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Woe to us and woe to Scotland !
O our sons, our sons and men !
Surely some will come again !”
Shall uprear its shattered stemWives and mothers of Dunedin,
Ye may look in vain for them.' But within the Council Chamber
All was silent as the grave, Whilst the tempest of their sorrow
Shook the bosoms of the brave. Well indeed might they be shaken
With the weight of such a blow: He was gone—their prince, their idol,
Whom they loved and worshipped so ! Like a knell of death and judgment
Rung from heaven by angel hand,
On the elders of the land.
Withered hands were clasped and wrung: God hath left the old and feeble,
He had ta'en away the young. Then the Provost he uprose,
And his lips were ashen white, But a flush was on his brow,
And his eye was full of light. “Thou hast spoken, Randolph Murray,
Like a soldier stout and true;
Had been perilled but by few.
Nor to speak thy ghastly tale,
Here, alive within thy mail !
I hold it braver done,
And died above my son !
God help us all this day !
Within the furious fray?
For, by the might of Mary,
'Twere something still to tell That no Scottish foot went backward
When the Royal Lion fell !”
“No one failed him! He is keeping
Royal state and semblance still:
Cold on Flodden's fatal hill.
Whom ye sent with prayers away,
From his monarch yesterday.
When the night began to fall,
Round a grim and ghastly wall !
Round the leaguer on the heath, So the greedy foe glared upward,
Panting still for blood and death. But a rampart rose before them,
Which the boldest dared not scale; Every stone a Scottish body,
Every step a corpse in mail ! And behind it lay our monarch
Clenching still his shivered sword: By his side Montrose and Athol,
At his feet a southern lord. All so thick they lay together,
When the stars lit up the sky,
Or who yet remained to die.
And his wearied host withdrew;
When the English trumpet blew. Then I stooped, and took the banuer,
As ye see it, from his breast, And I closed our hero's eyelids,
And I left him to his rest.
As I leaped the woeful wall,
Over Flodden, like a pall.”
So he ended. And the others
Cared not any answer then; Sitting silent, dumb with sorrow,
Sitting anguish-struck, like men Who have seen the roaring torrent
Sweep their happy homes away,
Staring idly on the spray.
Waxes ever more and more,
Gather round the Council door. Every dusky spire is ringing
With a dull and hollow knell,
To the tolling of the bell.
Spreading terror as they go;
For the coming of the foe. From each mountain-top a pillar
Streams into the torpid air, Bearing token from the Border
That the English host is there. All without is flight and terror,
All within is woe and fearGod protect thee, Maiden City,
For thy latest hour is near!
No! not yet, thou high Dunedin !
Shalt thou totter to thy fall; Though thy bravest and thy strongest
Are not there to man the wall. No, not yet! the ancient spirit
Of our fathers hath not gone;
Better far than steel or stone.
For thy birthright at the time
And to side with Wallace, crime ! Have they not a voice among us,
Whilst their hallowed dust is here? Hear ye not a summons sounding
From each buried warrior's bier ?
Up !they say—and keep the freedom
Which we won you long ago:
From the insults of the foe !
Come to us in blood and fire: Midst the crash of falling turrets,
Let the last of Scots expire ! Still the bells are tolling fiercely,
And the cry comes louder in; Mothers wailing for their children,
Sisters for their slaughtered kin.
Till the Provost rises up,
Of the fell and bitter cup.
Rose the old undaunted Chief,
His was more than common grief. “Rouse ye, sirs !” he said; “ we may not
Longer mourn for what is done; If our King be taken from us,
We are left to guard his son. We have sworn to keep the city
From the foe, whate'er they be, And the oath that we have taken
Never shall be broke by me. Death is nearer to us, brethren,
Than it seemed to those who died, Fighting yesterday at Flodden,
By their lord and master's side. Let us meet it then in patience,
Not in terror or in fear; Though our hearts are bleeding yonder,
Let our souls be steadfast here.
And we yet have much to do;
Stir the burghers stout and true!
Fling the banner out once more, — Randolph Murray! do thou bear it,
As it erst was borne before: Never Scottish heart will leave it
When they see their monarch's gore !”
HORATIUS AT THE BRIDGE.
THOMAS BABINGTON MACAULAY.
A legend of early Rome relates that the Etruscans, one of the Italian
tribes near the city, tried to restore the Tarquins, who had been driven out on account of their tyranny. The Etruscan army is here represented as having reached the bank of the Tiber in its march on Rome.
But the Consul's brow was sad,
And the Consul's speech was low,
And darkly at the foe.
Before the bridge goes down;
What hope to save the town?”
Then out spake brave Horatius,
The Captain of the Gate:
Death cometh soon or late.
Than facing fearful odds,
And the temples of his Gods,
“And for the tender mother
Who dandled him to rest,
His baby at her breast,
Who feed the eternal flame,
That wrought the deed of shame?
“Hew down the bridge, Sir Consul,
With all the speed ye may;
Will hold the foe in play.
May well be stopped by three,
And keep the bridge with me?"