Imatges de pÓgina

Barcaldine's arm is high in air,
And Kinloch-Alline's blade is bare;
Black Murthok's dirk has left its sheath,
And clench'd is Dermid's hand of death.
Their mutter'd threats of vengeance swell
Into a wild and warlike yell;
Onward they press with weapons high,
The affrighted females shriek and fly,
And, Scotland, then thy brightest ray.
Had darken'd ere its noon of day,
But every chief of birth and fame,
That from the Isles of Ocean came,
At Ronald's side that hour withstood
Fierce Lorn's relentless thirst for blood.

. Brave Torquil from Dunvegan high,
Lord of the misty hills of Skye,
Mac-Niel, wild Bara's ancient thane,
Duart, of bold Clan Gillian's strain,
Fergus, of Canna's castled bay,
Mac-Duffith, Lord of Colonsay,
Soon as they saw the broadswords glance,
With ready weapons rose at once,
More prompt, that many an ancient feud,
Full oft suppress'd, full oft renew'd,
Glow'd 'twixt the chieftains of Argyle,
And many a lord of ocean's isle.
Wild was the scene-each sword was bare,
Back stream'd each chieftain's shaggy hair,
In gloomy opposition set,

Eyes, hands, and brandish'd weapons met;
Blue gleaming o'er the social board,
Flash'd to the torches many a sword;
And soon those bridal lights may shine
On purple blood for rosy wine.

While thus for blows and death prepared,
Each heart was up, each weapon bared,
Each foot advanced,-a surly pause
Still reverenced hospitable laws.
All menaced violence, but alike
Reluctant each the first to strike,
(For aye accursed in minstrel line
Is he who brawls 'mid song and wine,
And, match'd in numbers and in might,
Doubtful and desperate seem'd the fight.)
Thus threat and murmur died away,
Till on the crowded hall there lay
Such silence, as the deadly still,
Ere bursts the thunder on the hill,

The tumult is appeased by the arrival of the Abbot, for the purpose of performing the nuptial ceremony.This person is disposed to view Bruce with the utmost hostility, both as the enemy of Lorn, and on account of the profanation of which he had been guilty in slaying Comyn at the altar. Compelled, however, by a supernatural impulse, he pronounces blessings

upon him. He then announces, that warning from above forbids him to celebrate the proposed nuptials, and immediately sets sail. The consternation of Lorn is increased by the sudden disappearance of Edith, who it appears had fled along with her nurse, no one knows where. Ronald, however, beholds all these events with secret satisfaction.

After this day of agitation, all the guests of Artornish at length retire to rest. Bruce and his brother, when sunk in repose, are alarmed by the sound of footsteps in their apartment. They are re-assured, however, by discovering that this mysterious visitor is Ronald. That chieftain then owns and does homage to Bruce as his sovereign, and proffers apologies for having been induced to bear arms against him. Bruce confides to him his designs and hopes of regaining his rightful possession, and they deliberate on the course to be followed. They determine to repair, first to Skye, thence to coast the Hebrides, and call out their brave inhabitants to the defence of their monarch. To the shore of Skye we are therefore conducted. The chiefs, in passing by the most desolate part of it, are tempted to land and hunt the deer. This gives the poet an opportunity to describe the remarkable scenery which occurs in this quarter, and which he has done in a singularly powerful and striking


Rarely human eye has known A scene so stern as that dread lake,

With its dark ledge of barren stone. Seems that primeval earthquake's sway Hath rent a strange and shatter'd way

Through the rude bosom of the hill, And that each naked precipice, Sable ravine, and dark abyss, Tells of the outrage still. The wildest glen, but this, can show Some touch of Nature's genial glow; On high Benmore green mosses grow, And heath-bells bud in deep Glencroe,

And copse on Cruchan-Ben; But here, above, around, below, On mountain or in glen,


Nor tree, nor shrub, nor plant, nor flower, Nor aught of vegetative power,

The weary eye inay ken. For all is rocks at random thrown, Black waves, bare crags, and banks of stone, As if were here denied

The summer sun, the spring's sweet dew, That clothe with many a varied hue

The bleakest mountain-side.

And wilder, forward as they wound,
Were the proud cliffs and lake profound.
Huge terraces of granite black
Afforded rude and cumber'd track;

For from the mountain hoar, Hurl'd headlong in some night of fear, When yell'd the wolf and fled the deer, Loose crags had toppled o'er; And some, chance-poised and balanced, lay, So that a stripling arm might sway A mass no host could raise, In Nature's rage at random thrown, Yet trembling like the Druid's stone On its precarious base.

The evening mists, with ceaseless change, Now clothed the mountains' lofty range, Now left their foreheads bare,

And round the skirts their mantle furl'd,
Or on the sable waters curl'd,
Or, on the eddying breezes whirl'd,
Dispersed in middle air.

