« PreviousContinue »
pp. 93, 94.
Which marks security to please ;,
No longer steel-clad warriors ride And scenes, long past, of joy and pain,
Along thy wild and willow'd shore ; Came wild'ring o'er his aged brain
Where'er thou wind'st, by dale or hill, " Amid the strings his fingers stray'd,
All, all is peaceful, all is still, And an uncertain warbling made
As if thy waves, since Time was born, And oft he shook his hoary head.
Since first they roll'd their way to Tweed, But when he caught the measure wild,
Had only heard the shepherd's reed, 'The old man rais'd his face and smil'd;
Nor started at the bugle.horn!
“Unlike the tide of human time, In varying cadence, soft or strong,
Which, though it change in ceaseless flow, He swept the sounding chords along ;
Retains each grief, retains each crime, The present scene, the future lot,
It's earliest course was doom'd to know; His toils, his wants, were all forgot;
And, darker as it downward bears, Cold diffidence, and age's frost,
Is stain'd with past and present tears ! In the full ride of song were lost.
Low as that tide has ebb'd with me, Each blank, in faithless mem'ry void,
It still reflects to Mem'ry's eye The poet's glowing thought supplied;
The hour, my brave, my only boy, And, while his harp responsive rung,
Fell by the side of great Dundee. 'Twas thus the LATEST MINSTREL sung."
Why, when the volleying musket play'd
Why was not I beside him laid !-We add, chiefly on account of their brevity. Enough-he died the death of fame; the following lines, which immediately suc- Enough—he died with conquering Græme." ceed the description of the funeral rites of the English champion :
There are several other detached passages “ The harp's wild notes, though hush'd the song, of equal beauty, which might be quoted in The mimic march of death prolong ;
proof of the effect which is produced by this Now seems it far, and now a-near,
dramatic interference of the narrator ; but we Now meets, and now eludes the ear; Now seems some mountain's side to sweep,
hasten to lay before our readers some of the Now faintly dies in valley deep;
more characteristic parts of the performance. Seems now as if the Minstrel's wail,
The ancient romance owes much of its Now the sad requiem loads the gale ;
interest to the lively picture which it affords Last, o'er the warrior's closing grave,
of the times of chivalry, and of those usages, Rings the full choir in choral stave.
manners, and institutions which we have pp. 155, 156.
been accustomed to associate in our minds, The close of the poem is as follows :- with a certain combination of magnificence • Hush'd is the harp—the Minstrel gone.
with simplicity, and ferocity with romantic And did he wander forth alone ?
honour. The representations contained in Alone, in indigence and age,
those performances, however, are for the To linger out his pilgrimage ?
most part too rude and naked to give comNo!-close beneath proud Newark's tower, Arose the Minstrel's lowly bower;
plete satisfaction. The execution is always A simple hut; but there was seen
extremely unequal; and though the writer The little garden hedg’d with green,
sometimes touches upon the appropriate feelThe cheerful hearth and lattice clean.
ing with great effect and felicity, still this There, shelter'd wand'rers, by the blaze, appears to be done more by accident than Oft heard the tale of other days;
design; and he wanders away immediately For much he lov'd to ope his door,
into all sorts of ludicrous or uninteresting deAnd give the aid he begg'd before. So pass'd the winter's day—but still,
tails, without any apparent consciousness of When summer smil'd on sweet Bowhill,
incongruity. These defects Mr. Scott has And July's eve, with balmy breath,
corrected with admirable address and judgWav'd the blue-bells on Newark's heath; ment in the greater part of the work now And flourish'd, broad, Blackandro's oak, before us; and while he has exhibited a very The aged Harper's soul awoke! Then would he sing achievements high,
striking and impressive picture of the old And circumstance o' Chivalry;
feudal usages and institutions, he has shown Till the rapt traveller would stay,
still greater talent in engrafting upon those Forgetful of the closing day;
descriptions all the tender or magnanimous And Yarrow, as he roli'd along,
emotions to which the circumstances of the Bore burden to the Minstrel's song.'
