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Closed his dark wing, relax'd his eye,
Nor, though unhooded, sought to fly.
And, trust, while in such guise she stood
Like fabled goddess of the wood,
That if a father's partial thought
O'erweigh'd her worth and beauty aught,
Well might the lover's judgment fail
To balance with a juster scale;
For with each secret glance he stole,
The fond enthusiast sent his soul.

XXV.

Of stature tall, and slender frame,
But firmly knit, was Malcolm Græme.
The belted plaid and tartan hose
Did ne'er more graceful limbs disclose;
His flaxen hair, of sunny hue,
Curl'd closely round his bonnet blue.
Train'd to the chase, his eagle eye
The ptarmigan in snow could spy:
Each pass, by mountain, lake, and heath,
He knew, through Lennox and Menteith;
Vain was the bound of dark brown doe,
When Malcolm bent his sounding bow,
And scarce that doe, though wing'd with fear,
Outstripp'd in speed the mountaineer:
Right up Ben-Lomond could he press,
And not a sob his toil confess.
His form accorded with a mind
Lively and ardent, frank and kind;

A blither heart, till Ellen came,
Did never love nor sorrow tame;
It danced as lightsome in his breast,
As play'd the feather on his crest.
Yet friends who nearest knew the youth,
His scorn of wrong, his zeal for truth,
And bards, who saw his features bold,
When kindled by the tales of old,
Said, were that youth to manhood grown,
Not long should Roderick Dhu's renown
Be foremost voiced by mountain fame,
But quail to that of Malcolm Græme.

XXVI.

Now back they wend their watery way,
And, "O my sire!" did Ellen say,
"Why urge thy chase so far astray?
And why so late return'd? And why"-
The rest was in her speaking eye.
"My child, the chase I follow far,
"Tis mimicry of noble war;

And with that gallant pastime reft
Were all of Douglas I have left.
I met young Malcolm as I stray'd
Far eastward, in Glenfinlas' shade,
Nor stray'd I safe; for, all around,
Hunters and horsemen scour'd the ground.
This youth, though still a royal ward,
Risk'd life and land to be my guard,
And through the passes of the wood
Guided my steps, not unpursued;
And Roderick shall his welcome make,
Despite old spleen, for Douglas' sake.
Then must he seek Strath-Endrick glen,
Nor peril aught for me agen."-

XXVII.

Sir Roderick, who to meet them came,
Redden'd at sight of Malcolm Græme.
Yet, not in action, word, or eye,
Fail'd aught in hospitality.

In talk and sport they whiled away
The morning of that summer day;
But at high noon a courier light
Held secret parley with the knight;
Whose moody aspect soon declared,
That evil were the news he heard.
Deep thought seem'd toiling in his head;
Yet was the evening banquet made,
E'er he assembled round the flame,
His mother, Douglas, and the Græme,
And Ellen, too; then cast around
His eyes, then fix'd them on the ground,
As studying phrase that might avail
Best to convey unpleasant tale.

Long with his dagger's hilt he play'd,
Then raised his haughty brow, and said:

XXVIII.

"Short be my speech;-nor time affords,
Nor my plain temper, glozing words.
Kinsman and father,—if such name
Douglas vouchsafe to Roderick's claim;
Mine honour'd mother;-Ellen-why,
My cousin, turn away thine eye?
And Græme; in whom I hope to know
Full soon a noble friend or foe,
When age shall give thee thy command,
And leading in thy native land ;-
List all! The king's vindictive pride
Boasts to have tamed the border-side,
Where chiefs, with hound and hawk who came
To share their monarch's sylvan game,
Themselves in bloody toils were snared,
And when the banquet they prepared,
And wide their loyal portals flung,
O'er their own gateway struggling hung.
Loud cries their blood from Meggat's mead,
From Yarrow braes, and banks of Tweed,
Where the lone streams of Ettrick glide,
And from the silver Teviot's side;
The dales where martial clans did ride
Are now one sheepwalk waste and wide.
This tyrant of the Scottish throne,
So faithless and so ruthless known,
Now hither comes; his end the same,
The same pretext of sylvan game.
What grace for highland chiefs judge ye,
By fate of border chivalry.

Yet more; amid Glenfinlas' green,

Douglas, thy stately form was seen.

This by espial sure I know;

Your counsel in the streight I show."

XXIX.

Ellen and Margaret fearfully

Sought comfort in each other's eye,

Then turn'd their ghastly look, each one,

This to her sire, that to her son.

