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Twas his, with elder brother's pride,
Matilda's tottering steps to guide;
His native lays in Irish tongue,
To soothe her infant ear he sung,
And primrose twin'd with daisy fair,
To form a chaplet for her hair.
By lawn, by grove, by brooklet's strand,
The children still were hand and hand,
And good Sir Richard smiling eyed
The early knot so kindly tied.
But summer months bring wilding shoot From bud to bloom, from bloom to fruit; And years draw on our human span, From child to boy, from boy to man; And soon in Rokeby's woods is seen A gallant boy in hunter's green. He loves to wake the felon boar, In his dark haunt on Greta's shore, And loves, against the deer so dun, To draw the shaft, or lift the gun: Yet more he loves, in autumn prime, The hazel's spreading boughs to climb, And down its cluster'd stores to hail, Where young Matilda holds her veil. And she, whose veil receives the shower, Is alter'd too, and knows her power; Assumes a monitress's pride, Her Redmond's dang'rous sports to chide; Yet listens still to hear him tell How the grim wild-boar fought and fell, How at his fall the bugle rung, Till rock and greenwood answer flung; Then blesses her, that man can find A pastime of such savage kind!
But Redmond knew to weave his tale
So well with praise of wood and dale,
And knew so well each point to trace,
Gives living int rest to the chase,
And knew so well o'er all to throw
His spirit's wild romantic glow.
That, while she blam'd, and while she fear'd,
She lov'd each vent'rous tale she heard.
Oft, too, when drifted snow and rain
To bow'r and hall their steps restrain,
Together they explor'd the page
Of glowing bard or gifted sage;
Oft plac'd the ev'ning fire beside,
The minstrel art alternate tried,
While gladsome harp and lively lay
Bade winter night flit fast away:
Thus from their childhood blending still
Their sport, their study, and their skill,
An union of the soul they prove,
But must not think that it was love.
But though they dar'd not, envious Fame
Soon dar'd to give that union name;
And when so often, side by side,
From year to year the pair she ey'd,
She sometimes blam'd the good old Knight,
As dull of ear and dim of sight,
Sometime his purpose would declare,
That young O'Neale should wed his heir.
The suit of Wilfrid rent disguise
And bandage from the lovers' eyes;
'Twas plain that Oswald, for his son,
Had Rokeby's favour well nigh won.
Now must they meet with change of cheer,
With mutual looks of shame and fear;
Now must Matilda stray apart,
To school her disobedient heart:
And Redmond now alone must rue
The love he never can subdue.
But factions rose, and Rokeby sware,
No rebel's son should wed his heir;
And Redmond, nurtur'd while a child
In many a bard's traditions wild,
Now sought the lonely wood or stream
To cherish there a happier dream,
Of maiden won by sword or lacet,
As in the regions of romance;
And count the heroes of his line,
Great Nial of the Pledges Nine,*
Shane-Dymast wild, and Geraldine,+
And Connan-more, who vow'd his race
For ever to the fight and chase,
And curs'd him, of his lineage born,
Should sheathe the sword to reap the corn,
Or leave the mountain and the wold,
To shroud himself in castled hold.
From such examples hope he drew,
And brighten'd as the trumpet blew.
If brides were won by heart and blade,
Redmond had both his cause to aid,
And all beside of nurture rare
That might beseem a baron's heir.
Turlough O'Neale, in Erin's strife,
On Rokeby's Lord bestow'd his life,
And well did Rokeby's gen'rous Knight
Young Redmond for the deed requite.
Nor was his lib'ral care and cost
Upon the gallant stripling lost:
Seek the North Riding broad and wide,
Like Redmond none could steed bestride.
From Tynemouth search to Cumberland,
Like Redmond none could wield a brand;
And then, of humour kind and free,
And bearing him to each degree
With frank and fearless courtesy,
There never youth was form'd to steal
Upon the heart like brave O'Neale.
Sir Richard lov'd him as his son;
And when the days of peace were done,
Neal Naighvallach, or Of the Nine Hostages, is said to have been monarch of all Ireland, during the end of the fourth or beginning of the fifth century.
+ This Shane-Dymas, or John the Wanton, held the title and power of O'Neale in the earlier part of Elizabeth's reign, against whom he rebelled repeatedly.
The O'Neals were closely allied with this powerful and warlike family. This Con-More cursed any of his posterity who should learn the English language, sow corn, or build houses, so as to invite the English to settle in their country.
And to the gales of war he gave
The banner of his sires to wave,
Redmond, distinguish'd by his care,
He chose that honour'd flag to bear,
And nam'd his page, the next degree
In that old time to chivalry.*
In five pitch'd fields he well maintain'd
The honour'd place his worth obtain'd,
And high was Redmond's youthful name
Blaz'd in the roll of martial fame.
Had fortune smail'd on Marston fight,
The eve had seen him dubb d a knight;
Twice, 'mid the battle's doubtful strife,
Of Rokeby's Lord he saved the life,
But when he saw him pris'ner made,
He kiss'd and then resign'd his blade,
And yielded him an easy prey
To those who led the Knight away;
Resolv'd Matilda's sire should prove,
In prison, as in fight, his love.
When lovers meet in adverse hour.
'Tis like a sun-glimpse through a shower,
A watery ray, au instant seen,
The darkly closing clouds between.
As Redmond on the turf reclin'd,
The past and present fill'd his mind:
"It was not thus," Affection said,
"I dream'd of my return, dear maid!
Not thus, when from thy trembling hand,
I took the banner and the brand,
When round me as the bugles blew,
Their blades three hundred warriors drew,
And, while the standard I unroll'd,
Clash'd their bright arms, with clamour bold
Originally, the order of chivalry embraced three ranks-1. The Page; 2. The Squire: 3 The Knight-But, before the reiga of Charles I., the custom of serving as a squire had fallen into dis use, though the order of the page was still, to a certain degree, in observance. This state of servitude was so for from inferring any thing degrading, that it was considered as the regular school for acquiring every quality necessary for future distinction.
Where is that banner now?-its pride
Lies 'whelm'd in Ouse's sullen tide!
Where now these warriors?-in their
They cumber Marston's dismal moor;
And what avails a useless brand,
Held by a captive's shackled hand,
That only would his life retain,
To aid thy sire to bear his chain!"
Thus Redmond to himself apart;
Nor lighter was his rival's heart;
For Wilfrid, while his gen'rous soul
Disdain'd to profit by control,
By many a sign could mark too plain,
Save with such aid, his hopes were vain.-
But now Matilda's accents stole
On the dark visions of their soul,
And bade their mournful musing fly,
Like mist before the zephyr's sigh.
"I need not to my friends recall,
How Mortham shunn'd my father's hall;
A man of silence and of woe,
Yet ever anxious to bestow
On my poor self whate'er could prove
A kinsman's confidence and love.
My feeble aid could sometimes chase
The clouds of sorrow for a space:
But oft'ner, fix'd beyond my pow'r,
I mark'd his deep despondence low'r.
One dismal cause, by all unguess'd,
His fearful confidence confess'd;
And twice it was my hap to see
Examples of that agony.
Which for a season can o'erstrain
And wreck the structure of the brain.
He had the awful pow'r to know
Th' approaching mental overthrow,
And while his mind had courage yet
To struggle with the dreadful nt.
The victim writh'd against its throes,
Like wretch beneath a murd'rer's blows.