And oft, condensed, at once they lower, When, brief and fierce, the mountain shower Pours like a torrent down,

And when return the sun's glad beams, Whiten'd with foam a thousand streams Leap from the mountain's crown.

The chiefs are now informed, that their bark, by a sinistrous accident, has been compelled to quit the shore. They are fain therefore to accept the invitation of several very suspicious personages, to enter their hut. Ronald and Bruce determine to watch, by turns, along with Allan, a young chief who accompanies them. The two former complete their watches with care and safety, but with Allan the case was otherwise.

To Allan's eyes was harder task,
The weary watch their safeties ask.
He trimm'd the fire, and gave to shine
With bickering light the splinter'd pine;
Then gazed awhile, where silent laid
Their hosts were shrouded by the plaid.
But little fear waked in his mind,
For he was bred of martial kind,
And, if to manhood he arrive,
May match the boldest knight alive.

Then thought he of his mother's tower, His little sisters' green-wood bower, How there the Easter-gambols pass, And of Dan Joseph's lengthen'd mass. But still before his weary eye

In rays prolong'd the blazes die-
Again he roused him-on the lake
Look'd forth, where now the twilight-flake
Of pale cold dawn began to wake.
On Coolin's cliff's the mist lay furl'd,
The morning breeze the lake had curl'd,
The short dark waves, heaved to the land,
With ceaseless plash kiss'd cliff or sand ;-
It was a slumb'rous sound-he turn'd
To tales at which his youth had burn'd,
Of pilgrim's path by demon cross'd,
Of sprightly elf or yelling ghost,
Of the wild witch's baneful cot,
And mermaid's alabaster grot,
Who bathes her limbs in sunless well
Deep in Strathaird's enchanted cell.
Thither in fancy rapt he flies,
And on his sight the vaults arise;
That hut's dark walls he sees no more,
His foot is on the marble floor,
And o'er his head the dazzling spars
Gleam like a firmament of stars!
-Hark! hears he not the sea-nymph speak
Her anger in that thrilling shriek?
No! all too late, with Allan's dream
Mingled the captive's warning scream!
As from the ground he strives to start,
A ruffian's dagger finds his heart!
Upward he casts his dizzy eyes,...
Murmurs his master's name,...and dies!

The two chiefs instantly start up, and avenge the death of Allan by that of his murderers. Next morning, on leaving the hut, they are surprised by the appearance of Edward Bruce, who, according to their arrangements, should have gone to Ireland. He informs them, that a general movement in favour of national independence, and of Bruce, has taken place throughout Scotland, and the arrival of that chief is only waited for to make a general rising. The party immediately leave Skye, and we have a very gay and pleasing picture of their voyage along the coast of the Hebrides, with notices of the different passing islands. We select the following:

Merrily, merrily, goes the bark

On a breeze from the northward free, So shoots through the morning sky the lark, Or the swan through the summer sea.


The shores of Mull on the eastward lay,
And Ulva dark and Colonsay,

And all the group of islets gay

That guard famed Staffa round. Then all unknown its columns rose, Where dark and undisturb'd repose

The cormorant had found,
And the shy seal had quiet home,
And welter'd in that wond'rous dome,
Where, as to shame the temples deck'd
By skill of earthly architect,
Nature herself, it seem'd, would raise
A Minster to her Maker's praise!
Not for a meaner use ascend
Her columns, or her arches bend;
Nor of a theme less solemn teils
That mighty surge that ebbs and swells,
And still, between each awful pause,
From the high vault an answer draws,
In varied tone prolong'd and high,
That mocks the organ's melody.
Nor doth its entrance front in vain
To old Iona's holy fane,

In a convent upon this island, Bruce meets his sister Isabel, the lady who had accompanied him at the castle of Artornish, and who, we omitted to mention, possessed the secret heart of Ronald. Nor was his passion unreturned; but this highminded lady now determines to devote herself to the cloister, and to be no bar to the performance of Ronald's reluctant engagement to Edith.Bruce in vain endeavours to shake her resolution. It behoves us now also to mention, that Bruce had found, prisoner in the hands of the ruffians

That Nature's voice might seem to say,

“Well hast thou done, frail Child of clay! of Skye, a youthful, but mute min

Thy humble powers that stately shrine
Task'd high and hard-but witness mine!"

strel, who now accompanies him, and
whom the reader soon discovers to be
Edith. She continues to attend the
chiefs in this disguise. We are next
conducted to Bruce's castle on Car-
rickshore, which he is made to attack,
and succeed in taking. This Mr
Scott candidly admits to be against
the truth of history, but conceives
himself fully entitled, for the sake of
poetical effect, to make this small va-
riation. Our limits will not allow
us to enter into any of the details of
this expedition, though it includes
many interesting situations and bril-
liant descriptions. The following ex-
hibits the feelings which arise at the

He at length reaches the Island of Arran, where he meets a chosen band of adherents, many of whom had either fought, or had lost relations, at the battle of Falkirk. This gives rise to solemn and interesting reflections.

