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Margaret of Anjou.

A Poem.


By Miss Holford.


Philadelphia,
Published by M. Carey, No. 121, Chesnut-Street,
and for sale by Wells and Lilly, Boston.

18161816.
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Margaret of Anjou

Canto the First.

I.

Oh, I do feel thee now! oh, once again

Warm gleams of rapture burst upon my brain!

Quick heaves my lab’ring breast, and to my eyes,

Lo! what strange forms in long succession rise!

Oh, Muse belov’d, I know thee now!

I feel thee glowing in my soul,

I feel thy beam upon my brow,

I feel thee thro’ each artery roll

Tumultuous, fierce and bright—impatient of controul!

II.

Lead on, my Muse! For many a day,

With rapid pulse and uprais’d eye,

How I have chidden thy delay

And woo’d thee from thy sky!

Oh, thou art she who led me forth

Mid the cold mountains of the north,

Where freezing whirlwinds blow;

She, whose benign and generous glow

Pour’d warmth into my heart even in those realms of snow.

III.

Lo! where old Walden’s hallowed wood Lo! where old Walden’s hallow’d wood. Stanza III. l. 1. At a little distance from the Tyne lies Nether Walden; it is hallowed to churchmen as having been the retirement of Saint John of Beverley: Pennant says, Saint John of Beverley made the adjacent woods his retreat from the world.

Bends its grey arms o’er Tyne’s fair flood,

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There, in the dark and distant years

Deep swallowed by oblivious time,

Long pour’d a saint St. John of Beverley. his holy tears

For human care and human crime;

And, as they say, no elvish sprite,

Nor imp, nor goblin’s wayward powers,

Even in the darkness of the night,

May blight old Waldens’s bowers,

Because the holy man forbade

That aught accurs’d should tread that venerable shade.

IV.

But time rolls on; the once green spray,

Moss-mantled now, is turned to grey,

And, tears and painful penance paid,

The saint, long since, in dust is laid.

Well may he rest! for harder fare

Did never mortal pilgrim share.

In bitter drops he steep’d his bread,

Earth’s flinty bosom was his bed;

He thought it meet thro’ life to go

Frowning in voluntary woe;

And still his spirit did not bend,

He bore, unmurmuring, to the end;

For well he ween’d, man’s little lot

Is but a speck, a point, a spot,

A moment’s conflict bravely borne,

The prize, eternal day! an ever golden morn!

V.

Well! rest his spirit! In the dell

Where once this holy man did dwell,

And where amid this later age,

Still peeps the ivied hermitage,

Where close the social branches twin’d

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O’erarch the pensive wanderer’s head,

Where, seldom scar’d by human tread,

Meek, musing Silence sits enshrin’d—

Oh, now, from whence arise the echoes rude

That wake the slumbering scene, and break its solitude?

VI.

The dawn just risen o’er Walden’s shade

Had rouz’d the warblers from their nests,

When, mid the centre of the glade,

Its ruddy light the forms betray’d

Of fearful, strange, unwonted guests!

Now, who is she, whose awful mien,

Whose dauntless step’s firm dignity,

Whose high-arch’d brow, sedate, serene,

Whose eyes, unbending, strong and keen,

The solemn presence hint of conscious majesty?

VII.

And, lo! she speaks! Her lips severe

Some wondrous secret sure disclose,

For that mail’d form, who listens near,

Bends mute, and fix’d, the attentive ear;

And now he frowns with aspect drear,

And now his cheek with ardour glows;

A burning glance around he throws,

As kindling into rage he shakes his glittering spear.

VII.

But she is calm:—a peace profound

On the unruffled surface rests;

Yet is that breast in iron bound,

And fill’d with rude and sullen guests.

No female weakness harbour’d there,

Relentings soft, nor shrinking fear,

Within its centre deep abide:

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The stern resolve, the purpose dire,

And grim revenge’s quenchless fire,

The intrepid thought, cold, thawless pride

And fortitude, in torture tried,—

These are the gentlest inmates now,

Tho’ lawless love, they say, once heard its secret vow.

IX.

Mark well that port sublime, that peerless mein!

Then duteous, bend to earth the vassal knee,

For she it is,—meek Henry’s warrior Queen!

Unquell’d by frowning Fortune’s hard decree,

She stems with royal spirit, unsubdued,

Of many a stormy day the conflict rude,

And meets, with scornful brow, the wrongs of destiny.

X.

Margaret, her solemn counsel o’er,

On the arm’d warrior bends her eye,

As she would fain the thoughts explore

Which treasur’d in his bosom lie;

Clifford, with honest, ready zeal, Clifford, with honest, ready zeal. St. X. 1. 5. The Author here has ventured somewhat to extend the wonted limits of poetical privilege, by the introduction in this place of the warlike personage in question, who was, according to fact, slain two years earlier in a conflict at Ferrybridge, the Lord Falconbridge commanding on the adverse side. The Lord Clifford and his company were unexpectedly surrounded, and, as Hall says, either for heat or payne putting off his gorget, sodaynly with an arrowe without an hedde he was striken into the throte, and incontinent rendered his spirite.

Thus boldly meets the mute appeal,

Doubt not, my Queen, thy soldier’s word,

While, looking on thy princely bud,

He swears to plant it with his sword,

And feed it with his blood.

XI.

If aught by gentler spirits felt

In that stern baron’s bosom dwelt,

It wak’d as he beheld with joy

The promise of the royal boy,

As something like a father’s sigh

Commingled with his loyalty!

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Nature, when, with creative toil,

By unmark’d crowds, thou mouldest man,

The trampled earth, the common soil

Supplies the general plan;—

But when a godlike soul demands

Fit clothing from thy skilful hands,

Thy care explores the secret mine

Where gold is form’d, where diamonds shine:

Earth’s finest atoms never yet

To mould a fairer fabric met,

Than shrin’d the spirit bright of young Plantagenet.

XII.

Alas, sweet rose! thou dost but blow,

The wonder of a ruthless season!

Gay bloom thy petals, while below

Preys at thy root the canker treason!

And thou shalt fall! But shall the Muse

In sullen silence see thee perish,

And shall her rigid eye refuse

The bright, benign, embalming dews

Which fall the hero’s name to cherish?

XIII.

Brave Clifford! cried the gallant youth,

With glowing cheek and kindling eye,

Long since thy deeds have seal’d thy truth,

Bright pledges of thy fealty!

Then swear not!—Should mistrust pervade,

Wavering and base, thy prince’s heart,

Go, leave him—meet to be betrayed!

And conquer on some nobler part!

XIV.

Yet, Baron, in thy manly breast

Some shrinkings cold may well abide,

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To see our princely House’s pride

On such a feeble column rest!

And, trust me, I forgive the sigh

With which e’en now I mark’d thee trace,

Heedful, intent, with pensive eye,

The untried stripling’s beardless face;

Yet ere this young and smiling day

Shall change his crimson robe for grey,

And faint and falter on his way,

Or I will win thy generous trust

Or shroud my feebleness in dust!

XV.

Now to the Cumbrian Baron’s ear

I wot that modest boast was dear.

Oh, by St. George! he cried, to-day

This boy shall shew our veterans play!

Spirit of Monmouth! even now

I hear thee speak! I see thee glow!

Beneath our banners walks there one

On whom the breath of fear has blown,

Who, marching coldly to the fray

Thinks sadly on the close of day,

Now let him cheerly lift his head,

’Tis Monmouth’s spirit leads, which never droop’d or fled!

XVI.

Some Gallic drops there lurk’d, I ween,

In the proud veins of England’s Queen;

No marvel then fifth Harry’s fame

On Margaret’s ear unkindly grates,—

How can she love that dreadful name

Which every Frenchman hates?

XVII.

What, Clifford! wouldst thou teach thy tongue,

Thy rude and rugged tongue, to praise?

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Trust me, it ill abides the wrong,

And awkwardly its task obeys,

It hates to mould the courtier’s phrase!

Oh, I have heard it in the field

In thunder bid a foeman yield;

And I have heard its thrilling shout

Recal the base, dispersing rout;

And I have heard it rend the sky

With the bless’d peal of victory;

But never, Clifford, wilt thou teach

That organ, tun’d to war, the flatterer’s silver speech!

XVIII.

Now hear me, Edward! In thy heart,

Thy arm and sword, put I my trust!

Margaret invokes not, on thy part,

A grandsire from the dust!

Go, win me back thy father’s throne;

And, even as the wrong, be the success thine own!

XIX.

Know, Prince, I send thee not to war

As son by low-born mother sent:—

Serene and fix’d, I watch thy star

Now rising in the firmament,

And wait unshrinking the event!

To its high course if Fate unkind

Has but a short career assign’d

Yet, falling, it may leave a brilliant track behind!

XX.

Oh, heaven! what evil days of gloom

Have left their furrows in my breast!

Yet distant, distant be the doom

Which stays my troubles in the tomb

And yields ignoble rest!

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Where is the pang, the woe, the care,

This dauntless spirit shall not dare?

What path too rugged, wild and strange,

For Margaret’s fearless foot to range?

Ordain but heaven that, at the last,

Guerdon of wrongs and sorrows past,

She feeds, she feasts her eager eye

Upon her foeman’s misery!

XXI.

Bright was the beam of Edward’s eye,

And rich the bloom on Edward’s cheek,

Yet from his gallant breast a sigh,

A human sigh, did break;

He sighed to think so dire a guest

Might harbour in a woman’s breast!

XXII.

Mother, from yonder concave sky,

Far rais’d above our earthly ken,

An awful, just, eternal eye

Looks on the deeds of men!

Whether in open, manly wise,

With glowing blood, in combat bold

I seize the hard contested prize,

Or loosen honour’s noble ties

With hand deliberate and cold,

Shall that unerring eye behold!

XXIII.

Oh, rather fail this ardent breath,

And palsied sink this hand in death,

Ere with keen taunt, and lingering blow,

I hover o’er a fallen foe!

No! when the battle rages dire,

And the rouz’d soul is all on fire,

Think’st thou a noble heart can stay

Hate’s rancorous impulse to obey?

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XXIV.

Then, Madam, said the Cumbrian lord,

Bid him obey thy just behest

Who still delights with lance or sword,

Or sharper edge of bitter word,

To goad thy foeman’s breast!

The lance unblunted still remains

Which open’d Rutland’s infant veins;

Proud York, the voice which on thine ear

Pour’d sounds thy soul abhorr’d to hear,

Still frames, to vex thy rebel race,

Like words of insult and disgrace!

XXV.

Enough, good Clifford. Yonder throng

Of lawless rebels know thee well;

Nor holds yon hostile camp a tongue

Which, mix’d with curses, cannot tell

That Clifford’s name is dire and fell That Clifford’s name is dire and fell. St. XXV. 1. 5. In celebrating the staunch adherence of this faithful partizan to the perilous fortunes of the House of Lancaster, it was with regret we add to the record, that his nature was so notoriously sanguinary as to obtain for him, alike from friends and foes, the odious appellation of John the Butcher. The death of his father in the first battle of St. Alban’s was his alleged excuse for the Excessive indulgence of this inhuman propensity. The murder of the infant Earl of Rutland is thus described by Hall,—speaking of the battle of Wakefield, he says, While this battail was in fightynge, a prieste called Sir Robert Asphall, chappelein and schole master to the yong Erle of Rutland, sonne to the Duke of Yorke, scarce of the age of 12 yeres, a faire gentleman and a 027 C6r 27 maydenlike person, perceivyng that flight was more saveguard than tarrying, both for him and his master, secretly conveyed the Erle out of the felde by the Lord Clifford’s band towarde the towne; but, or he could enter into a house, he was by the sayd Lord Clifford espied, followed and taken, and by reson of his apparell demaunded what he was—the yonge gentelman dismaied had not a word to speake, but kneeled on his knees imploring mercy and desiryng grace, both with holdyng up his hands and makyng dolorous countenance, for his speache was gone for feare. Save hym, said his chappelein, for he is a prince’s sonne and peradventure may doo you good hereafter. With that the Lord Clifford markyd hym, and sayd, By God’s blode thy father slew myne, and so will I do thee, all thy kyn; and with that word stracke the Erle to the hart with his dagger, and bade the chappelein bere the Erle’s mother and brother word what he had done and sayd. In this act the Lord Clifford was accompted a tyraunt and no gentelman; for the propertie of the lyon, which is a furious and an unreasonable beaste, is fo be cruell to them that withstande hym, and gentle to such as prostrate and humiliate them selfes before hym. Hall’sChronicle.

As ban-dog’s howl, or witch’s spell.

Warriors, begone!—the advancing day

To glory summons ye away!

Begone! a breathless nation waits—

And Victory the lingerer hates!

Begone, begone!—his steps are slow

Who hears a woman bid him go!

Away! Towards yonder royal height,

My eaglet, imp thy wing for flight!

Be rapid and be bold!—and God defend thy right!

XXVI.

Yet, mother, yet—how long soe’er

The coming conflict may appear,

Oh, let no ill-endur’d suspense,

No keen impatience tempt thee hence!

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Success sometimes a traitor proves;

But, Lady, while thou shelterest here

Amid these dark and hallow’d groves,

Nor wrong, nor insult shalt thou fear!

If, which the powers of heaven forefend!

Our blushing Rose her stalk must bend,

Yet, thou art safe—some loyal hand,

Spar’d mid the ruin of our band,

Unknown, shall lead thee hence to Scotia’s friendly land.

XXVII.

Get thee to horse!—if longer here

Thou waste in idle talk the day,

By heaven! ourself will seize the spear,

And rush before thee to the fray!

But while she spake the taunting word,

Audacious, ardent and elate

Young Edward on the saddle sate,

And ne’er did lovelier, braver lord

Ride forth to challenge Fate!

XXVIII.

As Clifford vaulted on his steed,

New sounds along the woodland rang,

For the veteran’s ponderous weed

Echo repeats the bruyant clang;

The gallant steed obey’d the check,

Used his master’s strong command,

As bending o’er his arching neck

Courteous he kiss’d his iron hand,

XXIX.

They are gone! The half embracing boughs

Before their rapid course recede,

But soon again the branches close

Concealing man and steed:—

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Awhile the Queen a listener stood

And eager caught the lessening sound,

Which faint and fainter smote the ground,

Of war-horse fleet and good;

Then Margaret turn’d, and turning smil’d,

Yet ghastly was the smile, and wild,

As inwardly she breath’d a farewell to her child.

XXX.

She was alone: nor sound, nor sight,

Or near or distant, met her sense;

’Twas like the stillness of the night,

Or fearful pausing of suspense.—

That breathless, noiseless calm oppress’d

The warrior Queen’s unquiet breast;

She fear’d, tho’ all unus’d to fear,

And, trembling, felt that God was near!

Yet Margaret pray’d not, tho’ her child,

Her only child, mid havoc stood,

And hardly staid the effort wild

Of foeman burning for his blood,—

She rais’d not for her gallant son

The mother’s tender orison!

XXXI.

The yielding turf as Margaret press’d

She listen’d eager for a sound,

She felt the discord in her breast

Insulted by the peace profound,

And darkly on the scene she frown’d;

Yet still the woodland smil’d serene,

Unconscious of the frowning Queen!

XXXII.

Now from the distant battle field

A mingled sound of tumult came;

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The lady starts—for all her frame

With strange delight is thrill’d!—

The stern defiance then is past!

Our trumpets have provok’d the foe,

And at the loud triumphant blast

Rebellion vails his caitiff brow;—

Lo, they encounter!—horse to horse

In gallant onset wildly dashing!

Methinks I mark their headlong course,—

I hear, I hear the menace hoarse!

I see their falchions fiery flashing!—

I hear the ponderous shock of arms together clashing!

XXXIII.

Ill didst thou, Nature, to combine

With woman’s form a soul like mine!

What heart in either grim array

Throbs to the charge with wilder beat!

What ear so loves the trumpet’s bray

That bids contending thousands meet!

Whose thirst like mine, when blood of foes

Warm from the gasping fountain flows!

Whose nerves more firmly brac’d to dare!

Who loves like me to crush! who hates like me to spare!

XXXIV.

When Winter in his wrath unbinds

With ruthless hand his ruffian winds,

And sends them forth in fierce career

The shuddering leafless groves to tear,

Strange voices seem to fill the sky.—

And now the rude and boisterous North,

Like threatning thousands, clamours forth,—

And now one deep convulsive sigh

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Upon the ear sobs sullenly!—

Next comes a ghastly pause—and now

Again with rallying force the gather’d whirlwinds blow.

XXXV.

Thus sometimes to the royal dame,

With sudden burst, the rumour came

As ’twould the welkin fill,—

And then at once upon the gale

The victor-shout, the dying wail,

And all the mingling sounds would fail

As if the bloody work stood still!

XXXVI.

Now, flashing thro’ the leafy screen,—

Revealed now—and now unseen—

In lustrous panoply array’d

A knight came glancing thro’ the glade;

Right on he rode:—his urgent speed

Nor check nor barrier might impede,

For swift the opposing branches fell,

Like foes beneath his trenchant steel;—

Swift rode he as the winged blast,

Sharply he spurr’d his willing steed,

And, in his overweening haste,

Even she he sought he would have past,

So headlong was his speed!

XXXVII.

The Queen beheld with angry eye

The hot-brained knight’s career,

And now her voice she sent on high

With accent shrill and clear,

Stay thee, Sir Knight! if cowardly

From yonder field thou dost not fly;

For never sure such speed had other goad than fear!

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XXXVIII.

Nor heard nor felt the impatient spleen,

The youthful knight salutes his Queen,

While still impatient in his speed,

He flung him from his half-curb’d steed;

And Margaret sees, with brightening glance,

The kneeling captain bears young Beaufort’s cognizance. That kneeling captain bears young Beaufort’s cognizance. St. XXXVII. l. 6. Lord Edmund Beaufort was the second son of Edmund Duke of Beaufort, who fell in the first battle of St. Alban’s, and who was succeeded in his dignities, and in his attachment to his master’s House, by his eldest son Henry, who was taken and beheaded after the battle of Hexham, when Lord Edmund became in his turn Duke of Somerset, an honour which he likewise bore for a very brief yet troublesome period.

XXXIX.

Breathless he cries, Hail, Royal Dame!

I bring thee news shall make thee smile!

’Twas therefore Beaufort hither came

And left the work of death awhile,

To fill thy dauntless heart with mirth,

And tell thee that the subject earth

Insatiate drinks, in thirsty mood,

Libations large of rebel blood!

The day is ours! and day more bright

Ne’er mid the welkin rose to gild auspicious fight!

XL.

Before the onset, while we stood

In sullen, silent, grim delay,

Fronting the foe in vengeful mood,

Each bosom panting for the fray,

Even then, before a foot was stirr’d,

Before a trumpet-breath was heard,

Swift pass’d before my prophet sight

The glorious issue of the fight;—

For, Lady, as with eager eye

The rebels’ level lines I scann’d

The gale, averse and drowsily,

The hostile streamers fann’d

Close to its staff the banner clung,

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Forlorn each chieftain’s plumage hung,

And ne’er, methought, with colder cheer

Did warlike band to foe draw near!—

For us, upon the buoyant gale

Banners and plumes were proudly floating,

While from our gaily glancing mail

Long streams of radiance pour’d, heaven’s fav’ring smile denoting.

XLI.

Now when the knight, o’erblown and panting,

Paus’d because breath and speech were wanting,

And lean’d in silence on his sword,

The Queen, with penetrating word,

Half doubting, half in hope, bespake the youthful lord.

XXLII.

Oh, say, Lord Edmund, art thou sure,

Sure art thou that the day is ours?

Is veering victory quite secure,

Quite broken are yon rebels powers?—

And didst thou see the victory won,

And see the hot pursuit begun?

Did Montague forsake the fight? Did Montague forsake the fight? St. XLII. l. 7. Lord John Neville, younger brother of the Earl of Warwick, created by Edward IVth, Marquis of Montacute of Montague, was commander in chief of the Yorkists at the battle of Hexham.

Did Warwick fly the adverse field?

Oh, conquest proud!—triumphant sight,

To see the stubborn Warwick yield!

Half England’s treasure would I give

To him who takes that lord alive!

One groan, one heart—wrung groan, from thee,

Warwick, were more than victory!—

But say, Lord Edmund, soothly say,

Does Fate confirm the victory ours,

Or merely, in capricious play,

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A moment shine upon our day,

In darkness once again to plunge its endless hours?

XLIII.

Meanwhile the Knight had loos’d the brace

Which close the stifling beaver tied,

And with embroider’d kerchief dried,

By Margaret’s royal hand supplied,

The dew which bath’d his glowing face:

Reflection now reproved the wrong

Done rashly by his sanguine tongue,

For now the generous youth was forc’d

To chill the joy his ardour nurs’d.

XLIV.

When princely Edward bade me speed

To thee with goodly tidings fraught,

As swift I flew as winged thought,

So eagerly I prick’d my steed;

And now, I fear, the race intense

Confus’d and whirl’d my giddy sense,

And taught my foolish tongue to speak

At random, heedless, rash, and weak,

Of things as done which were beginning,

And of that prize as won, which we were only winning!

XLV.

Scarce eighteen rapid years had sped,

With trackless course, o’er Beaufort’s head,

And they who mark’d his beardless chin,

And ruddy lip, could ill have guess’d

The steady hate that lurk’d within

That youthful captain’s breast!

There, unappeasable and dire,

Stern Vengeance blew the ruthless fire,

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And told him of his murder’d sire!

Train’d to the work of danger early,

Young Beaufort, joyous and content,

His latest life-drop would have spent

To nourish and maintain a cause he lov’d so dearly!

XLVI.

Seldom Lord Edmund had beheld,

Save mid the strife of hostile field,

Of bended brow the menace keen;

And sure the wight whose visage grim

He glanc’d an angry look on him

Were ill advised, I ween; —

What was there then in woman’s frown

That brought this mounting spirit down?

For now, what man nor dar’d, nor could,

Queen Margaret’s look of scorn effected;

Abash’d, rebuk’d, young Beaufort stood,

Drooping his lofty crest, dishearten’d and dejected!

XLVII.

Beshrew thee, rash presumptuous boy!

What! must the royal ear be fill’d

With every empty, idle toy,

At pleasure of a heedless child!

Go, teach thy crude unripen’d sense

The act of subject reverence:

And tell the Prince, when next he sends

His Mother and his Queen to greet,

’Twere well he sought, among his friends,

Embassador more meet!

XLVII.

Scarce had the haughty Margaret’s word,

Like burning arrow, lanc’d his breast,

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Than, feeling all his strength restor’d

Aloft young Beaufort flung his crest,

While o’er the cheek that shame had dy’d

Mantled the deeper glow of pride;

The flash which shot from either eye

The kindling of his soul betray’d,

Yet still his tongue confessed the tie

Impos’d by deep-sworn fealty,

Which all indignant phrase, or rough retort forbade.

XLIX.

He paus’d —while to the earth he cast

His eyes, which burn’d with angry flame:

By princely Edward’s mandate grac’d,

To seek thy presence, royal Dame,

Unworthy of the charge, I came!—

Go, Beaufort, seek the Queen, and say

The heavens fight for us to-day!

Go, tell her, that the sunshine hour

Smiles gaily on our blushing flow’r;

Already, say, a thousand foes

Have shed their blood to feed our Rose;—

And tell her, that her son has vaunted

In heart of England’s Isle to see it firmly planted!

L.

Then, mid the center of the fight,

Audacious plung’d the royal Knight!

Till then—so please you—we had stood

Together striving with the flood;

As brother by the side of brother,

Our friendly shields still fenc’d each other:—,

Reluctant, I obey’d his word,

And stay’d, half quench’d, by my thirsty sword;—

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Even as I left the glorious scene,

An humble herald to my Queen,

Mine ear was greeted by the cry,

The thunder-peal of Victory!

Scarce from the host had Beaufort parted,

Than, sweeping down upon the left,

Young Edward, like a falcon, darted,

And Hastings’ well-knit line with force resistless cleft!

LI.

Now pardon, Lady!—ere I fly

To fight again for thee and thine,

Even as my father died, to die,

Perchance, for thy illustrious line,—

One moment’s pleading, Lady, hear,

One word for youthful Lancaster!

I know not but his princely eye

Sought vainly mid the armed throng,

One, whose hoar head, and pausing tongue,

And colder spirit, might supply

A missive meet for majesty:—

Alas, alas! the ripen’d ear

Has perished from your golden field!

The crops which now your meadows bear

A crude and unsunn’d harvest yield!

Each warrior sage, maturely brave,

Who to the blushing Red Rose clave,

Too early summon’d, yielded place

To us, a wild uncounsel’d race!

Our sires are past away—we combat on their grave!

LII.

The mild rebuke was all unfelt;

Idly it fell on Margaret’s ear,

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Because her mind intensely dwelt

Upon a vision proud and dear,

The fame of youthful Lancaster!

Not with a mother’s tender joy

She thought upon her gallant boy,—

’Twas joy, concenter’d, and austere,

Unwater’d by maternal tear!

Unmingled with maternal fear!

Even such her joy as might possess

The breast of mountain lioness,

When first her flashing eyes behold

Her young ones raging wild amid the slaughter’d fold.

LIII.

A smile so fraught with sovereign grace

Illum’d the Royal Lady’s face,

That well, I ween, the Knight forgot

That ireful glance those eyes had shot;

The smile just reach’d the galled heart,

And heal’d at once the wounded part.

LIV.

And now Lord Edmund, bending low,

Besought the Queen with courteous pray’r,

That she some guerdon might bestow,

Some relic, gaud, or riband fair:—

Trust me, my Queen, this heedless boy,

Like relic bless’d, shall guard the toy;

And he will wear it in despite

Of yon Pale Rose’s sharpest thorn!

Oh! should her fiercest, proudest knight

Uplift his hand to do it scorn,

Malignant was the star that shone when he was born!

025 C5r 25

LV.

Then round his armed wrist she bound

Her kerchief, stiff with beaten gold,

Where, blushing fair on glittering ground,

The crimson rose you might behold;

Quick to his lips and to his breast

The royal hand young Beaufort press’d

Then swift upspringing rose the Knight,

And with impetuous hand he freed

The noose which held his bared steed,

And, wreckless of his cumbrous weed,

Leapt in his lofty seat, impatient for the fight!

End of Canto the First.

026 C5v 26

Notes to Canto the First.

Lo! where old Walden’s hallow’d wood. Stanza III. l. 1. At a little distance from the Tyne lies Nether Walden; it is hallowed to churchmen as having been the retirement of Saint John of Beverley: Pennant says, Saint John of Beverley made the adjacent woods his retreat from the world. Clifford, with honest, ready zeal. St. X. 1. 5. The Author here has ventured somewhat to extend the wonted limits of poetical privilege, by the introduction in this place of the warlike personage in question, who was, according to fact, slain two years earlier in a conflict at Ferrybridge, the Lord Falconbridge commanding on the adverse side. The Lord Clifford and his company were unexpectedly surrounded, and, as Hall says, either for heat or payne putting off his gorget, sodaynly with an arrowe without an hedde he was striken into the throte, and incontinent rendered his spirite. That Clifford’s name is dire and fell. St. XXV. 1. 5. In celebrating the staunch adherence of this faithful partizan to the perilous fortunes of the House of Lancaster, it was with regret we add to the record, that his nature was so notoriously sanguinary as to obtain for him, alike from friends and foes, the odious appellation of John the Butcher. The death of his father in the first battle of St. Alban’s was his alleged excuse for the Excessive indulgence of this inhuman propensity. The murder of the infant Earl of Rutland is thus described by Hall,—speaking of the battle of Wakefield, he says, While this battail was in fightynge, a prieste called Sir Robert Asphall, chappelein and schole master to the yong Erle of Rutland, sonne to the Duke of Yorke, scarce of the age of 12 yeres, a faire gentleman and a 027 C6r 27 maydenlike person, perceivyng that flight was more saveguard than tarrying, both for him and his master, secretly conveyed the Erle out of the felde by the Lord Clifford’s band towarde the towne; but, or he could enter into a house, he was by the sayd Lord Clifford espied, followed and taken, and by reson of his apparell demaunded what he was—the yonge gentelman dismaied had not a word to speake, but kneeled on his knees imploring mercy and desiryng grace, both with holdyng up his hands and makyng dolorous countenance, for his speache was gone for feare. Save hym, said his chappelein, for he is a prince’s sonne and peradventure may doo you good hereafter. With that the Lord Clifford markyd hym, and sayd, By God’s blode thy father slew myne, and so will I do thee, all thy kyn; and with that word stracke the Erle to the hart with his dagger, and bade the chappelein bere the Erle’s mother and brother word what he had done and sayd. In this act the Lord Clifford was accompted a tyraunt and no gentelman; for the propertie of the lyon, which is a furious and an unreasonable beaste, is fo be cruell to them that withstande hym, and gentle to such as prostrate and humiliate them selfes before hym. Hall’sChronicle. That kneeling captain bears young Beaufort’s cognizance. St. XXXVII. l. 6. Lord Edmund Beaufort was the second son of Edmund Duke of Beaufort, who fell in the first battle of St. Alban’s, and who was succeeded in his dignities, and in his attachment to his master’s House, by his eldest son Henry, who was taken and beheaded after the battle of Hexham, when Lord Edmund became in his turn Duke of Somerset, an honour which he likewise bore for a very brief yet troublesome period. Did Montague forsake the fight? St. XLII. l. 7. Lord John Neville, younger brother of the Earl of Warwick, created by Edward IVth, Marquis of Montacute of Montague, was commander in chief of the Yorkists at the battle of Hexham.
028 C6v

Margaret of Anjou.

Canto the Second.

I.

Oh, sorrow! which of Adam’s race

Has not beheld thy wrinkled face?

Of all the hearts which life has warm’d

Since the first man of clay was form’d;—

Of all the mortals who have hasten’d

Like shadows, o’er this rolling sphere,—

Has once return’d to earth unchasten’d

By thy reproof severe?

Each breast, however fortified

By courage, apathy, or pride

Has still some secret path for thee,

Man’s subtle foe, Adversity!

Along that secret way thou glidest,

And deep within the centre hidest,

And many a surface fair and shining

Conceals a wasted core, where thou art slowly mining!

II.

Who knows thee not? If yesterday,

With lightsome step, escap’d thee, Sorrow,

Thou dost but lurk beside the way

To spring upon thy prey to-morrow,

And seize, secure, the fools who lie

029 D1r 29

Charm’d by Enjoyment’s lullaby!

Does Hope allure—Does Pleasure smile?

Then tread the rosy path with trembling,

For Pleasure beckons to beguile,

And Hope’s fair promise is dissembling!

Oh, then,—tho’ azure be thy sky,

Look for the cloud which comes to-morrow;

Thus only, Man, may’st thou defy

The unchanging word of Destiny,

Which to thy guilty lip decreed the cup of Sorrow!

III.

With leaden pace, hour after hour

Roll’d wearily away;

The dew-drop hung in every flow’r;

And now behind the western bow’r,

Slow sinking, shed the parting day

A bright yet melancholy ray,

A farewel glance,—then clos’d its eye,

And mingled with eternity!

IV.

Thro’ many a heavy hour the Queen

Sate musing mid the lonely scene;

She sate, with folded arms, reclining,

And anxious watch’d the day declining;

Amid the glen the evening wind

In low but fitful murmurs crept;

And where on high the branches twin’d

With nimble bound the squirrel leapt;

With rustling wing the speckled thrush

Flutter’d unseen within the bush,

And, as the twilight shades were falling,

Each bird is truant mate was calling;

And Margaret started oft, and thought

D 030 D1v 30

Each sound confus’d that met her ear

Proclaim’d the expected herald near,

From Hexham’s field of death, with fateful message fraught!

V.

Rising above the silent wood,

Night’s regent pour’d a silver flood

And bright her glittering spangles fell

On many a sleeping flow’ret’s bell:

Margaret look’d upwards, and beheld

How, floating in her azure field,

She shone in dignity supreme,

Unmock’d by any rival beam;

With envy gaz’d the earthly Queen—

Oh! thus, predominant, alone,

Thus would I fill the boundless scene,

And from my lofty seated throne

Like thee, my smiles and frowns bestow,

Beheld with silent awe by multitudes below!

VI.

Breathing Ambition’s inward pray’r,

With eyes uplifted, Margaret stood,

And her pale brow and ebon hair

Gleam’d in the silver flood;

Quick mov’d her lips,—but word or sound

Broke not the quietness profound;

Like Sybil form of elder time

Weaving the dark portentous rhyme,

She stood—or them whose glance forbidden

Dares scan the things which Fate hath hidden!

VII.

Rouze! rouze, and listen!――for indeed

A distant bugle summons shrill,

While heavy hoofs of barded steed

031 D2r 31

The lessening pauses fill!—

It comes, it comes!—the eventful hour!—

The messengers of Fate are nigh!—

They bring me vengeance, pomp, and pow’r

Or loss, defeat and misery!

VIII.

Come on! come on!—hark!—well I know

The note of Clifford’s bugle-horn!—

Yet boldly he was wont to blow—

Why speaks it now so faint and low,

Like voices of one forlorn?

Beshrew my fears! this toilsome day

May well excuse the languid blast;

Even Clifford’s strength must fain give way

To such a long contended fray;—

Yet—how the lingering minutes waste!—

I would he rode with Beaufort’s haste!

IX.

Meanwhile, with heart which smote her side

As tho’ a passage it would free,

Along the dewy path she hied

To meet her destiny.

Lo! in the dim and distant glade

Two mailed knights advance,

Upon their helms the moonlight play’d,

And tipp’d each glittering lance!

Dismay’d, perceiv’d the Royal Dame

How heavily the horsemen came;

They came not as if wing’d elate

With message of triumphant Fate,

Yet nor as fugitives they came

Closed goaded at the heels by peril and by shame!

X.

Nearer the Queen approach’d; and now,

With faltering tongue, her greeting sent

032 D2v 32

When from his courser sinking low

The foremost rider bent.

’Twas Clifford.—To the grassy ground

Helpless he fell, outstretched and prone,

While from his bosom’s depth profound,

Like vaulted echo, heav’d an anguish-breathing groan.

XI.

Young Lancaster, for it was he

By Cumbrian Clifford’s side who rode,

Alighted slow, while mournfully

His filial greeting he bestow’d;

Oh, help me, Mother! loose the brace

Which closely binds the aventayle,

That o’er poor Clifford’s dewy face

May blow the cool night gale!

The brace was clogg’d with sable gore,

Which bound the heavy burgonet,

And all the weed the Baron wore

With gory stains was wet:

XII.

But now they raise the drooping head

And throw the cumbrous casque aside,

When, with a look of wrath and dread,

Clifford his eye-lids open’d wide,

And Hence! unthinking boy! he cried,

Hence! leave me to my fate, for what can harm the dead!

XIII.

What thou, who in thy bosom bearest

Those gashes which at mine were aim’d!

’Tis then but for my life thou carest,

A life dishonour’d, stain’d, and sham’d!

No, hope it not! I’ll stay by thee,

033 D3r 33

While one red drop is in thy veins,

While one dim spark of life remains

To warm thy loyal heart, or glimmering in thine eye!

XIV.

Now all too well Queen Margaret guess’d

That ruin track’d their tardy flight,

And turning to the dying Knight,

Clifford, I know thy generous breast

Asks not from us the useless rite,

Small joy ’twould yield thy parting ghost,

If, weakly lingering here, even what remains were lost!

XV.

Quick from the ground Prince Edward rose,

With scorn and horror in his eyes,—

And has he shed his blood for those

Who can desert him as he dies!

Oh, heaven forbid his closing ear

Those ill-requiting words should hear!

Like poison’d drops the ungrateful sound

Would fall upon his chilling heart,

And wake in every yawning wound

Stings that would reach his soul!—insufferable smart!

XVI.

With painful toil, the dying Knight

Half-rais’d from earth his heavy frame,

While thro’ the clouds that dimmed his sight

There shone a quick and transient light,

Like flash of meteor flame;

That rapid and expiring ray

Spoke what his tongue refused to say,—

It was the spirit’s farewell greeting

D2 034 D3v 34

Ere from its mangled spoils it flew,

Then turn’d from earth and heav’nward fleeting,

Hasten’d to join a noble few

Bright souls of faithful friends, and vassals firm and true!

XVII.

Down Clifford sank; and, as he fell

His armour rang against the ground!

It was the brave Lord’s funeral knell,

A dull and hollow sound!

Prince Edward clos’d the frozen mouth,

And clos’d the glaz’d and ghastly eyes;

The Queen, with anger and surprize,

Meanwhile, impatient, watch’d the youth

Perform the hasty obsequies:

Quick with his blood-stain’d brand he hew’d

The boughs which hung above his head,

And o’er the lifeless warrior strew’d,—

Then, looking on the corse, he said,

Rude, rude, oh Clifford! is thy bed,

Tho’ gratitude and zeal thy humble grave-clothes spread!

XVIII.

The Queen, resentment and dismay

O’er each indignant feature gleaming,

Cried, Prince, farewell!—I must away!

For thee, an if it please thee, stay

Like beadsman, till the morning dreaming

Over yon senseless clay!

I seek those living friends, who still

Can hear, and can perform my will!

Of feeble sire the feeble child,

Thou, idly loitering, mayst remain,

035 D4r 35

And like that sire so meek and mild,

Thou too, perchance, mayst not disdain

To wander o’er thy land, led in a rebel’s chain.

XIX.

Hush thee, my Mother! set we on!

Thy harsh rebuke inflames my grief!

Oh! chide not thus thy harass’d son,

And envy not the scatter’d leaf

Which thinly strews yon fallen Chief!

It was but little sure to give

To him who died that I might live!

Clifford beheld an archer aim—

Already had the arrow flown,

Towards my unguarded breast it came,

He flung himself between, and caught it in his own!

XX.

Quick let us on—yon planet’s ray

Shall light us on our sorrowing way;

And grant, oh heaven! my failing strength

May serve me thro’ the forest’s length!

