The Lay of the Last Minstrel, by Walter Scott

Canto Sixth

i.

BREATHES there the man, with soul so dead,

Who never to himself hath said,

This is my own, my native land!

Whose heart hath ne’er within him burn’d,

As home his footsteps he hath turn’d,

From wandering on a foreign strand!

If such there breathe, go, mark him well;

For him no Minstrel raptures swell;

High though his titles, proud his name,

Boundless his wealth as wish can claim;10

Despite those titles, power, and pelf,

The wretch, concentred all in self,

Living, shall forfeit fair renown,

And, doubly dying, shall go down

To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,

Unwept, unhonor’d, and unsung.

ii.

O Caledonia! stern and wild,

Meet nurse for a poetic child!

Land of brown heath and shaggy wood,

Land of the mountain and the flood,20

Land of my sires! what mortal hand

Can e’er untie the filial band,

That knits me to thy rugged strand!

Still as I view each well-known scene,

Think what is now, and what hath been,

Seems as, to me, of all bereft,

Sole friends thy woods and streams were left;

And thus I love them better still,

Even in extremity of ill.

By Yarrow’s stream still let me stray,30

Though none should guide my feeble way;

Still feel the breeze down Ettrick break,

Although it chill my wither’d cheek:

Still lay my head by Teviot Stone,

Though there, forgotten and alone,

The Bard may draw his parting groan.

iii.

Not scorn’d like me, to Branksome Hall

The Minstrels came at festive call;

Trooping they came, from near and far

The jovial priests of mirth and war;40

Alike for feast and fight prepar’d,

Battle and banquet both they shar’d.

Of late, before each martial clan,

They blew their death-note in the van,

But now, for every merry mate,

Rose the portcullis’ iron grate;

They sound the pipe, they strike the string,

They dance, they revel, and they sing,

Till the rude turrets shake and ring.

iv.

Me lists not at this tide declare50

The splendor of the spousal rite,

How muster’d in the chapel fair

Both maid and matron, squire and knight;

Me lists not tell of owches rare,

Of mantles green, and braided hair,

And kirtles furr’d with miniver;

What plumage wav’d the altar round,

How spurs and ringing chainlets sound;

And hard it were for bard to speak

The changeful hue of Margaret’s cheek —60

That lovely hue which comes and flies

As awe and shame alternate rise!

v.

Some bards have sung the Ladye high

Chapel or altar came not nigh;

Nor durst the rites of spousal grace,

So much she fear’d each holy place.

False slanders these: I trust right well

She wrought not by forbidden spell;1

For mighty words and signs have power

O’er sprites in planetary hour:70

Yet scarce I praise their venturous part,

Who tamper with such dangerous art.

But this for faithful truth I say,

The Ladye by the altar stood;

Of sable velvet her array,

And on her head a crimson hood

With pearls embroider’d and entwin’d,

Guarded with gold, with ermine lin’d;

A merlin sat upon her wrist2

Held by a leash of silken twist.80

vi.

The spousal rites were ended soon:

’Twas now the merry hour of noon

And in the lofty arched hall

Was spread the gorgeous festival.

Steward and squire, with heedful haste,

Marshall’d the rank of every guest;

Pages, with ready blade, were there,

The mighty meal to carve and share:

O’er capon, heron-shew, and crane,

And princely peacock s gilded train390

And o’er the boar-head, garnish’d brave,4

And cygnet from St. Mary’s wave;5

O’er ptarmigan and venison

The priest had spoke his benison.

Then rose the riot and the din,

Above, beneath, without, within!

For, from the lofty balcony,

Rung trumpet, shalm, and psaltery:

Their clanging bowls old warriors quaff’d

Loudly they spoke, and loudly laugh’d;100

Whisper’d young knights, in tone more mild,

To ladies fair, and ladies smil’d.

The hooded hawks, high perch’d on beam

The clamor join’d with whistling scream

And flapp’d their wings, and shook their bells

In concert with the stag-hounds’ yells

Round go the flasks of ruddy wine,

From Bordeaux, Orleans, or the Rhine;

Their tasks the busy sewers ply,

And all is mirth and revelry.110

vii.

The Goblin Page, omitting still

No opportunity of ill,

Strove now, while blood ran hot and high,

To rouse debate and jealousy;

Till Conrad, Lord of Wolfenstein:

By nature fierce, and warm with wine,

And now in humor highly cross’d

About some steeds his band had lost,

High words to words succeeding still,

Smote with his gauntlet stout Hunthill — 6120

A hot and hardy Rutherford,

Whom men called Dickon Draw-the-sword.

He took it on the page’s say

Hunthill had driven these steeds away.

Then Howard, Home, and Douglas rose

The kindling discord to compose:

Stern Rutherford right little said,

But bit his glove,7 and shook his head.

A fortnight thence, in Inglewood,

Stout Conrad, cold, and drench’d in blood,130

His bosom gor’d with many a wound,

Was by a woodman’s lyme-dog found;

Unknown the manner of his death,

Gone was his brand, both sword and sheath;

But ever from that time, ’twas said,

That Dickon wore a Cologne blade.

viii.

The dwarf, who fear’d his master’s eye

Might his foul treachery espie,

Now sought the castle buttery,

Where many a yeoman, bold and free,140

Revell’d as merrily and well

As those that sat in lordly selle.

Watt Tinlinn, there, did frankly raise

The pledge to Arthur Fire-the-Braes8

And he, as by his breeding bound,

To Howard’s merry-men sent it round.

To quit them, on the English side,

Red Roland Forster loudly cried,

“A deep carouse to yon fair bride!”

At every pledge, from vat and pail,150

Foam’d forth in floods the nut-brown ale

While shout the riders every one;

Such day of mirth ne’er cheer’d their clan,

Since old Buccleuch the name did gain

When in the cleuch the buck was ta’en.9

ix.

The wily page, with vengeful thought

Remember d him of Tinlinn’s yew,

And swore it should be dearly bought

That ever he the arrow drew.

First, he the yeoman did molest160

With bitter gibe and taunting jest;

Told how he fled at Solway strife,

And how Hob Armstrong cheer’d his wife;

Then, shunning still his powerful arm,

At unawares he wrought him harm;

From trencher stole his choicest cheer,

Dash’d from his lips his can of beer;

Then, to his knee sly creeping on,

With bodkin pierced him to the bone:

The venom’d wound, and festering joint,170

Long after rued that bodkin’s point.

