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BALLADS. :.

THE SKELETON IN ARMOUR.

PREFATORY NOTE. [The following Ballad was suggested to me while riding on the seashore at Newport. A year or two previous a skeleton had been dug up at Fall River, clad in broken and corroded armour; and the idea occurred to me of connecting it with the Round Tower at Newport, generally known hitherto as the Old Windmill, though now claimed by the Danes as a work of their early ancestors. Professor Rafn, in the Mémoires de la Société Royale des Antiquaires du Nord, for 1838-9, says,

“There is no mistaking in this instance the style in which the more ancient stone edifices of the North were constructed, the style which belongs to the Roman or Ante-Gothic architecture, and which, especially after the time of Charlemagne, diffused itself from Italy over the whole of the West and North of Europe, where it continued to predominate until the close of the twelfth century; that style which some authors have, from one of its most striking characteristics, called the round arch style, the same which in England is denominated Saxon and sometimes Norman architecture.

“On the ancient structure in Newport there are no ornaments remaining which might possibly have served to guide us in assigning the probable date of its erection. That no vestige whatever is found of the pointed arch, nor any approximation to it, is indicative of an earlier rather than of a later period. From such characteristics as remain, however, we can scarcely form any other inference than one, in which I am persuaded that all who are familiar with Old Northern architecture will concur, THAT THIS BUILDING WAS ERECTED AT A PERIOD DECIDEDLY NOT LATER THAN THE TWELFTH CENTURY. This remark applies, of course, to the original building only, and not to the alterations that it subsequently received; for there are several such alterations in the upper part of the building which cannot be mistaken, and which were most likely occasioned by its being adapted in modern times to various uses, for example, as the substructure of a windmill, and latterly as a hay magazine. To the same times may be referred the windows, the fireplace, and the apertures made above the columns. That this building could not have been erected for a windmill is what an architect will easily discern.”

I will not enter into a discussion of the point. It is sufficiently well established for the purpose of a ballad, though doubtless many an honest citizen of Newport, who has passed his days within sight of the Round Tower, will be ready to exclaim with Sancho, “God bless me! did I not warn you to have a care of what you were doing, for that it was nothing but a windmill? and nobody could mistake it but one who had the like in his head.”] “SPEAK! speak! thou fearful guest! And, like the water's flow Who, with thy hollow breast

Under December's snow,
Still in rude armour drest,

Came a dull voice of woe
Comest to daunt me!

From the heart's chamber.
Wrapt not in Eastern balms,

“I was a Viking old ! But with thy fleshless palms

My deeds, though manifold,
Stretched, as if asking alms,

No Skald in song has told,
Why dost thou haunt me?"

No Saga taught thee!
Then, from those cavernous eyes Take heed,

that in thy verse Pale flashes seemed to rise,

Thou dost the tale rehearse,
As when the Northern skies

Else dread a dead man's curse!
Gleam in December;

For this I sought thee.

“Far in the Northern land, By the wild Baltic's strand, 1, with my childish hand,

Tamed the ger-falcon;
And, with my skates fast-bound,
Skimmed the half-frozen Sound,
That the poor whimpering hound

Trembled to walk on.
“Oft to his frozen lair
Tracked I the grisly bear,
While from my path the hare

Fled like a shadow;
Oft through the forest dark
Followed the were-wolf's bark,
Until the soaring lark

Sang from the meadow.
But when I older grew,
Joining a corsair's crew,
O'er the dark sea I flew

With the marauders.
Wild was the life we led ;
Many the souls that sped,
Many the hearts that bled,

By our stern orders.
“Many a wassail-bout
Wore the long Winter out;
Often our midnight shout

Set the cocks crowing,
As we the Berserk's tale
Measured in cups of ale,
Draining the oaken pail,

Filled to o'erflowing.
“Once as I told in glee
Tales of the stormy sea,
Soft eyes did gaze on me,

Burning yet tender;
And as the white stars shine
On the dark Norway pine,
On that dark heart of mine

Fell their soft splendour.
“I wooed the blue-eyed maid,
Yielding, yet half afraid,
And in the forest's shade

Our vows were plighted.
Under its loosened vest
Fluttered her little breast,
Like birds within their nest,

By the hawk frighted.
“Bright in her father's hall
Shields gleamed upon the wall,
Loud sang the minstrels all,

Chanting his glory;

When of old Hildebrand
I asked his daughter's hand,
Mute did the minstrels stand

To hear my story.
“While the brown ale he quaffed,
Loud then the champion laughed,
And as the wind-gusts waft

The sea-foam brightly, So the loud laugh of scorn, Out of those lips unshorn, From the deep drinking-horn