Zerbino, fare thee well! To day

Thy sides have bourne me gallantly;

But, gall’d and wounded in the fray,

Thou canst not aid me on my way,

And I perforce abandon thee!

XXI.

Nigh his brave master’s lifeless corse

Outstretched lay Clifford’s barded horse,

As if the faithful beast had stay’d

His master’s latest need to aid,

Then, tir’d, he had laid him down to die,

Still waiting on his destiny!

036 D4v 36

XXII.

Grasping his spear in silent pride,

The Price before his mother strode,—

She little thought how down his side

A crimson torrent flow’d!

But Edward knew his mother’s heart,

And sternly bore the secret smart,

The anguish of his wounded breast

Beneath the bruising cuirass press’d;

He dar’d not hope woe’s sweet redress,

The balm of sorrowing tenderness:

The bursting dew upon his face

Bore witness to his silent pain,

Yet on he stalk’d in manly pace,

And deign’d not to complain,

While at each step, like darts of flame,

A thousand thrilling stings ran shivering thro’ his frame.

XXIII.

Yet not alone did Edward smart;

For deep in Margaret’s swelling heart

Of wounded pride the venom’d fangs

Inflicted direr, deadlier pangs,

Pangs more corrosive and severe,

More fierce, more poignant and intense,

Than ever hostile sword or spear

Wak’d in the breast of innocence;

And now, too mighty to be borne,

Forth burst they in the words of enmity and scorn!

XXIV.

If frozen silence might avail

To hide this day’s o’erwhelming tale,

I would not ask thee for a story

037 D5r 37

Of foul defeat, and tarnish’d glory,

I would not ask thy tongue to trace

The record of thine own disgrace!

And yet, methinks, with sounding word,

’Twas that same tongue whose empty vaunt

Swore that thine own resistless sword

In heart of England’s isle our ruddy flow’r should plant!

XXV.

Say! what are we, like outlaws vile

Wandering abandon’d and alone?

Art thou the heir of Britain’s isle?

Am I the partner of a throne?

Weak scion of a Monarch race,

Born to a lot thou canst not hold!

What! patient in thy deep disgrace,

Scar’d by Rebellion’s aspect bold,

Would’st thou resign the dangerous place?

Or I do rave, or I do dream,

Or twice ten thousand crested brows

Glitter’d in yester-morning’s beam;

They hurl’d defiance on my foes

And fearless rush’d into the strife,

Their bosoms heaving quick with loyalty and life!

XXVI.

Was it not so! and if it were,

Where are those twice ten thousand now?

And was it treachery or fear

That scatter’d them before the foe

Like the light sand when whirlwinds blow:

’Twas treason! Vile, dissembling race!

’Twas Edward’s guile! ’twas Warwick’s gold

That turn’d their boiling spirits cold,

And tempted them to their disgrace!

038 D5v 38

But let yon proud usurper tremble,—

For insecure he sits whose vassals can dissemble!

XXVII.

Is there a wretch o’erspent with care,

Stung by neglect, or gall’d by scorn,

Or wrestling with the fiend Despair

Who goads him on with pungent thorn

To curse the hour when he was born?

Oh! let him for awhile arrest

The conflict of his stormy breast;

Oh! let him mark how virtue’s flame,

How courage firm, how zeal sincere,

Have nerv’d yon stripling’s tender frame

Of more than mortal pain the bitter pangs to bear!

XXVIII.

Traitors! Ye loyal, glorious dead

For us, who fell on Hexham’s plain,

In an ungrateful cause ye bled!

Oh! ye have died in vain!

The warm blood trickles down my side,

My heart with grief is torn and rent,

Yet still my spirit was unbent,

And every wound I had defied,

Save that which thro’ my soul a mother’s tongue has sent!

XXIX.

Cold orb of night! thy rays are falling

Where England’s perish’d pride lies low,

Thy pale looks o’er the scene appalling

A ghastly lustre throw!

There, stretch’d along in hideous sleep,

Our thousands lie, a frozen heap!

039 D6r 39

Fast knit in loyalty and love,

Hard, hard and valiantly they strove,

Even while they felt Fate’s withering frown

On every effort looking down!

Thrice was the hand of death uprear’d,

Thrice ’gainst my breast the bow was bent,

Thrice bold Affection interfer’d

And seiz’d the boon for Edward meant!

Now heaven bestows the just award,

And human gratitude is spar’d!

XXX.

This burst of generous wrath expended,

The wreck of Edward’s failing strength,

Passion with feebleness contended,

But soon the unequal contest ended,

And nature sank at length;

For as they left the sheltering dell

To tempt the wide and dreary plain,

Edward, subdu’d by toil and pain,

No more the conflict might maintain,—

He shudder’d, groan’d, and fell.

XXXI.

In Margaret’s fierce and stormy breast

A thousand warring passions strove,

Yet now, unbid, a stranger-guest

Dispers’d and silenc’d all the rest—

Thy voice, Maternal Love!

Ambition, Hatred, Vengeance wild,

Hot Ire, and frozen Pride were flown,

While gazing on her lifeless child,

On heaven she cried, in frenzied tone,

Oh, save my gallant boy! oh, Edward! Oh my son!

040 D6v 40

XXXII.

Yet tho’ maternal softness stole,

With force resistless, o’er her soul;

Yet tho’ a tear, from anguish wrung,

Upon her burning eye-lid hung,

To aid her fainting boy she sprung!

The helm that crush’d his drooping brows

With hasty hand aside she throws,

And next the hauberk’s rigid clasp

Yields to the mother’s eager grasp;

Swift from his mangled breast she tore

The linen stiff with blackening gore,

The dew-embued grass she press’d

Against his burning, throbbing breast,

The trampled grass—small aid, I ween!

Yet in that hour of Anguish wild

’Twas all a mother and a Queen

Might yield a dying child!

XXXIII.

Now from the lofty arch of heaven

Had every lesser light withdrawn,

For in the distant east was given

The promise of the coming dawn;

A long faint line of saffron light

At first the morn’s arrival hinted,

Then, bursting glorious on the sight,

Day’s dazzling orb arising bright,

With gold the far off mountains tinted.

XXXIV.

Behold! o’er yonder eastern height

Day comes with roses on his brow!

False promiser! so gay and bright,

What deadly tidings on thy flight

To thousands bringest thou!

041 E1r 41

Where is thy vest of funeral grey?

Thy robe of mist, thy rain-drops? Where

The frequent, chill, and sullen tear?—

Oh, walk not in the pride of May

O’er the dire wreck of yesterday,

Extinguish’d hope, and strength, and life—

The refuse cold of human strife!

Bring shuddering winds, whose sobbing breath

And hollow sighs may sweep yon solemn scene of death!

XXXV.

Still with Despair’s unnatural force,

The Queen supports the seeming corse,

In vain each eager care she tries,

No answering sign of life replies:—

’Tis frozen silence all! she cries,—

Oh, now, inexorable Fate,

I feel, I feel thy conquering hate!

I yield!—a crownless Queen, a mother desolate!

XXXVI.

Yet thus it shall not be! she cries,

My child, my Edward shall not die!

And the compassionating skies

Forgave the mother’s blasphemy.

A frantic glance around she threw

O’er the inhospitable plain,—

A dreary region met her view,

She look’d for help in vain!

Her gaze no low-roof’d hovel bless’d,

No track stetch’d o’er the waste by traveller’s foot impress’d

XXXVII.

See, from the covert of the wood,

A grim, gaunt ruffian form advance!

Close by the unconscious Queen he stood,

E 042 E1v 42

Like prowling beast in wait for blood,

Watching his prey with hungry glance!

Rude harness, such as outlaws wear,

And desperate men who roam the waste,

(Children of havock and despair,)

His sinewy limbs encas’d:

On his hard brows, by toil embrown’d,

A cap of rusty iron frown’d;

The shaggy mass of raven hair,

Eye, rolling wild with reddening glare,

The lurking watch, the weapon fell,

Hard held, and often rais’d, the ruthless purpose tell.

XXXVIII.

While Margaret felt beneath her grasp

Returning life’s tumultuous grasp,

Saw the breast heave, the eye-lids ope,

And hail’d the blissful dawn of Hope,

And hung in exstacy to trace

The faint bloom tinge the livid face;

Ah, then, how little did she think

How close she stood on ruin’s brink!

Nor warning voice, nor step foretold,

Till Danger grasp’d her in his hold!—

Turning she met in mute surprise,

The red and lurid glare shot from a ruffian’s eyes!

XXXIX.

What spark, what gleam of hope was near

That hapless Lady’s lot to cheer;

She stood amid the wilderness

Forlorn in lonely wretchedness!

Gaunt strength and cruelty were nigh,

And Avarice mark’d, with burning eye,

The many colour’d gems that shone

043 E2r 43

Conspicuous on her costly zone!

She, at whose nod the nation bow’d,

Whose voice, like thunder, shook the crowd,—

Oh, dire reverse!—must she endure

To meet her fate from hand obscure!

Oh, must a robber’s glaive be dyed

With the imperial stream which feeds that bosom’s pride!

XL.

Still firm the Royal Lady stood,

And calmly eyed the man of blood,

Strong in that panoply whose charm

Defies the meditated harm;

The strength that in the heart resides

The ruffian’s sinewy force derides!

The savage paus’d.—Dismay’d, he felt

Each nerve relax, each purpose melt;

Yet ’twas nor pity, nor remorse

That check’d him in his murd’rous course;

He dar’d not strike!—Queen Margaret’s gaze

In air the uplifted weapon stays!

Instinct within his vassal soul

Felt and obey’d the strange controul;

Trembling he stood, yet knew not why,

Oppress’d beneath the sovereign’s eye!

Oh, strife sublime!— of issues glorious!

’Tis mind, majestic mind, o’er brutal strength victorious!

XLI.

The queen, with conscious triumph, saw

That deep dismay, that shuddering awe.

Oh! when a band of crested lords

Engirt her with protecting swords,

And when on her despotic breath

Hung fame and life, or shame and death,

044 E2v 44

’Twas Fortune’s gift! The weak and vain,

The pamper’d minions of whose train,

As often as the great and bold

The pow’r dispensing sceptre hold:

But now, an exile from the throne,

Wandering abandon’d and alone,

She felt the triumph was her own!

She stood as if the abject band

Still waited on her dread command,

And, waving her imperial hand,

With lofty look the robber eyed,

And in a tone of temper’d pride,

Thou com’st in happy time! save thou thy Prince! she cried

XLII.

Him, the abborr’d, detested, loath’d,

Whom Crime in all her terrors cloth’d,—

Was it on him, that, unappall’d,

For aid a helpless woman call’d!

To him! a murderer gaunt and grim!

Those trusting, social words to him!

Aid thou thy Prince!— how strange, how new,

How sweet, how powerful the appeal!

Along each startled nerve it flew

And trembled in his heart of steel!

Give me the Prince!—thro’ flood and fire,

Tho’ men and devils should conspire,

This sinewy arm and trusty blade,

Against opposing worlds, thee and thy boy shall aid!

XLIII.

Swift as the generous promise past,

Upon the scatter’d arms he sprung,—

The glittering fragments, heap’d in haste,

045 E3r 45

On the young warrior’s spear he hung,

And o’er his giant shoulders flung.

The Prince, tho’ life began to speak

In his quick pulse and changing cheek,

Yet saw not, heard not;—when his waist

A rugged, nervous arm embrac’d,

He dream’d his corselet’s iron clasp

Confin’d him with uneasy grasp,

And as the vigorous robber strode,

Scarce bending with his various load,

He marvell’d that his drowsy steed

Press’d forward with no hotter speed!

XLIV.

The Queen, —her courage did not swerve

Tho’ anguish throbb’d in every nerve!

Fatigue, disaster, and affright

Had prov’d her thro’ that live-long night,—

Her frame was woman’s,— but her soul

Contemn’d the body’s weak controul!

The fever’s fire was in her blood,

The cold drop on her temples stood,

Her long, dishevell’d, raven hair

Stream’d wild along the morning air,

Her pale and haggard cheek, her eye

Full of strange light,—her garb forlorn

Amid the tangled forest torn,—

All told superior misery!

XLV.

Along the moorland, drear and wild,

Silent their weary path they hold;

In vain the summer sunshine smil’d

Upon the grim and sullen wold,

O’er whose brown waste no harvests bloom,

Save where the golden-crested broom

Or purple heath-flower break the gloom.

E2 046 E3v 46

Silent they crossed the lonely fell,

Silent the matted ling they press’d,

No cheering object rose to tell—

Here, wanderers, ye may rest!

XLVI.

All that a woman might abide

Had that unshrinking Lady tried;—

She falter’d now—her dizzy sense

Half yielding to the toil intense,

Gasping, she spake, Oh, tell me, friend,

Of this our weary path when shall we reach the end?

XLVII.

The robber, turning to reply,

Beheld the Queen with heedful eye;

By the long rugged journey worn

Her sandals slight were rent and torn;

Still as she trod, the prickly gorse

Check’d with its stings her painful course;

Those royal feet, once fenc’d with care,

Are now unshielded, bleeding, bare,

While at each step the poignant smart

Rush’d shivering to her stubborn heart!

The soften’d savage, in a tone

Till then to his rough tongue unknown,

The much-enduring Queen address’d,

Bear yet a little while, and, Lady, thou shalt rest.

XLVIII.

Fear not,—a few hard moments more,

One struggle, and thy toils are o’er!

Where yon blue cloud of smoke ascends,

The wide and barren moorland ends,

That smoke behind its wavering veil

Hides the fair opening of the dale.

Beshrew my heart! right glad am I

047 E4r 47

That shelter and repose are nigh,

For well I wot, thy sinking frame

Would soon thy dauntless spirit shame,

Tho’ ’twere as hardy, tough, and brave,

As e’er was bred in outlaw’s cave!

XLIX.

As nigh they drew, the fragrant smoke

Threw round their forms its filmy cloak,

Or soar’d, by wanton breeze upborne,

In curling incense to the morn;

The frequent bleat, the tinkling bell,

Of shepherd’s cur the chiding yell;

The beaten path of mild descent

Which from the savage moorland bent,

The gale which came with odours fraught

Late stolen from some bloomy thorn,—

All these a mingled message brought

Of comfort to the heart forlorn!

Bless’d message! e’en the drooping Queen

Half smil’d as she look’d round to hail the softening scene!

L.

Screen’d from the passing traveller’s gaze

And shelter’d from the noontide blaze,

Like hermit’s cell, or Sybil’s grot,

Nestled in shade the peasant’s cot;

Before its door an aged dame

Carol’d a song of rustic frame,

And while beside her cow she bent,

And fill’d, intent, the cleanly pail,

The morning music of content

Was echoed thro’ the tiny vale,—

A clownish ditty—nor the tongue

Less rude and tuneless than the song;

And yet that uncouth strain was fraught

048 E4v 48

With music ne’er by minstrel taught:

What skill, what cunning may impart,

What genius bright, or toilsome art,

The pure, brisk, genuine glee, fresh from a lightsome heart!

LI.

Between her task and song, the dame

Wist not that stranger-footsteps came;

Now she would pause, with fond caress,

Her mute companion to address,

And now resume her simple strain

And bid the valley ring again,

While chanticleer, with rosy crest,

With neck erect and golden breast,

Swelling and strutting by her side,

Ruffled his plumes, in conscious pride,

And ever and anon in the shrill descant vied.

LII.

With hollow, eager, craving eye

The Queen the teeming pail beheld;

She would have spoke—but, parch’d and dry,

Her powerless tongue the word withheld,

And her wan lips, tho’ op’d to ask,

Quivering and mute, refus’d the task;

Yet while the milky streamlet flow’d,

Thro’ every burning vein more fierce the fever glow’d!

LIII.

Still onward with his precious load,

The stout, unbending Rudolph strode,

And stood the unlatch’d door beside

Ere his dread form Dame Maudlin spied;

With eye-lids wide and open mouth,

Breathless she eyed her guest uncouth,

Then sudden on the wind she sent,

049 E5r 49

In echoing cries, her loud lament,

And every saint in heaven implor’d

To save her from the ruffian’s sword;

On Rudolph’s ear the cry was lost,

Relentless, he the threshold cross’d,

Push’d wide the half-consenting door,

And, glad his toilsome task was o’er,

Laid his half-conscious charge upon the rushstrewn floor.

LIV.

Meanwhile the dame’s bewilder’d eye

Upon the speechless Margaret fell,

Fix’d grew her gaze, and suddenly

Her tongue gave o’er its boist’rous cry

As bound by wizard spell!

The stranger’s wild and awful glance

Held her awhile in helpless trance,

The pail abandon’d, half o’erturn’d

Shedding its milky treasure stood;—

The Queen in vain no longer yearn’d,

But springing towards the wasting flood,

Bath’d deep her parching lip, and cool’d her boiling blood!

LV.

Ere yet the eager Queen forbore

The sweetest draught she e’er had tasted,

Lo! Rudolph from the cottage door

With glad and urgent tidings hasted!

The boy revives!—no more he lies

With filmy, half-extinguish’d eyes!

Haste, Lady, haste! with doubtful gaze

He scans my rugged visage o’er,

And wildly towards the open door

His rapid glance impatient strays!

Hark! he cries Mother! Lady, hear!

050 E5v 50

I’ll speed and tell him thou art near!

He paus’d not, and, with lighten’d breast,

The Queen on his swift footstep press’d

And pass’d the humble gate, an uninvited guest.

LVI.

The Prince, tho’ weak, to speech and sense

By kindly nutriment restor’d,

With many a quick yet broken word,

Gazing around in dark suspense,

The changes of his fate explor’d:—

How came we here? Where have we been?

What means this strange, unwonted scene?

What evil chance has fallen, that I

Outstretched, unarmed, and bleeding lie?

Save thee, my Mother, all is strange!

Nay, while I gaze, methinks e’en thou,

Partaking in the general change,

Bend’st on thy son an alter’d brow!

Whence comes it?—while he spake, the smart

Of festering wound thrill’d to his heart,

As ’twould the poignant truth in all its force impart!

LVII.

Hexham’s red field and all its woes

Swift to his shuddering fancy rose;

He heard the foe’s insulting shout,

He saw the battle’s deadly rout;

The baffled struggles of the fight,

The foul defeat, the mingled flight,—

All rush’d upon his brain, and swam before his sight!

LVIII.

No longer pours his faltering tongue

Of questions wild a hurrying throng,

Memory had told him of the fall

051 E6r 51

Of crested fame, of hope, of all!

A tear from each clos’d eye-lip gush’d,

In silence deep his voice was hush’d,

Save when the workings of his soul

Break loose—too restless for controul;

Then, but half heard, mid smothering sighs—

Lost, lost! from his wan lips in broken murmur dies!

LIX.

That roof of thatch had often rung

With rustic carol stoutly sung,

The glee-inspiring rebeck there

Of minstrel, stray’d from wake or fair;

The simple, soft, complaining strain

From rustic reed of love-lorn swain,

The cheerful sound of neighbour’s greeting.

The bagpipe’s hum at merry-meeting

When dark Yule-tide had clos’d the door When dark Yule-tide had clos’d the door. Stanza LIX, 1. 9. Yule, or Yule-tide, was a word formerly used to signify Christmas; and it is still applied pretty generally to its ancient purpose throughout the north of England. The huge log of wood thrown on the fire to make a merry blaze of Christmas Even is termed the Yuledlog; og; the pies or cakes baked for this great festival, Yuledough; the spiced ale, or whatever other beverage forms the rustic libation on this occasion, is called the Yule-cup, &c; Those who would explore the etymology of this word, and inquire further respecting the social customs in use amongst our ancestors at Christmas, will find the subject copiously treated in Brand’s Popular Antiquities, edited by Mr. Ellis. Vide page 359, vol. i.

Against the rattling tempest’s roar;

The blazing, crackling log, the laughing

Of merry souls the Yule-cup quaffing;

The welcome wild of nymph and swain

When fragrant May is come again,—

Such din, unknown to statelier halls,

Had often rock’d its humble walls

But the heart-wasting sighs of care,

Till Greatness trod its floor, had never echoed there!

LX.

Maudlin at length dismiss’d her fear,

And with unshrinking step drew near;

No whisper to her thought reveal’d

What guests her tiny cottage held,

Nought knew she, but that grief and care

052 E6v 52

And weariness had shelter’d there;

Full little did she dream, I ween,

Of England’s heir, and England’s Queen!

And yet, in Margaret’s form, the eye

Of skill’d observance might espy

Midst that forlorn and woeful change,

A motley mingling, sad and strange,

Of grandeur and of misery!

LXI.

Still round her waist, a costly zone,

The Orient’s dazzling produce, shone,

Which scarce the tatter’d robe confined,

Whose loose shreds wav’d with every wind;

Her matted, long, unbraided hair,

Her wounded feet, unshod and bare,

E’en these, some glittering toys display,

Sad remnants of a better day!

Idly they shine! their gleam abhorr’d

But mocks with ghastly smile the fortunes they record!

LXII.

Dame Maudlin, now no more unseen,

With rustic grace salutes the Queen,—

Good folk! altho’ ye crave it not,

I bid ye welcome to my cot!

Belike, had my old man been nigh

He might have blam’d your courtesy,—

Well, well! mayhap your piteous plight

Had put good manners out of sight:

Ah me! what cruel caitiff’s sword

Yon strippling’s milk-white breast has gor’d:

Alack! how like a drooping flow’r

Too rudely dash’d by summer show’r,

He hangs his pretty head! poor youth!

Oh! ’tis a ruthless deed! a dismal sight in sooth!

053 F1r 53

LXIII.

Nay, grieve not, Lady! grieve not so!

For tho’ thou dost not sigh nor speak,

A tear is drying on thy cheek,

And, by thy trembling lip, I know,

Untold, thy bosom teems with woe!

Good Lady! be of better cheer!

Old Oswald will anon be here;

With him a shepherd lad, who knows

Each herb that in our meadows grows;

From humblest weeds his skill produces

Kind balms, and anguish-healing juices;

He says the smallest blossom’s bell

Bears treasure in its secret cell,

Nor talks he idly,—for in sooth

His deed has often vouch’d his truth!

The grieve not, Lady, thus! Gerald shall cure the youth.

LXIV.

Just then, the writhing Prince confest

What anguish stung his wounded breast;

His feverish starts and twisted brows

Betray his sharp and arrowy throes;

Rudolph, impatient, fiery, bold,

Brook’d not the suffering Prince’s pain,

His fierce eyes on the dame he roll’d—

Do thou this drooping boy sustain,

Rudolph shall fly himself and seek the skillful swain.

LXV.

Quick rising, he in haste resign’d

His charge to Maudlin’s gentler care,

Whose bosom, honest, warm, and kind,

Supported England’s royal heir!

The mild caress, the cautious hand

F 054 F1v 54

That chaf’d his temples damp and faint,

Consoling whispers, soft and bland,

That hush’d, yet pitied his complaint,—

All spoke the tender care, I ween,

Of one who had a mother been.

LXVI.

With rocking, lulling, soothing motion,

Like the calm swell of unvex’d ocean,

Or beared corn that waves beneath

The warm west wind’s caressing breath,

And song monotonous, whose strain

Ne’er hush’d a cradled babe in vain,

Did Maudlin still the sufferer’s pain;

Lo! Edward yields!—the gentle spell,

Resistless, on his senses fell,

Unconsciously each closing eye

The kind compulsion own’d of Maudlin’s lullaby.

LXVII.

And not alone o’er Edward’s eyes

The silent friend of sorrow crept,

Margaret forgot her miseries,

And on the scatter’d rushes slept!

Subdued, she dropt her royal head

Upon her hard uncurtain’d bed!

Unseemly couch!—the cottage floor

Trod by the foot of rustic boor!

Ambition! here thy votaries lead,

Thy dazzled, flatter’d, pamper’d train,

The slaves who in thy pageants tread,

The proud, the sanguine, and the vain!

Oh, bid then bend the aspiring eye

Low as the cottage floor, where lie

Yon victims of thy flattery!

LXVIII.

Well pleas’d, the hospitable crone

Still murmur’d on her drowsy song,

055 F2r 55

Till, hark! she listens! ’tis the tone

Of the old shepherd’s grumbling tongue,

A churl in speech, his rugged growl

Belied a not ungentle soul;

No smiling promiser was he,

In rough, ill-natur’d phrase he dealt,

While, all unseen, soft sympathy

Within his bosom dwelt!

Asham’d, he harbour’d, unconfest,

In rude disguise, the lurking guest;

Few words, I ween, to friends or foes

Did honest Oswald give, and right uncivil those.

LXIX.

But now, with real discord fraught,

The muttering carl his cottage sought;

Tho’ blunt himself, he brook’d but ill

The tongue of Rudolph, blunter still,

Who chid him, as with forc’d consent

Homeward with lagging pace he went;

Nor did his moody muttering cease

Till, as he reach’d his cottage door,

Dame Maudlin pointed to the floor,

And beckon’d to be still, and softly whisper’d Peace!

LXX.

Swift at the sight the gloomy frown

From his relaxing brow was chas’d,

Appeas’d and mute, the careful clown

Paus’d at the door, and bending down,

His heavy clattering shoon unbrac’d:

Ah! many a one mid lordlings bred

From that rude swain a hint might borrow,

With gentle footsteps how to tread

Beside the restless couch of sorrow!

056 F2v 56

And, lo! again the latch is rais’d

By him whose skill Dame Maudlin prais’d!

His hands, his cap, his bosom bore

The precious vegetable store;

The breeze his glossy hair had blown

In masses o’er his cheek of brown,

A cheek so tawny you might deem

Had sprung from India’s sultry land,

Or that from Gypsey’s roving band

Some chance had snatch’d him, for, in sooth,

You’d seldom see a browner youth;

Yet o’er that cheek of dusky hue,

His eyes of melancholy blue

A bright yet trembling lustre threw:

Seldom of smiles the sparkling grace

O’erdimpled Gerald’s cloudy face,

But if some favourite vision stole,

In bright surprise, upon his soul,

By transient gladness if beguil’d,

Gerald forgot to grieve, and smil’d,

Not heaven’s own beam, when morning wakes

Amid the misty skies, with lovelier radiance breaks!

LXXII.

On tiptoe Gerald lightly crept

To where the Royal Mother slept,

And of green rushes, featly laid,

And heap’d with care, a pillow made;

With noiseless, unobtrusive tread

He glided round the lowly bed,

And smooth’d its ruggedness,—and wept

To think how hard the Lady slept,

To think that, haply, ne’er before

That head had press’d a cottage floor.

057 F3r 57

LXXIII.

Yet gave he not the moments brief

To idle sighs and thriftless grief,

His was a better task, —he knew

To pity, and to succour too;

Now with selective care he chose,

Amid his blooming fragrant heap,

Herbs, meet the burning wound to steep,

And soothe and lull its angry throes;

And from the cowslip’s bell he drew

A gentle, sleep-compelling dew,

For every flower and leaf he bruis’d

Some bless’d and potent juice beneath his hand effus’d.

LXXIV.

While thus his kindly task he plied,

He sate the cottage door beside,

Where from his toil no jarring sound

Might reach the slumb’rers;—he had found,

Child as he was, that Sorrow’s breast

By sleep’s kind hand is seldom press’d

But if, perchance, it come—how welcome is the guest!

LXXV.

Of life poor Gerald little knew;

That little, grief had clouded o’er,

When from the troublous world he drew

His transient yet affrighted view,

And sought to know no more!

Fain like the heath-flower would he die,

The heath-flower on its lonely stalk,

Which decks the reckless peasant’s walk,

Then withers in obscurity!

LXXVI.

Still Gerald, as the weed he bruis’d,

F2 058 F3v 58

Upon the stranger’s fortune mus’d,

Or pondering yet on visions flown

Mingled their sorrows with his own,

When from old Oswald’s calm abode,

With summons loud, grim Rudolph strode

Bestir thee, urchin! we would try

The wonders of thy ministry;

But, if thou fail, the idle boast

Full dear that stripling form shall cost!

Know, if thou hast not happy speed,

Rudolph shall bid thee share the meed

Of yonder crush’d and bruised weed!

Poor Gerald started, half-afraid,

As from his task he rose, and hastily obey’d.

LXXVII.

That Lady, o’er whose silent face,

Stretch’d as she lay on humble bed,

An awful, stern, imperial grace

E’en mid her slumbers spread,

Now met the trembling youth,—her air

Mix’d greeting kind with frowning care,

The despot’s nod and suppliant’s pray’r:

For thus her varying brow confest

How pride and fortune strove within her haughty breast.

LXXVIII.

Her hapless, friendless, pow’rless lot

One sanguine moment was forgot;

She clasp’d her hands:—Oh! canst thou stay

That spirit ere it flits away!

Heal him! and to thy utmost hope,

Thy wildest wish, give range and scope!

Turn o’er thy thoughts, and if thy breast

Yearn for some blessing unpossest,—

059 F4r 59

Fear not!—restore my suffering child,

And never sigh again o’er visions unfulfill’d!

LXXIX.

To brutal threat, or empty strain

Of promise, liberal yet vain,

Alike in silence Gerald listen’d;

But when his timid eyes he rais’d

And on the drooping Edward gaz’d,

A tear upon his eye-lash glisten’d;

Yes, I will heal him!— for I feel,

By angels sent, the power to heal!

Unbrib’d, unforc’d it comes!—’tis given,

A free a gracious boon from heaven!

LXXX.

With trembling care the swain unbound

(Unfelt his hand) the angry wound,

Then light the soothing unguent press’d

Upon the torn and throbbing breast;

(The fingers of that hand so brown

Were soft as fleecy eider-down,

And small, as if some fairy sprite

Had lent them to the boy in spite;)

That task completed, Gerald brought,

From cowslips press’d, the drowsy draught,

And whispering low, the Prince besought

To taste the kind oblivious bowl,

And bathe in dewy sleep his vex’d and restless soul.

LXXXI.

The passive Prince the sleep-juice drank,

Then, feebly, rais’d his eyes to thank

The being, whose benignant art

Had calm’d his grief and lull’d his smart,

Whose gentle hand had charm’d to rest

The stings which fester’d in his breast,

060 F4v 60

Whose voice had warbled on his ear

Such music as ’twas heaven to hear!

He rais’d his eyes ’twixt hope and fear,—

Hope,—that some vision bright and fair

Stood nigh and look’d upon his care;

And fear,—lest to his languid thought

Fancy some formless dream had brought;—

He lifts, he rolls his anxious eyes

With wild research and mute suprize,

Then from the sun-burnt shepherd lad

Turns them in haste away, bewilder’d, vex’d and sad!

LXXXII.

Yet Gerald miss’d the cloudy look,

While from a dark and distant nook

An old half-stringed harp he took,

Whose plight, neglected and forlorn,

Full well its former story told,

Whilom thro’ many a village borne

By vagrant minstrel, blind and old,

Now rested from his toil beneath the churchyard mould.

LXXXIII.

Whence Gerald had the skill to bring

Such music from the time-worn string,

Why from its wreck’d and crazy frame

Such wild yet potent warbling came,

I know not!—sad, yet sweet it fell,

Till every breast began to swell,

And e’en o’er Rudolph’s rugged soul

All unawares the influence stole;—

Forth from the cot he rush’d awhile,

Mistrustful of the urchin’s guile,

Deeming that elfin hands alone

061 F5r 61

Had pow’r to wake that thrilling tone,

Margaret, on whom Dame Maudlin’s care

Officious press’d her rustic fare,

Started, and gaz’d upon the swain,

Then on his broken harp, and marvell’d at the strain.

LXXXIV.

The sun has faded in the west,

And now the blackbird seeks his nest,

The owlet sails on heavy wing,

The bat flits by with restless swing,

And simple folk are gone to rest;

The spider’s dull unvarying tick,

Sad token for the old and sick!

The cricket’s chirrup, ceaseless, shrill,

The watch-dog’s howl, or, ruder still,

The good-man’s snore, whose drone profound

The cottage fills;—the tedious sound

Of gnats and night-flies buzzing round

Ceas’d not;—yet deep, unconscious rest

Each cottage inmate’s eye-lids press’d,

Save Edward, who, in transient doze,

At times, his thrilling pangs would lose,

Or the brown shepherd-boy, who chose,

Thro’ the dark hours, to watch and wake

For that unhappy stranger’s sake.

LXXXV.

Without, beneath a beech-tree’s shade,

Rudolph his giant limbs had laid,

On the rude earth’s unpillow’d bed,

Reckless, he flung his hardy head,

As thoughtless of to-morrow’s tide

As the fierce watch-dog by his side.

And now, good night! for I would fain,

Like them, forget my task awhile,

062 F5v 62

And when the morn begins to smile,

And when the birds resume their strain,

I’ll join the choir betimes and wake the lyre again!

End of Canto the Second.

063 F6r

Note to Canto the Second.

When dark Yule-tide had clos’d the door. Stanza LIX, 1. 9. Yule, or Yule-tide, was a word formerly used to signify Christmas; and it is still applied pretty generally to its ancient purpose throughout the north of England. The huge log of wood thrown on the fire to make a merry blaze of Christmas Even is termed the Yuledlog; og; the pies or cakes baked for this great festival, Yuledough; the spiced ale, or whatever other beverage forms the rustic libation on this occasion, is called the Yule-cup, &c; Those who would explore the etymology of this word, and inquire further respecting the social customs in use amongst our ancestors at Christmas, will find the subject copiously treated in Brand’s Popular Antiquities, edited by Mr. Ellis. Vide page 359, vol. i.
064 F6v

Margaret of Anjou.

Canto the Third.

I.

Oh no! tho’ every Muse but mine

Shall follow yonder plumed train,

Led by a victor, young and vain,

Yet must a nobler task be thine!

Thou shalt not follow in the crowd

Which tracks the footsteps of the proud!

Fear not, my Muse! Enow there be

To dog the heels of Victory!

There want not tongues to mingle praise

With every shout success can raise!

We’ll sit apart from yonder throng,

And sing our unchorus’d song!

What shall the burthen be? We’ll sing,

While yet our lyre retains a string,

The brave yet persecuted form

Which fronts the bursting cloud and struggles with the storm.

II.

Of power uprooted from its base,

And driven by whirlwinds from its place;

Of that stern smile by greatness worn

Thro’ each reverse, in Fortune’s scorn;

Of those anointed ones, whose eyes

Have look’d on all beneath the skies.

065 G1r 65

Now high uprais’d on gilded throne,

Now wandering, wretched and alone,—

Still Royal, while the soul defies

Misfortune’s worst indignities!

And, when the mighty spirit bends,

And, when at last the struggle ends,

When adverse stars can vex no more,

And Death proclaims the contest o’er,

When sorrow quits them in the grave,

We’ll raise our loudest strain to save

All that their fate has left—the memory of the brave!

III.

’Tis day! warm, ruddy, sparkling day!

Lo! night and drowsiness are fled,

The morn has cast her veil away,

And, smiling, doff’d her mantle grey

For robes of orient red!

And now the goodman wields his flail,

And Maudlin seeks her cleanly pail,

Or scatters to the feather’d brood,

Which round her flock, their crumbled food:

Is there a living thing, whose eye

Beholds yon bright orb sullenly?

Lo! even the rude, unreasoning brute

Spontaneous pays his tribute mute!

Man only,—man’s averted eye

Dares view that bright orb sullenly!

He scorns to share the general glee,

And spurns the present bliss, pondering on things to be!

IV.

With those whose slumbers earliest fled,

Queen Margaret started from the bed,

Where careful, restless, irksome dreams

G 066 G1v 66

Of deep resolves, and wond’rous schemes,

Had troubled sleep’s oblivious calm,

And stolen half its blessed balm;

With slight and unobservant eye

She pass’d in haste Dame Maudlin by,

Regardless of her courtesy,

But with relaxing brow she spied

Rudolph, her grim and fearful guide,

And with augmented speed she hasten’d to his side.

V.

The bloodhound darting on his prey

Checks when his master bids him stay,

Crouches and cow’rs at his command,

And licks with gory tongue his hand:

Rudolph, the forest’s ruffian child,

As shaggy bloodhound fierce and wild,

Of lion heart and iron frame,

Beneath Queen Margaret’s eye was tame,

And by mysterious impulse sway’d,

In unseen fetters held, he listen’d and obey’d!

VI.

Whilst he in mute observance stood,

The Queen her royal will reveal’d:—

Cross thou, with speed, yon hallow’d wood,

And hie to Hexham’s bloody field,

And when thou stand’st amid my foes

Let not thine ear its office lose!

Gain all thou may’st by craft or heed,

Then hither hie thee back with speed;

Learn, if thou can’st, what friends are left,

That we may hope in them, and mourn for those bereft.

VII.

Now mark me, Rudolph! and her eye

Kindled with conscious majesty,—

067 G2r 67

I fear thee not! To thee I trust

Hope, empire, life, and dignity!

Thy truth may save,—thy perfidy

Will lay them in the dust!

Save or betray— the choice is thine!

The ruin of a Royal Line

Is in thine hand! A traitor’s blow

Has often laid the mighty low,

And many a monarch has been sold

To quench a vassal’s thirst for gold!

Now, Rudolph, hasten! If thy breast

May wrestle with the potent test,

Then Heaven vouchsafe thee happy speed,

And may no adverse chance thy wish’d return impede!

VIII.

Rudolph’s bent brows and reddening eye,

And blanching cheek, at first reply,

Sternly he view’d the Queen awhile,

Then mutter’d deep, with mingled smile,

In moody accent low and hoarse,

I hate the coward ways of guile!

My weapon and my law is force!

Lord of the desert,— proud and free,

What need have I of treachery?

Short space shall prove me false or true!

Then up the narrow path he flew;

For howsoe’er his will was bent,

The deed swift follow’d the intent,

And, rapid as the sweeping wind,

Resolv’d, he never paus’d to breathe, or look behind.

IX.

Methinks ’twere tedious to relate

What rustic cares the day divide,

068 G2v 68

How, with a distaff at her side,

Watching the Prince, Dame Maudlin sate,

Or how she bustled to prepare,

With much ado, her cottage fare;

Oswald, with murmuring discontent,

Off to his lonely labours went,

For sleep had stol’n, in soft surprize,

On the brown sheep-boy’s heavy eyes.

