FRAGMENT OF A ROMANCE WHICH WAS TO HAVE BEEN ENTITLED
THOMAS THE RHYMER.
[It is not to be supposed that these fragments are given as
possessing any intrinsic value of themselves; but there may be
some curiosity attached to them, as to the first etchings of a
plate, which are accounted interesting by those who have, in
any degree, been interested in the more finished works of the
The sun was nearly set behind the distant mountains of
Liddesdale, when a few of the scattered and terrified inhabitants of
the village of Hersildoun, which had four days before been burned by
a predatory band of English Borderers, were now busied in repairing
their ruined dwellings. One high tower in the centre of the village
alone exhibited no appearance of devastation. It was surrounded with
court walls, and the outer gate was barred and bolted. The bushes
and brambles which grew around, and had even insinuated their
branches beneath the gate, plainly showed that it must have been
many years since it had been opened. While the cottages around lay
in smoking ruins, this pile, deserted and desolate as it seemed to
be, had suffered nothing from the violence of the invaders; and the
wretched beings who were endeavouring to repair their miserable huts
against nightfall, seemed to neglect the preferable shelter which it
might have afforded them, without the necessity of labour.
Before the day had quite gone down, a knight, richly armed, and
mounted upon an ambling hackney, rode slowly into the village. His
attendants were a lady, apparently young and beautiful, who rode by
his side upon a dappled palfrey; his squire, who carried his helmet
and lance, and led his battle-horse, a noble steed, richly
caparisoned. A page and four yeomen, bearing bows and quivers, short
swords, and targets of a span breadth, completed his equipage,
which, though small, denoted him to be a man of high rank.
He stopped and addressed several of the inhabitants whom
curiosity had withdrawn from their labour to gaze at him; but at the
sound of his voice, and still more on perceiving the St. George's
Cross in the caps of his followers, they fled, with a loud cry that
the Southrons were returned. The knight endeavoured to expostulate
with the fugitives, who were chiefly aged men, women, and children;
but their dread of the English name accelerated their flight, and in
a few minutes, excepting the knight and his attendants, the place
was deserted by all. He paced through the village to seek a shelter
for the night, and despairing to find one either in the inaccessible
tower or the plundered huts of the peasantry, he directed his course
to the left hand, where he spied a small, decent habitation,
apparently the abode of a man considerably above the common rank.
After much knocking, the proprietor at length showed himself at the
window, and speaking in the English dialect, with great signs of
apprehension, demanded their business. The warrior replied that his
quality was an English knight and baron, and that he was travelling
to the court of the king of Scotland on affairs of consequence to
"Pardon my hesitation, noble Sir Knight," said the old man, as he
unbolted and unbarred his doors,—
"Pardon my hesitation, but we are here exposed to too many
intrusions to admit of our exercising unlimited and unsuspicious
hospitality. What I have is yours; and God send your mission may
bring back peace and the good days of our old Queen Margaret!"
"Amen, worthy franklin," quoth the knight,—"Did you know
"I came to this country in her train," said the franklin; "and
the care of some of her jointure lands, which she devolved on me,
occasioned my settling here."
And how do you, being an Englishman," said the knight, "protect
your life and property here, when one of your nation cannot obtain a
single night's lodging, or a draught of water, were he
"Marry, noble sir," answered the franklin, "use, as they say,
will make a man live in a lion's den; and as I settled here in a
quiet time, and have never given cause of offence, I am respected by
my neighbours, and even, as you see, by our forayers from
"I rejoice to hear it, and accept your hospitality. Isabella, my
love, our worthy host will provide you a bed. My daughter, good
franklin, is ill at ease. We will occupy your house till the
Scottish king shall return from his Northern expedition. Meanwhile
call me Lord Lacy of Chester."
The attendants of the baron, assisted by the franklin, were now
busied in disposing of the horses and arranging the table for some
refreshment for Lord Lacy and his fair companion. While they sat
down to it, they were attended by their host and his daughter, whom
custom did not permit to eat in their presence, and who afterwards
withdrew to an outer chamber, where the squire and page (both young
men of noble birth) partook of supper, and were accommodated with
beds. The yeomen, after doing honour to the rustic cheer of Queen
Margaret's bailiff, withdrew to the stable, and each, beside his
favourite horse, snored away the fatigues of their journey.
Early on the following morning the travellers were roused by a
thundering knocking at the door of the house, accompanied with many
demands for instant admission, in the roughest tone. The squire and
page, of Lord Lacy, after buckling on their arms, were about to
sally out to chastise these intruders, when the old host, after
looking out at a private casement, contrived for reconnoitring his
visitors, entreated them, with great signs of terror, to be quiet,
if they did not mean that all in the house should be murdered.
He then hastened to the apartment of Lord Lacy, whom he met dressed
in a long furred gown and the knightly cap called a mortier,
irritated at the noise, and demanding to know the cause which had
disturbed the repose of the household.
"Noble sir," said the franklin, "one of the most formidable and
bloody of the Scottish Border riders is at hand. He is never seen,"
added he, faltering with terror, "so far from the hills, but with
some bad purpose, and the power of accomplishing it; so hold
yourself to your guard, for—"
A loud crash here announced that the door was broken down, and
the knight just descended the stair in time to prevent bloodshed
betwixt his attendants and the intruders. They were three in number.
Their chief was tall, bony, and athletic, his spare and muscular
frame, as well as the hardness of his features, marked the course of
his life to have been fatiguing and perilous. The effect of his
appearance was aggravated by his dress, which consisted of a jack,
or jacket, composed of thick buff leather, on which small plates of
iron of a lozenge form were stitched, in such a manner as to overlap
each other and form a coat of mail, which swayed with every motion
of the wearer's body. This defensive armour covered a doublet of
coarse gray cloth, and the Borderer had a few half-rusted plates of
steel on his shoulders, a two-edged sword, with a dagger hanging
beside it, in a buff belt; a helmet, with a few iron bars, to cover
the face instead of a visor, and a lance of tremendous and uncommon
length, completed his appointments. The looks of the man were as
wild and rude as his attire; his keen black eyes never rested one
moment fixed upon a single object, but constantly traversed all
around, as if they ever sought some danger to oppose, some plunder
to seize, or some insult to revenge. The latter seemed to be his
present object, for, regardless of the dignified presence of Lord
Lacy, he uttered the most incoherent threats against the owner of
the house and his guests.
"We shall see—ay, marry shall we—if an English hound is to
harbour and reset the Southrons here. Thank the Abbot of Melrose
and the good Knight of Coldingnow that have so long kept me from
your skirts. But those days are gone, by St. Mary, and you shall
It is probable the enraged Borderer would not have long continued
to vent his rage in empty menaces, had not the entrance of the four
yeomen, with their bows bent, convinced him that the force was not
at this moment on his own side.
Lord Lacy now advanced towards him. "You intrude upon my privacy,
soldier; withdraw yourself and Your followers. There is peace
betwixt our nations, or my servants should chastise thy
"Such peace as ye give such shall you have," answered the
moss-trooper, first pointing with his lance towards the burned
village, and then almost instantly levelling it against Lord Lacy.
The squire drew his sword, and severed at one blow the steel head
from the truncheon of the spear.
"Arthur Fitzherbert," said the baron, "that stroke has deferred
thy knighthood for one year; never must that squire wear the spurs
whose unbridled impetuosity can draw unbidden his sword in the
presence of his master. Go hence, and think on what I have
The squire left the chamber abashed.
