THE MARTYRDOM OF JOHN BROWN
by
Mrs A Stuart Menteath (1845)

"Lays of the Kirk and Covenant" Glasgow, W S Sime,(1892)

 

There, worthy of his masters, came

The despots’ champion, bloody Graham,

To stain for aye a warrior’s sword,

And lead a fierce, though fawning horde—

The human bloodhounds of the earth—

To hunt the peasant from his hearth !

Poetic Mirror.

 

IT is the cold grey morning,

Slow creeping o’er the hill;

But no wild bird giveth warning—

All insect mirth is still

 

In vain the sun would scatter

The chill, dank mists away;

And the rain’s unceasing patter

Weeps in the cheerless day !

 

Forth o’er the dreary moorland

The preacher strains his eye ;

Once more the staff is in his hand

Once more he turns to fly.

 

As the partridge on the mountains,

His life is hunted still;

And his bosom’s troubled fountains

Reflect the coming ill.

 

He turned him to the mother,

Low bending o'er her child—

A groan he sought to smother,

His voice was hoarse and wild.

 

"Poor wife! poor wife !" he muttered,

"A weary, dreary dawn

Bethink the words I uttered

Upon thy marriage morn.

 

"I bade thee prize him highly,

For a man of God was he—

Yet keep the garment nigh thee,

His winding sheet to be!

 

"Poor wife ! poor wife !" he mutters,

"A dreary, weary dawn ! "

Ere answering word she utters,

The wanderer is gone!

 

And she is left all lonely,

With the sickness at her heart,

That for him she loveth only

Those boding words impart.

 

Upon her babe she gazes,

But comfort is not there—

Her eyes to heaven she raises,

And meekly bows in prayer.

 

And, as her prayer ascended,

Ifer faded eye grew bright—

As though a beam descended

Awl touched her soul with light

 

And meekly now she goeth

About her household care

Each homely task she doeth

Being sanctified by prayer !

 

—The evening meal awaits hiin,

The wife bath clone her part ;

What now—what now belates him

Oh ! the boding at her heart !

 

Forth o'er the dreary moorland

Site strains her anxious eye

A tramp of horse !—a ruthless band,

Athwart the mist drew nigh !

 

With oaths and dreadful laughter,

Athwart the mist they come

With shouts all breathing slaughter,

They drag her husband home !

 

Come forth ! come forth ! and 'greet him,

Thou singer of sweet psalms "

She goeth forth to meet him,

Her infant in her arms !

 

"Now get thee to thy praying"

(The bloody Claver'se spake);

"My haste brooks no delaying

I've other dogs to take !"

 

—Upon his native heather

The martyr knelt him down

"'Tis sudden, 0 my Father!

But Thou wilt keep thine own

 

"And thou, my wife! my leal one

Oh! grudge not o'er the dead

I told thee that this hour would come,

When thou and I were wed !"

 

His last farewell is spoken,

He prays his latest prayer;

In silence all unbroken,

His murderers gird him there!

 

In silence all unbroken

Save by that pleading tone,

Pleading for one last token

From the eternal Throne

 

Strong is the good man's weakness

Mighty the power of prayer—

Almost the victim's meekness

Subdues the fierce ones there

 

Awe-struck and conscience-haunted,

Those rude, stern, soldiers stand

A terror all unwonted

Palsies the ruffian band !

 

Visions of coming judgment

Flash on the startled brain

A moment paused the (lire intent,

 A moment—but in vain !

 

What, craven—ho !" the demon shout

Of laughter filled the air ;

And Claver'so drew his pistol out—

And hushed the martyr's prayer !

 

A flash ! a sound ! a woman's scream !—

Earth! thou hast ioorne these thing,

And still, as in a maniac's dream,

'That demon-laughter rings !

 

“Ho, ho, gudewife ! our work speeds fast

What think'st thou of him now !"

`Twas strange—the sudden spasm that pass'd

O'er that new widow's brow !

 

'Twas strange—the white cheeks flushing,

The kindling of the eye

" Aye thought I only gude of him,

Now muckle mair than aye !"

 

Grim smiled the bloody Claver'se,­"

Now, by my troth," he cried,

"Methinks the deed were none the worse,

To lay thee by his side !"

 

Stern in her spirit's sadness,

She answered—" Even so;

"Even to such height of madness

Thy cruel rage may go!

 

"Do with me as ye will—and can "

(Here swelled her bosom's flood)—

"Yet must thou answer God and man

For this day's work of blood !"

 

"To man, my answer will I bear;

For God ..." he glanced on high—

The very troopers shrank to hear

The oath of blasphemy!

 

Coldly he motioned on his train,

And turned his charger's head,

A moment checked his bridle rein,

Then left her—with the dead!

 

Left her—the broken-hearted,
Beside her dead to die ;;‑

Oh, surely life hath parted

In that sore agony!

 

No ! for her woman's spirit

Is strong to bow and bear—

No ! for she doth inherit

His faith who sleepeth there !

 

No ! for her infant's wailing

Forbids her to depart;

And God's own peace prevailing,

Binds up the broken heart !

 

—Warned by the tempest token,

A wanderer seeks once more

The shelter—oft bespoken,

Of that lone cottage door.

 

Clouds o'er the wan moon fleeting

Shadow the starless night;

Vainly he yearns for greeting

Of that quench'd ingle-light

 

All dark—all dark and lonely

Hlis hurrying footsteps found,

And that sad widow only,

Low seated on the ground.

 

Beside her dead she bideth‑

O prophet ! sadly sooth !‑

He knows the grey plaid hideth

The husband of her youth!

 

"Poor wife! poor wife! his crown is won,

But sore bereaved art thou!

Dear Saviour! help the helpless one—

Thou art her husband now !"

  

18/07/2011

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