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The poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet online

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staves, in the place before mentioned, and there
having found a great wild boar, the hounds ran
him well near about the chapel and hermitage
of Eskdale-side, where was a monk of Whitby,
who was an hermit. The boar, being very
sorely pursued, and dead-run, took in at the
chapel door, there laid him down, and pres-
ently died. The hermit shut the hounds out of
the chapel, and kept himself within at his medi-
tations and prayers, the hounds standing at bay
without. The gentlemen, in the thick of the
wood, being put behind their game, followed
the cry of their hounds, and so came to the her-
mitage, calling on the hermit, who opened the
door, and came forth ; and within they found
the boar lying dead : for which the gentlemen,
in a very great fury, because the hounds were
put from their game, did most violently and
cruelly run at the hermit with their boar-staves,
whereby he soon after died. Thereupon the
gentlemen perceiving and knowing that they
were in peril of death, took sanctuary at Scar-
borough ; but at that time the abbot being in
very great favor with the king, removed them
out of the sanctuary ; whereby they came in
danger of the law, and not to be privileged, but
likely to have the severity of the law, which was
♦ hath for death. But the hermit being a holy
and devout man, and at the point of death, sent
for the abbot, and desired him to send for the
gentlemen who had wounded him. The abbot
so doing, the gentlemen came; and the hermit
being very si. k and weak, said unto them, 'I
am sure to die «»i those wounds you have given
me.' The abbot answered, 'They shall as
surely die for the same. 1 Hut the hermit an-

swered, ' Not so, for I will freely forgive them
my death, if they will be content to be enjoined
the penance I shall lay on them for the safe-
guard of their souls.' The gentlemen being
present, bade him save their lives. Then said
the hermit: 'You and yours shall hold your
lands of the Abbot of Whitby, and his succes-
sors, in this manner : That, upon Ascension-
day, you, or some of you, shall come to the
wood of the Strayheads, which is in Eskdale-
side, the same day at sun-rising, and there shall
the abbot's officer blow his horn, to the intent
that you may know where to find him ; and he
shall deliver unto you, William de Bruce, ten
stakes, eleven strout stowers, and eleven yeth-
ers, to be cut by you, or some for you, with a
knife of one penny price; and you, Ralph de
Percy, shall take twenty-one of each sort, to be
cut in the same manner ; and you, Allatson,
shall take nine of each sort, to be cut%s afore-
said ; and to be taken on your backs, and car-
ried to the town of Whitby, and to be there
before nine of the clock the same day before
mentioned. At the same hour of nine of the
clock, if it be full sea, your labor and service
shall cease ; and, if low water, each of you shall
set your stakes to the brim, each stake one yard
from the other, and so yether them on each side
with your yethers ; and so stake on each side
with your strout stowers, that they may stand
three tides, without removing by the force
thereof. Each of you shall do, make, and exe-
cute the said service, at that very hour, every
year, except it be full sea at that hour; but
when it shall so fall out, this service shall cease.
You shall faithfully do this, in remembrance
that you did most cruelly slay me ; and that you
may the better call to God for mercy, repent
unfeignedly of your sins, and do good works."

13. Edelfled. She was the daughter of King
Oswy, who, in gratitude to Heaven for the
great victory which he won in 655, against Pen-
da, the pagan King of Mercia, dedicated Edel-
fleda, then but a year old, to the service of God,
in the monastery of Whitby, of which Saint Hil-
da was then abbess. She afterwards adorned the
place of her education with great magnificence.

13. And how of thousand snakes, etc. These
two miracles are much insisted upon by all an-
cient writers, who have occasion to mention
either Whitby or Saint Hilda. The reliques of
the snakes which infested the precincts of the
convent, and were, at the abbess's prayer, not
only beheaded, but petrified, are still found
about the rocks, and are termed by Protestant
fossilists Ammonite.

The other miracle is thus mentioned by Cam-
den : " It is also ascribed to the power of her
sanctity, that these wild geese, which, in the
winter, fly in great flocks to the lakes and riv-
ers unfrozen in the southern parts, to the great
amazement of- every one, fall down suddenly
upon the ground, when they are in their flight
over certain neighboring fields hereabouts : a
relation I should not have made, if I had not
received it from several credible men. But
those who are less inclined to heed supersti-



tion, attribute it to some occult quality in the
ground, and to somewhat of antipathy between
it and the geese, such as they say is between
wolves and scylla-roots. For that such hidden
tendencies and aversions, as we call sympathies
and antipathies, are implanted in many things by
provident nature for the preservation of them,
is a thing so evident that everybody grants it."