"It were vain," continued Lord Lacy, "to expect that courtesy
from a mountain churl which even my own followers can forget. Yet
before thou drawest thy brand," for the intruder laid his hand upon
the hilt of his sword, "thou wilt do well to reflect that I came
with a safe-conduct from thy king, and have no time to waste in
brawls with such as thou."
"From my king,—from my king!" re-echoed the mountaineer. "I care
not that rotten truncheon," striking the shattered spear furiously
on the ground, "for the king of Fife and Lothian. But Habby of
Cessford will be here belive; and we shall soon know if he will
permit an English churl to occupy his hostelry."
Having uttered these words, accompanied with a lowering glance
from under his shaggy black eyebrows, he turned on his heel and left
the house with his two followers; they mounted their horses, which
they had tied to an outer fence, and vanished in an instant.
"Who is this discourteous ruffian?" said Lord Lacy to the
franklin, who had stood in the most violent agitation during this
"His name, noble lord, is Adam Kerr of the Moat, but he is
commonly called by his companions the Black Rider of Cheviot. I
fear, I fear, he comes hither for no good; but if the Lord of
Cessford be near, he will not dare offer any unprovoked
"I have heard of that chief," said the baron; "let me know when
he approaches. And do thou, Rodulph," to the eldest yeoman, "keep a
strict watch. Adelbert," to the page, "attend to arm me." The page
bowed, and the baron withdrew to the chamber of the lady Isabella,
to explain the cause of the disturbance.
No more of the proposed tale was ever written; but the Author's
purpose was that it should turn upon a fine legend of superstition
which is current in the part of the Borders where he had his
residence, where, in the reign of Alexander III. of Scotland, that
renowned person, Thomas of Hersildoune, called the Rhymer, actually
flourished. This personage, the Merlin of Scotland, and to whom some
of the adventures which the British bards assigned to Merlin
Caledonius, or the Wild, have been transferred by tradition, was,
as is well known, a magician, as well as a poet and prophet. He is
alleged still to live in the land of Faery, and is expected to
return at some great convulsion of society, in which he is to act a
distinguished part,—a tradition common to all nations, as the
belief of the Mahomedans respecting their twelfth Imaum
Now, it chanced many years since that there lived on the Borders
a jolly, rattling horse-cowper, who was remarkable for a reckless
and fearless temper, which made him much admired, and a little
dreaded, amongst his neighbours. One moonlight night, as he rode
over Bowden Moor, on the west side of the Eildon Hills, the scene of
Thomas the Rhymer's prophecies, and often mentioned in his story,
having a brace of horses along with him which he bad not been able
to dispose of, he met a man of venerable appearance and singularly
antique dress, who, to his great surprise, asked the price of his
horses, and began to chaffer with him on the subject. To Canobie
Dick—(for so shall we call our Border dealer)—a chap was a chap,
and he would have sold a liaise to the devil himself, without
minding his cloven hoof, and would have probably cheated Old Nick
into the bargain. The stranger paid the price they agreed on; and
all that puzzled Dick in the transaction was that the gild which he
received was in unicorns, bonnet-pieces, and other ancient coins,
which would have been invaluable to collectors, but were rather
troublesome, in modern currency.
It was gold, however, and therefore Dick contrived to get better
value for the coin than he perhaps gave to his customer. By the
command of so good a merchant, he brought horses to the same slot
more than once; the purchaser only stipulating that he should always
come by night, and alone. I do not know whether it was from mere
curiosity, or whether some hope of gain mixed with it, but after
Dick had sold several horses in this way, he began to complain that
dry-bargains were unlucky, and to hint that since his chap must
live in the neighbourhood, he ought, in the courtesy of dealing, to
treat him to half a mutchkin.
"You may see my dwelling if you will," said the stranger; "but if
you lose courage at what you see there, you will rue it all your
Dicken, however, laughed the warning to scorn, and having
alighted to secure his horse, he followed the stranger up a narrow
foot-path, which led them up the hills to the singular eminence
stuck betwixt the most southern and the centre peaks, and called,
from its resemblance to such an animal in its form, the Lucken Hare.
At the foot of this eminence, which is almost as famous for witch
meetings as the neighbouring wind-mill of Kippilaw, Dick was
somewhat startled to observe that his conductor entered the
hill-side by a
passage or cavern, of which he himself, though well acquainted with
the spot, had never seen or heard.
"You may still return," said his guide, looking ominously back
upon him; but Dick scorned to show the white feather, and on they
went. They entered a very long range of stables; in every stall
stood a coal-black horse; by every horse lay a knight in coal-black
armour, with a drawn sword in his hand; but all were as silent, hoof
and limb, as if they had been cut out of marble. A great number of
torches lent a gloomy lustre to the hall, which, like those of the
Caliph Vathek, was of large dimensions. At the upper end, however,
they at length arrived, where a sword and horn lay on an antique
"He that shall sound that horn and draw that sword," said the
stranger, who now intimated that he was the famous Thomas of
Hersildoune, "shall, if his heart fail him not, be king over all
broad Britain. So speaks the tongue that cannot lie. But all depends
on courage, and much on your taking the sword or the horn first."
Dick was much disposed to take the sword; but his bold spirit was
quailed by the supernatural terrors of the hall, and he thought to
unsheathe the sword first, might be construed into defiance, and
give offence to the powers of the Mountain. He took the bugle with a
trembling hand, and a feeble note, but loud enough to produce a
terrible answer. Thunder rolled in stunning peals through the
immense hall; horses and men started to life; the steeds snorted,
stamped, grinned their bits, and tossed on high their heads; the
warriors sprung to their feet, clashed their armour, and brandished
their swords. Dick's terror was extreme at seeing the whole army,
which had been so lately silent as the grave, in uproar, and about
to rush on him. He dropped the horn, and made a feeble attempt to
seize the enchanted sword; but at the same moment a voice pronounced
aloud the mysterious words,—
"Woe to the coward, that ever he was born,
Who did not draw the sword before he blew the horn!"
At the same time a whirlwind of irresistible fury howled through
the long hall, bore the unfortunate horse-jockey clear out of the
mouth of the cavern, and precipitated him over a steep bank of loose
stones, where the shepherds found him the next morning with just
breath sufficient to tell his fearful tale, after concluding which
This legend, with several variations, is found in many parts of
Scotland and England. The scene is sometimes laid in some favourite
glen of the Highlands, sometimes in the deep coal-mines of
Northumberland and Cumberland, which rim so far beneath the ocean.
It is also to be found in Reginald Scott's book on Witchcraft, which
was written in the sixteenth century. It would be in vain to ask
what was the original of the tradition. The choice between the horn
and sword may, perhaps, include as a moral that it is foolhardy to
awaken danger before we have arms in our hands to resist it.
Although admitting of much poetical ornament, it is clear that
this legend would have formed but an unhappy foundation for a prose
story, and must have degenerated into a mere fairy tale. Dr. John
Leyden has beautifully introduced the tradition in his "Scenes of
"Mysterious Rhymer, doomed by fate's decree
Still to revisit Eildon's fated tree,
Where oft the swain, at dawn of Hallow-day,
Hears thy fleet barb with wild impatience neigh,—
Say, who is he, with summons long and high,
Shall bid the charmed sleep of ages fly,
Roll the long sound through Eildon's caverns vast,
While each dark warrior kindles at the blast,
The horn, the falchion, grasp with mighty hand,
And peal proud Arthur's march from Fairy-land?"
