Obrázky na stránke

saddler, miller or tanner. He lent or borrowed, trusted his neighbour, and with skill and care throve and grew wealthy. Later, when he longed once more for freedom, his warriors took their weapons, their axes, swords, and spears, or their dreaded bow and arrow.

They leaped without stirrup into the saddle, and killed with dart and gavelock. At other times they launched their boats and ships, which were still pure Anglo-Saxon from keel to deck and from the helm or the rudder to the top of the mast, afloat and ashore, with sail or with oar. As his fathers had done before him in the land of his birth, the Saxon would not merely eat, drink, and sleep, or spend his time in playing the harp and the fiddle, but by walking, riding, fishing, and hunting, he kept young and healthy; while his lady with her children were busy teaching or learning how to read and to write, to sing and to draw. Even needlework was not forgotten, as their writers say that “ by this they shone most in the world.The wisdom of later ages was not known then, but they had their homespun sayings, which by all mankind are yet looked upon as true wisdom, as: God helps them that help themselves; lost time is never found again; when sorrow is asleep, wake it not !

Thus the two languages, now contending and then mingling with each other, continued for nearly four hundred years side by side in the British kingdom; the Norman-French, an exotic plant, deprived of its native soil and heat, flourishing for a time, but gradually withering and fading away; the language of the subject, like an indigenous tree, trimmed by the rough storm, grafted in many a branch by an unskilful hand, but still giving shade with its wide-spreading foliage, and bearing flowers and fruit in abundance. The Normans had conquered the land and the race, but they struggled in vain against the language that conquered them in its turn, and, by its spirit, converted them into English

In vain did they haughtily refuse to learn a word of that despised tongue, and asked, in the words of the minister of Henry III., indignantly, “Am I an Englishman, that I should know these (Saxon) charters and these laws?” In vain it was that William and his successors filled bishopric and abbey with the most learned and best educated men of France, and deposed Saxon dignitaries, like Wulstan, Bishop of Worcester, because he was an “idiot who did not know the French tongue, and could not aid in the king's council.” Neither sufferings nor death itself could, apparently, teach these haughty Normans the necessity of learning the language of their new home. When in the year 1080 some Northumbrians presented to Vaulcher (Walchere), Bishop and Lord of Durham (Dunholme), an humble and submissive request, the proud prelate required, in answer to their request, that they should pay four hundred pounds of silver. Their astonished but determined spokesman asked for leave to consult with his associates, but, knowing the bishop's entire ignorance of Saxon, he said to his friends : "Short red (speech), god red, slee (slay) ye se bisceop!" and immediately they fell upon the bishop, and slew him and one hundred men of French and Flemish blood !


It is well known how Robert of Gloucester and some of his followers, who befriended the Princess Matilda in her difficulties with Stephen, were taken prisoners at the siege of Winchester, and had to pay with their lives for their ignorance of Saxon, which alone betrayed them, when they fled, in excellent disguise, through the country. The manner in which Henry II., on his return from Ireland, resented the imagined insult of some Pembrokeshire peasants, who greeted him as their “goode olde cynge!” has passed from Brompton into most historical records. Much later, even, when Longchamp, Bishop of Ely, was Chancellor to Richard I., he knew nothing of the language of the people whose interests were intrusted to his care. Hoveden tells, with great simplicity, in his letter of Pugh, Bishop of Coventry, how the great Chancellor became a defaulter and escaped to Canterbury, carrying with him the keys of the King's castle! Thence he made his way to the sea-shore, disguised as a female linen-merchant, and, seated upon a stone near the water's edge, waited for the vessel that was to carry him across the Channel. Some countrywomen approached, and asked the price of his ware. He could not answer a word ! Others came; curiosity was excited; and when the unlucky bishop laughed at his own predicament, they resented the provocation by



lifting his veil. They discovered the newly-shaven beard of the sulky woman! Workmen happened to come up, joined in the chorus of indignant women, knocked the Chancellor down, and dragged him through sand and mire to a neighbouring town, where he was kept prisoner in a dark cellar until some Norman soldiers came up and saved him from further disgrace. . .

