"O chuse, O chuse, Lady Marg'ret," he said, "O whether will ye gang or bide?" "I'll gang, I'll gang, Lord William," she said, "For ye have left me no other guide."
He's lifted her on a milk-white steed, And himself on a dapple grey, With a bugelet horn hung down by his side, And slowly they baith rade away.
O they rade on, and on they rade, And a' by the light of the moon, Until they cam to yon wan water, And there they lighted down.
They lighted down to tak a drink Of the spring that ran sae clear; And down the stream ran his gude heart's blood, And sair she gan to fear.
"Hold up, hold up, Lord William," she says, "For I fear that you are slain!" "'Tis naething but the shadow of my scarlet cloak, That shines in the water sae plain."
O they rade on, and on they rade, And a' by the light of the moon, Until they cam to his mother's ha' door, And there they lighted down.
"Get up, get up, lady mother," he says, "Get up, and let me in!— Get up, get up, lady mother," he says, "For this night my fair ladye I've win.
"O mak my bed, lady mother," he says, "O mak it braid and deep! And lay Lady Marg'ret close at my back, And the sounder I will sleep."
Lord William was dead lang ere midnight, Lady Marg'ret lang ere day— And all true lovers that go thegither, May they have mair luck than they!
Lord William was buried in St. Mary's kirk, Lady Margaret in Mary's quire; Out o' the lady's grave grew a bonny red rose, And out o' the knight's a brier.
And they twa met, and they twa plat, And fain they wad be near; And a' the warld might ken right weel, They were twa lovers dear.
But bye and rade the Black Douglas, And wow but he was rough! For he pulled up the bonny brier, And flang 'tin St. Mary's loch.
* * * * *
THE LAST HUNT.
Oh, it's twenty gallant gentlemen Rode out to hunt the deer, With mirth upon the silver horn And gleam upon the spear; They galloped through the meadow-grass, They sought the forest's gloom, And loudest rang Sir Morven's laugh, And lightest tost his plume. There's no delight by day or night Like hunting in the morn; So busk ye, gallant gentlemen, And sound the silver horn!
They rode into the dark greenwood By ferny dell and glade, And now and then upon their cloaks The yellow sunshine played; They heard the timid forest-birds Break off amid their glee, They saw the startled leveret, But not a stag did see. Wind, wind the horn, on summer morn! Though ne'er a buck appear, There's health for horse and gentleman A-hunting of the deer!
They panted up Ben Lomond's side Where thick the leafage grew, And when they bent the branches back The sunbeams darted through; Sir Morven in his saddle turned, And to his comrades spake, "Now quiet! we shall find a stag Beside the Brownies' Lake. Then sound not on the bugle-horn, Bend bush and do not break, Lest ye should start the timid hart A-drinking at the lake."
Now they have reached the Brownies' Lake,— A blue eye in the wood,— And on its brink a moment's space All motionless they stood; When, suddenly, the silence broke With fifty bowstrings' twang, And hurtling through the drowsy air Full fifty arrows sang. Ah, better for those gentlemen, Than horn and slender spear, Were morion and buckler true, A-hunting of the deer.
Not one of that brave company Shall hunt the deer again; Some fell beside the Brownies' Pool, Some dropt in dell or glen; An arrow pierced Sir Morven's breast, His horse plunged in the lake, And swimming to the farther bank He left a bloody wake. Ah, what avails the silver horn, And what the slender spear? There's other quarry in the wood Beside the fallow deer!
O'er ridge and hollow sped the horse Besprent with blood and foam, Nor slackened pace until at eve He brought his master home. How tenderly the Lady Ruth The cruel dart withdrew! "False Tirrell shot the bolt," she said, "That my Sir Morven slew!" Deep in the forest lurks the foe, While gayly shines the morn: Hang up the broken spear, and blow A dirge upon the horn.
WILLIAM ROSCOE THAYER (Paul Hermes).
* * * * *
THE BALLAD OF AGINCOURT.
Fair stood the wind for France, When we our sails advance, Nor now to prove our chance Longer will tarry; But putting to the main, At Kause, the mouth of Seine, With all his martial train, Landed King Harry,
And taking many a fort, Furnished in warlike sort, Marched towards Agincourt In happy hour,— Skirmishing day by day With those that stopped his way, Where the French general lay With all his power,
Which in his height of pride, King Henry to deride, His ransom to provide To the king sending; Which he neglects the while, As from a nation vile, Yet, with an angry smile, Their fall portending.
And turning to his men, Quoth our brave Henry then: Though they to one be ten, Be not amazed; Yet have we well begun, Battles so bravely won Have ever to the sun By fame been raised.
And for myself, quoth he, This my full rest shall be; England ne'er mourn for me, Nor more esteem me, Victor I will remain, Or on this earth lie slain; Never shall she sustain Loss to redeem me.
Poitiers and Cressy tell, When most their pride did swell, Under our swords they fell; No less our skill is Than when our grandsire great, Claiming the regal seat, By many a warlike feat Lopped the French lilies.
The Duke of York so dread The eager vaward led; With the main Henry sped, Amongst his henchmen, Excester had the rear,— A braver man not there: O Lord! how hot they were On the false Frenchmen!
They now to fight are gone; Armor on armor shone; Drum now to drum did groan,— To hear was wonder; That with the cries they make The very earth did shake; Trumpet to trumpet spake, Thunder to thunder.
Well it thine age became, O noble Erpingham! Which did the signal aim To our hid forces; When, from a meadow by, Like a storm, suddenly. The English archery Struck the French horses
With Spanish yew so strong, Arrows a cloth-yard long, That like to serpents stung, Piercing the weather; None from his fellow starts, But playing manly parts, And, like true English hearts, Stuck close together.
When down their bows they threw, And forth their bilboes drew, And on the French they flew, Not one was tardy; Arms were from shoulders sent; Scalps to the teeth were rent; Down the French peasants went; Our men were hardy.
This while our noble king, His broadsword brandishing, Down the French host did ding, As to o'erwhelm it; And many a deep wound lent, His arms with blood besprent, And many a cruel dent Bruised his helmet.
Glo'ster, that duke so good, Next of the royal blood, For famous England stood With his brave brother, Clarence, in steel so bright, Though but a maiden knight, Yet in that furious fight Scarce such another.
Warwick in blood did wade; Oxford the foe invade, And cruel slaughter made, Still as they ran up. Suffolk his axe did ply; Beaumont and Willoughby Bare them right doughtily, Ferrers and Fanhope.
Upon Saint Crispin's day Fought was this noble fray, Which fame did not delay To England to carry; O, when shall Englishmen With such acts fill a pen, Or England breed again Such a King Harry?
* * * * *
THE KING TO HIS SOLDIERS BEFORE HARFLEUR.
FROM "KING HENRY V.," ACT III. SC. 1.
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; Or close the wall up with our English dead! In peace, there's nothing so becomes a man, As modest stillness, and humility: But when the blast of war blows in our ears, Then imitate the action of the tiger; Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, Disguise fair nature with hard-favored rage: Then lend the eye a terrible aspect; Let it pry through the portage of the head, Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it, As fearfully as doth a galled rock O'erhang and jutty his confounded base, Swilled with the wild and wasteful ocean. Now set the teeth, and stretch the nostril wide; Hold hard the breath, and bend up every spirit To his full height!—On, on, you noblest English, Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof! Fathers, that, like so many Alexanders, Have, in these parts, from morn till even fought, And sheathed their swords for lack of argument. Dishonor not your mothers; now attest, That those whom you called fathers, did beget you! Be copy now to men of grosser blood, And teach them how to war!—And you, good yeomen, Whose limbs were made in England, show us here The mettle of your pasture; let us swear That you are worth your breeding: which I doubt not; For there is none of you so mean and base, That hath not noble lustre in your eyes. I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips, Straining upon the start. The game's afoot; Follow your spirit: and, upon this charge, Cry—God for Harry! England! and Saint George!
* * * * *
THE CAVALIER'S SONG.
A steed! a steed of matchlesse speed, A sword of metal keene! All else to noble heartes is drosse, All else on earth is meaue. The neighyinge of the war-horse prowde, The rowlinge of the drum, The clangor of the trumpet lowde, Be soundes from heaven that come; And oh! the thundering presse of knightes, Whenas their war-cryes swell, May tole from heaven an angel bright, And rouse a fiend from hell.
Then mounte! then mounte, brave gallants all, And don your helmes amaine; Deathe's couriers, fame and honor, call Us to the field againe. No shrewish feares shall fill our eye When the sword-hilt's in our hand— Heart-whole we'll part, and no whit sighe For the fayrest of the land; Let piping swaine, and craven wight, Thus weepe and puling crye; Our business is like men to fight, And hero-like to die!
* * * * *
GIVE A ROUSE.
King Charles, and who'll do him right now? King Charles, and who's ripe for fight now? Give a rouse: here's, in hell's despite now, King Charles!
Who gave me the goods that went since? Who raised me the house that sank once? Who helped me to gold I spent since? Who found me in wine you drank once?
King Charles, and who'll do him right now? King Charles, and who's ripe for fight now? Give a rouse: here's, in hell's despite now, King Charles!
To whom used my boy George quaff else, By the old fool's side that begot him? For whom did he cheer and laugh else, While Noll's damned troopers shot him?
King Charles, and who'll do him right now? King Charles, and who's ripe for fight now? Give a rouse: here's, in hell's despite now, King Charles!
* * * * *
BY OBADIAH BIND-THEIR-KINGS-IN-CHAINS-AND-THEIR-NOBLES-WITH- LINKS-OF-IRON; SERGEANT IN IRETON'S REGIMENT.
O, wherefore come ye forth, in triumph from the north, With your hands and your feet and your raiment all red? And wherefore doth your rout send forth a joyous shout? And whence be the grapes of the wine-press that ye tread?
O, evil was the root, and bitter was the fruit, And crimson was the juice of the vintage that we trod: For we trampled on the throng of the haughty and the strong, Who sate in the high places and slew the saints of God.
It was about the noon of a glorious day of June, That we saw their banners dance and their cuirasses shine, And the man of blood was there, with his long essenced hair, And Astley, and Sir Marmaduke, and Rupert of the Rhine.
Like a servant of the Lord, with his Bible and his sword, The General rode along us to form us to the fight; When a murmuring sound broke out, and swelled into a shout Among the godless horsemen upon the tyrant's right.
And hark! like the roar of the billows on the shore, The cry of battle rises along their charging line! For God! for the cause!—for the Church! for the laws! For Charles, king of England, and Rupert of the Rhine!
The furious German comes, with his clarions and his drums, His bravoes of Alsatia, and pages of Whitehall; They are bursting on our flanks. Grasp your pikes! Close your ranks! For Rupert never comes but to conquer, or to fall.
They are here! They rush on! We are broken! We are gone! Our left is borne before them like stubble on the blast. O Lord, put forth thy might! O Lord, defend the right! Stand back to back, in God's name! and fight it to the last!
