Metrical Legends of Exalted Characters

Author(s): Baillie, Joanna


Metrical Legends.
Printed by A. and R. Spottiswoode,
Printers-Street, London.
Metrical Legends
&c. &c.
IN calling the following pieces Metrical Legends,
I do not use the term as denoting fictitious
stories, but as chronicles or memorials. The
acts of great men, as related in history, are so
blended with the events of the times in which
they lived, and with the acts of their contemporaries,
that it is difficult for a great proportion
of readers to form, at the conclusion of
the history, a distinct idea of all they have
really performed: and even of those who might
do so without difficulty, how few bestow their
leisure in fairly considering those claims of the
great and the good to their respect and admiration!
Biography, where sources of information
regarding the private character and habits
of the individual remain, has made amends
for this unavoidable defect in history, and is a
most instructive and interesting study. Yet the
minute detail of the character too often does
the same injury to the departed Great, which a
familiar acquaintance still oftener does to the
living; for a lengthened, unrelieved account
is very unfavourable to that rousing and generous
admiration which the more simple and
distant view of heroic worth is fitted to inspire;
— an impulse' most healthful and invigorating
to the soul.
Romance, in verse and in prose, has, and
often successfully, attempted to supply those
deficiencies, by adding abundance of fictitious
circumstances to the traces of history and
biography — a task pleasing to the writer and
the reader. But in her zeal to display the
abstract perfections of a hero, she has not rested
satisfied with additions; she has boldly and
unwarrantably made use of absolute contradictions
to those traces, even when generally
known and well authenticated. This is the
greatest injury to the Mighty Dead. It is
throwing over the venerated form of a majestic
man, a gauzy veil, on which is delineated the
fanciful figure of an angel. If time has removed
that form to such a distance, that a faint
outline only can be perceived, let us still behold
the outline unshaded and unchanged. "Disturb
not the ashes of the dead," is a sentiment acknowledged
and obeyed by every feeling mind;
but to disturb those memorials of worth — those
shadowings of the soul — what may be called
their intellectual remains, is by far the greater
My reader must not, however, suppose that
I would debar romance from the use of every
real name, and oblige her to people her stories
entirely with beings fictitious both in name and
character. This would be too rigid. Where
history is so obscure or remote, that we know
little of a hero but his name, the romance
writer may seize it as lawful spoil; for he
cannot thereby confuse our ideas of truth and
falsehood, or change and deform what has no
form. It is only when a character known,
though imperfectly, is wrested from the events
with which it was really connected, and overlaid
at the same time with fanciful attributes, that
this can be justly complained of.
Having this view of the subject in my mind,
and a great desire, notwithstanding, to pay
some tribute to the memory of a few characters
for whom I felt a peculiar admiration and
respect, I have ventured upon what may be
considered, in some degree, as a new attempt, —
to give a short descriptive chronicle of those
noble beings, whose existence has honoured
human nature and benefited mankind.
In relating a true story, though we do not
add any events or material circumstances to it,
and abstain from attributing any motives for
action, which have not been credibly reported, or
may not be fairly inferred, yet, how often do we
spontaneously, almost unwittingly, add description
similar to what we know must have belonged
to the actors and scenery of our story!
Our story, for instance, says, "that a man, travelling
at night through a wild forest, was
attacked by a band of robbers." Our story--
teller adds, "that the night was dark as pitch,
scarcely a star to be seen twinkling between the
drifted clouds; that the blast shook the trees,
and howled dismally around him." Our story
says, "that hearing the sound of approaching
steps, he went behind a tree to wait till the
robbers should pass, but unfortunately stumbling,
the noise of his fall betrayed him, and he was
seized upon, wounded, and stripped of every
thing he possessed." Our story-teller adds,
(particularly if the subject of the story is known
to be of a timid spirit), "that their footsteps
sounded along the hollow ground like the
trampling of a host; that he stopped and
listened with fearful anxiety; that, on their
nearer approach, voices were mingled with the
sound, like the hoarse deep accents of a murderer;
that he trembled with fear; that, in
quitting the path, every black stump or bush
seemed to him a man in armour; that his limbs
shook so violently, he could not raise his feet
sufficiently to disentangle them from the fern and
long grass which impeded him," &c. Or our
story may say, "that the daughter of a proud
chief stole from his castle on a summer morning,
and joined her expecting lover in a neighbouring
wood." The story-teller says, "she opened
the door of her chamber with a beating heart,
listened anxiously lest any one should be a-stir
in the family; that the sun shone softly through
the ruddy air, on the fresh green boughs and
dewy-webbed plants as she passed, and that she
sighed to think she might never return to the
haunts of her childhood any more." The story
says, "she fled with him on horseback;" and
the story-teller cannot well say less than, "that
he set her on a beautiful steed, which stood
ready caparisoned under the trees; that the
voice of her lover gave her courage; that they
passed over the silent country, in which not
even a peasant was to be seen at his early labour,
with the swiftness of an arrow, and every stream
they crossed gave them confidence of escaping
pursuit," &c. And thus our story-teller goes
on, being present in imagination to every thing
he relates, and describing the feelings, sounds,
and appearances which he conceives must naturally
have accompanied the different events of
his story, almost, as I said before, without being
aware that he is taking so much of what he
relates entirely for granted.
In imitation then of this human propensity,
from which we derive so much pleasure, though
mischievous, when not indulged with charity
and moderation, I have written the following
Metrical Legends, describing such scenes as
truly belong to my story, with occasionally the
feelings, figures, and gestures of those whose
actions they relate, and also assigning their
motives of action, as they may naturally be supposed
to have existed.
The events they record are taken from sources
sufficiently authentic; and where any thing has
been reasonably questioned, I give some notice
of the doubt. I have endeavoured to give
them with the brief simplicity of a chronicle,
though frequently stopping in my course, where
occasion for reflection or remark naturally
offered itself, or proceeding more slowly, when
objects, capable of interesting or pleasing description,
tempted me to linger. Though my
great desire has been to display such portraitures
of real worth and noble heroism, as might
awaken high and generous feelings in a youthful
mind; yet I have not, as far as I know, imputed
to my heroes motives or sentiments
beyond what their noble deeds do fairly warrant.
I have made each Legend short enough
to be read in one moderate sitting, that the
impression might be undivided, and that the
weariness of a story, not varied or enriched by
minuter circumstances, might be, if possible,
avoided. — It has, in short, been my aim to
produce sentimental and descriptive memorials
of exalted worth.
The manner of the rhyme and versification
I have in some degree, borrowed from my
great contemporary Sir Walter Scott; following
in this respect, the example of many of the
most popular poets of the present day. Let it
not, however, be supposed, that I presume to
believe myself a successful borrower. We
often stretch out our hand for one thing, and
catch another; and if, instead of the easy, light,
rich, and fanciful variety of his rhyme and
measure, the reader should perceive that I have,
unfortunately, found others of a far different
character, I ought not to be greatly surprised
or offended. But, indeed, I have been almost
forced to be thus presumptuous; for blank verse,
or heroic rhyme, being grave and uniform in
themselves, require a story varied with many
circumstances, and would only have added to
the dryness of a chronicle, even though executed
with a skill which I pretend not to possess. Yet
when I say that I have borrowed, let it not
be supposed I have attempted to imitate his
particular expressions; I have only attempted
to write in a certain free irregular measure,
which, but for him, I should probably never have
known or admired.
These days are rich in Poets, whose fertile
imaginations have been chiefly employed in
national or Eastern romance; the one abounding
in variety of character, event, and description
of familiar or grand objects, and enlivened with
natural feelings and passions; the other, decorated
with more artificial and luxurious description,
and animated with exaggerated and morbid
emotions, each in its own way continually
exciting the interest and curiosity of the reader,
and leading him on through a paradise of fairyland.
In these days, therefore, legends of real
events, and characters already known to the
world, even though animated with a warmth
of sentiment, and vividness of description far
exceeding my ability to give, have not the
same chance for popularity which they might
formerly have had. I own this, and am willing
unrepiningly to submit to disadvantages which
arise from such a delightful cause. For who
would wish, were it possible, to remove such an
impediment for his own convenience! It is
better to take a humble place with such contemporaries,
than to stand distinguished in a
desert place. I only mention this circumstance
to bespeak some consideration and indulgence
from readers accustomed to such intoxicating
The hero of my first legend is one, at the
sound of whose name some sensation of pride
and of gratitude passes over every Scottish
heart. He belongs indeed to the "land of the
mountain and the flood," which, till of later
years, was considered by her more fertile neighbour
as a land of poverty and barrenness; but
the generous devotedness of a true patriot connects
him with the noblest feelings of all mankind;
or if the contemplation of that excellence
be more circumscribed, the feeling in his
countrymen which arises from it, is for that very
reason the deeper and the dearer. The circumstances
of the times which followed him, — the
continuance of Edward's power in Scotland, destroyed,
many years after, by the wisdom and
perseverance of a most gallant and popular
king, has made the name of Wallace occur but
seldom in the regular histories of Scotland,
while his great actions are mentioned so carelessly
and briefly, that we read them with
disappointment and regret. But when we
remember, that, from being the younger son of a
private gentleman of small consideration, he
became the military leader and governor of the
whole nation, whose hereditary chieftains, accustomed
to lead their clans to battle, were both
proud and numerous, we may well suppose that
all related of him by his friend and contemporary,
Blair, which makes the substance of the
blind Minstrel's poem, is true; or, at least, if
not entirely correct, does not exceed the truth.
The mixture of fiction which is found in it,
forms no reasonable objection to receiving those
details that are probable and coincide with
general history and the character and circumstances
of the times. To raise his country from
the oppression which her nobles so long and so
basely endured; to make head against such a
powerful, warlike and artful enemy; to be
raised by so many hereditary chiefs to be warden
or protector of the realm, on whose behalf he,
as a rival power, entered into compacts and
treaties with the Monarch, who had England
and some fair provinces of France under his
dominion, presupposes a fortune and ability
in war, joined with talents for governing, equal
to all that his private historian or even tradition
has ascribed to him. We may smile at the
wonderful feats of strength related of him by
Blind Harry, and traditionally received over the
whole country; but when we consider that his
personal acts, when still very young, are the
only reason that can be given for attracting so
many followers to his command, we must believe
that his lofty soul and powerful intellect were
united to a body of extraordinary strength and
activity. Wallace Wight, or the Strong, is the
appellation by which he is distinguished in his
own country; and the romantic adventures of a
Robin Hood are by tradition fondly joined to the
mighty acts of Scotland's triumphant deliverer.
His character and story are in every point
of view particularly fitted either for poetry or
romance; yet, till very lately, he has not been
the subject, as far as I know, of any modern
pen. Wallace, or the Field of Falkirk, written
in nervous and harmonious verse, by a genius
particularly successful in describing the warlike
manners and deeds of ancient times, and in
mixing the rougher qualities of the veteran
leader with the supposed tenderness of a lover,
is a poem that does honour to its author and
to the subject she has chosen. Wallace, or the
Scottish Chief, which through a rich variety of
interesting, imaginary adventures, conducts
a character of most perfect virtue and heroism
to an affecting and tragical end — is a romance
deservedly popular. This tribute to the name
of Wallace from two distinguished English
women, I mention with pleasure, notwithstanding
all I have said against mixing true with
fictitious history. *
* Since the above observations were written, Mrs.
Heman's prize-poem, on the given subject of the meeting
Wallace, it must be owned, though several
times the deliverer of his country from the immediate
oppression of her formidable enemy, was
cut off in the midst of his noble exertions and
left her in the power of Edward; therefore he
was not, in a full sense, the deliverer of Scotland,
which was ultimately rescued from the
yoke by Robert Bruce. But had there been no
Wallace to precede him, in all human likelyhood,
there would have been no Bruce. Had
it not been for the successful struggles of the
first hero, the country, with her submissive
nobles, would have been so completely subdued
and permanently settled under the iron
yoke of Edward, that the second would never
have conceived the possibility of recovering its
between Wallace and Bruce on the banks of Carron, has
appeared, with its fair-won honours on its brow; and there
is a Play on the life of our hero, from the pen of a very
young and promising dramatist, which is at present represented
with success on the stage of Covent Garden.
independence. The example set by Wallace,
and the noble spirit he had breathed into his
countrymen, were a preparation — one may
almost say, the moral implements by which the
valiant and persevering Bruce accomplished his
glorious task.
The reader, perhaps, will smile at the earnestness
with which I estimate the advantage of
having been rescued from the domination of
Edward, now, when England and Scotland are
happily united; making one powerful and generous
nation, which hath nobly maintained, for
so many generations, a degree of rational liberty,
under the form of a limited monarchy, hitherto
enjoyed by no other people. But when we recollect
the treatment which Ireland received as
a conquered country, and of which she in some
degree still feels the baleful effects, we shall
acknowledge, with gratitude, the blessing of
having been united to England under far different
circumstances. Nay, it may not, perhaps,
be estimating the noble acts of William
Wallace at an extravagant rate to believe, that
England as well as Scotland, under Divine Providence,
may owe its liberty to him: for, had
the English crown, at so early a period, acquired
such an accession of power, it would probably,
like the other great crowns of Europe,
have established for itself a despotism which
could not have been shaken.
In comparing the two great heroes of that period,
it should always be remembered, that Bruce
fought for Scotland and her crown conjoined;
Wallace, for Scotland alone; no Chronicler or
Historian, either English or Scotch, having
ever imputed to him any but the purest and
most disinterested motives for his unwearied
and glorious exertions.
The hero of my second Legend is Columbus;
who, to the unfettered reach of thought belonging
to a Philosopher, the sagacious intrepidity
of a chieftain or leader, and the adventurous
boldness of a discoverer, added the gentleness
and humanity of a Christian. For the first and
last of these qualities he stands distinguished
from all those enterprising chiefs who followed
his steps. The greatest event in the history of
Columbus takes place at the beginning, occasioning
so strong an excitement that what follows
after, as immediately connected with him,
(his persecution and sufferings excepted,) are
comparatively flat and uninteresting; and then
it is our curiosity regarding the inhabitants and
productions of the new world that chiefly occupy
our attention. Landing on some new coast;
receiving visits from the Indians and their Caziques;
bartering beads and trinkets for gold or
provisions, under circumstances similar to those
attending his intercourse with so many other
places; nautical observations, and continued
mutinies and vexations arising from the avarice
and ambition of his officers, are the changes
continually recurring. His history, therefore,
circumstantially, rather obscures than displays
his greatness; the outline being so
grand and simple, the detail so unvaried and
minute. The bloody, nefarious, and successful
adventures of Cortes and Pizarro, keep their
heroes (great men of a more vulgar cast,) constantly
in possession of the reader's attention,
and have rendered them favourable subjects of
history, tragedy, and romance. But the great
consequences and change in human affairs which
flowed from the astonishing enterprise of Columbus,
have made his existence as one of the
loftiest landmarks in the rout of time. And he
is a hero who may be said to have belonged to
no particular country; for every nation has felt
the effects of his powerful mind; and every
nation, in the days at least in which he lived,
was unworthy of him. This, notwithstanding
these poetical defects in his story, has prevented
him from being neglected by poets. The first
epic poem produced in the continent which he
discovered, has, with great propriety, Columbus
for its hero; and fragments of a poem on the
same noble subject, published some years ago
in this country, have given us cause to regret,
that the too great fastidiousness of the author
should have induced him to publish fragments
only: a fastidiousness which, on this occasion,
had been better employed, as such a disposition
most commonly is, against others and not himself.

The subject of my third Legend is a woman,
and one whose name is unknown in history.
It was indeed unknown to myself till the publication
of Mr. Rose's answer to Fox's History of
James II., in the notes to which work a very
interesting account of her will be found, given
in extracts from Lady Murray's narrative, a
MS. hitherto unpublished. My ignorance
regarding her is the more extraordinary, as she
married into a family of my own name, from
which it is supposed, my forefathers took their
descent; one of my ancestors also being the
friend of that Baillie of Jerviswood, who suffered
for the religion and independence of his
country, and engaged in the same noble cause
which obliged him, about the time of Jerviswood's
death, to fly from Scotland and spend
several years in a foreign land. Had her character,
claiming even this very distant and slight
connection with it, been known to me in my
youthful days, I might have suspected that early
association had something to do in the great
admiration with which it has inspired me; but
becoming first acquainted with it when the
season of ardour and enthusiasm is past, I believe
I may be acquitted from all charge of partiality.
It appears to me that a more perfect
female character could scarcely be imagined;
for while she is daily exercised in all that is useful,
enlivening and endearing, her wisdom and
courage on every extraordinary and difficult
occasion, give a full assurance to the mind, that
the devoted daughter of Sir Patrick Hume,
and the tender help-mate of Baillie, would have
made a most able and magnanimous queen.
The account we have of her is given by her
own children; but there is a harmonious consistency,
and an internal evidence of truth
through the whole of it, which forbids us to
doubt. At any rate, the leading and most
singular events of her life, mentioned in the
inscription on her tomb from the pen of Judge
Burnet, must be true. But after having written
the Legend from Mr. Rose's notes alone, I have
been fortunate enough to see the original work
from which they were taken; and, availing
myself of this advantage, have added some
passages to it which I thought would increase
the interest of the whole, and set the character
of the heroine in a still more favourable light.
For this I am indebted to the kindness and
liberality of Thomas Thomson, Esq. keeper of
the Registers, Edinburgh, who will, I hope,
be induced, ere long, to give such a curious and
interesting manuscript to the public.
I might have selected for my heroine women
who, in high situations of trust, as sovereigns,
regents, and temporary governors of towns,
castles, or provinces, and even at the head of
armies, have behaved with a wisdom and courage
that would have been honourable for the noblest
of the other sex. But to vindicate female
courage and abilities has not been my aim. I
wished to exhibit a perfection of character
which is peculiar to woman, and makes her, in
the family that is blessed with such an inmate,
through every vicissitude of prosperity and
distress, something which man can never be.
He may indeed be, and often is, as tender and
full of gentle offices as a woman; and she
may be, and has often been found, on great
occasions, as courageous, firm, and enterprising,
as a man; but the character of both will be
most admired when these qualities cross them
but transiently, like passing gleams of sunshine
in a stormy day, and do not make the prevailing
attribute of either. A man seldom becomes a
careful and gentle nurse, but when actuated by
strong affection; a woman is seldom roused to
great and courageous exertion but when something
most dear to her is in immediate danger:
reverse the matter, and you deform the fair seemliness
of both. It is from this general impression
of their respective natures that tenderness in man
is so pathetic, and valour in woman so sublime.
A wise and benevolent Providence hath made
them partake of each other's more peculiar
qualities, that they may be meet and rational
companions to one another — that man may be
beloved, and woman regarded with respect.
What has been considered as the jealousy of
man lest woman should become his rival, is
founded, I believe, on a very different principle.
In regard to mental acquirements of an abstruse
or difficult kind, though a pretty general disapprobation
of them, when found in the possession
of women, is felt, and too often expressed
in illiberal and unworthy phrase, yet I
apprehend, that had these been supposed to be
cultivated without interfering with domestic
duties, no prejudice would ever have been
entertained against them. To neglect useful
and appropriate occupations, for those which
may be supposed to be connected with vanity,
rather than with any other gratification, is
always offensive. But if a woman possess that
strong natural bent for learning which enables
her to acquire it quickly, without prejudice to
what is more necessary; or if her fortune be so
ample that the greater part of her time reasonably
remains at her own disposal, there are few
men, I believe, who will be disposed to find
fault with her for all that she may know, provided
she make no vain display of her acquirements;
and amongst those few, I will venture
to say, there will not be one truly learned man
to be found. Were learning chiefly confined to
gownsmen, a country gentleman, who neglected
his affairs and his husbandry to study the dead
languages, would meet with as little quarter as
she who is tauntingly called a learned lady.
But as every one in the rank of a gentleman is
obliged to spend so many years of his youth in
learning Latin and Greek, whatever may be his
natural bias or destined profession, he is never
ridiculed, under any circumstances, for pursuing
that which has already cost him so much labour.
Women have this desirable privilege over the
other sex, that they may be unlearned without
any implied inferiority; and I hope our modern
zeal for education will never proceed far enough
to deprive them of this great advantage. At
the same time they may avowedly and creditably
possess as much learning, either in science
or languages, as they can fairly and honestly
attain, the neglect of more necessary occupations
being here considered as approaching to a
real breach of rectitude.
"My helpful child!" was the fond and grateful
appellation bestowed upon our heroine, with
her mother's dying blessing; and could the
daughters of every family conceive the selfapprobation
and happiness of cheerful and useful
occupation, the love of God and favour of
man which is earned by this blessed character
of helpfulness, how much vanity and weariness,
and disappointment, and discontent, would be
banished from many a prosperous home! "It
is more blessed to minister than be ministered
unto," said the most perfect character that ever
appeared in human form. Could any young
person of ever such a listless or idle disposition,
not entirely debased by selfishness, read, in the
narrative alluded to, of the different occupations
of Lady Griseld Baillie and a sister of hers, nearly
of her own age, whose time was mostly spent in
reading or playing on a musical instrument, and
wish for one moment to have been the last--
mentioned lady rather than the other?
But in preferring a heroine of this class for
my Legend, I encountered a difficulty which, I
fear, I have not been able to overcome; the
want of events, and the most striking circumstance
of the story belonging to the earlier part
of it, while the familiar domestic details of her
life, which so faithfully reveal the sweetest traits
of her character, are associated in our imaginations
with what is considered as vulgar and
mean. I have endeavoured by the selection I
have made of things to be noticed, and in the
expressions which convey them to the fancy, to
offend, as little as might be, the fastidious reader;
and I beg that he will on his part receive it with
Of the few shorter pieces, contained in this
small volume, I have little to say. The two
first were originally written very rapidly for the
amusement of a young friend, who was fond of
frightful stories; but I have since endeavoured
to correct some of the defects arising from hasty
composition. The third is taken from a true,
or at least traditional story. It was told to me
by Sir George Beaumont, as one which he had
heard from his mother, the late Lady Beaumont,
who said it was a tradition belonging to the
castle of some baron in the north of England,
where it was believed to have happened. It
was recommended by him as a good subject for
a ballad, and, with such a recommendation, I
was easily tempted to endeavour, at least, to
preserve its simple and striking circumstances,
in that popular form. I have altered nothing
of the story, nor have I added anything but the
founding of the abbey and the baron's becoming
a monk, in imitation of the ending of that exquisite
ballad, The Eve of St. John, where so
much is implied in so few words; the force and
simplicity of which I have always particularly
admired, though I readily own (and the reader
will have too much reason to agree with me)
that it is more easily admired than imitated.
There is a nun in Dryburgh bower
Ne'er looks upon the sun;
There is a monk in Melrose tower,
He speaketh word to none.
That nun who ne'er beholds the day,
That monk who speaks to none,
That nun was Smaylho'mes lady gay,
That monk the bold baron."
The fourth is taken from the popular story of
Fadon, in the Blind Minstrel's Life of Wallace.
That the hero, in those days of superstition, and
under the influence of compunction for a hasty
deed, might not have had some strong vision or
dream which, related to his followers, might
give rise to such a story, I will not pretend to
say. However, it could not with propriety find
a place in a legend which rejects fiction. Yet,
thinking it peculiarly fitted for the subject of
a mysterious ballad, and being loth to lose it
entirely, I have ventured to introduce it to the
reader in its present form. Ballads of this
character generally arrest the attention and
excite some degree of interest. They must be
very ill-written indeed if this fail to be the case;
and if some modern ballads of extraordinary
power, from a very witching pen, have not
rendered the public less easy to please than they
formerly were, I may hope that these productions,
slight as they are, will at least be received
with forbearance.
Having now said all which, I believe, I may
reasonably say in explanation and behalf of the
contents of my book, I leave my reader to
peruse it, perhaps, in nearly the same disposition
regarding it as if I had said nothing at
all on the subject. But I have the satisfaction,
at least, of having endeavoured to do justice to
myself, and shall not be condemned unheard.
INSENSIBLE to high heroic deeds,
Is there a spirit clothed in mortal weeds,
Who at the Patriot's moving story,
Devoted to his country's good,
Devoted to his country's glory,
Shedding for freemen's rights his generous blood; —
List'neth not with breath heaved high,
Quiv'ring nerve, and glistening eye,
Feeling within a spark of heavenly flame,
That with the hero's worth may humble kindred claim?
If such there be, still let him plod
On the dull foggy paths of care,
Nor raise his eyes from the dank sod
To view creation fair:
What boots to him the wond'rous works of God?
His soul with brutal things hath ta'en its earthy lair.
Come, youths, whose eyes are forward cast,
And in the future see the past, —
The past, as winnow'd in the early mind
With husk and prickle left behind!
Come; whether under lowland vest,
Or, by the mountain-tartan prest,
Your gen'rous bosoms heave;
Pausing a while in thoughtful rest,
My legend lay receive.
Come, aged sires, who love to tell
What fields were fought, what deeds were done;
What things in olden times befell, —
Those good old times, whose term is run!
Come ye, whose manly strength with pride
Is breasting now the present tide
Of worldly strife, and cast aside
A hasty glance at what hath been!
Come, courtly dames, in silken sheen,
And ye, who under thatched roofs abide;
Yea, ev'n the barefoot child by cottage fire,
Who doth some shreds of northern lore acquire,
By the stirr'd embers' scanty light, —
List to my legend lay of Wallace wight.
Scotland, with breast unmail'd, had sheath'd her sword,
Stifling each rising curse and hopeless prayer,
And sunk beneath the Southron's faithless lord
In sullen, deep despair.
The holds and castles of the land
Were by her hateful foemen mann'd.
To revels in each stately hall,
Did tongues of foreign accent call,
Where her quell'd chiefs must tamely bear
From braggard pride the taunting jeer.
Her harvest-fields, by strangers reap'd,
Were in the stranger's garner heap'd.
The tenant of the poorest cot,
Seeing the spoiler from his door
Bear unreproved his hard-earn'd store,
Blush'd thus to be, and be a Scot.
The very infant at his mother's beck,
Tho' with writh'd lip and scowling eye,
Was taught to keep his lisping tongue in check
Nor curse the Southron passing by.
Baron brave and girded knight,
The tyrant's hireling slaves could be;
Nor graced their state, nor held their right.
Alone upon his rocky height,
The eagle rear'd his unstain'd crest,
And soaring from his cloudy nest,
Turn'd to the sun his daring eye,
And wing'd at will the azure sky,
For he alone was free.
Oh! who so base as not to feel
The pride of freedom once enjoy'd,
Tho' hostile gold or hostile steel
Have long that bliss destroy'd!
The meanest drudge will sometimes vaunt
Of independent sires, who bore
Names known to fame in days of yore,
'Spite of the smiling stranger's taunt;
But recent freedom lost — what heart
Can bear the humbling thought — the quick'ning, mad'ning
Yes, Caledonian hearts did burn,
And their base chain in secret spurn;
And, bold upon some future day,
Swore to assert Old Scotland's native sway;
But 'twas in fitful thoughts that pass'd in thought away.
Tho' musing in lone cave or forest deep,
Some generous youths might all indignant weep;
Or in the vision'd hours of sleep,
Gird on their swords for Scotland's right,
And from her soil the spoiler sweep,
Yet all this bold emprise pass'd with the passing night.
But in the woods of Allerslie,
Within the walls of good Dundee,
Or by the pleasant banks of Ayr,
Wand'ring o'er heath or upland fair,
Existed worth without alloy,
In form a man, in years a boy,
Whose nightly thoughts for Scotland's weal,
Which clothed his form in mimick steel,
Which helm'd his brow, and glav'd his hand,
To drive the tyrant from the land,
Pass'd not away with passing sleep;
But did, as danger nearer drew,
Their purpos'd bent the firmer keep,
And still the bolder grew.
'Tis pleasant in his early frolick feats,
Which fond tradition long and oft repeats,
The op'ning of some dauntless soul to trace,
Whose bright career of fame, a country's annals grace;
Yet this brief legend must forbear to tell
The bold adventures that befell
The stripling Wallace, light and strong,
The shady woods of Clyde among,
Where, roaring o'er its rocky walls,
The water's headlong torrent falls,
Full, rapid, powerful, flashing to the light,
Till sunk the boiling gulf beneath,
It mounts again like snowy wreath,
Which, scatter'd by contending blasts,
Back to the clouds their treasure casts,
ceaseless wild turmoil, a grand and wondrous sight!
Or, climbing Carthland's Craigs, that high
O'er their pent river strike the eye,
Wall above wall, half veil'd, half seen,
The pendant folds of wood between,
With jagged breach, and rift, and scar,
Like the scorch'd wreck of ancient war,
And seem, to musing fancy's gaze,
The ruin'd holds of other days.
His native scenes, sublime and wild,
Where oft the youth his hours beguil'd,
As forester with bugle horn
As angler in the pooly wave;
As fugitive in lonely cave,
Forsaken and forlorn!
When still, as foeman cross'd his way,
Alone, defenceless, or at bay,
He raised his arm for freemen's right,
And on proud robbers fell the power of Wallace wight.
There is a melancholy pleasure
In tales of hapless love; — a treasure
From which the sadden'd bosom borrows
A short respite from present sorrows,
And ev'n the gay delight to feel,
As down young cheeks the soft tears steal;
Yet will I not that woeful tale renew,
And in light hasty words relate
How the base Southron's arm a woman slew,
And robb'd him of his wedded mate.
The name of her, who shar'd his noble breast,
Shall be remember'd and be blest.
A sweeter lay, a gentler song,
To those sad woes belong!
As light'ning from some twilight cloud,
At first but like a streaky line
In the hush'd sky, with fitful shine
Its unregarded brightness pours,
Till from its spreading, darkly volumed shroud
The bursting tempest roars;
His countrymen with faithless gaze
Beheld his valour's early blaze.
But rose at length with swelling fame
The honours of his deathless name;
Till, to the country's farthest bound,
All gen'rous hearts stirr'd at the sound;
Then Scotland's youth with new-wak'd pride,
Flock'd gladly to the hero's side,
In harness braced, with burnish'd brand,
A brave and noble band!
Lenox, Douglas, Campbell, Hay,
Boyd, Scrimger, Ruthven, Haliday,
Gordon, Crawford, Keith, were there;
Lauder, Lundy, Cleland, Kerr,
Steven, Ireland's vagrant lord;
Newbiggen, Fraser, Rutherford,
Dundas and Tinto, Currie, Scott;
Nor be in this brave list forgot
A Wallace of the hero's blood,
With many patriots staunch and good;
And first, though latest nam'd, there came,
Within his gen'rous breast to hold
A brother's place, — true war-mate bold!
The good, the gallant Graham.
Thus grown to strength, on Biggar's well-fought field
He made on marshall'd host his first essay;
Where Edward's gather'd powers, in strong array,
Did to superior skill and valour yield,
And gain'd the glorious day.
Then at the Forest kirk, that spot of ground
Long to be honour'd, flush'd with victory,
Crowded the Scottish worthies, bold and free,
Their noble chieftain round;
Where many a generous heart beat high
With glowing cheek and flashing eye,
And many a portly figure trod
With stately steps the trampled sod.
Banners in the wind were streaming;
In the morning light were gleaming
Sword, and spear, and burnish'd mail,
And crested helm, and avantail,
And tartan plaids, of many a hue,
In flickering sunbeams brighter grew,
While youthful warriors' weapons ring
With hopeful, wanton brandishing.
There, midmost in the warlike throng,
Stood William Wallace, tall and strong;
Towering far above the rest,
With portly mien and ample breast,
Brow and eye of high command,
Visage fair, and figure grand:
Ev'n to the dullest peasant standing by,
Who fasten'd still on him a wondering eye,
He seem'd the master-spirit of the land.
O for some magic power to give
In vision'd form what then did live!
That group of heroes to pourtray,
Who from their trammell'd country broke
The hateful tyrant's galling yoke
On that eventful day!
Behold! like changeful streamers of the North,
Which tinge at times the wintry night,
With many hues of glowing light,
Their momentary forms break forth
To Fancy's gifted sight.
Each in his warlike panoply
With sable plumage waving high,
And burnish'd sword in sinewy hand,
Appears a chieftain of command,
Whose will, by look or sign to catch,
A thousand eager vassals watch.
What tho' those warriors, gleaming round,
On peaceful death-bed never lay,
But each, upon his fated day,
His end on field or scaffold found;
Oh! start not at the vision bright,
As if it were a ghastly sight!
For, 'midst their earthly coil, they knew
Feelings of joy so keen, so true,
As he who feels, with up-rais'd eye,
Thanks Heaven for life, and cannot rue
The gift, be what it may the death that he shall die.
Warden of Scotland, (not ashamed
A native right of rule to own
In worth and valour matchless shown)
They William Wallace there proclaim'd;
And there, exultingly, each gallant soul,
Ev'n proudly yielded to such high controul.
Greater than aught a tyrant ere achieved,
Was power so given, and so receiv'd.
This truth full well King Edward knew,
And back his scatter'd host he drew,
Suing for peace with prudent guile;
And Wallace in his mind, the while,
Scanning with wary, wise debate
The various dangers of the state,
Desire of further high revenge foregoes
To give the land repose.
But smother'd hatred, in the garb of peace,
Did not, mean time, from hostile cunning cease;
But still more cruel deeds devis'd,
In that deceitful seeming guised.
The Southron rulers, phrasing fair
Their notice, summon'd lord, and laird, and knight,
To hold with them an ancient court of right,
At the good town, so named, their court of Ayr.
And at this general summons came
The pride and hope of many a name,
The love and anxious care of many a gentle dame.
Ent'ring the fatal Barns, fair sight!
Went one by one the manly train,
But neither baron, laird, nor knight,
Did e'er return again.
A heaven-commission'd friend that day
Stopp'd Wallace, hast'ning on his way,
(Who, by some seeming chance detain'd,
Had later at his home remain'd,)
The horse's bridle sternly grasp'd,
And then for rueful utterance gasp'd.
"Oh! go not to the Barns of Ayr!
"Kindred and friends are murder'd there.
"The faithless Southrons, one by one,
"On them the hangman's task hath done.
"Oh! turn thy steed, and fearful ruin shun!"
He, shudd'ring, heard, with visage pale,
Which quickly chang'd to wrath's terrific hue;
And then apace came sorrow's bursting wail;
The noble heart could weep that could not quail,
"My friends, my kinsmen, war-mates, bold and true!
"Met ye a villain's end! Oh is it so with you!"
The hero turn'd his chafing steed,
And to the wild woods bent his speed.
But not to keep in hiding there,
Or give his sorrow to despair,
For the fierce tumult in his breast
To speedy, dreadful action press'd.
And there within a tangled glade,
List'ning the courser's coming tread,
With hearts that shar'd his ire and grief,
A faithful band receiv'd their chief.
In Ayr the guilty Southrons held a feast,
When that dire day its direful course had run,
And laid them down, their weary limbs to rest
Where the foul deed was done.
But ere beneath the cottage thatch
Cocks had crow'd the second watch;
When sleepers breathe in heavy plight,
Press'd with the visions of the night,
And spirits, from unhallow'd ground,
Ascend, to walk their silent round;
When trembles dell or desert heath,
The witches' orgy dance beneath, —
To the roused Warder's fearful gaze,
The Barns of Ayr were in a blaze.
The dense, dun smoke was mounting slow
And stately, from the flaming wreck below,
And mantling far aloft in many a volumed wreath;
Whilst town and woods, and ocean wide did lye,
Tinctur'd like glowing furnace-iron, beneath
Its awful canopy.
Red mazy sparks soon with the dense smoke blended,
And far around like fiery sleet descended.
From the scorch'd and crackling pile
Fierce burst the growing flames the while;
Thro' creviced wall and buttress strong,
Sweeping the rafter'd roofs along;
Which, as with sudden crash they fell,
Their raging fierceness seem'd to quell,
And for a passing instant spread
O'er land and sea a lurid shade;
Then with increasing brightness, high
In spiral form, shot to the sky
With momentary height so grand,
That chill'd beholders breathless stand.
Thus rose and fell the flaming surgy flood,
'Till fencing round the gulphy light,
Black, jagg'd, and bare, a fearful sight!
Like ruin grim of former days,
Seen 'thwart the broad sun's setting rays,
The guilty fabric stood.
And dreadful are the deaths, I ween,
Which midst that fearful wreck have been.
The pike and sword, and smoke and fire,
Have minister'd to vengeful ire.
New-waked wretches stood aghast
To see the fire-flood in their rear,
Close to their breast the pointed spear,
And in wild horror yell'd their last.
But what dark figures now emerge
From the dread gulph and cross the light,
Appearing on its fearful verge,
Each like an armed sprite?
Whilst one above the rest doth tower, —
A form of stern gigantic power,
Whirling from his lofty stand
The smold'ring stone or burning brand?
Those are the leagued for Scotland's native right,
Whose clashing arms rang Southron's knell,
When to their fearful work they fell, —
That form is Wallace wight.
And he like heaven's impetuous blast
Which stops not on its mission'd way,
By early morn, in strong array,
Onward to Glasgow past;
Where English Piercy held the rule;
Too noble and too brave to be a tyrant's too.
A summon'd court should there have been,
But there far other coil was seen.
