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The poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet online

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ian angels of kingdoms, mentioned in the Book
of Daniel, he adds: 'Thus, my Lord, I have,
as briefly as I could, given your lordship, and
by you the world, a "rude draft of what I have
been long laboring in my imagination, and what
I had intended to have put in practice (though
far unable for the attempt of such a poem) ;
and to have left the stage, to which my genius
never much inclined me, for a work which
would have taken up my life in the perform-
ance of it. This, too, I had intended chiefly for
the honor of my native country, to which a poet
is particularly obliged. Of two subjects, both
relating to it, I was doubtful whether I should
choose that of King Arthur conquering the
Saxons, which, being further distant in time,
gives the greater scope to my invention; or
that of Edward the Black Prince, in subduing
Spain, and restoring it to the lawful prince,
though a great tyrant, Don Pedro the Cruel ;
which, for the compass of time, including only*
the expedition of one year, for the greatness of
the action, and its answerable event, for the
magnanimity of the English hero, opposed to
the ingratitude of the person whom he restored,
and for the many beautiful episodes which I
had interwoven with the principal design, to-
gether with the characters of the chiefest Eng-
lish persons (wherein, after Virgil and Spenser,
I would have taken occasion to represent my
living friends and patrons of the noblest fami-
lies, and also shadowed the events of future
ages in the succession of our imperial line), —
with these helps, and those of the machines
which I have mentioned, I might perhaps have
done as well as some of my predecessors, or at
least chalked out a way for others to amend
my errors in a like design ; but being encour-
aged only with fair words by King Charles II.,
my little salary ill paid, and no prospect of a
future subsistence, I was then discouraged in
the beginning of my attempt ; and now age has
overtaken me ; and want, a more insufferable
evil, through the change of the times, has
wholly disabled me.' "

Ytene's oaks. The New Forest in Hampshire,
anciently so called.

Ascapart and Bcvis bold. Ascapart, or As-
cabart, was a giant who figures in the History
of Bevis of Hampton, by whom he was con-
quered. The images of the two are still to be
seen on either side of an old gate at Southamp-
ton. Scott quotes the description of Ascapart
from Mr. George Ellis's translation of the old
romance : —

" This geaunt was mighty and strong,

And full thirty foot was long.

He was bristled like a sow ;

A foot he had between each brow ;

His lips were great, and hung aside ;

His even were hollow, his mouth was wide;

Loihly he was to look on than,

And liker a devil than a man.

His staff was a young oak,

Hard and heavy was his stroke."


i. Norham's castled steep. The ruinous castle
of Norham (anciently called Ubbanford) is sit-
uated on the southern bank of the Tweed, about
six miles above Berwick, and where that river
is still the boundary between England and Scot-
land. The extent of its ruins, as well as its his-
torical importance, show it to have been a place
of magnificence, as well as strength. Edward
I. resided there when he was created umpire of
the dispute concerning the Scottish succession.
It was repeatedly taken and retaken during the
wars between England and Scotland ; and, in-
deed, scarce any happened in which it had not
a principal share. Norham Castle is situated
on a steep bank which overhangs the river. The
repeated sieges which the castle had sustained
rendered frequent repairs necessary. In ut>4 it
was almost rebuilded by Hugh Pudsey, Bishop
of Durham, who added a huge keep or donjon ;
notwithstanding which, King Henry II., in 1174,
took the castle from the bishop, and committed
the keeping of it to William de Neville. After
this period it seems to have been chiefly gar-
risoned by the king, and considered as a royal
fortress. The Greys of Chillinghame Castle
were frequently the castellans or captains of
the garrison. Yet, as the castle was situated in
the patrimony of Saint Cuthbert, the property
was in the see of Durham till the Reformation.

The ruins of the castle consist of a large shat-
tered tower, with many vaults, and fragments of
other edifices, enclosed within an outward wall
of great circuit.

1. The donjon keep. It is perhaps unnecessary
to remind my readers that dorijon, in its proper
signification, means the strongest part of a
feudal castle ; a high square tower, with walls
of tremendous thickness, situated in the centre
of the other buildings, from which, however, it
was usually detached. Here, in case of the out-
ward defences being gained, the garrison re-
treated to make their last stand. The donjon
contained the great hall, and principal rooms
of state for solemn occasions, and also the
prison of the fortress ; from which last circum-
stance we derive the modern and restricted use
of the word dungeon.

