The Lay of the Last Minstrel, by Walter Scott

Canto Third


AND said I that my limbs were old,

And said I that my blood was cold,

And that my kindly fire was fled,

And my poor wither’d heart was dead,

And that I might not sing of love —

How could I to the dearest theme,

That ever warm’d a minstrel’s dream

So foul, so false a recreant prove!

How could I name love’s very name,

Nor wake my heart to notes of flame!10


In peace, Love tunes the shepherd’s reed;

In war, he mounts the warrior’s steed;

In halls, in gay attire is seen;

In hamlets, dances on the green.

Love rules the court, the camp, the grove,

And men below, and saints above;

For love is heaven, and heaven is love.


So thought Lord Cranstoun, as I ween,

While, pondering deep the tender scene,

He rode through Branksome’s hawthorn green.20

But the Page shouted wild and shrill,

And scarce his helmet could he don,

When downward from the shady hill

A stately knight came pricking on.

That warrior’s steed, so dapple-gray,

Was dark with sveat, and splashed with clay;

His armor red with many a stain

He seem’d in such a weary plight,

As if he had ridden the live-long night;

For it was William of Deloraine.30


But no whit weary did he seem,

When, dancing in the sunny beam,

He mark’d the crane on the Baron’s crest;1

For his ready spear was in his rest.

Few were the words, and stern and high,

That mark’d the foemen’s feudal hate;

For question fierce, and proud reply,

Gave signal soon of dire debate.

Their very coursers seem’d to know

That each was other’s mortal foe,40

And snorted fire, when wheel’d around

To give each foe his vantage-ground.


In rapid round the Baron bent;

He sigh’d a sigh, and pray’d a prayer:

The prayer was to his patron saint,

The sigh was to his ladye fair.

Stout Deloraine nor sigh’d nor pray’d,

Nor saint, nor ladye, call’d to aid;

But he stoop’d his head, and couch’d his spear,

And spurred his steed to full career.50

The meeting of these champions proud

Seem’d like the bursting thunder-cloud.


Stern was the dint the Borderer lent!

The stately Baron backwards bent;

Bent backwards to his horse’s tail

And his plumes went scattering on the gale;

The tough ash spear, so stout and true,

Into a thousand flinders flew.

But Cranstoun’s lance, of more avail

Pierc’d through, like silk, the Borderer’s mail;60

Through shield, and jack, and acton, past,

Deep in his bosom broke at last. —

Still sate the warrior saddle-fast

Till, stumbling in the mortal shock,

Down went the steed, the girthing broke,

Hurl’d on a heap lay man and horse.

The Baron onward pass’d his course;

Nor knew — so giddy rolled his brain —

His foe lay stretch’d upon the plain.


But when he rein’d his courser round,70

And saw his foeman on the ground

Lie senseless as the bloody clay,

He badehis page to stanch the wound,

And there beside the warrior stay,

And tend him in his doubtful state,

And lead him to Brauksome castle gate:

His noble mind was inly moved

For the kinsman of the maid he loved.

“This shalt thou do without delay:

No longer here myself may stay;80

Unless the swifter I speed away

Short shrift will be at my dying day.”


Away in speed Lord Cranstoun rode;

The Goblin-Page behind abode;

His lord’s command he ne’er withstood,

Though small his pleasure to do good.

As the corslet off he took,

The Dwarf espied the Mighty Book!

Much he marvell’d a knight of pride,

Like a book-bosom’d priest should ride:290

He thought not to search or stanch the wound

Until the secret he had found.


The iron band, the iron clasp,

Resisted long the elfin grasp:

For when the first he had undone

It closed as he the next begun.

Those iron chlsps, that iron band,

Would not yield to unchristen’d hand

Till he smear’d the cover o’er

With the Borderer’s curdled gore;100

A moment then the volume spread,

And one short spell therein he read:

It had much of glamour3 might;

Could make a ladye seem a knight;

The cobwebs on a dungeon wall

Seem tapestry in lordly hall;

A nut-shell seem a gilded barge,

A sheeling4 seem a palace large,

And youth seem age, and age seem youth:

All was delusion, nought was truth.5110


He had not read another spell,

When on his cheek a buffet fell,

So fierce, it stretch’d him on the plain

Beside the wounded Deloraine.

From the ground he rose dismay’d,

And shook his huge and matted head;

One word he mutter’d, and no more,

“Man of age, thou smitest sore!”

No more the Elfin Page durst try

Into the wondrous Book to pry;120

The clasps, though smear’d with Christian gore,

Shut faster than they were before.

He hid it underneath his cloak.

