Imágenes de páginas


Then, first alarm’d, his sire and train All cyes upon the gateway hung, Tried every aid, but tried in vain. When through the Gothic arch there The soul, too soft its ills to bear,

sprung Had left our mortal hemisphere, Ahorseman arm’d, at headlongspcedAnd sought in better world the mced Sable his cloak, his plume, his steed. To blameless life by Heaven decreed. Fire from the flinty floor was spurnd,

Thevaults unwonted clang return'd:

One instant's glance around he threw, The wretched sire beheld, aghast, From saddlebow his pistol drew. With Wilfrid all his projects past. Grimly determined was his look! All turn'd and centred on his son, His charger with the spurs he strook On Wilfrid all--and he was gone. All scatter'd backward as he came, * And I am childless now,' he said; For all knew Bertram Risingham! *Childless, through that relentless Three bounds that noble courser gave; maid !

The first has reach'd the central nave, A lifetime's arts, in vain essay'd, The second clear'd the chancel wide,

re bursting on their artist's head! The third-he was at Wycliffe's side. Here lies my Wilfrid dead—and there Full levell'd at the Baron's head, Comes hated Mortham for his heir, Rung the report—the bullet spedEager to knit in happy band

And to his long account, and last, With Rokeby's heiress Redmond's Without a groan dark Oswald past ! hand.

All was so quick, that it might seem And shall their triumph soar o'er all A flash of lightning, or a dream. The schemes deep-laid to work their

XXXIII. fall ? No!-deeds, which prudence might : While yet the smoke the deed conceals, not dare,

Bertram his ready charger wheels; Appal not vengeance and despair. But flounder'd on the pavement-Noor The murd’ress weeps upon his bier The steed, and down the rider bore, I'll change to real that feigned tear! And, bursting in the headlong sway, They all shall share destruction's | The faithless saddle-girths gave way: shock ;

'Twas while he toil'd him to be freed, Ho! lead the captives to the block!' And with the rein to raise the steed, But ill his Provost could divine That from amazement's iron trance His feelings, and forbore the sign. All Wycliffe's soldiers waked at once. Slave! to the block :-or I, or they, Sword, halberd, musket-but, their Shall face the judgment-seat this day!' blow's

Hail'd upon Bertram as he rose;

A score of pikes, with each a wound,
The outmost crowd have heard a sound Bore down and pinn'd him to the
Like horse's hoof on harden'd ground; ground;
Nearer it came, and yet more near, -- But still his struggling force he rears,
The very death's-men paused to hear. 'Gainst hacking brands and stabbing
'Tis in the churchyard now, the tread spears;
Hath waked the dwelling of the dead! Thrice from assailants shook him free,
Fresh sod, and old sepulchral stone, Once gain'd his feet, and twice his
Return the tramp in varied tone.


[ocr errors]

By tenfold odds oppress'd at length, What saw he ?—not the church's floor Despite his struggles and his strength, Cumber'd with dead and staind with Ile took a hundred mortal wounds

gore; As mute as fox ’mongst mangling What heard he?—not the clamorous hounds;

crowd, And when he died, his parting groan That shout their gratulations loud: Ilal more of laughter than of moan! Redmond he saw and heard alone, - They gazed, as when a lion dies, Clasp'd him, and sobb’d, “My son! my And hunters scarcely trust their eyes,

son!'But bend their weapons on the slain

XXXV. Lest the grim king should rouse again! Then blow and insult some renew'd, This chanced upon a summer morn, And from the trunk the head had When yellow waved the heavy corn; hew'd,

But when brown August o'er the land But Basil's voice the deed forbade; Call’d forth the reapers' busy band, A mantle o'er the corse he laid : A gladsome sight the silvan road *Fell as he was in act and mind, From Egliston to Mortham show'd. IIc left no bolder heart behind: Awhile the hardy rustic leaves Then give him, for a soldier mect, The task to bind and pile the shcaves, A soldier's cloak for winding-sheet.'

And maids their sickles fling aside

To gaze on bridegroom and on bride, Xxxiv.

And childhood's wondering group No more of death and dying pang,

draws near, No more of trump and bugle clang, And from the gleaner's hands the car Though through the sounding woods Drops, while she folds them fora prayer there come

And blessing on the lovely pair. Banner and bugle, trump and drum.

