a stone crosse, which God right heartily, for through the holy departed two wayes, in wast land; and, by vessell I am healed : But I have right great the crosse, was a stone that was of marble; mervaile of this sleeping knight, which hath but it was so dark, that Sir Launcelot might had neither grace nor power to awake during not well know what it was. Then Sir the time that this holy vessell hath beene here Launcelot looked by him, and saw an old present."-"I dare it right well say," said the chappell, and there he wend to have found squire, “that this same knight is defouled people. And so Sir Launcelot tied his horse with some manner of deadly sinne, whereof he to a tree, and there he put off his shield, and has never confessed."-"By my faith," said hung it upon a tree, and then hee went unto the knight, "whatsoever he be, he is unhappie; the chappell doore, and found it wasted and for, as I deeme, hee is of the fellowship of the broken.' And within he found a faire altar, Round Table, the which is entered into the full richly arrayed with cloth of silk, and quest of the 'Sancgreall,"_"Sir," said the
squire, "here I have brought you all your which I had interwoven with the principal ai mes save your helme and your sword; design, together with the characters of ihe and, therefore, by mine assent, now may ye chiefest English persons, (herein, after take this knight's helme and his sword;' Virgil and Spenser, I would have taken and so he did. And when he was cleane occasion to represent my living friends and armed, he took Sir Launcelot's horse, for he patrons of the noblest families, and also was better than his owne, and so they shadowed the events of future ages in the departed from the crosse.
succession of our imperial line,)- with these Then anon Sir Launcelot awaked, and helps, and those of the machines which I set himselfe upright, and he thought him have mentioned, I might perhaps have done what hee had there scene, and whether it as well as some of my predecessors, or at were dreames or not; right so he heard a least chalked out a way for others to amend voice that said, "Sir Launcelot, more hardy my errors in a like design; but being than is the stone, and more bitter than is the encouraged only with fair words by King wood, and more naked and bare than is the Charles II, my little salary ill paid, and no liefe of the fig-tree, therefore go thou from prospect of a future subsistence, I was then hence, and withdraw thee from this holy discouraged in the beginning of my attempt; place; " and when Sir Launcelot heard this, i and now age has overtaken me, and want, a he was passing heavy, and wist not what to more insufferable evil, through the change of doe. And so he departed sore weeping, and the times, has wholly disabled me.' 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
YOTE IV. he knew wherefore that hee was so called.'
Their theme the merry minstrels made,
Of Ascapart, and Beris bold.-P. 93.
The History of Bevis of Hampton' is And Dryden, in immortal strain,
abridged by iny friend Mr. George Ellis, Had raised the Table Round again.
with that liveliness which extracts amusement —P. 92.
even out of the most rude and unpromising
of our old tales of chivalry. Ascapart, a Dryden's melancholy account of his pro most important personage in the romance, is jected Epic Poem, blasted by the selfish and
thus described in an extract :sordid parsimony of his patrons, is contained in an "Essay on Satire,' addressed to the •This geaunt was mighty and strong,
And full thirty foot was long, Earl of Dorset, and prefixed to the Trans
lle was bristled like a sow; lation of Juvenal. After mentioning a plan A foot he had lietween each brow; of supplying machinery from the guardian His lips were great, and hung aside; angels of kingdoms, mentioned in the Book His eyen were hollow, his mouth was wide; of Daniel, he adds,
Lothly he was to look in than,
And liker a devil than a man. Thus, my lord, I have, as briefly as I His staat was a young oak, could, given your lordship, and by you the Hard and heavy was his struke. world, a rude draught of what I have been
Sperimens of Metrical Romanes, vol. ii. p. 137 long labouring in my imagination, and what I had intended to have put in practice; I am happy to say that the memory of (though far unable for the attempt of such a Sir Bevis is still fragrant in his town of poem ;) and to have left the stage, to which Southampton; the gate of which is se'ntimy genius never much inclined me, for a nelled by the effigies of that doughty knightwork which would have taken up my life in errant and his gigantic associate. the performance of it. This, too, I had intended chiefly for the honour of my native country, to which a poet is particularly obliged. Of two subjects, both relating to it,
Vote V. I was doubtful whether I should choose that of King Arthur conquering the Saxons,
Day set on Norham's castled steep, which, being farther distant in time, gives the
And Tweed's fair rizer, broad and deep,
c. greater scope to my invention; or that of Edward the Black Prince, in subduing Spain, The ruinous castle of Norham anciently and restoring it to the lawful prince, though called l’bbanford) is situated on the southern a great tyrant, Don Pedro the Cruel; which, bank of the Tweed, about six miles above for the compass of time, including only the Berwick, and where that river is still the expedition of one year, for the greatness of boundary between England and Scotland. the action, and its answerable event, for the The extent of its ruins, as well as its historical magnanimity of the English hero, opposed to importance, shows it to have been a place of the ingratitude of the person whom he magnificence, as well as strength. Elwar. I restored, and for the many beautiful episodes / resided there'when he was created umpire of