The startled yeoman swore and spurn’d,

And board and flagons overturn’d.

Riot and clamor wild began

Back to the hall the Urchin ran;

Took in a darkling nook his post,

And grinn’d, and mutter’d, “Lost! lost! lost!”

x.

By this, the Dame, lest farther fray

Should mar the concord of the day.

Had bid the Minstrels tune their lay.180

And first stept forth old Albert Graeme,

The Minstrel of that ancient name:10

Was none who struck the harp so well

Within the Land Debateable;

Well friended, too his hardy kin,

Whoever lost, were sure to win;

They sought the beeves that made their broth,

In Scotland and in England both.

In homely guise, as nature bade

His simple song the Borderer said.190

xi.
Albert Graeme.

It was an English ladye bright,

(The sun shines fair on Carlisle wall,11

And she would marry a Scottish knight,

For Love will still be lord of all.

Blithely they saw the rising sun

When he shone fair on Carlisle wall;

But they were sad ere day was done,

Though Love was still the lord of all.

Her sire gave brooch and jewel fine,

Where the sun shines fair on Carlisle wall200

Her brother gave but a flask of wine,

For ire that Love was lord of all.

For she had lands, both meadow and lea,

Where the sun shines fair on Carlisle wall;

And he swore her death ere he would see

A Scottish knight the lord of all!

xii.

That wine she had not tasted well,

(The sun shines fair on Carlisle wall,)

When dead in her true love’s arms she fell,

For Love was still the lord of all!210

He pierc’d her brother to the heart,

Where the sun shines fair on Carlisle wall:

So perish all would true love part

That Love may still be lord of all!

And then he took the cross divine

(Where the sun shines fair on Carlisle wall,)

And died for her sake in Palestine

So Love was still the lord of all!

Now all ye lovers that faithful prove,

(The sun shines fair on Carlisle wall,)220

Pray for their souls who died for love,

For Love shall still be lord of all!

xiii.

As ended Albert’s simple lay,

Arose a bard of loftier port;

For sonnet, rhyme, and roundelay,

Renown’d in haughty Henry’s court:

There rung thy harp, unrivall’d long,

Fitztraver of the silver song!

The gentle Surrey lov’ed his lyre —

Who has not heard of Surrey’s fame?12230

His was the hero’s soul of fire,

And his the bard’s immortal name,

And his was love, exalted high

By all the glow of chivalry.

xiv.

They sought, together, climes afar,

And oft, within some olive grove,

When even came with twinkling star,

They sung of Surrey’s absent love

His step the Italian peasant stay’d,

And deem’d that spirits from on high,240

Round where some hermit saint was laid,

Were breathing heavenly melody;

So sweet did harp and voice combine

To praise the name of Geraldine.

xv.

Fitztraver! O what tongue may say

The pangs thy faithful bosom knew,

When Surrey, of the deathless lay

Ungrateful Tudor’s sentence slew?

Regardless of the tyrant’s frown,

His harp call’d wrath and vengeance down.250

He left, for Naworth’s iron towers,

Windsor’s green glades, and courtly bowers

And faithful to his patron’s name,

With Howard still Fitztraver came

Lord William’s foremost favorite he,

And chief of all his minstrelsy.

xvi.
Fitztraver.

’Twas All-soul’s eve, and Surrey’s heart beat high;

He heard the midnight bell with anxious start,

Which told the mystic hour, approaching nigh,

When wise Cornelius promis’d, by his art,260

To show to him the ladye of his heart

Albeit betwixt them roar’d the ocean grim

Yet so the sage had hight to play his part

That he should see her form in life and limb

And mark, if still she lov’d,

And still she thought of him.

xvii.

Dark was the vaulted room of gramarye,

To which the wizard led the gallant Knight,

Save that before a mirror, huge and high,

A hallow’d taper shed a glimmering light270

On mystic implements of magic might;

On cross, and character, and talisman,

And almagest, and altar, nothing bright:

For fitful was the lustre, pale and wan

As watchlight by the bed

Of some departing man.

xviii.

But soon, within that mirror huge and high,

Was seen a self-emitted light to gleam;

And forms upon its breast the Earl ‘gan spy

Cloudy and indistinct, as feverish dream;280

Till, slow arranging, and defin’d, they seem

To form a lordly and a lofty room,

Part lighted by a lamp with silver beam,

Plac’d by a couch of Agra’s silken loom,

And part by moonshine pale,

And part was hid in gloom.

xix.

Fair all the pageant: but how passing fair

The slender form which lay on couch of Ind!

O’er her white bosom stray’d her hazel hair;

Pale her dear cheek, as if for love she pin’d;290

All in her night-robe loose she lay reclin’d,

And pensive read from tablet eburnine

Some strain that seem’d her inmost soul to find:

That favor’d strain was Surrey’s raptur’d line,

That fair and lovely form,

The Lady Geraldine.

xx.

Slow roll’d the clouds upon the lovely form,

And swept the.goodly vision all away —

So royal envy roll’d the murky storm

O’er my beloved Master’s glorious day.300

Thou jealous, ruthless tyrant! Heaven repay

On thee, and on thy children’s latest line,

The wild caprice of thy despotic sway,

The gory bridal bed, the plunder’d shrine,

The murder’d Surrey’s blood,

The tears of Geraldine!

xxi.

Both Scots, and Southern chiefs, prolong

Applauses of Fitztraver’s song;

These hated Henry’s name as death,

And those still held the ancient faith.310

Then from his seat, with lofty air,

Rose Harold, bard of brave St. Clair;

St. Clair, who, feasting high at Home,

Had with that lord to battle come.

Harold was born where restless seas

Howl round the storm-swept Orcades;13

Where erst St. Clairs held princely sway

O’er isle and islet, strait and bay —

Still nods their palace to its fall,

Thy pride and sorrow, fair Kirkwall!14320

Thence oft he mark’d fierce Pentland rave,

As if grim Odin rode her wave:

And watch’d the while, with visage pale,

And throbbing heart, the struggling sail;

For all of wonderful and wild

Had rapture for the lonely child.

xxii.

