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No more a lord of rank and birth,
But mingled with the dregs of earth.
Oft Austin for my reason feard,
When I would sit, and deeply brood
On dark revenge, and deeds of blood,
Or wild mad schemes uprear'd.
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 ere my deadliest enemy
Beneath my brand should conquer'd lie,
E'en 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,
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 :
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.
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,
My blood is liquid fame!
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;
But in my bosom muster'd hell
Its plans of dark revenge.
Perchance you heard the abbess tell
Of the strange pageantry of hell,
That broke our secret speech-
It rose from the infernal shade,
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,
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
The tide of fight on Otterburne,
And Harry Hotspur forced to yield,
When the dead Douglas won the field.
These Angus gave-his armour's care,
Ere morn, shall every breach repair;
For naught, he said, was in his halls,
But ancient armour on the walls,
And aged chargers in the stalls,
And women, priests, and gray-hair'd men ;
The rest were all in Twisel glen.*
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 !
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.
Now meeter far for martial broil,
Firmer my limbs, and strung by toil,
Once more”-“0, Wilton! must we then
Risk new-found happiness again,
Trust fate of arms once more?
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?-
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,
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 !"
VIII. “A word of vulgar augury, That broke from me, I scarce knew why,
Brought on a village tale ;
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,
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,)
Then had three inches of my blade
The heavy debt of vengeance paid,--
My hand the thought of Austin stay'd
I left him there alone.
0, good old man! e'en from the grave,
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,
And vindicate De Wilton's name.-
XI. That night, upon the rocks and bay, The midnight moonbeam slumbering lay, And pour'd its silver light, and pure, Through loop hole, and through embrazure
Upon Tantallon tower and hall;
Where James encamped before taking post at Flodden
But chief were 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,
Though two gray 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,
Checkering the silvery moonshine 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
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.
Beside him ancient Angus stood,
Doff’d his fair 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
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,
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.
Not far advanced was morning day.
When Marmion did his troop array
To Surrey's camp to ride ;
He had safe conduct for his band,
Beneath the royal seal and hand,
And Douglas gave a guide ;
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,
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 stay'd;
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 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 stoneThe hand of Douglas is his own; And never shall in friendly grasp The hand of such as Marmion clasp.”
XII. 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, 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,
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,
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-
“ 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.
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!"
Burn'd Marmion's swarthy cheek like fire,
And shook his very frame for ire,
And" This to me!” he said, -
An 'twere not for thy hoary beard,
Such hand as Marmion's had not spared
To cleave the Douglas' head!
And, first, I tell thee, haughty peer,
He, who does England's message here,
Although the meanest in her state,
May well, proud Angus, be thy mate:
And, Douglas, more I tell thee here,
E'en in thy pitch of pride,
Here, in thy hold, thy vassals near,
(Nay, never look upon your lord,
And lay your hands upon your sword,)
I tell thee, thou’rt defied !
And if thou saidst, I am not peer
To any lord in Scotland here,
Lowland or highland, far or near,
Lord Angus, thou hast lied !”
On the earl's cheek the flush of rage
O'ercame the ashen hue of age :
Fierce he broke forth : “ And darest thou then
To beard the lion in his den,
The Douglas in his hall ?
And hopest thou hence unscath'd to go?
No, by St. Bride of Bothwell, no!
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,
The ponderous gate behind him rung:
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?"
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 ;
Not lighter does the swallow skim
Along the smooth lake's level brim :
And when Lord Marmion reach'd his band,
He halts and turn’d with clenched hand,
And shout of loud defiance pours,
And shook his gauntlet at the towers.
" Horse! horse !" the Douglas cried, “and
But soon he rein'd his fury's pace;
“ A royal messenger he came,
Though most unworthy of the name.-
A letter forged! St. 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 St. Bothan, son of mine,
Save Gawain, ne'er could pen a line :
So swore I, and I swear it still,
Let my boy-bishop fret his fill.-
St. Mary mend my fiery mood !
Old age ne'er cools the Douglas' blood,
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,
And slowly seeks his castle's halls.
The day in Marmion's journey wore;
Yet, ere his passion's gust was o’er,
They cross'd the heights of Stanrig-moor.
His troop more closely there he scann'd,
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,
“ 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,
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,
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
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
To use him on the battle day;
XVII. “ In brief, my lord, we both descried (For I then stood by Henry's side) The palmer mount, and outward ride,
Upon the earl's own favourite steed;
All sheath'd he was in armour bright,
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;-
“Ah! dastard fool! to reason lost !"
He mutter'd; “ 'Twas not fay nor ghost,
I met upon the moonlight wold,
But living man of earthly mould.-
O dotage blind and gross !