Now, if you ask who gave the stroke,

I cannot tell, so mot I thrive;

It was not given by man alive.6


Unwillingly himself he address’d,

To do his master’s high behest:

He lifted up the living corse,

And laid it on the weary horse;130

He led him into Branksome hall,

Before the beards of the warders all;

And each did after swear and say

There only pass’d a wain of hay.

He took him to Lord David’s tower,

Even to the Ladye’s secret bower;

And, but that stronger spells were spread,

And the door might not be opened,

He had laid him on her very bed.

Whate’er he did of gramarye,7140

Was always done maliciously;

He flung the warrior on the ground,

And the blood well’d freshly from the wound.


As he repass’d the outer court,

He spied the fair young child at sport:

He thought to train him to thewood;

For, at a word be it understood,

He was always for ill, and never for good.

Seem’d to the boy, some comrade gay

Led him forth to the woods to play;150

On the drawbridge the warders stout

Saw a terrier and lurcher passing out.


He led the boy o’er bank and fell,

Until they came to a woodland brook

The running stream dissolv’d the spell,8

And his own elvish shape he took.

Could he have had his pleasure vilde

He had crippled the joints of the noble child;

Or, with his fingers long and lean,

Had strangled him in fiendish spleen:160

But his awful mother he had in dread,

And also his power was limited;

So he but scowl’d on the startled child,

And darted through the forest wild;

The woodland brook he bounding cross’d,

And laugh’d, and shouted, “Lost! lost! lost!”


Full sore amaz’d at the wondrous change,

And frighten’d, as a child might be,

At the wild yell and visage strange,

And the dark words of gramarye,170

The child, amidst the forest bower,

Stood rooted like a lily flower;

And when at length, with trembling pace,

He sought to find where Branksome lay,

He fear’d to see that grisly face

Glare from some thicket on his way.

Thus, starting oft, he journey’d on,

And deeper in the wood is gone —

For aye the more he sought his way,

The farther still he went astray — 180

Until he heard the mountains round

Ring to the baying of a hound.


And hark! and hark! the deep-mouth’d bark

Comes nigher still, and nigher:

Bursts on the path a dark blood-hound;

His tawny muzzle track’d the ground,

And his red eye shot fire.

Soon as the wilder’d child saw he,

He flew at him right furiouslie.

I ween you would have seen with joy190

The bearing of the gallant boy,

When, worthy of his noble sire,

His wet cheek glow’d ‘twixt fear and ire!

He faced the blood-hound manfully,

And held his little bat on high;

So fierce he struck, the dog, afraid,

At cautious distance hoarsely bay’d

But still in act to spring;

When dash’d an archer through the glade,

And when he saw the hound was stay’d,200

He drew his tough bow-string;

But a rough voice cried, “Shoot not, hoy!

Ho! shoot not, Edward; ’tis a boy!”


The speaker issued from the wood,

And check’d his fellow’s surly mood,

And quell’d the ban-dog’s ire:

He was an English yeoman good,

And born in Lancashire.

Well could he hit a fallow-deer

Five hundred feet him fro;210

With hand more true, and eye more clear,

No archer bended bow.

His coal-black hair, shorn round and close,

Set off his sun-burn’d face:

Old England’s sign, St. George’s cross,

His barret-cap did grace;

His bugle-horn hung by his side,

All in a wolf-skin baldric tied;

And his short falchion, sharp and clear,

Had pierc’d the throat of many a deer.220


His kirtle, made of forest green,

Reach’d scantly to his knee;

And, at his belt, of arrows keen

A furbish’d sheaf bore he;

His buckler, scarce in breadth a span,

No larger fence had he;

He never counted him a man,

Would strike below the knee:9

His slacken’d bow was in his hand,

And the leash that was his blood-hound’s band.230


He would not do the fair child harm,

But held him with his powerful arm,

That he might neither fight nor flee;

For when the Red-Cross spied he,

The boy strove long and violently.

“Now, by St. George,” the archer cries,

“Edward, methinks we have a prize!

This boy’s fair face, and courage free,

Show he is come of high degree.”


“Yes! I am come of high degree,240

For I am the heir of bold Buccleuch

And, if thou dost not set me free,

False Southron, thou shalt dearly rue!

For Walter of Harden shall come with speed,

And William of Deloraine, good at need,

And every Scott, from Esk to Tweed;

And, if thou dost not let me go,

Despite thy arrows and thy bow

I’ll have thee hang’d to feed the crow!”


“Gramercy for thy good-will, fair boy!250

My mind was never set so high;

But if thou art chief of such a clan,

And art the son of such a man

And ever comest to thy command

Our wardens had need to keep good order;

My bow of yew to a hazel wand

Thou’lt make them work upon the Border.

Meantime, be pleased to come with me

For good Lord Dacre shalt thou see;

I think our work is well begun,260

When we have taken thy father’s son.”


