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ON NEWSTEAD ABBEY (1).
It is the voice of years that are gone! they roll before me with all their deeds.
NEWSTEAD! fast falling, once resplendent dome!
Religion's shrine ! repentapt HENRY'S (2) pride! of Warriors, Monks, and Dames the cloister'd tomb,
Whose pensive shades around thy ruins glide.
Hail! to thy pile! more honour'd in thy fall,
Than modern mansions, in their pillar'd state; Proudly majestic frowns. thy vaulted hall,
Scowling defiance on the blasts of fate.
No mail-clad Serfs (3), obedient to their Lord,
In grim array, the crimson cross (4) demand ; Or gay assemble round the festive board,
Their chief's retainers, an immortal band.
(1) As one poem, on this subject, is printed in the beginning, the author had, originally, no intention of inserting the following: it is now added at the particular request of some friends.
(2) HENRI II founded Newstead, soon after the murder of Thomas A Becket.
(3) This word is used by WALTER Scott, in his poem, « The Wild Huntsman : » as synonymous with Vassal.
(4) The Red Cross was the badge of the Crusaders.
Else might inspiring Fancy's magic eye
Retrace their progress, thro' the lapse of time; Marking each ardent youth, ordain'd to die,
A votive pilgrim, in Judea's clime.
But not from thee, dark pile! departs the Chief,
His feudal realm in other regions lay;
Retiring from the garish blaze of day.
The Monk abjur'd a world he ne'er could view ;
Or Innocence, from stern Oppression, flew. A Monarch bade thee, from that wild arise,
Where Sherwood's outlaws, once, were wont to prowl; And Superstition's crimes of various dyes
Sought shelter in the Priest's protecting cowl. Where, now, the grass exhales a murky dew,
The humid pall of life-extinguish'd clay; In sainted fame, the sacred Fathers grew,
Nor rais’d their pious voices, but to pray. Where, now, the bats their wavering wings extend,
Soon as the gloaming (1) spreads her waning shade; The choir did, oft, their mingling vespers blend,
Or matin orisons to Mary (2) paid.
(1) As « Gloaming , » The Scottish word for Twilight, is far more poetical, and has been recommended by many eminent literary men , particularly Dr. Moore, in his Letters to Burns, I have ventured to use it, on account of its harmony.
(2) The Priory was dedicated to the Virgin.
Years roll on years; to ages, ages yield;
Abbots to Abbots, in a line succeed; Religion's charter, their protecting shield,
Till royal sacrilege their doom decreed.
One holy Henry rear'd the gothick walls,
And bade the pious inmates rest in peace; Another HENRY (1) the kind gift recalls,
And bids devotion's hallow'd echoes cease.
Vain is each threat, or supplicating prayer,
He drives them, exiles, from their blest abode ; To roam a dreary world, in deep despair,
No friend, no home, no refuge, but their God.
Hark! how the hall, resounding to the strain,
Shakes with the martial music's novel din! The heralds of a warrior's haughty reign,
High crested banners, wave thy walls within.
Of changing sentinels, the distant hum,
The mirth of feasts, the clang of burnish'd arms, The braying trumpet, and the hoarser drum,
Unite in concert with increas'd alarms,
An abbey once, a regal fortress (2) now,
Encircled by insulting rebel powers ; War's dread machines o’erhang thy threat'ning brow,
And dart destruction, in sulphurcous showers.
(1) At the dissolution of the monasteries, Henry VIII bestowed Newstead Abbey on Sir John Byron.
(2) Newstead sustained a considerable siege , in the war between Charles I and his Parliament,
Ah! vain defence! the hostile traitor's siege,
Tho’oft repuls’d, by guile, o'ercomes the brave ; His thronging foes oppress the faithful Liege,
Rebellion's reeking standards o'er him wave.
Not unaveng’d, the raging Baron yields,
The blood of traitors sinears the purple plain ; Unconquer’d, still, his faulchion there he wields,
And days of glory, yet, for him remain.
Still, in that hour, the warrior wish'd to strew,
Self-gather’d laurels, on a self-sought grave; But Charles' protecting genius hither flew,
The monarch's friend, the monarch's hope, to save.
Trembling she snatch'd him (1) from the unequal strife,
In other fields, the torrent to repel;
To lead the band, where god-like FALKLAND (2) fell.
From thee, poor pile! to lawless plunder given,
While dying groans, their painful requiem sound, Far different incense, now, ascends to heaven,
Such victims wallow on the gory ground.
(1) Lord Byron, and his brother, Sir William, held high commands in the royal army; the former was General in Chief, in Ireland, Lieutenant of the Tower, and Governor to James, Duke of York, afterwards, the unhappy James II. The latter had a principal share in many actions. Vide , Clarendon, Hume , etc.
(2) Lucius Cary, Lord Viscount Falkland , the most accomplished man of his age, was killed at the Battle of Newberry, charging in the ranks of Lord Byron's regiment of cavalry.
There, many a pale and ruthless Robber's corse, .
Noisome and ghast, defiles thy sacred sod; 1 O’er mingling map, and borse commix'd with horse,
Corruption's heap, the savage spoilers trod. Graves, long with rank and sighing weeds o'erspread,
Ransack’d, resign, perforce, their mortal mould; From ruffian fangs, escape not e'en the dead,
Rak’d from repose, in search for buried gold. Hush'd is the harp, unstrung the warlike lyre,
The minstrel’s palsied hand reclines in death;
Or sings the glories of the martial wreath.
Retire, the clamour of the fight is o’er ;
And sable Horror guards the massy door. Here, Desolation holds her dreary court,
What satellites declare her dismal reign!
To flit their vigils in the hoary fane.
The clouds of Anarchy from Britain's skies ;
And nature triumphs, as the Tyrant dies. With storms she welcomes his expiring groans,
Whirlwinds, responsive, greet his labouring breath ; Earth shudders, as her cave receives his bones,
Loathing (1) the offering of so dark a death,
(2) This is an historical fact; a violent tempest occurred