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While his spoils in triumph worn
Long shall grace victorious Lorn!
Rob. Be still! [To Edward, who is enraged.]
What! art thou yet so wild of will,
After high deeds and suffering long,
To chafe thee for a menial's song? [To the minstrel.)
Well hast thou framed, old man, thy strains,
To praise the hand that pays thy pains;
Yet something might thy song have told
Of Lorn's three vassals, true and bold,
Who rent their lord from Bruce's hold,
As underneath his knee he lay,
And died to save him in the fray.
I've heard the Bruce's cloak and clasp
Were clenched within their dying grasp,
What time a hundred foemen more
Rushed in, and back the victor bore,
Long after Lorn had left the strife,
Full glad to 'scape with limb and life.-
Enough of this, -and minstrel, hold,
As minstrel hire, this chain of gold,
For future lays a fair excuse,
To speak more nobly of the Bruce.
Lorn. Now, by Columba's shrine I swear,
And every saint that's buried there,
'Tis he himself!
And for my kinsman's death he dies.-
Not in my sight, while brand I wear,
O'ermatched by odds shall warrior fall,
Or blood of stranger stain
This ancient fortress of my race
Shall be misfortune's resting place,
Shelter and shield of the distressed,
No slaughter-house for shipwrecked guest.-
Lorn. Talk not to me
Of odds or match !—When Comyn died,
Three daggers clash'd within his side!
Talk not to me of sheltering hall !
The Church of God saw Comyn fall!
On God's own altar streamed his blood;
While o'er my prostrate kinsman stood
The ruthless murderer, even as now,-
With armed hand and scornful brow.-
Up, all who love me ! blow on blow!
And lay the outlawed felons low !
Arg. I claim
The prisoners in my sovereign's name,
To England's crown, who, vassals sworn,
'Gainst their liege lord have weapon borne. Tor. Somewhat we've heard of England's yoke
And, in our islands, Fame
Hath whispered of a lawful claim,
That calls the Bruce fair Scotland's lord,
Though dispossessed by foreign sword.
Let England's crown her rebels seize,
Where she has power,-in towers like these,
'Midst Scottish chieftains summoned here
To bridal mirth and bridal cheer,
Be sure with no consent of mine,
Shall either Lorn or Argentine
With chains or violence, in our sight,
Oppress a brave and banished knight.
Ron. The Abbot comes !
The holy man, whose favoured glance
Hath sainted visions known;
Angels have met him on the way,
Beside the blessed martyr's bay,
And by Columba's stone.
He comes our feuds to reconcile,
A sainted man from sainted isle.
We will his holy doom abide,
The Abbot shall our strife decide :
Fair lords, our lady's love,
And peace be with you from above,
And Benedicite !
-But what means this? No peace is here!
Do dirks unsheathed suit bridal cheer?
Or these naked brands
A seemly show for churchman's sight,
When he comes summoned to unite
Betrothed hearts and hands?
Lorn. Thou com’st, O holy man,
True sons of blessed church to greet;
But little deeming here to meet
A wretch beneath the ban
Of pope and church, for murder done
Even on the sacred altar stone -
Well may'st thou wonder we should know
Such miscreant here, nor lay him low,
Or dream of greeting, peace or truce,
With excommunicated Bruce!
Yet well I grant, to end debate,
Thy sainted voice decide his fate.
Ron. Enough of noble blood,
By English Edward had been shed,
Since matchless Wallace first had been
In mockery crowned with wreaths of green,
And done to death by felon hand,
For guarding well his father's land.
What! can the English leopard's mood
Never be gorged with northern blood ?
Was not the life of Athol shed,
To sooth the tyrant's sickened bed
And must his word, at dying day,
Be nought but quarter, hang, and slay!
Thou frown'st, De Argentine.—My gage
Is prompt to prove the strife I wage.
