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Abbotsford a helpless and almost unconscious wreck.

He lingered on for some time, listening occasionally

to passages read to him from the Bible, and from his favourite author Crabbe. Once he tried to write, but his fingers would not close upon the pen. He never spoke of his literary labours or success. At times his imagination was busy preparing for the reception of the Duke of Wellington at Abbotsford; at other times he was exercising the functions of a Scottish judge, as if presiding at the trial of mem| bers of his own family. His mind never appeared to wander in its delirium towards those works which had filled all Europe with his fame. This we learn from undoubted authority, and the fact is of interest in literary history. But the contest was soon to be over; ‘the plough was nearing the end of the fur| row.” “About half-past one, P.M.,’ says Mr Lock|hart, ‘on the 21st of September 1832, Sir Walter | breathed his last, in the presence of all his children. It was a beautiful day—so warm that every window |

was wide open—and so perfectly still that the sound of all others most delicious to his ear, the gentle ripple of the Tweed over its pebbles, was distinctly | audible as we knelt around the bed, and his eldest son kissed and closed his eyes.'

Call it not vain; they do not err

Who say, that when the poet dies,

Mute nature mourns her worshipper,

And celebrates his obsequies;

Who say tall cliff and cavern lone,

For the departed bard make moan ;
That mountains weep in crystal rill;
That flowers in tears of balm distil ;
Through his loved groves that breezes sigh,

And oaks, in deeper groans, reply;

- And rivers teach their rushing wave

To murmur dirges round his grave.

Lay of the Last Minstrel.

The novelty and originality of Scott's style of poetry, though exhausted by himself, and debased by imitators, formed his first passport to public favour and applause. The English reader had to go back to Spenser and Chaucer ere he could find so knightly and chivalrous a poet, or such paintings of antique manners and institutions. The works of the elder worthies were also obscured by a dim and obsolete phraseology; while Scott, in expression, sentiment, and description, could be read and understood by all. The perfect clearness and transparency of his style is one of his distinguishing features; and it was further aided by his peculiar versification. Coleridge had exemplified the fitness of the octosyllabic measure for romantic narrative poetry, and parts of his “Christabel’ having been recited to Scott, he adopted its wild rhythm and harmony, joining to it some of the abruptness and irregularity of the old ballad metre. In his hands it became a powerful and flexible instrument, whether for light narrative and pure description, or for scenes of to: wildness and terror, such as the trial and | death of Constance in ‘Marmion, or the swell and agitation of a battle-field. The knowledge and enthusiasm requisite for a chivalrous poet Scott possessed in an eminent degree. He was an early worshipper of ‘hoar antiquity. He was in the maturity | of his powers (thirty-four years of age) when the | Lay was published, and was perhaps better informed on such subjects than any other man living. Border story and romance had been the study and the passion of his whole life. In writing ‘Marmion’ and “Ivanhoe, or in building Abbotsford, he was impelled by a natural and irresistible impulse. The baronial castle, the court and camp—the wild Highland chase, feud, and foray—the antique blazonry,

and institutions of feudalism, were constantly present to his thoughts and imagination. Then, his powers of description were unequalled—certainly never surpassed. His landscapes, his characters and situations, were all real delineations; in general effect and

individual details, they were equally perfect. None

of his contemporaries had the same picturesqueness, fancy, or invention; none so graphic in depicting manners and customs; none so fertile in inventing incidents; none so fascinating in narrative, or so various and powerful in description. His diction was proverbially careless and incorrect. Neither in prose nor poetry was Scott a polished writer. He hooked only at broad and general effects; his words had to make pictures, not melody. Whatever could be grouped and described, whatever was visible and tangible, lay within his reach. Below the surface he had less power. The language of the heart was not his familiar study; the passions did not obey his call. The contrasted effects of passion and situation he could portray vividly and distinctly—the sin and suffering of Constance, the remorse of Marmion and Bertram, the pathetic character of Wilfrid, the knightly grace of Fitz-James, and the rugged virtues and savage death of Roderick Dhu, are all fine specimens of moral painting. Byron has nothing better, and indeed the noble poet in some of his tales copied or paraphrased the sterner passages of Scott. But even in these gloomy and powerful traits of his genius, the force lies in the situation, not in the thoughts and expression. There are no talismanic words that pierce the heart or usurp the memory; none of the impassioned and reflective style of Byron, the melodious pathos of Campbell, or the profound sympathy of Wordsworth. The great strength of Scott undoubtedly lay in the prolific richness of his fancy, and the abundant stores of his memory, that could create, collect, and arrange such a multitude of scenes and adventures; that could find materials for stirring and romantic poetry in the most minute and barren antiquarian details; and that could reanimate the past, and paint the present, in scenery and manners with a vividness and energy unknown since the period of Homer. The “Lay of the Last Minstrel' is a Border story of the sixteenth century, related by a minstrel, the last of his race. The character of the aged minstrel, and that of Margaret of Branksome, are very finely drawn: Deloraine, a coarse Border chief, or mosstrooper, is also a vigorous portrait; and in the description of the march of the English army, the personal combat with Musgrave, and the other feudal accessories of the piece, we have finished pictures of the olden time. The goblin page is no favourite of ours, except in so far as it makes the story more accordant with the times in which it is placed. The introductory lines to each canto form an exquisite setting to the dark feudal tale, and tended greatly to cause the popularity of the poem. The minstrel is thus described:—