story naturally give rise. Without impairing pp. 193, 194.
the antique air of the whole piece, or violating Besides these, which are altogether de- the simplicity of the ballad style, he has contached from the lyric effusions of the min- trived in this way, to impart a much greater strel, some of the most interesting passages dignity, and more powerful interest to his of the poem are those in which he drops the production, than could ever be attained by business of the story, to moralise, and apply the unskilful and unsteady delineations of to his own situation the images and reflec- the old romancers. Nothing, we think, can tions it has suggested. After concluding one afford a finer illustration of this remark, than canto with an account of the warlike array the opening stanzas of the whole poem; they prepared for the reception of the English in- transport us at once into the days of knightly vaders, he opens the succeeding one with the daring and feudal hostility; at the same time following beautiful verses :
that they suggest, and in a very interesting “ Sweet Teviot! by thy silver tide,
way, all those softer sentiments which arise The glaring bale-fires blaze no more! out of some parts of the description.
pp. 9, 10.
• The feast was over in Branksome tower ;
Far more sair Margaret lov'd and bless'd
On the high turret, sitting lone,
She wak'd at times the lute's soft tone; No living wight, save the Ladye alone,
Touch'd a wild note, and all between Had dar'd to cross the threshold stone.
Thought of the bower of hawthorns green;
Her golden hair stream'd free from band, "The tables were drawn, it was idlesse all; Her fair cheek rested on her hand,
Knight, and page, and household squire, Her blue eye sought the west afar,
For lovers love the western star.
That rises slowly to her ken,
And, spreading broad its wav'ring, light,
Shakes its loose tresses on the night?
Ah! 'tis the beacon-blaze of war! After a very picturesque representation of Scarce could she draw her tighten'd breath ; the military establishment of this old baronial For well she knew the fire of death! fortress, the minstrel proceeds,
" The warder view'd it blazing strong, “ Many a valiant knight is here;
And blew his war-note loud and long, But he, the Chieftain of them all,
Till, at the high and haughty sound, His sword hangs rusting on the wall,
Rock, wood, and river, rung around ; Beside his broken spear!
The blast alarm'd the festal hall, Bards long shall tell,
And startled forth the warriors all; How Lord Walter fell !
Far downward in the castle-yard, When startled burghers fled, afar,
Full many a torch and cresset glar'd; The furies of the Border war;
And helms and plumes, confusedly toss'd, When the streets of high Dunedin
Were in the blaze half seen, half lost; Saw lances gleam, and falchions redden,
And spears in wild disorder shook, And heard the slogan's deadly yell
Like reeds beside a frozen brook. Then the Chief of Branksome fell!
" The Seneschal, whose silver hair,
Was redden'd by the torches' glare, “ Can piety the discord heal,
Stood in the midst, with gesture proud,
And issued forth his mandates loud-
On Penchryst glows a bale of fire,
And three are kindling on Priesthaughswire,' In mutual pilgrimage, they drew;
&c.-pp. 83–85. Implor'd, in vain, the grace divine
In these passages, the poetry of Mr. Scott is For chiefs, their own red falchions slew.
entitled to a decided preference over that of While Cessford owns the rule of Car, While Etirick boasts the line of Scott,
the earlier minstrels; not only from the The slaughter'd chiefs, the mortal jar, greater consistency and condensation of his The havoc of the feudal war,
imagery, but from an intrinsic superiority in Shall never, never be forgot !
the nature of his materials. From the im. " In sorrow o'er Lord Walter's bier,
provement of taste, and the cultivation of the The warlike foresters had bent;
finer feelings of the heart, poetry acquires, in And many a flower and many a tear,
a refined age, many new and invaluable éleOld Teviot's maids and matron's lent: But, o'er her warrior's bloody bier,
ments, which are necessarily
unknown in il The Ladye dropp'd nor sigh nor tear!
