Page images

Ten thousand Scots 'gainst thousands three,

Certes, were desperate policy.

Nay, take the terms the Ladye made,

E'er conscious of the advancing aid:

Let Musgrave meet fierce Deloraine

In single fight; and if he gain,

He gains for us; but if he's crossed,

Tis but a single warrior lost:

The rest, retreating as they came,

Avoid defeat, and death, and shame." .


Ill could the haughty Dacre brook
His brother-warden's sage rebuke;
And yet his forward step he staid,
And slow and sullenly obeyed.
But ne'er again the Border side
Did these two lords in friendship ride;
And this slight discontent, men say,
Cost blood upon another day.

XXIX. The pursuivant-at-arms again

Before the castle took his stand; His trumpet called, with parleying strain,

The leaders of the Scottish band; And he defied, in Musgrave's right, Stout Deloraine to single fight; A gauntlet at their feet he laid, And thus the terms of fight he said:— "If in the lists good Musgrave's sword

Vanquish the knight of Deloraine, Your youthful chieftain, Branksome's lord,

Shall hostage for his clan remain: If Deloraine foil good Musgrave, The boy his liberty shall have.

Howe'er it falls, the English band, Unharming Scots, by Scots unharmed. In peaceful march, like men unarmed,

Shall straight retreat to Cumberland."


Unconsqious of the near relief,

The proffer pleased each Scottish chief,

Though much the Ladye sage gainsayed;
For though their hearts were brave and true,
From Jedwood's recent sack they knew,

How tardy was the regent's aid:
And you may guess the noble Dame

Durst not the secret prescience own,
Sprung from the art she might not name,

By which the coming help was known.
Closed was the compact, and agreed,
That lists should be inclosed with speed,

Beneath the castle, on a lawn:
They fixed the morrow for the strife,
On foot, with Scottish axe and knife,

At the fourth hour from peep of dawn;
When Deloraine, from sickness freed,
Or else a'champion in his stead,

[ocr errors]

Should for himself and chieftain stand,
Against stout Musgrave, hand to hand.


I know right well, that, in their lay,
Full many minstrels sing and say,

Such combat should be made on horse,
On foaming steed, in full career,
With brand to aid, when as the spear

Should shiver in the course:
But he, the jovial Harper, taught
Me, yet a youth, how it was fought,

In guise which now I say;
He knew each ordinance and clause
Of black Lord Archibald's battle laws,

In the old Douglas' day.
He brooked not, he, that scoffing tongue
Should tax. his minstrelsy with wrong,


Or call his song untrue: For this, when they the goblet plied, And such rude taunt had chafed his pride,

The bard of Reull he slew.
On Teviot's side, in fight, they stood,
And tuneful hands were stained with blood;
Where still the thorn's white branches wave,
Memorial o'er his rival's grave.

Why should I tell the rigid doom,
That dragged my master to his tomb;

How Ousenam's maidens tore their hair, Wept till their eyes were dead and dim, And wrung their hands for love of him,

Who died at Jedwood Air?
He died!—his scholars, one by one,
To the cold silent grave are gone j
And I, alas! survive alone,

« PreviousContinue »