14. His body's resting-place, etc. Saint Cuth-
bert was, in the choice of his sepulchre, one of the
most mutable and unreasonable saints in the Cal-
endar. He died a. D. 688, in a hermitage upon
the Fame Islands, having resigned the bishopric
of Lindisfarne, or Holy Island, about two years
before. His body was brought to Lindisfarne,
where it remained until a descent of the Danes,
about 793, when the monastery was nearly de-
stroyed. The monks fled to Scotland, with
what they deemed their chief treasure, the
relics of Saint Cuthbert. The saint was, how-
ever, a most capricious fellow-traveller ; which
was the more intolerable, as, like Sinbad's Old
Man of the Sea, he journeyed upon the shoul-
ders of his companions. They paraded him
through Scotland for several years, and came
as far west as Whithern, in Galloway, whence
they attempted to sail for Ireland, but were
driven back by tempests. He at length made
a halt at Norham ; from thence he went to Mel-
rose, where he remained stationary for a short
time, and then caused himself to be launched
upon the Tweed in a stone coffin, which landed
him at Tilmouth, in Northumberland. This
boat is finely shaped, ten feet long, three feet and
a half in diameter, and only four inches thick;
so that, with very little assistance, it might cer-
tainly have swam. It still lies, or at least did
so a few years ago, in two pieces, beside the
ruined chapel of Tilmouth. From Tilmouth,
Cuthbert wandered into Yorkshire; and at
length made a long stay at Chester-le-Street,
to which the bishop's see was transferred. At
length, the Danes continuing to infest the coun-
try, the monks removed to Ripon for a season ;
and it was in returning from thence to Chester-
le-Street, that, passing through a forest called
Dunholme, the saint and his carriage became
immovable at a place named Wardlaw, or
Wardilaw. Here the saint chose his place of
residence ; and all who have seen Durham must
admit that, if difficult in his choice, he evinced
taste in at length fixing it.

1 5 . Even Scotland '$ dauntless king, etc. Every
one has heard that when David I., with his son
Henry, invaded Northumberland in 1136, the
English host marched against them under the
holy banner of Saint Cuthbert ; to the efficacy of
which was imputed the great victory which they
obtained in the bloody battle of Northallerton,
or Cuton-moor.

15. 'T was he, etc. Cuthbert, we have seen,
had no great reason to spare the Danes, when
opportunity offered. Accordingly, I find in Sim-
eon of Durham, that the saint appeared in a
vision to Alfred, when lurking in the marshes
of Glastonbury, and promised him assistance
and victory over his heathen enemies : a con-

solation which, as was reasonable, Alfred, after
the victory of Ashendown, rewarded by a royal
offering at the shrine of the saint. As to Wil-
liam the Conqueror, the terror spread before
his army, when he marched to punish the revolt
of the Northumbrians, in 1096, had forced the
monks to fly once more to Holy Island with the
body of the saint. It was, however, replaced
before William left the North ; and, to balance
accounts, the Conqueror having intimated an
indiscreet curiosity to view the saint's body, he
was, while in the act of commanding the shrine
to be opened, seized with heat and sickness,
accompanied with such a panic terror that, not-
withstanding there was a sumptuous dinner
prepared for him, he fled without eating a mor-
sel (which the monkish historian seems to have
thought no small part both of the«miracle and
the penance), and never drew his bridle till he
got to the river Tees.

16. Saint Cuthbert sits, etc. Although we do
not learn that Cuthbert was, during his life,
such an artificer as Dunstan, his brother in
sanctity, yet since his death he has acquired
the reputation of forging those Entrochi which
are found among the rocks of Holy Island, and
pass there by the name of Saint Cuthbert's
Beads. While at this task, he is supposed to
sit during the night upon a certain rock, and use
another as his anvil.

17. Old Colwulf, etc. Ceolwulf, or Colwulf,
King of Northumberland, flourished in the
eighth century. He was a man of some learn-
ing ; for the Venerable Bede dedicates to him
his Ecclesiastical History. He abdicated the
throne about 738, and retired to Holy Island,
where he died in the odor of sanctity. Saint as
Colwulf was, however, I fear the foundation of
the penance-vault does not correspond with his
character ; for it is recorded among his me?no-
rabilia, that, finding the air of the island raw and
cold, he indulged the monks, whose rule had
hitherto confined them to milk or water, with the
comfortable privilege of using wine or ale. If
any rigid antiquary insists on this objection, he
is welcome to suppose the penance-vault was
intended, by the founder, for the more genial
purposes of a cellar.