In the same cabinet with the preceding fragment, the following
occurred among other 'disjecta membra'. It seems to be an attempt at
a tale of a different description from the last, but was almost
instantly abandoned. The introduction points out the time of the
composition to have been about the end of the eighteenth
THE LORD OF ENNERDALE.
IN A FRAGMENT OF A LETTER FROM JOHN B______, ESQ.,
OF THAT ILK, TO WILLIAM G______, F.R.S.E.
"Fill a bumper," said the knight; "the ladies may spare us a
little longer. Fill a bumper to the Archduke Charles."
The company did due honour to the toast of their landlord.
"The success of the archduke," said the muddy vicar, "will tend
to further our negotiation at Paris;
"Pardon the interruption, Doctor," quoth a thin, emaciated
figure, with somewhat of a foreign accent; "but why should you
connect those events, unless to hope that the bravery and victories
of our allies may supersede the necessity of a degrading
"We begin to feel, Monsieur L'Abbe," answered the vicar, with
some asperity, "that a Continental war entered into for the defence
of an ally who was unwilling to defend himself, and for the
restoration of a royal family, nobility, and priesthood who tamely
abandoned their own rights, is a burden too much even for the
resources of this country."
"And was the war, then, on the part of Great Britain," rejoined
the Abbe, "a gratuitous exertion of generosity? Was there no fear of
the wide-wasting spirit of innovation which had gone abroad? Did not
the laity tremble for their property, the clergy for their religion,
and every loyal heart for the Constitution? Was it not thought
necessary to destroy the building which was on fire, ere the
conflagration spread around the vicinity?"
"Yet if upon trial," said the doctor, "the walls were found to
resist our utmost efforts, I see no great prudence in persevering in
our labour amid the smouldering ruins."
"What, Doctor," said the baronet, "must I call to your
recollection your own sermon on the late general fast? Did you not
encourage us to hope that the Lord of Hosts would go forth with our
armies, and that our enemies, who blasphemed him, should be put to
"It may please a kind father to chasten even his beloved
children," answered the vicar.
"I think," said a gentleman near the foot of the table, "that the
Covenanters made some apology of the same kind for the failure of
their prophecies at the battle of Danbar, when their mutinous
preachers compelled the prudent Lesley to go down against the
Philistines in Gilgal."
The vicar fixed a scrutinizing and not a very complacent eye upon
this intruder. He was a young man, of mean stature and rather a
reserved appearance. Early and severe study had quenched in his
features the gaiety peculiar to his age, and impressed upon them a
premature cast of thoughtfulness. His eve had, however, retained its
fire, and his gesture its animation. Had he remained silent, he
would have been long unnoticed; but when he spoke, there was
something in his manner which arrested attention.
"Who is this young man?" said the vicar, in a low voice, to his
"A Scotchman called Maxwell, on a visit to Sir Henry," was the
"I thought so, from his accent and his manner," said the vicar.
It may be here observed that the Northern English retain rather more
of the ancient hereditary aversion to their neighbors than their
countrymen of the South. The interference of other disputants, each
of whom urged his opinion with all the vehemence of wine and
politics, rendered the summons to the drawing-room agreeable to the
more sober part of the company.
The company dispersed by degrees, and at length the vicar and the
young Scotchman alone remained, besides the baronet, his lady,
daughters, and myself. The clergyman had not, it would seem, forgot
the observation which ranked him with the false prophets of Dunbar,
for he addressed Mr. Maxwell upon the first opportunity.
"Hem! I think, sir, you mentioned something about the civil wars
of last century. You must be deeply skilled in them indeed, if you
can draw any parallel betwixt those and the present evil days,—davs
which I am ready to maintain are the most gloomy that ever darkened
the prospects of Britain."
"God forbid, Doctor, that I should draw a comparison between the
present times and those you mention; I am too sensible of the
advantages we enjoy over our ancestors. Faction and ambition have
introduced division among us; but we are still free from the guilt
of civil bloodshed, and from all the evils which flow from it. Our
foes, sir, are not those of our own household; and while we continue
united and firm, from the attacks of a foreign enemy, however
artful, or however inveterate, we have, I hope, little to
"Have you found anything curious, Mr. Maxwell, among the dusty
papers?" said Sir Henry, who seemed to dread a revival of political
"My investigation amongst them led to reflection's which I have
just now hinted," said Maxwell; "and I think they are pretty
strongly exemplified by a story which I have been endeavouring to
arrange from some of your family manuscripts."
"You are welcome to make what use of them you please," said Sir
Henry; "they have been undisturbed for many a day, and I have often
wished for some person as well skilled as you in these old pothooks,
to tell me their meaning."
"Those I just mentioned," answered Maxwell, "relate to a piece of
private history savouring not a little of the marvellous, and
intimately connected with your family; if it is agreeable, I can
read to you the anecdotes in the modern shape into which I have been
endeavouring to throw them, and you can then judge of the value of
There was something in this proposal agreeable to all parties.
Sir Henry had family pride, which prepared him to take an interest
in whatever related to his ancestors. The ladies had dipped deeply
into the fashionable reading of the present day. Lady Ratcliff and
her fair daughters had climbed every pass, viewed every
pine-shrouded ruin, heard every groan, and lifted every trap-door,
in company with the noted heroine of "Udolpho." They had been heard,
however, to observe that the famous incident of the Black Veil
singularly resembled the ancient apologue of the Mountain in labour,
so that they were unquestionably critics, as well as admirers.
Besides all this, they had valorously mounted en croupe behind the
ghostly horseman of Prague, through all his seven translators, and
followed the footsteps of Moor through the forest of Bohemia.
Moreover, it was even hinted (but this was a greater mystery than
all the rest) that a certain performance, called the "Monk," in
three neat volumes, had been seen by a prying eye, in the right-hand
of the Indian cabinet of Lady Ratcliff's dressing-room. Thus
predisposed for wonders and signs, Lady Ratcliff and her nymphs
drew their chairs round a large blazing wood-fire, and arranged
themselves to listen to the tale. To that fire I also approached,
moved thereunto partly by the inclemency of the season, and partly
that my deafness, which you know, cousin, I acquired during my
campaign under Prince Charles Edward, might be no obstacle to the
gratification of my curiosity, which was awakened by what had any
reference to the fate of such faithful followers of royalty as you
well know the house of Ratcliff have ever been. To this wood-fire
the vicar likewise drew near, and reclined himself conveniently in
his chair, seemingly disposed to testify his disrespect for the
narration and narrator by falling asleep as soon as he conveniently
could. By the side of Maxwell (by the way, I cannot learn that he is
in the least related to the Nithsdale family) was placed a small
table and a couple of lights, by the assistance of which he read as
"Journal of Jan Von Eulen.
On the 6th November, 1645, I, Jan Von Enlen, merchant in
Rotterdam, embarked with my only daughter on board of the good
vessel 'Vryheid,' of Amsterdam, in order to pass into the
unhappy and disturbed kingdom of England.—7th November. A
brisk gale; daughter sea-sick; myself unable to complete the
calculation which I have begun, of the inheritance left by Jane
Lansache, of Carlisle, my late dear wife's sister, the
collection of which is the object of my voyage.—8th November.
