L. B. (Laughlan Bellingham) Mackinnon.

Some account of the Falkland Islands, from a six months' residence in 1838 and 1839 online

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"^King Marsilies and hiis great host draw round.


Eang Marsilies along a valley led
1450 The mighty host that he had gathered.

Twenty columns that king had numbered.

With gleaming gold their helms were jewelled.

Shone too their shields and sarks embroiderMy

Sounded the charge seven thousand trumpets?
1455 Great was the noise through all that country

Then said RoUanz : " Olivier, brother, friend,

That felon Guenes hath sworn to achieve our
death ;

For his treason no longer is secret.

Right great vengeance our Emperour will get.
1460 Battle we'll have, both long and keenly set.

Never has man beheld such armies met.

With Durendal my sword I'll strike a^un.

And, comrade, you shall strike with lj§lte?lere.
> These swords in lands so many have we held,
1465 j Battles with them so many brought to end,
I No evil song shall e'er be sung or said."


When the Franks see so many there, pagans,
On every side covering all the land.
Often they call Olivier and RoUant,

1470 The dozen peers, to be their safe warrant.

And the Archbishop speaks to them, as he can :
** My lords barons, go thinking nothing bad !
For God I pray you fly not hence but stand.
Lest evil songs of our valour men chant !

1475 Far better 't were to perish in the van.
Certain it is, our end is near at hand,


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Beyond this day shall no more live one man ; ,y
But of one thing I give you good warrant : A
Blest Paradise to you now open stands, I

1480 By the Innocents your thrones you there shall
Upon these words grow bold again the Franks ;
There is not one but he " Monjoie *' demands.


A Safrazin was there, of Sarraguce,
Of that city one half was his by use,

1485^ 'Twas CluiuiQ^nsii a man was nothing proof ;
By Guenelun t^e count an oath he took,
And kissed his mouth in amity and truth,
Gave him his sword and his carbuncle too.
Terra Major, he said, to shame held put,

1490 From the Emperour his crown he would remove.
He sate his horse, which he called Barbamusche,
Never so swift sparrow nor swallow flew.
He spurred him well, and down the reins he

Going to strike Engelier of Gascune ; ^

1495 Nor shield nor sark him any warrant proved,
The pagan spear's point did his body wound,
He pmned him well, and all the steel sent through,
From the hilt flung him dead beneath his foot.
After he said : " Good are they to confuse.

1500 Pa^ns, strike on, and so this press set loose 1 *'
"^" God 1 " say the Franks, " Grief, such a man^'
' to lose 1*^'


The count Rollanz called upon Oliver :
^* Sir companion, dead now is Engeler ;
Than whom weM no more valiant chevalier."
1505 Answered that count: "God, let me him ?
avenge ! "
Spurs of fine gold into his horse drove then,

49 B

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Held Halteclere, with blood its steel was red.
By virtue great to strike that pa^an went,
Brandished his blade, the Sarrazin upset ;
1 5 10 The Adversaries of God his soul bare thence.
Next he has slain the duke Alphaien>
And sliced away Escababi his head.
And has unhorse3 some seyeo Arabs else ;
No good jfoFtEose to go to war again.
15 1 5 Then said RoUanz : My comrade shews anger,
\ So in my sight he makes me prize him well ;
f More dear by Charles for such blows are we
Aloud he*s cried : " Strike on, the chevaliers !"


From the other part a pagan Valdp.t>roii.

