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How long didst thou think that his silence was slumber?
When the wind waved his garment, how oft didst thou start ? How many long days and long nights didst thou number,
Ere he faded before thee, the friend of thy heart?
And oh! was it meet that—no requiem read o'er him,
No mother to weep, and no friend to deplore him,
And thou, little guardian, alone stretched before him,-
Unhonoured the pilgrim from life should depart ?
When a prince to the fate of the peasant has yielded,
The tapestry waves dark round the dim-lighted hall; With scutcheons of silver the coffin is shielded,
And pages stand mute by the canopied pall : Through the courts, at deep midnight, the torches are gleaming ; In the proudly-arched chapel the banners are beaming ; Far adown the long aisle sacred music is streaming,
Lamenting a chief of the people should fall.
But meeter for thee, gentle lover of nature,
To lay down thy head like the meek mountain lamb,
When, wildered, he drops from some cliff huge in stature,
And draws his last sob by the side of his dam.
And more stately thy couch by this desert lake lying,
Thy obsequies sung by the gray plover flying,
With one faithful friend but to witness thy dying,
In the arms of Helvellyn and Catchedicam.
Sir W. Scott.
ON THE EVE OF THE BATTLE OF BANNOCKBURN.
The monarch rode along the van,
The foe's approaching force to scan,
His line to marshal and to range,
And ranks to square, and fronts to change.
Alone he rode—from head to heel
Sheathed in his ready arms of steel ;
Nor mounted yet on war-horse wight,
But, till more near the shock of fight,
Reining a palfrey low and light.
A diadem of gold was set
Above his bright steel basinet;
And clasped within its glittering twine
Was seen the glove of Argentine :
Truncheon or leading staff he lacks,
Bearing, instead, a battle-axe.
He ranged his soldiers for the fight
Accoutred thus, in open sight
Of either host.—Three bow-shots far,
Paused the deep front of England's war,
And rested on their arms awhile,
To close and rank their warlike file,
And old high council, if that night
Should view the strife, or dawning light.
Oh gay, yet fearful to behold,
Flashing with steel and rough with gold,
And bristled o'er with bills and spears,
With plumes and pennons waving fair,
Was that bright battle-front ! for there
Rode England's king and peers : And who, that saw that monarch ride, His kingdom battled by his side, Could then his direful doom foretell !Fair was his seat in knightly selle, And in his sprightly eye was set Some spark of the Plantagenet. Though light and wandering was his glance It flashed at sight of shield and lance.
• Knowest thou,' he said, 'De Argentine, Yon knight who marshals thus their line ??
“The tokens on his helmet tell The Bruce, my liege: I know him well.?
"And shall the audacious traitor brave The presence where our banners wave?'
. So please my liege,' said Argentine,
“Were he but horsed on steed like mine, To give him fair and knightly chance, I would adventure forth my lance.'
In battle-day,' the king replied,
*Nice tourney rules are set aside.
Still must the rebel dare our wrath ?
Set on him-sweep him from our path !'-
And, at King Edward's signal, soon
Dashed from the ranks Sir Henry Boune.
Of Hereford's high blood he came,
A race renowned for knightly fame.
He burned before his monarch's eye
To do some deed of chivalry.
He spurred his steed, he couched his lance,
And darted on the Bruce at once.
-As motionless as rocks, that bide
The wrath of the advancing tide,
The Bruce stood fast.–Each breast beat high,
And dazzled was each gazing eye-
The heart had hardly time to think,
The eyelid scarce had time to wink,
While on the king, like flash of flame,
Spurred to full speed, the war-horse came !
The partridge may the falcon mock,
If that slight palfrey stand the shock.
But, swerving from the knight's career, .
Just as they met, Bruce shunned the spear.
Onward the baffled warrior bore
His course-but soon his course was o'er !-
High in his stirrups stood the king,
And gave his battle-axe the swing:
Right on De Boune, the whiles he passed,
Fell that stern dint—the first-the last !
Such strength upon the blow was put,
The helmet crashed like hazel-nut;
The axe-shaft, with its brazen clasp,
Was shivered to the gauntlet grasp.
Springs from the blow the startled horse,
Drops to the plain the lifeless corse.
-First of that fatal field, how soon,
How sudden, fell the fierce De Boune !
Sir W. Scott.
All night the storm had raged, nor ceased, nor paused,
When, as day broke, the Maid, through misty air,
Espies far off a wreck amid the surf,
Beating on one of those disastrous isles-
Half of a vessel, half-no more; the rest
Had vanished, swallowed up with all that there
Had for the common safety striven in vain,
Or thither thronged for refuge. With quick glance,
Daughter and sire through optic-glass discern,
Clinging about the remnant of this ship,
Creatures—how precious in the maiden's sight!
For whom, belike, the old man grieves still more
Than for their fellow-sufferers engulfed
Where every parting agony is hushed,
And hope and fear mix not in further strife.
• But courage, Father! let us out to sea-
A few may yet be saved.' The Daughter's words,
Her earnest tone, and look beaming with faith,
Dispel the Father's doubts; nor do they lack
The noble-minded Mother's helping hand
To launch the boat; and with her blessing cheered,
And inwardly sustained by silent prayer,
Together they put forth, Father and Child !
Each grasps an oar, and struggling on they go-
Rivals in effort; and, alike intent
Here to elude and there surmount, they watch
The billows lengthening, mutually crossed,
And shattered, and re-gathering their might;
As if the tumult, by the Almighty's will,
Were, in the conscious sea, roused and prolonged,
That woman's fortitude-so tried, so proved-
May brighten more and more!
True to the mark,
They stem the current of that perilous gorge,
Their arms still strengthening with the strengthening heart;
Though danger, as the Wreck is neared, becomes
More imminent. Not unseen do they approach ;
And rapture, with varieties of fear
Incessantly conflicting, thrills the frames
Of those who, in that dauntless energy,
Foretaste deliverance; but the least perturbed
Can scarcely trust his eyes, when he perceives
That of the pair-tossed on the waves to bring
Hope to the hopeless, to the dying, life-
One is a woman, a poor, earthly sister;
Or be she visitant other than she seems,
A Guardian Spirit, sent from pitying Heaven,
In woman's shape ? But why prolong the tale,
Casting weak wurds amid a host of thoughts
Armed to repel them ? Every hazard faced
And difficulty mastered, with resolve
That no one breathing should be left to perish,
This last remainder of the crew are all
Placed in the little boat, then o'er the deep
Are safely borne, landed upon the beach,
And in fulfilment of God's mercy, lodged
Within the sheltering Lighthouse.—Shout, ye waves !
Send forth a song of triumph! Waves and winds,
Exult in this deliverance wrought through faith
In Him whose Providence your rage hath served
Ye screaming sea-mews, in the concert join!
And would that some immortal Voice-a Voice
Fitly attuned to all that gratitude
Breathes out from floor, or couch, through pallid lips
Of the survivors—to the clouds might bear-
Blended with praise of that parental love,
Beneath whose watchful eye the Maiden grew
Pious and pure, modest and yet so brave,
Though young so wise, though meek so resolute-
Might carry to the clouds and to the stars,
Yea, to celestial choirs, Grace Darling's name !