The hasty colour went and came

In the bold cheek of Malcolm Græme:

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But from his glance it well appear'd,
'Twas but for Ellen that he fear'd;
While sorrowful, but undismay'd,
The Douglas thus his counsel said:
"Brave Roderick, though the tempest roar,
It may but thunder and pass o'er;
Nor will I here remain an hour,
To draw the lightning on thy bower;
For, well thou know'st at this gray head
The royal bolt were fiercest sped.
For thee, who, at thy king's command,
Canst aid him with a gallant band,
Submission, homage, humbled pride,
Shall turn the monarch's wrath aside.
Poor remnants of the bleeding heart,
Ellen and I will seek, apart,
The refuge of some forest cell,
There, like the hunted quarry, dwell,
Till on the mountain and the moor,
The stern pursuit be past and o'er."-

XXX.

"No, by mine honour," Roderick said,

"So help me, heaven, and my good blade!

No, never! blasted be yon pine,

My fathers' ancient crest and mine,

If from its shade in danger part

The lineage of the bleeding heart!

Hear my blunt speech, grant me this maid

To wife, thy counsel to mine aid;

To Douglas, leagued with Roderick Dhu,
Will friends and allies flock enow;
Like cause of doubt, distrust, and grief,
Will bind to us each western chief.
When the loud pipes my bridal tell,
The links of Forth shall hear the knell,
The guards shall start in Stirling's porch;
And, when I light the nuptial torch,
A thousand villages in flames
Shall scare the slumbers of King James!
-Nay, Ellen, blench not thus away,
And, mother, cease these signs, I pray
I meant not all my heart might say.
Small need of inroad, or of fight,
When the sage Douglas may unite
Each mountain clan in friendly band,
To guard the passes of their land,
Pill the foil'd king, from pathless glen,
Shall bootless turn him home agen."

XXXI.

There are who have, at midnight hour, In slumber scaled a dizzy tower, And, on the verge that beetled o'er The ocean tide's incessant roar, Dream'd calmly out their dangerous dream. Till waken'd by the morning beam, When, dazzled by the eastern glow, Such startler cast his glance below, And saw unmeasured depth around, And heard unintermitted sound, And thought the battled fence so frail, It waved like cobweb in the gale; 'Amid his senses' giddy wheel, Did he not desperate impulse feel

87

Headlong to plunge himself below,
And meet the worst his fears foreshow ?-
Thus, Ellen, dizzy and astound,
As sudden ruin yawn'd around,
By crossing terrors wildly toss'd,
Still for the Douglas fearing most,
Could scarce the desperate thought withstand,
To buy his safety with her hand.

XXXII.

Such purpose dread could Malcolm spy
In Ellen's quivering lip and eye,
And eager rose to speak-but ere
His tongue could hurry forth his fear,
Had Douglas mark'd the hectic strife,
Where death seem'd combating with life;
For to her cheek, in feverish flood,
One instant rush'd the throbbing blood,
Then ebbing back, with sudden sway,
Left its domain as wan as clay.

66

Roderick, enough! enough!" he cried, "My daughter cannot be thy bride; Not that the blush to wooer dear, Nor paleness that of maiden fear. It may not be forgive her, chief, Nor hazard aught for our relief. Against his sovereign Douglas ne'er Will level a rebellious spear. 'Twas I that taught his youthful hand To rein a stced and wield a brand; I see him yet, the princely boy! Not Ellen more my pride and joy: I love him still, despite my wrongs By hasty wrath and slanderous tongues. O seek the grace you well may find, Without a cause to mine combined."

XXXIII.

Twice through the hall the chieftain strode;
The waving of his tartans broad,
And darken'd brow, where wounded pride
With ire and disappointment vied,
Seem'd, by the torch's gloomy light,
Like the ill demon of the night,
Stooping his pinions' shadowy sway
Upon the 'nighted pilgrim's way:
But, unrequited love! thy dart
Plunged deepest its envenom'd smart,
And Roderick, with thine anguish stung,
At length the hand of Douglas wrung,
While eyes, that mock'd at tears before,
With bitter drops were running o'er.
The death pangs of long cherish'd hope
Scarce in that ample breast had scope,
But, struggling with his spirit proud,
Convulsive heaved its checker'd shroud,
While every sob-so mute were all-
Was heard distinctly through the hall.
The son's despair, the mother's look,
Ill might the gentle Ellen brook;
She rose, and to her side there came,
To aid her parting steps, the Græme.

XXXIV.