'Twas then the Maid of Rokeby gave Arm'd with such powers as well had Her plighted troth to Redmond brave; freed

And Teesdale can remember yet Young Redmond at his utmost need, Ilow Fate to Virtue paid her debt, And back'd with such a band of horse And, for theirtroubles, bade themprove As might less ample powers enforce; A lengthen'd life of peace and love. Possessid of overy proof and sign That gave an heir to Mortham's line, And yielded to a father's arms


Time and Tide had thus their sway, An image of his Edith's charms, Yielding, like an April day, Mortham is come, to hear and see Smiling noon for sullen morrow, Of this strange morn the history. | Years of joy for hours of sorrow!

[ocr errors]


Introduction and Clotes to Rokeby.



BETWEEN the publication of 'The Lady of ; I purchased a small farm of about one the Lake,' which was so eminently successful, hundred acres, with the purpose of jilanting and that of 'Rokeby;' in 1813, three years and improving it, to which property circumhad intervened. I shall not, I believe, be stances afterwards enabled ine to make conaccused of ever having attempted to usurp siderable additions; and thus an ea took a superiority over many men of genius, my place in my life, almost equal to the imcontemporaries; but, in point of popularity, portant one mentioned by the Vicar of Wakerot of actual talent, the caprice of the public fiell when he removed from the blue room had certainly given me such a temporary to the brown. In point of neighbourhood, superiority over men, of whom, in regard to at least, the change of risikence made little poetical fancy and feeling, I scarcely thought more difference. Abbotsford, to which we myself worthy to loose the shoe-latchet. On removerl, was only six or seven miles down the other hand, it would be absurd affectation the Tweed, and lay on the same beautiful in me to deny that I conceived myself to

It did not possess the romantic: understand, more perfectly than many ofiny ! character of Ashestiel, my former residence; contemporaries, the manner most likely to but it had a stretch of meadow-land along interest the great mass of mankind. Yet, the river, and possessed, in the plase of the even with this belief, I inust truly and fairly | landscape-gardener, considerable capabilisay that I always considered myself rather ties. Above all, the land was my own, like as one who held the bets, in time to be paid l'ncle Toby's bowling-green, to do what I over to the winner, than as having any pre would with It had been, though the gratitence to keep them in my own right.

fication was long postponed, an early wish In the meantime years crept on, and not of mine to connect myself with my mother without their usual depredations on the earth, and prosecute those experiments by passing generation. My sons had arrived which a species of creative power is exercised at the age when the paternal home was no over the face of nature. I can trace", "ven to longer their best abode, as both were des childhood, a pleasure derived from Dodsley's tinel to active life. The fiell-sports, to account of Shenstone's Leasowes, and envieel which I was peculiarly attached, had now the poet much more for the pleasure of less interest, and were replaced by other accomplishing the objects detailed in liis amusements of a more quiet character; and friend's sketch of his grounds, than for the the means and opportunity of pursuing these possession of pipe, crook, flock, and Phillis were to be sought for. I had, indeed, for to boot. My memory, also, tenacious of sone years attended to farming, a know- quaint expressions, still retained a plırase ledge of which is, or at least was then, indis which it had gathered from an old almanack pensable to the comfort of a family resiiling of Charles the Second's time (when everyin a solitary country-house; but although thing down to almanacks affected to be this was the favourite amusement of many smart), in which the reader, in the month of of my friends, I have never been able

to con June, is advised for health's sake to walk sider it as a source of pleasure. I never a mile or two every day before breakfast, could think it a matter of passing importance and, if he can possibly so manage, to let his that my cattle or crops were better or more exercise be taken upon his own landi. plentiful than those of iny neighbours, and With the satisfaction of having attaine! nevertheless I began to feel the necessity of the fulfilment of an early and long-cherisheel some more quiet out-coor occupation, if hope I commenced my improvements, as ferent from those I had hitherto pursued. I delightful in their progress as those of the

child who first makes a dress for a new doll. charms. The reviewers may be said to have The nakedness of the lard was in time hidden apostrophized the author in the language of by woodlands of considerable extent; the Parnell's Edwinsmallest of possible cottages was progres "And here reverse the charm, he cries, sively expanded into a sort of dream of a man And let it fairly now suffice, sion house, whimsical in the exterior, but con

