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The way was long, the wind was cold,
No longer courted and caressed,
High placed in hall, a welcome guest^
He poured, to lord and lady gay,
The unpremeditated lay:
Old times were changed, old manners gone;
A stranger filled the Stuarts', throne;
The bigots of the iron time , .. . .
Had called his harmless art a crime.
A wandering Harper, scorned and poor,
He begged his bread from door to door 5
And tuned, to please, a peasant's ear,
The harp, a king had loved to hear.
He passed where Newark's stately tower Looks out from Yarrow's birchen bower: The Minstrel gazed with wishful eyeNo humbler resting-place was nigh. With hesitating step, at last, The embattled portal-arch he passed,
Whose ponderous grate and massy bar
When kindness had his wants supplied,
* Anne, Duchess of Buccleuch and Monmouth, representative of the ancient lords of Buccleuch, and widow of the unfortunate James, Duke of Monmouth, who was beheaded in And he began to talk anon,
Of good Earl Francis,* dead and gone,
And of Earl Walter, f rest him God!
A braver ne'er to battle rode;
And how full many a tale he knew,
Of the old warriors of Buccleuch;
And, would the noble Duchess deign
To listen to an old man's strain,
Though stiff his hand, his voice though weak,
He thought, even yet, the sooth to speak,
That, if she loved the harp to hear,
He could make music to her ear.
. The humble boon was soon obtained;
• Francis Scott, Earl of Buccleuch, father to the Duchess. + Walter, Earl of Buccleuch, grandfather to the Duchess, and a celebrated warrior.
Perchance he wished his boon denied:
For, when to tune his harp he tried,
His trembling hand had lost the ease,
Which marks security to please;
And scenes, long past, of joy and pain,
Came wildering o'er his aged brain—
He tried to tune his harp in vain.
The pitying Duchess praised its chime,
And gave him heart, and gave him time,
Till every string's according glee
Was blended into harmony.
And then, he said, he would full fain
He could recal an ancient strain,
He never thought to sing again.
It was not framed for village churls,
But for high dames and mighty earls;
He had played it to King Charles the Good,
When he kept court in Holyrood;
And much he wished, yet feared, to try
The long-forgotten melody.