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Dramatic Pieces.

Halidon Hill;'



Angus and Moray also joined Douglas, who entered England with an army of ten thousand men, carrying terror and devastation to the walls of Newcastle.

THOUGH the Public seldom feel much interest in "Henry IV. was now engaged in the Welsh war such communications, (nor is there any reason why against Owen Glendour; but the Earl of Northumthey should,) the Author takes the liberty of stating, berland, and his son, the Hotspur Percy, with the that these scenes were commenced with the purpose Earl of March, collected a numerous array, and awaitof contributing to a miscellany projected by a much-ed the return of the Scots, impeded with spoil, near esteemed friend." But instead of being confined to a Milfield, in the north part of Northumberland. Doug. scene or two, as intended, the work gradually swelled las had reached Wooler, in his return; and, perceivto the size of an independent publication. It is de- ing the enemy, seized a strong post between the two signed to illustrate military antiquities, and the man- armies, called Homildon-hill. In this method he riners of chivalry. The drama (if it can be termed one) valled his predecessor at the battle of Otterburn, 1s, in no particular, either designed or calculated for but not with like success. The English advanced to the stage.3 the assault, and Henry Percy was about to lead them The subject is to be found in Scottish history; but up the hill, when March caught his bridle, and adnot to overload so slight a publication with antiqua-vised him to advance no farther, but to pour the dread. rian research, or quotations from obscure chronicles, may be sufficiently illustrated by the following passage from PINKERTON's History of Scotland, vol. i., p. 72.

"The Governor (anno 1402) dispatched a considerable force under Murdac, his eldest son: the Earls of

ful shower of English arrows into the enemy. This advice was followed by the usual fortune; for in all ages the bow was the English instrument of victory; and though the Scots, and perhaps the French, were superior in the use of the spear, yet this weapon was useless after the distant bow had decided the combat. Robert the Great, sensible of this at the battle of Ban

1 Published by Constable & Co., June 1822, in 8vo. 6s. 2 The author alludes to a collection of small pieces in verse, edited, for a charitable purpose, by Mrs. Joanna Baillie.-Sce Life of Scott, vol. vii., pp. 7, 18, 169-70.

3 In the first edition, the text added, "In case any attempt shall be made to produce it in action, (as has happened in similar cases,) the author takes the present opportunity to intimate, that it shall be at the peril of those who make such an experiment." Adverting to this passage, the New Edinburgh Review (July, 1822) said,-" We, nevertheless, do not believe that any thing more essentially dramatic, in so far as it goes, more capable of stage effect, has appeared in England since the days of her greatest genius; and giving Sir Walter, therefore, full credit for his coyness on the present occasion, we ardently hope that he is but trying his strength in the most arduous of all literary enterprises, and that, ere long, he

will demonstrate his right to the highest honours of the tragic musc." The British Critic, for October, 1822, says, on the same head, "Though we may not accede to the author's declaration, that it is in no particular calculated for the stage,' we niust not lead our readers to look for any thing amounting to a regular drama. It would, we think, form an underplot of very great interest, in an historical play of customary length; and although its incidents and personages are mixed up, in these scenes, with an event of real history, there is nothing in either to prevent their being interwoven in the plot of any drama of which the action should lie in the confines of England and Scotland, at any of the very numerous periods of Border warfare. The whole interest, indeed, of the story, is engrossed by two cha racters, imagined, as it appears to us, with great force and probability, and contrasted with considerable skill and ef. fect."


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defeated by the English on both occasions, and under nearly the same circumstances of address on the part of the victors, and mismanagement on that of the vanquished, for the English long-bow decided the day in both cases. In both cases, also, a Gordon was left on the field of battle; and at Halidon, as at Homildon, the Scots were commanded by an ill-fated representative of the great house of Douglas. He of Homildon was surnamed Tineman, i. e. Loseman, from his repeated defeats and miscarriages; and, with all the personal valour of his race, seems to have enjoyed so small a portion of their sagacity, as to be unable to learn military experience from reiterated calamity. I am far, however, from intimating, that the traits of imbecility and envy attributed to the Regent in the following sketch, are to be historically ascribed either to the elder Douglas of Halidon Hill, or to him called Tineman, who seems to have enjoyed the respect of his countrymen, notwithstanding that, like the celebrated Anne de Montmorency, he was either defeated, or wounded, or made prisoner, in every battle which he fought. The Regent of the sketch is a character purely imaginary.

