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Headlong to plunge himself below,
But from his glance it well appear'd,
XXX. “No, by mine honour,” Roderick said, “So help me, heaven, and my good blade! No, never! blasted be yon pine, My fathers' ancient crest and mine, If from its shade in danger part The lineage of the bleeding heart! Hear my blunt speech, grant me this maid To wife, thy counsel to mine aid ; To Douglas, leagued with Roderick Dhu, Will friends and allies Rock enow; Like cause of doubt, distrust, and grief, Will bind to us each western chief. When the loud pipes my bridal tell, The links of Forth shall hear the knell, The guards shall start in Stirling's porch; And, when I light the nuptial torch, A thousand villages in flames Shall scare the slumbers of King James ! -Nay, Ellen, blench not thus away, And, mother, cease these signs, I pray I meant not all my heart might say. Small need of inroad, or of fight, When the sage Douglas may unite Each mountain clan in friendly band, To guard the passes of their land, Till the foil'd king, from pathless glen, Shall bootless turn him home agen.”
XXXII. Such purpose dread could Malcolm spy In Ellen's quivering lip and eye, And eager rose to speak-but ere His tongue could hurry forth his fear, Had Douglas mark'd the hectic strife, Where death seem'd combating with life; For to her cheek, in severish flood, One instant rush'd the throbbing blood, Then ebbing back, with sudden sway, Left its domain as wan as clay. “ Roderick, enough! enough!” he cried, “My daughter cannot be thy bride; Not that the blush to wooer dear, Nor paleness that of maiden fear. It may not be-forgive her, chief, Nor hazard aught for our relief. Against his sovereign Douglas ne'er Will level a rebellious spear. "Twas I that taught his youthful hand To rein a steed and wield a brand; I see him yet, the princely boy! Not Ellen more my pride and joy: I love him still, despite my wrongs By hasty wrath and slanderous tongues. O seek the grace you well may find, Without a cause to mine combined.”
XXXIII. Twice through the hall the chieftain strode ; The waving of his tartans broad, And darken'd brow, where wounded pride With ire and disappointment vied, Seem'd, by the torch's gloomy light, Like the ill demon of the night, Stooping his pinions' shadowy sway Upon the ’nighted pilgrim's way: But, unrequited love! thy dart Plunged deepest its en venom'd smart, And Roderick, with thine anguish stung, At length the hand of Douglas wrung, While eyes, that mock'd at tears before, With bitter drops were running o'er. The death pangs of long cherish'd hope Scarce in that ample breast had scope, But, struggling with his spirit proud, Convulsive heaved its checker'd shroud, While every sob-so mute were allWas heard distinctly through the hall. The son's despair, the mother's look, Ill might the gentle Ellen brook; She rose, and to her side there came, To aid her parting steps, the Græme.
XXXI. There are who have, at midnight hour, In slumber scaled a dizzy tower, And, on the verge that beetled o’er The ocean tide's incessant roar, Dream'd calmly out their dangerous dream. Till waken'd by the morning beam, When, dazzled by the eastern glow, Such startler cast his glance below, And saw unmeasured depth around, And heard unintermitted sound, And thought the battled fence so frail, It waved like cobweb in the gale ; Amid his senses' giddy wheel, Did he not desperate impulse feel
XXXIV. Then Roderick from the Douglas brokeAs flashes flame through sable smoke,
3 m 2
Kindling its wreaths, long, dark and low, And anxious told, how, on the morn,
The stern Sir Roderick deep had sworn
The fiery cross should circle o'er Burst, in fierce jealousy, to air.
Dale, glen, and valley, down, and moor. With stalwart grasp his hand he laid
Much were the peril to the Græme, On Malcolm's breast and belted plaid :
From those who to the signal came : “ Back, beardless boy !” he sternly said,
Far up the lake 'twere safest land, “ Back, minion ! hold'st thou thus at naught Himself would row him to the strand, The lesson I so lately taught?
He gave his counsel to the wind, This roof, the Douglas, and that maid,
While Malcolm did, unheeding, bind Thank thou for punishment delay'd.”
Round dirk, and pouch, and broadsword roll’d, Eager as greyhound on his game,
His ample plaid in tighten'd fold, Fiercely with Roderick grappled Græme.
And stripp'd his limbs to such array, “Perish my name, if aught afford
As best might suit the watery way.
