Page images

Save, that, in spite of royal pride,
Which self reproach can ill abide,
His crimson'd face did meanly show
Of conscious shame th' unworthy glow.
Baffled, disgraced, his enemies remain'd,
And base ambition for a time restrain❜d.


With four small vessels, small supply
I trow! yet granted tardily,
For such high service, he once more
The western ocean to explore
Directs his course. On many an isle
He touch'd, where cheerly, for a while,
His mariners their cares beguile
Upon the busy shore.

And there what wiles of barter keen
Spaniard and native pass between ;
As feather'd crowns, whose colours change
To every hue, with vizards strange,
And gold and pearls are given away,
For bead or bell, or bauble gay!
Full oft the muttering Indian eyes
With conscious smile his wondrous prize,
Beneath the shady plantain seated,
And thinks he hath the stranger cheated;
Or foots the ground like vaunting child,
Suapping his thumbs with antics wild.


But if, at length, tired of their guests,
Consuming like those hateful pests,
Locusts or ants, provisions stored
For many days, they will afford
No more, withholding fresh supplies,
And strife and threatening clamours rise,-
Columbus' gentle craft pursues,
And soon their noisy wrath subdues.
Thus speaks the chief,-" Refuse us aid
From stores which Heaven for all hath made!
The moon, your mistress, will this night
From you withhold her blessed light,
Her ire to show; take ye the risk."
Then, as half frighten'd, half in jest,
They turn'd their faces to the east,
From ocean rose her broaden'd disk;
But when the deep eclipse came on,
By science sure to him foreknown,
How cower'd each savage at his feet,
Like spaniel couching to his lord,
Awed by the whip or angry word,
His pardon to entreat!

"Take all we have, thou heavenly man!
And let our mistress smile again!"


Or, should the ship, above, below,
Be fill'd with crowds, who will not go;
Again to spare more hurtful force,
To harmless guile he has recourse.
"Ho! gunner! let these scramblers know
The power we do not use:" when, lo!
From cannon's mouth the silvery cloud
Breaks forth, soft curling on the air,
Through which appears the lightning's glare,
And bellowing roars the thunder loud.

Quickly from bowsprit, shroud, or mast,
Or vessel's side the Indians cast
Their naked forms, the water dashing
O'er their dark heads, as stoutly lashing
The briny waves with arms out-spread,
They gain the shore with terror's speed.


Thus checker'd still with shade and sheen
Pass'd in the west his latter scene,
As through the oak's toss'd branches pass
Soft moonbeams, flickering on the grass;
As on the lake's dark surface pour
Broad flashing drops of summer shower:-
As the rude cavern's sparry sides
When past the miner's taper glides.
So roam'd the Chief, and many a sea
Fathom'd and search'd unweariedly,
Hoping a western way to gain

To eastern climes,-an effort vain ;
For mighty thoughts, with error uncombined,
Were never yet the meed of mortal mind.


At length, by wayward fortune cross'd,
And oft-renew'd and irksome strife
Of sordid men,-by tempests tost,
And tired with turmoil of a wanderer's life,
He sail'd again for Europe's ancient shore,
So will'd high Heaven! to cross the seas no more.
His anchor fix'd, his sails for ever furl'd,
A toil-worn pilgrim in a weary world.


And thus the Hero's sun went down,
Closing his day of bright renown.
Eight times through breeze and storm he past
O'er surge and wave th' Atlantic vast;
And left on many an island fair
Foundations which the after care
Of meaner chieftains shortly rear'd
To seats of power, serv'd, envied, fear'd.
No kingly conqueror, since time began
The long career of ages, hath to man

A scope so ample given for trade's bold range,
Or caused on earth's wide stage such rapid, mighty


He, on the bed of sickness laid,

Saw, unappall'd, death's closing shade;
And there, in charity and love

To man on earth and God above,
Meekly to heaven his soul resign'd,
His body to the earth consign'd.