Wind still stormy and adverse; a horrid disaster nearly
happened,—my dear child washed overboard as the vessel lurched
to leeward.—Memorandum, to reward the young sailor who saved
her, out of the first moneys which I can recover from the
inheritance of her aunt Lansache.—9th November. Calm P.M.
light breezes front N. N. W. I talked with the captain about
the inheritance of my sister-in-law, Jane Lansache. He says he
knows the principal subject, which will not exceed L1000 in
value.—N. B. He is a cousin to a family of Petersons, which
was the name of the husband of my sister-in-law; so there is
room to hope it may be worth more than be reports.—10th
November, 10 A.M. May God pardon all our sins! An English
frigate, bearing the Parliament flag, has appeared in the
offing, and gives chase.—11 A. M. She nears us every moment,
and the captain of our vessel prepares to clear for action. May
God again have mercy upon us!"
"Here," said Maxwell, "the journal with which I have opened the
narration ends somewhat abruptly."
"I am glad of it," said Lady Ratcliff.
"But, Mr. Maxwell," said young Frank, Sir Henry's grandchild,
"shall we not hear how the battle ended?"
I do not know, cousin, whether I have not formerly made you
acquainted with the abilities of Frank Ratcliff. There is not a
battle fought between the troops of the Prince and of the
government, during the years 1745-46, of which he is not able to
give an account. It is true, I have taken particular pains to fix
the events of this important period upon his memory by frequent
"No, my dear," said Maxwell, in answer to young Frank
Itatcliff,—"No, my dear, I cannot tell you the exact particulars of the
engagement, but its consequences appear from the following letter,
despatched by Garbonete Von Enlen, daughter of our journalist, to a
relation in England, from whom she implored assistance. After some
general account of the purpose of the voyage, and of the engagement,
her narrative proceeds thus:—
"The noise of the cannon had hardly ceased, before the sounds of
a language to me but half known, and the confusion on board our
vessel, informed me that the captors had boarded us and taken
possession of our vessel. I went on deck, where the first spectacle
that met my eyes was a young man, mate of our vessel, who, though
disfigured and covered with blood, was loaded with irons, and whom
they were forcing over the side of the vessel into a boat. The two
principal persons among our enemies appeared to be a man of a tall,
thin figure, with a high-crowned hat and long neck band, and
short-cropped head of hair, accompanied by a bluff, open-looking
elderly man in a naval uniform. 'Yarely! yarely! pull away, my
hearts,' said the latter, and the boat bearing the unlucky young man
soon carried him on board the frigate. Perhaps you will blame me for
mentioning this circumstance; but consider, my dear cousin, this man
saved my life, and his fate, even when my own and my father's were
in the balance, could not but affect me nearly.
"'In the name of him who is jealous, even to slaying,' said the
CONCLUSION OF MR. STRUTT'S ROMANCE OF
BY THE AUTHOR OF WAVERLEY.
A HUNTING PARTY.—AN ADVENTURE.—A DELIVERANCE.
The next morning the bugles were sounded by daybreak in the court
of Lord Boteler's mansion, to call the inhabitants from their
slumbers, to assist in a splendid chase, with which the baron had
resolved to entertain his neighbour Fitzallen and his noble visitor
St. Clere. Peter Lanaret the falconer was in attendance, with
falcons for the knights, and tiercelets for the ladies, if they
should choose to vary their sport from hunting to hawking. Five
stout yeomen keepers, with their attendants, called Bagged Robins,
all meetly arrayed in Kendal green, with bugles and short hangers by
their sides, and quarterstaffs in their hands, led the slow-hounds,
or brackets, by which the deer were to be put up. Ten brace of
gallant greyhounds, each of which was fit to pluck down, singly, the
tallest red deer, were led in leashes by as many of Lord Boteler's
foresters. The pages, squires, and other attendants of feudal
splendour, well attired in their best hunting-gear, upon horseback
or foot, according to their rank,—with their boar-spears, long
bows, and cross-bows, were in seemly waiting.
A numerous train of yeomen, called in the language of the times
retainers, who yearly received a livery coat and a small pension for
their attendance on such solemn occasions, appeared in cassocks of
blue, bearing upon their arms the cognizance of the house of Boteler
as a badge of their adherence. They were the tallest men of their
hands that the neighbouring villages could supply, with every man
his good buckler on his shoulder, and a bright burnished broadsword
dangling from his leathern belt. On this occasion they acted as
rangers for beating up the thickets and rousing the game. These
attendants filled up the court of the castle, spacious as it was.
On the green without, you might have seen the motley assemblage of
peasantry convened by report of the splendid hunting, including most
of our old acquaintances from Tewin, as well as the jolly partakers
of good cheer at Hob Filcher's. Gregory the jester, it may well be
guessed, had no great mind to exhibit himself in public after his
recent disaster; but Oswald the steward, a great formalist in
whatever concerned the public exhibition of his master's household
state, had positively enjoined his attendance. "What," quoth he,
"shall the house of the brave Lord Boteler, or such a brave day as
this, be without a fool? Certes, the good Lord St. Clere and his
fair lady sister might think our housekeeping as niggardly as that
of their churlish kinsman at Gay Bowers, who sent his father's
jester to the hospital, sold the poor sot's bells for hawk-jesses,
and made a nightcap of his long-eared bonnet. And, sirrah, let me
see thee fool handsomely,—speak squibs and crackers, instead of
that dry, barren, musty gibing which thou hast used of late; or, by
the bones! the porter shall have thee to his lodge, and cob thee
with thine own wooden sword till thy skin is as motley as thy
To this stern injunction, Gregory made no reply, any more than to
the courteous offer of old Albert Drawslot, the chief park-keeper,
who proposed to blow vinegar in his nose, to sharpen his wit, as he
had done that blessed morning to Bragger, the old hound, whose scent
was failing. There was, indeed, little time for reply, for the
bugles, after a lively flourish, were now silent, and Peretto, with
his two attendant minstrels, stepping beneath the windows of the
strangers' apartments, joined in the following roundelay, the deep
voices of the rangers and falconers making up a chorus that caused
the very battlements to ring again.
Waken, lords and ladies gay,
On the mountain dawns the day;
All the jolly chase is here,
With hawk and horse and hunting-spear
Hounds are in their couples yelling,
Hawks are whistling, horns are knelling,
Merrily, merrily, mingle they,
"Waken, lords and ladies gay."
Waken, lords and ladies gay,
The mist has left the mountain gray;
Springlets in the dawn are streaming,
Diamonds on the brake are gleaming,
And foresters have busy been,
To track the buck in thicket green;
Now we come to chant our lay:
"Waken, lords and ladies gay."
Waken, lords and ladies gay,
To the green-wood haste away;
We can show you where he lies,
Fleet of foot, and tall of size;
We can show the marks he made
When 'gainst the oak his antlers frayed;
You shall see him brought to bay,
"Waken, lords and ladies gay."
Louder, louder chant the lay,
"Waken, lords and ladies gay;"
Tell them, youth and mirth and glee
Run a course as well as we.
Time, stern huntsman, who can baulk,
Staunch as hound, and fleet as hawk?
Think of this, and rise with day,
Gentle lords and ladies gay.
By the time this lay was finished, Lord Boteler, with his daughter
and kinsman, Fitzallen of Harden, and other noble guests had mounted
their palfreys, and the hunt set forward in due order. The huntsmen,
having carefully observed the traces of a large stag on the
preceding evening, were able, without loss of time, to conduct the
company, by the marks which they had made upon the trees, to the
side of the thicket in which, by the report of Drawslot, he had
harboured all night. The horsemen spreading themselves along the
side of the cover, waited until the keeper entered, leading his
bandog, a large blood-hound tied in a leam or band, from which he
takes his name.