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;
'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;
Must separate Constance from the nun-
O what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive S
A palmer, too !-no wonder why
I felt rebuked beneath his eye:
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.
(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,
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.
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,
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,
For, flashing on the hedge of spears
The eastern sunbeam shines.
His eldest son, the master of Angus.
Their front now deepening, now extending,
Their fank inclining, wheeling, bending,
Now drawing back, and now descending,
The skilful Marmion well could know
They watch the motion of some foe,
Who traversed on the plain below.
Even so it was :-From Flodden ridge
The Scots beheld the English host
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;
Beneath the cavern'd cliff they fall,
Beneath the castle's airy wall.
By rock, by oak, by hawthorn tree, Troop aster troop are disappearing; Troop after troop their banners rearing
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,
In slow succession still,
And sweeping o'er the Gothic arch,
And pressing on,
To gain the opposing hill.
That morn, to many a trumpet-clang,
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 springtide bloom so lavishly,
Had then from many an axe its doom,
To give the marching columns room.
“ Hark! hark! my lord, an English drum! And see, ascending squadrons come
Between Tweed's river and the hill,
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 fair array'd
They file from out the hawthorn shade,
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 Ay.”“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, 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.”
And why stands Scotland idly now,
Dark Flodden! on thy airy brow,
Since England gains the pass the while,
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,
Between him and Tweed's southern strand,
His host lord Surrey lead ? What vails the vain knight-crrant's brand ! O, Douglas, for thy leading wand !
Fierce Randolph, for thy speed ! O for one hour of Wallace wight, Or well-skill'a 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, And Flodden had been Bannock-bourne 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.
Himself he swist 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,
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.”
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;
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,
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,
A caution not in vain ;
Deep need that day that every string,
By wet upharm’d should sharply ring.
A moment then Lord Marmion stay'd,
And breathed his steed, his men array'd,
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.
XXI. Ere yet the bands met Marmion's eye, Fitz-Eustace shouted loud and high
XXIII. Hence might they see the full array Of either host, for deadly fray ; Their marshall'd line stretch'd east and west,
And fronted north and south
And distant salutation past
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 stay'd: “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 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.-
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,
Nor heed the discontented look From either squire ; but spurr'd amain, And, dashing through the battle plain,
His way to Surrey took.
And sudden, as he spoke,
From the sharp ridges of the hill,
All downward to the banks of Till,
Was wreath'd in sable smoke;
Volumed and vast, and rolling far,
The cloud enveloped Scotland's war,
As down the bill they broke;
Nor martial shout, nor minstrel tone,
Announced their march; their tread alone,
At times one warning trumpet blown,
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.-
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,
And fiends in upper air ;
0! 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 Could in the darkness naught descry.
“ – The good Lord Marmion, by my life!
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,
My sons command the va'ward post,
With Brian Tunstall, stainless knight;
Lord Dacre, with his horsemen light,
Shall be in rearward of the fight,
And succour those that need it most.
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,
Beneath De Burgh, thy steward true.”-
“ Thanks, noble Surrey !” Marmion said,
Nor further greeting there he paid ;
But, parting like a thunderbolt,
First in the vanguard made a halt,
Where such a shout there rose
Of “ Marmion! Marmion !” that the cry
Up Flodden mountain shrilling high,
Startled the Scottish foes.
XXVI. At length the freshening western blast Aside the shroud of battle cast; And, first, the ridge of mingled spears Above the brightening cloud appears ; And in the smoke the pendons 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 crest of chieftains brave, Floating like foam upon the wave,
But naught distinct they see :
Wide raged the battle on the plain ;
Spears shook, and falchions flash'd amain;
Fell England's arrow-flight like rain;
Crests rose, and stoop'd, and rose again,
Wild and disorderly.
Amid the scene of tumult, high
They saw Lord Marmion's falcon ily:
And stainless Tunstall's banner white,
And Edmund Howard's lion bright,
Still bear them bravely in the fight;
Although against them come,
Of gallart Gordons many a one,
And many a stubborn highlandman,
And many a rugged border clan,
With Huntley, and with Home.
XXV. Blount and Fitz-Eustace rested still With Lady Clare upon the hill; On which (for far the day was spent) The western sumbeams now were bent; The cry they heard, its meaning knew, Could plain their distant comrades view; Sadly to Blount did Eustace say, “ Unworthy office here to stay, No hope of gilded spurs to-dayBut, see! look up-on Flodden bent, The Scottish foe has fired his tent."
XXVII. Far on the left, unseen the while, Stanley broke Lennox and Argyle ; Though there the western mountaineer 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. Then fell that spotless banner white, The Howard's lion fell;