And much of wild and wonderful

In these rude isles might fancy cull;

For thither came. in times afar,

Stern Lochlin’s sons of roving war.330

The Norsemen, train’d to spoil and blood,

Skill’d to prepare the raven’s food;

Kings of the main their leaders brave,

Their barks the dragons of the wave.15

And there in many a stormy vale,

The Scald had told his wondrous tale;

And many a Runic column high

Had witness’d grim idolatry.

And thus had Harold in his youth

Learn’d many a Saga’s rhyme uncouth —340

Of that Sea-Snake, tremendous curl’d,

Whose monstrous circle girds the world;16

Of those dread Maids,17 whose hideous yell

Maddens the battle’s bloody swell;

Of Chief, who, guided through the gloom

By the pale death-lights of the tomb,

Ransack’d the graves of warriors old,

Their falchions wrench’d from corpses’ hold,18

Wak’d the deaf tomb with war’s alarms,

And bade the dead arise to arms!350

With war and wonder all on flame,

To Roslin’s bowers young Harold came,

Where, by sweet glen and greenwood tree,

He learn’d a milder minstrelsy;

Yet something of the Northern spell

Mix’d with the softer numbers well.

xxiii.
Harold.

O listen, listen, ladies gay!

No haughty feat of arms I tell;

Soft is the note, and sad the lay,

That mourns the lovely Rosabelle.19360

—“Moor, moor the barge, ye gallant crew!

And gentle ladye, deign to stay!

Rest thee in Castle Ravensheuch,20

Nor tempt the stormy firth to-day.

“The blackening wave is edg’d with white:

To inch21 and rock the sea-mews fly;

The fishers have heard the Water-Sprite,

Whose screams forebode that wreck is nigh.

“Last night the gifted Seer did view

A wet shroud swathed round ladye gay;370

Then stay thee, Fair, in Ravensheuch:

Why cross the gloomy firth today?”

“ ’Tis not because Lord Lindesay’s heir

To-night at Roslin leads the ball,

But that my ladye-mother there

Sits lonely in her castle-hall.

“ ’Tis not because the ring they ride,

And Lindesay at the ring rides well,

But that my sire the wine will chide,

If ’tis not fill’d by Rosabelle.”380

O’er Roslin all that dreary night

A wondrous blaze was seen to gleam;

’Twas broader than the watch-fire’s light,

And redder than the bright moonbeam.

It glar’d on Roslin’s castled rock,

It ruddied all the copse wood glen;

’Twas seen from Dryden’s groves of oak

And seen from cavern’d Hawthorn-den.

Seem’d all on fire that chapel proud,

Where Roslin’s chiefs uncoffin’d lie,390

Each Baron, for a sable shroud,

Sheath’d in his iron panoply.

Seem’d all on fire within, around,

Deep sacristy and altar s pale;

Shone every plllar foliage bound,

And glimmer’d all the dead men’s mail.22

Blaz’d battlement and pinnet high,

Blaz’d every rose-carved buttress fair —

So still they blaze when fate is nigh

The lordly line of high St. Clair.400

There are twenty of Roslin’s barons bold

Lie buried within that proud chapelle;

Each one the holy vault doth hold —

But the sea holds lovely Rosabelle!

And each St. Clair was buried there,

With candle, with book, and with knell;

But the sea-caves rung, and the wild winds sung

The dirge of lovely Rosabelle.

xxiv.

So sweet was Harold’s piteous lay,

Scarce mark’d the guests the darken’d hall,410

Though, long before the sinking day,

Awondrous shade involv’d them all:

It was not eddying mist or fog,

Drain’d by the sun from fen or bog;

Of no eclipse had sages told;

And yet, as it came on apace,

Each one could scarce his neighbour’s face,

Could scarce his own stretch’d hand behold.

A secret horror check’d the feast,

And chill’d the soul of every guest;420

Even the high Dame stood half aghast —

She knew some evil on the blast;

The elvish page fell to the ground,

And, shuddering, mutter’d, “Found! found! found!”

xxv.

Then sudden,through the darken’d air,

A flash of lightning came;

So broad, so bright, so red the glare,

The castle seem d on flame.

Glanc d every rafter of the hall,

Glanc’d every shield upon the wall;430

Each trophied beam, each sculptur’d stone,

Were instant seen, and instant gone;

Full through the guests’ bedazzled band

Resistless flash’d the levin-brand,

And fill’d the hall with smoldering smoke,

As on the elvish page it broke.

It broke, with thunder long and loud,

Dismay’d the brave, appall’d the proud —

From sea to sea the larum rung;

On Berwick wall, and at Carlisle withal,440

To arms the startled warders sprung.

When ended was the dreadful roar,

The elvish dwarf was seen no more!

xxvi.

Some heard a voice in Branksome Hall,

Some saw a sight, not seen by all

That dreadful voice was heard by some,

Cry, with loud summons, “GYLBIN, COME!”

And on the spot where burst the brand

Just where the page had flung him down,

Some saw an arm, and some a hand,450

And some the waving of a gown.

The guests in silence pray’d and shook,

And terror dimm’d each lofty look.

But none of all the astonish’d train

Was so dismay’d as Deloraine

His blood did freeze, his brain did burn,

’Twas fear’d his mind would ne’er return;

For he was speechless, ghastly, wan,

Like him of whom the story ran

Who spoke the spectre-hound in Man.23460

At length, by fits, he darkly told.

With broken hint, and shuddering cold,

That he had seen, right certainly.

A shape with amice wrapp’d around,

With a wrought Spanish baldric bound,

Like pilgrim from beyond thesea;

And knew — but how it matter’d not —

It was the wizard, Michael Scott.

xxvii.

The anxious crowd, with horror pale,

All trembling heard the wondrous tale;470

No sound was made, no word was spoke,

Till noble Angus silence broke;

And he a solemn sacred plight

Did to St. Bride of Douglas make,24

That he a pilgrimage would take

To Melrose Abbey, for the sake

Of Michael’s restless sprite.

Then each, to ease his troubled breast,

To some bless’d saint his prayers address’d:

Some to St. Modan made their vows,480

Some to St. Mary of the Lowes,

Some to the Holy Rood of Lisle,

Some to our Ladye of the Isle;

Each did his patron witness make,

That he such pilgrimage would take,

And monks should sing, and bells should toll,

All for the weal of Michael’s soul.

