But now with a sweeping curtain,
In solid wall comes the rain,
And the troop draw bridle and hide them
In the bush by the stream-side plain.
King Charles smiled sadly and gently;
‘’Tis the Beggar’s Bush,’ said he;
’For I of England am beggar’d,
And her poorest may pity me.’
—O safe in the fadeless fir-tree
The squirrel may nestle and hide;
And in God’s own dwelling the sparrow
Safe with her nestlings abide:—
But he goes homeless and friendless,
And manlike abides his doom;
For he knows a king has no refuge
Betwixt the throne and the tomb.
And the purple-robed braes of Alban,
The glory of stream and of plain,
The Holyrood halls of his birthright
Charles ne’er will look on again:—
And the land he loved well, not wisely,
Will almost grudge him a grave:
Then weep, too late, in her folly,
The dark Dictator’s slave!
This incident occurred during the attempt made by Charles, in the dark final days of his struggle, to march from South Wales with the hope of joining Montrose in Scotland. He appears to have halted for the night of Aug. 6, 1645, at Old Radnor and ’the name of Rails Yat, (Royal gate) still points out the spot where, on the following morning, he left the Rhos Lane for the road which brought him to shelter at Beggar’s Bush’: a name which is reported to be still preserved.
THE CAPTIVE CHILD
September 8: 1650
Child in girlhood’s early grace,
Pale white rose of royal race,
Flower of France, and England’s flower,
What dost here at twilight hour
Captive bird in castle-hold,
Picture-fair and calm and cold,
Cold and still as marble stone
In gray Carisbrook alone?
—Fold thy limbs and take thy rest,
Nestling of the silent nest!
Ah fair girl! So still and meek,
One wan hand beneath her cheek,
One on the holy texts that tell
Of God’s love ineffable;—
Last dear gift her father gave
When, before to-morrow’s grave,
By no unmanly grief unmann’d,
To his little orphan band
In that stress of anguish sore
He bade farewell evermore.
Doom’d, unhappy King! Had he
Known the pangs in store for thee,
Known the coarse fanatic rage
That,—despite her flower-soft age,
Maidenhood’s first blooming fair,—
Fever-struck in the imprison’d air
As rosebud on the dust-hill thrown
Cast a child to die alone,—
He had shed, with his last breath,
Bitterer tears than tears of death!
As in her infant hour she took
In her hand the pictured book
Where Christ beneath the scourger bow’d,
Crying ‘O poor man!’ aloud,
And in baby tender pain
Kiss’d the page, and kiss’d again,
While the happy father smiled
On his sweet warm-hearted child;
—So now to him, in Carisbrook lone,
All her tenderness has flown.