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Wreath'd in its dark-brown rings, her hair
Half hid Matilda's forehead fair.
Half hid and half reveal'd to view
Her full dark eye of hazel hue.
The rose, with faint and feeble streak,
So slightly ting'd the maiden's cheek,
That you had said her hue was pale;
But if she fac'd the summer gale,
Or spoke, or sung, or quicker mov'd,
Or heard the praise of those she lov'd,
Or when of int'rest was express'd
Aught that wak'd feeling in her breast,
The mantling blood in ready play
Rivall'd the blush of rising day.
There was a soft and pensive grace
A cast of thought upon her face,
That suited well the forehead high,
The eyelash dark, and downcast eye;
The mild expression spoke a mind
In duty firm, compos'd, resign'd:-
"Tis that which Roman art has giv’a,
To mark their maiden Queen of Heav'
In hours of sport, that mood gave way
To Fancy's light and frolic play;
And when the dance, or tale, or song,
In harmless mirth sped time along,
Full oft her doting sire would call
His Maud the merriest of them all.
But days of war, and civil crime,
Allow'd but ill such festal time,
And her soft pensiveness of brow
Had deepen'd into sadness now.
In Marston field her father ta'en,
Her friends dispers'd, brave Mortham slain,
While ev'ry ill her soul foretold,
From Oswald's thirst of pow'r and gold,
And boding thoughts that she must part,
With a soft vision of her heart,-
All lower'd around the lovely maid,
To darken her dejection's shade.
Who has not heard-while Erin yet
Strove 'gainst the Saxon's iron bit-
Who has not heard how brave O'Neale
In English blood imbrued his steel,
Against St George's cross blaz'd high
The banners of his Tanistry,
To fiery Essex gave the foil,
And reign'd a prince on Ulster's soil?
But chief arose his victor pride,
When that brave Marshal fought and died,*
And Avon-Duff to ocean bore
His billows red with Saxon gore.
'Twas first in that disastrous fight,
Rokeby and Mortham prov'd their might.
There had they fall'n among the rest,
But pity touch'd a chieftain's breast;
The Tanist be to great O'Neale;+
He check'd his foll'wers' bloody zeal,
To quarter took the kinsman bold,
And bore them to his mountain-hold,
Gave them each silvan joy to know,
Slieve-Donard's cliffs and woods could show,
Shar'd with them Erin's festal cheer,
Show'd them the chase of wolf and deer,
And, when a fitting time was come,
Safe and unransom'd sent them home,
Loaded with many a gift, to prove
A gen'rous foe's respect and love.
The chief victory which Tyrone obtained over the English was in a battle fought near Blackwater, while he besieged a fort garr oned by the English, which commanded the passes into his country. He is said to have entertained a personal animosity against the knight-marshal, Sir Henry Bagual, whom he accused of detaining the letters which he sent to Queen Elizabeth, explanatory of his conduct, and offering terms of submission. The river, called by the English, Black water, is termed in Irish, AvonDuff, which has the same signification.
+ When an Irish chief died, it was not the eldest son who suc ceeded to his authority, but a captain elected for the occasion; after whom the eldest son was generally nominated the Tanist, that is, the successor to the captain. The Tanist, therefore, of O'Neale, was the heir apparent of his power. This kind of succession appears also to have regulated, in very remote times, the succession to the crown of Scotland. It would have been impradent, if not impossible, to have asserted a minor's right of succes sion in those stormy days, when the principles of policy were the mere impulses of seinshness and violence,
Years speed away. On Rokeby's head
Some touch of early snow was shed;
Calm he enjoy'd, by Greta's wave,
The peace which James the Peaceful gave,
While Mortham, far beyond the main,
Wag'd his fierce wars on Indian Spain-
It chanc'd upon a wintry night,
That whiten'd Stanmore's stormy height,
The chase was o'er, the stag was kill'd,
In Rokeby hall the cups were fill'd,
And by the huge stone chimney sate
The Knight in hospitable state.