While vows were ta’en, and prayers were pray’d,

’Tis said the noble dame, dismay’d,

Renounc’d, for aye, dark magic’s aid.490

xxviii.

Nought of the bridal will I tell,

Which after in short space befell;

Nor how brave sons and daughters fair

Bless’d Teviot’s Flower, and Cranstoun’s heir:

After such dreadful scene, ’twere vain

To wake the note of mirth again.

More meet it were to mark the day

Of penitence, and prayer divine,

When pilgrim-chiefs, in sad array,

Sought Melrose’ holy shrine.500

xxix.

With naked foot, and sackcloth vest,

And arms enfolded on his breast,

Did every pilgrim go;

The standers-by might hear uneath,

Footstep, or voice, or high-drawn breath,

Through all the lengthen’d row:

No lordly look, nor martial stride;

Gone was their glory, sunk their pride,

Forgotten their renown

Silent and slow, like ghosts they glide510

To the high altar’s hallow’d side,

And there they knelt them down:

Above the suppliant chieftains wave

The banners of departed brave;

Beneath the letter d stones were laid

The ashes of their fathers dead;

From many a garnish’d niche around,

Stern saints and tortur’d martyrs frown’d.

xxx.

And slow up the dim aisle afar,

With sable cowl and scapular,520

And snow-white stoles, in order due,

The holy Fathers, two and two,

In long procession came;

Taper and host, and book they bare,

And holy banner, flourish’d fair

With the Redeemer’s name.

Above the prostrate pilgrim band

The mitred Abbot stretch’d his hand

And bless’d them as they kneel’d

With holy cross he sign’d them all,530

And pray’d they might be sage in hall,

And fortunate in field.

Then mass was sung, and prayers were said,

And solemn requiem for the dead;

And bells toll’d out their mighty peal,

For the departed spirit’s weal;

And ever in the office close

The hymn of intercession rose;

And far the echoing aisles prolong

The awful burthen of the song — 540

DIES IRAE, DIES ILLA,

SOLVET SAECLUM IN FAVILLA —

While the pealing organ rung.

Were it meet with sacred strain

To close my lay, so light and vain,

Thus the holy Fathers sung:

xxxi.
Hymn for the Dead

That day of wrath, that dreadful day,

When heaven and earth shall pass away,

What power shall be the sinner’s stay?

How shall he meet that dreadful day?550

When, shrivelling like a parched scroll,

The flaming heavens together roll;

When louder yet, and yet more dread,

Swells the high trump that wakes the dead:

Oh! on that day, that wrathful day,

When man to judgment wakes from clay,

Be THOU the trembling sinner’s stay,

Though heaven and earth shall pass away!

HUSH’D is tho harp: the Minstrel gone.

And did he wander forth alone?560

Alone, in indigence and age,

To linger out his pilgrimage?

No; close beneath proud Newark’s tower,

Arose the Minstrel’s lowly bower;

A simple hut; but there was seen

The little garden hedged with green,

The cheerful hearth, and lattice clean.

There shelter’d wanderers, by the blaze,

Oft heard the tale of other days

For much he lov’d to ope his door,570

And give the aid he begg’d before.

So pass’d the winter’s day; but still,

When summer smil’d on sweet Bowhill,

And July’s eve, with balmy breath,

Wav’d the blue-bells on Newark heath;

When throstles sung in Harehead-shaw,

And corn was green on Carterhaugh,

And fiourish’d broad Blackandro’s oak,

The aged Harper’s soul awoke!

Then would he sing achievements high,580

And circumstance of chivalry,

Till the rapt traveller would stay,

Forgetful of the closing day;

And noble youths, the strain to hear,

Forsook the hunting of the deer;

And Yarrow, as he roll’d along,

Bore burden to the Minstrel’s song.

1 Popular belief, though contrary to the doctrines of the Church, made a favourable distinction betwixt magicians, and necromancers, or wizards; the former were supposed to command the evil spirits, and the latter to serve, or at least to be in league and compact with, those enemies of mankind. The arts of subjecting the demons were manifold; sometimes the fiends were actually swindled by the magicians, as in the case of the bargain betwixt one of their number and the poet Virgil. The classical reader will doubtless be curious to peruse this anecdote:—

“Virgilius was at scole at Tolenton, where he stodyed dylygently, for he was of great understandynge. Upon a tyme, the scolers had lycense to go to play and sporte them in the fyldes, after the usance of the old tyme. And there was also Virgilius therebye, also walkynge among the hylles alle about. It fortuned he spyed a great hole in the syde of a great hyll, wherein he went so depe, that he culd not see no more lyght; and than he went a lytell farther therein, and than he saw some lyght agayne, and than he went fourth streyghte, and within a lytell wyle after he herd a voyce that called, ‘Virgilius! Virgilius!’ and looked aboute, and he colde nat see no body. Than sayd he, (i.e. the voice,) ‘Virgilius, see ye not the lytyll borde lying bysyde you there marked with that word?’ Than answered Virgilius, ‘I see that borde well anough.’ The voyce said, ‘Doo awaye that borde, and lette me out there atte.’ Than answered Virgilius to the voice that was under the lytell borde, and said, ‘Who art thou that callest me so?’ Than answered the devyll, ‘I am a devyll conjured out of the bodye of a certeyne man, and banysshed here tyll the day of judgmend, without that I be delyvered by the handes of men. Thus, Virgilius, I pray the, delyver me out of this payn, and I shall shewe unto the many bokes of negromancye, and how thou shalt come by it lyghtly, and know the practice therein, that no man in the scyence of negromancye shall passe the. And moreove, I shall shewe and enforme the so, that thou shalt have alle thy desyre, whereby methinke it is a great gyfte for so lytyll a doyng. For ye may also thus all your power frendys helpe, and make ryche your enemyes.’ Thorough that great promyse, was Virgilius tempted; he badde the fynd show the bokes to hym, that he might have and occupy them at his wyll; and so the fynde shewed him. And than Virgilius pulled open a borde, and there was a lytell hole, and thereat wrang the devyll out like a yell, and cam and stode before Virgilius lyke a bygge man; whereof Virgilius was astonied and marveyled greatly thereof, that so great a man myght come out at so lytll a hole. Than sayd Virgilius, ‘Shulde ye well passe into the hole that ye cam out of?’—‘Yea, I shall well,’ said the devyl. —‘I holde the best plegge that I have, that ye shall not do it.’—‘Well,’ sayd the devyll, ‘thereto I consent.’ And than the devyll wrange himselfe into the lytell hole ageyne; and as he was therein, Virgilius kyvered the hole ageyne with the bode close, and so was the devyll begyled, and myght nat there come out agen, but abydeth shytte styll therein. Than called the devyll dredefully to Virgilius, and said, ‘What have ye done, Virgilius’— Virgilius answered, ‘Abyde there styll to your day appointed;’ and fro thens forth abydeth he there. And so Virgilius became very connynge in the practyse of the black scyence.”