6. Mail and plate of Milan steel. The artists
of Milan were famous in the middle ages for their
skill in armory, as appears from the following
passage, in which Froissart gives an account of
the preparations made by Henrv, Earl of Here-
ford, afterwards Henry IV., and' Thomas, Duke
of Norfolk, Earl Marischal, for their proposed
combat in the lists at Coventry: 'These two
lords made ample provision of all things neces-
sary for the combat; and the Earl of Derby
sent off messengers to Lombardy, to have
armor from Sir Galeas, Duke of Milan. The
duke complied with joy, and gave the knight,
called Sir Francis, who had brought the mes-
sage, the choice of all his armor for the Earl of
Derby. When he had selected what he wished
for in plated and mail armor, the Lord of Milan,
out of his abundant love for the -earl, ordered



four of the best armorers in Milan to accom-
pany the knight to England, that the Earl of |
Derby might be more completely armed.'"

6. Checks at. The crest and motto of Mar- I
mion are borrowed from the following story:
Sir David de Lindesay, first Earl of Crauford, ;
was, among other gentlemen of quality, attended, ,
during a visit to London, in 1390, by Sir Wil- j
liam Dalzell, who was, according to my author- I
ity, Bower, not only excelling in wisdom, but
also of a lively wit. Chancing to be at the
court, he there saw Sir Piers Courtenay, an j
English knight, famous for skill in tilting, and I
for the beauty of his person, parading the palace, j
arrayed in a new mantle, bearing for device an
embroidered falcon, with this rhyme, —

" I bear a falcon, fairest of flight,
Whoso pinches at her, his death is dight, 1

In graith." 2

The Scottish knight, being a wag, appeared
next day in a dress exactly similar to that of
Courtenay, but bearing a magpie instead of a
falcon, with a motto ingeniously contrived
to rhyme to the vaunting inscription of Sir
Piers : —

u I bear a pie picking at a peice,
Whoso picks at her, I shall pick at his nese, 3
In faith."

This affront could only be expiated by a joust
with sharp lances. In the course, Dalzell left
his helmet unlaced, so that it gave way at the
touch of his antagonist's lance, and he thus
avoided the shock of the encounter. This hap-
pened twice : in the third encounter, the hand-
some Courtenay lost two of his front teeth. As
the Englishman complained bitterly of Dalzell's
fraud in not fastening his helmet, the Scottish-
man agreed to run six courses more, each
champion staking in the hand of the king two
hundred pounds, to be forfeited, if, on entering
the lists, any unequal advantage should be
detected. This being agreed to, the wily Scot
demanded that Sir Piers, in addition to the loss
of his teeth, should consent to the extinction of
one of his eyes, he himself having lost an eye
in the fight of Otterburn. As Courtenay dV
murred to this equalization of optical powers,
Dalzell demanded the forfeit, which, after much
altercation, the king appointed to be paid to
him, saying he surpassed the English both in
wit and valor.

11. They hailed him, -etc. Lord Marmion, the
principal character of the present romance, is
entirely a fictitious personage. In earlier times,
indeed, the family of Marmion, Lords of Fon-
tenay, in Normandy, was highly distinguished.
Robert de Marmion, Lord of Fontenay. a dis-
tinguished follower of the Conqueror, obtained
a grant of the castle and town of Tamworth,
and also of the manor of Scrivelby, in Lincoln-
shire. One or both of these noble possessions
was held by the honorable service of being
the royal champion, as the ancestors of Mar-
1 Prepared. - Armor. 3 Nose.

mion had formerly been to the Dukes of Nor-
mandy. But after the castle and demesne of
Tamworth had passed through four successive
barons from Robert, the family became extinct
in the person of Philip de Marmion, who died
in 20th Edward I. without issue male. He was
succeeded in his castle of Tamworth by Alex-
ander de Freville, who married Mazera, his
granddaughter. Baldwin de Freville, Alex-
ander's descendant, in the reign of Richard I.,
by the supposed tenure of his castle of Tam-
worth, claimed the office of royal champion,
and to do the service appertaining; namely,
on the day of coronation to ride, completely
armed, upon a barbed horse, into Westmin-
ster Hall, and there to challenge the combat
against any who would gainsay the king's title.
But this office was adjudged to Sir John Dy-
moke, to whom the manor of Scrivelby had
descended by another of the coheiresses of
Robert de Marmion ; and it remains in that
family, whose representative is Hereditary
Champion of England at the present day. The
family and possessions of Freville have merged
in the Earls of Ferrars. I have not, therefore,
created a new family, but only revived the titles
of an old one in an imaginary personage.