With fellest rage, in lane and street,
Did harnass'd Scot and Southron meet;
Well fought and bloody was the fierce afray:
But Piercy was by Wallace slain,
Who put to rout his num'rous train,
And gain'd the town by noon of day.
Nor paused he there, for ev'ning tide
Saw him at Bothwel's hostile gate,
Which might not long assault abide,
But yielded to its fate.
And on from thence, with growing force,
He held his rapid, glorious course;
Whilst his roused clansmen, braced and bold,
As town and castle, tower and hold,
To the resistless victor fell,
His patriot numbers swell.
Thus when with current full and strong,
The wintry river bears along
Thro' mountain pass, and frith, and plain; —
Streams that from many sources pour,
Answer from far its kindred roar,
And deep'ning echoes roar again.
From its hill of heathy brown,
The muirland streamlet hastens down;
The mountain torrent from its rock,
Shoots to the glen with furious shock;
E'en runlet low, and sluggish burn,
Speed to their chief with many a mazy turn,
And in his mingled strength, roll proudly to the main.
O'er Stirling's towers his standard plays,
Lorn owns his rule, Argyle obeys.
In Angus, Merns, and Aberdeen,
Nor English Lord nor Cerf is seen;
Dundee alone averts King Edward's fate,
And Scotland's warden thunders at her gate.
But there his eager hopes are crost,
For news are brought of English host,
Which fast approaching thro' the land,
At Stirling mean to make their stand.
Faint speaks the haggard breathless scout,
Like one escaped from bloody rout, —
"On, Cressingham and Warren lead
"The martial'd host with stalwart speed,
"It numbers thirty thousand men,
"And thine, bold chieftain, only ten."
But higher tower'd the chieftain's head,
Broad grew his breast with ampler spread;
O'er cheek and brow the deep flush past,
And to high heaven his eyes he cast:
Right plainly spoke that silent prayer,
"My strength and aid are there!"
Then look'd he round with kindly cheer
On his brave war-mates standing near,
Who scann'd his face with eager eye
His secret feelings to descry.
"Come Hearts! who, on your native soil,
"For Scotland's cause have bravely stood,
"Come, brace ye for another broil,
"And prove your generous blood.
"Let us but front the tyrant's train,
"And he who lists may count their numbers then."
Nor dull of heart, nor slow were they
Their noble Leader to obey.
Cheer'd with loud shouts he gave his prompt command,
Forthwith to bound them on their way.
And straight their eager march they take
O'er hill and heath, o'er burn and brake,
Till marshall'd soon in dark array,
Upon their destin'd field of war they stand.
Behind them lay the hardy north;
Before, the slowly winding Forth
Flow'd o'er the noiseless sand;
Its full broad tide with fossy sides,
Which east and west the land divides,
By wooden bridge was spann'd.
Beyond it, on a craggy slope,
Whose chimney'd roofs the steep ridge cope,
There smoked an ancient town;
While higher on the firm-based rock,
Which oft had braved war's thunder-shock,
Embattled turrets frown.
A frith, with fields and woods, and hamlets gay,
And mazy waters, slyly seen,
Glancing thro' shades of Alder green,
Wore eastward from the sight to distance grey;
While broomy knoll and rocky peak,
And heathy mountains, bare and bleak,
A lofty screen on either hand,
Majestic rose, and grand.
Such was the field on which with dauntless pride
They did their coming foe abide;
Nor waited long till from afar
Were spy'd their moving ranks of war,
Like rising storm, which, from the western main,
Bears on in seried length its cloudy train; —
Slowly approaching on the burthen'd wind,
Moves each dark mass, and still another lowers behind.
And soon upon the bridge appears,
Darkly rising on the light,
Nodding plumes and pointed spears,
And, crowding close, full many a warlike knight,
Who from its narrow gorge successive pour
To form their ranks upon the northern shore.
Now, with notes of practis'd skill,
English trumpets, sounding shrill,
The battle's boastful prelude give
Which answer prompt and bold receive
From Scottish drum's long rowling bent,
And, — sound to valiant clansmen sweet! —
The highland pipe, whose lengthen'd swell
Of warlike pibroch, rose and fell,
Like wailings of the midnight wind,
With voice of distant streams combin'd,
While mountain, rock, and dell, the martial din repeat.
Then many a high-plumed gallant rear'd his head,
And proudly smote the ground with firmer tread,
Who did, ere close of ev'ning, lye
With ghastly face turn'd to the sky,
No more again the rouse of war to hear.
And many for the combat burn'd,
Who never from its broil return'd,
Kindred or home to cheer.
How short the term that shall divide
The firm-nerv'd youth's exerted force, —
The warrior, glowing in his pride,
From the cold stiffen'd corse!
A little term, pass'd with such speed,
As would in courtly revel scarce suffice,
Mated with lady fair, in silken guise,
The measur'd dance to lead.
His soldiers, firm as living rock,
Now braced them for the battle's shock;
And watch'd their chieftain's keen looks glancing
From marshall'd clans to foes advancing;
Smiled with the smile his eye that lighten'd,
Glow'd with the glow his brow that brighten'd:
But when his burnish'd brand he drew,
His towering form terrific grew,
And every Scotchman, at the sight,
Felt thro' his nerves a giant's might,
And drew his patriot sword with Wallace Wight.
For what of thrilling sympathy,
Did e'er in human bosom vye
With that which stirs the soldier's breast,
When, high in god-like worth confest,
Some noble leader gives command,
To combat for his native land?
No; friendship's freely-flowing tide,
The soul expanding; filial pride,
That hears with craving, fond desire
of bearings of gallant sire;
The yearnings of domestic bliss,
Ev'n love itself will yield to this.
Few words the lofty hero utter'd,
But deep response was widely mutter'd,
Like echo'd echoes, circling round
Some mountain lake's steep rocky bound.
Then rush'd they fiercely on their foes,
And loud o'er drum and war-pipe rose
The battle's mingled roar.
The eager shout, the weapon's clash;
The adverse rank's first closing crash,
The sullen hum of striving life,
The busy beat of trampling strife,
From castle, rocks, and mountains round,
Down the long firth, a grand and awful sound,
A thousand echoes bore.
Spears cross'd spears, a bending grove,
As front to front the warriors strove.
Thro' the dust-clouds, rising dun,
Their burnish'd brands flash'd to the sun
With quickly changing, shiv'ring light,
Like streamers on the northern night;
While arrow-showers came hurtling past,
Like splinter'd wreck driven by the blast,
What time fierce winter is contending,
With Norway's pines, their branches rending.
Long penants, flags, and banners move
The fearful strife of arms above,
Not as display'd in colours fair,
They floated on the morning air;
But with a quick, ungentle motion,
As sheeted sails, torn by the blast,
Flap round some vessel's rocking mast
Upon a stormy ocean.
Opposing ranks, that onward bore,
In tumult mix'd, are ranks no more;
Nor aught discern'd of skill or form; —
All a wild, bick'ring, steely storm!
While oft around some fav'rite Chieftain's crest,
The turmoil thick'ning, darkly rose,
As on rough seas the billow grows,
O'er lesser waves high-heaved, but soon deprest.
So gallant Grame, thou noble Scot!
Around thee rose the fearful fray,
And other brave compeers of bold essay,
Who did not spare their mothers' sons that day,
And ne'er shall be forgot.
But where the mighty Wallace fought,
Like spirit quick, like giant strong,
Plunging the foe's thick ranks among,
Wide room in little time was hew'd,
And grizly sights around were strew'd;
Recoil'd aghast the helmed throng,
And every hostile thing to earth was brought.
Full strong and hardy was the foe
To whom he gave a second blow.
Many a knight and lord
Fell victims to his sword,
And Cressingham's proud crest lay low.
And yet, all Southrons as they were,
Their ranks dispers'd, their leader slain,
Passing the bridge with dauntless air,
They still came pouring on the plain;
But weaken'd of its rafter'd strength,
'Tis said by warlike craft, and trod
By such successive crowds, at length
The fabrick fell with all its living load.
Loud was the shriek the sinking Southrons gave,
Thus dash'd into the deep and booming wave.
For there a fearful death had they,
Clutching each floating thing in vain,
And struggling rose and sunk again,
Who, 'midst the battle's loud affray,
Had the fair meed of honour sought,
And on the fieldlike lions fought.
And there, upon that field — a bloody field,
Where many a wounded youth was lying,
And many dead and many dying,
Did England's arms to Scotland's heroes yield.
The close confusion opening round,
The wild pursuit's receding sound,
Is ringing in their ears, who low
On cloated earth are laid, nor know,
When those who chase and those who fly,
With hasty feet come clatt'ring by,
Or who hath won or who hath lost;
Save when some dying Scotchman lifts his head,
And, asking faintly how the day hath sped,
At the glad news, half from the ground
Starts up, and gives a cheering sound
And waves his hand and yields the ghost.
A smile is on the corse's cheek,
Stretch'd by the heather bush, on death bed bare and bleak.
With rueful eyes the wreck of that dire hour,
The Southron's yet unbroken power,
As on the river's adverse shore they stood,
Silent beheld, till, like a mountain flood,
Rush'd Stirling's castled warriors to the plain;
Attack'd their now desponding force,
And fiercely press'd their hasty course
Back to their boasted native soil again.
Of foes so long detested, — fear'd,
Were towns and castles quickly clear'd;
Thro' all the land at will might free men range:
Nor slave nor tyrant there appear'd;
It was a blessed change!
The peasant's cot and homely farm,
Hall-house and tower, secure from harm
Or lawless spoil, again became
The cheerful charge of wife or dame.
'Neath humble roofs, from rafter slung
The harmless spear, on which was hung
The flaxen yarn in spindles coil'd,
And leathern pouch and hozen soil'd,
And rush or osier creel *, that held
Both field and houshold geer; whilst swell'd
With store of Scotland's fav'rite food,
The seemly sack in corner stood;
Remains of what the foe had left;
Glad sight to folks so long bereft!
* Creel, the common Scotch name for basket.
And look'd at oft and wisely spared,
Tho' still with poorer neighbours shared.
The wooden quaigh * and trencher placed
On the shelv'd wall, its rudeness graced.
Beneath the pot red faggots glanced,
And on the hearth the spindle danced,
As housewife's slight, so finely true,
The lengthen'd thread from distaff drew,
While she, belike, sang ditty shrill
Of Southron louns with lengthen'd trill.
In castle hall with open gate,
The noble lady kept her state,
With girdle clasp'd by gem of price,
Buckle or hasp of rare device,
Which held, constrain'd o'er bodice tight,
Her woollen robe of colours bright;
And with bent head and tranquil eye,
And gesture of fair courtesy,
* Quaigh, a stained drinking cup.
The stranger guest bade to her board
Tho' far a field her warlike lord.
A board where smoked on dishes clear
Of massy pewter, sav'ry cheer,
And potent ale was foaming seen
O'er tankards bright of silver sheen,
Which erst, when foe men bore the sway,
Beneath the sod deep buried lay.
For household goods, from many a hoard,
Were now to household use restored.
Neighbours with neighbours join'd, begin
Their cheerful toil, whilst mingled din.
Of saw or hammer cleave the air,
The roofless bigging * to repair,
The woodman fells the gnarled tree,
The ploughman whistles on the lea;
* Bigging, house or building of any kind, but generally rustic and
The falkner keen his bird lets fly,
As lordlings gaze with upcast eye;
The arrow'd sportsman strays at will,
And fearless strays o'er moor and hill;
The traveller pricks along the plain;
The herdboys shout and children play;
Scotland is Scotland once again,
And all are boon and gay.
Thus, freedom from a grievous yoke,
Like gleam of sunshine o'er them broke;
And souls, when joy and peace were new,
Of every nature, kindlier grew.
It was a term of liberal dealing,
And active hope and friendly feeling,
Thro' all the land might freemen range,
It was a blessed change!
So, when thro' forest wild hath past
The mingled fray of shower and blast,
Tissue of threaded gems is worn
By flower and fern and briar and thorn,
While the scourged oak and shaken pine,
Aloft in brighten'd verdure shine.
Then Wallace to St. Johnston went,
And thro' the country quickly sent
Summons to burgher, knight, and lord,
Who, there convened, with one accord,
Took solemn oath with short debate,
Of fealty to the state,
Until a King's acknowledged, rightful sway, —
native King, they should with loyal hearts obey.
And he with foresight wise, to spare
Poor Scotland, scourged, exhausted, bare,
Whose fields unplough'd, and pastures scant,
Had brought her hardy sons to want,
His conquering army southward led.
Which was on England's plenty fed:
And there, I trow, for many months they took
Spoil of the land which ill that hateful change could brook.
Edward, meantime, asham'd and wroth
At such unseemly foil, and loth
So to be bearded, sent defiance
To Scotland's chief, in sure reliance
That he, with all which he may southward bring,
Of warlike force, dare not encounter England's King.
But Wallace, on the day appointed,
Before this scepter'd and anointed,
Who, strengthen'd with a num'rous host,
There halted, to maintain his boast,
On Stanmore's height, their battle ground,
With all his valiant Scots was found.
A narrow space of stony moor,
With heath and likens mottled o'er,
And cross'd with dew-webs wiry sheen,
The adverse armies lay between.
When upland mists had worn away,
And blue sky over-head was clearing,
And things of distant ken appearing
Fair on the vision burst, that martial grand array.
The force on haughty Edward's side,
Spearmen and archers were descry'd,
Line beyond line, spread far and wide,
Receding from the eye;
While bristling pikes distinct and dark,
As traced aloft with edgy mark,
Seem'd graven on the sky;
And armed Knights arm'd steeds bestriding,
Their morions glancing bright,
And to and fro their gay squires riding
In warlike geer bedight.
O'er all the royal standard flew,
With crimson folds of gorgeous hue,
And near it, ranged, in colours gay,
Inferior flags and banners play,
As broad-wing'd hawk keeps soaring high,
Circled by lesser birds, that wheeling round him fly.
Huge waggon, sleaded car, and wain,
With dark, piled loads, a heavy train,
Store-place of arms and yeoman's cheer,
Frown'd in the further rear.
And martial'd on the northern side,
The northern ranks the charge abide,
In numbers few, but stout of heart,
Their nation's honour to assert.
Thus on the field with clans and liegemen good,
England's great King, and Scotland's Warden stood.
That Monarch proud, did rightly claim
'Mongst Europe's lords the fairest fame,
And had, in cause of Christentie,
Fought with bold Saracens right gallantly.
That Warden was the noblest man
That e'er grac'd nation, race, or clan,
And grasp'd within his brave right hand
sword, which from the dust had rais'd his native land.
Who had not cried, that look'd upon
So brave and grand a sight,
"What stalwart deeds shall here be done
"Before the close of night!"
But Edward mark'd with falt'ring will,
The Scottish battle ranged with skill,
Which spoke the Leader's powerful mind.
On England's host that number'd twice their foes,
But newly raised, nor yet enured to blows,
He rueful look'd, his purpose fail'd,
He look'd again, his spirit quail'd,
And battle gage declin'd.
And thus did he to Wallace yield,
The bloodless honours of the field.
But as the Southron ranks withdrew,
Scarcely believing what he saw,
The wary Chief might not expose
His soldiers to returning foes,
Or ambush'd snare, and gave the order,
With beat of drum and trumpet sounding,
The air with joyous shouts resounding,
To cross with homeward steps the English border.
Scotland thus, from foes secure,
Her prudent Chieftain to enure
His nobles still to martial toil,
Sought contest on a distant soil;
And many a young and valiant knight,
For foreign wars were with their leader dight.
And soon upon the seas careering
In gallant ship, whose penants play,
Waving and curling in the air,
With changeful hues of colour fair,
Themselves as gallant, boon, and gay,
Their course with fav'ring breezes steering,
To friendly France they held their way.
And they upon the ocean met
With warlike fleet, and sails full set,
De Longoville, that bold outlaw,
Whose name kept mariners in awe.
This man, with all his desp'rate crew
Did Wallace on the waves subdue.
One Scottish ship the pirate thought
As on her boarded deck he fought,
Cheer'd by his sea-mates' warlike cries,
A sure and easy prize.
But -Wallace's mighty arm he felt;
Yea, at his conqueror's feet he knelt;
And there disdained not to crave
And take the mercy of the brave;
For still, as thing by nature fit,
The brave unto the brave are knit.
Thus natives of one parent land,
In crowded mart, on foreign strand,
With quick glance recognize each other;
"That mien.! that step! it is a brother!
"Tho' mingled with a meaner race,
"In foreign garb, I know that face,
"His features beam like those I love,
"His limbs with mountain vigour move,
"And tho' so strange and alien grown,
"The kindred tie my soul will own."
De Longoville, ev'n from that hour, a knight,
True to his native King, true to the right,
Fought with the Scottish hero to the end,
In many a bloody field, his tried and valiant friend.
And nobly in the lists of France,
Those noble Scots with brand and lance,
'Midst foreign knights and warriors blended,
In generous rivalry contended,
Whilst their brave Chieftain taught them still,
The soldier's dext'rous art and leader's nobler skill.
But English Edward, tired the while
Of life inert and covert guile,
Most faithless to the peace so lately made,
Was northward bound again, poor Scotland to invade.
Then Wallace, with his valiant band,
By Scotland's faithful sons recall'd,
Whom foreign yoke full sorely gall'd,
Must raise again his glaved hand
To smite the shackles from his native land.
Brave hearts, who had in secret burn'd,
To see their country bear the yoke,
Hearing their Warden was return'd,
Forth from their secret hidings broke,
Wood, cave, or mountain-cliff, and ran
To join the wond'rous man.
It was a sight to chase despair,
His standard floating on the air,
Which, curling oft with courteous wave,
Still seem'd to beckon to the brave.
And when approach'd within short space,
They saw his form and knew his face, —
That brow of hope, that step of power,
Which stateliest strode in danger's hour, —
How glow'd each heart! — "Himself we see!
"What, tho' but few and spent we be!
"The valiant heart despaireth never;
"The rightful cause is strongest ever;
"While Wallace lives, the land is free."
And he this flatt'ring hope pursued,
And war with England's King renew'd.
By martial stratagem he took
St. Johnston's stubborn town, a hold
So oft to faithless tyrants sold;
And cautious patriots then forsook
Ignoble shelter, kept so long,
And join'd in arms the ardent throng,
Who with the Warden southward past,
Like clouds increasing on the blast.
Fife from the enemy he won,
And in his prosp'rous course held on,
Till Edward's strength, borne quickly down,
Held scarcely castle, tower, or town,
In all the southern shires; and then
He turn'd him to the north again;
Where from each wall'd defence, the foe expell'd,
Fled fast, Dundee alone still for King Edward held.
But the oppressor, blushing on his throne
To see the Scotch his warriors homeward chase,
And those, so lately crush'd, so powerful grown,
But ill could brook this sudden foul disgrace.
And he a base, unprincely compact made
With the red Cumming, traitor, black of heart!
Who to their wicked plot, in secret laid,
Some other chieftains gain'd with wily art,
And he hath dared again to send
A noble army, all too brave
For such unmanly, hateful end,
A land of freedom to enslave.
At Falkirk soon was England's proudest boast
Marshall'd in grand array, a brave and powerful host.
But there with valiant foe to cope,
Soon on the field stood Scotland's hope,
Ev'n thirty thousand warriors, led
By noble Wallace, each, that day,
Had cheerfully his heart's blood shed
The land to free from Southron's sway.
Alas! had all her high-born chieftains been
But as their leader and their clansmen true,
She on that field a glorious day had seen,
And made, tho' match'd with them, in number few,
King Edward's vaunted host that fatal day to rue.
But envy of a hero's fame,
Which so obscured each lofty name,
Was meanly harbour'd in the breast
Of those who bore an honour'd crest.
But most of all Red Cumming nursed
In his dark breast this bane accursed,
That, with the lust of power combin'd,
O'er-master'd all his wretched mind.
Then to Lord Stewart, secretly,
Spoke with smooth words the traitor sly,
Advising that, to grace his name,
Being by right confess'd the man,
Who ought to lead the Scottish van,
He should the proud distinction claim.
And thus, as one of low estate,
With lip of scorn, and brow elate,
Did he, by traitors back'd, the godlike Wallace bate.
"Must noble chiefs of high degree,
"Scotland's best blood, be led by thee?
"Thou, who art great but as the owl,
"Who plumed her wing from every fowl,
"And, hooting on her blasted tree,
"Would greater than the eagle be."
"I stood," said Wallace "for the right,
"When ye in holes shrunk from the light;
"My plumes spread to the blazing sun
"Which coweringly ye sought to shun.
"Ye are the owls, who from the gloom
"Of cleft and cranny boasting come;
"Yet, hoot and chatter as ye may,
"I'll not to living man this day
"Resign the baton of command,
"Which Scotland's will gave to my hand,
"When spoil'd, divided, conquer'd, maim'd,
"None the dangerous honour claim'd;
"Nor, till my head lie in the dust,
"Will it betray her sacred trust."
With flashing eye, and dark red brow,
He utter'd then a hasty vow,
Seeing the snare by treason laid,
So strongly wove, so widely spread,
And slowly from the field withdrew;
While, slow and silent at his back,
March'd on his wayward, cheerless track,
Ten thousand Scotchmen staunch and true,
Who would, let good or ill betide,
By noble Wallace still abide.
To them it was a strange and irksome sight,
As on a gentle hill apart they stood,
To see arm'd squadrons closing in the fight,
And the fierce onset to their work of blood.
To see their well-known banners as they moved
When dark opposing ranks with ranks are blending,
To see the lofty plumes of those they loved
Wave to and fro, with the brave foe contending.
It hath been said, that gifted seer,
On the dark mountain's cloudy screen.
Forms of departed chiefs hath seen,
In seeming armour braced with sword and spear,
O'erlooking some dire field of death,
Where warriors, warm with vital breath,
Of kindred lineage, urge the glorious strife;
They grasp their shadowy spears, and forward bend
In eager sympathy, as if to lend
Their aid to those, with whom in mortal life,
They did such rousing, noble conflict share, —
As if their phantom forms of empty air,
Still own'd a kindred sense of what on earth they were.
So Wallace and his faithful band survey'd
The fatal fight, when Scotland was betray'd
By the false Cumming, who most basely fled,
And from the field a thousand warriors led.
O how his noble spirit burn'd,
When from his post the traitor turn'd,
Leaving the Stuart sorely prest!
Who with his hardy Scots the wave
Of hostile strength did stoutly breast,
Like clansmen true and brave.
His visage flush'd with angry glow,
He clench'd his hand, and struck his brow.
His heart within his bosom beat
As it would break from mortal seat.
And when at last they yielded space,
And he beheld their piteous case,
Big scalding tears cours'd down his manly face.
But, ah! that fatal vow, that pride
Which doth in mortal breast reside,
Of noble minds the earthly bane,
His gen'rous impulse to restrain,
Had power in that dark moment! still
It struggled with his better will.
And who, superior to this tempter's power,
Hath ever braved it in the trying hour?
O! only he, who, strong in heavenly grace,
Taking from wretched thrals, of woman born,
Their wicked mockery, their stripes, their scorn,
Gave his devoted life for all the human race.
He viewed the dire disast'rous fight,
Like a fall'n cherubim of light,
Whose tossing form now tow'rs, now bends,
And with its darken'd self contends,
Till many a brave and honour'd head
Lay still'd upon a bloody bed,
And Stuart, midst his clans, was number'd with the dead.
Then rose he, like a rushing wind,
Which strath or cavern hath confin'd,
And straight thro' England's dark array,
With his bold mates, hew'd out his bloody way.
A perilous daring way, and dear the cost!
For there the good, the gallant Grame he lost.
The gallant Grame, whose name shall long
Remember'd be in Scottish song.
And second still to Wallace wight
In lowland tale of winter's night,
Who loved him as he never loved another.
Low to the dust he bent his head,
Deep was his anguish o'er the dead. —
"That daring hand, that gentle heart!
"That lofty mind! and must we part?
"My brother, Oh, my brother!"
But how shall verse feign'd accents borrow,
To speak with words their speechless sorrow,
Who, on the trampled, blood-stain'd green
Of battle-field, must leave behind
What to their souls hath dearest been,
To stiffen in the wind?
The soldier there, or kern or chief,
Short parley holds with shrewdest grief;
Passing to noisy strife from what, alas!
Shall from his sadden'd fancy never pass, —
The look that ev'n thro' writhing pain,
Says, "shall we never meet again!"
The grasping hand or sign but known,
Of tenderness, to one alone:
The lip convulsed, the life's last shiver;
The new-closed eye, yet closed for ever,
The brave must quit; — but, from the ground,
They, like th' enchafed lion bound.
Rage is their sorrow, grimly fed,
And blood the tears they shed.
Too bold it were for me to tell,
How Wallace fought; how on the brave
The ruin of his anguish fell,
Ere from the field, his bands to save,
He broke away, and sternly bore
Along the stony Carron's shore.
The dark brown water, hurrying past,
O'er stone and rocky fragment cast
The white churn'd foam with angry bray,
And wheel'd and bubbled on its way,
And lash'd the margin's flinty guard,
By him unheeded and unheard;
Albeit, his mind, dark with despair,
And grief, and rage, was imaged there.
And there, 'tis said, the Bruce descried
Him marching on the rival side.
The Bruce, whose right the country own'd,
(Had he possess'd a princely soul,
Disdaining Edward's base controul,)
To be upon her chair of power enthron'd.
"Ho, chieftain!" said the princely slave,
"Thou who pretend'st the land to save
"With rebel sword, opposed to me,
"Who should of right thy sovereign be;
"Think'st thou the Scottish crown to wear,
"Opposed by foreign power so great,
"By those at home of high estate?
"Cast the vain thought to empty air,
"Thy fatal mad ambition to despair."
"No!" Wallace answer'd; "I have shewn
"This sword to gain or power or throne
"Was never drawn; no act of mine
"Did e'er with selfish thought combine,
"Courage to dare, when others lay
"In brutish sloth, beneath the sway
"Of foreign tyranny; to save
"From thraldom, hateful to the brave,
"My friends, my countrymen; to stand
"For right and honour of the land,
"When nobler arms shrunk from the task,
"In a vile tyrant's smiles to bask,
"Hath been my simple warrant of command.
"And Scotland bath confirm'd it. — No;
"Nor shall this hand her charge forego,
"While Southron in the land is found
"To lord it o'er one rood of Scottish ground,
"Or till my head be low."
Deep blush'd the Bruce, shame's conscious glow!
And own'd the hero's words were true;
And with his followers, sad and slow
To Edward's camp withdrew.
But fleeting was the mighty tyrant's boast,
(So says the learned clerk of old,
Who first our hero's story told,)
Fleeting the triumph of his numerous host.
For with the morning's early dawn
The Scottish soldiers, scatter'd wide,
Hath Wallace round his standard drawn,
Hath cheer'd their spirits, rous'd their pride,
And led them, where their foes they found,
All listless, scatter'd on the ground.
On whom with furious charge they set;
And many a valiant Southron met
A bloody death, waked from the gleam
And inward vision of a morning's dream;
Where Fancy in his native home
Led him through well-known fields to roam,
Where orchard, cot, and copse appear,
And moving forms of kindred dear; —
For in the rugged soldier's brain
She oft will fairy court maintain
Full gently, as beneath the dusk
Of hard-ribb'd shell, the pearl lies,
Or silken bud in prickly husk; —
He from her vision's sweet unseals his eyes
To see the stern foe o'er him darkly bending,
To feel the deep-thrust blade his bosom rending.
So many Southrons there were slain,
So fatal was the vengeance ta'en,
That Edward, with enfeebled force,
Check'd mad ambition's unbless'd course,
And to his own fair land return'd again.
Then Wallace thought from tower and town
And castled hold, as heretofore,
To pull each English banner down
And free the land once more.
But ah! the generous hope he must forego!
Envy and pride have Scotland's cause betrayed;
All now are backward, listless, cold, and slow,
His patriot arm to aid.
Then to St. Johnston, at his call,
Met burghers, knights, and nobles all,
Who on the pressing summons wait,
A full assembly of the state.
There he resign'd his ensigns of command,
Which erst had kept the proudest Thanes in awe;
Retaining in that potent hand
Which thrice redeem'd its native land,
His simple sword alone, with which he stood
Midst all her haughty peers of princely blood,
The noblest man e'er Scotland saw.
And thus did Scottish lords requite
Him, who, in many a bloody fight,
The country's champion stood; her people's Wallace wight.
O black ingratitude! thy seemly place
Is in the brutish, mean, and envious heart;
How is it then, thou lost so oft disgrace
The learn'd, the wise, the highly born, and art
Like cank'ring blights, the oak that scathe,
While fern and brushwood thrive beneath;
Like dank mould on the marble tomb,
While graves of turf with violets bloom.
Selfish ambition makes the lordliest Thane
A meaner man than him, who drives the loaded wain.
And he with heavy heart his native shore
Forsook to join his old ally once more.
And in Guienne right valiant deeds he wrought;
Till under iron yoke opprest,
From north to south, from east to west,
His most unhappy groaning country sought
The generous aid she never sought in vain;
And with a son's unwearied love,
Which fortune, time, nor wrongs could move,
He to maintain her cause again repass'd the main.
The which right bravely he maintain'd;
And divers castles soon regain'd.
The sound ev'n of his whisper'd name
Revived in faithful hearts the smother'd flame,
And many secretly to join his standard came.
St. Johnston's leaguered walls at length
Were yielded to his growing strength;
And on, with still increasing force,
He southward held his glorious course.
Then Edward thought the chief to gain,
And win him to his princely side
With treasur'd gold and honours vain,
And English manors fair and wide.
But with flush'd brow and angry eye
And words that shrewdly from him broke,
Stately and stern, he thus bespoke
The secret embassy.
"These kingly proffers made to me!
"Return and say it may not be.
"Lions shall troop with herdsmen's droves,
"And eagles roost with household doves,
"Ere William Wallace draw his blade
"With those who Scotland's rights invade.
"Yea, ev'n the touch of bondsman's chain,
"Would in my thrilling members wake
"A loathful sense of rankling pain
"Like coiling of a venom'd snake."
The King abash'd, in courtly hold,
Receiv'd this answer sooth and bold.
But ah! the fated hour drew near
That stopp'd him in his bold career.
Monteith, a name which from that day, I ween,
Hateful to every Scottish ear hath been,
Which highland kern and lowland hind
Have still with treacherous guile combin'd, —
The false Monteith, who under show
Of friendship, sold him to the foe,
Stole on a weary secret hour,
As sleeping and disarm'd he lay,
And to King Edward's vengeful power
Gave up the mighty prey.
At sight of noble Wallace bound,
The Southrons raised a vaunting sound,
As if the bands which round his limbs they drew,
Had fetter'd Scotland too.
They gaz'd and wonder'd at their mighty thrall;
Then nearer drew with movements slow,
And spoke in whispers deep and low. —
"This is the man to whom did yield
"The doughtiest knight in banner'd field,
"Whose threat'ning frown the boldest did appal!"
And, as his clanging fetters shook,
Cast on him oft a fearful look,
As doubting if in verity
Such limbs with iron might holden be:
While boldest spearmen by the pris'ner's side
With beating heart and haggard visage ride.
Thus on to London they have past,
And in the Tower's dark dungeons cast
The hero; where, in silent gloom,
He must abide his fatal doom.
There pent, from earthly strife apart,
Scotland still rested on his heart.
Aye; every son that breathed her air
On cultur'd plain or mountain bare,
From chief in princely castle bred
To herdsman in his sheeling shed,
From war-dight youth to barefoot child,
Who picks in brake the berry wild; —
Her gleamy lakes and torrents clear,
Her towns, her towers, her forests green,
Her fields where warlike coil hath been,
Are to his soul most dear.
His fetter'd hands support a head,
Whose nodding plume had terror spread
O'er many a face, ev'n seen from far,
When moving in the ranks of war.
Lonely and dark, unseen of man,
But in that Presence whose keen eye
Can darkest breast of mortal scan,
The bitter thought and heavy sigh
Have way uncheck'd, and utter'd grief
Gave to his burthen'd heart a soothing, sad relief.
"It hath not to this arm been given
"From the fell tyrant's grinding hand
"To set thee free, my native land!
"I bow me to the will of Heaven!
"But have I run my course in vain?
"Shall thou in bondage still remain?
"The spoiler o'er thee still have sway,
"Till virtue, strength, and pride decay?
"O no! still panting to be free,
"Thy noblest hearts will think of me.
"Some brave, devoted, happier son
"Will do the work I would have done;
"And blest be he, who nobly draws
"His sword in Scotland's cause!"
Perhaps his vision'd eye might turn
To him who fought at Bannockburn.
Or is it wildness to believe
A dying patriot may receive,
(Who sees his mortal span diminish'd
To nought, his generous task unfinish'd,)
A seeming fruitless end to cheer,
Some glimpses of the gifted seer?
O no! 'tis to his closing sight
A beacon on a distant height, —
The moon's new crescent, seen in cloudy kirtled
And much he strove with Christian grace,
Of those who Scotland's foes had been,
His soul's strong hatred to efface,
A work of grace, I ween!
Meekly he bow'd o'er bead and book,
And every worldly thought forsook.
But when he on the scaffold stood,
And cast aside his mantling hood,
He eyed the crowd, whose sullen hum,
Did from ten thousand upcast faces come,
And armed guardsmen standing round,
As he was wont on battle-ground,
Where still with calm and portly air,
He faced the foe with visage bare;
As if with baton of command
And vassal chiefs on either hand,
Towering her marshall'd files between,
He Scotland's warden still had been.
This flash of mortal feeling past, —
This gleam of pride, it was the last.
As on the cloud's dense skirt will play,
While the dark tempest rolls away,
One parting blaze; then thunders cease,
The sky is clear, and all is peace.
And he with ready will a nobler head
Than e'er was circled with a kingly crown,
Upon the block to headsman's stroke laid down,
And for his native land a generous victim bled.
What tho' that head o'er gate or tower,
Like felons on the cursed tree,
Visited by sun and shower,
A ghastly spectacle may be!
A fair renown, as years wear on,
Shall Scotland give her noblest son.
The course of ages shall not dim
The love that she shall bear to him.
In many a castle, town, and plain,
Mountain and forest, still remain
Fondly cherish'd spots, which claim
The proud distinction of his honour'd name.
Swells the huge ruin's massy heap
In castled court, 'tis Wallace's keep.
What stateliest o'er the rest may lower
Of time-worn wall, where rook and daw,
With wheeling flight and ceaseless caw,
Keep busy stir, is Wallace's tower.
If thro' the green wood's hanging screen,
High o'er the deeply-bedded wave,
The mouth of arching cleft is seen
Yawning dark, 'tis Wallace's cave.
If o'er its jutting barrier grey,
Tinted by time, with furious din,
The rude crags silver'd with its sprey,
Shoot the wild flood, 'tis Wallace's lin.
And many a wood remains, and hill and glen
Haunted, 'tis said, of old by Wallace and his men.
There schoolboy still doth haunt the sacred ground,
And musing oft its pleasing influence own,
As, starting at his footsteps echo'd sound,
He feels himself alone.
Yea, ev'n the cottage matron, at her wheel,
Altho' with daily care and labour crost,
Will o'er her heart the soothing magic feel,
And of her country's ancient prowess boast;
While on the little shelf of treasured books,
For what can most of all her soul delight,
Beyond or ballad, tale, or jest, she looks, —
The history renown'd of Wallace wight.
But chiefly to the soldier's breast
A thought of him will kindling come,
As waving high his bonnet's crest,
He listens to the rolling drum,
And trumpet's call and thrilling fife,
And bagpipes' loud and stormy strain,
Meet prelude to tumultuous strife
On the embattled plain.
Whether in highland garb array'd,
With kirtle short and highland plaid,
Or button'd close in lowland vest,
Within his doughty grasp, broad sword, or gun be prest, —
Rememb'ring him, he still maintains
His country's cause on foreign plains,
To grace her name and earn her praise,
Led by the brave of modern days.
Such, Abercrombie, fought with thee
On Egypt's dark embattled shore,
And near Corunna's bark-clad sea
With great and gallant Moore.
Such fought with Ferguson and Graham,
A leader worthy of the name,
And fought in pride of Scotland's ancient fame
With firmer nerve and warmer will:
And wheresoe'er on hostile ground,
Or Scot or hardy Celt are found,
Thy spirit, noble Wallace, fighteth still.
O Scotland! proud may be thy boast!
Since Time his course thro' circling years hath run,
There hath not shone, in Fame's bright host,
A nobler hero than thy patriot son.
Manly and most devoted was the love
With which for thee unweariedly he strove;
No selfish lust of power, not ev'n of fame,
Gave ardour to the pure and generous flame.
Rapid in action, terrible in fight,
In counsel wise, inflexible in right,
Was he, who did so oft, in olden days,
Thy humbled head from base oppression raise.
Then be it by thy generous spirit known,
Ready in freedom's cause to bleed,
Spurning corruption's worthless meed,
That in thy heart thou feel'st this hero was thine own.
And sunk beneath the Southron's faithless lord
In sullen, deep despair. Page 5.
The oppression under which Scotland groaned is thus detailed by
Blind Harry, (page 7.)
