Had seem'd this self-invited guest;
But young our lovers,—and the rest,
Wrapt in their sorrow and their fear
At parting of their mistress dear,
Tear-blinded, to the castle-hall
Came as to bear her funeral pall.


All that expression base was gone,

When waked the guest his minstrel tone;

It fled at inspiration's call,

As erst the demon fled from Saul.

More noble glance he cast around,

More free-drawn breath inspired the sound,

His pulse beat bolder and more high,

In all the pride of minstrelsy!

Alas! too soon that pride was o'er,

Sunk with the lay that bade it soar!

His soul resumed, with habit's chain,

Its vices wild and follies vain,

And gave the talent; with him born,

To be a common curse and scorn.

Such was the youth whom Rokeby's maid,

With condescending kindness, pray'd

Here to renew the strain she loved,

At distance heard and well approved.



I was a wild and wayward boy,

My childhood scorn'd each childish toy;

Retired from all, reserved, and coy,

To musing prone, I woo'd my solitary joy,

My harp alone.

My youth, with bold ambition's mood,
Despised the humble stream and wood,
Where my poor father's cottage stood,

To fame unknown;—
What should my soaring views make good?

My harp alone!

Love came with all his frantic fire,
And wild romance of vain desire:
The baron's daughter heard my lyre,

And praised the tone;—
What could presumptuous hope inspire?

My harp alone!

At manhood's touch the bubble burst, And manhood's pride the vision cursed, And all that had my folly nursed

Love's sway to own; Yet spared the spell that lull'd me first,

My harp alone!

Woe came with war, and want with woe;
And it was mine to undergo
Each outrage of the rebel foe.—-

Can aught atone
My fields laid waste, my cot laid low?

My harp alone!

Ambition's dreams I 've seen depart,
Have rued of penury the smart,
Have felt of love the venom'd dart,

When hope was flown;
Yet rests one solace to my heart,—

My harp alone!

Then over mountain, moor, and hill,
My faithful harp, I 'll bear thee still,
And when this life of want and ill

Is well-nigh gone,
Thy strings mine elegy shall thrill,

My harp alone!


"A pleasing lay!" Matilda said;

But Harpool shook his old grey head,

And took his baton and his torch,

To seek his guard-room in the porch.

Edmund observed—with sudden change,

Among the strings his fingers range,

Until they waked a bolder glee

Of military melody;

Then paused amid the martial sound,

And look'd with well-feign'd fear around.


"None to this noble house belong,"

He said, "that would a minstrel wrong,

Whose fate has been, through good and ill,

To love his royal master still;

And, with your honour'd leave, would fain

Rejoice you with a loyal strain."

Then, as assured by sign and look,

The warlike tone again he took;

And Harpool stopp'd, and turn'd to hear

A ditty of the cavalier.



While the dawn on the mountain was misty and grey,
My true love has mounted his steed and away,
Over hill, over valley, o'er dale, and o'er down;
Heaven shield the brave gallant that fights for the crown I

He has dofiTd the silk doublet the breast-plate to bear,
He has placed the steel cap o'er his long flowing hair,
From his belt to his stirrup his broadsword hangs down,—
Heaven shield the brave gallant that fights for the crown!

For the rights of fair England that broadsword he draws;

Her king is his leader, her church is his cause;

His watchword is honour, his pay is renown,—

God strike with the gallant that strikes for the crown!

They may boast of their Fairfax, their Waller, and all
The round-headed rebels of Westminster Hall;
But tell these bold traitors of London's proud town,
That the spears of the North have encircled the crown.

There's Derby and Cavendish, dread of their foes,
There's Erin's high Ormond, and Scotland's Montrose!
Would you match the base Skippon, and Massey, and

With the barons of England that fight for the crown?

Now joy to the crest of the brave cavalier!

Be his banner unconquer'd, resistless his spear,

Till in peace and in triumph his toils he may drown,

In a pledge to fair England, hei church, and her crown!


"Alas !" Matilda said, "that strain,
Good harper, •now is heard in vain!
The time has been, at such a sound,
When Rokeby's vassals gather'd round,
A hundred manly hearts would bound:
But now the stirring verse we hear,
Like trump in dying soldier's ear!
Listless and sad the notes we own,
The power to answer them is flown.
Yet not without his meet applause
Be he that sings the rightful cause,
Even when the crisis of its fate
To human eye seems desperate.
While Rokeby's heir such power retains,
Let this slight guerdon pay thy pains.
And lend thy harp; I fain would try,
If my poor skill can aught supply,
Ere yet I leave my fathers' hall,
To mourn the cause in which we fall."


The sound of Rokeby's woods I hear,

They mingle with the song;
Dark Greta's voice is in mine ear:

I must not hear them long.
From every loved and native haunt

The native heir must stray,
And, like a ghost whom sunbeams daunt,

Must part before the day.

Soon from the halls my fathers rear'd,

Their scutcheons may descend;
A line so long beloved and fear'd

May soon obscurely end.
No longer here Matilda's tone

Shall bid these echoes swell;
Yet shall they hear her proudly own

The cause in which we fell.

The lady paused, and then again
Resumed the lay in loftier strain.


Let our halls and towers decay,
Be our name and line forgot,

Lands and manors pass away,—
"We but share our monarch's lot.

If no more our annals show
Battles won and banners taken,

Still in death, defeat, and woe,
Ours be loyalty unshaken!

Constant still in danger's hour,

Princes own'd our fathers' aid; Lands and honours, wealth and power,

"Well their loyalty repaid.
Perish wealth, and power, and pride!

Mortal boons by mortals given;
But let Constancy abide,—

Constancy's the gift of Heaven.


"While thus Matilda's lay was heard,

A thousand thoughts in Edmund stirrd.

In peasant life he might have known

As fair a face, as sweet a tone;

But village notes could ne'er supply

That rich and varied melody;

And ne'er in cottage-maid was seen

The easy dignity of mien,

Claiming respect, yet waving state,

That marks the daughters of the great.

Yet not, perchance, had these alone

His scheme of purposed guilt o'erthrown;

But, while her energy of mind

Superior rose to griefs combined,

Lending its kindling to her eye,

Giving her form new majesty,—

To Edmund's thought Matilda seem d

The very object he had dream'd,

When, long ere guilt his soul had known,

In "Winston bowers he mused alone,

Taxing his fancy to combine

The face, the air, the voice divine,

Of princess fair, by cruel fate

Reft of her honours, power, and state,

Till to her rightful realm restored

By destined hero's conquering sword.

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