11. Alow, largesse, etc. This was the cry
with which heralds and pursuivants were wont
to acknowledge the bounty received from the
knights. The heralds, like the minstrels, were
a race allowed to have great claims upon the
liberality of the knights, of whose feats they
kept a record, and proclaimed them aloud, as
in the text, upon suitable occasions. At Ber-
wick, Norham, and other Border fortresses of
importance, pursuivants usually resided, whose
inviolable character rendered them the only
persons that could, with perfect assurance of
safety, be sent on necessary embassies into
Scotland. This is alluded to in 21, below.

13. Hugh the Heron. Were accuracy of any
consequence in a fictitious narrative, this cas-
tellan's name ought to have been William ; for
William Heron of Ford was husband to the
famous Lady Ford, whose siren charms are
said to have cost our James IV. so dear.
Moreover, the said William Heron was, at
the time supposed, a prisoner in Scotland, be-
ing surrendered by Henry VIIL, on account
of his share in the slaughter of Sir Robert
Ker of Cessford. His wife, represented in
the text as residing at the Court of Scotland,
was, in fact, living in her own castle at Ford.

18. Warbeck. The story of Perkin Warbeck,
or Richard, Duke of York, is well known. In
1496 he was received honorably in Scotland;
and James IV., after conferring upon him in
marriage his own relation, the Lady Catherine
Gordon, made war on England in behalf of his
pretensions. To retaliate an invasion of Eng-
land, Surrey advanced into Berwickshire at the
head of considerable forces, but retreated after
taking the inconsiderable fortress of Ayton.

19. Have pricked as far, etc. The garrisons
of the English castles of Wark, Norham, and
Berwick were, as may be easily supposed, very



troublesome neighbors to Scotland. Sir Rich-
ard Maitland of Ledington wrote a poem,
called "The Blind Baron's Comfort," when
his barony of Blythe, in Lauderdale, was har-
ried by Rowland Foster, the English captain
of Wark, with his company, to the number of
300 men. They spoiled the poetical knight of
5,000 sheep, 200 nolt, 30 horses and mares ; the
whole furniture of his house of Blythe, worth
100 pounds Scots, and everything else that was
portable. " This spoil was committed the 16th
day of May, 1570 (and the said Sir Richard was
threescore and fourteen years of age, and grown
blind), in time of peace; when nane of that
country lippened [expected] such a thing."

19. To set their hoods. The line contains a
phrase by which the Borderers jocularly inti-
mated the burning of a house. When the Max-
wells, in 1685, burned the castle of Lockwood,
they said they did so to give the Lady John-
stone " light to set her hood." Nor was the
phrase inapplicable ; for, in a letter to which I
have mislaid the reference, the Earl of North-
umberland writes to the king and council, that
he dressed himself, at midnight, at Warwick,
by the blaze of the neighboring villages burned
by the Scottish marauders.

21. The priest of Shoreswood. This church-
man seems to have been akin to Welsh, the
vicar of St. Thomas of Exeter, a leader among
the Cornish insurgents in 1549. "This man,"
says Holinshed, " had many good things in him.
He was of no great stature, but well set, and
mightilie compact : he was a very good wrestler ;
shot well, both in the long-bow, and also in the
cross-bow ; he handled his hand-gun and peece
very well ; he was a very good woodman, and a
hardie, and such a one as would not give his
head for the poling, or his beard for the wash-
ing. He was a companion in any exercise of
activitie, and of a courteous and gentle be-
haviour. He descended of a good, honest
parentage, being borne at Peneverin, in Corn-
wall ; and yet, in this rebellion, an arch-captain,
and a principal doer." This model of clerical
talents had the misfortune to be hanged upon
the steeple of his own church.

23. A holy Palmer. A Palmer, opposed to a
Pilgrim, was one who made it his sole business
to visit different holy shrines, travelling inces-
santly, and subsisting by charity ; whereas the
Pilgrim retired to his usual home and occupa-
tions when he had paid his devotions at the
particular spot which was the object of his

