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PREFACE.

"THE LADY OF THE LAKE" needs no introduction. known romantic poem in the English language.

It is probably the best

But there is one story which ought always to be told when this poem is spoken of. An early copy of "The Lady of the Lake," which was first published in May, 1810, reached the Peninsula when the British forces were fronting the French. The lucky officer into whose hands the book fell declared informally a truce, not of God, but of poetry; then gathering his men around him, he read the spiritstirring story of the Battle of Beal an Duine. The picture of these toilworn veterans in their ragged uniforms, sitting silent under the Spanish sky, and forgetting the very existence of their French foemen in the rapture of this imaginary strife, is one of the prettiest glimpses of human nature that are to be found the glorious but gory annals of the Peninsula War.

The Lady of the Lake," which is now placed within the reach of every boy or with a penny to spare, was originally published at two guineas. At this high ce 2,000 copies were immediately disposed of. 20,000 copies of the next four tions went off in a year. A quarter of a century passed before 50,000 copies re disposed of. That is to say, in the lifetime of Scott fewer copies of this poem ere circulated than will be sold this week in Great Britain.

Apart from its poetic and romantic interest, the "Lady of the Lake" is notable as having made the reputation of Scottish scenery, and incidentally the fortunes of many Scottish innkeepers. To this day it is this poem which brings tourists by the thousand every year to the Trossachs.

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The effect of the "Lady of the Lake was instantaneous. Mr. R. Cadell says: "I do not recollect that any of all the author's works was ever looked for with more intense anxiety, or that any one of them excited a more extraordinary sensation when they did appear. The whole country rang with the praises of the poet; crowds set off to view the scenery of Loch Katrine, till then comparatively unknown; and as the book came out just before the season for excursions, every house and inn in that neighbourhood was crammed with a constant succession of visitors. It is a well ascertained fact that from the date of the publication of the 'Lady of the Lake' the post-horse duty in Scotland rose in an extraordinary degree, from which it may be perceived that sometimes poetry has a solid value even from the point of view of the publican and tax-gatherer."

This, however, was the least of all the achievements of the "Lady of the Lake." The story has brightened the homes of thousands, and irradiated many a sombre and clouded existence with the glowing glory of chivalrous romance. That it may be equally blessed to millions it is now issued at a penny.

BIBLIOTHECA REGIA

XX. THE

LADY LAKE.

ARGUMENT.

The scene of the following Poem is laid chiefly in the vicinity of Loch-Katrine, in the Western Highlands of Perthshire. The time of action includes six days, and the transactions of each day occupy a Canto.

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won,

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II.

Aroused the fearful, or subdued the As Chief, who hears his warder call,

proud.

At each according pause, was heard aloud

Thine ardent symphony sublime and high!

Fair dames and crested chiefs attention bow'd:

For still the burden of thy minstrelsy Was Knighthood's dauntless deed, and Beauty's matchless eye.

O wake once more! how rude soe'er the hand

That ventures o'er thy magic maze to stray;

O wake once more! though scarce my skill command

Some feeble echoing of thine earlier lay:

VOL. V.

"To arins the foemen storm the wall," The antler'd monarch of the waste Sprung from his heathery couch in

haste.

But, ere his fleet career he took,
The dew-drops from his flanks he
shook:
Like crested leader proud and high,
Toes'd his beam'd frontlet to the sky;
A moment gazed adown the dale,
A moment snuff'd the tainted gale,
A moment listen'd to the cry,
That thicken'd as the chase drew nigh;
Then, as the headmost foes appear'd,
With one brave bound the copse he
clear'd,

H 2

And, stretching forward, free and far, Sought the wild heaths of Uam-Var.

181

III.

Yell'd on the view the opening pack; Rock, glen, and cavern, paid them back;

To many a mingled sound at once
The awaken'd mountain gave response.
A hundred dogs bay'd deep and strong,
Clatter'd a hundred steeds along,
Their peal the merry horns rung out,
A hundred voices join'd the shout;
With hark and whoop and wild halloo,
No rest Benvoirlich's echoes knew.
Far from the tumult fled the roe,
Close in her covert cower'd the doe,
The falcon, from her cairn on high,
Cast on the rout a wondering eye,
Till far beyond her piercing ken
The hurricane had swept the glen.
Faint and more faint, its failing din
Return'd from cavern, cliff, and linn,
And silence settled, wide and still,
On the lone wood and mighty hill.

IV.

Less loud the sounds of silvan war Disturb'd the heights of Uam-Var, And roused the cavern, where, 'tis told, A giant made his den of old;

For ere that steep ascent was won, High in his pathway hung the sun, And many a gallant, stay'd perforce, Was fain to breathe his faltering horse, And of the trackers of the deer, Scarce half the lessening pack was

near;

So shrewdly on the mountain side Had the bold burst their mettle tried

V.

The noble stag was pausing now,
Upon the mountain's southern brow,
Where broad extended, far beneath,
The varied realms of fair Menteith.
With anxious eye he wander'd o'er
Mountain and meadow, moss and moor,
And ponder'd refuge from his toil,
By far Lochard or Aberfoyle.
But nearer was the copsewood grey,
That waved and wept on Loch-Achray,
And mingled with the pine-trees blue
On the bold cliffs of Benvenue.
Fresh vigour with the hope return'd,
With flying foot the heath he spurn'd,
Held westward with unwearied race,
And left behind the panting chase.

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To join some comrades of the day; Yet often paused, so strange the road, So wondrous were the scenes it show'd

XI.

The western waves of ebbing day
Roll'd o'er the glen their level way;
Each purple peak, each flinty spire,
Was bathed in floods of living fire.
But not a setting beam could glow
Within the dark ravines below,
Where twined the path in shadow hid,
Round many a rocky pyramid,
Shooting abruptly from the dell
Its thunder-splinter'd pinnacle;
Round many an insulated mass,
The native bulwarks of the pass,
Huge as the tower which builders vain
Presumptuous piled on Shinar's plain.1
The rocky summits, split and rent,
Form'd turret, dome, or battlement,
Or seem'd fantastically set
With cupola or minaret,

Wild crests as pagod ever deck'd,
Or mosque of Eastern architect.
Nor were these earth-born castles bare,
Nor lack'd they many a banner fair;
For, from their shiver'd brows display'd,
Far o'er the unfathomable glade,
All twinkling with the

sheen,

dewdrops

The brier-rose fell in streamers green, And creeping shrubs, of thousand dyes, Waved in the west-wind's summer sighs.

XII.

Boon nature scatter'd, free and wild, Each plant or flower, the mountain's child.

Here eglantine embalm'd the air,
Hawthorn and hazel mingled there;
Found in each cliff a narrow bower;
The primrose pale and violet flower
Fox-glove and night-shade, side by
Emblems of punishment and pride,
side,
Group'd their dark hues with every
stain

The weathebeaten crags retain..
With boug that quaked at every
breath,

Grey birch and aspen wept beneath; Aloft, the ash and warrior oak

1 The Tower of Babel.-Genesis xi. 1-9.

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