Stout Skippon hath a wound; the centre hath given ground: Hark! hark! what means the trampling of horsemen on our rear? Whose banner do I see, boys? 'Tis he! thank God! 'tis he, boys! Bear up another minute! Brave Oliver is here.
Their heads all stooping low, their points all in a row, Like a whirlwind on the trees, like a deluge on the dikes, Our cuirassiers have burst on the ranks of the Accurst, And at a shock have scattered the forest of his pikes.
Fast, fast the gallants ride, in some safe nook to hide Their coward heads, predestined to rot on Temple Bar; And he,—he turns, he flies:—shame on those cruel eyes That bore to look on torture, and dare not look on war!
Ho! comrades, scour the plain; and, ere ye strip the slain, First give another stab to make your search secure; Then shake from sleeves and pockets their broadpieces and lockets, The tokens of the wanton, the plunder of the poor.
Fools! your doublets shone with gold, and your hearts were gay and bold, When you kissed your lily hands to your lemans to-day; And to-morrow shall the fox, from her chambers in the rocks, Lead forth her tawny cubs to howl above the prey.
Where be your tongues that late mocked at heaven and hell and fate? And the fingers that once were so busy with your blades, Your perfumed satin clothes, your catches and your oaths! Your stage-plays and your sonnets, your diamonds and your spades?
Down! down! forever down, with the mitre and the crown! With the Belial of the court, and the Mammon of the Pope! There is woe in Oxford halls; there is wail in Durham's stalls; The Jesuit smites his bosom; the bishop rends his cope.
And she of the seven hills shall mourn her children's ills, And tremble when she thinks on the edge of England's sword; And the kings of earth in fear shall shudder when they hear What the hand of God hath wrought for the Houses and the Word!
THOMAS BABINGTON, LORD MACAULAY.
* * * * *
THE THREE SCARS.
This I got on the day that Goring Fought through York, like a wild beast roaring— The roofs were black, and the streets were full, The doors built up with packs of wool; But our pikes made way through a storm of shot, Barrel to barrel till locks grew hot; Frere fell dead, and Lucas was gone, But the drum still beat and the flag went on.
This I caught from a swinging sabre, All I had from a long night's labor; When Chester[A] flamed, and the streets were red, In splashing shower fell the molten lead, The fire sprang up, and the old roof split, The fire-ball burst in the middle of it; With a clash and a clang the troopers they ran, For the siege was over ere well began.
This I got from a pistol butt (Lucky my head's not a hazel nut); The horse they raced, and scudded and swore; There were Leicestershire gantlemen, seventy score; Up came the "Lobsters," covered with steel— Down we went with a stagger and reel; Smash at the flag, I tore it to rag. And carried it off in my foraging bag.
[Footnote A: Siege of Chester, in the civil war, 1645.]
GEORGE WALTER THORNBURY.
* * * * *
[May 11, 1745.]
Thrice at the huts of Fontenoy the English column failed, And twice the lines of Saint Antoine the Dutch in vain assailed; For town and slope were filled with fort and flanking battery, And well they swept the English ranks and Dutch auxiliary. As vainly through De Barri's wood the British soldiers burst, The French artillery drove them back diminished and dispersed. The bloody Duke of Cumberland beheld with anxious eye, And ordered up his last reserve, his latest chance to try. On Fontenoy, on Fontenoy, how fast his generals ride! And mustering came his chosen troops like clouds at eventide.
Six thousand English veterans in stately column tread; Their cannon blaze in front and flank, Lord Hay is at their head. Steady they step adown the slopes, steady they mount the hill, Steady they load, steady they fire, moving right onward still, Betwixt the wood and Fontenoy, as through a furnace-blast, Through rampart, trench, and palisade, and bullets showering fast; And on the open plain above they rose and kept their course, With ready fire and grim resolve that mocked at hostile force. Past Fontenoy, past Fontenoy, while thinner grow their ranks, They break as breaks the Zuyder Zee through Holland's ocean-banks.
More idly than the summer flies, French tirailleurs rush round; As stubble to the lava-tide, French squadrons strew the ground; Bombshells and grape and round-shot tore, still on they marched and fired; Fast from each volley grenadier and voltigeur retired. "Push on my household cavalry," King Louis madly cried. To death they rush, but rude their shock, not unavenged they died. On through the camp the column trod—King Louis turned his rein. "Not yet, my liege," Saxe interposed; "the Irish troops remain." And Fontenoy, famed Fontenoy, had been a Waterloo, Had not these exiles ready been, fresh, vehement, and true.
"Lord Clare," he said, "you have your wish; there are your Saxon foes!" The Marshal almost smiles to see how furiously he goes. How fierce the look these exiles wear, who're wont to be so gay! The treasured wrongs of fifty years are in their hearts to-day: The treaty broken ere the ink wherewith 'twas writ could dry; Their plundered homes, their ruined shrines, their women's parting cry; Their priesthood hunted down like wolves, their country overthrown— Each looks as if revenge for all were staked on him alone. On Fontenoy, on Fontenoy, nor ever yet elsewhere, Rushed on to fight a nobler band than these proud exiles were.
O'Brien's voice is hoarse with joy, as, halting, he commands: "Fix bayonets—charge!" Like mountain-storm rush on those fiery bands. Thin is the English column now, and faint their volleys grow, Yet mustering all the strength they have, they make a gallant show. They dress their ranks upon the hill, to face that battle-wind! Their bayonets the breakers' foam, like rocks the men behind! One volley crashes from their line, when through the surging smoke, With empty guns clutched in their hands, the headlong Irish broke. On Fontenoy, on Fontenoy, hark to that fierce huzza! "Revenge! remember Limerick! dash down the Sacsanagh!"
Like lions leaping at a fold, when mad with hunger's pang, Right up against the English line the Irish exiles sprang; Bright was their steel, 'tis bloody now, their guns are filled with gore; Through scattered ranks and severed files and trampled flags they tore. The English strove with desperate strength, paused, rallied, scattered, fled; The green hillside is matted close with dying and with dead. Across the plain and far away passed on that hideous wrack, While cavalier and fantassin dash in upon their track. On Fontenoy, on Fontenoy, like eagles in the sun, With bloody plumes the Irish stand—the field is fought and won!
THOMAS OSBORNE DAVIS.
* * * * *
BATTLE OF THE BALTIC.
[April 2, 1801.]
Of Nelson and the north Sing the glorious day's renown, When to battle fierce came forth All the might of Denmark's crown, And her arms along the deep proudly shone; By each gun the lighted brand In a bold determined hand, And the prince of all the land Led them on.
Like leviathans afloat Lay their bulwarks on the brine; While the sign of battle flew On the lofty British line— It was ten of April morn by the chime. As they drifted on their path There was silence deep as death; And the boldest held his breath For a time.
But the might of England flushed To anticipate the scene; And her van the fleeter rushed O'er the deadly space between. "Hearts of oak!" our captain cried; when each gun From its adamantine lips Spread a death-shade round the ships, Like the hurricane eclipse Of the sun.
Again! again! again! And the havoc did not slack, Till a feeble cheer the Dane To our cheering sent us back; Their shots along the deep slowly boom— Then ceased—and all is wail, As they strike the shattered sail, Or in conflagration pale, Light the gloom.
Out spoke the victor then, As he hailed them o'er the wave: "Ye are brothers! ye are men! And we conquer but to save; So peace instead of death let us bring; But yield, proud foe, thy fleet, With the crews, at England's feet, And make submission meet To our king."
Then Denmark blessed our chief, That he gave her wounds repose; And the sounds of joy and grief From her people wildly rose, As death withdrew his shades from the day. While the sun looked smiling bright O'er a wide and woful sight, Where the fires of funeral light Died away.
Now joy, old England, raise! For the tidings of thy might, By the festal cities' blaze, Whilst the wine-cup shines in light; And yet, amidst that joy and uproar, Let us think of them that sleep Full many a fathom deep, By thy wild and stormy steep, Elsinore!
Brave hearts! to Britain's pride Once so faithful and so true, On the deck of fame that died, With the gallant good Riou— Soft sigh the winds of heaven o'er their grave! While the billow mournful rolls, And the mermaid's song condoles, Singing glory to the souls Of the brave!
* * * * *
BURIAL OF SIR JOHN MOORE.
[Corunna, Spain, January 16, 1809.]
Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note, As his corse to the rampart we hurried; Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot O'er the grave where our hero we buried.
We buried him darkly, at dead of night, The sods with our bayonets turning; By the struggling moonbeams' misty light, And the lanthorn dimly burning.
No useless coffin enclosed his breast, Not in sheet or in shroud we wound him; But he lay, like a warrior taking his rest, With his martial cloak around him.
Few and short were the prayers we said, And we spoke not a word of sorrow; But we steadfastly gazed on the face that was dead, And we bitterly thought of the morrow.
We thought, as we hollowed his narrow bed, And smoothed down his lonely pillow. That the foe and the stranger would tread o'er his head, And we far away on the billow!
Lightly they'll talk of the spirit that's gone, And o'er his cold ashes upbraid him, But little he'll reck, if they let him sleep on In the grave where a Briton has laid him!
But half of our heavy task was done, When the clock struck the hour for retiring; And we heard the distant and random gun That the foe was sullenly firing.
Slowly and sadly we laid him down, From the field of his fame fresh and gory; We carved not a line, and we raised not a stone— But we left him alone with his glory.
* * * * *
It was a Sergeant old and gray, Well singed and bronzed from siege and pillage, Went tramping in an army's wake Along the turnpike of the village.
For days and nights the winding host Had through the little place been marching, And ever loud the rustics cheered, Till every throat was hoarse and parching.
The Squire and Farmer, maid and dame, All took the sight's electric stirring, And hats were waved and staves were sung, And kerchiefs white were countless whirring.
They only saw a gallant show Of heroes stalwart under banners, And, in the fierce heroic glow, 'Twas theirs to yield but wild hosannas.
The Sergeant heard the shrill hurrahs, Where he behind in step was keeping; But glancing down beside the road He saw a little maid sit weeping.
"And how is this?" he gruffly said, A moment pausing to regard her;— "Why weepest thou, my little chit?" And then she only cried the harder.
"And how is this, my little chit?" The sturdy trooper straight repeated, "When all the village cheers us on, That you, in tears, apart are seated?
"We march two hundred thousand strong, And that's a sight, my baby beauty, To quicken silence into song And glorify the soldier's duty."
"It's very, very grand, I know," The little maid gave soft replying; "And Father, Mother, Brother too, All say 'Hurrah' while I am crying;
"But think—O Mr. Soldier, think,— How many little sisters' brothers Are going all away to fight And may be killed, as well as others!"
"Why, bless thee, child," the Sergeant said, His brawny hand her curls caressing, "'Tis left for little ones like thee To find that War's not all a blessing."
And "Bless thee!" once again he cried; Then cleared his throat and looked indignant, And marched away with wrinkled brow To stop the struggling tear benignaut.