period of greater simplicity. The description Vengeance, deep-brooding o'er the slain, of external objects, however, is at all times
Had lock'd the source of softer woe; equally inviting, and equally easy; and many And burning pride, and high disdain, of the pictures which have been left by the Forbade the rising tear to flow;
ancient romancers must be admitted to pósUntil, amid his sorrowing clan,
sess, along with great diffuseness and home. Her son lisp'd from the nurse's knee* And, if I live to be a man,
liness of diction, an exactness and vivacity My father's death reveng'd shall be !'
which cannot be easily exceeded. In this Then fast the mother's tears did seek
part of his undertaking, Mr. Scott therefore Todew the infant's kindling cheek."-pp.12—15. had fewer advantages; but we do not think There are not many passages in English In the following description of Melrose, which
that his success has been less remarkable. poetry more impressive than some parts of introduces the second canto, the reader will this extract. As another illustration of the observe how skilfully he calls in the aid of prodigious improvement which the style of the sentimental associations to heighten the effect old romance is capable of receiving from a of the picture which he presents to the eye: more liberal admixture of pathetic sentiments and gentle affections, we insert the following If thou wouldst view fair Melrose aright, passage; where the effect of the picture is Go visit it by the pale moonlight: finely assisted by the contrast of its two com- For the gay beams of lightsome day
Gild, but to flout, the ruins gray. partments.
When the broken arches are black in night, “So pass'd the day-the ev'ning fell,
And each shafted oriel glimmers white; 'Twas near the time of curfew bell;
When the cold light's uncertain shower The air was mild, the wind was calm,
Streams on the ruin'd central tower; The stream was smooth, the dew was balm ; When buitress and buttress, alternately, Ev'n the rude watchman, on the tower,
Seem fram'd of ebon and ivory; Enjoy'd and blessed the lovely hour.
When silver edges the imagery,
And the scrolls that teach thee to live and die; The whole scene of the duel, or judicial When distant Tweed is heard to rave,
combat, is conducted according to the strict And the owlet to hoot o'er the dead man's grave; ordinances of chivalry, and delineated with Then go !-but go alone the whileThen view St. David's ruined pile!
all the minuteness of an ancient romancer. And, home returning, soothly swear,
The modern reader will probably find it rather Was never scene so sad and fair !" •pp. 35, 36. tedious; all but the concluding stanzas, which
are in a loftier measure. In the following passage he is less ambitious; and confines himself, as an ancient
"'Tis done, 'rjs done! that fatal blow minstrel would have done on the occasion, to
Has stretch'd him on the bloody plain ;
He strives to rise-Brave Musgrave, no! a minute and picturesque representation of
Thence never shalt thou rise again! the visible object before him :
He chokes in blood-some friendły hand “ When for the lists they sought the plain,
Undo the visor's barred band, The stately Ladye's silken rein
Unfix the gorget's iron clasp, Did noble Howard hold;
And give him room for life to gasp!Unarmed by her side he walk'd,
In vain, in vain-haste, holy friar, And much, in courteous phrase, they talk'd
Haste, ere the sinner shall expire! of feats of arms of old.
Of all his guilt let him be shriven, Costly his garbhis Flemish ruff
And smooth his path from earth to heaven!, Fell o'er his doublet shap'd of buff,
* In haste the holy friar sped; With satin slash'd, and lin'd;
His naked foot was dyed with red, Tawny his boot, and gold his spur,
As through the lists he ran ; His cloak was all of Poland fur,
Unmindful of the shouts on high, His hose with silver twin'd;
That hail'd the conqueror's victory, His Bilboa blade, by Marchmen felt,
He rais'd the dying man; Hung in a broad and studded belt;
Loose wav'd his silver beard and hair, Hence, in rude phrase, the Bord'rers still
As o'er him he kneel'd down in prayer. Call'd noble Howard, Belted Will."'-p. 141. And still the crucifix on high,
He holds before his dark’ning eye, The same scrupulous adherence to the style And still he bends an anxious ear, of the old romance, though greatly improved His falt'ring penitence to hear; in point of brevity and selection, is discernible Still props him from the bloody sod, in the following animated description of the
Still, even when soul and body part, feast, which terminates the poem :
Pours ghostly comfort on his heart,
And bids him trust in God! “ The spousal rites were ended soon;
prays; 'lis o'er, 'tis o'er! 'Twas now the merry hour of noon,
Richard of Musgrave breathes no more." And in the lofty-arched hall
p. 145–147. Was spread the gorgeous festival: Steward and squire, with heedful haste,
We have already made so many extracts Marshall'd the rank of every guest;
from this poem, that we can now only affor? Pages, with ready blade, were there,
to present our readers with one specimen of The mighty meal to carve and share.