X.

The youthful Prince, whose rouzing sense

Breaks thro’ the vapour chill and dense

Which sorrow, wearriness, and pain

Have rais’d to cloud his dizzy brain,

Now feels the deep in inward smart

That rankled in his wounded heart

Relenting; for the sunny gleams

Of smiling, healing Hope have visited his dreams!

XI.

And now he talk’d in accents cheering,

Of rallying friends, and prospects clearing,

Of hosts who waited but to hear

Once more his trumpet’s brazen sound,

To swarm with sword, and targe, and spear,

His banner-tree around!

Of many a heart that panted yet

To serve the true Plantagenet!

XII.

Now with a chieftain’s pride he dwells,

While high his gallant bosom swells,

Upon the struggle brave and strong,

Tho’ fruitless, of his loyal throng:

Three times did valiant John de Vere, Three times did valiant John de Vere Stanza XII. 1. 5. The old Earl of Oxford the father, and Lord Aubrey Vere, the elder brother of this John Earl of Oxford, were attainted of high treason against the House of York, and beheaded on the same scaffold, 1441Ann. Dom. 1441. This John de Vere was a long and faithful sufferer in the Lancastrian cause, and lived to be instrumental to the final subversion of the rival interest in the battle of Bosworth Field. His crest was a Star surrounded by rays. For information respecting this valiant and loyal nobleman, vide Fenn’s Letters.

E’en mid the conflux of his foes,

Rest panting on his glory spear

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And half unhelm his glowing brows,

Renewing then his bold career,

And plunging headlong mid the crowd,

With thundering shout he cried aloud,

For Oxford! and for Lancaster!

Yet much I fear that orb so bright

Shines not to gild a future fight!

XIII.

The brave Lord Roos,— I saw him ride

With gore from spur to baldric dyed,

And his own veins the stream supplied;

When death was busy at his heart

And seem’d to warn him to give o’er,

Feebly he flung another dart

And rais’d his arm for one stroke more,

E’en then his foaming, smarting steed

Rush’d onward with ungovern’d speed,

By many a galling arrow stung,

And mid the battling hosts the lifeless warrior flung!

XIV.

Clifford!—but no, my feeble tongue

Would do that matchless soldier wrong!

Pride of our chivalry! if e’er

Again this tarnish’d crest of mine,

If e’er this foil’d and blunted spear

Shall glitter mid the embattled line,

Then, from thy clouds look down, and see

If Edward’s soul remembers thee!

XV.

Twice sunder’d mid the mingling strife,

Borne back by the impetuous tide,

That guardian of his Prince’s life

Was hurried struggling from my side!

Thro’ Hastings’ iron lines we cleft,

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But soon again the column clos’d,

And I amid the foe was left

Alone to hatred’s storm expos’d,

And then it was, with lance in rest,

Like the rough cataract in its course,

Lord Hastings rush’d upon my breast

And dash’d me wounded from my horse;

Trampled and stunn’d and bruis’d I lay,

And life seem’d ebbing fast away,

When Hastings from his courser sprung

And o’er his baffled victim hung,

And shew’d his glittering glaive, and cried—

Now beg thy forfeit life, or this atones thy pride!

XVI.

My life! oh, never! I was born

To hold dishonour’d life in scorn!

I said, and swift the shining knife

Struck at the panting seat of life!

Yet then, as if by scorpion stung,

Back from his prey the Baron sprung,

His helm was cleft, and from his brow

A purple stream began to flow;

Staggering, dismay’d, he backward shrank

Or ere his thirsty weapon drank

The life-blood of his prostrate foe!

As rapid as electric flame

Shot from a summer cloud th’ unlook’d for rescue came!

XVII.

Scarce knew I, — for my dizzy brain

Rock’d like some steeple’s restless vane,—

If friend or foeman grasp’d me round

And snatch’d me from the gory ground,

When, looking up, a stranger Knight

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In sable harness met my sight;

Rash Prince! he cried, one moment more,

And Lancaster’s last hope was o’er,

And all our blood, and all our pain,

And all our struggles render’d vain!

Think what a noble game we play,

Nor fling a nation’s hopes away!

Then lifting high his conquering arm,

Wild as the blast, he swept amid the rebel swarm!

XVIII.

Yet oft, on that disastrous day,

I saw his black plume waving high,

Or thro’ his visor met the ray

Which lighten’d from his eagle eye,

When friends and foes, a mingling host,

In horrid conflict, strove at last,

Or ere we felt that all was lost

And yielded to the whirling blast,

Wherever thickest beat the storm

I saw his tall majestic form,

And to the last I heard him cry—

Plantagenet and Victory!

XIX.

Day wan’d ere Edward’s tale was done,

Yet Margaret still was bent to hear,

She mark’d not the declining sun

While still with pleas’d and greedy ear

She hung upon his accents dear;

Again her eye with hope is bright,

Why! let the coward heart despair!

Tho’ baffled in th’ unequal fight,

Sudden we’ll rise with tenfold might

Again yon rebel chief to dare,

Yon gewgaw king, who, for an hour,

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May sport him with his borrow’d pow’r,

Till, headlong from his dizzy seat,

One sweeping blast shall lay the pageant at our feet!

XX.

Maudlin, in homely cares immers’d,

Now started, trembling and amaz’d,

And on the awful stranger gaz’d

As from her lip the menace burst,

Half-doubting lest its import dread

Might threat her unoffending head;

With faltering speech she had address’d,

And suppliant act, her stormy guest,

But Gerald to his lip the warning finger press’d.

XXI.

The good old dame, tho’ sore amaz’d,

In silence join’d her broken thread,

She deem’d her guest by sorrow craz’d,

And pity check’d the transient dread:

Twilight was falling,—Maudlin’s eye

Intently watch’d the cottage door,

For ever, as the night drew nigh,

She look’d for Oswald from the moor:

The weary Prince, his story done,

Now turns himself to mild repose,

The Queen bends musing o’er her son,

And o’er the silent group the evening shadows close.

XXII.

How still, how hush’d, how calm the scene

Close rapt in evening’s dusky veil!

And yet, I wot, that haunt serene,

The cry of terror shall assail

Ere the moon rises on the dale!

Greatness is there;—where she abides,

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There sudden danger lurking hides,

And rustic safety shuddering flies,

Scar’d by the meteor beams she scatters from her eyes.

XXIII.

Thrice to the door the good old dame

With gentle pace on tiptoe crept

(Mindful of those who mus’d or slept,)

To see if yet old Oswald came,

But all was still—when on her ear

An unexpected sound was borne

Of clattering hoofs, which echoed near;

Now loud and hoarse a brazen horn

Fill’d all the vale!—In dread surprize

Breathless and wild, and pale, to warn her guests she hies!

XXIV.

It needed not,—that summons dread

Through Margaret’s heart already thrill’d;

A captive desperate and wild,

She saw the snares around her spread,

And heard the hunter’s hated cry

Proclaim triumphant treachery!

Inly she groan’d, Betray’d! betray’d!

Then springing on the Prince’s spear,

(Beside his couch recumbent laid,)

Nought by the massive weight dismay’d,

Unaw’d, uncheck’d by woman’s fear,

To meet the danger ere it came

Impetuous from the cot forth rush’d the Royal Dame.

XXV.

Sleep’s heavy, dull, unbroken sway

Upon the Prince’s eye-lids lay,

And Gerald, who, with trembling heart,

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Had seen the warlike Queen depart,

Now call’d on heaven for wit and power

To save from harm that faded flower,

That sweet, yet blighted rose, which lay

Helpless and prone in ruin’s way!

The hope, the generous hope to save,

Had made the timid stripling brave,

Nor pondering long in vain he sought

The helpful and redeeming thought,—

Of Edward’s face the ghastly hue,

Those slumbers, frozen, still, and deep,

All, all, a faithful picture drew

Of tranquil Death’s unwaking sleep!

And now, on Edward’s humble bed

Was many a mourning symbol spread,

And flowers and herbs were scatter’d there

Like offerings on the village bier;

School’d to assist the pious guile,

Dame Maudlin wept and wail’d the while,

And next, from Gerald’s harp the sound,

Solemn and sad, of dirge profound,

Hymning the passing soul, was heard to float around.

XXVI.

Gerald, with anxious, sickening heart,

Unequal pulse, and sudden start,

Now sends the mournful strain on high,

Now stops, and listens fearfully!

Soon must the dread suspense be o’er;—

Advancing slow, the ponderous sound

Of armed footsteps smites the ground,

And now they pause beside the door!

The latch uplifts, and lo! the Queen!

For now the bright and silvery sheen

Of the late risen moon illumines all the scene.

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XXVII.

With cautious step and backward glance,

Leaning on Edward’s glittering lance,

Behold the Royal Dame advance!

But not alone—A stranger Knight

Press’d after; on his lofty brows

The thick and sable plumage flows,

O’er his tall form the hue of night

Spreads darkness;—cognizance, nor crest,

Nor blazon bears he, but his breast

A raven scarf o’ershades,—from brow to heel,

From spur to helm, the knight is clad in sable steel!

XXVIII.

As Margaret view’d the alter’d scene,

And heard old Maudlin’s funeral wail,

And Geralds’s mourning harp,— the Queen,

Struck to the heart, stood mute and pale!

What might she think? Had Death been there,

And all her fairest hopes destroy’d?

And had he left that casket bare,

Plunder’d, and treasureless, and void?

Silent the sable Knight survey’d

The couch where England’s heir was laid,

Then starting from the gaze intent,

Beside the bed his knee he bent,

And gave the struggling sorrow vent:

XXIX.

Oh, thou cold heap of human clay!

Extinguish’d taper!— Thou being gone

’Tis time to fling the steel away!

The work of blood is done!—

For thee, thou fragile, transient thing,

Thou silent, pale, and senseless corse,

For thee I bear of keen remorse

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The never-dying sting!—

Was it for this a brother’s blood

Pour’d at my feet the horrid flood

And all my guilty hand and shuddering soul imbued?

XXX.

Poor Gerald on the Royal Dame

His anxious, timid glances cast,

All trembling, doubting, and aghast;

Now fear’d he guile, now shrank from blame,

And sore repenting he beheld

What pangs the mother’s bosom swell’d;

But Maudlin could no more abide

That solemn scene of silent woe,

Her kindly tears began to flow,

And sobbing, to the Queen she cried,

Oh, grieve not, Lady! grieve not so!

’Twas but a feint to shun the danger

We fear’d from yonder dismal stranger!—

Oh, look upon thy slumbering son!

Hark!—thou may’st hear him breathe!—Lady, he’ll wake anon!

XXXI.

With dreary, vague, unconscious stare

The Queen behold the weeping crone,

Her eager words were spent in air,

She pleaded to the senseless stone;

Nor stirr’d, nor spake the Queen, each thought

Seem’d bound some horrid spell beneath,

And to her ear each sound came fraught

With that ill-omen’d hymn of death!

No sight saw she but shrouded dust,

The wreck of Hope and Pride, Ambition’s broken trust!

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XXXII.

Starting, as wak’d from hideous dream,

Forward she sprang with thrilling scream,

And, with impetuous effort, leapt

On the low couch where Edward slept!

Edward awoke— for death alone

Against that shriek the ear might close,

Its piercing, harrowing, maniac tone

Now rouz’d him from his deep repose;

When, mingling pleasure, doubt, and awe,

The vision of his sleep he saw,

He rubb’d his misty eyes, afraid

Fancy had sent some cozening shade;—

’Twas him, indeed!— the bold, the brave,

Firm to support and strong to save

Who rais’d him as he lay beneath the uplifted glaive!

XXXIII.

Ye, who have sped with us along

Listening with willing ear the song;

Ye kind and noble souls, who dare

The minstrel’s holy trance to share;

Ye genuine followers of the Muse,

Who watch to foster not accuse,

Pausing, she lifts her eyes to you,—

To you she makes her mute appeal,—

In you she hopes!—Ye are but few,

For who shall judge that cannot feel!—

Oh! pardon in her faltering hand

Rest on the lyre unnerv’d and faint,

For scenes there are which were prophan’d

Should tongue or pen presume to paint!

Thus fares it now—each to your breast!

There, Sympathy shall tell the rest!

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XXXIV.

For, oh! when we approach the part

Where Nature is too strong for Art,

Silence is skill!—There is a sorrow

Whose deep despair no art may borrow;—

There is a joy which never speech,

Nor Muse, nor tranced bard might reach,

It swells the breast, it lights the eye,

It comes from heaven!— ’tis extasy!

Guess’d it may by mortal mind,

But, (subtle as the fleeting wind,)

Angel or madman must he be

Who dare arrest its course and fix it ere he flee!

XXXV.

Now all was bliss! When Edward spoke

Glad wonder hail’d each feeble word,

As if from death’s cold prison broke

He sprang indeed to life restor’d!

Snatching her darling from the grave,

The Queen the reins to transport gave,

Yet still between each fond caress

She mock’d at nature’s feebleness,

As with indignant shame she felt

Her heart within her bosom melt!

With mute and melancholy joy

The Knight beheld the waking boy;

He might not smile,—stern, silent, sad,

In him ’twere impious to be glad!

XXXIV.

The princely youth, with earnest speech,

(Affection’s genuine courtesy,)

His brave deliverer did beseech

To lay his cumbrous harness by:

Unhelm, Sir Knight! that iron case,

Envious, conceals a noble face,—

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A face, where courage, honour, zeal,

And worth unmatch’d, have set their seal!

Unhelm thy brows!—’tis good to trace

The great and gallant soul stamp’d on a manly face!

XXXVII.

My Prince! this crestless helmet hides

The abstract of a ruin’d mind!

There Cain’s polluting blot abides

And marks me out from human kind!

Alal! my life is in its morn!

My cheek, scarce boasting manhood’s down,

By Sorrow’s scalding course is worn,

And wither’d by Remorse’s frown!

Ambition, Hope, and youthful Pride,

Crush’d by one blow, together died,

And left this breast, their native home,

A dark and melancholy tomb!

XXXVIII.

The Queen, unus’d to vain command,

Now wav’d with despot air her hand,

With tone that might not be denied

Of mingled courtesy and pride,

She bade him throw his casque aside.

The obedient Knight, with yielding grace,

Slowly remov’d the iron case

And gave to view his manly face;

Nor did its lineaments belie

His form’s sublime and martial mould,

For on his brow, erect and bold,

Full nobly trac’d you might behold

How Sorrow strove with Dignity!

’Twas sad to look on thing so blooming

And think its goodly frame Grief’s canker was consuming!

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XXXIX.

With gracious look the admiring Queen

Survey’d the warlike stranger’s mien,

And bade him to his Prince declare

What chance auspicious led his feet

To that remote, obscure retreat,

The changes of their state to share;

Meanwhile, Dame Maudlin, who began

To think upon her own good-man,

Beheld the hour-glass with dismay

And marvell’d at his long delay;

Gerald, to sooth the anxious crone,

To seek the tardy carl had flown,

When, by the dim and winking light

By rushen taper lent, began the stranger Knight.

XL.

When panic rout, and trembling flight,

And carnage dire, clos’d Hexham’s fight,

I turn’d, tho’ late, my courser’s head,

And from the dismal field I sped;

By crowds pursued, like winged blast,

Thro’ Dowill’s narrow stream I pass’d;—

Scarce had I dash’d the waters o’er,

And scarce achiev’d the friendly shore,

When, plunging after, I descried,

Foaming and hot in victory’s pride,

A crested warrior;— on mine ear

Came words no man ungall’d might hear,

Oh, spare thy spur, thou craven Knight!

Turn thee, and slack thy coward flight!

Turn thee and yield, ere whelming blow

E’en at my courser’s foot shall lay that crestless brow!

XLI.

Silent I heard, for ill the tongue

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May answer scorn, rebuke and wrong!

Silent I heard, but turn’d my steed

And answer made with rapid deed;

With unpremeditated blow

I rush’d on the insulting foe,

The stroke was death—my vengeful lance,

Tho’ couch’d in haste, and aim’d by chance,

Enter’d the narrow gates of light

And clos’d them in the shades of night!

I pierc’d his eye-ball, and he fell

With agony’s expiring yell!

Now lies he stretch’d ’mong Dowill’s reeds,

A ghastly proof how boasting speeds!

XLII.

The moon now smil’d upon my flight

And o’er my pathway flung her light,

Yet still, how swift soe’er my course,

Still nearer press’d my eager foes,

Till spent at length, my panting horse

Fell staggering—and no more he rose!

Pondering I stood,— to helpful thought

A moment given, my track I left,

And Dowill’s stream returning sought.

And once again its waters cleft,

And having stemm’d the rapid flood,

Plung’d mid the shades of Walden’s wood;—

Here nature fainted,— o’er mine eyes

A mild, encroaching stupor crept,—

I yielded, reckless of surprize,

And, curtain’d by the foliage, slept,—

And heaven’s choristers had long

Awak’d the day with matin song

Ere my restoring slumbers fled.

And springing from my grassy bed,

Mine orisons were sent on high

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To Him, whose omnipresent eye

My helpless slumbers watch’d e’en from His distant sky!

XLIII.

Reckless, unweeting where I went,

Hopeless and fearless hied I on,

Close o’er my head the branches bent

And screen’d me from the noontide sun;

Nor far I wander’d ere I spied

Some fallen chief’s abandon’d pride;

Here lay the gilded helm, and there,

Close by its side, the ponderous spear;

Here glanc’d the gorget, and the shield

Display’d its richly chequer’d field!

Tho’ one foul stain of human gore

Had splash’d the burnish’d harness o’er,

I knew— and dropt a soldier’s tear—

That Clifford’s spoils were scatter’d there!

The gallant beast, who yesterday

Had borne his master to the fray,

Dress’d for the battle, stiffening lay!

’Twas but a little while since life,

Revenge, and pride, and strength, had prick’d him to the strife.

XLIV.

Absorb’d in mournful thought, mine eye

Survey’d the empty blazonry,

Then wander’d where a little mound

Of withering branches strew’d the ground;—

I gaz’d, and started, for I guess’d

Those boughs o’erspread a hero’s breast!

’Twas Clifford’s tomb! —the keen, the brave

Beneath those simple strewments slept,

And, fearless, o’er the recent grave

The lizard crawl’d, the squirrel leapt!

I felt that not in vain I stood

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Alone mid Walden’s silent wood!

Why fate had led me there I knew!

I hail’d my task, I linger’d not,

And, bending o’er the hallow’d spot,

Aside the fragile covering threw,

Small toil it was,—the strong, the bold

Soon lay beneath my gaze, mute, motionless, and cold!

XLV.

I laid him where the branches wove

With pleached arms a dark alcove,

Then turn’d me to my willing toil;

Nor pick-axe needed I nor spade,

My trusty falchion lent its aid,

My helmet scoop’d the loosening soil;

Nor breath’d I till in earth’s cold breast

I carv’d the warrior’s narrow bed

So deep, that never stranger’s tread

His silent relics may molest;

Then, bidding him farewell, —the soil

Upon his frowning face I threw,

Nor paus’d nor slack’d the mournful toil

Till all the chasm clos’d and hid him from my view.

XLVI.

Nor done my task:— an aged elm

Stretch’d o’er the grave a guardian shade,

And there of Clifford’s shield and helm,

His buckler bright, and well worn blade,

(All bruis’d with hacks, with blood defil’d,)

My hands the martial trophy pil’d:

XLVII.

My rude, unnurtur’d soldier’s tongue

In holy chant is little skill’d,

Yet I bethought me a song,

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Meet for the dead,—solemn and wild,—

Which, from among the faded heap

Of early things forgotten long,

Mem’ry amid her stores did keep—

It was my mother’s widow-song!—

A song of sorrow for the brave,

Meet to be sung o’er Clifford’s grave!

Amd all night long, with measur’d pace,

My solemn lonely watch I kept,

And, as I pass’d the burial-place,

That dirge I sang, and singing wept!

But not alone to Clifford’s shade

Were those weak drops of sorrow paid,

That ancient chant, to childhood dear,

The secret spring had touch’d whence gushes Memory’s tear.

XLVIII.

Upon my watch the grey morn stole,

And all a soldier might was done,

I pray’d for peace to Clifford’s soul

And clos’d each pious orison:

As if that peace, invok’d for him,

Lent half its balmy dews to me,

Sleep soon relax’d each weary limb,

And, stretch’d beneath a birchen tree,

I turn’d from day-light and its woes,

Existence and its cares, and yielded to repose.

XLIX.

As half-unarm’d and prone I lay,

The day tow’rds fervid noon advanced,

And now a bright and dazzling ray

On my unshelter’d eye-lids glanced,

And, starting, I awoke—when, lo!

Before me stood a form so grim,—

Shuddering, methough I look’d on him,

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Man’s everlasting foe!—

He had stolen on slumber’s helpless hour

And watch’d me with malignant low’r!—

With struggle vain to rise I tried,

I lay beneath the ruffian’s stride,

He held me in his pow’r!

L.

I gnash’d my teeth,—I sought to clasp

Those giant limbs with sudden grasp—

No!—moveless as the granite rock,

He stood my fury’s baffled shock,

And laughing loud, in taunting phrase,

Goaded my breast with mock’ry’s praise!

Rage, shame, and hatred banish’d fear,

I trembled, but ’twas phrenzy shook,

Reason my tortur’d mind forsook,

And passion’s whirlwind triumph’d there!

Stung to the inmost soul, at length

I yielded, for my treacherous strength

No more the struggle would maintain,—

Low as the miscreant’s foot, this brow was hurl’d again!

LI.

My grim antagonist beheld

His victim baffled, spent, and quell’d!—

What! do I trample on thy pride!

And art thou pacified? he cried:

Now, champion, listen to my word,

A single breath decides thy lot,

Uplifts thee, free, to life restor’d,

Or pins thee, writhing, to the spot!

Rais’d thou that doughty arm of thine

For Lancaster’s disputed line,

Or, did York’s prosp’rous quarrel boast

Its matchless aid,— itself an host?

Sullen I answer’d— He, who now

086 H5v 86 By fraud lies vanquish’d, not by might, Has shrouded many a Yorkist’s brow, As grim as thine, in endless night! While life remains, my loyal spear Shines by the side of Lancaster, And when I fall, the prize of death, In vows that he may speed shall waste my latest breath!

LII.

The brute releas’d me, and his hand Uprais’d me from the posture vile, While each hard feature did expand To something like a human smile; Then thou may’st live! Nay fret not thou Because I laid thy forehead low,— My arm is iron, and its blow Might crush a thousand such as thee,— Albeit, stripling as thou art, Thine is a high and gallant heart, And thou hast struggled manfully! So take thy life, nor need’st thou scorn, With brow averse, the boon I give, Who’er thou art,—thy betters born Smil’d as I bade them rise and live! ’Twas England’s Queen and England’s heir First taught this ruthless arm to spare! I sav’d them!—and shalt thou regret Thy safety from the arm that sav’d Plantagenet?

LIII.

Sullen and motionless I stood Choaking with rage, and mute from shame, While thro’ my veins the indignant blood Fretted and boil’d like liquid flame; But now I started, for his word Had stricken at length the answ’ring chord, 087 H6r 87 And didst thou save them?—Are they free? Then all thy insults I forgive, And I will take my life of thee, And thank thee that thou bidst me live! For yet methinks I would not die, Till I shall see yon Red Rose thrive, And downward strike its root, and bear its head on high!

LIV.

Small parley follow’d,—for my soul

But ill his ruffian pride might brook,

The misplaced language of controul,

The insolent and victor look;

And time it is the tale were told,

For what remains may well be guess’d,

Save, that or ere I cross’d the wold

A gallant courser’s sides I press’d,

A steed, well used to bear the weight,

The ponderous charge of England’s fate!

It is Zerbino,—the brave beast

Refresh’d by liberty and rest,

Mine eyes with eager joy espied

Ranging along the forest side;

I wound my horn,— with sudden bound

He started at the warlike sound;

Again I blew,— with eyes of flame

Forward as to the charge he came!

Familiar speech and kind caress

Soon soothed him into gentleness,

With hand outstreched, and plausive word

His near approach I did invite,

Till won at length he yielded quite,

And now beside the gate he greets his Royal lord!

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LV.

Tho all unbroken we have brought

The stranger’s story to its close,

With question keen and sudden thought

The Queen did often interpose;

When the black warrior’s vengeful hand

Had strech’d his foe on Dowill’s strand,

Her voice in ruthless triumph scream’d,

With ghastly joy her features gleam’d;

But when, in mournful phrase, he said

How he poor Clifford’s grave had made,

The languid Edward rais’d his head,

And, bending from his lowly bed,

Hid in the warrior’s kind embrace

The tears that glisten’d on his face:

Nor did the Queen disdain a smile,

When his indignant tongue confest

The angry throbbings of his breast,

While prone, oustretched in durance vile,

He lay a baffled wight, by Rudolph’s force op-press’d!

LVI.

Now slowly opes the cottage door!

’Tis the old shepherd from the moor,

And Gerald, who not sent in vain,

Has led the lingerer home again:

Old Oswald now began to tell

The various troubles of the day,

How mid the flock some feeble fell,

While others stray’d so far away

That but the moon did lend her light,

Or he surprized had been by night.

LVII.

The shepherd-boy, who not till now

Beheld unhelm’d the stranger’s brow,

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Now met his eye, — in wild amaze,

With rolling orbs, awhile they gaze,

They stand, to speech and motion loth,

As if some spell enchain’d them both,

Nay, you might think,—such pale surprize

Glar’d from their wild and glassy eyes,

That, risen from the shades of night,

Some beckoning spectre met their sight!

Now Gerald’s knees together smote,

Thick mists around his senses float,

Fainting he falls!—his form supine

The stranger’s iron arms entwine,

While sobbing loud he cries, Revive, my Geraldine!

End of Canto the Third.

I 090 I1v

Note to Canto the Third.

Three times did valiant John de Vere Stanza XII. 1. 5. The old Earl of Oxford the father, and Lord Aubrey Vere, the elder brother of this John Earl of Oxford, were attainted of high treason against the House of York, and beheaded on the same scaffold, 1441Ann. Dom. 1441. This John de Vere was a long and faithful sufferer in the Lancastrian cause, and lived to be instrumental to the final subversion of the rival interest in the battle of Bosworth Field. His crest was a Star surrounded by rays. For information respecting this valiant and loyal nobleman, vide Fenn’s Letters.
091 I2r

Margaret of Anjou.

Canto the Fourth.

I.

Why, what a coil we mortals make

For wealth, and pow’r, and honour’s sake,

And, how we run our rapid years

Through joys and sorrows, hopes and fears!

With beating pulse, and eager eye,

And throbbing bosom, on we fly

Along the pathway swept before

By crowds whose headlong course is o’er!

Alas! why need we run so fast?

Why need we pant and tremble so?

Alike, the nimble and the slow,

All reach the goal at last!

Of all the millions who have run

Life’s rapid race beneath the sun,

None miss’d the goal—and equal meed

Or first, or last, rewards their speed

In silence each receives his lot,

His heap of crumbling mould, and rests, and is forgot!

II.

Who can resolve, a stander-by,

To look upon the giddy chace,

And mark with undeluded eye

The humours of the race,

And wait till punctual time shall come

To take the calm spectator home?

092 I2v 92

None! The philosopher who knows

Where soon the thriftless speed must close,

Marvels how others persevere,

Yet joins himself the swift career,

On with the whirling crowd he hies,

And, as he moralizes, flies.

Stay., restless heart! stay, toiling brain!

The prize for which ye run behold!—

A little mound of crumbling mould,

This is the earthly racer’s gain!

At least, look upward as ye fly

And snatch a promise from the sky!

III.

The stranger to his iron breast

Tenacious strain’d the lifeless boy,

While all his varying face confest

A warfare strange of doubt and joy;

Now he the raven hair divides,

Whose thick and clustering curtain hides

The sheep-boy’s russet brows,

And kiss’d the cold, unconscious face,

While down his manly cheek apace

The rapid rain-drop flows;

Nor shame, nor apathy, nor pride

Might then forbid the briny tide,

Uncheck’d it trickles down his cheeks;

’Tis still in tears that transport speaks!

With soothing, pleading voice he cries,

Tho’ smother’d half with stifling sighs,

My Geraldine, revive! Sweet sister, ope thine eyes!

IV.

But no! so still and cold she lay,

It seem’d as tho’ she breath’d no more,

And, fill’d with terror and dismay,

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The stranger snatch’d her from the floor,

And flinging wide the cottage door

Call’d the fresh night-breeze to his aid,

And bade it fan the lifeless maid;

And now the death-like slumbers fled,

And now she lifts her languid head,

A furtive glance of pale affright

Upon the sable Knight she threw,

Then shrinking, shuddering at his sight,

Her timid eyes withdrew.

V.

Why dost thou take the precious form

Of him who perish’d in the storm?

Why dost thou come? the gulph profound

Roll’d all its waves that form around!

I saw them roll! I heard them roar;

I caught, amid the tempest’s swell,

My brother’s long and last farewel!

The surge clos’d o’er his head! Oh God! it op’d no more.

VI.

Nay, Geraldine!—And if indeed

Thy brother slept beneath the wave,

Methinks thy danger, or thy need,

Would call him even from the grave!

And couldst thou view that sprite with loathing

Which ever in its mortal cloathing

Clung round its sister and its friend,

Still bent to cherish and defend?

Alas! methought that helpless head

Had done with man’s defense for aye,

And, rock’d by murm’ring billows, lay

Full many a fathom deep in ocean’s oozy bed!

VII.

Yes! thou art Gerald! now I know

I2 094 I3v 94

That mild fraternal voice again,

But silent, solitary woe

Had craz’d my feeble brain!

Alas! my brother! it was hard

To bear the grief no mortal shar’d,

And many an hour, since thou wert gone,

Poor Geraldine has wept alone!

Sure thou art alter’d! and thy front

More grim and stern than it was wont!

Hollow and dark, those eyes of thine,

So wont with youthful hope to shine,

Gaze sadly on thy Geraldine!

How art thou thriven in size and might!

Thy form has towr’d to manhood’s height!

Oh Gerald! What a smile is there!

The smile tells not of joy!—its language is despair!

VIII.

Hush, Geraldine!—Whatever change

Affection’s vigilance may trace,

Whate’er of transformation strange

Has mark’d my form and face,

Alas! but feebly they impart

The changes in my alter’d heart!

But smile, my sister! Ill it were

In blistering tears this hour to steep!

Smile, Geraldine! we need not fear,

We shall have time to weep!

IX.

The lady now with timid eyes

Surveys abash’d her rude disguise,

Falters and shrinks and hangs her head,

Aw’d by the Queen’s imperious look,

Her trembling hand as Gerald took,

And towards his Royal Mistress led;

095 I4r 95

They knelt; the Knight’s revolting soul

The humble homage half-denied;

Well had he mark’d the haughty scowl

And with quick flash of jealous pride

His dark reproving eye replied,

The pulse so long by grief subdued

Now throbb’d, awaken’d and renew’d,

And not in vain his bosom swell’d;

Pride shrinks by answering pride repell’d

With bright’ning brow the Queen inclin’d

Her lofty suppliant’s pray’r to heed,

The smile, compliant, gracious, kind

Already speaks the soften’d mind,

For he who dares, shall always speed.

X.

If in thy quarrel I have bled,

If on its dismal altar-stone

This rash and impious hand has shed

A life-drop dearer than its own!

By all I’ve lavish’d on thy part,

My blighted hopes,—my broken heart,—

Oh Lady! let thy royal bosom

Protect and shield this fragile blossom!

Foster’d by thy benignant hand

Its pale corolla shall expand,

E’en when, by life’s rude tempest laid,

The kindred plant must cease to shelter and to shade!

XI.

Yet hear me Lady!—and the glow

Of mounting blood suffus’d his brow,—

Of Erin’s noblest, proudest race

Our father stood amongst the best;

And the red stream that warm’d his breast

Thro’ many an age he lov’d to trace,

096 I4v 96

Nor paus’d he, as he track’d its course,

Till he had found a royal source.

This maid is noble!—Nay, her dress,

Unseemly, rude, of rustic kind,

Ill hides the native nobleness

Within her soul enshrin’d!

The clear, bright spirit sparkles through

That dusky, dim, eclipsing hue:

Methinks that no disguise may shade

The grace, sublime yet mild, that decks the highborn maid!

XII.

Margaret’s mute answer well replied,

It sooth’d his heart, and calm’d his pride,

For, rising,—her majestic face

Bright with consoling smiles,—the Queen,

As with a mother’s kind embrace,

Greeted the gentle Geraldine;

And haply, was about to pour

Of promises a gracious store;

But Edward, in impetuous tone

And hurried voice, the parley claim’d—

When in the battle overthrown

And life and hope were almost gone,

Thy falchion to my rescue flam’d!

Mark well the vow, compos’d of breath

Thy gallant arm redeem’d from death!

By all the host of heaven I swear

With thee a brother’s task to share!

XIII.

Sweet maid! no rival sister’s frown

Thy soft acceptance shall upbraid;

Thy love I offer is mine own,

Wilt thou reject it, noble maid?

Ours, lady, is a dangerous trade—

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How oft must timid beauty see

The warlike, bold, and boastful trust

On which she leans, crush’d in the dust,

Struck down by ruthless destiny!

One brother!—’Tis a feeble stay

In battle’s fierce, tumultuous day!

Nay, lady, answer not with tears;

Weep not, I would but bribe thy fears!

XIV.

Who might deny when Edward sued?

His voice such mellow music own’d,

With forceful magic so endued,

Each heart, in pleas’d subjection bound,

Still waited fondly on the sound;

And if the Lady Geraldine

In silence, and in tears replied;

Whatever cause we may assign,

It was not scorn, it was not pride,

For Edward heard a grateful sigh

Low answering to his courtesy.

Why should we give the sophist praise

Who moulds and turns the subtle phrase,

Since ne’er his labour’d eloquence

Flow’d half so sweetly o’er the sense

As that low tremulous sigh of virgin innocence?

XV.

But Margaret’s darkening brow behold!

One glance may well suffice to tell

Within her bosom’s troubled hold,

What rankling, restless passions dwell.

A smile, a ghastly, withering smile

Convulsive o’er her features play’d

And her disdainful eye the while

With menace smote the noble maid;

098 I5v 98

Nor needed language to convey

What that dark, deadly look would say;

It spoke mistrust, and scorn, and hate,

And this, methinks, its important dread,—

Oh! were I wing’d with sudden fate,

Swift should my lightning-bolt be sped,

Audacious stranger, on thine head;

For, meek and gentle as thou art,

Thy glance has fill’d with doubt a royal mother’s heart!

XVI.

She waited,—for they are but fools

Who break the pause till passion cools;

Then, in a pois’d and studied tone

Where pity and surprize contended,

And chidings mild, with soothing blended,

Bespake she her offending son:

Oh Prince! that wasting wound has spent

Such torrents of thy soul had vent,

For thy high mind and manly sense

Seem dwindling into impotence!

Has pain so quell’d thy royal heart

That thou forgett’st what man thou art?

Or dost thou prize a lady’s glove

An empire and a crown above?

Sickens thy spirit with thy frame?

Would thou wert of thy mother’s mood!

Storm after storm my soul has stood,

Yet still amid the blast bright glows ambition’s flame!

XVII.

She paus’d, for like a pointed lance

She felt Sir Gerald’s answering glance;

099 I6r 99

Pardon, dread Lady! ’Tis man’s pride,

His highest, worthiest, noblest boast,

The privilege he prizes most,

To stand by helpless woman’s side;

Nor is he worthy of a crown

That privilege who would disown!

Nay, frown not, Lady! This poor maid

May found in blood a dreadful claim

E’en in a murder’d brother’s name

Upon thy Royal house’s aid!

Yea! writ in blood by this rash hand,

Her bond against thy soul shall stand,

If thou with hard neglect forget

My sister’s heavy claim, her deeply-written debt!

XVIII.

A light was in Sir Gerald’s eye

Which reason own’d not,—’twas the glare,

Wavering, yet bright, of lunacy,

The rapid meteor of despair!

Now all was silent—Geraldine

In speechless horror trembling stood;

Her brother’s stern, unwonted mien,

His dark and dismal speech I ween

Ran chilly thro’ her blood!

Save him, on earth, no living thing

Had Geraldine whereon to cling,

None else to love and trust, yet now,

From the grim terrors of his brow

She shrank appall’d, for, of his eye

The unsocial language, did defy

E’en the meek cherub Sympathy!

XIX.

What! dost thou tremble, Geraldine!

Oh! what a ruthless lot is mine!

One helpless, fragile thing to me

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To shield and cherish fate has given,

No other refuge can she see

Beneath the wide expanse of heaven,

And I am mad! Oh that the wave

Roll’d o’er us both,—that fast asleep,

Rock’d by the cold and billowy deep,

All still and calm we lay in ocean’s secret cave!

XX.

Oh! when the demon and his train

Usurp it o’er my heart and brain,

All goes to wreck!—The ruthless fiend

Scatters each record to the wind!

Nor duty, then, nor love I know,

Sway’d by the wild blasts as they blow!

Then all is chaos, all a blot,

All that has been, or is, forgot,

All save that gory stain, that red and bloody spot!

XXI.

Look on this hand—nay,—look again!

Can ye no stain of blood perceive?

Nay, then the fiends are in my brain,

And still my wandering sense deceive!

Methinks,—yet ’tis not so,—for ye

Have senses uncontroul’d and free—

Methinks mine eyes can trace the stain

My brother’s gushing life-stream left,

When, by this hand accursed cleft,

He fell, to rise no more, upon the crimson plain!

XXII.

The queen now urg’d him to disclose

The dreadful secret of his woes,

Perchance, she cried, the grief supprest

Lies all too heavy on thy breast;

Within the dungeon’s unsunn’d cell;

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Thick, noisome damps in darkness dwell,

But draw the bolts,—let air and light

The dungeon’s darksome depths explore,

The fetid vapour wings its flight,

Disperses, and is felt no more!