19. Tynemouth'' s haughty prioress. That there
was an ancient priory at Tynemouth is certain.
Its ruins are situated on a high rocky point ;
and, doubtless, many a vow was made at the
shrine by the distressed mariners, who drove
towards the iron-bound coast of Northumber-
land in stormy weather. It was anciently a
nunnery ; for Virca, Abbess of Tynemouth, pre-
sented Saint Cuthbert (yet alive) with a rare
winding-sheet, in emulation of a holy lady called
Tuda, who had sent him a coffin. But, as in
the case of Whitby, and of Holy Island, the in-
troduction of nuns at Tynemouth, in the reign
of Henry VIII., is an anachronism. The nun-
nery at Holy Island is altogether fictitious. In-
deed, Saint Cuthbert was unlikely to permit such
an establishment: for, notwithstanding his ac-
cepting the mortuary gifts above mentioned,
and his carrying on a visiting acquaintance with



the Abbess of Coldingham, He certainly hated
the whole female sex ; and, in revenge of a
slippery trick played to him by an Irish prin-
cess, he, after death, inflicted severe penances
on such as presumed to approach within a cer-
tain distance of his shrine.

25. Alive within the tomb, etc. It is well
known that the religious who broke their vows
of chastity were subjected to the same penalty
as the Roman vestals in a similar case. A
small niche, sufficient to enclose their bodies,
was made in the massive wall of the convent ;
a slender pittance of food and water was de-
posited in it, and the awful words, Vade in
parem, were the signal for immuring the crim-
inal. It is not likely that, in latter times, this
punishment was often resorted to ; but, among
the ruins of the abbey of Coldingham, were
some years ago discovered the remains of a
female skeleton, which, from the shape of the
niche and position of the figure, seemed to be
that of an immured nun.


2. The village inn. The accommodations of a
Scottish hostelrie, or inn, in the sixteenth cen-
tury, maybe collected from Dunbar's admirable
tale of The Friars of Berwick. Simon Lawder,
" the gay ostlier," seems to have lived very
comfortably; and his wife decorated her per-
son with a scarlet kirtle, and a belt of silk and
silver, and rings upon her fingers ; and feasted
her paramour with rabbits, capons, partridges,
and Bourdeaux wine. At least, if the Scottish
inns were not good, it was not for want of en-
couragement trom the Legislature; who, so
early as the reign of James I., not only enacted
that in all boroughs and fairs there be hostel-
laries, having stables and chambers, and pro-
vision for man and horse, but by another
statute, ordained that no man, travelling on
horse or foot, should presume to lodge any-
where except in these hostellaries; and that no
person, save innkeepers, should receive such
travellers, under the penalty of forty shillings,
for exercising such hospitality.

13. Seemed in my ear, etc. Among other
omens to which faithful credit is given among
the Scottish peasantry, is what is called the
"dead-bell," explained by my friend James
Hogg to be that tinkling in the ear which the
country people regard as the secret intelligence
of some friend's decease.

Tfu Goblin- Hall A vaulted hall under

the ancient castle of Gifford, or Yester (for it

bears either name indifferently), the construc-

1 which has, from a very remote period,

< 1 iUd to magic.

20. /faro's burner, etc. In 1263, Haco, King
of Norway, came into the Firth of Clyde with
a powerful armament, and made a descent at
I in Ayrshire. Here he was encountered

and (ideated, on the 2d October, by Alexander
III. Haco retreated to Orkney, where he died

soon after this disgrace to his arms. There are
still existing, near the place of battle, many
barrows, some of which, having been opened,
were found, as usual, to contain bones and

20. Wizard habit strange. Scott quotes Reg-
inald Scot's Disroverie of Witchrraft, ed. 1665 :
" Magicians, as is well known, were very curi-
ous in the choice and form of their vestments.
Their caps are oval, or like pyramids, with lap-
pets on each side, and fur within. Their gowns
are long, and furred with fox-skins, under which
they have a linen garment reaching to the knee.
Their girdles are three inches broad, and have
many cabalistical names, with crosses, trines,
and circles inscribed on them. Their shoes
should be of new russet leather, with a cross
cut upon them. Their knives are dagger-
fashion ; and their swords have neither guard
nor scabbard."