Torg. Nor deem
That thou shalt brave alone the fight
By saints of isle and mainland both,
By Woden wild, (my grandsite's oath,)
Let Rome and England do their worst,
Howe'er attainted or accursed,
If Bruce shall e'er find friends again,
Once more to brave a battle plain,
If Douglas couch again his lance,
Or Randolph dare another chance,
Old Torquil will not be to lack
With twice a thousand at his back.-
Nay, chafe not at my bearing bold,
Good Abbot! for thou know'st of old
Torquil's rude thought, and stubborn will,
Smack of the wild Norwegian still ;
Nor will I barter freedom's cause
For England's wealth or Rome's applause, Abbot. And thou,—[To Bruce.]
Unhappy! what hast thou to plead,
Why I denounce not on thy deed
That awful doom which canon's tell
Shuts paradise, and opens hell;
Anathema of power so dread,
Bids each good angel soar away,
And every ill one claim his prey ;
Expels thee from the church's care,
And deafens Heaven against thy prayer;
Haunts thee while living ;-and, when dead,
Dwells on thy yet devoted head.
Rends honour's scutcheon from thy hearse,
Stills o'er thy bier the holy verse,
And spurns thy corpse from hallowed ground, ,
Flung like vile carrion, to the hound!
Such is the dire and desperate doom,
For sacrilege decreed by Rome;
And such the well-deserved meed
Of thine unhallowed, ruthless deed.
Abbot ! thy charge
It boots not to dispute at large.
This much howe'er I bid thee know :
No selfish vengeance dealt the blow;
For Comyn died his country's foe.
Nor blame I friends whose ill-timed speed
Fulfilled my soon repented deed,
Nor censure those from whose stern tongue
The dire anathema has
I only blame mine own wild ire,
By Scotland's wrongs incensed to fire.
Heaven knows my purpose to atone,
Far as I may, the evil done,
And hears a penitent's appeal
From papal curse and prelate's zeal.
My first and dearest task achieved,
Fair Scotland from her thrall relieved,
Shall many a priest in cope and stole,
Say requiem for Red Comyn's soul,
While I the blessed cross advance,
And expiate this unhappy chance,
In Palestine, with sword and lance.
But while content the church should know
My conscience owns the debt I owe,
Unto De Argentine and Lorn
The name of traitor I return,
Bid them defiance stern and high,
And give them, in their throats, the lie!
These brief words spoke, I speak no more
Do what thou wilt: my shrift is o'er.
Abbot. De Bruce! I rose with
To speak my curse upon thy head,
And give thee as an outcast o'er
To him who burns to shed thy gorē ;-
But like the Midianite of old,
Who stood on Zophian, heaven-controlled,
I feel, within mine aged breast,
A power that will not be repressed.
It prompts my voice; it swells my veins ;-
It burns, it maddens, it constrains !
O’ermastered thus by high behest,
I bless thee, and thou shalt be bless'd!
Bless'd in thy sceptre and thy sword,
De Bruce, fair Scotland's rightful lord,
Bless'd in thy deeds and in thy fame,
What lengthened honours wait thy name !
In distant ages, sire to son
Shall tell thy tale of freedom won,
And teach his infants, in the use
Of earliest speech, to falter • Bruce!'
The power, whose dictates swell my breast,
Hath bless'd thee, and thou shalt be bless'd!
Brethren, our errand here is o’er, (speaking to his at-
tendant monks,] Our task discharged.-Unmoor, unmoor !
EXERCISE LI.—THE FATE OF MCGREGOR.—Hogg. [This specimen of the superstitious belief of the Scottish highlanders, requires,-- from the wild and preternatural character of the whole,-an intensity of tone transcending all usual limit. The half whisper of horror, the literal whisper of terror, the scream of agony, all have their appropriate place, in the recitation of this piece. It is designed as a full exercise in the most impressive forms of powerful emotion.-One important result attending the practice of such pieces, is that heightened susceptibility of imagination, which is so powerful an instrument of expressive effect.]
McGregor, McGregor! remember our foemen,
The moon rises broad o'er the brow of Ben Lomond,
The clans are impatient, and chide thy delay,-
Arise let us bound to Glenlyon away!"