And still the ringing shouts went up From doorway, thatch, and fields of tillage; The pall behind the standard seen By one alone of all the village.
The oak and cedar bend and writhe When roars the wind through gap and braken; But 'tis the tenderest reed of all That trembles first when Earth is shaken.
ROBERT HENRY NEWELL.
* * * * *
[June 15, 1815.]
FROM "CHILDE HAROLD," CANTO III.
There was a sound of revelry by night, And Belgium's capital had gathered then Her beauty and her chivalry, and bright The lamps shone o'er fair women and brave men; A thousand hearts beat happily; and when Music arose with its voluptuous swell, Soft eyes looked love to eyes which spake again, And all went merry as a marriage-bell; But hush! hark! a deep sound strikes like a rising knell!
Did ye not hear it?—No; 'twas but the wind, Or the car rattling o'er the stony street; On with the dance! let joy be unconfined! No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet To chase the glowing Hours with flying feet,— But hark!—that heavy sound breaks in once more, As if the clouds its echo would repeat; And nearer, clearer, deadlier than before! Arm! arm! it is—it is—the cannon's opening roar!
Within a windowed niche of that high hall Sate Brunswick's fated chieftain; he did hear That sound the first amidst the festival, And caught its tone with Death's prophetic ear; And when they smiled because he deemed it near, His heart more truly knew that peal too well Which stretched his father on a bloody bier, And roused the vengeance blood alone could quell: He rushed into the field, and, foremost fighting, fell.
Ah! then and there was hurrying to and fro, And gathering tears, and tremblings of distress, And cheeks all pale which but an hour ago Blushed at the praise of their own loveliness; And there were sudden partings, such as press The life from out young hearts, and choking sighs Which ne'er might be repeated: who would guess If evermore should meet those mutual eyes Since upon night so sweet such awful morn could rise!
And there was mounting in hot haste: the steed, The mustering squadron, and the clattering car, Went pouring forward with impetuous speed, And swiftly forming in the ranks of war; And the deep thunder peal on peal afar; And near, the beat of the alarming drum Roused up the soldier ere the morning star; While thronged the citizens with terror dumb, Or whispering with white lips,—"The foe! they come! they come!"
And wild and high the "Cameron's gathering" rose, The war-note of Lochiel, which Albyn's hills Have heard,—and heard, too, have her Saxon foes: How in the noon of night that pibroch thrills Savage and shrill! But with the breath which fills Their mountain pipe, so fill the mountaineers With the fierce native daring which instills The stirring memory of a thousand years, And Evan's, Donald's fame, rings in each clansman's ears!
And Ardennes waves above them her green leaves, Dewy with nature's tear-drops, as they pass, Grieving, if aught inanimate e'er grieves, Over the unreturning brave,—alas! Ere evening to be trodden like the grass Which now beneath them, but above shall grow In its next verdure, when this fiery mass Of living valor, rolling on the foe, And burning with high hope, shall moulder cold and low.
Last noon beheld them full of lusty life, Last eve in Beauty's circle proudly gay, The midnight brought the signal sound of strife, The morn the marshalling in arms,—the day Battle's magnificently stern array! The thunder-clouds close o'er it, which when rent The earth is covered thick with other clay, Which her own clay shall cover, heaped and pent, Rider and horse,—friend, foe,—in one red burial blent!
Their praise is hymned by loftier harps than mine; Yet one I would select from that proud throng, Partly because they blend me with his line, And partly that I did his sire some wrong, And partly that bright names will hallow song! And his was of the bravest, and when showered The death-bolts deadliest the thinned files along, Even where the thickest of war's tempest lowered, They reached no nobler breast than thine, young, gallant Howard!
There have been tears and breaking hearts for thee, And mine were nothing, had I such to give; But when I stood beneath the fresh green tree, Which living waves where thou didst cease to live, And saw around me the wide field revive With fruits and fertile promise, and the Spring Come forth her work of gladness to contrive, With all her reckless birds upon the wing, I turned from all she brought to those she could not bring.
I turned to thee, to thousands, of whom each And one as all a ghastly gap did make In his own kind and kindred, whom to teach Forgetfulness were mercy for their sake; The Archangel's trump, not glory's, must awake Those whom they thirst for; though the sound of Fame May for a moment soothe, it cannot slake The fever of vain longing, and the name So honored but assumes a stronger, bitterer claim.
They mourn, but smile at length; and, smiling, mourn: The tree will wither long before it fall; The hull drives on, though mast and sail be torn; The roof-tree sinks, but moulders on the hall In massy hoariness; the ruined wall Stands when its wind-worn battlements are gone; The bars survive the captive they enthrall; The day drags through though storms keep out the sun; And thus the heart will break, yet brokenly live on;
Even as a broken mirror, which the glass In every fragment multiplies, and makes A thousand images of one that was The same, and still the more, the more it breaks; And thus the heart will do which not forsakes, Living in shattered guise, and still, and cold, And bloodless, with its sleepless sorrow aches, Yet withers on till all without is old, Showing no visible sign, for such things are untold.
* * * * *
BY THE ALMA RIVER.
[September 20, 1854,]
Willie, fold your little hands; Let it drop,—that "soldier" toy; Look where father's picture stands,— Father, that here kissed his boy Not a mouth since,—father kind, Who this night may (never mind Mother's sob, my Willie dear) Cry out loud that He may hear Who is God of battles,—cry, "God keep father safe this day By the Alma River!"
Ask no more, child. Never heed Either Russ, or Frank, or Turk; Right of nations, trampled creed, Chance-poised victory's bloody work; Any flag i' the wind may roll On thy heights, Sevastopol! Willie, all to you and me Is that spot, whate'er it be, Where he stands—no other word— Stands—God sure the child's prayers heard— Near the Alma River.
Willie, listen to the bells Ringing in the town to-day; That's for victory. No knell swells For the many swept away,— Hundreds, thousands. Let us weep, We, who need not,—just to keep Reason clear in thought and brain Till the morning comes again; Till the third dread morning tell Who they were that fought and—fell By the Alma River.
Come, we'll lay us down, my child; Poor the bed is,—poor and hard; But thy father, far exiled, Sleeps upon the open sward, Dreaming of us two at home; Or, beneath the starry dome, Digs out trenches in the dark, Where he buries—Willie, mark!— Where he buries those who died Fighting—fighting at his side— By the Alma River.
Willie, Willie, go to sleep; God will help us, O my boy! He will make the dull hours creep Faster, and send news of joy; When I need not shrink to meet Those great placards in the street, That for weeks will ghastly stare In some eyes—child, say that prayer Once again,—a different one,— Say, "O God! Thy will be done By the Alma River."
DINAH MARIA MULOCK CRAIK.
* * * * *
CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE.
[October 25, 1854.]
Half a league, half a league, Half a league onward. All in the valley of Death Rode the six hundred. "Forward, the Light Brigade! Charge for the guns!" he said; Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!" Was there a man dismayed? Not though the soldier knew Some one had blundered: Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why. Theirs but to do and die: Into the valley of Death Rode the six hundred.
Cannon to right of them, Cannon to left of them, Cannon in front of them Volleyed and thundered; Stormed at with shot and shell, Boldly they rode and well; Into the jaws of Death, Into the mouth of Hell, Rode the six hundred.
Flashed all their sabres bare, Flashed as they turned in air, Sabring the gunners there, Charging an army, while All the world wondered: Plunged in the battery-smoke, Right through the line they broke: Cossack and Russian Reeled from the sabre-stroke, Shattered and sundered. Then they rode back, but not— Not the six hundred.
Cannon to right of them, Cannon to left of them, Cannon behind them Volleyed and thundered: Stormed at with shot and shell, While horse and hero fell, They that had fought so well Came through the jaws of Death Back from the mouth of Hell,— All that was left of them, Left of six hundred.
When can their glory fade? O the wild charge they made! All the world wondered. Honor the charge they made! Honor the Light Brigade, Noble six hundred!
ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON.
* * * * *
THE RELIEF OF LUCKNOW.
[September 25, 1857.]
O, that last day in Lucknow fort! We knew that it was the last; That the enemy's lines crept surely on. And the end was coming fast.
To yield to that foe meant worse than death; And the men and we all worked on; It was one day more of smoke and roar, And then it would all be done.
There was one of us, a corporal's wife, A fair, young, gentle thing, Wasted with fever in the siege. And her mind was wandering.
She lay on the ground, in her Scottish plaid, And I took her head on my knee; "When my father comes hame frae the pleugh," she said, "Oh! then please wauken me."
She slept like a child on her father's floor, In the flecking of woodbine-shade, When the house-dog sprawls by the open door, And the mother's wheel is stayed.
It was smoke and roar and powder-stench, And hopeless waiting for death; And the soldier's wife, like a full-tired child, Seemed scarce to draw her breath.
I sank to sleep; and I had my dream Of an English village-lane. And wall and garden;—but one wild scream Brought me back to the roar again.
There Jessie Brown stood listening Till a sudden gladness broke All over her face; and she caught my hand And drew me near as she spoke:—
"The Hielanders! O, dinna ye hear The slogan far awa, The McGregor's?—O, I ken it weel; It's the grandest o' them a'!
"God bless thae bonny Hielanders! We're saved! we're saved!" she cried; And fell on her knees; and thanks to God Flowed forth like a full flood-tide.
Along the battery-line her cry Had fallen among the men, And they started back;—they were there to die; But was life so near them, then?
They listened for life; the rattling fire Far off, and the far-off roar, Were all; and the colonel shook his head, And they turned to their guns once more.
But Jessie said, "The slogan's done; But winna ye hear it noo, The Campbells are comin'? It's no' a dream; Our succors hae broken through!"
We heard the roar and the rattle afar, But the pipes we could not hear; So the men plied their work of hopeless war And knew that the end was near.
It was not long ere it made its way,— A thrilling, ceaseless sound: It was no noise from the strife afar, Or the sappers under ground.
It was the pipes of the Highlanders! And now they played Auld Lang Syne; It came to our men like the voice of God, And they shouted along the line.
And they wept, and shook one another's hands, And the women sobbed in a crowd; And every one knelt down where he stood, And we all thanked God aloud.
That happy day, when we welcomed them, Our men put Jessie first; And the general gave her his hand, and cheers Like a storm from the soldiers burst.
And the pipers' ribbons and tartan streamed, Marching round and round our line; And our joyful cheers were broken with tears, As the pipes played Auld Long Syne.
ROBERT T.S. LOWELL.
* * * * *
"What are the bugles blowin' for?" said Files-on-Parade. "To turn you out, to turn you out," the Color-Sergeant said. "What makes you look so white, so white?" said Files-on-Parade. "I'm dreadin' what I've got to watch," the Color-Sergeant said. For they're hangin' Danny Deever, you can hear the Dead March play, The regiment's in 'ollow square—they're hangin' him to-day; They've taken of his buttons off an' cut his stripes away, An' they're hangin' Danny Deever in the mornin'.
