The Lady of the Lake "This Rock Shall Fly From Its Firm Base As Soon As I!"

Sir Walter Scott

"This Rock Shall Fly From Its Firm Base As Soon As I!"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: A lost hunter, after being sheltered by friendly strangers of a Highland clan, leaves a Loch Katrine island. Afterward, the clan chieftain, Roderick Dhu, who has been guarding the young Ellen Douglas and her exiled father against the King's anger, returns from a bloody raid and asks for her hand. In his fury at her refusal, he calls his clan to arms against the King. The hunter, Fitz-James, steals back to the island to propose to Ellen, but is also refused. He leaves, but slays his guide who had planned to betray this Lowland warrior into ambush. Lost again, Fitz-James finds a sentry who treats him overnight with the hospitality the Highland code demanded even for enemies. As the sentry leads him on his way the next morning, Fitz-James speaks against Roderick Dhu and wishes he could confront him and his men. His angered guide whistles, and an armed soldier springs up from behind every bush and rock. The guide is Roderick Dhu! Startled but brave, Fitz-James places his back against a rock and prepares to fight his foes, crying:

"Come one, come all! this rock shall fly
From its firm base as soon as I!"
Sir Roderick mark'd–and in his eyes
Respect was mingled with surprise,
And the stern joy which warriors feel
In foemen worthy of their steel.