Blame ye the Bruce ?-his brother blamed,
But shared the weakness, while ashamed,
With haughty laugh his head he turn'd,
And dash'd away the tear he scorn'd.

Oh, War! thou hast thy fierce, delight,
Thy gleams of joy, intensely bright!
Such gleams, as from thy polish'd shield
Fly dazzling o'er thy battle field!
Such transports wake, severe and high,
Amid the pealing conquest-cry;
Scarce less, when, after battle lost,
Muster the remnants of a host,
And as each comrade's name they tell,
Who in the well-fought conflict
Knitting stern brow o'er flashing eye,
Vow to avenge them or to die!—
Warriors!-and where are warriors found,
If not on martial Britain's ground?
And who, when waked with note of fire,
Love more than they the British lyre ?-
Know ye not,-hearts to honour dear!
That joy, deep-thrilling, stern, severe,
At which the heart-strings vibrate high,
And wake the fountains of the eye?
And blame ye, then, the Bruce, if trace
Of tear is on his manly face,
When, scanty reliques of the train
That bail'd at Scone his early reign.
This patriot band around him hung,
And to his knees and bosom clung ?-

The Bruce hath won his father's hall!
-"Welcome, brave friends and comrades


Welcome to mirth and joy!·
The first, the last, is welcome here,
From lord and chieftain, prince and peer,
To this poor speechless boy.
Great GOD! once more my şire's abode
Is mine-behold the floor I trode
In tottering infancy!

And there the vaulted arch, whose sound
Echoed my joyous shout and bound
In boyhood, and that rung around

To youth's unthinking glee!"
The next canto conducts us to the

great crisis of the poem, and to the most memorable event in Scottish history, the battle of Bannockburn. There seems to be an impression, as if Mr Scott here had not quite fulfilled the expectations formed of such a subject, described by such a poet.This, it is probable, proceeds partly from these expectations having been raised to an extravagant height. So far as there is any failure, we ascribe it to the intimate and accurate acquaintance of Mr Scott with all the historical particulars of this memorable action. To alter these, even to add to them, might have appeared a species of profanation. But tactical details, and strict adherence to fact, are scarcely compatible with that wild licence of fancy, which seems necessary to produce the highest flights of poetical genius. Yet few passages in modern poetry can compare with the following:

It was a night of lovely June,
High rode in cloudless blue the moon,
Demayet smiled bencath her ray;
Old Stirling's towers arose in light,
And, twined in links of silver bright,
Her winding river lay.

Ah, gentle planet! other sight
Shall greet thee, next returning night,
Of broken arms and banners tore,
And marshes dark with human gore,
And piles of slaughter'd men and horse,
And Forth that floats the frequent corse,
And many a wounded wretch to plain
Beneath thy silver light in vain!

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The mail, the acton, and the spear,
Strong hand, high heart, are useless here!
Loud from the mass confused the cry

Of dying warriors swells on high,

And steeds that shriek in agony!
They came like mountain-torrent red,
That thunders o'er its rocky bed;
They broke like that same torrent's wave,
When swallow'd by a darksome cave.
Billows on billows burst and boil,
Maintaining still the stern turmoil,
And to their wild and tortured groan
Each adds new terrors of his own!

We must finally notice, that Edith, in her former disguise, still accompanied the Scottish army. After the expedition to Carrick, she had retired into the same convent with Isabel.— But that lady, who still nobly meditated her union with Ronald, as soon as tidings arrived of the great approaching events, urged her fair companion to quit this retirement, and again assume her former disguise.Much reluctance is felt or feigned by Edith, at a step thus repugnant to female decorum: but,

Oh, blame her not !-when zephyrs wake,
The aspen's trembling leaves must shake;
When beams the sun through April's shower,
It needs must bloom, the violet flower;
And Love, howe'er the maiden strive,
Must with reviving hope revive!
A thousand soft excuses came,


To plead his cause 'gainst virgin shame.
Pledged by their sires in earliest youth,
He had her plighted faith and truth,
Then, 'twas her Liege's strict command,
And she, beneath his royal hand,
A ward in person and in laud :-
And, last, she was resolved to stay
Only brief space-one little day-
Close hidden in her safe disguise
From all, but most from Ronald's eyes-
But once to see him more !-nor blame
Her wish to hear him name her name !-
Then, to bear back to solitude
The thought, he had his falsehood rued!

She accordingly departs. From the top of Demayet she views the battle of Bannockburn, and by an incident, perhaps somewhat strained, is made to contribute in no small degree to the catastrophe. Ronald recognizes and at once owns the power


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