But it befell this. A hart of the second year, which was in the
same cover with the proper object of their pursuit, chanced to be
unharboured first, and broke cover very near where the Lady Emma and
her brother were stationed. An inexperienced varlet, who was nearer
to them, instantly unloosed two tall greyhounds, who sprung after
the fugitive with all the fleetness of the north wind. Gregory,
restored a little to spirits by the enlivening scene around him,
followed, encouraging the hounds with a loud
tayout,—[Tailliers-hors; in modern phrase, Tally-ho]—for which he had the hearty
curses of the huntsman, as well as of the baron, who entered into
the spirit of the chase with all the juvenile ardour of twenty. "May
the foul fiend, booted and spurred, ride down his bawling throat,
with a scythe at his girdle," quoth Albert Drawslot; "here have I
been telling him that all the marks were those of a buck of the
first head, and he has hollowed the hounds upon a velvet-headed
knobbler! By Saint Hubert, if I break not his pate with my
cross-bow, may I never cast off hound more! But to it, my lords and
masters! the noble beast is here yet, and, thank the saints, we have
enough of hounds."
The cover being now thoroughly beat by the attendants, the stag
was compelled to abandon it, and trust to his speed for his safety.
Three greyhounds were slipped upon him, whom he threw out, after
running a couple of miles, by entering an extensive furzy brake
which extended along the side of a hill. The horsemen soon came up,
and casting off a sufficient number of slowhounds, sent them, with
the prickers, into the cover, in order to chive the game from his
strength. This object being accomplished, afforded another severe
chase of several miles, in a direction almost circular, during which
the poor animal tried ever wile to get rid of his persecutors. He
crossed and traversed all such dusty paths as were likely to retain
the least scent of his footsteps; he laid himself close to the
ground, drawing his feet under his belly, and clapping his nose
close to the earth, lest he should be betrayed to the hounds by his
breath and hoofs. When all was in vain, and he found the hounds
coining fast in upon him, his own strength failing, his mouth
embossed with foam, and the tears dropping from his eyes, he turned
in despair upon his pursuers, who then stood at gaze, making an
hideous clamour, and awaiting their two-footed auxiliaries. Of
these, it chanced that the Lady Eleanor, taking more pleasure in the
sport than Matilda, and being a less burden to her palfrey than the
Lord Boteler, was the first who arrived at the spot, and taking a
cross-bow from an attendant, discharged a bolt at the stag. When the
infuriated animal felt himself wounded, he pushed franticly towards
her from whom he had received the shaft, and Lady Eleanor might have
had occasion to repent of her enterprise had not young Fitzallen,
who had kept near her during the whole day, at that instant galloped
briskly in, and ere the stag could change his object of assault,
despatched him with his short hunting-sword.
Albert Drawslot, who had just come up in terror for the young
lady's safety, broke out into loud encomiums upon Fitzallen's
strength and gallantry. "By 'r Lady," said he, taking off his cap,
and wiping his sun-burnt face with his sleeve, "well struck, and in
good time! But now, boys, doff your bonnets, and sound the
The sportsmen then sounded a treble mort and set up a general
whoop, which, mingled with the yelping of the dogs, made the welkin
ring again. The huntsman then offered his knife to Lord Boteler,
that he might take the say of the deer; but the baron courteously
insisted upon Fitzallen going through that ceremony. The Lady
Matilda was now come up, with most of the attendants; and the
interest of the chase being ended, it excited some surprise that
neither St. Clere nor his sister made their appearance. The Lord
Boteler commanded the horns again to sound the recheat, in hopes to
call in the stragglers, and said to Fitzallen: "Methinks St. Clere,
so distinguished for service in war, should have been more forward
in the chase."
"I trow," said Peter Lanaret, "I know the reason of the noble
lord's absence; for when that moon-calf, Gregory, hallooed the dogs
upon the knobbler, and galloped like a green hilding, as he is,
after them, I saw the Lady Emma's palfrey follow apace after that
varlet, who should be trashed for overrunning, and I think her noble
brother has followed her, lest she should come to harm. But here, by
the rood, is Gregory to answer for himself."
At this moment Gregory entered the circle which had been formed
round the deer, out of breath, and his face covered with blood. He
kept for some time uttering inarticulate cries of "Harrow!" and
"Wellaway!" and other exclamations of distress and terror, pointing
all the while to a thicket at some distance from the spot where the
deer had been killed.
"By my honour," said the baron, "I would gladly know who has
dared to array the poor knave thus; and I trust he should dearly aby
his outrecuidance, were he the best, save one, in England."
Gregory, who had now found more breath, cried, "Help, an ye be
men! Save Lady Emma and her brother, whom they are murdering in
This put all in motion. Lord Boteler hastily commanded a small
party of his men to abide for the defence of the ladies, while he
himself, Fitzallen, and the rest made what speed they could towards
the thicket, guided by Gregory, who for that purpose was mounted
behind Fabian. Pushing through a narrow path, the first object they
encountered was a man of small stature lying on the ground, mastered
and almost strangled by two dogs, which were instantly recognized to
be those that had accompanied Gregory. A little farther was an open
space, where lay three bodies of dead or wounded men; beside these
was Lady Emma, apparently lifeless, her brother and a young forester
bending over and endeavouring to recover her. By employing the usual
remedies, this was soon accomplished; while Lord Boteler, astonished
at such a scene, anxiously inquired at St. Clere the meaning of what
he saw, and whether more danger was to be expected?
"For the present, I trust not," said the young warrior, who they
now observed was slightly wounded; "but I pray you, of your
nobleness, let the woods here be searched; for we were assaulted by
four of these base assassins, and I see three only on the
The attendants now brought forward the person whom they had
rescued from the dogs, and Henry, with disgust, shame, and
astonishment, recognized his kinsman, Gaston St. Clere. This
discovery he communicated in a whisper to Lord Boteler, who
commanded the prisoner to be conveyed to Queen-Hoo Hall and closely
guarded; meanwhile he anxiously inquired of young St. Clere about
"A scratch, a trifle!" cried Henry; "I am in less haste to bind it
than to introduce to you one without whose aid that of the leech
would have come too late. Where is he? Where is my brave deliverer?"
"Here, most noble lord," said Gregory, sliding from his palfrey and
stepping forward, "ready to receive the guerdon which your bounty
would heap on him."
"Truly, friend Gregory," answered the young warrior, "thou shalt
not be forgotten; for thou didst run speedily and roar manfully for
aid, without which, I think verily, we had not received it. But the
brave forester who came to my rescue when these three ruffians had
nigh overpowered me, where is he?"
Every one looked around; but though all had seen him on entering
the thicket, he was not now to be found. They could only conjecture
that he had retired during the confusion occasioned by the detention
"Seek not for him," said the Lady Emma, who had now in some
degree recovered her composure; "he will not be found of mortal,
unless at his own season."
The baron, convinced from this answer that her terror had, for
the time, somewhat disturbed her reason, forebore to question her;
and Matilda and Eleanor, to whom a message had been despatched with
the result of this strange adventure, arriving, they took the Lady
Emma between them, and all in a body returned to the castle.