the songs which Mr. Scott has introduced in O'er capon, heron-shew, and crane,
the mouths of the minstrels in the concluding And princely peacock's gilded train, And o'er the boar's head, garnish'd brave,
canto. It is his object, in those pieces, to And cygnet from St. Mary's wave ;
exemplify the different styles of ballad narraO'er ptarmigan and venison,
tive which prevailed in this island at different The priest had spoke his benison.
periods, or in different conditions of society. Then rose the riot and the din,
The first is constructed upon the rude aid Above, beneath, without, within !
simple model of the old Border ditties, and For, from the lofty balcony, Rung trumpet, shalm, and psaltery;
produces its effect by the direct and concise Their clanging bowls old warriors quaff'd,
narrative of a tragical occurrence. The seLoudly they spoke, and loudly laugh'd; cond, sung by Fitztraver, the bard of the acWhisper'd young knights, in ione more mild, complished Surrey, has more of the richness To ladies fair, and ladies smil'd.
and polish of the Italian poetry, and is very The hooded hawks, high perch'd on beam, The clamour join'd with whistling scream,
beautifully written, in a stanza resembling And flapp'd their wings, and shook their bells,
that of Spenser. The third is intended to In concert with the staghound's yells.
represent that wild style of composition which Round go the flasks of ruddy wine,
prevailed among the bards of the northern, From Bourdeaux, Orleans, or the Rhine ; continent, somewhat softened and adorned Their tasks the busy sewers ply,
by the minstrel's residence in the south. We And all is mirth and revelry.”—pp. 166, 167.
prefer it, upon the whole, to either of the two The following picture is sufficiently antique former, and shall give it entire to our readers;
its conception, though the execution is evi- who will probably be struck with the poetical dently modern :
effect of the dramatic form into which it is
thrown, and of the indirect description by " Ten of them were sheath'd in steel,
which every thing is most expressively told, With belted sword, and spur on heel: They quilted not their harness bright,
without one word of distinct narrative. Neither by day, nor yet by night;
“O listen, listen, ladies gay!
No haughty feat of arms I tell;
Soft is the noie, and sad the lay,
That mourns the lovely Rosabelle.
With gloves of steel, (met barr’d."|" —Moor, moor the barge, ye gallant crew!
Rest thee in Castle Ravensheuch,
to hear of the Gallant Chief of Otterburne," Nor tempt the stormy frith to-day.
"the Dark Knight of Liddisdale," and feel "The black'ning wave is edg'd with white; the elevating power of great names, when To inch* and rock the sea-mews fly;
we read of the tribes that mustered to the The fishers have heard the Water-Sprite, war, “ beneath the crest of old Dunbar, and Whose screams forbode that wreck is nigh.
Hepburn's mingled banners.” But we really • Last night the gifted seer did view
cannot so far sympathise with the local parA wet shroud roll'd round Ladye gay: tialities of the author, as to feel any glow of Then stay thee, fair, in Ravensheuch ;
patriotism or ancient virtue in hearing of the Why cross the gloomy frith to-day?"
Todrig or Johnston clans, or of Elliots, Arm-Fi 'Tis not because Lord Lind'say's heir strongs, and Tinlinns; still less can we relish To-night at Roslin leads the ball,
the introduction of Black John of Athelstane, But that my Ladye-mother there
Whitslade the Hawk, Arthur-fire-the-braes, Red Sits lonely in her castle hall.
