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fest the same deep feeling in recording some interesting recollections of that agitating period :
« Through the border counties the alarm spread with rapidity; and on no occasion, when that country was the scene of perpetual and unceasing war, was the summons to arms more rapidly obeyed. In Berwickshire, Roxburghshire, and Selkirkshire, the volunteers and militia got under arms with a degree of rapidity and alacrity which, considering the distance individuals lived from each other, had something in it very surprising: they poured to the alarm-posts on the sea-coast in a state so well armed and so completely appointed, with baggage, provisions, &c., as was accounted by the best military judges to render them fit for instant and effectual service. ... Two members of the Selkirkshire yeomanry chanced to be absent from their homes and in Edinburgh on private business, when that corps made a remarkable march. The lately-married wife of one of these gentlemen, and the widowed mother of the other, sent the arms, uniforms, and chargers of the two troopers, that they might join their companions at Dalkeith. The author was very much struck by the answer made to hin by the last-mentioned lady, when he paid her some compliment on the readiness which she showed in equipping her son with the means of meeting danger, when she might have left him a fair excuse for remaining absent. Sir,' she replied, with the spirit of a Roman matron, none can know better than you that my son is the only prop by which, since his father's death, our family is supported. But I would rather see him dead on that hearth than hear he had been a horse's length behind his companions in the defence of his king and country.'
The writer mentions what was immediately under his own eye and within his own knowledge; but the spirit was universal, wherever the alarm reached, both in Scotland and England."*
This was the period of the composition of “Marmion." Many of the most energetic descriptions were conceived while he was in quarters with the cavalry; and it was his delight, while composing, to walk his powerful steed up and down upon the Porto Bello sands, within the beating of the surge, and now and then plunging in his spurs, to go off as at the charge, with the spray dashing about him. This was the hot enthusiasm of a soldierpoet; and the fruit of it was the most stirring description of a battle that ever was realized by a poet's imagination to the imagination of his reader. The passage is too well known for me to quote from; but observe the admirable representation in these four or five lines of the approach of the Scottish army :
“Nor martial shout nor minstrel tone
Announced their march: their tread alone,
At times a stifled huin,
King James did rushing come !"
But the single stroke of description which, more than any other, shows Scott's mastery in this department of poetry, is that vivid appeal to the imagination in the first intimation of Marmion's fate. As a matter of fact, nothing is told of him; as a matter of imagination, every thing is told in the lines,
“Fast as shaft can fly,
In noticing the martial tone of Scott's poetry, I am reminded of a tribute paid to one of his poems which is one of the finest acknowledgments on record to the power of verse. When the “ Lady of the Lake” was published, Scott's friend, Captain Adam Ferguson, was serving in the Peninsular War. When a copy of the poem
reached him, he was posted on a point of ground somewhere on the lines of Torres Vedras, exposed to the enemy's artillery. « The men were ordered to lie prostrate on the ground. While they kept that attitude, the captain, kneeling at their head, read aloud the description of the battle in the sixth canto, and the listening soldiers interrupting him only by a joyous huzza whenever the French shot struck the banks close above them."
Was ever poem recited under such circumstances ? enough of danger for pleasurable excitement, with enough of security for attention.
What a subject for the painter, - for Wilkie, for instance, a friend both of Scott and Ferguson, familiar, too, as he chances to be, both with Scottish character and Spanish landscape. The Highlanders, not unused to a minstrelsy, grouping around the reader, interchanging looks of sympathy and delight; the sturdy soldier casting off a tear, half angry at his inability to check the proverbial sympathy of a mountaineer at the mention of his distant home, the hills and the lakes of Scotland brought before him by the poet's question,
“Where shall he find, in foreign land,
Some one, perhaps, waving his arm at the same time with a half-uttered huzza, as the shot from the enemy's battery scatter the broken branches of the olive-tree over the group; others, more impetuous, starting from their recumbent posture as the array of Scottish standards is called up by these lines :
“ Is it the thunder's solemn sound
That mutters deep and dread ?
The warrior's measured tread?
That on the thicket streams?
The sun's retiring beams?
That up the lake comes winding far.
Or bard of martial lay,
A glance at that array!"
After the “Lady of the Lake," Scott found his popularity waning, and perhaps his poetic resources exhausted; for he was not a man to recognise a poet's solemn responsibility of cultivating his imagination by laborious meditation. The power he had employed with such brilliant success
left him. He was the minstrel still, even in his later years, when calamities weighed heavily upon him. On one occa sion, amid his commercial difficulties, he chanced to be reading the historical account of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee's, leaving Edinburgh, in 1688, and making a last and dying effort to rally the Highlanders in support of the house of Stuart. It inspired the animated stanzas of “ Bonny Dundee." “I know not,” he wrote in his diary, “what could have induced me to take a frisk so uncommon of late as to write verses. pose the same impulse that makes the birds sing after the storm is blown over.
“To the Lords of Convention 'twas Claver'se who spoke :
Come, fill up my cup; come, fill up my can; ;
"Dundee he is mounted and rides up the street,
The bells are rung backwards, the drums they are beat
Come, fill up my cup, &c.
“ As he rode down the sanctified bends of the Bow,
Ilk carline was flying and shaking her pow;
Come, fill up my cup, &c.
“With sour-featured Whigs the Grass-market was crammed,
Come, fill up my cup, &c.