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SIR COURCY DE VERE was a mettlesome knight,
A crusader famed in the Holy Land;
The Soldan oft cursed him in words unpolite,

For he poach'd on his Moors with a pitiless hand.
In the field, in the breach, in the press of the battle,
His blows on the Moslemites' thick skulls would rattle;
He made them "eat dirt" in a manner most striking,
And gave them much more than they had to their liking.
On his steed, white as snow,

Through their ranks he would go,

At a speed that exceeded the flight of a crow,
Slashing high, cutting low,

Now a head, now a toe,

Of each heathenish foe,

As reckless and bold as a Visgoth or Viking!

But the crusades were over, De Vere was a lover,
He had satisfied conscience and duty,

So home he return'd, with his trophies well earn'd,
To share them with love and with beauty.
He travell'd by night,

He travell'd by day,

His spirits were light as a roundelay,
Yet, old chroniclers say,

At that time 'twas a perilous journey to take,
And such as would make us now nervous and quake,
To cross the wild sea in a vessel so small,
That chances were few it would weather a squall;
And quarters so cramp'd, that a man who was tall
Had to bend himself double to find room at all;
Pigs, horses, and passengers huddled together,
Exposed to rough usage and still rougher weather,
While the craft, unless bless'd by a fortunate wind,
Would take its own time and be some months behind.

By land it was worse,
For Mercury's curse-

The celestial in charge of the highways-
Seem'd to linger for ages-

I quote ancient sages,

Who tell us how scant were the by-ways. Through swamps and morass it was no joke to pass, By woods dense and shrouded, by freebooters crowded, Who made little pother their victims to smother, Or hack, hew, and slay

All who came in their way

As legitimate prey;

And besides all these chances, or rather mis-chances, A man had to travel much more than one fancies To find out a hostel, or place of repose,

For the monks would not often their larders disclose. No "Patterson," "Mogg," "Indicator," or "Guide" Were then to be had, nor a "Murray" beside,

So the voyageur, what with his fears and his hunger, When safely "at home," felt by no means the younger.


Sir Courcy de Vere had of course a small share
Of the troubles I mention, but paid no attention
To hedges and ditches, or other like "hitches,"
To torrents or rills, or to valleys and hills,
And as for the brigands, whenever they met,
He read them a lesson they did not forget.
For rations he levied "black-mail" as he went,
So he saved all his coin, not a groat of it spent.
A knight of his quality, prowess, and fame,
Made the abbey gates open full wide at his name;
And he feasted right royally oft in this way,
And with news from the wars would the fathers
Thus favour'd, he got over part of his work,
And arriv'd at the close of one evening at York.
The full moon shone out,

And he rambled about,

Intending to start in the morning.


He thought of the beautiful maiden he lov❜d,
"And," said he, "I have never her constancy prov'd,
To test it, in jest, I am now strangely mov'd,
All doubt of her faith, of course, scorning:
The river is clear,

The minster stands near,

Its broad shadows on the still waters appear:
Propitious as well

Is the hour for the spell,

That will cheer me with hope and my destiny tell.'

Five white pebbles he cast in the river,

Five magic words on his nervous lips quiver, But what makes Sir Courcy turn pallid, and shiver? He sees the house of his lady love,

He marks a light in her chamber move;
The casement is open'd, a ladder let down,
With a terrible oath, and a fierce dark frown,
The lover beholds a page descend;

There was not a doubt of that figure and face
Surpassing the Graces themselves in grace,
Such as the knight had lov'd to trace,
And with it his thoughts of home to blend
Hopes now crush'd, and brought to an end!
One moment-the vision has pass'd away,
The moonbeams alone on the still waves play.
He bit his nails till they could not be shorter,
He curs'd the white pebbles, the landscape "in water;'
He wished (most unknightly) that woman and beauty
Were consign'd to a region both torrid and sooty.
He stamp'd with such fury his feet were quite sore,
The pain seem'd to soothe, so he stamp'd away more,
Till at length starting wildly, he mounted his steed,
And swept o'er the ground at a desperate speed.


