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THE WHITE DOE OF RYLSTONE

OR, THE FATE OF THE NORTONS

                              DEDICATION

          IN trellised shed with clustering roses gay,
          And, MARY! oft beside our blazing fire,
          When yeas of wedded life were as a day
          Whose current answers to the heart's desire,
          Did we together read in Spenser's Lay
          How Una, sad of soul--in sad attire,
          The gentle Una, of celestial birth,
          To seek her Knight went wandering o'er the earth.

          Ah, then, Beloved! pleasing was the smart,
          And the tear precious in compassion shed                    10
          For Her, who, pierced by sorrow's thrilling dart,
          Did meekly bear the pang unmerited;
          Meek as that emblem of her lowly heart
          The milk-white Lamb which in a line she led,--
          And faithful, loyal in her innocence,
          Like the brave Lion slain in her defence.

          Notes could we hear as of a faery shell
          Attuned to words with sacred wisdom fraught;
          Free Fancy prized each specious miracle,
          And all its finer inspiration caught;                       20
          Till in the bosom of our rustic Cell,
          We by a lamentable change were taught
          That "bliss with mortal Man may not abide:"
          How nearly joy and sorrow are allied!

          For us the stream of fiction ceased to flow,
          For us the voice of melody was mute.
          --But, as soft gales dissolve the dreary snow,
          And give the timid herbage leave to shoot,
          Heaven's breathing influence failed not to bestow
          A timely promise of unlooked-for fruit,                     30
          Fair fruit of pleasure and serene content
          From blossoms wild of fancies innocent.

          It soothed us--it beguiled us--then, to hear
          Once more of troubles wrought by magic spell;
          And griefs whose aery motion comes not near
          The pangs that tempt the Spirit to rebel:
          Then, with mild Una in her sober cheer,
          High over hill and low adown the dell
          Again we wandered, willing to partake
          All that she suffered for her dear Lord's sake.             40

          Then, too, this Song 'of mine' once more could please,
          Where anguish, strange as dreams of restless sleep,
          Is tempered and allayed by sympathies
          Aloft ascending, and descending deep,
          Even to the inferior Kinds; whom forest-trees
          Protect from beating sunbeams, and the sweep
          Of the sharp winds;--fair Creatures!--to whom Heaven
          A calm and sinless life, with love, hath given.

          This tragic Story cheered us; for it speaks
          Of female patience winning firm repose;                     50
          And, of the recompense that conscience seeks,
          A bright, encouraging, example shows;
          Needful when o'er wide realms the tempest breaks,
          Needful amid life's ordinary woes;--
          Hence, not for them unfitted who would bless
          A happy hour with holier happiness.

          He serves the Muses erringly and ill,
          Whose aim is pleasure light and fugitive:
          Oh, that my mind were equal to fulfil
          The comprehensive mandate which they give--                 60
          Vain aspiration of an earnest will!
          Yet in this moral Strain a power may live,
          Beloved Wife! such solace to impart
          As it hath yielded to thy tender heart.

            RYDAL MOUNT, WESTMORELAND,
                       April 20, 1815.
                             _____________

          "Action is transitory--a step, a blow,
          The motion of a muscle--this way or that--
          'Tis done; and in the after-vacancy
          We wonder at ourselves like men betrayed:
          Suffering is permanent, obscure and dark,
          And has the nature of infinity.
          Yet through that darkness (infinite though it seem
          And irremoveable) gracious openings lie,
          By which the soul--with patient steps of thought
          Now toiling, waked now on wings of prayer--                 10
          May pass in hope, and, though from mortal bonds
          Yet undelivered, rise with sure ascent
          Even to the fountain-head of peace divine."
                             _____________

        "They that deny a God, destroy Man's nobility: for certainly Man 
      is of kinn to the Beast by his Body; and if he be not of kinn to 
      God by his Spirit, he is a base, ignoble Creature. It destroys 
      likewise Magnanimity, and the raising of humane Nature: for take 
      an example of a Dogg, and mark what a generosity and courage he 
      will put on, when he finds himself maintained by a Man, who to him 
      is instead of a God, or Melior Natura. Which courage is manifestly 
      such, as that Creature without that confidence of a better Nature 
      than his own could never attain. So Man, when he resteth and 
      assureth himself upon Divine protection and favour, gathereth a 
      force and faith which human Nature in itself could not obtain."
                                                        LORD BACON.