Although the child was led away

In Branksome still he seem’d to stay,

For so the Dwarf his part did play;

And, in the shape of that young boy,

He wrought the castle much annoy.

The comrades of the young Buccleuch

He pinch’d, and beat, and overthrew;

Nay, some of them he wellnigh slew.

He tore Dame Maudlin’s silken tire270

And, as Sym Hall stood by the fire

He lighted the match of his bandelier,10

And wofully scorch d the hackbuteer.11

It may be hardly thought or said,

The mischief that the urchin made,

Till many of the castle guess’d,

That the young Baron was possess’d!


Well I ween the charm he held

The noble Ladye had soon dispell’d;

But she was deeply busied then280

To tend the wounded Deloraine.

Much she wonder’d to find him lie

On the stone threshold stretch’d along;

She thought some spirit of the sky

Had done the bold moss-trooper wrong;

Because, despite her precept dread

Perchance he in the Book had read;

But the broken lance in his bosom stood,

And it was earthly steel and wood.


She drew the splinter from the wound,290

And with a charm she stanch’d the blood;12

She bade the gash be cleans’d and bound:

No longer by his couch she stood;

But she has ta’en the broken lance,

And wash’d it from the clotted gore

And salved the splinter o’er and o’er.13

William of Deloraine, in trance

Whene’er she turn’d it round and round,

Twisted as if she gall’d his wound.

Then to her maidens she did say300

That he should be whole man and sound

Within the course of a night and day.

Full long she toil’d; for she did rue

Mishap to friend so stout and true.


So pass’d the day; the evening fell,

’Twas near the time of curfew bell;

The air was mild, the wind was calm,

The stream was smooth, the dew was balm;

E’en the rude watchman on the tower

Enjoy’d and bless’d the lovely hour.310

Far more fair Margaret lov’d andbless’d

The hour of silence and of rest.

On the high turret sitting lone,

She waked at times the lute’s soft tone;

Touch’d a wild note, and all between

Thought of the bower of hawthorns green.

Her golden hair stream’d free from band,

Her fair cheek rested on her hand

Her blue eyes sought the west afar

For lovers love the western star.320


Is yon the star, o’er Penchryst Pen,

That rises slowly to her ken,

And, spreading broad its wavering light,

Shakes its loose tresses on the night?

Is yon red glare the western star?

O, ’tis the beacon-blaze of war!

Scarce could she draw her tighten’d breath,

For well she knew the fire of death!


The Warder view’d it blazing strong,

And blew his war-note loud and long,330

Till, at the high and haughty sound,

Rock, wood, and river rung around.

The blast alarm’d the festal hall,

And startled forth the warriors all;

Far downward, in the castle-yard,

Full many a torch and cresset glared;

And helms and plumes, confusedly toss’d,

Were in the blaze half-seen, half-lost;

And spears in wild disorder shook,

Like reeds beside a frozen brook.340


The Seneschal, whose silver hair

Was redden’d by the torches’ glare,

Stood in the midst with gesture proud,

And issued forth his mandates loud:

“On Penchryst glows a bale14 of fire,

And three are kindling on Priest-haughswire;

Ride out, ride out,

The foe to scout!

Mount, mount for Branksome,15 every man!

Thou, Todrig, warn the Johnstone clan350

That ever are true and stout;

Ye need not send to Liddesdale,

For when they see the blazing bale,

Elliots and Armstrongs never fail.

Ride, Alton, ride, for death and life!

And warn the Warder of the strife.

Young Gilbert, let our beacon blaze,

Our kin, and clan, and friends to raise.”16


Fair Margaret from the turret head

Heard, far below, the coursers’ tread,360

While loud the harness rung

As to their seats, with clamor dread,

The ready horsemen sprung:

And trampling hoofs, and iron coat,

And leaders’ voices mingled notes,

And out! and out!

In hasty route,

The horsemen gallop’d forth;

Dispersing to the south to scout,

And east, and west, and north,370

To view their coming enemies,

And warn their vassals and allies.


The ready page, with hurried hand,

Awaked the need-fire’s 17 slumbering brand,

And ruddy blush’d the heaven:

For a sheet of flame from the turret high

Wav’d like a blood-flag on the sky,

All flaring and uneven;

And soon a score of fires, I ween,

From height, and hill, and cliff, were seen;380

Each with warlike tidings fraught,

Each from each the signal caught;

Each after each they glanc’d to sight

As stars arise upon the night.

They gleam d on many a dusky tarn,18

Haunted by the lonely earn;19

On many a cairn’s 20 grey pyramid,

Where urns of mighty chiefs lie hid

Till high Dunedin the blazes saw

From Soltra and Dumpender Law,390

And Lothian heard the Regent’s order

That all should bowne21 them for the Border.