Be not a niggard of thy care,

Open thy dreary heart and give thy sorrows air!

XXIII.

Alas, the tale I shall unfold

Will taint the genial breath of May,

Turn the kind hour of noontide cold,

And dim the bright and smiling day!

Then, turning from the trembling maid,

As if to trust his strength afraid,

With steadied voice, and firmer mien,

Bespake he thus the listening Queen:

XXIV.

We are of Erin! of a sire

Belov’d in hall, and fear’d in field,

Dreadful the menace of his ire,

And wide the shelter of his shield!

Such was our father! envious fate

Abridg’d too soon his glory’s date,

And when for him the death-bell rung,

And when for him the mass was sung,

A widow’d wife heaven-piercing cries

Mix’d with Lord Edrick’s obsequies!

XXV.

Then were we three,— a bright-hair’d child

Methinks my sister yet I see,

As with a cherub lip she smil’d

A fondling on my mother’s knee!

My mother’s eye so sad, yet kind,

Beams even yet upon my mind;

Her voice, like music’s melting fall,

K 102 K1v 102

Memory methinks may yet recall,

When, blending censure and caress,

She check’d my boyhood’s forwardness,

While I, well skill’d in urchin wile

Her meek displeasure to beguile,

My curly brow e’en while she chid

Within her gentle bosom hid,

Or slyly stole a glace to spy

If real anger fill’d her eye:—

Pardon, dread Lady!—memory fain

Would linger with the shadowy train,

Fair forms of innocence and bliss

Long, long ago engulph’d in time’s profound abyss!

XXVI.

My mother died—and years are fled

Since low in earth they laid her head,

And yet— he paus’d, for passion’s tide

His speech the wonted course denied,

He paus’d one moment, and no more,

A silent struggle—quickly o’er!

Of Edric’s love the elder born

Had now full sixteen summers seen,

Bright was he as the blush of morn,

And pleasant, as the breath of e’en:

How oft in Edwin’s form and face

Would our young hopes delight to trace

Our father’s manly might, our mother’s yielding grace!

XXVII.

While Edwin sorrowing hung his head Beside his mother’s dying bed, Bending on him her latest look A relique from her breast she took, And thus she said, Ere o’er my grave 103 K2r 103 Five winters’ rushing storms shall rave, Hie thou across the billowy brine And seek Saint Jago’s holy shrine, And, as thou hold’st thy mother dear, This sacred relique offer there, So shall my soul in peace arise And bless thee from the distant skies! But go not yet,—thy pious care, Alas! those orphan babes require, And rather mid the purging fire My soul would wait for thee than they should rudely fare!

XXVIII.

When o’er the lady Eva’s tomb

Four winters’ skies had shed their gloom,

And new-born birds on vernal spray

Hail’d the fifth bright and blooming May,

Fair breath’d the winds, the sky was blue,

The halcyon hover’d o’er the main,

Our brother wav’d a mute adieu

And steer’d away for distant Spain:

Then, Geraldine, did thou and I

Linger upon the pebbly strand

While we his tall ship might descry,

Then homeward wander’d, hand in hand,

With heavy heart and swimming eye:

Brief heaviness!—’Twas childhood’s sorrow!

Which sobs itself to sleep, and all is well tomorrow!

XXIX.

But childhood’s woe, tho’ slight and frail

As is the film upon the thorn

Whose thin web stretches o’er the vale

And glances in the early morn,

Hints but at heavier ills to come,

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For manhood’s breast is sorrow’s home!

A neighbour Baron, fierce and bold,

The royal warrant did obtain

That he our youth in ward should hold

Till age mature should break the chain;

Safe, as beneath the eagle’s care

The feeble, new-yean’d lamb would fare;

Safe, as the roosted hen would lie

When the false fox is lurking nigh;

So safe were we!—Sir Hubert’s love

Watch’d o’er his helpless charge as vulture watcheth dove!

XXX.

An adverse planet rul’d the hour

Which plac’d us in Sir Hubert’s pow’r;

Long had his bosom, stern and dark,

In secret nourish’d hatred’s spark!

Well might we find a guardian dire

In him, whose envy curs’d our sire!

He lov’d my mother,—if, indeed,

Love in his flinty breast might dwell,

She graced his love with little heed,

But he, her scorn remember’d well:

He look’d on those she left behind,

And vengeance brooded in his mind!

XXXI.

How often have I mark’d him trace,

With eager gaze, each opening grace,

Which dawn’d upon my sister’s face,

Then, turn’d him from th’ unconcious maid

With eager haste, as tho’ afraid,

Lest e’en our pure and sinless eyes

From that rude gaze might catch alarm,

Wake to the meditated harm,

And track his secret soul’s unhallow’d mysteries!

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XXXII.

In distant climes a plant there grows,

Which from the touch its leaves will close,

And trembling, turn itself away,

If aught approach its fragile spray;

Its kindred plant, they say, abides,

Unseen, our northern clime beneath,

From every idle gaze it hides,

And shrinks at every ruder breath;

Amid the snows it thrives the best

Which guard the virgin’s spotless breast,

’Tis Modesty! a lovelier flower,

Than spring’s first snow-drop, born mid February’s shower.

XXXIII.

Soon Geraldine, by instinct taught,

Shrank from the Baron’s near advance,

Her eye, with cold aversion fraught,

Repell’d his frequent glance;

Fearless at first, the ingenuous maid

Each movement of her heart betray’d,

But quickly was she doom’d to learn

To shudder at his aspect stern;

Too soon his threat’ning scowling glance

Disarm’d the youthful petulance;

Then from her cheek the roses fled

When first the task she learn’d, with hate to mingle dread.

XXXIV.

But, Geraldine’s was not the fear

Which in the abject bosom cow’rs,—

Her ivory brow began to bear

The impress stern of pride austere,

Her courage summon’d all its pow’rs;

The dimples fled, and in their place

K2 106 K3v 106

Rose womanhood’s maturer grace,

Her playful, lightsome, elfin tread

Which scarcely bow’d the daisy’s head,

The music, which a merry heart

Did to an artless tongue impart,—

All, all was chang’d! and innocence

Rose aweful in its own defence!

Oh! how I gloried, when her pride

The tyrant in his wrath defied,

To see Lord Edric’s spirit rise,

Resplendent, in his daughter’s eyes!

Then, taught by her, I first began

To prize my native strength, and feel myself a man!

XXXV.

Lord Edric’s vassals all were gone,

Or lur’d, or threaten’d from our side,

And yet there linger’d only one

Who menace and who guile defied;

Old Connal in my father’s tow’rs

Had travell’d on from youth to age,

And now life’s dull and dusky hours

Were closing on his pilgrimage;

A strange and fearful man he was!

With shapes invisible he walk’d,

With tongues inaudible he talk’d,

And to his keen and gifted gaze

The secrets of the future day

Unshrouded, like the present, lay!

XXXVI.

Old Connal long with wary heed

Had mark’d the Baron, and he knew

By many a token, safe and true,

When thought was ripening into deed:

Whether experience lent him lore

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From past events, in days of yore,

Whether his pondering, toiling mind

By what had been the future read,

Or, that when blew the midnight wind,

With him, the spirits of the dead,

Unseen, held counsel, strange and dread,

It boots not, since he ne’er did bend

His wondrous lore to evil end;

And now, the scheme by malice plann’d

Lay frustrate and destroy’d beneath his feeble hand!

XXXVII.

While all lay wrapp’d in sable fold,

One night, an hour ere midnight toll’d,

All silent and unseen we gave

Our fortunes to the bounding wave:—

We fled, since nought but sudden flight

Might shield us from our tyrant’s might!

O’er the broad deep our path we took,

And calling Providence to aid,

Our guardian’s dangerous towers forsook,

And to our native haunts a mournful farewell bade!

XXXVIII.

The morning’s bright and flaunting beam Wak’d us from musings sad and strange, As starting from some troubled dream Wildly we hail’d the wondrous change! Year after year, the morning light Had open’d on the self-same scene, Or bleak and chill in wintry white, Or cloth’d in summer’s sprightly green, ’Twas still the same,—no change we knew But of the season’s shifting hue!— A few swift hours, and all that was 108 K4v 108 Had shrunk and vanish’d from our gaze! I turn’d on Geraldine mine eyes— E’en she was wrapt in rude disguise! Yet one heart-cheering smile there came To tell me she was still the same, A noble smile, meet to console, And raise and calm the troubled soul! My friend and brother by my side, Howe’er unwonted or untried, Whatever fortune sends, my courage shall abide!

XXXIX.

Deep wrapp’d in thought, we little reck’d

How thro’ the lowering, sullen day,

Our frail bark labour’d on her way

While adverse winds her progress check’d;

But now, the day was well nigh done,

And wan and wat’ry set the sun,

And, as his farewell glance he gave

Sinking beneath the western wave,

Triumphant on his pitchy cloud

The storm’s fell demon, yelling loud,

Loos’d all his blasts, and bade them sweep

The pale and agitated deep!

The night was closing,—overhead

A funeral canopy was spread,

And all beneath, the gulphy wave

Disclos’d a cold and hideous grave,

While the shrill winds, in chorus drear,

A dismal death-song pour’d on fancy’s shuddering ear!

XL.

The seamen’s rude and boist’rous cries

Mix’d with the clamour of the skies,

As stubborn still the bark they urge

Against the wild opposing surge;

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Tho’ little skill’d, my share I took,

And eager, lent my humble aid,

And strove and labour’d as they bade

Till every hope our breasts forsook!

My sister!—Oh! if terror’s pow’r

O’erwhelm’d me in that ghastly hour,

Chill’d the warm stream in every vein,

And bade distraction seize my brain,

It was for her!—all still she sate,

And having pour’d the inward pray’r,

Calm and submiss, expected fate

In resignation—not despair!

As to mine eyes the flash betray’d

E’en then, sublime and undismay’d,

In act devout the noble maid,

Methought that sure the ruffian storm

Relenting in its wrath would spare that angel form!

XLI.

Helpless before the tempest driving,

Our ruin’d bark the surface kept,

Against destruction feebly striving,

Not one delusive hope surviving,

When o’er the deck the cataract swept!

One frantic death-cry, wild and shrill,

Rose on the wailing blast,— we sank! and all was still!

XLII.

Down, down we went!—strength, sense, and life,

All yielding in the horrid strife!

Down, down we went!—With furious roar,

Above, around the waters pour,

I heard, I saw, I felt no more!

Strong seated on the treacherous coast,

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Where our ill-destin’d bark was lost,

An English Baron’s massy tow’rs

Defied the threat’ning tempest’s pow’rs;

The watchful warder did descry

Our struggling vessel’s jeopardy;

And rapid to his summons flew,

Bred to the toil, a fearless crew,

Who from the wild, unpitying storm

And yawning gulph, redeem’d one victim’s sinking form!

XLIII.

Dripping and lifeless from the wave

The hardy vassals bore their prize

To glad their good old master’s eyes,

Who liv’d but to protect and save;

Albeit, in youth a gallant part

Amid the warring world he bore,

Now, every hostile feeling o’er,

Age calm’d, but had not chill’d his heart,

And few can guess the blessed rest,

The soft and Sabbath smile that wrapt that old man’s breast!

XLIV.

Awhile on fair Lancastria’s coast

I linger’d with my noble host;

The good old Baron, with delight,

Perceiv’d that time flowed smoothly on,

While I, regardless of its flight,

Scarce felt that days and weeks were gone;

And now he smil’d and call’d me son,

For he was childless and alone!

XLV.

Meanwhile, e’en here the din of war

Burst on our slumbers from afar;

From time to time some wretched wight,

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From adverse conflict hardly sav’d,

Wing’d hither his disastrous flight,

And shelter here and succour crav’d:

Lord Allen, to the Red Rose true,

Lov’d those who bore its colour best,

But kindly nature in his breast

Still rose to succour the distrest,

Nor only on the favourite hue

Shed pity’s heart-reviving dew!

XLVI.

The proud, the emulous, the bold

Full many a gallant story told,

And soon I burn’d to meet the foe

And hear the deafening war-horn blow;

As yet my brow, all white and smooth,

Bore witness to inglorious youth,

But now my pulse beat quick to share

The manly bronze of toil, the valour-hinting scar!

XLVII.

With grief Lord Allen heard me ask

What every noble youth may claim,

That with a knight’s illustrious name

I too might seek the field of fame;

And now, to his reluctant task

He turn’d with sorrow, not with blame,

His own good sword consign’d to rust,

Was rescued from ignoble dust,

And with the long neglected blade

Was knighthood on my shoulder laid!

XLVIII.

Impetuous, panting to be gone,

My evil genius urg’d me on,

Another soul, a soul of flame,

Did seem to animate my frame,

112 K6v 112

As harness’d well, from helm to heel,

I prick’d me forth, a man of steel!

No raven croak’d, and not a cloud

Darken’d that morning’s brilliant sky,

And all within, elate and proud,

Of triumph breath’d and victory!

Each bough with promises was hung,

With hope’s gay song the welkin rung,

And hope o’er all the scene her golden glances flung!

XLIX.

’Twas now the season of the year

When heavy nods the ripen’d ear,

When honest labour’s dewy brow

Is wont to brave the noontide glow,

Exulting while his peaceful toils

Are crown’d with autumn’s tawny spoils;

But now the hoary carl no more

His rustic train to harvest led,

Plunder had reap’d the golden store,

Or, on the stalk, it withered!

Who once the guiltless scythe did wield,

Now fled, dismay’d by war’s alarm,

Or, reaping in a bloody field,

Beheld a breathing harvest yield

Beneath his sturdy toil-strung arm!

Alas! in silence and dismay

The desolated hamlet lay,

No more the blue and wreathing smoke

At eve from cottage chimney broke,

Nor milk-maid on her homeward way

Pour’d o’er the twilight scene contentment’s artless lay!

L.

Sore groan’d the Prince, Alas! cried he,

Alas! for England’s misery!

113 L1r 113

Sir Gerald paus’d— My royal lord,

Might princely virtue expiate

A people’s crimes, relenting fate

Would quickly sheathe th’ avenging sword!

Might Crowned Holiness prevail

To change heaven’s counsels and decrees,

Could Henry’s meek implorings fail

Mysterious justice to appease,

That crimeless King, round whose meek brow That crimeless king, round whose meek brow. Stanza L. l. 11. In both states,(prosperity and adversity,) he was patient and vertuous, that hee may be a patterne of most perfect vertue, as hee was a worthy example of fortune’s inconstancy: he was plaine, upright, farre from fraud, wholly given to prayer, reading of scripture and almes-deedes; of such integrity of life that the Bishop whiche had beene his confessor tenne yeere, avoucheth, that hee had not all that time committed any mortall crime. So farre was he from covetousnesse, that when the executors of his uncle the Bishop of Winchester, surnamed the rich Cardinal, would have given to him two thousand pound, hee plainely refused it, willing them to discharge the Will of the departed. He was so religiously affected, that on principal holydaies he would were sacke-cloth next his skin. Oath he used none, but in most earnest matters these words, Forsooth, and forsooth He was soe pitiful that when comming from St. Albon’s, hee saw the quarter of a traytor against his crowne, over Cripplegate, he willed it to be taken away with these words. I will not have any christian so cruelly handled for my sake! Many great offences he willingly pardoned, and receiving at a time a great blow by a wicked man which compassed his death, hee only said, Forsooth and forsooth, yee doe fouly to smite a King anoynted so—Of his owne naturall inclination, hee abhorred all the vices, as well of the body as of the soule.Stow’sAnnals, page 425.

Fate’s storms in all their fury blow?

LI.

Alas, replied the Queen, too well

Our own disastrous wanderings paint

The virtues of the royal saint,

And all superfluous ’twere to tell

How mutter’d pray’r, and counted bead,

And monkish orisons succeed,

When grim rebellion, gaunt and fell,

Strides o’er the land with daring deed!

Heaven’s cold approval may descend

On him who only lives to bend,

But life’s experience still declares

Heaven’s smile is with the wight who dares!

Proceed, Sir Knight, the impatient ear

Chides the digressing tongue which swerves in its career!

LII.

Not he who, toiling underneath

The fiery dog-star’s raging beam,

Scarce fann’d by zephyr’s lazy breath,

More panted for the quenching stream

Than I to gain the field of death,

To slake that burning thirst for fame

Which chang’d my blood to liquid flame!

Perverse and rash!— we little guess,

114 L1v 114

E’en as we touch the wish’d for brink

And bend our eager lips to drink,

The serpent spawn and deadly cress

Which in the dimpling waters hide,

And, unsuspected, taint the brisk and sparkling tide!

LIII.

Blore Heath!—May never harrow come Blore Heath!—may never harrow come. Stanza LIII. l. 1. The Queen appointed Sir James Touchet Lord Audely (because his power lay in those parts) to raise an host of men, and to give battaile to the same Earle (Salisbury) if he saw cause and place convenient: she allied unto her all Knights and Esquires of Chestershire 122 L5v 122 for to have their favour: she held open household among them and made her sonne the Prince to give a livery of swans to all the gentlemen of that country, and to many other through the land. Lord Audely had the leading of them into the field called Blore Heath near unto Mucklestone, by which the Duke of York and Earle of Salisbury must needs passe.—There both hosts met, and fought a mortal battell, wherein the Lord Audely was slain, with Hugh Venables of Kinderton, Thomas Dutton of Dutton, Richard Molyneux of Seston, William Troutbeck, and John Legh of Booth, John Donne of Tikington, and John Egerton of Egerton, Knights, &c;—But the greatest losse fell on them of Chestershire who had received the Prince’s livery of Swans.Stow’sAnnals, page 405. Blore Heath, celebrated for the defeat of the Lancastrians under James Touchet Lord Audley by the Yorkist army led by the Earl of Salisbury, now forms part of the property of Sir John Chetwode, Bart. of Oakley in Staffordshire, in whose grounds much of the field of battle is enclosed, whereon is standing, in excellent preservation, a Funeral Cross, erected apparently in commemoration of the Lancastrian leader, as his name only is mentioned on the tablet.

O’er thy accurs’d, detested plain!

There, never wave the golden grain,

Nor ever may the jocund swain

Keep there the merry harvest-home!

On that day’s deeds I need not dwell,

Alas! already have your eyes

Bedew’d that morning’s miseries,

And each sad heart remembers well

The dismal hour when Audley fell!

LIV.

Stoutly we strove, till hope declin’d

In every brave Lancastrian’s mind,

No more to conquer then we fought,

That thought, that cheering thought was chill’d,

And now the prize for which we sought

Was death upon the hostile field!

Yet ill to strife like this enur’d

My manly strength but half matur’d,

And stung with sorrow and disdain

To find we had but striv’n in vain,

I paus’d a little while to breathe

And cast a hopeless look around that dismal heath!

LV.

While thus I stood, for long before

My steed had dropp’d to rise no more,

A brook’s refreshing murmurs stole

Like music o’er my harassed soul;

I turn’d to seek the cooling tide

115 L2r 115

Resolv’d to taste it ere I died;

Alas! commission’d from on high,

That brook entic’d my steps, its voice was destiny!

LVI.

Just as I gain’d the sparkling flood, A martial form beside it stood, Whose tow’ring mien and bearing bold, A noble soldier’s presence told; That rill, he said, to toil and pain Lends grateful solace!—Bright success May only for a while sustain Man’s feeble spirit!—Weariness E’en Fortune’s minions must confess! Our task is over! I perceiv’d; My badgeless coat his eye deceiv’d; While, all unwittingly, his tongue Thus with a victor’s boast, a foe’s proud bosom stung!

LVII.

Thou dost mistake!—One struggle more Awaits us ere our task is o’er! Oh! ere yon glorious orb shall set, One struggle for the Red Rose yet!’ Alas! young Knight, he cried, methinks Too much of precious British blood The mother soil already drinks! If but hope’s shadow linger’d yet To nerve thine arm and edge thy sword, I am no recreant, and my word Should ne’er oppose thy gallant will!

LVIII.

What! thinkest thou to see me led Thy rebel party’s scorn and mock, Meekly to lay my captive head An offering on your tyrant’s block! 116 L2v 116 Oh no! that felon lot to shun I’ll perish with my armour on!

LIX.

Brave youth, be rul’d! Seem but to yield, Quit thou this blood-stain’d heath with me, This night my voice shall be thy shield, To-morrow thou shalt wander free! A fatal fire was in my heart, Lit by the Furies; From my grasp, I cried, this sword shall ne’er depart Till I have breath’d life’s latest gasp! And yet, methinks, I too would fain From slaughter and from toil refrain; And since to thee it seems not vile To yield up liberty awhile, Give me thy sword and purchase peace, And do thou follow me, and let our parley cease!

LX.

His soul was rouz’d: Insulting boy! I would have spar’d thee!—Heaven record How all unwilling to destroy, Provok’d, I lift the sated sword, Which, to the hilt in slaughter dyed, Appeas’d, would fain have turn’d aside And shunn’d the useless homicide!

LXI.

We fought:—and tho’ the stranger’s brand Seem’d wielded with a veteran’s hand, Tho’ all my strokes were spent in air, Incens’d I saw his skilful care Was bent his foeman’s life to spare: I paus’d—Come on, Sir Knight, I cried, By heaven! thou holdest me at bay! I cannot brook thy scornful pride, Mock not a man with childish play? Again, we strove, — a mortal stroke 117 L3r 117 The stranger’s brittle cuirass broke! Backward he reel’d, and from his side Impetuous rush’d the boiling tide; Oh! why do I survive to tell, The stroke was a death!—The stranger fell!

LXII.

Then, all too late, wrath’s wasteful flame

Expir’d extinguish’d and supprest,

And a still voice within my breast

Did greet me with the murderer’s name!

The fury, which had urg’d me on,

Forsook me when her work was done.

Now by the fallen warrior’s side

I knelt, and gently rais’d his head

From off its cold and bloody bed,

And many a fruitless aid supplied;

And, eager in the futile task,

I flung aside the heavy casque,

And vainly hop’d the evening breath

Would chase away the damps of death!

I met the stranger’s lifted eye,

It beam’d forgiveness; yet, methought,

With heaven’s blue bolt that glance was fraught!

I turn’d me shuddering from his look,

The solid earth beneath me shook,

I shriek’d My brother!—Oh! my hand

Was with a brother’s life-blood stain’d,

And my accursed sword its noble source had drain’d!

LXIII.

Sir Gerald paus’d awhile, to chase

The anguish drops that bath’d his face;

His sister, whose misgiving breast

Too well the dreadful sequel guess’d,

L2 118 L3v 118

Mistrustful of her strength, had gone

To weep each brother’s lot alone,

And Edward’s groaning cried, For me

That England’s wreath my brow may clasp,

To place a sceptre in my grasp,

How many a gallant soul is plung’d in misery!

LXIV.

Here, said the Queen, thy story close,

And draw the curtain o’er thy woes,

And let this thought suffice to soothe

Thy wounded spirit, noble youth;

That hand which in a nation’s cause

The patriot’s sacred weapon draws,

Obeys an impulse far above

The little claims of private love,

And duty’s voice imperative

Far from the hero’s breast each selfish thought should drive!

LXV.

Not all the glory, all the praise

Which decks the prosperous hero’s days,

The shout of man, the laurel crown,

The pealing echoes of renown,

May conscience’ dreadful sentence drown!

No trophy of the patriot’s pride

Could ever teach me to abide

That never-ceasing cry, Woe to the fratricide!

LXVI.

Oh! when my dying brother found What hand had dealt the fatal wound, And when he saw the frantic woe Which tortur’d his unnatural foe, The hero melting into man, Swift down his cheeks the big drop ran; Oh Gerald! while mine eyes can see, 119 L4r 119 Oh! quick that envious helm unbrace! Alas! I yearn to look on thee, And gaze once more upon thy face! Where is our sister?Drown’d! I cried, And would to God my bones lay bleaching by her side!

LXVII.

Cheer thee, my brother! Fate, not thou, Kindly remits my task below! But if that dying voice is dear Which now sounds faintly on thine ear, Thou single column! if in thee Abides one spark of native flame, I charge thee, by our ancestry, Support our venerable name! Our house leans on thee!— if thou fail, The ancient fabric nods and falls, For ever sink its aged walls, And in the grass-grown courts in the desert blast shall wail!

LXVIII.

Thy courage, even as a foe, Had my heart’s reverence while we strove, Think how that heart must hail thee now, Oh! brother of my pride and love! Thy part is chosen,— hie thee on While aught remaineth to be done, And turn thou not! In one career Be stedfast still, and persevere, So shall renown thy struggles bless, For honour shines on steadiness! Come nigh, my Gerald!— for I feel I must not look upon thee long, Death’s mist will soon mine eye-lids seal, Death’s frost will soon enchain my tongue, 120 L4v 120 Thou precious relique of our race, My soul would wing her flight from thy belov’d embrace!

LXIX.

Even to the last his failing sight

Dwelt on my face with strange delight,

And even to the final grasp

His bloodless arms my form did clasp!—

Till then, methought ’twas all a dream;

But when at length he ceas’d to speak,

And when I felt his frozen cheek,

I started from the ground with wild and piercing scream!

LXX.

But what imports it now to tell

What next my wretched frame befel?

Suffice it, that I live to shew

How long the victim may survive,

His heart while hell-born tortures rive;

Against the springs of life, how slow

The poison works of human woe!

End of Canto the Fourth.

121 L5r 121

Notes to Canto the Fourth.

That crimeless king, round whose meek brow. Stanza L. l. 11. In both states,(prosperity and adversity,) he was patient and vertuous, that hee may be a patterne of most perfect vertue, as hee was a worthy example of fortune’s inconstancy: he was plaine, upright, farre from fraud, wholly given to prayer, reading of scripture and almes-deedes; of such integrity of life that the Bishop whiche had beene his confessor tenne yeere, avoucheth, that hee had not all that time committed any mortall crime. So farre was he from covetousnesse, that when the executors of his uncle the Bishop of Winchester, surnamed the rich Cardinal, would have given to him two thousand pound, hee plainely refused it, willing them to discharge the Will of the departed. He was so religiously affected, that on principal holydaies he would were sacke-cloth next his skin. Oath he used none, but in most earnest matters these words, Forsooth, and forsooth He was soe pitiful that when comming from St. Albon’s, hee saw the quarter of a traytor against his crowne, over Cripplegate, he willed it to be taken away with these words. I will not have any christian so cruelly handled for my sake! Many great offences he willingly pardoned, and receiving at a time a great blow by a wicked man which compassed his death, hee only said, Forsooth and forsooth, yee doe fouly to smite a King anoynted so—Of his owne naturall inclination, hee abhorred all the vices, as well of the body as of the soule.Stow’sAnnals, page 425. Blore Heath!—may never harrow come. Stanza LIII. l. 1. The Queen appointed Sir James Touchet Lord Audely (because his power lay in those parts) to raise an host of men, and to give battaile to the same Earle (Salisbury) if he saw cause and place convenient: she allied unto her all Knights and Esquires of Chestershire 122 L5v 122 for to have their favour: she held open household among them and made her sonne the Prince to give a livery of swans to all the gentlemen of that country, and to many other through the land. Lord Audely had the leading of them into the field called Blore Heath near unto Mucklestone, by which the Duke of York and Earle of Salisbury must needs passe.—There both hosts met, and fought a mortal battell, wherein the Lord Audely was slain, with Hugh Venables of Kinderton, Thomas Dutton of Dutton, Richard Molyneux of Seston, William Troutbeck, and John Legh of Booth, John Donne of Tikington, and John Egerton of Egerton, Knights, &c;—But the greatest losse fell on them of Chestershire who had received the Prince’s livery of Swans.Stow’sAnnals, page 405. Blore Heath, celebrated for the defeat of the Lancastrians under James Touchet Lord Audley by the Yorkist army led by the Earl of Salisbury, now forms part of the property of Sir John Chetwode, Bart. of Oakley in Staffordshire, in whose grounds much of the field of battle is enclosed, whereon is standing, in excellent preservation, a Funeral Cross, erected apparently in commemoration of the Lancastrian leader, as his name only is mentioned on the tablet.
123 L6r

Margaret of Anjou.

Canto the Fifth.

I.

There be who, murm’ring as they go,

With heavy step life’s path-way tread,

In vain for them, with golden glow

The bright sky sparkles overhead,—

They look not up! For them in vain

The vernal scene, the daisied plain,

The breath of May, the woodland strain!

For them in vain! whose eyes intent

With grovelling gaze to earth are bent!

In vain for them the seasons roll,

With winter ever in their soul;

While towards the final bourn they fare,

Care clings to them, and they to care!

What do they know of life? They know

That the toil and trouble dwell below,

They know that weariness and gloom

And strife walk with them to the tomb;

They thank not heaven,—for heav’n’s smile

Beams warmth upon the world, unfelt by them the while!

II.

They know not, that, of heavenly birth,

With mortal man there walks on earth

A pow’r, which to their twilight day

124 L6v 124

Light, warmth, and rapture could impart,

And melt the wintry snows away

Which hang about the sullen heart!

They know not love! love’s sighs and tears,

Love’s doubtings, tremblings, hopes and fears,

Love’s very pangs expand the breast

And lend dull life its noblest zest!

That heart which in love’s kindling smile

Has never deign’d to bask awhile,

That sullen heart may well complain,

Scarce has it liv’d,—or liv’d in vain!

III.

While Edward trac’d with speechless heed

The gallant stranger’s hapless lot,

His mind from selfish sorrows freed

Awhile its own sad cares forgot,

His smarting wounds’ incessant throes,

And e’en his bosom’s mightier woes,

All, in a stranger’s griefs ingross’d,

Awhile forgotten were and lost;

Upon Sir Gerald’s mournful tongue

A charm of wondrous virtue hung,

Thro’ Edward’s throbbing heart it sent

A strange and mingled sentiment,

It glided swift thro’ every vein,

And scarcely could he tell, if pleasure ’twere, or pain!

IV.

His captive fancy dwelt enslav’d

Upon that meek, celestial form.

Who, while around the tempest rav’d,

Sate calm amid the howling storm,

On her, who ’mid the forked fire,

Thro’ yawning waves by tempests driven,

Could from that conflict wild and dire

125 M1r 125

To her own spotless heart retire

And commune, undismay’d, with heaven!

He deem’d this sublunary sphere,

Of thing so noble, own’d but one,

And thought, how bless’d that mortal were

Who call’d that perfect thing his own!

V.

Ambition and his pompous train,

Thrones, empires, flitted from his mind,

And to his heart and to his brain

Came hope with her illusions vain;

And trembling joy, and pleasing pain

Were in the wond’ring soul enshrin’d:

For new-born love still leads along

Of painted forms a numerous throng,

A welcome group of dear deceits,

Fond fantasies, and smiling cheats!

Edward had felt the generous glow

That weakens at the trumpet’s sound,

And, when the helmet press’d his brow,

Had felt his pulse to battle bound;

Much had he learn’d, yet knew he not

Till now the wonders of that pow’r,

Who can transform the wretch’s lot

And dress with beams the darkest hour,

Can agony to bliss translate,

And in the sinking heart, create

New wishes, and new hopes, and almost conquer fate!

VI.

The Prince in silence lay resign’d

To blissful musings, while the Queen

Rejoic’d that slumbers so serene

Refresh’d his frame and calm’d his mind:

But now the wasting taper tells

M 126 M1v 126

That half the night is worn away,

And sleep each weary wight compels,

With gentle force, to own his sway;

The good old pair, whose lowly lot

Misfortune deign’d not to molest,

Such little cares had long forgot

As wont to haunt the rustic breast;

They seldom own’d that wayward pow’r

Which troubles slumber’s peaceful hour,

And bids the sleeper act again

Day’s task of labour and of pain;

The tranquil mind, the vacant breast,

The simple brain unvex’d by schemes,

Alone may taste that placid rest,

Those precious slumbers, balmy, blest,

By fever’s start unbroke, unvisited by dreams.

VII.

Peace! modest Peace! the sons of earth

From thy meek form indignant turn,

They view with scorn thy boastless worth,

And at thy humble offering spurn;

Ambition knows thee not, and Pride

Would blush to see thee at her side!

Nay, what have we with peace to do!

We tell of ruin and of woe;

And, as our daring hand we fling

Impetuous o’er the echoing string,

Disaster and reverse, and waste and war we sing!

VIII.

The day begins—The Carl is gone

To tend his fleecy charge alone,

The sun-burnt boy, who us’d to share

The good old shepherd’s daily care,

Transform’d is to a lady fair!

And Oswald, whistling on his way,

127 M2r 127

Bethinks him how for many a day

That little sheep boy’s ditty wild,

Floating across the broomy heath

And mingling with the summer breath,

His toil of weariness beguil’d;

Well, well, he cried, I lov’d the child:

But what of that!—All here, they say,

Is giv’n but to be ta’en away!

IX.

Now scarcely was old Maudlin gone

On halting steed to market town,

Than Geraldine, from brief repose

On rushen couch, refresh’d arose:

Lightly she sprang across the floor

And cautious op’d the creaking door,

And sought her brother, who was laid

Recumbent in the beechen shade:

He slept,—yet sorrow at his heart,

E’en as he slept, seem’d busy still;

The sudden, strong, convulsive start,

The smother’d groan, and shuddering thrill,

Declar’d that gentle sleep in vain

Would lighten misery’s galling chain.

As Geraldine beside him stood,

And gaz’d upon the noble wreck

Of all that once was fair and good,

Her pitying tears in rapid flood

Bedew’d her brother’s livid cheek;

Then, kneeling on the verdant sod,

She lifted up her heart to God!

X.

On deep and earnest pray’r intent

She knew not how the moments went;

Thrice had she counted every bead,

When sudden sounded on her ear

128 M2v 128

The heavy hoof of coming steed,

And spoke some strange intruder near;

Starting she rose, averse that eye

Her secret worship should espy:

Now Maudlin from her steed alighted,

Along the narrow path advanc’d

Her mind with wondrous weight seem’d freighted,

Her eye with strange impatience glanc’d,

And as she stood amid the glade,

With cautious mien as if afraid,

And many a mute, mysterious sign,

She call’d the wondering Geraldine;—

In silence Geraldine obey’d

And follow’d thro’ the closing shade.

XI.

Nor comet’s blaze, nor shooting star,

Nor armies striving in the air,

More fearful portents were, I ween,

Than Maudlin’s silence,—for, alone

Or social, still from morn till e’en

Pray’d, sung, or talk’d the unwearied crone;

But now, in vain the astonish’d maid

One little word to win, with earnest speech essay’d.

XII.

Yet soon they halt;—a moss-grown shed

Rear’d in their path its humble head,

The ivy and the wall-flow’r dress’d

In gaudy tints the verdant nest,

Its trembling shade the moutain ash

Flung o’er it,—and beside it fled

A narrow rill, whose current rash

Dash’d wildly o’er its rocky bed.

129 M3r 129

XIII.

They entered, and beheld the floor

With virgin vestments scatter’d o’er,

Kirtle, and coif, and wimple white,

And hat of straw with ribbons dight,

And mittens green, and buckles bright;

Nor lack’d the shining brooch to hold

The decent kerchief’s snowy fold,

Nor miss’d there ’mid the rustic weed

Aught that a village maid might need:

Bright did the glancing tear-drop shine

In the blue eye of Geraldine,

In sign of thankfulness it fell,

And Maudlin knew its meaning well;

Unskill’d in courtly phrase, or smooth,

As her heart bade, her tongue replied,

And in the homely phrase of truth,

Sure thou art welcome, child, the honest matron cried.

XIV.

That artless welcome gave away

The thrift of many a lab’ring year,

Hard earn’d by many a weary day

Of frugal fare and toil severe!

When Greatness gives, from forth his store

He takes a little, and his meed

Is flattery’s song, which o’er and o’er

To the wide world proclaims the deed!

But this was all! life’s autumn past,

And strenght and spirit failing fast,

And winter nigh, she hop’d no more

To renovate her little store!—

’Twas the heart’s gift, as freely given

As to the thirsty plain the blessed rain from heaven!

M2 130 M3v 130

XV.

The stream which fled so swiftly by,

Sparkling and murmuring in its race,

Soon from the lady’s bright’ning face

Dismiss’d the dun and dusky dye

Which hid beneath it purer snow

Than winter heaps on Skiddaw’s brow;

Tints, form the brush-rose stol’n, shine

On the fair cheek of Geraldine,

And as she quits her loath’d disguise

New lustre trembles in her eyes:

The crone uplifts her wither’d hands

Marv’ling as each new grace expands,

And half suspects some angel guest,

In mortal semblance hid, her lowly roof had bless’d.

XVI.

How proudly beat the sculptor’s heart

Exulting in triumphant art,

When, rais’d by his creative hand,

He saw the marble Venus stand,

Upspringing from the shapeless stone,

The pride, the magic, all his own!

Thus proud, old Maudlin’s eye survey’d,

Beneath her ministry, the maid

Her sex’s garb, her native bloom,

Her own rose-tinted hue and lovely form assume!

XVII.

Each tress, its coal-black hue resign’d,

Light waves of floating gold display’d,

Bright in the morning glance they shin’d

And o’er her cheek and bosom stray’d:

Yet pass’d a cloud o’er Maudlin’s joy,

As, vainly on the lady’s face

131 M4r 131

She sought with earnest heed a trace

Of him so well-belov’d, her tawny shepherdboy!

XVIII.

The mystery over, from the shed

Where silently the change was wrought,

Smiling the blushing maid she led,

And now her guests impatient sought;

By her own honest, ardent breast,

What pass’d in other hearts she guess’d,

And much she yearn’d, in other eyes

To reap the meed of glad surprise:

The dazzling sun had pour’d his light

On the young warrior’s glancing mail,

And, startled by the summons bright,

From mossy pillow sprang the Knight

To bid the glorious morning hail;

The long, long exil’d smile is fain

To visit his wan cheek again

As his fraternal arms entwine

His sister’s form, exclaiming, Now,

My own, my earliest friend I know!

Now, thou art she indeed! my very Geraldine!

XIX.