'Twas in Valladolid he breathed his last,
And to a better, heavenly city pass'd;

But St. Dominga, in her sacred fane

Doth his blest spot of rest and sculptured tomb



There burghers, knights, adventurers brave,
Stood round in funeral weeds bedight;
And bow'd them to the closing grave,
And wish'd his soul good night.


Now all the bold companions of his toil,
Tenants of many a clime, who wont to come,
(So fancy trows,) when vex'd with worldly coil,
And linger sadly by his narrow home ;-
Repentant enemies, and friends that grieve
In self-upbraiding tenderness, and say,
"Cold was the love he did from us receive,"-
The fleeting, restless spirits of a day,
All to their dread account are pass'd away.

Silence, solemn, awful, deep,

Doth in that hall of death her empire keep;
Save when at times the hollow pavement smote
By solitary wanderer's foot, amain
From lofty dome, and arch, and aisle remote
A circling loud response receives again.
The stranger starts to hear the growing sounds,
And sees the blazon'd trophies waving near;-
"Ha! tread my feet so near that sacred ground!"
He stops and bows his head :-" Columbus resteth

[blocks in formation]

Sounds like the rocking of his lofty mast; While fitful gusts rave like his clamorous band, Mix'd with the accents of his high command. Slowly the stripling quits the pensive scene,

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]


WHEN, sapient, dauntless, strong, heroic man!
Our busy thoughts thy noble nature scan,
Whose active mind, its hidden cell within,
Frames that from which the mightiest works begin;
Whose secret thoughts are light to ages lending,
Whose potent arm is right and life defending,
For helpless thousands, all on one high soul de-

We pause, delighted with the fair survey,
And haply in our wistful musings say,
What mate, to match this noble work of heaven,
Hath the all-wise and mighty master given?
One gifted like himself, whose head devises
High things, whose soul at sound of battle rises,
Who with glaved hand will through arm'd squad-

rons ride,

And, death confronting, combat by his side; Will share with equal wisdom grave debate, And all the cares of chieftain, kingly state? Ay, such, I trow, in female form hath been

And burns, and sighs, and weeps to be what he has Of olden times, and may again be seen,



O! who shall lightly say that fame

Is nothing but an empty name!
Whilst in that sound there is a charm

The nerve to brace, the heart to warm,
As, thinking of the mighty dead,
The young, from slothful couch will start,
And vow, with lifted hands outspread,
Like them to act a noble part?


O! who shall lightly say that fame
Is nothing but an empty name!
When, but for those, our mighty dead,
All ages past, a blank would be,
Sunk in oblivion's murky bed,-
A desert bare, a shipless sea?
They are the distant objects seen,-
The lofty marks of what hath been.


O! who shall lightly say that fame Is nothing but an empty name! Then memory of the mighty dead To earth-worn pilgrim's wistful eye

When cares of empire or strong impulse swell
The generous breast, and to high deeds impel;
For who can these as meaner times upbraid,
Who think of Saragossa's valiant maid?
But she of gentler nature, softer, dearer,
Of daily life, the active, kindly cheerer;
With generous bosom, age, or childhood shielding,
And in the storms of life, though moved, unyield-


Strength in her gentleness, hope in her sorrow,
Whose darkest hours some ray of brightness borrow
From better days to come, whose meek devotion
Calms every wayward passion's wild commotion;
In want and suffering, soothing, useful, sprightly,
Bearing the press of evil hap so lightly,
Till evil's self seems its strong hold betraying
To the sweet witchery of such winsome playing;
Bold from affection, if by nature fearful,
With varying brow, sad, tender, anxious, cheerful,-
This is meet partner for the loftiest mind,
With crown or helmet graced,-yea, this is woman-

Come ye, whose grateful memory retains
Dear recollection of her tender pains
To whom your oft-conn'd lesson, daily said,
With kiss and cheering praises was repaid;

With stealthy steps I gain'd the shade By the close-winding staircase made,

To gain whose smile, to shun whose mild rebuke,
Your irksome task was learnt in silent nook,
Though truant thoughts the while, your lót ex- And when the surly turnkey enter'd,