nockburn, ordered a prepared detachment of cavalry Halidon Hill for Homildon. A Scottish army was to rush among the English archers at the commencement, totally to disperse them, and stop the deadly effusion. But Douglas now used no such precaution; and the consequence was, that his people, drawn up on the face of the hill, presented one general mark to the enemy, none of whose arrows descended in vain. The Scots fell without fight, and unrevenged, till a spirited knight, Swinton, exclaimed aloud, O my brave countrymen! what fascination has seized you to-day, that you stand like deer to be shot, instead of indulging your ancient courage, and meeting your enemies hand to hand? Let those who will, descend with me, that we may gain victory, or life, or fall like men.' 1 This being heard by Adam Gordon, between whom and Swinton there remained an ancient deadly feud, attended with the mutual slaughter of many followers, he instantly fell on his knees before Swinton, begged his pardon, and desired to be dubbed a knight by him whom he must now regard as the wisest and the boldest of that order in Britain. The ceremony performed, Swinton and Gordon descended the hill, accompanied only by one hundred men; and a desperate valour led the whole body to death. Had a similar spirit been shown by the Scottish army, it is probable that the event of the day would have been different. Douglas, who was certainly deficient in the most important qualities of a general, seeing his army begin to disperse, at length attempted to descend the hill; but the English archers, retiring a little, sent a flight of arrows so sharp and strong, that no armour could withstand; and the Scottish leader himself, whose panoply was of remarkable temper, fell under five wounds, though not mortal. The English menof-arms, knights, or squires, did not strike one blow, but remained spectators of the rout, which was now complete. Great numbers of the Scots were slain, and near five hundred perished in the river Tweed upon their flight. Among the illustrious captives was Douglas, whose chief wound deprived him of an eye; Murdac, son of Albany; the Earls of Moray and Angus; and about twenty-four gentlemen of eminent rank and power. The chief slain were, Swinton, Gordon, Livingston of Calendar, Ramsay of Dalhousie, Walter Sinclair, Roger Gordon, Walter Scott, and others. Such was the issue of the unfortunate battle of Homildon."

It may be proper to observe, that the scene of action, has, in the following pages, been transferred from Homildon to Halidon Hill. For this there was an obvious reason;-for who would again venture to introduce upon the scene the celebrated Hotspur, who commanded the English at the former battle? There are, however, several coincidences which may reconcile even the severer antiquary to the substitution of

"Miles magnanimus dominus Johannes Swinton, tanquam voce horrida præconis exclamavit, dicens, O commilitones inclyti! quis vos hodie fascinavit non indulgere solita probitati, quod nec dextris conseritis, nec ut viri corda erigitis, ad iuvadendum æmulos, qui vos, tanquam damulos vel hinnulos

The tradition of the Swinton family, which still survives in a lineal descent, and to which the author has the honour to be related, avers, that the Swinton who fell at Homildon in the manner related in the preceding extract, had slain Gordon's father; which seems sufficient ground for adopting that circumstance into the following dramatic sketch, though it is rendered improbable by other authorities.

If any reader will take the trouble of looking at Froissart, Fordun, or other historians of the period, he will find, that the character of the Lord of Swinton, for strength, courage, and conduct, is by no means exaggerated. W. S.











imparcatos, sagittarum jaculis perdere festinant. Descendant mecum qui velint, et in nomine Domini hostes penetrabimus, ut vel sic vita potiamur, vel saltem ut milites cum ho nore occumbamus," &c.-FORDUN, Scoti-Chronicon, vol. ü.. p. 434.

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Halidan HiII.


The northern side of the eminence of Halidon. The back Scene represents the summit of the ascent, occupied by the Rear-guard of the Scottish army. Bodies of armed Men appear as advancing from different points, to join the main Body.

Enter DE VIPONT and the PRIOR OF MAISON-DIEU. VIP. No farther, Father-here I need no guidance I have already brought your peaceful step Too near the verge of battle.

PRI. Fain would I see you join some Baron's banner, Before I say farewell. The honour'd sword That fought so well in Syria, should not wave Amid the ignoble crowd.

VIP. Each spot is noble in a pitched field,

So that a man has room to fight and fall on't.

