No noble lord nor banneret,
Nor courtly knight is he,
No more than a simple advocate,
Who pleadeth for his fee.
He holds a letter in his hand,
On which bleared eyes are bent,
It came afar from Almanzar,
The Duke of Bonavent—
A noble duke whom he had seen
In his castle by the sea,
When for one night he claimed the right
Of his high courtesie;
And that letter said, “Kind sir, I write
In sorrow, sooth to say,
That my dear child, fair Emergilde,
Hath from us flown away;
“And all the trace that I can find
Is this, and nothing more,
She took to sea at Tripoli
For Scotland’s distant shore.
It is a feat of strange conceit
That fills us with alarms:
Oh seek about, and find her out,
And send her to our arms.”
And who is he this letter reads
With tears the words atween?
Yea! even he she had sought to see,
The sair-sought Ballenden.
Yet little little had he thought,
When away in that far countrie,
That a look she had got of a humble Scot
Would ever remembered be.
But tho’ he had deemed himself forgot
By one so far away,
Her image had still, against his will,
Him haunted night and day.
And when he laid him on his bed,
And sair inclined to sleep,
That face would still, against his will,
Its holy vigil keep.
Oh gentle youth, thou little thought,
When away in our north countrie,
That up and down, thro’ all the town,
That ladye sought for thee.
And little little did thou wot
What in Euphan’s room was seen,
Where, as she died, she whispering sighed,
“I die for Ballenden."[A]
[Footnote A: The reader will remember the romantic story of the English A’Becket; but it would seem our Scottish advocate was even more highly favoured. Nor is the romance in such cases limited to the ladies. I may refer to the pathetic story of Geoffrey Rudel, a gentleman of Provence, and a troubadour, who, having heard from the knights returned from the Holy Land of the hospitality of a certain countess of Tripoli, whose grace and beauty equalled her virtue, fell deeply in love with her without ever having seen her. In 1162 he quitted the court of England and embarked for the Holy Land. On his voyage he was attacked by a severe illness, and had lost the power of speech when he arrived at the port of Tripoli. The countess, being informed that a celebrated poet was dying of love for her on board a vessel, visited him on shipboard, took him by the hand, and attempted to cheer him. Rudel recovered his speech sufficiently to thank the countess for her humanity, and to declare his passion, when his expressions of gratitude were silenced by the convulsions of death. He was buried at Tripoli, beneath a tomb of porphyry which the countess raised to his memory. His verses “On Distant Love” were well known. They began thus: