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MINSTREL MUSINGS.

513

And the stern joy which warriors feel
In foeman worthy of their steel.
Short space he stood—then wav'd his hand :
Down sunk the disappearing band !
Each warrior vanish'd where he stood,
In broom or bracken, heath or wood;
Sunk brand and spear and bended bow,
In osiers pale and copses low;
It seem'd as if their mother Earth
Had swallow'd up her warlike birth!
The wind's last breath had toss'd in air,
Pennon, and plaid, and plumage fair —
The next but swept a lone hill-side,
Where heath and fern were waving wide ;
The sun's last glance was glinted back,
From spear and glaive, from targe and jack-
The next, all unreflected, shone
On bracken green, and cold grey stone."

p. 202—205. The following picture is of a very different character; but touched also with the hand of a true poet:

“ Yet ere his onward way he took,

The Stranger cast a ling'ring look,
Where easily his eye might reach
The Harper on the islet beach,
Reclin'd against a blighted tree,
As wasted, grey, and worn as he.
To minstrel meditation given,
His rev'rend brow was rais'd to heaven,
As from the rising sun to claim
A sparkle of inspiring flame.
His hand, reclin'd upon the wire,
Seem'd watching the awak’ning fire ;
So still he sate, as those who wait
Till judgment speak the doom of fate ;
So still,

if no breeze might dare
To lift one lock of hoary hair ;
So still, as life itself were fled,
In the last sound his harp had sped.
Upon a rock with lichens wild,

Beside him Ellen sate and smild,” &c. - p. 50, 51. Though these extracts have already extended this article beyond all reasonable bounds, we cannot omit Ellen's introduction to the court, and the transformation of Fitz-James into the King of Scotland. The unknown prince, it will be recollected, himself conducts her into the royal presence: VOL. II.

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514 LADY OF THE LAKE - GRACEFUL DÉNOUEMENT.

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“ With beating heart, and bosom wrung,
As to a brother's arm she clung.
Gently he dried the falling tear,
And gently whisper'd hope and cheer;
Her falt'ring steps half led, half staid,
Through gallery fair and high arcade,
Till, at his touch, its wings of pride
A portal arch unfolded wide.
“ Within 'twas brilliant all and light,
A thronging scene of figures bright;
It glow'd on Ellen's dazzled sight,
As when the setting sun has given
Ten thousand hues to summer even,
And, from their tissue fancy frames
Aerial knights and fairy dames.
Still by Fitz-James her footing staid ;
A few faint steps she forward made,
Then slow her drooping head she rais'd,
And fearful round the presence gaz'd;
For him she sought, who own’d this state,
The dreaded prince, whose will was fate! -
She gaz'd on many a princely port,
Might well have rul’d a royal court ;
On many a splendid garb she gaz'd —
Then turn'd bewilder'd and amaz'd,
For all stood bare; and, in the room,
Fitz-James alone wore cap and plume !
To him each lady's look was lent,
On him each courtier's eye was bent ;
Midst furs and silks and jewels sheen,
He stood, in simple Lincoln green,
The centre of the glitt'ring ring !

And Snowdoun's Knight is Scotland's King !
“ As wreath of snow on mountain breast,

Slides from the rock that gave it rest,
Poor Ellen glided from her stay,
And at the Monarch's feet she lay;
No word her choking voice commands-
She show'd the ring — she clasp'd her hands.
0! not a moment could he brook,
The gen'rous prince, that suppliant look !
Gently he rais'd her - and the while
Check’d with a glance the circle's smile ;
Graceful, but grave, her brow he kiss'd,
And bade her terrors be dismiss'd:
· Yes, Fair! the wand'ring poor Fitz-James
The fealty of Scotland claims.
To him thy woes, thy wishes, bring ;
He will redeem his signet ring,'” &c. - p. 281–284.

FAREWELL TO THE HARP OF THE NORTH.

515

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We cannot resist adding the graceful winding up of the whole story :

“Malcolm, come forth !' — And, at the word,
Down kneel'd the Græme to Scotland's Lord.

For thee, rash youth, no suppliant sues,
From thee may Vengeance claim her dues,
Who, nurtur'd underneath our smile,

las paid our care by treach'rous wile,
And sought, amid thy faithful clan,
A refuge for an outlaw'd man,
Dishonouring thus thy loyal name.
Fetters and warder for the Græme!'
His chain of gold the King unstrung,
The links o'er Malcolm's neck he flung,
Then gently drew the glitt'ring band:

And laid the clasp on Ellen's hand !”—p. 288. There are no separate introductions to the cantos of this

poem; but each of them begins with one or two stanzas in the measure of Spenser, usually containing some reflections connected with the subject about to be entered on; and written, for the most part, with great tenderness and beauty. The following, we think is among the most striking: 6 Time rolls his ceaseless course! The race of yore

Who danc'd our infancy upon their knee,
And told our marvelling boyhood legends store,

Of their strange ventures happ'd by land or sea,
How are they blotted from the things that be!