"When Saxon blood into the realm coming,
Working the will of Edward, that false King,
Many great wrongs they wrought in this region,
Destroyed our lords and brake their biggins down.
Both wives and widows they took at their own will,
Nuns and maidens whom they lik'd to spill.
King Herod's part they played here in Scotland,
On young children that they before them fand.
The bishopricks that were of greatest vail
They took in hand of their archbishop's haill;
Not for the Pope they would no kirk forbear,
But gripped all thro' violence of weir.
Glasgow they gave, as it o'er well was ken'd,
To Diocie of Durham to a commend.
Small benefices then they would pursue,
And for the right full worthy clerks they slew."
The grievous thraldom which Scotland endured after the rights of
Baliol had been set aside by Edward, is thus recorded by Barbrar:
"To Scotland went he (Edward) then in hy
And all the land gan occupy:
Sa hale that both castell and toune
Was into his possessioune
Fra Weik anent Orkenay
To Muller Suwk in Galloway;
And stuffet all with Inglissmen.
Schyrreffys then and bailyheys made he'then,
And alkyn other officeries,
That for to govern land afferis,
He maid of Inglis nation;
That worthyt than sa rych fellone,
And sa wyckkyt and cowatouss,
And sa hawtene and dispitouss
That Scottis men mycht do na thing
That enir mycht pleyss to their liking.
* * * * * * *
And gyff that ony man thaim by
Had ony thing that was worthy,
As horse or hund, or other thing,
That was pleasand to thar liking,
With rycht or wrang it have wall thai,
And gyff ony man wald them withsay,
Thai sald swa do that thai suld tyne
Other land or lyff or leyff in pyne."
After expatiating further on the miserable condition of the Scotch,
he breaks forth in a more empassioned strain than is often to be met
with in the sober bards of those olden times.
"A! freedome is a noble thing!
Freedome mays man to haiff liking;
Freedome all solace to man giffis;
He levys at ess that frely levys!
A noble heart may haiff nane ess,
Na ellys nocht that may him pless,
Gyff freedome faily he: for fre liking
Is yharnyt our all other thing.
Na he that ay has levyt fre,
May nocht knaw weil the propyrte
The anger, na the wrechyt dome
That is cowplyt to foule thyrldome.
Bot gyff he had assayet it,
Than all perquer he suld it wyt;
And suld think freedome mar to pryss
Than all the gold in warld that is."
Existed worth without alloy,
In form a man, in years a boy. P. 8.
Blind Harry, page 7.
"William Wallace, ere he was man of arms,
Great pity thought that Scotland took sik harms.
Meikle dolour it did him in his mind,
For he was wise, right worthy, wight and kind.
* * * * * * * * *
Into his heart he had full meikle care.
He saw the Southerons multiply mare and mare,
And to himself would often make his mone.
Of his good kin they had slain many one.
Yet he was then seemly, stark, and bold,
And he of age was but eighteen years old."
'Tis pleasant in his early frolick feats
Which fond tradition long and oft repeats,
The op'ning of some dauntless soul to trace,
Whose bright career of fame a country's annals grace. P.9.
Many of the early feats of Wallace are told by the Blind Bard
very minutely, and sometimes with a degree of humour, as for instance,
his slaying the constable's son of Dundee, told thus: —
"Upon a day to Dundee he was send,
Of cruelness full little they him kend.
The constable, a fellon man of weir,
That to the Scotts oft did full meikle deir,
Selbie, he heght, dispiteful and outrage,
A son he had near twenty years of age:
Into the town he used every day,
Three men or four there went with him to play.
An hely shrew, wanton in his intent,
Wallace he saw, and towards him he went;
Likely he was right big and well beseen
Into a weed of goodly ganand green;
He call'd on him and said, thou Scot, abide,
What devil thee graiths in so gay a weed?
An Irish mantle is was thy kind to wear,
A Scots whittle under thy belt to bear,
Rough rulzions upon thy harlot feet,
Give me thy knife; what doth thy gear so meet?
To him he went, his knife to take him fra.
Fast by the collar Wallace can him ta,
Under his hand the knife he braideth out,
For all his men that 'sembled him about.
But help himself he knew of no remead,
-Without rescue, he sticked him to dead.
The squire fell, of him there was no more,
His men followed on Wallace wonder sore.
The press was thick, and cumber'd them full fast,
Wallace was speedy, and greatly als agast;
The bloody knife bare drawn in his hand,
He spared none that he before him fand.
The house he knew his ome lodged in,
Thither he fled, for out he might not win.
The good-wife there, within the close saw he,
And help, he cried, for him that died on tree,
The young captain has fallen with me at strife.
In at the door he went with this good-wife.
A russet gown of her own she him gave
Upon his weed that cover'd all the lave;
A sudden courch o'er neck and head let fall,
A woven white hat she braced on withall;
For they should not tarry long at that inn,
Gave him a rock, syne set him down to spin.
The Southron sought where Wallace was in dread,
They knew not well at what gate in he yeed.
In that same house they sought him busily,
But he sat still and span right cunningly,
As of his time he had not learned lang.
They left him so, and forth their gates can gang
With heavy chear and sorrowful of thought,
Mair wit of him as then get could they nought."
As angler in the pooly wave. P.10.
Reduced, as he frequently was, to live in hiding, this would often
be his means of providing food, though the following passage relates
apparently to times of less necessity, when Wallace, attended only
by a child, having gone to fish in the river of Irvine, met the
attendants of Lord Piercy, who then commanded at Air. They
rudely asking him to give them some of his fish, and not content
with a part, which he had desired the child who carried the basket
to give them, but insolently demanding the whole, and, on his
refusal, attacking him with the sword, it is said, —
"Wallace was woe he had no weapons there,
But the pont-staff; the which in hand he bare.
Wallace with it fast on the cheek him took
With so good-will that while off his feet he shook.
The sword flew from him a fur-broad on the land.
Wallace was glad, and hint it soon in hand,
And with the sword an awkward stroke him gave
Under his head, the craig in sunder rave.
By that the rest lighted about Wallace,
He had no help, but only God his grace.
On either side full fast on him they dang,
Great peril was if that had lasted lang.
Upon the head in great ire struck he one,
The shearing blade glaid to the collar-bone.
Another on the arm he hit so hardily,
While hand and sword both on the field can lie.
The other two fled to their house again;
He sticketh him that last was on the plain.
Three slew he there, two fled with all their might
After their lord, but he was out of sight."
How the base Southron's arm a woman slew,
And robbed him of his wedded mate. P.11.
From the same authority we have the following account of
love, which is somewhat curious.
Page 96.
"In Lanerk dwelt a gentlewoman there,
A maiden mild, as my book will declare,
Eighteen years old or little more of age,
Als born she was to part of heritage.
Her father was of worship and renown,
And Hew Braidfoot he heght, of Laming toun,
As feil others in the country were call'd,
Before time they gentlemen were of all'd.
But this good man and als his wife was dead,
The maiden then wist of no other rede,
But still she dwelt in tribute in the town
And purchased had King Edward's protection;
Servants with her and friends at her own will,
Thus lived she without desire of ill;
A quiet house as she might hald in wear,
For Hesilrig had done her meikle dear
Slain her brother, which eldest was and heir.
All suffered she and right lowly her bare,
Amiable, so benign, ware and wise,
Courteous and sweet, fulfilled of gentrice.
Well ruled of tongue, hail of countenance,
Of virtues she was worthy to advance,
Humbly she held and purchast a good name,
Of ilka wight she keeped her from blame,
True right wise folk a great favour she lent.
Upon a day to kirk as she went,
Wallace her saw as he his eyes can cast,
The print of love him punced at the last,
So asperly thro' beauty of that bright,
With great unease in presence bide he might."
I hope I may be permitted to give a specimen of the ornamented
passages of the Blind Bard's poem, which contains but very few of
that character.
"Into April when clothed is but ween
The able ground by working of nature,
And woods have won their worthy weeds of green,
When Nympheus in building of his bour
With oyl and balm, fulfilled of sweet odour,
Fumous matters as they are wont to gang,
Walking their course in every casual hour,
To glad the hunter with his merry sang."
I am tempted also to give a specimen of the more empassioned or
declamatory parts, which are likewise very thinly scattered through
the work. Speaking of Wallace, who was obliged to leave his new--
married love, he exclaims, —
"Now leave thy mirth, now leave thy haill pleasance,
Now leave thy bliss, now leave thy childish age,
Now leave thy youth, now follow thy hard chance,
Now leave thy ease, now leave thy marriage,
Now leave thy love, or thou shalt lose a gage
Which never on earth shall be redeemed again;
Follow fortune and all her fierce outrage,
Go live in war, go live in cruel pain."
The death of Wallace's wife is thus related in a plainer and less
studied manner. After having told how the English, who were in
possession of Lanerk, quarrelled with Wallace and his friend, Sir
John Graham, on their way from church, scoffed at them for being
so well dressed; and how, after coming to blows, and the two
friends slaying several of them, they were overpowered by numbers,
and gained with difficulty the house of Wallace's wife, — he
"The woman then which was full will of wane,
The peril saw with fellon noise and din.
Set up the gate and let them enter in.
Thro' to a strength they passed off that stead.
Fifty Southron upon the gate were dead.
This fair woman did business in her might,
The Englishmen to tarry with a slight,
While that Wallace into the woods was past,
Then Cartlan Crags they pursued fast.
When Southron saw that scaped was Wallace,
Again they turn'd, the woman took on case,
Put her to death, I cannot tell you how,
Of sik matter I may not tarry now."
His countrymen with faithless gaze,
Beheld his valour's early blaze. P. 12.
Wintown, in his chronicle, after telling how Wallace surrounded
the sherrif of Lanerk in the town at his inn, and slew him; the conclusion
of which story runs thus,
Page 95.
"The schyrrave by the throt he gat,
And that hey stayre he hurlyd him down
And slew him there wythin the town,"
proceeds to say,
"Fray he thus the scherrave slwe,
Scottis men fast to him drew,
That with the Inglis oft tyme ware,
Aggrevyd and supprised sare."
Holinshed, in his Chronicles, mentions him thus, —
"In that season also the fame of William Wallace began to spring,
a yoong gentleman of huge stature and notable strength of bodie,
with such skill and knowledge of warlike enterprises, and hereto of
such hardinesse of stomach, in attempting all manner of dangerous
exploits, that his match was not any where lightlie to be found.
He was son to one Sir Andrew Wallace of Craigie, and from his
youth bore ever an inward hatred against the English nation.
Sundrie notable feats he wrought also against the Englishmen in
defence of the Scots, and was of such incredible force at his coming
to perfect age, that of himselfe alone, without all helpe, he would
not feare to set on three or four Englishmen, and vanquish them.
When the fame, therefore, of his worthie acts was notified through
the realme, manie were put in good hope that by his means the
realme should be delivered from the servitude of the Englishmen
within short time after. And hereupon a great number of the Scotch
nation, as well of the nobilitie as others, were readie to assist him
in all his enterprises. By reason whereof he might not easilie be
entrapped, or taken of the Englishmen, that went about to have
gotten him into their hands."
Buchanan, in his history of Scotland, after mentioning the imprisonment
of Baliol, and Edward's sailing to France, where he was
then carrying on war, and Cumin, Earl of Buchan, taking advantage of
his absence, to ravage Northumberland, and lay siege to Carlisle,
continues, "Though this expedition did somewhat to encourage the
before crest-fallen Scotch, and hinder the English from doing them
further mischief, yet it contributed little or nothing to the main
chance, in regard that all the places of strength were possessed by
the enemy's garrisons; but when the nobility had neither strength
nor courage to undertake great matters, there presently started up
one William Wallace, a man of an ancient noble family, but one
that had lived poorly and meanly, as having little or no estate; yet
this man performed in this war, not only beyond the expectation,
but even the belief of all the common people; for he was bold of
spirit, and strong of body; and when he was but a youth, had slain
a young English nobleman, who proudly domineered over him.
For this fact he was forced to run away, and to skulk up and down
in several places for some years to save his life, and by this course
of living, his body was hardened against wind and weather, and his
mind was likewise fortified to undergo greater hazards when time
should serve. At length, growing weary of such a wandering
unsettled way of living, he resolved to attempt something, though
never so hazardous, and therefore gathered a band of men together
of like fortune with himself, and did not only assault single persons,
but even greater companies, though with an inferior number, and
accordingly, slew several persons in divers places. He played his
pranks with as much dispatch as boldness, and never gave his enemy
any advantage to fight him; so that, in short time, his fame was
spread over both nations, by which means many came in to him,
moved by the likeness of their cause, or with like love of their
country; thus he made up a considerable army. And seeing the
nobles were sluggish in their management of affairs, either out
of fear or dulness, this Wallace was proclaimed Regent by the
tumultuous band that followed him, and so he managed things as a
lawful magistrate, and the substitute of Baliol. He accepted of this
name, not out of any ambition or desire to rule, but because it was
a title given him by his countrymen out of pure love and good-will.
The first remarkable exploit he performed with his army was near
Lanerick, where he slew the major-general of that precinct, being
an Englishman of good descent. Afterwards he took and demolished
many castles, which were either slenderly fortified or meanly garrisoned,
or else guarded negligently; which petty attempts so
encouraged his soldiers, that they shunned no service, no, not the
most hazardous, under his conduct, as having experienced that his
boldness was guided by counsel, and that his counsel was seconded
by success."
What tho' those warriors, gleaming round,
On peaceful death-bed never lay,
But each, upon his fated day
His end on field or scaffold found. — P. 16.
That the greater part of those brave men died in the field I need
scarcely maintain; and Barbour, in his Bruce, says, "that after the
battle of Methven, the Scotch prisoners of distinction were kept
till Edward's pleasure respecting them should be known, who
ordered those who would not swear fealty to him, and abandon the
cause of Bruce, to be executed. Of the five names which he particularly
mentions, two, viz. Frazer and Hay, are found amongst
Wallace's first associates; to which he adds, 'and other ma.'"
"Sir Thomas Randall there was taen,
That was a young bacheler."
Then, further on,
"Thomas Randall was one of tha,
That for his lyff become their man.
Off othyr that were takyn than,
Sum they ransowet, sum thai slew.
And sum thai hangyt, and sum thai drew."
Randall, who is the only person amongst them, noticed as
proving unfaithful to Bruce, and as a young man, we may infer that
the others were more advanced in years, and might, therefore, many
of them, be the early companions of Wallace, who was himself only
five and forty when he died.
Ent'ring the fatal Barns, fair sight!
Went one by one the manly train,
But neither baron, laird, nor knight,
Did e'er return again. — P. 19.
In Blind Harry, book 7th, the account of this wicked massacre is
thus given: —
"A baulk [beam] was knit all full of ropes so keen
Sick a Tolbooth sensyn was never seen.
Stern men were set the entry for to hold,
None might pass in but ay as they were call'd.
Sir Ranald [the uncle of Wallace] first to make fewty for his land,
The knight went in and would no longer stand;
A running cord they slipt over his head
Hard to the baulk and hanged him to dead.
Sir Brice the Blair then with his ome in past
Unto the dead they hasted him full fast,
By [by the time] he enter'd, his head was in the snare,
Tied to the baulk, hanged to the dead right there.
The third enter'd that pity was for thy,
A worthy knight, Sir Neal Montgomery,
And other feil [many] of landed men about,
Many yeed in, but no Scotsman came out."
Proceeding with the story, he says, —
"Thus eighteen score to that derf death they dight,
Of barons bold, and many a worthy knight."
Dr. Jamieson, in his ingenious and learned Notes to the Life of
Wallace, by Harry the Minstrel, so satisfactorily confutes the doubts
of Lord Hailes, respecting the authenticity of this event, that there
is no occasion for me to say any thing on the subject. A transaction so
atrocious as the hanging so many men of distinction, and getting
them into the snare on pretence of a public meeting on national
business, might be fictitious in a poem written many ages after the
date of the supposed event; but when found in a metrical history
by a simple bard, so near that period, and supported by the universal
tradition of the country, one must be sceptical to a degree which
would make the relation of old events absolutely spiritless and
unprofitable, to reject it. It might be called the imbecillity of scepticism.
This would be sufficient to establish it, even independent of
the proof drawn from Barbour, and other old writers, which Dr.
Jamieson has produced. I recommend it to the reader to see the
above mentioned notes, page 401., for the answer given by Dr.
Jamieson to another objection of Sir D. Dalrymple, respecting the
authenticity of Monteith's treachery to Wallace.
That form is Wallace wight. — P. 24.
Miss Porter, in her interesting novel of the Scottish Chiefs, gives
the following powerful description of her hero, at the Barns of Ayr,
from which it is probable I have borrowed somewhat, though at the
time scarcely aware to whom I was obliged; for, as Harry the
Minstrel has made the ghost of Fadon appear upon the battlements
of the Castle, with a "prodigious rafter in his hand," that might
also impress me with the idea. After telling what great piles of
combustibles were, by the orders of Wallace, heaped up on the
outside of the building, she adds, —
"When all was ready, Wallace, with the mighty spirit of retribution,
nerving every limb, mounted to the roof, and tearing off part
of the tiling, with a flaming brand in his hand, shewed himself
glittering in arms to the affrighted revellers beneath, and as he
threw it blazing amongst them, he cried aloud, 'The blood of the
murdered calls for vengeance, and it comes.' At that instant the
matches were put to the faggots which surrounded the building, and
the whole party, springing from their seats, hastened towards the
doors: all were fastened, and, retreating again in the midst of the
room, they fearfully looked up to the tremendous figure above,
which, like a supernatural being, seemed to avenge their crimes,
and rain down fire on their guilty heads. * * * The rising
smoke from within and without the building, now obscured his
terrific form. The shouts of the Scots, as the fire covered its
walls, and the streaming flames licking the windows, and pouring
into every opening of the building, raised such a terror in the
breasts of the wretches within, that with the most horrible cries they
again and again flew to the doors to escape. Not an avenue appeared;
almost suffocated with smoke, and scorched with the
blazing rafters that fell from the roof, they at last made a desperate
attempt to break a passage through the great portal."
Though I have made a larger extract from this able and popular
writer, than is necessary for my purpose, the terrific sublimity of
the passage, which has tempted me to transgress, will also procure
my pardon.
O'er Stirling's towers his standard plays,
Lorn owns his rule, Argyle obeys.
In Angus, Merns, and Aberdeen,
Nor English Lord nor Cerf is seen. — P. 26.
Holinshed, after telling how Wallace received the army that.
John Cumin Earl of Buchan led before, and constrained those Scots
that favoured King Edward to renounce all faith and promises made
to him, says, "This done, he passed forth with great puissance
against the Englishmen that held sundrie castels within Scotland,
and with great hardinesse and manhood he wan the castels of
Forfair, Dundee, Brechen, and Montrose, sleaing all such soldiers as
he found within them. Wallace, now joiful of his prosperous successe,
and hearing, that certeine of the chiefest officers of those
Englishmen that kept the castel of Dunster, were gone forth to
consult of other Englishmen of the forts next to them adjoining,
came suddenlie to the said castell, and took it, not leaving a man
alive of all those whom he found as then within it: then, after he
had furnished the hold with his own souldiers in all defensible wise,
he went to Aberdeen," &c. Holinshed's Chronicles.
Buchanan says, "When these things were spread abroad, (the
fame of Wallace's exploits,) and, perhaps, somewhat enlarged beyond
the truth, out of men's respect and favour to him, all that
wished well to their country, or were afraid of their own particular
conditions, flocked to him, as judging it fit to take opportunity by
the forelock; so that, in a short time, he reduced all the castles
which the English held on the other side of the Forth, though well
fortified, and more carefully guarded for fear of his attacks. He
took and demolished the castles of Dundee and Forfar, Brechin and
Montrose. He seized on Dunster by surprise, and garrisoned it:
he entered Aberdeen (which the enemy, for fear of his coming, had
plundered and burnt) even whilst it was in flames; but a rumour
being scattered abroad, concerning the coming of the English army,
prevented his taking the castle; for he determined to meet them at
the Forth, not being willing to hazard a battle, but in a place
which he himself should pitch upon." Buch. Hist. of Scotland.
For news are brought of English host
Which fast approaching thro' the land
At Stirling mean to make their stand. — P. 26.
Holinshed's Chronicles, — "But now being advertised of the
coming of this armie against him, he (Wallace) raised his siege, and
went to Striveling to defend the bridge there, that Hugh Cressingham
with his army should not passe the same, according, as the
report went, his intent was to doe. Heere, incountring with the
enemies, the third ides of September, he obtained a very worthie
victorie; for he slew not onlie the foresaid Cressingham, with a great
part of his armie, being passed the river, but also forced the residue
to flee in such sort, that a great number of them were drowned,
and few escaped awai with life. Thus having gotten the upper hand
of his enemies, here at Striveling, he returned again to the siege of
Cowper, which, shortly after, upon his return thither, was rendered
unto him by those that were within its garrison."
Buchanan's History of Scotland: — "But he (King Edward) hearing
of the exploits of Wallace, thought there was need of a greater force
to suppress him; yet, that the expedition was not worthy of a King
neither (as being only against a roving thief, for so the English called
Wallace,) and therefore, he writes to Henry Piercy, Earl of Northumberland,
and William Latimer, 'that they should speedily levy what
forces they could out of neighbouring parts, and join themselves
with Cressingham, who as yet remained in Scotland, to subdue
the rebellious Scots.' Thomas Walsingham writes, 'that the
Earl of Warren was general in this expedition. But Wallace, who
was then besieging the castle of Cowper, in Fife, lest his army,
which he had encreased against the approach of the English, should
be idle; the English being near at hand, marched directly to Stirling.
The river Forth, no where almost fordable, may there he passed
over by a bridge of wood, though it be encreased by other rivers
and the coming in of the tide. There Cressingham passed over with
the greatest part of his army, but the bridge, either having its
beams loosened or disjointed on purpose, by the skill of the
architect, (as our writers say,) that so it might not be able to bear
any great weight, or else being over-laden with the burden of so
many horse and foot, and carriages, as passed over, was broken, and
so the march of the rest of the English was obstructed: the Scots
set upon those who were passed over, before they could put themselves
into a posture; and, having slain their captain, drove the rest
back into the river; the slaughter was so great, that they were
almost all either killed or drowned. Wallace returned from this
fight to the besieging of castells; and, in a short time, he so changed
the face of affairs, that he left none of the English in Scotland, but
such as were made prisoners. This victory, wherein none of distinction
amongst the Scots fell, (save Andrew Murray, whose son some
years after was regent of Scotland,) was obtained on the 13th of
September, in the year of Christ 1297. Some say that Wallace was
called off to this fight, not from the siege of Cowper, but Dundee,
whither he returned efter the fight. So John Major, and some
books found in monasteries, do relate.'"
Then many a high-plum'd gallant rear'd his head,
And proudly smote the ground with firmer tread,
Who did, ere close of evening, lye
With ghastly face turn'd to the sky. — P. 31.
How often has the contrast of the field before a battle, and at the
conclusion of the bloody day, been noticed by poets! And there is
one passage from a most spirited and beautiful poem on my present
subject, which I must beg leave to transcribe. Had not the plan of
my legend been so totally different, I should never have presumed
to enter upon ground which had already been so ably occupied.
The poet, addressing the moon, as on the night before the fight of
Falkirk, says, —
"Why thou, fair orb, dost thou shine so bright
As thou rollest on thy way!
Canst thou not hide thy silver light
That the heavens, all dark with the clouds of night,
Might frown on yon fierce array!
But why should'st thou hide thy shining brow
Thou who look'st through the midnight sky!
Tho' the dæmon who gives the world for woe
Bids the tear descend and the life-blood flow,
Thy place shall be still on high!
Thou look'st on man, — thou see'st him blest
In the light of his little day, —
Thou look'st anon, — he is gone to rest!
The cold worm creeps in his lordly breast,
He sleeps in the grave's decay!
Thou saw'st him rise, — thou shalt see him fall,
Thou shalt stay till the tomb hath cover'd all;
Till death has crush'd them one by one,
Each frail but proud ephemeron!
To morrow thy cold and tranquil eye
Shall gaze again from the midnight sky;
With unquenched light, with ray serene,
Thou shalt glance on the field where death hath been;
Thou shalt gild his features pale and wan,
Thou shalt gaze on the form of murder'd man,
On his broken armour scatter'd round,
On the sever'd limb and yawning wound;
But thou, amidst the wreck of time,
Unfrowning passest on, and keep'st thy path sublime."
Miss Holford's Wallace, Cant. II.
Who did not spare their mothers' sons that day
And ne'er shall be forgot. — P. 35.
These words are nearly taken from an old song called Auld lang
syne: —
"Sir John the Grame of lasting fame
Shall never be forgot;
He was an honour to the name,
A brave and valiant Scot.
The Douglas and the great Montrose
Were heroes in their time;
These men spar'd not their mothers' sons
For Auld Lang syne."
And he with foresight wise, to spare
Poor Scotland, scourged, exhausted, bare. — P. 43
Buchanan's history:— "By means of these combustions, the
fields lay untilled, insomuch that, after that overthrow, a famine
ensued, and a pestilence after the famine. From whence a greater
destruction was apprehended than from the war: Wallace, to prevent
this misfortune as much as he could, called together all those
who were fit for service, to appear at a certain day, with whom he
marched into England, thinking, with himself, that their bodies
being exercised with labour, would be more healthy, and that
wintering in the enemy's country, provisions would be spared at
home; and the soldiers, who were in much want, might reap some
fruit of their labours in a rich country, and flourishing by reason of
its continued peace. When he was entered into England, no man
dared to attack him, so that he stayed there from the first of
November to the first of February; and having refreshed and enriched
his soldiers with the fruits and spoils of the enemy, he
returned home with great renown. This expedition, as it encreased
the fame and authority of Wallace amongst the vulgar, so it
heightened the envy of the nobles," &c. &c.
Holinshed also mentions Wallace's stay in England with his
Edward meantime asham'd and wroth
At such unseemly foil, and loth
So to be bearded, sent defiance
To Scotland's Chief.— P. 44.
Buchanan's history: — "Moreover, the King of England, finding
the business greater than could be managed by his deputies, made
some settlement of things in France, and returned home, and
gathering together a great army, but hastily levied, (for he brought
not back his veteran soldiers from beyond sea,) and for the most
part raw and inexperienced men, he marches toward Scotland,
supposing he had only to do with a disorderly band of robbers.
But when he saw both armies in battle array, about five hundred
paces from each other, in the plains of Stanmore, he admired the
discipline, order, and confidence of his enemies. So that, though
he himself had much greater force, yet he durst not put it to the
hazard of a battle against such a veteran and so experienced a
Captain, and against soldiers enured to all hardships, and marched
slowly back. Wallace, on the other hand, durst not follow him,
for fear of ambuscades," &c.
Holinshed, who so often shews himself very inimical to the Scotch,
gives an account of the meeting of the Scotch and English, on
Stanmore, more favourable to the former than Buchanan:—
"He (Wallace) entered into England at the time before appointed,
where King Edward was readie with an armie, upon Stanemoore,
double in number to the Scots, to give them battell; but
when the time came that both were readie to have joined, the
Englishmen withdrew, having no lust (as it should seem) to fight
with the Scots at that time; who perceiving them to give backe,
incontinentlie would have rushed fourth of their ranks to have
pursued in chase after them, but Wallase, doubting least the
Englishmen had went some policie, and saying that it was enough
for him that he had forced such a great Prince, in his own country,
to forsake the field, caused the Scots to keep together in order of
battell; and so, preserving them from the malice of their enemies,
brought them into Scotland with lives and honours saved, besides
the infinit spoiles and booties which they got in their jornie."
Holinshed's Chronicles.
And they upon the ocean met,
With warlike fleet, and sails full set,
De Longoville, that bold outlaw. — P. 49.
Though, I believe, there is little mention made in history of
Wallace's actions in France, yet his being engaged in the wars
against the English in that country, is highly probable, because a
contemporary writer of his life would not venture to advance it, if
it were untrue; and those French wars are transmitted to posterity
by French writers, who would not willingly give much credit to
warriors of another nation; or by English, who would be as little
inclined to mention the prowess of the Scotch, when listed under
the banners of another kingdom. But so romantic a story as that
of De Longoville on the high seas, might, perhaps, though entirely
fanciful, expect to pass with impunity. However, since De Longoville
is afterwards frequently mentioned as a stanch adherent of our hero,
and also as fighting under Robert Bruce, and cannot therefore be
supposed to be an imaginary personage, some credit is due to the
account given of their first rencounter, and the generous beginning
of their friendship.
But envy of a Hero's fame
Which so obscured each lofty name.— P.55.
Buchanan on this subject says: — "Having thus got a victory,
though bloodless, (at Stanmore,) against so puissant a King, his
enemies were so much the more enraged against him, and caused
rumour to be scattered up and down, that Wallace did openly
affect a supreme or tyrannical power, which the nobles, especially
Bruce and the Cumins of the royal stock, took in mighty disdain.
* * * And therefore they determined by all means to undermine
the authority of Wallace. Edward was not ignorant of these
disgusts, and therefore the next summer he levies a great army,
consisting partly of English, partly of Scots, who had remained
faithful to him, and came to Falkirk, which is a village, built in the
very track of the wall of Severus, and is distant from Stirling little
more than six miles The Scots' army were not far from them,
of sufficient strength, for they were thirty thousand, if the generals
and leaders had agreed amongst themselves: their generals were,
John Cumin, John Stuart, and William Wallace, the most flourishing
persons amongst the Scots; the two former for their high
descent and opulency; the latter for the glory of his former
"When the army, in three squadrons, was ready to fight, a new
dispute arose, besides their former envy, who should lead the van of
the army; and when all three stood upon their terms, the English
decided the controversy, who, with banners displayed, marched with
a swift pace towards them. Cumin and his forces retreated without
striking a stroke; Stuart being beset before and behind, was slain,
with all that followed him: Wallace was sorely pressed upon in the
front, and Bruce had fetched a compass about a hill, and fell on his
rear; yet he was as little disturbed as, in such circumstances, he
could possibly be, but retreated beyond the River Carron, where
by the interposition of the river, he had got an opportunity to
defend himself, and also to gather up the straggling fugitives; and
Bruce, desirous to speak with him, he agreed to it. They two stood
over against one to another where the river hath the narrowest
channel and the highest banks.
This battle was fought on the 22d of July, when there fell of the
Scots above ten thousand, of whom, of the nobles, were, John
Stuart, Macduff, Earl of Fife, and of Wallace his army, John Greme,
the most valiant person of the Scots, next to Wallace himself."
Holinshed likewise mentions the envy and jealous hatred which
many of the nobles, particularly Cumin, conceived against Wallace,
as a man of comparatively mean origin, and their entering into a
league with Edward to betray him. He notices the dispute between
Wallace and Stuart about leading the van, at the battle of Falkirk,
and Cumin and his followers quitting the field as the armies were
about to join battle, and the great slaughter made of the Scots by
Bruce; but he adds: " Yet Wallace left nothing undone that
might perteine to the duty of a valiant capteine. But at length all
his endeavours, notwithstanding the Scots (overcome with multitude
of numbers, as the Scottish writers say,) were sleine in such huge
numbers that he was constrained to draw out of the field with such
small remnant as were left alive."
He then relates the meeting between him and Bruce, on the banks
of the Carron.
With flashing eye and dark red brow
He uttered then a hasty vow. — P. 57 .
That Wallace withdrew from the field, in the bitterness of his
resentment for the ingratitude of the nobles and the insults he
received, binding himself by a rash vow from taking any part in the
combat, is not meioned, I believe, by any general historian or
chronicler; but as it is stated so circumstantially by Harry the
Minstrel, who professes to take the matter of his poem so scrupulously
from the life of Wallace, written by his friend and contemporary
Blair, and being the only shade cast upon the public
virtue of our hero, which a friend would willingly (but for the love
of truth) have omitted, I must consider it as authentic. The private
visit received by him from Edward's Queen while in England, and
other matters, tending to add to the glory of his friend and hero,
are of a more doubtful character, and have not therefore been
admitted into this legend.
But from the ground
They like th' enchafed lion bound.
Rage is their sorrow, grimly fed,
And blood the tears they shed. — P. 63.
Blind Harry, page 328.—
"When Wallace saw this knight [Grame] to dead was brought
The piteous pain so sore thrill'd in his thought;
All out of kind it alter'd his courage,
His wit in war was then but a wood rage.
His horse him bore in field where so him list,
For of himself as then little he wist;
Like a wild beast that were from reason rent,
As witlessly into the host he went;
Dinging on hard; what Southeron he right hit
Straight upon horse again might never sit.
Into that rage full feil folk he dang down,
All about him was red a full great room."
The Scottish soldiers, scatter'd wide,
Hath Wallace round his standard drawn,
Hath cheer'd their spirits, rous' d their pride,
And led them where their foes they found
All listless, scatter'd on the ground. — P. 66, 67.
As we find the English not pursuing this victory, but presently
retiring to their own country, whilst Wallace is at liberty to summons
a general convention of the states at St. Johnston, it is
probable they received some severe check from the arm of that
chieftain after the battle, though it is not stated in general history.
It is indeed said, that the English retired for fear of an attack from
the French in their own country; but as no such attack followed or
seemed really to have been intended, it is likely that this was only
their excuse for retreating. This opinion is corroborated, too, by
the manner in which Holinshed mentions Wallace's resignation of
all public authority soon after, at Perth or St. Johnston: —
"But notwithstanding all these valiant speeches of Wallace,
(alluding to his conference with Bruce on the banks of the
Carron,) when he considered the unfortunate discomfiture by him
so treacherouslie received, he came to Perth, and there uttering, by
complaint, the injurious envie of the nobles against him, he renounced
and discharged himself of all the authority which had been
committed to his hands touching the governance of the realme, and
went into France, as saith Lesleus; but Johanus Maior saith, he never
came there, though he will not flatlie denie it."
Had Edward, after gaining so great a victory at Falkirk, received
no check, Wallace could not have been in condition to renounce
his authority in so high a tone as is here imputed to him by an
English author, who certainly cannot be accused of any partiality
to the Scotch.
Retaining in that potent hand
Which thrice redeem' d its native land. — P. 69.
First after the battle of Biggar he freed the country generally
from dependence on England, though Edward still held many places
of strength in the Scotland; then, after the burning of the Barns of
Air, he almost entirely drove his adherents out of it; and thirdly,
after the battle of Stirling he completely freed Scotland from the
The sound ev'n of his whisper'd name
Revived in faithful hearts the smother'd flame,
And many secretly to join his standard came. — P. 70.
I have in this part of the story adhered to Blair and the Minstrel,
though there is nothing correspondent to it in either Holinshed or
Buchanan, except what may be gleaned from the following passages.
After his account of the battle of Roslin, fought probably
when Wallace was in France, and the succeeding invasion of
Edward into Scotland, Holinshed says, "The Scots perceiving they
were not of puissance able to resist his invasion, withdrew to their
strengths, by means whereof the English army passed through all
Scotland, even from the south parts unto the north, and found few
or none to make resistance, except Wallace, and such as followed
his opinion, who were fled to the mountains and the woods, &c.
Buchanan says, "To blot out the ignominy (of his defeat at
Roslin). and put an end at once to a long and tedeous war, he
(Edward) therefore levies an army bigger than ever he had before,
and assaulted Scotland both by sea and land, and made spoil of it
even unto the uttermost borders of Ross, no man daring to oppose
so great a force. Only Wallace and his men, sometimes in the
front, sometimes in the rear, sometimes in the flanks, would snap
either those that rashly went before or loitered behind, or that in
plundering straggled too far from the main body; neither did he
suffer them to stray from their colours.
Then Edward thought the Chief to gain,
And win him to his princely side
With treasur'd gold and honours vain. — P. 71.
Holinshed's Chronicles: — "It is said that King Edward required
by a messenger sent unto this Wallace, that if he would come in
and be sworn his liege-man and true subject, he would have at his
hands great lordships and possessions within England to mainteine
his post, as was requisite to a man of verie honorable estate. But
Wallace refused these offers, saieng that he preferred liberty with
small revenues in Scotland before anie possession of lands in
England, were the same never so great; considering he might not
enjoy them under the yoke of bondage. * * * * *
Furthermore before his (King Edward's) departure out of Scotland,
he appointed all the Scottish nobles to assemble at Scone, where he
called them to take a new oth, that from hencefrorth they would
take him for their Sovereigne Lord, and to obeie him in all things
as loial subjects. All the nobility of Scotland was sworne to him
that day, Wallace onlie excepted, who eschued more than the companie
of a serpent to have anie thing to doo with the English,
touching anie agreement to be made with them, agreeable to their
Buchanan also says, "Edward sought by great promises to bring
him over to his party; but his constant tone was, that he devoted
his life to his country, to which it was due; and if he could do it
no further service, yet he would die in pious endeavours for its
defence." He also mentions Wallace's refusing to take the oath of
allegiance, taken by all the nobles of Scotland.
Monteith, a name which from that day, I ween,
Hateful to every Scottish ear hath been. — P. 72.