The distance was, however, considerable, and before reaching it
they had another alarm. The prickers, who rode foremost in the
troop, halted, and announced to the Lord Boteler, that they
perceived advancing towards them a body of armed men. The followers
of the baron were numerous, but they were arrayed for the chase, not
for battle; and it was with great pleasure that he discerned, on the
pennon of the advancing body of men-at-arms, instead of the
cognizance of Gaston, as he had some reason to expect, the friendly
bearings of Fitzosborne of Diggswell, the same young lord who was
present at the May-games with Fitzallen of Marden. The knight
himself advanced, sheathed in armour, and, without raising his
visor, informed Lord Boteler, that having heard of a base attempt
made upon a part of his train by ruffianly assassins, he had mounted
and armed a small party of his retainers, to escort them to
Queen-Hoo Hall. Having received and accepted an invitation to attend
them thither, they prosecuted their journey in confidence and
security, and arrived safe at home without any further accident.
INVESTIGATION OF THE ADVENTURE OF THE HUNTING.—A DISCOVERY.
—GREGORY'S MANHOOD.—FATE OF GASTON ST. CLERE.—CONCLUSION.
So soon as they arrived at the princely mansion of Boteler, the
Lady Emma craved permission to retire to her chamber, that she might
compose her spirits after the terror she had undergone. Henry St.
Clere, in a few words, proceeded to explain the adventure to the
curious audience. "I had no sooner seen my sister's palfrey, in
spite of her endeavours to the contrary, entering with spirit into
the chase set on foot by the worshipful Gregory than I rode after to
give her assistance. So long was the chase that when the greyhounds
pulled down the knobbler, we were out of hearing of your bugles; and
having rewarded and coupled the dogs, I gave them to be led by the
jester, and we wandered in quest of our company, whom, it would
seem, the sport had led in a different direction. At length, passing
through the thicket where you found us, I was surprised by a
cross-bow bolt whizzing past mine head. I drew my sword and rushed
into the thicket, but was instantly assailed by two ruffians, while
other two made towards my sister and Gregory. The poor knave fled,
crying for help, pursued by my false kinsman, now your prisoner; and
the designs of the other on my poor Emma (murderous no doubt) were
prevented by the sudden apparition of a brave woodsman, who, after a
short encounter, stretched the miscreant at his feet and came to my
assistance. I was already slightly wounded, and nearly overlaid with
odds. The combat lasted some time, for the caitiffs were both well
armed, strong, and desperate; at length, however, we had each
mastered our antagonist, when your retinue, my Lord Boteler, arrived
to my relief. So ends in my story; but, on my knighthood, I would
give an earl's ransom for an opportunity of thanking the gallant
forester by whose aid I live to tell it."
"Fear not," said Lord Boteler; "he shall be found if this or the
four adjacent counties hold him. And now Lord Fitzosborne will be
pleased to doff the armour he has so kindly assumed for our sakes,
and we will all bowne ourselves for the banquet."
When the hour of dinner approached, the Lady Matilda and her
cousin visited the chamber of the fair Darcy. They found her in a
composed but melancholy posture. She turned the discourse upon the
misfortunes of her life, and hinted that having recovered her
brother, and seeing him look forward to the society of one who would
amply repay to him the loss of hers, she had thoughts of dedicating
her remaining life to Heaven, by whose providential interference it
had been so often preserved.
Matilda coloured deeply at something in this speech, and her
cousin inveighed loudly against Emma's resolution. "Ah, my dear Lady
Eleanor," replied she, "I have to-day witnessed what I cannot but
judge a supernatural visitation, and to what end can it call me but
to give myself to the altar? That peasant who guided me, to Baddow
through the Park of Danbury, the same who appeared before me at
different times and in different forms during that eventful
journey,—that youth, whose features are imprinted on my memory, is the very
individual forester who this day rescued us in the forest. I cannot
be mistaken; and connecting these marvellous appearances with the
spectre which I saw while at Gay Bowers, I cannot resist the
conviction that Heaven has permitted my guardian angel to assume
mortal shape for my relief and protection."
The fair cousins, after exchanging looks which implied a fear
that her mind was wandering, answered her in soothing terms, and
finally prevailed upon her to accompany them to the banqueting-hall.
Here the first person they encountered was the Baron Fitzosborne of
Diggswell, now divested of his armour; at the sight of whom the Lady
Emma changed colour, and exclaiming, "It is the same!" sunk
senseless into the arms of Matilda.
"She is bewildered by the terrors of the day," said Eleanor; and
we have done ill in obliging her to descend."
"And I," said Fitzosborne, "have done madly in presenting before
her one whose presence must recall moments the most alarming in her
While the ladies supported Emma from the hall, Lord Boteler and
St. Clere requested an explanation from Fitzosborne of the words he
"Trust me, gentle lords," said the Baron of Diggswell, "ye shall
have what ye demand, when I learn that Lady Emma Darcy has not
suffered from my imprudence."
At this moment Lady Matilda, returning, said that her fair
friend, on her recovery, had calmly and deliberately insisted that
she had seen Fitzosborne before, in the most dangerous crisis of her
"I dread," said she, "her disordered mind connects all that her
eye beholds with the terrible passages that she has witnessed."
"Nay," said Fitzosborne, "if noble St. Clere can pardon the
unauthorized interest which, with the purest and most honourable
intentions, I have taken in his sister's fate, it is easy for me to
explain this mysterious impression."
He proceeded to say that, happening to be in the hostelry called
the Griffin, near Baddow, while upon a journey in that country, he
had met with the old nurse of the Lady Emma Darcy, who, being just
expelled front Gay Bowers, was in the height of her grief and
indignation, and made loud and public proclamation of Lady Emma's
wrongs. From the description she gave of the beauty of her
foster-child, as well as from the spirit of chivalry, Fitzosborne
became interested in her fate. This interest was deeply enhanced
when, by a bribe to Old Gaunt the Reve, he procured a view of the
Lady Emma as she walked near the castle of Gay Bowers. The aged
churl refused to give him access to the castle, yet dropped some
hints, as if he thought the lady in danger, and wished she were well
out of it. His master, he said, had heard she had a brother in life,
and since that deprived him of all chance of gaining her domains by
purchase, he, in short, Gaunt wished they were safely separated.
"If any injury," quoth he, "should happen to the damsel here, it
were ill for us all. I tried, by an innocent stratagem, to frighten
her from the castle by introducing a figure through a trap-door and
warning her, as if by a voice from the dead, to retreat from thence;
but the giglet is wilful, and is running upon her fate."
Finding Gaunt, although covetous and communicative, too faithful
a servant to his wicked master to take any active steps against his
commands, Fitzosborne applied himself to old Ursely, whom he found
more tractable. Through her he learned the dreadful plot Gaston had
laid to rid himself of his kinswoman, and resolved to effect her
deliverance. But aware of the delicacy of Emma's situation, he
charged Ursely to conceal from her the interest he took in her
distress, resolving to watch over her in disguise until he saw her
in a place of safety. Hence the appearance he made before her in
various dresses during her journey, in the course of which he was
never far distant; and he had always four stout yeomen within
hearing of his bugle, had assistance been necessary. When she was
placed in safety at the lodge, it was Fitzosborne's intention to
have prevailed upon his sisters to visit, and take her under their
protection; but he found them absent from Diggswell, having gone to
attend an aged relation who lay dangerously ill in a distant county.
They did not return until the day before the May-games; and the
other events followed too rapidly to permit Fitzosborne to lay any
plan for introducing them to Lady Emma Darcy. On the day of the
chase he resolved to preserve his romantic disguise and attend the
Lady Emma as a forester, partly to have the pleasure of being near
her, and partly to judge whether, according to an idle report in the
country, she favoured his friend and comrade Fitzallen of Marden.
