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For seldom, sure, if ere before,
His noble hand had grasped an oar:
Yet with main strength his strokes he drew
And o’er the lake the shallop flew;
With heads erect, and whimpering cry,
The hounds behind their passage ply,
Nor frequent does the bright oar break
The darkening mirror of the lake,
Until the rocky isle they reach,
And moor their shallop on the beach.
The stranger viewed the shore around;
'Twas all so close with copse-wood bound,
Nor track nor path-way might declare
That human foot frequented there,
Until the mountain-maiden showed
A clambering unsuspected road,
That winded through the tangled screen,
And opened on a narrow green,
Where weeping birch and willow round
With their long fibres swept the ground;
Here, for retreat in dangerous hour,
Some chief had framed a rustic bower.
It was a lodge of ample size,
But strange of structure and device;
Of such materials as around
The workman's hand had readiest found.
Lopped of their boughs, their hoar trunks bared,
And by the hatchet rudely squared,
To give the walls their destined height,
The sturdy oak and ash unite;
While moss and clay and leaves combined
To fence each crevice from the wind.
The lighter pine-trees over-head,
Their slender length for rafters spread;
And withered heath and rushes dry
Supplied a russet canopy.
Due westward, fronting to the green
A rural portico was seen,
Aloft on native pillars borne,
Of mountain fir with bark unshorn,
Where Ellen's hand had taught to twine
The ivy and Idæan vine,
The clematis, the favored flower,
Which boasts the name of virgin-bower;
And every hardy plant could bear
Loch-Katrine's keen and searching air.
An instant in this porch she staid,
And gaily to the stranger said,
66 On heaven and on thy lady call,
And enter the enchanted hall."
“My hope, my heaven, my trust must be,
My gentle guide, in following thee."
QUARREL BETWEEN RODERICK DHU AND
FITZ-JAMES. The shades of eve come slowly down, The woods are wrapp'd in deeper brown, The owl awakens from her dell, The fox is heard upon the fell; Enough remains of glimmering light To guide the wanderer’s steps aright, Yet not enough from far to show His figure to the watchful foe. With cautious step, and ear awake, He climbs the crag and threads the brake; And not the summer solstice there, Temper’d the midnight mountain air, But every breeze, that swept the wold, Benumbed his drenched limbs with cold. In dread, in danger, and alone, Famished and chilled, through ways i!nknown; Tangled and steep, he journeyed on; Till, as a rock's huge point he turned, A watch-fire close before him burned.
Beside its embers red and clear,
Basked, his plaid, a mountaineer;
And up he spring with sword in hand,-
Thy name and purpose! Saxon, stand !!!--
" A stranger.”_"What dost thou require?"-
• Rest and a guide, and food and fire.
My life's beset, my path is lost,
The gale has chilled my limbs with frost.”
- Art thou a friend to Roderick?"-"No."
- Thou darest not call thyself a foe?''-
"I dare! to him and all the band
He brings to aid his murderous hand.”_
“ Bold words !—but, though the beast of game
The privilege of chase may claim,
Though space and law the stag we lend,
Ere hound we slip, or bow we bend,
Who ever reck’d, where, how, or when,
l'he prowling fox was trapp'd or slain?
Thus treacherous scouts,-yet sure they lie,
Who say thou camest a secret spy !"
“ They do, by heaven !--Come Roderick Dhu,
And of his clan the boldest two,
And let me but till morning rest,
I write the falshood on their crest.”
“ If by the blaze I mark aright,
Thou bea’rst the belt and spur of Knight.”
" Then, by these tokens may'st thou know,
Each proud oppressor's mortal foe.”—
“ Enough, enough; sit down and share
A soldier's couch, a soldier's fare."
He gave him of his highland cheer,
The harden'd flesh of mountain deer
Dry fuel on the fire he laid,
And bade the Saxon share his plaid
He tended him like welcome guest,
Then thus his further speech addresseu,
“Stranger, I am to Roderick Dhu,
A clansman born, a kinsman true;
Each word against his honor spoke
Demands of me avenging stroke;
Yet more,-upon thy fate, 'tis said
A mighty augury is laid.