Buchanan, after relating the tyrannical use which Edward made of
his power, burning the records of Scotland, &c. and the story of
Bruce being betrayed by Cumin, &c. &c., says, "About this time
also, Wallace was betrayed in the county of Glasgow (where he had
hid himself) by his own familiar friend John Monteith, whom the
English had corrupted with money, and so was sent to London,
where by Edward's commands he was wofully butchered, and his
limbs, for the terror of others, hanged up in the most noted places
of London and Scotland."
Holinshed says, "About the same time was William Wallace
taken at Glasgow, by means of Sir John Monteith and others, in
whom he had ever put a most speciall trust; but they being corrupted
with the offer of large rewards, promised by King Edward to
such as wuld helpe to take him, wrought such fetches, that he was
apprehended at last by Odomere de Valence, Earl of Pembroke,who,
with a great power of men, brought him to London, where he was
put to death, and his quarters sent to Scotland, and set up in sundrie
great towns there for a spectacle, as it were, to give example to
Meekly he bow'd o'er bead and book,
And every worldly thought forsook. — P. 77.
The blind Minstrel gives this account of his death, page 398.
"On Wednesday false Southeron forth him brought
To martyr him, as they before had wrought.
Right sooth it is a Martyr Wallace was,
As Oswald, Edward, Edmund and Thomas.
Of men in arms led him a full great rout.
With a bold spirit Wallace blinked about.
A Priest he asked for God who died on tree."
Then, after telling how king Edward refused his request, and
was rebuked for so doing by an English Bishop, he continues, —
"A sheriff gart his clerk soon from him pass,
Right as they durst, they grant what he would ask.
A psalter book Wallace had on him ever,
From his childhood with it he would not sever;
Better he trowed in viage for to speed,
But then he was dispulzied of his weed.
This grace he ask'd of Lord Clifford, that knight,
To let him have his psalter book in sight;
He gart a Priest it open before him hold,
While they to him had done all that they would.
Steadfast he read for ought they did him thare,
Feil Southerons said that Wallace felt no sare.
Good devotion, so was his beginning,
Continued therewith, and fair was his ending,
While speech and spirit all at once can fair
To lasting bliss, we trow, for ever mare."
In many a castle, town, and plain,
Mountain and forest, still remain,
Fondly cherish'd spots which claim,
The proud distinction of his honour'd name. — P. 78, 79.
This is too well known to require any confirmation; but I cannot
help mentioning the pleasure I lately received in being shown, by two
simple country children on the Blantyre Craigs, opposite to Bothwel
Castle, (one of those castles which boasts the honour of having a
Wallace's tower,) the mark of Wallace's footstep in the rocky
brink of a little trickling well.
Led by the brave of modern days, —
Such, Abercrombie, fought with thee! — P. 81.
I have named our distinguished Scotch leaders only as being naturally
connected with the subject. That I have meant no neglect to
other brave commanders of these warlike days, when our troops
from every part of the United Kingdoms have fought so valiantly
and successfully, under the ablest general that has appeared since
the time of the great Marlborough, will, I suppose, be readily
O Scotland! proud may be thy boast!
Since time his course thro' circling years hath run,
There hath not shone in Fame's bright host,
A nobler hero than thy patriot Son. — P. 82.
Buchanan gives this noble testimony to his worth: —
"Such an end had this person, the most famous man of the age
in which he lived, who deserved to be compared to the most renowned
captains of ancient times, both for his greatness of mind
in undertaking dangers, and for his valour and wisdom in overcoming
them. For love to his country, he was second to none; who,
when others were slaves, was alone free, neither could be induced
by any rewards or moved by threats to forsake the public cause
which he had once undertaken."
"A thousand thre hundyr and the fyft yhere
Efter the byrth of our Lord dere,
Schyre John of Menteth in tha days
Tak in Glasgow Willame Walays,
And send him in-till Ingland swne,
Thare he was qwateryd and wndwne,
Be dyspyte and hat enwy;
There he tholyd this maryry.
In all Ingland thare was nought thane
As Willame Walays swa lele a mane.
Quhat he did agayne that natyown
Thai made him provocatyown:
Na to them oblyst nevyr was he,
In fayth full owschype na sawte;
For in his tyme, I hard well say,
That fykkit thai ware, all tyne of fay."
Wyntown's Chronicle, page 130.
Is there a man, that, from some lofty steep,
Views in his wide survey the boundless deep,
When its vast waters, lined with sun and shade,
Wave beyond wave, in seried distance, fade
To the pale sky; — or views it, dimly seen,
The shifting skreens of drifted mist between,
As the huge cloud dilates its sable form,
When grandly curtain'd by th' approaching storm, —
Who feels not his aw'd soul with wonder rise
To Him whose power created sea and skies,
Mountains and deserts, giving to the sight
The wonders of the day and of the night?
But let some fleet be seen in warlike pride,
Whose stately ships the restless billows ride,
While each, with lofty masts and bright'ning sheen
Of fair spread sails, moves like a vested Queen; —
Or rather, be some distant bark, astray,
Seen like a pilgrim on his lonely way,
Holding its steady course from port and shore,
A form distinct, a speck, and seen no more, —
How doth the pride, the sympathy, the flame,
Of human feeling stir his thrilling frame!
"O Thou! whose mandate dust inert obey'd!
"What is this creature man whom thou hast made!"
On Palos' shore, whose crowded strand
Bore priests and nobles of the land,
And rustic hinds and townsmen trim,
And harness'd soldiers stern and grim,
And lowly maids and dames of pride,
And infants by their mother's side, —
The boldest seaman stood that e'er
Did bark or ship through tempest steer;
And wise as bold, and good as wise;
The magnet of a thousand eyes,
That on his form and features cast,
His noble mien and simple guise,
In wonder seem'd to look their last.
A form which conscious worth is gracing,
A face where hope, the lines effacing
Of thought and care, bestow'd, in truth,
To the quick eyes' imperfect tracing
The look and air of youth.
Who, in his lofty gait, and high
Expression of th' enlighten'd eye,
Had recognis'd in that bright hour
The disappointed suppliant of dull power,
Who had in vain of states and kings desired
The pittance for his vast emprise required? —
The patient sage, who, by his lamp's faint light,
O'er chart and map spent the long silent night? —
The man who meekly fortune's buffets bore,
Trusting in One alone, whom heaven and earth adore?
Another world is in his mind,
Peopled with creatures of his kind,
With hearts to feel, with minds to soar,
Thoughts to consider and explore;
Souls, who might find, from trespass shriven,
Virtue on earth and joy in heaven.
"That Power divine, whom storms obey,"
(Whisper'd his heart,) a leading star,
Will guide him on his blessed way;
Brothers to join by fate divided far.
Vain thoughts! which heaven doth but ordain
In part to be, the rest, alas! how vain!
But hath there liv'd of mortal mould,
Whose fortunes with his thoughts could hold
An even race? Earth's greatest son
That e'er earn'd fame, or empire won,
Hath but fulfill'd, within a narrow scope,
A stinted portion of his ample hope.
With heavy sigh and look depress'd,
The greatest men will sometimes hear
The story of their acts address'd
To the young stranger's wond'ring ear,
And check the half-swoln tear.
Is it or modesty or pride
Which may not open praise abide?
No; read his inward thoughts: they tell,
His deeds of fame he prizes well.
But, ah! they in his fancy stand,
As relicks of a blighted band,
Who, lost to man's approving sight,
Have perish'd in the gloom of night,
Ere yet the glorious light of day
Had glitter'd on their bright array.
His mightiest feat had once another,
Of high Imagination born, —
A loftier and a nobler brother,
From dear existence torn;
And she for those, who are not, steeps
Her soul in woe, — like Rachel, weeps.
The signal given, with hasty strides,
The sailors climb'd their ships' dark sides;
Their anchors weigh'd; and from the shore
Each stately vessel slowly bore.
High o'er the deeply shadow'd flood,
Upon his deck their leader stood,
And turn'd him to the parted land,
And bow'd his head and waved his hand.
And then, along the crowded strand,
A sound of many sounds combin'd,
That wax'd and wan'd upon the wind,
Burst like heaven's thunder, deep and grand;
A lengthen'd peal, which paused, and then
Renew'd, like that which loathly parts,
Oft on the ear return'd again,
The impulse of a thousand hearts.
But as the lengthen'd shouts subside,
Distincter accents strike the ear,
Wafting across the current wide,
Heart-utter'd words of parting cheer:
"Oh! shall we ever see again
"Those gallant souls re-cross the main?
"God keep the brave! God be their guide!
"God bear them safe thro' storm and tide!
"Their sails with fav'ring breezes swell!
O brave Columbus! fare thee well!"
From shore and strait, and gulph and bay,
The vessels held their daring way,
Left far behind, in distance thrown,
All land to Moor or Christian known,
Left far behind the misty isle,
Whose fitful shroud, withdrawn the while,
Shews wood and hill and headland bright
To later seamen's wond'ring sight,
And tide and sea left far behind
That e'er bore freight of human kind;
Where ship or bark to shifting gales
E'er tack'd their course or spread their sails.
Around them lay a boundless main
In which to hold their silent reign;
But for the passing current's flow,
And cleft waves, brawling round the prow,
They might have thought some magic spell
Had bound them, weary fate! for ever there to dwell.
What did this trackless waste supply
To soothe the mind or please the eye?
The rising morn thro' dim mist breaking,
The flicker'd east with purple streaking;
The mid-day cloud thro' thin air flying,
With deeper blue the blue sea dying;
Long ridgy waves their white mains rearing,
And in the broad gleam disappearing;
The broaden'd blazing sun declining,
And western waves like fire-flood shining
The sky's vast dome to darkness given,
And all the glorious host of heaven.
Full oft upon the deck, while other's slept,
To mark the bearing of each well-known star
That shone aloft, or on th' horizon far,
The anxious Chief his lonely vigil kept;
The mournful wind, the hoarse wave breaking near,
The breathing groans of sleep, the plunging lead
The steer's man's call, and his own stilly tread,
Are all the sounds of night that reach his ear.
His darker form stalk'd through the sable gloom
With gestures discomposed and features keen,
That might not in the face of day be seen,
Like some unblessed spirit from the tomb.
Night after night, and day succeeding day,
So pass'd their dull, unvaried time away;
Till Hope, the seaman's worship'd queen, had flown
From every valiant heart but his alone;
Where still, by day, enthron'd, she held her state
With sunny look and brow elate.
But soon his dauntless soul, which nought could bend,
Nor hope delay'd, nor adverse fate subdue,
With more redoubled danger must contend
Than storm or wave — a fierce and angry crew.
"Dearly," say they, "may we those visions rue
"Which lured us from our native land,
"A wretched, lost, devoted band,
"Led on by hope's delusive gleam,
"The victims of a madman's dream!
"Nor gold shall e'er be ours, nor fame;
"Not ev'n the remnant of a name,
"On some rude-letter'd stone to tell
"On what strange coast our wreck befell.
"For us no requiem shall be sung,
"Nor prayer be said, nor passing knell
"In holy church be rung."
To thoughts like these, all forms give way
Of duty to a leader's sway;
All habits of respect, that bind
With easy tie the human mind.
Ev'n love and admiration throw
Their nobler bands aside, nor show
A gentler mien; relations, friends,
Glare on him now like angry fiends;
And, as he moves, ah, wretched cheer!
Their mutter'd curses reach his ear,
But all undaunted, firm and sage,
He scorns their threats, yet thus he soothes their rage:
"I brought you from your native shore
"An unknown ocean to explore.
"I brought you, partners, by my side,
"Want, toil, and danger, to abide.
"Yet weary stillness hath so soon subdued
"The buoyant soul, the heart of pride,
"Men who in battle's brunt full oft have firmly stood.
"That to some nearing coast we bear,
"How many cheering signs declare!
"Way-faring birds the blue air ranging,
"Their shadowy line to blue air changing,
"Pass o'er our heads in frequent flocks;
"While sea-weed from the parent rocks
"With fibry roots, but newly torn,
"In tressy lengthen'd wreaths are on the clear wave borne.
Nay, has not ev'n the drifting current brought
Things of rude art, — of human cunning wrought?
"Be yet two days your patience tried,
"And if no shore is then descried,
"Ev'n turn your dastard prows again,
"And cast your leader to the main."
And thus awhile with steady hand
He kept in check a wayward band,
Who but with half-express'd disdain
Their rebel spirit could restrain.
The vet'ran rough as war-worn steel,
Oft spurn'd the deck with grating heel;
The seaman, bending o'er the flood,
With stony gaze all listless stood;
The sturdy bandit, wildly rude,
Sung, as he strode, some garbled strain,
Expressive of each fitful mood,
Timed by his sabre's jangling chain
The proud Castilian, boasted name!
Child of an ancient race
Which proudly priz'd its spotless fame,
And deem'd all fear disgrace,
Felt quench'd within him honour's generous flame,
And in his gather'd mantle wrapp'd his face.
So pass'd the day, the night, the second day
With its red setting sun's extinguish'd ray.
Dark, solemn midnight coped the ocean wide,
When from his watchful stand Columbus cried,
"A light, a light!" — blest sounds that rung
In every ear. — At once they sprung
With haste aloft, and, peering bright,
Descried afar the blessed sight.
"It moves, it slowly moves like ray
"Of torch that guides some wand'rer's way!
"And other lights more distant, seeming
"As if from town or hamlet streaming!
"'Tis land, 'tis peopled land; man dwelleth there,
"And thou, O God of Heaven! hast heard thy servant's
Returning day gave to their view
The distant shore and headlands blue
Of long-sought land. Then rose on air
Loud shouts of joy, mix'd wildly strange
With voice of weeping and of prayer,
Expressive of their blessed change
From death to life, from fierce to kind,
From all that sinks, to all that elevates the mind.
Those who, by faithless fear ensnared,
Had their brave chief so rudely dared,
Now, with keen self-upbraiding stung,
With every manly feeling wrung,
Repentant tears, looks that entreat,
Are kneeling at his worshipp'd feet.
"O pardon blinded, stubborn guilt!
"O henceforth make us what thou wilt!
"Our hands, our hearts, our lives, are thine,
"Thou wond'rous man! led on by power divine!"
Ah! would some magic could arrest
The generous feelings of the breast,
Which thwart the common baser mass
Of sordid thoughts, so fleetly pass, —
A sun glimpse thro' the storm!
The rent cloud closes, tempests swell,
And its late path we cannot tell;
Lost is its trace and form.
No; not on earth such fugitives are bound;
In some veil'd future state will the bless'd charm be found.
Columbus led them to the shore,
Which ship had never touch'd before;
And there he knelt upon the strand
To thank the God of sea and land;
And there, with mien and look elate,
Gave welcome to each toil-worn mate.
And lured with courteous signs of cheer,
The dusky natives gath'ring near;
Who on them gazed with wond'ring eyes,
As mission'd spirits from the skies.
And there did he possession claim,
In Isabella's royal name.
It was a land, unmarr'd by art,
To please the eye and cheer the heart:
The natives' simple huts were seen
Peeping their palmy groves between, —
Groves, where each dome of sweepy leaves
In air of morning gently heaves,
And, as the deep vans fall and rise,
Changes its richly verdant dies;
A land whose simple sons till now
Had scarcely seen a careful brow;
They spent at will each passing day
In lightsome toil or active play.
Some their light canoes were guiding,
Along the shore's sweet margin gliding.
Some in the sunny sea were swimming,
The bright waves o'er their dark forms gleaming;
Some on the beach for shell-fish stooping,
Or on the smooth sand gaily trooping;
Or in link'd circles featly dancing
With golden braid and bracelet glancing.
By shelter'd door were infants creeping,
Or on the shaded herbage sleeping;
Gay feather'd birds the air were winging,
And parrots on their high perch swinging,
While humming-birds, like sparks of light,
Twinkled and vanish'd from the sight.
They eyed the wond'rous strangers o'er and o'er, —
Those beings of the ocean and the air,
With humble, timid rev'rence; all their store
Of gather'd wealth inviting them to share;
To share whate'er their lowly cabins hold;
Their feather'd crowns, their fruits, their arms, their
Their gold, that fatal. gift! — O foul disgrace!
Repaid with cruel wreck of all their harmless race.
There some short, pleasing days with them he dwelt,
And all their simple kindness dearly felt.
But they of other countries told,
Not distant, where the sun declines,
Where reign Caziques o'er warriors bold,
Rich with the gold of countless mines.
And he to other islands sail'd,
And was by other natives hail'd.
Then on Hispaniola's shore,
Where bays and harbours to explore
Much time he spent, a simple tower
Of wood he built, the seat to be
And shelter of Spain's infant power;
Hoping the nurseling fair to see,
Amidst those harmless people shoot
Its stately stem from slender root.
There nine and thirty chosen men he placed,
Gave parting words of counsel and of cheer;
One after one his nobler friends embraced,
And to the Indian chieftain, standing near,
"Befriend, my friends, and give them aid,
"When I am gone," he kindly said,
Blest them, and left them there his homeward course
to steer.
His prayer to Heaven for them preferr'd
Was not, alas! with favour heard.
Oft, as his ship the land forsook,
He landward turned his farewell look,
And cheer'd his Spaniards cross the wave,
Who distant answer faintly gave;
Distant but cheerful. On the strand
He saw their clothed figures stand
With naked forms link'd hand in hand; —
Saw thus caress'd, assured, and bold,
Those he should never more behold.
Some simple Indians, gently won,
To visit land, where sets the sun
In clouds of amber, and behold,
The wonders oft by Spaniards told;
Stood silent by themselves apart,
With nature's yearnings at their heart,
And saw the coast of fading blue
Wear soft and sadly from their view.
But soon by their new comrades cheer'd,
As o'er the waves the ship career'd,
Their wond'ring eyes aloft were cast
On white swoln sails and stately mast,
And check'ring shrouds, depicted fair,
On azure sea and azure air;
And felt, as feels the truant boy,
Who, having climb'd some crumbling mound
Or ruin'd tower, looks wildly round, —
A thrilling, fearful joy.
Then with his two small barks again
The dauntless Chief travers'd the main;
But not with fair and fav'ring gales
That erst had fill'd his western sails:
Fierce winds with adverse winds contended;
Rose the dark deep, — dark heaven descended,
And threaten'd, in the furious strife,
The ships to sink with all their freight of precious life.
In this dread case, well may be guess'd
What dismal thoughts his soul depress'd:
"And must I in th' o'erwhelming deep,
"Our bold achievement all unknown,
"With these my brave advent'rers sleep, —
"What we have done to dark oblivion thrown?
"Sink, body! to thy wat'ry grave,
"If so God will; but let me save
"This noble fruitage of my mind,
"And leave my name and deeds behind!"
Upon a scroll, with hasty pen,
His wond'rous tale he traced,
View'd it with tearful eyes, and then
Within a casket placed.
"Perhaps," said he, "by vessel bound
"On western cruize, thou wilt be found;
"Or make, sped by the current swift,
"To Christian shore thy happy drift.
"Thy story may by friendly eyes be read;
"O'er our untimely fate warm tears be shed;
"Our deeds rehears'd by many an eager tongue,
"And requiems for our parted souls be sung."
This casket to the sea he gave;
Quick sunk and rose the freightage light, —
Appear'd on many a booming wave,
Then floated far away from his still gazing sight.
Yet, after many a peril braved, —
Of many an adverse wind the sport,
He, by his Great Preserver saved,
Anchor'd again in Palos' port.
O, who can tell the acclamation loud
That, bursting, rose from the assembled crowd,
To hail the Hero and his gallant train,
From such adventure bold retuned again! —
The warm embrace, the oft-repeated cheer,
And many a wistful smile and many a tear! —
How, pressing close, they stood;
Look'd on Columbus with amaze, —
"Is he," so spake their wond'ring gaze,
"A man of flesh and blood?"
While cannon far along the shore
His welcome gave with deaf'ning roar.
And then with measur'd steps, sedate and slow,
They to the Christian's sacred temple go.
Soon as the chief within the house of God
Upon the hallow'd pavement trod,
He bowed with holy fear: —
The God of wisdom, mercy, might,
"Creator of the day and night,
"This sea-girt globe, and every star of light,
"Is worship'd here."
Then on the altar's steps he knelt,
And what his inward spirit felt,
Was said unheard within that cell
Where saintly thoughts and feelings dwell;
But as the choral chaunters raise
Thro' dome and aisle the hymn of praise,
To heaven his glist'ning eyes were turn'd,
With sacred love his bosom burn'd.
On all the motley crowd
The gen'rous impulse seized; high Dons of pride
Wept like the meekest beedsman by their side,
And women sobb'd aloud.
Nor statesmen met in high debate
Deciding on a country's fate,
Nor saintly chiefs with fearless zeal
Contending for their churches' weal,
Nor warriors, midst the battle's roar,
Who fiercely guard their native shore; —
No power by earthly coil possest
To agitate the human breast,
Shows, from its native source diverted,
Man's nature noble, tho' perverted,
So strongly as the transient power
Of link'd devotion's sympathetic hour.
It clothes with soft unwonted grace
The traits of many a rugged face,
As bend the knees unused to kneel,
And glow the hearts unused to feel;
While every soul, with hay passion moved,
Claims one Almighty Sire, fear'd, and adored, and loved.
With western treasures, borne in fair display,
To Barcelona's walls, in grand array,
Columbus slowly held his inland way.
And still where'er he pass'd along,
In eager crowds the people throng.
The wildest way o'er desert drear,
Did like a city's mart appear.
The shepherd swain forsook his sheep;
The goat-herd from his craggy steep
Shot like an arrow to the plain;
Mechanics, housewives, left amain
Their broken tasks, and press'd beside
The truant youth they meant to chide:
The dull Hidalgo left his tower,
The Donna fair her latticed bower;
Together press'd, fair and uncouth,
All motley forms of age and youth.
And, still along the dark-ranged pile
Of clust'ring life, was heard the while
Mix'd brawling joy, and shouts that rung
From many a loud and deaf'ning tongue.
Ah! little thought the gazing throng,
As pass'd that pageant show along,
How Spain should rue, in future times,
With desert plains and fields untill'd,
And towns with listless loit'rers fill'd,
The with'ring spoil receiv'd from foreign clime
Columbus gave thee, thankless Spain!
A new-found world o'er which to reign;
But could not with the gift impart
A portion of his liberal heart
And manly mind, to bid thee soar
Above a robber's lust of ore,
Which hath a curse entail'd on all thy countless store.
To Barcelona come, with honours meet
Such glorious deeds to grace, his sov'reigns greet
Their mariner's return. Or hall,
Or room of state was deem'd too small
For such reception. Pageant rare!
Beneath heaven's dome, in open square,
Their gorgeous thrones were placed;
And near them on a humbler seat,
While on each hand the titled great,
Standing in dizen'd rows, were seen,
Priests, guards, and crowds, a living screen, —
Columbus sat, with noble mien,
With princely honours graced.
There to the royal pair his tale he told:
A wond'rous tale, that did not want
Or studied words or braggart's vaunt;
When at their royal feet were laid
Gems, pearls, and plumes of many a shade,
And stores of virgin gold,
Whilst, in their feathered guise arrayed,
The Indians low obeisance paid.
And at that wond'rous story's close
The royal pair with rev'rence rose,
And kneeling on the ground, aloud
Gave thanks to Heaven. Then all the crowd,
Joining, from impulse of the heart,
The banded priest's extatic art,
With mingled voice Te Deum sang;
With the grand choral burst, walls, towers, and welk
This was his brightest hour, too bright
For human weal; — a glaring light,
Like sunbeam thro' the rent cloud pouring
On the broad lake, when storms are roaring;
Bright centre of a wild and sombre scene;
More keenly bright than Summer's settled sheen.
With kingly favour brighten'd, all
His favour court, obey his call.
At princely boards, above the rest,
He took his place, admir'd, caress'd:
Proud was the Don of high degree,
Whose honour'd guest he deign'd to be.
Whate'er his purpos'd service wanted,
With ready courtesy was granted:
No envious foe durst cross his will.
While eager ship-wrights ply their skill,
To busy dock-yard, quay, or port,
Priests, lords, and citizens resort:
There wains the heavy planks are bringing,
And hammers on the anvil ringing;
The far-toss'd boards on boards are falling,
And brawny mate to work-mate calling:
The cable strong on windlass winding;
On wheel of stone the edge-tool grinding;
Red fire beneath the caldron gleaming,
And pitchy fumes from caldron steaming.
To sea and land's men too, I ween,
It was a gay, attractive scene;
Beheld, enjoyed, day after day,
Till all his ships, in fair array,
Were bounden for their course at last,
And amply stored and bravely mann'd,
Bore far from blue, receding land.
Thus soon again, th' Atlantic vast
With gallant fleet he past.
By peaceful natives hail'd with kindly smiles,
He shortly touch'd at various pleasant isles;
And when at length her well-known shore appear'd,
And he to fair Hispaniola near'd,
Upon the deck, with eager eye,
Some friendly signal to descry,
He stood; then fir'd his signal shot,
But answ'ring fire received not.
"What may this dismal silence mean?
"No floating flag in air is seen,
"Nor ev'n the Tower itself, tho' well
"Its lofty scite those landmarks tell.
"Ha! have they so regardless proved
"Of my command? — their station moved!"
As closer to the shore they drew,
To hail them came no light canoe;
The beach was silent and forsaken:
Nor cloth'd nor naked forms appear'd,
Nor sound of human voice was heard;
Naught but the sea-birds from the rock,
With busy stir that flutt'ring broke;
Sad signs, which in his mind portentous fears awaken.
Then eagerly on shore he went,
His scouts abroad for tidings sent;
But to his own loud echo'd cry
An Indian came with fearful eye,
Who guess'd his questions' hurried sound,
And pointed to a little mound,
Not distant far. With eager haste
The loosen'd mould aside was cast.
Bodies, alas! within that grave were found,
Which had not long been laid to rest,
Tho' so by changeful death defaced,
Nor form, nor visage could be traced, —
In Spanish garments dress'd.
Back from each living Spaniard's cheek the blood
Ran chill, as round their noble chief they stood,
Who sternly spoke to check the rising tear.
"Eight of my valiant men are buried here;
"Where are the rest?" the timid Indian shook
In every limb, and slow and faintly spoke.
"Some are dead, some sick, some flown;
"The rest are up the country gone,
"Far, far away." A heavy groan
Utters the Chief; his blanch'd lips quiver;
He knows that they are gone for ever.
But here 'twere tedious and unmeet
A dismal story to repeat,
Which was from mild Cazique received,
Their former friend, and half believed.
Him, in his cabin far apart,
Wounded they found, by Carib dart;
Receiv'd, said he, from savage foe
Spaniards defending. Then with accents low
He spoke, and ruefully began to tell,
What to those hapless mariners befell.
How that from lust of pleasure and of gold,
And mutual strife and war on Caribs made,
Their strength divided was, and burnt their hold,
And their unhappy heads beneath the still earth laid.
Yet, spite of adverse fate, he in those climes
Spain's infant power establish'd; after-times
Have seen it flourish, and her sway maintain
In either world, o'er many a fair domain.
But wayward was his irksome lot the while,
Striving with malice, mutiny, and guile;
Yet vainly striving: that which most
His generous bosom sought to shun,
Each wise and lib'ral purpose crost,
Must now at Mammon's ruthless call be done.
Upon their native soil,
They who were wont in harmless play
To frolic out the passing day,
Must pine with hateful toil.
Yea; this he did against his better will;
For who may stern ambition serve, and still
His nobler nature trust?
May on unshaken strength relie,
Cast Fortune as she will her dye,
And say "I will be just?"
Envy mean, that in the dark
Strikes surely at its noble mark,
Against him rose with hatred fell,
Which he could brave, but could not quell.
Then he to Spain indignant went,
And to his sov'reigns made complaint,
With manly freedom, of their trust,
Put, to his cost, in men unjust,
And turbulent. They graciously
His plaint and plea receiv'd; and hoisting high
His famed and gallant flag upon the main,
He to his western world return'd again.
Where he, the sea's unwearied, dauntless rover,
Thro' many a gulph and straight, did first discover
That continent, whose mighty reach
From th' utmost frozen north doth stretch
Ev'n to the frozen south; a land.
Of surface fair and structure grand.
There, thro' vast regions rivers pour,
Whose mid-way skiff scarce sees the shore;
Which, rolling on in lordly pride,
Give to the main their ample tide;
And dauntless then, with current strong,
Impetuous, roaring, bear along,
And still their sep'rate honours keep,
In bold contention with the mighty deep.
There broad-based mountains from the sight
Conceal in clouds their vasty height,
Whose frozen peaks, a vision rare,
Above the girdling clouds rear'd far in upper air,
At times appear, and soothly seem
To the far distant, up-cast eye,
Like snowy watch-towers of the sky, —
Like passing visions of a dream.
There forests grand of olden birth,
O'er-canopy the darken'd earth,
Whose trees, growth of unreckon'd time,
Rear o'er whole regions far and wide
A checker'd dome of lofty pride
Silent, solemn, and sublime. —
A pillar'd lab'rinth, in whose trackless gloom,
Unguided feet might stray till close of mortal doom.
There grassy plains of verdant green
Spread far beyond man's ken are seen,
Whose darker bushy spots that lye
Strew'd o'er the level vast, descry
Admiring strangers, from the brow
Of hill or upland steep, and show,
Like a calm ocean's peaceful isles,
When morning light thro' rising vapours smiles.
O'er this, his last — his proudest fame,
He did assert his mission'd claim.
Yet dark ambitious envy, more
Incens'd and violent than before,
With crafty machinations gain'd
His royal master's ear, who stain'd
His princely faith, and gave it power
To triumph, in a shameful hour.
A mission'd gownsman o'er the sea
Was sent his rights to supersede
And all his noble schemes impede, —
His tyrant, spy, and judge to be.
With parchment scrolls and deeds he came
To kindle fierce and wasteful flame.
Columbus' firm and dauntless soul
Submitted not to base controul.
For who that hath high deeds achieved,
Whose mind hath mighty plans conceived,
Can of learn'd ignorance and pride
The petty vexing rule abide?
The lion trampled by an ass! —
No; this all-school'd forbearance would surpass.
Insulted with a felon's chain,
This noble man must cross the main,
And answer his foul charge to cold, ungrateful Spain.
By India's gentle race alone
Was pity to his suff'rings shown.
They on his parting wait.
And looks of kindness on him cast,
Or touch'd his mantle as he past,
And mourn'd his alter'd state.
"May the Great Spirit smooth the tide
"With gentle gales, and be thy guide!"
And when his vessel wore from land,
With meaning nods and gestures kind,
He saw them still upon the strand
Tossing their dark arms on the wind.
He saw them like a helpless flock
Who soon must bear the cruel shock
Of savage wolves, yet reckless still,
Feel but the pain of present ill.
He saw the fate he could not now controul,
And groan'd in bitter agony of soul.
He trode the narrow deck with pain,
And oft survey'd his rankling chain.
The ship's brave captain grieved to see
Base irons his noble pris'ner gall,
And kindly sued to set him free;
But proudly spoke the lofty thrall,
"Until the King whom I have served,
"Who thinks this recompense deserved,
"Himself command th' unclasping stroke,
"These gyved limbs will wear their yoke.
"Yea, when my head lies in the dust,
"These chains shall in my coffin rust.
"Better than lesson'd saw, tho' rude,
"As token, long preserv'd, of black ingratitude!"
Thus pent, his manly fortitude gave way
To brooding passion's dark tumultuous sway.
Dark was the gloom within, and darker grew
Th' impending gloom without, as onward drew
Th' embattled storm that, deep'ning on its way,
With all its marshall'd host obscured the day.
Volume o'er volume, roll'd the heavy clouds,
And oft in dark dim masses, sinking slow,
Hung in the nether air, like misty shrouds,
Veiling the sombre, silent deep below.
Like eddying snow-flakes from a lowering sky,
Athwart the dismal gloom the frighten'd sea-fowl fly.
Then from the solemn stillness round,
Utters the storm its awful sound.
It groans upon the distant waves;
O'er the mid-ocean wildly raves;
Recedes afar with dying strain,
That sadly thro' the troubled air
Comes like the wailings of despair,
And with redoubled strength returns again:
Through shrouds and rigging, boards and mast,
Whistles, and howls, and roars th' outrageous blast.
From its vast bed profound with heaving throws
The mighty waste of welt'ring waters rose.
O'er countless waves, now mounting, now deprest,
The ridgy surges swell with foaming crest,
Like Alpine barriers of some distant shore,
Now seen, now lost amidst the deaf'ning roar;
While, higher still, on broad and sweepy base,
Their growing bulk the mountain billows raise,
Each far aloft in lordly grandeur rides,
With many a vassal wave roughening his furrow'd sides.
Heav'd to its height, the dizzy skiff
Shoots like an eagle from his cliff
Down to the fearful gulf, and then
On the swoln waters mounts again, —
A fearful way! a fearful state
For vessel charged with living freight!
Within, without the tossing tempests rage:
This was, of all his earthly pilgrimage,
The injur'd Hero's fellest, darkest hour.
Yet swiftly pass'd its gloomy power;
For as the wild winds louder blew,
His troubled breast the calmer grew;
And, long before the mighty hand,
That rules the ocean and the land,
Had calm'd the sea, with pious rev'rence fill'd,
The warring passions of his soul were still'd.
Through softly parting clouds the blue sky peer'd,
And heaven-ward turn'd his eye with better feelings
Meek are the wise, the great, the good; —
He sighed, and thought of Him, who died on holy rood.
No more the angry tempest's sport,
The vessel reach'd its destined port.
A town of Christendom he greets,
And treads again its well-known streets;
A sight of wonder, grief, and shame
To those who on his landing came,
And on his state in silence gaz'd.
"This is the man whose dauntless soul" —
So spoke their looks — "Spain's power hath rais'd
"To bold o'er worlds her proud controul!
"His honour'd brows with laurel crown'd,
"His hands with felon fetters bound!"
And he before his Sov'reign Dame
And her stern Lord, indignant came;
And bold in conscious honour, broke
The silence of his smother'd flame,
In words that all his inward anguish spoke.
The gentle Queen's more noble breast
Its generous sympathy exprest;
And as his varied story show'd
What wrongs from guileful malice flow'd,
Th' indignant eye and flushing cheek
Did oft her mind's emotion speak.
The sordid King, with brow severe,
Could, all unmov'd, his pleadings hear;
Save, that, in spite of royal pride,
Which self-reproach can ill abide,
His crimson'd face did meanly show
Of conscious shame th' unworthy glow.
Baffled, disgraced, his enemies remain'd,
And base ambition for a time restrain'd.
With four small vessels, small supply
I trow! yet granted tardily,
For such high service, he once more
The western ocean to explore
Directs his course. On many an isle
He touch'd, where cheerly, for a while,
His mariners their cares beguile
Upon the busy shore.
And there what wiles of barter keen
Spaniard and native pass between;
As feather'd crowns, whose colours change
To every hue, with vizards strange,
And gold and pearls are giv'n away,
For beed or bell, or bauble gay!
Full oft the mutt'ring Indian eyes
With conscious smile his wond'rous prize,
Beneath the shady plantain seated,
And thinks he hath the stranger cheated;
Or foots the ground like vaunting child,
Snapping his thumbs with anticks wild.
But if, at length, tired of their guests,
Consuming like those hateful pests,
Locusts or ants, provisions stored
For many days, they will afford
No more, withholding fresh supplies,
And strife and threat'ning clamours rise, —
Columbus gentle craft pursues,
And soon their noisy wrath subdues.
Thus speaks the chief, — "Refuse us aid
"From stores which Heaven for all hath made!
"The moon, your mistress, will this night
"From you withhold her blessed light,
"Her ire to show; take ye the risk."
Then, as half-frighten'd, half in jest,
They turn'd their faces to the east,
From ocean rose her broaden'd disk;
But when the deep eclipse came on,
By science sure to him foreknown,
How cower'd each savage at his feet,
Like spaniel couching to his lord,
Awed by the whip or angry word,
His pardon to entreat!
"Take all we have, thou heavenly man!
"And let our mistress smile again!"
Or, should the ship, above, below,
Be fill'd with crowds, who will not go;
Again, to spare more hurtful force,
To harmless guile he has recourse.
"Ho! Gunner! let these scramblers know
"The power we do not use;" when, lo!
From cannon's mouth the silv'ry cloud
Breaks forth, soft curling on the air,
Thro' which appears the light'ning's glare,
And bellowing roars the thunder loud.
Quickly from bowsprit, shroud, or mast,
Or vessel's side the Indians cast
Their naked forms, the water dashing
O'er their dark heads, as stoutly lashing
The briny waves with arms out-spread,
They gain the shore with terror's speed.
Thus checker'd still with shade and sheen
Pass'd in the West his latter scene,
As thro' the oak's toss'd branches pass
Soft moon-beams, flickering on the grass;
As on the lake's dark surface pour
Broad flashing drops of summer-shower; —
As the rude cavern's sparry sides
When past the miner's taper glides.
So roam'd the Chief, and many a sea
Fathom'd and search'd unweariedly,
Hoping a western way to gain
To eastern climes, — all effort vain;
For mighty thoughts, with error uncombin'd,
Were never yet the meed of mortal mind.