                              CANTO FIRST

          FROM Bolton's old monastic tower
          The bells ring loud with gladsome power;
          The sun shines bright; the fields are gay
          With people in their best array
          Of stole and doublet, hood and scarf,
          Along the banks of crystal Wharf,
          Through the Vale retired and lowly,
          Trooping to that summons holy.
          And, up among the moorlands, see
          What sprinklings of blithe company!                         10
          Of lasses and of shepherd grooms,
          That down the steep hills force their way,
          Like cattle through the budded brooms;
          Path, or no path, what care they?
          And thus in joyous mood they hie
          To Bolton's mouldering Priory.
            What would they there?--Full fifty years
          That sumptuous Pile, with all its peers,
          Too harshly hath been doomed to taste
          The bitterness of wrong and waste:                          20
          Its courts are ravaged; but the tower
          Is standing with a voice of power,
          That ancient voice which wont to call
          To mass or some high festival;
          And in the shattered fabric's heart
          Remaineth one protected part;
          A Chapel, like a wild-bird's nest,
          Closely embowered and trimly drest;
          And thither young and old repair,
          This Sabbath-day, for praise and prayer.                    30
            Fast the churchyard fills;--anon
          Look again, and they all are gone;
          The cluster round the porch, and the folk
          Who sate in the shade of the Prior's Oak!
          And scarcely have they disappeared
          Ere the prelusive hymn is heard:--
          With one consent the people rejoice,
          Filling the church with a lofty voice!
          They sing a service which they feel:
          For 'tis the sunrise now of zeal;                           40
          Of a pure faith the vernal prime--
          In great Eliza's golden time.
            A moment ends the fervent din,
          And all is hushed, without and within;
          For though the priest, more tranquilly,
          Recites the holy liturgy,
          The only voice which you can hear
          Is the river murmuring near.
          --When soft!--the dusky trees between,
          And down the path through the open green,                   50
          Where is no living thing to be seen;
          And through yon gateway, where is found,
          Beneath the arch with ivy bound,
          Free entrance to the churchyard ground--
          Comes gliding in with lovely gleam,
          Comes gliding in serene and slow,
          Soft and silent as a dream,
          A solitary Doe!
          White she is as lily of June,
          And beauteous as the silver moon                            60
          When out of sight the clouds are driven
          And she is left alone in heaven;
          Or like a ship some gentle day
          In sunshine sailing far away,
          A glittering ship, that hath the plain
          Of ocean for her own domain.
            Lie silent in your graves, ye dead!
          Lie quiet in your churchyard bed!
          Ye living, tend your holy cares;
          Ye multitude, pursue your prayers;                          70
          And blame not me if my heart and sight
          Are occupied with one delight!
          'Tis a work for sabbath hours
          If I with this bright Creature go:
          Whether she be of forest bowers,
          From the bowers of earth below;
          Or a Spirit for one day given,
          A pledge of grace from purest heaven.
            What harmonious pensive changes
          Wait upon her as she ranges                                 80
          Round and through this Pile of state
          Overthrown and desolate!
          Now a step or two her way
          Leads through space of open day,
          Where the enamoured sunny light
          Brightens her that was so bright;
          Now doth a delicate shadow fall,
          Falls upon her like a breath,
          From some lofty arch or wall,
          As she passes underneath:                                   90
          Now some gloomy nook partakes
          Of the glory that she makes,--
          High-ribbed vault of stone, or cell,
          With perfect cunning framed as well
          Of stone, and ivy, and the spread
          Of the elder's bushy head;
          Some jealous and forbidding cell,
          That doth the living stars repel,
          And where no flower hath leave to dwell.
            The presence of this wandering Doe                       100
          Fills many a damp obscure recess
          With lustre of a saintly show;
          And, reappearing, she no less
          Sheds on the flowers that round her blow
          A more than sunny liveliness.
          But say, among these holy places,
          Which thus assiduously she paces,
          Comes she with a votary's task,
          Rite to perform, or boon to ask?
          Fair Pilgrim! harbours she a sense                         110
          Of sorrow, or of reverence?
          Can she be grieved for quire or shrine,
          Crushed as if by wrath divine?
          For what survives of house where God
          Was worshipped, or where Man abode;
          For old magnificence undone;
          Or for the gentler work begun
          By Nature, softening and concealing,
          And busy with a hand of healing?
          Mourns she for lordly chamber's hearth                     120
          That to the sapling ash gives birth;
          For dormitory's length laid bare
          Where the wild rose blossoms fair;
          Or altar, whence the cross was rent,
          Now rich with mossy ornament?
          --She sees a warrior carved in stone,
          Among the thick weeds, stretched alone;
          A warrior, with his shield of pride
          Cleaving humbly to his side,
          And hands in resignation prest,                            130
          Palm to palm, on his tranquil breast;
          As little she regards the sight
          As a common creature might:
          If she be doomed to inward care,
          Or service, it must lie elsewhere.
          --But hers are eyes serenely bright,
          And on she moves--with pace how light!
          Nor spares to stoop her head, and taste
          The dewy turf with flowers bestrown;
          And thus she fares, until at last                          140
          Beside the ridge of a grassy grave
          In quietness she lays her down;
          Gentle as a weary wave
          Sinks, when the summer breeze hath died,
          Against an anchored vessel's side;
          Even so, without distress, doth she
          Lie down in peace, and lovingly.
            The day is placid in its going,
          To a lingering motion bound,
          Like the crystal stream now flowing                        150
          With its softest summer sound:
          So the balmy minutes pass,
          While this radiant Creature lies
          Couched upon the dewy grass,
          Pensively with downcast eyes.
          --But now again the people raise
          With awful cheer a voice of praise;
          It is the last, the parting song;
          And from the temple forth they throng,
          And quickly spread themselves abroad,                      160
          While each pursues his several road.
          But some--a variegated band
          Of middle-aged, and old, and young,
          And little children by the hand
          Upon their leading mothers hung--
          With mute obeisance gladly paid
          Turn towards the spot, where, full in view,
          The white Doe, to her service true,
          Her sabbath couch has made.
            It was a solitary mound;                                 170
          Which two spears' length of level ground
          Did from all other graves divide:
          As if in some respect of pride;
          Or melancholy's sickly mood,
          Still shy of human neighbourhood;
          Or guilt, that humbly would express
          A penitential loneliness.
            "Look, there she is, my Child! draw near;
          She fears not, wherefore should we fear?
          She means no harm;"--but still the Boy,                    180
          To whom the words were softly said,
          Hung back, and smiled, and blushed for joy,
          A shame-faced blush of glowing red!
          Again the Mother whispered low,
          "Now you have seen the famous Doe;
          From Rylstone she hath found her way
          Over the hills this sabbath day
          Her work, whate'er it be, is done,
          And she will depart when we are gone;
          Thus doth she keep, from year to year,                     190
          Her sabbath morning, foul or fair."
            Bright was the Creature, as in dreams
          The Boy had seen her, yea, more bright;
          But is she truly what she seems?
          He asks with insecure delight,
          Asks of himself, and doubts,--and still
          The doubt returns against his will:
          Though he, and all the standers-by,
          Could tell a tragic history
          Of facts divulged, wherein appear                          200
          Substantial motive, reason clear,
          Why thus the milk-white Doe is found
          Couchant beside that lonely mound;
          And why she duly loves to pace
          The circuit of this hallowed place.
          Nor to the Child's inquiring mind
          Is such perplexity confined:
          For, spite of sober Truth that sees
          A world of fixed remembrances
          Which to this mystery belong,                              210
          If, undeceived, my skill can trace
          The characters of every face,
          There lack not strange delusion here,
          Conjecture vague, and idle fear,
          And superstitious fancies strong,
          Which do the gentle Creature wrong.
            That bearded, staff-supported Sire--
          Who in his boyhood often fed
          Full cheerily on convent-bread
          And heard old tales by the convent-fire,                   220
          And to his grave will go with scars,
          Relics of long and distant wars--
          That Old Man, studious to expound
          The spectacle, is mounting high
          To days of dim antiquity;
          When Lady Aaliza mourned
          Her Son, and felt in her despair
          The pang of unavailing prayer;
          Her Son in Wharf's abysses drowned,
          The noble Boy of Egremound.                                230
          From which affliction--when the grace
          Of God had in her heart found place--
          A pious structure, fair to see
          Rose up, this stately Priory!
          The Lady's work;--but now laid low;
          To the grief of her soul that doth come and go,
          In the beautiful form of this innocent Doe:
          Which, though seemingly doomed in its breast to sustain
          A softened remembrance of sorrow and pain,
          Is spotless, and holy, and gentle, and bright;             240
          And glides o'er the earth like an angel of light.
            Pass, pass who will, yon chantry door;
          And, through the chink in the fractured floor
          Look down, and see a griesly sight;
          A vault where the bodies are buried upright!
          There, face by face, and hand by hand,
          The Claphams and Mauleverers stand;
          And, in his place, among son and sire,
          Is John de Clapham, that fierce Esquire,
          A valiant man, and a name of dread                         250
          In the ruthless wars of the White and Red;
          Who dragged Earl Pembroke from Banbury church
          And smote off his head on the stones of the porch!
          Look down among them, if you dare;
          Oft does the White Doe loiter there,
          Prying into the darksome rent;
          Nor can it be with good intent:
          So thinks that Dame of haughty air,
          Who hath a Page her book to hold,
          And wears a frontlet edged with gold.                      260
          Harsh thoughts with her high mood agree--
          Who counts among her ancestry
          Earl Pembroke, slain so impiously!
            That slender Youth, a scholar pale,
          From Oxford come to his native vale,
          He also hath his own conceit:
          It is, thinks he, the gracious Fairy,
          Who loved the Shepherd-lord to meet
          In his wanderings solitary:
          Wild notes she in his hearing sang,                        270
          A song of Nature's hidden powers;
          That whistled like the wind, and rang
          Among the rocks and holly bowers.
          'Twas said that She all shapes could wear;
          And oftentimes before him stood,
          Amid the trees of some thick wood,
          In semblance of a lady fair;
          And taught him signs, and showed him sights,
          In Craven's dens, on Cumbrian heights;
          When under cloud of fear he lay,                           280
          A shepherd clad in homely grey;
          Nor left him at his later day.
          And hence, when he, with spear and shield,
          Rode full of years to Flodden-field,
          His eye could see the hidden spring,
          And how the current was to flow;
          The fatal end of Scotland's King,
          And all that hopeless overthrow.
          But not in wars did he delight,
          'This' Clifford wished for worthier might;                 290
          Nor in broad pomp, or courtly state;
          Him his own thoughts did elevate,--
          Most happy in the shy recess
          Of Barden's lowly quietness.
          And choice of studious friends had he
          Of Bolton's dear fraternity;
          Who, standing on this old church tower,
          In many a calm propitious hour,
          Perused, with him, the starry sky;
          Or, in their cells, with him did pry                       300
          For other lore,--by keen desire
          Urged to close toil with chemic fire;
          In quest belike of transmutations
          Rich as the mine's most bright creations.
          But they and their good works are fled,
          And all is now disquieted--
          And peace is none, for living or dead!
            Ah, pensive Scholar, think not so,
          But look again at the radiant Doe!
          What quiet watch she seems to keep,                        310
          Alone, beside that grassy heap!
          Why mention other thoughts unmeet
          For vision so composed and sweet?
          While stand the people in a ring,
          Gazing, doubting, questioning;
          Yea, many overcome in spite
          Of recollections clear and bright;
          Which yet do unto some impart
          An undisturbed repose of heart.
          And all the assembly own a law                             320
          Of orderly respect and awe;
          But see--they vanish one by one,
          And last, the Doe herself is gone.
            Harp! we have been full long beguiled
          By vague thoughts, lured by fancies wild;
          To which, with no reluctant strings,
          Thou hast attuned thy murmurings;
          And now before this Pile we stand
          In solitude, and utter peace:
          But, Harp! thy murmurs may not cease--                     330
          A Spirit, with his angelic wings,
          In soft and breeze-like visitings,
          Has touched thee--and a Spirit's hand:
          A voice is with us--a command
          To chant, in strains of heavenly glory,
          A tale of tears, a mortal story!