The livelong night in Branksome rang

The ceaseles sound of steel;

The castle-bell, with backward clang

Sent forth the larum peal;

Was frequent heard the heavy jar,

Where massy stone and iron bar

Were piled on echoing keep and tower,

To whelm the foe with deadly shower400

Was frequent heard the changing guard,

And watch-word from the sleepless ward;

While, wearied by the endless din,

Blood-hound and ban-dog yell’d within.


The noble Dame, amid the broil

Shared the grey Seneschal’s high toil,

And spoke of danger with a smile;

Cheer’d the young knights, and council sage

Held with the chiefs of riper age.

No tidings of the foe were brought410

Nor of his numbers knew they aught,

Nor what in time of truce he sought.

Some said that there were thousands ten;

And others ween’d that it was nought

But Leven clans, or Tynedale men,

Who came to gather in black-mail;22

And Liddesdale, with small avail,

Might drive them lightly back agen.

So pass’d the anxious night away,

And welcome was the peep of day.420

CEASED the high sound. The listening throng

Applaud the Master of the Song;

And marvel much, in helpless age,

So hard should be his pilgrimage.

Had he no friend, no daughter dear,

His wandering toil to share and cheer;

No son to be his father’s stay,

And guide him on the rugged way?

“Ay, once he had — but he was dead!”

Upon the harp he stoop’d his head,430

And busied himself the strings withal

To hide the tear that fain would fall.

In solemn measure, soft and slow,

Arose a father’s notes of woe.

1 The crest of the Cranstouns, in allusion to their name, is a crane dormant, holding a stone in his foot, with an emphatic Border motto, Thou shalt want ere I want.

2 “At Unthank, two miles N. E. from the church (of Ewes) there are the reuins of a chapel for divine service, in time of Popery. There is a tradition, that friars were wont to come from Melrose, or Jedburgh, to baptize and marry in this parish; and from being in use to carry the mass-book in their bosoms; they were called, by the inhabitants, Book-a-bosomes. There is a man yet alive, who knew old men who had been baptized by these Book-a-bosomes, and who says, one of them, called Hair, used this parish for a very long time."— Account of Parish of Ewes, apud Macfarlane’s MSS.

3 Magical delusion.

4 A shepherd’s hut.

5 Glamour, in the legends of Scottish superstition, means the magic power of imposing on the eyesight of the spectators, so that the appearance of an object shall be totally different from the reality. The transformation of Michael Scott by the witch of Falsehope, already mentioned, was a genuine operation of glamour. To a similar charm the ballad of Johnny Fa’ imputes the fascination of the lovely Countess, who eloped with that gipsy leader:

“Sae soon as they saw her weel-far’d face,

They cast the glamour o’er her.”

It was formerly used even in war. In 1381, when the Duke of Anjou lay before a strong castle, upon the coast of Naples, a necromancer offered to “make the ayre so thycke, that they within shall thynke that there is a great bridge on the see (by which the castle was surrounded) for ten men to go a front; and what they shall yelde them to your mercy. The Duke demanded, ‘Fayre Master, on this bridge that ye speke of, may our people assuredly go thereon to the castell to assayle it?’—‘Syr,’ quod the enchantour, ‘I dare not assure you that; for if any that passeth on the bridge make the signe of the crosse on hym, all shall go to noughte, and they that be on the bridge shall fall into the see.’ Then the Duke began to laugh; and certain of the young knightes, that were there present, sayd, ‘Syr, for godsake, let the mayster assey his cunning: we shal leve making of any signe of the crosse on us for that tyme.’” The Earl of Savoy, shortly after, entered the tent, and recognised in the enchanter the same person who had put the castle into the power of Sir Charles de la Payx, who then held it, by persuading the garrison of the Queen of Naples, through magical deception, that the sea was coming over the walls. The sage avowed the feat, and added, that he was the man in the world most dreaded by Sir Charles de la Payx. “‘By my fayth,’ quod the Earl of Savoy, ‘ye say well; and I will that Sir Charles de la Payx shall know that he hath grete wronge to fear you. But I shall assure hym of you; fo ye shall never do enchantment to deceyve hym, nor yet none other. I wolde nat that in tyme to come we shulde be reproached that in so high an enterprise as we be in, wherein shulde be so many noble knyghtes and squyres assembled, that we shulde do any thyng be enchantment, nor that we shulde wyn our enemys be suche crafte.’ Then he called to him a servaunt, and said, ‘Go and get a hangman, and let him stryke of this mayster’s heed without delay;’ and as soone as the Erle had commanded it, incontynent it was done, for his heed was stryken before the Erle’s tent."— FROISSART, vol. i. ch. 391, 392.