The way was long, the wind was cold, |
The minstrel was infirm and old ;
His withered cheek and tresses gray,
Seemed to have known a better day ;
The harp, his sole remaining joy,
Was carried by an orphan boy.
The last of all the bards was he
Who sung of Border chivalry;
For, well-a-day ! their date was fled;
His tuneful brethren all were dead;
And he, neglected and oppressed,
Wished to be with them, and at rest.
No more on prancing palfry borne,
He carolled, light as lark at morn;


No longer courted and caressed,
High placed in hall a welcome guest,
He poured to lord and lady gay
The unpremeditated lay:
Old times were changed, old manners gone;
A stranger filled the Stuart's throne;
The bigots of the iron time
Had called his harmless art a crime.
A wandering harper, scorned and poor,
He begged his bread from door to door,
And tuned to please a peasant's ear,
The harp a king had loved to hear.

Not less picturesque are the following passages, *

which instantly became popular:—

[Description of Melrose Abbey.]

If thou would'st view fair Melrose aright,
Go visit it by the pale moonlight;
For the gay beams of lightsome day
Gild, but to flout, the ruins gray.
When the broken arches are black in night,
And each shafted oriel glimmers white;
When the cold light's uncertain shower
Streams on the ruined central tower;
When buttress and buttress, alternately,
Seem framed of ebon and ivory;
When silver edges the imagery,
And the scrolls that teach thee to live and die;
When distant Tweed is heard to rave,
And the owlet to hoot o'er the dead man's grave,
Then go—but go alone the while—
Then view St David's ruined pile;
And, home returning, soothly swear,
Was never scene so sad and fair!
The moon on the east oriel shone,
Through slender shafts of shapely stone,
By #. tracery combined;
Thou would'st have thought some fairy's hand
"Twixt poplars straight the ozier wand,
In many a freakish knot, had twined;
Then framed a spell, when the work was done,
And changed the willow wreaths to stone.
The silver light, so pale and faint,
Showed many a prophet and many a saint,
Whose image on the glass was dyed;
Full in the midst, his cross of red
Triumphant Michael brandished,
And trampled the apostate's pride.
The moonbeam kissed the holy pane,
And threw on the pavement a bloody stain.

[Love of Country.]

Breathes there a man with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,

This is my own, my native land 1
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burned,
As home his footsteps he hath turned

From wandering on a foreign strand
If such there breathe, go mark him well:
For him no minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim ;
Despite those titles, power, and pelf, ,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonoured, and unsung.

O Caledonial stern and wild,
Meet nurse for a poetic child !
Land of brown heath and shaggy wood,
Land of the mountain and the flood,
Land of my sires! what mortal hand
Can e'er untie the filial band
That knits me to thy rugged strand 1

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Day set on Norham's castled steep,
And Tweed's fair river, broad and deep,
And Cheviot's mountains lone;
The battled towers, the donjon keep,
The loop-hole grates where captives weep,
The flanking walls that round it sweep,
In yellow lustre shone.
The warriors on the turrets high,
Moving athwart the evening sky,
Seemed forms of giant height;
Their armour, as it caught the rays,
Flashed back again the western blaze,
In lines of dazzling light.
St George's banner, broad and gay,
Now faded, as the fading ray
Less bright, and less, was flung; o
The evening gale had scarce the power
To wave it on the donjon tower,
So heavily it hung.
The scouts had parted on their search,
The castle gates were barred;
Above the gloomy portal arch,
Timing his footsteps to a march,
The warder kept his guard,
Low humming, as he paced along,
Some ancient border-gathering song.