                              CANTO SECOND

          THE Harp in lowliness obeyed;
          And first we sang of the greenwood shade
          And a solitary Maid;
          Beginning, where the song must end,                        340
          With her, and with her sylvan Friend;
          The Friend who stood before her sight,
          Her only unextinguished light;
          Her last companion in a dearth
          Of love, upon a hopeless earth.
            For She it was--this Maid, who wrought
          Meekly, with foreboding thought,
          In vermeil colours and in gold
          An unblest work; which, standing by,
          Her Father did with joy behold,--                          350
          Exulting in its imagery;
          A Banner, fashioned to fulfil
          Too perfectly his headstrong will:
          For on this Banner had her hand
          Embroidered (such her Sire's command)
          The sacred Cross; and figured there
          The five dear wounds our Lord did bear;
          Full soon to be uplifted high,
          And float in rueful company!
            It was the time when England's Queen                     360
          Twelve years had reigned, a Sovereign dread;
          Nor yet the restless crown had been
          Disturbed upon her virgin head;
          But now the inly-working North
          Was ripe to send its thousands forth,
          A potent vassalage, to fight
          In Percy's and in Neville's right,
          Two Earls fast leagued in discontent,
          Who gave their wishes open vent;
          And boldly urged a general plea,                           370
          The rites of ancient piety
          To be triumphantly restored,
          By the stern justice of the sword!
          And that same Banner, on whose breast
          The blameless Lady had exprest
          Memorials chosen to give life
          And sunshine to a dangerous strife;
          That Banner, waiting for the Call,
          Stood quietly in Rylstone-hall.
            It came; and Francis Norton said,                        380
          "O Father! rise not in this fray--
          The hairs are white upon your head;
          Dear Father, hear me when I say
          It is for you too late a day!
          Bethink you of your own good name:
          A just and gracious Queen have we,
          A pure religion, and the claim
          Of peace on our humanity.--
          'Tis meet that I endure your scorn;
          I am your son, your eldest born;                           390
          But not for lordship or for land,
          My Father, do I clasp your knees;
          The Banner touch not, stay your hand,
          This multitude of men disband,
          And live at home in blameless ease;
          For these my brethren's sake, for me;
          And, most of all, for Emily!"
            Tumultuous noises filled the hall;
          And scarcely could the Father hear
          That name--pronounced with a dying fall--                  400
          The name of his only Daughter dear,
          As on the banner which stood near
          He glanced a look of holy pride,
          And his moist eyes were glorified;
          Then did he seize the staff, and say:
          "Thou, Richard, bear'st thy father's name,
          Keep thou this ensign till the day
          When I of thee require the same:
          Thy place be on my better hand;--
          And seven as true as thou, I see,                          410
          Will cleave to this good cause and me."
          He spake, and eight brave sons straightway
          All followed him, a gallant band!
            Thus, with his sons, when forth he came
          The sight was hailed with loud acclaim
          And din of arms and minstrelsy,
          From all his warlike tenantry,
          All horsed and harnessed with him to ride,--
          A voice to which the hills replied!
            But Francis, in the vacant hall,                         420
          Stood silent under dreary weight,--
          A phantasm, in which roof and wall
          Shook, tottered, swam before his sight;
          A phantasm like a dream of night!
          Thus overwhelmed, and desolate,
          He found his way to a postern-gate;
          And, when he waked, his languid eye
          Was on the calm and silent sky;
          With air about him breathing sweet,
          And earth's green grass beneath his feet;                  430
          Nor did he fail ere long to hear
          A sound of military cheer,
          Faint--but it reached that sheltered spot;
          He heard, and it disturbed him not.
            There stood he, leaning on a lance
          Which he had grasped unknowingly,
          Had blindly grasped in that strong trance,
          That dimness of heart-agony;
          There stood he, cleansed from the despair
          And sorrow of his fruitless prayer.                        440
          The past he calmly hath reviewed:
          But where will be the fortitude
          Of this brave man, when he shall see
          That Form beneath the spreading tree,
          And know that it is Emily?
            He saw her where in open view
          She sate beneath the spreading yew--
          Her head upon her lap, concealing
          In solitude her bitter feeling:
          "Might ever son 'command' a sire,                          450
          The act were justified to-day."
          This to himself--and to the Maid,
          Whom now he had approached, he said--
          "Gone are they,--they have their desire;
          And I with thee one hour will stay,
          To give thee comfort if I may."
            She heard, but looked not up, nor spake;
          And sorrow moved him to partake
          Her silence; then his thoughts turned round,
          And fervent words a passage found.                         460
            "Gone are they, bravely, though misled;
          With a dear Father at their head!
          The Sons obey a natural lord;
          The Father had given solemn word
          To noble Percy; and a force
          Still stronger, bends him to his course.
          This said, our tears to-day may fall
          As at an innocent funeral.
          In deep and awful channel runs
          This sympathy of Sire and Sons;                            470
          Untried our Brothers have been loved
          With heart by simple nature moved;
          And now their faithfulness is proved:
          For faithful we must call them, bearing
          That soul of conscientious daring.
          --There were they all in circle--there
          Stood Richard, Ambrose, Christopher,
          John with a sword that will not fail,
          And Marmaduke in fearless mail,
          And those bright Twins were side by side;                  480
          And there, by fresh hopes beautified,
          Stood He, whose arm yet lacks the power
          Of man, our youngest, fairest flower!
          I, by the right of eldest born,
          And in a second father's place,
          Presumed to grapple with their scorn,
          And meet their pity face to face;
          Yea, trusting in God's holy aid,
          I to my Father knelt and prayed;
          And one, the pensive Marmaduke,                            490
          Methought, was yielding inwardly,
          And would have laid his purpose by,
          But for a glance of his Father's eye,
          Which I myself could scarcely brook.
            Then be we, each and all, forgiven!
          Thou, chiefly thou, my Sister dear,
          Whose pangs are registered in heaven--
          The stifled sigh, the hidden tear,
          And smiles, that dared to take their place,
          Meek filial smiles, upon thy face,                         500
          As that unhallowed Banner grew
          Beneath a loving old Man's view.
          Thy part is done--thy painful part;
          Be thou then satisfied in heart!
          A further, though far easier, task
          Than thine hath been, my duties ask;
          With theirs my efforts cannot blend,
          I cannot for such cause contend;
          Their aims I utterly forswear;
          But I in body will be there.                               510
          Unarmed and naked will I go,
          Be at their side, come weal or woe:
          On kind occasions I may wait,
          See, hear, obstruct, or mitigate.
          Bare breast I take and an empty hand."--
          Therewith he threw away the lance,
          Which he had grasped in that strong trance,
          Spurned it, like something that would stand
          Between him and the pure intent
          Of love on which his soul was bent.                        520
            "For thee, for thee, is left the sense
          Of trial past without offence
          To God or man; such innocence,
          Such consolation, and the excess
          Of an unmerited distress;
          In that thy very strength must lie.
          --O Sister, I could prophesy!
          The time is come that rings the knell
          Of all we loved, and loved so well:
          Hope nothing, if I thus may speak                          530
          To thee, a woman, and thence weak:
          Hope nothing, I repeat; for we
          Are doomed to perish utterly:
          'Tis meet that thou with me divide
          The thought while I am by thy side,
          Acknowledging a grace in this,
          A comfort in the dark abyss.
          But look not for me when I am gone,
          And be no farther wrought upon:
          Farewell all wishes, all debate,                           540
          All prayers for this cause, or for that!
          Weep, if that aid thee; but depend
          Upon no help of outward friend;
          Espouse thy doom at once, and cleave
          To fortitude without reprieve.
          For we must fall, both we and ours--
          This Mansion and these pleasant bowers,
          Walks, pools, and arbours, homestead, hall--
          Our fate is theirs, will reach them all;
          The young horse must forsake his manger,                   550
          And learn to glory in a Stranger;
          The hawk forget his perch; the hound
          Be parted from his ancient ground:
          The blast will sweep us all away--
          One desolation, one decay!
          And even this Creature!" which words saying,
          He pointed to a lovely Doe,
          A few steps distant, feeding, straying;
          Fair creature, and more white than snow!
          "Even she will to her peaceful woods                       560
          Return, and to her murmuring floods,
          And be in heart and soul the same
          She was before she hither came;
          Ere she had learned to love us all,
          Herself beloved in Rylstone-hall.
          --But thou, my Sister, doomed to be
          The last leaf on a blasted tree;
          If not in vain we breathed the breath
          Together of a purer faith;
          If hand in hand we have been led,                          570
          And thou, (O happy thought this day:)
          Not seldom foremost in the way;
          If on one thought our minds have fed,
          And we have in one meaning read;
          If, when at home our private weal
          Hath suffered from the shock of zeal,
          Together we have learned to prize
          Forbearance and self-sacrifice;
          If we like combatants have fared,
          And for this issue been prepared;                          580
          If thou art beautiful, and youth
          And thought endue thee with all truth--
          Be strong;--be worthy of the grace
          Of God, and fill thy destined place:
          A Soul, by force of sorrows high,
          Uplifted to the purest sky
          Of undisturbed humanity!"
            He ended,--or she heard no more;
          He led her from the yew-tree shade,
          And at the mansion's silent door,                          590
          He kissed the consecrated Maid;
          And down the valley then pursued,
          Alone, the armed Multitude.