This last motive, it may easily be believed, he did not declare to
the company. After the skirmish with the ruffians, he waited till
the baron and the hunters arrived, and then, still doubting the
further designs of Gaston, hastened to his castle to arm the band
which had escorted them to Queen-Hoo Hall.
Fitzosborne's story being finished, he received the thanks of all
the company, particularly of St. Clere, who felt deeply the
respectful delicacy with which he had conducted himself towards his
sister. The lady was carefully informed of her obligations to him;
and it is left to the well-judging reader whether even the raillery
of Lady Eleanor made her regret that Heaven had only employed
natural means for her security, and that the guardian angel was
converted into a handsome, gallant, and enamoured knight.
The joy of the company in the hall extended itself to the
buttery, where Gregory the jester narrated such feats of arms done
by himself in the fray of the morning as might have shamed Bevis and
Guy of Warwick. He was, according to his narrative, singled out for
destruction by the gigantic baron himself, while he abandoned to
meaner hands the destruction of St. Clere and Fitzosborne.
"But, certes," said he, "the foul paynim met his match; for, ever
as he foined at me with his brand, I parried his blows with my
bauble, and closing with him upon the third veny, threw him to the
ground, and made him cryrecreant to an unarmed man."
"Tush, man!" said Drawslot, "thou forgettest thy best
auxiliaries, the good greyhounds, Help and Holdfast! I warrant thee
that when the humpbacked baron caught thee by the cowl, which he
hath almost torn off, thou hadst been in a fair plight, had they not
remembered an old friend and come in to the rescue. Why, man, I
found them fastened on him myself; and there was odd staving and
stickling to make them 'ware haunch!' Their mouths were full of the
flex, for I pulled a piece of the garment from their jaws. I warrant
thee that when they brought him to ground, thou fledst like a
"And as for Gregory's gigantic paynim," said Fabian, "why, he
lies yonder in the guard-room, the very size, shape, and colour of a
spider in a yewhedge."
"It is false!" said Gregory; "Colbrand the Dane was a dwarf to
"It is as true," returned Fabian, "as that the Tasker is to be
married on Tuesday to pretty Margery. Gregory, thy sheet hath
brought them between a pair of blankets."
"I care no more for such a gillflirt," said the Jester, "than I
do for thy leasings. Marry, thou hop-o'-my-thumb, happy wouldst thou
be could thy head reach the captive baron's girdle."
"By the Mass," said Peter Lanaret, "I will have one peep at this
burly gallant;" and leaving the buttery, he went to the guard-room
where Gaston St. Clere was confined. A man-at-arms, who kept
sentinel on the strong studded door of the apartment, said he
believed he slept; for that after raging, stamping, and uttering the
most horrid imprecations, he had been of late perfectly still. The
falconer gently drew back a sliding board, of a foot square, towards
the top of the door, which covered a hole of the same size, strongly
latticed, through which the warder, without opening the door, could
look in upon his prisoner. From this aperture he beheld the wretched
Gaston suspended by the neck, by his own girdle, to an iron ring in
the side of his prison. He had clambered to it by means of the table
on which his food had been placed; and in the agonies of shame and
disappointed malice, had adopted this mode of ridding himself of a
wretched life. He was found yet warm, but totally lifeless. A proper
account of the manner of his death was drawn up and certified. He
was buried that evening in the chapel of the castle, out of respect
to his high birth; and the chaplain of Fitzallen of Marden, who said
the service upon the occasion, preached, the next Sunday, an
excellent sermon upon the text, "Radix malorum est cupiditas," which
we have here transcribed.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
[Here the manuscript from which we have painfully transcribed,
and frequently, as it were, translated this tale, for the reader's
edification, is so indistinct and defaced that, excepting certain
"howbeits," "nathlesses," "lo ye's!" etc. we can pick out
little that is intelligible, saving that avarice is defined
"a likourishness of heart after earthly things."] A little farther
there seems to have been a gay account of Margery's wedding with
Ralph the Tasker, the running at the quintain, and other rural games
practised on the occasion. There are also fragments of a mock sermon
preached by Gregory upon that occasion, as for example:—
"Mv dear cursed caitiffs, there was once a king, and he wedded a
young old queen, and she had a child; and this child was sent to
Solomon the Sage, praying he would give it the same blessing which
he got from the witch of Endor when she bit him by the heel. Hereof
speaks the worthy Dr. Radigundus Potator. Why should not Mass be
said for all the roasted shoe souls served up in the king's dish on
Saturday? For true it is that Saint Peter asked father Adam, as they
journeyed to Camelot, an high, great, and doubtful question: 'Adam,
Adam, why eated'st thou the apple without paring?'"
[This tirade of gibberish is literally taken or selected from a
mock discourse pronounced by a professed jester, which occurs
in an ancient manuscript in the Advocates' Library, the same
from which the late ingenious Mr. Weber published the curious
comic romance of the "Limiting of the Hare." It was introduced
in compliance with Mr. Strutt's plan of rendering his tale an
illustration of ancient manners. A similar burlesque sermon is
pronounced by the Fool in Sir David Lindesay's satire of the
"Three Estates." The nonsense and vulgar burlesque of that
composition illustrate the ground of Sir Andrew, Aguecheek's
eulogy on the exploits of the jester in "Twelfth Night," who,
reserving his sharper jests for Sir Toby, had doubtless enough
of the jargon of his calling to captivate the imbecility of his
brother knight, who is made to exclaim : "In sooth, thou wast
in very gracious fooling last night when thou spokest of
Pigrogremitus, and of the vapours passing the equinoctials of
Quenbus; 't was very good, i' faith!" It is entertaining to
find commentators seeking to discover some meaning in the
professional jargon of such a passage as this.]
With much goodly gibberish to the same effect,which display of
Gregory's ready wit not only threw the whole company into
convulsions of laughter, but made such an impression on Rose, the
Potter's daughter, that it was thought it would be the jester's own
fault if Jack was long without his Jill. Much pithy matter
concerning the bringing the bride to bed, the loosing the
bridegroom's points, the scramble which ensued for them, and the
casting of the stocking, is also omitted, from its obscurity.
The following song, which has been since borrowed by the
worshipful author of the famous "History of Fryar Bacon," has been
with difficulty deciphered. It seems to have been sung on occasion
of carrying home the bride.
To the tune of "I have been a Fiddler," etc.
And did you not hear of a mirth befell
The morrow after a wedding-day,
And carrying a bride at home to dwell?
And away to Tewin, away, away!
The quintain was set, and the garlands were made,—
'T is pity old customs should ever decay;
And woe be to him that was horsed on a jade,
For he carried no credit away, away.
We met a consort of fiddle-de-dees;
We set them a cockhorse, and made them play
The winning of Bullen, and Upsey-fires,
And away to Tewin, away, away!
There was ne'er a lad in all the parish
That would go to the plough that day;
But on his fore-horse his wench he carries,
And away to Tewin, away, away!
The butler was quick, and the ale he did tap,
The maidens did make the chamber full gay;
The servants did give me a fuddling cup,
And I did carry 't away, away.
The smith of the town his liquor so took
That he was persuaded that the ground looked blue;
And I dare boldly be sworn on a book
Such smiths as he there 's but a few.
A posset was made, and the women did sip,
And simpering said they could eat no more;
Full many a maiden was laid on the lip,—
I'll say no more, but give o'er (give o'er).
