SONG AT THE FEAST OF BROUGHAM CASTLE
UPON THE RESTORATION OF LORD CLIFFORD, THE SHEPHERD, TO THE ESTATES
AND HONOURS OF HIS ANCESTORS
See the note. This poem was composed at Coleorton while I was
walking to and fro along the path that led from Sir George
Beaumont's Farm-house, where we resided, to the Hall which was
building at that time.
HIGH in the breathless Hall the Minstrel sate,
And Emont's murmur mingled with the Song.--
The words of ancient time I thus translate,
A festal strain that hath been silent long:--
"From town to town, from tower to tower,
The red rose is a gladsome flower.
Her thirty years of winter past,
The red rose is revived at last;
She lifts her head for endless spring,
For everlasting blossoming:
Both roses flourish, red and white:
In love and sisterly delight
The two that were at strife are blended,
And all old troubles now are ended.--
Joy! joy to both! but most to her
Who is the flower of Lancaster!
Behold her how She smiles to-day
On this great throng, this bright array!
Fair greeting doth she send to all
From every corner of the hall;
But chiefly from above the board
Where sits in state our rightful Lord,
A Clifford to his own restored!
They came with banner, spear, and shield,
And it was proved in Bosworth-field.
Not long the Avenger was withstood--
Earth helped him with the cry of blood:
St. George was for us, and the might
Of blessed Angels crowned the right.
Loud voice the Land has uttered forth,
We loudest in the faithful north:
Our fields rejoice, our mountains ring,
Our streams proclaim a welcoming;
Our strong-abodes and castles see
The glory of their loyalty.
How glad is Skipton at this hour--
Though lonely, a deserted Tower;
Knight, squire, and yeoman, page and groom:
We have them at the feast of Brough'm.
How glad Pendragon--though the sleep
Of years be on her!--She shall reap
A taste of this great pleasure, viewing
As in a dream her own renewing.
Rejoiced is Brough, right glad I deem
Beside her little humble stream;
And she that keepeth watch and ward
Her statelier Eden's course to guard;
They both are happy at this hour,
Though each is but a lonely Tower:--
But here is perfect joy and pride
For one fair House by Emont's side,
This day, distinguished without peer
To see her Master and to cheer--
Him, and his Lady-mother dear!
Oh! it was a time forlorn
When the fatherless was born--
Give her wings that she may fly,
Or she sees her infant die!
Swords that are with slaughter wild
Hunt the Mother and the Child.
Who will take them from the light?
--Yonder is a man in sight--
Yonder is a house--but where?
No, they must not enter there.
To the caves, and to the brooks,
To the clouds of heaven she looks;
She is speechless, but her eyes
Pray in ghostly agonies.
Blissful Mary, Mother mild,
Maid and Mother undefiled,
Save a Mother and her Child!
Now Who is he that bounds with joy
On Carrock's side, a Shepherd-boy?
No thoughts hath he but thoughts that pass
Light as the wind along the grass.
Can this be He who hither came
In secret, like a smothered flame?
O'er whom such thankful tears were shed
For shelter, and a poor man's bread!
God loves the Child; and God hath willed
That those dear words should be fulfilled,
The Lady's words, when forced away,
The last she to her Babe did say:
'My own, my own, thy Fellow-guest
I may not be; but rest thee, rest,
For lowly shepherd's life is best!'
Alas! when evil men are strong
No life is good, no pleasure long.
The Boy must part from Mosedale's groves,
And leave Blencathara's rugged coves,
And quit the flowers that summer brings
To Glenderamakin's lofty springs;
Must vanish, and his careless cheer
Be turned to heaviness and fear.
--Give Sir Lancelot Threlkeld praise!
Hear it, good man, old in days!
Thou tree of covert and of rest
For this young Bird that is distrest;
Among thy branches safe he lay,
And he was free to sport and play, 0
When falcons were abroad for prey.
A recreant harp, that sings of fear
And heaviness in Clifford's ear!
I said, when evil men are strong,
No life is good, no pleasure long,
A weak and cowardly untruth!
Our Clifford was a happy Youth,
And thankful through a weary time,
That brought him up to manhood's prime.
--Again he wanders forth at will,
And tends a flock from hill to hill:
His garb is humble; ne'er was seen
Such garb with such a noble mien;
Among the shepherd grooms no mate
Hath he, a Child of strength and state!
Yet lacks not friends for simple glee,
Nor yet for higher sympathy.
To his side the fallow-deer
Came, and rested without fear;
The eagle, lord of land and sea,
Stooped down to pay him fealty;
And both the undying fish that swim
Through Bowscale-tarn did wait on him;
The pair were servants of his eye
In their immortality;
And glancing, gleaming, dark or bright,
Moved to and fro, for his delight.
He knew the rocks which Angels haunt
Upon the mountains visitant;
He hath kenned them taking wing:
And into caves where Faeries sing
He hath entered; and been told
By Voices how men lived of old.
Among the heavens his eye can see
The face of thing that is to be;
And, if that men report him right,
His tongue could whisper words of might.
--Now another day is come,
Fitter hope, and nobler doom;
He hath thrown aside his crook,
And hath buried deep his book;
Armour rusting in his halls
On the blood of Clifford calls;--
'Quell the Scot,' exclaims the Lance--
Bear me to the heart of France,
Is the longing of the Shield--
Tell thy name, thou trembling Field;
Field of death, where'er thou be,
Groan thou with our victory!
Happy day, and mighty hour,
When our Shepherd, in his power,
Mailed and horsed, with lance and sword,
To his ancestors restored
Like a re-appearing Star,
Like a glory from afar,
First shall head the flock of war!"