At length, by wayward fortune crost,
And oft-renew'd and irksome strife
Of sordid men, — by tempests tost,
And tir'd with turmoil of a wand'rer's life,
He sail'd again for Europe's ancient shore,
So will'd High Heav'n! to cross the seas no more.
His anchor fix'd, his sails for ever furl'd, —
A toil-worn pilgrim in a weary world.
And thus the Hero's sun went down,
Closing his day of bright renown.
Eight times thro' breeze and storm he past
O'er surge and wave th' Atlantic vast;
And left on many an island fair
Foundations which the after-care
Of meaner chieftains shortly rear'd
To seats of power, serv'd, envy'd, fear'd.
No kingly conqueror, since time began
The long career of ages, hath to man
A scope so ample given for trade's bold range,
Or caus'd on earth's wide stage such rapid mighty change.
He, on the bed of sickness laid,
Saw, unappall'd, death's closing shade;
And there, in charity and love
To man on earth and God above,
Meekly to heaven his soul resign'd,
His body to the earth consign'd.
'Twas in Valladolid he breathed his last,
And to a better, heavenly city past;
But St. Dominga, in her sacred fane
Doth his blest spot of rest and sculptur'd tomb contain.
There burghers, knights, advent'rers brave
Stood round in fun'ral weeds bedight;
And bow'd them to the closing grave,
And wish'd his soul good night.
Now all the bold companions of his toil
Tenants of many a clime, who wont to come,
(So fancy trows) when vex'd with worldly coil
And linger sadly by his narrow home; —
Repentant enemies, and friends that grieve
In self-upbraiding tenderness, and say,
"Cold was the love he did from us receive," —
The fleeting restless spirits of a day,
All to their dread account are pass'd away.
Silence, solemn, awful, deep,
Doth in that hall of death her empire keep;
Save when at times the hollow pavement, smote
By solitary wand'rer's foot, amain
From lofty dome and arch and aisle remote
A circling loud response receives again.
The stranger starts to hear the growing sound,
And sees the blazon'd trophies waving near; —
"Ha! tread my feet so near that sacred ground!"
He stops and bows his head: — "Columbus resteth
Some ardent youth, perhaps, ere from his home
He launch his vent'rous bark, will hither come,
Read fondly o'er and o'er his graven name
With feelings keenly touch'd, — with heart of flame;
Till wrapp'd in fancy's wild delusive dream,
Times past and long forgotten, present seem.
To his charm'd ear, the east wind rising shrill,
Seems thro' the Hero's shroud to whistle still.
The clock's deep pendulum swinging, thro' the blast
Sounds like the rocking of his lofty mast;
While fitful gusts rave like his clam'rous band,
Mix'd with the accents of his high command.
Slowly the stripling quits the pensive scene,
And burns, and sighs, and weeps to be what he has been.
O! who shall lightly say that fame
Is nothing but an empty name
Whilst in that sound there is a charm
The nerves to brace, the heart to warm,
As, thinking of the mighty dead,
The young, from slothful couch will start
And vow, with lifted hands outspread,
Like them to act a noble part?
O! who shall lightly say that fame
Is nothing but an empty name!
When, but for those, our mighty dead,
All ages past, a blank would be,
Sunk in oblivion's murky bed, —
A desert bare, a shipless sea?
They are the distant objects seen, —
The lofty marks of what hath been.
O! who shall lightly say that fame
Is nothing but an empty name!
When mem'ry of the mighty dead
To earth-worn pilgrim's wistful eye
The brightest rays of cheering shed,
That point to immortality?
A twinkling speck, but fix'd and bright,
To guide us thro' the dreary night,
Each hero shines, and lures the soul
To gain the distant happy goal.
For is there one who, musing o'er the grave
Where lies interr'd the good, the wise, the brave,
Can poorly think, beneath the mould'ring heap,
That noble being shall for ever sleep?
No; saith the gen'rous heart, and proudly swells, —
"Tho' his cered corse lies here, with God his spirit
The magnet of a thousand eyes,
That on his form and features cast,
His noble mien and simple guise. — P. 127.
Herrera's History of America, translated by Stevens, vol. i. p. 31.
— "Columbus was tall of stature, long visaged, of a majestick
aspect, his nose hooked, his eyes grey, a complexion clear, somewhat
ruddy; his beard and hair, when young, fair, though through many
hardships they soon turned grey. He was witty, and well-spoken,
and eloquent, moderately grave, affable to strangers, to his own
family mild. His conversation was discreet, which gained him the
affection of those he had to deal with; and his presence attracted
respect, having an air of authority and grandeur; always temperate
in eating and drinking, and modest in his dress."
Had recogniz'd, in that bright hour,
The disappointed suppliant of dull power,
Who had in vain of kings and states desired. — P. 127.
It is curious to see the many objections, which were made by
prejudice and ignorance, to his proposals; and also the means by
which he became at length successful in his suit to the crown of
Castile; to perceive what small considerations, and petty applications
of individuals, are sometimes concerned in promoting or
preventing the greatest events, see the Appendix, No. II.
The patient sage, who by his lamp's faint light
O'er chart and map spent the long silent night. — P. 128.
Herrera:— "He was very knowing in astrology, expert in navigation,
understood Latin, and made verses."
That Power Divine, whom storms obey,
(Whisper'd his heart) a leading star,
Will guide him on his blessed way. — P. 128.
Herrera: — "As to religion, he was very zealous and devout,
often saying, 'I will do this in the name of the Trinity;' kept the
fasts of the church very strictly; often confessed and communicated;
said all the canonical hours; abhorred swearing and blasphemy, had
a peculiar devotion to our Lady and St. Francis; was very thankful
to Almighty God for the mercies he received, zealous for God's
honour, and very desirous of the conversion of the Indians. In
other respects, he was a man of undaunted courage and high
thought, fond of great enterprizes, patient, ready to forgive wrongs,
and only desirous that offenders should be sensible of their faults;
unmoved in the many troubles and adversities that attended him;
ever relying on Divine Providence."
With more redoubled danger must contend,
Than storm or ware, — a fierce and angry crew. — P. 134.
Herrera, vol. i. p. 37. — "The men being all unacquainted with that
voyage, and seeing no hopes of any comfort, nothing appearing but
sky and water for so many days, all of them carefully observed every
token they saw, being then further from land than any man had
ever been. The 19th of September, a sea-gull came to the Admiral's
ship * * * As the aforesaid tokens proved of no effect,
the men's fears increased, and they took occasion to mutter, gathering
in parcels aboard the ships, saying that the Admiral, in a
mad humour, had thought to make himself great at the expence
of their lives, and though they had done their duty, and sailed
further from land than ever any men had done before, they ought
not to contribute to their own destruction, still proceeding without
any reason till their provisions failed them, which, though they
were ever so sparing, would not suffice to carry them back, no
more than the ships, that were already very crazy, so that nobody
would think they had done amiss; and that so many had opposed
the Admiral's project, the more credit would be given to
them. Nay, there wanted not some who said, that, to put an end
to all debaits, the best way would be to throw him into the sea,
and say he had unfortunately fallen in as he was attentively
gazing on the stars; and since nobody would go about to inquire
into the truth of it, that was the best means for them to return and
save themselves. Thus the mutinous temper went on from day to
day, and the evil designs of the men, which very much perplexed
Columbus: but sometimes giving good words, and at other times
putting them in mind of the punishment they would incur, if they
obstructed the voyage, he cured their insolence with fear; and as
a confirmation of the hopes he gave them of concluding their
voyage successfully, he often put them in mind of the above-mentioned
signs and tokens, promising they would soon find a vast
rich country, where they would all conclude their labour well
Descried afar the blessed sight.
"It moves, it slowly moves, like ray
"Of torch that guides some wanderer's way!" — P. 138.
Herrera: — "......... But afterwards it was seen twice, and looked
like a little candle raised up, and then taken down; and Columbus
did not question but it was a true light, and that they were near
land, and so it proved, and it was of people passing from one house
to another." — (See Appendix, No. III.)
Columbus led them to the shore
Which ship had never touched before,
And there he knelt upon the strand,
To thank the God of sea and land. — P. 140, 141.
Herrera, vol. i. p.46. — "When day appeared, they perceived it
was an island fifteen leagues in length, plain, much wooded, we
watered, having a lake of fresh water in the middle of it, we
stored with people, who stood full of admiration on the shore
imagining the ships to be some monsters, and with the utmost impatience
to know what they were; and the Spaniards were no
less eager to be on land. The Admiral went ashore in his boat,
armed, and the royal colours flying, as did the captains Martin
Monzo Pinzon and Vincent Yanez Pinzon, carrying the colours of
their enterprize, being a green cross, with some crowns, and the
names of their Catholic Majesties. Having all of them kissed the
ground, and on their knees given thanks to God for the goodness
he had shown them, the Admiral stood up, and gave that island
the name of St. Salvador, which the natives call Cannaham, being
one of those afterwards called the Lucayo Islands, 950 leagues
from the Canaries, discovered after they had sailed thirty-three
days. Then, with the proper solemnity of expressions, he took
possession of it in the name of their Catholic Majesties, for the
crowns of Castile and Leon, testified by Roderick Escovedo, notary
of the fleet, a great multitude of the natives looking on. The
Spaniards immediately owned him for their Admiral and Viceroy,
and swore obedience to him as representing the King's person in
that country, with all the joy and satisfaction that so great an event
deserved, all of them begging his pardon for the trouble and uneasiness
they had given him, by inconstancy and faint-heartedness."
They eyed those wond'rous strangers o'er and o'er, —
Those beings of the ocean and the air. — P. 143.
It is often mentioned by Herrera, that the Indians considered the
Spaniards as beings come from heaven. It is mentioned, page 55.,
that in an island, where Columbus had sent his men to explore the
interior, "The prime men came out to meet them, led them by the
arms, and lodged them in one of those new houses, causing them
to sit down on seats made of one solid piece of wood in the shape
of a beast with very short legs, the tail turned up, and the head
before, with eyes and ears of gold; and all the Indians sat about
them on the ground, and one after another went to kiss their feet
and hands, believing they came from heaven; and gave them boiled
roots to eat, which tasted like chesnuts, (probably potatoes,) and
entreated them to stay there, or at least rest themselves for five or
six days, because the Indians that went with them said many kind
things of them. Abundance of women coming in to see them, all
the men went out, and they with the same admiration kissed their
feet and hands, touching them as if they had been holy things,
offering what they brought," &c. &c.
There nine-and-thirty chosen men he placed,
Gave parting words of counsel and of cheer. — P.144.
Herrera, after mentioning the building of the fort or rather
tower of wood, says, — "He made choice of thirty-nine men to stay
in the fort, such as were most willing, cheerful, and of good disposition;
the strongest and best able to endure fatigues of all that
he had. * * * Whom he furnished with biscuit and
wine, and other provisions, for a year, leaving seeds to sow, and
all the things he had brought to barter, being a great quantity,
as also the great guns, and other arms, that were in the ship and
boat that belonged to it." See Appendix, No. IV. for the speech
which Columbus made to them on his departure.
Upon a scroll, with hasty pen,
His wond'rous tale he traced. — P. 147.
Herrera, book ii. chap. 2. — "Tuesday, the 12th of February, the
sea began to swell with great and dangerous storms, and he drove
most of the night without any sail: afterwards he put out a little
sail. The waves broke and wrecked the ships. The next morning
the wind slackened; but on Wednesday night it rose again with
dreadful waves, which hindered the ship's way, so that he could
not shift them. The Admiral kept under a main-top-sail, reefed
only to bear up the ship against the waves; but perceiving how
great the danger was, he let it run before the wind, there being
no remedy. * * * The Admiral finding himself
near death, to the end that some knowledge might come to
their Catholic Majesties of what he had done in their service, he
writ as much as he could of what he had discovered on a skin
of parchment; and having wrapped it in a piece of ceer-cloth, he
put it into a wooden cask, and cast it into the sea, all the men
imagining it had been some piece of devotion, and presently the
wind slackened."
He, by his Great Preserver saved,
Anchor'd again in Palos' port. — P. 148.
Herrera: — "Wednesday, the 13th of March, he sailed with his
caravel for Sevil. Thursday, before sun-rising, he found himself off
Cape St. Vincent, and Friday the 15th off Saltes, and at noon he
passed over the bar, with the flood, into the port from whence he
had first departed, on Friday the 3d of August the year before, so
that he spent six months and a half on the voyage. * * *
He landed at Palos, was received with a solemn procession and
much rejoicing of the whole town, all admiring so great an action,"
With western treasures, borne in fair display
To Barcelona's walls, in grand array. — P. 151.
Herrera: — "He carried with him green and red parrots, and other
things to be admired, never before seen in Spain. He set out from
Sevil, and the fame of this novelty being spread abroad, the people
flocked to the road to see the Indians and the Admiral."
And manly mind to bid thee soar
Above a robber's lust of ore,
Which hath a curse entail'd on all thy countless store. — P. 153.
The effects of the narrow policy of the Spanish government, regarding
her dealings with America, and the short-sighted avarice of
the many adventurers sent out to her colonies there, are thus mentioned
by Robertson.
Robertson, Hist. of America, book 3. — "Under the reigns of
Ferdinand and Isabella, and Charles the Fifth, Spain was one of the
most flourishing countries of Europe. Her manufactures in wool,
and flax, and silk, were so extensive as not only to furnish what was
necessary for her own consumption, but to afford a surplus for exportation.
When a market for them formerly unknown, and to
which she alone had access, was opened in America, she had recourse
to her domestic store, and found there an abundant supply.
This new employment must naturally have added vivacity to the
spirit of industry, nourished and invigorated by it, the manufacturers,
the population, the wealth of Spain, might have gone on
encreasing in the same proportion with the growth of her colonies,
&c. * * * But various causes prevented this. The
same thing happens to nations as to individuals. The wealth which
flows in gradually and with moderate increase, feeds and nourishes
that activity which is friendly to commerce, and calls it forth into
vigorous and well-conducted exertions; but when opulence pours in
suddenly, and with too full a stream, it overturns all sober plans of
industry, and brings along with it a taste for what is wild and extravagant,
and daring in business or in action. Such was the great and
sudden augmentation of power and revenue that the possession of
America brought into Spain, and some symptoms of its pernicious
influence upon the political operations of that monarchy soon began
to appear."
(See this subject pursued further in the Appendix, No. III.)
To Barcelona come, with honours meet
Such glorious deeds to grace, his Sov'reigns greet. — P. 153.
Herrera, vol. i. page 93. — "The Admiral arrived at Barcelona
about the middle of April, where a solemn reception was made him,
the whole court flocking out in such numbers, that the streets
could not hold them, admiring to see the Admiral, the Indians, and
the things he had brought, which were carried uncovered; and the
more to honour the Admiral, their Majesties ordered their royale
throne to be placed in public, where they sat, with Prince John.
The Admiral came in attended by a multitude of gentlemen: when
he came near, the King stood up and gave him his hand to kiss, bid
him rise, ordered a chair to be brought, and him to sit down in the
royal presence, where he gave an account, in a very sedate and discreet
manner, of the mercy God had shewn him in favour of their
Highnesses, of his voyage and discoveries, and the hopes he had
conceived of discovering greater countries, and shewed him the
Indians as they went in their own native places, and the other things
he had brought. Their Majesties arose, and kneeling down with
their hands lifted up and tears in their eyes, returned thanks to
God, and then the singers of the chapel began the Te Deum."
With kingly favour brightened, all
His favour court, obey his call.
At princely boards, above the rest,
He took his place, admir'd, caress'd. — P. 155.
Herrera — "The king took the Admiral by his side when he went
along the city of Barcelona, and did him much honour other ways;
and therefore, all the grandees and other noblemen honoured and
invited him to dinner; and the cardinal of Spain, Don Pedro Gonzeles
de Mendoza, a prince of much virtue and a noble spirit, was
the first grandee, that, as they were going one day from the palace,
carried the Admiral to dine with him, and seated him at the head of
the table, and caused his meat to be served up covered and the
essay to be taken, and from that time forward he was served in that
He stood; then fired his signal shot,
But answering fire received not. — P. 156.
Herrera, vol. i. page 112. — The next day, Monday, all the
fleet entered the port: the Admiral saw the port burnt down, whence
he concluded that all the Christians were dead, which troubled him
very much, and the more because no Indians appeared. The next
day he went ashore very melancholy, finding no body to enquire
of. Some things belonging to the Spaniards were found, the sight
whereof was grievous."
Bodies alas! within that grave were found,
Which had not long been laid to rest. — P. 158.
Herrera: — "Wednesday the 27th of November, he came to
anchor with his fleet at the mouth of the river Navedad. About midnight
a canoe came aboard to the Admiral; the Indians cried "Amirante,"
that is, Admiral. * * * He enquiring of them
after the Spaniards, they said some had died, and that others were
gone up the country with their wives. The Admiral guessed that they
were all dead, but was obliged not to take notice of it. * *
* Near the fort they discovered seven or eight men buried and
others not far off, whom they knew to be Christians by their being
clad; and it appeared that they had not been buried above a
month. Whilst they were searching about, one of Gascannagarie's
(the Cazique's) brothers came with some Indians who had learnt
a little Spanish. * * * They said, that as soon as the
Admiral was gone, they began to fall out among themselves and to
disobey their commander, going about in an insolent manner to
take what women and gold they pleased; and that Peter Gutierrez
and Escovedo (Spaniards) killed one Taconn; and that they two,
with nine others, went away with the women they had taken, and
the baggage, to the country of a lord whose name was Caunabo and
was lord of the mines, who killed them all."
Further on it is said, that when Columbus went to visit the
Cazique, he told him the same story, and shewed his wounds from
Indian weapons, which he had received in defending the Spaniards.
So many disasters, partly from misconduct, and partly from the
difficulties they had to encounter from the climate, and depending
on the old world for provisions, befell the first colonists which were
settled in the West Indies, that the places where they had once
been were afterwards looked upon by the Spaniards with a superstitious
dread, as haunted by spectres and demons.
(See Appendix, No. V. for a curious anecdote in confirmation of
————— that which most
His generous bosom sought to shun
Must now at Mammon's ruthless call be done. — P. 160.
It is sad to reflect that Columbus, always friendly and gentle to
the natives, and most anxious to have them converted to the christian
religion, was yet compelled, in order to satisfy the impatient
cupidity of their Catholic Majesties, to make them work in the
mines, which very soon caused great mortality amongst them. Gold
must be sent to Spain; otherwise the government of those countries
would have been transferred from him to a set of rapacious
and profligate adventurers.
Envy mean, that in the dark
Strikes surely at its noble mark,
Against him rose with hatred fell,
Which he could brave, but could not quell. — P. 161.
From evil reports sent against the admiral to Spain, one John
Aguado was sent to the new world with credentials to this effect:
"Gentlemen, Esquires, and others, who by our command are in the
Indies, we send to you John Aguado, our groom, who will discourse
you in our name. We desire you to give entire credit to him.
Madrid, April 9th, 1495." This same groom, as might be expected,
did not foil to thwart Columbus in many affairs, and set a bad example
to others: he resolved therefore to return to Spain and clear
himself of those slanders to their Majesties.
Impetuous, roaring, bear along,
And still their sep'rate honours keep,
In bold contention with the mighty deep. — P. 162.
It is scarcely necessary to give any authority for the immense
width and power of those rivers; but as this fact is implied in a sublime
and descriptive simile in the writings of a modern poet, whose
rich imagination is perhaps never betrayed into inaccuracy, I am
tempted to insert it.
————— "The battle's rage
Was like the strife which currents wage,
When Orinoco in his pride
Rolls to the main no tribute tide,
But 'gainst broad ocean urges far
A rival sea of roaring war;
While in ten thousand eddies driven,
The billows fling their foam to heaven;
And the pale pilot seeks in vain
Where rolls the river, where the main." — Rookby.
A mission'd gownsman o'er the sea
Was sent his rights to supersede. — P. 164.
Herrera, vol. i. page 237. — "Mention has been made of the
discoveries made by the Spaniards in the years 1499 and 1500, and
of what the Portuguese found by chance, as also that the admiral's
messengers arrived at the court with an account of the insurrection
of Francis Roldan, and the persons sent by him, who gave their
complaints against the admiral. Having heard both parties, their
Majesties resolved to remove the admiral from the government,
under colour that he himself desired a judge should be sent over to
enquire into the insolencies committed by Roldan and his followers,
and a lawyer that should take upon himself the administration of
justice. * * * * Their Majesties made choice of
Francis Bovadilla, commendary of the order of Calatrava, a native
of Medina del Campo, and gave him the title and commission of
Examiner, under which he was to enter the island; as also governor,
to make use of and publish these in due time." (He was at first to
conceal the extent of his commission.)
See, on this subject, Appendix, No. VI.
He trode the narrow deck with pain,
And oft survey'd his rankling chain. — P. 166.
Herrera: — "In short, Bovadilla seized the admira land both his
brothers, Don Bartholomew and Don James, without even so much
as seeing or speaking to them. They were all put into irons, and
no person permitted to converse with them; a most inhuman action,
considering the dignity of the person, and the inestimable service he
had done the crown of Spain. The admiral afterwards kept his
fetters, and ordered they should be buried with him, in testimony of
the ingratitude of this world. Bovadilla resolved to send the admiral
into Spain, aboard the two ships that had brought him over.
Alonzo de Vallejo was appointed to command the two caravels, and
ordered, as soon as he arrived at Cadiz, to deliver the prisoners to
the bishop, John Rodrigues de Fousico; and it was reported that
Bovadilla had put this affront upon its admiral to please the bishop.
It was never heard that Francis Roldan, or Don Fernando de Guevera,
or any other of the mutineers who had committed so many
outrages in that island, were punished, or any proceedings made
against them."
Until the king whom I have served,
Who thinks this recompense deserved,
Himself command th' unclasping stroke. — P. 166.
Herrera — "Alonzo de Vallejo and the master of the caravel,
Gordo, aboard which the admiral was brought over, treated him
and his brothers very well, and would have knocked off their fetters;
but he would not consent to it himself, till it was done by order of
their Majesties."
With four small vessels, small supply
I trow! yet granted tardily
For such high service. — P. 171.
Herrera, vol. i. page 251. — "Admiral Columbus being come to
court, after having made his complaints against Francis de Bovadillo,
and what had been said as before ordered, never ceased soliciting
to be restored to his full rights and prerogatives, since he had performed
all he had promised, and had been so great a sufferer in the
service of the crown, offering, though he was old and much broken,
to make considerable discoveries, believing that he might find a
streight or passage about that part where Nombre de Dios now
stands. Their Majesties fed him with for words and promises, till
they could hear what account Nicholas de Obando would send
them about affairs of the island. Columbus demanded four ships
and provisions for two years, which they granted him, with a promise
that, if he died by the way, his son Don James should succeed
him in all his rights and prerogatives. The Admiral set out from
Granada to forward this business at Sevil and Cadiz, where he
brought four vessels, the biggest not above seventy ton, and the
least not under fifty; with one hundred and fifty men, and all
And there what wiles of barter keen
Spaniard and native pass between. — P. 172.
Many accounts given by Herrera of the barter carried on between
the Spaniards and Indians, are not unlike that which I have given
in this passage of the legend.
The moon, your mistress, will this night
From you withhold her blessed light. — P. 173.
This circumstance is so well known that it were needless to mention
it here, only as the account given of it by Herrera is rather
curious, the reader may, perhaps, be amused by it. After telling
how greatly the Spaniards were distressed for provisions, and how
the Indians refused to supply them, he says, — "The admiral knew
there would be an eclipse of the moon within three days, whereupon
he sent an Indian that spoke Spanish to call the Caziques and
prime men of those parts to him. They being come a day before
the eclipse, he told them, that the Spaniards were Christians, servants
of the Great God that dwells in heaven, Lord and Maker of
all things, and rewards the good and punishes the wicked," &c.
* * * Wherefore they might that night observe, at the
rising of the moon, that she would appear of a bloody hue, to denote
the punishment God would inflict on them. When he had made
his speech, some of them went away in a fright, and others scoffed
at it; but the eclipse beginning as soon as the moon was up, and
increasing, the higher she was, it put them into such a consternation,
that they hastened to the ships, grievously lamenting, and loaded
with provisions; entreating the admiral to pray God that he would
not be angry with them, and they would for the future bring all the
provisions he should have occasion for. The Admiral answered, he
would offer up his prayers to God, and then, shutting himself up,
waited till the eclipse was at its height, and ready to decrease, telling
them he had prayed for them," &c. * * * "The
Indians perceiving the eclipse to go off; and entirely to cease, returned
the Admiral many thanks," &c.
Again, to spare more hurtful force,
To harmless guile he has recourse. — P. 174.
This expedient of Columbus for clearing his ship, when the Indians
had become too fond of being aboard, is told in an amusing
manner by Herrera; but I cannot at present discover the passage.
Hoping a western way to gain
To eastern climes, an effort vain. — P. 175.
This was one great object with Columbus, when he first projected
his great discoveries, and it made him so unwilling when he
came to the mouth of one of the large rivers of the continent, to
believe it was a river, as a great continent there made against
the probability of his discovering what he desired. Another notion
of his, more fanciful, is mentioned by Herrera.
"The Admiral was surprised at the emense quantity of fresh
water before spoken of, and no less at the extraordinary coolness of
the air so near the equinoctial; and he particularly observed that
the people thereabouts were whites, their hair long and smooth,
more subtle and ingenious than those he had seen before. These
things made him conceit that the terrestrial Paradise might be in
those parts, with other notions which make not to our purpose."
No kingly conqueror, since time began
The long career of ages, haths to man
A scope so ample given for trade's bold range
Or caused on earth's wide stage such rapid, mighty change. — P. 176.
Those mighty conquerors who have over-run the greatest extent
of country, have, generally speaking, produced only temporary
change; the kingdoms subdued by them falling back again to their
old masters, or becoming, under the successors of the conqueror,
nearly the same in government and manners which they would have
been, had he never existed. The discoveries of Columbus opened a
boundless and lasting field for human exertion, which gave a new
impulse to every maritime country in Europe. There is one conqueror
indeed, Mahomet, the exertions of whose extraordinary life
produced, unhappily, wide and lasting effects, but of a character so
different from those produced by Columbus, that they can scarcely
be considered as at variance with what is here asserted of the great
navigator. The change which his discoveries occasioned in the new
world must also be taken into the account; and though this is a very
melancholy consideration, as far as the West Indies are concerned,
yet that which took place on the Continent of America, tho' for a
time at great expense of life, was good, and most thankfully to be
acknowledged by every friend to humanity. It put an end to the
most dismal and bloody superstition under the tyrannical government
of Mexico; and we can scarcely regret the overthrow of the milder
religion and government of Peru, though we may lament the manner
of it, and detest the cruelty and injustice of the conquerors;
for human flesh was not an unheard-of banquet in that country; and,
at the funerals of great people, many servants and dependents were
killed or buried alive to become their servants still in another state
of being.
See what Herrera says on this subject, Appendix, No. IX.
Robertson says, in speaking of the Mexicans, — "The aspect of
superstition in Mexico was gloomy and atrocious; its divinities
were clothed with terror, and delighted in vengeance; they were
exhibited to the people under detestable forms which created horror;
the figures of serpents, tygers, and of other destructive animals,
decorated their temples. Fear was the only principle that inspired
their votaries. Fasts, mortifications, and penances, all rigid and
many of them excrutiating to an extreme degree, were the means
employed to appease the wrath of their gods, and the Mexicans
never approached their altars, without sprinkling them with blood
drawn from their own bodies. But of all offerings, human sacrifices
were the most acceptable. This religious belief, mingling with the
implacable spirit of vengeance, and adding new force to it, every
captive taken in war was brought to the temple, was devoted as a
victim to the deity, and sacrificed with rites no less solemn than
cruel. The heart and the head were the portion consecrated to the
gods; the warrior, by whose prowess the prisoner had been seized,
carried off the body to feast upon it with his friends. Under the
impression of ideas so dreary and terrible, and accustomed daily
to scenes of bloodshed, rendered awful by religion, the heart of
man must harden, and be steeled to every sentiment of humanity.
The spirit of the Mexicans was accordingly unfeeling, and the genius
of their religion so far counter-balanced the influence of policy and
arts, that notwithstanding their progress in both, their manners, instead
of softening, became more fierce. To what circumstances it
was owing that superstition assumed such a dreadful form among
the Mexicans, we have not sufficient knowledge of their history to
determine. But its influence is visible, and produced an effect that
is singular in the history of the human species. The manners of
the people of the new world, who had made the greatest progress
in the arts of policy, were in several respects the most ferocious,
and the barbarity of some of their customs exceeds even those of
the savage state."
'Twas in Valladolid he breathed his last. — P. 177.
Herrera, vol. i. page 311. — "When the Adeluntado Don Bartholomew
Columbus was soliciting, as has been above said, the
Admiral's distemper grew upon him, till having made the necessary
dispositions, he departed this life with much piety at Valladolid on
Ascension-day, being the 20th of May, 1506. His body was conveyed
to the monastery of Carthusians at Sevil, and from thence to
the city of Santo Domingo, in Hispaniola, where it lies in the chancel
of the cathedral."
WHEN, sapient, dauntless, strong, heroic man!
Our busy thoughts thy noble nature scan,
Whose active mind, its hidden cell within,
Frames that from which the mightiest works begin;
Whose secret thoughts are light to ages lending,
Whose potent arm is right and life defending,
For helpless thousands, all on one high soul depending: —
We pause, delighted with the fair survey,
And haply in our wistful musings say,
What mate, to match this noble work of heaven,
Hath the all-wise and mighty master given?
One gifted like himself, whose head devises
High things, whose soul at sound of battle rises,
Who with glav'd hand will thro' arm'd squadrons ride,
And, death confronting, combat by his side;
Will share with equal wisdom grave debate,
And all the cares of chieftain, kingly state?
Aye, such, I trow, in female form hath been
Of olden times, and may again be seen,
When cares of empire or strong impulse swell
The generous breast, and to high deeds impel;
For who can these as meaner times upbraid,
Who think of Saragossa's valiant maid?
But she of gentler nature, softer, dearer,
Of daily life the active, kindly cheerer;
With generous bosom, age, or childhood shielding,
And in the storms of life, tho' mov'd, unyielding;
Strength in her gentleness, hope in her sorrow,
Whose darkest hours some ray of brightness borrow
From better days to come, whose meek devotion
Calms every wayward passion's wild commotion;
In want and suff'ring, soothing, useful, sprightly,
Bearing the press of evil hap so lightly,
Till evil's self seems its strong hold betraying
To the sweet witch'ry of such winsome playing;
Bold from affection, if by nature fearful,
With varying brow, sad, tender, anxious, cheerful, —
This is meet partner for the loftiest mind,
With crown or helmet graced, — yea, this is womankind!
Come ye, whose grateful memory retains
Dear recollection of her tender pains
To whom your oft-conn'd lesson, daily said,
With kiss and cheering praises was repaid;
To gain whose smile, to shun whose mild rebuke,
Your irksome task was learnt in silent nook,
Tho' truant thoughts the while, your lot exchanging
With freer elves, were wood and meadow ranging; —
And ye, who best the faithful virtues know
Of a link'd partner, tried in weal and woe,
Like the slight willow, now aloft, now bending,
But, still unbroken, with the blast contending,
Whose very look call'd virtuous vigour forth,
Compelling you to match her noble worth; —
And ye, who in a sister's modest praise
Feel manly pride, and think of other days,
Pleased that the play-mate of your native home
Hath in her prime an honour'd name become; —
And ye, who in a duteous child have known
A daughter, help-mate, sister, blent in one,
From whose dear hand which, to no hireling leaves
Its task of love, your age sweet aid receives,
Who reckless marks youth's waning faded hue,
And thinks her bloom well spent, when spent for you; —
Come all, whose thoughts such dear remembrance bear,
And to my short and faithful lay give ear.
Within a prison's hateful cell,
Where, from the lofty window fell,
Thro' grated bars, the sloping beam,
Defin'd, but faint, on couch of stone,
There sat a pris'ner sad and lone,
Like the dim tenant of a dismal dream.
Deep in the shade, by low-arch'd door,
With iron nails thick studded o'er,
Whose threshold black is cross'd by those
Who here their earthly being close,
Or issue to the light again
A scaffold with their blood to stain, —
Moved something softly. Wistful ears
Are quick of sense, and from his book
The pris'ner rais'd his eyes with eager look, —
"Is it a real form that thro' the gloom appears?"
It was indeed of flesh and blood,
The form that quickly by him stood;
Of stature low, of figure light,
In motion like some happy sprite;
Yet meaning eyes and varying cheek,
Now red, now pale, seem'd to bespeak
Of riper years the cares and feeling
Which with a gentle heart were dealing.
"Such sense in eyes so simply mild!
"Is it a woman or a child?
"Who art thou, damsel sweet? are not mine eyes
"No; from the Redbraes' tower I come;
"My father is Sir Patrick Hume;
"And he has sent me for thy good,
"His dearly honour'd Jerviswood.
"Long have I round these walls been straying,
"As if with other children playing;
"Long near the gate have kept my watch
"The sentry's changing-time to catch.
"With stealthy steps I gain'd the shade
"By the close-winding staircase made,
"And when the surly turnkey enter'd,
"But little dreaming in his mind
"Who follow'd him so close hehind,
Into this darken'd cell, with beating heart, I ventured."
Then from the simple vest that braced
Her gentle breast, a letter traced
With well-known characters, she took,
And with an eager, joyful look,
Her eyes up to his visage cast,
His changing countenance to scan,
As o'er the lines his keen glance past.
She saw a faint glow tinge the sickly wan;
She saw his eyes thro' tear-drops raise
To heaven their look of silent praise,
And hope's fresh touch undoing lines of care
Which stress of evil times had deeply graven there.
Meanwhile, the joy of sympathy to trace
Upon her innocent and lovely face
Had to the sternest, darkest sceptic given
Some love of human kind, some faith in righteous Heaven
What blessings on her youthful head
Were by the grateful patriot shed,
(For such he was, good and devoted,
And had at risk of life promoted
His country's freedom and her faith,
Nor reck'ning made of worldly skathe)
How warm, confiding, and sincere,
He gave to her attentive ear
The answer which her cautious sire
Did to his secret note require; —
How after this with 'quiries kind,
He ask'd for all she left behind
In Redbraes' tower, her native dwelling,
And set her artless tongue a-telling,
Which urchin dear had tallest grown,
And which the greatest learning shown,
Of lesson, sermon, psalm, and note,
And Sabbath questions learnt by rote,
And merry tricks and gambols play'd
By ev'ning fire, and forfeits paid, —
I will not here rehearse, nor will I say,
How, on that bless'd and long-remember'd day,
The pris'ner's son, deserving such a sire,
First saw the tiny maid, and did admire,
That one so young and wise and good and fair
Should be an earthly thing that breath'd this nether air.
E'en let my reader courteously suppose,
That from this visit happier days arose;
Suppose the pris'ner from his thraldom freed,
And with our lay proceed.
The damsel, glad her mission'd task was done,
Back to her home long since had blithely gone;
And there remain'd, a meek and duteous child
Where useful toil, with play between,
And pastime on the sunny green,
The weeks and months of passing years beguiled.
Scotland the while convulsive lay
Beneath a hateful tyrant's sway;
For James's bigot mind th' ascendant gain'd,
And fiercely raged blind ruthless power;
While men, who true to conscience' voice remain'd,
Were forced in caves and dens to cower;
Bereft of home or hold or worldly wealth,
Upon the bleak and blasted heath,
They sang their glorious Maker's praise by stealth,
Th' inclement sky beneath.
And some were forced to flee their native land,
Or in the grated prison's gloom,
Dealt to them by corruption's hateful hand,
Abide their fatal doom.
And there our former thrall, the good,
The firm, the gentle Jerviswood
Again was pent, with sickness worn,
Watching each pulse's feebler beat
Which promised, ere the fated morn,
The scaffold of its prey to cheat.
And now that patriot's ancient, faithful friend,
Our maiden's sire, must to the tempest bend.
He too must quit his social hearth,
The place where cheerful friends resort,
And trav'llers rest and children sport,
To lay him on the mould'ring earth;
Thro' days of lonely gloom to rest his head
With them, who, in those times unblest,
Alone had sure and fearless rest,
The still, the envied dead.
Sad was his hiding-place, I ween,
A fearful place, where sights had been,
Full oft, by the benighted rustic seen;
Aye, elrich forms in sheeted white,
Which, in the waning moonlight blast,
Pass by, nor shadow onward cast,
Like any earthly wight;
A place, where midnight lights had shone
Thro' charnel windows, and the glancing
Of wand'ring flame, on church-path lone,
Betray'd the hour when fiends and hags were dancing,
Or to their vigil foul with trooping haste advancing.
A place, whose gate with weeds o'ergrown,
Hemlock and dock of deep dull green,
That climbing rank the lintals screen,
What time the moon is riding high
The very hounds went cowering by,
Or watch'd afar with howling moan;
or brutes 'tis said, will see what meets no human eye.
You well may guess his faithful wife
A heart of heavy cheer had then,
List'ning her household's hum of life,
And thinking of his silent den.
"Oh! who will to that vault of death,
"At night's still watch repair,
"The dark and chilly sky beneath,
"And needful succour bear?
