Page images
PDF
EPUB

Till at length the lays they chaunted
Reached the chamber terror-baunted,
Where the monk, with accents holy,

Whispered at the baron's ear.

Tears upon his eyelids glistened,
As he paused awhile and listened,
And the dying baron slowly

Turned his weary head to hear.

6 Wassail for the kingly stranger, Born and cradled in a manger! King, like David, priest, like Aaron

Christ is born to set us free!”

And the lightning showed the sainted
Figures on the casement painted,
And exclaimed the shuddering baron,

“Miserere, Domine!"

In that hour of deep contrition,
He beheld, with clearer vision,
Through all outward show and fashion,

Justice, the Avenger, rise.

All the pomp of earth had vanished,
Falsehood and deceit were banished,
Reason spake more loud than passion,

And the truth wore no disguise.

Every vassal of his banner,
Every serf borne to his manor,
All those wronged and wretched creatures,

By his hand were freed again.

And as on the sacred missal
He recorded their dismissal,
Death relaxed his iron features:

And the monk replied, " Amen!"

Many centuries have been numbered
Since in death the baron slumbered
By the convent's sculptured portal,

Mingling with the common dust:

But the good deed through the ages
Living in historic pages
Brighter grows and gleams immortal,
Unconsumed by moth or rust.

LONGFELLOW.

THE TIMES OF KING LION-HEART. With the deeds of noble Englishmen when Lion-heart was king, Though our chroniclers in prose and verse have made the world' to

ring, I would have you know who listen, that the half has not been told Of those good old times, those brave old times, those merry times

of old. Merry England like a mighty sea, from end to end was stirred, When “God help the Holy Sepulchre” from every tongue was

heard, And the tempest caught up Lion-heart, as o'er the realm it rolled, In the good old times, the brave old times, the merry times of old.

Then the English king leaves England, and he hurries o'er the sea,
And his fighting men go with him, for Crusaders they would be.
Thrice a hundred thousand pilgrims does the Saracen behold,
In the good old times, the brave old times, the merry times of old.

They shall die upon a foreign shore,—their labour scarce begun:
They shall leave their bones to whiten in the scorching Syrian sun;
But'uis all in holy Jesus' name, and not for blood or gold,
In the good old times, the brave old times, the merry times of old.
And for Englishmen at home the while, their lawful king away,
Let them live at large like princes all, as merry as the day;
For the roads are only few and bad, just fit for robbers bold
In the good old times, the brave old times, the merry times of old.

O'er the marshy lands the fever broods, the plague is in the town, But the king may give an orphan-maid for wife to any clown; And the working man like horse or dog is freely bought and sold, In the good old times, the brave old times, the merry times of old.

There are churches, there are abbeys fine, right noble buildings all;
And the shaven monks all fatten there, like oxen in a stall,
And the priest who knows his letters is a wonder to behold,
In the good old times, the brave old times, the merry times of old.

And for children, whether they shall live, or die by fell disease When it seizes them, is more than medicine knows in days like

these, If escaping they shall feel the pangs of hunger and of cold, In the good old times, the brave old times, the merry times of old.

But when sore beset they surely have the ancle-bones of saints
And a hundred other relics to attend to their complaints,
For Religion leaves the conscience and the life all uncontrolled,
In the good old times, the brave old times, the merry times of old.

Then King Lion-heart returning, is in Austria waylaid,
And a hundred thousand silver marks as ransom must be paid ;
Let them levy it from sea to sea, for no man durst withhold,
In the good old times, the brave old times, the merry times of old.
Oh! we are not what we might be, nor what England shall be yet,
But for those old times, dear children, only simpletons will fret ;
For the school, the rail, the cheap white loaf are better fifty-fold
Than the savage times, the cruel times, the sad, dark times of old.
Oh! we are not what we might be! but the Sunday School is here,
And the laws will shield the humblest, and no king may interfere,
And the Christian child is wiser far than all the barons bold,
Of the savage times, the cruel times, the sad, dark times of old.

Home Book for Children of all Ages.

AT RUNNEMEDE.
Thou, who the verdant plain dost traverse here,
While Thames among his willows from thy view
Retires, O stranger, stay thee, and the scene
Around

contemplate well. This is the place
Where England's ancient Barons, clad in arms
And stern with conquest, from their tyrant king
(Then render'd tame) did challenge and secure
The charter of thy freedom.* Pass not on
Till thou hast blest their memory, and paid
Those thanks which God appointed the reward
Of public virtue. And if chance thy home
Salute thee with a father's honour'd name,
Go, call thy sons; instruct them what a debt
They owe their ancestors; and make them swear
To pay it, by transmitting down entire
Those sacred rights to which themselves were born.