                              CANTO THIRD

          NOW joy for you who from the towers
          Of Brancepeth look in doubt and fear,
          Telling melancholy hours!
          Proclaim it, let your Masters hear
          That Norton with his band is near!
          The watchmen from their station high
          Pronounced the word,--and the Earls descry,                600
          Well-pleased, the armed Company
          Marching down the banks of Were.
            Said fearless Norton to the pair
          Gone forth to greet him on the plain--
          "This meeting, noble Lords! looks fair,
          I bring with me a goodly train;
          Their hearts are with you: hill and dale
          Have helped us: Ure we crossed, and Swale,
          And horse and harness followed--see
          The best part of their Yeomanry!                           610
          --Stand forth, my Sons!--these eight are mine,
          Whom to this service I commend;
          Which way soe'er our fate incline,
          These will be faithful to the end;
          They are my all"--voice failed him here--
          "My all save one, a Daughter dear!
          Whom I have left, Love's mildest birth,
          The meekest Child on this blessed earth.
          I had--but these are by my side,
          These Eight, and this is a day of pride!                   620
          The time is ripe. With festive din
          Lo! how the people are flocking in,--
          Like hungry fowl to the feeder's hand
          When snow lies heavy upon the land."
            He spake bare truth; for far and near
          From every side came noisy swarms
          Of Peasants in their homely gear;
          And, mixed with these, to Brancepeth came
          Grave Gentry of estate and name,
          And Captains known for worth in arms                       630
          And prayed the Earls in self-defence
          To rise, and prove their innocence.--
          "Rise, noble Earls, put forth your might
          For holy Church, and the People's right!"
            The Norton fixed, at this demand,
          His eye upon Northumberland,
          And said; "The Minds of Men will own
          No loyal rest while England's Crown
          Remains without an Heir, the bait
          Of strife and factions desperate;                          640
          Who, paying deadly hate in kind
          Through all things else, in this can find
          A mutual hope, a common mind;
          And plot, and pant to overwhelm
          All ancient honour in the realm.
          --Brave Earls! to whose heroic veins
          Our noblest blood is given in trust,
          To you a suffering State complains,
          And ye must raise her from the dust.
          With wishes of still bolder scope                          650
          On you we look, with dearest hope;
          Even for our Altars--for the prize,
          In Heaven, of life that never dies;
          For the old and holy Church we mourn,
          And must in joy to her return.
          Behold!"--and from his Son whose stand
          Was on his right, from that guardian hand
          He took the Banner, and unfurled
          The precious folds--"behold," said he,
          "The ransom of a sinful world;                             660
          Let this your preservation be;
          The wounds of hands and feet and side,
          And the sacred Cross on which Jesus died.
          --This bring I from an ancient hearth,
          These Records wrought in pledge of love
          By hands of no ignoble birth,
          A Maid o'er whom the blessed Dove
          Vouchsafed in gentleness to brood
          While she the holy work pursued."
          "Uplift the Standard!" was the cry                         670
          From all the listeners that stood round,
          "Plant it,--by this we live or die."
          The Norton ceased not for that sound,
          But said; "The prayer which ye have heard,
          Much-injured Earls! by these preferred,
          Is offered to the Saints, the sigh
          Of tens of thousands, secretly."
          "Uplift it!" cried once more the Band,
          And then a thoughtful pause ensued:
          "Uplift it!" said Northumberland--                         680
          Whereat, from all the multitude
          Who saw the Banner reared on high
          In all its dread emblazonry,
          A voice of uttermost joy brake out:
          The transport was rolled down the river of Were,
          And Durham, the time-honoured Durham, did hear,
          And the towers of Saint Cuthbert were stirred by the shout!
            Now was the North in arms:--they shine
          In warlike trim from Tweed to Tyne,
          At Percy's voice: and Neville sees                         690
          His Followers gathering in from Tees,
          From Were, and all the little rills
          Concealed among the forked hills--
          Seven hundred Knights, Retainers all
          Of Neville, at their Master's call
          Had sate together in Raby Hall!
          Such strength that Earldom held of yore;
          Nor wanted at this time rich store
          Of well-appointed chivalry.
          --Not loth the sleepy lance to wield,                      700
          And greet the old paternal shield,
          They heard the summons;--and, furthermore,
          Horsemen and Foot of each degree,
          Unbound by pledge of fealty,
          Appeared, with free and open hate
          Of novelties in Church and State;
          Knight, burgher, yeoman, and esquire;
          And Romish priest, in priest's attire.
          And thus, in arms, a zealous Band
          Proceeding under joint command,                            710
          To Durham first their course they bear;
          And in Saint Cuthbert's ancient seat
          Sang mass,--and tore the book of prayer,--
          And trod the bible beneath their feet.
            Thence marching southward smooth and free
          "They mustered their host at Wetherby,
          Full sixteen thousand fair to see,"
          The Choicest Warriors of the North!
          But none for beauty and for worth
          Like those eight Sons--who, in a ring,                     720
          (Ripe men, or blooming in life's spring)
          Each with a lance, erect and tall,
          A falchion, and a buckler small,
          Stood by their Sire, on Clifford-moor,
          To guard the Standard which he bore.
          On foot they girt their Father round;
          And so will keep the appointed ground
          Where'er their march: no steed will he
          Henceforth bestride;--triumphantly,
          He stands upon the grassy sod,                             730
          Trusting himself to the earth, and God.
          Rare sight to embolden and inspire!
          Proud was the field of Sons and Sire;
          Of him the most; and, sooth to say,
          No shape of man in all the array
          So graced the sunshine of that day.
          The monumental pomp of age
          Was with this goodly Personage;
          A stature undepressed in size,
          Unbent, which rather seemed to rise,                       740
          In open victory o'er the weight
          Of seventy years, to loftier height;
          Magnific limbs of withered state;
          A face to fear and venerate;
          Eyes dark and strong; and on his head
          Bright locks of silver hair, thick spread,
          Which a brown morion half-concealed,
          Light as a hunter's of the field;
          And thus, with girdle round his waist,
          Whereon the Banner-staff might rest                        750
          At need, he stood, advancing high
          The glittering, floating Pageantry.
            Who sees him?--thousands see, and One
          With unparticipated gaze;
          Who, 'mong those thousands, friend hath none,
          And treads in solitary ways.
          He, following wheresoe'er he might,
          Hath watched the Banner from afar,
          As shepherds watch a lonely star,
          Or mariners the distant light                              760
          That guides them through a stormy night.
          And now, upon a chosen plot
          Of rising ground, yon heathy spot!
          He takes alone his far-off stand,
          With breast unmailed, unweaponed hand.
          Bold is his aspect; but his eye
          Is pregnant with anxiety,
          While, like a tutelary Power,
          He there stands fixed from hour to hour:
          Yet sometimes in more humble guise,                        770
          Upon the turf-clad height he lies
          Stretched, herdsman-like, as if to bask
          In sunshine were his only task,
          Or by his mantle's help to find
          A shelter from the nipping wind:
          And thus, with short oblivion blest,
          His weary spirits gather rest.
          Again he lifts his eyes; and lo!
          The pageant glancing to and fro;
          And hope is wakened by the sight,                          780
          He thence may learn, ere fall of night,
          Which way the tide is doomed to flow.
            To London were the Chieftains bent;
          But what avails the bold intent?
          A Royal army is gone forth
          To quell the RISING OF THE NORTH;
          They march with Dudley at their head,
          And, in seven days' space, will to York be led!--
          Can such a mighty Host be raised
          Thus suddenly, and brought so near?                        790
          The Earls upon each other gazed,
          And Neville's cheek grew pale with fear;
          For, with a high and valiant name,
          He bore a heart of timid frame;
          And bold if both had been, yet they
          "Against so many may not stay."
          Back therefore will they hie to seize
          A strong Hold on the banks of Tees
          There wait a favourable hour,
          Until Lord Dacre with his power                            800
          From Naworth come; and Howard's aid
          Be with them openly displayed.
            While through the Host, from man to man,
          A rumour of this purpose ran,
          The Standard trusting to the care
          Of him who heretofore did bear
          That charge, impatient Norton sought
          The Chieftains to unfold his thought,
          And thus abruptly spake;--"We yield
          (And can it be?) an unfought field!--                      810
          How oft has strength, the strength of heaven,
          To few triumphantly been given!
          Still do our very children boast
          Of mitred Thurston--what a Host
          He conquered!--Saw we not the Plain
          (And flying shall behold again)
          Where faith was proved?--while to battle moved
          The Standard, on the Sacred Wain
          That bore it, compassed round by a bold
          Fraternity of Barons old;                                  820
          And with those grey-haired champions stood,
          Under the saintly ensigns three,
          The infant Heir of Mowbray's blood--
          All confident of victory!--
          Shall Percy blush, then, for his name?
          Must Westmoreland be asked with shame
          Whose were the numbers, where the loss,
          In that other day of Neville's Cross?
          When the Prior of Durham with holy hand
          Raised, as the Vision gave command,                        830
          Saint Cuthbert's Relic--far and near
          Kenned on the point of a lofty spear;
          While the Monks prayed in Maiden's Bower
          To God descending in his power.
          Less would not at our need be due
          To us, who war against the Untrue;--
          The delegates of Heaven we rise,
          Convoked the impious to chastise:
          We, we, the sanctities of old
          Would re-establish and uphold:                             840
          Be warned"--His zeal the Chiefs confounded,
          But word was given, and the trumpet sounded:
          Back through the melancholy Host
          Went Norton, and resumed his post.
          Alas! thought he, and have I borne
          This Banner raised with joyful pride,
          This hope of all posterity,
          By those dread symbols sanctified;
          Thus to become at once the scorn
          Of babbling winds as they go by,                           850
          A spot of shame to the sun's bright eye,
          To the light clouds a mockery!
          --"Even these poor eight of mine would stem--"
          Half to himself, and half to them
          He spake--"would stem, or quell, a force
          Ten times their number, man and horse:
          This by their own unaided might,
          Without their father in their sight,
          Without the Cause for which they fight;
          A Cause, which on a needful day                            860
          Would breed us thousands brave as they."
          --So speaking, he his reverend head
          Raised towards that Imagery once more:
          But the familiar prospect shed
          Despondency unfelt before:
          A shock of intimations vain,
          Dismay, and superstitious pain,
          Fell on him, with the sudden thought
          Of her by whom the work was wrought:--
          Oh wherefore was her countenance bright                    870
          With love divine and gentle light?
          She would not, could not, disobey,
          But her Faith leaned another way.
          Ill tears she wept; I saw them fall,
          I overheard her as she spake
          Sad words to that mute Animal,
          The White Doe, in the hawthorn brake;
          She steeped, but not for Jesu's sake,
          This Cross in tears: by her, and One
          Unworthier far we are undone--                             880
          Her recreant Brother--he prevailed
          Over that tender Spirit--assailed
          Too oft, alas! by her whose head
          In the cold grave hath long been laid:
          She first, in reason's dawn beguiled
          Her docile, unsuspecting Child:
          Far back--far back my mind must go
          To reach the well-spring of this woe!
            While thus he brooded, music sweet
          Of border tunes was played to cheer                        890
          The footsteps of a quick retreat;
          But Norton lingered in the rear,
          Stung with sharp thoughts; and ere the last
          From his distracted brain was cast,
          Before his Father, Francis stood,
          And spake in firm and earnest mood.
            "Though here I bend a suppliant knee
          In reverence, and unarmed, I bear
          In your indignant thoughts my share;
          Am grieved this backward march to see                      900
          So careless and disorderly.
          I scorn your Chiefs--men who would lead,
          And yet want courage at their need:
          Then look at them with open eyes!
          Deserve they further sacrifice?--
          If--when they shrink, nor dare oppose
          In open field their gathering foes,
          (And fast, from this decisive day,
          Yon multitude must melt away;)
          If now I ask a grace not claimed                           910
          While ground was left for hope; unblamed
          Be an endeavour that can do
          No injury to them or you.
          My Father! I would help to find
          A place of shelter, till the rage
          Of cruel men do like the wind
          Exhaust itself and sink to rest;
          Be Brother now to Brother joined!
          Admit me in the equipage
          Of your misfortunes, that at least,                        920
          Whatever fate remain behind,
          I may bear witness in my breast
          To your nobility of mind!"
            "Thou Enemy, my bane and blight!
          Oh! bold to fight the Coward's fight
          Against all good"--but why declare,
          At length, the issue of a prayer
          Which love had prompted, yielding scope
          Too free to one bright moment's hope?
          Suffice it that the Son, who strove                        930
          With fruitless effort to allay
          That passion, prudently gave way;
          Nor did he turn aside to prove
          His Brothers' wisdom or their love--
          But calmly from the spot withdrew;
          His best endeavours to renew,
          Should e'er a kindlier time ensue.