"What makes the rear-rank breathe so 'ard?" said Files-on-Parade. "It's bitter cold, it's bitter cold," the Color-Sergeant said. "What makes that front-rank man fall down?" says Files-on-Parade. "A touch o' sun, a touch o' sun," the Color-Sergeant said. They are hangin' Danny Deever, they are marchin' of 'im round, They 'ave 'alted Danny Deever by 'is coffin on the ground; An' 'e'll swing in 'arf a minute for a sneakin' shootin' hound— O they're hangin' Danny Deever in the mornin'!
"'Is cot was right-'and cot to mine," said Files-on-Parade. "'E's sleepin' out an' far to-night," the Color-Sergeant said. "I've drunk 'is beer a score o' times," said Files-on-Parade. "'E's drinkin' bitter beer alone," the Color-Sergeant said. They are hangin' Danny Deever, you must mark 'im to 'is place, For 'e shot a comrade sleepin'—you must look 'im in the face; Nine 'undred of 'is county an' the regiment's disgrace, While they're hangin' Danny Deever in the mornin'.
"What's that so black agin the sun?" said Files-on-Parade. "It's Danny fightin' 'ard for life," the Color-Sergeant said. "What's that that whimpers over'ead?" said Files-on-Parade. "It's Danny's soul that's passin' now," the Color-Sergeant said. For they're done with Danny Deever, you can 'ear the quickstep play, The regiment's in column, an' they're marchin' us away; Ho! the young recruits are shakin', an' they'll want their beer to-day, After hangin' Danny Deever in the mornin'.
* * * * *
WHERE ARE THE MEN?
Where are the men who went forth in the morning, Hope brightly beaming in every face? Fearing no danger,—the Saxon foe scorning,— Little thought they of defeat or disgrace! Fallen is their chieftain—his glory departed— Fallen are the heroes who fought by his side! Fatherless children now weep, broken-hearted, Mournfully wandering by Rhuddlan's dark tide!
Small was the band that escaped from the slaughter, Flying for life as the tide 'gan to flow; Hast thou no pity, thou dark rolling water? More cruel still than the merciless foe! Death is behind them, and death is before them; Faster and faster rolls on the dark wave; One wailing cry—and the sea closes o'er them; Silent and deep is their watery grave.
From the Welsh of TALIESSIN, Translation of THOMAS OLIPHANT
* * * * *
BRUCE AND THE SPIDER.
For Scotland's and for freedom's right The Bruce his part had played, In five successive fields of fight Been conquered and dismayed; Once more against the English host His band he led, and once more lost The meed for which he fought; And now from battle, faint and worn, The homeless fugitive forlorn A hut's lone shelter sought.
And cheerless was that resting-place For him who claimed a throne: His canopy, devoid of grace, The rude, rough beams alone; The heather couch his only bed,— Yet well I ween had slumber fled From couch of eider-down! Through darksome night till dawn of day, Absorbed in wakeful thoughts he lay Of Scotland and her crown.
The sun rose brightly, and its gleam Fell on that hapless bed, And tinged with light each shapeless beam Which roofed the lowly shed; When, looking up with wistful eye, The Bruce beheld a spider try His filmy thread to fling From beam to beam of that rude cot; And well the insect's toilsome lot Taught Scotland's future king.
Six times his gossamery thread The wary spider threw; In vain the filmy line was sped, For powerless or untrue Each aim appeared, and back recoiled The patient insect, six times foiled, And yet unconquered still; And soon the Bruce, with eager eye, Saw him prepare once more to try His courage, strength, and skill.
One effort more, his seventh and last— The hero hailed the sign!— And on the wished-for beam hung fast That slender, silken line! Slight as it was, his spirit caught The more than omen, for his thought The lesson well could trace, Which even "he who runs may read," That Perseverance gains its meed, And Patience wins the race.
* * * * *
[June 24, 1314.]
Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled, Scots, wham Bruce has aften led; Welcome to your gory bed, Or to victorie.
Now's the day, and now's the hour See the front o' battle lour: See approach proud Edward's power,— Chains and slaverie!
Wha will be a traitor knave? Wha can fill a coward's grave? Wha sae base as be a slave? Let him turn and flee!
Wha for Scotland's king and law Freedom's sword will strongly draw, Freeman stand, or freeman fa'? Let him follow me!
By Oppression's woes and pains! By our sons in servile chains, We will drain our dearest veins, But they shall be free!
Lay the proud usurpers low! Tyrants fall in every foe! Liberty's in every blow! Let us do, or die!
* * * * *
SONG OF CLAN-ALPINE.
FROM "THE LADY OF THE LAKE," CANTO II.
Loud a hundred clansmen raise Their voices in their chieftain's praise. Each boatman, bending to his oar, With measured sweep the burthen bore, In such wild cadence, as the breeze Makes through December's leafless trees. The chorus first could Allen know, "Roderigh Vich Alpine, ho! ieroe!" And near, and nearer, as they rowed, Distinct the martial ditty flowed.
Hail to the Chief who in triumph advances! Honored and blessed be the evergreen Pine! Long may the tree, in his banner that glances, Flourish, the shelter and grace of our line! Heaven send it happy dew, Earth lend it sap anew, Gayly to bourgeon, and broadly to grow, While every Highland glen Sends our shouts back again, "Roderigh Vich Alpine dhu, ho! ieroe!"
Ours is no sapling chance-sown by the fountain. Blooming at Beltane, in winter to fade; When the whirlwind has stripped every leaf on the mountain, The more shall Clan-Alpine exult in her shade. Moored in the rifted rock, Proof to the tempest's shock, Firmer he roots him the ruder it blow; Menteith and Breadalbane, then, Echo his praise again, "Roderigh Vich Alpine dhu, ho! ieroe!"
Proudly our pibroch has thrilled in Glen Fruin, And Bannachar's groans to our slogan replied; Glen Luss and Ross-dhu, they are smoking in ruin, And the best of Loch-Lomond lie dead on her side. Widow and Saxon maid Long shall lament our raid, Think of Clan-Alpine with fear and with woe; Lennox and Leven-glen Shake when they hear again, "Roderigh Vich Alpine dhu, ho! ieroe!"
Row, vassals, row, for the pride of the Highlands! Stretch to your oars for the evergreen Pine! O that the rosebud that graces yon islands Were wreathed in a garland around him to twine! O that some seedling gem, Worthy such noble stem, Honored and blessed in their shadow might grow! Loud should Clan-Alpine then Ring from the deepmost glen, "Roderigh Vich Alpine dhu, ho! ieroe!"
SIR WALTER SCOTT.
* * * * *
BEAL' AN DHUINE.
FROM "THE LADY OF THE LAKE," CANTO VI.
There is no breeze upon the fern, No ripple on the lake, Upon her eyrie nods the erne, The deer has sought the brake; The small birds will not sing aloud, The springing trout lies still, So darkly glooms yon thunder-cloud, That swathes, as with a purple shroud, Benledi's distant hill. Is it the thunder's solemn sound That mutters deep and dread, Or echoes from the groaning ground The warrior's measured tread? Is it the lightning's quivering glance That on the thicket streams, Or do they flash on spear and lance The sun's retiring beams? I see the dagger crest of Mar, I see the Moray's silver star Wave o'er the cloud of Saxon war, That up the lake comes winding far! To hero bound for battle strife, Or bard of martial lay, 'Twere worth ten years of peaceful life, One glance at their array!
Their light-armed archers far and near Surveyed the tangled ground, Their centre ranks, with pike and spear, A twilight forest frowned, Their barbed horsemen, in the rear, The stern battalia crowned. No cymbal clashed, no clarion rang, Still were the pipe and drum; Save heavy tread, and armor's clang, The sullen march was dumb. There breathed no wind their crests to shake, Or wave their flags abroad; Scarce the frail aspen seemed to quake, That shadowed o'er their road. Their vaward scouts no tidings bring, Can rouse no lurking foe, Nor spy a trace of living thing, Save when they stirred the roe; The host moves like a deep sea wave, Where rise no rocks its pride to brave, High swelling, dark, and slow. The lake is passed, and now they gain A narrow and a broken plain, Before the Trosach's rugged jaws; And here the horse and spearmen pause, While, to explore the dangerous glen, Dive through the pass the archer men.
At once there rose so wild a yell Within that dark and narrow dell. As all the fiends, from heaven that fell, Had pealed the banner cry of hell! Forth from the pass in tumult driven, Like chaff before the winds of heaven, The archery appear: For life! for life! their flight they ply— And shriek, and shout, and battle-cry, And plaids and bonnets waving high, And broadswords flashing to the sky, Are maddening in the rear. Onward they drive, in dreadful race, Pursuers and pursued; Before that tide of flight and chase, How shall it keep its rooted place, The spearmen's twilight wood? —"Down, down," cried Mar, "your lances down! Bear back both friend and foe!" Like reeds before the tempest's frown, That serried grove of lances brown At once lay levelled low; And closely shouldering side to side, The bristling ranks the onset bide.— —"We'll quell the savage mountaineer, As their Tinchel[A] cows the game; They come as fleet as forest deer, We'll drive them back as tame."
Bearing before them, in their course, The relics of the archer force, Like wave with crest of sparkling foam, Right onward did Clan-Alpine come. Above the tide, each broadsword bright Was brandishing like beam of light, Each targe was dark below; And with the ocean's mighty swing, When heaving to the tempest's wing, They hurled them on the foe.
I heard the lance's shivering crash, As when the whirlwind rends the ash; I heard the broadsword's deadly clang, As if a hundred anvils rang! But Moray wheeled his rearward flank— Of horsemen on Clan-Alpine's flank— "My bannerman, advance! I see," he cried, "their columns shake. Now, gallants! for your ladies' sake, Upon them with the lance!" The horsemen dashed among the rout, As deer break through the broom; Their steeds are stout, their swords are out, They soon make lightsome room. Clan-Alpine's best are backward borne— Where, where was Roderick then? One blast upon his bugle-horn Were worth a thousand men! And refluent through the pass of fear The battle's tide was poured; Vanished the Saxon's struggling spear, Vanished the mountain sword. As Bracklinn's chasm, so black and steep, Receives her roaring linn, As the dark caverns of the deep Suck the wild whirlpool in, So did the deep and darksome pass Devour the battle's mingled mass; None linger now upon the plain, Save those who ne'er shall fight again.
[Footnote A: A circle of sportsmen, surrounding the deer.]
SIR WALTER SCOTT.
* * * * *
PIBROCH OF DONUIL DHU.[A]
[Footnote A: Pipe-summons, or gathering-song, of Donald the Black.]
Pibroch of Donuil Dhu, Pibroch of Donuil, Wake thy wild voice anew, Summon Clan Conuil. Come away, come away, Hark to the summons! Come in your war array, Gentles and commons.