With freer elves, were wood and meadow ranging;-
And ye, who best the faithful virtues know
Of a link'd partner, tried in weal and wo,
Like the slight willow, now aloft, now bending,
But, still unbroken, with the blast contending,
Whose very look call'd virtuous vigour forth,
Compelling you to match her noble worth;
And ye, who in a sister's modest praise
Feel manly pride, and think of other days,
Pleased that the playmate of your native home
Hath in her prime an honour'd name become ;-
And ye, who in a duteous child have known
A daughter, helpmate, sister, blent in one,
From whose dear hand which, to no hireling leaves
Its task of love, your age sweet aid receives,
Who reckless marks youth's waning faded hue,
And thinks her bloom well spent, when spent foryou;
Come all, whose thoughts such dear remembrance

And to my short and faithful lay give ear.


Within a prison's hateful cell,
Where, from the lofty window fell,
Through grated bars, the sloping beam,
Defined, but faint, on couch of stone,
There sat a prisoner sad and lone,
Like the dim tenant of a dismal dream.
Deep in the shade, by low-arch'd door,
With iron nails thick studded o'er,
Whose threshold black is cross'd by those
Who here their earthly being close,
Or issue to the light again

A scaffold with their blood to stain,-
Moved something softly. Wistful ears
Are quick of sense, and from his book

The prisoner raised his eyes with eager look,
"Is it a real form that through the gloom appears?"

[blocks in formation]

But little dreaming in his mind
Who follow'd him so close behind,

Into this darken'd cell, with beating heart, I ventured."


Then from the simple vest that braced
Her gentle breast, a letter traced
With well-known characters, she took,
And with an eager, joyful look
Her eyes up to his visage cast,
His changing countenance to scan,
As o'er the lines his keen glance pass'd.
She saw a faint glow tinge the sickly wan;
She saw his eyes through teardrops raise
To heaven their look of silent praise,
And hopes fresh touch undoing lines of care
Which stress of evil times had deeply graven there.
Mean while, the joy of sympathy to trace
Upon her innocent and lovely face
Had to the sternest, darkest skeptic given
Some love of human kind, some faith in righteous


What blessings on her youthful head
Were by the grateful patriot shed,
(For such he was, good and devoted,
And had at risk of life promoted
His country's freedom and her faith,
Nor reckoning made of worldly skathe,)
How warm, confiding, and sincere,
He gave to her attentive ear
The answer which her cautious sire
Did to his secret note require:-
How after this with 'quiries kind,
He ask'd for all she left behind

In Redbraes' tower, her native dwelling,
And set her artless tongue a-telling,
Which urchin dear had tallest grown,
Of lesson, sermon, psalm, and note,
And which the greatest learning shown,
And Sabbath questions learnt by rote,
And merry tricks and gambols play'd
By evening fire, and forfeits paid,-

I will not here rehearse, nor will I say,
How, on that bless'd and long-remember'd day,
The prisoner's son, deserving such a sire,
First saw the tiny maid, and did admire,
That one so young, and wise, and good, and fair,
Should be an earthly thing that breathed this nether


E'en let my reader courteously suppose, That from this visit happier days arose ; Suppose the prisoner from his thraldom freed, And with our lay proceed.


The damsel, glad her mission'd task was done
Back to her home long since had blithely gone;
And there remain'd, a meek and duteous child
Where useful toil, with play between,
And pastime on the sunny green,

The weeks and months of passing years beguiled.


Scotland the while convulsive lay

Beneath a hateful tyrant's sway;

For James's bigot mind th' ascendant gain'd,
And fiercely raged blind ruthless power;

While men, who true to conscience' voice remain'd,
Were forced in caves and dens to cower;
Bereft of home, or hold, or worldly wealth,
Upon the bleak and blasted heath,


Pleased had you been to have beheld,
Like fire-sparks from the stricken stone,
Like sunbeams on the raindrop thrown,
The kindling eye of sweet Griseld,
When thus her mother spoke, for known
Was his retreat to her alone.