1520 Warden he'd been to kmg Marsllion,

And lord, by sea, of four hundred dromonds ;
No sailor was but called his name upon ;
^ijerusalem he*d taken by treason,
.^iolated the Temple of Salomon,

1525 The Patriarch had slain before tJhe fonts/

He*d pledged his oath by county Guenelon,
Gave him his sword, a thousand coins thereon.
He sate his horse, which he called GramiiRQUjlj
Never so swift flew in the air falcon ;

1530 He's pricked him well, with sharp spurs he had
Going to strike e'en that rich Piik^ SaSSOX^J
His shield has split, his hauberk has undone.
The ensign's folds have through his body gone,
Dead from the hilt out of his seat he's dropt :

1535 " Pagans, strike on, for well we'll overcome ! "
" God ! " say the Franks, " Grief for a brave
baron ! '^


V, The count RoUanz, when Sansun dead he saw,
r'You may believe, great grief he had therefor. <^


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His horse he spurs, gallops with great effort,
1 540 Wields Durendal, was worth fine gold and more,
Goes as he may to strike that baron bold
Above the helm, that was embossed with gold.
Slices the head, the sark, and all the corse.
The good saddle, that was embossed ^vith gold,
1545 And cuts deep through the backbone of his
horse ;
He's slain them both, blame him for that or laud.
The pagans say : " 'Twas hard on us, that blow." /
•^ Answers RoUanz : " Nay, love you I can not, f
) For on your side is arrogance and wrong."


1 5 50 (^l of Affrike^n Affric»n was come,

'Twas Malquignt^ the son of king Malcud ;

With beaten gold was all his armour done.

Fore all men's else it shone beneath the sun.

He sate his horse, which he called §?iltrPerdut, .

1555 Never so swift was any beast could run. v/

And Ans6is upon the shield he struck,
The scSiTat with the blue he sliced it up.
Of his hauberk he's torn the folds and cut.
The steel and stock has through his body thrust.

1560 Dead is that count, he's no more time to run. .,
Then say the Franks : " Baron, an evil luck ! " {/


Swift through the field Tijtrpin the Archbishop j
..^^^^ passed ;

^ Such shaven-crown has never else sun^ Mass
/ Who with his limbs such prowess might com- -'
pass ;
1565 To m'pagan said: "God send thee all that's
bad !
One thou hast slain for whom my heart is sad."
So his good horse forth at his bidding ran.
He's struck him then on his shield Toledan, ;
Until he flings him dead on the green grass. *


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1570 From the other part was a pagan Qtandopes, . ^
Son of Capuel, the king of Capadoce.
^ r He sate his horse, the which he called MflCTPO^^T
; Never so swift was any bird in course ;
He's loosed the reins, and spurring on that horse

1575 He's gone to strike Gerin with all his force ;

The scarlat shield from's neck he's broken oflF,
And all his sark thereafter has he torn,
The ensign blue clean through his body's gone,
Until he flings him dead, on a high rock ;

1580 His companion Crpjer he's slain also.
And Bgrsnger, and (juiun of Santone ;
Next a rich duke he^sTgone to strike, Austore,
That held Valence and the Honour of the Rhone;
He's flung him dead ; great joy the pagans shew.

I S 8 5 V Then say the Franks : " X)f auxaJbfiw many M."



The count RoUanz, his sword with blood is

Well has he heard what way the Franks com-
plained ;

Such grief he has, his heart would split in twain : ^

To the pagan says : " God send thee every C -

One hast thou slain whom dearly thou'lt repay."

He spurs his horse, that on with speed doth strain;

Which should forfeit, they both together came.


Grandonie was both proof and v^iant,
And virtuous, a vassal combatant.
' 595 Upon the way there, he has met RoUant ;
He'd never seen, yet knew him at a glance.
By the proud face and those fine limbs he had,: " -
By his regard, and by his contenance ;
He could not help but he grew faint thereat, ^c.


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i6oo ^ He would escape, nothing avail he can.

^ Struck him the count, with so great virtue, that
To the nose-plate he's all the helmet cracked,
Sliced througn the nose and mouth and teeth he

Hauberk close-mailed, and all the whole carcass,
1605 Saddle of gold, with plates of silver flanked,

y And of his horse has deeply scarred the back '/'
He's slain them both, they'll make no more

attack :
The Spanish men in sorrow cry, " Alack ! "
Then say the Franks : " He strikes well, our



1 610 Marvellous is the battle in its speed.