                              CANTO FOURTH

          'Tis night: in silence looking down,
          The Moon, from cloudless ether, sees
          A Camp, and a beleaguered Town,                            940
          And Castle, like a stately crown
          On the steep rocks of winding Tees;--
          And southward far, with moor between,
          Hill-top, and flood, and forest green,
          The bright Moon sees that valley small
          Where Rylstone's old sequestered Hall
          A venerable image yields
          Of quiet to the neighbouring fields;
          While from one pillared chimney breathes
          The smoke, and mounts in silver wreaths.                   950
          --The courts are hushed;--for timely sleep
          The greyhounds to their kennel creep;
          The peacock in the broad ash tree
          Aloft is roosted for the night,
          He who in proud prosperity
          Of colours manifold and bright
          Walked round, affronting the daylight;
          And higher still, above the bower
          Where he is perched, from yon lone Tower
          The hall-clock in the clear moonshine                      960
          With glittering finger points at nine.
            Ah! who could think that sadness here
          Hath any sway? or pain, or fear?
          A soft and lulling sound is heard
          Of streams inaudible by day;
          The garden pool's dark surface, stirred
          By the night insects in their play,
          Breaks into dimples small and bright;
          A thousand, thousand rings of light
          That shape themselves and disappear                        970
          Almost as soon as seen:--and lo!
          Not distant far, the milk-white Doe--
          The same who quietly was feeding
          On the green herb, and nothing heeding,
          When Francis, uttering to the Maid
          His last words in the yew-tree shade,
          Involved whate'er by love was brought
          Out of his heart, or crossed his thought,
          Or chance presented to his eye,
          In one sad sweep of destiny--                              980
          The same fair Creature, who hath found
          Her way into forbidden ground;
          Where now--within this spacious plot
          For pleasure made, a goodly spot,
          With lawns and beds of flowers, and shades
          Of trellis-work in long arcades,
          And cirque and crescent framed by wall
          Of close-clipt foliage green and tall,
          Converging walks, and fountains gay,
          And terraces in trim array--                               990
          Beneath yon cypress spiring high,
          With pine and cedar spreading wide
          Their darksome boughs on either side,
          In open moonlight doth she lie;
          Happy as others of her kind,
          That, far from human neighbourhood,
          Range unrestricted as the wind,
          Through park, or chase, or savage wood.
            But see the consecrated Maid
          Emerging from a cedar shade                               1000
          To open moonshine, where the Doe
          Beneath the cypress-spire is laid;
          Like a patch of April snow--
          Upon a bed of herbage green,
          Lingering in a woody glade
          Or behind a rocky screen--
          Lonely relic! which, if seen
          By the shepherd, is passed by
          With an inattentive eye.
          Nor more regard doth She bestow                           1010
          Upon the uncomplaining Doe
          Now couched at ease, though oft this day
          Not unperplexed nor free from pain,
          When she had tried, and tried in vain,
          Approaching in her gentle way,
          To win some look of love, or gain
          Encouragement to sport or play
          Attempts which still the heart-sick Maid
          Rejected, or with slight repaid.
            Yet Emily is soothed;--the breeze                       1020
          Came fraught with kindly sympathies.
          As she approached yon rustic Shed
          Hung with late-flowering woodbine, spread
          Along the walls and overhead,
          The fragrance of the breathing flowers
          Revived a memory of those hours
          When here, in this remote alcove,
          (While from the pendent woodbine came
          Like odours, sweet as if the same)
          A fondly-anxious Mother strove                            1030
          To teach her salutary fears
          And mysteries above her years.
          Yes, she is soothed: an Image faint,
          And yet not faint--a presence bright
          Returns to her--that blessed Saint
          Who with mild looks and language mild
          Instructed here her darling Child,
          While yet a prattler on the knee,
          To worship in simplicity
          The invisible God, and take for guide                     1040
          The faith reformed and purified.
            'Tis flown--the Vision, and the sense
          Of that beguiling influence,
          "But oh! thou Angel from above,
          Mute Spirit of maternal love,
          That stood'st before my eyes, more clear
          Than ghosts are fabled to appear
          Sent upon embassies of fear;
          As thou thy presence hast to me
          Vouchsafed, in radiant ministry                           1050
          Descend on Francis; nor forbear
          To greet him with a voice, and say;--
          'If hope be a rejected stay,
          'Do thou, my christian Son, beware
          'Of that most lamentable snare,
          'The self-reliance of despair!'"
            Then from within the embowered retreat
          Where she had found a grateful seat
          Perturbed she issues. She will go!
          Herself will follow to the war,                           1060
          And clasp her Father's knees;--ah, no!
          She meets the insuperable bar,
          The injunction by her Brother laid;
          His parting charge--but ill obeyed--
          That interdicted all debate,
          All prayer for this cause or for that;
          All efforts that would turn aside
          The headstrong current of their fate:
          'Her duty is to stand and wait;'
          In resignation to abide                                   1070
          The shock, AND FINALLY SECURE
          O'ER PAIN AND GRIEF A TRIUMPH PURE.
          --She feels it, and her pangs are checked.
          But now, as silently she paced
          The turf, and thought by thought was chased,
          Came One who, with sedate respect,
          Approached, and, greeting her, thus spake;
          "An old man's privilege I take:
          Dark is the time--a woeful day!
          Dear daughter of affliction, say                          1080
          How can I serve you? point the way."
            "Rights have you, and may well be bold;
          You with my Father have grown old
          In friendship--strive--for his sake go--
          Turn from us all the coming woe:
          This would I beg; but on my mind
          A passive stillness is enjoined.
          On you, if room for mortal aid
          Be left, is no restriction laid;
          You not forbidden to recline                              1090
          With hope upon the Will divine."
            "Hope," said the old Man, "must abide
          With all of us, whate'er betide.
          In Craven's Wilds is many a den,
          To shelter persecuted men:
          Far under ground is many a cave,
          Where they might lie as in the grave,
          Until this storm hath ceased to rave:
          Or let them cross the River Tweed,
          And be at once from peril freed!"                         1100
            "Ah tempt me not!" she faintly sighed;
          "I will not counsel nor exhort,
          With my condition satisfied;
          But you, at least, may make report
          Of what befalls;--be this your task--
          This may be done;--'tis all I ask!"
            She spake--and from the Lady's sight
          The Sire, unconscious of his age,
          Departed promptly as a Page
          Bound on some errand of delight.                          1110
          --The noble Francis--wise as brave,
          Thought he, may want not skill to save.
          With hopes in tenderness concealed,
          Unarmed he followed to the field;
          Him will I seek: the insurgent Powers
          Are now besieging Barnard's Towers,--
          "Grant that the Moon which shines this night
          May guide them in a prudent flight!"
            But quick the turns of chance and change,
          And knowledge has a narrow range;                         1120
          Whence idle fears, and needless pain,
          And wishes blind, and efforts vain.--
          The Moon may shine, but cannot be
          Their guide in flight--already she
          Hath witnessed their captivity.
          She saw the desperate assault
          Upon that hostile castle made;--
          But dark and dismal is the vault
          Where Norton and his sons are laid!
          Disastrous issue!--he had said                            1130
          "This night yon faithless Towers must yield,
          Or we for ever quit the field.
          --Neville is utterly dismayed,
          For promise fails of Howard's aid;
          And Dacre to our call replies
          That 'he' is unprepared to rise.
          My heart is sick;--this weary pause
          Must needs be fatal to our cause.
          The breach is open--on the wall,
          This night, the Banner shall be planted!"                 1140
          --'Twas done: his Sons were with him--all;
          They belt him round with hearts undaunted
          And others follow;--Sire and Son
          Leap down into the court;--"'Tis won"--
          They shout aloud--but Heaven decreed
          That with their joyful shout should close
          The triumph of a desperate deed
          Which struck with terror friends and foes!
          The friend shrinks back--the foe recoils
          From Norton and his filial band;                          1150
          But they, now caught within the toils,
          Against a thousand cannot stand;--
          The foe from numbers courage drew,
          And overpowered that gallant few.
          "A rescue for the Standard!" cried
          The Father from within the walls;
          But, see, the sacred Standard falls!--
          Confusion through the Camp spread wide:
          Some fled; and some their fears detained:
          But ere the Moon had sunk to rest                         1160
          In her pale chambers of the west,
          Of that rash levy nought remained.

