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DOUGLAS TO LORD RANDOLPH.
name is Norval: on the Grampian hills
My father feeds his flock; a frugal swain,
Whose constant cares were to increase his store,
And keep his only son, myself, at home.
For I had heard of battles, and I long'd
To follow to the field some warlike lord;
And Heav'n soon granted what my sire denied.
This moon, which rose last night round as my shield,
Had not yet fill'd her horns, when, by her light,
A band of fierce barbarians from the hills
Rush'd like a torrent down upon the vale,
Sweeping our flocks and herds. The shepherds fled
For safety, and for succour. I alone,
With bended bow, and quiver full of arrows,
Hover'd about the enemy, and mark'd
The road he took, then hasted to my friends;
Whom, with a troop of fifty chosen men,
I met advancing. The pursuit I led,
Till we o'ertook the spoil-encumber'd foe,
We fought and conquer'd. Ere a sword was drawn,
An arrow from my bow had pierc'd their chief,
Who wore that day the arms which now I wear.
Returning home in triumph, I disdain'd
The shepherd's slothful life; and having heard,
That our good king had summon'd his bold
To lead their warriors to the Carron side,
I left my father's house, and took with me
A chosen servant to conduct my steps:-
Yon trembling coward, who forsook his master.
Journeying with this intent, I pass'd these towers,
And, Heav'n-directed, came this day to do
The happy deed, that gilds my humble name.
MOST potent, grave, and reverend Signiors,
My very noble and approv'd good masters,
That I have ta'en away this old man's daughter,
It is most true; true, I have married her :
The very head and front of my offending
Hath this extent; no more. Rude am I in speech,
And little bless'd with the set phrase of peace;
For since these arms of mine had seven years' pith,
Till now some nine moons wasted, they have us'd
Their dearest action in the tented field;
And little of this great world can I speak,
More than pertains to feats of broils and battles;
And therefore little shall I grace my cause,
In speaking for myself. Yet, by your patience,
I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver
Of my whole course of love; what drugs, what charms,
What conjuration, and what mighty magic,
(For such proceedings I am charg'd withal,)
I won his daughter with.
Her father lov'd me; oft invited me;
Still question'd me the story of my life,
From year to year; the battles, sieges, fortunes,
That I have pass'd.
I ran it through, ev'n from my boyish days,
To the very moment that he bade me tell it.
Wherein I spoke of most disastrous chances,
Of moving accidents by flood and field;
Of hair-breadth 'scapes in th' imminent deadly breach;
Of being taken by the insolent foe,
And sold to slav'ry; of my redemption thence,
And with it all my travel's history:
Wherein of antres vast, and deserts wild,
Rough quarries, rocks, and hills whose heads touch Heav'n,
It was my bent to speak.-All these to hear
Would Desdemona seriously incline.
But still the house affairs would draw her thence,
Which ever as she could with haste dispatch,
She'd come again, and with a greedy ear
Devour up my discourse: which I observing,
Took once a pliant hour, and found good means
To draw from her a pray'r of earnest heart,
That I would all my pilgrimage dilate;
Whereof by parcels she had something heard,
But not distinctively. I did consent,
And often did beguile her of her tears,
When I did speak of some distressful stroke
That my youth suffer'd. My story being done,
She gave me for my pains a world of sighs,
She swore, in faith, 'twas strange, 'twas passing strange;
"Twas pitiful, 'twas wond'rous pitiful-
She wish'd she had not heard it
That Heav'n had made her such a man:-she thank'd me,
And bade me, if I had a friend that lov'd her,
I should but teach him how to tell my story,
And that would woo her. On this hint I spake;
She lov'd me for the dangers I had pass'd;
And I lov'd her, that she did pity them.
This only is the witchcraft I have us'd.
Now stood Eliza on the wood-crown'd height,
O'er Minden's plain, spectatress of the fight;
Sought with bold eye amid the bloody strife
Her dearer self, the partner of her life;
From hill to hill the rushing host pursu'd,
And view'd his banner, or believ'd she view'd.
Pleas'd with the distant roar, with quicker tread
Fast by his hand one lisping boy she led ;
And one fair girl amid the loud alarm
Slept on her kerchief, cradled by her arm;
While round her brows bright beams of honour dart
And love's warm eddies circle round her heart.
-Near and more near th' intrepid beauty press'd, Saw through the driving smoke his dancing crest; Heard the exulting shout, " They run! they run!" "Great God!" she cried, "he's safe! the battle's won!" -A ball now hisses through the airy tides, (Some fury wing'd it, and some demon guides!) Parts the fine locks, her graceful head that deck, Wounds her fair ear, and sinks into her neck; The red stream issuing from her azure veins Dyes her white veil, her iv'ry bosom stains."Ah me!" she cried, and, sinking on the ground, Kiss'd her dear babes, regardless of the wound; "Oh, cease not yet to beat, thou vital urn! "Wait, gushing life, oh wait my love's return! "Hoarse barks the wolf, the vulture screams from far! "The angel, pity, shuns the walks of war!— "Oh spare, ye war hounds, spare their tender age !— "On me, on me," she cried, " exhaust your rage!" Then with weak arms her weeping babes caress'd, And sighing hid them in her blood-stain'd vest. From tent to tent the impatient warrior flies, Fear in his heart, and frenzy in his eyes; Eliza's name along the camp he calls,
Eliza echoes through the canvass walls;
Quick through the murm'ring gloom his footsteps tread, O'er groaning heaps, the dying and the dead,
Vault o'er the plain, and in the tangled wood,
Lo! dead Eliza welt'ring in her blood!
-Soon hears his list'ning son the welcome sounds, With open arms and sparkling eyes he bounds:Speak low," he cries, and gives his little hand, "Eliza sleeps upon the dew-cold sand;
"Poor weeping babe with bloody fingers press'd, "And tried with pouting lips her milkless breast! "Alas! we both with cold and hunger quake
Why do you weep?-Mamma, will soon awake "She'll wake no more!" the hopeless mourner cried, Upturn'd his eyes, and clasp'd his hands, and sigh'd; Stretch'd on the ground awhile entranc'd he lay, And press'd warm kisses on the lifeless clay; D
And then upsprung with wild convulsive start,
And all the father kindled in his heart:
"O, Heav'ns!" he cried, " my first rash vow forgive! "These bind to earth, for these I pray to live!" Round his chill babes he wrapp'd his crimson vest, And clasp'd them sobbing to his aching breast.
AHERMIT, or, if 'chance you hold
That title now too trite and old,
A man once young, who liv'd retir'd
As hermit could have well desir'd,
His hours of study clos'd at last,
And finish'd his concise repast,
Stoppled his cruise, replac'd his book
Within it's customary nook,
And, staff in hand, set forth to share
The sober cordial of sweet air,
Like Isaac, with a mind applied
To serious thought at ev'ningtide.
Autumnal rains had made it chill,
And from the trees, that fring'd his hill,
Shades slanting at the close of day
Chill'd more his else delightful way.
Distant a little mile he spied
A western bank's still sunny side,
And right toward the favour'd place
Proceeding with his nimblest pace,
In hope to bask a little yet,
Just reach'd it when the sun was set.
Your hermit, young and jovial Sirs,
Learns something from whate'er occurs-
And hence, he said, my mind computes
The real worth of man's pursuits.