Thus we see that conquests cannot exterminate a language, nor drive it from its native soil. The Normans, with all their power and strength, lords of the land, masters of the people, and with every advantage on their side, could not destroy a highly cultivated, ancient, and national tongue, like the Saxon. It rose against them and conquered them in its turn. . .

The Normans could, as conquerors, seat their Norman-French upon the throne and the judge's bench, at the dais of the noble and in the refectory of the monk, but they found the door of manor and cottage jealously guarded. Their numbers, moreover, were too small to allow them to spread all over the kingdom. Their soldiers were stationed in a few garrisons and citadels, to secure the towns and overawe the country, where their great skill in fortification, of which the Saxons knew nothing, was an ample compensation for their small numbers. The few Norman soldiers and their families, thus immured in castles, and too haughty to associate with the despised Saxons, anxiously preserved their. connection with France, where many still possessed estates, and held no intercourse but with their own countrymen. .

The Norman-French was, therefore, neither carried to all parts of the great kingdom, because of the comparatively small number of invaders, nor supported by the aid of intellectual superiority. The Anglo-Saxon, on the other hand, had been carefully guarded and preserved by the people; it had never lost its hold upon

their affections; persecution and the necessity of concealment had made it but all the dearer to the suffering race. It now made its way, slowly and almost imperceptibly, but with unerring and unceasing perseverance, from rank to rank, until it finally reached the very court from which it had been so ignominiously driven, and seated itself once more upon the throne of England !



The scene of this poem is laid in the vicinity of Loch Katrine, in the

Western Highlands of Scotland.

[blocks in formation]

James IV. of Scotland (known throughout the poem as Fitz-James, or the Knight of Snowdoun), in a stag-hunt

is separated from his attendants-He loses his gallant horse, and wanders alone on foot in the pass of the Trosachs--- Description of the Trosachs and Loch Katrine.


The falcon, from her cairn on high, THE Stag at eve had drunk his fill,

Cast on the rout a wondering eye, Where danced the moon on Monan's Till far beyond her piercing ken rill,

The hurricane had swept the glen. And deep his midnight lair had made Faint, and more faint, its failing din In lone Glenartney's hazel shade;

Returned from cavern, cliff, and linn, But, when the sun his beacon red

And silence settled, wide and still, Had kindled on Ben-voirlich's head, On the lone wood and mighty hill. The deep-mouthed blood-hound's heavy

IV. bay

Less loud the sounds of silvan war Resounded up the rocky way;

Disturbed the heights of Uam-var, And faint, from further distance borne, And roused the cavern, where, 'tis told, Were heard the clanging hoof and horn. A giant made his den of old : II.

For ere that steep ascent was won, As chief who hears his warder call, High in his pathway hung the sun; "To arms! the foemen storm the wall,” And many a gallant, stayed per-force, The antlered monarch of the waste

Was fain to breathe his faltering horse; Sprung from his heathery couch in haste. And of the trackers of the deer But, ere bis fleet career he took,

Scarce half the lessening pack was near;The dew-drops from his flanks he shook; So shrewdly on the mountain side Like crested leader proud and high,

Had the bold burst their mettle tried. Tossed his beamed frontlet to the sky;

v. A moment gazed adown the dale,

The noble Stag was pausing now
A moment snuffed the tainted gale, Upon the mountain's southern brow,
A moment listenerl to the cry,

Where broad extended, far beneath,
That thickened as the chase drew nigh--- The varied realms of fair Menteith.
Then, as the headmost foes appeared, With anxious eye he wandered o'er
With one brave bound the copse he cleared, Mountain and meadow, moss and moor,
And, stretching forward free and far, And pondered refuge from his toil,
Sought the wild heaths of Uam-var. By far Loch Ard or Aberfoyle.

