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The duchess marked his weary pace,
Though born in such a high degree;
Of good earl Francis,† dead and gone,
The humble boon was soon obtained; The Aged Minstrel audience gained. But, when he reached the room of state, Where she, with all her ladies, sate, Perchance he wished his boon denied: For, when to tune his harp he tried, His trembling hand had lost the ease, Which marks security to please; And scenes, long past, of joy and pain, Came wildering o'er his aged brainHe tried to tune his harp in vain. The pitying duchess praised its chime, And gave him heart, and gave him time, Till every string's according glee Was blended into harmony. And then, he said, he would full fain He could recall an ancient strain, He never thought to sing again. It was not framed for village churls, But for high dames and mighty earls; He had played it to king Charles the Good, When he kept court in Holyrood; And much he wished, yet feared, to try The long forgotten melody. Amid the strings his fingers strayed, And an uncertain warbling made, And oft he shook his hoary head. But when he caught the measure wild, The old man raised his face and smiled; And lightened up his faded eye, With all a poet's ecstasy! In varying cadence, soft or strong, He swept the sounding chords along: The present scene, the future lot, His toils, his wants, were all forgot; Cold diffidence, and age's frost, In the full tide of song were lost; Each blank, in faithless memory void, The poet's glowing thought supplied; And, while his harp responsive rung, "Twas thus the LATEST MINSTREL sung.
The Ladye sought the lofty hall,
Where many a bold retainer lay, And, with jocund din, among them all, Her son pursued his infant play. A fancied mosstrooper, 13 the boy
The truncheon of a spear bestrode, And round the hall, right merrily,
In mimic foray* rode. Even bearded knights, in arms grown old, Share in his frolic gambols bore, Albeit their hearts, of rugged mould,
Were stubborn as the steel they wore. For the gray warriors prophesied,
How the brave boy, in future war,
Exalt the crescent, and the star. 14
One moment gazed with a mother's eye,
A stark mosstrooping Scott was he,
"Sir William of Deloraine, good at need,
Say, that the fated hour is come, And to-night he shall watch with thee, To win the treasure of the tomb: For this will be Saint Michael's night, And, though stars be dim, the moon is bright;
▪ Foray, a predatory inroad.
XXV. Soon in his saddle sate he fast, And soon the deep descent he passed, Soon crossed the sounding barbican,t And soon the Teviot's side he won. Eastward the wooded path he rode, Green hazels o'er his basnet nod: He passed the Peelt of Goldiland, And crossed old Borthwick's roaring strand: Dimly he viewed the moathill's mound,17 Where Druid shades still flitted round: In Hawick twinkled many a light; Behind him soon they set in night; And soon he spurred his courser keen Beneath the tower of Hazeldean,18
A moment now he slacked his speed,
Haribee, the place of executing the Border marauders at Carlisle. The neck-verse is the beginning of the fiftyfirst psalm, Miserere mei, &c. anciently read by criminals, claiming the benefit of clergy.
+Barbican, the defence of the outer gate of a feudal castle. Peel, a Border tower.
An ancient Roman road, crossing through part of Roxburghshire.
XXVIII. Unchallenged, thence past Deloraine To ancient Riddell's fair domain, 20
Where Aill, from mountains freed,
Like the mane of a chestnut steed.
At the first plunge the horse sunk low,
Now Bowden moor the marchman won,
For on his soul the slaughter red
In solemn wise did rise and fail,
Like that wild harp, whose magic tone
But when Melrose he reached, 'twas silence all;
Here paused the harp; and with its swell The master's fire, and courage fell: Dejectedly, and low, he bowed, And, gazing timid on the crowd,. He seemed to seek, in every eye, If they approved his minstrelsy: And, diffident of present praise, Somewhat he spoke of former days, And how old age, and wandering long, Had done his hand and harp some wrong. The duchess and her daughters fair, And every gentle ladye there, Each after each, in due degree, Gave praises to his melody; His hand was true, his voice was clear, And much they longed the rest to hear.
Barded, or barbed, applied to a horse accoutred with defensive armour. †Lauds, the midnight service of the Catholic church.
Encouraged thus, the Aged Man, After meet rest, again began.
If thou would'st view fair Melrose ariget,
And the scrolls that teach thee to live and diei;
And the owlet to hoot o'er the dead man's grave,
Short halt did Deloraine make there;
Had gifted the shrine for their soul's repose.
in. Bold Deloraine his errand said; The porter bent his humble head; With torch in hand, and feet unshod, And noiseless step, the path he trod; The arched cloisters, far and wide, Rang to the warrior's clanking stride; Till, stooping low his lofty crest, He entered the cell of the ancient priest, And lifted his barred aventayle,* To hail the monk of Saint Mary's aisle.
"The Ladye of Branksome greets thee by me;
With toil his stiffened limbs he reared; A hundred years had flung their snows On his thin locks and floating beard.
And strangely on the knight looked he,
And his blue eyes gleamed wild and wide; "And, darest thou, warrior! seek to see
What heaven and hell alike would hide? My breast, in belt of iron pent,
With shirt of hair and scourge of thorn: For three-score years, in penance spent,
My knees those flinty stones have worn; Yet all too little to atone
For knowing what should n'er be known.
* Aventayle, visor of the helmet.
And fought in Spain and Italy.
And he tho❜t on the day's that were long since by, When his limbs were strong, and his courage was high:
Now, slow and faint, he led the way,
Spreading herbs, and flow'rets bright,
Were dancing in the glowing north.
The youth in glittering squadrons start; Sudden the flying gennet wheel,
And hurl the unexpected dart.6
He knew, by the streamers that shot so bright, That spirits were riding the northern light.
By a steel-clenched postern door,
On pillars, lofty, and light, and small;
And thine, dark knight of Liddesdale!8
The moon on the east oriel shone9
In many a freakish knot, had twined; Then framed a spell, when the work was done, And changed the willow wreaths to stone, The silver light, so pale and faint, Showed many a prophet, and many a saint, Whose image on the glass was died; Full in the midst, his cross of red Triumphant Michael brandished,
And trampled the apostate's pride. The moonbeam kissed the holy pane, And threw on the pavement a bloody stain.
Corbells, the projections from which the arches spring, asually cut in a fantastic face or mask.