Gazing upon his sister’s face,

Back rush’d his wayward thoughts to trace

Full many a form for ever flown,

Alive to memory’s eye alone!

Long mus’d he not,—for lo! the Queen

Recalls him to the present scene!

Awhile upon the alter’d maid

Her royal glances coldly stay’d,

Then, frowning, she in haste withdrew

As from some hated thing her view;

She look’d, as if an adder lay

132 M4v 132

Hissing and coiling in her way!

Looks kill not, but they can destroy

With fatal blight the buds of joy,—

Had Margaret’s glance the pow’r to kill,

How had the wasted world deplor’d her deadly skill!

XX.

Why stand ye here while England’s heir

Awaking claims your duteous care?

Such ministry, as hands unskill’d,

Untaught, and inexpert, may yield,

Haste and bestow! but,—and a smile

Malignant curl’d her lip the while,

Take thou good heed, lest thou forget

Thou dost but pay a subject’s debt!

XXI.

Poor Geraldine!—In vain she tried

The conflict in her soul to hide

Of love insulted,—wounded pride!

She dash’d aside the coward tear,

But now the white rose, now the red

The lady’s changing cheek did wear;

As pride and weakness combated;

For still within her breast enshrin’d

With woman’s softness, she combin’d

Such firm and lofty thoughts as suit the highborn mind!

XXII.

With throbbing heart the wounded maid

In silence towards the cottage turn’d,

Her secret soul indignant spurn’d

The haughty mandate she obey’d,

For love and all his flatt’ring train

Fled frighted at the royal frown,

And Geraldine in high disdain

133 M5r 133

Would fain the lurking guest disown:

Meanwhile the Prince impatient lies

Counting the minutes with his sighs,

And eager watching while the sand

With slow and measur’d progress wan’d;

But see, he starts! for nigh the door

The long expected step proclaims his watching o’er!

XXIII.

’Tis not the little shepherd-boy

With sun-burnt cheek, and ebon hair,

And down-cast glances, bright yet coy,

The rustic’s humble, timid air!

Edward’s keen eye impatient fell

Upon the entering stranger’s mien,

But felt the same resistless spell,

And own’d his heart’s elected Queen!

She who, eclips’d by strange disguise,

Already sway’d his bosom’s throne,

How did his kindling fancy prize

When bursting on his gaze in native grace she shone!

XXIV.

He who admires, in polish’d phrase

His mind’s approval may declare,

His fluent tongue his thought obeys,

And decks, in fairer tints, the fair!

He who adores, can ne’er find speech

His soul’s idolatry to reach!

The worship of the imploring eye,

The timid heart-betraying sigh,

These, swifter than the viewless wind,

Th’ unerring couriers are, which post from mind to mind!

134 M5v 134

XXV.

But idly now their tale they tell,—

For Geraldine bethinks her well

Of her high source, and noble name,

And startled pride’s indignant flame

Is on her cheek;—the azure light

Which o’er the senses softly stole,

Whose temper’d radiance, mild yet bright,

Shone but to heal and to console,

Now, cold as wintry sunbeams fall

On the hoar top of mountain tall,

Or as the moon, when from her height

She looks upon the world below,

And sees her own pale, shimmering light

Reflected in December’s snow,

So stern, so cold, so wintry, shine

The late benignant eyes of Lady Geraldine!

XXVI.

With mingled lowliness and pride

Her mute obeisance duly paid,

Her humble ministry she plied

E’en as the haughty Margaret bade,

While her averted glances shun

The troubled gaze of Margaret’s son,

Lest they might teach her to forget

She did but pay a subject’s debt!

XXVII.

The Prince at length, with mournful speech,

Timid, bespake his lovely leech:

Lady! beneath thy gentle care

My outward wound is closing fast,

Nay, even now its pangs are past,

And well the irksome toil may spare

Of one so noble, and so fair!

Oh lady! let thy hand resign

To humbler ministry a task unmeet for thine!

135 M6r 135

XXVIII.

The lady lifted not her eyes

While slowly, thus her tongue replies,

My royal lord! such a duteous aid

As simple loyalty may give,

To lend, becomes a subject maid,

And well befits thee to receive!

Nay, wert thou lowliest in the land

Which thou art destin’d to command,

Unnurtur’d, poor, of peasants born,

Think’st thou a christian maid should scorn

To yield the succour all may claim

From one who boasts a christian’s name?

If then, from an untimely grave

’Tis bliss the meanest life to save,

Well may she thank indulgent heaven,

To whose unskilful cares a nation’s hope is given!

XXIX.

Deep sigh’d the Prince; Alas! cried he,

E’en with this precious boon of life,

What hours of sorrow and of strife,

Oh lady! hast thou given to me!

How many nights are yet to spend

In anxious vigils! From mine eyes

What drops of anguish must descend,

What weary, health-consuming sighs

This sorely burthen’d heart must rend,

Ere I have struggled to the end!

E’en now, mid yonder village dead,

Methinks ’twere sweet to rest my head!

Then, might the White Rose chaplet wave Then might the white rose chaplet wave. Stanza XXIX. l. 13. This passage alludes to a custom formerly prevalent in the northern and midland counties of England, and almost universally in Wales, (where, perhaps, it may yet be retained,) of hanging garlands of white paper roses in the churches when any of the village maidens or bachelors died. The author has met with a trace of the above custom in the church of the village of Middleton in Derbyshire. Now the low beams with paper garlands hung, In memory of some village youth or maid, Draw the soft tear from thrill’d remembrance sprung; How oft my childhood mark’d that tribute paid! Miss Seward.

Triumphant o’er my quiet grave,

York’s hostile badge, the rose of snow,

136 M6v 136

In pledge that he who slept below

In stainless youth had left a world of crime and woe!

XXX.

Oh Prince! and wouldst thou thus betray

The glorious post, the station high

Where thou art plac’d by destiny,

So early on the battle-day!

’Tis morn with thee! ere night descends

Thou hast a brave career to run,

And when thy race of glory ends,

In splendour shalt thou cease, as sets the golden sun!

XXXI.

Bless’d prophetess! Oh that mine eye

Could pierce the clouds that round me roll,

Whose vapours quench my spirit high

And hang about my aspiring soul!

What art thou, lady? At thy sway

The body’s keenest tortures cease!

Thy voice my inmost thoughts obey

And rouze for war, or sink to peace!

E’en now, my heart-pulse feebly beat

Oppress’d beneath the gathering gloom;

And, as amid the battle’s heat,

The coward seeks some sure retreat,

I turn’d me tow’rds the shelt’ring tomb,

But wak’d by thy resistless charm

My heart leaps up, and hopes again,

I feel my blood to combat warm

As at the war-horn’s shrill alarm,

And long to rush in arms amid the embattled plain!

XXXII.

By terror and delight assail’d

And scarcely conscious which prevail’d,

137 N1r 137

Fair Geraldine at once beheld

Her royal captive’s heart reveal’d,

She knew that in a magic snare

She held the thought of England’s heir!

Some joy there is, whose sudden force

O’erwhelms like anguish, and o’erthrows

The astonish’d spirits in its course

Till reason scarce her office knows;

So fares it now with Geraldine:—

A thousand streams of wavering light

Flash quick before her dazzled sight,

And with bewild’ring lustre shine:

While hoping half, and half-afraid,

Edward, with anxious gaze, beheld the trembling maid!

XXXIII.

The blushing morn, the twilight pale,

Noon’s blaze intense, night’s sable veil,

Each in its turn had three times past

Over the cottage in the dale

Since bold Sir Gerald told his tale;

And many an eager look was cast

Up tow’rds the steepy path in vain

To see if Rudolph came not,—

Rudolph came not,—nor came there aught

But gales with songs and fragrance fraught,

The carol of the full-voic’d thrush,

The fragrance of the hawthorn bush,

But nought that might direct that aimless glance of thought.

XXXIV.

But not in vain the moments sped,

Wing’d with returning health they came,

And springing from his lowly bed,

Edward uplifts his royal head

N 138 N1v 138

Exulting in his strengthening frame:

Once more the late enfeebled hand,

Impatient, grasp’d the pond’rous brand,

And, as he view’d the glittering blade,

Thus to himself the hero said:

On my last field I fought and fail’d,

For then Ambition led me on,

I fought for vengeance and a throne,

I fought in vain,—the foe prevail’d!

Now, more than empire, more than glory,

More than a deathless life in story,

Beckons me forward! For success

My bosom’s fondest hopes shall bless,

And who shall bid him turn, who fights for happiness?

XXXV.

One evening when the vesper-bell

Toll’d sullen from the distant tow’r,

When twilight’s misty, musing hour

Dim o’er the shelter’d valley fell,

What time the white owl wings her way

From ivied nook in turret gray,—

The Queen, who long absorb’d had seem’d

In thought, like one who waking dream’d,

Starting cried, Rudolph! may it be!

For he, or some less welcome comes than he!

XXXVI.

All listen’d eager, for, indeed,

The heavy trampling hoof of steed

Close to the opening of the dell,

On every ear that listen’d fell.

The Prince cried, Be he friend or foe,

We are not unprepar’d to shew

Such welcome as the brave bestow!

He spake, and wav’d his faulchion bright,

139 N2r 139

And tow’rds the narrow path-way sprung,—

But Erin’s keen and gallant knight

His form before his master flung,

What! rash as the remorseless wind,

Prince! wilt thou never bear in mind

The debt thou ow’st to human kind,

Thus to expose so dear a life

To some night-prowling ruffian’s knife!

Nay, pardon me,—’twere treason now

To stagger at the frown that clouds thy royal brow!

XXXVII.

As thus they strove in generous wrath,

Lo! dimly in the twilight seen,

A form descends the narrow path

With footsteps slow, and harmless mien

The cowled head, and mantle grey,

And cord-encircled waist, profess

That he who hither wends his way,

Has vow’d to live in holiness;

Yet when he saw the glittering brand

Which flash’d in either warrior’s hand,

Starting, it seem’d as tho’ he sought,

By some mysterious impulse sway’d,

To grasp in haste the opposing blade,

But, check such vindictive thought,

Unmeet for holy breast, I ween,

Calmly he view’d the bounded scene

And cross’d his bosom, and bestow’d

His Benedicite on all who there abode!

XXXVIII.

The Prince the greeting meek repaid,

And, smiling, sheath’d the useless blade,

And bade the wandering Carmelite

To shelter from the coming night:

140 N2v 140

Not so Sir Gerald, for his breast

Mistrusted sore the holy guest,—

Heaven grant, he pray’d, yon muffling cowl

Hide not the brow of traitor foul!

Heaven grant yon folded stole within

Lurk not the secret man of sin!

Good father, bear thee warily!

I do suspect thee, and mine eye

With comment close and keen shall track thy subtlety!

XXXIX.

Entering the cot, the friar told

How as the bleak and barren wold

He with uncertain footstep trac’d,

Much fearing lest the night should close

Ere he had pass’d the unknown waste,

And just as he began to lose

All hope of shelter and repose,

A man, uncouth in garb and mien,

O’ertook him in that cheerless scene;—

Secure in humble poverty,

I hail’d him as he gallop’d nigh;

He brought me hither,—when his steed

Is from the encumb’ring harness freed

He will appear, for he doth bear

Message of import high to some who tarry here!

XL.

’Tis Rudolph! the impetuous word

Burst from each lip with glad accord:

’Tis Rudolph! said the musing Knight—

Good father, many a one had fain

Roam’d trackless o’er the dusky plain

Ere they had rouz’d so grim a wight!

Aye, e’en tho’ winter’s fleecy wreath

Were driven across the howling heath!

141 N3r 141

Why should’st thou tremble lest a night

So soft, so calm, so heavenly mild

It might not chill a naked child,

Should catch thee ’mid the broomy wild!

Tremble! so loud the echo came,

Its strong vibration shook each wondering listener’s frame!

XLI.

’Twas true, from forth the Friar’s hood

Sudden that thundering echo came!

But silent now, and sad, he stood,

As if rebuk’d by inward blame:

All marvell’d, but Sir Gerald’s heart

Exulted in defeated art,

Yet rested satisfied to know

How near him lurk’d th’ insidious foe,

And Rudolph’s entrance put to flight,

Save in the breast of Erin’s Knight,

All thoughts but those with which suspense

Greets him whose tongue is fraught with dear intelligence!

XLII.

Oh, welcome! welcome! Margaret cried

While hope and gladness lit her glance,

Oh! say whate’er thine eye has spied!

Or be it good, or evil chance,

All may be borne save ignorance!

XLIII.

Soft, Lady! while I count the gold

For which this lucre-loving hand

Thou and thy royal heir has sold

To yon young tyrant and his band!

I wrong’d thee, Rudolph! Come! No more!

Ah! quick, I charge thee, friend, unlock thy bosom’s store!

N2 142 N3v 142

XLIV.

What chance first met me on my way,

Methinks it needeth not to say,

Albeit, yon Knight, for memory’s sake,

May yearn to hear the story told

How on a spectre grim and bold

One dazzling morn his eyes did wake!

The Prince arose, Rudolph, forbear!

We may not brook thy contumely!

It would become thy speech to wear

A meeker purport, in the ear,

The sacred ear of Majesty!

Respect the Queen! and let thy tongue

Forbear with bitter sneer to do a hero wrong!

XLV.

Like one accustom’d to command,

The Prince, reseated, wav’d his hand,—

Rudolph, proceed! for much we long

To hear of that dispersed throng,

The loyal, generous few, who yet

Cleave to the true Plantagenet!

Rudolph, surpriz’d, perus’d the face

Of him from whom the mandate came,

There, mingled with youth’s softest grace

Of majesty an awful trace,

Lit by a spark of anger’s flame;

Never till now had Rudolph’s ear

Heard of reproof the voice austere,

Awhile he stood with eye-lids wide,

Gazing upon the Prince, then, wond’ring why, complied!

XLVI.

The moon had risen, when mid the slain

I stood alone on Livel’s plain!

The waning mood!—like meteor red

143 N4r 143

It hung above the scatter’d dead

Who slept on that uncurtain’d bed!

Full oft of pity and of fear

I’ve heard, unweeting what they were;

I knew them never,—save that now

A strange, bewildering, shudd’ring thrill,

A sudden touch of wintry chill

Struck to my heart and damp’d my brow!

Beshrew me! for awhile I stood

Irresolute in coward mood,

Eyeing that dismal scene of silence, death, and blood!

XLVII.

My halt was short, for on I rush’d

Along the red and slippery way,

Trampling on many a gallant gay

Who there outstretch’d and silent lay

Beneath my reckless footstep crush’d!

Yet not alone of living things

Among those ghastly heaps I stood;

For there the raven pois’d her wings

And revell’d in a feast of blood,

While hovering o’er the silent corse

She shriek’d a death-song wild and hoarse;

And stealing to his banquet foul

Shrill came the night-dog’s hungry howl;

Nor only these, for she was there,

Of whom the feeble shrink to hear,

Wandering amid the corses cold,—

The haggard Woman of the Wold!

Strange talk, methought, she held with those

Whose sense was fled, whose ear was froze!

XLVIII.

In Hexham’s walls a boastful crew

Were resting from their stubborn toils

144 N4v 144

Their languid vigour to renew,

To tend their wounds and count their spoils;

Loud rang the bells in Hexham’s tow’rs

Loud rose the shout from Hexam’s throng,

And busy hands were scattering flow’rs,

And welcome flow’d from every tongue!

Fools! pliant slaves! their vile caress

Still crowns prosperity! They bless

The victor, not the man—not merit, but success!

XLIX.

For many a rugged year I’ve stood

At distance from such motley brood,

And now a curious glance I threw

Upon the noisy, busy crew;

The mute inquirer could not find

One man who seem’d of Rudolph’s kind,

Mid shouting thousands he was still

Alone in semblance and in will!

Oh, what a heap of mummery,

What tinsel gauds! what foolery!

What toys for crowing infants meet

Did flattery lavish there the full-grown babes to greet!

L.

But soon the wayward thing threw by

The harmless rattle, and began

For such stern pageantry to cry

As soothes and feeds destructive man!

For vengeance!—Let the scaffold rise!—

Oh, let not the auspicious skies

Wait longer for the sacrifice!—

The scaffold rose!—I saw it wet

With the brave blood of Somerset!

145 N5r 145

Calmly he laid him down to death,

And smil’d the glittering axe beneath!

LI.

I go, he said, life’s conflict past, I go to seek my sire in heaven! Happy that even to the last, Howe’er by stormy fortune driven, Still stedfast in my father’s track, No adverse gale might turn me back! In the same cause for which he bled With joy my vital stream I shed! Ye rebel crew, exult not yet, All is not o’er with Somerset! Till the last drop of Beaufort blood Has York’s rebellious hand imbrued, It is not o’er!—and impious York Has but commenc’d his rugged work!

LII.

Then, with an aspect firm and proud,

He turn’d him from the gathering crowd

Till holy friar his soul had shriven,

And yielded him the pass to heaven,—

Then ’twas concluded—Father, say!

Hast thou not wash’d the drops away

Which sprinkling o’er thy garments spread

When the aspiring soul from Beaufort’s body fled?

LIII.

No, groan’d the Friar, while Beaufort’s tree

Yet stands, that stain unwash’d shall be!

Then, drawing nigh the feeble light

From winking taper dimly shed,

He pointed to each shuddering sight

The ghastly drops of livid red

146 N5v 146

Which o’er his sleeve and bosom spread!

Prince Edward to his swelling breast

Eager the precious relique press’d,

In silence, for impetuous rush’d

Grief, gratitude, and wrath, and struggling utterance crush’d.

LIV.

Sir Gerald view’d the stranger-guest

Bewilder’d where surmise might rest;

In vain his glances strove to trace

One line upon the Friar’s face,

The shadowy cowl defied his eye

And mock’d his eager scrutiny;

From time to time, with jealous care,

Still deeper down his hood he drew,

Perchance the Father was aware

How many a piercing glance Sir Gerald tow’rds him threw!

End of Canto the Fifth.

147 N6r

Note to Canto the Fifth.

Then might the white rose chaplet wave. Stanza XXIX. l. 13. This passage alludes to a custom formerly prevalent in the northern and midland counties of England, and almost universally in Wales, (where, perhaps, it may yet be retained,) of hanging garlands of white paper roses in the churches when any of the village maidens or bachelors died. The author has met with a trace of the above custom in the church of the village of Middleton in Derbyshire. Now the low beams with paper garlands hung, In memory of some village youth or maid, Draw the soft tear from thrill’d remembrance sprung; How oft my childhood mark’d that tribute paid! Miss Seward.
148 N6v

Margaret of Anjou.

Canto the Sixth.

I.

Is it not sweet awhile to turn

From life’s realities! to flee

From sober truth with visage stern

To sport with gentle fantasy!

To shun the irksome things that are,

And mock the cold rebuke of care!

Who would not, lur’d by Fancy’s smile,

Cast down his burthen for awhile?

Who would not for awhile forget

To fear what future hours may bring,

To trace the past with vain regret,

Or groan, whilst present sorrows wring,

And twist, and strain, each bosom string?

Who would not listen to the song

Which lulls to fairy dreams our visionary throng?

II.

My Muse! I thank thee that thy cloud,

Hovering so oft o’er things that be,

Doth o’er them cast its rainbow shroud,

And hide the irksome train from me!

My Muse! I thank thee that thy hand

Of care so oft had loos’d the chain,

And let me to thine own bright land

Where care would seek his prey in vain!

Alas! I pray thee quit me not!

Wend with me till I touch the brink

149 O1r 149

Where every mortal lip shall drink,—

The gulph where all things are forgot!

III.

Rudolph resumed,—My nature’s pride

Rose as I mark’d the fickle tide;

I bless’d the silent star which shone

On the wild night when I was born,

Which bade me run my course alone,

And view earth’s dust-form’d race with scorn!

But vengeance now in joy was drown’d,

The sparkling wassail-cup went round,

And steep’d in hypocras, the eye

Flash’d fire, the brain rock’d merrily,

For now the inebriate victors roar’d

Their songs of senseless mirth round many a festive board.

IV.

To quit me of their shout awhile

I wandered where a scathed pile

Rear’d its grey brow, and seem’d like me

To hate the distant revelry:

’Twas silent! Once the holy din

Of song and pray’r was heard within,

But wrath and time had riven the wall,

And frail, and nodding to the fall,

’Twas nigh the hour which comes to all;

In narrow mounds on every side

Lay those who knew it in its pride,—

It was a solitary place,

Meet haunt for one like me, unown’d by kin or race!

V.

But I was not alone the while;

For, as I mus’d, a murmuring sound

Came from within the mould’ring pile

O 150 O1v 150

And echoed o’er the hollow ground!

It might have been the wind that brake

Thro’ the long vaults, and hoarsely spake,

Or else, perchance, mine ear had heard

The hooting of the lonely bird, —

I knew not—but with quicken’d breath

I pluck’d my dagger from its sheath,

And hastening thro’ a yawning cleft

Which time and slow neglect had left,

Trod the dim aisles,—resolv’d to find

If aught had ta’en its lurking place

Within that solemn, sullen space,

Save wailing owl or raving wind!

VI.

Nor from the fitful, eddying blast

Which thro’ the narrow cloisters past,

Nor from the bird, whose nightly wail

Frights silence from those cloisters pale,

But from a heavy laden soul

Those murmurs, deep and dreary, stole!

Where once the holy altar stood,

And where its ruins still are strew’d,

Beside it, prone and prostrate, lay

What seem’d a Friar of orders grey;

Strange was that Friar’s orison,

Mingled of pray’r, and threat, and groan!

He never heard my footsteps glide

E’en till they halted by his side,

And little dreamed what eye his strange devotion spied!

VII.

Half-rising from the chequer’d stone

His floating drapery he unroll’d

And from beneath its secret fold

A warrior’s glittering weapon shone,—

151 O2r 151

Then flinging back his cowl’s deep shade,

He kiss’d its cross, he kiss’d its blade,

And breath’d a curse!—From hatred’s flame

Fed to the height by outrage dire,

Sure never curse more deadly came

Than blanch’d the quivering lip of that grey-stoled Friar!

VIII.

He call’d on those who all unseen

Peopled that dim mysterious scene,

On those whose soundless footsteps stray’d

Round many a once emblazon’d stone

(Defac’d with damps, with weeds o’ergrown)

Where slow their mortal spoils decay’d;

On them he call’d the bond to keep

Of that fell curse so dire and deep,

And when he paus’d as tho’ to hear

What strange response should greet his ear

From that unseen, unearthly brood,—

Rudolph before his eyes a living witness stood!

IX.

One instant did dismay prevail,— The Friar’s cheek turn’d icy pale, One instant a convulsive start Drove back the life-blood to his heart,— One instant only, for ’twas awe, Not fear that thro’ his spirits ran, And swift they rallied, when he saw He only gaz’d on mortal man: He snatch’d his falchion from his sheath, Well then! since thus it is, he cries, At least we’ll have a tilt with death! Thou shalt not lightly win the prize! Where do thy fellows lurking stand? I fall not to a single hand! 152 O2v 152 Not lightly might my efforts stay His rash assault’s impetuous sway, For fiercer courage ne’er did warm A soldier’s heart, or nerve his arm, Than now enkindled to the fray The holy Friar of orders grey!

X.

That live-long night, the Friar and I

Did thro’ those mould’ring cloisters roam

E’en till the moon’s half-veiled eye

Look’d on us thro’ the riven dome:

’Twas that same Friar who bless’d the sprite

Of Beaufort ere it wing’d its flight,

’Twas that same Friar whose garb retains

The drops which gush’d from Beaufort’s veins!

XI.

When morning came, I mix’d again

Amid the motley noisy train,

Who still with triumph’s deaf’ning peal

Made Hexham’s tow’rs and turrets reel;

But every tongue was hush’d and stay’d,

For now a warning trumpet bray’d

And silence and attention bade:

Then did a herald’s loud acclaim

Brand many a high and noble name,

Then did he tempt the sorid sprite

Of many a base and earth-sprung wight,

And many a wretch, in fancy, sold

His soul to grasp the proffer’d gold!

XII.

Thou, Lady, and the Royal Youth

Who some bright day shall rule our isle,

Were menac’d by the villain’s mouth

In terms of outrage foul and vile!—

153 O3r 153

A felon’s death the man shall die

Who yields thee succour in thy need;

But he whose treach’rous hand shall lead

Thy steps into captivity,

Or bring thee to disastrous end,

On him shall fortune’s show’rs descend!

XIII.

Next did the herald’s voice proscribe

The Percy and his gallant tribe

Of blooming brothers,—all who stood

Nigh Percy, or in love or blood;

Young Oxford, and the fierce cadet

Of the late fallen Somerset,

With more of lesser note, but most

Of whom their land might make its boast,

Were mark’d for ruin, at the price

Well fitted to inflame the thirst of avarice!

XIV.

A slight convulsion seem’d to shake

Queen Margaret’s frame as Rudolph spake;

Her pale lip quiver’d,—Now, she cries,

Now is existence dear indeed,

Since every breath we draw defies

The sentence which would bid us bleed!

Since every hour of life is worn

Triumphant in rebellion’s scorn!

Oh, rather, cried the princely youth,

Oh, rather hold thy being dear

In token fair of loyal truth,

Of British honour bright and clear,

Of stern, firm-rooted faith, invincible, sincere!

XV.

Responsive to the gracious word,

Sir Gerald, kneeling, kiss’d his sword,—

Hear, heaven! while my veins shall warm,

O2 154 O3v 154

Play thro’ my heart and nerve mine arm,

Danger may threat and treason lay

Her meshes in my master’s way,

But till this throbbing pulse is still,

And till this burning heart is chill,

On danger’s threat, and treachery’s wile,

Secure shall Royal Edward smile!

Ere the proud citadel shall fall,

Ruin’s resistless weight must crush th’ embattled wall!

XVI.

For me, cried Rudolph, ’tis my trade

To cope with numbers undismay’d;

He merits not the victor’s name

Who triumphs in an even game!

Till this tough trunk shall piece-meal spread

The earth beneath some rebel’s tread,

In vain shall malice bend her bow

Against the royal stripling’s brow!

Fain would I see some villain dare

Uplift his luckless hand to scathe one golden hair!

XVII.

Mute, hidden beneath his muffling cowl,

The workings of the Friar’s soul

No man beheld, but now some string

Was smitten e’en to answering.

Backward with sudden act he flung

The hood which o’er his features hung,

And cried, Behold me, Edward! thou

Need’st not from me the deep-breath’d vow!

Thy foes, thy friends, thy hopes are mine!

My sword, my strength, my being, thine!

These still are left!—Thine are they all,

With thee to stand, with thee to fall!—

155 O4r 155

Till the last Somerset is down

Yon vile usurper’s brow shall find a thorny crown!

XVIII.

Lord Edmund!—and the Queen with joy

Beheld the brave, impetuous boy;

For whoever look’d upon the faece

Of him, the glory of his race,

Hop’d as they gaz’d. His spirit high

Still seem’d to challenge victory,

And he did bear aloft his brow

As tho’ he thought his lightning eye

Could wither the rais’d arm ere it might strike the blow.

XIX.

Well, cried the Queen, ye are but few,

But iron-temper’d, stern, and true,

And full of manly hope,—I dare

Lean firmly on you! Few ye are,

But ye are sure;—and, mark me well,

Would yon crown’d traitor barter free

His crowd of veering vassalry,

The wavering slaves his ranks who swell,

And yield the base apostate crew

E’en for my gallant, trusted few,

My faithful warriors, brave and bold,—

I’d spurn his counters vile, and keep my fire- tried gold!

XX.

Alas! not tried, cried Somerset,

We are but wordy boasters yet,

Breathing secure the unheard threat!

Would that some wizard’s mystic pow’r

From mortal film mine orbs would free,

That I might trace the future hour,

156 O4v 156

And catch one glimpse of things to be!

Oh, Providence!—and yet, perchance,

Thy mercy to our eyes forbids the forward glance!

XXI.

Rough Rudolph laugh’d,—

What recks it when,

Or where, or how the chances fall!

Or why impatient strain the ken

To see what shall be seen by all!

Be patient,—ruin or success

Is nigh. Thou hast not long to guess!

Yet, if thou needs must look within

Some doting wizard’s book of sin,

Content thee,—I will point thy ken

To where (abhorred by common men)

Frowns the unhallowed dreamer’s den;

I’ll pilot thee where thou may’st read

Of many a yet unborn, unperpetrated deed!

XXII.

But Beaufort heard him not; his mind,

Active and restless, turn’d its heed

From dark conjecture, vague and blind,

To the bold plan and daring deed;

Why, even now, he said, the foe

Strikes o’er our unseen heads the blow!

We are surrounded! Bambro’s tow’rs

Are sore beleaguer’d by his pow’rs!

Fair Alnwick is no longer ours;

And lovely Prudhoe, once our own, Fair Alnwick is no longer ours, And lovely Prudhoe, Stanza XXII, l 9. Against these castles, as well as that of Dunstanburgh, were sent the Earl of Warwick, Marquis Montague, the Lords Falconbridge, Scroop, and divers others, and they were soon severally reduced, that of Bamborough holding out the longest, being stoutly defended by Sir Ralph Grey, and being, according to Grose, unrivalled, in point of natural strength, by any other situation in Northumberland.

Scowls on us with a rebel’s frown!—

What say ye, gallants! who will go

With me a Maying thro’ the foe?

Those who will go with me shall shake

Their morris bells at Bambro’ wake,

157 O5r 157

And cheer and gladden with their play

The anxious eyes of warlike Grey;

Aye, by the rood! we’ll forth anon,

And have our frolic yet, ere merry May be gone!

XXIII.

Young Beaufort, cried th’ approving Queen,

Bold is thy thought, not rash, I ween!

Who would sit cow’ring here, while round

The foe’s insulting trumpets sound!

And should his bloodhounds track us here,

Nestling in secrecy and fear,

Like timid sheep for slaughter penn’d

Then Esperance, good night! the war is at an end!

XXIV.

And yet we would not tempt our fate,

Let us be bold, not desperate;

Ere forth we wend, ’tis meet we know

Each point and station of the foe;

Experience tells us that surprize

May shock the brave and stun the wise;

Prepar’d, let the worst come, and try

The temper of our constancy!

’Tis Pallas speaks! young Beaufort cried,

The soldier’s counsellor and guide!

Come then we’ll scour the contry thro’,

And having track’d our route, strike tents for Bambro’!

XXV.

Prince Edward smil’d: Thy deeds and name,

Thy prowess and thy wrongs, may claim

Alike, in conference or in fight,

To speak or strike the foremost right!

Who shall dispute that right with thee,

Illustrious branch of noble tree?

158 O5v 158

No voice, save that of royalty!

Nay, my best soldier!—if we sate,

Where now a rebel sits in state,

Thou should’st have scope; but, as we are,

We must be proud, we must not spare

One jot of that which will be ours

When fortune sends us sunshine hours!

It is the fallen Prince who brooks,

Like goads, the glance of equal looks,

But, oh, how priz’d the homage free!

Oh, how ennobled is the knee

Which bends before adversity!

Now, Beaufort,—to thy master bend!

Once thron’d, behold in us thy brother and thy friend!

XXVI.

My Prince! cried Beaufort, and his knee

Swift press’d Edward’s feet the dust,

May my arm shrink, and my sword rust

When my heart fails to render thee

Meet subject fear and fealty!

When thou sitt’st highest, when thine eye

Sees nought above thee save the sky,

Mid that fair-weather crew who stay

Till fortune’s sunshine warms the day,

That crowding, climbing, cringing rout

Which then shall gird thy throne about,

Oh, may another heart as sound

As humbly to thy service bound,

Amid those smiling ranks be found,

As that which now, ’twixt grief and shame,

Bears shrinking and oppress’d a much lov’d master’s blame!

XXVII.

Well know we, Beaufort, what thou art,

How strong thine arm, how true thine heart!

159 O6r 159

Well know we what thine House has done

To prop a tottering, falling throne!

Oh, had ye stood on fortune’s side,

And on the prosperous party striven,

Those noble pledges, now in heaven,

This hour might shine in earthly pride!

I’ve lean’d on thee, and still shall lean,

My friend, thro’ many a chequer’d scene,

For something tells me we shall steer,

Still link’d be fate, a joint career,

Together conqu’rors at the last,

Or both to ruin swept by one resistless blast!

XXVIII.

The knights besought the Prince to rest

Contented in the woodland nest,

While they at dawn of day were bound

To spy the foe-encumber’d ground;

A few short hours to prudence yield,

Think on thy yet scarce healed wound,

And keep thy strength for glory’s field!

At best ’tis but a vassal’s part,

Ill suited to the regal heart,

In thickets and in glens to lie,

Creeping near earth, a silent spy,

With treach’rous, fox-like, wily eye!

The task is honourless, but need

Imperious bids us to the deed!

XXIX.

The Prince replied, I had blush’d to ask

Exemption from the irksome task,

Yet is my spirit idly bent,

And ye have won its glad consent!

Queen Margaret frown’d: What! hast thou slept

Till sloth’s vile rust has o’er thee crept!

160 O6v 160

Coward thou art not!—but the vice

The next akin to cowardice,

Wearing its craven mein and gait,

The vice which next the valiant hate,

Is Indolence!—A soldier thou,

And let such vapour dull thy brow!

Arouse thee, Edward!—I might brook

Upon thy lifeless form to look,

But to behold thine honours shorn,

To live to look on thee with scorn,

Would task even my strength—my blood

E’en at a thought so base boils like a lava flood!

XXX.

Young Somerset and Erin’s Knight

To earth their hasty glances bent,

Each standing mute like truant wight

But ruthless master roughly shent;

Not so the Prince,—thus calmly he

Repell’d the hateful obloquy,

Content thee, Lady! thou shalt live,

Perchance, o’er this cold form to grieve,

But not to weep that taint of shame

Has left its mildew on my name!

Meanwhile, with all observance meet,

Our Mother and our Queen we greet!

Oh, Mother, thou shall oft persuade

When we should startle at command,

And if thou still wilt be obey’d,

Beware, lest till it snap thou strain the filial band!

XXXI.

Friends! fast towards morning wears the night,

And when forth sets the golden sun,

Exulting, on his journey bright,

161 P1r 161

Be your appointed task begun!

So fare ye well! When eve again

With curtain grey obscures the plain,

About that hour, when failing day

Shall bid the busy crone prepare

To wake her taper’s twinkling ray,

And mutter o’er her vesper pray’r,

We will expect ye,—now, good night!

Go snatch till morning dawns your slumbers brief and light!

XXXII.

Then forth went either loyal knight,

Dismiss’d with many a kind Good night!

A thousand dew-drops gemm’d their bed,

And heaven’s wide cope stretch’d o’er their head,

Their curtain, the white thorn of May

Shedding its blossoms as the spray

Trembled beneath the zephyr’s sway;

And ne’er did golden censer fling

On velvet couch of slumb’ring king

Such perfume as that zephyr’s wing!

If there be truth in gossip’s tale,

The Fairy monarch loves the vale,

And oft, where now the knights are sleeping,

His tiny elves are featly tripping,

An emerald circlet on the sod

Marks where the little feet have trod,

Nought else, except that softer glows

The blush upon the summer rose,

And sweeter breathes the eglantine,

And brighter there the dew drops shine,—

A greener, lovelier vale blooms not from Tweed to Tyne!

P 162 P1v 162

XXXIII.

As Rudolph follow’d, Margaret stay’d

His hand which on the latch was laid,—

Stay, trusty Rudolph,—we would try

Once more thy truth and secrecy,—

Nay nearer!—To thy ear alone

We trust our bidding!—E’en our son

Knows not our purpose; and the while

She ey’d the Prince with scornful smile,

Tho’ to our eye stands full confest

The boyish secret of his breast,

Howe’er his puny art would fain

Conceal it from our just disdain!

Rudolph his dark and shaggy brow

Bent tow’rds the Queen, who whisper’d low;—

The words, methinks, must needs be strange

Which bade the outlaw’s colour change,

Who stood ’twixt terror and surprise,

With stiffen’d form, and rolling eyes!

How! dost thou mark me? Margaret said,

Or is thy faltering soul afraid?

Nay, if it be so, speak! We do not need thine aid?

XXXIV.

Rudolph breath’d quick: Lady, this arm

Ne’er falter’d yet at human harm,

Nor ever shrank this iron frame

From blow, which mortal might could aim!

Yet bears that woman’s breast of thine

A heart whose courage mocks at mine,

For powers there be, of man unborn,

Who mortal daring laugh to scorn,

And these thou bravest!—Lady, well,

When tolls the village curfew-bell,

Expect me!—Now, to other heed,—

163 P2r 163

For he who thinks before his deed

Ever goes halting on, with weak, unprosperous speed!

XXXV.

Another day ascends the sky,

The dew is fled, the sun is high,

The birds are singing merrily!

Yet all unheard the warbler’s strain,

And the bright day but smiles in vain

To him, who, turning from the sky,

Perversely bends his wayward eye

Upon the troubled sphere within,

That narrow world of care and sin!

How few who inward turn their view,

Behold reflected there yon welkin’s cloudless blue!

XXXVI.

Queen Margaret’s heart with lab’ring thought

Intense seem’d, e’en to bursting, fraught;

The astonish’d Prince, awhile set free,

Escap’d her jealous scrutiny,

And many a sigh upheav’d his breast,

His eyes full many a love-glance threw,

And almost e’en his tongue confest

The passion, fervent, deep, and true,

Which did his princely soul subdue;

Yet Margaret either mark’d him not,

Or every jealous fear forgot:

Sometimes with quick, impatient hand

She turn’d the slowly ebbing sand,

And sometimes watch’d the travelling sun

To see how far his course was run,

Save these, nor outward form, nor act,

That Lady’s deep-fix’d thought one moment might attract!

164 P2v 164

XXXVII.

The bleating flock that morning stray’d

Untended; their paternal guide

In dainty sabbath gear array’d,

At dawning bound him forth to ride;

Murm’ring at Dobbin’s drowsy gait,

Behind her spouse old Maudlin sate,

And on they jogg’d, the silent clown

And thrifty crone for Swinborne town.