The gambol has been shown.' venient within. Nor did I forget what is the The licentious combination of rhymes, in natural pleasure of every man who has been a manner not perhaps very congenial to our a reader; I mean the filling the shelves of a language, had not been confined to the author. tolerably large library. All these objects I Indeed, in most similar cases, the inventors kept in view, to be executed as convenience of such novelties have their reputation deshould serve; and, although I knew many stroyed by their own imitators, as Actacon years must elapse before they could be fell under the fury of his own dogs. The preattained, I was of a disposition to comfort sent author, like Bobadil, had taught his trick myself with the Spanish proverb, ‘Time and of fence to a hundred gentlemen (and ladies) I against any two:

who could fence very nearly or quite as well The difficult and indispensable point of as himself. For this there was no remedy ; finding a permanent subject of occupation the harmony became tiresome and ordinary, was now at length attained; but there was and both the original inventor and his invenannexed to it the necessity of becoming tion must have fallen into contempt if he had again a candidate for public favour; for, as not found out another road to public favour. I'was turned improver on the earth of the What has been said of the metre only, must every-day world, it was under condition that be considered to apply equally to the structhe small tenement of Parnassus, which might ture of the poem and of the style. The very be accessible to my labours, should not re best passages of any popular style are not, main uncultivated.

perhaps, susceptible of imitation, but they I meditated, at first, a poem on the subject may be approached by men of talent; and of Bruce, in which I made some progress, but those who are less able to copy them at least afterwards judged it advisable to lay it aside, lay hold of their peculiar features so as to supposing that an English story might have produce a strong burlesque. In either way, more novelty; in consequence, the precedence the effect of the manner is rendered cheap was given to 'Rokeby."

and common; and, in the latter case, ridicu. If subject and scenery could have influenced lous to boot.' The evil consequences to an the fate of a poem, that of 'Rokeby'should author's reputation are at least as fatal as have been eminently distinguished; for the those which come upon the musical composer grounds belonged to a dear friend with whom when his melody falls into the hands of the I had lived in habits of intimacy for many street ballad-singer. years, and the place itself united the romantic Of the unfavourable species of imitation, beauties of the wilds of Scotland with the

rich the author's style gave room to a very large and smiling aspect of the southern portion of number, owing to an appearance of facility the island. But the Cavaliers and Roundheads to which some of those who used the measure whom I attempted to summon up to tenant unquestionably leaned too far. The effect of this beautiful region, had for the public neither the more favourable imitations, composed by the novelty nor the peculiar interest of the persons of talent, was almost equally unprimitive Highlanders. This, perhaps, was fortunate to the original minstrel, by showing scarcely to be expected, considering that the that they could overshoot him with his own general mind sympathizes readily and at once bow. In short, the popularity which once with the stamp which nature herself has affixed attended the School, as it was called, was now upon the manners of a people living in a simple fast decaying: and patriarchal state; whereas it has more Besides allthis to have kept hisground at the difficulty in understanding or interesting itself crisis when 'Rokeby'appeared, its author ought in manners founded upon those peculiar habits to have put forth his utmost strength, and to of thinking or acting which are produced by have possessed at least all his original adranthe progress of society. We could read with tages, for a mighty and unexpected rival was pleasure the tale of the adventures of a Cos- advancing on the stage-a rival not in poetical sack or a Mongol Tartar, while we only powers only, but in that art of attracting Wonder and stare over those of the lovers popularity in which the present writer had in 'The Pleasing Chinese History,' where the hitherto preceded better inen than himself. einbarrassments turn upon difficulties arising The reader will easily see that Byron is here out of unintelligible delicacies peculiar to the meant, who, after a little velitation of no great customs and manners of that affected people. promise, now appeared as a serious candidate,