20. A pentarle. Scott again cites Reginald
Scot: "A pentacle is a piece of fine linen,
folded with five corners, according to the five
senses, and suitably inscribed with characters.
This the magician extends towards the spirits
which he invokes, when they are stubborn and
rebellious, and refuse to be conformable unto
the ceremonies and rites of magic."

22. Bom upon that blessed night, etc. It is a
popular article of faith, that those who are born
on Christmas or Good-Friday have the power of
seeing spirits, and even of commanding them.
The Spaniards imputed the haggard and down-
cast looks of their Philip II. to the disagreeable
visions to which this privilege subjected him.

25. The Elfin Warrior, etc. Gervase of Til-
bury relates the following popular story con-
cerning a fairy knight : " Osbert, a bold and
powerful baron, visited a noble family in the
vicinity of Wandlebury, in the bishopric of
Ely. Among other stories related in the social
circle of his friends, who, according to custom,
amused each other by repeating ancient tales
and traditions, he was informed that if any
knight, unattended, entered an adjacent plain
by moonlight, and challenged an adversary to
appear, he would be immediately encountered
by a spirit in the form of a knight. Osbert
resolved to make the experiment, and set out,
attended by a single squire, whom he ordered
to remain without the limits of the plain, which
was surrounded by an ancient entrenchment.
On repeating the challenge he was instantly
assailed by an adversary, whom he quickly un-
horsed, and seized the reins of his steed. Dur-
ing this operation his ghostly opponent sprung
up, and, darting his spear, like a javelin, at Os-
bert, wounded him in the thigh Osbert re-
turned in triumph with the horse, which he
committed to the care of his servants. The
horse was of a sable color, as well as his whole
accoutrements, and apparently of great beauty
and vigor. He remained with his keeper till
cockcrowing, when, with eyes flashing fire, he
reared, spurned the ground, and vanished. On
disarming himself, Osbert perceived that he
was wounded, and that one of his steel-boots



was full of blood." Gervase adds, that, as long
as he lived; the scar of his wound opened afresh
on the anniversary of the eve on which he en-
countered the spirit.


The morn may find the stiffened swain. I
cannot help here mentioning, that, on the night
in which these lines were written, suggested, as
they were, by a sudden fall of snow, beginning
after sunset, an unfortunate man perished ex-
actly in the manner here described, and his
body was next morning found close to his own
house. The accident happened within five
miles of the farm of Ashestiel.

Lamented Forbes. Sir William Forbes of Pit-
sligo, Baronet ; unequalled, perhaps, in the de-
gree of individual affection entertained for him
by his friends, as well as in the general respect
and esteem of Scotland at large. His Life of
Beattie, whom he befriended and patronized in
life, as well as celebrated after his decease, was
not long published, before the benevolent and
affectionate biographer was called to follow
the subject of his narrative. This melancholy
event very shortly succeeded the marriage of
the friend to whom this introduction is ad-
dressed, with one of Sir William's daughters.


1. Lantern-led by Friar Rush. The name of
Friar Rush was due to an old story that the elf
once got admittance into a monastery as a scul-
lion, and played the monks many tricks.

7. Sir David Lindesay, etc. I am uncertain
if I abuse poetical license by introducing Sir
David Lindesay in the character of Lion-Her-
ald sixteen years before he obtained that office.
At any rate, I am not the first who has been
guilty of the anachronism ; for the author of
Flodden Field despatches Dallamount, which
can mean nobody but Sir David de la Mont, to
France, on the message of defiance from James
IV. to Henry VIII. It was often an office im-
posed on the Lion King-at-arms, to receive for-
eign embassadors ; and Lindesay himself did
this honor to Sir Ralph Sadler in 1 539-1 540.
Indeed, the oath of the Lion, in its first article,
bears reference to his frequent employment
upon royal messages and embassies.

10. Crichtoun Castle. A large ruinous castle
on the banks of the Tyne, about seven miles
from Edinburgh. As indicated in the text, it
was built at different times and with a very
differing regard to splendor and accommoda-
tion. The oldest part of the building is a nar-
row keep, or tower, such as formed the mansion
of a lesser Scottish baron ; but so many addi-
tions have been made to it that there is now a
large court-yard, surrounded by buildings of
different ages. The eastern front of the court

is raised above a portico, and decorated with
entablatures bearing anchors. All the stones
of this front are cut into diamond facets, the
angular projections of which have an uncom-
monly rich appearance.