Who that beheld the sober pair

Might their ill-sorted errand guess,

Or deem that they so far would fare,

All negligent of daily care,

To seek the motley weeds of sport and idleness?

XXXVIII.

Yet so, in sooth, it is! They ride

In quest of folly’s livery,

Vizors and bells, and aught beside

That sorts with rustic revelry;

Gloves, badge, and belt, and coat of green,

Bright cristofre, and arrows keen,

The sylvan garb of Robin Hood; The silvan garb of Robin Hood Stanza XXXVIII. l. 7. The following description of a forester by Chaucer may serve to convey an idea of the appearance of this important personage in the old English May-games:— And he was cladde in cote and hode of greene, A shefe of pecocke arwes bright and kene Under his belt he bore ful thriftily, Well coude he dresse his takel yewmanly. His arwes drouped not with fetheres low, And in his hand he bare a mighty bowe, Of wood-craft could he wel all the usage, A not-hed hadde with broune visage, Upon his arme he had a gai bracer, And upon his side, a word and a bokeler, And on the other side a gai daggere Harneised wel and sharpe as pointe of spere, A Cristofre on his breast of silver shene, An horn he bare, the baudric was of grene, A forester was he sothely as I guesse,

Maid Marian’s kirtle, scarfe and hood, Maid Marian’s kirtle, scarfe and hood. Stanza XXXVIII. l. 8. Her coif is purple, her surcoat blue, her cuffs white, the skirts of her robe yellow, the sleves carnation colour,167 P4r 167 lour, and her stomacher red with a yellow lace in cross bars. Friar Tuck was exhibited in the clerical tonsure, with a chaplet of white and red beads, his corded girdle and russet habit denoting him of the Franciscan Order; his stockings are red, and his red girdle ornamented with golden twist, and a golden tassel; at his girdle hangs a wallet, &c; The Fool has a blue peaked hood and bells, &c;; the hood is guarded, or edged with yellow at its scalloped bottom; his doublet is red, striped across, or rayed, with a deeper red, and edged with yellow ; his girdle yellow; his left-side hose yellow with a red shoe, and his right-side hose blue, soled with red leather. From Mr. Tollett’s account of the Morris Dancers in his window.—Brand’sPopular Antiquities Vol.I. page 206.,

And folly’s peaked cap set round

With jingling bells of tuneless sound,

And doublet strip’d and raied; and book,

And beads, and cowl of Friar Tuck;

Grim, horned masks of Mawmetry,

The glittering pole, the pride of May!

And ribbons floating fair of many a rainbow dye!

XXXIX.

Oh! world of care! Thy wild extremes!

Thy wakings dire from golden dreams!

Those motley robes are doomed to hide

The stateman’s brow—the warrior’s pride!

165 P3r 165

Lo! Wisdom, driv’n by sad mishap,

Conceals his brow in Folly’s cap!

Pride! regal pride, must stoop to wear

The hedge-born swain’s ignoble gear!

Those trappings which, till now in scorn

Of carking care were ever borne,

Those jingling, mirth-betokening toys,

Those symbols erst of village joys,

The gaudy many-colour’d vest

So wont to wrap a thoughtless breast,

Now, to the form of lofty sadness

Must lend the mien of homely gladness!

Bless’d, with the garb, might greatness borrow

The artless soul of mirth, unvex’d by strife or sorrow!

End of Canto the Sixth.

P2 166 P3v [166]

Notes to Canto the Sixth.

Fair Alnwick is no longer ours, And lovely Prudhoe, Stanza XXII, l 9. Against these castles, as well as that of Dunstanburgh, were sent the Earl of Warwick, Marquis Montague, the Lords Falconbridge, Scroop, and divers others, and they were soon severally reduced, that of Bamborough holding out the longest, being stoutly defended by Sir Ralph Grey, and being, according to Grose, unrivalled, in point of natural strength, by any other situation in Northumberland. The silvan garb of Robin Hood Stanza XXXVIII. l. 7. The following description of a forester by Chaucer may serve to convey an idea of the appearance of this important personage in the old English May-games:— And he was cladde in cote and hode of greene, A shefe of pecocke arwes bright and kene Under his belt he bore ful thriftily, Well coude he dresse his takel yewmanly. His arwes drouped not with fetheres low, And in his hand he bare a mighty bowe, Of wood-craft could he wel all the usage, A not-hed hadde with broune visage, Upon his arme he had a gai bracer, And upon his side, a word and a bokeler, And on the other side a gai daggere Harneised wel and sharpe as pointe of spere, A Cristofre on his breast of silver shene, An horn he bare, the baudric was of grene, A forester was he sothely as I guesse, Maid Marian’s kirtle, scarfe and hood. Stanza XXXVIII. l. 8. Her coif is purple, her surcoat blue, her cuffs white, the skirts of her robe yellow, the sleves carnation colour,167 P4r 167 lour, and her stomacher red with a yellow lace in cross bars. Friar Tuck was exhibited in the clerical tonsure, with a chaplet of white and red beads, his corded girdle and russet habit denoting him of the Franciscan Order; his stockings are red, and his red girdle ornamented with golden twist, and a golden tassel; at his girdle hangs a wallet, &c; The Fool has a blue peaked hood and bells, &c;; the hood is guarded, or edged with yellow at its scalloped bottom; his doublet is red, striped across, or rayed, with a deeper red, and edged with yellow ; his girdle yellow; his left-side hose yellow with a red shoe, and his right-side hose blue, soled with red leather. From Mr. Tollett’s account of the Morris Dancers in his window.—Brand’sPopular Antiquities Vol.I. page 206.,
168 P4v

Margaret of Anjou.

Canto the Seventh.

I.

The sun has reach’d the western heaven,

Nor dews arise, nor zephyrs fly,

A sullen, sultry, breathless even

On all that live hangs heavily!

Scarce did the sky lend breath to move

The lightest leaflet of the grove;

The little rill which lately stray’d

Sparkling, and murm’ring thro’ the glade,

Now languish’d lazily along;

The thrush withheld his evening song,

And mute despondence seem’d to reign

Along the parch’d and gasping plain!

II.

Of those who in the cottage stay’d

Each seem’d to own the fervid hour;

Mute sate the Queen, and mute the maid,

As tho’ each passive sense obey’d

The leaden sky’s oppressive pow’r.

III.

Now trust me, cried the Prince, the gale

Which visits not this pent up vale

Flutters with cool and fragrant breath

Upon the wide, unshaded heath!

169 P5r 169

Oh, let us forth! I pant to taste

The freshness of the upland waste!

Besides their hoary guide away

Old Oswald’s flocks untented stray;

Come, let us hasten to the wold

And call the wanderers to their fold!

The shepherd’s crook my hand shall grace,—

Come, let us forth! I fain would try

If yonder harmless, peaceful race

Will from my call rebellious fly,

Or to my summons yield their simple fealty!

IV.

My Liege! replied the maid, in vain

Thy voice would lure the timid train!

No, to their long-lov’d pastor true,

They startle at each accent new;

The factious still are prone to change,

But these with fond adherence cling,

Mistrusting voice, or accent strange,

To their long-follow’d pastoral king;

Thou lack’st the shepherd’s humble skill,

Thou hast not learn’d the cadence shrill

With which, at eventide, the swain

From thymy pasture calls his people home again!

V.

Oh, come! and teach me then the strain

With which, at eventide, the swain

Wins his mute people home again!

They know thee, Geraldine, and oft

When the flow’rs close, and the dews glisten,

Have left their fragrant food to listen,

Enchanted, to thy warbling soft,

Then, from each knoll, or leafy hollow,

Have gather’d far and near, the spell divine to follow!

170 P5v 170

VI.

Oh, let us go! my temples beat,

Press’d by the dense and smothering heat!

Come, Madam! let us lead you where,

Fann’d by a fresher, freer air,

Our spirits may revive,—these boughs

With twisted arms, which o’er us close

Keep off the zephyr, and refuse

All access to the gale, which at the barrier sues!

VII.

Go, restless boy! the Queen replies,

Go, if thou wilt! In me, the skies,

Blow as they list, shall ever find

Superior to each shifting wind,

The courage of a regal mind!

I shrink not when the bois’trous north

Pours all his gather’d whirlwinds forth,

Nor droop I, when the dog-star’s glare,

With sulph’rous heat, inflames the air!

Yet few there be, whose mortal mould

Melts not by heat nor shakes at cold:

Content ye,—Be it as ye will,—

Do ye your feebler thoughts fulfil,

Here will I rest,—the time draws nigh

When our good Knights shall homeward hie,

I will await them,—ye the while

Upon the upland fell the sultry hour beguile!

VIII.

For added word they waited not;

The Queen sate lonely in the cot,

And, as she eyed the closing door,

A dark smile gleam’d her features o’er;

Why, this is well! the Lady said,

Lo! e’en the skies vouchsafe their aid!—

The skies!—No, rather from below

171 P6r 171

Exhales his thick, sulphureous glow!

But what of that!—to learned fools

The drowsy drones of cells and schools,

Such questions leave!—In time of need

Whence help arises I little heed,

If from earth’s central caves they rise,

Or unintreated come, free tribute from the skies!

IX.

Hark! ’tis a falling step! At last

Comes Rudolph!

—and a shivering thrill

Past o’er her like a northern blast,

Shaking awhile her firmer will!

It passes quick!—’tis gone!— And now

A sterner meaning bends her brow,

As Rudolph enters;—nought they spake,

But swift exchanged a silent glance,

A look of dark significance,

Then from the cot their way they take

And up the narrow path, and thro’ the tangled brake.

X.

Still silent on their way they hold

Across the desert, trackless wold;

The sun was down, but yet ’twas light;

A lurid, pale, and ghastly glare

Display’d to each mute wand’rer’s sight

The wide heath desolate and bare;

The outlaw o’er the desert scene

Now, pausing, flung his glances keen,

Then stamping, with a felon blow

Rudely he struck his shaggy brow;

Fool! he exclaimed in sudden wrath,

Have I so often cross’d the moor,

Now, like a dull and blundering boor

Perplexed to wander from my path!

172 P6v 172

XI.

Just then the village curfew knell

Swept by with faint and lingering swell,

He listened,— Oh, in happy time,

To guide our footsteps o’er the fell

Yon steeple wakes its drowsy chime!

Two things its leaden tongue has told,—

East must we bend across the wold;

It warns us too that o’er the waste

We have but half our journey past,

For ne’er may night-hag build her cell

Within the sound of hallow’d bell,

And she we seek abideth where?

No wind’s officious breath can bear

Its echo on her loathed ear:—

Mark where yon pitchy current glides

Slow struggling with its weedy slides;

Trace we its dull and sluggish roll,

’Twill prove a trusty guide, and bring us to the goal!

XII.

All nature sleeping seem’d, or dead;

The air was motionless,—unheard

Or insects’ hum, or song of bird,—

And underneath or overhead

No living thing around them stirr’d!

E’en the strange bird, whose circling flight

Still heralds in approaching night,

His task forewent, —nor heavily

The drowsy dorr fled buzzing by:

Still on they trod, —the ghastly light

Which hither led them, past away,—

Thick rolling clouds obscur’d the night,

And to assist their baffled sight

Not one small star shot forth its ray.

173 Q1r 173

XII.

Aye! growl’d the robber, now ’tis plain

The beldame flouts us! They who deal

With hell’s dark progeny are fain

Their goblin mockery to feel!

Blood have I shed! and dyed my blade

In many a midnight ambuscade!

Man’s pow’r I know I may abide,

But this dark race, unknown, untried,

I am not brave for them! —e’en now

Mine arm shrinks nerveless!—at my side

Fast knocks my heart! —a feeble foe

Might quell me with an infant’s blow!

Mine arm has lost its strength, my soul has lost its pride!

XIV.

Thick darkness cover’d them:—the hand,

By many a bloody outrage stain’d,

Faltering and weak, was lifted now,

With purpose strange, to Rudolph’s brow:—

He rais’d it, by despair impell’d,

To trace upon his rugged front

That sign, which ne’er at holy font

On that unchristen’d brow was seal’d!

Yet ere his unaccustom’d tongue

Cried, Pardon!—ere his rugged brow

Bore the blest token, — loud and long,

Above, around them, and below,

Burst a wild chorus!—Earth seem’d rent

Till its foundations rock’d with fiendish merriment!

XV.

At once upon the darkness burst

A blaze so dazzling that each eye,

Abash’d and baffled, clos’d at first,

Q 174 Q1v 174

Abiding not its brilliancy!

Their senses reel’d —for every sound

Which the ear loves not, fill’d the air;

Each din that reason might confound

Echoed in ceaseless tumult there!

Swift whirling wheels,—the shriek intense

Of one who dies by violence!—

Yells, hoarse and deep, from blood-hound’s throat;

The night-crow’s evil boding note;

Such wild and chattering sounds as throng

Upon the mood-struck ideot’s tongue;

The roar of bursting flames, the dash

Of waters wildly swelling round,

Which, unrestrain’d by dyke or mound,

Leap down at once with hideous crash,—

And sounds without a name,—so drear,

So full of wonder and of fear,

As seldom come to those who walk this middle sphere!

XVI.

This din unearthly so prevail’d

That e’en the Queen’s high spirit fail’d;

With fainting heart, and freezing blood,

And trembling lips, the Lady stood!

As yet nor she nor Rudolph rais’d

Their eye-lids lest some hideous sight

Might quell their tottering senses quite,

But that dire chorus sore amaz’d:

At once it ceas’d, for, over all

They heard a voice in thunder call

Silence! Once, twice and thrice it cried,

Then all those deafening sounds sank on the ear and died!

175 Q2r 175

XVII.

If my word has force to bind

The riders of the midnight wind,

If from ocean’s weltering wave,

If from the firm earth’s midmost cave,

If from that region, cold and dim,

The wintry land of Fiacim, The wintry land of Fiacim. St. XVII. l. 6. We can mention one kingdom more admirable than the rest, viz. the kingdom of Fiacim, at the Northern Pole, where all the counsellors are magicians, and the names which they use in invocations are mathematically disposed in a wonderful harmony and efficacy to the performance of magical operations. — Reginald Scot’s Discourse of the nature of Devils and Spirits, book ii. p. 60.

Where all is still, and frozen sleep

Chains e’en the billows of the deep;

Whether amid the halo pale

Around the wat’ry moon ye sail,

Or ye be they who love to dwell

In some dank cemetery’s cell,

And drink the yellow dews that fall

In slow drops from the stained wall,—

If each has felt that word of might

Which quells the disobedient sprite,

And grasps him in his swiftest flight:

If Balkin, and if Luridane, If Balkin and if Luridane. St. XVII. l. 18. Luridane is a familiar domestic spirit of the north, who is now become servant to Balkin, Lord and King of the Northern Mountains; he calls himself the Astral Genius of Pomona, an island among the Orcades, but he is not particularly resident there, for in the days of Soloman and David he was in Jerusalem or Salem, being then under the name of Belilah: after that he came over with Julius Cæsar, and remained some hundred years in Cambria, instructing their prophetical poets in British rhymes, being then surnamed Urthin-Wad Elgin: from thence he betook himself into this island, 1500anno 1500, and continued there for fifty years, after which he resigned his dominion to Balkin, and hath continued ever since an attendant upon this prince. Balkin is able to inform the exorcist of all questions concerning thunder and lightning, the motions of the heavens, the comets and apparitions in the air, pestilence and famine, noxious and malevolent blasts, as also of the inhabitants of the north pole, and the wonders undiscovered throughout the world.Reginald Scot’sDiscovery of Witchcraft, chap. ix. book 15.

Strong spirits, tremble in my chain,

And tread my circle,—now let all,

Mute and unseen attend my call,

And all within, around, and over

The magic ringlet, closely hover!—

Lady! now unclose thine eyes!

Behold! behold our mysteries!

XVIII.

One strong, internal effort made,

The Queen recall’d each scatter’d sense,

She rouz’d her pow’rs with force intense,

Shook off fear’s aguish impotence,

And that appalling scene survey’d!

She knew, she felt, that round her stood,

Invisible, hell’s evil brood,

Yet she had call’d herself again,

176 176 Q2v

And once set free from terror’s chain,

Stood firm and shook not!—yet, behold,

How drooping, death-like, by her side,

Wan, terror-smitten, pow’rless, cold,

With every rigid nerve untied,

Stands feeble and aghast, the once the ferocious guide!

XIX.

Still side by side they stood, beyond

That awful circle’s charmed round;

The light which on their eyes at first

Too fiercely on the darkness burst,

Had ceas’d to dazzle, yet it threw

Around a wild and various hue,—

Now like the blue and vagrant ray

Which the night-wand’rer leads astray,

Now like the red glare, which, they say,

Glows quenchless in that murky den

Where howl the souls of wicked men:

Nine tapers, each in hideous frame,

Emit the wild and various flame;

For those nine wond’rous tapers stand

Each in a dead man’s shrouded hand! Each in a dead man’s shrouded hand. St. XIX. l. 15. The use of the hand of glory was to stupify those to whom it was presented and to render them motionless. The hand of a person hanged, or exposed on the highway,S2 202 S3v 202 way, must be wrapt up in a piece of shroud, or windingsheet, in which it must be squeezed to get out any small quantity of blood that may have remained in it, then put it into an earthen vessel with zimat, saltpetre, salt, and long-pepper, leaving it fifteen days in that vessel; then expose it to the noon-tide sun in the dog-days till it is thoroughly dry, or, if the sun is not sufficient, put it into an oven heated with fern and vervain, then compose a candle with the fat of a hanged man, virgin wax, and sisame of Lapland: the hand of glory is used as a candlestick to hold this candle when lighted, &c;—Notes to Brand’s Popular Antiquities, vol. ii. p. 583.

Three on the left, three on the right,

And in the circle’s center three,

Do lend their grim, portentous light

To that unhallow’d mystery,

And nigh the central three she stood

Whose spell enkindled them; her hood

O’erhung her face,—a funeral pall

Wrapt in its dismal folds her form so gauunt and tall!

XX.

Yet not on her, in fix’d surprize,

Dwelt Margaret’s lately open’d eyes,

177 Q3r 177

For, as she trac’d the circle’s rim,

Her sight astonish’d fell on him,

On him, or on his form who bore,

Who deep within her bosom’s core

In deadliest hate she did abhor!

Strange ’twas, that leftward of the Queen,

Unarm’d, two ghastly lights between,

Stood Richard! Nature’s foulest work,

That dark, mis-shapen son of York!

His wide strech’d orbs, and upright frame

Alone the waking man proclaim,

For that fell woman’s wond’rous skill

Had fix’d him motionless and still,

As tho’ the fiery soul had flown

And left its earthy mold deserted and alone

XXI.

Now Margaret felt a mingling breath

Hot as the choaking sulphur-blast,

Chill as the night-gust on the heath,

And shudder’d as it pass’d,—

They come, they come! the sorceress cries,

And from her head the hood she tears,

While all the fury of her eyes,

All that might dazzle, scare, surprize,

On her unveiled face appears!

XXII.

Children of the dust, arouze!

Long has hell heard your mutter’d vows!

Why droop ye—are ye not the care

Of the dark tribes that rule the air?

Where can our mighty master find,

Mid the dull ranks of human kind,

One, who, like Margaret, from her birth,

Unfaltering does his work on earth?

Margaret! Thou hast his favour won

Q2 178 Q3v 178

By all the deeds that thou hast done!

Smile, son of York!—he loves thee too

For many a deed thou art to do!

XXIII.

Children of the dust! I know,

Tho’ each be other’s mortal foe,

That one same purpose, aim, and end,

Hitherward your footsteps bend!

I know that each indignant soul

Time’s slow disclosures doth abhor,

Your eyes the path would fain explore

Which yet remains to travel o’er

Between ye and the goal!

Ye come to break mild nature’s laws,

And mock the great Eternal Cause!

For this ye come! Behold! Behold!

Behold the scroll of fate unroll’d!

Lo! where my skilful sprites the future hours unfold!

XXIV.

Now bright, and brighter still, I ween,

The magic tapers blaze!

And with wondering heart the dauntless Queen

Beholds how quickly shifts the scene,

Beneath her deep-fix’d gaze!

XXV.

On either side, in double row,

Do massy pillars rise!

Majestic o’er the Lady’s brow

The high roof arches! and below

A chequer’d pavement lies!

XXVI.

And hark! for trumpet brays without,

And the organ peals within!

And louder yet from a festive rout

179 Q4r 179

Echoes the wild triumphant shout,

A joy-proclaiming din!

XXVII.

Now open spreads the pond’rous door,

And lo! a princely band,

With golden censers toss’d before,

Come sweeping o’er the chequer’d floor,

Link’d kindly hand in hand!

XXVIII.

Now Margaret well her sight may strain,

And doubtful if sooth it be,

Or some strange error of the brain

That first, amid the pompous train,

Her haughty self she see!

XXIX.

Oh! scarce might the indignant tide

Within her breast be stay’d,

When by that shadowy Lady’s side,

Like gallant bridegrooms leading bride,

Earl Warwick she survey’d!

XXX.

Next Edward comes, of Lancaster,

The only hope and pride,

But his cheek was wan, and his look was drear,

And a tear-drop dimm’d his eye so clear,

And heavily he sigh’d!

XXXI.

Now wherefore, wherefore sigheth he?

Why wet with tears the hour?

Since, smiling by his side, ye see

Of all that noble company

The bright and peerless flow’r!

XXXII.

For by the lily hand he held

Proud Warwick’s beauteous heir!

180 Q4v 180

While joy, by fair decorum quell’d,

Within the Lady’s bosom swell’d,

His foster’d black despair!

XXXIII.

Anon that fair and princely pair

Were link’d in golden chain!—

Then— all the pageant shrank in air,

Nor aught of all that glitter’d there

E’en now, doth now remain!

XXXIV.

The high-arch’d dome, the chequer’d floor,

The organ’s peal, the choral song,

The gorgeous, grave, and stately throng,

With golden censers toss’d before,

The baffled eye surveys no more!

Lost in amaze, by Margaret’s side

Still Rudolph stood, the ruffian guide,

And still two ghastly lights between,

Richard of York, with unmov’d mien!

And in the midst the wondrous one

Who rais’d that pile of seeming stone,

And call’d that glitt’ring troop which even now are gone!

XXXV.

How may it be! Queen Margaret cried,

How may it be! Exist there pow’rs

Whose skill may soften hate like ours?

MayWarwick’s child be Edward’s bride?

Shall son of mine call Warwick sire?

Forbid it pride! forbid it ire!

But yet the smile upon her brow

Did those harsh murmurs disavow,

For quickly rush upon her view

Hope’s dazzling visions, bright and new,

She cries, Oh, wondrous woman, more!

181 Q5r 181

Let me Fate’s awful page explore!

Leaf after leaf would I unfold,

E’en to the final word!—till all the tale be told!

XXXVI.

Scarce had she spoken, when behold

The gloomy night seem’d fled away!

Two mighty armies, fierce and bold,

Await the sign in firm array,

And armour glanc’d, and coursers neigh’d;

And the sun on many a bickering blade

And many a gaudy banner play’d!

On this side rear’d Lancastria’s flow’r

Its bright and blushing head;

And high above th’ opposing pow’r

Her paler leaf the rival spread!

And, hark! the signal!—Now begin,

Of those who lose and those who win,

The strife, the shout, the mortal din!

Behold!— they meet!—they clash!—they close!—

They mix!—Sworn friends and deadly foes,

In one dire mass, one struggling host,

All order and distinction lost,

Roll headlong, guideless, blind, like waves together toss’d!

XXXVII.

But mark the Queen!—the hue of death

Blanches her cheek!—her lab’ring breath,

Her hard-clasp’d hands, her blood-shot eye,

Speak nature’s utmost agony!

The cold drops on her writhed brow

Her heart’s convulsive struggles shew,

And—hark! that scream!—scarce can the ear

Its shrill and piercing echo bear!

182 Q5v 182

Hold, monsters! fiends in human mould!

Oh, stay your bloody hands! remorseless monsters, hold!

XXXVIII.

Come, cheer thee! cheer thee, mighty Dame!

These are but toys of airy frame;

Faint shadowings forth of things to be;

Mere mockings of futurity!

But see!— like morning mists they fly,—

See how they melt in vacancy!—

Oh, bid them quit thy mind as they elude thine eye!

XXXIX.

Now, ere our royal guests go hence,

One pageant more our art must shew,—

Come let us stir each mortal sense

Till rage or transport, joy or woe,

In either bosom overflow!

Night wanes apace!—prepare, prepare!

’Tis time—’tis time our task were done!

My sprites and I must journey far

Ere the grey dawning shall declare

The coming of the sun!

Prepare!

XL.

With crowned head, and ermin’d robe,

Grasping the sceptre and the globe,

While a vile rabble’s uncheck’d tide

Roll’d after swells his regal pride,

Stalks slowly round the charmed ring,

What seems in act and state a king!

Amid the gems which deck his brow

Triumphant nods the Rose of Snow,

While, crush’d beneath the despot’s tread,

The Red Rose droops her blushing head!

183 Q6r 183

What lightnings flash from Margaret’s eyes,

While, Long live Richard! rends the skies!

For he it is, in shapeless frame,

Dark scowl, and halting step the same,

Before him waves his well known crest,

That symbol of his soul, the grizzly arctic beast!

XLI.

Now Margaret wondering turn’d her glance

With keen inquiry fraught, on him

who whilom on the circle’s rim

Survey’d the scene in speechless trance;

There silent yet he stood,—but now

Triumphant smiles expand his brow,—

Smiles which to phrenzy wake the fire

In Margaret’s tortur’d breast of vengeance and of ire!

XLII.

And shall fate threaten ere it wound?

What unseen fetters web me round

That I must all the future know,

Yet tamely wait the coming blow

That smites me to the ground!

These may be toys, by sorc’ry wove,

The temper of my soul to prove!

Mere painted vapour! which the fiend

Can mould and colour to his will,

Till mortal sense, all gross and blind,

Surrenders to the false one’s skill;

If it be so,—and who may spell

The cheats and forgeries of hell?

Shall we not try if human might

For once may baffle fiendish spite?

And tho’ we fail,—’twill prove at least

How resolute a heart may fill a woman’s breast!

184 Q6v 184

XLIII.

In haste from forth her zone she drew

A blade whose temper well she knew,

Her secret friend, her foeman’s bane,

Ne’er had she sought its help in vain,

Once felt its point no skill might save

Its hapless victim from the grave!

One look of keen intelligence

Her will convey’d to Rudolph’s sense,

One quick and crafty motion gave

To Rudolph’s grasp the poison’d glaive,

While in his ear she whisper’d low,

Strike home, and falter not! the blow

Shall rid me of a deadly foe!

XLIV.

The outlaw smil’d a grim reply,

And, follow’d by the Lady’s eye,

Crept his unconscious victim nigh,—

He aims!—he strikes!—’tis done!—but, no—

For ere descends the mortal blow,

High overhead a deafening peal

Of thunder rolls!—th’ uplifted steel,

Touch’d by a rapid fiery gleam,

Falls trickling from the hilt a glittering liquid stream!

XLV.

Sudden the whirlwind bursts its chain,

In whelming floods descends the rain,

The red bolt fires the welkin round,

Or runs along the slippery ground!

Distracted and perplex’d, the Queen,

Each sense confounded, deafen’d, blind,

Driven by the wildly warring wind,

Had lost the balance of her mind

In that bewildering scene!

185 R1r 185

Red flash’d the fire, cold pour’d the flood,

She knew not if she moved or stood,—

When, lo! a laugh of bitter scorn

Swept o’er her on the night-blast borne,

A laugh of insult! At the sound

The Queen arouz’d and gaz’d around,

And, if she dream’d not, —she espied,

(Scarce might she in the sight confide,)

Hard by, the good old shepherd’s nest,

And now the well known latch beneath her hand she press’d.

XLVI.

But, ah! a softer calm invites,

And gladly does the Muse return

From sorcery’s wild and fearful rites,

Where hell-blasts breathe, and corpse-lights burn,

To trace the fairer paths where rove

Bright Hope, and Innocence, and Love!

No more the Prince and Geraldine

Reproach the dull and lifeless air

As up the mountain-path they fare,

Love waves his wings, and gales divine

Seem hovering round the conscious pair:

XLVII.

Why, cried the Prince,

did adverse fate

Oppress my lot with toys of state!

Oh, I could curse the star that shone

Upon the inauspicious morn,

When to the cares of England’s throne

A hapless heir was born!

While every rude and rustic youth

May taste the joys of love and truth,

My life, a struggle and a dream,

A sable cloud, or ghastly gleam,

R 186 R1v 186

Droops like a taper in the blast!

Oh! would the spark were out! Oh! may it quickly waste!

XLVIII.

Thus pour’d the Prince his mournful strain;

’Tis still love’s license to complain,

And cunning lovers wot full well

The pow’r of Pity’s gentle spell!

Still with unclosing lips the maid

Her craggy path in silence held,

Whatever thought her bosom sway’d,

Yet rested mute, and unreveal’d;

She even check’d the rising sigh

Which waken’d at his word, and struggled to reply!

XLIX.

Oh, lady! canst thou not afford

One pitying sigh, one soothing word?

Is cold and comfortless disdain

Sole answer to a Prince’s pain?

Oh, hear me, lady! ’twas thy hand

Renew’d my quickly ebbing sand,

My glass was run, my task was o’er,

My pulse had stopp’d to throb no more,

But thou didst envy me the rest

Which crept so kindly o’er my breast,

And thou didst drag me back to prove

Tortures unknown till now, the pangs of hopeless love!

L.

Not I, but heaven detain’d thee here!

Not mine, but heaven’s all-pow’rful hand

Renew’d, ere spent, the precious sand,

And sav’d a life to thousands dear,

The hope, the bulwark of the land!

187 R2r 187

The star which cheer’d thy natal morn

Beheld a man to glory born!

And shall some feeble, transient care

Usurp the soul of glory’s heir?

Alas! if York could view the now

With folded arms and drooping brow,

Whith triumph kindling in his breast

He’d snatch thy bright and sanguine crest,

And fling thee in exchange his pallid rose of snow!

LI.

What, dost thou hold me childish, tame,

That thou wouldst bribe me with a name?

Glory! What is’t? All kinder joys

Forsake the breast by glory fill’d,

Its fierce and dazzling blaze destroys

All that is lovely, simple, mild!

Believe me, not the trumpet’s sound,

The foe’s defiance, nor the cry

Of those who throng their leader round,

And cheer him on to victory,

Would so arouze, my Geraldine,

As one indulgent word, one tender smile of thine!

LII.

Oh, my liege lord! no female art

Shall vex or blind thy princely heart!

Mine, freed from each disguising fold,

Let heaven’s just eye, and thine behold!

Alas! ’twere arrogance to hide

That Edward has not vainly sigh’d!

But why exult? My fervent pray’r,

My secret blessing, these alone

May follow thee where’er thou fare,

And trace thee, even to a throne,

188 R2v 188

For well thou know’st what barrier wide

Doth, fix’d by fate’s decree, our separate paths divide!

LIII.

Sudden as when from forth the cloud

That veils his splendour bursts the day,

Flings back the thin eclipsing shroud

And on the glad world pours his ray,

On Edward’s lately clouded cheek

Did hope in all her radiance break!

He bent his royal knee, Oh, Thou!

He cried, who, thron’d in clouds above,

Hast yet look’d down and bless’d my love,

Vouchsafe to ratify my vow!

If, save this maid, whom, next to thee,

My soul does worship, other bride

Shall ever share my destiny,

Then from my hopes thy favour hide!

Be gracious to my foe and fight thou on his side!

LIV.

What hast thou done! the lady cries,

What hast thou done! Nor will the skies

Seal the rash word, nor yet may’st thou

Fulfil that ruin-breathing vow!

That morn shall never rise, nor ray

On England’s isle shall ever shine

to welcome in the nuptial day

Which binds thy splendid lot with mine!

Edward, mistake me not! Thy fame,

Thy virtue, thine illustrious name,

These are my hope, my pride, my care,

And trust me, never will I share,

Even by thy side, the country’s blame!

Oh, bid thy love resemble mine,

Oh, let it light thee to renown,

189 R3r 189

Oh, let it in thine actions shine,

Edge thy resistless sword and sparkle on thy crown!

LV.

Nay, Edward, hear! This heart has felt

What none might bid it feel but thou,

And in that shrine where thou hast dwelt

No baser flame shall ever glow!

No! I will seek some hallow’d fane

And join the virgins’ votive train,

And consecrate to love divine

That heart which now is fill’d with thine!

LVI.

Upon the fair enthusiast’s tongue

A mild and holy force did dwell,

Which o’er each word she utter’d flung

A strange resistless spell;

And Edward gaz’d on her as tho’,

Already past the fatal vow,

The sacred fillet bound her brow;

As if the world and he had lost,

For ever from their grasp, their loveliest, brightest boast?

LVII.

Cold-hearted, cruel Geraldine!

Are these my hopes? was it for this

Thou bad’st thy smile a moment shine,

A moment on despair’s abyss,

But to withdraw the treacherous light

And leave me plung’d in tenfold night!

What were a crown unshar’d by thee?

What! but a conspicuous misery!—

No, let York take the worthless thing!

I will not be a wretched king!

I will not, Geraldine!—and thou,

R2 190 R3v 190

Who calmly canst pronounce my doom,

Shalt sooner see this throbbing brow

Laid tranquil in an early tomb,

Than circled with that wreath of care,

That glittering mockery, which thou dost scorn to share!

LVIII.

With thee, whate’er the utmost force

Of human arm and human will

May work to gild our mutual course,

My quenchless ardour shall fulfil!

Deeds which the desperate might behold

With eyes averse and bosom cold

Shall seem but pastime to mine arm,

Impell’d by thy resistless charm!—

Without thee,—short will be my story!

Then farewel, life, and farewel, glory!

York’s enmity, and Warwick’s ire,

At once, with Edward shall expire,

Yet, guiltless of my early fate,

Shall Warwick’s rancour be, and York’s rebellious hate!

LIX.

Scarce had he spoken, when the storm,

Long hurtling in the murky cloud,

Burst over each unshelter’d form

With menace fierce and loud!

From every point the shrill winds blew,

In rattling show’rs the hail was driven,

Each instant on the dazzled view

Glanc’d a light flame of pallid blue,

The arrowy fire of heaven!

How may I shield thee, Geraldine!

O’erwhelm’d with anguish, Edward cries;

How may I guard that form divine

191 R4r 191

From the fell fury of the skies!

Death borne on every blast around thy forehead flies!

LX.

But Geraldine bethought her well

How from the down a pathway led

To where a hermit’s lonely cell,

By holy meekness tenanted,

Would grant them shelter;—to her breast

Our Lady’s blessed form she press’d,

And, whisp’ring low a pray’r for aid,

New courage arm’d the noble maid;

Now follow me, my Prince! she cried,

Be heavenly confidence our guide!

Trust me, disarm’d of terror now

The fiery bolt assails my brow,

I do not fear,—then fear not thou!

Her lover’s manly arm sustain’d

Down the steep path her slender frame,

And soon the wish’d-for bourn they gain’d,

Safe from the pattering hail, and heaven’s destructive flame!

LXI.

The tenant of this lone abode

Heard not, or reck’d not, when the feet

Of strangers stole on his retreat,

And nearer now and nearer trod;

He look’d not up, his downcast eyes

Seem’d anchor’d in the rocky floor,

Deep, heavy, life-consuming sighs

Each other chas’d;—an evil store

Of sorrow and unrest his troubled bosom bore!

LXII.

With hard, tenacious hand he press’d

against that sorely burthen’d breast

192 R4v 192

The sign by every Christian borne,

The priceless wealth of those who mourn!

Grief’s winter, not the chills of time,

Frosted the hermit’s drooping brow,

And you might trace the auburn glow

E’en yet beneath the silvery rime;

It seem’d as in life’s pilgrimage

He scarce had journey’d half the way,

Scarce past the noon-tide of his day,

But sorrow’s heavy hand had done the task of age!

LXIII.

Good Father! cried the Prince,

behold,

All trembling, weary, wet, and cold,

One whose slight texture droops beneath

The fury of the whirlwind’s breath!

One little fitted to sustain

The fiery blast or whelming rain!

No wilful trespassers are we,

From yon unfriendly wold we flee;

Oh, then, I pray thee, hasten thou

The fuel heap, and bid her know,

Ere yet too late, its kindly glow!

That cheek, how frozen and how pale!

Good Father, haste, I pray, while yet it may avail!

LXIV.

The hermit started, sigh’d, and took

In haste a faggot from the nook,

And Edward, kneeling, fann’d the blaze

That silent, sorrowing man did raise,

Then lifting his exulting eyes,

Come near, my Geraldine! he cries,

Oh! come, sweet maid! how bright! how warm!

193 R5r 193

Its friendly force shall quickly charm

The affrighted life-blood to its place,

Comfort thy shivering frame, and tint thy lovely face!

LXV.

Yet all the while, the mournful host

To look on those he serv’d forbore,

His thoughts in bitter musings lost,

His glance still anchor’d on the floor,

And Edward only gaz’d on her,

The object of his hope and fear;

When that sad stranger shriek’d aloud—

Mother of God! has earth no place,

No wilderness, where I may shroud

The burthen of my dire disgrace!

Who sent thee hither? Who reveal’d

Thy father’s lurking place, the den

Where from the scoffs and taunts of men,

And thy upbraidings keen, I hop’d to lie conceal’d?

LXVI.

My king! my Father! Bless’d be heaven,

By whose resistless mandate driven,

Unsought I find thee! Do I see

My Sire alive, unscath’d and free?

Why do thine eyes, averted, shun

The only relic of our race?

Why dost thou turn aside thy face,

Avoid his filial arms, and shrink from his embrace?

LXVII.

How, my wrong’d Edward, may I brook

On thy upbraiding smiles to look?

I, whose infirm and coward mind,

Gave thy fair fortunes to the wind!

194 R5v 194

Wert thou less good, and kind, and fair,

Less poignant were my heart’s despair!