Come from deep glen, and From mountains so rocky; The war-pipe and pennon Are at Inverlochy. Come every hill-plaid, and True heart that wears one, Come every steel blade, and Strong hand that bears one.
Leave untended the herd, The flock without shelter; Leave the corpse uninterred, The bride at the altar; Leave the deer, leave the steer, Leave nets and barges; Come with your fighting gear, Broadswords and targes.
Come as the winds come, when Forests are rended; Come as the waves come, when Navies are stranded; Faster come, faster come. Faster and faster, Chief, vassal, page and groom, Tenant and master.
Fast they come, fast they come; See how they gather! Wide waves the eagle plume Blended with heather. Cast your plaids, draw your blades, Forward each man set! Pibroch of Donuil Dhu, Knell for the onset!
SIR WALTER SCOTT.
* * * * *
FROM "MARMION," CANTO VI.
A moment then Lord Marmion stayed, And breathed his steed, his men arrayed, Then forward moved his band, Until, Lord Surrey's rear-guard won, He halted by a cross of stone, That, on a hillock standing lone, Did all the field command.
Hence might they see the full array Of either host for deadly fray; Their marshalled lines stretched east and west, And fronted north and south, And distant salutation past From the loud cannon-mouth; Not in the close successive rattle That breathes the voice of modern battle, But slow and far between.— The hillock gained, Lord Marmion stayed: "Here, by this cross," he gently said, "You well may view the scene; Here shalt thou tarry, lovely Clare: O, think of Marmion in thy prayer!— Thou wilt not?—well,—no less my care Shall, watchful, for thy weal prepare.— You, Blount and Eustace, are her guard, With ten picked archers of my train; With England if the day go hard, To Berwick speed amain,— But, if we conquer, cruel maid, My spoils shall at your feet be laid, When here we meet again." He waited not for answer there, And would not mark the maid's despair, Nor heed the discontented look From either squire: but spurred amain, And, dashing through the battle-plain, His way to Surrey took.
* * * * *
Blount and Fitz-Eustace rested still With Lady Clare upon the hill; On which (for far the day was spent) The western sunbeams now were bent. The cry they heard, its meaning knew, Could plain their distant comrades view: Sadly to Blount did Eustace say, "Unworthy office here to stay! No hope of gilded spurs to-day.— But, see! look up,—on Flodden bent The Scottish foe has fired his tent."— And sudden, as he spoke, From the sharp ridges of the hill, All downward to the banks of Till Was wreathed in sable smoke. Volumed and vast, and rolling far, The cloud enveloped Scotland's war, As down the hill they broke; Nor martial shout, nor minstrel tone, Announced their march; their tread alone, At times their warning trumpet blown, At times a stifled hum, Told England, from his mountain-throne King James did rushing come.— Scarce could they hear or see their foes, Until at weapon-point they close.— They close in clouds of smoke and dust, With sword-sway and with lance's thrust; And such a yell was there, Of sudden and portentous birth, As if men fought upon the earth And fiends in upper air: O, life and death were in the shout, Recoil and rally, charge and rout, And triumph and despair. Long looked the anxious squires; their eye Could in the darkness naught descry.
At length the freshening western blast Aside the shroud of battle cast; And, first, the ridge of mingled spears Above the brightened cloud appears; And in the smoke the pennons flew, As in the storm the white sea-mew. Then marked they, dashing broad and far, The broken billows of the war, And plumed crests of chieftains brave Floating like foam upon the wave; But naught distinct they see: Wide raged the battle on the plain; Spears shook, and falchions flashed amain; Fell England's arrow-flight like rain; Crests rose, and stooped, and rose again, Wild and disorderly. Amid the scene of tumult, high They saw Lord Marmion's falcon fly: And stainless Tunstall's banner white, And Edmund Howard's lion bright, Still bear them bravely in the fight; Although against them come Of gallant Gordons many a one, And many a stubborn Highlandman, And many a rugged Border clan, With Huntley and with Home.
Far on the left, unseen the while, Stanley broke Lennox and Argyle; Though there the western mountaineer Rushed with bare bosom on the spear, And flung the feeble targe aside, And with both hands the broadsword plied, 'Twas vain:—But Fortune, on the right, With fickle smile, cheered Scotland's fight. Then fell that spotless banner white, The Howard's lion fell; Yet still Lord Marmion's falcon flew With wavering flight, while fiercer grew Around the battle-yell. The Border slogan rent the sky! A Home! a Gordon! was the cry: Loud were the clanging blows; Advanced,—forced back,—now low, now high, The pennon sunk and rose; As bends the bark's mast in the gale, When rent are rigging, shrouds, and sail, It wavered mid the foes. No longer Blount the view could bear:— "By heaven and all its saints, I swear, I will not see it lost! Fitz-Eustace, you with Lady Clare May bid your beads, and patter prayer,— I gallop to the host." And to the fray he rode amain, Followed by all the archer train. The fiery youth, with desperate charge, Made, for a space, an opening large, The rescued banner rose. But darkly closed the war around. Like pine-tree rooted from the ground. It sunk among the foes. Then Eustace mounted too;—yet stayed, As loath to leave the helpless maid, When, fast as shaft can fly, Bloodshot his eyes, his nostrils spread, The loose rein dangling from his head, Housing and saddle bloody red, Lord Marmion's steed rushed by; And Eustace, maddening at the sight, A look and sign to Clara cast, To mark he would return in haste, Then plunged into the fight.
Ask me not what the maiden feels, Left in that dreadful hour alone: Perchance her reason stoops or reels; Perchance a courage, not her own, Braces her mind to desperate tone.— The scattered van of England wheels;— She only said, as loud in air; The tumult roared, "Is Wilton there?" They fly, or, maddened by despair, Fight but to die,—"Is Wilton there?" With that, straight up the hill there rode; Two horsemen drenched with gore, And in their arms, a helpless load, A wounded knight they bore. His hand still strained the broken brand; His arms were smeared with blood and sand. Dragged from among the horses' feet, With dinted shield, and helmet beat, The falcon-crest and plumage gone, Can that be haughty Marmion!... Young Blount his armor did unlace, And, gazing on his ghastly face, Said,—"By Saint George, he's gone! That spear-wound has our master sped,— And see the deep cut on his head! Good night to Marmion."— "Unnurtured Blount! thy brawling cease: He opes his eyes," said Eustace; "peace!"
When, doffed his casque, he felt free air, Around 'gan Marmion wildly stare:— "Where's Harry Blount? Fitz-Eustace where? Linger ye here, ye hearts of hare! Redeem my pennon,—charge again! Cry—'Marmion to the rescue!'—vain! Last of my race, on battle-plain That shout shall ne'er be heard again!— Yet my last thought is England's:—fly, To Dacre bear my signet-ring: Tell him his squadrons up to bring:— Fitz-Eustace, to Lord Surrey hie; Tunstall lies dead upon the field, His life-blood stains the spotless shield: Edmund is down;—my life is reft;— The Admiral alone is left. Let Stanley charge with spur of fire,— With Chester charge, and Lancashire, Full upon Scotland's central host, Or victory and England's lost.— Must I bid twice?—hence, varlets! fly! Leave Marmion here alone—to die." They parted, and alone he lay: Clare drew her from the sight away, Till pain rung forth a lowly moan, And half he murmured,—"Is there none, Of all my halls have nurst. Page, squire, or groom, one cup to bring, Of blessed water from the spring, To slake my dying thirst?"
O woman! in our hours of ease, Uncertain, coy, and hard to please, And variable as the shade By the light quivering aspen made; When pain and anguish wring the brow, A ministering angel thou!— Scarce were the piteous accents said, When, with the Baron's casque, the maid To the nigh streamlet ran; Forgot were hatred, wrongs, and fears; The plaintive voice alone she hears, Sees but the dying man. She stooped her by the runnel's side, But in abhorrence backward drew; For, oozing from the mountain's side, Where raged the war, a dark-red tide Was curdling in the streamlet blue, Where shall she turn!—behold her mark A little fountain cell, Where water, clear as diamond-spark, In a stone basin fell. Above, some half-worn letters say, Drink : weary : pilgrim : drink : and : pray : for : the : kind : soul : of : Sybil : Gray : Who : built : this : cross : and : well : She filled the helm, and back she hied, And with surprise and joy espied A monk supporting Marmion's head; A pious man whom duty brought To dubious verge of battle fought, To shrive the dying, bless the dead.
Deep drank Lord Marmion of the wave, And, as she stooped his brow to lave,— "Is it the hand of Clare," he said, "Or injured Constance, bathes my head?" Then, as remembrance rose,— "Speak not to me of shrift or prayer! I must redress her woes. Short space, few words, are mine to spare; Forgive and listen, gentle Clare!"— "Alas!" she said, "the while.— O, think of your immortal weal! In vain for Constance is your zeal; She—died at Holy Isle."— Lord Marmion started from the ground, As light as if he felt no wound; Though in the action burst the tide In torrents from his wounded side. "Then it was truth!" he said,—"I knew That the dark presage must be true.— I would the Fiend, to whom belongs The vengeance due to all her wrongs, Would spare me but a day! For wasting fire, and dying groan, And priests slain on the altar stone, Might bribe him for delay. It may not be!—this dizzy trance,— Curse on yon base marauder's lance, And doubly cursed my failing brand! A sinful heart makes feeble hand." Then, fainting, down on earth he sunk, Supported by the trembling monk.
With fruitless labor, Clara bound, And strove to stanch the gushing wound: The monk, with unavailing cares, Exhausted all the Church's prayers. Ever, he said, that, close and near, A lady's voice was in his ear, And that the priest he could not hear, For that she ever sung, "In the lost battle, borne down by the flying, Where mingles war's rattle with groans of the dying!" So the notes rung:— "Avoid thee, Fiend!—with cruel hand, Shake not the dying sinner's sand!— O, look, my son, upon yon sign Of the Redeemer's grace divine: O, think on faith and bliss!— By many a death-bed I have been, And many a sinner's parting seen, But never aught like this."
The war, that for a space did fail, Now trebly thundering swelled the gale, And STANLEY! was the cry:— A light on Marmion's visage spread, And fired his glazing eye: With dying hand above his head He shook the fragment of his blade, And shouted "Victory!— Charge, Chester, charge! On, Stanley, on!" Were the last words of Marmion.
SIR WALTER SCOTT.
* * * * *
THE BONNETS OF BONNIE DUNDEE.
To the lords of convention 'twas Claverhouse spoke, "Ere the king's crown shall fall, there are crowns to be broke; So let each cavalier who loves honor and me Come follow the bonnets of bonnie Dundee!"
Come fill up my cup, come fill up my can; Come saddle your horses, and call up your men; Come open the Westport and let us gang free, And it's room for the bonnets of bonnie Dundee!
Dundee he is mounted, he rides up the street, The bells are rung backward, the drums they are beat; But the provost, douce man, said, "Just e'en let him be, The gude toun is well quit of that deil of Dundee!"