The Franks there strike with vigour and with

Cutting through wrists and ribs and chines in-
Through garments to the lively flesh beneath ;
On the green grass the clear blood runs in
1 61 5 The pagans say : " No more we'll suffer, we.
Terra Major, Mahummet's curse on thee !
Beyond all men thy people are hardy I "
There was not one but cried then : " Marsilie, >
Canter, o king, thy succour now we need 1 " »


1620 Marvellous is the battle now and grand,

The Franks there strike, their good brown spears

in hand.
Then had you seen such sorrowing of clans,
So many a slain, shattered and bleeding man !
Biting the earth, or piled there on their backs !

1625 The Sarrazins cannot such loss withstand. ^

Will they or nill, from off the field draw back ; \
By lively force chase them away the Franks. '


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\ ^ Their martyrdom, his men's, Marsile has seen, -
. '^^' So he bids sound his horns and his bucdnes ;
1630 Then canters forth with all his great army.
Canters before a Sarrazin , Abisme^
More felon none was in that company ;
Cankered with guile and every felony , ,

N\ He fears not God, the Son of Saint Mary ; <] y
1635 ^'-^^Black is that man as moken^Adidgt^sff^es ;
• ' Better he loves mm-der aM^tTREcE^
Than to have all the gold of Cralide ;
Never has man beheld him sport for glee ;
Yet vassalage he's shown, and great roily,
1640 So is he dear to th' felon king Marsile ; <_
Dragon he bears, to which his tribe rally.
That Archbishop could never love him, he ; <1
Seeing him there, to strike he's very keen.
Within himself he says all quiedy :
1645 \ ** This Sarrazin great heretick meseems,

\ ^Rather I'ld die, toan not go slay him clean, ,
» Ne'er did I love coward nor cowardice." / <^


That Archbishop b^ins ^ e fight again,
Sitting the horse wE^ETie took from Grossaille ;
1 650 — ^That was a king he had in Denmark slain ; —
A , That charger is swift and of noble race ;
\ Fine are his hooves, his legs are smooth and
^'\^ straight,
^ I -Short are his thighs, broad crupper he displays,
I ; Long are his ribs, aloft his spine is raised,
1655 White is his tail and yellow is his mane.
Little his ears, and tawny all his face ;
No beast is there, can match him in a race.
That Archbishop spurs on by vassalage,
IJe will not pause ere Abisme he assail ;
1660 So strikes that shield, is wonderfully arrayed.
Whereon are stones, amethyst and topaze,
Esterminals and carbuncles that blaze ;


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A devil's gift it wte, in Val Metase,
Who handed it to the admiral Galafes ;
1665 So Turpin strikes, spares him not anyway ;
^ After tMt blow, he*8 worth no penny wage ;
The carcass he's sliced, rib from rib away.
So flings him down dead in an empty place. .
Then say the Franks : *^ He has great vassal*

1670 With the Archbishop, surely the Cross id safe."i^







The count Rollanz calls upon Oliver :
** Sir companion, witness you'll freely bear.
The Archbishop is a right good chevalier.
None better goes neath Heaven anywhere ;
Well can he strike with lance and well with spear."
Answers that count : " Support to him we'll

Upon that word the Franks again make yare ;
Hard are the blows, slaughter and suffering

For Christians too, most bitter grief and care.
Who could had seen Rollanz and Oliver
With their good swords to strike and to slaughter !
And the Archbishop lays on there with his spear.
Those that are dead, men well may hold them

In charters and in briefs is written clear.
Four thousand fell, and more, the tales declare.
Gainst four assaults easily did they fare.
But then the fifth brought heavy griefs to bear.
They all are slain, those Frankish chevaliers ;
Only three-score, whom God was pleased to

Before these die, they'll sell them very dear.