Then Roderick from the Douglas brokeAs flashes flame through sable smoke,

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Kindling its wreaths, long, dark and low,
To one broad blaze of ruddy glow,
So the deep anguish of despair
Burst, in fierce jealousy, to air.-
With stalwart grasp his hand he laid
On Malcolm's breast and belted plaid:
"Back, beardless boy!" he sternly said,
"Back, minion! hold'st thou thus at naught
The lesson I so lately taught?

This roof, the Douglas, and that maid,
Thank thou for punishment delay'd."
Eager as greyhound on his game,
Fiercely with Roderick grappled Græme.
"Perish my name, if aught afford

Its chieftain safety, save his sword!"
Thus as they strove, their desperate hand
Griped to the dagger or the brand,
And death had been-but Douglas rose,
And thrust between the struggling foes
His giant strength:-"Chieftains, forego!
I hold the first who strikes, my foe.-
Madmen, forbear your frantic jar!
What! is the Douglas fallen so far,
His daughter's hand is deem'd the spoil
Of such dishonourable broil!"
Sullen and slowly they unclasp,

As struck with shame, their desperate grasp, And each upon his rival glared,

With foot advanced, and blade half bared.

XXXV.

Ere yet the brands aloft were flung,
Margaret on Roderick's mantle hung,
And Malcolm heard his Ellen scream,
As falter'd through terrific dream.
Then Roderick plunged in sheath his sword,
And veil'd his wrath in scornful word:
"Rest safe till morning; pity 'twere
Such cheek should feel the midnight air!
Then mayest thou to James Stuart tell
Roderick will keep the lake and fell,
Nor lackey, with his freeborn clan,
The pageant pomp of earthly man.
More would he of Clan-Alpine know,
Thou canst our strength and passes show.-
Malise, what ho!"-his henchman came;
"Give our safe-conduct to the Græme."
Young Malcolm answer'd, calm and bold,
"Fear nothing for thy favourite hold:
The spot an angel deign'd to grace

Is bless'd, though robbers haunt the place.
Thy churlish courtesy for those
Reserve, who fear to be thy foes.
As safe to me the mountain way
At midnight, as in blaze of day,
Though with his boldest at his back,
E'en Roderick Dhu beset the track.-
Brave Douglas,-lovely Ellen, nay,
Naught here of parting will I say.
Earth does not hold a lonesome glen,
So secret, but we meet agen.-
Chieftain! we too shall find an hour."
He said, and left the sylvan bower.
XXXVI.

Old Allan follow'd to the strand,
(Such was the Douglas's command,)

And anxious told, how, on the morn,
The stern Sir Roderick deep had sworn
The fiery cross should circle o'er
Dale, glen, and valley, down, and moor.
Much were the peril to the Græme,
From those who to the signal came:
Far up the lake 'twere safest land,
Himself would row him to the strand.
He gave his counsel to the wind,
While Malcolm did, unheeding, bind
Round dirk, and pouch, and broadsword roll'd
His ample plaid in tighten'd fold,
And stripp'd his limbs to such array,
As best might suit the watery way.

XXXVII.

Then spoke abrupt: "Farewell to thee
Pattern of old fidelity!"

The minstrel's hand he kindly press'd,
"O! could I point a place of rest!
My sovereign holds in ward my land,
My uncle leads my vassal band;
To tame his foes, his friends to aid,
Poor Malcolm has but heart and blade.
Yet, if there be one faithful Græme
Who loves the chieftain of his name,
Not long shall honour'd Douglas dwell,
Like hunted stag, in mountain cell;
Nor, ere yon pride-swollen robber dare,
I may not give the rest to air!-
Tell Roderick Dhu I owed him naught,
Not the poor service of a boat,
To waft me to yon mountain side."-
Then plunged he in the flashing tide.
Bold o'er the flood his head he bore,
And stoutly steer'd him from the shore;
And Allan strain'd his anxious eye
Far mid the lake, his form to spy
Darkening across each puny wave,
To which the moon her silver gave.
Fast as the cormorant could skim,
The swimmer plied each active limb:
Then, landing in the moonlight dell,
Loud shouted of his weal to tell.
The minstrel heard the far halloo,
And joyful from the shore withdrew.

CANTO III.

THE GATHERING. I.

The race of yore

TIME rolls his ceaseless course.
Who danced our infancy upon their knee,
And told our marvelling boyhood legends store,
Of their strange ventures happ'd by land or sea,
How are they blotted from the things that be!

How few, all weak and wither'd of their force, Wait, on the verge of dark eternity,

Like stranded wrecks, the tide returning hoarse, To sweep them from our sight! Time rolls his ceaseless course.