Has not thy mother taught thy tongue

What scornful greeting fits the author of thy wrong?

LXVIII.

Rouze thee, my Sire! We will not waste

Our breath in wailing o’er the past!

No! let us, sword in hand, explore

What secret time has yet in store!

Now when the storm shall cease to beat,

Forth from this dim, obscure retreat

We’ll lead thee, father, where the Queen

And some who love the blushing rose

In secrecy and hope repose,

With spirits yet unquench’d, bold, ardent, true, and keen.

LXIX.

One hope yet lives, the single guest

That cheers thy father’s dreary breast,

And by that hope, the hope of heaven,

I swear I will not hence be riven!

Nay urge me not! My feebleness

Is strong and resolute in this!

The Queen! the Queen!—her very name

With ague shakes my inmost frame!

Ah! sooner would I drag again

The Rebel’s ignominious chain

Than bear her hatred and disdain!

Forget a sire, my hapless boy,

Whose aspect serves but to destroy!

Nor thought, nor deed of mine avails,

Whate’er I touch withers and fails!

I will not hang a bane and curse,

My Edward, on thy gallant course!

195 R6r 195

I have not heart to fight, nor head

To marshal others to the fray,—

Thou little think’st what icy dread

Comes o’er me on the battle-day!

Oh! how I hate the field with human slaughter red!

LXX.

I yield, my father! May the hour

Soon visit this distracted land,

Which calls thee back to peaceful pow’r,

And fixes in thy gentle hand

The outrag’d sceptre! Even now

Thou hast not lost the pow’r to bless;

Oh, even yet, thou canst bestow

What millions covet,—happiness!

Give me but that, and doubt not thou

But we will soon uncrown the brow

Of yon usurper! Geraldine!—

The Kings commands, — the Father’s eye

Drops holy balm upon the tie

Which must our destinies entwine!

Ah, yet art thou averse! Speak! wilt thou not be mine?

LXXI.

What, dost thou beg a blessing, boy,

From him who has but liv’d to waste

The springing harvest of thy joy,

And scatter all thy hopes to waste?

And may I bless thee! Shall a word

These lips can utter make thee bless’d!

Oh! thou hast struck the sweetest chord

That ever trembled in my breast!

LXXII.

Fearest thou, lady? Lift thy brow

And look on me! I am not stern;—

196 R6v 196

E’en yet my bosom has to learn

The fierce excess of anger’s glow;

And thou, whom sure the forest brute

Would harmless pass, appeas’d and mute,

Why should I frown on thee? Come nigh!

Oh! how I yearn for once to know

The bliss of blessing! How mine eye

Aches for one glimpse of joy thro’ this long night of woe!

LXXIII.

They knelt in silence,—Henry laid

His innocent and holy hand

On each fair forehead, and he bade

The angels bless the sacred band,

While solemn, chaste, yet fervent vows

From either heart tow’rds heaven arose;

And now did Edward claim the bliss

Of sanction’d love’s first yielded kiss.

LXXIV.

The bride was paler than the flow’r

That sprang beneath the winter show’r,

And colder than the drop that fell

Upon the pallid blossom’s bell;

She smil’d, and sadder smile, I wot,

Did never gleam on nuptial knot!

Alas! the bride’s prophetic sight

Pierc’d far beyond the mystic rite!

E’en mid her vows her shudd’ring ear

Ill-boding whispers seem’d to hear

From blood-stain’d phantoms gliding near!

Far other are the thoughts which roll

With headlong tide thro’ Edward’s soul,

Of all his heart ador’d possest,

He snatch’d his treasure to his breast,

And now, he cried,

thou art mine own!

Heaven knows I never lov’d but one,

197 S1r 197

And she, my sole belov’d, is mine, and mine alone!

LXXV.

The parting moment came and past,

The hermit-king is left alone,

And o’er the dim and dusky waste,

With throbbing hearts, in trembling haste,

The youthful pair are gone;

And while across the moor they speed

We’ll turn aside to other heed.

LXXVI.

Well laden with their motley gear,

Nor ribbon, bell, nor mask forgot,

The good old pair, with weary cheer,

At night-fall gain’d their lowly cot;

But Maudlin now perplex’d surveys

A silent, dark, deserted scene,

No smiling welcome met her gaze,

No voice return’d her kind Good e’en!

With trembling hand she struck the spark

To chase away the shadows dark,

And now her beads she told, and now

Swift cross’d her bosom and her brow,

Low mutt’ring ever and anon—

Protect us from the evil one!

LXXVII.

But, hark! —who comes? for armed feet

In haste approach, and Maudlin’s dread

Subsides as now the clanging tread

Halts close beside her lone retreat—

She guesses well, ere yet her sight

Greets Somerset and Erin’s Knight;—

Alas! cold tidings did they bear!

Where is the Queen?—Prince Edward, where?

S 198 S1v 198

Cried Beaufort, wildly—

Do they sleep!—

Arouze them quickly!—God knows

What vigils it behoves us keep!

We must bestir us, or our foes

Will rock us, ere we wot, to long and last re pose!

LXXVIII.

The Virgin shield them! cried the crone,

Where’er they be! Small time is fled

Since home I far’d, my errand done;

But all was silent as the dead,

For living mortal found I none,—

The lady and the youth were gone!

Scarce had she said, when open flung

The door and in Prince Edward sprung,

With that fair conqueror whose might,

In unseen fetters, led her young and royal knight!

LXXIX.

And art thou safe, Plantagenet!

Be thou our fortress then! for know

Bambro’ has paid a subject’s debt,

Her tow’rs are trampled by the foe,

And Grey,—the true, the gallant Grey,—

Survives its fall!—(alas the day!)—

Survives to glut the rage of York

With slow revenge’s bloody work!

Nay, worse,—for on his noble name,

His loyal, bright, illustrious fame,

Cold malice drops the ink of shame!

They hold him fast! and, if yon skies

Forbid it not, disgrac’d he dies.

Gods! what his noble breast must feel

When the vile menial from his heel

Hacks off the golden spur, while scorn Hacks off the golden spur, &c; Stanza LXXIX. l. 16. For that Sir Ralph Grey had sworne to be true to King Henry he was condemned and had judgment given upon him by the Earle of Worcester, High-Constable of Englande, as followeth: Sir Ralph Grey, for thy treason the King has ordained that thou should’st have had thy spurres taken off by the hard heeles, by the hand of the master-cooke, who is here ready to doe as was promised thee at the time that he took off the spurres, and said to thee as is accustomed, That and thou be not true to thy soveraigne lord, hee shall smite off thy spurres with his knife, hard by the heeles, (and soe shewed him the master-cooke ready to do his office, with the apron and his knife.) Moreover, Sir Ralph Grey, the King has ordained here, thou maiest see, the kings of armes and heralds, and thine own proper coat of armes which they should tear off thy body, and soe should’st thou as well be disgraded of thy worship, nobles, and armes, as of thy order of knighthood. Alsoe there is another coat of thy armes reversed, the which thou should’st have worn on thy body going to thy death-wards, for that belongeth to thee after the law: notwithstanding the disgrading of knighthood and of thine armes and nobles, the King pardoneth that for thy noble grandfather, who suffered trouble for thy King’s most noble predecessors. Now, Sir Ralph Grey, this shall be thy penance—thou shalt 203 S4r 203 goe on thy feete unto the towne’s end, and there thou shalt be laid downe and drawne to a scaffolde made for thee, and thou shalt have thy head smitten off, thy body to be buried in the Frier’s, thy head where the King’s pleasure shall be. This judgment was pronounced at Doncaster against the said Ralph Grey for rebelling and keeping of the Castle of Bamborough against King Edward.Stow’sAnnals, p. 418. Hall says, he was disgraded of the high order of knighthode at Dancaster by cuttynge off his gylt spurres, renting his coat of armes, and breakyng his sword over his hed : and finally there his bodie was shorted by the length of his hed, and had no more harme.

Hold up his scutcheon stain’d and torn,

199 S2r 199

Or with contempt’s degrading word

Flings to the earth his broken sword!

LXXX.

Edward! like deer at bay we stand,

Surrounded by the hunter band!

With conquest flush’d, keen Warwick’s men

Scour every valley, hill, and glen

For many a mile! Thy banners fair,

Which flaunted late on many a tow’r,

No longer court the fickle air!

Oh, ’tis a wild and stormy hour!—

But while thou art, whate’er may chance,

Still, with a firm-fix’d, upward glance,

We’ll glory in our cause, and follow Esperance!

LXXXI.

Where is the Queen? We need must hold

Brief counsel now—our destiny

Calls loudly for a prompt decree!

At once precipitate and bold,

Yet artful too, our course must be!

Where is the Queen?—methinks ’tis strange

At such an hour as this to range!

A sky of more uncertain mood

Did ne’er o’er wand’ring lady brood!

Heaven speed her hither!

—As he pray’d,

The Queen, by other pow’rs convey’d,

With Rudolph, op’d the cottage door,

And sudden stood their eyes before!

LXXXII.

There lack’d the time to wonder now

At aught that wonder might arouze,

The little group to council go

With beating hearts and knitted brows,

Then, soon resolv’d and soon prepar’d,

From Oswald’s sheltering roof with cautious footstep far’d.

200 S2v 200

LXXXIII.

Yet ere they ventur’d forth, a change

Was wrought full marvellous and strange!

The Queen forsook, without a sigh,

Each outward relic of her pride,

Well pleas’d her dangerous dignity

In Maudlin’s coarse attire to hide;

Again young Beaufort’s glitt’ring steel

A friar’s muffling weeds conceal,

The little shepherd-boy was there

With tawny cheek and raven hair;

And all besought the skillful aid

Witch might discovery’s ken evade:

The Prince and bold Sir Gerald took

Their gear from Maudlin’s motley store,

And all who left old Oswald’s nook

Some quaint disguising bore,

Save Rudolph, who, unchang’d, his own grim fashion wore.

End of Canto the Seventh.

201 S3r

Notes to Canto the Seventh.

The wintry land of Fiacim. St. XVII. l. 6. We can mention one kingdom more admirable than the rest, viz. the kingdom of Fiacim, at the Northern Pole, where all the counsellors are magicians, and the names which they use in invocations are mathematically disposed in a wonderful harmony and efficacy to the performance of magical operations. — Reginald Scot’s Discourse of the nature of Devils and Spirits, book ii. p. 60. If Balkin and if Luridane. St. XVII. l. 18. Luridane is a familiar domestic spirit of the north, who is now become servant to Balkin, Lord and King of the Northern Mountains; he calls himself the Astral Genius of Pomona, an island among the Orcades, but he is not particularly resident there, for in the days of Soloman and David he was in Jerusalem or Salem, being then under the name of Belilah: after that he came over with Julius Cæsar, and remained some hundred years in Cambria, instructing their prophetical poets in British rhymes, being then surnamed Urthin-Wad Elgin: from thence he betook himself into this island, 1500anno 1500, and continued there for fifty years, after which he resigned his dominion to Balkin, and hath continued ever since an attendant upon this prince. Balkin is able to inform the exorcist of all questions concerning thunder and lightning, the motions of the heavens, the comets and apparitions in the air, pestilence and famine, noxious and malevolent blasts, as also of the inhabitants of the north pole, and the wonders undiscovered throughout the world.Reginald Scot’sDiscovery of Witchcraft, chap. ix. book 15. Each in a dead man’s shrouded hand. St. XIX. l. 15. The use of the hand of glory was to stupify those to whom it was presented and to render them motionless. The hand of a person hanged, or exposed on the highway,S2 202 S3v 202 way, must be wrapt up in a piece of shroud, or windingsheet, in which it must be squeezed to get out any small quantity of blood that may have remained in it, then put it into an earthen vessel with zimat, saltpetre, salt, and long-pepper, leaving it fifteen days in that vessel; then expose it to the noon-tide sun in the dog-days till it is thoroughly dry, or, if the sun is not sufficient, put it into an oven heated with fern and vervain, then compose a candle with the fat of a hanged man, virgin wax, and sisame of Lapland: the hand of glory is used as a candlestick to hold this candle when lighted, &c;—Notes to Brand’s Popular Antiquities, vol. ii. p. 583. Hacks off the golden spur, &c; Stanza LXXIX. l. 16. For that Sir Ralph Grey had sworne to be true to King Henry he was condemned and had judgment given upon him by the Earle of Worcester, High-Constable of Englande, as followeth: Sir Ralph Grey, for thy treason the King has ordained that thou should’st have had thy spurres taken off by the hard heeles, by the hand of the master-cooke, who is here ready to doe as was promised thee at the time that he took off the spurres, and said to thee as is accustomed, That and thou be not true to thy soveraigne lord, hee shall smite off thy spurres with his knife, hard by the heeles, (and soe shewed him the master-cooke ready to do his office, with the apron and his knife.) Moreover, Sir Ralph Grey, the King has ordained here, thou maiest see, the kings of armes and heralds, and thine own proper coat of armes which they should tear off thy body, and soe should’st thou as well be disgraded of thy worship, nobles, and armes, as of thy order of knighthood. Alsoe there is another coat of thy armes reversed, the which thou should’st have worn on thy body going to thy death-wards, for that belongeth to thee after the law: notwithstanding the disgrading of knighthood and of thine armes and nobles, the King pardoneth that for thy noble grandfather, who suffered trouble for thy King’s most noble predecessors. Now, Sir Ralph Grey, this shall be thy penance—thou shalt 203 S4r 203 goe on thy feete unto the towne’s end, and there thou shalt be laid downe and drawne to a scaffolde made for thee, and thou shalt have thy head smitten off, thy body to be buried in the Frier’s, thy head where the King’s pleasure shall be. This judgment was pronounced at Doncaster against the said Ralph Grey for rebelling and keeping of the Castle of Bamborough against King Edward.Stow’sAnnals, p. 418. Hall says, he was disgraded of the high order of knighthode at Dancaster by cuttynge off his gylt spurres, renting his coat of armes, and breakyng his sword over his hed : and finally there his bodie was shorted by the length of his hed, and had no more harme.
204 S4v

Margaret of Anjou.

Canto the Eighth.

I.

Oh, England! years are fled since first

Wide o’er thy plains the war-cloud burst!

Long years are fled! yet following years

Still hear thy groans, still mark thy tears!

Yet where are they whose fatal shout

To havoc rous’d the madd’ning rout?

Where they who toss’d the fatal brand

Of discord on their hapless land?

They are gone! —and follow in their place

Another and another race,

But peace, peace comes not!—they repose

Who kindled first their country’s woes,

But, ere they slept, they left behind!

A fatal present to mankind!

II.

What did he gain, the mighty man Richard Duke of York.

Whose pride the woeful work began,

To quench whose fierce and fiery thirst

These blood-streams on the nations burst?

What to appease his craving soul?—

The gall-drop from affliction’s bowl!

A paper crown!—a shameful doom!

A death of pangs!—a timeless tomb!

205 S5r 205

III.

Where are the sickle and the scythe,

The meadow bright with golden grain,

The echoing laugh, the carol blythe,

Rude rapture of the rustic train,

Who follow home the teeming wain?

No harvests ripen now! no more

The stoutly wielded flail beneath

Resounds the dusty threshing floor;

No longer does the ev’ning breath,

From pipe of homeward-faring swain,

Waft music o’er the twilight plain!

Alas, alas! such sound would ill

The desolated land beseem!

Let fate the dreadful hour fulfil,

Then, wak’d from her distracted dream,

England may hear those sounds again,

May welcome back her pastoral train,

And count her nodding sheaves which ripen not in vain!

IV.

Long ages hence, Plantagenet! Long ages hence Plantagenet. Stanza IV. l. 1. All agree that the name of Plantagenet signifies a broom plant, and Buck tells us that Folk, the head of the family, about a century before the Conquest, was enjoined by the priest, as a punishment for his sins, to lash himself with that weapon, from which he acquired its name. This self-afflictor furnished England with seventyfour male descendants, of his own name; fourteen of whom were sovereign princes, who filled the throne three hundred and thirty years, among whom only three lived to old age. In the contest between the houses of York and Lancaster, without including those who suffered in cold blood, by the axe and the halter, 105,000 Englishmen perished.Hutton’sBosworth Field.

When thy ambitious line has run

Its utmost course beneath the sun,

Thy race extinct, thy glory set;

When that proud name shall cease to be

The war-cry of a striving land;

When Time, who mocks the proud, on thee

And thine has laid his withering hand,

In those calm hours, the eyes which trace

The record of thy restless race,

Shall, weeping, bless the love divine

Which cut from earth the fatal line!

Nor deadly nightshade’s dusky bell,

Nor aconite, nor hemlock fell,

206 S5v 206

Nor weed which springs on ground accurs’d

By wizard hands in darkness nurs’d,

E’er wrought such dolour, woe, and dread,

As thro’ old England’s frame the fatal broomplant shed!

V.

St. Alban! on thy hallow’d fane

How ghastly gleam’d that morning’s sun

Which first beheld of England’s bane

The dismal work begun!

England!—the sword unsheathed there

Has mown thy ranks for many a year,

Nor ceaseth yet;—the human race

Shall fail methinks, and this good land

Become one vast unpeopled space,

Ere wrath shall stay his bloody hand!

The mariner shall look no more

Impatient tow’rd the well known shore,

But, oh! when, distant to his eyes,

Thy white cliffs ’mid the billows rise,

He’ll woo the winds to waft him far

From the dire wreck of waste and war,

The ghastly dwelling of the dead,

The land of silence and of sleep,

The tomb which rears its lonely head

Amid the stormy deep!

VI.

York, for whose sake the whirlwind rose

That sweeps destroying thro’ the land,

Hears not the tempest as it blows,

His heart is cold, unnerv’d his hand,

And blunt and edgeless lies his brand!

Reft of his spirit, hope, and pride,

He sank, heart-smitten ere he died;

he wept,—but ’twas a father’s tear

207 S6r 207

That dimm’d the warrior’s eye,

He wept,—And human fiend stood near

And mock’d his misery,

And bade him dry his sorrow’s flood

E’en with a ’kerchief steep’d in his fair offspring’s blood!

VII.

Old Salisbury! thy frosty head

Rebellion’s cause did ill beseem!

But it is o’er,—the ruffian dream!

And in thy dark and bloody bed,

The peace thou hatedst hovers now,

Unbroken, o’er thy silver brow!

VIII.

Oh, Worster! it avail’d thee nought, Oh, Worster! it avail’d thee nought. Stanza VIII. l. 1. It is memorable of Tibetot, or Tiptoft, Earl of Worster, that, having been bred a student in Baliol College, Oxon, and attained to an high degree of learning, he went to Jerusalem, and there made his abode for some time. Thence travelling into other countries, he came to Venice and Padua, as also to Rome out of a great affection he had to see the Vatican Library, where he made such an elegant oration to Pope Pius II. that it drew tears from the eyes of his Holiness. Likewise that he translated into English the Orations of Publius Cornelius and Caius Flaminius, and wrote divers learned tracts, whereof Bale maketh mention. On the restoration of the house of Lancaster through the potency of Nevil, Earl of Warwick, he was necessitated to shift for himself, so that being found on the top of a high tree, in the forest of Waybridge, in the county of Huntingdon, he was brought to London, and judged to suffer death, whereupon he lost his head on Towerhill.Dugdale’sBaronage of England, vol. ii. p. 41.

Thy brain, with hoarded science fraught,

Thy memory, bright with precious lore,

The plunder choice of Wisdom’s store,

For thou did’st close the warning page,

And, swelling with rebellious rage,

All the rich harvest of thy mind

To blind and wasteful wrath consign’d;

And, wise thyself, by folly led,

Met folly’s fate, and laid thine head

Beneath the axe, whose stroke has driven

Full many a soul from earth, unripe, I ween, for heaven!

IX.

Bright Rose of Lancaster! thy brow

May lose its bloom, thy stem may droop

In sorrow o’er the gallant troop

For ever in thy cause laid low!

The blood of Beaufort’s princely line,

How has it stream’d for love of thee!

Oh, for that fatal right of thine,

208 S6v 208

Two branches from its spreading tree,

Majestic as the forest oak,

Have fall’n beneath the woodman’s stroke!

X.

Two hardy Cliffords, sire and son,

Their fierce, relentless course have run,

Yet, ere they gave the havoc o’er,

Their souls were clogg’d with hostile gore:

Old Oxford claims the Muse’s tear,

And his brave first-born, young De Vere;—

On the same block their heads repos’d,

One shroud their bleeding forms o’erspread,

One hour their task of sorrow clos’d,

And thus, in union kind, their souls tow’rds heaven fled!

XI.

Percy!—two lions of thy breed

Have ceas’d to waste their hostile fold,

Yet strives the third, with gallant deed,

To win the death-bed of the bold!

When were the Percies of the north

Found lingering when the war-horn blew?

When were they slow to gallop forth

When shouts proclaim’d the game in view?

From England’s dawn the Percies were,—

They sparkle in their country’s story,

With her they run their proud career,

And but with her’s shall set their glory!

XII.

York! on the warm and sunny side

Of fortune does thy quarrel lie,

Thou hast woo’d, and won her for thy bride-

And dost command thy destiny!

Bold art thou,—for thy sword and will

Are all the laws thou dost fulfil,

209 T1r 209

And wily,—for thine eye and tongue

Are sweet accomplices in guile,

That even they who feel thy wrong,

Young robber, murmur not the while,

Fed by thy honied words, and dazzled by thy smile.

XIII.

A lip where smiles are never wanting,

A tongue, for flatt’ry, or for vaunting,

A breast, whose fiery spirit cries

Hark forward! forward to the prize!

A cheek where beauty’s pride is flaunting!

A hand for scatt’ring, and an eye

Defiance on the foe to dart,

Or, aided by a treach’rous sigh,

To steal into a lady’s heart,

And win the citadel, or ere

The warder dreams of danger near!

Thus, was th’ aspiring son of York

Accomplish’d for his daring work!

But, trace ye all whose sanguine thought

Have glory’s meed thro’ havoc sought,

From him who now for England strove,

To the mad son of Libyan Jove,—

Whate’er the climate, race, or name,

All stamp’d and character’d the same,

Are those blind, headlong souls who live only for fame!

XIV.

Is there a river in the land

Can boast a clear and guiltless wave,

Pure from the life-blood of the brave,

Where no man wash’d his gory hand?

I fear me, no! Is there a plain,

By shepherd’s lonely footstep trod.

T 210 T1v 210

Where some huge heap of native slain

Swells not the turfy sod?

Is there a valley so remote,

To silence a repose so dear,

That never war-cry’s thrilling note,

Nor heavy clang of mailed coat,

Was heard to echo there?

Still to that virgin spot be given

The mildest smile of fav’ring heaven,

There, gently let the year descend,

Its bowers may never tempest rend,

Short be its winter,—be its spring

Still fann’d by young Favonius’ wing,

And no lament come there, save ring-dove’s wail at even!

XV.

Oh, Rose! who long hast bloom’d the pride

Of England’s garden, hang thy head!

The dew upon thy leaves is dried!

The generous, bright, exulting red,

The triumph of thy cheek is fled!

And one less beautiful shall raise

Her stem where now thy bloom decays!

York’s Rose is now the garden’s queen!

York’s star to fortune lights the way!

Nay, heaven is pledg’d! York’s eyes have seen,

Responsive to their glances keen,

Three golden, glorious suns at once illume his day!

XVI.

When Hexham’s glad result he knew,

Securely smil’d the victor boy,

His scatter’d foes, forlorn and few,

Molested not his dream of joy,

Or if they crossed his thoughts awhile,

211 T2r 211

The brighter play’d his dimpled smile!

That languishing, complaining boy,

Allur’d by every gaudy toy,

That humble boy who breathes so sweet,

And sighs so soft at lady’s feet,—

His heart is iron! Mercy ne’er,

Nor kind remorse, found entrance there!

That fond, caressing tongue can doom

Warm thousands to the joyless tomb,

And that bright eye can sparkling see

Fulfilled the cruel tongue’s decree!

Oft has he felt his bosom swell

With hatred’s dire and deadly bliss,

Oft has he known those transports fell,

Those joys, to demons dear, which crown the merciless!

XVII.

Fly, friends of Lancaster!—the cry

Of York’s hot blood-hounds follow nigh!

Fly, ye forlorn, defeated crew,

Your own land is no place for you!

Oh, hide not here!—the unseen snare

E’en now is weaving round your hold,—

Lo! he you trust in counts his share

Of dazzling, life-betraying gold!

Ah, trust not oaths!—that oaths are wind

Full many a victim illegible2 lettersnds too late—

Fly then, nor cast a glance behind,

And listen not to man, but fate!—

Flee fast, poor aliens! flee afar,

Sad remnants of unnatural war!

Flee, hunted, persecuted few!

Your own land is no place for you!

XVIII.

Oh, chance and change! ’tis Fortune’s jest

To watch the mighty while they smile,

212 T2v 212

And pow’r and pride lift high the breast,

Then, break the prop on which they rest,

And hurl them to the vile!

And as they fall, to mock them more,

Down to the dust she bends her gaze,

And thence some minion foul doth raise

To wear the robes they wore;

Then loud laughs Fortune to behold

Prostrate the high-born and the bold,

While, seated in their tott’ring place,

The new-sprung creatures of her grace

Laugh too, and as they laugh forget their cradle base!

XIX.

Oh, Exeter! what human breast Oh, Exeter! what human breast. Stanza XIX. l. 1. In the 13th of the reign of Edward IV. he was found dead in the sea, betwixt Dover and Calais, though not known how he came thither. It is reported by Comines, that he saw this Duke in such great distress that he ran on foot, bare-legged, after the Duke of Burgundy’s train, begging his bread for God’s sake, but that he uttered not his name; and that when he was known, (being the nearest of the house of Lancaster, and that he had married a sister of King Edward IV.) he gave him a small pension to maintain his estate. This Duke of Exeter married Anne, daughter of Richard, Duke of York, and sister to King Edward IV., which Anne, at her own suit, was divorced from him, 1472-11-12November 12th, ann. 1472, and married Sir Thomas St. Leger, Knight of the body to King Edward IV.Dugdale’sBaronage of England, vol. ii. p. 82.

But heaves to think upon the woe

That ere thy spirit found its rest

It struggled with below!

Fortune and hope were perjur’d then

When in thy smiling mother’s ear

They swore that thou, mid mighty men,

Should’st run a high career!

Born mid the noblest, thou should’st keep

The promise fair thy birth had given,

And when life’s golden thread was riven,

With kindred princes lay thee down,

And mingle dust, with dust illustrious as thine own!

XX.

Blind! blind to all the future brings,

What from the present may we guess!

The prosp’rous hour has twofold wings,

And what was full is emptiness!

Oh, Exeter! so poor of soul,

That wand’ring in a foreign land,

213 T3r 213

Thou begg’st with tears the scanty dole,

And tak’st it from a stranger’s hand!

Oh! baffled, ruin’d, exil’d wight,

To beggary and despair consign’d,

Bewilder’d in affliction’s night,

With broken heart, and cow’ring mind!

She who thy short-liv’d splendours shar’d

Turns from the wretch, and wisely blends

Her smiles with Fortune’s;—all discard

The Briton who unseemly bends!

XXI.

Helpless, forgot, without a friend,—

Where shall thy piteous story end?

When thou hast suck’d the dregs of sorrow

Thro’ many a long and tedious morrow,

The surge that bathes thy native land

Shall fling thy cold corse on her strand,

For Providence directs the wave

To roll thee tow’rds a native grave!

The land that threw thee from her breast,

An outcast and a wanderer,

Shall lend a little earth to rest

All that remains of thee, once mighty Exeter!

XXII.

Still o’er the young Usurper’s throne

The sky a golden light has pour’d,

Success has mark’d him for her own,

And bless’d his sceptre and his sword!

Lux’ry and Vengeance share his hours—

What shall we fear?—the realm is ours!

Ours is the realm! Our foot below

Ignobly lies our foe-man’s brow!

Now, minstrels, sing! now, beauty, smile,

The regal warrior to beguile!

Around his thoughts twine Pleasure’s wreath,

T2 214 T3v 214

And fan them with the west wind’s breath,

Bid him forget what toils have worn

His hours of prime, his dewy morn!

Bid him forget the irksome strife

That vex’d the sun-rise of his life!

Let no presumptuous care intrude

Upon his glory’s plenitude,

But let his cup with bliss run o’er,

Ere youth’s quick pulses beat no more!

XXIII.

But hark! methinks the soft west wind

Is yielding to a shrewder breath,

That blows ungenial and unkind

O’er Pleasure’s with’ring wreath!

Too sure it comes,—the heavy cloud

Bursts o’er the thoughtless monarch’s head!

Now, where are Lux’ry’s flimsy crowd!—

Dismay’d, dispers’d, and fled!

Their fragile texture may not bear

The searching, keen, and wintry air!

They are for summer, when the boughs

Are bending with the ruddy spoil,

When every hedgerow yields its rose,

And tawny harvests wave o’er all the generous soil!

XXIV.

Now where’s the brain, and where’s the hand,

And where’s the heart which, once thine own,

Taught thee against the world to stand,

And lifted thee to England’s throne?

Warwick, where art thou? Gird thy sword,

And spur amain thy courser fleet,

For he, thy self-elected lord,

Shakes in his lofty seat!

215 T4r 215

XXV.

Ingratitude in Warwick’s breast

Has fix’d its deadly viper fang,

And raging, madd’ning with the pang,

He turns his victor crest!

While gentler spirits droop and die,

Chill’d by neglect’s inclemency,

A thousand thoughts of service true

By broken faith repaid,

Bursting at once to memory’s view,

The impetuous soul invade!

Remorseless wrath the bosom rends

And love, to hate its fuel lends!

XXVI.

Edward! the man who toil’d and bled

To make thee what thou art,

Withdraws the counsels of his head,

The homage of his heart!

Edward, beware! Of alien love,

More fell than inborn, native hate,

The quenchless rage prepare to prove,

Warwick has flung his steeled glove!

He braves thee to the field! Hold firm thy tott’ring state!

XXVII.

Nor yet, alone to Lancaster,

The milk-white bear is gone!

Will Clarence too the banner rear

Against his father’s son?

Yet faints not Edward:

Let them go!

Yea! let the shallow Clarence fly!

For Warwick, rather would we know

His aspect as an open foe,

Than brook his friendship’s tyranny!

Yet, there’s another knot untied,

216 T4v 216

A kinder, closer tie,

Lo! Montague forsakes thy side,

And seeks thine enemy!

Thou tremblest now, light-hearted king!

That stroke has reach’d thee! Montague

Does pay thee back the festering sting

From injured Warwick due!

XXVIII.

When Fortune shifts, the human race,

Like ebbing waves, recede;—

Lo! they who throve in Edward’s grace

Roll refluent from his need!

Lord Hastings! tho’ thy polished brow,

And courtly bearing, might beseem

Such fragile, flaunting things as grow

Beneath the summer beam,

Despite that soothing, silken tongue,

Despite that form so fair,

Thou hast a spirit bold and strong

To front the frosty air!

Thou dar’st beside thy friend to stay

While treacherous thousands fall away!

The blast from which these recreants flee

Appall’d and shudd’ring,—braces thee!

XXIX.

Sad exile in a foreign land,

With form supine and drooping crest,

Did many a pale Lancastrian stand,

For hope was faint in every breast!

E’en Margaret, if some projects wild

Her restless bosom still did share,

O’er which her fancy sternly smil’d,

They were the offspring of Despair!

Such shapeless, threat’ning crowds, as rise

From Hope’s cold ashes when she dies

217 T5r 217

To soothe the desolated soul

With strange suggestions, fierce and foul,—

Visions of vengeance! meet to sate

The cravings of the desperate!

XXX.

To Gallia’s court, where Margaret sate,

Dark brooding o’er her alter’d state,

What tidings may yon herald bear

To rouze the thoughts of Lancaster?

The badge upon that herald’s breast

Is Warwick’s well-known hated crest!

Rebellious Nevil! deemest thou

Thy Queen so poor of soul,

That she will deign one glance to throw

On sentence which from thee does flow?

Take back the hated scroll!

And hence!—or Margaret’s awful wrath,

Vile worm, shall crush thee in its path!

XXXI.

Not so, the pensive Edward cries,

Passion may dictate to the tongue

Whose warm and uncheck’d energies

Upbraid a private wrong!

As man to man, my heart would fain

Give utterance to its just disdain,

But he whose birth-right is a throne

Must quell each impulse of his own!

Say, herald! what does Warwick send

To greet the outrag’d Lancaster?

Tires he of treason? Does he bend?

Or dost thou to our presence bear

New insults, such as cowards dare

Lance on an unarm’d foe,

Who, all unfurnish’d for the war,

218 T5v 218

Safely he strikes, nor fears return’d the dastard blow!

XXXII.

My Liege, no warrant do I bring

To guess the counsels of my lord!

Yet do I think the new-made king

Hath rudely cut the well-knit string

Which held them in accord!

A cloud on Warwick’s brow is spread,

And I do think my master feeds

Upon such sour and leaven’d bread

As stern Repentance kneads:

Please you, this scroll shall well express

What I may but at a distance guess!

XXXIII.

Ah, is it so! Queen Margaret cries,

While new-born triumph lights her eyes,

Warwick! I revel in thy smart,

Thou hast a viper in thy heart!

But, soft ye! Deigns that mighty lord,

The arbiter of England’s fate,

Deigns he, with meek and honied word,

To soothe the ear of hate!

Oh, hour of bliss! oh, moment sweet!

Proud Warwick’s soul is at our feet!

XXXIV.

See Edward’s keen and rapid eye

The eventful page explore,

See from his cheek the colour fly,

While many a hard convulsive sigh

Betrays his conflict sore!

He gnaws his lip and twists his brows,

And to his foot the tablet throws,

And passion laughs to feel his soul

Trembling once more in her controul!

219 T6r 219

XXXV.

Never, by heaven! Perish first

Each hope that on my cradle shone,

False hopes, by servile flatt’ry nurs’d,

To feed a monarch’s son!

Uncrush’d, unbroken by my fall,

Fond phantoms! I renounce ye all!

Ambition’s air-built fabrics perish!

While still tenacious in my breast

One sweetly smiling form I’ll cherish,

And, recking little of the rest,

Forego such tinsel toys, contented to be bless’d!

XXXVI.

The Queen with wond’ring gaze beheld

That gentle breast to tumult swell’d;

The trampled scroll in haste she seeks

To find from whence the tempest breaks;

She smiles exulting!

Welcome home,

Ye long-fled hopes! Each glorious thought,

With empire and with vengeance fraught,

Return ye to your home! to Margaret’s bosom come!

XXXVII.

She stands entranc’d—her heart dilates,

As fancy to her view creates

Such lofty forms, as pleas’d her eye

In her noon-dream of prosperity;

Her hand again the sceptre grasps,

The regal wreath her temples clasps;

Lo! how her dark eye rolls disdain

On crowds on kneeling slaves again!

So skillfully doth fancy frame,

That all seems real,—and ’twere well,

If grim conviction never came

Her tidings cold to tell;

220 T6v 220

Thrice happy dupes! if cheated on

The show might last till time is done!

XXXVIII.

Still rapt in hope’s delicious trance,

Aloft she threw each kindling glance,

Nor deign’d her ear one sigh receive

Which did from Edward’s bosom heave,

Nor deign’d her dazzled eye behold,

His drooping aspect, wan and cold!

He, heir of England! was the hand,

The engine mov’d by her command,

By fate created to fulfill

The mighty workings of her will!

Nor less than madness ’twere to deem

A beardless boy’s love-woven dream

Its puny forms might raise, to thwart ambition’s scheme!

XXXIX.

Still did the valiant high-soul’d few,

Who ever thro’ success and sorrow

Had kept that deep-sworn vow in view

Which held them to one sovereign true,

Tho’ long from hope they ceas’d to borrow

The presage of a brighter morrow,

Becoming well their title high,

The courtiers of adversity,

Still punctual hold their grave resort

To bow the knee in Margaret’s court:

Of these, to seek the Royal Dame,

With Somerset and bold De Vere,

Sir Gerald and the Percy came,

Led by a sound which busy fame

Had blown abroad in every ear,

Of news from England,—and the Queen

Well understood the anxious mien,

221 U1r 221

Half-spoken word, and glance full fraught with question keen.

XL.

Now, welcome, nobles! welcome, all!

Ye who have shared our sorrows long,

And, fellow-mourners, borne the pall,

And sung the doleful requiem song,

O’er fallen grandeur! ’Tis decreed

Ye cast away the funeral weed!

Wash from your cheek the staining tear,—

Our fortune changes! Ye shall wear

Such vesture as beseems the guest

Bid to a royal bridal feast!

Why do ye stand in wild amaze

With such unfixt and doubting gaze?

I am no prophetess, to rave

Of what the lagging future brings!

Nought certain brings it but a grave!

But I do speak of real things,

Substantial, palpable!—Read, read!

Yon tablet shall confirm your yet unsettled creed!

XLI.

Th’ impetuous Beaufort quickly pour’d

On every greedy ear

Each gladd’ning, hope-enkindling word

That welcome scroll did bear!

His fervent spirit never prov’d

The sober check of reason’s rein,

To death he hated or he lov’d,

His joy was rapture, and his pain

Was writhing agony! He press’d

The tablet to his bounding breast,

And, even in his sov’reign’s sight,

Indulg’d the madness of delight!

U 222 U1v 222

All, save the Prince, rejoiced, and he,

Stung by the boist’rous extasy,

Frowning, had left the irksome scene,

But halted in his path, arrested by the Queen!

XLII.

Stay, Prince! delay may dull the gloss

Of our new hopes! Let us prepare,

Ere envious chance the compact cross,

Our prompt approvals, kind and fair!

Herald, retire! we pray thee wait

The issue of a brief debate;

We do but counsel on the words

Which best may speak our fair accords:

Ourself will yield such meet reply

As suits Earl Warwick’s courtesy,

The while our princely son shall frame

His own heart’s message to the dame,

Who well may royal homage claim:

Retire, good herald, while our care

Doth for thy home return prepare

A lightsome load of lover’s sighs,

Of cancell’d griefs and wrongs, and new-knit amities!