Blew the foam lightly.
“She was a Prince's child,
I but a Viking wild,
And though she blushed and smiled,

I was discarded !
Should not the dove so white
Follow the sea-mew's flight,
Why did they leave that night

Her nest unguarded?
“Scarce had I put to sea,
Bearing the maid with me,-
Fairest of all was she

Among the Norsemen !--
When on the white-sea strand,
Waving his armèd hand,
Saw we old Hildebrand,

With twenty horsemen.
“Then launched they to the blast,
Bent like a reed each mast,
Yet we were gaining fast,

When the wind failed us;
And with a sudden flaw
Came round the gusty Skaw,
So that our foe we saw

Laugh as he hailed us.
And as to catch the gale
Round veered the flapping sail,
Death! was the helmsman's hail,

Death without quarter!
Mid-ships with iron keel
Struck we her ribs of steel;
Down her black hulk did reel

Through the black water!
“ As with his wings aslant,
Sails the fierce cormorant,
Seeking some rocky haunt,

With his prey laden;
So toward the open main,
Beating to sea again,
Through the wild hurricane,

Bore I the maiden.

“ Three weeks we westward bore, And when the storm was o'er, Cloud-like we saw the shore

Stretching to leeward;
There for my lady's bower
Built I the lofty tower,
Which, to this very hour,

Stands looking seaward.
“ There lived we many years;
Time dried the maiden's tears;
She had forgot her fears,

She was a mother;
Death closed her mild blue eyes,
Under that tower she lies;
Ne'er shall the sun arise

On such another!
“ Still grew my bosom then,
Still as a stagnant fen!
Hateful to me were men,

The sunlight hateful !
In the vast forest here,
Clad in my warlike gear,
Fell I upon my spear,

0, death was grateful ! “ Thus, seamed with many scars, Bursting these prison-bars, Up to its native stars

My soul ascended! There from the flowing bowl Deep drinks the warrior's soul, Skoal! to the Northland ! skoal!"*

-Thus the tale ended.

The skipper he stood beside the helm,

His pipe was in his mouth, And he watched how the veering flaw

did blow The smoke now West, row South. Then up and spake an old sailor,

Had sailed the Spanish Main, I pray thee put into yonder port,

For I fear a hurricane. “ Last night, the moon had a golden

ring,
And to-night no moon we see

! ” The skipper, he blew a whiff from his

pipe, And a scornful laugh laughed he. Colder and louder blew the wind,

A gale from the North-east; The snow fell hissing in the brine,

And the billows frothed like yeast. Down came the storm, and smote amain

The vessel in its strength; She shuddered and paused, like a

frighted steed, Then leaped her cable's length. Come hither! come hither!

my

little daughter, And do not tremble so; For I can weather the roughest gale

That ever wind did blow." He wrapped her warın in his seaman's

coat Against the stinging blast; He cut a rope from a broken spar,

And bound her to the mast. “O father! I hear the church-bells ring,

O say what may it be?” “ 'Tis a fog-bell on a rock-bound coast!”

And he steered for the open sea. “O father! I hear the sound of guns, O

may

it be?” “Some ship in distress, that cannot live

In such an angry sea!” “O father! I see a gleaming light,

O say what may it be?” But the father answered never a word,

A frozen corpse was he. Lashed to the helm, all stiff and stark,

With his face turned to the skies, The lantern gleamed through the

gleaming snow
On his fixed and glassy eyes.

THE WRECK OF THE

HESPERUS.
It was the schooner Hesperus,

That sailed the wintry sea;
And the skipper had taken his little

daughter, To bear him company. Blue were her eyes as the fairy-flax,

Her cheeks like the dawn of day, And her bosom white as the hawthorn

buds That ope

in the month of May.

say what

* In Scandinavia this is the customary salutation when drinking a health. I have slightly changed the orthography of the word, in order to preserve the correct pronunciation.

waves

Then the maiden clasped her hands THE LUCK OF EDENHALL. and prayed

FROM THE GERMAN OF UHLAND. That saved she might be; And she thought of Christ, who stilled

[The tradition upon which this ballad the wave

is founded, and the "shards of the Luck On the Lake of Galilee.

of Edenhall," still exist in England.

The goblet is in the possession of Sir And fast through the midnight dark Christopher Musgrave, Bart. of Eden and drear,

Hall, Cumberland ; and is not so entirely Through the whistling sleet and shattered as the ballad leaves it.]

snow, Like a sheeted ghost, the vessel swept

OF Edenhall, the youthful Lord

Bids sound the festal trumpet's call; Towards the reef of Norman's Woe.