AKENSIDE.

THE BARD.+

On a rock, whose haughty brow
Prowns o'er old Conway's foaming flood,

Robed in the sable garb of woe,
With haggard eyes the poet stood;
(Loose his beard, and hoary hair
Stream'd, like a meteor, to the troubled air ;)
And with a master's hand and prophet's fire,
Struck the deep sorrows of his lyre.

* In 1215. + Founded on a tradition of the Welsh, that when Edward I. conquered that country in 1283, he put all the bards to death who fell into his hands.

“Hark, how each giant-oak, and desert cave,

Sighs to the torrent's awful voice beneath!
O’er thee, O king! their hundred arms they wave,

Revenge on thee in hoarser murmurs breathe;
Vocal no more, since Cambria's fatal day,
To high-born Hoel's harp, or soft Llewellyn's lay.

“Mark the year, and mark the night,
When Severn shall re-echo with affright
The shrieks of death thro' Berkeley's roof that ring,
Shrieks of an agonizing king!

She-wolf of France, with unrelenting fang,
That tear'st the bowels of thy mangled mate;

Thy sateless son shall o'er thy country hang The scourge of Heaven.

“Mighty victor, mighty lord, Low on his funeral couch he lies!

No pitying heart, no eye afford
A tear to grace his obsequies.
Is the sable warrior fled?
Thy son is gone. He rests among the dead.
The swarm, that in thy noontide beam were born
Gone to salute the rising morn.
Fair laughs the morn, and soft the zephyr blows,

While proudly riding o'er the azure realm
In gallant trim the gilded vessel goes;

Youth on the prow, and Pleasure at the helm : Regardless of the sweeping whirlwind's sway, That, hush'd in grim repose, expects his evening prey.

“Fill high the sparkling bowl, The rich repast prepare ;

Reft of a crown, he yet may share the feast; Close by the regal' chair,

Fell Thirst and Famine scowl

A baleful smile upon the baffled guest. Heard ye the din of battle bray,

Lance to lance, and horse to horse?

Long years of havoc urge their destined course, And through the kindred squadrons mow their way.

“ Ye towers of Julius, London's lasting shame, With many a foul and midnight murder fed,

Revere his consort's faith, his father's fame, And spare the meek usurper's holy head. Above, below, the rose of snow,

Twined with her blushing foe we spread : The bristled Boar in infant gore

Wallows beneath the thorny shade.

“ But oh! what solemn scenes on Snowdon's height

Descending slow their glittering skirts unroll!
Visions of glory, spare my aching sight!

Ye unborn ages, crowd not on my soul!
No more our long-lost Arthur we bewail.
All hail, ye genuine kings; Britannia’s issue, hail !

Girt with many a baron bold Sublime their starry fronts they rear;

And gorgeous dames, and statesmen old,
In bearded majesty, appear.
In the midst a forin divine !
Her eye proclaims her of the Briton-line:
Her lion-port, her awe-commanding face,
Attemper'd sweet to virgin-grace.

“ The verse adorn again,

Fierce War, and faithful Love,
And Truth severe, by fairy Fiction drest.

In buskin’d measures move
Pale Grief, and pleasing Pain,
With Horror, tyrant of the throbbing breast.

A voice, as of the cherub-chuir,
Gales from blooming Eden bear;
And distant warblings lessen on my ear,

That lost in long futurity expire.
Fond, impious man, think'st thou, yon sanguine cloud,

Raised by thy breath, has quench'd the orb of day? To-morrow he repairs the golden flood,

And warms the nations with redoubled ray.
Enough for me: with joy I see

The different doom our fates assign.
Be thine despair, and sceptred care;

To triumph, and to die, are mine.”
He spoke, and headlong from the mountain's height,
Deep in the roaring tide he plunged to endless night.

GRAY.

THE BATTLE OF MORGARTEN.*
In Hasli's wilds there was gleaming steel,

As the host of the Austrian pass’d,
And the Shreckhorn's rocks, with a savage peal,
Made mirth at his clarion's blast.

Up’midst the Righi snows,

The stormy march was heard,
With the charger's tramp, whence fire-sparks rose,

And the leader's gathering word.

* 1315. It is termed the Swiss Marathon.

« PreviousContinue »