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Ten squires, ten yeomen, mail-clad men,
Why do these steeds stand ready dight?
The slaughter'd chiefs, the mortal jar,
Shall never, never be forgot!"
And as evidencing a different cast of the Poet's mind, I will read a few lines, with which this same poem concludes, being an English metrical version of an ancient Latin hymn :
Dies ira, dies illa.
"That day of wrath, that dreadful day,
When heaven and earth shall pass away,
How shall he meet that dreadful day?
The flaming heavens together roll;
Oh! on that day, that wrathful day,
When man to judgment wakes from clay,
Though heaven and earth shall pass away!"
But perhaps the most remarkable effect of the writings of Scott was the in which he kindled an enthusiasm about, and gave way a wide historical interest to, all the border scenery, and to the various events that occurred in those districts. It was not only the lovely scenes of Loch Katrine and the Trossachs that became popularized in consequence of the inspiring poetry of "The Lady of the Lake," or the venerable ruins of Melrose that travellers hastened to see by moonlight, because Scott bid them view it at such an hour, but there is hardly a locality which has not its legend, and the magic power of the wizard of Abbotsford has invested them all with a world-wide reputation. His own estate has many and famous spots of this kind. Just above the house was the conclusion of the battle of Melrose fought in 1526, between the Earls of Angus and Home, and the two Chiefs of the House of Kerr on one side, and Buccleuch on the other, in sight of young King James, the possession of whose person was the object of the contest. In the names of Skirmish-field, Charge-law, &c., various
incidents of the fight have found a lasting record; and the spot where the retainers of Buccleuch terminated the pursuit by the mortal wound of Kerr of Cessford (ancestor of the Dukes of Roxburgh), has always been called Point Turnagain. But it has now received a special mark by which to arrest attention, because Scott has alluded to it as the spot,
"Where gallant Cessford's life-blood dear
It was a favourite object of Scott's to buy any properties in the neighbourhood, which, beside the convenience of their situation, had been the scene of any incident in history or of any popular legend. And often, in effecting this, he acted the part of Glaucus in the Iliad of Homer, when he exchanged his golden armour for the less costly suit of Diomede, being made to pay most extravagantly for his fancies. But a purchase that exceedingly pleased him, was one that was said to be the scene of Thomas the Rhymer, or Thomas of Ercildoun's interviews with the Queen of the Fairies. And in time he succeeded in adding to his property all those legendary haunts of True Thomas, as he was called, and the whole ground of the battle of Melrose from Skirmish-field to point Turnagain. The house at Abbotsford was, I think, hardly equal to what we are led to expect from the description given in his life, and the site is far from being the best that might have been selected; but the general scenery of the neighbourhood is very beautiful, some of it very grand, and the charm of interest cast over the whole not often surpassed.
Before closing this brief notice of these great names in the list of English poets, I wish to mention also one or two of the other sex, whose writings well deserve our attention, and with whom I had the pleasure of being acquainted. About twenty years ago there was an article in the Quarterly Review on "Modern British Poetesses," nine of whom were mentioned. The reviewer, after noticing them each in detail, bound them up as he said in a wreath; and under the similitude of flowers, gave us the type of each. There was a Rose, Wild Angelica, Passion Flower, Roman Nettle, Magnolia Grandiflora, Meadow-Sage, Blue-belle, Violet, and Hearts
Of these I was acquainted with three, the Magnolia, Meadow-Sage, and Blue-belle. I will not venture to assert how far they are all likely to have achieved any enduring fame by their poetry; but one of them, the Meadow-Sage, will have an additional reason for being remembered, because of her husband's name; since, soon after I saw her, she became the wife of Southey. And she was the patient and kind nurse of him during the sad latter years of his life, when his mind failed him, and he was left so dependent on the care of others. Her maiden name was Caroline Bowles, and the following lines entitled "The Pauper's Death-bed," shew very considerable power, and deep feeling:
"Tread softly-bow the head
In reverent silence bow:
No passing bell doth toll,
Yet an immortal soul
Stranger! however great,
With lowly reverence bow,
Beneath that beggar's roof
That pavement damp and cold,
No mingling voices sound-
The parting groan.
Oh change! Oh wondrous change 1
Burst are the prison bars :
So agonised, and now
Oh Change-stupendous change-
In conclusion I will give you a few lines, written when she was ten years old, by the daughter of a clergyman, who lived near us in Wiltshire. I have other verses of hers which are exceedingly good, though not evincing the same power of thought and description as these which were written much earlier. I think she is still living, but I have never heard that, as she grew up, her poetical talents were further developed. As a child they were most surprising. She is I believe a cousin of Wordsworth's, and really one might almost think she had a portion of his spirit, when she composed, not altogether so unlike what might have been the fruits of his muse, the following lines, of the genuineness of which there is not the least shadow of a doubt:
"On a sound resembling thunder, heard on a cloudless day in summer. It seemed to traverse the whole heavens, and was indescribably grand."
"Where art thou, thou mysterious sound,
Herald thee thro' the firmament.
Whence dost thou come, and wherefore sent