This story may remind the reader of the Arabian tale of the Fisherman and the imprisoned Genie; and it is more than probable, that many of the marvels narrated in the life of Virgil, are of Oriental extraction. Among such I am disposed to reckon the following whimsical account of the foundation of Naples, containing a curious theory concerning the origin of the earthquakes with which it is afflicted. Virgil, who was a person of gallantry, had, it seems, carried off the daughter of a certain Soldan, and was anxious to secure his prize.

“Than he thought in his mynde how he myghte marye hyr, and though in his mynde to founde in the middes of the see a fayer towne, with great landes belongynge to it; and so he did by his cunnynge, and called it Napells. And the fandacyon of it was of egges, and in that town of Napells he made a tower with iiii corners, and in the toppe he set an apell upon an yron yarde, and no man culde pull away that apell without he brake it; and thoroughe that yren set he a bolte, and in that bolte set he a egge. And he henge the apell by the stauk upon a cheyne, and so hangeth it still. And when the egge styrreth, so shulde the towne of Napells quake; and whan the egge brake, than shulde the towne sinke. Whan he had made an ende, he lette call it Napells.” This seems to have been an article of current belief during the middle ages, as appears from the statutes of the order Du Saint Esprit au droit desir, instituted in 1352. A chapter of the knights is appointed to be held annually at the Castle of the Enchanted Egg, near the grotto of Virgil. — MONTFAUCON, vol. ii. p. 329.

2 A merlin, or sparrow-hawk, was actually carried by ladies of rank, as a falcon was, in time of peace, the constant attendant of a knight or baron. See LATHAM on Falconry. — Godscroft relates, that when Mary of Lorraine was regent, she pressed the Earl of Angus to admit a royal garrison into his Castle of Tantallon. To this he returned no direct answer; but, as if apostrophizing a goss-hawk, which sat on his wrist, and which he was feeding during the Queen’s speech, he exclaimed, “The devil’s in this greedy glede, she will never be full."— Hume’s History of the House of Douglas, 1743, vol. ii. p. 131. Barclay complains of the common and indecent practice of bringing hawks and hounds into churches.

3 The peacock, it is well known, was considered, during the times of chivalry, not merely as an exquisite delicacy, but as a dish of peculiar solemnity. After being roasted, it was again decorated with its plumage, and a sponge, dipped in lighted spirits of wine, was placed in its bill. When it was introduced on days of grand festival, it was the signal for the adventurous knights to take upon them vows to do some deed of chivalry, “before the peacock and the ladies.”

4 The boar’s head was also a usual dish of feudal splendour. In Scotland it was sometimes surrounded with little banners, displaying the colours and achievements of the baron at whose board it was served. — PINKERTON’S History, vol. i. p. 432.

5 There are often flights of wild swans upon St. Mary’s Lake, at the head of the river Yarrow.

6 The Rutherfords of Hunthill were an ancient race of Border Lairds, whose names occur in history, sometimes as defending the frontier against the English, sometimes as disturbing the peace of their own country. Dickon Draw-the-sword was son to the ancient warrior, called in tradition the Cock of Hunthill, remarkable for leading into battle nine sons, gallant warriors, all sons of the aged champion. Mr. Rutherford, late of New York, in a letter to the editor, soon after these songs were first published, quoted, when upwards of eighty years old, a ballad apparently the same with which the Raid of the Reidsquare, but which apparently is lost, except the following lines:—

“Bauld Rutherfurd he was fu’ stout,

With all his nine sons him about,

He brought the lads of Jedbrught out,

And bauldly fought that day.”

7 To bite the thumb, or the glove, seems not to have been considered, upon the Border, as a gesture of contempt, though so used by Shakspeare, but as a pledge of mortal revenge. It is yet remembered, that a young gentleman of Teviotdale, on the morning after a hard drinking-bout, observed that he had bitten his glove. He instantly demanded of his companion, with whom he had quarrelled? and learning that he had had words with one of the party, insisted on instant satisfaction, asserting, that though he remembered nothing of the dispute, yet he was sure he never would have bit his glove unless he had received some unpardonable insult. He fell in the duel, which was fought near Selkirk in 1721.

8 The person bearing this redoubtable nom de guerre was an Elliot, and resided at Thorleshope, in Liddesdale. He occurs in the list of Border riders, in 1597.

9 A tradition preserved by Scott of Satchells, who published, in 1688, A true Hisotry of the Right Honourable name of Scott, gives the following romantic origin of that name. Two brethren, natives of Galloway, having been banished from that country for a riot, or insurrection, came to Rankleburn, in Ettrick Forest, where the keeper, whose name was Brydone, received them joyfully, on account of their skill in winding the horn, and in the other mysteries of the chase. Kenneth MacAlpin, then King of Scotland, came soon after to hunt in the royal forest, and pursued a buck from Ettrick-heuch to the glen now called Buckcleugh, about two miles above the junction of Rankleburn with the river Ettrick. Here the stag stood at bay; and the King and his attendants, who followed on horseback, were thrown out by the steepness of the hill and the morass. John, one of the brethren from Galloway, had followed the chase on foot; and now coming in, seized the buck by the horns, and, being a man of great strength and activity, threw him on his back, and ran with his burden about a mile up the steep hill, to a place called the Craca-Cross, where Kenneth had halted, and laid the buck at the sovereign’s feet.*

“The deer being curee’d in that place,

At his Majesty’s demand,

Then John of Galloway ran apace,

And fetched water to his hand.

The King did wash into a dish,

And Galloway John he wot;

He said, ‘Thy name now after this

Shall ever be called John Scott.