The wary dame to none beside
The dangerous secret might confide.

They sang their glorious Maker's praise by stealth, “O fear not, mother! I will go,

Th' inclement sky beneath..

And some were forced to flee their native land,
Or in the grated prison's gloom,

Dealt to them by corruption's hateful hand,
Abide their fatal doom.


And there our former thrall, the good,
The firm, the gentle Jerviswood
Again was pent with sickness worn,
Watching each pulse's feebler beat
Which promised, ere the fated morn,
The scaffold of its prey to cheat.


And now that patriot's ancient, faithful friend,
Our maiden's sire, must to the tempest bend.

He too must quit his social hearth,
The place where cheerful friends resort,
And travellers rest and children sport,
To lay him on the mouldering earth;
Through days of lonely gloom to rest his head
With them, who, in those times unblest,
Alone had sure and fearless rest,
The still, the envied dead.


Sad was his hiding place, I ween,
A fearful place, where sights had been,
Full oft, by the benighted rustic seen;
Ay, elrich forms in sheeted white,
Which, in the waning moonlight blast,
Pass by, nor shadow onward cast,
Like any earthly wight;

A place, where midnight lights had shone
Through charnel windows, and the glancing
Of wandering flame, on church-path lone,
Betray'd the hour when fiends and hags were dancing,
Or to their vigil foul with trooping haste advancing.
A place, whose gate with weeds o'ergrown,
Hemlock and dock of deep dull green,
That climbing rank the lintels screen,
What time the moon is riding high

The very hounds went cowering by,
Or watch'd afar with howling moan;

Betide me good or ill:

Nor quick nor dead shall daunt me; no;
Nor witch-fires, dancing in the dark,
Nor owlet's shriek, not watch-dog's bark,
For I will think, the while, I do God's blessed will.
I'll be his active Brownie sprite,

To bring him needful food, and share his lonely night."


And she, ere stroke of midnight bell,
Did bound her for that dismal cell;
And took that haunted, fearful way
Which, till that hour, in twilight gray
She never by herself had past,
Or e'en athwart its copse-wood cast
A hasty glance, for dread of seeing
The form of some unearthly being.
But now, far other forms of fear
To her sacred sight appear,

And, like a sudden fit of ague, move her;
The stump of some old, blasted tree,

Or upright stone, or colt broke free

To range at will the dewy lea,

Seem lurking spy or rustic lover,

Who may, e'en through the dark, her secret drift discover.


She pauses oft.-"What whispers near?
The babbling burn sounds in my ear.
Some hasty form the pathway crosses :-
'Tis but a branch the light wind tosses.
What thing is that by churchyard gate,
That seems like spearman tall to wait?
'Tis but the martyr's slender stone

Which stands so stately and alone:
Why should I shrink? why should I fear?

The vault's black door is near."
And she with icy fingers knock'd,
And heard with joy the door unlock'd,
And felt the yawning fence give way,
As deep and harsh the sounding hinges bray.


For brutes, 'tis said, will see what meets no human But to describe their tender meeting,



You well may guess his faithful wife
A heart of heavy cheer had then,
Listening her household's hum of life,
And thinking of his silent den.

"O! who will to that vault of death,
At night's still watch repair,

The dark and chilly sky beneath,
And needful succour bear?

Many his wants, who bideth lonely there!"

Tears shed unseen, affection utter'd
In broken words, and blessings mutter'd,
With many a kiss and kindly greeting,
I know not; would my feeble skill
Were meeter yokemate to my will!


Then from the struck flint flew the spark,
And lighted taper, faint and small,
Gave out its dun rays through the dark,
On vaulted roof and crusted wall:

On stones reversed in crumbling mould,
And blacken'd poles of bier decay'd
That lumbering on the ground were laid;
On sculptured wrecks, defaced and old,
And shreds of painted 'scutcheons torn
Which once, in pointed lozenge spread,
The pillar'd church aloft had worn;
While new-swept nook and lowly bed,
Strange sight in such a place!