23. And of that Grot, etc. Scott here quotes
the Voyage to Sicily and Malta, by Mr. John
(son of the poet): "Santa Rosalia was
Of Palermo, and born of a very noble family,
and, when vtiv young, abhorred so much the
vanities of this world, and avoided the con-
i mankind, resolving to dedicate herself
wholly to Cod Almighty, that she, by divine
inspiration, forsook her father's house, and
never was more heard of, till her body was
found in that cleft of a rock, on that almost
inaccessible mountain, where now the chapel

is built ; and they affirm she was carried up
there by the hands of angels ; for that place
was not formerly so accessible (as now it is) in
the days of the saint ; and even now it is a
very bad, and steepy, and breakneck way. In
this frightful place this holy woman lived a
great many years, feeding only on what she
found growing on that barren mountain, and
creeping into a narrow and dreadful cleft in a
rock, which was always dropping wet, and was
her place of retirement, as well as prayer ; hav-
ing worn out even the rock with her knees, in
a certain place, which is now opened on pur-
pose to show it to those who come here. This
chapel is very richly adorned ; and on the spot
where the saint's dead body was discovered,
which is just beneath the hole in the rock,
which is opened on purpose, as I said, there
is a very fine statue of marble, representing
her in a lying posture, railed in all about with
fine iron and brass work : and the altar, on
which they say mass, is built just over it."

29. Where good Saint Pule, etc. Saint Regulus
{Scottice, St. Rule), a monk of Patrae, in Achaia,
warned by a vision, is said, A. D. 370, to have
sailed westward, until he landed at St. An-
drew's, in Scotland, where he founded a chapel
and tower. The latter is still standing; and,
though we may doubt the precise date of its
foundation, is certainly one of the most ancient
edifices in Scotland. A cave, nearly fronting
the ruinous castle of the Archbishops of St.
Andrew's, bears the name of this religious per-
son. It is difficult of access, and the rock in
which it is hewed is washed by the German
ocean. It is nearly round, about ten feet in
diameter, and the same in height. On one
side is a sort of stone altar ; on the other an
aperture into an inner den, where the miserable
ascetic, who inhabited this dwelling, probably
slept. At full tide, egress and regress is hardly

29. Saint Fillan's blessed well. Saint Fillan
was a Scottish saint of some reputation. . . .
There are in Perthshire several wells and
springs dedicated to Saint Fillan, which are still
places of pilgrimage and offerings, even among
the Protestants. They are held powerful in
cases of madness ; and, in some of very late
occurrence, lunatics have been left all night
bound to the holy stone, in confidence that
the saint would cure and unloose them before


The scenes are desert now, etc. Ettrick For-
est, now a range of mountainous sheep-walks,
was anciently reserved for the pleasure of the
royal chase. Since it was disparked, the wood
has been, by degrees, almost totally destroyed,
although, wherever protected from the sheep,
copses soon arise without any planting. When
the king hunted there, he often summoned the
array of the country to meet and assist his



sport. Thus, in 1528, James V. " made procla-
mation to all lords, barons, gentlemen, land-
wardmen, and freeholders, that they should
compear at Edinburgh, with a month's victuals,
to pass with the king where he pleased, to dan-
ton the thieves of Tiviotdale, Annandale, Lid-
disdale, and other parts of that country ; and
also warned all gentlemen that had good dogs,
to bring them, that he might hunt in the said
country as he pleased : The whilk the Earl
of Argyle, the Earl of Huntley, the Earl of
Athole, and so all the rest of the gentlemen
of the Highland, did, and brought their hounds
with them in like manner, to hunt with the
king, as he pleased.

" The second day of June the king passed
out of Edinburgh to the hunting, with many
of the nobles and gentlemen of Scotland with
him, to the number of twelve thousand men ;
and thefl past to Meggitland, and hounded and
hawked all the country and bounds ; that is
to say, Crammat, Pap pert-law, St. Mary-laws,
Carlavirick, Chapel, Ewindoores, and Long-
hope. I heard say, he slew, in these bounds,
eighteen score of harts " (Pitscottie's Hist, of
Scotland, folio ed. p. 143).

These huntings had, of course, a military
character, and attendance upon them was a part
of the duty of a vassal. The act for abolishing
ward or military tenures in Scotland enumer-
ates the services of hunting, hosting, watching,
and warding, as those which were in future to
be illegal.

Then oft from Neivark's riven tower, etc.
The tale of the Outlaw Murray, who held out
Newark Castle and Ettrick Forest against the
king, may be found in the Border Minstrelsy,
vol. i. In the Macfarlane MS., among other
causes of James the Fifth's charter to the
burgh, is mentioned that the citizens assisted
him to suppress this dangerous outlaw

Lone Saint Mary's silent lake. This beautiful
sheet of water forms the reservoir from which
the Yarrow takes its source. It is connected
with a smaller lake, called the Loch of the
Lowes, and surrounded by mountains. In the
winter it is still frequented by nights of wild
swans; hence my friend Mr. Wordsworth's
lines : — >

" The swans on sweet Saint Mary's lake
Float double, swan and shadow."

