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FITZ-JAMES IN THE PASS OF THE
“Have, then, thy wish!"-he whistled shrill,
And he was answered from the hill;
Wild as the scream of the curlew,
From crag to crag the signal flew.
Instant, through copse and heath, arose
Bonnets and spears and bended bows;
On right, on left, above, below,
Sprung up at once the lurking foe;
From shingles gray their lances start,
The bracken bush sends forth the dart,
'The rushes and the willow-wand
Are bristling into axe and brand,
And every tuft of broom gives life
To plaided warrior armed for strife.
That whistle garrisoned the glen
At once with full five hundred men,
As if the yawning hill to heaven
A subterranean host had given.
Watching their leader's beck and will,
All silent there they stood and still.
Like the loose crags whose threatening mass
Lay tottering o'er the hollow pass,
As if an infant's touch could urge
Their headlong passage down the verge ;
With step and weapon forward flung,
Upon the mountain side they hung.
The mountaineer cast glance of pride
Along Benledi's living side,
Then fixed his eye and sable brow
Full on Fitz-Jarnes—" How say'st thou now,
These are Clan-Alpine's warriors true;
And, Saxon,-I am Roderick Dhu!"-
Fitz-James was brave :--Though to his heart
The life-blood thrilled with sudden start,
He manned himself with dauntless air,
Returned the Chief his haughty stare,
His back against a rock he bore,
And firmly placed his fool before :-
“ Come one, come all! this rock shall fly
From its firm base as soon as I."-
Sir Roderick marked—and in his eyes
Respect was mingled with surprise,
And the stern joy which warriors feel
In foemen worthy of their steel.
Short space he stood-then waved his hand
Down sunk the disappearing band ;
Each warrior vanished where he stood,
In broom or bracken, heath or wood;
Sunk brand and spear and bended bow,
In osiers pale and copses low;
It seemed as if their mother Earth
Had swallowed up her warlike birth ,
The wind's last breath had tossed in air,
Pennon, and plaid, and plumage fair,
The next but swept a lone hill side
Where heath and fern were waving wide;
The sun's last glance was glinted, back,
From spear and glaive, from targe and jack, –
The next, all unreflected, shone
On bracken green, and cold gray stone.
Fitz-James looked round-yet scarce believed
The witness that his sight received ;
Such apparition well might seem
Delusion of a dreadful dream.
Sir Roderick in suspense he eyed
And to his look the Chief replied,
“ Fear nought-nay, that I need not say~
But-doubt not aught from mine array.
Thou art my guest;—I pledged my word
As far as Coilantogle ford :
Nor would I call a clans-man's brand
For aid against one valiant hand,
Though on our strife lay every vale
Rent by the Saxon from the Gael.
So move we on;-I only meant
To show the reed on which you leant,
Deeming this path you might pursue
Without a pass from Roderick Dhu.”-
They moved :-I said Fitz-James was brave,
As ever knight that belted glaive”;
Yet dare not say, that now his blood
Kept on its wont and tempered flood,
As, following Roderick's stride, he drew
That seeming lonesome path-way through,
Which yet by fearful proof, was rife
With lances, that to take his life
Waited but signal from a guide,
So late dishonoured and defied.
Ever, by stealth, his eye sought round
The vanished guardians of the ground,
And still from copse and heather deep,
Fancy saw spear and broad-sword peep,
And in the plover's shrilly strain,
The signal whistle heard again.
Nor breathed he free till far behind
The pass was left; for then they wind
Along a wide and level green,
Where neither tree nor tuft was seen,
Nor rush nor bush of broom was near,
To hide a bonnet or a spear.
DEATH FEARED BECAUSE UNKNOWN.
'Tis but because the living death ne'er knew,
They fear to prove it as a thing that's new :
Let me the experiment before you try,
I'll show you first how easy 'tis to die.
COURAGE IN PROSPECT OF DEATH.
0, I do fear thee, Claudio ; and I quake,
Lest thou a feverish life shouldst entertain,
And six or seven winters more respect
Than a perpetual honour. Dar'st thou die ?
The sense of death is most in apprehension ;
And the poor beetle that we tread upon,
In corporal sufferance finds a pang as great
As when a giant dies.
Why give you me this shame?
Think you I can a resolution fetch
From flowery tenderness? If I must die
I will encounter darkness as a bride,
And hug it in mine arms.
What though the mast be now blown overboard,
The cable broke, the holding anchor lost,
And half our sailors swallow'd in the flood;
Yet lives our pilot still. Is't meet that he
Should leave the helm, and, like a fearful lad,
With tearful eyes add water to the sea,
And give more strength to that which hath too
Whiles, in his moan, the ship slips on the rock,
Which industry and courage might have sav'd ?
Ah, what a shame! ah, what a fault were this!