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He woke, and fear'd again to close
His eyelids in such dire repose;
He woke,- to watch the lamp, and tell
From hour to hour the castle-bell.
Or listen to the owlet's cry,
Or the sad breeze that whistles by,
Or catch, by fits, the tuneless rhyme
With which the warder cheats the time,
And envying think, how, when the sun'
Bids the poor soldier's watch be done,
Couch'd on his straw, and fancy-free,
He sleeps like careless infancy.
Far town-ward sounds a distant tread,
And Oswald, starting from his bed,
Hath caught it, though no human ear,
Unsharpen'd by revenge and fear,
Could e'er distinguish horse's clank,
Until it reach'd the castle bank.
Now nigh and plain the sound appears,
The warder's challenge now he hears,
Then clanking chains and levers tell,
That o'er the moat the drawbridge fell,
And, in the castle court below,
Voices are heard, and torches glow,
As marshalling the stranger's way,
Straight for the room where Oswald lay
The cry was,"Tidings from the host,
Of weight a messenger comes post."
Stifling the tumult of his breast,
His answer Oswald thus express'd
Bring food and wine, and trim the fire; Admit the stranger, and retire."
The stranger came with heavy stride,
The morion's plumes his visage hide,
And the buff-coat, an ample fold,
Mantles his form's gigantic mould.*
The use of complete suits of armour was fallen into disuso during the Civil War, though they were still worn by leaders of rank and importance. Buff-coats continued to be worn by th. city trained-bands till near the middle of the last century.
Full slender answer deigned he
To Oswald's anxious courtesy,
But mark 'd, by a disdainful smile,
He saw and scorn'd the petty wile,
When Oswald chang`d the torch s place,
Anxious that on the soldier's face
Its partial lustre might be thrown,
fo show his looks, yet hide his own.
His guest, the while, laid low aside
The ponderous cloak of tough bull's hide,
And to the torch glane'd broad and clear
The corslet of a cuirassier;
Then from his brows the casque he drew,
And from the dank plume dash'd the dew,
From gloves of mail reliev'd his hands,
And spread them to the kindling brands,
And, turning to the genial board,
Without a health, or pledge, or word
Of meet and social reverence said,
Deeply he drank, and hercely red;
As free from ceremony's sway,
As famish'd wolf that tears his prey.
With deep impatience, tinged with fear,
His host beheld him gorge his cheer,
And quaff the full carouse, that lent
His brow a fiercer hardiment.
Now Oswald stood a space aside,
Now pac'd the room with hasty stride,
In feverish agony to learn
Tidings of deep and dread concern,
Cursing each moment that his guest
Protracted o'er his ruflian feast.
Yet viewing with alarm, at last,
The end of that uncouth repast,
Almost he seem'd their haste to rue,
As, at his sign, his train withdrew,
And left him with the stranger, free
To question of his mystery.
Then did his silence long proclaim
A struggle between fear and shame,
Much in the stranger's mien appears,
To justify suspicious fears.
On his dark face a scorching clime,
And toil, had done the work of time,
Roughen'd the brow, the temples bar'd,
And sable hairs with silver shar'd,
Yet left-what age alone could tame-
The lip of pride, the eye of flame;
The full-drawn iip that upward curl'd,
The eye, that seem'd to scorn the world.
That lip had terror never blench'd;
Ne'er in that eye hath tear-drop quench'd
The flash severe of swarthy glow,
That mock'd at pain, and knew not woe.
Inur'd to danger's direst form,
Tornade and earthquake, flood and storm,
Death had he seen by sudden blow,
By wasting plague, by tortures slow,*
By mine or breach, by steel or ball,
Knew all his shapes, and scorn'd them all.
But yet, though BERTRAM'S harden'd look
Unmov'd could blood and danger brook,
Still worse than apathy had place
On his swart brow and callous face;
For evil passions, cherish'd long,
Had plough'd them with impression strong.
All that gives gloss to sin, all gay
Light folly, past with youth away,
But rooted stood, in manhood's hour,
The weeds of vice without their flower.
And yet the soil in which they grew,
Had it been tam'd when life was new,
Had depth and vigour to bring forth
The hardier fruits of virtuous worth.
The successes of the English in the predatory incursions upon Spanish America. during the reign of Elizabeth, had never been forgotten; and, from that period downward, the exploits of Drake and Raleigh were imitated, upon a smaller scale indeed, but with equally desperate valour, by small bands of pirates, gathered from all nations, but chiefly French and English. The character of Bertram is copied from those qualities by which the bucaniers were generally distinguished.
Not that, e'en then, his heart had known
The gentler feelings' kindly tone;
But lavish waste had been refin'd
To bounty in his chasten'd mind,
And lust of gold, that waste to feed,
Been lost in love of glory's meed,
And, frantic then no more, his pride
Had ta'en fair virtue for its guide.
Even now, by conscience unrestrain'd,
Clogg'd by gross vice, by slaughter stain'd,
Still knew his daring soul to soar,
And mastery o'er the mind he bore;
For meaner guilt, or heart less hard,
Quail'd beneath Bertram's bold regard.
And this felt Oswald, while in vain
He strove, by many a winding train,
To lure his sullen guest to show,
Unask'd, the news he long'd to know,
While on far other subject hung
His heart, than falter'd from his tongue.
Yet nought for that his guest did deign
To note or spare his secret pain,
But still, in stern and stubborn sort,
Return'd him answer dark and short,
Or started from the theme, to range
In loose digression wild and strange,
And forc'd the embarrass'd host to buy,
By query close, direct reply.
A while he gloz'd upon the cause
Of Commons, Covenant, and Laws,
And Church Reform d-but felt rebu
Beneath grim Bertram's sneering look,
Then stammer d-" Has a field been fought?
Has Bertram news of battle brought ?
For sure a soldier, famed so far
In foreign fields for feats of war,
On eve of fight ne'er left the host,
atil the field were won and lost."
"Here, in your towers by circling Tees,
You, Oswald Wycliffe, rest at ease;
Why deem it strange that others come
To share such safe and easy home,
From fields where danger, death and toil,
Are the reward of civil broil ?"-
"Nay, mock not, friend! since well we know The near advances of the foe,
To mar our northern army's work,
Encamp'd before beleaguer'd York;
Thy horse with valiant Fairfax lay,
And must have fought-how went the day ?"—
"Wouldst hear the tale ?-On Marston heath
Met, front to front, the ranks of death;
Flourish'd the trumpets fierce, and now
Fir'd was each eye, and flush'd each brow;
On either side loud clamours ring,
'God and the Cause !-God and the King! Right English all, they rush'd to blows, With nought to win, and all to lose.
I could have laugh'd-but lack'd the time
To see, in phrenesy sublime,
How the fierce zealots fought and bled,
For king or state, as humour led;
Some for a dream of public good,
Some for church-tippet, gown and hood,
Draining their veins, in death to claim
A patriot's or a martyr's name-
Led Bertram Risingham the hearts,
That counter'd there on adverse parts,
No superstitious fool had I
Sought El Dorados in the sky!,
Chili had heard me through her states,
And Lima op'd her silver gates,
Rich Mexico I had march'd through,
And sack'd the splendours of Peru,
Till sunk Pizarro's daring name,
And, Cortez, thine, in Bertram's fame.".
"Still from the purpose wilt thou stray!
Good gentle friend, how went the day?"