Castles, Antient and Modern:

A Contrast.

Moss-grown and grey, behold yon mould’ring walls,1
Time-honored Castle ! in whose bannered halls 2
Were wont to meet the beautiful and brave,3
Now names forgotten, and their homes the grave ;4
The falling tow’rs now hastening to decay,5
The ruined fastness of a feudal day.6
There on the dais, raised above the throng,7
The baron sate to list the minstrel’s song ;8
Cold, vast, and comfortless the vaulted room,9
Tew flickering lamps broke in upon the gloom ;10
Rushes fresh plucked were strewed upon the floor,11
And dogs whipt out could rush beneath the door.12
Fair dames were seen in ermined robes to freeze,13
No stoves dispersed a mitigated breeze ;14
The cow’ring bloodhounds crouched beneath their feet,15
And hawks together nestling kept their seat,16
Whilst the old harper, now grown hoarse and hoary,17
Sang the old song that told his patron’s glory.18
From unwash’d mouths, that took a lingering sup,19
To maiden lips was pass’d the undainty cup ;20
Menials on either side, an ill trained pack,21
Drain’d the strong ale from out the huge black jack.22
Rude as the times they lived in, and unfit 23
For modern ears their ill imagined wit :24
Coarse in expression, boisterous and loud,25
Were the old feasts whereof our sires were proud.26
Behold the change—we alter and improve 27
In modern intercourse of social love.28
High as of old are raised our modern tow’rs,29
With taste more polish’d, unabated pow’rs ;30
An instance take—compare the old and new,31
And thankful own it is a proud review.32
Whose banner that which floats in air so high,33
The lordly symbol, in yon azure sky?34
’Tis Rutland’s flag !— and now assembles there 35
That gracious Duke, the gallant and the fair.36
High o’er the woods, the monarch of the lands 37
That spread beneath—imperial Belvoir stands !38
What warrior’s skill the bastion wide prepared,39
Those cannon planted, and the platform squared,40
Those harbingers of death with flowers combined,41
Fortress and palace—sure a master mind ?42
With skill so absolute, and taste so true,43
Who but the Chief that won at Waterloo !44
Enter the Castle. Mount the spreading stair 45
With armour deck’d, and breathe a perfumed air,46
The schools of art their matchless magic give,47
And long lost heroes on the canvass live.48
Behold the Banquet !— flames a second day,49
A hundred lights on glitt’ring goblets play ;50
On the rapt sense melodious sounds are poured,51
Whilst tempered Bacchus crowns the chastened board.52
Anon they meet at Music’s gentle call,53
With lights subdued within the bannered hall ;54
‘The song still deepens, and still sweeter strains 55
Bid lovers grieve that night so quickly wanes.56
Who would prefer the feudal feasts to these,57
Or the coarse orgies that were wont to please ?58
These are our modern scenes—no neighbour’s rights 59
Invaded now—no border feuds nor fights ;60
But equal laws and even balanced state,61
Secure alike the humble and the great.62