He rises at the banquet board, And ever the fitful gusts between And cries, 'mid the drunken revellers A sound came from the land;

all, It was the sound of the trampling surf, “Now bring me the Luck of EdenOn the rocks and the hard sea-sand.

hall!” The breakers were right beneath her

The butler hears the words with pain, bows,

The house's oldest seneschal, She drifted a dreary wreck,

Takes slow from its silken cloth again And a whooping billow swept the crew

The drinking glass of crystal tall; Like icicles from her deck.

They call it the Luck of Edenhall. She struck where the white and fleecy

Then said the Lord; "This glass to

praise, Looked soft as carded wool,

Fill with red wine from Portugal !” But the cruel rocks, they gored her side

The gray-beard with trembling hand Like the horns of an angry bull.

obeys;

A purple light shines over all, Her rattling shrouds, all sheathed in ice, It beams from the Luck of Edenhall. With the masts went by the board ;

Then speaks the Lord, and waves it Like a vessel of glass, she stove and

light, sank, Ho! ho! the breakers roared!

“ This glass of flashing crystal tall

Gave to my sires the Fountain-Sprite; At daybreak, on the bleak sea-beach, She wrote in it: If this glass doth fall, A fisherman stood aghast,

Farewell then, 0 Luck of Edenhall ! To see the form of a maiden fair,

“ 'Twas right a goblet the Fate should Lashed close to a drifting mast.

be The salt sea was frozen on her breast,

Of the joyous race of Edenhall ! The salt tears in her eyes;

Deep draughts drink we right willingly; And he saw her hair, like the brown

And willingly ring, with merry call, sea-weed,

Kling! klang! to the Luck of EdenOn the billows fall and rise.

hall !” Such was the wreck of the Hesperus,

First rings it deep, and full, and mild,

Like to the song of a nightingale ; In the midnight and the snow!

Then like the roar of a torrent wild ; Christ save us all from a death like this,

Then mutters at last like the thunder's On the reef of Norman's Woe!

fall, The glorious Luck of Edenhall. “ For its keeper takes a race of might, The fragile goblet of crystal tall; It has lasted longer than is right;

Kling! klang !-with a harder blow His steed was black, his helm was than all

barred; Will I try the Luck of Edenhall !”

He was riding at full speed. As the goblet ringing flies apart, He wore upon his spurs Suddenly cracks the vaulted hall ;

Twelve little golden birds; And through the rift, the wild flames

Anon he spurred his steed with a clang, start;

And there sat all the birds and sang. The guests in dust are scattered all, With the Breaking Luck of Edenhall ! He wore upon his mail

Twelve little golden wheels; In storms the foe, with fire and sword;

Anon in eddies the wild wind blew, He in the night had scaled the wall, Slain by the sword lies the youthful

And round and round the wheels they

flew.
Lord,
But holds in his hand the crystal tall, He wore before his breast
The shattered Luck of Edenhall.

A lance that was poised in rest; On the morrow the butler gropes alone,

And it was sharper than diamond-stone,

It made Sir Olur's heart to groan. The gray-beard in the desert hall, He seeks his Lord's burnt skeleton, He wore upon his helm He seeks in the dismal ruin's fall

A wreath of ruddy gold; The shards of the Luck of Edenhall. And that gave him the Maidens Three, “ The stone wall,” saith he,“ doth fall The youngest was fair to behold. aside,

Sir Oluf questioned the Knight eftsoon Down must the stately columns fall; If he were come from heaven down; Glass is this earth's Luck and Pride; Art thou Christof Heaven," quoth he, In atoms shall fall this earthly ball So will I yield me unto thee.” One day like the Luck of Edenhall!”

I am not Christ the Great,

Thou shalt not yield thee yet; THE ELECTED KNIGHT.

I am an Unknown Knight,

Three modest Maidens have me be. FROM THE DANISH.

dight.” [The following strange and somewhat

Art thou a Knight elected, mystical ballad is from Nyerup and Rahbek's Danske Viser of the Middle

And have three Maiders thee be. Ages. It seems to refer to the first

dight; preaching of Christianity in the North,

So shalt thou ride a tilt this day, and to the institution of Knight-Erran

For all the Maidens' honour! try. The three maidens I suppose to be The first tilt they together rode Faith, Hope, and Charity. The irre- They put their steeds to the test; gularities of the original have been care- The second tilt they together rode, fully preserved in the translation.]

They proved their manhood best; Sir Oluf he rideth over the plain, The third tilt they together rode, Full seven miles broad and seven Neither of them would yield; miles wide,

The fourth tilt they together rode, But never, ah never can meet with the They both fell on the field. man

Now lie the lords upon the plain, A tilt with him dare ride.

And their blood runs unto death; He saw under the hill-side

Now sit the Maidens in the high tower, A Knight full well equipped;

The youngest sorrows till death.

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