“‘The forest and the dear therein,

We commit to thy hand;

For thou shalt sure the ranger be,

If thou obey command;

And for the buck thou stoutly brought

To us up that steep heuch,

Thy designation ever shall

Be John Scott in Buckscleuch.’

* * * * * * * *

“In Scotland no Buckleuch was then,

Before the buck in the cleuch was slain;

Night’s men* at first they did appear,

Because moon and stars to their arms they bear,

Their crest, supporters, and hunting-horn,

Show their beginning from hunting came;

Their name, and style, the book doth say,

John gained them both into one day.”

Watt’s Bellenden.

The Buccleuch arms have been altered, and now allude less pointedly to this hunting, reall or fabulous. The family now bear Or, upon a bend azure, a mullet betwixt two crescents of the field; in addition to which, they formerly bore in the field a hunting-horn. The supporters, now two ladies, were formerly a hound and a buck, or, according to the old terms, a hart of leash and a hart of greece. The family of Scott of Howpasley and Thirlestaine long retained the bugle-horn; they also carried a bent bow and arrow in the sinister cantle, perhaps as a difference. It is said the motto was — Best riding by moonlight, in allusion to the crescents on the shield, and perhaps to the habits of those who bore it. The motto now given is Amo, applying to the female supporters.

* Froissart relates, that a knight of the household of the Comte de Foix exhibited a similar feat of strength. The hall-fire had waxed low, and wood was wanted to mend it. The knight went down to the court=yard, where stood an ass laden with fagots, seized on the animal and burden, and, carrying him up to the hall on his shoulders, tumbled him into the chimney with his heels uppermost: a human pleasantry, much applauded by the Count and all the spectators.

* “Minions of the moon,” as Falstaff would have said. The vocation pursued by our ancient Borderers may be justified on the authority of the most polished of the ancient nations:—“For the Grecians in old time, and such barbarians as in the continent lived neere unto the sea, or else inhabited the islands, after once they began to crosse over one to another in ships, became theeves, and went abroad under the conduct of their more puissant men, both to enrich themselves, and to fetch in maintenance for the weak; and falling upon towns unfortified, or scatteringly inhabited, rifled them, and made this the best means of thear living; being a matter at that time where no in disgrace, but rather carrying with it something of glory. This is manifest by some that dwell upon the continent, amonst whom, so be it performed nobly, it is still esteemed as an ornamet. The same is also proved by some of the ancient poets, who introduced men questioning of such a sail by, on all coasts alike, whether they be theeves or not; as a thyng neyther scorned by such as were asked, nor upbraided by those that were desirous to know. They also robbed one another, within the main land; and much of Greece useth that old custome, as the Locrians, and Acarnanians, and those of the continent in that quarter, unto this day. Moreover, the fashion of wearing iron remaineth yet with the people of that continent, from their old trade of theeving."— Hobbes’ Thucydides, p. 4.

10 John Grahame, second son of Malice, Earl of Monteith, commonly sirnamed John with the Bright Sword, upon some displeasure risen against him at court, retired with many of his clan and kindred into the English Borders, in the reign of King Henry the Fourth, where they seated themselves; and many of their posterity have continued there ever since. Mr. Sanford, speaking of them, says, (which indeed was applicable to most of the Borderers on both sides,) ‘They were all stark moss-troopers, and arrant thieves: Both to England and Scotland outlawed; yet sometimes connived at, because they gave intelligence forth of Scotland, and would raise 400 horse at any time upon a raid of the English into Scotland. A saying is recorded of a monther to her son, (which is now become proverbial,) Ride, Rowley, hough’s i’ the pot: that is, the last piece of beef was in the pot, and therefore it was high time for him to go and fetch more.’"— Introduction to the History of Cumberland.

The residence of the Græmes being chiefly in the Debateable Land, so called because it was claimed by both kingdoms, their depredations extended both to England and Scotland, with impunity; for as both wardens accounted them the proper subjects of their own prince, neither inclined to demand reparation for their excesses from the opposite officers, which would have been an acknowledgment of his jurisdiction over them. — See a long correspondence on this subject betwixt Lord Dacre and the English Privy Council, in Introduction to History of Cumberland. The Debateable land was finally divided betwixt England and Scotland, by commissioners appointed by both nations.

11 This burden is adopted, with some alteration, from an old Scottish song, beginning thus:—

“She lean’d her back against a thorn,

The sun shines fair on Carlisle wa’:

And there she has her young babe born,

And the lyon shall be lord of a’.”

12 The gallant and unfortunate Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, was unquestionably the most accomplished cavalier of his time; and his sonnets display beauties which would do honour to a more polished age. He was beheaded on Tower-hill in 1546; a victim to the mean jealousy of Henry VIII., who could not bear so brilliant a character near his throne.

The song of the supposed bard is founded on an incident said to have happened to the Earl in his travels. Cornelius Agrippi, the celebrated alchemist, showed him, in a looking-glass, the lovely Geraldine, to whose service he had devoted his pen and his sword. The vision represented her as indisposed, and reclining upon a couch, reading her lover’s verses by the light of a waxen taper.

13 The St. Clairs are of Norman extraction, being descended from William de St. Clair, second son of Walderne Compte de St. Clair, and Margaret, daughter to Richard Duke of Normandy. He was called, for his fair deportment, the Seemly St. Clair; and settling in Scotland during the reign of Malcom Caenmore, obtained large grants of land in Mid-Lothian. — These domains were increased by the liberality of succeeding monarchs to the descendants of the family, and comprehended the baronies of Rosline, Pentland, Cowsland, Cardaine, and several others. It is said a large addition was obtained from Robert Bruce, on the following occasion: The King, in following the chase upon Pentland-hills, had often started a “white faunch deer,” which had always escaped from his hounds; and he asked the nobles, who were assembled around him, whether any of them had dogs, which they thought might be more successful. No courtier would affirm that his hounds were fleeter than those of the king, until Sir William St. Clair of Rosline unceremoniously said, he would wager his head that his favourite dogs, Help and Hold, would kill the deer before she could cross the March-burn. The King instantly caught at his unwary offer, and betted the forest of Pentland-hill against the life of Sir William St. Clair. All the hounds were tied up, except a few ratches, or slow-hounds, to put up the deer; while Sir William St. Clair, posting himself in the best situation for slipping his dogs, prayed devoutly to Christ, the blessed Virgin, and St. Katherine. The deer was seen shortly after roused, and the hounds slipped; Sir Willliam following on a gallant steed, to cheer his dogs. The hind, however, reached the middle of the brook, upon which the hunter threw himself from his horse in despair. At this critical moment, however, Hold stopped her in the brook; and Help, coming up, turned her back, and killed her on Sir William’s side. The King descended from the hill, embraced Sir William, and bestowed on him the lands of Kirkton, Logan-house, Earncraig, &c. in free forestrie. Sir William, in acknowledgement of St. Katherine’s intercession, built the chapel of St. Katherine in the Hopes, the churchyard of which is still to be seen. The hill, from which Robert Bruce beheld this memorable chase, is still called the King’s Hill; and the place where Sir William hunted, is called the Knight’s Field.*MS. History of the Family of St. Clair, by RICHARD AUGUSTIN HAY, Canon of St. Genevieve.