Roland Forster, or any other of those wor'Tis not because the ring they ride,
thies who And Lind'say at the ring rides well! But that my sire the wine will chide,
Sought the beeves that made their broth, If 'tis not fill'd by Rosabelle."'
In Scotland and in England both,' • O'er Roslin all that dreary night
into a poem which has any pretensions to A wondrous blaze was seen to glean ; seriousness or dignity. The ancient metrical 'Twas broader than the watch-fire light, And brighter than the bright moonbeam.
romance might have admitted those homely
personalities; but the present age will not " It glar'd on Roslin's castled rock,
endure them: And Mr. Scott must either Ir redden'd all the copse-wood glen; sacrifice his Border prejudices, or offend all 'Twas seen from Dryden's groves of oak, And seen from cavern'd Hawthornden.
his readers in the other parts of the empire.
There are many passages, as we have • Seem'd all on fire that chapel proud, Where Roslin's chiefs uncoffin'd lie;
already insinuated, which have the general Each Baron, for a sable shroud,
character of heaviness, such is the minstrel's Sheath'd in his iron panoply.
account of his preceptor, and Deloraine's " Seem'd all on fire within, around,
lamentation over the dead body of Mus. Both vaulted crypt and altar's pale;
grave: But the goblin page is, in our opinion, Shone every pillar foliage-bound,
the capital deformity of the poem. We have And glimmer'd all the dead-men's mail. already said that the whole machinery is useBlaz'd battlement and pinnet high,
less: but the magic studies of the lady, and Blaz'd every rose-carv'd buliress fair
the rifled tomb of Michael Scott, give occaSo still they blaze when fate is nigh
sion to so much admirable poetry, that we The lordly line of high St. Clair!
can on no account consent to part with them. “There are twenty of Roslin's barons bold
The page, on the other hand, is a perpetual Lie buried within that proud chapelle;
burden to the poet, and to the reader: it is Each one the holy vault doch hold
an undignified and improbable fiction, which But the sea holds lovely Rosabelle !
excites neither terror, admiration, nor astonAnd each St. Clair was buried there,
ishment; but needlessly debases the strain of With candle, with book, and with knell; the whole work, and excites at once our inBut the Kelpy rung, and the Mermaid sung credulity and contempt. He is not a tricksy
The dirge of lovely Rosabelle !"-pp. 181-184. spirit,” like Ariel, with whom the imaginaFrom the various extracts we have now tion is irresistibly enamoured; nor a tiny given, our readers will be enabled to form a monarch, like Oberon, disposing of the destitolerably correct judgment of this poem; and nies of mortals: He rather appears to us to if they are pleased with these portions of it be an awkward sort of a mongre between which have now been exhibited, we may Puck and Caliban; of a servile and brutal venture to assure them that they will not be nature; and limited in his powers to the indisappointed by the perusal of the whole. dulgence of petty malignity, and the infliction The whole night-journey of Deloraine-the of despicable injuries. Besides this objection opening of the wizard's tomb—the march of to his character, his existence has no support the English battle—and the parley before from any general or established superstition. the walls of the castle, are all executed with Fairies and devils, ghosts, angels, and witches, the same spirit and poetical energy, which are creatures with whom we are all familiar, we think is conspicuous in the specimens we and who excite in all classes of mankind have already extracted; and a great variety emotions with which we can easily be made of short passages occur in every part of the to sympathise. But the story of Gilpin Horo poem, which are still more striking and meri- ner can never have been believed out of the torious, though it is impossible to detach village where he is said to have made his them, without injury, in the form of a quota- appearance; and has no claims upon the cretion. It is but fair to apprise the reader, on dulity of those who were not originally of his the other hand, that he will meet with very acquaintance. There is nothing at all interheavy passages, and with a variety of details esting or elegant in the scenes of which he is which are not likely to interest any one but a the hero; and in reading those passages, we Borderer or an antiquary. We like very well really could not help suspecting that they did
not stand in the romance when the aged min* Isle.