The coimt Rollanz great loss of his men sees.
His companion Olivier calls, and speaks :


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" Sir and comrade, in Grod's Name, That you

Such good vassals you see lie here in heaps ;
1695 For France the Douce, fair country, may we
Of such barons long desolate she'll be.
; Ah ! King and friend, wherefore are you not

here ?
; How, Oliver, brother, can we achieve ?
And by what means our news to him repeat ? " ^
1700 iSays Oliver : " I know not how to seek ; \ ^

Kather Tld die than shame come of this feat." \



Then says Rollanz : ** I'll wind this olifant.
If Charles hear, where in the pass he stands,
I pledge you now they will return, the Franks."
ays Oliver : ** Great shame would come of


And a reproach on every one, your clan.
That shall endure while each fives in the land.
When I implored, you would not do this act ;
Doing it now, no praise from me you'll have :
So wmd your horn, but not by courage rash.
Seeing that both your arms with blood are

Answers that coiuit : " Fine blows I've struck

them back."


Then says RoUant : ** Strong is it now, our battle;

I'll wind my horn, so the King hears it, Charles."
171 5 Says Oliver : " That act were not a vassal's.

When I implored you, comrade, you were wrath-

Were the King here, we had not borne such

Nor should we blame those with him there, his


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Says Oliver : " Now by my beard, hereaf|£r
1720 \ If I may see my gentle sister Aide,

^ She in her arms, I swear, shall never clasp you/*


Then says Rollanz : " Wherefore so wroth with

me ? "
He answers him : " Comrade, it was your deed :
^'^ Vassalage comes by sense, and not folly ;
1725 '^ Prudence mofe worth is than stupidity. Jk^
>- Here are Franks dead, all for your trickeryf4f
No service more to Carlim may we yield. -<^.
My lord were here now, had you trusted me,;
And fought and won this battle then had we,;'
1730 Taken or slain were the king Marsilie. \^

-y In your prowess, Rollanz, no good weVe seen !
Cluu-l^ the great in vain your aid will seek —
None such as he till God His Judgement speak;— j
Here must you die, and France in shame be
^ steeped ;

173 s Here perishes our loyal company,

Before this night great severance and grief."



That Archbishop has heard them, how they spoke^.

His horse he pncks with his fine spurs of gold,
- Coming to them he takes up his reproach : ^
1740 " Sir Oliver, and you. Sir Rollant, both,

I^or God I pray, do not each other scold ! i

No help it were to us, the horn to blow.

But, none the less, it may be better so ;

The King will come, with vengeance that he*
^ owes ; y^

1745 These Spanish men never away shall go. ^-"^

Our Franks here, each descending from his

Will find us dead, and limb from body torn ;

They'll take us hence, on biers and litters borne ;

With pity and with grief for us they'll mourn ;


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1750 They'll bury each in some old minster-close ;
No wolf nor swine nor dog shall gnaw our bones."
Answers Rollant : " Sir, very well you spoke." ^


|. Rollant hath set the olifant to his mouth,
JHe grasps it well, and with great virtue sounds.
1755 NilHign are those peaks, afar it rings and loud,

^S'hirty great leagues they hear its echoes mount.
'So Charl^ heard, and all his comrades round ;
^ Then said that King : " Battle they do, our
J> counts."

,uAnd Guenelun answered, contrarious :
1760 4?* That were a lie, in any other mouth." <il


The Count RoUanz, with sorrow and with pangs.
And with great pain sounded his olifant :
Out of his moutn the clear blood leaped and ran.
About his brain the very temples cracked.

1765 Loud is its voice, that horn he holds in hand ; d
Charl^ hath heard, where in the pass he stands,
And Neim^s hears, and Usten all the Franks.
Then says the King : " I hear his horn, RoUant's;
Held never sound, but he were in combat."

1770 Answers him Guenes : " It is no battle, that. ^

Now are you old, blossoming white and blanched, *- -
^ Yet by such words you still appear infant.
You know full well the great pride of Rollant ;
Marvel it is, God stays so tolerant.

1775 NJM)les he took, not waiting your command ;
Tnence issued forth the Sarrazins, a band
With vassalage had fought against Rollant ;

1 7 77 A He slew them first, wim Durendal his brand.
Then washed their blood with water from the

land ;
So what he'd done might not be seen of man.