The art of glamour, or other fascination, was anciently a principal part of the skill of the jongleur, or juggler, whose tricks formed much of the amusement of a Gothic castle. Some instances of this art may be found in the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border. In a strange allegorical poem, called the Houlat, written by a dependent of the house of Douglas, about 1452-3, the jay, in an assembly of bids, plays the part of the juggler. His feats of glamour are thus described:

“He gart them see, as it seemyt in samyn hour,

Hunting at herdis in holtis so hair;

Some sailand on the see schippis of toure,

Bernis battalland on burd brim as a bare;

He coulde carye the coupe of the kingis des,

Syne leve in the stede,

Bot a black bunwede;

He could of a henis hede

Make a man mes.

“He gart the Emproure trow, and trewlye behald,

That the corncraik, the pundare at hand,

Had poyndit all his pris hors in a poynd fald,

Because thai ete of the corn in the kirkland.

He could wirk windaris, quhat way that he wald,

Mak a gray gus a gold garland,

A lang spere of a bittile, for a berne bald,

Nobilis of nutschelles, and silver of sand.

Thus joukit with juxters the janglane ja,

Fair ladyes in ringis,

Knychtis in caralyngis,

Bayth dansis and singis,

It semyt as sa.”

6 Dr. Henry More, in a letter previxed to Glanville’s Saducismus Truimphatus, mentions a similar phenomenon.

“I remember an old gentleman in the country, of my acquaintance, an excellent justice of peace, and a piece of a mathematician; but what kind of philosopher he was, you many understand from a rhyme of his own making, which he commended to me at my taking horse in his yeard, which rhyme is this:—

‘Ens is nothing till sense finds out: Sense ends in nothing, so naught goes about.’

which rhyme of his was so rapturous to himself, that, on the reciting of the second verse, the old man turned himself about upon his toe as nimbly as one may observe a dry leaf whisked round the corner of an orchard-walk by some little whirlwind. With this philosopher I have had many discourses concerning the immortality of the soul and its distinction; when I have run him quite down by reason, he would but laugh at me, and say, this is logic, H. (calling me by my Christain name;) to which I replied, this is reason, father L. (for so I used and some others to call him;) but it seems you are for the new lights, and immediate inspiration, which I confess he was as little for as for the other; but I said so only in the way of drollery to him in those times, but truth is, nothing but palpable experience would move him; and being a bold man, and fearing nothing, he told me he had used all the magical ceremonies of conjuration he could, to raise the devil or a spirit, and had a most earnest desire to meet with one, but never could do it. But this he told me, when he did not so much as think of it, while his servant was pulling off his boots in the hall, some invisible hand gave him such a clap upon the back, that it made all ring again; ‘so,’ thought he now, ‘I am invited to the converse of my spirit,’ and therefore, so soon as his boots ere off, and his shoes on, out he goes into the yard and next field, to find out the spirit that had given him this familiar clap on the back, but found none neither in the yard nor field next to it.

“But though he did not feel this stroke, albeit he thought of it afterwards (finding nothing came of it) a mere delusion; yet not long before his death it had more force with him than all the philosophical arguments I could use to him, though I could wind him and nonplus him as I pleased; but all my arguments, how solid soever, made no impression upon him; wherefore, after several reasonings of this nature, whereby I would prove to him the soul’s distinction from the body, and its immortality, when nothing of such subtile consideration did any more execution on his mind than some lightning is said to do, though it melts the sword, on the fuzzy consistency of the scabbard — ‘Well,’ said I, ‘father L., though none of these things move you, I have something still behind, and what yourself has acknowledged to be true, that may do the business:— Do you remember the clap on your back when your servant was pulling off your boots in the hall? Asure yourself, says I, father L., that goblin will be the first to bid you welcome into the other world.’ Upon that his countenance changed most sensibly, and he was more confounded with this rubbing up his memory, than with all the rational or philosophical argumentations that I could produce.”

7 Magic.

8 It is a firm article of popular faith, that no enchantment can subsist in a living stream. Nay, if you can interpose a brook betwixt you and witches, spectres, or even fiends, you are in perfect safety. Burns’s inimitable Tam o’ Shanter turns entirely upon such a circumstance. The belief seems to be of antiquity. Brompton informs us, that certain Irish wizards could, by spells, convert earthen clods, or stones, into fat pigs, which they sold in the market; but which always reassumed their proper form, when driven by the deceived purchaser across a running stream. But Brompton is sever on the Irish for a very good reason. “Gens ista spurcissima non solvunt decimas."— Chronicon Johannis Brompton apud decem Scriptores, p. 1076.

9 Imitated from Drayton’s account of Robin Hood and his followers:—

“A hundred valiant men had this brave Robin Hood,

Still ready at his call, that bowmen were right good:

All clad in Lincoln green, with caps of red and blue,

His fellow’s winded horn not one of them but knew.

