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Rob Roy's Grave


The History of Rob Roy is sufficiently known; his Grave
is near the head of Loch Ketterine, in one of those small
Pin-fold-like Burial-grounds, of neglected and desolate
appearance, which the Traveller meets with in the
Highlands of Scotland.


A famous Man is Robin Hood,
The English Ballad-singer's joy!
And Scotland has a Thief as good,
An Outlaw of as daring mood,
She has her brave ROB ROY!
Then clear the weeds from off his Grave,
And let us chaunt a passing Stave
In honour of that Hero brave!

Heaven gave Rob Roy a dauntless heart,
And wondrous length and strength of arm: 10
Nor craved he more to quell his Foes,
Or keep his Friends from harm.

Yet was Rob Roy as _wise_ as brave;
Forgive me if the phrase be strong;--
Poet worthy of Rob Roy
Must scorn a timid song.

Say, then, that he was wise as brave;
As wise in thought as bold in deed:
For in the principles of things
_He_ sought his moral creed. 20

Said generous Rob, "What need of Books?
Burn all the Statutes and their shelves:
They stir us up against our Kind;
And worse, against Ourselves."

"We have a passion, make a law,
Too false to guide us or controul!
And for the law itself we fight
In bitterness of soul."

"And, puzzled, blinded thus, we lose
Distinctions that are plain and few: 30
These find I graven on my heart:
_That_ tells me what to do."

"The Creatures see of flood and field,
And those that travel on the wind!
With them no strife can last; they live
In peace, and peace of mind."

"For why?--because the good old Rule
Sufficeth them, the simple Plan,
That they should take who have the power,
And they should keep who can." 40

"A lesson which is quickly learn'd,
A signal this which all can see!
Thus nothing here provokes the Strong
To wanton cruelty."

"All freakishness of mind is check'd;
He tam'd, who foolishly aspires;
While to the measure of his might
Each fashions his desires."

"All Kinds, and Creatures, stand and fall
By strength of prowess or of wit: 50
Tis God's appointment who must sway,
And who is to submit."

"Since then," said Robin, "right is plain,
And longest life is but a day;
To have my ends, maintain my rights,
I'll take the shortest way."

And thus among these rocks he liv'd,
Through summer's heat and winter's snow:
The Eagle, he was Lord above,
And Rob was Lord below. 60

So was it--_would_, at least, have been
But through untowardness of fate:
For Polity was then too strong;
He came an age too late,

Or shall we say an age too soon?
For, were the bold Man living _now_,
How might he flourish in his pride,
With buds on every bough!

Then rents and Factors, rights of chace,
Sheriffs, and Lairds and their domains 70
Would all have seem'd but paltry things,
Not worth a moment's pains.

Rob Roy had never linger'd here,
To these few meagre Vales confin'd;
But thought how wide the world, the times
How fairly to his mind!

And to his Sword he would have said,
"Do Thou my sovereign will enact
From land to land through half the earth!
Judge thou of law and fact!" 80

"Tis fit that we should do our part;
Becoming, that mankind should learn
That we are not to be surpass'd
In fatherly concern."

"Of old things all are over old,
Of good things none are good enough:--
We'll shew that we can help to frame
A world of other stuff."

"I, too, will have my Kings that take
From me the sign of life and death: 90
Kingdoms shall shift about, like clouds,
Obedient to my breath."

And, if the word had been fulfill'd,
As _might_ have been, then, thought of joy!
France would have had her present Boast;
And we our brave Rob Roy!

Oh! say not so; compare them not;
I would not wrong thee, Champion brave!
Would wrong thee no where; least of all
Here standing by thy Grave. 100

For Thou, although with some wild thoughts,
Wild Chieftain of a Savage Clan!
Hadst this to boast of; thou didst love
The _liberty_ of Man.

And, had it been thy lot to live
With us who now behold the light,
Thou would'st have nobly stirr'd thyself,
And battled for the Right.

For Robin was the poor Man's stay
The poor man's heart, the poor man's hand; 110
And all the oppress'd, who wanted strength,
Had Robin's to command.

Bear witness many a pensive sigh
Of thoughtful Herdsman when he strays
Alone upon Loch Veol's Heights,
And by Loch Lomond's Braes!

And, far and near, through vale and hill,
Are faces that attest the same;
And kindle, like a fire new stirr'd,
At sound of ROB ROY's name. 120


William Wordsworth