                              CANTO FIFTH

          HIGH on a point of rugged ground
          Among the wastes of Rylstone Fell
          Above the loftiest ridge or mound
          Where foresters or shepherds dwell,
          An edifice of warlike frame
          Stands single--Norton Tower its name--
          It fronts all quarters, and looks round
          O'er path and road, and plain and dell,                   1170
          Dark moor, and gleam of pool and stream,
          Upon a prospect without bound.
            The summit of this bold ascent--
          Though bleak and bare, and seldom free
          As Pendle-hill or Pennygent
          From wind, or frost, or vapours wet--
          Had often heard the sound of glee
          When there the youthful Nortons met,
          To practise games and archery:
          How proud and happy they! the crowd                       1180
          Of Lookers-on how pleased and proud!
          And from the scorching noon-tide sun,
          From showers, or when the prize was won,
          They to the Tower withdrew, and there
          Would mirth run round, with generous fare;
          And the stern old Lord of Rylstone-hall
          Was happiest, proudest, of them all!
            But now, his Child, with anguish pale,
          Upon the height walks to and fro;
          'Tis well that she hath heard the tale,                   1190
          Received the bitterness of woe:
          For she 'had' hoped, had hoped and feared,
          Such rights did feeble nature claim;
          And oft her steps had hither steered,
          Though not unconscious of self-blame;
          For she her brother's charge revered,
          His farewell words; and by the same,
          Yea by her brother's very name,
          Had, in her solitude, been cheered.
            Beside the lonely watch-tower stood                     1200
          That grey-haired Man of gentle blood,
          Who with her Father had grown old
          In friendship; rival hunters they,
          And fellow warriors in their day;
          To Rylstone he the tidings brought;
          Then on this height the Maid had sought,
          And, gently as he could, had told
          The end of that dire Tragedy,
          Which it had been his lot to see.
            To him the Lady turned; "You said                       1210
          That Francis lives, 'he' is not dead?"
          "Your noble brother hath been spared;
          To take his life they have not dared;
          On him and on his high endeavour
          The light of praise shall shine for ever!
          Nor did he (such Heaven's will) in vain
          His solitary course maintain;
          Not vainly struggled in the might
          Of duty, seeing with clear sight;
          He was their comfort to the last,                         1220
          Their joy till every pang was past.
            I witnessed when to York they came--
          What, Lady, if their feet were tied;
          They might deserve a good Man's blame;
          But marks of infamy and shame--
          These were their triumph, these their pride;
          Nor wanted 'mid the pressing crowd
          Deep feeling, that found utterance loud,
          'Lo, Francis comes,' there were who cried,
          'A Prisoner once, but now set free!                       1230
          'Tis well, for he the worst defied
          Through force of natural piety;
          He rose not in this quarrel; he,
          For concord's sake and England's good,
          Suit to his Brothers often made
          With tears, and of his Father prayed--
          And when he had in vain withstood
          Their purpose--then did he divide,
          He parted from them; but at their side
          Now walks in unanimity.                                   1240
          Then peace to cruelty and scorn,
          While to the prison they are borne,
          Peace, peace to all indignity!'
            And so in Prison were they laid--
          Oh hear me, hear me, gentle Maid,
          For I am come with power to bless,
          By scattering gleams, through your distress,
          Of a redeeming happiness.
          Me did a reverent pity move
          And privilege of ancient love;                            1250
          And, in your service, making bold,
          Entrance I gained to that stronghold.
            Your Father gave me cordial greeting;
          But to his purposes, that burned
          Within him, instantly returned:
          He was commanding and entreating,
          And said--'We need not stop, my Son!
          Thoughts press, and time is hurrying on'--
          And so to Francis he renewed
          His words, more calmly thus pursued.                      1260
            'Might this our enterprise have sped,
          Change wide and deep the Land had seen,
          A renovation from the dead,
          A spring-tide of immortal green:
          The darksome altars would have blazed
          Like stars when clouds are rolled away;
          Salvation to all eyes that gazed,
          Once more the Rood had been upraised
          To spread its arms, and stand for aye.
          Then, then--had I survived to see                         1270
          New life in Bolton Priory;
          The voice restored, the eye of Truth
          Re-opened that inspired my youth;
          To see her in her pomp arrayed--
          This Banner (for such vow I made)
          Should on the consecrated breast
          Of that same Temple have found rest:
          I would myself have hung it high,
          Fit offering of glad victory!
            A shadow of such thought remains                        1280
          To cheer this sad and pensive time;
          A solemn fancy yet sustains
          One feeble Being--bids me climb
          Even to the last--one effort more
          To attest my Faith, if not restore.
            Hear then,' said he, 'while I impart,
          My Son, the last wish of my heart.
          The Banner strive thou to regain;
          And, if the endeavour prove not vain,
          Bear it--to whom if not to thee                           1290
          Shall I this lonely thought consign?--
          Bear it to Bolton Priory,
          And lay it on Saint Mary's shrine;
          To wither in the sun and breeze
          'Mid those decaying sanctities.
          There let at least the gift be laid,
          The testimony there displayed;
          Bold proof that with no selfish aim,
          But for lost Faith and Christ's dear name,
          I helmeted a brow though white,                           1300
          And took a place in all men's sight;
          Yea offered up this noble Brood,
          This fair unrivalled Brotherhood,
          And turned away from thee, my Son!
          And left--but be the rest unsaid,
          The name untouched, the tear unshed;--
          My wish is known, and I have done:
          Now promise, grant this one request,
          This dying prayer, and be thou blest!'
            Then Francis answered--'Trust thy Son,                  1310
          For, with God's will, it shall be done!'--
            The pledge obtained, the solemn word
          Thus scarcely given, a noise was heard,
          And Officers appeared in state
          To lead the prisoners to their fate.
          They rose, oh! wherefore should I fear
          To tell, or, Lady, you to hear?
          They rose--embraces none were given--
          They stood like trees when earth and heaven
          Are calm; they knew each other's worth,                   1320
          And reverently the Band went forth.
          They met, when they had reached the door,
          One with profane and harsh intent
          Placed there--that he might go before
          And, with that rueful Banner borne
          Aloft in sign of taunting scorn,
          Conduct them to their punishment:
          So cruel Sussex, unrestrained
          By human feeling, had ordained.
          The unhappy Banner Francis saw,                           1330
          And, with a look of calm command
          Inspiring universal awe,
          He took it from the soldier's hand;
          And all the people that stood round
          Confirmed the deed in peace profound.
          --High transport did the Father shed
          Upon his Son--and they were led,
          Led on, and yielded up their breath;
          Together died, a happy death!--
          But Francis, soon as he had braved                        1340
          That insult, and the Banner saved,
          Athwart the unresisting tide
          Of the spectators occupied
          In admiration or dismay,
          Bore instantly his Charge away."
            These things, which thus had in the sight
          And hearing passed of Him who stood
          With Emily, on the Watch-tower height,
          In Rylstone's woeful neighbourhood,
          He told; and oftentimes with voice                        1350
          Of power to comfort or rejoice;
          For deepest sorrows that aspire,
          Go high, no transport ever higher.
          "Yes--God is rich in mercy," said
          The old Man to the silent Maid,
          "Yet, Lady! shines, through this black night,
          One star of aspect heavenly bright;
          Your Brother lives--he lives--is come
          Perhaps already to his home;
          Then let us leave this dreary place."                     1360
          She yielded, and with gentle pace,
          Though without one uplifted look,
          To Rylstone-hall her way she took.