When setting to their lips their bugles shrill,

The warbling echoes waked from every dale and hill;

Their bauldrics set with studs athwart their shoulders cast,

To which under their arms their sheafs were buckled fast,

A short sword at their belt, a buckler scarce a span,

Who struck below the knee not counted then a man.

All made of Spanish yew, their bows were wondrous strong,

They not an arrow drw but was a clothyard long.

Of archery ehty had the very perfect craft,

With broad arrow, or but, or prick, or roving shaft.”

Poly-Albion, Song 26.

To wound an antagonist in the thigh, or leg, was reckoned contrary to the law of arms. In a tilt betwixt Gawain Michael, an English squire, and Joachim Cathore, a Frenchman, “they met at the speare poyntes rudely: the Fench squyer justed right pleasantly; the Englishman ran too lowe, for he strak the Frenchman depe into the thigh. Wherewith the Erle of Buckingham was right sore displeased, and so were all the other lords, and sayde how it was shamefully done.” FROISSART, vol. i. chap. 366. — Upon a similar occasion, “the two knyghts came a fote eche against other rudely, with their speares low couched, to stryke eche other within the foure quarters. Johan of Castell-Morant strake the English squyer on the brest in such wyse, that Syr Wyllyam Fermetone stombled and bowed, for his fote a lyttel fayled him. He helde his speare lowe with both his handes, and coude nat amende it, and strake Syr Johan of the Castell-Morant in the thighe, so that the speare went clene throughe, that the heed was sene a handfull on the other syde. And Syr Johan and squyers were ryghte sore displeased, and sayde how it was a foul stroke. Syr Wyllyam Fermetone exused himselfe, and sayde how he was sorie of that adventure, and howe that yf he had knowen that it shulde have bene so, he olde never have begon it; sayenge how he could nat amende it, by cause of glaunsing of his fote by constraynt of the great stroke of that Syr Johan of the Castell-Morant had given him."— FROISSART, vol. i. chap. 373.

10 Bandelier, belt for carrying ammunition.

11 Hackbuteer, musketeer.

12 See several charms for this purpose in Reginald Scott’s Discovery of Witchcraft, p. 273.

“Tom Potts was but a serving man,

But yet he was a doctor good;

He bound his handkerchief on the wound,

And with some kinds of words he stanched the blood.”

Pieces of Ancient Popular Poetry, Lond. 1791, p. 131.

13 Sir Kenelm Digby, in a discourse upon the cure by sympathy, pronounced at Montpelier before an assembly of nobles and learned men, translated into English by R. White, gentleman, and published in 1658, gives us the following curious surgical case:—

“Mr. James Howel (well known in France for his public works, and particularly for his Dendrologie, translated into French by Mons. Baudouin) coming by chance, as two of his best friends were fighting in a duel, he did his endeavour to part them; and, putting himselfe between them, seized, with his left hand, upon the hilt of the sword of one of the combatants, while, with his right hand, he laid hold of the blade of the other. They, being transported with fury against the other, struggled to rid themselves of the hinderance their friend made, that they should not kill one another; and one of them roughly drawing the blade of his sword, cuts to the very bone the nerves and muscles of Mr. Howel’s hand; and then the other disengaged his hilts, and gave a crosse blow on his adversarie’s hand, which glanced towards his friend, who heaving up his sore hand to save the blow, he was wounded on the back of his hand as he had been before within. It seems some strange constellation reigned then against him, that he should lose so much bloud by parting two such dear friends, who, had they been by themselves, would have hazarded both their lives to have preserved his; but this involuntary effusion of bloud by them, prevented that which they sholde have drawn one from the other. For they, seeing Mr. Howel’s face besmeared with bloud, by heaving up his wounded hand, they both ran to embrace him; and, having searched his hurts, they bound up his hand with one of his garters, to close the veins which were cut, and bled abundantly. They brought him home, and sent for a surgeon. But this being heard at Court, the King sent one of his own surgeons; for his Majesty much affected the said Mr. Howel.

“It was my chance to be lodged hard by him; and four or five days after, as I was making myself ready, he came to my house, and prayed me to view his wounds; ‘for I understand,’ said he, ‘that you have extraordinary remedies on such occasions, and my surgeons apprehend some fear that it may grow to a gangrene, and so the hand must be cut off.’ In effect, his countenance discovered that he was in much pain, which he said was insupportable, in regard of the extreme inflammation. I told him I would willingly serve him; but if haply he knew the manner how I would cure him, without touching or seeing him, it may be he would not expose himself to my manner of curing, because he would think it, peradventure, either ineffectual or superstitious. He replied, ‘the wonderful things which many have related unto me of your way of medicament, makes me nothing doubt at all of its efficacy; and all that I have to say unto you is comprehended in the Spanish proverb, Hagase et milagro y hagalo Mahoma — Let the miracle be done, though Mahomet do it.’