How few, all weak and wither'd of their force,
Wait, on the verge of dark eternity,

Like stranded wrecks the tide returning hoarse,
To sweep them from our sight! Time rolls his ceaseless course!
“ Yet live there still who can remember well,
How, when a mountain chief his bugle blew,” &c.

-p. 97, 98. There is an invocation to the Harp of the North, prefixed to the poem; and a farewell subjoined to it in the same measure, written and versified, it appears to us, with more than Mr. Scott's usual care. We give two of the three stanzas that compose the last:

Harp of the North, farewell! The hills grow dark,

On purple peaks a deeper shade descending ;
In twilight copse the glow-worm lights her spark;
The deer, half-seen, are to the covert wending.

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516

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LADY OF THE LAKE BLEMISHES OF EXECUTION.

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Resume thy wizard elm ! the fountain lending,

And the wild breeze, thy wilder minstrelsy ;
Thy numbers sweet with Nature's vespers blending,

With distant echo from the fold and lea,
And herd-boy's evening pipe, and hum of housing bee.
“Hark! as my ling'ring footsteps slow retire,

Some Spirit of the Air has wak'd thy string! "Tis now a Seraph bold, with touch of fire ;

'Tis now the brush of Fairy's frolic wing.
Receding now, the dying numbers ring

Fainter and fainter down the rugged dell!
And now the mountain breezes scarcely bring

A wand'ring witch-note of the distant speli
And now, 'tis silent all!- Enchantress, fare thee well !”

p. 289, 290. These passages, though taken with very little selection, are favourable specimens, we think, on the whole, of the execution of the work before us. We had marked several of an opposite character; but, fortunately for Mr. Scott, we have already extracted so much, that we shall scarcely have room to take any notice of them; and must condense all our vituperation into a very insignificant compass. One or two things, however, we think it our duty to point out. Though great pains have evidently been taken with Brian the Hermit, we think his whole character a failure, and mere deformity - hurting the interest of the story by its improbability, and rather heavy and disagreeable, than sublime or terrible in its details. The quarrel between Malcolm and Roderick, in the second canto, is also ungraceful and offensive. There is something foppish, and out of character, in Malcolm's rising to lead out Ellen from her own parlour; and the sort of wrestling match that takes place between the rival chieftains on the occasion is humiliating and indecorous. The greatest blemish in the poem, however, is the ribaldry and dull vulgarity which is put into the mouths of the soldiery in the guard-room. Mr. Scott has condescended to write a song for them, which will be read with pain, we are persuaded, even by his warmest admirers : and his whole genius, and even his power of versification, seems to desert him when he attempts to repeat their conversation. Here is

FLATNESS OF THE COARSE SCENES.

517

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some of the stuff which has dropped, in this inauspicious attempt, from the pen of one of the first poets of his age or country:

6 « Old dost thou wax, and wars grow sharp ;

Thou now hast glee-maiden and harp,
Get thee an ape, and trudge the land,
The leader of a juggler band.'--
“No, comrade! -no such fortune mine.

After the fight, these sought our line.
That aged harper and the girl ;
And, having audience of the Earl,
Mar bade I should purvey them steed,
And bring them hitherward with speed.
Forbear your mirth and rude alarm,
For none shall do them shame or harm.'
Hear

ye

his boast !' cried John of Brent,
Ever to strife and jangling bent :
• Shall he strike doe beside our lodge,
And yet the jealous niggard grudge
Το
pay

the forester his fee?
I'll have my share, howe'er it be.'”

- p. 250, 251. His Highland freebooters, indeed, do not use a much nobler style. For example:

“ It is, because last evening-tide

Brian an augury hath tried,
Of that dread kind which must not be
Unless in dread extremity,
The Taghairm call’d; by which, afar,
Our sires foresaw the events of war.
Duncraggan's milk-white bull they slew.'—
• Ah! well the gallant brute I knew ;
The choicest of the prey we had,
When swept our merry-men Gallangad.
Sore did he cumber our retreat;
And kept our stoutest kernes in awe,
Even at the pass of Beal ’maha.”

- p. 146, 147.
Scarcely more tolerable are such expressions as —

“For life is Hugh of Larbert lame;”. Or that unhappy couplet, where the King himself is in such distress for a rhyme, as to be obliged to apply to one of the most obscure saints on the calendar.

“ 'Tis James of Douglas, by Saint Serle ;

The uncle of the banish'd Earl.”

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