On half-Strung harps whine mournful to the blast.
While mountain spirits prate to river sprites,
That dames may listen to the sound at nights;
And goblin brats, of Gilpin Horner's brood
Decoy young Border-nobles through the wood,
And skip at every step, Lord knows how high,
And frighten foolish babes, the Lord knows why;160
While high-born ladies in their magic cell,
Forbidding Knights to read who cannot spell,
Despatch a courier to a wizard's grave,
And fight with honest men to shield a knave.
The golden-crested haughty Marmion,
Next view in state, proud prancing on his roan,
- [It was the suggestion of the Countess of Dalkeith, that Scott should write a ballad on the old border legend of Gilpin Horner, which first gave shape to the poet's ideas, and led to the Lay of the Last Minstrel.]
been able to read and write. The poem was manufactured for Messrs. Constable, Murray, and Miller, worshipful Booksellers, in consideration of the receipt of a sum of money; and truly, considering the inspiration, it is a very creditable production. If Mr. Scott will write for hire, let him do his best for his paymasters, but not disgrace his genius, which is undoubtedly great, by a repetition of Black-Letter Ballad imitations.
[Constable paid Scott a thousand pounds for Marmion, and "offered one fourth of the copyright to Mr. Miller of Albemarle Street, and one fourth to Mr. Murray of Fleet Street (see line 173). Both publishers eagerly accepted the proposal." ... "A severe and unjust review of Marmion by Jeffrey appeared in [the Edinburgh Review for April] 1808, accusing Scott of a mercenary spirit in writing for money.... Scott was much nettled by these observations" (Memoirs of John Murray, i. 76, 95). In his diary of 1813 Byron wrote of Scott, "He is undoubtedly the Monarch of Parnassus, and the most English of Bards."—Life, p. 206.]