Moonless the sky, the hour was late,
When a loud summons shook the gate,
And sore for entrance and for aid
A voice of foreign accent pray'd.
The porter answer'd to the call,
And instant rush'd into the hall
A Man, whose aspect and attire
Startled the circle by the fire.
His plaited hair in elf-locks spread*
Around his bare and matted head;
On leg and thigh, close stretch'd and trim,
His vesture show'd the sinewy limb;
In saffron dyed, a linen vest
Was frequent folded round his breast;
A mantle long and loose he wore,
Shaggy with ice, and stain'd with gore,
He clasp'd a burden to his heart,
And, resting on a knotted dart,
The snow from hair and beard he shook,
And round him gaz'd with wilder'd look.
It would seem, that the ancient Irish dress was (the bonnet excepted) very similar to that of the Scottish Highlanders. The want of a covering on the head was supplied by the mode of plaiting and arranging their hair, which was called the gibb These glibbes, according to Spenser, were fit marks for a thief, since, when he wished to disguse himself, he could either cut it off es tirely, or so pull it over his eyes as to render it very hard to recognise him.
Then up the hall, with stagg'ring pace
He hasten'd by the blaze to place,
Half lifeless from the bitter air,
His load, a Boy of beauty rare.
To Rokeby, next, he louted low,
Then stood erect his tale to show,
With wild majestic port and tone,
Like envoy of some barb'rous throne."
"Sir Richard, Lord of Rokeby, hear!
Turlough O'Neale salutes thee dear;
He graces thee, and to thy care
Young Redmond gives, his grandson fair.
He bids thee breed him as thy son,
For Turlough's days of joy are done;
And other lords have seiz'd his land,
And faint and feeble is his hand;
And all the glory of Tyrone
Is like a morning vapour flown.
To bind the duty on thy soul
He bids thee think on Erin's bowl!
If any wrong the young O'Neale,
He bids thee think of Erin's steel.
To Mortham first this charge was due,
But, in his absence, honours you.-
Now is my master's message by,
And Ferraught will contented die."
His look grew fix'd, his cheek
He sunk when he had told his tale;
For, hid beneath his mantle wide,
A mortal wound was in his side.
Vain was all aid-in terror wild,
And sorrow, scream'd the orphan Child.
Poor Ferraught rais'd his wistful eyes,
And faintly strove to soothe his cries
All reckless of his dying pain,
He blest, and blest him o'er again!
And kiss'd the little hands outspread,
And kiss'd and cross'd the infant head.
The Irish chiefs, in their intercourse with the English, and with each other, were wont to assume the language and style of independent royalty.
And, in his native tongue and phrase,
Pray'd to each saint to watch his days;
Then all his strength together drew,
The charge to Rokeby
When half was falter d from his breast,
And half by dying signs express'd,
"Bless thee, O'Neale!" he faintly said,
And thus the faithful spirit fled.
'Twas long ere soothing might prevail
Upon the Child to end the tale:
And then he said, that from his home
His grandsire had been fore'd to roam,
Which had not been if Redmond's hand
Had but had strength to draw the brand,
The brand of Lenaugh More the Red,
That hung beside the grey wolf's head.-
'Twas from his broken phrase descried,
His foster-father was his guide,*
Who, in his charge, from Ulster bore
Letters, and gifts a goodly store;
But ruffians met them in the wood,
Ferraught in battle boldly stood,
Till wounded and o'erpower'd at length,
And stripp'd of all, his failing strength
Just bore him here-and then the child
Renew'd again his moaning wild.
The tear, down childhood's cheek that flows,
Is like the dew-drop on the rose;
When next the summer breeze comes by,
And waves the bush, the flower is dry.
Won by their care, the orphan Child
Soon on his new protector smil'd,
With dimpled cheek and eye so fair,
Through his thick curls of flaxen hair,
But blithest laugh'd that cheek and eye,
When Rokeby's little maid was nigh;
There was no tie more sacred among the Irish than that which connected the foster-father, as well as the nurse herself, with the child they brought up