Then spoke abrupt: “ Farewell to thee And death had been—but Douglas rose,
Pattern of old fidelity !” And thrust between the struggling foes
The minstrel's hand he kindly press’d, His giant strength:—“Chieftains, forego !
“O! could I point a place of rest! I hold the first who strikes, my foe.
My sovereigu holds in ward my land, Madmen, forbear your frantic jar!
My uncle leads my vassal band; What! is the Douglas fallen so far,
To tame his foes, his friends to aid, His daughter's hand is deem'd the spoil
Poor Malcolm has but heart and blade. Of such dishonourable broil!”
Yet, if there be one faithful Græme Sullen and slowly they unclasp,
Who loves the chieftain of his name, As struck with shame, their desperate grasp,
Not long shall honour'd Douglas dwell, And each upon his rival glared,
Like bunted stag, in mountain cell ;
I may not give the rest to air !-
Tell Roderick Dhu I owed him naught,
Not the poor service of a boat, Margaret on Roderick's mantle hung,
To waft me to yon mountain side.”And Malcolm heard his Ellen scream,
Then plunged he in the flashing tide. As falter'd through terrific dream.
Bold o’er the food his head he bore, Then Roderick plunged in sheath his sword,
And stoutly steerd him from the shore ; And veil'd his wrath in scornful word:
And Allan strain's his anxious eye “Rest sase till morning; pity 'twere
Far mid the lake, his form to spy Such cheek should feel the midnight air!
Darkening across each puny wave, Then mayest thou to James Stuart tell
To which the moon her silver gave. Roderick will keep the lake and fell,
Fast as the cormorant could skim, Nor lackey, with his freeborn clan,
The swimmer plied each active limb: The pageant pomp of earthly man.
Then, landing in the moonlight dell, More would be of Clan-Alpine know,
Loud shouted of his weal to tell. Thou canst our strength and passes show.
The minstrel heard the far halloo, Malise, what ho!”—his henchman came;
And joyful from the shore withdrew. “Give our safe-conduct to the Græme.” Young Malcolm answer'd, calm and bold, “ Fear nothing for thy favourite hold:
1. Reserve, who fear to be thy foes.
TIME rolls his ceaseless course. The race of yore As safe to me the mountain way
Who danced our infancy upon their knee, At midnight, as in blaze of day,
And told our marvelling boyhood legends store, Though with his boldest at his back,
of their strange ventures happ'd by land or sea, E'en Roderick Dhu beset the track.
How are they blotted from the things that be! Brave Douglas,-lovely Ellen, nay,
How few, all weak and wither'd of their force, Naught here of parting will I say.
Wait, on the verge of dark eternity, Earth does not hold a lonesome glen,
Like stranded wrecks, the tide returning hoarse, So secret, but we meet agen.
To sweep them from our sight! Time rolls his Chieftain! we too shall find an hour."
ceaseless course. He said, and left the sylvan bower.
Yet live there still who can remember well,
How, when a mountain chief his bugle blew, Old Allan follow'd to the strand,
Both field and forest, dingle, cliff, and dell, (Such was the Douglas's command,)
And solitary heath, the signal knew;
Had drawn from deepest solitude,
And fast the faithful clan around him drew,
What time the warning note was keenly wound, What time aloft their kindred banner flew, While clamorous war-pipes yell’d the gathering
sound, And while the fiery cross glanced, like a meteor, round.
V. of Brian's birth strange tales were told; His mother watch'd a midnight fold, Built deep within a dreary glen, Where scatter'd lay the bones of men, In some forgotten battle slain, And bleach'd by drifting wind and rain. It might have tamed a warrior's heart, To view such mockery of his art! The knot-grass fetter'd there the hand, Which once could burst an iron band; Beneath the broad and ample bone, That buckler'd heart to fear unknown, A feeble and a timorous guest, The fieldfare framed her lowly nest; There the slow blind-worm left his slime On the fleet limbs that mock'd at time; And there, too, lay the leader's skull, Still wreath'd with chaplet, flush'd and full, For heathbell, with her purple bloom, Supplied the bonnet and the plume. All night, in this sad glen, the maid Sate, shrouded in her mantle's shade: She said no shepherd sought her side, No hunter's hand her snood untied, Yet ne'er again to braid her hair The virgin snood did Alice wear; Gone was her maiden glee and sport, Her maiden girdle all too short, Nor sought she, from that fatal night, Or holy church, or blessed rite, But lock’a her secret in her breast, And died in travail, unconfess'd.
