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The Baron of Ravensworth prances in pride,
And he views his domains upon Arkindale side.
The mere for his net, and the land for his game,
The chase for the wild, and the park for the tame;
Yet the fish of the lake, and the deer of the vale,
Are less free to Lord Dacre than Allen-a-Dale.
Allen-a-Dale was ne'er belted a knight,
Though his spur be as sharp, and his blade be as bright;
Allen-a-Dale is no baron or lord,
Yet twenty tall yeomen will draw at his word;
And the best of our nobles his bonnet will vail,
Who at Rere-cross on Stanmore meets Allen-a-Dale.
Allen-a-Dale to his wooing is come;
The mother, she asked of his household and home :
“Though the Castle of Richmond stands fair on the hill,
My hall,” quoth bold Allen, “shows gallanter still ;
'Tis the blue vault of heaven, with its crescent so pale,
And with all its bright spangles,”—said Allen-a-Dale.
The father was steel, and the mother was stone ;
They lifted the latch, and they bade him begone ;
But loud, on the morrow, their wail and their cry!
He had laughed on the lass with his bonnie black eye,
And she Aed to the forest to hear a love-tale,
And the youth it was told by was—Allen-a-Dale !
Let us now note the interview of the Last Minstrel with the Duchess :
He passed where Newark's stately tower
Looks out from Yarrow's birchen bower :
The Minstrel gazed with wistful eye-
No humbler resting-place was nigh.
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.
Hear his tribute to the Worth of Woman :
O woman! in our hours of ease,
Uncertain, coy, and hard to please,
And variable as the shade
By the light quivering aspen made,
When pain and anguish wring the brow,
A ministering angel thou !
We all remember his fine lines on Patriotism :
Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land ?
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burned,
As home his footsteps he hath turned,
From wandering on a foreign strand ?
If such there be, go, mark him well; .
For him no minstrel's raptures swell ;
High though his titles—proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim ;-
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonoured, and unsung.
Scattered through his prose writings, we occasionally meet with
some of his little songs : here is an admonitory one, from The Antiquary, on Time :
“Know'st thou not me?” the Deep Voice cried ;
“So long enjoyed, so oft misused — Alternate, in thy fickle pride,
Desired, neglected, and accused !
“Before my breath, like blazing Aax,
Man and his marvels pass away ;
And changing empires wane and wax,
Are founded, Aourish, and decay.
“Redeem mine hours—the space is brief
While in my glass the sand-grains shiver,
And measureless thy joy or grief,
When Time and thou shalt part forever !”
Now for a dainty little Serenade, from The Pirate :
Love wakes and weeps, while Beauty sleeps !
O for Music's softest numbers,
To prompt a theme for Beauty's dream,
Soft as the pillow of her slumbers !
Through groves of palm sigh gales of balm,
Fire-Aies on the air are wheeling;
While through the gloom comes soft perfume,
The distant beds of Alowers revealing.
O wake and live! No dream can give
A shadowed bliss the real excelling ;
No longer sleep, from lattice peep,
And list the tale that love is telling!
His Marmion is replete with glowing and picturesque passages, stirring descriptions, and the tumult and clash of arms. When Captain Ferguson was serving in the Peninsular war, a copy of this work reached him; and while his men were lying prostrate on the ground, and he kneeling at their head, he read aloud the description of the battle in the sixth canto,—the listening soldiers interrupting him only by a joyous huzza whenever the French shot struck the banks close above them. This incident presents one of the most remarkable instances on record of the power of verse. Listen to a brief extract, full of the action and excitement of the field ;—it is just when twilight falls upon the scene of conflict :
But naught distinct they see :
While raged the battle on the plain ;
Spears shook, and falchions Aashed amain ;
Fell England's arrow-flight like rain ;
Crests rose, and stooped, and rose again,
Wild and disorderly.
But as they left the darkening heath,
More desperate grew the strife of death.
The English shafts in volleys hailed,
In headlong charge their horse assailed ;
Front, Aank, and rear, the squadrons sweep,
To break the Scottish circle deep,
That fought around their king.
But yet, though thick the shafts as snow,
Though charging knights like whirlwinds go,
Though bill-men ply the ghastly blow,
Unbroken was the ring.