Yet live there still who can remember well,

How, when a mountain chief his bugle blew, Both field and forest, dingle, cliff, and dell, And solitary heath, the signal knew;

And fast the faithful clan around him drew,
What time the warning note was keenly wound,
What time aloft their kindred banner flew,

While clamorous war-pipes yell'd the gathering sound,

And while the fiery cross glanced, like a meteor, round.

II.

The summer dawn's reflected hue
To purple changed Loch-Katrine blue;
Mildly and soft the western breeze

Just kiss'd the lake, just stirr'd the trees,
And the pleased lake, like maiden coy,
Trembled, but dimpled not for joy;
The mountain shadows on her breast
Were neither broken nor at rest;
In bright uncertainty they lie,
Like future joys to fancy's eye.
The water lily to the light
Her chalice rear'd of silver bright;
The doe awoke, and to the lawn,
Begemm'd with dewdrops, led her fawn;
The gray mist left the mountain side,
The torrent show'd its glistening pride;
Invisible in flecked sky,

The lark sent down her revelry;
The blackbird and the speckled thrush
Good-morrow gave from brake and bush;
In answer coo'd the cushat dove
Her notes of peace, and rest, and love.
III.

No thought of peace, no thought of rest,
Assuaged the storm in Roderick's breast.
With sheathed broadsword in his hand,
Abrupt he paced the islet strand,
And eyed the rising sun, and laid
His hand on his impatient blade.
Beneath a rock, his vassal's care
Was prompt the ritual to prepare,
With deep and deathful meaning fraught;
For such antiquity had taught
Was preface meet, ere yet abroad
The cross of fire should take its road.
The shrinking band stood off aghast
At the impatient glance he cast;-
Such glance the mountain eagle threw,
As, from the cliffs of Ben-venue,
She spread her dark sails on the wind,
And, high in middle heaven reclined,
With her broad shadow on the lake,
Silenced the warblers of the brake.

IV.

A heap of wither'd boughs was piled,
Of juniper and rowan wild,
Mingled with shivers from the oak,
Rent by the lightning's recent stroke.
Brian, the hermit, by it stood,
Barefooted, in his frock and hood.
His grisled beard and matted hair
Obscured a visage of despair;
His naked arms and legs, seam'd o'er,
The scars of frantic penance bore.
That monk, of savage form and face,
The impending danger of his race

Had drawn from deepest solitude,
Far in Benharrow's bosom rude.
Not his the mein of Christian priest,
But Druid's, from the grave released,
Whose harden'd heart and eye might brook
On human sacrifice to look;

And much, 'twas said, of heathen lore
Mix'd in the charms he mutter'd o'er.
The hallow'd creed gave only worse
And deadlier emphasis of curse;
No peasant sought that hermit's prayer,
His cave the pilgrim shunn'd with care;
The eager huntsman knew his bound,
And in mid chase call'd off his hound;
Or if, in lonely glen or strath,
The desert-dweller met his path,

He pray'd, and sign'd the cross between,
While terror took devotion's mien.

V.

Of Brian's birth strange tales were told;
His mother watch'd a midnight fold,
Built deep within a dreary glen,
Where scatter'd lay the bones of men,
In some forgotten battle slain,
And bleach'd by drifting wind and rain.
It might have tamed a warrior's heart,
To view such mockery of his art!
The knot-grass fetter'd there the hand,
Which once could burst an iron band;
Beneath the broad and ample bone,
That buckler'd heart to fear unknown,
A feeble and a timorous guest,
The fieldfare framed her lowly nest;
There the slow blind-worm left his slime
On the fleet limbs that mock'd at time;
And there, too, lay the leader's skull,
Still wreath'd with chaplet, flush'd and full,
For heathbell, with her purple bloom,
Supplied the bonnet and the plume.
All night, in this sad glen, the maid
Sate, shrouded in her mantle's shade:
She said no shepherd sought her side,
No hunter's hand her snood untied,
Yet ne'er again to braid her hair
The virgin snood did Alice wear;
Gone was her maiden glee and sport,
Her maiden girdle all too short,
Nor sought she, from that fatal night,
Or holy church, or blessed rite,
But lock'd her secret in her breast,
And died in travail, unconfess'd.

VI.

Alone, among his young compeers,
Was Brian from his infant years;
A moody and heart-broken boy,
Estranged from sympathy and joy,
Bearing each taunt which careless tongue
On his mysterious lineage flung.
Whole nights he spent by moonlight pale,
To wood and stream his hap to wail,
Till, frantic, he as truth received
What of his birth the crowd believed,
And sought, in mist and meteor fire,
To meet and know his phantom sire!

