Rokeby "A Mother's Pride, A Father's Joy!"
by Sir Walter Scott

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"A Mother's Pride, A Father's Joy!"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Immediately after the battle of Marston Moor (July 3, 1644), Bertram Risingham, a villainous fortune-hunter who had murdered his way from Europe to Peru and back again, arrives at the home of Oswald Wycliffe to announce that he has killed his leader, Philip of Mortham, during the heat of the battle. He had done this act because Mortham, his former comrade in arms, had cast him off, and because Oswald, Mortham's heir, had promised to divide with him the wealth that Mortham had plundered from the Americas. Wilfred, Oswald's soft, gentle, dreaming son, accompanies Bertram to Mortham's home, as Bertram believes that the riches are concealed in the tomb of Mortham's wife. Before the tomb, Bertram admits that he had murdered Mortham. Wilfred, weak as he is, draws his sword to inflict vengeance on the rogue; as Bertram is about to strike him down with his sword, the ghost of Mortham interposes to save the lad. At this point Oswald arrives, with a company of men who immediately pursue Bertram. He escapes and while resting, is greeted by a criminal as bad as he, who offers him the leadership of an outlaw band. He accompanies the newcomer, Guy Denzil, to the cave of the robbers:

Hark! the loud revel wakes again
To greet the leader of the train.
Behold the group by the pale lamp
That struggles with the earthy damp.
By what strange features Vice hath known
To single out and mark her own!
Yet some there are whose brows retain
Less deeply stamped her brand and stain.
See yond pale stripling! when a boy,
A mother's pride, a father's joy!
Now, 'gainst the vault's rude walls reclined,
An early image fills his mind:
The cottage, once his sire's, he sees,
Embowered upon the banks of Tees;
He views sweet Winston's woodland scene,
And shares the dance on Gainford-green.