12. Earl Adam Hepburn. He was the sec-
ond Earl of Bothwell, and fell in the field of
Flodden, where, according to an ancient Eng.
lish poet, he distinguished himself by a furious
attempt to retrieve the day. See Flodden Field,
ed. 1808 : —

"Then on the Scottish part, right proud,

The Earl of Bothwell then out brast,
And stepping forth, with stomach good,

Into the enemies' throng he thrast ;
And Bothwell ! Bothwell I cried bold,

To cause his souldiers to ensue,
But there he caught a wellcome cold,

The Englishmen straight down him threw.
Thus Haburn through his hardy heart

His fatal fine in conflict found," etc.

14. For that a messenger from heaven, etc.
This story is told by Pitscottie with character-
istic simplicity : " The king, seeing that France
could get no support of him for that time, made
a proclamation, full hastily, through all the
realm of Scotland, both east and west, south
and north, as well in the Isles as in the firm
land, to all manner of man betwixt sixty and
sixteen years, that they should be ready, within
twenty days, to pass with him, with forty days
victual, and to meet at the Burrow-muir of
Edinburgh, and there to pass forward where
he pleased. His proclamations were hastily
obeyed, contrary the Council of Scotland's
will; but every man loved his prince so well,
that they would on no ways disobey him ; but
every man caused make his proclamation so
hastily, conform to the charge of the king's

" The king came to Lithgow, where he hap-
pened to be for the time at the council, very
sad and dolorous, making his devotion to God,
to send him good chance and fortune in his
voyage. In this mean time, there came a man
clad in a blue gown in at the kirk-door, and
belted about him in a roll of linen cloth ; a pair
of brotikings 1 on his feet, to the great of his
legs; with all other hose and clothes conform
thereto : but he had nothing on his head, but
syde 2 red yellow hair behind, and on his haf-
fets, 3 which wan down to his shoulders ; but his
forehead was bald and bare. He seemed to be
a man of two-and-fifty years, with a great pike-
staff in his hand, and came first forward among
the lords, crying and speiring 4 for the king,
saying, he desired to speak with him. While,
at the last, he came where the king was sitting
in the desk at his prayers; but when he saw
the king, he made him little reverence or salu-
tation, but leaned down grofling on the desk
before him, and said to him in this manner, as
after follows : ' Sir king, my mother hath sent
me to you, desiring you not to pass, at this
time, where thou art purposed ; for if thou
does, thou wilt not fare well in thy journey,
nor none that passeth with thee. Further, she

1 Buskins. 2 Long. 3 Cheeks. ■* Asking.



bade thee mell J with no woman, nor use their
counsel, nor let them touch thy body, nor thou
theirs; for, if thou do it, thou wilt be con-
founded and brought to shame.'

" By this man had spoken thir words unto
the king's grace, the evening song was near
done, and the king paused on thir words, study-
ing to give him an answer ; but, in the mean
time, before the king's eyes, and in the presence
of all the lords that were about him for the
time, this man vanished away, and could no
ways be seen nor comprehended, but vanished
away as he had been a blink of the sun, or a
whip of the whirlwind, and could no more be
seen. I heard say, Sir David Lindesay, lyon-
herauld, and John Inglis the marshal, who were,
at that time, young men, and special servants
to the king's grace, were standing presently be-
side the king, who thought to have laid hands
on this man, that they might have speired fur-
ther tidings at him. But all for nought ; they
could not touch him; for he vanished away
betwixt them, and was no more seen."

15. The wild buck bells. I am glad of an op-
portunity to describe the cry of the deer by
another word than braying, although the latter
lias been sanctified by the use of the Scottish
metrical translation of the Psalms. Bell seems
to be an abbreviation of bellow. This sylvan
sound conveyed great delight to our ancestors,
chiefly, I suppose, from association. A gentle
knight in the reign of Henry VIII., Sir Thomas
Wortley, built Wantley Lodge, in Wancliffe
Forest, for the pleasure (as an ancient inscrip-
tion testifies) of "listening to the hart's 'bell"

1 5. June saw his father's overthrow. The re-
bellion against James III. was signalized by the
cruel circumstance of his son's presence in the
hostile army. When the king saw his own
banner displayed against him, and his son in
the faction of his enemies, he lost the little
courage he ever possessed, fled out of the field,
fell from his horse, as it started at a woman
and water-pitcher, and was slain, it is not well
understood by whom. James IV., after the
battle, passed to Stirling, and hearing the
monks of the chapel royal deploring the death
of his father, their founder, he was seized with

Online LibraryWalter ScottThe poetical works of Sir Walter Scott, Baronet → online text (page 66 of 78)