As he rode doun the sanctified bends of the Bow, Ilk carline was flyting and shaking her pow; But the young plants of grace they looked cowthie and slee, Thinking, Luck to thy bonnet, thou bonnie Dundee!
With sour-featured whigs the Grass-market was thranged, As if half the west had set tryst to be hanged; There was spite in each look, there was fear in each ee, As they watched for the bonnets of bonnie Dundee.
These cowls of Kilmarnock had spits and had spears, And lang-hafted gullies to kill cavaliers; But they shrunk to close-heads, and the causeway was free At the toss of the bonnet of bonnie Dundee.
He spurred to the foot of the proud castle rock, And with the gay Gordon he gallantly spoke: "Let Mons Meg and her marrows speak twa words or three, For the love of the bonnet of bonnie Dundee."
The Gordon demands of him which way he goes. "Where'er shall direct me the shade of Montrose! Your grace in short space shall hear tidings of me, Or that low lies the bonnet of bonnie Dundee.
"There are hills beyond Pentland and lands beyond Forth; If there's lords in the Lowlands, there's chiefs in the north; There are wild Duniewassals three thousand times three Will cry 'Hoigh!' for the bonnet of bonnie Dundee.
"There's brass on the target of barkened bull-hide, There's steel in the scabbard that dangles beside; The brass shall be burnished, the steel shall flash free, At a toss of the bonnet of bonnie Dundee.
"Away to the hills, to the caves, to the rocks, Ere I own an usurper I'll couch with the fox; And tremble, false whigs, in the midst of your glee, You have not seen the last of my bonnet and me."
He waved his proud hand, and the trumpets were blown, The kettle-drums clashed, and the horsemen rode on, Till on Ravelston's cliffs and on Clermiston's lea Died away the wild war-notes of bonnie Dundee.
Come fill up my cup, come fill up my can; Come saddle the horses, and call up the men; Come open your doors and let me gae free, For it's up with the bonnets of bonnie Dundee!
SIR WALTER SCOTT.
* * * * *
In a chariot of light from the regions of day, The Goddess of Liberty came; Ten thousand celestials directed the way, And hither conducted the dame. A fair budding branch from the gardens above, Where millions with millions agree, She brought in her hand as a pledge of her love, And the plant she named Liberty Tree.
The celestial exotic struck deep in the ground, Like a native it flourished and bore; The fame of its fruit drew the nations around, To seek out this peaceable shore. Unmindful of names or distinction they came, For freemen like brothers agree; With one spirit endued, they one friendship pursued, And their temple was Liberty Tree.
Beneath this fair tree, like the patriarchs of old, Their bread in contentment they ate, Unvexed with the troubles of silver and gold, The cares of the grand and the great. With timber and tar they Old England supplied, And supported her power on the sea; Her battles they fought, without getting a groat, For the honor of Liberty Tree.
But hear, O ye swains, 'tis a tale most profane, How all the tyrannical powers, Kings, Commons, and Lords, are united amain. To cut down this guardian of ours; From the east to the west blow the trumpet to arms, Through the land let the sound of it flee, Let the far and the near, all unite with a cheer, In defence of our Liberty Tree.
* * * * *
SUNG AT THE COMPLETION OF THE CONCORD MONUMENT, APRIL 19, 1836.
By the rude bridge that arched the flood, Their flag to April's breeze unfurled, Here once the embattled farmers stood, And fired the shot heard round the world.
The foe long since in silence slept; Alike the conqueror silent sleeps; And Time the ruined bridge has swept Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.
On this green bank, by this soft stream, We set to-day a votive stone; That memory may their deed redeem, When, like our sires, our sons are gone.
Spirit, that made those heroes dare To die, or leave their children free, Bid Time and Nature gently spare The shaft we raise to them and thee.
RALPH WALDO EMERSON.
* * * * *
[Footnote A: General Joseph Warren, who fell at the battle of Bunker Hill, June 17, 1775.]
Stand! the ground's your own, my braves! Will ye give it up to slaves? Will ye look for greener graves? Hope ye mercy still? What's the mercy despots feel? Hear it in that battle-peal! Read it on yon bristling steel! Ask it,—ye who will.
Fear ye foes who kill for hire? Will ye to your homes retire? Look behind you!—they're afire! And, before you, see Who have done it! From the vale On they come!—and will ye quail? Leaden rain and iron hail Let their welcome be!
In the God of battles trust! Die we may,—and die we must: But, O, where can dust to dust Be consigned so well, As where heaven its dews shall shed On the martyred patriot's bed, And the rocks shall raise their head, Of his deeds to tell?
* * * * *
"THE LONELY BUGLE GRIEVES."
FROM AN "ODE ON THE CELEBRATION OF THE BATTLE OF BUNKER HILL, JUNE 17, 1825,"
The trump hath blown, And now upon that reeking hill Slaughter rides screaming on the vengeful ball; While with terrific signal shrill, The vultures from their bloody eyries flown, Hang o'er them like a pall. Now deeper roll the maddening drums, And the mingling host like ocean heaves; While from the midst a horrid wailing comes, And high above the fight the lonely bugle grieves!
* * * * *
[Footnote A: Hanged as a spy by the British, in New York City, September 22, 1776.]
To drum-beat and heart-beat A soldier marches by: There is color in his cheek, There is courage in his eye, Yet to drum-beat and heart-beat In a moment he must die.
By starlight and moonlight, He seeks the Briton's camp; He hears the rustling flag, And the armed sentry's tramp; And the starlight and moonlight His silent wanderings lamp.
With slow tread and still tread, He scans the tented line; And he counts the battery guns By the gaunt and shadowy pine; And his slow tread and still tread Gives no warning sign.
The dark wave, the plumed wave, It meets his eager glance; And it sparkles 'neath the stars, Like the glimmer of a lance— A dark wave, a plumed wave, On an emerald expanse.
A sharp clang, a steel clang, And terror in the sound! For the sentry, falcon-eyed, In the camp a spy hath found; With a sharp clang, a steel clang, The patriot is bound.
With calm brow, steady brow, He listens to his doom; In his look there is no fear, Nor a shadow-trace of gloom; But with calm brow and steady brow He robes him for the tomb.
In the long night, the still night, He kneels upon the sod; And the brutal guards withhold E'en the solemn Word of God! In the long night, the still night, He walks where Christ hath trod.
'Neath the blue morn, the sunny morn, He dies upon the tree; And he mourns that he can lose But one life for Liberty; And in the blue morn, the sunny morn, His spirit-wings are free.
But his last words, his message-words, They burn, lest friendly eye Should read how proud and calm A patriot could die, With his last words, his dying words, A soldier's battle-cry.
From Fame-leaf and Angel-leaf, From monument and urn, The sad of earth, the glad of heaven, His tragic fate shall learn; And on Fame-leaf and Angel-leaf The name of HALE shall burn!
FRANCIS MILES FINCH.
* * * * *
SONG OF MARION'S MEN.[A]
[Footnote A: General Francis Marion, of South Carolina, renowned as a daring patriot partisan leader during the Revolutionary War.]
Our band is few, but true and tried, Our leader frank and bold; The British soldier trembles When Marion's name is told. Our fortress is the good greenwood, Our tent the cypress-tree; We know the forest round us, As seamen know the sea; We know its walls of thorny vines, Its glades of reedy grass, Its safe and silent islands Within the dark morass.
Woe to the English soldiery That little dread us near! On them shall light at midnight A strange and sudden fear; When, waking to their tents on fire, They grasp their arms in vain, And they who stand to face us Are beat to earth again; And they who fly in terror deem A mighty host behind, And hear the tramp of thousands Upon the hollow wind.
Then sweet the hour that brings release From danger and from toil; We talk the battle over, And share the battle's spoil. The woodland rings with laugh and shout, As if a hunt were up, And woodland flowers are gathered To crown the soldier's cup. With merry songs we mock the wind That in the pine-top grieves, And slumber long and sweetly On beds of oaken leaves.
Well knows the fair and friendly moon The band that Marion leads,— The glitter of their rifles, The scampering of their steeds. 'Tis life to guide the fiery barb Across the moonlight plain; 'Tis life to feel the night-wind That lifts his tossing mane. A moment in the British camp— A moment—and away Back to the pathless forest, Before the peep of day.
Grave men there are by broad Santee, Grave men with hoary hairs; Their hearts are all with Marion, For Marion are their prayers. And lovely ladies greet our band With kindliest welcoming, With smiles like those of summer, And tears like those of spring. For them we wear these trusty arms, And lay them down no more Till we have driven the Briton Forever from our shore.
WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT.
* * * * *
In their ragged regimentals Stood the old Continentals, Yielding not. When the grenadiers were lunging, And like hail fell the plunging Cannon-shot; When the files Of the isles, From the smoky night encampment, bore the banner of the rampant Unicorn, And grummer, grummer, grummer rolled the roll of the drummer, Through the morn!
Then with eyes to the front all, And with guns horizontal, Stood our sires; And the balls whistled deadly, And in streams flashing redly Blazed the fires; As the roar On the shore, Swept the strong battle-breakers o'er the green-sodded acres Of the plain; And louder, louder, louder, cracked the black gun-powder, Cracking amain!
Now like smiths at their forges Worked the red St. George's Cannoneers; And the "villanous saltpetre" Rung a fierce, discordant metre Round their ears; As the swift Storm-drift, With hot sweeping anger, came the horseguards' clangor On our flanks; Then higher, higher, higher, burned the old fashioned fire Through the ranks!
Then the bare-headed colonel Galloped through the white infernal Powder-cloud; And his broad sword was swinging And his brazen throat was ringing Trumpet-loud. Then the blue Bullets flew, And the trooper-jackets redden at the touch of the leaden Rifle-breath; And rounder, rounder, rounder, roared the iron six-pounder, Hurling death!
GUY HUMPHREY M'MASTER.
* * * * *
[Published soon after the surrender of Cornwallis.]
Cornwallis led a country dance, The like was never seen, sir, Much retrogade and much advance, And all with General Greene, sir.
They rambled up and rambled down, Joined hands, then off they run, sir. Our General Greene to Charlestown, The earl to Wilmington, sir.
Greene in the South then danced a set. And got a mighty name, sir, Cornwallis jigged with young Fayette, But suffered in his fame, sir.
Then down he figured to the shore, Most like a lordly dancer, And on his courtly honor swore He would no more advance, sir.
Quoth he, my guards are weary grown With footing country dances, They never at St. James's shone, At capers, kicks, or prances.
Though men so gallant ne'er were seen, While sauntering on parade, sir, Or wiggling o'er the park's smooth green, Or at a masquerade, sir.
Yet are red heels and long-laced skirts, For stumps and briars meet, sir? Or stand they chance with hunting-shirts, Or hardy veteran feet, sir?
Now housed in York, he challenged all, At minuet or all 'amande, And lessons for a courtly ball His guards by day and night conned.