But what our fair readers will chiefly regret is the loss of three
declarations of love: the first by St. Clore to Matilda, which, with
the lady's answer, occupies fifteen closely written pages of
manuscript. That of Fitzosborne to Emma is not much shorter; but the
amours of Fitzallen and Eleanor, being of a less romantic cast, are
closed in three pages only. The three noble couples were married in
Queen-Hoo Hall upon the same day, being the twentieth Sunday after
Easter. There is a prolix account of the marriage-feast, of which we
can pick out the names of a few dishes, such as peterel, crane,
sturgeon, swan, etc., with a profusion of wild-fowl and venison.
We also see that a suitable song was produced by Peretto on the
occasion, and that the bishop, who blessed the bridal beds which
received the happy couples, was no niggard of his holy water,
bestowing half a gallon upon each of the couches. We regret we
cannot give these curiosities to the reader in detail, but we hope
to expose the manuscript to abler antiquaries, so soon as it shall
be framed and glazed by the ingenious artist who rendered that
service to Mr. Ireland's Shakspeare manuscripts. And so (being
unable to lay aside the style to which our pen is habituated),
gentle reader, we bid thee heartily farewell.
ANECDOTE OF SCHOOL DAYS,
UPON WHICH MR. THOMAS SCOTT PROPOSED TO FOUND A TALE OF FICTION.
It is well known in the South that there is little or no boxing
at the Scottish schools. About forty or fifty years ago, however, a
far more dangerous mode of fighting, in parties or factions, was
permitted in the streets of Edinburgh, to the great disgrace of the
police, and danger of the parties concerned. These parties were
generally formed from the quarters of the town in which the
combatants resided, those of a particular square or district
fighting against those of an adjoining one. Hence it happened that
the children of the higher classes were often pitted against those
of the lower, each taking their side according to the residence of
their friends. So far as I recollect, however, it was unmingled
either with feelings of democracy or aristocracy, or, indeed, with
malice or ill-will of any kind towards the opposite party. In fact,
it was only a rough mode of play. Such contests were, however,
maintained with great vigour with stones and sticks and fisticuffs,
when one party dared to charge, and the other stood their ground. Of
course mischief sometimes happened; boys are said to have been
killed at these "bickers," as they were called, and serious
accidents certainly took place, as many contemporaries can bear
The Author's father residing in George Square, in the southern
side of Edinburgh, the boys belonging to that family, with others in
the square, were arranged into a sort of company, to which a lady of
distinction presented a handsome set of colours. Now this company,
or regiment, as a matter of course, was engaged in weekly warfare
with the boys inhabiting the Crosscauseway, Bristo Street, the
Potter Row,—in short, the neighbouring suburbs. These last were
chiefly of the lower rank, but hardy loons, who threw stones to a
hair's-breadth, and were very rugged antagonists at close quarters.
The skirmish sometimes lasted for a whole evening, until one party
or the other was victorious, when, if ours were successful, we drove
the enemy to their quarters, and were usually chased back by the
reinforcement of bigger lads who came to their assistance. If, on
the contrary, we were pursued, as was often the case, into the
precincts of our square, we were in our turn supported by our elder
brothers, domestic servants, and similar auxiliaries.
It followed, from our frequent opposition to each other, that
though not knowing the names of our enemies, we were yet well
acquainted with their appearance, and had nicknames for the most
remarkable of them. One very active and spirited boy might be
considered as the principal leader in the cohort of the suburbs. He
was, I suppose, thirteen or fourteen years old, finely made, tall,
blue-eyed, with long fair hair, the very picture of a youthful Goth.
This lad was always first in the charge, and last in the
retreat,—the Achilles, at once, and Ajax of the Crosscauseway. He was too
formidable to us not to have a cognomen, and, like that of a knight
of old, it was taken from the most remarkable part of his dress,
being a pair of old green livery breeches, which was the principal
part of his clothing; for, like Pentapolin, according to Don
Quixote's account, Green-Breeks, as we called him, always entered
the battle with bare arms, legs, and feet.
It fell that once upon a time, when the combat was at the
thickest, this plebeian champion headed a sudden charge so rapid and
furious that all fled before him. He was several paces before his
comrades, and had actually laid his hands on the patrician standard,
when one of our party, whom some misjudging friend had intrusted
with a couteau de chasse, or hanger, inspired with a zeal for the
honour of the corps worthy of Major Sturgeon himself, struck poor
Green-Breeks over the head with strength sufficient to cut him down.
When this was seen, the casualty was so far beyond what had ever
taken place before that both parties fled different ways, leaving
poor Green-Breeks, with his bright hair plentifully dabbled in
blood, to the care of the watchman, who (honest man) took care not
to know who had done the mischief. The bloody hanger was flung into
one of the Meadow ditches, and solemn secrecy was sworn on all
hands; but the remorse and terror of the actor were beyond all
bounds, and his apprehensions of the most dreadful character. The
wounded hero was for a few days in the Infirmary, the case being
only a trifling one. But though inquiry was strongly pressed on him,
no argument could make him indicate the person from whom he had
received the wound, though he must have been perfectly well known to
him. When he recovered, and was dismissed, the author and his
brothers opened a communication with him, through the medium of a
popular gingerbread baker, of whom both parties were customers, in
order to tender a subsidy in name of smart-money. The sum would
excite ridicule were I to name it; but sure I am that the pockets of
the noted Green-Breeks never held as much money of his own. He
declined the remittance, saying that he would not sell his blood,
but at the same time reprobated the idea of being an informer,
which, he said, was "clam," i.e., base or mean. With much urgency,
he accepted a pound of snuff for the use of some old woman—aunt,
grandmother, or the like—with whom he lived. We did not become
friends, for the bickers were more agreeable to both parties than
any more pacific amusement; but we conducted them ever after under
mutual assurances of the highest consideration for each other.
Such was the hero whom Mr. Thomas Scott proposed to carry to
Canada and involve in adventures with the natives and colonists of
that country. Perhaps the youthful generosity of the lad will not
seem so great in the eyes of others as to those whom it was the
means of screening from severe rebuke and punishment. But it seemed,
to those concerned, to argue a nobleness of sentiment far beyond the
pitch of most minds; and however obscurely the lad, who showed such
a frame of noble spirit, may have lived or died, I cannot help being
of opinion, that if fortune had placed him in circumstances calling
for gallantry or generosity, the man would have fulfilled the
promises of the boy. Long afterwards, when the story was told to my
father, he censured us severely for not telling the truth at the
time, that he might have attempted to be of use to the young man in
entering on life. But our alarms for the consequences of the drawn
sword, and the wound inflicted with such a weapon, were far too
predominant at the time for such a pitch of generosity.
Perhaps I ought not to have inserted this schoolboy tale; but
besides the strong impression made by the incident at the time, the
whole accompaniments of the story are matters to me of solemn and
sad recollection. Of all the little band who were concerned in those
juvenile sports or brawls, I can scarce recollect a single survivor.
Some left the ranks of mimic war to die in the active service of
their country. Many sought distant lands, to return no more. Others,
dispersed in different paths of life, "my dim eyes now seek for in
vain." Of five brothers, all healthy and promising in a degree far
beyond one whose infancy was visited by personal infirmity, and
whose health after this period seemed long very precarious, I am,
nevertheless, the only survivor. The best loved, and the best
deserving to be loved, who had destined this incident to be the
foundation of literary composition, died "before his day," in a
distant and foreign land; and trifles assume an importance not their
own, when connected with those who have been loved and lost.
'T IS SIXTY YEARS SINCE.
"Under which King, Bezonian? Speak, or die!"
Henry IV., Part II.