The cause of my failure had, however, a far in the First Two Cantos of Childe Harold. deeper root. The manner, or style, which, I was astonished at the power evinced by by its novelty, attracted the public in an un that work, which neither the 'Hours of Idleusual degree, had now, after having been three ness' nor the 'English Bards and Scotch Retimes before them, exhausted the patience of viewers' had prepared me to expect from its the reader, and began in the fourth to lose its | author. There was a depth in his thought,


an eager abundance in his diction, which not brook the idea of relinquishing literary arguet full confidence in the inexhaustible occupation, which had been so long iny chief resources of which he felt himself possessed; diversion. Neither was I disposed to choose and there was some appearance of that labour the alternative of sinking into a mere editor of the file which indicates that the author is and commentator, though that was a species conscious of the necessity of doing every justice

of labour which I had practised, and to which to his work that it may pass warrant.' Lord I was attached. But I could not endure to Byron was also a traveller, a man whose ideas think that I might not, whether known or were fired by having scen, in distant scenes of concealed, do something of more importance. difficulty and danger, the places whose very My inmost thoughts were those of the Trojan names are recorded in our bosoms as the captain in the galley raceshrines of ancient poetry. For his own mis Yun jain prima peto Mnestheus, neque vincere fortune, perhaps, but certainly to the high increase of his poetical character, nature had Quanquam 0 !-sed superent, quibus hoc, Neptune, mixed in Lord Byron's system those passions

cleclisti. which agitate the human heart with most

Extremus pucleat rediisse : hoc vincite, cives, violence, and which may be said to have

Et prohibete nefas.'—EX. v. 194–197. hurried his bright career to an early close. I had, indeed, some private reasons for my There would have been little wisciom in Quanquam O! which were not worse than incasuring my force with so formidable an those of Mnestheus. I have already hinted antagonist ; and I was as likely to tire of play. that the materials were collected for a poem ing the second fiddle in the concert, as my au- | on the subject of Bruce, and fragments of it dience of hearing me. Age also wasadvancing. had been shown to some of my friends, and I was growing insensible to those subjects received with applause. Notwithstanding, of excitation by which youth is agitated. therefore, the eminent success of Byron, and I had around me the most pleasant but least the great chance of his taking the wind out exciting of all society, that of kind friends of my sails, there was, I judged, a species of and an affectionate family. My circle of cowardice in desisting from the task which employments was a narrow one; it occupied I had undertaken, and it was time enough to ine constantly, and it became daily more retreat when the battle should be more sitedifficult for me to interest myself in poetical cidedly lost. The sale of 'Rokeby,'excepting composition.

as compared with that of 'The Lady of the How happily the days of Thalaba went by!'

Lake,' was in the highest degree respectable;

and as it included fifteen hundred quartos, in Yet, though conscious that I must be, in those quarto-reading days, the trade had 'no the opinion of good judges, inferior to the reason to be dissatistied. place I had for four or five years held in letters,

WALTER SCOTT. and feeling alike that the latter was one to which I had only a temporary right, I could ABBOTSFORD, April 1830).


Note I.

tions of some persons, to whom the tower has On Barnard's towers, and Tees's stream.

been leased for the purpose of making patent -P. 313.

shot! The prospect from the top of Baliol's

Tower commands a rich and 'inagniticent BARNARD CASTLE, saith old Leland, view of the wooded valley of the Tees. 'standeth stately upon Tees.' It is founded Barnard Castle often changed masters upon a very high bank, and its ruins impend during the middle ages, l'pon the forfeiture over the river, including within the area of the unfortunate John Baliol, the first king a circuit of six acres and upwards. This' of Scotland of that family, Edward I seized once magnificent fortress derives its name this fortress among the other English estates from its founder, Barnard Baliol, the ances. of his refractory vassal. It was afterwards tor of the short and unfortunate dynasty of vested in the Beauchamps of Warwick, and that name, which succeeded to the Scottish in the Staffords of Buckingham, and was also throne under the patronage of Edward I and sometimes in the possession of the Bishops of Edward III. Baliol's Tower, afterwards Durhain, and sometimes in that of the crown, mentioned in the poem, is a round tower of Richard III is said to have enlarged and great size, situated at the western extremity strengthened its fortifications, and to have of the building. It bears marks of great made it for some time his principal residence, antiquity, and was remarkable for the curious for the purpose of bridling and suppressing construction of its vaulted roof, which has the Lancastrian faction in the northern been lately greatly injured by the opera. ¡ counties. From the Staffords, Barnard

« AnteriorContinuar »