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THE way was long, the wind was cold,
The Minstrel was infirm and old;
His wither'd cheek, and tresses gray,
Seem'd to have known a better day;
The harp, his sole remaining joy,
Was carried by an orphan boy.
The last of all the Bards was he,
Who sung of Border chivalry;
For, welladay! their date was fled,
His tuneful brethren all were dead;
And he, neglected and oppress'd,
Wish'd to be with them, and at rest.
No more on prancing palfrey borne,
He caroll'd, light as lark at morn;
No longer courted and caress'd,
High placed in hall, a welcome guest,
He pour'd, to lord and lady gay,

The unpremeditated lay:

Old times were changed, old manners gone;

A stranger fill'd the Stuart's throne;

The bigots of the iron time

Had call'd his harmless art a crime.
A wandering Harper, scorn'd and poor,
He begg'd his bread from door to door,
And tuned, to please a peasant's car,
The harp, a king had loved to hear..

He pass'd where Newark's' stately tower Looks out from Yarrow's birchen bower:

1["This is a massive square tower, now unroofed and ruinous, surrounded by an outward wall, defended by round flanking turrets. It is most beautifully situated, about three miles from Selkirk, upon the banks of the Yarrow, a fierce and precipitous stream, which unites with the Ettricke about a mile beneath the castle.

"Newark Castle was built by James II. The royal arms, with the unicorn, are engraved on a stone in the western side of the tower. There was a much more ancient castle in its immediate vicinity, called Auldwark, founded, it is said, by Alexander III. Both were designed for the royal residence when the King was disposed to take his pleasure in the extensive forest of Ettricke. Various grants occur in the records of the Privy Seal, bestowing the keeping of the Castle of Newark upon different barons. There is a popular tradition, that it was once seized, and held out by the outlaw Murray, a noted character in song, who only surrendered Newark upon condition of being made hereditary sheriff' of the forest. A long ballad, containing an account of this transaction, is preserved in the 'Border Minstrelsy.' Upon the marriage of James IV. with Margaret, sister of Henry VIII., the Castle of Newark, with the whole Forest of Ettricke, was assigned to her as a part of her jointure lands. But of this she could make little advantage; for, after the death of her husband, she is found complaining heavily, that Buccleuch had seized upon these lands. Indeed, the office of keeper was latterly held by the family of Buccleuch, and with so firm a grasp, that when the Forest of Ettricke was disparked, they obtained a grant of the Castle of Newark in property. It was within the court-yard of this Castle that General Lesly did military execution upon the prisoners whom he had taken at the battle of Philiphaugh. The castle continued to be an occasional seat of the Buccleuch family for more than a century; and here, it is said, the Duchess of Monmouth and Buccleuch was brought up. For this reason, probably, Mr. Scott has chosen to make it the scene in which the Lay of the Last Minstrel' is recited in her presence, and for her

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The Minstrel gazed with wishful eye-
No humbler resting-place was nigh.
With hesitating step at last,

The embattled portal arch he pass'd,
Whose ponderous grate and massy bar
Had oft roll'd back the tide of war,
But never closed the iron door
Against the desolate and poor.

The Duchess marked his weary pace,
His timid mien, and reverend face,
And bade her page the menials tell,
That they should tend the old man well:
For she had known adversity,

Though born in such a high degree;
In pride of power, in beauty's bloom,
Had wept o'er Monmouth's bloody tomb!

When kindness had his wants supplied,
And the old man was gratified,
Began to rise his minstrel pride:

amusement.”—SCHETKY's Illustrations of the Lay of the Last


It may be added that Bowhill was the favourite residence of Lord and Lady Dalkeith, (afterwards Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch,) at the time when the poem was composed; the ruins of Newark are all but included in the park attached to that modern seat of the family; and Sir Walter Scott, no doubt, was influenced in his choice of the locality, by the predilection of the charming lady who suggested the subject of his "Lay” for the scenery of the Yarrow-a beautiful walk on whose banks, leading from the house to the old castle, is called, in memory of her, the Duchess's Walk.-ED.]

'Anne, Duchess of Buccleuch and Monmouth, representative of the ancient Lords of Buccleuch, and widow of the unfortunate James, Duke of Monmouth, who was beheaded in 1685.

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