But nearer was the copsewood gray Yelled on the view the opening pack; That waved and wept on Loch Achray, Rock, glen, and cavern, paid them back; And mingled with the pine-trees blue To many a mingled sound at once

On the bold cliffs of Ben-venue. The awakened mountain gave response. Fresh vigour with the hope returnedAn hundred dogs bayed deep and strong, With flying foot the heath he spurned, Clattered an hundred steeds along;

Held westward with unwearied race, Their peal the merry horns rung out, And left behind the panting chase. An hundred voices joined the shout:

VI. With hark and whoop and wild halloo, 'Twere long to tell what steeds gave o'er, No rest Ben-voirlich's echoes knew.

As swept the hunt through Cambus-more; Far from the tumult fled the roe,

What reins were tightened in despair, Close in her covert cowered the doe; When rose Ben-ledi's ridge in air;


Who flagged upon Bochastle's heath, Then, touched with pity and remorse,
Who shunned to stem the flooded Teith, He sorrowed o'er the expiring horse.
For twice that day, from shore to shore, “I little thought, when first thy rein
The gallant Stag swam stoutly o'er. I slacked upon the banks of Seine,
Few were the stragglers, following far, That Highland eagle e'er should feed
That reached the Lake of Vennachar; On thy fleet limbs, my matchless steed!
And when the Brigg of Turk was won, Woe worth the chase, woe worth the day,
The headmost horseman rode alone. That cost thy life, my gallant gray!”

Alone, but with unbated zeal,

Then through the dell his horn resounds, That horseman plied the scourge and steel; From vain pursuit to call the hounds. For, jaded now, and spent with toil, Back limped, with slow and crippled pace, Embossed with foam, and dark with soil, The sulky leaders of the chase: While every gasp with sobs he drew, Close to their master's side they pressed, The labouring Stag strained full in view. With drooping tail and humbled crest; Two dogs of black Saint Hubert's breed, But still the dingle's hollow throat Unmatched for courage, breath, and speed, Prolonged the swelling bugle-note. Fast on his flying traces came,

The owlets started from their dream, And all but won that desperate game: The eagles answered with their scream, For, scarce a spear's length from his haunch, Round and around the sounds were cast, Vindictive toiled the blood-hounds stanch; Till echo seemed an answering blast; Nor nearer might the dogs attain,

And on the Hunter hied his way, Nor further might the quarry strain. To join some comrades of the day; Thus up the margin of the lake,

Yet often paused, so strange the road, Between the precipice and brake,

So wondrous were the scenes it showed. O'er stock and rock their race they take.


The western waves of ebbing day
The Hunter marked that mountain high, Rolled o'er the glen their level way;
The lone lake's western boundary,

Each purple peak, each flinty spire, And deemed the Stag must turn to bay, Was bathed in floods of living fire. Where that huge rampart barred the way; | But not a setting beam could glow Already glorying in the prize,

Within the dark ravine below, Measured his antlers with his eyes;

Where twined the path, in shadow hid, For the death-wound, and death-halloo, Round many a rocky pyramid, Mustered his breath, his whinyard drew;- Shooting abruptly from the dell But, thundering as he came prepared, Its thunder-splintered pinnacle; With ready arm and weapon bared, Round many an insulated mass, The wily quarry shunned the shock,

The native bulwarks of the pass, And turned him from the opposing rock; Huge as the tower which builders vain Then, dashing down a darksome glen, Presumptuous piled on Shinar's plain. Soon lost to hound and hunter's ken, The rocky summits, split and rent, In the deep Trosachs' wildest nook

Formed turret, dome, or battlement;
His solitary refuge took.

Or seemed fantastically set
There, while,close couched, the thicket shed With cupola or minaret-
Cold dews and wild flowers on his head, Wild crests as pagod ever decked,
He heard the baffled dogs in vain

Or mosque of Eastern architect.
Rave through the hollow pass amain, Nor were these earth-born castles bare,
Chiding the rocks that yelled again! Nor lacked they many a banner fair;

For, from their shivered brows displayed, Close on the hounds the Hunter came, Far o'er the unfathomable glade, To cheer them on the vanished game; All twinkling with the dew-drops sheen, But, stumbling in the rugged dell,

The brier-rose fell in streamers green, The gallant horse exhausted fell!

And creeping shrubs, of thousand dyes, The impatient rider strove in vain

Waved in the west wind's summer sighs. To rouse him with the spur and rein; For the good steed, his labours o'er,

Boon nature scattered, free and wild, Stretched bis stiff limbs, to rise no more: Each plant or flower, the mountain's child.


« PredošláPokračovať »