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For thus spoke Fate, by prophet bred
Between the living and the dead :
'Who spills the foremost foeman's life,
His party conquers in the strife.''
“Then, by my word,” the Saxon said,
Thy riddle is already read.
Seek yonder brake beneath the cliff-
There lies Red Murdoch, stark and stiff.
Thus Fate has solved her prophecy,
Then yield to Fate, and not to me.
To James, at Stirling, let us go,
When, if thou wilt be still his foe,
Or if the king shall not agree
To grant thee grace and favor free,
I plight mine honor, oath, and word,
That, to thy native strengths restored,
With each advantage shalt thou stand,
That aids thee now to guard thy land.”
Dark lightning flashed from Roderick's eye.
“Soars thy presumption, then, so high,
Because a wretched kern 2
Homage to name to Roderick Dhu?
He yields not, he, to man nor Fate!
Thou add'st but fuel to my hate:
My clansman's blood demands revenge.
Not yet prepared ? By heaven, I change
My thought, and hold thy valor light
presumption. See Glossary. as came down upon the Lowlands, 2 kern. Kernes or ketterans were and carried off cattle, etc., from Highland robbers, especially such I those unable to offer resistance.
As that of some vain carpet-knight,
Who ill deserved my courteous care,
And whose best boast is but to wear
A braid of his fair lady's hair.”
“I thank thee, Roderick, for the word!
It nerves my heart, it steels my sword;
For I have sworn this braid to stain
In the best blood that warms thy vein.
Now, truce, farewell! and, ruth, begone!
Yet think not that by thee alone,
Proud chief! can courtesy be shown.
Though not from copse or heath or cairn ?
Start at my whistle clansmen stern,
Of this small horn one feeble blast
Would fearful odds against thee cast.
But fear not, — doubt not - which thou wilt, --
We try this quarrel hilt to hilt.”
Then each at once his falchion drew,
Each on the ground his scabbard threw,
Each looked to sun and stream and plain
As what they ne'er might see again;
Then foot and point and eye opposed,
In dubious 3 strife they darkly closed.
Ill fared it then 4 with Roderick Dhu,
That on the field his targe he threw,
Whose brazen studs and tough bull-hide
Had death so often dashed aside;
1 carpet-knight, a knight who enjoys ease and security, and has not known the hardships of the battle-field.
2 cairn. See Webster.
8 dubious. Give a synonym.
4 Il fared it then: that is, it then went ill.
For, trained abroad his arms to wield,
Fitz-James's blade was sword and shield.1
He practiced every pass and ward,
To thrust, to strike, to feint, to guard;
While less expert, though stronger far,
The Gael maintained unequal war.
Three times in closing strife they stood,
And thrice the Saxon blade drank blood;2
No stinted draught, no scanty tide,
The gushing flood the tartans dyed.3
Fierce Roderick felt the fatal drain,
And showered his blows like wintry rain; 4
And as firm rock or castle-roof
Against the winter shower is proof,
The foe, in vulnerable still,
Foiled his wild rage by steady skill;
Till, at advantage ta’en, his brand
Forced Roderick's weapon from his hand,
And, backward borne upon the lea,
Brought the proud chieftain to his knee.
“Now yield thee, or by Him who made
The world, thy heart's blood dyes my blade!”
Thy threats, thy mercy, I defy!
Let recreant yield who fears to die."
- Like adder5 darting from his coil,
Like wolf that dashes through the toil,
was sword and shield: that 3 Thegushing ... dyed. Change is, served both as sword and shield. to the prose order. The“blade" was probably a rapier. 4 like wintry rain. What is
Like mountain-cat who guards her young,
Full at Fitz-James's throat he sprung;
Received, but recked not of a wound,
And locked his arms his foeman round.
Now, gallant Saxon, hold thine own!
No maiden's hand is round thee thrown!
That desperate grasp thy frame might feel,
Through bars of brass and triple steel !
They tug, they strain! down, down they go,
The Gael above, Fitz-James below.
The chieftain's grip his throat compressed,
His knee was planted in his breast;
His clotted locks 1 he backward threw,
Across his brow his hand he drew,
From blood and mist to clear his sight,
Then gleamed aloft his dagger bright!
- But hate and fury ill? supplied
The stream of life's exhausted tide,
And all too late the advantage came,
To turn the odds of deadly game;3
For, while the dagger gleamed on high,
Reeled soul and sense, reeled brain and eye.
Down came the blow! but in the heath
The erring blade 4 found bloodless sheath.
The struggling foe may now unclasp 5
The fainting chief's relaxing grasp;
Unwounded from the dreadful close,
But breathless all, Fitz-James arose.
1 clotted locks. Explain.
2 ill. Part of speech?
3 deadly game. Unequal combat.
4 erring blade. Explain.
5 unclasp. What is the prefix?
6 close, grapple.
WEBSTER holds a high place in the literature of our country; for while a great lawyer, a great statesman, and a great orator, he was also a great writer. It is as a writer only that we have here to regard him, and as such he stands among the very foremost of his class. “In the sphere of literature,” says Evarts, “Webster has a clear title to be held as one of the greatest authors and writers of our mother tongue that America has produced. I propose to the most competent critics of the nation, that they can find nowhere six octavo volumes of printed literary production of an American that contains as much noble and as much beautiful imagery, as much warmth of rhetoric, and of magnetic impression upon the reader, as are to be found in the collected writings and speeches of Daniel Webster.”
Daniel (born in the town of Salisbury, N.H., Jan. 18, 1782) was one of the ten children of Ebenezer Webster, a frontiersman of the New Hampshire wilderness, at a time when there was nothing between his own log-cabin and the settlements of Canada. young man, Ebenezer Webster was one of the boldest Indian-fighters in the French and Indian war; and during the Revolution he commanded a company of militia, and was trusted and esteemed by Washington. Without a day's schooling, the elder Webster was obliged to pick up learning as best he might; but his innate common-sense and his strong character made