strel recited it to the royal Charles and his
mighty earls, but were inserted afterwards to We have called the negligence which could suit the taste of the cottagers among whom leave such lines as these in a poem of this he begged his bread on the Border. We en nature inexcusable; because it is perfectly treat Mr. Scott to inquire into the grounds of evident, from the general strain of his comthis suspicion; and to take advantage of any position, that Mr. Scott has a very accurate decent pretext he can lay hold of for purging ear for the harmony of versification, and that " The Lay' of this ungraceful intruder. We he composes with a facility which must lighten would also move for a Quo Warranto against the labour of correction. There are some the spirits of the river and the mountain; for smaller faults in the diction which might have though they are come of a very high lineage, been as well corrected also: there is too much we do not know what lawful business they alliteration; and he reduplicates his words too could have at Branksome castle in the year often. We have “never, never," several 1550.
times; besides «?tis o'er, 'tis o'er”: Of the diction of this poem we have but vain, in vain”—“'tis done, ’tis done;" and little to say. From the extracts we have several other echoes as ungraceful. already given, our readers will perceive that We will not be tempted to say any thing the versification is in the highest degree ir- more of this poem. Although it does not regular and capricious. The nature of the contain any great display of what is properly work entitled Mr. Scott to some licence in this called invention, it indicates perhaps as much respect, and he often employs it with a very vigour and originality of poetical genius as any pleasing effect; but he has frequently ex- performance which has been lately offered to ceeded its just limits, and presented us with the public. The locality of the subject is such combinations of metre, as must put the likely to obstruct its popularity; and the auteeth of his readers, we think, into some thor, by confining himself in a great measure jeopardy. He has, when he pleases, a very to the description of manners and personal melodious and sonorous style of versification, adventures, has forfeited the attraction which but often composes with inexcusable negli- might have been derived from the delineation gence and rudeness. There is a great number of rural scenery. But he has manifested a of lines in which the verse can only be made degree of genius which cannot be overlooked, out by running the words together in a very and given indication of talents that seem well unusual manner;
and some appear to us to worthy of being enlisted in the service of the bave no pretension to the name of verses at epic muse. all. What apology, for instance, will Mr. The notes, which contain a great treasure of Scott make for the last of these two lines ?- Border history and antiquarian learning, are
"For when in studious mood he pac'd too long, we think, for the general reader. St. Kentigern's hall.”
The form of the publication is also too exor for these?
pensive; and we hope soon to see a smaller " How the brave boy in future war,
edition, with an abridgement of the notes, Should tame the unicorn's pride."
for the use of the mere lovers of poetry.
(August, 1810.) The Lady of the Lake: a Poem. By Walter Scott. Second Edition. 8vo. pp. 434 : 1810. Mr. Scott, though living in an age unusu- / proof of extraordinary merit,-a far surer one, ally prolific of original poetry, has manifestly we readily admit, than would be afforded by outstripped all his competitors in the race of any praises of ours: and, therefore, though popularity; and stands already upon a height we pretend to be privileged, in ordinary cases, io which no other writer has attained in the to foretell the ultimate reception of all claims memory of any one now alive. We doubt, on public admiration, our function may be indeed, whether any English poet ever had so thought to cease, where the event is already many of his books sold, or so many of his so certain and conspicuous. As it is a sore Ferses read and admired by such a multitude thing, however, to be deprived of our priviof persons in so short a time. We are credibly leges on so important an occasion, we hope to informed that nearly thirty thousand copies be pardoned for insinuating, that, even in such of “The Lay” have been already disposed a case, the office of the critic may not be al. of in this country; and that the demand for together superfluous. Though the success of Marmion, and the poem now before us, has the author be decisive, and even likely to be been still more considerable,-a circulation permanent
, it still may not be without its use we believe, altogether without example, in io point out, in consequence of what, and in the case of a bulky work, not addressed to spite of what, he has succeeded; nor altothe bigotry of the mere mob, either religious gether uninstructive to trace the precise limits
of the connection which, even in this dull A popularity so universal is a pretty sure world, ir disputably subsists between success