"Many his wants, who bideth lonely there!"
Pleased had you been to have beheld,
Like fire-sparks from the stricken stone,
Like sun-beams on the rain-drop thrown,
The kindling eye of sweet Griseld,
When thus her mother spoke, for known
Was his retreat to her alone.
The wary dame to none beside
The dangerous secret might confide.
"O fear not, mother! I will go,
"Betide me good or ill
"Nor quick nor dead shall daunt me; no;
"Nor witch-fires, dancing in the dark,
"Nor owlet's shriek, nor watch-dog's bark,
"For I shall think, the while, I do God's blessed will.
"I'll be his active Brownie sprite,
"To bring him needful food, and share his lonely night."
And she, ere stroke of midnight bell,
Did bound her for that dismal cell;
And took that haunted, fearful way
Which, till that hour, in twilight grey
She never by herself had past,
Or ev'n athwart its copse-wood cast
A hasty glance, for dread of seeing
The form of some unearthly being.
But now, far other forms of fear
To her scared sight appear,
And, like a sudden fit of ague, move her;
The stump of some old, blasted tree,
Or upright stone, or colt broke free
To range at will the dewy lea,
Seem lurking spy or rustic lover,
Who may, ev'n thro' the dark, her secret drift discover.
She pauses oft. — "What whispers near? —
"The babbling burn sounds in mine ear.
"Some hasty form the pathway crosses: —
"'Tis but a branch the light wind tosses.
"What thing is that by church-yard gate,
"That seems like spearman tall to wait?
"'Tis but the martyr's slender stone
"Which stands so stately and alone:
"Why should I shrink? why should I fear?
"The vault's black door is near."
And she with icy fingers knock'd,
And heard with joy the door unlock'd,
And felt the yawning fence give way
As deep and harsh the sounding hinges bray.
But to describe their tender meeting,
Tears shed unseen, affection utter'd
In broken words, and blessings mutter'd,
With many a kiss and kindly greeting,
I know not; would my feeble skill
Were meeter yoke-mate to my will!
Then from the struck flint flew the spark,
And lighted taper, faint and small,
Gave out its dun-rays thro' the dark,
On vaulted roof and crusted wall;
On stones reversed in crumbling mould,
And blacken'd poles of bier decay'd
That lumb'ring on the ground were laid;
On sculptured wrecks, defaced and old,
And shreds of painted 'scutcheons torn
Which once, in pointed lozenge spread,
The pillar'd church aloft had worn;
While new-swept nook and lowly bed,
Strange sight in such a place!
Betray'd a piteous case, —
Man from man's converse torn, the living with the dead.
The basket's store of viands and bread,
Produced with looks of kind inviting,
Her hands with busy kindness spread;
And he her kindly care requiting,
Fell to with thanks and relish keen,
Nodded and quaff'd her health between,
While she his glee return'd, her smiles with tears uniting.
No lordling at his banquet rare
E'er tasted such delicious fare;
No beauty on her silken seat,
With lover kneeling at her feet,
E'er wept and smiled by turns with smiles so fondly sweet
But soon youth's buoyant gladsome nature
Spreads joy unmix'd o'er every feature,
As she her tale is archly telling
Of feuds within their busy dwelling,
While, round the sav'ry table sitting,
She gleans his meal, the rest unwitting,
How she, their open eyes deceiving,
So dext'rous has become in thieving.
She tells, how, of some trifle prating,
She stirs them all to keen debating,
While into napkin'd lap she's sliding
Her portion, oft renew'd, and hiding,
Beneath the board, her store; amazing
Her jealous Frere, oft on her gazing.
Then with his voice and eager eye,
She speaks in harmless mimickry.
"Mother! was e'er the like beheld?
"Some wolf possesses our Griseld;
"She clears her dish, as I'm a sinner!
"Like plowman at his new-year's dinner."
And what each urchin, one by one,
Had best in sport or lesson done,
She fail'd not to repeat:
Tho' sorry tales they might appear
To a fastidious critic's ear,
They were to him most sweet.
But they must part till o'er the sky
Night cast again her sable dye;
For ah! her term is almost over!
How fleetly hath it flown!
As fleetly as with tristed lover
The stealthy hour is gone.
And could there be in lovers' meeting
More powerful chords to move the mind,
Fond heart to heart responsive beating,
Than in that tender hour, pure, pious love entwined?
Thus, night succeeding night, her love
Did its unwearied nature prove,
Tender and fearless; till, obscured by crimes,
Again so darkly lower'd the changeful times,
That her good sire, tho' shut from light of day,
Might in that lowly den no longer stay.
From Edinbrough town a courier came,
And round him flock'd the castle's dame,
Children and servants, young and old.
"What news? what news? thy visage sad
"Betrays too plainly tidings bad."
And so it did; alas! sad was the tale he told.
"From the oppressor's deadly hate
"Good Jerviswood has met his fate
"Upon the lofty scaffold, where
"He bore himself with dauntless air;
"Albeit, with mortal sickness spent,
"Upon a woman's arm he leant.
"From earth to heaven at yestere'en he went."
In silence deep the list'ners stood,
An instant horror chill'd their blood.
The lady groan'd, and turn'd aside
Her fears and troubled thoughts to hide.
The children wept, then went to play;
The servants cried "Awaladay!"
But oh! what inward sights, which borrow
The forms that are not, changing still,
Like shadows on a broken rill,
Were blended with our damsel's sorrow!
Those lips, those eyes so sweetly mild,
That bless'd her as a humble child;
The block in sable, deadly trim,
The kneeling form, the headsman grim,
The sever'd head with life-blood streaming, —
Were ever 'thwart her fancy gleaming.
Her father, too, in perilous state,
He may be seiz'd, and like his friend
Upon the fatal scaffold bend.
May Heaven preserve him still from such a dreadful end!
And then she thought, if this must be,
Who, honour'd sire, will wait on thee,
And serve thy wants with decent pride,
Like Baillie's kinswoman, subduing fear
With fearless love, thy last sad scene to cheer,
Ev'n on the scaffold standing by thy side?
A friend like his, dear father, thou shalt have,
To serve thee to the last, and linger round thy grave.
Her father then, who narrowly
With life escaped, was forced to fly
His dangerous home, a home no more,
And cross the sea. A friendly shore
Receiv'd the fugitive, and there,
Like prey broke from the spoiler's snare,
To join her hapless lord, the dame
With all her num'rous fam'ly came;
And found asylum, where th' opprest
Of Scotland's patriot sons had rest,
Like sea-fowl clust'ring in the rock
To shun some rising tempest's shock.
But said I all the fam'ly? no:
Word incorrect! it was not so:
For one, the youngest child, confin'd
With fell disease, was left behind;
While certain things, as thus by stealth
They fled, regarding worldly wealth
Of much import, were left undone;
And who will now that peril run,
Again to visit Scotland's shore,
From whence they did in fear depart,
And to each parent's yearning heart
The darling child restore?
And who did for affection's sake
This task of peril undertake?
O! who but she, whose bosom swell'd
With feelings high, whose self-devotion
Follow'd each gen'rous, strong emotion,
The young, the sweet, the good, the brave Griseld.
Yes; she again cross'd o'er the main,
And things of moment left undone,
Tho' o'er her head had scarcely run
Her nineteenth year, no whit deluded
By wily fraud, she there concluded,
And bore the youngling to its own again.
But when she reach'd the Belgian strand,
Hard was her lot. Fast fell the rain,
And there lay many miles of land,
A stranger's land, ere she might gain
The nearest town. With hardship crost,
The wayward child its shoes had lost;
Their coin was spent, their garments light,
And dark and dreary was the night.
Then like some gypsie girl on desert moor,
Her helpless charge upon her back she bore.
Who then had guess'd that figure slight,
So bending in such humble plight,
Was one of proud and gentle race,
Possessing all that well became
Th' accomplish'd maid or high-born dame,
Befitting princely hall or monarch's court to grace?
Their minds from many racking cares reliev'd,
The gladsome parents to their arms receiv'd
Her and the infant dear, caressing
The twain by turns; while many a blessing,
Which sweetly all her toil repaid,
Was shed upon their gen'rous maid:
And tho' the inmates of a humble home,
To which they had as wretched outlaws come,
Tho' hard their alter'd lot might be,
In crowded city pent,
They lived with mind and body free
In grateful, quiet content.
And well, with ready hand and heart,
Each task of toilsome duty taking,
Did one dear inmate play her part,
The last asleep, the earliest waking.
Her hands each nightly couch prepared,
And frugal meal on which they fared;
Unfolding spread the servet white,
And deck'd the board with tankard bright.
Thro' fretted hose and garment rent,
Her tiny needle deftly went,
Till hateful penury, so graced,
Was scarcely in their dwelling traced.
With rev'rence to the old she clung,
With sweet affection to the young.
To her was crabbed lesson said,
To her the sly petition made.
To her was told each petty care;
By her was lisp'd the tardy prayer,
What time the urchin, half undrest
And half asleep, was put to rest.
There is a sight all hearts beguiling, —
A youthful mother to her infant smiling,
Who, with spread arms and dancing feet,
And cooing voice, returns its answer sweet.
Who does not love to see the grandame mild,
Lesson with yearning looks the list'ning child?
But 'tis a thing of saintlier nature,
Amidst her friends of pigmy stature,
To see the maid in youth's fair bloom,
A guardian sister's charge assume,
And, like a touch of angel's bliss,
Receive from each its grateful kiss. —
To see them, when their hour of love is past,
Aside their grave demeanour cast.
With her in mimick war they wrestle;
Beneath her twisted robe they nestle;
Upon her glowing cheek they revel,
Low bended to their tiny level;
While oft, her lovely neck bestriding
Crows some arch imp, like huntsman riding.
This is a sight the coldest heart may feel; —
To make down rugged cheeks the kindly tear to steal.
But when the toilsome sun was set,
And ev'ning groups together met,
(For other strangers shelter'd there
Would seek with them to lighten care,)
Her feet still in the dance mov'd lightest,
Her eye with merry glance beam'd brightest,
Her braided locks were coil'd the neatest,
Her carol song was trill'd the sweetest;
And round the fire, in winter cold,
No archer tale than hers was told.
O! spirits gay, and kindly heart!
Precious the blessings ye impart!
Tho' all unwittingly the while,
Ye make the pining exile smile,
And transient gladness charm his pain,
Who ne'er shall see his home again.
Ye make the stern misanthrope's brow
With tint of passing kindness glow,
And age spring from his elbow-chair
The sport of lightsome glee to share.
Thus did our joyous maid bestow
Her beamy soul on want and woe;
While proud, poor men, in thread-bare suit,
Frisk'd on the floor with lightsome foot,
And from her magic circle chace
The fiends that vex the human race.
And do not, gentle reader, chide,
If I record her harmless pride,
Who sacrificed the hours of sleep,
Some show of better times to keep;
That, tho' as humble soldier dight,
A stripling brother might more trimly stand
With pointed cuff and collar white,
Like one of gentle race mix'd with a homelier band.
And in that band of low degree
Another youth of gentle blood
Was found, who late had cross'd the sea,
The son of virtuous Jerviswood,
Who did as common sentry wait
Before a foreign prince's gate.
And if his eye, oft on the watch,
One look of sweet Griseld might catch,
It was to him no dull nor irksome state.
And thus some happy years stole by;
Adversity with Virtue mated,
Her state of low obscurity,
Set forth but as deep shadows, fated
By Heaven's high will to make the light
Of future skies appear more bright.
And thus, at lowest ebb, man's thoughts are oft elated.
He deems not that the very struggle
Of active virtue, and the war
She bravely holds with present ill,
Sustain'd by hope, does by the skill
Of some conceal'd and happy juggle,
Become itself the good which yet seems distant far.
So, when their lamp of fortune burn'd
With brightest ray, our worthies turn'd,
A recollection, fondly bent,
On these, their happiest years, in humble dwelling spent.
At length the sky, so long with clouds o'ercast,
Unveil'd its cope of azure hue,
And gave its fair expanse to view; —
The pelting storm of tyranny was past.
For he, the Prince of glorious memory,
The Prince, who shall, as passing ages fly,
Be blest; whose wise, enlighten'd, manly mind,
Ev'n when but with a stripling's years combin'd,
Had with unyielding courage oft contended
For Europe's freedom, — for religion, blended
With just, forbearing charity, and all
To man most dear; — now, at the honour'd call
Of Britain's patriot sons, the ocean plow'd
With gallant fleet, encompassed by a crowd
Of soldiers, statesmen, souls of proof, who vow'd
Firm by his side to stand, let good or ill befall.
And with those worthies, 'twas a happy doom,
Right fairly earn'd, embark'd Sir Patrick Hume.
Their fleet, tho' long at sea, and tempest-tost,
In happy hour at last arrived on England's coast.
Meantime his Dame and our fair Maid
Still on the coast of Holland stay'd,
With anxious and misgiving minds,
List'ning the sound of warring winds:
The ocean rose with deaf'ning roar,
And beat upon the trembling shore,
Whilst breakers dash'd their whit'ning spray
O'er mound and dyke with angry bray,
As if it would engulph again
The land once rescued from its wild domain.
Oft on the beach our Damsel stood
Midst groups of many a fearful Wight,
Who viewed, like her, the billowy flood,
Silent and sad, with visage shrunk and white,
While bloated corse and splinter'd mast,
And bale and cask on shore were cast, —
A sad and rueful sight!
But when, at the Almighty will,
The tempest ceas'd, and sea was still,
From Britain's isle glad tidings came,
Received with loud and long acclaim.
But joy appears with shrouded head
To those who sorrow o'er the dead;
For, struck with sore disease, while there
They tarried pent in noisome air,
The sister of her heart, whom she
Had watch'd and tended lovingly,
Like blighted branch whose blossoms fade,
That day was in her coffin laid.
She heard the chimed bells loudly ringing,
She heard the carol'd triumph singing,
And clam'rous throng, and shouting boys,
And thought how vain are human joys!
Howbeit, her grief at length gives way
To happier thoughts, as dawns the day
When her kind parent and herself depart,
In royal Mary's gentle train,
To join, ere long, the dearest to her heart,
In their own native land again.
They soon their own fair island hail'd,
As on the rippling sea they sail'd.
Ye well may guess their joyful cry,
With up-raised hands and glist'ning eye,
When, rising from the ocean blue,
Her chalky cliffs first met their view,
Whose white verge on th' horizon rear'd,
Like wall of noon-day clouds appear'd.
These ye may guess, for well the show
And outward signs of joy we know.
But cease we on this theme to dwell,
For pen or pencil cannot tell
The thrill of keen delight from which they flow.
Such moments of extatic pleasure
Are fancy's fairest, brightest treasure,
Gilding the scope of duller days
With oft-recurring retrospect,
With which right happily she plays.
Ev'n as a moving mirror will reflect
Its glancing rays on shady side
Of holme or glen, when school-boys guide
With skilful hands their mimick sun
To heaven's bright sun opposed; we see
Its borrow'd sheen on fallow dun,
On meadow green, on rock and tree,
On broomy steep, on rippling spring,
On cottage thatch, and every thing.
And Britain's virtuous Queen admired
Our gentle Maid, and in her train
Of ladies will'd her to remain:
What more could young ambition have desired?
But, like the blossom to the bough,
Or wall-flower to the ruin's brow,
Or tendril to the fost'ring stock,
Or sea-weed to the briny rock,
Or misletoe to sacred tree,
Or daisy to the swarded lea,
So truly to her own she clung; —
Nor cared for honours vain, from courtly favour sprung.
Nor would she in her native North,
When woo'd by one of wealth and worth,
The neighbour of her happy home,
Tho' by her gentle parents press'd,
And flatter'd, courted and caress'd,
A splendid bride become.
"I may not," said her gentle heart,
"The very thought endure,
"That those so kind should feel the smart
"A daughter's wants might oft impart,
"For Jerviswood is poor.
"But yet, tho' poor, why should I smother
"This dear regard? he'll be my brother,
"And thus thro' life we'll love each other.
"What tho', as changing years flit by,
"Grey grow my head, and dim his eye
"We'll meekly bear our wayward fate,
"And scorn their petty spite who rate,
"With senseless gibes, the single state,
"Till we are join'd, at last, in heavenly bliss on high."
But Heaven for them decreed a happier lot:
The father of the virtuous youth,
Who died devoted for the truth,
Was not, when better times return'd, forgot:
To the right heir was given his father's land,
And with his lady's love, he won her hand.
Their long-tried faith in honour plighted,
They were a pair by Heaven united,
Whose wedded love, thro' lengthen'd years,
The trace of early fondness wears.
Her heart first guess'd his doubtful choice,
Her ear first caught his distant voice,
And from afar, her wistful eye
Would first his graceful form descry.
Ev'n when he hied him forth to meet
The open air in lawn or street,
She to her casement went,
And after him, with smile so sweet,
Her look of blessing sent.
The heart's affection, — secret thing!
Is like the cleft rock's ceaseless spring,
Which free and independent flows
Of summer rains or winter snows.
The fox-glove from its side may fall,
The heath-bloom fade or moss-flower white,
But still its runlet, bright tho' small,
Will issue sweetly to the light.
How long an honour'd and a happy pair,
They held their seemly state in mansion fair,
I will not here in chiming verses say,
To tire my reader with a lengthen'd lay;
For tranquil bliss is as a summer day
O'er broad Savanna shining; fair it lies,
And rich the trackless scene, but soon our eyes,
In search of meaner things, turn heavily away.
But no new ties of wedded life,
That bind the mother and the wife,
Her tender, filial heart could change,
Or from its earliest friends estrange.
The child, by strong affection led,
Who brav'd her terror of the dead
To save an outlaw'd parent, still
In age was subject to his will.
She then was seen with matron air,
A Dame of years, with count'nance fair,
Tho' faded, sitting by his easy chair.
A sight that might the heart's best feelings move!
Behold her seated at her task of love!
Books, papers, pencil, pen, and slate,
And column'd scrolls of ancient date,
Before her lie, on which she looks
With searching glance, and gladly brooks
An irksome task, that else might vex
His temper, or his brain perplex;
While, haply, on the matted floor,
Close nestling at her kirtled feet,
Its lap enrich'd with childish store,
Sits, hush'd and still, a grandchild sweet,
Who looks at times with eye intent,
Full on its grandame's parent bent,
Viewing his deeply-furrowed brow,
And sunken lip and locks of snow,
In serious wonderment.
Well said that grateful sire, I ween
Still thro' life's many a varied scene,
Griseld our dear and helpful child hath been.
Tho' ever cheerfully possessing
In its full zest the present blessing,
Her grateful heart remembrance cherish'd
Of all to former happiness allied,
Nor in her fost'ring fancy perish'd
Ev'n things inanimate that had supplied
Means of enjoyment once. Maternal love,
Active and warm, which nothing might restrain,
Led her once more, in years advanced, to rove
To distant southern climes, and once again
Her footsteps press'd the Belgian shore,
The town, the very street that was her home of yore.
Fondly that homely house she eyed,
The door, the windows, every thing
Which to her back-cast thoughts could bring
The scenes of other days. — Then she applied
To knocker bright her thrilling hand,
And begg'd, as strangers in the land,
Admittance from the household Dame,
And thus preferr'd her gentle claim:
"This house was once my happy home,
"Its rooms, its stair, I fain would see;
"Its meanest nook is dear to me,
"Let me and mine within its threshold come."
But no; this might not be!
Their feet might soil her polish'd floor,
The Dame held fast the hostile door,
A Belgian housewife she.
"Fear not such harm! we'll doff our shoes:
"Do not our earnest suit refuse!
"We'll give thee thanks, we'll give thee gold;
"Do not kind courtesy with-hold!"
But still it might not be;
The dull unpliant Dame refus'd her gentle plea.
With her and her good lord, who still
Sweet union held of mated will,
Years pass'd away with lightsome speed;
But all! their bands of bliss at length were riven;
And she was cloth'd in widow's sable weed,
Submitting to the will of Heaven.
And then a prosp'rous race of children good
And tender, round their noble mother stood.
And she the while, cheer'd with their pious love,
Waited her welcome summons from above.
But whatsoe'er the weal or woe
That Heaven across her lot might throw,
Full well her Christian spirit knew
Its path of virtue, straight and true.
When came the shock of evil times, menacing
The peaceful land — when blood and lineage tracing
As the sole claim to Britain's throne, in spite
Of Britain's weal or will, Chiefs of the North,
In warlike muster, led their clansmen forth,
Brave, faithful, strong and toughly nerved,
Would they a better cause had served!
For Stuart's dynasty to fight,
Distress to many a family came,
Who dreaded more th' approaching shame
Of penury's ill-favour'd mien,
Than ev'n the pang of hunger keen.
How softly then her pity flow'd!
How freely then her hand bestow'd!
She did not question their opinion
Of party, kingship, or dominion:
She would not ev'n their folly chide,
But like the sun and showers of heaven,
Which to the false and true are given,
Want and distress reliev'd on either side.
But soon, from fear of future change,
The evil took a wider range.
The Northern farmers, spoil'd and bare,
No more could rent or produce spare
To the soil's lords. All were distress'd,
And on our Noble Dame this evil sorely press'd.
Her household numerous, her means with-held;
Shall she her helpless servants now dismiss
To rob or starve, in such a time as this,
Or wrong to others do? But nothing quell'd
Her calm and upright mind. — "Go, summon here
"Those who have serv'd me many a year."
The summons went; each lowly name
Full swiftly to her presence came,
And thus she spoke: "Ye've served me long,
"Pure, as I think, from fraud or wrong,
"And now, my friendly neighbours, true
"And simply I will deal with you.
"The times are shrew'd, my treasures spent,
"My farms have ceas'd to yield me rent;
"And it may chance that rent or grain
"I never shall receive again.
"The dainties which my table fed,
"Will now be changed for daily bread,
"Dealt sparely, and for this I must
"Be debtor to your patient trust,
"If ye consent." — Swift thro' the hall,
With eager haste, spoke one and all.
"No, noble Dame! this must not be!
"With heart as warm and hand as free,
"Still thee and thine we'll serve with pride,
"As when fair fortune graced your side.
"The best of all our stores afford
"Shall daily smoke upon thy board;
"And, should'st thou never clear the score,
"Heaven for thy sake will bless our store."
She bent her head with courtesy,
The big tear swelling in her eye,
And thank'd them all. Yet plain and spare,
She order'd still her household fare,
Till fortune's better dye was cast,
And adverse times were past.
Good, tender, gen'rous, firm and sage,
Thro' grief and gladness, shade and sheen,
As fortune changed life's motley scene,
Thus pass'd she on to rev'rend age.
And when the heavenly summons came,
Her spirit from its mortal frame
And weight of mortal cares to free,
It was a blessed sight to see,
The parting saint her state of honour keeping
In gifted dauntless faith, whilst round her, weeping,
Her children's children mourn'd on bended knee.
In London's fair imperial town
She laid her earthly burthen down.
In Mellerstain, her northern home,
Was rais'd for her a graven tomb
Which gives to other days her modest, just renown.
And now, ye polish'd fair of modern times,
If such indeed will listen to my rhymes,
What think ye of her simple, modest worth,
Whom I have faintly tried to shadow forth?
How vain the thought! as if ye stood in need
For pattern ladies in dull books to read.
Will she such antiquated virtues prize,
Who with superb Signoras proudly vies,
Trilling before the dear admiring crowd
With out-stretch'd straining throat, bravuras loud,
Her high-heav'd breast press'd hard, as if to boast
The inward pain such mighty efforts cost:
Or on the white-chalk'd floor, at midnight hour,
Her head with many a flaunting full-blown flower
And bartisan of braided locks enlarged,
Her flimsy gown with twenty flounces charged,
Wheels gaily round the room on pointed toe,
Softly supported by some dandy beau: —
Will she, forsooth! or any belle of spirit,
Regard such old, forgotten, homely merit?
Or she, whose cultur'd, high-strain'd talents soar
Thro' all th' ambitious range of letter'd lore
With soul enthusiastic, fondly smitten
With all that e'er in classic page was written,
And whilst her wit in critic task engages,
The technic praise of all prais'd things outrages;
Whose finger, white and small, with ink-stain tipt,
Still scorns with vulgar thimble to be clipt;
Who doth with proud pretence her claims advance
To philosophic, honour'd ignorance
Of all, that, in divided occupation,
Gives the base stamp of female degradation;
Protests she knows not colour, stripe nor shade,
Nor of what stuff her flowing robe is made,
But wears, from petty, friv'lous fancies free,
Whatever careful Betty may decree;
As certes, well she may, for Betty's skill
Leaves her in purfle, furbelow, or frill,
No whit behind the very costliest fair
That wooes with daily pains the public stare;
Who seems almost asham'd to be a woman,
And yet the palm of parts will yield to no man,
But holds on battle-ground eternal wrangling,
The plainest case in mazy words entangling: —
Will she, I trow, or any kirtled sage,
Admire the subject of my artless page?
And yet there be of British fair, I know,
Who to this legend will some favour show
From kindred sympathy; whose life proceeds
In one unwearied course of gentle deeds,
And pass untainted thro' the earthly throng,
Like souls that to some better world belong.
Nor will I think, as sullen cynics do,
Still lib'ling present times, their number few.
Yea, leagued for good they act, a virtuous band,
The young, the rich, the loveliest of the land,
Who clothe the naked, and each passing week,
The wretched poor in their sad dwellings seek,
Who, cheer'd and grateful, feebly press and bless
The hands which princes might be proud to kiss: —
Such will regard my tale, and give to fame
A generous helpful Maid, — a good and noble Dame.
Is it a woman or a child? — P. 212.
She was at that time twelve years old, (see Lady Murray's Narrative.)
— "When Mr. Baillie was first imprisoned, Sir Patrick sent
his daughter Griseld to Edinburgh, with instructions to obtain admission
unsuspectedly into the prison, to deliver a letter to Mr.
Baillie, and bring back from him what intelligence she could. She
succeeded in this difficult enterprise, and having at this time met
with Mr. Baillie's son, the intimacy and friendship was formed which
was afterwards completed by their marriage."
What blessings on her youthful head
Were by the grateful patriot shed,
For such he was. — P. 214.
(See the Appendix.)
Or in the grated prison's gloom,
Dealt to them by oppression's hateful hand,
Abide their final doom. — P. 217.
It made the persecution of the Calvinists in those days more intolerable
to them, when they considered that it was no motives of
conscience which actuated their persecutors, who were the servile
agents of a tyrant, assuming zeal in his service from corrupted and
worldly views; and that had the king changed the religion every
half-year, they would have been equally zealous in persecuting the
opposers of the established church for the time being.
With them who, in those times unblest,
Alone had sure and fearless rest,
The still, the envied dead. — P. 218.
"Sir Patrick Hume concealed himself in a burying-vault in Polworth
church. — Lady M.'s Nar.
"The frequent examination oaths put to servants, in order to
make discoveries, were so strict, they durst not run the risk of
trusting any of them." — "By the assistance of this man, a carpenter,
who was the only person beside Lady Hume and Griseld
who knew the place of his confinement, they got a bed and bed--
clothes carried in the night to the burying-place, a vault under
ground at Polworth church, a mile from the house, where he was
concealed for a month, and had only for light an open slit at one
end, through which nobody could see what was doing below She
(Lady Griseld) went every night by herself to carry him victuals
and drink, and stayed with him as long as she could to get home
before day."
The very hounds went cowering by,
Or watch'd afar with howling moan,
For brutes will see what meets no human eye. — P. 219.
This is a very general belief, particularly regarding dogs and
horses. When the dog cowers by his master's side, or stops short
on his way, and gives a stifled bark, it is something far more terrible
than the skulking thief or robber, which the belated peasant apprehends
to be near him. — "But have you never seen a ghost yourself?"
was once my eager question to the sexton of the parish, who
had been telling me many frightful stories of apparitions. — "No,"
answered he very seriously; "I never have, myself, but I am very
sure that my dog has seen them."
I'll be his active Brownie sprite. — P. 220.
After the many ingenious works which have brought into notice
of late years our Scottish superstitions, it would be foolish to acquaint
the reader with the nature and properties of a Brownie; I
shall only say, that they are described by those who have been fortunate
enough to get a sight of them, as resembling a short square
man, of a brown colour, and hairy. I once knew a woman, whose
mother was the last person who saw a certain Brownie, long attached
to a family of note in Lanrickshire; and, though she was so
frightened at the sight, that she swarf'd (swooned) for fear, such
was her description of him. One of those beings is often supposed
to be attached to particular families, and to be occasional night--
servants for several generations. Mr. Hog, in his ingenious tale of
the Brownie of Bodsbeck, accounts very plausibly for the frequent
traditions of those supernatural labourers in Scotland; and in all
countries where persecuted or outlawed men have subsisted on the
secret bounty, or pilfered provisions of a neighbouring mansion, we
may well suppose similar traditions to have existed; for wretched
and persecuted men will be more inclined gratefully to repay what
necessity has obliged them to take or receive, than those who are
more happily circumstanced. The Lubber Fiend is mentioned by
Milton, and, I believe, other poets. Fortunately, perhaps, for the
reader, want of learning prevents me from tracing the matter further.
She clears her dish, as I'm a sinner!
Like plowman at his new-year's dinner. — P. 225.
Lady M.'s Nar. — "There was also difficulty in getting food to
carry him without the servants suspecting; the only way it was done
was by stealing it off her plate at dinner into her lap: many a diverting
story she has told about this and things of the like nature. Her
father liked sheep's-head, and while the children were eating the
broth, she had conveyed most of one into her lap; when her brother
Sandy (the late Lord Marchmont) had done, he looked up with
astonishment and said, "Mother, will you look at Griseld; while
we have been eating our broth, she has eat up all the sheep's
Like Baillie's kinswoman, subduing fear. — P. 229.
See the Appendix. And Laing's Hist., book viii. page 139., where
it is mentioned that his sister-in-law supported him to the scaffold.
Her father then, who narrowly
With life escaped, was forced to fly. — P. 229.
Lady M.'s Nar. — "Sir P. Hume, on hearing of the death of
Jerwiswood, fled from this country, and took refuge in Holland,
where his wife and her large family joined him. My aunt Julian,
the youngest child, was so ill that she could not go with them My
mother returned from Holland by herself, to bring her over and
negociate business. * * * They landed at the Brill.
From that they set out at night, on foot, with a gentleman, who
was of great use to them, that came over at the same time to take
refuge in Holland. It was a cold wet night: my aunt, a girl not
well able to walk, soon lost her shoes in the dirt; my mother took
her upon her back, and carried her the rest of the way, the
gentleman carrying the small luggage."
Who then had guess'd that figure slight. — P. 231.
Lady M.'s Nar. — "She was middle-sized, well made, and clever
in her person; very handsome, with a life and sweetness in her
eyes very uncommon, and great delicacy in all her features."
And well, with ready hand and heart,
Each task of toilsome duty taking. — P. 233.
Lady M.'s Nar. — "All the time they were there (Holland), there
was not a week my mother did not sit up two nights to do the
business that was necessary. She went to the market, and the mill
to have the corn ground, as was the way with good managers
there; dressed the linen, cleaned the house, made ready dinner,
mended the children's stockings and other clothes, made what she
could for them, and in short did every thing."
Her braided locks were coil'd the neatest,
Her carol song was trill'd the sweetest,
And round the fire, in winter cold,
No archer tale than hers was told. — P. 235.
She was very neat in her dress, sung well, and had a great deal
of humour in telling a story, being of a very cheerful disposition.
(See Lady M.'s Nar.)
For other strangers, shelter'd there,
Would seek with them to lighten care. — P. 235.
The house of Sir Patrick Hume was much frequented by his
countrymen, many of whom had taken refuge in Holland under
similar circumstances with himself; and those meetings were enlivened
with dancing and music, and all innocent amusements which
cheerful poverty may enjoy.
A stripling brother might more trimly stand,
With pointed cuff and collar white,
Like one of gentle race mixed with a homelier band. — P. 237.
Lady M. says, in her Narrative, that her elder brother, for a
time, was a private in the Prince of Orange's guards, as was also
young Jerviswood, when she took such pains to have his cuffs and
cravat pointed after the fashion of those days.
—————— our worthies turn'd
A recollection, fondly bent
On these, their happiest years, in humble dwelling spent. — P. 238.
Lady M. records, that her mother talked of those years as the
happiest part of her life.
Still on the coast of Holland stayed,
With anxious and misgiving minds,
List'ning the sound of warring winds. — P. 240.
Lady M.'s Nor. — "When the long-expected happiness of the
Prince going to England took place, her father and brother, and
my father, went with him. They (Griseld and Lady Hume) soon
heard the melancholy report of the whole fleet being cast away or
dispersed, and immediately came from Utrecht to Hervert-Sluu, to
get what information they could. The place was crowded by people
from all quarters, come for the same purpose; so that her mother
and she and her sister were forced to lie in the boat they came in,
and for three days continually to see come floating in, beds, chests,
horses, &c. that had been thrown overboard in their distress."
But joy appears with shrouded head
To those who sorrow o'er the dead. — P 241.
Lady M.'s Nar — "Yet when that happy news (the Prince's
safe arrival in England) came, it was no more to my mother than
any occurrence she had not the least concern in, for that very day
her sister Christian died of a sore throat, which was so sore an
affliction to both her and her mother, that they had no feeling for
any thing else."
Britain's virtuous Queen admired
Our gentle maid, and in her train
Of ladies will'd her to remain. — P. 244.
Lady M.'s Nar. — "My grandmother and she came over with
the Princess. She was offered to be made one of her maids of
honour, and was well qualified for it. * * * She declined
being maid of honour, and chose going home with the rest of her
But, like the blossom to the bough,
Or wall-flower to the ruin's brow. — P. 244.
I fear I have not here nor any where done justice to the sweetness
and modesty of her character; for her daughter says of her, "She
greatly disliked flattery. I have often seen her put out of countenance
at speeches made to her, and had not a word to say. * * *
And this was joined with a modesty which was singular. To her
last, she had the bashfulness of a girl, and was as easily put out of
But yet, though poor, why should I smother
This dear regard? he'll be my brother. — P. 245.
Knowing that her parents objected to her union with Jerviswood,
on account of his circumstances, she resolved never to marry —
(See Lady M.'s Nar.)
She to her casement went,
And after him, with smile so sweet,
Her look of blessing sent. — P. 246.
Lady M. in speaking of her affection for her husband, says, —
"To the last of his life she felt the same tender love and affection
for him, and the same desire to please him in the smallest trifle, that
she had at their first acquaintance. Indeed, her principal pleasure
was to watch and attend to every thing that could give him pleasure
or make him easy. He never went abroad but she went to the
window to look after him."
But no new ties of wedded life,
That bind the mother and the wife,
Her tender, filial heart could change. — P. 247, 248.
When her father became very old, so that business became a
trouble to him, we find it recorded by Lady M., that Lady Griseld
went to him once every year, or as often as was necessary, and
looked over all his papers and accounts, which were often long and
intricate. Very unlike, too, many married women, who, in taking
upon them the duties of a wife and mother, suffer these to absorb
every other; and visit their father's house seldom, and as a stranger
who has nothing to do there but to be served and waited upon. If
misfortune or disease come upon their parents, it is the single
daughters only who seem to be concerned in all this. —She who is
a neglectful daughter, is an attentive wife and mother from a mean
Well said that grateful sire, I ween!
Griseld our dear and helpful child hath been. — P. 249.
This was the commendation which her mother gave her, upon her
Fondly that homely house she eyed,
The door, the windows, every thing. — P. 250.
Lady M.'s Nar. — "When she came to Utrecht, the place of
her former abode, she had the greatest pleasure in showing us every
corner of the town, which seemed fresh in her memory, particularly
the house she had lived in, which she had a great desire to see
but when she came there, they would not let her in, by no argument,
either of words or money, for no reason but for fear of dirtying
it; she offered to put off her shoes, but could not prevail, and she
came away much mortified at her disappointment."
How softly then her pity flowed!
How freely then her hand bestowed! — P. 252.
I have here fallen short of the liberality recorded by Lady
Murray; for she says, that Lady Griseld gave to those distressed
people of both parties as long as she had any money to give, and
when that was exhausted, borrowed from others to relieve them.
I have no reason to question this statement, and there were, no
doubt, circumstances which permitted her to do so, consistently
with the justice and good sense of her character; but as those
circumstances are not mentioned, and if they were, would probably
make very untoward matter for a metrical story, I have chosen
rather to omit the full extent of her beneficence, than injure a
young reader with giving him fantastical notions of generosity. Too
many of our modern comedies have been, with the best intention in
their authors, hurtful in this respect. But less, I believe, in making
(as might be supposed) either young or old very imprudently or
heedlessly liberal, than in teaching them to despise a reasonable
liberality, as beneath a sentimental gentleman or lady; and, therefore,
to omit the virtue altogether, unless it can be exercised with
becoming grace on becoming occasions; which occasions, some
how or other, never occur, or if they do, prove of so exhausting
a nature that many reasonable and moderate calls on generosity
pass afterwards unregarded.
But soon, from fear of future change,
The evil took a wider range. — P. 253.