Near the lower extremity of the lake are
the ruins of Dryhope Tower, the birthplace of
Mary Scott, daughter of Philip Scott of Dry-
hope, and famous by the traditional name of
the Flower of Yarrow. She was married to
Walter Scott of Harden, no less renowned for
his depredations than his bride for her beauty.
Her romantic appellation was, in latter days,
with equal justice, conferred on Miss Mary
Lilias Scott, the last of the elder branch of
the Harden family.

Our Lady's Chapel. The Chapel of Saint
Mary of the Lowes (de lacubus) was situated
on the eastern side of the lake, to which it
gives name. It was injured by the clan of
Scott, in a feud with the Cr'anstouns, but con-

tinued to be a place of worship during the seven-
teenth century. The vestiges of the building
can now scarcely be traced ; but the burial-
ground is still used as a cemetery. A funeral,
in a spot so very retired, has an uncommonly
striking effect. The vestiges of the chaplain's
house are yet visible. Being in a high situa-
tion, it commanded a full view of the lake,
with the opposite mountain of Bourhope, be-
longing, with the lake itself, to Lord Napier.
On the left hand is the tower of Dryhope,
mentioned in a preceding note.

The Wizard's grave. At one corner of the
burial-ground of the demolished chapel, but
without its precincts, is a small mound, called
Binram's corse, where tradition deposits the
remains of a necromantic priest, the former
tenant of the chaplainry.

Loch-skene. A mountain lake of considera-
ble size, at the head of the Moffat-water. The
character of the scenery is uncommonly sav-
age, and the earn, or Scottish eagle, has for
many ages built its nest yearly upon an islet
in the lake. Loch-skene discharges itself into
a brook, which, after a short and precipitate
course, falls from a cataract of immense height
and gloomy grandeur, called, from its appear-
ance, the " Gray Mare's Tail." The " Giant's
Grave," afterwards mentioned, is a sort of
trench which bears that name, a little way from
the foot of the cataract. It has the appearance
of a battery, designed to command the pass.


1. The breeze, etc. In the 1st edition a period
was accidentally substituted for a comma at the
end of line 5, and neither the author nor any
former editor appears to have detected the
error, though it makes nonsense of the passage
by changing the participle rolled (referring to
smoke) to a past tense of which breeze is the
subject (W. J. R.).

1. High Whitby's cloistered pile. The Abbey
of Whitby, on the coast of Yorkshire, was
founded a. d. 657, in consequence of a vow of
Oswy, King of Northumberland. It contained
both monks and nuns of the Benedictine order ;
but, contrary to what was usual in such estab-
lishments, the abbess was superior to the ab-
bot. The monastery was afterwards ruined by
the Danes, and rebuilded by William Percy, in
the reign of the Conqueror.

Lindisfarne, an isle on the coast of North-
umberland, was called Holy Island, from the
sanctity of its ancient monastery, and from its
having been the Episcopal seat of the see of
Durham during the early ages of British Chris-
tianity. A succession of holy men held that
office ; but their merits were swallowed up in
the superior fame of Saint Cuthbert, who was
sixth bishop of Durham, and who bestowed the
name of his " patrimony " upon the extensive
property of the see. The ruins of the monas-
tery, upon Holy Island betoken great antiquity.



The arches are, in general, strictly Saxon ; and
the pillars which support them, short, strong,
and massy. In some places, however, there
are pointed windows, which indicate that the
building has been repaired at a period long
subsequent to the original foundation. The
exterior ornaments of the building, being of a
light sandy stone, have been wasted, as de-
scribed in the text. Lindisfarne is not prop-
erly an island, but rather, as the Venerable
Bede has termed it, a semi-isle ; for, although
surrounded by the sea at full tide, the ebb
leaves the sands dry between it and the oppo-
site coast of Northumberland, from which it is
about three miles distant.

13. Three barons bold, etc. The popular ac-
count of this curious service, which was proba-
bly considerably exaggerated, is thus given in
A True Account, printed and circulated at Whit-
by : " In the fifth year of the reign of Henry
II., after the conquest of England by William,
Duke of Normandy, the Lord of Uglebarnby,
then called William de Bruce, the Lord of
Smeaton, called Ralph de Percy, with a gentle-
man and freeholder called Allatson, did, on
the 1 6th of October, 11 59, appoint to meet and
hunt the wild boar, in a certain wood, or desert
place, belonging to the Abbot of Whitby : the
place's name was Eskdale-side ; and the abbot's
name was Sedman. Then, these young gen-
tlemen being met, with their hounds and boar-

Online LibraryWalter ScottThe poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet → online text (page 65 of 78)