Tragedy of Sir James the Ross

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Tragedy of Sir James the Ross  (1819) 
by Michael Bruce





Tragedy of Sir James the Ross (1819) - Page 1.png




Of all the Scottish northren chiefs
Of high ard mighty name.
The bravest was Sir James the Ross
A knight of meikle fame
His growth was like a youthful oak,
That crowns the mountain's brow;
And, waving o'er his shoulders broad,
His locks of yellow flew.
Wide were his fields; his herds were large:
And large his flocks of sheep,
And num'rous were his goats and deer
Upon the mountains steep.
The chieftain of the good Clan Ross
A firm and warlike band
Five hundred warriors drew the sword
Beneath his high command
In bloody fight thrice had he stood
Against the English keen,
Ere two and twenty op'ning springs
the blooming youth had seen.
The fair Matilda dear he lov'd,
A maid of beauty rare:
Even Marg’ret on the Scottish throne,
Was never half so fair:
Long had he woo'd; long she refus'd
With seeming scorn and pride;
Yet oft her eyes confess'd the love
Her fearful words deny'd.
At length she bless'd his well try'd love,
Allow'd his tender claim;
She vow d to him her virgin heart,
And own'd an equal flame.
Her father, Buchan's cruel lord,
Their passion disapprov d:
He bade her wed Sir John the Graeme,
And leave the youth she lov'd-
One night they met, as they were wont,
Deep in a shady wood;
Where on the bank, beside the burn,
A blomming saugh tree stood
Conceal'd among the underwood
The crafty Donald lay,
The brother of Sir John the Graeme,
To watch what they might say
When thus the maid began; My sire
Our passion disapproves:
He bids me wed Sir John the Graeme,
So here must end our loves.
My father's will must be obey'd;
Nought boots me to withstand,
Some fairer maid in beauty's bloom
Shall bless thee with her hand.
Soon will Matilda be forgot
And from thy mind effac'd;
But may that happiness be thine,
Which I can never taste!-
What do I hear? Is this the vow?
Sir James the Ross reply'd;
And will Matilda wed the Graeme,
Tho' sworn to be my bride?
His sword shall sooner pierce my heart,
Than reave me of thy charm—
And clasp'd her to his throbbing breast,
Fast lo ck'd within her arms.
I spoke to try thy love, she said;
I,ll ne'er wed man but thee:
The grave shall be my bridal bed,
If Graeme my husband be.
Take then, dear youth, this faithful kiss,
In witness of my troth;
And every plague become my lot
That day I break my oath—
They parted thus—the sun was set:
Up hasty Donald flies;
And, Turn thee turn thee beardless youth!
He loud insulting cries.
Soon turn'd about the fearless chief,
And soon his sword he drew;
For Donald's blade before his breast
Had pierc'd his tartans thro'.
This for my brother s slighted love;
His wrongs fit on my arm—
Three paces back the youth retir'd,
And sav'd himself from harm.
Returning swift, his sword he rear'd
Fierce Donald's head above;
And thro, the brain and crashing bone
The furious weapon drove,
Life issu'd at the wound; he fell,
A lump of lifeless clay:
So fall my foes, quoth valiant Ross,
And stately strode away.
Thro' the green wood in haste he pass'd,
Uuto Lord Buchan's hall;
Beneath Matilda's windows stood,
And thus on her did call.
Art thou asleep, Matilda dear,
Awake my love! awake
Behold thy lover waits without,
A long farewell to take
For I have slain fierce Donald Graeme,
His blood is on my sword:
And far, far distant are my men,
Nor can defend their lord.
To Skye I well direct my flight,
Where my brave brothers bide;
And raise the mighty of the Isles
To combat on my side—
O do not so, the maid reply'd,
With me till morning stay,
For dark and dreary is the night,
And dang'rous is the way.
All night I'll watch thee in the park,
My faithful page I'll send,
In haste to raise the brave Clan Ross,
Their master to defend.
He laid him down beneath a bush,
And wrapp'd him in his plaid;
While trembling for her lover's fate,
At distance stood the maid—
Swift ran the page o'er hill and dale;
'Till in a lowly glen,
He met the furious Sir John Graeme,
With twenty of his men.
Where goest thou, litte page: he said,
So late who did the send?—
I go to raise the brave Clan Ross,
Their master to defend.
For he has slain fierce Donald Graeme,
His blood is on his sword
And far, far stistant are his men:
Nor can assist their lord.—
And has he slain my brother dear?
The furious chief replies;
Dishonour blast my name, but he
By me ere morning dies.
Say page! where is Sir James the Ross?
I will thee well reward—
He sleeps into Lord Buchan's park;
Matilda is his guard.—
They spurred their steeds, and furious flew,
Like lightning o'er the sea:
They reach'd Lord Buchan's lofty tow'rs
By dawning of the day:
Matilda stood without the gate
Upon a rising ground,
And watch'd each object in the dawn,
All ear to every sound.
Where sleeps the Ross! began the Graeme
Or has the felon fled?
This hand shall lay the wretch on earth
By whom my brother bled.
And now the valiant knight awoke,
The virgin shrieking heard:
Straight up he rose and drew his sword,
When the fierce band appeared.
Your sword last night my brother slew,
His blood yet dims its shine;
And, ere the sun shall gild the morn,
Your biood shall reek on mine
Your words are brave the chief return'd;
But deeds approve the man;
Set by your men and hand by hand
We'll try what valour can
With dauntless step he forward strode,
And dar'd him to the fight:
The Graeme gave back and fear'd his arm,
For well he knew his might.
Four of his men the bravest four,
Sunk down beneath his sword;
But still he scorn'd the poor revenge,
And sought their haughty lord:
Behind him basely came the Graeme,
And pierc'd him in the side;
Out sporting came the purple stream,
And all his tartans dy'd.
But yet his hand not dropp'd the sword,
Nor sunk he to the ground,
Till thro' his ca'my's heart his steel
Had forc'd a mortal wound
Graeme, like a free by wind o'erthrowu,
Fell breathless on the clay;
And down beside him sunk the Ross,
And faint and dying lay.
Matilda saw, and fast she ran:
O spare his life, she cry'd;
Lord Buchan's daughtr begs his life
Let her not be deny'd
Her well-known voice the hero heard,
He rais'd his death clos'd eyes;
He fix'd them on the weeping maid,
And weakly thus replies.
In vain Matilda begs a life
By death's arrest deny’d;
My race is run—adieu my love,
Then clos'd his eyes and dyd.
The sword, yet warm, from his left sides
With frantic hand she drew:
I come, Sir James the Ross, she cry'd,
I come to follow you.
The hilt she lean'd against the ground,
And bar'd her snowy breast;
Then fell upon her lover's face,
And sunk to endless rest.


This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.