This challenge known, full soon there came A set who had the bon ton, De Grasse and Rochambeau, whose fame Fut brillant pour un long tems.
And Washington, Columbia's son, Whom every nature taught, sir, That grace which can't by pains be won, Or Plutus's gold be bought, sir.
Now hand in hand they circle round This ever-dancing peer, sir; Their gentle movements soon confound The earl as they draw near, sir.
His music soon forgets to play— His feet can move no more, sir, And all his bands now curse the day They jigged to our shore, sir.
Now Tories all, what can ye say? Come—is not this a griper, That while your hopes are danced away, 'Tis you must pay the piper?
* * * * *
[Mexico, September 19, 1846.]
We were not many,—we who stood Before the iron sleet that day; Yet many a gallant spirit would Give half his years if but he could Have been with us at Monterey.
Now here, now there, the shot it hailed In deadly drifts of fiery spray, Yet not a single soldier quailed When wounded comrades round them wailed Their dying shouts at Monterey.
And on, still on our column kept, Through walls of flame its withering way; Where fell the dead, the living stept, Still charging on the guns which swept The slippery streets of Monterey.
The foe himself recoiled aghast, When striking where he strongest lay, We swooped his flanking batteries past, And, braving full their murderous blast, Stormed home the towers of Monterey.
Our banners on those turrets wave, And there our evening bugles play; Where orange boughs above their grave, Keep green the memory of the brave Who fought and fell at Monterey.
We are not many,—we who pressed Beside the brave who fell that day; But who of us has not confessed He'd rather share their warrior rest Than not have been at Monterey?
CHARLES FENNO HOFFMAN.
* * * * *
World, art thou 'ware of a storm? Hark to the ominous sound; How the far-off gales their battle form, And the great sea-swells feel ground!
It comes, the Typhoon of Death— Nearer and nearer it comes! The horizon thunder of cannon-breath And the roar of angry drums!
Hurtle, Terror sublime! Swoop o'er the Land to-day— So the mist of wrong and crime, The breath of our Evil Time Be swept, as by fire, away!
HENRY HOWARD BROWNELL.
* * * * *
O keeper of the Sacred Key, And the Great Seal of Destiny. Whose eye is the blue canopy. Look down upon the warring world, and tell us what the end will be.
"Lo, through the wintry atmosphere. On the white bosom of the sphere, A cluster of five lakes appear; And all the land looks like a couch, or warrior's shield, or sheeted bier.
"And on that vast and hollow field, With both lips closed and both eyes sealed, A mighty Figure is revealed,— Stretched at full length, and stiff and stark, as in the hollow of a shield.
"The winds have tied the drifted snow Around the face and chin; and lo, The sceptred Giants come and go, And shake their shadowy crowns and say: 'We always feared it would be so!'
"She came of an heroic race: A giant's strength, a maiden's grace, Like two in one seem to embrace, And match, and bend, and thorough-blend, in her colossal form and face.
"Where can her dazzling falchion be? One hand is fallen in the sea; The Gulf Stream drifts it far and free; And in that hand her shining brand gleams from the depths resplendently.
"And by the other, in its rest, The starry banner of the West Is clasped forever to her breast; And of her silver helmet, lo, a soaring eagle is the crest.
"And on her brow, a softened light, As of a star concealed from sight By some thin veil of fleecy white, Or of the rising moon behind the raining vapors of the night.
"The Sisterhood that was so sweet, The Starry System sphered complete, Which the mazed Orient used to greet, The Four-and-Thirty fallen Stars glimmer and glitter at her feet.
"And over her,—and over all. For panoply and coronal,— The mighty Immemorial, And everlasting Canopy and Starry Arch and Shield of All.
"Three cold, bright moons have marched and wheeled; And the white cerement that revealed A Figure stretched upon a Shield, Is turned to verdure; and the Land is now one mighty battle-field.
"And lo, the children which she bred, And more than all else cherished, To make them true in heart and head, Stand face to face, as mortal foes, with their swords crossed above the dead.
"Each hath a mighty stroke and stride: One true,—the more that he is tried; The other dark and evil-eyed;— And by the hand of one of them, his own dear mother surely died!
"A stealthy step, a gleam of hell,— It is the simple truth to tell,— The Son stabbed and the Mother fell: And so she lies, all mute and pale, and pure and irreproachable!
"And then the battle-trumpet blew; And the true brother sprang and drew His blade to smite the traitor through; And so they clashed above the bier, and the Night sweated bloody dew.
"And all their children, far and wide, That are so greatly multiplied, Rise up in frenzy and divide; And choosing, each whom he will serve, unsheathe the sword and take their side.
"And in the low sun's bloodshot rays, Portentous of the coming days, The Two great Oceans blush and blaze, With the emergent continent between them, wrapt in crimson haze.
"Now whichsoever stand or fall, As God is great, and man is small, The Truth shall triumph over all: Forever and forevermore, the Truth shall triumph over all!
"I see the champion sword-strokes flash; I see them fall and hear them clash; I hear the murderous engines crash; I see a brother stoop to loose a foeman-brother's bloody sash.
"I see the torn and mangled corse, The dead and dying heaped in scores, The headless rider by his horse, The wounded captive bayoneted through and through without remorse.
"I hear the dying sufferer cry, With his crushed face turned to the sky, I see him crawl in agony To the foul pool, and bow his head into bloody slime, and die.
"I see the assassin crouch and fire, I see his victim fall,—expire; I see the murderer creeping nigher To strip the dead. He turns the head,—the face! The son beholds his sire!
"I hear the curses and the thanks; I see the mad charge on the flanks, The rents, the gaps, the broken ranks, The vanquished squadrons driven headlong down the river's bridgeless banks.
"I see the death-gripe on the plain, The grappling monsters on the main, The tens of thousands that are slain, And all the speechless suffering and agony of heart and brain.
"I see the dark and bloody spots, The crowded rooms and crowded cots, The bleaching bones, the battle blots,— And writ on many a nameless grave, a legend of forget-me-nots.
"I see the gorged prison-den, The dead line and the pent-up pen, The thousands quartered in the fen, The living-deaths of skin and bone that were the goodly shapes of men.
"And still the bloody Dew must fall! And His great Darkness with the Pall Of His dread Judgment cover all, Till the Dead Nation rise Transformed by Truth to triumph over all!"
"And Last—and Last I see—The Dead." Thus saith the Keeper of the Key, And the Great Seal of Destiny, Whose eye is the blue canopy, And leaves the Pall of His great Darkness over all the Land and Sea.
* * * * *
BROTHER JONATHAN'S LAMENT FOR SISTER CAROLINE.
[March 25, 1861, South Carolina having adopted the Ordinance of Secession.]
She has gone,—she has left us in passion and pride— Our stormy-browed sister, so long at our side! She has torn her own star from our firmament's glow, And turned on her brother the face of a foe!
O Caroline, Caroline, child of the sun, We can never forget that our hearts have been one,— Our foreheads both sprinkled in Liberty's name, From the fountain of blood with the finger of flame!
You were always too ready to fire at a touch; But we said: "She is hasty—she does not mean much." We have scowled when you uttered some turbulent threat; But friendship still whispered: "Forgive and forget."
Has our love all died out? Have its altars grown cold? Has the curse come at last which the fathers foretold? Then Nature must teach us the strength of the chain That her petulant children would sever in vain.
They may fight till the buzzards are gorged with their spoil,— Till the harvest grows black as it rots in the soil, Till the wolves and the catamounts troop from their caves, And the shark tracks the pirate, the lord of the waves:
In vain is the strife! When its fury is past, Their fortunes must flow in one channel at last, As the torrents that rush from the mountains of snow Roll mingled in peace in the valleys below.
Our Union is river, lake, ocean, and sky; Man breaks not the medal when God cuts the die! Though darkened with sulphur, though cloven with steel, The blue arch will brighten, the waters will heal!
O Caroline, Caroline, child of the sun, There are battles with fate that can never be won! The star-flowering banner must never be furled, For its blossoms of light are the hope of the world!
Go, then, our rash sister, afar and aloof,— Run wild in the sunshine away from our roof; But when your heart aches and your feet have grown sore, Remember the pathway that leads to our door!
OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES.
* * * * *
JONATHAN TO JOHN.
It don't seem hardly right, John, When both my hands was full, To stump me to a fight, John,— Your cousin, tu, John Bull! Old Uncle S., sez he, "I guess We know it now," sez he, "The Lion's paw is all the law, Accordin' to J.B., Thet's fit for you and me!"
You wonder why we're hot, John? Your mark wuz on the guns, The neutral guns, thet shot, John, Our brothers an' our sons: Ole Uncle S., sez he, "I guess There's human blood," sez he, "By fits an' starts, in Yankee hearts, Though 't may surprise J.B. More 'n it would you an' me."
Ef I turned mad dogs loose, John, On your front parlor stairs, Would it just meet your views, John, To wait an' sue their heirs? Ole Uncle S., sez he, "I guess, I on'y guess," sez he, "Thet ef Vattel on his toes fell, 'T would kind o' rile J.B., Ez wal ez you an' me!"
Who made the law thet hurts, John, Heads I win—ditto tails? "J.B." was on his shirts, John, Onless my memory fails. Ole Uncle S., sez he, "I guess (I'm good at thet)," sez he, "Thet sauce for goose ain't jest the juice For ganders with J.B., No more 'n with you or me!"
When your rights was our wrongs, John, You didn't stop for fuss,— Britanny's trident prongs, John, Was good 'nough law for us. Ole Uncle S., sez he, "I guess Though physic's good," sez he, "It doesn't foller thet he can swaller Prescriptions signed 'J.B.' Put up by you an' me."
We own the ocean, tu, John, You mus'n' take it hard, Ef we can't think with you, John, It's jest your own back yard. Ole Uncle S., sez he, "I guess Ef thet's his claim," sez he, "The fencin' stuff'll cost enough To bust up friend J.B. Ez wal ez you an' me!"
Why talk so dreffle big, John, Of honor when it meant You didn't care a fig, John, But jest for ten per cent? Ole Uncle S., sez he, "I guess He's like the rest," sez he, "When all is done, it's number one Thet's nearest to J.B., Ez wal ez t' you an' me!"
We give the critters back, John, Cos Abram thought 'twas right; It warn't your bullyin' clack, John, Provokin' us to fight. Ole Uncle S., sez he, "I guess We've a hard row," sez he, "To hoe just now; but thet, somehow, May happen to J.B., Ez well ez you an' me!"
We ain't so weak an' poor, John, With twenty million people, An' close to every door, John, A school house an' a steeple. Ole Uncle S., sez he, "I guess It is a fact," sez he, "The surest plan to make a Man Is, think him so, J.B., Ez much ez you an' me!"
Our folks believe in Law, John; An' it's fer her sake, now, They've left the axe an' saw, John, The anvil an' the plow. Ole Uncle S., sez he, "I guess Ef 't warn't fer law," sez he, "There'd be one shindy from here to Indy; An' thet don't suit J.B. (When 'tain't 'twixt you an' me!)"