Betray'd a piteous case,

And could there be in lovers meeting
More powerful chords to move the mind,
Fond heart to heart responsive beating,

Than in that tender hour, pure, pious love entwined.


Thus, night succeeding night, her love
Did its unwearied nature prove,

Tender and fearless; till, obscured by crimes,
Again so darkly lower'd the changeful times,

Man from man's converse torn, the living with the That her good sire, though shut from light of day,



The basket's store of viands and bread,
Produced with looks of kind inviting,
Her hands with busy kindness spread;
And he her kindly care requiting,
Fell to with thanks and relish keen,
Nodded and quaff'd her health between,

While she his glee return'd, her smiles with tears


No lordling at his banquet rare

E'er tasted such delicious fare;

No beauty on her silken seat,

With lover kneeling at her feet,

Might in that lowly den no longer stay.


From Edinbrough town a courier came,
And round him flock'd the castle's dame,
Children and servants, young and old.
"What news? what news? thy visage sad
Betrays too plainly tidings bad."

And so it did; alas! sad was the tale he told. "From the oppressor's deadly hate

Good Jerviswood has met his fate
Upon the lofty scaffold, where

He bore himself with dauntless air;
Albeit, with mortal sickness spent,
Upon a woman's arm he leant.

E'er wept and smiled by turns with smiles so fondly From earth to heaven at yestere'en he went."



But soon youth's buoyant, gladsome nature, Spreads joy unmix'd o'er every feature, As she her tale is archly telling Of feuds within their busy dwelling, While, round the savoury table sitting, She gleans his meal, the rest unwitting, How she, their open eyes deceiving, So dexterous has become in thieving. She tells, how of some trifle prating, She stirs them all to keen debating, While into napkin'd lap she's sliding Her portion, oft renew'd, and hiding, Beneath the board, her store; amazing Her jealous Frere, oft on her gazing. Then with his voice and eager eye, She speaks in harmless mimickry. "Mother! was e'er the like beheld? Some wolf possesses our Griseld; She clears her dish, as I'm a sinner! Like ploughman at his new-year's dinner."


And what each urchin, one by one,
Had best in sport or lesson done,

She fail'd not to repeat;

Though sorry tales they might appear To a fastidious critic's ear,

They were to him most sweet.


But they must part till o'er the sky
Night cast again her sable dye;
For ah! her term is almost over!
How fleetly hath it flown!

As fleetly as with tristed lover

The stealthy hour is gone.


In silence deep the listeners stood,
An instant horror chill'd their blood.
The lady groan'd, and turn'd aside
Her fears and troubled thoughts to hide.
The children wept, then went to play;
The servants cried "Awaladay !"
But O! what inward sights, which borrow
The forms that are not, changing still,
Like shadows on a broken rill,
Were blended with our damsel's sorrow!
Those lips, those eyes so sweetly mild,
That bless'd her as a humble child;
The block in sable, deadly trim,
The kneeling form, the headsman grim,
The sever'd head with life-blood streaming,-
Were ever 'thwart her fancy gleaming.
Her father, too, in perilous state,
He may be seized, and like his friend
Upon the fatal scaffold bend.

May Heaven preserve him still from such a dreadful end!

And then she thought, if this must be,
Who, honour'd sire, will wait on thee,
And serve thy wants with decent pride,
Like Baillie's kinswoman, subduing fear
With fearless love, thy last sad scene to cheer,
E'en on the scaffold standing by thy side?
A friend like his, dear father, thou shalt have,
To serve thee to the last, and linger round thy grave.


Her father then, who narrowly
With life escaped, was forced to fly
His dangerous home, a home no more,
And cross the sea. A friendly shore
Received the fugitive, and there,
Like prey broke from the spoiler's snare,

« PreviousContinue »