1780 He for a hare goes all day, horn in hand ;
^Before his peers in foolish jest he brags. .

^ S8

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No race neath heav'n in field him dare attack*
So canter on ! Nay, wherefore hold we back ?
Terra Major is far away, our land."


1785 The count RoUanz, though blood his mouth doth ] /i^
stain, I

lAnd burst are both the temples of his brain, (

/His olifant he sounds with grief and pain ;
Charles hath heard, listen me Franks again.
" That horn,'* the King says, " hath a mighty
strain 1 *'
1790 Answers Duke Niemes : " A baron blows withj^
pain 1 ^-

Battle is there, indeed I see it plain.
He is betrayed, by one that still doth feign.
Equip you, sir, cry out your old refrain,
Tnat noble band, go succour them amain !
1795 Enough youVe heard how RoUant doth com-


That Emperour hath bid them sound their horns.

The Franks dismoimt, and dress themselves for

Put hauberks on, helmets and golden swords ;

Fine shields they have, and spears of length and
1800 Scarlat and blue and white their ensigns float.

His charger mounts each baron of the host ;

They spur with haste as through the pass they go.

Nor was there one but thus to 's neighbour spoill :

" Now, ere he die, may we see RoUant, so \y

1 80 5 \^ Ranged by his side we'll give some goodly blows.'M

But what avail ? They've stayed too long belowTT


That even-tide is light as was the day ; %

Their armour shines beneath the sim's clear ray,




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Hauberks and helms throw off a dazzling flame,
x8io And blazoned shields, flowered in bright array,
^^Iso their spears, with golden ensigns gay.
That Emperour, he canters on with ra^e,
And all the Franks with wonder and dismay ;
There is not one can bitter tears restrain,
1815 And for Rollant they're very sore afraid.

The King has bid them seize that county Guene,
And charged with him the scullions of his train ;
The master-cook he's called, Besgun by name :
" Guard me him well, his felony is plain,
i8ao Who in my house vile treachery has made."
He holds him, and a himdred others takes
From the kitchen, both good and evil knaves ;
- ; Then Guen^'s b^d and both his cheeks they
J And four blows each with their closed fists they
1825 They trounced him well with cudgels and with
And on his neck they clasped an iron chain ;
So like a bear enchamed they held him safe,
'On a pack-mule they set him in his shame :
^Kept him till Charles should call for him again.


1830 -sHHigh were the peaks and shadowy and grand,
-"iThe valleys deep, the rivers swiftly ran.
Trumpets they blew in rear and in the van.
Till all again answered that oUfant.
That Emperour canters with fury mad,
1835 And all the Franks dismay and wonder have ;
There is not one but weeps and waxes sad
And all pray God that He will guard Rollant
Till in the field together they may stand ;
There by his side they'll strike as well they can.
1840 ' But what avail ? No good there is in that ;

^They're not in time ; too long have they held


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^In his great rage on canters Charlemagne ; ^ '
Over his sark his beard is flowing plain. " \
Barons of France, in haste they spur and strain ;
1845 There is not one that can his wrath contain
That they are not with RoUant the Captain,
Whereas he fights the Sarrazins of Spain.
If he be struck, will not one soul remain.
— God ! Sixty men are all now in his train !-^-
1850 Never a king had better Capitains.


^ RoUant regards the barren mountain-sides ;
Dead men of France, he sees so many lie.
And weeps for them as fits a gentle knight :
" Lords and barons, may God to you be kind ! ^

1855 And all your souls redeem for Paradise !
And let you there mid holy flowers lie !
Better vassals than you saw never I.
Ever youVe served me, and so long a time,
By you Carlon hath conquered kingdoms wide ;

i860 Tiiat Emperour reared you for evil plight !