                              CANTO SIXTH

          WHY comes not Francis?--From the doleful City
          He fled,--and, in his flight, could hear
          The death-sounds of the Minster-bell:
          That sullen stroke pronounced farewell
          To Marmaduke, cut off from pity!
          To Ambrose that! and then a knell
          For him, the sweet half-opened Flower!                    1370
          For all--all dying in one hour!
          --Why comes not Francis? Thoughts of love
          Should bear him to his Sister dear
          With the fleet motion of a dove;
          Yea, like a heavenly messenger
          Of speediest wing, should he appear.
          Why comes he not?--for westward fast
          Along the plain of York he past;
          Reckless of what impels or leads,
          Unchecked he hurries on;--nor heeds                       1380
          The sorrow, through the Villages,
          Spread by triumphant cruelties
          Of vengeful military force,
          And punishment without remorse.
          He marked not, heard not, as he fled
          All but the suffering heart was dead
          For him abandoned to blank awe,
          To vacancy, and horror strong:
          And the first object which he saw,
          With conscious sight, as he swept along--                 1390
          It was the Banner in his hand!
          He felt--and made a sudden stand.
            He looked about like one betrayed:
          What hath he done? what promise made?
          Oh weak, weak moment! to what end
          Can such a vain oblation tend,
          And he the Bearer?--Can he go
          Carrying this instrument of woe,
          And find, find anywhere, a right
          To excuse him in his Country's sight?                     1400
          No; will not all men deem the change
          A downward course, perverse and strange?
          Here is it;--but how? when? must she,
          The unoffending Emily,
          Again this piteous object see?
            Such conflict long did he maintain,
          Nor liberty nor rest could gain:
          His own life into danger brought
          By this sad burden--even that thought,
          Exciting self-suspicion strong                            1410
          Swayed the brave man to his wrong.
          And how--unless it were the sense
          Of all-disposing Providence,
          Its will unquestionably shown--
          How has the Banner clung so fast
          To a palsied, and unconscious hand;
          Clung to the hand to which it passed
          Without impediment? And why,
          But that Heaven's purpose might be known,
          Doth now no hindrance meet his eye,                       1420
          No intervention, to withstand
          Fulfilment of a Father's prayer
          Breathed to a Son forgiven, and blest
          When all resentments were at rest,
          And life in death laid the heart bare?--
          Then, like a spectre sweeping by,
          Rushed through his mind the prophecy
          Of utter desolation made
          To Emily in the yew-tree shade:
          He sighed, submitting will and power                      1430
          To the stern embrace of that grasping hour.
          "No choice is left, the deed is mine--
          Dead are they, dead!--and I will go,
          And, for their sakes, come weal or woe,
          Will lay the Relic on the shrine."
            So forward with a steady will
          He went, and traversed plain and hill;
          And up the vale of Wharf his way
          Pursued;--and, at the dawn of day,
          Attained a summit whence his eyes                         1440
          Could see the Tower of Bolton rise.
          There Francis for a moment's space
          Made halt--but hark! a noise behind
          Of horsemen at an eager pace!
          He heard, and with misgiving mind.
          --'Tis Sir George Bowes who leads the Band:
          They come, by cruel Sussex sent;
          Who, when the Nortons from the hand
          Of death had drunk their punishment,
          Bethought him, angry and ashamed,                         1450
          How Francis, with the Banner claimed
          As his own charge, had disappeared,
          By all the standers-by revered.
          His whole bold carriage (which had quelled
          Thus far the Opposer, and repelled
          All censure, enterprise so bright
          That even bad men had vainly striven
          Against that overcoming light)
          Was then reviewed, and prompt word given,
          That to what place soever fled                            1460
          He should be seized, alive or dead.
            The troop of horse have gained the height
          Where Francis stood in open sight.
          They hem him round--"Behold the proof,"
          They cried, "the Ensign in his hand!
          'He' did not arm, he walked aloof!
          For why?--to save his Father's land;--
          Worst Traitor of them all is he,
          A Traitor dark and cowardly!"
            "I am no Traitor," Francis said,                        1470
          "Though this unhappy freight I bear;
          And must not part with. But beware;--
          Err not by hasty zeal misled,
          Nor do a suffering Spirit wrong,
          Whose self-reproaches are too strong!"
          At this he from the beaten road
          Retreated towards a brake of thorn,
          That like a place of vantage showed;
          And there stood bravely, though forlorn.
          In self-defence with warlike brow                         1480
          He stood,--nor weaponless was now;
          He from a Soldier's hand had snatched
          A spear,--and, so protected, watched
          The Assailants, turning round and round;
          But from behind with treacherous wound
          A Spearman brought him to the ground.
          The guardian lance, as Francis fell,
          Dropped from him; but his other hand
          The Banner clenched; till, from out the Band,
          One, the most eager for the prize,                        1490
          Rushed in; and--while, O grief to tell!
          A glimmering sense still left, with eyes
          Unclosed the noble Francis lay--
          Seized it, as hunters seize their prey;
          But not before the warm life-blood
          Had tinged more deeply, as it flowed,
          The wounds the broidered Banner showed,
          Thy fatal work, O Maiden, innocent as good!
            Proudly the Horsemen bore away
          The Standard; and where Francis lay                       1500
          There was he left alone, unwept,
          And for two days unnoticed slept.
          For at that time bewildering fear
          Possessed the country, far and near;
          But, on the third day, passing by
          One of the Norton Tenantry
          Espied the uncovered Corse; the Man
          Shrunk as he recognised the face,
          And to the nearest homesteads ran
          And called the people to the place.                       1510
          --How desolate is Rylstone-hall!
          This was the instant thought of all;
          And if the lonely Lady there
          Should be; to her they cannot bear
          This weight of anguish and despair.
          So, when upon sad thoughts had prest
          Thoughts sadder still, they deemed it best
          That, if the Priest should yield assent
          And no one hinder their intent,
          Then, they, for Christian pity's sake,                    1520
          In holy ground a grave would make;
          And straightway buried he should be
          In the Churchyard of the Priory.
            Apart, some little space, was made
          The grave where Francis must be laid.
          In no confusion or neglect
          This did they,--but in pure respect
          That he was born of gentle blood;
          And that there was no neighbourhood
          Of kindred for him in that ground:                        1530
          So to the Churchyard they are bound,
          Bearing the body on a bier;
          And psalms they sing--a holy sound
          That hill and vale with sadness hear.
            But Emily hath raised her head,
          And is again disquieted;
          She must behold!--so many gone,
          Where is the solitary One?
          And forth from Rylstone-hall stepped she,--
          To seek her Brother forth she went,                       1540
          And tremblingly her course she bent
          Toward Bolton's ruined Priory.
          She comes, and in the vale hath heard
          The funeral dirge;--she sees the knot
          Of people, sees them in one spot--
          And darting like a wounded bird
          She reached the grave, and with her breast
          Upon the ground received the rest,--
          The consummation, the whole ruth
          And sorrow of this final truth!                           1550

                             CANTO SEVENTH

                                 "Powers there are
                That touch each other to the quick--in modes
                Which the gross world no sense hath to perceive,
                No soul to dream of."