692

In vain, to soothe his wayward fate,
The cloister oped her pitying gate;
In vain, the learning of the age
Unclasp'd the sable-letter'd page;
E'en in its treasures he could find
Food for the fever of his mind.
Eager he read whatever tells
Of magic, cabala, and spells,
And every dark pursuit allied
To curious and presumptuous pride;

Till, with fired brain and nerves o'erstrung,
And heart with mystic horrors wrung,
Desperate he sought Benharrow's den,
And hid him from the haunts of men.

VII.

The desert gave him visions wild,
Such as might suit the spectre's child.
Where with black cliffs the torrents toil,
He watch'd the wheeling eddies boil,
Till, from their foam, his dazzled eyes
Beheld the river demon rise;

The mountain mist took form and limb,
Of noontide hag, or goblin grim ;
The midnight wind came wild and dread,
Swell'd with the voices of the dead;
Far on the future battle-heath
His eye beheld the ranks of death:
Thus the lone seer, from mankind hurl'd,
Shaped forth a disembodied world.
One lingering sympathy of mind
Still bound him to the mortal kind;
The only parent he could claim
Of ancient Alpine's lineage came.
Late had he heard in prophet's dream,
The fatal Ben-Shie's boding scream;
Sounds, too, had come in midnight blast,
Of charging steeds, careering fast
Along Benharrow's shingly side,
Where mortal horseman ne'er might ride:
The thunderbolt had split the pine,-
All augur'd ill to Alpine's line.
He girt his loins, and came to show
The signals of impending wo,
And now stood prompt to bless or ban,
As bade the chieftain of his clan.

VIII.

"Twas all prepared ;-and from the rock,
A goat, the patriarch of the flock,
Before the kindling pile was laid,
And pierced by Roderick's ready blade.
Patient the sickening victim eyed
The life blood ebb in crimson tide
Down his clogg'd beard and shaggy limb,
Till darkness glazed his eyeballs dim.
The grisly priest, with murmuring prayer,
A slender cross let form'd with care,
A cubit's length in measure due;
The shafts and limbs were rods of yew,
Whose parents in Inch-Cailliach wave
Their shadows o'er Clan-Alpine's grave,
And, answering Lomond's breezes deep,
Soothe many a chieftain's endless sleep.
The cross, thus form'd, he held on high,
With wasted hand, and haggard eye,

And strange and mingled feelings woke, While his anathema he spoke :

IX.

"Wo to the clansman, who shall view
This symbol of sepulchral yew,
Forgetful that its branches grew
Where weep the heavens their holiest dew
On Alpine's dwelling low!
Deserter of his chieftain's trust,

He ne'er shall mingle with their dust,
But, from his sires and kindred thrust,
Each clansman's execration just

Shall doom him wrath and wo."
He paused; the word the vassals took,
With forward step and fiery look,
On high their naked brands they shook,
Their clattering targets wildly strook;

And first, in murmur low,
Then, like the billow in his course,
That far to seaward finds his source,
And flings to shore his muster'd force,
Burst, with loud roar, their answer hoarse,
"Wo to the traitor, wo!"
Ben-an's gray scalp the accents knew,
The joyous wolf from covert drew,
The exulting eagle scream'd afar,-
They knew the voice of Alpine's war.

X.

The shout was hush'd on lake and fell,
The monk resumed his mutter'd spell.
Dismal and low its accents came,
The while he scathed the cross with flame;
And the few words that reach'd the air,
Although the holiest name was there,
Had more of blasphemy than prayer.
But when he shook above the crowd
Its kindled points, he spoke aloud:-
"Wo to the wretch, who fails to rear
At this dread sign the ready spear!
For, as the flames this symbol sear,
His home, the refuge of his fear,
A kindred fate shall know;
Far o'er its roof the volumed flame
Clan-Alpine's vengeance shall proclaim,
While maids and matrons on his name
Shall call down wretchedness and shame,
And infainy and wo."

Then rose the cry of females, shrill
As goss-hawk's whistle on the hill,
Denouncing misery and ill,
Mingled with childhood's babbling trill
Of curses stammer'd slow,
Answering, with imprecation dread,
"Sunk be his home in embers red!
And cursed be the meanest shed
That e'er shall hide the houseless head,
We doom to want and wo!"
A sharp and shrieking echo gave,
Coir-Uriskin, thy goblin cave!
And the gray pass where birches wave,
On Beala-nam-bo.

XI.

Then deeper paused the priest anew, And hard his labouring breath he drew,

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