It rests with me to wind my horn,
Thou art with numbers overborne;
It rests with me, here, brand to brand,
Worn as thou art, to bid thee stand;
But, nor for clan, nor kindred's cause,
Will I depart from honor's laws:
To assail a wearied man were shame,
And stranger is a holy name;
Guidance and rest, and food and fire;
In vain he never must require
Then rest thee here till dawn of day,
Myself will guide thee on the way,
O'er stock and stone, through watch and ward,
Till past Clan-Alpine's outmost guard,
As far as Coilantogle's ford
From thence thy warrant is thy sword.”
“I take thy courtesy, by Heaven,
As freely as 'tis nobly given !"-
“Well, rest thee; for the bittern's cry
Sings us the lake's wild lullaby.”-
With that he shook the gathered heath,
And spread his plaid upon the wreath;
And the brave foemen, side by side,
Lay peaceful down like brothers tried,
And slept until the dawning beam
Purpled the mountain and the stream.
Fair as the earliest beam of eastern light,
When first, by the bewilder'd pilgrim spied,
It smiles upon the dreary brow of night,
And silvers o'er the torrent's foaming tide,
And lights the fearful path on mountain side,
Fair as that beam, although the fairest fair,
Giving to horror grace, to danger pride,
Shine martial Faith, and Courtesy's bright star,
Through all the wreckful storms that cloud the brow
That early beam, so fair and sheen,
Was twinkling through the hazel screen,
When, rousing at its glimmer red,
The warriors left their lowly bed,
Looked out upon the dappled sky,
Muttered their soldier matins by,
And then awaked their fire, to steal,
As short and rude, their soldier meal.
That o'er, the Gael* around him threw
His graceful plaid of varied hue,
And, true to promise, led the way,
By thicket green and mountain gray.
A wildering path !—they winded now
Along the precipice's brow,
Commanding the rich scenes beneath,
The windings of the Forth and Teith.
And all the vales between that lie,
Till Stirling's turrets melt in sky;
Then, sunk in copse, their farthest glance
Gained not the length of horseman's lance.
'Twas oft so steep, the foot was fain
Assistance from the hand to gain :
So tangled oft, that bursting through,
Each hawthorn shed her showers of dew,-
That diamond dew, so pure and clear,
It rivals all but Beauty's tear!
At length they came where, stern and steep,
The hill sinks down upon the deep;
Here Vennachar in silver flows,
There, ridge on ridge, Benledi rose.
Ever the hollow path twined on,
Beneath steep bank and threatening stone;
An hundred men might hold the post
With hardihood against a host.
* The Scottsih Highlander calls himself Gael, or Gaul, and terms the Lowlander, Sassenach, or Saxon.
The rugged mountain's scanty cloak
Was dwarfish shrubs of birch and oak,
With shingles bare, and cliffs between,
And patches bright of bracken green,
And heather black, that waved so high,
It held the copse in rivelry.
But where the lake slept deep and still,
Dank osiers fringed the swamp and hill ;
And oft both path and hill were torn,
Where wintry torrent down had borne,
And heaped upon the cumber'd land
Its wreck of gravel, rocks, and sand.
So toilsome was the road to trace,
The guide, abating of his pace,
Led slowly through the pass's jaws,
And asked Fitz-James, by what strange cause
He sought these wilds ; traversed by few,
Without a pass from Roderick Dhu?
“ Braye Gael, my pass, in danger tried,
Hangs in my belt, and by my side;
Yet, soothe to tell,” the Saxon said,
“ I dreamed not now to claim its aid.
When here, but three days' since, I came,
Bewilder'd in pursuit of game,
A!I seemed as peaceful and as still,
As the mist slumbering on yon hill;
Thy dangerous chief was then afar,
Nor soon expected back from war.
Thus said, at least, my mountain guide,
Though deep, perchance the villain lied.”
• Yet why a second venture try?”.
“ A warrior thou, and ask me why!
Moves our free course by such fixed cause,
As gives the poor mechanic laws ?
Enough I sought to drive away
The lazy hours of peaceful day;
Slight cause will then suffice to guide
A knight's free footsteps far and wide ;
A falcon flown, a grayhound strayed,
The merry glance of mountain maid:
Or, if a path be dangerous known,
The danger's self is lure alone.”—