Lady M., after mentioning her distress at the time of the rebellion
in the year 1725, and her charity for those who differed with her
in opinion, and liberality to all in distress, while it was in her power,
adds: "When the situation of things made it impossible for her to
get any money from Scotland, and what she had was at an end, she
sent for her butcher, and baker, and brewer, &c. whom she regularly
paid every month, told them she could not do so, and perhaps never
might be able to pay them at all, of which she thought it just to
give them warning, that they might choose whether they would
continue to serve her: they all said she should be in no pain, but
take from them whatever she had occasion for, because they were
sure, if ever she was able to pay them, she would, and if she was not,
she was very welcome, which was the least they owed for such long
punctual payments as they had got from her."
Whilst round her, weeping,
Her children's children mourn'd on bended knee. — P. 256.
The friendly, affectionate terms on which she lived with her
numerous offspring is often noticed by Lady M.; so that they had
all good cause to lament her loss.
Was raised for her a graven tomb
Which gives to other days her modest, just renown. — P. 256.
The inscription to her memory is written by Judge Burnet, and
says, that, —
"While an infant,
At the hazard of her own, she preserved her father's life,
Who, under the persecution of ambitious power,
Sought refuge in the close confinement of a tomb,
Where he was nightly supplied with necessaries conveyed by her,
With a caution above her years,
A courage above her sex,
A real instance of the so much celebrated Roman charity."
Yea, leagued for good, there is a virtuous band,
The rich, the young, the loveliest of the land. — P.259.
It is a very pleasing trait of the present times, that our women,
particularly young women of the higher classes of society, are so
actively benevolent. Many of them, associated with those of more
experienced age, are to be found, who, like Sisters of Mercy, visit
the abodes of want and misery in our great metropolis; dispensing
their bounty, not thoughtlessly, to get rid of a painful sympathy, as
casual charity is frequently bestowed, but with judicious and careful
consideration. They join the manners of the world to the considerate
methodical benevolence of the Society of Quakers; and how
far, by example, we may be indebted to that society for this useful
manner of doing good, it would not here be proper to enquire.
There is an honoured name — a most distinguished woman belonging
to that respectable sect, who may hereafter, in the hands of a better
poet, become the subject of a lay more generally interesting, though
less romantic, than that of the Lady Griseld Baillie.
THE fires blazed bright till deep midnight,
And the guests sat in the hall,
And the Lord of the feast, Lord John of the East,
Was the merriest of them all.
His dark-grey eye, that wont so sly
Beneath his helm to scowl,
Flash'd keenly bright, like a new-wak'd sprite,
As pass'd the circling bowl.
In laughter light, or jocund lay,
That voice was heard, whose sound,
Stern, loud, and deep, in battle-fray
Did foe-men fierce astound;
And stretch'd so balm, like lady's palm,
To every jester near,
That hand which thro' a prostrate foe
Oft thrust the ruthless spear.
The gallants sang, and the goblets rang,
And they revel'd in careless state,
Till a thund'ring sound, that shook the ground
Was heard at the castle gate.
"Who knocks without, so loud and stout?
"Some wand'ring knight, I ween,
"Who from afar, like a guiding star,
"Our blazing hall hath seen.
"If a stranger it be of high degree,
"(No churl durst make such din,)
"Step forth amain, my pages twain,
"And soothly ask him in.
"Tell him our cheer is the forest deer,
"Our bowl is mantling high,
"And the Lord of the feast is John of the East,
"Who welcomes him courteously."
The pages twain return'd again,
And a wild, scared look had they;
"Why look ye so? — is it friend or foe?"
Did the angry Baron say.
"A stately knight without doth wait,
"But further he will not hie,
"Till the Baron himself shall come to the gate,
"And ask him courteously."
"By my mother's shroud, he is full proud!
"What earthly man is he?"
"I know not, in truth," quoth the trembling youth,
"If earthly man it be.
"In Raveller's plight, he is bedight,
"With a vest of the crim'sy meet;
"But his mantle behind, that streams on the wind,
"Is a corse's bloody sheet."
"Out, paltry child! thy wits are wild,
"Thy comrade will tell me true:
"Say plainly, then, what hast thou seen?
"Or dearly shalt thou rue."
Faint spoke the second page with fear,
And bent him on his knee,
"Were I on your father's sword to swear,
"The same it appear'd to me."
Then dark, dark lower'd the Baron's eye,
And his red cheek changed to wan;
For again at the gate more furiously,
The thund'ring din began.
"And is there ne'er of my vassals here,
"Of high or low degree,
"That will unto this stranger go, —
"Will go for the love of me?"
Then spoke and said, fierce Donald the Red, —
(A fearless man was he,)
"Yes; I will straight to the castle gate,
"Lord John, for the love of thee."
With heart full stout, he hied him out,
Whilst silent all remain:
Nor moved a tongue those gallants among,
Till Donald return'd again.
"O speak," said his Lord, "by thy hopes of grace,
"What stranger must we hail?"
But the haggard look of Donald's face
Made his falt'ring words to fail.
"It is a knight in some foreign guise,
"His like did I never behold;
"For the stony look of his beamless eyes
"Made my very life-blood cold.
"I did him greet in fashion meet,
"And bade him your feast partake,
"But the voice that spoke, when he silence broke,
"Made the earth beneath me quake.
"O such a tone did tongue ne'er own
"That dwelt in mortal head; —
"It is like a sound from the hollow ground, —
"Like the voice of the coffin'd dead.
" I bade him to your social board,
" But in he will not hie,
" Until at the gate this castle's Lord
" Shall entreat him courteously.
"And he stretch'd him the while with a ghastly smile,
"And sternly bade me say,
"'Twas no depute's task your guest to ask
"To the feast of the woody bay."
Pale grew the Baron, and faintly said,
As he heaved his breath with pain,
"From such a feast as there was spread,
"Do any return again?
"I bade my guest to a bloody feast,
"Where the death's wound was his fare,
"And the isle's bright maid, who my love betray'd,
"She tore her raven hair.
"The sea-fowl screams, and the watch-tower gleams,
"And the dearning billows roar,
"Where he unblest was put to rest,
"On a wild and distant shore.
"Do the hollow grave and the whelming wave
"Give up their dead again?
"Doth the surgy waste waft o'er its breast
"The spirits of the slain?"
But his loosen'd limbs shook fast, and pour'd
The big drops from his brow,
As louder still the third time roar'd
The thund'ring gate below.
"O rouse thee, Baron, for manhood's worth!
"Let good or ill befall,
"Thou must to the stranger knight go forth,
"And ask him to your hall."
"Rouse thy bold breast," said each eager guest,
"What boots it shrinking so?
"Be it fiend or sprite, or murder'd knight,
"In God's name thou must go.
"Why should'st thou fear? dost thou not wear
"A gift from the great Glendower,
"Sandals blest by a holy priest,
"O'er which nought ill hath power."
All ghastly pale did the Baron quail,
As he turn'd him to the door,
And his sandals blest, by a holy priest,
Sound feebly on the floor.
Then back to the hall and his merry mates all,
He cast his parting eye.
"God send thee amain, safe back again!"
He heav'd a heavy sigh.
Then listen'd they, on the lengthen'd way,
To his faint and less'ning tread,
And, when that was past, to the wailing blast,
That wail'd as for the dead.
But wilder it grew, and stronger it blew,
And it rose with an elrich sound,
Till the lofty keep on its rocky steep,
Fell hurling to the ground.
Each fearful eye then glanced on high,
To the lofty-window'd wall,
When a fiery trace of the Baron's face
Thro' the casements shone on all.
But the vision'd glare pass'd thro' the air,
And the raging tempest ceast,
And never more, on sea or shore,
Was seen Lord John of the East.
The sandals, blest by a holy priest,
Lay unscath'd on the swarded green,
But never again, on land or main,
Lord John of the East was seen.
O GO not by Duntorloch's Walls
When the moon is in the wane,
And cross not o'er Duntorloch's Bridge,
The farther bank to gain.
For there the Lady of the Stream
In dripping robes you'll spy,
A-singing to her pale wan babe,
An elrich lullaby.
And stop not at the house of Merne,
On the eve of good Saint John,
For then the Swath'd Knight walks his rounds
With many a heavy moan.
All swath'd is he in coffin weeds,
And a wound is in his breast,
And he points still to the gloomy vault,
Where they say his corse doth rest.
But pass not near Glencromar's Tower,
Tho' the sun shine e'er so bright;
More dreaded is that in the noon of day,
Than these in the noon of night.
The night-shade rank grows in the court,
And snakes coil in the wall,
And bats lodge in the rifted spire,
And owls in the murky hall.
On it there shines no cheerful light,
But the deep-red setting sun
Gleams bloody red on its battlements
When day's fair course is run.
And fearfully in night's pale beams,
When the moon peers o'er the wood,
Its shadow grim stretch'd o'er the ground
Lies blackening many a rood.
No sweet bird's chirping there is heard,
No herd-boy's horn doth blow;
But the owlet hoots and the pent blast sobs,
And loud croaks the carrion-crow.
No marvel! for within its walls
Was done the deed unblest,
And in its noisome vaults the bones
Of a father's murderer rest.
He laid his father in the tomb
With deep and solemn woe,
As rumour tells, but righteous Heaven
Would not be mocked so.
There rest his bones in the mouldering earth,
By lord and by carle forgot;
But the foul, fell spirit that in them dwelt,
Rest hath it none, I wot!
"Another night," quoth Malcom's heir,
As he turn'd him fiercely round,
And closely clench'd his ireful hand,
And stamp'd upon the ground:
"Another night within your walls
"I will not lay my head,
"Tho' the clouds of heaven my roof should be,
"And the cold dank earth my bed."
"Your younger son has now your love,
"And my stepdame false your ear
"And his are your hawks, and his are your hounds
"And his your dark-brown deer.
"To him you have given your noble steed,
"As fleet as the passing wind;
"But me have you shamed before my friends,
"Like the son of a base-born hind:"
Then answer'd him the white-hair'd chief,
Dim was his tearful eye,
"Proud son, thy anger is all too keen,
"Thy spirit is all too high.
"Yet rest this night beneath my roof,
"The wind blows cold and shrill,
"With to-morrow's dawn, if it so must be,
"E'en follow thy wayward will."
But nothing moved was Malcom's heir,
And never a word did he say,
But cursed his father in his heart,
And sternly strode away.
And his coal-black steed he mounted straight,
As twilight gather'd round,
And at his feet with eager speed
Ran Swain, his faithful hound.
Loud rose the blast, yet ne'ertheless
With furious speed rode he,
Till night, like the gloom of a cavern'd mine,
Had closed o'er tower and tree.
Loud rose the blast, thick fell the rain,
Keen flash'd the lighening red,
And loud the awful thunder roar'd
O'er his unshelter'd head.
At length full close before him shot
A flash of sheeted light,
And the high-arch'd gate of Glencromar's tower,
Glared on his dazzled sight.
His steed stood still, nor step would move,
Up look'd his wistful Swain,
And wagg'd his tail, and feebly whined;
He lighted down amain.
Thro' porch and court he pass'd, and still
His list'ening ear he bow'd,
Till beneath the hoofs of his trampling steed
The paved hall echoed loud.
And other echoes answer gave
From arches far and grand;
Close to his horse and his faithful dog
He took his fearful stand.
The night-birds shriek'd from the creviced roof,
And the fitful blast sung shrill,
But ere the mid-watch of the night,
Were all things hush'd and still.
But in the mid-watch of the night,
When hush'd was every sound,
Faint, doleful music struck his ear,
As if waked from the hollow ground.
And loud and louder still it grew,
And upward still it wore,
Till it seem'd at the end of the farthest aisle
To enter the eastern door.
O! never did music of mortal make
Such dismal sounds contain
A horrid elrich dirge it seem'd, —
A wild unearthly strain.
The yell of pain, and the wail of woe,
And the short shrill shriek of fear,
Thro' the winnowing sound of a furnace flame,
Confusedly struck his ear.
And the serpent's hiss, and the tyger's growl,
And the famish'd vulture's cry,
Were mix'd at times, as with measured skill,
In this horrid harmony.
Up brizzled the locks of Malcom's heir,
And his heart it quickly beat,
And his trembling steed shook under his hand,
And Swain cower'd close to his feet.
When, lo! a faint light thro' the porch
Still strong and stronger grew,
And shed o'er the walls and the lofty roof
Its wan and dismal hue.
And slowly ent'ring then appear'd,
Approaching with soundless tread,
A funeral band in dark array,
As in honour of the dead.
The first that walk'd were torchmen ten,
To lighten their gloomy road,
And each wore the face of an angry fiend,
And on cloven goats' feet trod.
And the next that walk'd as mourners meet,
Were murderers twain and twain,
With bloody hands and surtout red,
Befoul'd with many a stain.
Each with a cut-cord round his neck,
And red-strain'd, starting eyen,
Show'd that upon the gibbet tree,
His earthly end had been.
And after these, in solemn state,
There came an open bier,
Borne on black, shapeless, rampant forms,
That did but half appear.
And on that bier a corse was laid,
As corse could never lie,
That did by decent hands composed
In nature's struggles die.
Nor stretch'd, nor swath'd, but every limb
In strong distortion lay,
As in the throes of a violent death
Is fix'd the lifeless clay.
And in its breast was a broken knife,
With the black blood bolter'd round;
And its face was the face of an aged man,
With the filleted locks unbound.
Its features were fixed in horrid strength,
And the glaze of its half-closed eye,
A last dread parting look express'd,
Of woe and agony.
But, oh! the horrid form to trace,
That followed it close behind,
In fashion of the chief-mourner,
What words shall minstrel find?
In his lifted hand, with straining grasp,
A broken knife he press'd,
The other half of the cursed blade
Was that in the corse's breast.
And in his blasted, horrid face,
Full strongly mark'd, I ween,
The features of the aged corse
In life's full prime were seen.
Aye, gnash thy teeth and tear thy hair,
And roll thine eye-balls wild,
Thou horrible accursed son,
With a father's blood defiled!
Back from the bier with strong recoil,
Still onward as they go,
Doth he in vain his harrow'd head,
And writhing body throw.
For, closing round, a band of fiends
Full fiercely with him deal,
And force him o'er the bier to bend,
With their fangs of red-hot steel.
Still on they moved, and stopp'd at length,
In the midst of the trembling hall,
When the dismal dirge, from its loudest pitch,
Sunk to a dying fall.
But what of horror next ensued,
No mortal tongue can tell,
For the thrill'd life paus'd in Malcom's heir,
In a death-like trance he fell.
The morning rose with cheerful light,
On the country far and near,
But neither in country, tower, nor town,
Could they find Sir Malcom's heir.
They sought him east, they sought him west,
O'er hill and vale they ran,
And met him at last on the blasted heath,
A crazed and wretched man.
He will to no one utter his tale,
But the priest of St. Cuthbert's cell,
And aye, when the midnight warning sounds,
He hastens his beads to tell.
The yell of pain, and the wail of woe,
And the short shrill shriek of fear,
Thro' the winnowing sound of a furnace flame. — P. 296.
In Miss Holford's poem of Margaret of Anjou, there is an assemblage
of sounds, preceding a scene of terrific incantation, which is
finely imagined, and produces a powerful effect; and this passage in
my second ballad may, perhaps, lead the reader to suppose that I
have had that description in my mind when I wrote it. Had this
been the case, I should have owned it readily. But the Ballad of
Malcom's heir was written several years before the publication of
the above-mentioned poem, and in the hands of the immediate
friends of my own family; though, as no copy of it was ever given
away, it was impossible it could ever reach further. I therefore
claim it, though acknowledging great inferiority, as a coincidence in
thought with that distinguished author.
"Their senses reel'd, — for every sound
Which the ear loves not, fill'd the air;
Each din that reason might confound
Echoed in ceaseless tumult there!
Swift whirling wheels, — the shriek intense
Of one who dies by violence; —
Yells, hoarse and deep, from blood-hounds' throat;
The night-crow's evil-boding note;
Such wild and chattering sounds as throng
Upon the moon-struck ideot's tongue;
The roar of bursting flames, the dash
Of waters wildly swelling round,
Which, unrestrain'd by dyke or mound,
Leap down at once with hideous crash."
Margaret of Anjou, Cant. VII.
A. FEAST was spread in the Baron's hall,
And loud was the merry sound,
As minstrels played at lady's call,
And the cup went sparkling round.
For gentle dames sat there, I trow,
By men of mickle might,
And many a chief with dark-red brow,
And many a burly knight.
Each had fought in war's grim ranks,
And some on the surgy sea,
And some on Jordan's sacred banks,
For the cause of Christentie.
But who thinks now of blood or strife,
Or Moorish or Paynim foe?
Their eyes beam bright with social life,
And their hearts with kindness glow.
"Gramercie Chieftain, on thy tale!
"It smacks of thy merry mood." —
"Aye, Monks are sly, and women frail,
"Since rock and mountain stood."
"Fye, fye! sir knight, thy tongue is keen,
"'Tis sharper than thy steel." —
"So, gentle lady, are thine eyen,
"As we poor lovers feel."
"Come, pledge me well, my lady gay,
"Come, pledge me, noble frere;
"Each cheerful mate on such a day,
"Is friend or mistress dear."
And louder still comes jeer and boast,
As the flaggons faster pour,
Till song, and tale, and laugh are lost,
In a wildly mingled roar.
Aye, certes, 'tis an hour of glee,
For the Baron himself doth smile,
And nods his head right cheerily,
And quaffs his cup the while.
What recks he now of midnight fear,
Or the night wind's dismal moan?
As it tosses the boughs of that Elden Tree,
Which he thinketh so oft upon?
Long years have past since a deed was done,
By its doer only seen,
And there lives not a man beneath the sun,
Who wotteth that deed hath been.
So gay was he, so gay were all,
They mark'd not the growing gloom;
Nor wist they how the dark'ning hall,
Lower'd like the close of doom.
Dull grew the goblet's sheen, and grim
The features of every guest,
And colourless banners aloft hung dim,
Like the clouds of the drizzly west.
Hath time pass'd then so swift of pace?
Is this the twilight grey?
A flash of light pass'd thro' the place,
Like the glaring noon of day.
Fierce glanced the momentary blaze
O'er all the gallant train,
And each visage pale, with dazzled gaze,
Was seen and lost again.
And the thunder's rolling peal, from far,
Then on and onward drew,
And varied its sound like the broil of war,
And loud and louder grew.
Still glares the lightning blue and pale,
And roars th' astounding din;
And rattle the windows with bickering hail,
And the rafters ring within.
And cowering hounds the board beneath
Are howling with piteous moan,
While lords and dames sit still as death,
And words are utter'd none.
At length in the waning tempest's fall,
As light from the welkin broke,
A frighten'd man rush'd thro' the hall,
And words to the Baron spoke,
"The thunder hath stricken your tree so fair,
"Its roots on green-sward lie," —
"What tree?" — "The Elden planted there
"Some thirty years gone by."
"And wherefore starest thou on me so,
"With a face so ghastly wild?" —
"White bones are found in the mould below,
"Like the bones of a stripling child."
Pale he became as the shrouded dead,
And his eye-balls fix'd as stone;
And down on his bosom dropp'd his head,
And he utter'd a stifled groan.
Then from the board, each guest amazed,
Sprang up, and curiously
Upon his sudden misery gazed,
And wonder'd what might be.
Out spoke the ancient seneschal,
"I pray ye stand apart,
"Both gentle dames and nobles all,
"This grief is at his heart.
"Go, call St. Cuthbert's monk with speed,
"And let him be quickly shriven,
"And fetch ye a leech for his body's need,
"To dight him for earth or heaven."
"No, fetch me a priest," the Baron said,
In a voice that seem'd utter'd with pain;
And he shudder'd and shrunk, as he faintly bade
His noble guests remain.
"Heaven's eye each secret deed doth scan,
"Heaven's justice all should fear:
"What I confess to the holy man,
"Both Heaven and you shall hear."
And soon St. Cuthbert's monk stood by
With visage sad but sweet,
And cast on the Baron a piteous eye,
And the Baron knelt low at his feet.
"O Father! I have done a deed
"Which God alone did know;
"A brother's blood these hands have shed,
"With many a fiend-like blow:
"For fiends lent strength like a powerful charm,
"And my youthful breast impell'd,
"And I laugh'd to see beneath my arm
"The sickly stripling quell'd.
"A mattock from its pit I took,
"Dug deep for the Elden Tree,
"And I tempted the youth therein to look
"Some curious sight to see.
"The woodmen to their meal were gone,
"And ere they return'd again,
"I had planted that tree with my strength alone,
"O'er the body of the slain.
"Ah! gladly smiled my Father then,
"And seldom he smiled on me,
"When he heard that my skill, like the skill of men,
"Had planted the Elden Tree.
"But where was his eldest son so dear,
"Who nearest his heart had been?
"They sought him far, they sought him near,
"But the boy no more was seen.
"And thus his life and lands he lost,
"And his Father's love beside
"The thought that ever rankled most
"In this heart of secret pride.
"Ah! could the partial parent wot
"The cruel pang he gives,
"To the child neglected and forgot,
"Who under his cold eye lives!
"His elder rights did my envy move,
"These lands and their princely hall;
"But it was our Father's partial love,
"I envy'd him most of all.
"Now thirty years have o'er me past,
"And, to the eye of man,
"My lot was with the happy cast,
"My heart it could not scan.
"Oh! I have heard in the dead of night,
"My murther'd brother's groan,
"And shudder'd, as the pale moon-light
"On the mangled body shone.
"My very miners, pent in gloom,
"Whose toil my coffers stored,
"And cursed belike their cheerless doom,
"Were happier than their lord.
"O holy man! my tale is told
"With pain, with tears, with shame
"May penance hard, may alms of gold,
"Some ghostly favour claim?
"The knotted scourge shall drink my blood,
"The earth my bed shall be,
"And bitter tears my daily food,
"To earn Heaven's grace for me."
Now, where that rueful deed was done,
Endow'd with rights and lands,
Its sharp spires bright'ning in the sun,
A stately Abbey stands.
And the meekest monk, whose life is there
Still spent on bended knee,
Is he who built that Abbey fair,
And planted the Elden Tree.
ON Gask's deserted ancient hall
Was twilight closing fast,
And, in its dismal shadows, all
Seem'd lofty, void, and vast.
All sounds of life, now reft and bare,
From its walls had pass'd away,
But the stir of small birds shelter'd there,
Dull owl, or clatt'ring jay.
Loop-hole and window, dimly seen,
With faint light passing through,
Grew dimmer still, and the dreary scene
Was fading from the view:
When the trampling sound of banded men
Came from the court without;
Words of debate and call, and then
A loud and angry shout.
But mingled echoes from within.
A mimick mock'ry made,
And the bursting door, with furious din,
On jarring hinges bray'd.
An eager band, press'd rear on van,
Rush'd in with clam'rous sound,
And their chief, the goodliest, bravest man,
That e'er trode Scottish ground.
Then spoke forthwith that leader bold,
"We war with wayward fate:
"These walls are bare, the hearth is cold,
"And all is desolate.
"With fast unbroke and thirst unslaked,
"Must we on the hard ground sleep?
"Or, like ghosts from vaulted charnel waked
"Our cheerless vigil keep?"
"Hard hap this day in bloody field,
"Ye bravely have sustain'd,
"And for your pains this dismal bield,
"And empty board have gain'd.
"Hie, Malcom, to that varlet's steed,
"And search if yet remain
"Some homely store, but good at need,
"Spent nature to sustain.
"Cheer up, my friends! still, heart in hand,
"Tho' few and spent we be,
"We are the pith of our native land,
"And she shall still be free.
"Cheer up! tho' scant and coarse our meal,
"In this our sad retreat,
"We'll fill our horn to Scotland's weal,
"And that will make it sweet."
Then all, full cheerly, as they could,
Their willing service lent,
Some broke the boughs, some heap'd the wood,
Some struck the sparkling flint.
And a fire they kindled speedily,
Where the hall's last fire had been,
And pavement, walls, and rafters high,
In the rising blaze were seen.
Red gleam on each tall outtress pour'd,
The lengthen'd hall along,
And tall and black behind them lower'd
Their shadows deep and strong.
The ceiling, ribb'd with massy oak,
From bick'ring flames below,
As light and shadow o'er it broke,
Seem'd wav'ring to and fro.
Their scanty meal was on the ground,
Spread by the friendly light,
And they made the brown-horn circle round,
As cheerly as they might.
Some talk of horses, weapons, mail,
Some of their late defeat,
By treach'ry caused, and many a tale
Of Southron spy's retreat.
"Aye, well," says one, "my sinking heart
"Did some disaster bode,
"When faithless Fadon's wily art
"Beguiled us from the road."
"But well repaid by Providence
"Are such false deeds we see;
"He's had his rightful recompence,
"And cursed let him be."
"Oh! curse him not! I needs must rue
"That stroke so rashly given:
"If he to us were false or true,
"Is known to righteous Heaven."
So spoke their chief, then silent all
Remain'd in sombre mood,
Till they heard a bugle's larum call
Sound distant thro' the wood.
"Rouse ye, my friends!" the chieftain said,
"That blast, from friend or foe,
"Comes from the west; thro' forest shade
"With wary caution go.
"And bring me tidings. Speed ye well!"
Forth three bold warriors past.
Then from the east with fuller swell
Was heard the bugle blast.
Out past three warriors more; then shrill,
The horn blew from the north,
And other eager warriors still,
As banded scouts, went forth.
Till from their chief each war-mate good
Had to the forest gone,
And he, who fear'd not flesh and blood,
Stood by the fire alone.
He stood, wrapp'd in a musing dream,
Nor rais'd his drooping head,
Till a sudden, alter'd, paly gleam
On all around was spread.
Such dull, diminish'd, sombre sheen
From moon eclips'd, by swain
Belated, or lone herd is seen
O'er-mantling hill and plain.
Then to the fitful fire he turn'd,
Which higher and brighter grew,
Till the flame like a baleful meteor burn'd
Of clear sulphureous blue.
Then wist the chief, some soul unblest,
Or spirit of power was near;
And his eyes adown the hall he cast,
Yet naught did there appear.
But he felt a strange unearthly breath
Upon the chill air borne,
And he heard at the gate, like a blast of wrath,
The sound of Fadon's horn.
Owls, bats, and swallows, flutt'ring, out
From hole and crevice flew,
Circling the lofty roof about,
As loud and long it blew.
His noble hound sprang from his lair,
The midnight rouse to greet,
Then, like a timid trembling hare,
Couch'd at his master's feet.
Between his legs his drooping tail,
Like dog of vulgar race,
He hid, and with strange piteous wail,
Look'd in his master's face.
The porch seem'd void, but vapour dim
Soon fill'd the lowering room,
Then was he aware of a figure grim,
Approaching thro' the gloom.
And striding as it onward came,
The vapour wore away,
Till it stood distinctly by the flame,
Like a form in the noon of day.
Well Wallace knew that form, that head,
That throat unbraced and bare,
Mark'd deep with streaming circlet red,
And he utter'd a rapid prayer.
But when the spectre rais'd its arm,
And brandish'd its glitt'ring blade,
That moment broke fear's chilly charm
On noble Wallace laid.
The threaten'd combat was to him
Relief; with weapon bare,
He rush'd upon the warrior grim,
But his sword shore empty air.
Then the spectre smiled with a ghastly grin,
And its warrior-semblance fled,
And its features grew stony, fix'd, and thin,
Like the face of the stiffen'd dead.
The head a further moment crown'd
The body's stately wreck,
Shook hideously, and to the ground
Dropt from the bolter'd neck.
Back shrunk the noble chief aghast,
And longer tarried not,
But quickly to the portal past,
To shun the horrid spot.
But in the portal, stiff and tall,
The apparition stood,
And Wallace turn'd and cross'd the hall,
Where entrance to the wood.
By other door he hoped to snatch,
Whose pent arch darkly lower'd,
But there, like sentry on his watch,
The dreadful phantom tower'd.
Then up the ruin'd stairs so steep,
He ran with panting breath,
And from a window — desp'rate leap!
Sprang to the court beneath.
O'er wall and ditch he quickly got,
Thro' brake and bushy stream,
When suddenly thro' darkness shot
A red and lurid gleam.
He look'd behind, and that lurid light
Forth from the castle came;
Within its circuit thro' the night
Appear'd an elrich flame.
Red glow'd each window, slit, and door,
Like mouths of furnace hot,
And tint of deepest blackness wore
The walls and steepy moat.
But soon it rose with bright'ning power,
Till bush and ivy green,
And wall-flower, fringing breach and tower,
Distinctly might be seen.
Then a spreading blaze with eddying sweep,
Its spiral surges rear'd,
And then aloft on the stately keep,
Fadon's Ghost appear'd.
A burning rafter, blazing bright,
It wielded in its hand;
And its warrior-form, of human height,
Dilated grew, and grand.
Coped by a curling tawny cloud,
With tints sulphureous blent,
It rose with burst of thunder loud,
And up the welkin went.
High, high it rose with wid'ning glare,
Sent far o'er land and main,
And shot into the lofty air,
And all was dark again.
A spell of horror lapt him round,
Chill'd, motionless, amazed,
His very pulse of life was bound
As on black night he gazed.
Till harness'd warriors' heavy tread,
From echoing dell arose;
"Thank God!" with utter'd voice, he said,
"For here come living foes."
With kindling soul that brand he drew
Which boldest Southron fears,
But soon the friendly call he knew,
Of his gallant brave compeers.
With haste each wond'rous tale was told,
How still, in vain pursuit,
They follow'd the horn thro' wood and wold,
And Wallace alone was mute.
Day rose; but silent, sad, and pale,
Stood the bravest of Scottish race;
And each warrior's heart began to quail,
When he look'd in his leader's face.
BLIND HARRY, after relating how Wallace and his men having taken
shelter in the old hall of Gask, and made a meal of what provisions
they had with them, were alarmed with the sound of a horn, which
caused the chief to send out into the wood two of his followers at a
time, repeatedly, till he was left alone, continues thus: —
"When that alone Wallace was leaved there
The awful blast abounded meikle mare;
Then trowed he well they [the enemy] had his lodging seen;
His sword he drew of noble metal keen,
Syne forth he went whereat he heard the horn;
Without the door, Fawdon was him beforn,
As to his sight, his own head in his hand:
A cross he made, when he saw him so stand.
At Wallace with the head he swakked there,
And he in haste soon hint it by the hair,
Syne out again at him he could it cast,
Into his heart he greatly was agast,
Right well he trowed it was no sprit of man,
It was some devil that sick malice began,
He wist not wale there longer for to bide,
Up thro' the hall thus Wight Wallace can glide
To a close stair, the boards he rave in twin,
Fifteen foot large he lap out of that inn.
Up the water he suddenly could fare,
Again he blink'd what pearance he saw there,
He thought he saw Fawdon, that ugly Syre,
That hail hall he had set into a fire;
A great rafter he had into his hand.
Wallace as then no longer could he stand."
No. I.
HERRERA'S Hist. vol. i. page 24. — "Don Christopher Columbus,
whom the Spaniards, for the more easy pronunciation, called Colon,
was born in the city of Genoa, in which particular, as also that his
father's name was Dominick, all who write or treat of him do agree,
and he himself owns it; and as for his original, some say it was from
Plasencia, and others from Cucureo, on the coast near the same city;
but some say he was descended from the lords of the castle of Cucaro,
which is that part of Italy formerly called Lyguria, now the dukedom
of Montserrat, so near Alexandria de la Polla, that the bells are
heard from the one to the other; but which was the most certain
descent, was left to be decided by the supreme council of the Indies.
It appears that the Emperor Otho the Second, in the year 940,
confirmed to the Earls Peter, John, and Alexander Columbus, the
lands they held as fiefs, and in fee simple, within the liberties of
the cities of Acqui, Savona, Aste, Monferrat, Turin, Vercelli, Parma,
Cremona, and Bergamo, and all their other possessions in Italy;
and it further appears by other deeds, that the Columbi of Cucaro,
Cucureo, and Plasencia, were the same; and that the aforesaid
Emperor, the same year, 940, granted to the said brothers of the
house of Columbus, Peter, John, and Alexander, the castles of
Cucaro, Conzano, Rosignano, and others, and the fourth part of
Bistagno, all which belonged to the empire, which is a testimony
of the antiquity of this house."
No. II.
Herrera, vol. i. page 24. — "He came into Spain, and more particularly
into Portugal, when he was very young. — And being very
positive in the notion he had long conceived, that there were new
lands, undiscovered, he resolved to make the same public; but
being sensible that such an enterprize was only fit for great Princes, he
first proposed it to the republic of Genoa, which looked upon it as a
dream; and after that to King John of Portugal, who, though he
gave him a favourable hearing, being then taken up with the discovery
of the coast of Africk on the ocean, did not think fit to
undertake so many things at once, and yet referred it to Doctor
Calzadillo, called Don Diego Ortiz, Bishop of Ceuta, who was a
Castilian, born at Calzadillo, and to Master Rodrigo and Jusepe,
Jewish physicians, to whom he gave credit in affairs of discoveries
and cosmography; and, though they affirmed they looked upon it as
a fabulous notion, having heard Don Christopher Columbus, and
understood the motives he had, and what course he designed to steer,
not altogether rejecting the project, they advised him to send a
caravel, upon pretence of sailing to Cabo Verde, to endeavour to
find by that course Don Christopher proposed to discover the secret;
but that vessel, having been many days out at sea, and in great
storms, returned without finding any thing, making a jest of Columbus's
project, who was not ignorant of this attempt.
"This action very much troubled Columbus; and he took such an
aversion to Portugal, that, being rid of his wife, who was dead, he
resolved to go away into Spain; and, for fear of being served as
he had been in Portugal, he was resolved to send his brother, Don
Bartholomew Columbus, into England, where Henry the Seventh
then reigned. He was a long time on his way, having been taken
by pirates, and staid there to be acquainted with the humours of
the court, and the method of managing affairs. Don Christopher,
designing to propose that affair to their Catholic Majesties, Ferdinand
and Elizabeth, (Herrera here calls this queen Elizabeth,) in
the year 1484, privately made his way to Portugal by sea, toward
Andaluzia, being satisfied that the king was convinced that his
project was well-grounded, and that those who went in the caravel
had not performed what he expected of them, and therefore designed
to attempt that affair again. He arrived at Palos de
Moquer, whence he went away to the court, which was then at
Cordova. * * * He began to propose his affair at
Cordova, where the most encouragement he found was in Alonzo
de Quintanilla, controller of the revenue of Castile, a .very
discreet man, and who delighted in great undertakings; who,
looking upon Columbus as a man of worth, gave him maintenance,
without which he could not have subsisted so long in that tedious
suit, which was so home pressed, that their Catholic Majesties,
giving some attention to the affair, referred it to Father Ferdinand
de Talavera, of the order of St. Jerome, Prior of Prado, and
the Queen's confessor, who was afterwards the first Bishop of
Granada. He held an assembly of cosmographers, who debated
about it; but there being few of that profession in Castile, and
those none of the best in the world, and, besides, Columbus would
not altogether explain himself, lest he should be served as he had
been in Portugal, they came to a resolution nothing answerable to
what he had expected; some alledging, that since, during so many
ages as there were from the creation of the world, men so well versed
in marine affitirs had known nothing of those countries Columbus
persuaded them must be found, it was not to be imagined that he
could know more than all of them; others, adhering more to
cosmographical reasons, urged, that the world was so large that
there would be no coming to the utmost extent of the east in three
years' sail, whither Columbus said he intended his voyage; and, in
confirmation thereof, they alledged that Seneca, by way of dispute,
said, that many discreet men did not agree upon the question,
whether the ocean were infinite, and doubted whether it could be
sailed, and supposing it to be navigable, whether there was any
country inhabited on the other side, and whether it was possible
to go to it; they added, that no part of this inferior sphere was
inhabited, except only a small compass which was left in our
hemisphere above the water, and that all the rest was sea; and
that notwithstanding it were so, that it were possible to arrive at
the extreme part of the East, it would be also granted, that from
Spain they go to the extreme part of the West."
Herrera, in the following chapter to the above, says, "There
were also others who affirmed, that if Columbus should sail away
directly westward, he would not be able to return to Spain, by
reason of the roundness of the globe; because, whosoever should
go beyond the hemisphere known by Ptolemy, would fall down so
low, that it would be impossible ever to return, by reason it would
be like climbing up a hill; and though Columbus fully answered
these arguments, they could not comprehend him; for which reason
those of the assembly judged the enterprize to be vain and impracticable,
and that it was not becoming the grandeur of such
mighty Princes to proceed upon so imperfect an account.