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Nor martial shout, nor minstrel tone,
Announced their march; their tread alone,
At times one 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.
Long looked the anxious squires; their eye
Could in the darkness nought descry.
At length the freshening western blast
Aside the shroud of battle cast;
And, first, the ridge of mingled spears
Above the brightening 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 pluméd crests of chieftains brave,
Floating like foam upon the wave;
But nought 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.

[Evening fell on the deadly struggle, and the spectators were forced from the agitating scene.]

But as they left the darkening heath,
More desperate grew the strife of death.
The English shafts in volleys hailed,
In headlong charge their horse assailed :
Front, flank, and rear, the squadrons sweep,
To break the Scottish circle deep,
That fought around their king.
But yet, though thick the shafts as snow,
Though charging knights like whirlwinds go,
Though bill-men ply the ghastly blow,
Unbroken was the ring;
The stubborn spearmen still made good
Their dark impenetrable wood,
Each stepping where his comrade stood,
The instant that he fell.
No thought was there of dastard flight;
Linked in the serried phalanx tight,
Groom fought like noble, squire like knight,
As fearlessly and well;
Till utter darkness closed her wing
O'er their thin host and wounded king.
Then skilful Surrey's sage commands
Led back from strife his shattered bands;
And from the charge they drew,
As mountain-waves from wasted lands
Sweep back to ocean blue.
Then did their loss his foemen know;
Their king, their lords, their mightiest low,
They melted from the field as snow,
When streams are swoln and south winds blow,
Dissolves in silent dew.
Tweed's echoes heard the ceaseless plash,
While many a broken band,
Disordered, through her currents dash,
To gain the Scottish land;
To town and tower, to down and dale,
To tell red Flodden's dismal tale,
And raise the universal wail.
Tradition, legend, tune, and song,
Shall many an age that wail prolong:

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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 !”—Wain!
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 wrung 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 l’

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 wide,
Where raged the war, a dark red tide
Was curdling in the streamlet blue.
Where shall she turn l—behold her mark
A little fountain-cell,
Where water, clear as diamond-spark,
In a stone bason fell.
Above, some half-worn letters say,
33rink. mcarp. pilgrim. brink. amb. prap.
jFor, the kimb. goul. of $pbtl. Grcp.
&Qibo. built. this, cross. amb. mell.
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 shrieve the dying, bless the dead.

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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 1
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 1
A sinful heart makes feeble hand.’
Then, fainting, down on earth he sunk,
Supported by the trembling monk.

With fruitless labour 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 1 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.

We may contrast with this the silent and appalling death-scene of Roderick Dhu, in the ‘Lady of the Lake.” The savage chief expires while listening to a tale chanted by the bard or minstrel of his clan;–

At first, the chieftain to his chime
With lifted hand kept feeble time;
That motion ceased; yet feeling strong,
Varied his look as changed the song:
At length no more his deafened ear
The minstrel's melody can hear;
His face grows sharp; his hands are clenched,
As if some pang his heart-strings wrenched;
Set are his teeth, his fading eye
Is sternly fixed on vacancy:

Thus motionless and moanless drew
His parting breath, stout Roderick Dhu.

The ‘Lady of the Lake” is more richly picturesque than either of the former poems, and the plot is more regular and interesting. ‘The subject,” says Sir James Mackintosh, “is a common Highland irruption; but at a point where the neighbourhood of the Lowlands affords the best contrast of manners —where the scenery affords the noblest subject of description—and where the wild clan is so near to the court, that their robberies can be connected with the romantic adventures of a disguised king, an exiled lord, and a high-born beauty. The whole narrative is very fine.' It was the most popular of the author's poems: in a few months twenty thousand copies were sold, and the district where the

action of the poem lay was visited by countless

thousands of tourists.

great popularity of Scott as a poet. “Rokeby, a tale

With this work closed the

of the English Cavaliers and Roundheads, was considered a failure, though displaying the utmost art ||

and talent in the delineation of character and passion. “Don Roderick’ is vastly inferior to “Rokeby;' and “Harold' and “Triermain' are but faint copies of the Gothic epics, however finely finished in some of the tender passages. The ‘Lord of the Isles' is

of a higher mood. It is a Scottish story of the days

of Bruce, and has the characteristic fire and anima

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