          THOU Spirit, whose angelic hand
          Was to the harp a strong command,
          Called the submissive strings to wake
          In glory for this Maiden's sake,
          Say, Spirit! whither hath she fled
          To hide her poor afflicted head?
          What mighty forest in its gloom
          Enfolds her?--is a rifted tomb
          Within the wilderness her seat?
          Some island which the wild waves beat--                   1560
          Is that the Sufferer's last retreat?
          Or some aspiring rock, that shrouds
          Its perilous front in mists and clouds?
          High-climbing rock, low sunless dale,
          Sea, desert, what do these avail?
          Oh take her anguish and her fears
          Into a deep recess of years!
            'Tis done;--despoil and desolation
          O'er Rylstone's fair domain have blown;
          Pools, terraces, and walks are sown                       1570
          With weeds; the bowers are overthrown,
          Or have given way to slow mutation,
          While, in their ancient habitation
          The Norton name hath been unknown.
          The lordly Mansion of its pride
          Is stripped; the ravage hath spread wide
          Through park and field, a perishing
          That mocks the gladness of the Spring!
          And, with this silent gloom agreeing,
          Appears a joyless human Being,                            1580
          Of aspect such as if the waste
          Were under her dominion placed.
          Upon a primrose bank, her throne
          Of quietness, she sits alone;
          Among the ruins of a wood,
          Erewhile a covert bright and green,
          And where full many a brave tree stood,
          That used to spread its boughs, and ring
          With the sweet bird's carolling.
          Behold her, like a virgin Queen,                          1590
          Neglecting in imperial state
          These outward images of fate,
          And carrying inward a serene
          And perfect sway, through many a thought
          Of chance and change, that hath been brought
          To the subjection of a holy,
          Though stern and rigorous, melancholy!
          The like authority, with grace
          Of awfulness, is in her face,--
          There hath she fixed it; yet it seems                     1600
          To o'ershadow by no native right
          That face, which cannot lose the gleams,
          Lose utterly the tender gleams,
          Of gentleness and meek delight,
          And loving-kindness ever bright:
          Such is her sovereign mien:--her dress
          (A vest with woollen cincture tied,
          A hood of mountain-wool undyed)
          Is homely,--fashioned to express
          A wandering Pilgrim's humbleness.                         1610
            And she 'hath' wandered, long and far,
          Beneath the light of sun and star;
          Hath roamed in trouble and in grief,
          Driven forward like a withered leaf,
          Yea like a ship at random blown
          To distant places and unknown.
          But now she dares to seek a haven
          Among her native wilds of Craven;
          Hath seen again her Father's roof,
          And put her fortitude to proof;                           1620
          The mighty sorrow hath been borne,
          And she is thoroughly forlorn:
          Her soul doth in itself stand fast,
          Sustained by memory of the past
          And strength of Reason; held above
          The infirmities of mortal love;
          Undaunted, lofty, calm, and stable,
          And awfully impenetrable.
            And so--beneath a mouldered tree,
          A self-surviving leafless oak                             1630
          By unregarded age from stroke
          Of ravage saved--sate Emily.
          There did she rest, with head reclined,
          Herself most like a stately flower,
          (Such have I seen) whom chance of birth
          Hath separated from its kind,
          To live and die in a shady bower,
          Single on the gladsome earth.
            When, with a noise like distant thunder,
          A troop of deer came sweeping by;                         1640
          And, suddenly, behold a wonder!
          For One, among those rushing deer,
          A single One, in mid career
          Hath stopped, and fixed her large full eye
          Upon the Lady Emily;
          A Doe most beautiful, clear-white,
          A radiant creature, silver-bright!
            Thus checked, a little while it stayed;
          A little thoughtful pause it made;
          And then advanced with stealth-like pace,                 1650
          Drew softly near her, and more near--
          Looked round--but saw no cause for fear;
          So to her feet the Creature came,
          And laid its head upon her knee,
          And looked into the Lady's face,
          A look of pure benignity,
          And fond unclouded memory.
          It is, thought Emily, the same,
          The very Doe of other years!--
          The pleading look the Lady viewed,                        1660
          And, by her gushing thoughts subdued,
          She melted into tears--
          A flood of tears, that flowed apace,
          Upon the happy Creature's face.
            Oh, moment ever blest! O Pair
          Beloved of Heaven, Heaven's chosen care,
          This was for you a precious greeting;
          And may it prove a fruitful meeting!
          Joined are they, and the sylvan Doe
          Can she depart? can she forego                            1670
          The Lady, once her playful peer,
          And now her sainted Mistress dear?
          And will not Emily receive
          This lovely chronicler of things
          Long past, delights and sorrowings?
          Lone Sufferer! will not she believe
          The promise in that speaking face;
          And welcome, as a gift of grace,
          The saddest thought the Creature brings?
            That day, the first of a re-union                       1680
          Which was to teem with high communion,
          That day of balmy April weather,
          They tarried in the wood together.
          And when, ere fall of evening dew,
          She from her sylvan haunt withdrew,
          The White Doe tracked with faithful pace
          The Lady to her dwelling-place;
          That nook where, on paternal ground,
          A habitation she had found,
          The Master of whose humble board                          1690
          Once owned her Father for his Lord;
          A hut, by tufted trees defended,
          Where Rylstone brook with Wharf is blended.
            When Emily by morning light
          Went forth, the Doe stood there in sight.
          She shrunk:--with one frail shock of pain
          Received and followed by a prayer,
          She saw the Creature once again;
          Shun will she not, she feels, will bear;--
          But, wheresoever she looked round,                        1700
          All now was trouble-haunted ground;
          And therefore now she deems it good
          Once more this restless neighbourhood
          To leave.--Unwooed, yet unforbidden,
          The White Doe followed up the vale,
          Up to another cottage, hidden
          In the deep fork of Amerdale;
          And there may Emily restore
          Herself, in spots unseen before.
          --Why tell of mossy rock, or tree,                        1710
          By lurking Dernbrook's pathless side,
          Haunts of a strengthening amity
          That calmed her, cheered, and fortified?
          For she hath ventured now to read
          Of time, and place, and thought, and deed--
          Endless history that lies
          In her silent Follower's eyes;
          Who with a power like human reason
          Discerns the favourable season,
          Skilled to approach or to retire,--                       1720
          From looks conceiving her desire;
          From look, deportment, voice, or mien,
          That vary to the heart within.
          If she too passionately wreathed
          Her arms, or over-deeply breathed,
          Walked quick or slowly, every mood
          In its degree was understood;
          Then well may their accord be true,
          And kindliest intercourse ensue.
          --Oh! surely 'twas a gentle rousing                       1730
          When she by sudden glimpse espied
          The White Doe on the mountain browsing,
          Or in the meadow wandered wide!
          How pleased, when down the Straggler sank
          Beside her, on some sunny bank!
          How soothed, when in thick bower enclosed,
          They, like a nested pair, reposed!
          Fair Vision! when it crossed the Maid
          Within some rocky cavern laid,
          The dark cave's portal gliding by,                        1740
          White as whitest cloud on high
          Floating through the azure sky.
          --What now is left for pain or fear?
          That Presence, dearer and more dear,
          While they, side by side, were straying,
          And the shepherd's pipe was playing,
          Did now a very gladness yield
          At morning to the dewy field,
          And with a deeper peace endued
          The hour of moonlight solitude.                           1750
            With her Companion, in such frame
          Of mind, to Rylstone back she came;
          And, ranging through the wasted groves,
          Received the memory of old loves,
          Undisturbed and undistrest,
          Into a soul which now was blest
          With a soft spring-day of holy,
          Mild, and grateful, melancholy:
          Not sunless gloom or unenlightened,
          But by tender fancies brightened.                         1760
            When the bells of Rylstone played
          Their sabbath music--"God us ayde!"
          That was the sound they seemed to speak;
          Inscriptive legend which I ween
          May on those holy bells be seen,
          That legend and her Grandsire's name;
          And oftentimes the Lady meek
          Had in her childhood read the same;
          Words which she slighted at that day;
          But now, when such sad change was wrought,                1770
          And of that lonely name she thought--
          The bells of Rylstone seemed to say,
          While she sate listening in the shade,
          With vocal music, "God us ayde;"
          And all the hills were glad to bear
          Their part in this effectual prayer.
            Nor lacked she Reason's firmest power;
          But with the White Doe at her side
          Up would she climb to Norton Tower,
          And thence look round her far and wide,                   1780
          Her fate there measuring;--all is stilled,--
          The weak One hath subdued her heart;
          Behold the prophecy fulfilled,
          Fulfilled, and she sustains her part!
          But here her Brother's words have failed;
          Here hath a milder doom prevailed;
          That she, of him and all bereft,
          Hath yet this faithful Partner left;
          This one Associate, that disproves
          His words, remains for her, and loves.                    1790
          If tears are shed, they do not fall
          For loss of him--for one, or all;
          Yet, sometimes, sometimes doth she weep
          Moved gently in her soul's soft sleep;
          A few tears down her cheek descend
          For this her last and living Friend.
            Bless, tender Hearts, their mutual lot,
          And bless for both this savage spot;
          Which Emily doth sacred hold
          For reasons dear and manifold--                           1800
          Here hath she, here before her sight,
          Close to the summit of this height,
          The grassy rock-encircled Pound
          In which the Creature first was found.
          So beautiful the timid Thrall
          (A spotless Youngling white as foam)
          Her youngest Brother brought it home;
          The youngest, then a lusty boy,
          Bore it, or led, to Rylstone-hall
          With heart brimful of pride and joy!                      1810
            But most to Bolton's sacred Pile,
          On favouring nights, she loved to go;
          There ranged through cloister, court, and aisle,
          Attended by the soft-paced Doe;
          Nor feared she in the still moonshine
          To look upon Saint Mary's shrine;
          Nor on the lonely turf that showed
          Where Francis slept in his last abode.
          For that she came; there oft she sate
          Forlorn, but not disconsolate:                            1820
          And, when she from the abyss returned
          Of thought, she neither shrunk nor mourned;
          Was happy that she lived to greet
          Her mute Companion as it lay
          In love and pity at her feet;
          How happy in its turn to meet
          The recognition! the mild glance
          Beamed from that gracious countenance;
          Communication, like the ray
          Of a new morning, to the nature                           1830
          And prospects of the inferior Creature!
            A mortal Song we sing, by dower
          Encouraged of celestial power;
          Power which the viewless Spirit shed
          By whom we were first visited;
          Whose voice we heard, whose hand and wings
          Swept like a breeze the conscious strings,
          When, left in solitude, erewhile
          We stood before this ruined Pile,
          And, quitting unsubstantial dreams,                       1840
          Sang in this Presence kindred themes;
          Distress and desolation spread
          Through human hearts, and pleasure dead,--
          Dead--but to live again on earth,
          A second and yet nobler birth;
          Dire overthrow, and yet how high
          The re-ascent in sanctity!
          From fair to fairer; day by day
          A more divine and loftier way!
          Even such this blessed Pilgrim trod,                      1850
          By sorrow lifted towards her God;
          Uplifted to the purest sky
          Of undisturbed mortality.
          Her own thoughts loved she; and could bend
          A dear look to her lowly Friend;
          There stopped; her thirst was satisfied
          With what this innocent spring supplied:
          Her sanction inwardly she bore,
          And stood apart from human cares:
          But to the world returned no more,                        1860
          Although with no unwilling mind
          Help did she give at need, and joined
          The Wharfdale peasants in their prayers.
          At length, thus faintly, faintly tied
          To earth, she was set free, and died.
          Thy soul, exalted Emily,
          Maid of the blasted family,
          Rose to the God from whom it came!
          --In Rylstone Church her mortal frame
          Was buried by her Mother's side.                          1870
            Most glorious sunset! and a ray
          Survives--the twilight of this day--
          In that fair Creature whom the fields
          Support, and whom the forest shields;
          Who, having filled a holy place,
          Partakes, in her degree, Heaven's grace;
          And bears a memory and a mind
          Raised far above the law of kind;
          Haunting the spots with lonely cheer
          Which her dear Mistress once held dear:                   1880
          Loves most what Emily loved most--
          The enclosure of this churchyard ground;
          Here wanders like a gliding ghost,
          And every sabbath here is found;
          Comes with the people when the bells
          Are heard among the moorland dells,
          Finds entrance through yon arch, where way
          Lies open on the sabbath-day;
          Here walks amid the mournful waste
          Of prostrate altars, shrines defaced,                     1890
          And floors encumbered with rich show
          Of fret-work imagery laid low;
          Paces softly, or makes halt,
          By fractured cell, or tomb, or vault;
          By plate of monumental brass
          Dim-gleaming among weeds and grass,
          And sculptured Forms of Warriors brave:
          But chiefly by that single grave,
          That one sequestered hillock green,
          The pensive visitant is seen.                             1900
          There doth the gentle Creature lie
          With those adversities unmoved;
          Calm spectacle, by earth and sky
          In their benignity approved!
          And aye, methinks, this hoary Pile,
          Subdued by outrage and decay,
          Looks down upon her with a smile,
          A gracious smile, that seems to say--
          "Thou, thou art not a Child of Time,
          But Daughter of the Eternal Prime!"                       1910
                                                              1807.


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