XLIII.

Now ev’ry eye was anchor’d keen

In Edward’s strange and grief-struck mien,

While each benign and smiling grace,

Like light’ning, fled from Margaret’s face,

And every soft persuasive tone

That warbled on her lip was gone!

Now mark me, Prince! and mark me well,

Thou art colleagued with England’s foes!

Thy base, degenerate thoughts rebel

Against thine own illustrious Rose!

A child, a wayward boy art thou,

223 U2r 223

And we will treat thee as thou art,

Till thou canst act man’s firmer part,

And off this baby mood shalt throw!

Meanwhile,—no time have we to chide,

Nor yet to woo thee to decide,—

The sentence is gone forth! Fair Nevil is thy bride!

XLIV.

My Liege, said Oxford,

We have stood

Between thee and destruction’s flood,

And from the same embitter’d chalice

Have drank with thee of Fortune’s malice!

That self same cup our fathers quaff’d

Till death was mingled in the draught,

Nor from the mortal beverage shrank,

And, e’en to death, would we have drank!

Nor was our duty less,—the cost

Were cancell’d by one vaunting boast!

But hear a Briton, royal youth,

Nor let thy soul abhor the truth,—

If, in councils of thy heart,

Thou hid’st a rebel! If, when fate

Calls thee to act a noble part,

Then thou dost shrink and hesitate,

False to thyself!—where is our trust!

Lost! broken! trampled in the dust!

A mock for traitors!—No! my soul,

Recoiling, spurns a thought so foul!

By heaven we do thee wrong! And yet

Thou art that true Plantagenet,

To whom our vows are pledg’d, on whom our hearts are set!

XLV.

Oxford! thy words do press me sore!

And I do tell thee, valiant lord,

224 U2v 224

’Twere light to feel thy pointed sword

Within my bosom’s core!

Yes! Ye did nobly, firmly strive,

True to my cause, while hope did live,

And, faithful, even when she died,

Ye did not quit your master’s side!

Illustrious boast! Ah! cancel not

A debt so glorious! do not blot

So fair a record! Hard it were

To rate your services too high,

Yet were they mightier still, I swear

They shall not teach my soul to wear,

E’en tho’ ye forge the chain, the badge of slavery!

XLVI.

But one word more! Earl Warwick’s heir

Can ne’er be Edward’s bride,

Nor e’er shall blood of Nevil share

Our good, or evil tide!

Heaven has receiv’d my plighted vows,

And, mother, thine annoited spouse

The solemn rite did bless,

While from his meek and holy eye

Did fall, that rite to sanctify,

The dew of gentleness.

XLVII.

Lords, said the queen,

ye do but waste

In idle colloquy the day,

And manly reason were disgrac’d

If it should cast one hour away

On such a trifler, who seems born

To bring a glorious cause to scorn!

I pray ye heed him not!—The boy

Shall quickly yield his vulgar toy!

Meanwhile, the task is ours, to soothe

225 U3r 225

Our ancient foe with greeting smooth,

And tho’ our son be somewhat slack

Of knightly courtesy,

It irks not us; what he doth lack

Ourself shall well supply!

Would heaven we had a worthier son

To match with Warwick’s heir, and fill Britannia’s throne!

XLVIII.

Illustrious Peers, Northumbria cries,

Ours is the fate of darkling men,

Who chase the bog-fire as it flies

O’er brake, and moor, and fen;

Thro’ deep and dangerous ways we came,

Pursuing still the flickering flame,

And, as the bright illusion past

O’er the unsound and gulphy waste,

Rash travellers,—we follow’d fast,

And still were following,—when, no more

The futile phantom flits before,

But leaves us, where such phantoms leave

The fools who to their guidance cleave,

In darkness!—and each wiser knave

Who kept the beaten path, laughs as he hears us rave!

XLIX.

Plantagenet! one more appeal!

Cried Oxford:

’Tis no moment now

In flattery’s garb to clothe our zeal!

Tho’ thou may’st stagger at the blow,

I’ll aim it where thou best canst feel!

Look at yon king of revels! he,

Who yesterday, caress’d, ador’d,

Thy fickle England’s worshipp’d lord,

Mock’d from his distant throne at thee!

U2 226 U3v 226

That flatter’d, pamper’d, prosp’rous thing,

That blooming, glitt’ring, summer king!

The multitude, but yesterday,

Did glow and tremble at his nod,

And on his crowded altars lay

Meet incense for a God!

And, save our little faithful band,

All that is noblest in the land

Fenc’d him around with heart and arm,

(Strong arms, and hearts with courage warm,)

To guard the throne they rear’d from insult and from harm.

L.

Lo! while we breathe, the show is past!

The frost-work melts! and we may cast

Our eyes bewilder’d on the place

That gorgeous pageantry did grace,

And marvel at the empty space!

Who wrought the ruin? who did fling

To earth, the lofty seated king?

What bade the fickle people, turn

The puppet they had dress’d, to spurn?

Where are they scatter’d, who did swear

His glory or disgrace to share?

’Tis love! ’twas wily woman’s love

This mighty web of mischief wove!

LI.

Oh, Edward! let the lesson deep,

Deep in thy inmost heart descend!

’Twill be too late, when thou shalt weep,

Alone, o’er many an alien friend!

Oh! for a woman’s smile wilt thou

Thy birth-right and thy hopes betray,

And for a toy, so poorly throw

Thy fame and friends away?

227 U4r 227

Thou wilt not!—If thou wilt—good night!

I will not share thine honour’s blight!

De Vere turns from thee! thou shalt need

No friend to guard thee! —e’en thy foes

Shall bid thy harmlessness God speed,

And scorn to ruffle thy repose!

Northumberland and Beaufort, come—

Forbidden to seek our native home,

The wide world is our way, and we are free to roam.

LII.

With misty eyes and cloudy brow,

In silent thought young Beaufort stood,

But starting now, his generous blood

Spread o’er his cheek the crimson glow:

Dost thou forsake him, rough De Vere!

Why, fare thee well!—for Somerset,

He has not paid his father’s debt,

His duty anchors here.

LIII.

Edward in sullen sorrow bore

Each hard reproof, and insult sore,

Perchance a voice within combin’d

To goad and sting his tortur’d mind,

But now the faithful Beaufort’s word

Fell trembling on a kindlier chord;

To bursting swell’d that struggling breast

To which the generous friend he press’d;

Oh Beaufort! I conjure thee fly!

Mine, is an ill-starred destiny!

No less, to grateful memory dear,

Seek with the rest a new career,

Nor thus to ruin persevere!

I do absolve thee! thou alone,

Strong as thou art in arm and will,

228 U4v 228

Canst thou uplift a fallen throne?

No! let yon frowning heav’n the dark decree fulfil!

LIV.

While yet he spake, the beauteous cause

Of Edward’s bliss, and Edward’s bane,

Led by her brother, seeks the train

Of angry peers, and in the pause

With which suprize her presence greets

(For many a bosom breathless beats

With anxious wonder, what might lead

Her meekness to so bold a deed)

Sir Gerald speaks—

Ye English lords,

I do beseech ye to suspend,

Till ye have listen’d to my words

Or breath, or glance that may offend!

This lady’s honour must not brook

The touch of one misgiving look!

LV.

But Geraldine could well sustain,

Unhurt, the glance of fierce disdain,

Far other fear her soul does move,

She only shuns the glance of love,

And, shrinking, trembles at the thought

Of Edward’s look with anguish fraught;

Sublime of soul, for him alone

She pours the deep, internal groan,

And shudders at his pangs, forgetful of her own!

LVI.

Pale yet resolved she stood, like one

Hopeless and fearless, who had done

With life’s emotions!—Who can tell,

Beneath the calm and frozen rest

That seem’d to sway the marble breast,

If all within were well?

229 U5r 229

Yes, all was well! for she had striven

With her own heart, and conquer’d! Still

She walk’d on earth,—’twas heaven’s will,—

But ev’ry thought from earth was riven,

Her soul, with all its hopes, securely dwelt in heaven!

LVII.

Sir Gerald paus’d,—a rushing tide

Of soften’d thought his speech enchain’d,

And, struggling with the warrior’s pride,

The solemn word detain’d:

You might have deem’d the lady’s heart

Had stol’n from his the sterner part,

And to his manly breast had given

The feelings she from her’s had driven,

For, lo! her mild, upbraiding eye,

With calm yet mournful dignity,

Bids him be firm! Nay, e’en a smile,

A wan and wintry gleam, play’d o’er her lip the while!

LVIII.

My Royal Liege! Sir Gerald cries,

As to the ground he bent his knee,

From hence thou shalt not see me rise

Till I have won a grace of thee!

My noble sister hath a vow

Which thou did’st witness;—only thou

That vow may’st cancel;— it doth weigh

Hard on her spirit,—and I pray

Absolve my sister!—for her soul,

Touch’d by a heavenly messenger,

All earthly bondage would forswear,

And give a heart to heaven, untroubled, pure, and whole!

230 U5v 230

LIX.

Oh, think not, think not, Edward cried,

To cheat me with such puny art!

My Geraldine! my bosom’s bride,

My hope, my happiness, my pride!

Is thine a fickle, fleeting heart?

Ah, no! The wavering world, and all

That wavering world may precious call,

For thy bright sake, I do resign!

And would’st thou quit me, Geraldine?

Sir Gerald! I do know thee well!

This is thy work! thou dost compel

Her gentle nature!—but resign

Thy rugged sway, for she is mine!

Mine, e’en in thy despite! art thou not, Geraldine?

LX.

My Liege! I came prepar’d to prove

The struggle of unhappy love!

And tho’ these proud and fiery lords

May marvel at a brother’s words,

I tell them,—he who could forego

A gem so bright, a prize so high,

Untouch’d by passion’s agony,

May boast a nature, which doth know

No kindlier impulse than the brute

Who crops earth’s verdant gifts, insensible and mute!

LXI.

Oh, God! cried Edward,

Thou dost know

Why it doth please thee, that my life

A dark and turbid stream shall flow

Amid the rocks of strife!

Mark’d for thy vengeance, I have borne

The sentence from my earliest morn,

231 U6r 231

And borne unmurm’ring,—but my brain

No more the conflict may sustain;

It whirls distracted!—Geraldine,

Exult! exult!—the work is thine!—

Why dost thou linger?—Give it breath,

I do but wait the word, which madness brings, or death!

LXII.

What, dost thou weep? Oh, let thine eye

Renounce the barbarous mockery!

Weep not for me! I cannot bear,

False maid, the insult of thy tear!

Weep not, but speak!—repeal thy vow!

Oh, linger not, but strike the blow!

Strike, Geraldine! and feast thine eye

Upon thy victim’s agony!

LXIII.

Oh, Royal Edward! ’tis not scorn,

But hard-earn’d fortitude

That arms my heart to see thee torn

By conflicts, terrible and rude;

But conflicts I have borne!

There is a pang which mortal force

May never twice sustain,

That overpast, our vital course

Has done with joy or pain!

Thro’ that rough passage I have gone,

And now with joy and pain have done!

LXIV.

Edward! the sternest, hardiest breast

That ever burnish’d cuirass press’d,

Was never nerv’d by firmer will

Than doth my woman’s bosom fill!

Edward, I go!—a heavenly spouse

232 U6v 232

Reclaims the rashly utter’d vows

Of human passion, and my breast

Doth hail the pure and holy rest

That consecrates the shrine for its Immortal Guest!

LXV.

Oh, Edward! if a virgin pray’r

May speed a warrior,—God shall bless

Thy path, as onward thou dost fare,

With smiling hope and glad success!

And when each little joy and grief,

Time’s offspring, fugitive and brief,

Is past, and thou shalt wing thy way

To regions of eternal day,

Then will we meet!—Farewell, till then!

For in this nether world—we never meet again!

End of Canto the Eighth.

233 X1r 233

Notes to Canto the Eight.

Long ages hence Plantagenet. Stanza IV. l. 1. All agree that the name of Plantagenet signifies a broom plant, and Buck tells us that Folk, the head of the family, about a century before the Conquest, was enjoined by the priest, as a punishment for his sins, to lash himself with that weapon, from which he acquired its name. This self-afflictor furnished England with seventyfour male descendants, of his own name; fourteen of whom were sovereign princes, who filled the throne three hundred and thirty years, among whom only three lived to old age. In the contest between the houses of York and Lancaster, without including those who suffered in cold blood, by the axe and the halter, 105,000 Englishmen perished.Hutton’sBosworth Field. Oh, Worster! it avail’d thee nought. Stanza VIII. l. 1. It is memorable of Tibetot, or Tiptoft, Earl of Worster, that, having been bred a student in Baliol College, Oxon, and attained to an high degree of learning, he went to Jerusalem, and there made his abode for some time. Thence travelling into other countries, he came to Venice and Padua, as also to Rome out of a great affection he had to see the Vatican Library, where he made such an elegant oration to Pope Pius II. that it drew tears from the eyes of his Holiness. Likewise that he translated into English the Orations of Publius Cornelius and Caius Flaminius, and wrote divers learned tracts, whereof Bale maketh mention. On the restoration of the house of Lancaster through the potency of Nevil, Earl of Warwick, he was necessitated to shift for himself, so that being found on the top of a high tree, in the forest of Waybridge, in the county of Huntingdon, he was brought to London, and judged to suffer death, whereupon he lost his head on Towerhill.Dugdale’sBaronage of England, vol. ii. p. 41. X 234 X1v 234 Oh, Exeter! what human breast. Stanza XIX. l. 1. In the 13th of the reign of Edward IV. he was found dead in the sea, betwixt Dover and Calais, though not known how he came thither. It is reported by Comines, that he saw this Duke in such great distress that he ran on foot, bare-legged, after the Duke of Burgundy’s train, begging his bread for God’s sake, but that he uttered not his name; and that when he was known, (being the nearest of the house of Lancaster, and that he had married a sister of King Edward IV.) he gave him a small pension to maintain his estate. This Duke of Exeter married Anne, daughter of Richard, Duke of York, and sister to King Edward IV., which Anne, at her own suit, was divorced from him, 1472-11-12November 12th, ann. 1472, and married Sir Thomas St. Leger, Knight of the body to King Edward IV.Dugdale’sBaronage of England, vol. ii. p. 82.
235 X2r 235

Margaret of Anjou.

Canto the Ninth.

I.

Love! get thee hence! Is this a clime

For thee to breathe in? Wilt thou dare

To wrestle with the boist’rous time?

How will thy myrtle blossoms bear

Th’ encounter of so keen an air?

The gathering sky portentous scowls,

Wide o’er the land the war-blast howls,

A man, defying and defied,

Scorns to be led by gentler guide

Than ruthless, rash, remorseless Pride!

Love, get thee hence! Thy fickle star

Should vanish mid the clouds of war!

Oh, Love! thy dewy pinions spread,

And hide thee in the distant groves,

Where Peace still feeds the silver doves

Thy smiling mother bred!

Unwelcome stranger! Banish’d guest!

Vengeance usurps each panting breast,

And triumphs in the home where thou wert wont to rest!

II.

Now, warriors! search your souls, and there

If one remorseless thought ye find,

One ling’ring impulse, fond and kind,

Oh! give the trembler to the wind,

236 X2v 236

Lest it impede your bold career!

For you, life’s charities are o’er!

The smile and tear of social life,

Scar’d by the grim, unnatural strife,

Exist for you no more!

Well, let them go! Fate waves ye on!

Look not behind! on, on ye brave!

The prize your burning wishes crave,

That meed by many a warrior won,

Shall crown your headlong course anon,—

Or vengeance, or a grave!

III.

To Gallia’s shore fair Nevil came

Her cold, reluctant lord to meet,

An ne’er did fainter welcome greet

So bright, so proud a dame!

The bridegroom’s tongue in secret swore

To breathe the breath of love no more,—

No whisper’d sighs, no soft caress,

No tear, the happy heart’s excess,

Did that ungenial hymen bless!

What boots it, that in solemn tone

The mitred priest proclaims them one?

Heaven knows ’tis perjury! for ne’er

Those hearts the mutual bond shall wear,

Nor e’er one mingled thought in fond communion share!

IV.

Ambition triumphs! Edward’s tongue

Has given the fatal sentence breath!

His hand is bound in fetters strong

Which nought shall break but death!

Chain’d by irrevocable vows,

A loveless, joyless, heartless spouse!

But let the secret canker prey

237 X3r 237

Deep in the centre, tho’ it eat

The very springs of life away,—

Throw but the world beneath our feet!

Once crown the brow!—and who dares guess

That glory is not happiness!

Unseen the heart consumes,—but all,

Applauding, view the golden ball,

On every dazzled gazer’s sight

The regal circlet flashes bright!

When shouting thousands hail us blest,

’Twere folly to believe the whisp’rer in our breast!

V.

What fear we now? Prince Edward cries,

Come peril! for despair is brave!

We’ll ride the whirlwind, stem the wave,

And wrest from fate the shining prize!

My heart is empty! glory come,

Oh! make the joyless void your home!

Lay me, where hearts forget to beat,

Or, lift me to the lofty seat,

Where fond regrets, weak memory’s brood

Dare not upon our state intrude!

Swift on mine ear your tumult pour!

Anticipate the stormy hour!

I pant to plunge me in the fight

And prove the warrior’s fell delight,

I long to drown the voice within

Amid the battle’s deafening din!

Thou canst not cheat me, Glory! —though

Thy crown may never press my brow,

I’ll claim thee with my latest breath,

And grasp thee in the pangs of death!

X2 238 X3v 238

VI.

Edwardwas mild as summer show’r

That falls at evening’s fragrant hour,

And wakes to life the languid flow’r;—

Now sudden, wayward, fierce, and strange,

All marvel at his nature’s change!

His hurried step and fiery eyes,

The flushing of his hollow cheek,

His rapid, harsh, abrupt replies

An alter’d mood bespeak!

His smile is fled, his brow is bent,

And each august and modest grace

By partial nature early lent,

Has vanish’d from his frowning face!

VII.

But lo! the hurrying, busy world

Cries out for action! War again

Her gauntlet on the field has hurl’d,

Her bloody banner is unfurl’d!

Her vultures hover o’er the plain!

Hark! England calls her exiles home,

Come, Royal Margaret! Edward come!

Rous’d by the summons, what shall stay

Their progress o’er the wat’ry way?

Already to their longing eye

Fair England’s silver cliffs arise,

And lo! the long estranged band

Press once again their native strand!

VIII.

Loud welcomes hail the wand’rers home,

Come, Royal Edward! Margaret, come!

Ten thousand caps are hurl’d on high,

Ten thousand voices rend the sky,

Yea, and are these who shout so loud,

The same perverse and rebel crowd,

239 X4r 239

Who, thirsting for our sacred blood,

Drave us for shelter o’er the flood?

’Tis even so! But catch the gleam,

And drink ye of the running stream,

Nor sigh to think the stream shall fail,

And clouds the shining welkin veil!

The past, the present, are our own,

Fate cannot reach them! For the rest,

Let apathy’s impervious zone

Wrap every mortal breast!

IX.

Earl Warwick, with a mighty host,

In England’s centre holds his post:

York, late-repentant, vainly tried,

With many a wily, winning art,

To soften that vindictive heart,

And melt its frozen pride:

’Twas all too late, the die is cast,

And Warwick’s sacred word is past!

Howe’er his yearning thoughts may strive,

He never, never must forgive!

X.

Tho’ York, with many a message mild,

For pardon and for peace implores,

Yet waits he not, till hoarse and wild,

Above his head the tempest roars;

Again his banner waves! Again

He courts the crowd in flatt’ring strain,

Well skill’d to dazzle and deceive,

And thousands listen and believe!

Gloster, with reasons blunt and strong,

Compels and awes the wavering throng,

And Hastings, with auspicious smiles,

Partaker in his master’s wiles

The silly multitude beguiles!

240 X4v 240

XI.

Still Warwick, with his mighty band,

The pride and promise of the land,

Awaits, with heart prepar’d in vain,

The coming of the hostile train:

In vain, with loud and echoing vaunt,

In vain, with sharp and pointed taunt,

Did Warwick from his hold invite

His crafty rival to the fight;—

York, smiling, heard and understood,

And, with unchaf’d and temp’rate blood,

Wide, wide away from Warwick’s towers

He leads his swift increasing powers!

Forc’d from his den, the angry bear Warwick’s badge.

Roaring pursues his wily prey,

Who now, with gay and gallant cheer,

With bended bow, and glancing spear,

Turns, and awaits the fray!

XII.

The sun which lit that morning’s sky

A tearful tragedy beheld,

Ne’er did th’ eternal trav’ller’s eye

Look down on direr field!

On Barnet’s ghastly plain contend

Brother with brother, friend with friend!

Full many a warrior’s soul doth yearn

On him who bleeds beneath his steel,

But wrath and honour bid him spurn

At nature’s soft appeal!

Spare may he not, tho’ at his feet

His mother’s son imploring lies,

He chides his heart, he shuts his eyes

And o’er the breathing corse he spurs his courser fleet!

241 X5r 241

XIII.

Forth on that morn did Warwick ride,

Elate in hope, and swell’d with pride:

He felt as if the world in vain

Might wrestle with his matchless train,

Victorious ere the fight began,

His thoughts to greet the future ran;

He gaz’d on York’s expectant bands,

As men whose fate was in his hands,

A victim host to slaughter come,

A mute, redeemless hecatomb!

XIV.

With him rode Montague,—no pride,

No hope within his bosom glow’d,

Scarce might that gallant breast abide

The heart’s encumb’ring load!

His bright and plumed casque did press

A cheek all wan and colourless,

And as he heard the death-word given

And prick’d his courser to the charge,

Flinging to earth his shelt’ring targe,

One silent prayer he sent to heaven,

Oh, Virgin Mother! bless the yew

Whose shaft brings peace to Montague!

XV.

With spirits light, as tho’ endow’d

With God’s high attribute, their sight

Did reach the issue of the fight,

And saw beneath their banners bow’d

A prostrate, breathless, lifeless crowd,

De Vere and Beaufort gallopp’d forth

With the bold lion of the north,

As men on sportive warfare bent

Of chase, or gaudy tournament,

All sure, quite sure that fortune’s smile

242 X5v 242

Dar’d not that day their hopes beguile,—

How vain the boast of man, if heaven frowns the while!

XVI.

On Dorset’s coast the Prince and Queen,

Unconscious of th’ eventful scene,

Still doubtful, linger on the strand

And wait Earl Warwick’s beck’ning hand:

Oh, in that craving, keen suspense

How ready is the ear tooseize

Each futile, wild intelligence

Opinion scatters on the breeze!

Then with what piercing scrutiny

Do hope and fear endue the eye

Which seeks in every stranger’s face

Some note of good or ill to trace!

How does the busy, restless mind

Take hints from every murm’ring wind,

Well skill’d from nothing to produce

Strange toys for froward fancy’s use!

XVII.

Yet while suspense the hour doth chide,

That hour, which only seem’d to stay,

Is swept with all its cares away

Down time’s oblivious tide!

So fares it now,—returning scouts

Dispel their vague and aimless doubts,

For each brings comfort, each has seen

Some flatt’ring presage:— one had been

Where Warwick’s tow’rs in hoary pride

Frown o’er the dark Leam’s winding tide,

And heard the ancient vassals boast

Their gallant earl’s resistless host,

So strong, so true, it might have hurl’d

Its battle-gage against the world!

243 X6r 243

XVIII.

One scout by happy chance had met,

Beaming with hope, warm, sanguine, gay,

The bold and blooming Somerset,

As forth he led his stout array

Of rugged Cambrians,—vassals all

Who swore with him to stand or fall!

Impatient of the spur’s assault,

Scarce would his fiery charger halt,

While the brief message Beaufort sends

Of comfort to his royal friends!

XIX.

Tell them we strike the final blow!

This struggle ends the tedious strife!

York’s star declines!—Upon my life

To-morrow sees his overthrow!

We have done with wild and wav’ring chance,

Now we strike sure! And it is meet

That straight from Weymouth they advance,

For many a gallant heart will beat

To lay the garland at their feet!

Bid them tow’rds Beaulieu,—let them rest

Securely in the woodland nest,

Till shouts disturb their brief repose,

Of Long live Lancaster! All hail the vermil Rose!

XX.

Sweet Hope! how easily thy tale

Wins credence from the charmed ear!

How dost thou teach thy dupes to rail

On thy cold rival, halting Fear!

And they who cling to thee are wise,

Tho’ still from fraud to fraud they go,

Since what can truth and reason shew

To match thy fallacies!

244 X6v 244

XXI.

More needed not,—the Prince and Queen,

Forgetful what their eyes have seen,

Convinc’d by Beaufort’s sanguine boast,

March inland, and forsake the coast,

And they do lead with them along

A motley, haste-collected throng

Of Gallic troops by Lewis lent,

Of mariners as wild and rude

As their own stormy element,

And men ne’er stain’d with warmer blood

Than oozes from the scaly prey,

When helpless on the sand it struggles life away!

XXII.

Hope quickly steps—soon overhead

The forest’s The New Forest. giant boughs are spread,

And o’er the turfy glade they tread

Where Tyrrel’s chance-directed dart

Did pierce the hunter-king of yore,

And guiltless, from the cruel heart,

Mid mortal pangs and writhing smart,

Distill’d the vital gore!

XXIII.

Those emerald gems which bounteous spring

Is wont to scatter from her wing,

The anxious year in vain expects,

For spring her wonted gift neglects,

And wide the forest arms are toss’d,

Despairing of their vernal boast, —

Those broad grey arms, uncouth and drear,

Which still their brumal livery wear!

And ever as their limbs robust

245 Y1r 245

Contended with the warring gust,

Advancing now, and now retreating,

By turns defeated and defeating,

The bands who march’d below beheld

The image of a well-fought field

Where neither conquer, neither yield,

And as they eyed the struggling grove,

Much did they muse on those in mortal coil who strove.

XXIV.

Now do the pure and blameless group

Of cowled brethren meekly greet

Of stranger-guests a warlike troop,

In Beaulieu’s hallow’d seat:

The men of peace their home do share

With those who wave the torch of war,

Each humble cell and lowly bed

Lends shelter to some haughty head;

Where barefoot monks did silent glide,

Loud clangs the step of martial pride!

Now many a hoarse and noisy vaunt

Disturbs the full and solemn chaunt,

Mingling with arrogance the song

Sent heav’nward by the cloister’d throng!

Oh! evil are the days when those

Whom heaven for peace and worship chose,

E’en in their own sequester’d aisles,

Hear war’s discordant voice, and meet her glitt’ring files!

XXV.

Twice over Beaulieu’s hoary pile

The night has fall’n, and mornings twain

Peep’d thro’ the boughs with sparkling smile

To gild the ancient fane!

’Tis noon, and since the earliest day

Y 246 Y1v 246

In woundless fight and mimic fray,

Beneath their royal chief’s command,

Strive emulant the motley band:

Forth with the rest Queen Margaret rode

To solace her impatient mind,

And for an hour to cast the load

Of keen suspense behind:

XXVI.

Enough, enough! she cries.

’Tis now

No season for the mimic fight!

Forbear! Disperse ye quick! For lo!

The harbinger of weal or woe

Doth greet our anxious sight!

XXVII.

Who art thou, stranger? Quickly say,

And what tidings? Thou dost bear

Rude tokens of a desperate day!

Oh, speak! Beshrew thy silence drear!

The stranger from his saddle leapt,

And bent at Margaret’s foot the knee,

Who back in dire amazement stept,

Mistrusting what her eyes did see,

Beaufort! it may not, cannot be!

I know it now, thou com’st to tell

A tale of ruin, and to toll

Of our fair hopes the dismal knell!

Rise Beaufort, and uplift thy soul!

Trembling and speechless! Somerset!

Nay then the tale is told! our ruin is complete!

XXVIII.

’Twas Somerset!—In sooth the eye

Might on his form dwell doubtingly,

And e’en a brother’s tongue might ask,

Who art thou? On his batter’d casque

The snowy plume has ceas’d to float,

247 Y2r 247

Unseeemly hangs his blazon’d coat

In blood-stain’d remnants! his right hand

Still grasps the fragment of his brand,

But lance, nor battle-axe, nor shield

Bears Beaufort from the deadly field!

O’er his rich armour’s glitt’ring pride

A foul, ensanguin’d crust has dried,

And now, the lifted aventayle

Reveals a cheek so icy pale,

An eye so eloquent,—the tongue

May well the faltering pause prolong!

XXIX.

My friend, cried Edward,

thou hast stood

Unmov’d in many a field of blood;

Nay, I have seen thee smile, while fate

Pursued us with her bitt’rest hate,

But never did mine eye behold

So blanch’d thy cheek, thy cheer so cold!

XXX.

Yea, am I pale? —Alas! my heart

But feebly takes my manhood’s part!

Oh! I have seen the blackest hour

That ever on our hopes did low’r!

Renown looks pale! the chief who long

Was the proud burthen of her song,

Has vail’d his might, has clos’d his eyes,

And sleeps, on earth no more to rise!

Mingling their life blood, side by side

Lie the brave Nevils, ne’er to wake Lie the brave Nevils ne’er to wake. Stanza XXX. l.10. Hall says, He (Warwick) comforted his men beyng wery, sharpley quicknyng and earnestly desiryng them with hardy stomackes to bere out this laste and finall brunt of the battaill, and that the feld was even at an ende: but when his souldiers beyng sore wounded, weried with so long a conflict, did geve little regarde to his wordes, hee beyng a man of a mynde invincible rushed into the middest of his enemies, where as he aventured so farre from his awne compaignie to kill and sley his adversaries, that he could not be rescued, was in the middes of his enemies striken downe and slaine. The Marques Montacute thynkyng to succor his brother whiche he sawe was in grete jeopardey, and yet in hope to obtein the victory, was likewise overthrowen and slaine.Hall’sChronicle, p.246.

Till that dread trumpet echoeth wide

Which must this evil world to its foundations shake!

XXXI.

When the last Nevil dropt, my brain Lost all its counsel,—and my steed, 248 Y2v 248 Goaded by phrenzy, blind and vain, Plung’d on with hot and headlong speed I knew not whither! Ne’er before Did I so pant for human gore! As on I rush’d, a well-known tongue Cried feebly from the trampled throng, Oh turn thee, Somerset! and save One true Lancastrian from the grave, For e’en the hungry grave to-day Is sated with illustrious prey! It was the Irish knight, my hand Had fain his dying fingers wrung, But as I stoop’d, some coward brand, Aim’d from behind, my charger stung; Mad with the smart, he started wide And flung me in the tepid tide That gush’d from many a gaping wound Of those who prostrate lay around! What more I know not,—but I know That, scap’d from yon unsparing strife, I stand, with motion, strength, and life, To Rudolph’s pow’rful arm, and valiant heart I owe!

XXXII.

He ceas’d—for Percy and De Vere

With drooping crests, and sullen cheer,

Slow fugitives, together came,

Blushing to live, as life were shame!

With them rode Wenlock:—as the eye

Survey’d his spotless panopoly,

His broider’d cincture floating fair,

His light plume dancing in the air,

The trapping of his untir’d steed

Whose chanfron blaz’d with jewels rare,—

249 Y3r 249

Might not that eye, with doubting heed,

Make question of Lord Wenlock’s deed?

XXXIII.

Wrapt for a while in musings deep

The Prince stood silent:—now, like one

Who starts from long absorbing sleep,

And finds the recent vision gone,

He looks around,

Is it e’en so?

Does that proud forehead lie so low?

Methinks, I scarce can comprehend

The wondrous change! Does Warwick rest?

Warwick? within thy mighty breast

Do wrath and pride no more contend?

Why then if thou canst sleep so sound,

So dreamless, on the naked ground,

There’s hope for ev’ry heart! all strife shall find an end!

XXXIV.

Come, rouze ye, Lords! nor let mischance

Amaze us with her withering glance!

Our cause survives, and we will try

One struggle more with destiny!

Speak, Beaufort! did we lose the day

In gallant, hard, and even play,

Or was there treason?—Montague

Lies near his brother;—he was true;—

But where was Clarence?—did he stand

Where honour station’d him—or, fann’d

By flatt’ry’s breath, dissolve away,

And show the flouting world that princes can betray?

XXXV.

My Royal Liege, no time had I

To look around for treachery!

My own brave Cambrians, where they stood,

Y2 250 Y3v 250

Their duty done, lie heap’d in blood,

Their leader’s sorrow, and his pride!

The noble Montague,—he died

Bright honour’s martyr! Every art

That e’er successful flatt’ry knew

Was practis’d on his generous heart,

He stood them all,—and perish’d true!

He stood, immutable and stern,

E’en while his inmost soul did yearn

On him, whose long-lov’d voice besought him to return! On him whose long-lov’d voice besought him to return. St. XXXV. l. 13. The common people saied that the Kyng was not so jocund nor so joyous for the destruction of Therle, but he was more sorrowful and dolorous for the death of the Marques, whom both he knew, and it appered to other, to be inwardly his faithful friend: for whose sake only he caused bothe their bodies to bee with their auncestors solemnly entered at the Priory of Bissam.Halls Chronicle, p.297.

XXXVI.

I cannot tell!—But there be those

Of cooler spirits, who might stay

To scan the order of the fray

Men brave of speech, who for the blows

Which mid the peril of the field,

Remorseful, they forbore to wield

Will give ye words! Lord Wenlock, thou

Hast wip’d the toil-dops from thy brow,

And doff’d the harness thou didst wear

On Barnet Plain for fresher gear,

Thou hast had breathing-time, and well

Mayst play the orator, and tell

How this disastrous chance befell!

XXXVII.

The varying hue of Wenlock’s cheek

A craven conscience did bespeak,

And he did cast a wistful glance

On his unstain’d, unbroken lance;

He could have curs’d the spotless weed

That so betray’d him, and the speed

Devoid of council and of heed,

Which bade him quit the battle-plain

Ere he had borrow’d glory’s stain!

251 Y4r 251

Has spirit sicken’d, but his tongue

In martial phrase repell’d the wrong:

XXXVIII.

Injurious Beaufort!—By the brand

That knighthood on my shoulder press’d,

I do adjure thee, hand to hand,

Here, in the presence where we stand,

To take thy insult from my crest!

Lo, at thy foot my gauntlet lies!—

I do defy thee! and will teach

Thy tongue the use of safer speech!

Ere fades the light in yonder skies

Thou shalt retract thy base, unknightly calumnies!

XXXIX.

Peace, gentle lord! Some tilting day,

Whence this our rugged work is past,

I’ll break a lance with thee, but stay

Till leisure lends us hours to waste!

Then will I don my bravest gear,

And hang a streamer on my spear,

And we will run a bold career,

While lordlings gay, and ladies bright,

Shall wonder at each warrior’s might!

XL.

What! are ye both the friends of York!

Fie, Beaufort! leave this factious work!

Prince Edward cries,—

and, Wenlock, thou,

Resume thy gage, and clear thy brow!

By heaven, whichever of the twain

Shall wake this irksome broil again,

Is half a traitor! Brave de Vere,

Pour thou into thy Prince’s ear

The heavy story!—Say, did force

Or guile impede our fortune’s course?

252 Y4v 252

Why did we fail? Say, how did fate

Accomplish its relentless hate?

XLI.

Oh, my liege Lord! the stars in vain

Had frown’d upon our matchless train,

Had all been true! Your rival’s art

Did find the path to Clarence’ heart!

That courteous, kind, fair-spoken lord

Did swallow back his honour’s word,

And England’s annals shall record

Clarence a traitor!—May the blood

Of his renowned father His father-in-law the Earl of Warwick. rest

For ever on his burthen’d breast,

And ever, in his lighter mood,

When his heart laughs, may conscience tell,

To dash his short-liv’d mirth, how the brave Nevils fell!

XLII.

Now, by my knighthood, Beaufort cries,

I never trusted him! His eyes,

Methought, did ever look askance

With such unsettled, furtive glance

As if he fear’d they might betray

What mischief in the centre lay,

And tell the world, how wide apart

Were his smooth tongue and hollow heart!

Did ye ne’er mark how soft and slow

His speech upon the ear did flow?

Why did we trust him? Were we blind?

The man is character’d and sign’d

With ev’ry mark and note that hints a double mind!

253 Y5r 253

XLIII.

Well, Lords! and shall we stand to gaze

On our own ruin, reasoning slow

Whence the bolt fell? Enough we know,

Our hopes have perish’d in the blaze!

’Tis o’er with us! Yea, e’en tho’ fate

Relenting view’d the work of hate,

The blow is struck! ’Twere now too late!

I am a woman!—Witness all,

Ye, who do gaze upon my fall,

How I have trod;—my spirits’ force

Still wrestling with misfortune’s course;

When from yon skies the thunder broke,

Fronting its very aim and stroke!

A glorious warfare! But ’tis o’er!—

Strong is the arm of fate! We fall to rise no no more! Strong is the arm of fate!—we fall to rise no more! St. XLIII. l. 15 When Margaret harde all these miserable chaunces and misfortunes, so sodainly, one in another’s necke to have taken their effect, she, like a woman all dismaied 260 Z2v 260 for feare, fell to the ground, her harte was perced with sorowe, her speache was in a manner passed, all her spirites were tormented with melencholy. The calamitie and misery of her time she detested and abhorred, her unstable and contrariant fortune she stedfastly blamed and accused, &c;—Hall’sChronicle, p.297.

XLIV.

Still, mid the wreck of mightier things,

One humble wish tenacious clings

To our quell’d bosom!—From our pride

Has heav’n, still frowning, turn’d aside,

But this is nature’s pray’r, no claim

For crowns or sceptres, pow’r or fame!

God grant, that soon yon briny flood

May roll its blessed wave between

My Edward, and those hunters keen,

Who follow in his track, and pant to drink his blood!

XLV.

Immortal Anjou! does thy heart

Espouse yon vile Usurper’s part?

No, no! ’tis but a feint to prove

The mould and mettle of our love!

Cried Somerset.