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Such glance did falcon never dart,
When stooping on his prey.
Were but a vain essay ;
In glorious battle fray !"Canto V. is intitled “The Court,' and contains the account of Marmion's arrival at Edinburgh, his introduction to James, and the ill success of his embassy. We have here much picturesque description, but interspersed also with much mean and grovelling narrative ; and some lively touches are bestowed on the persons and characters of James and his mistress, the lady Heron. Unless this l'ady, however, had a very good voice, we cannot imagine even the infatuated monarch to have been sincere in his praises on her song,
It must be observed that, during the third and fourth cantos, and till near the conclusion of the filth, no sort of progress is made towards the catastrophe of the tale; and no object is effected except those of swelling the poem and giving Mr. S. opportunities for description, of which he often makes a very idle use. We now approach something more interesting. King James, having returned his answer to the Ambassador, commits him. in charge to Archibald Bell the Cat, the venerable Earl of Angus, to be entertained at his castle of Tantallon, until the arrival of a Scottish courier from the English court. It happens, by an unfortunate concurrence of circumstances, that the Abbess and Clara, returning from Lindisfarne, were taken by a Scottish Rover and brought to Edinburgh; and king James thinks that the return of Lord Marmion is a favourable opportunity for getting rid of this unnecessary burthen. The holy ladies, though exceedingly alarmed, dare not object to the proposal; and thus they all set off for Tantallon together.
On the night previous to their journey, the Abbess finds an opportunity of conferring with the Palmer in private, and reveals to him the tale of Marmion's treason, the butchering of Constance, and all the particulars which she had learned from the confession of that unfortunate female. While they are still discoursing, a portentous vision appears on the cross of Edinburgh; and in the air is heard a solemn citation to the monarch ard nobles of Scotland, whose several names are ute tered, 25 frem a roll. The name of Lord Marmion follows, and then that of De Wilton: but a second voice revokes the
latter sentence, and then the whole vision disappears. This is another historical apparition : but, like that which was related by Sir David Lindsay, Mr. Scott seems to have used it by no means to advantage.
'In the mean time, Marmion, having plotted how to avail himself of the gift of fortune in putting Clara into his power, produces a feigned order from her relations; by virtue of which, when the Abbess takes her leave to return to Whitby, he insists on Clara being separated from her and remaining under his protection. In vain the Abbess predicts the curses of Heaven, in vain Clara implores, and in vain Angus himself remonstrates against the cruelty of Marmion : the order appears to be imperative; Clara resigns herself to the severe decree, and, having taken leave of her beloved companion, fol. lows Marmion to Tantallon castle.
The war begins, and Lord Marmicn grows tired of his con. finement, when he hears that the two armies are on the point of engaging, and fears that he shall be detained beyond the day of battle ; Clara leads a very dull but dignified' life in the castle, where the protection of Angus saves her from being molested by her persecutor; and De Wilton watches an opportunity of revealiog to his noble host the history of his life. The generous soul of Douglas is enflamed with equal indigna. tion against Lord Marmion and compassion for his unfortunate rival, whom he solemnly restores to the order of knighthood; and De Wilton, having re-assumed his arms, meets Clara, and discovers himself to her: but never was any thing so tame and cold as the embrace of the lovers. He acquaints her with his design of repairing to the English camp, where he hopes to wipe off every stain of reproach by his gallant actions; and she, after having expressed some decent unwillingness to trust him so soon again out of her sight, very properly submits her wishes to the consideration of his honour.
Marmion now obtains his passport; and at parting from Tantallon castle, when he complains of the cold civilicy with which he has been treated, the good old Earl answers by refusing him his hand. An indignant reply from Marmion rouses Douglas's ire; and he orders the drawbridge to be raised, and the porteullis to be lowered, in order to detain and punish the English Knight :
Lord Marmion turned, -well was his need,
• The steed along the drawbridge flies,
Just as it trembled on the rise ;
And shook his gauntlet at the towers.' The hero journeying onwards, with Clara in his suite, misses his mysterious Palmer, and learns from his attendants the strange and appalling news of De Wilton's return, of his having re-assumed the honour of knighthood, and of his journey to the camp. They rest for the night at Lennel Abbey, on the Tweed ; and, early on the next morning, they discover the two armies drawn up in battle-array on the fatal field of Flodden, 4th Sept. 1513.