This adventurous huntsman married Elizabeth, daughter of Malice Spar, Earl of Orkney and Stratherne, in whose right their son Henry was, in 1379, created Earl of Orkney, by Haco, king of Norway. His title was recognised by the Kings of Scotland, and remained with his successors until it was annexed to the crown, in 1471, by act of Parliament. In exchange for this earldom, the castle and domains of Ravenscraig, or Ravensheuch, were conferred on William Saintclair, Earl of Caithness.

* The tomb of Sir William St. Clair, on which he appears sculputred in armour, with a greyhound at his feet, is still to be seen in Roslin chapel. The person who shows it always tells the story of his hunting-match, with some addition to Mr. Hay’s account; as that the Knight of Rosline’s fright made him poetical, and that in the last emergency, he shouted,

“Help, Haud, an ye may,

Or Roslin will lose his head this day.”

If this couplet does him no great honour as a poet, the conclusion of the story does him still less credit. He set his foot on the dog, says the narrator, and killed him on the spot, saying, he would never again put his neck in such a risk. As Mr. Hay does not mention this circumstance, I hope it is only founded on the couchant posture of the hound on the monument.

14 The Castle of Kirkwall was built by the St. Clairs, while Earls of Orkney. It was dismantled by the Earl of Caithness about 1615, having been garrisoned against the government by Robert Stewart, natural son to the Earl of Orkney.

“I had occasion to entertain myself at Kirkwall with the melancholie prospect of the ruins of an old castle, the seat of the old Earls of Orkney, my ancestors; and of a more melancholy reflection, of so great and noble an estate as the Orkney and Shetland Isles being taken from one of them by James the Third, for faultrie, after his brother, Alexander, Duke of Albany, had married a daughter of my family, and for protecting and defending the said Alexander against the King, who wished to kill him, as he had done his youngest brother, the Earl of Mar; and for which, after the forfaultrie, he grate fully divorced my forfaulted ancestor’s sister; though I cannot persuade myself that he had any misalliance to plead against a familie in whose veins the blood of Robert Bruce ran as fresh as his own; for their title to the crowne was by a daughter of David Bruce, son to Robert; and our alliance was by marrying a grandchild of the same Robert Bruce, and daughter to the sister of the same David, out of the familie of Douglass, which at that time did not much sullie the blood, more than my ancestor’s having not long before had the honour of marrying a daughter of the King of Denmark’s who was named Florentine, and has left in the town of Kirkwall a noble monument of the grandeur of the times, the finest church ever I saw entire in Scotland. I then had no small reason to think, in that unhappy state, on the many not inconsiderable services rendered since to the royal familie, for these many years bygone, on all occasions, when they stood most in need of friends, which they have thought themselves very often obliged to acknowledge by letters yet extant, and in a style more like friends than like souveraigns; our attachment to them, without any other thanks, having brought upon us considerable losses, and among others, that of our all in Cromwell’s time; and left in that condition without the least relief except what we found in our own virtue. My father was the only man of the Scots nation who had courage enough to protest in Parliament against King William’s title to the throne, which was lost, God knows how: and this at a time when the losses in the cause of the royall familie, and their usual gratitude, had scarce left him bread to maintain a numerous familie of eleven children, who had soon after sprung upon him, in spite of all which, he had honourable persisted in his principle.. I say, these things considered, and after being treated as I was, and in that unluckie state, when objects appear to men in their true light, as at the hour of death, could I be blamed for making some bitter reflections to myself, and laughing at the extravagance and unaccountable humour of men, and the singularitie of my own case, (an exile for the cause of the Stuart family,) when I ought to have known, that the greatest crime I, or my family, could have committed, was persevering, to my own destruction, in serving the royal family faithfully, though obstinately, after so great a share of depression, and after they had been pleased to doom me and my familie to starve."— MS Memoirs of John, Master of St. Clair.

15 The chiefs of the Vakingr, or Scandinavian pirates, assumed the title of Sækonungr, or Sea-kings. Ships, in the inflated language of the Scalds, are often termed the serpents of the ocean.

16 The jormungandr, or Snake of the Ocean, whose folds surround the earth, is one of the wildest fictions of the Edda. It was very nearly caught by the god Thor, who went to fish for it with a hook baited with a bull’s head. In the battle betwixt the evil demons and the divinities of Odin, which is to precede the Ragnarockr, or Twilight of the Gods, this Snake is to act a conspicuous part.

17 These were the Valcyriur, or Selectors of the Slain, despatched by Odin from Valhalla, to choose those who were to die, and to distribute the contest. They are well known to the English reader, as Gray’s Fatal Sisters.

18 The northern warriors were usually entombed with their arms, and their other treasures. Thus Angantyr, before commencing the duel in which he was slain, stipulated, that if he fell, his sword Tyrfing should be buried with him. His daughter, Hervor, afterwards took it from his tomb. The dialogue which passed betwixt her and Angantyr’s spirit on this occasion has been often translated. The whole history may be found in the Hervarar-Saga. Indeed, the ghosts of the northern warriors were not wont tamely to suffer their tombs to be plundered and hence the mortal heroes had an additional temptation to attempt such adventures; for they held nothing more worthy of their valour than to encounter supernatural beings. — BARTHOLINUS De causis contemptæ a Danis mortis, lib. i. cap. 2, 9, 10, 13.

19 This was a family name in the house of St. Clair. Henry St. Clair, the second of the line, married Rosabelle, fouth daughter of the Earl of Stratherne.