Douce land of France, o very precious clime,
Laid desolate by such a sour exile !
Barons of France, for me IVe seen you die,
And no support, no warrant could I find ;

1 865 X God be your aid. Who never yet hath lied !
\l must not fail now, brother, by your side ;

/Save I be slain, for sorrow shall 1 die.
Sir companion, let us again go strike I



The count RoUanz, back to the field then hieing
1870 Holds Durendal, and like a vassal striking

Faldrun of Pui has through the middle sliced.
With twenty-four of all they rated highest ;
Was never man, for vengeance shewed such

Even as a stag before the hounds goes flying,


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1875 Before Rollanz the pagans scatter, frightened.
>.Say8 the Archbishop : " You deal now very
Such valour should he shew that is bred knightly,
And beareth arms, and a good charger riaeth ;
In battle should be strong and proud and
sprightly ;
1880 Or otherwise he is not worth a shilling.

Should be a monk in one of those old minsters,
- Where, day by day, held pray for us poor .^
Answers RoUant : " Strike on ; no quarter give

Upon these words Franks are again beginning ;
1885 Very great loss they suffer then, the Christians.


The man who knows, for him there's no prison.
In such a fight with keen defence lays on ;
Wherefore trie Franks are fiercer than lions.
Marsile you'd seen go as a brave baron,

1890 .Sitting his horse, the which he calls Gaignon ;
He spurs it well, going to strike Bevon,
That was the lord of Beaune and of Dijon,
His shield he breaks, his hauberk has undone.
So flings him dead, without condition ;

1895 Next he hath slain Yyoerie and Ivpiv
Also with them Gerard oi Russfllon.
The count Rollanz, being not far him from.
To th'pagan says : " Confound thee our Lord

God !
So wrongfully you've slain my companions,

1900 A blow you'll take, ere we apart be gone.

And of my sword the name I'll bid you con."
He goes to strike him, as a brave baron.
And his right hand the count clean slices off ;
'Then takes the head of Jur^leu the blond ;

1905 ; That was the son of king Marsilion.

I Pagans cry out : " Assist us now, Mahpca !
God of our race, avenge us on Carlon !


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Into this land he's sent us such felons
^^Thsit will not leave the fight before they drop/* /
1 910 ; Says each to each : " Nay let us fly ! '* Upon j ^
^^That word, they're fled, an hundred thoiisand <^
f> gone ; '

J Call them who may, they'll never more come on.

r cxLiii

But what avail ? Though fled be Marsilies^ r"
He's left behind his uncle, the alcaliph

1 91 5 Who holds Alfeme, Kartagene, Garmalie,
And Ethiope, a curs&d land indeed ;
The blackamoors from there are in his keep,
Broad in the nose they are and flat in the ear.
Fifty thousand and more in company. ^'

1920 These canter forth with arrogance and heat.

Then they cry out the pagans' rallying-cheer ;
And RoUant says : " Martyrdom we'll receive ;
Not long to live, I know it well, have we ;
>^ Felon he's named that sells his bodv cheap !

1925 Strike on, my lords, with burnished swords and
keen ;
Contest each inch your life and death between,
That ne'er by us Douce France in shame be

When Charles my lord shall come into this field.
Such discipline of Sarrazins he'll see,

1930 * For one of ours he'll find them dead fifteen ;
He will not fail, but bless us all in peace."


When RoUant sees those misbegotten men, \

^ Who are more black than ink is on the pen^ - ^*'"^ \
With no part white, only their teeth except,
1935 Then says that count : "I know now very well
That here to die we're bound, as I can tell.
Strike on, the Franks ! For so I recommend."
Says Oliver : " Who holds back, is condemned!"
Upon those words, the Franks to strike again.


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1940 Franks are but few; which, when the pagans
Among themselves comfort and pride they shew;
^ Says each to each : " Wrong was that Emperor."
'-'Their alcaliph upon a sorrel rode,
And pricked it well with both his spurs of gold ;
1945 ^JBtruck Oliver, behind, on the back-bone,

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Online LibraryL. B. (Laughlan Bellingham) MackinnonSome account of the Falkland Islands, from a six months' residence in 1838 and 1839 → online text (page 5 of 10)