"After much delay, their Catholic Majesties ordered this answer
to be given to Columbus, that being engaged in several wars,
particularly in the conquest of Granada, they could not enter upon
fresh expenses; but when that was over, they would cause further
inquiry to be made into his proposals, and so dismissed him. * *
Having received the answer above, Columbus went away to
Sevil, very melancholy and discontented, after having been five
years at court to no effect. He caused the affair to be proposed to
the Duke de Medina Sidonia, and, some say, to the Duke de
Medina Celi at the same time; and they also rejecting him, he writ
to the King of France, designing to go over to England to look for
his brother, of whom he had heard nothing for a long time, in
case the French would not employ him. With this design he went
to the monastery for his son Don Diego, in order to leave him at
Cordova; and communicating his design to Father John Perez de
Marchena, God having reserved this discovery for the crown of
Castile and Leon, and Columbus going unwillingly to treat with
other Princes, because, by reason of the long time he had lived
in Spain he looked upon himself as a Spaniard, he put off his
journey at the request of Father John Perez, who, to be the better
informed of the grounds Columbus went upon, sent for Garci
Hernandez, a physician, and they three conferred together upon
what Columbus proposed, which gave Garci Hernandez, as being a
philosopher, much satisfaction. Whereupon Father John Perez,
who was known to the Queen, as having confessed her sometimes,
writ to her, and she ordered him to come to court, which was then
in the town of Santa Fé, at the siege of Granada, and to leave
Columbus at Palos, giving him hopes of success in his business.
Father John Perez having been with the Queen, she ordered twenty
thousand maravedies in florins to be sent to Columbus by James
Prieto, an inhabitant of Palos, for him to go to court; where he
being come, the affair began to be canvassed again. But the prior
of Prado, and others who followed them, being of a contrary
opinion, and Columbus demanding very high terms, and, among
the rest, to have the title of Admiral and Viceroy, they thought he
demanded too much, if the enterprize succeeded, and looked upon
it as a discredit, if it did not; whereupon the treaty entirely
ceased, and Columbus resolved to go away to Cordova, in order to
proceed from thence to France, being positive not to go to Portugal
upon any account.
"Alonzo de Quintanilla, and Lewis de Santangel, a clerk of the
revenue of the crown of Arragon, were much concerned to think
that this enterprize should be disappointed. Now, at the request
of Father John Perez, and Alonzo de Quintanilla, the Cardinal Don
Pedro Gonzalez de Mendoza had heard Columbus, and looking
upon him as a grave man, he had an esteem for him. * * *
In January, 1492, he set out from Santa Fé for Cordova, in great
anguish, the city of Granada being then in possession of their
Catholic Majesties. The same day, Lewis de Santangel told the
Queen, he wondered that she, who had never wanted spirit
for the greatest undertakings, should now fail, where so little could
be lost, and so much might be gained; for, in case the affair
succeeded, and fell into the hands of another Prince, as Columbus
affirmed it was like to do in case Spain would not accept of it,
she might guess how prejudicial it would be to her crown; and
since Columbus appeared to be a discreet man, and demanded no
reward but out of what he should find, and was willing to defray a
part of the charge, venturing his own person also, the thing ought
not to be looked upon as altogether so impracticable, as the cosmographers
said, nor be reckoned as lightness to have attempted
such a mighty enterprize, though it should prove unsuccessful,
inasmuch as it became great and generous monarchs to be acquainted
with the wonders and secrets of the world, by which other Princes
have gained everlasting renown; besides, that Columbus demanded
only a million of maravedies to fit him out; and therefore he intreated
her not to suffer the apprehension of so small an expense
to disappoint so great an enterprize.
The Queen, finding herself importuned on the same account
by Alonzo de Quintanilla, who was much in credit with her, thanked
them for their advice, and said, she accepted it, provided they
would stay till she could recover a little from the expense of the
war; however, if they thought it should be immediately put into
execution, she would consent that they should borrow what money
was requisite upon some of her jewels. Quintanilla and Santangel
kissed her hands, for that she had at their request resolved to do
what she had refused to so many others, and Lewis de Santangel
offered to lend as much of his own as was necessary. Upon this
resolution, the queen ordered an Alguazil of the court to go post
after Columbus, and to tell him from her, that she commanded him
to return, and to bring him away. The Alguazil overtook him two
leagues from Granada, at the bridge of Pinos, and though much
concerned for the small regard shown him, he returned to Santa Fé,
where he was received, and the secretary John Coloma was ordered
to draw up conditions and dispatches, after he had spent eight
years inculcating the enterprize, and enduring many crosses and
No. III.
Herrera, vol. i. page 45. — "It pleased God in his mercy, at the
time when Don Christopher Columbus could no longer withstand
so much muttering, contradiction and contempt, that on Thursday
the 11th of October, of the aforesaid year 1492, in the afternoon,
he received some comfort by the manifest tokens they perceived of
their being near land; for the men aboard the Admiral saw a green
rush near the ship, and next a large green fish, of those that keep
close to the rocks. Those aboard the caravel Pinta saw a cane
and a staff, and took up one that was artificially wrought, and a
little board, and saw abundance of weeds, fresh torn off the shore.
Those aboard the caravel Nina saw other such like tokens, and a
branch of a thorn with the berries on it which appeared to be newly
broken off; for which reasons, and because they brought up sand on
sounding, there was a certainty of their being near land, which was
confirmed by the shifting of the winds, which seemed to come from
shore. Columbus, being satisfied that he was near land, after nightfall,
when they had said the Antiphon, Salve Regina, as is usual
among the sailors every night, he discoursed the men, telling them,
how merciful God had been to them, carrying them safe so long a
voyage; and that, since the tokens were hourly more manifest, he
desired them to watch all night, since they knew that, in the first
article of the instructions he had given them when they came out
of Spain, he told them, that when they had run seven hundred
leagues without discovering land, they were to lie after midnight till
day and be upon the watch, for he firmly confided that they would
find land that night, and that, besides the ten thousand maravedies'
annuity their Highnesses had promised the person that should first
discover it, he would give a velvet doublet. Two hours before
midnight, Columbus, standing on the poop, he saw a light, and privately
called Peter Gutierres, groom of the privy-chamber to the
King," [it appears from this that the crew had not been on the
watch as he desired them,] "and bid him look at it, and he
answered he saw it. Then they called Roderick Sanchez of Segovia
purser of the fleet, who could not discern it; but afterwards it was
seen twice and looked like a little candle, &c.
Two hours after midnight, the caravel Pinta being always a-head,
it made signs of land, which was first discovered by a sailor whose
name was Roderick de Triana, but two leagues distant. But their
Catholic Majesties declared that the ten thousand maravedies' annuities
belonged to the admiral, and it was always paid him at the
shambles of Sevil, because he saw the light amidst the darkness,
meaning the spiritual light that was then coming into those barbarous
people: God so ordering it, that when the war with the
Moors was ended, after they had been seven hundred and twenty
years in Spain, this work should be taken in hand, to the end that
the kings of Castile and Leon should be always employed in bringing
infidels over to the light of the Catholic faith."
No. IV.
"When all things were ready, and he was upon the point of departing,
he called them together, and spoke to them to this effect: —
He bid them offer up their prayers to God, and return thanks to
him for having carried them to such a country to plant his holy
faith, and not forsake him, but to live like good Christians, and he
would protect them. That they should pray to God to grant him
a good voyage, that he might soon return to them with a greater
power; that they should love and obey their captain, because it was
requisite for their own preservation, and he charged them so to do
in the name of their Highnesses. That they should respect Gaucanagari,
and give no offence to any of his people, nor offer violence
to man or woman, that the opinion of their coming from heaven
might be confirmed. That they should not part nor go up the
country, nor out of Gaucanagari's dominions, since he loved them
so well, that with his consent they should survey the coast in canoes
and their boat, endeavouring to discover gold mines, and some good
harbour, because he was not well pleased with that where they remained,
which he called the Nativity; that they should endeavour
to barter the most they could fairly, without showing covetousness;
and endeavour to learn the language, since it would be so useful to
them, since they had opened the way to that new world.' They
answered they would punctually perform all he ordered them.
Wednesday, the 2d of January, 1493, he went ashore to take his
leave, dined with Gaucanagari and his Caziques, recommended the
Christians to him, whom he had commanded to serve and defend
him from the Caribes. He gave him a fine shirt, and said, he would
soon return with presents from the King of Spain. He answered
with great tokens of sorrow for his departure."
No. V.
Herrera (vol. i. page 125.) having related how the Admiral
founded a colony at Isabella, in the island of Hispaniola, left it for
a time to build a fort in another part of the country, and after a
time returned to it again, when he found many of the settlers dead,
and the rest suffering from sickness and want of provisions, proceeds
in these words: — "He found the men much fatigued, many of
them dead, and those who were in health very disconsolate for fear
they should not long survive, and they sickened the faster as the
provisions declined. * * * Being thus out of hopes
of any relief, starving with hunger, and sick, many of them persons
of distinction, who had never undergone such hardships, they died
very impatient and almost desperate; and therefore, after this colony
of Isabella was abandoned, it was reported that dreadful cries were
heard in that place, so that people durst not go that way. It was
positively affirmed, that two men passing along among the buildings
of the Isabella, there appeared to them in the street, two ranks of
men very well clad, their swords by their sides, with mufflers about
their faces, as travellers used to wear at that time in Spain; and
those two persons wondering to see such new-comers there, so well
dressed, whereas there was no knowledge of them in the island,
saluted them, and asked them when and from whence they came
the others returned no answer, but putting their hands to their hats,
with them took off their heads, and so vanished, which was such a
surprise to the aforesaid two men, that they came not to themselves
in a long time after."
No. VI.
Herrera, vol. i. page 252., gives this account of the fate of
Bovadilla: — "He (Columbus, from Spain) arrived there (Santo
Domingo) the 29th of June, and sent Peter de Terreros, captain of
a ship, to acquaint Nicholas de Obando with the necessity he was
under of leaving that ship there, and to desire he would permit him
to enter the port with his ships, not only to change or buy another,
but also to shelter himself from is great storm he was sure would
soon happen. Obando would not consent to it, and the admiral
being informed that the fleet of thirty-two sail was ready to put to
sea, sent to advise him not to permit it to go out in eight days,
because there would be a most dreadful tempest, for which reason
he was going to put into the next harbour he should find, as accordingly
he did to Puerto Hermoso, sixteen leagues from Santo
Domingo. Nicholas de Obando would not believe it, and the pilots
made a jest of it, calling him a prophet. Among many tokens of a
storm observed by mariners, one is, the porpoises and other such
like fishes playing upon the superficies of the water, from which and
other observations, the admiral had concluded that there would be
a storm.
"As soon as Obando arrived at Hispaniola, he put his orders in
execution, and accordingly Francis de Bovidilla was sent aboard the
fleet with Francis Roldan, and all the rest that had been concerned in
his insurrection, as also the Cazique Gaurinoex, lord of the ValeRoyal,
one hundred thousand castellanos of gold, beside the above-mentioned
vast grain of gold," (so large that they had dined off it instead
of a table,) "and one hundred thousand more, belonging to passengers,
at which time those two hundred thousand castellanos were
worth more than two millions. The fleet, consisting of thirty-one
ships, set sail about the beginning of July, and within forty hours
there arose such a violent storm as had not been known in many
years, so that twenty ships were cast away, and not a man saved,
and all the town of Santo Domingo, which was then on the other
side of the river, the houses being slight, was blown down. The
admiral's ships were dispersed and in the utmost danger, but met
again in Puerto Hermoso, and thus the admiral and his ships
escaped, and the fleet perished because they would not believe him.
There Francis de Bovadilla, who had sent the Admiral in irons to
Spain, perished, as did Francis Roldan and his companions, who had
rebelled against the King. The two hundred thousand castellanos
of gold and the vast grain above-mentioned, were also lost. The
worst ship in the fleet, on board which the Admiral had four thousand
pesos, escaped, and was the first that arrived in Spain."
No. VII.
Robertson's History of America, book iii. — "For a considerable
time the supply of treasure from the New World was scanty and
precarious, and the genius of Charles the Fifth conducted public
measures with such prudence that the effects of this influence were
little perceived. But when Philip the Second ascended the Spanish
throne, with talents far inferior to those of his father, and remittances
from the colonies became a regular and a considerable branch
of revenue, the fatal operation of this rapid change in the state of
the kingdom, both on the monarch and his people, was at once
conspicuous. Philip, possessing the spirit of unceasing assiduity,
which often characterizes the ambition of men of moderate talents,
entertained such an opinion of his own resources, that he thought
nothing too arduous for him to undertake. Shut up himself in the
solitude of the Escurial, he troubled and annoyed all the nations
round him. He waged open war with the Dutch and English; he
encouraged and aided a rebellious faction in France; he conquered
Portugal, and maintained armies and garrisons in Italy, Africa, and
both the Indies. By such a multiplicity of great and complicated
operations, pursued with ardour during the course of a long reign,
Spain was drained both of men and money."
After mentioning the wretched impolicy of Philip the Third, in
banishing the Moors from Spain, continuing the subject, he says: —
"In proportion as the population and manufactures of the parent
state declined, the demands of her colonies continued to increase.
The Spaniards, like their monarch, intoxicated with the wealth
which poured in annually upon them, deserted the paths of industry
to which they had been accustomed, and repaired with eagerness to
those regions from which this opulence issued. By this rage of
emigration, another drain was opened, and the strength of the
colonies augmented by exhausting that of the mother-country.
All those emigrants, as well as the adventurers, who had at first
settled in America, depended absolutely on Spain for almost every
article of necessary consumption. Engaged in more alluring and
lucrative pursuits, or prevented by restraints which government
imposed, they could not turn their own attention towards establishing
the manufactures requisite to comfortable subsistence. They
received their clothing, their furniture, whatever ministers to the
ease or luxury of life, and even their instruments of labour, from
Europe. Spain, thinned of people, and decreasing in industry, was
unable to supply their growing demands. She had recourse to her
neighbours. The manufactures of the low countries, of England, of
France, and of Italy, which her wants called into existence, or
animated with new vivacity, furnished in abundance whatever she
required. * * * In short, not above a twentieth part of the
commodities exported to America were of Spanish growth or fabric:
all the rest was the property of foreign merchants, though entered
in the name of Spaniards. The treasure of the new world may be
said henceforward not to have belonged to Spain. Before it reached
Europe, it was anticipated as the price of goods purchased from
foreigners. That wealth which, by internal circulation, would
have spread through each vein of industry, and have conveyed
life and movement to every branch of manufacture, flowed out
of the kingdom with such a rapid course as neither enriched nor
animated it. On the other hand, the artisans of other nations,
encouraged by this quick sale of their commodities, improved so
much in skill and industry as to be able to afford them at a rate so
low, that the manufactures of Spain, which could not vie with theirs,
either in quality or cheapness of work, were still more depressed.
This destructive commerce drained off the riches of the nation
faster and more completely than even the extravagant schemes of
ambition carried on by its monarchs. Spain was so much astonished
and distressed at beholding her American treasures vanish almost as
soon as they were imported, that Philip the Third, unable to supply
what was requisite in circulation, issued an edict, by which he
endeavoured to raise copper money to a value in currency nearly
equal to that of silver; and the Lord of Peruvian and Mexican
mines was reduced to a wretched expedient, which is the
last resource of petty impoverished states. * * *
Spain early became sensible at her declension from her former
prosperity, and many respectable and virtuous citizens employed
their thoughts in devising methods for reviving the decaying industry
and commerce of their country. From the violence of the remedies
proposed, we may judge how desperate and fatal the malady appeared.
Some, confounding a violation of police with criminality
against the State, contended that, in order to check illicit commerce,
every person convicted of carrying it on, should be punished with
death and confiscation of all his effects. Others, forgetting the distinction
between civil offences and acts of impiety, insisted that
counterband trade should be ranked among the crimes reserved for
the cognizance of the Inquisition; that such as were guilty of it
might be tried and punished, according to the secret and summary
form in which that dreadful tribunal exercises its jurisdiction."
Herrera, vol. iv. p. 298. — "The seventh Inga Yapaugne, as soon
as his father was dead, paid him very great honours, and a greater
number of women and servants was shut up in his tomb, to die
there, and serve him in the other world, than any other had before;
and he had more treasure, more provisions, and more clothes, put in
with them, and more men and women hanged themselves in their
own hair. * * * This custom of burying women and other
persons with the dead was universal among the mountain and Yunga
Indians. When Acoya, Lord of the greatest part of the vale of
Xauxa, died, a boy ran away to the Spaniards, because they would
have shut him up alive in that prince's tomb."
This author says, that the Mexicans and those under their
dominions computed, that every third child of the poorer sort was
taken for sacrifice, and their idols were the better served, as the legs
and arms of the victims were a most acceptable feast to the worshippers.
To the deity of agriculture, when the reeds of the Indian
wheat were small, they sacrificed new-born babes, and others bigger,
as it grew up, till it was eared and ripe, and then they sacrificed
Speaking of the temple of Mexico, he says, vol. ii. p.380. —
"Either to shew the multitude of sacrifices they offered to their
gods, or to keep in their minds the remembrance of death, to which
all men are subject, they had a charnel of the sculls of men, taken
in war and sacrificed, which was without the temple." — After describing
it, he adds: "The number was so great, that Gomora, who
had it from Andrew de Tapia and Gonzalvo de Umbria, two persons
that took the pains to count them, tells us, they amounted to above
one hundred and thirty thousand sculls, beside those that were in
the towers, which they could not count," (when we consider that
the Mexicans had not been in possession, by their own account, of
the country above two centuries, and the temple probably not built
for many years after their first arrival, this is a very great number)
"and the said Gomora condemns this practise, in regard that they
were the heads of men sacrificed, as being the effect of so cruel a
cause as was the killing so many innocent persons; and he is in the
right, for had they been the heads of men that had died a natural
death, it was commendable to expose them to public view, to put
the living in mind of their end."
The Indians seem to have had great intercourse with the devil, as
well became the gloomy cruelty of their worship; and the Spaniards,
impressed with horror at the dreadful waste of human life for
sacrifices and feasts, which always went together, seem in some
degree to have credited the reality of that intercourse. These
following passages from Herrera are curious, and will shew how far
this was the case: —
"The arms over the gates of the palace, borne in Montezuma's
colours and those of his ancestors, were an eagle stooping to a tyger,
with the talons ready to lay hold. Some will have it to be a griffon,
not an eagle; affirming that there are griffons on the mountains of
Taguacan, and that they unpeopled the vale of Anncutlan, devouring
the inhabitants. * * * This is not certain, there being nothing
to prove it but their bare word; for hitherto the Spaniards never saw
any griffon in that country, though the Indians shewed the pictures
of some among their antiquities. They were represented to have
down, and no feathers, and said to be so strong that they could
break the strongest bones of men and deer; their shape between a
lion and an eagle, with four legs, a beak, talons, and wings to fly.
* * * Pliny and other natural philosophers look upon what is
said of the griffon as a fable, though many tales and stories are told
of them. Our people, never having seen any, some conclude and
affirm, that ever since the beginning of idolatry among the Indians in
New Spain, the devil was wont to appear in that shape, as he did in
many others that were no less fierce and frightful."
After describing the great riches in gold and jewels, &c. of a
private chapel, "where Montezuma was wont to pray many nights,
and the devil appeared and spoke to him, giving answers and advice
suitable to his petition and request," he proceeds to give an account
of his various houses, and thus concludes: — "None of these houses
belonging to the King were without chapels or oratories to the devil,
whom they worshipped for the sake of what was there, and accordingly
they were all large, and had many people belonging to
them, which shews how superstitious they were, and how many ways
the devil endeavoured. to be honoured and worshipped."
In an account of the manners of Castilla del Oro, or the country
about the isthmus of America, there is this passage: — "There was
a sort of men among them called masters, in their language, each of
these had a very little cottage without a door, and open at the top.
The master went into it at night, pretended to talk with the devil,
forming several voices, and then told the lord what the devil had
discovered and answered to him. In these provinces, there were
witches that did harm to children, and even to great people at the
instigation of the devil, who gave them ointments made of certain
herbs, with which they daubed themselves. He appeared to them in
the shape of a beautiful male child, to the end that those simple
people might believe him without being frightened. They never saw
his hands, or his feet; he had three claws like a griffon, and he
attended the witches when they went to do any harm. The Adelantado
Pascuas de Andagoya affirmed, he had proof that a witch
was one night in a town, with other women, and that at the same
time she was seen a league and a half from thence, at a farm, where
there were some people belonging to her lord."
In an account of the religion and manners of the Indians in some
part of the new kingdom of Grenada, there is this curious passage: —
"As to the origin of the human race, the barbarians of this country
believe, that a man they called Are, who always lay down, and was
not really a man, but a shadow of a man, carved the faces of men
and women on pieces of wood, and casting them into the water,
they came out alive, and he married them. They went away from
him, began to till the ground, and they never saw that Are again;
and this, they say, happened on the other side of the great river of
the Magdalen. Their prayers and devotions were performed on the
water, and the devil strangely deluded them, and they talked with
him, who persuaded them that it was not good to go to heaven,
besides many more absurdities. They accounted the Sun their father
and the Moon their mother; and when she was eclipsed, they wept,
saying, 'Whither are you going, mother?' &.c. * * * And then
they made noise with their trumpets, pipes, drums and other instruments;
and the devil persuaded them that the heaven with all its
light would be turned upside down."
In mentioning the Indians amongst the mountains of Abibe —
"Most of the Indians about this mountain were subject to a Cazique,
Nutibara, who was carried about on a golden bier, and had heads of
his enemies before his house, for they were wont to eat their bodies;
they worshipped the Sun; the devil appeared, and spoke to them in
several shapes. An Indian woman, who went away with Bovadillo's
men, told them, that when captain Cesar returned to Carthagena,
the prime men of those vales assembled, and having offered extraordinary
sacrifices, the devil appeared to them in the shape of a
tyger, and told them that those men were come from beyond sea,
and would soon return to subdue the country, therefore they should
prepare for their defence; and then he vanished, after which preparations
were made accordingly, and all the gold being taken out
of the graves, was hid."
In another part of the history, he says, — "In this city of Tlascala
was a spring to which they carried new-born children to be bathed,
in the nature of baptism, which they thought delivered them from
misfortunes, and there they offered flowers, perfumes, and sacrificed
men. They were great conjurers, wizards and diviners; used to
cast lots, and believe in dreams and prodigies. They saw strange
apparitions of the devil, in the shape of a lion, tyger, or other
borrowed body, and he would talk to them, and was known by
having no shadow, no small bones in the joints, neither eye-brows
nor eye-lids, his eyes round, without balls or white. * *
* * Their temples were pyramidal, with steps going up to the
top, where was one or two little chapels, and before them large
columns, with fires and perfumes on them day and night. *
* * They were exact in the service of their temples,
and the greatest sacrifice was of men and dogs, so that there were
shambles of dogs sacrificed; but the prime sacrifice of all was that
of the first prisoner taken in war. One who had been a priest, and
was converted, said, that when they tore out the heart of the
wretched person sacrificed, it did beat so strongly, that he took it
up from the ground three or four times, till it cooled by degrees, and
then he threw the body, still moving, down the steps. To know
whether the devil consented to what they asked, they offered him
something like henbane, an herb reckoned of great virtue for distempers,
which they placed on certain vessels on the altar; when
the priests came to see those vessels, and found the print of eagles'
feet on them, they declared the same to the people, and then they
joyfully began the solemnity with trumpets, drums, horns, and
other instruments, the multitude celebrating that token given them
by the devil."
WODROW'S History, page 394. chap. 8. book 3. — "Mr. Robert
Baillie of Jerviswoode, with whose sufferings I shall end this section,
was a gentleman who had testimony of some of the greatest men
of this age, whom I could name, for the best of men and greatest of
statesmen, and so was a very proper object of the fury of this period,
and could scarce escape the rage and malice of the duke of York,
and such as were with him, carrying on the plot against our religion,
reformation, and liberty.
"Indeed, he fell a sacrifice for our holy reformation, and received
the crown of martyrdom on account of his zealous appearances
against popery and arbitrary power. I can never consider this great
man, and several others, in this and succeeding years, of the most
judicious and notable of our martyrs, neglected of design by the
collectors of the cloud of witnesses, but I blame their private and
party spirit.
"Jerviswood's trial was published by the managers, and I may
perhaps make some remarks afterwards upon it. I shall here give
some few hints I meet with in the records with relation to him
when before the council, of which there is nothing in his printed
"Through his long confinement and bad treatment when in prison,
this good man turned very sickly and tender; and it was reckoned
almost certain by all, that, had the managers spared this gentleman a
few weeks longer, they would have been rid of him by a natural
death, and escaped the indelible blot of inhumanity and barbarity to
so excellent a person. He was evidently a dying man when tried
before the Justiciary, and was obliged to appear in his nightgown
before them, and was scarce able to stand when he spake; and yet
he was kept in the pannel for ten hours, and behoved to take cordials
several times; and next day he was carried in a chair in his
nightgown to the scaffold.
"By the council books, I find, August 18., 'the Lady Jerviswood is,
upon her petition, allowed to see her dying husband with the physicians,
but to speak nothing to him but what they hear and are
witnesses to.' I am of opinion, this low state of his health put the
managers at first off the design of processing him criminally; and
to secure his estate, while he is dying a natural death, brought on
by their maltreatment, they raise a process, in order to fine him to
the value of six thousand pounds.
"Thus, August 30. the Council order the Advocate to pursue Jerviswood
for resetting, entertaining and corresponding with rebels,
and, as far as I can find, he was not able to appear before the council
when they passed a decree against him, only he ordered his advocate
to appear for him."
Page 39 — (The interrogatories put to Jerviswood on his examination
by a committee appointed by the council.)
"1. Did you harbour or intercommune with Mr. Samuel Arnot?"
&c. &c. (a long list of names.)
"2. Did you reset Alexander Tweedy, your gardener, after Bothwel-bridge?"
(Refusing to answer to these, he was fined in the sum
of six thousand pounds.)
"September 10. — The council give orders to remove the Lady Garden,
his sister, and the Lady Jerviswood, from his room in prison, they
being informed he is recovered of his indisposition. We shall find
this was but a very slender recovery, and that afterwards he grew
worse, in part no doubt from being deprived of the care of these
excellent ladies; and, November 9, the Lady Garden is allowed to
be close prisoner with Jerviswood, because of his valetudinary
"He continued in prison, still weaker and weaker, till December
18th, when I find the king's advocate is ordered to pursue a process of
treason and forfeiture against Mr. Robert Baillie of Jerviswood,
to-morrow at two of the clock; and Sir George Lockart of Carnwath,
and Sir John Lauder, advocates, are appointed to concur with
the king's advocates in the process. I need not again remark, that
this was to prevent Jerviswood's employing them in defence of his
just rights. However, the time was exceeding short, and therefore,
though it seems to be the more straitning to him, the libel and indictment
were not put in his hands till the 22d. Upon the 23d,
Jerviswood gives a petition to the council, shewing, —
"'That only yesterday he received an indictment of treason, at
eleven of the clock, to appear before the justiciary this day at two
of the clock in the afternoon, which is so short a time, that the
petitioner has got no lawyer consulted, nor time to raise his
letters of exculpation for proving his defences and objections
against the witnesses, as is allowed by the Act of Regulation, and
the ordinary time in such cases is fifteen days; and the petitioner
at present being so sick and weak, that he is not able to come over
his bed, without being lifted, as appears by the testimony of his
physicians; wherefore he humbly supplicates that the council may
prorogate the diet to some competent time, and allow him lawyers,
viz. Sir Patrick Hume, Mr. Walter Pringle, Mr. James Graham, Mr.
William Fletcher, Mr. James Falconer, and Mr. William Baillie.' —
The council refuse to prorogate the diet, 'but grant him the advocates
he seeks, and allow them to plead without hazard; they containing
themselves in their pleadings in terms of law and loyalty, as
they shall answer it at their peril.'
"Jerviswood's advocates pled that he ought not to pass to the
knowledge of an assize, because he had not received a citation of
fifteen days, &c. &c. That his harbouring, entertaining and intercommuning
with the persons named, is res hactenus judicata, and
the pannel already fined in a vast sum on that account. The advocate
then restricted to the pannel's entering into a conspiracy for
raising a rebellion, and for procuring money to be sent to the Earl of
Argyle, and for concealing this. The Earl of Tarras was brought as
a witness against Jerviswood, against whose evidence it was objected,
that, being himself under an indictment for high treason, and under
the fear of death, his testimony ought not to be admitted. The
Lords repelled all objections and called the Earl as a witness. His
deposition," says Wodrow, "and that of commissary Monro,
Philiphaugh, and Gallowshiels, have more than once been printed,
not only in Jerviswood's process, but in Prat's History of the Ryehouse
Plot, and I shall not here enter on the detail of them. They
prove that Jerviswood, being in hazard, as all the nation were, of
oppression, after the unaccountable decision in Blackwood's case,
went up to London, and did speak and talk anent methods to bring
in the King, to exclude a popish successor; and that they discoursed
likewise upon money to be sent to the Earl of Argyle, and Mr.
Martin. In May 1683 came down to Scotland with some proposals
to the Earl of Tarras, Philiphaugh, Gallowshiels, and some
others, to engage them to a rising, when England rose for the security
of the protestant religion; but as to a design against the King's
life, nothing of that was known to any of them. Most part of
them relate to the plot (as it was called) and design then in hand,
and very little militates against Jerviswood in particular. They all
adhere judicially to their depositions made before the Lords of the
secret committee.
"Before the assize closed, the advocate had a most bloody and
severe speech to them, wherein every thing is stretched to the
uttermost against the pannel. I shall not insert it here, since it is
already published. In short, he urges the appointment of a thanksgiving,
for the discovery of a conspiracy through the nations, the
practice of the judges in England, who found proof enough to forfeit
some of all ranks, and insists upon the witnesses being Jerviswood's
relations; and if he be not punished, no man can; the conspiracy
is a cheat, the King's judges murderers, and the witnesses knaves;
and such as have died martyrs. * * * I wish I could give as
good an account of the moving speech Mr. Baillie had to the inquest,
and the home thrusts he gave the advocate; but I can only say, he
appealed o the advocate's conscience, whether he was not satisfied
as to his innocence, and had not owned so much to himself; which
the other acknowledged, but added he acted now by order from the
government; and to the advocate and judges, he, like a dying man,
most pathetically disclaimed any access to or knowledge of any design
against the King or his brother's life; but added, if his life must go
for his essays to prevent a popish succession, he owned them, and
heartily parted with his life as a testimony against a papist's mounting
the throne. * * * Thus this saint of God is hasted away
to his father's house. In two days' time they begin and end his
process, and executed him as if they had been in fear of being prevented
by a natural death. His carriage was most sedate, courageous,
and Christian, after his sentence, and during the hours he had to live:
and at his execution he was in the greatest serenity of soul possible
almost for a person on this side of heaven, though extremely low in
body. He prepared a speech to have delivered on the scaffold, but
was hindered. Under the prospect of this, he left copies with his
friends, and it deserves a room here, as containing a short and distinct
view of his case." (See the last speech of Mr. Robert Baillie
of Jerviswood, who died at the cross of Edinburgh, Dec. 24. 1684,
in Wodrow's Hist. book iii. chap. 8.)
"I have several circumstances of this excellent person's carriage
during the trial and execution too large to be inserted here. When
his sentence was intimated, he said, 'My Lords, the time is short,
the sentence is sharp, but I thank my God, who hath made me as
fit to die as ye are to live.' When sent back to his room in the
prison, after the sentence, he leaned over on the bed, and fell into a
wonderful rapture of joy, from the assurance he had, that in a few
hours he should be inconceivably happy. Being, after a little
silence, asked how he was, he answered, 'never better, and in a few
hours I'll be well beyond all conception; they are going to send me
in pieces and quarters through the country, they may hag and hew
my body as they please, but I know assuredly nothing shall be lost,
but all these, my members, shall be wonderfully gathered, and made
like Christ's glorious body.' When at the scaffold, he was not able
to go up the ladder without support. When on it, he said, 'My
faint zeal for the Protestant religion has brought me to this end;'
and the drums interrupted him."
Wodrow's additions and amendments to vol. i. and ii. — "After
the case of that singular person, Baillie of Jerviswood, was printed
off, I received a narrative of some further circumstances of his trial,
from a worthy friend of mine, who was present, and a mournful
spectator. What passed made so deep an impression, that he is distinct
as to the very words and phrases that were used; and I thought
they deserved a room here.
"Jerviswood, being much indisposed, came to the bar of the
justiciary in his night-gown, attended by his sister, who several times
gave him cordials, he being so ill that he was obliged to sit down on a
stool. He heard all very patiently, only when —— was reading
his long narrative, Jerviswood would now and then look upwards,
and hold up his hands. When the declarations and affidavits that
came from England were read, he appeared to be in some concern,
and said, 'Oh, oh!' staring upon the king's advocate."
"But when the advocate, in his discourse to the assize, insisted
on those declarations, and affidavits, and enlarged more fully upon
them in the speech he caused print in Jerviswood's trial, then
Jerviswood stared at him very broad, and appeared to be very much
"After the advocate had ended his discourse, Jerviswood desired
liberty of the Earl of Linlithgow to speak a few words, not being
able to say much, because of his great weakness; which being
granted, he spoke to this purpose: 'That the sickness now upon
him, in all human appearance, would soon prove mortal, and he
could not live many days; but he found he was intended as a public
sacrifice in his life and estate; that he would say nothing as to the
justice of their Lordships' interlocutor, and was sorry his trial had
given them so much and so long trouble, by staying so long in the
Court, it being then past midnight. And then addressed himself to
the assize, telling them he doubted not but they would act as men of
honour, that there were hard things in the depositions of the witnesses
against him, which was to be their rule, and that nothing he could
say was to prevail with them; yet, for the exoneration of his own
conscience, and that his poor memory and family might not suffer
unjustly, he behoved to say, that the most material witnesses were
correspondents, (viz. convicted of connection with the conspirators,)
and life might he precious to some of them. But there is one thing,'
says he, 'which vexes me extremely, and wherein I am injured to
the utmost degree, and that is, for a plot to cut off the King and His
Royal Highness, and that I sat up nights to form a declaration to
palliate or justify such a villany. I am in probability to appear, in
some hours, before the tribunal of the Great Judge, and in presence
of your lordships and all here, I solemnly declare that never was
I prompted or privy to any such thing, and that I abhor and detest
all thoughts or principles for touching the life of His Sacred Majesty
or his royal brother. I was ever for monarchical government.'
And then looking directly upon the king's advocate, he said, 'My
Lord, I think it very strange that you charge me with such abominable
things; you may remember, that when you came to me in
prison, you told me such were laid to my charge, but you did not
believe them. How then, my Lord, come you to lay such a stain
upon me with so much violence? Are you now convinced in your
conscience that I am more guilty than before? You may remember
what passed betwixt us in prison.' The whole audience fixed their
eyes upon the advocate, who appeared in no small confusion, and
said, 'Jerviswood, I own what you say, my thoughts there was as a
private man; but what I say here is by special direction of the privy
council; and' pointing to Sir William Paterson Clerk, added, 'he
knows my orders.' — 'Well,' said Jerviswood, 'if your lordship
have one conscience for yourself and another for the council, I pray
God forgive you! I do.' And turning to the justice-general, he
said, 'My lord, I trouble your lordships no further.'
Hume's Hist. of England, chap. 69. — "The court was aware that
the malcontents of England, held a correspondence with those of
Scotland: and that Baillie of Jerviswood, a man of merit and learning,
with two gentlemen of the name of Campbell, had come to
London under pretence of negociating the settlement of the Scottish
Presbyterians in Carolina, but really with a view of concerting measures
with the English conspirators. Baillie was sent prisoner to
Edinburgh; but as no evidence appeared against him, the council
required him to swear, that he would answer all questions that
should be propounded to him. He refused to submit to so iniquitous
a condition; and a fine of six thousand pounds was imposed
upon him. At length two persons, Spence and Carstairs, being put
to the torture, gave evidence which involved the Earl of Tarras
and some others, who, in order to save themselves, were induced
to accuse Baillie. He was brought to trial; and being in so
languishing a condition from the treatment which he had met with
in prison, that it was feared he would not survive that night, he was
ordered to be executed the very afternoon on which he received
The husband of Lady Griseld inherited the virtue and firmness of
his father. "In the year 1715, though then in the treasury, which
might have made him silent in giving an opinion against the measures
of the court, he publicly declared himself for mercy to the
poor unhappy sufferers by the rebellion; and amongst many arguments
for it in a long speech he made in parliament, which he began
by saying, he had been bred in the school of affliction, which had
instructed him in both the reasonableness and necessity of showing
mercy to others in like circumstances, concluded by entreating them
to take the advice which the Prophet Elisha gave to the King of
Israel, in the 2d book of Kings, 6th chap. 22d and 23d verses. 'And
he answered, thou shalt not smite them: would'st thou smite those
whom thou hast taken captive with thy sword and with thy bow?
Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink, and
go to their master. And he prepared great provision for them; and
when they had eaten and drank, he sent them away, and they went
to their master. So the bands of Syria came no more into the land
of Israel.'" — Lady M.'s Nar.
Printed by A. and R. Spottiswoode,
Printers-Street, London.


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Metrical Legends of Exalted Characters

Document Information

Document ID 110
Title Metrical Legends of Exalted Characters
Year group 1800-1850
Genre Verse/drama
Year of publication 1821
Wordcount 61156

Author information: Baillie, Joanna

Author ID 209
Forenames Joanna
Surname Baillie
Gender Female
Year of birth 1762
Place of birth Bothwell, Lanarkshire, Scotland
Occupation Author
Father's occupation Clergyman, academic
Education School
Locations where resident Glasgow, Hamilton, London
Religious affiliation Presbyterian