Page images

"For Branksome, ho!" the knight rejoined,
And left the friendly tower behind.
He turned him now from Teviotside,

And, guided by the tinkling rill,
Northward the dark ascent did ride,
And gained the moor at Horseliehill.
Broad on the left before him lay,
For many a mile, the Roman way *.


A moment now he slacked his speed,

A moment breathed his panting steed;

Drew saddle-girth and corslet band,

And loosened in the sheath hi9 brand.

On Minto-crags the moon-beams glint,

Where Barnhill hewed his bed of flint;

Who flung his outlawed limbs to rest,

Where falcons hang their giddy nest,

Mid cliffs, from whence his eagle eye

For many a league his prey could spy;

• An ancient Roman road, crossing through part of Roxburghshire.

Cliffs, doubling, on their echoes borne,

The terrors of the robber's horn;

Cliffs, which, for many a later year,

The warbling Doric reed shall hear,

When some sad swain shall teach the* grove,

Ambition is no cure for love.

XXVIII. Unchallenged, thence past Deloraine To ancient Riddel's fair domain,

Where Aill, from mountains freed,
Down from the lakes did raving come;
Each wave was crested with tawny foam,

Like the mane of a chesnut steed.
In vain! no torrent, deep or broad,
Might bar the bold moss-trooper's road.


At the first plunge the horse sunk low, And the water broke o'er the saddle-bow; Above the foaming tide, I ween,

Scarce half the charger's neck was seen;

For he was barded* from counter to tail,

And the rider was armed complete in mail;

Never heavier man and horse

Stemmed a midnight torrent's force.

The warrior's very plume, I say,

Was daggled by the dashing spray;

Yet, through good heart, and our Ladye's grace,

At length he gained the landing place.


Now Bowden Moor the march-man won,
And sternly shook his plumed head,

As glanced his eye o'er Halidonf;
For on his soul the slaughter red

* Barded, or barbed, applied to a horse accoutered with defensive armour.

t Halidon-hill, on which the battle of Melrose was fought.

Of that unhallowed morn arose.
When first the Scott and Car were foes;
When royal James beheld the fray,
Prize to the victor of the day;
When Home and Douglas, in the van,
Bore down Buccleuch's retiring clan,
Till gallant Cessford's heart-blood dear
Reeked on dark Elliot's Border spear.

In bitter mood he spurred fast,
And soon the hated heath was past;
And far beneath, in lustre wan,
Old Melros' rose, and fair Tweed ran:
Like some tall rock, with lichens gray,
Seemed, dimly huge, the dark Abbaye.
When Hawick he passed, had curfew rung,
Now midnight lauds* were in Melrose sung.

* Lauds, the midnight service of the Catholie church. The sound, upon the fitful gale,

In solemn wise did rise and fail,

Like that wild harp, whose magic tone

Is wakened by the winds alone.

But when Melrose he reached, 'twas silence all;

He meetly stabled his steed in stall,

And sought the convent's lonely wall.

Here paused the harp; and with its swell
The Master's fire and courage fell:
Dejectedly, and low, he bowed,
And, gazing timid on the crowd,
He seemed to seek, in every eye,
If they approved his minstrelsy;
And, diffident of present praise,
Somewhat he spoke of former days,
And how old age, and wandering long,
Had done his hand and harp some wrong.

« PreviousContinue »