Alas! the impassioned minstrel did not know
How, by Heaven's grace, this Clifford's heart was framed,
How he, long forced in humble walks to go,
Was softened into feeling, soothed, and tamed.
Love had he found in huts where poor men lie;
His daily teachers had been woods and rills,
The silence that is in the starry sky,
The sleep that is among the lonely hills.
In him the savage virtue of the Race,
Revenge, and all ferocious thoughts were dead:
Nor did he change; but kept in lofty place
The wisdom which adversity had bred.
Glad were the vales, and every cottage hearth;
The Shepherd-lord was honoured more and more;
And, ages after he was laid in earth,
"The good Lord Clifford" was the name he bore.
Title: 'Song at the Feast of Brougham Castle.'
Henry Lord Clifford, etc., who is the subject of this Poem, was
the son of John Lord Clifford, who was slain at Towton Field,
which John Lord Clifford, as is known to the reader of English
History, was the person who after the battle of Wakefield slew, in
the pursuit, the young Earl of Rutland, son of the Duke of York,
who had fallen in the battle, "in part of revenge" (say the
Authors of the History of Cumberland and Westmoreland); "for the
Earl's Father had slain his." A deed which worthily blemished the
author (saith Speed); but who, as he adds, "dare promise any thing
temperate of himself in the heat of martial fury? chiefly, when it
was resolved not to leave any branch of the York line standing;
for so one maketh this Lord to speak." This, no doubt, I would
observe by the bye, was an action sufficiently in the vindictive
spirit of the times, and yet not altogether so bad as represented;
"for the Earl was no child, as some writers would have him, but
able to bear arms, being sixteen or seventeen years of age, as is
evident from this (say the Memoirs of the Countess of Pembroke,
who was laudably anxious to wipe away, as far as could be, this
stigma from the illustrious name to which she was born), that he
was the next Child to King Edward the Fourth, which his mother had
by Richard Duke of York, and that King was then eighteen years of
age: and for the small distance betwixt her children, see Austin
Vincent, in his Book of Nobility, p. 622, where he writes of them
all." It may further be observed, that Lord Clifford, who was then
himself only twenty-five years of age, had been a leading man and
commander two or three years together in the army of Lancaster,
before this time; and, therefore, would be less likely to think
that the Earl of Rutland might be entitled to mercy from his
youth.--But, independent of this act, at best a cruel and savage
one, the Family of Clifford had done enough to draw upon them the
vehement hatred of the House of York: so that after the Battle of
Towton there was no hope for them but in flight and concealment.
Henry, the subject of the Poem, was deprived of his estate and
honours during the space of twenty-four years; all which time he
lived as a shepherd in Yorkshire, or in Cumberland, where the
estate of his Father-in-law (Sir Lancelot Threlkeld) lay. He was
restored to his estate and honours in the first year of Henry the
Seventh. It is recorded that, "when called to Parliament, he
behaved nobly and wisely; but otherwise came seldom to London or
the Court; and rather delighted to live in the country, where he
repaired several of his Castles, which had gone to decay during
the late troubles." Thus far is chiefly collected from Nicholson
and Burn; and I can add, from my own knowledge, that there is a
tradition current in the village of Threlkeld and its
neighbourhood, his principal retreat, that in the course of his
shepherd-life he had acquired great astronomical knowledge. I
cannot conclude this note without adding a word upon the subject
of those numerous and noble feudal Edifices, spoken of in the
Poem, the ruins of some of which are, at this day, so great an
ornament to that interesting country. The Cliffords had always
been distinguished for an honourable pride in these Castles; and
we have seen that, after the wars of York and Lancaster, they were
rebuilt; in the civil wars of Charles the First they were again
laid waste, and again restored almost to their former magnificence
by the celebrated Lady Anne Clifford, Countess of Pembroke, etc.
Not more than twenty-five years after this was done, when the
estates of Clifford had passed into the Family of Tufton, three of
these Castles, namely, Brough, Brougham, and Pendragon, were
demolished, and the timber and other materials sold by Thomas Earl
of Thanet. We will hope that, when this order was issued, the Earl
had not consulted the text of Isaiah, 58th chap. 12th verse, to
which the inscription placed over the gate of Pendragon Castle by
the Countess of Pembroke (I believe his Grandmother), at the time
she repaired that structure, refers the reader:--"And they that
shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt
raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be
called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell
in." The Earl of Thanet, the present possessor of the Estates,
with a due respect for the memory of his ancestors, and a proper
sense of the value and beauty of these remains of antiquity, has
(I am told) given orders that they shall be preserved from all
37 'Earth helped him with the cry of blood.'
This line is from "The Battle of Bosworth Field," by Sir John
Beaumont (brother to the Dramatist), whose poems are written with
much spirit, elegance, and harmony, and have deservedly been
reprinted lately in Chalmers's Collection of English Poets.
122 'And both the undying fish that swim
Through Bowscale-tarn,' etc.
It is imagined by the people of the country that there are two
immortal Fish, inhabitants of this Tarn, which lies in the
mountains not far from Threlkeld.--Blencathara, mentioned before,
is the old and proper name of the mountain vulgarly called
143 'Armour rusting in his halls
On the blood of Clifford calls.'
The martial character of the Cliffords is well known to the
readers of English history; but it may not be improper here to
say, by way of comment on these lines and what follows, that
besides several others who perished in the same manner, the four
immediate Progenitors of the Person in whose hearing this is
supposed to be spoken all died in the Field.