20 A large and strong castle, now ruinous, situated betwixt Kirkaldy and Dysart, on a steep crag, washed by the Frith of Forth. It was conferred on Sir William St. Clair, as a slight compensation for the earldom of Orkney, by a charter of King James IIIl., dated in 1471, and is now the property of Sir James St. Clair Erskine, (now Earl of Rosslyn,) representative of the family. It was long a principal residence of the Barons of Roslin.

21 Inch, Isle.

22 The beautiful chapel of Roslin is still in tolerable preservation. It was founded in 1446, by William St. Clair, Prince of Orkney, Ducke of Oldenburgh, Earl of Caithness and Stratherne, Lord St. Clair, Lord Niddesdale, Lord Admiral of the Scottish Seas, Lord Chief Justice of Scotland, Lord Warden of the three Marches, Baron of Roslin, Pentland, Pentland-moor, &c., Knight of the Cockle, and of the Garter, (as is affirmed,) High Chancellor, Chamberlain, and Lieutenant of Scotland. This lofty person, whose titles, says Godscroft, might weary a Spaniard, built the castle of Roslin, where he resided in princely splendour, and founded the chapel, which is in the most rich and florid style of Gothic architecture. Among the profuse carving on the pillars and buttress the rose is frequently introduced, in allusion to the name, with which, however, the flower has no connexion; the etymology being Rosslinhe, the promontory of the linn, or water-fall. The chapel is said to appear on fire previous to the deat of any of his descendants. This superstition, noticed by Slezer in his Theatrum Scottiæ, and alluded to in the text, is probably of Norwegian derivation, and may have been imported by the Earls of Orkney into their Lothian dominions. The tomb-fires of the north are mentioned in most of the Sagas.

The Barons of Roslin were buried in a vault beneath the chapel floor. The manner of their interment is thus described by Father Hay, in the MS. history already quoted.

“Sir William Sinclair, the father, was a leud man. He kept a miller’s daughter, with whom it was alleged, he went to Ireland; yet I think the cause of his retreat was rather occasioned by the Presbyterians, who vexed him sadly, because of his religion being Roman Catholic. His son, Sir William, died during the troubles, and was interred in the chapel of Roslin the very same day that the battle of Dunbar was fought. When my good-father was buried, his (i.e. Sir William’s ) corpse seemed to be entire at the opening of the cave; but when they came to touch his body, it fell into dust. He was laying in his armour, with a red velvet cap on his head, on a flat stone; nothing was spoiled except a piece of the white furring that went round the cap, and answered to the hinder part of the head. All his predecessors were buried after the same manner, in their armour: late Rosline, by good-father, was the first that was buried in a coffin, against the sentiments of King James the Seventh, who was then in Scotland, and several other persons well versed in antiquity, to whom my mother would not hearken, thinking it beggarly to be buried after that manner. The great expenses she was at in burying her husband, occasioned the suptuary acts which were made in the following parliament.”

23 The ancient castle of Peel-town in the Isle of Man, is surrounded by four churches, now ruinous. Throiugh one of these chapels there was formerly a passage from the guard-room of the garrison. This was closed, it is said, upon the following occasion:

“They say, that an apparition, called in the Mankish language, the Mauthe Doog, in the shape of a large black spaniel, with curled shaggy hair, was used to haunt Peel-castle; and has been frequently seen in every room, but particularly in the guard-chambers, where, as soon as candles were lighted, it came and lay down before the fire, in presence of all the soldiers, who at length, by being so much accustomed to the signt of it, lost great part of the terror they were seized with at its first appearance. They still, however, retained a certain awe, as believing it was an evil spirit, which only waited permission to do them hurt; and, for that reason, forbore swearing, and all profane discourse; while in its company. But though they endured the shock of such a guest when altogether in a body, none cared to be left alone with it. It being the custom, therefore, for one of the soldiers to lock the gates of the castle at a certain hour, and carry the keys to the captain, to whose apartment, as I said before, the way led through the church, they agreed among themselves, that whoever was to succeed the ensuing night his fellow in this errand, should accompany him that went first, and by this means no man would be exposed singly to the danger; for I forgot to mention, that the Maughe Doog was always seen to come out from that passage at the close of the day, and return to it again as soon as the morning dawned; which made them look on this place as its particular residence.

“One night a fellow being drunk, and by the strength of his liquor rendered more daring than ordinarily, laughed at the simplicity of his companions; and, though it was not his turn to go with the keys, would needs take that office upon him, to testify his courage. All the soldiers endeavoured to dissuade him; but hte more they said, the more resolute he seemed, and swore that he desired nothing more than that the Mauthe Doog would followw him, as it had done the others: for he would try if it were dog or devil. After having talked in a very reprobate manner for some time, he snatched up the keys, and went out of the guard-room. In some time after his departure, a great noise was heard, but nobody had the boldness to see what occasioned it, till the adventurer returning, they demanded the knowledge of him; but as loud and noisy as he had been at leaving them, he was now become sober and silent enough; for he was never heard to speak more; and though all the time he lived, which was three days, he could not do that, to make some signs, by which they might understand what had happened to him, yet nothing intelligible could be got from him, only that, by the distortion of his limbs and features it might be guessed that he died in agonies more than is common in a natural death.

“The Maughe Doog was, however, never after seen in the castle, nor would any one attempt to go through that passage: for which reason it was closed up, and another way made. This accident happened about three score years since; and I heard it attested by several, but especially by an old soldier, who assured me he had seen it oftener than he had then hairs upon his head."— WALDRON’S Description of the Isle of Man, p. 107.

24 This was the favourite saint of the house of Douglas, and of the Earl of Angus in particular; as we learn from the following passage: “The Queen-regent had proposed to raise a rival noble to the ducal dignity; and discoursing of her purpose with Angus, he answered, ‘Why not, madam? we are happy that have such a princess, that can know and will acknowledge men’s services, and is willing to recompense it: but, by the might of God,’ (this was his oath when he was serious and in anger; at other times, it was by St. Bryde of Douglas,) ‘if he be a Duke, I will be a Drake!’— So she desisted from prosecuting of that purpose."— GODSCROFT, vol. ii. p. 131.

This web edition published by:

eBooks@Adelaide
The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/s/scott/walter/lay_of_the_last_minstrel/canto6.html

Last updated Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 22:29