"Over the hills, and far away,"

He is spurring before the break of day.
Those whom he met must have thought him insane,
Or the Wandering Jew in a cavalier vein,

Or one doing penance for naughty deed,

Or trying to break in a sorcerer's steed;

The sight was so fearful, men shook their heads,
And mutter'd a pray'r and told their beads.
De Vere had a constitution strong,
Such as to judges and popes belong,

Or he could not have stood such a shaking of bones,
Such gallopping fierce over boulders of stones,
Such jerky and uneasy motion,

Such leaping of trenches and fences and wall,
Without breaking his neck by a stumble or fall;
But of all this he had not a notion.

The feat of Dick Turpin was nothing to this
(If it ever took place, which is dubious, I wis),
If it did, he had roads that he could not well miss,
But De Vere had no milestone to point out the way,
And "finger-posts" date from a much later day;

In fact, if there had been inscriptions thus telling,
They were useless to him-he was backward in spelling.
It was quite unbecoming in one of his station.

To read and to write-'twas a monk's occupation.
A knight was effeminate, low, mean, and muddy,
Who made use of brains for such purpose as study;
His steed was the Pegasus most to his mind,
And a + was sufficient to show he had sign'd
Any document, testament, deed, or a letter;
With a stout sword to back it, no pen-craft was better,
For more litigation and cost comes from writing
Than heads knock'd together disputing or fighting.
But thoughts such as these did not worry De Vere,
His mind and his heart were duetting elsewhere;
He muttered "revenge!" with clench'd teeth, while on

To such rude exertions his steed not demurring;
For it seem'd to surmise great events were at stake,
And fleet as an arrow sped on for his sake,
Until they were stopp'd in their flying career,
The gates of the castle long sought for appear.
De Courcy dismounted, and as he drew near,
A burst of wild merriment grates on his ear;
And flambeaux were flashing,
Gay music was crashing;

That "high junks" were rife, it was perfectly clear.
"Shout on!" yell'd De Vere,

"Rude guest I should be, what with rent clothes and splashing,

But I long to give all a confounded good thrashing, Though soon they shall have a strong taste of my mind. No doubt all this row is but simply a blind

To cover the mischief now lurking behind,

And open the false-hearted maiden's retreat;


" he added some oaths that I will not repeat. With intentions thus foul,

And a horrible scowl,

Sir Courcy he vow'd, from the depth of his soul,
That his sword should be wetted in gore that night;
And mounting the staircase—he well knew the way—
He went to the chamber the lady to slay,

And saw, plain enough, by the moon's feeble light,
Descend from the casement a form svelte and slight.
No mistaking that figure, though dress'd à la rigueur,
As a page of some showy pretension,
"Twas the true beau-ideal, or something more real,
Of the lady of whom I made mention.



He rush'd to the window, a knight was below,
Who was, without doubt, both his rival and foe;
Then down the rope-ladder attempted to go.
Never trust such expedients for flight or evasion,
Unless you are
"up" to the mark and occasion;
In seeking a "rib," your's may get out of joint
Should you be in a hurry, or miss the least point.
De Vere was a man-of-war heavily plated,

A stout man to boot, so ill-fortune was fated;
He fell with a crash that no small stir created.
The page and the knight both ran quick to his aid.
"Saints, help me!" exclaim'd the now terrified maid,
"Why, no-surely, yes-'tis De Courcy, my lover,
Oh! horror of horrors, he will not recover!

Call the leech-bring some water-ah! what shall I do?"
Here De Vere, who was sprawling full length, cried out

Of women the falsest, I owe this to you.

I thought you were faithful, alas! to my sorrow,
But you and your knight shall pay dearly to-morrow!"
"I and my knight? why, De Vere, 'tis my brother;
We agreed in a game to elope with each other;
To day is his wedding, and grand masquerading,
And you spoil all the fun by your jealous upbraiding."
De Vere rubb'd his eyes, and confusion stole o'er him,
As the sister and brother stood really before him;
And grasping their hands, he related his story,
How with "water bewitch'd" he had rusted his glory.
More humbled than hurt from the ground he was lifted,
And curs'd the weak folly in which he had drifted.
But a sweet voice replied,

"When you woo a young bride,

Let it be with a full heart's reception;
Let no vision or bubble

Your honest thoughts trouble,

Lest they lead you to misconception!"
The maid added archly, "Of ladders beware,
No mail-coated warriors in safety they bear;
Whenever such fancies your mood may engage,
Take a woman's advice and be dress'd as a page!"

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