We know we've got a cause, John, Thet's honest, just, an' true; We thought 't would win applause, John, Ef nowhere else, from you. Ole Uncle S., sez he, "I guess His love of right," sez he, "Hangs by a rotten fibre o' cotton; There's natur' in J.B., Ez well ez you an' me!"
The South says, "Poor folks down!" John, An' "All men up!" say we,— White, yaller, black, an' brown, John; Now which is your idee? Ole Uncle S., sez he, "I guess John preaches wal," sez he; "But, sermon thru, an' come to du, Why there's the old J.B. A-crowdin' you an' me!"
Shall it be love or hate, John? It's you thet's to decide; Ain't your bonds held by Fate, John, Like all the world's beside? Ole Uncle S., sez he, "I guess Wise men fergive," sez he, "But not ferget; an' some time yet Thet truth may strike J.B., Ez wal ez you an' me!"
God means to make this land, John, Clear thru, from sea to sea, Believe an' understand, John, The wuth o' bein' free. Ole Uncle S., sez he, "I guess God's price is high," sez he; "But nothin' else than wut he sells Wears long, an' thet J.B. May larn, like you an' me!"
JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL.
* * * * *
ALL QUIET ALONG THE POTOMAC.
"All quiet along the Potomac," they say, "Except now and then a stray picket Is shot, as he walks on his beat, to and fro, By a rifleman hid in the thicket. 'Tis nothing: a private or two, now and then, Will not count in the news of the battle; Not an officer lost,—only one of the men, Moaning out, all alone, the death-rattle."
All quiet along the Potomac to-night, Where the soldiers lie peacefully dreaming; Their tents in the rays of the clear autumn moon, Or the light of the watch-fires, are gleaming. A tremulous sigh, as the gentle night-wind Through the forest leaves softly is creeping; While stars up above, with their glittering eyes, Keep guard,—for the army is sleeping.
There's only the sound of the lone sentry's tread As he tramps from the rock to the fountain, And he thinks of the two in the low trundle-bed, Far away in the cot on the mountain. His musket falls slack; his face, dark and grim, Grows gentle with memories tender, As he mutters a prayer for the children asleep, For their mother,—may Heaven defend her!
The moon seems to shine just as brightly as then, That night when the love yet unspoken Leaped up to his lips,—when low, murmured vows Were pledged to be ever unbroken; Then drawing his sleeve roughly over his eyes, He dashes off tears that are welling, And gathers his gun closer up to its place, As if to keep down the heart-swelling.
He passes the fountain, the blasted pine-tree,— The footstep is lagging and weary; Yet onward he goes, through the broad belt of light, Toward the shades of the forest so dreary. Hark! was it the night-wind that rustled the leaves? Was it moonlight so wondrously flashing? It looked like a rifle: "Ha! Mary, good-bye!" And the life-blood is ebbing and plashing.
All quiet along the Potomac to-night,— No sound save the rush of the river; While soft falls the dew on the face of the dead,— The picket's off duty forever.
ETHELINDA ELLIOTT BEERS.
* * * * *
Alas the weary hours pass slow, The night is very dark and still, And in the marshes far below I hear the bearded whippoorwill. I scarce can see a yard ahead; My ears are strained to catch each sound; I hear the leaves about me shed, And the spring's bubbling through the ground.
Along the beaten path I pace, Where white rags mark my sentry's track; In formless shrubs I seem to trace The foeman's form, with bending back; I think I see him crouching low— I stop and list—I stoop and peer, Until the neighboring hillocks grow To groups of soldiers far and near.
With ready piece I wait and watch, Until my eyes, familiar grown, Detect each harmless earthen notch, And turn guerrillas into stone; And then amid the lonely gloom, Beneath the tall old chestnut trees, My silent marches I resume, And think of other times than these.
"Halt! who goes there?" my challenge cry, It rings along the watchful line; "Relief!" I hear a voice reply— "Advance, and give the countersign!" With bayonet at the charge I wait— The corporal gives the mystic spell; With arms aport I charge my mate, Then onward pass, and all is well.
But in the tent that night awake, I ask, if in the fray I fall, Can I the mystic answer make, When the angelic sentries call? And pray that Heaven may so ordain, Where'er I go, what fate be mine, Whether in pleasure or in pain, I still may have the countersign.
* * * * *
"Rifleman shoot me a fancy shot Straight at the heart of yon prowling vidette; Ring me a ball in the glittering spot That shines on his breast like an amulet!"
"Ah, captain! here goes for a fine-drawn bead, There's music around when my barrel's in tune!" Crack! went the rifle, the messenger sped, And dead from his horse fell the ringing dragoon.
"Now, rifleman, steal through the bushes, and snatch From your victim some trinket to handsel first blood; A button, a loop, or that luminous patch That gleams in the moon like a diamond stud!"
"O captain! I staggered, and sunk on my track, When I gazed on the face of that fallen vidette, For he looked so like you, as he lay on his back, That my heart rose upon me, and masters me yet.
"But I snatched off the trinket,—this locket of gold; An inch from the centre my lead broke its way, Scarce grazing the picture, so fair to behold, Of a beautiful lady in bridal array."
"Ha! rifleman, fling me the locket!—'tis she, My brother's young bride, and the fallen dragoon Was her husband—Hush! soldier, 'twas Heaven's decree, We must bury him there, by the light of the moon!
"But hark! the far bugles their warnings unite; War is a virtue,—weakness a sin; There's a lurking and loping around us to-night, Load again, rifleman, keep your hand in!"
CHARLES DAWSON SHANLY.
* * * * *
THE TWO WIVES.
The colonel rode by his picket-line In the pleasant morning sun, That glanced from him far off to shine On the crouching rebel picket's gun.
From his command the captain strode Out with a grave salute, And talked with the colonel as he rode:— The picket levelled his piece to shoot.
The colonel rode and the captain walked,— The arm of the picket tired; Their faces almost touched as they talked, And, swerved from his aim, the picket fired.
The captain fell at the horse's feet, Wounded and hurt to death, Calling upon a name that was sweet As God is good, with his dying breath.
And the colonel that leaped from his horse and knelt To close the eyes so dim, A high remorse for God's mercy felt, Knowing the shot was meant for him.
And he whispered, prayer-like, under his breath, The name of his own young wife: For Love, that had made his friend's peace with Death, Alone could make his with life.
WILLIAM DEAN HOWELLS.
* * * * *
THREE HUNDRED THOUSAND MORE.
We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand more! From Mississippi's winding stream and from New England's shore; We leave our ploughs and workshops, our wives and children dear, With hearts too full for utterance, with but a silent tear; We dare not look behind us, but steadfastly before: We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand more!
If you look across the hill-tops that meet the northern sky, Long moving lines of rising dust your vision may descry; And now the wind, an instant, tears the cloudy veil aside, And floats aloft our spangled flag in glory and in pride, And bayonets in the sunlight gleam, and bands brave music pour: We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand more!
If you look all up our valleys where the growing harvests shine, You may see our sturdy farmer boys fast forming into line; And children from their mother's knees are pulling at the weeds, And learning how to reap and sow against their country's needs; And a farewell group stands weeping at every cottage door: We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand more!
You have called us, and we're coming, by Richmond's bloody tide To lay us down, for Freedom's sake, our brothers' bones beside, Or from foul treason's savage grasp to wrench the murderous blade, And in the face of foreign foes its fragments to parade. Six hundred thousand loyal men and true have gone before: We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand more!
* * * * *
THE OLD MAN AND JIM.
Old man never had much to say— 'Ceptin' to Jim,— And Jim was the wildest boy he had, And the old man jes' wrapped up in him! Never heerd him speak but once Er twice in my life,—and first time was When the army broke out, and Jim he went, The old man backin' him, fer three months; And all 'at I heerd the old man say Was jes' as we turned to start away,— "Well, good-bye, Jim: Take keer of yourse'f!"
'Peared like he was more satisfied Jes' lookin' at Jim And likin' him all to hisse'f-like, see?— 'Cause he was jes' wrapped up in him! And over and over I mind the day The old man come and stood round in the way While we was drillin', a-watchin' Jim; And down at the deepot a heerin' him say,— "Well, good-bye, Jim: Take keer of yourse'f!"
Never was nothin' about the farm Disting'ished Jim; Neighbors all ust to wonder why The old man 'peared wrapped up in him: But when Cap. Biggler, he writ back 'At Jim was the bravest boy we had In the whole dern rigiment, white er black, And his fightin' good as his farmin' bad,— 'At he had led, with a bullet clean Bored through his thigh, and carried the flag Through the bloodiest battle you ever seen,— The old man wound up a letter to him 'At Cap. read to us, 'at said,—"Tell Jim Good-bye; And take keer of hisse'f!"
Jim come home jes' long enough To take the whim 'At he'd like to go back in the calvery— And the old man jes' wrapped up in him! Jim 'lowed 'at he'd had sich luck afore, Guessed he'd tackle her three years more. And the old man give him a colt he'd raised, And follered him over to Camp Ben Wade, And laid around fer a week er so, Watchin' Jim on dress-parade; 'Tel finally he rid away, And last he heerd was the old man say,— "Well, good-bye, Jim: Take keer of yourse'f"
Tuk the papers, the old man did, A-watchin' fer Jim, Fully believin' he'd make his mark Some way—jes' wrapped up in him! And many a time the word 'ud come 'At stirred him up like the tap of a drum: At Petersburg fer instunce, where Jim rid right into their cannons there, And tuk 'em, and p'inted 'em t' other way, And socked it home to the boys in gray, As they skooted fer timber, and on and on— Jim a lieutenant,—and one arm gone,— And the old man's words in his mind all day,— "Well, good-bye, Jim: Take keer of yourse'f!"
Think of a private, now, perhaps, We'll say like Jim, 'At's clumb clean up to the shoulder-straps— And the old man jes' wrapped up in him! Think of him—with the war plum' through, And the glorious old Red-White-and-Blue A-laughin' the news down over Jim, And the old man, bendin' over him— The surgeon turnin' away with tears 'At hadn't leaked fer years and years, As the hand of the dyin' boy clung to His Father's, the old voice in his ears,— "Well, good-bye, Jim: Take keer of yourse'f!"
JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY.
* * * * *
STONEWALL JACKSON'S WAY
Come, stack arms, men; pile on the rails; Stir up the camp-fire bright! No growling if the canteen fails: We'll make a roaring night. Here Shenandoah brawls along, There burly Blue Ridge echoes strong, To swell the Brigade's rousing song, Of Stonewall Jackson's Way.
We see him now—the queer slouched hat, Cocked o'er his eye askew; The shrewd, dry smile; the speech so pat, So calm, so blunt, so true. The "Blue-light Elder" knows 'em well: Says he, "That's Banks; he's fond of shell.— Lord save his soul! we'll give him—;" Well, That's Stonewall Jackson's Way.