“I asked him then for any thing that had the blood upon it: so he presently sent for his garter, wherewith his hand was first bound; and as I called for a basin of water, as if I would wash my hands, I took a handful of powder of vitriol, which I had in my study, and presently dissolved it. As soon as the bloudy garter was brought me, I put it within the basin, observing, in the interim, what Mr. Howel did, who stood talking with a gentleman in the corner of my chamber, not regarding at all what I was doing; but he started suddenly, as if he had found some strange alteration in himself. I asked him what he ailed? ‘I know not what ails me; but I finde that I feel no more pain. Methinks that a pleasing kind of freshnesse, as it were a wet cold napkin, did spread over my hand, which, hath taken away the inflammation that tormented me before.’— I replied, ‘Since then that you feel already so good effect of my medicament, I advise you to cast away all your playsters; only keep the wound clean, and in a moderate temper betwixt heat and cold.’ This was presently reported to the Duke of Buckingham, and a little after to the King, who were both very curious to know the circumstance of the businesse, which was, that after dinner I took the garter out of the water, and put it to dry before a great fire. It was scarce dry, but Mr. Howel’s servant came running, that his master felt as much burning as ever he had done, if not more; for the heat was such as if his hand were ‘twixt coles of fire. I ansered, although that had happened at present, yet he should find ease in a short time; for I knew the reason of this new accident, and would provide accordingly; for his master should be free from no inflammation, it may be befroe he could possibly return to him; but in case he found no ease, I wished him to come presently back again; if not, he might forbear coming. Thereupon he went; and at the instant I did put again the garter into the water, thereupon he found his master without any pain at all. To be brief, there was no sense of pain afterward; but within five or six days the wounds were cicatrized, and entirely healed."— Page 6.

The King (James VI.) obtained from Sir Kenelm the discovery of his secret, which he pretended had been taught him by a Carmelite friary, who had learned it in Armeia, or Persia. Let not the age of animal magnetism and metallic tracors smile at the sympathetic powder of Sir Kenelm Digby. Reginald Scott mentions the same mode of cure in these terms:—“And that which is more strange. . . . . they can remedie anie stranger with that verie sword wherewith they are wounded. Yea, and that which is beyond all admiration, if they stroke the sword upward with their fingers, the partie shall feele no paine; whereas, if they drawe their fingers downwards, thereupon the partie wounded shall feele intolerable pain.” I presume that the success ascribed to the sympathetic mode of treatment might arise from the pains beestowed in washing the wound, and excluding the air, thus bringing on a cure by the first invention. It is introduced by Dryden in the Enchanted Island, a (very unnecessary) alteration of the Tempest:—

Ariel. Anoint the sword which pierced him with this

Weapon-salve, and wrap it close from air,

Till I have time to visit him again."— Act v. sc. 2.

Again, in scene 4th, Miranda enters with Hippolito’s sword wrapt up:—

Hip. O my wound pains me!

Mir. I am come to see you.

[She unwraps the Sword.]

Hip. Alas, I feel the cold air come to me;

My wound shoots worse than ever.

Mir. Does it still grieve you?

[She wipes and anoints the Sword.]

Hip. Now, methinks, there’s something laid just upon it.

Mir. Do you find no ease?

Hip. Yes, yes; upon the sudden all this pain

Is leaving me. Sweet heaven, how I am eased!”

14 Bale, beacon fagot. The Border beacons, from their number and position, formed a sort of telegraphic communication with Edingubrh. — The act of Parliament 1455, c. 48, directs, that one bale or fagot shall be warning of the approach of the English in any manner: two bales that they are coming indeed; four bales, blazing beside each other, that the enemy are in great force. “The same taikenings to be watched and maid at Eggerhope (Eggerstand) Castell, fra they se the fire of Hume, that they fire right swa. And in like manner on Sowtra Edge, sall se the fire of Eggerhope Castell, and mak taikening in like manner: And then may all Louthiane be warned, and in special the Castell of Edinburgh; and fra Striveling east, and the east part of Louthiane, and to Dunbar, all may se them, and come to the defence of the realme.” These beacons (at least in latter times) were a “long and strong tree set up, with a long iron pole across the head of it, and an iron brander fixed on a stalk in the middle of it, for holding a tar-barrel."— STEVENSON’S History, vol. ii. p. 701.

