The Lady of the Lake "One Blast Upon His Bugle Horn Were Worth A Thousand Men"

Sir Walter Scott

"One Blast Upon His Bugle Horn Were Worth A Thousand Men"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Ellen Douglas, daughter of a banished lord, appears at Stirling Castle just after the king has defeated Clan-Alpine, a revolted clan led by the mighty Roderick Dhu. She and her escort, the old minstrel Allan-bane, are conducted into a room filled with rough soldiers. At first the soldiers' attitude towards the girl is one of coarse levity, but when she uncovers her face, her beauty stills them with wonder and admiration. She announces that she has a ring, the gift of the king, the displaying of which to the monarch will gain her admission to her captive father. The officer who appears to conduct her is flippant and forward until he sees the ring; when he examines its design he becomes highly respectful. Ellen is conducted into a room in which there is not her father, but the wounded Roderick Dhu. He demands that Allan-bane sing of the victory of Clan-Alpine over Dermid's race, a song he has heard before. The minstrel obeys and describes the ebbing and flowing fortunes of the battle. At one point the forces of Clan-Alpine are pushed back: and then where was Roderick Dhu, the sound of whose horn was as stimulating as would be the arrival of a thousand fresh soldiers?

. . .
But Moray wheeled his rearward rank
Of horsemen on Clan-Alpine's flank,–
"My banner-man, advance!
I see," he cried, "their column shake.
Now, gallants! for your ladies' sake,
Upon them with the lance."–
The horsemen dashed among the rout,
As deer break through the broom;
Their steeds are stout, their swords are out,
They soon make lightsome room.
Clan-Alpine's best are backward borne–
Where, where was Roderick then!
One blast upon his bugle horn
Were worth a thousand men.
And refluent through the pass of fear
The battle's tide was poured;
Vanished the Saxon's struggling spear,
Vanished the mountain sword.
. . .