From this period to the conclusion of the poem, Mr. Scott's genius, so long overclouded, bursts forth in full lustre, and even transcends itself. It is impossible to do him justice by making extracts when all is equally attractive, and still less by detailing in weak prose the circumstances of his catastrophe. The reader will easily anticipate that Marmion falls in the battle, and that De Wilton marries Clara: but, after having confessed our inability to select any passage that will not suffer most materially by being separated from those which surround it, we must yet so far indulge ourselves as to copy a single stanza, which serves to wind up the poem.
Lord Marmion, having performed the most transcendent acts of valour, is borne wounded to the hill on which Clara had been left during the engagement, where his eyes are closed by her whom he persecuted during life. A corpse is afterward conveyed, as that of Marmion, to the cathedral of Litchfield, where a magnificent tomb is erected to his memory, and masses are instituted for the repose of his soul: but, by an admirably imagined act of poetical justice, we are informed that a peasant's body was placed beneath that costly monument, while the haughty Baron himself was buried like a vulgar corpse, on the spot on which he died:
Less easy task it were, to shew,
But every mark is gone ;
And broke her font of stone:
Oft halts the stranger, there,
And shepherd boys repair
And plait their garlands fair ;
That holds the bones of Marmion brave.
With sword in hand, for England's right.” The passages which we have selected in the course of this article, though in general highly favourable to Mr. Scott, discover a number of the faults which we have regretted: but we must not conclude without pointing out more specifically some of the instances in which he has most glaringly abused the license which he claims.
In a poem so loosely composed, with such extreme latitude of rhythm and construction, it is really unpardonable to allow a single defective rhyme. Yet we could almost venture to assert that one in ten of the rhymes which this poem contains are bad. What can Mr. Scott (or at least what can any Englishman) say in defence of crest, revers'd; deas, place * ; not, wrote; clad, red; toil, while; heard, guard; done, John; faith, death; pierce, hearse; strong, rung; requite, weight ; close, fosse ; beneath, death; made, deal; down, own; once, glance ; strange, revenge ; all which we have merely picked up at random from among a multitude of others ?
Considering the distinguished rank which this author holds in the republic of literature, it is mortifying to notice his disregard of the plainest rules of grammar: but how can we omit to mention such gross inaccuracies as the substitution of tore for torns wore for worn; wrote for written; where wine and spices richly steep,' for ' where rich spices are steeped in wine;' rebuilded for rebuilt ; chose for chosen ; " for Clara and
*. He led Lord Marmion to the deas,
They feasted full and high.' (P. 34, 35.)
for me,' instead of myself;' Ev'n such weak minister as me, May the oppressor quell,' &c. &c. &c. &c.
Mr. Scott's want of grammar is yet less glaring than his want of ear. To insert every proof of this latter defect would be to quote nearly half the poem ; since, even in his most vigorous passages, many discordant or low words are admitted without scruple, and without distinction : but it does not require a poetical ear to detect such harsh constructions as the following:
" When at need,
The Saint of Lindisfarne.'
I well believe the last;
A human warrior, with a glare
So grimly and so gbast!!! In the last two instances, it appears that the author, repenting of his sins against Rhyme, determines to sacrifice Reason in order to make some atonement: but let it not be supposed that he is so narrow-minded as to have offered up only two victims to expiate the transgression.
• Cuthberi's Cloisters grim,'-'griesly Door,'- grim entrance to the porch ;'-in these instances, Mr. S. has wantonly murdered (or butchered) Reason, not sacrificed her. What idea can he possibly form to himself of a · Cloister grim ?
Mr. Scott must pardon us for censuring him so freely, since it is very much against our inclination that we censure him at all. We opened his book with very different ideas and expectations; and we shall still hope for an opportunity of bestowing on his eminent genius the tribute of unmixed applause.