15 Mount for Branksome was the gathering word of the Scotts.

16 The speed with which the Borderers collected great bodies of horse, may be judged from teh following extract, when the subject of the rising was much less important than that supposed in the romance. It is taken from Carey’s Memoirs:—

“Upon the death of the old Lord Scroop, the Queen gave the west wardenry to his son, that had married my sister. He having received that office, came to me with great earnestness, and desired me to be his deputy, offering me that I should live with him in his house; that he would allow me half a donzen men, and as many horses, to be kept at his charge; and his fee being 1000 merks yearly, he would part it with me, and I should have the half. This his noble offer I accepted of, and went with him to Carlisle; where I was no sooner come, but I entered into my office. We had a stirring time of it; and few days past over my head but I was on horseback, either to prevent mischief, or take malefactors, and to bring the Border in better quiet than it had been in times past. One memorable thing of God’s mercy shewed unto me, was such as I have good cause still to remember it.

“I had private intelligence given me, that there were two Scottishmen that had killed a churchman in Scotland, and were by one of the Græmes relieved. This Græme dwelt within five miles of Carlisle. He had a pretty house, and close by it a strong tower, for his own defence in time of need. — About two o’clock in the morning, I took horse in Carlisle, and not above twenty-five in my company, thinking to surprise the house on a sudden. Before I could surround the house, the two Scots were gotten in the strong tower, and I could see a boy riding from the house as fast as his horse could carry him; I little suspecting what it meant. But Thomas Carleton came to me presently, and told me, that if I did not presently prevent it, both myself and all my company would be either slain or taken prisoners. It was strange to me to hear his language. He then said to me, ‘Do you see that bo that rideth away so fast? He will be in Scotland within this half hour; and he has gone to let them know that you are here, and to what end you are come, and the small number you have with you; and that if they will make haste, on a sudden they may surprise us, and do with us what they please.’ Hereupon we took advice what was best to be done. We sent notice presently to all parts to raise the country, and to come to us with all the speed they could; and withall we sent to Carlisle to raise the townsmen; for without foot we could do no good against the tower. There we staid some hours, expecting more company: and within short time after the country came in on all sides, to that we were quickly between three and four hundred horse; and, after some longer stay, the foot of Carlisle came to us, to the number of three or four hundred men; whom we presently set to work, to get to the top of the tower, and to uncover the roof; and then some twenty of them to fall down together, and by that means to win the tower. — The Scots, seeing their present danger, offered to parley, and yielded themselves to my mercy. They had no sooner opened the iron gate, and yielded themselves my prisoners, but we might see 400 horse within a quarter of a mile coming to their rescue, and to surprise me and my small company; but of a sudden they stayed, and stood at gaze. Then had I more to do than ever; for all our Borderers came crying, with full mouths, ‘Sir, give us leave to set upon them; for these are they that have killed our fathers, our brothers, and uncles, and our cousins; and they are coming, thinking to surprise you, upon weak grass nags, such as they could get on a sudden; and God hath put them into your hands, that we may take revenge of them for much blood that they have spilt of ours.’ I desired they would be patient a while, and bethought myself, if I should give them their will, there would be few or none of the Scots that would escape unkilled; (there was so many deadly feuds among them;) and therefore I resolved with myself to give them a fair answer, but not to give them their desire. So I told them, that if I were not there myself, they might then do what they pleased themselves; but being present, if I should give them leave, the blood that should be spilt that day would lie very hard upon my conscience. And therefore, I desired them, for my sake, to forbear; and, if the Scots did not presently make away with all the speed they could, upon my sending to them, they should then have their wills to do what they pleased. They were ill satisfied with my answer, but durst not disobey. I sent with speed to the Scots, and bade them pack away with all the speed they could; for if they stayed the messenger’s return, they should but few of them return to their own home. They made no stay; but they were returned homewards before the messenger had made an end of his message. Thus, by God’s mercy, I escaped a great danger; and, by my means, there were a great many men’s lives saved that day.”

17 Need-fire, beacon.

18 Tarn, a mountain lake.

19 Earn, a Scottish eagle.

20 The cairns, or piles of loose stones, which crown the summit of most of our Scottish hills, and are found in other remarkable situations, seem usually, though not universally, to have been sepulchral monuments. Six flat stones are commonly found in the centre, forming a cavity of greater or smaller dimensions, in which an urn is often placed. The author is possessed of one, discovered beneath an immense cairn at Roughlee, in Liddesdale. It is one of the most barbarous construction; the middle of the substance alone having been subjected to fire, over which, when hardened, the artist had laid an inner and outer cast of unbaked clay, etched with some very rude ornaments; his skill apparently being inadequate to baking the vase, when completely finished. The contents were bones and ashes, and a quantity of beads made of coal. This seems to have been a barbarous imitation of the Roman fashion of sepulture.

21 Bowne, make ready.

22 Protection money exacted by free-booters.

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