VI. Alone, among his young compeers, Was Brian from his infant years ; A moody and heart-broken boy, Estranged from sympathy and joy, Bearing each taunt which careless tongue On his mysterious lineage flung. Whole nights he spent by moonlight pale, To wood and stream his hap to wail, Till, frantic, he as truth received What of his birth the crowd believed, And sought, in mist and meteor fire, To meet and know his phantom sire !
In vain, to soothe his wayward fate,
VII. The desert gave him visions wild, Such as might suit the spectre's child. Where with black cliffs the torrents toil, He watch'd the wheeling eddies boil, Till, from their foam, his dazzled eyes Beheld the river demon rise ; The mountain mist took form and limb, Of noontide hag, or goblin grim; The midnight wind came wild and dread, Swell’d with the voices of the dead; Far on the future battle-heath His eye beheld the ranks of death: Thus the lone seer, from mankind hurld, Shaped forth a disembodied world. One lingering sympathy of mind Still bound him to the mortal kind; The only parent he could claim Of ancient Alpine's lineage came. Late had he heard in prophet's dream, The fatal Ben-Shie's boding scream ; Sounds, too, had come in midnight blast, Of charging steeds, careering fast Along Benharrow's shingly side, Where mortal horseman ne'er might ride: The thunderbolt had split the pine, All augur'd ill to Alpine's line. He girt his loins, and came to show The signals of impending wo, And now stood prompt to bless or ban, As bade the chieftain of his clan.
And strange and mingled feelings woke,
On Alpine's dwelling low !
Shall doom him wrath and wo.”
And first, in murmur low,
“Wo to the traitor, wo!"
A kindred fate shall know;
And infamy and wo."
Of curses stammer'd slow,
We doom to want and wo!"
VIII. 'Twas all prepared ;—and from the rock, A goat, the patriarch of the flock, Before the kindling pile was laid, And pierced by Roderick's ready blade. Patient the sickening victim eyed The life blood ebb in crimson tide Down his clogg'a beard and shaggy limb, Till darkness glazed his eyeballs dim. The grisly priest, with murmuring prayer, A slender crosslet form’d with care, A cubit's length in measure due; The shafts and limbs were rods of yew, Whose parents in Inch-Cailliach wave Their shadows o'er Clan-Alpine's grave, And, answering Lomond's breezes deep, Soothe many a chieftain's endless sleep. The cross, thus form’d, he held on high, With wasted hand, and haggard eye,
While, with set teeth and clenched hand,
XII. Then Roderick, with impatient look, From Brian's hand the symbol took : “ Speed, Malise, speed !” he said, and gave The crosslet to his henchman brave. “ The muster-place be Lanric meadInstant the time-speed, Malise, speed!” Like heath bird, when the hawks pursue, A barge across Loch-Katrine flew : High stood the henchman on the prow;So rapidly the bargemen row, The bubbles, where they launch'd the boat, Were all unbroken and afloat, Dancing in foam and ripple still, When it had near'd the mainland hill; And from the silver beach's side Still was the prow three fathom wide, When lightly bounded to the land The messenger of blood and brand.
XIII. Speed, Malise, speed! the dun deer's hide On fleeter foot was never tied. Speed, Malise, speed ! such cause of haste Thine active sinews never braced. Bend 'gainst the steepy hill thy breast, Burst down like torrent from its crest; With short and springing footstep pass The trembling bog and false morass ; Across the brook like roebuck bound, And thread the brake like questing hound; The crag is high, the scaur is deep, Yet shrink not from the desperate leap; Parch'd are thy burning lips and brow, Yet by the fountain pause not now; Herald of battle, fate, and fear, Stretch onward in thy fleet career! The wounded hind thou track'st not now Pursuest not maid through greenwood bough, Nor pliest thou now thy fiying pace, With rivals in the mountain race ;
But danger, death, and warrior deed,
He is lost to the forest,
When our need was the sorest. The font, reappearing,
From the raindrops shall borrow, But to us comes no cheering,
To Duncan no morrow!
* Funeral song