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But I shall find out friends. "Tis scarce twelve years Enter SWINTON, followed by REYNALD and others, to

Since I left Scotland for the wars of Palestine,
And then the flower of all the Scottish nobles
Were known to me; and I, in my degree,
Not all unknown to them.

PRI. Alas! there have been changes since that time! The Royal Bruce, with Randolph, Douglas, Grahame, Then shook in field the banners which now moulder Over their graves i' the chancel.

VIP. And thence comes it,

That while I look'd on many a well-known crest
And blazon'd shield,' as hitherward we came,
The faces of the Barons who displayed them
Were all unknown to me. Brave youths they seem'd;
Yet, surely, fitter to adorn the tilt-yard,
Than to be leaders of a war. Their followers,
Young like themselves, seem like themselves unprac-

Look at their battle-rank.

1 MS.-"I've look'd on many a well-known pennon Playing the air," &c.

whom he speaks as he enters.

SwI. Halt here, and plant my pennon, till the Regent

Assign our band its station in the host.

REY. That must be by the Standard. We have had
That right since good Saint David's reign at least.
Fain would I see the Marcher would dispute it.
Swi. Peace, Reynald! Where the general plants
the soldier,

There is his place of honour, and there only
His valour can win worship. Thou'rt of those,
Who would have war's deep art bear the wild sem

Of some disorder'd hunting, where, pell-mell,
Each trusting to the swiftness of his horse,
Gallants press on to see the quarry fall.
Yon steel-clad Southrons, Reynald, are no deer;
And England's Edward is no stag at bay.

2 MS.-"The youths who hold," &c., "are."

3 MS." with prayers for Scotland's weal."


VIP. (advancing.) There needed not, to blazon forth Only a sapling, which the fawn may crush

the Swinton,

His ancient burgonet, the sable Boar

Chain'd to the gnarl'd oak,'-nor his proud step,
Nor giant stature, nor the ponderous mace,
Which only he, of Scotland's realm, can wield:
His discipline and wisdom mark the leader,
As doth his frame the champion. Hail, brave Swinton:
Swi. Brave Templar, thanks! Such your cross'd
shoulder speaks you;

But the closed visor, which conceals your features,
Forbids more knowledge. Umfraville, perhaps

As he springs over it.

VIP. All slain ?-alas!

Swi. Ay, all, De Vipont. And their attributes,
John with the Long Spear-Archibald with the Axe-
Richard the Ready-and my youngest darling,
My Fair-hair'd William-do but now survive
In measures which the grey-hair'd minstrels sing,
When they make maidens weep.

VIP. These wars with England, they have rooted out
The flowers of Christendom. Knights, who might win
The sepulchre of Christ from the rude heathen,

VIP. (unclosing his helmet.) No; one less worthy of Fall in unholy warfare!
our sacred Order.

Yet, unless Syrian suns have scorch'd my features
Swart as my sable visor, Alan Swinton
Will welcome Symon Vipont.

SwI. (embracing him.) As the blithe reaper
Welcomes a practised mate, when the ripe harvest
Lies deep before him, and the sun is high!
Thou 'It follow yon old pennon, wilt thou not?
'Tis tatter'd since thou saw'st it, and the Boar-heads
Look as if brought from off some Christmas board,
Where knives had notch'd them deeply.

VIP. Have with them, ne'ertheless. The Stuart's

The Bloody Heart of Douglas, Ross's Lymphads,
Sutherland's Wild-cats, nor the royal Lion,
Rampant in golden treasure, wins me from them.
We'll back the Boar-heads bravely. I see round them
A chosen band of lances-some well known to me.
Where's the main body of thy followers?

Swi. Symon de Vipont, thou dost see them all
That Swinton's bugle-horn can call to battle,
However loud it rings. There's not a boy
Left in my halls, whose arm has strength enough
To bear a sword-there 's not a man behind,
However old, who moves without a staff.
Striplings and greybeards, every one is here,
And here all should be-Scotland needs them all;
And more and better men, were each a Hercules,
And yonder handful centuplied.

Swi. Unholy warfare? ay, well hast thou named it;
But not with England-would her cloth-yard shafts
Had bored their cuirasses! Their lives had been
Lost like their grandsire's, in the bold defence
Of their dear country-but in private feud
With the proud Gordon, fell my Long-spear'd John,
He with the Axe, and he men call'd the Ready,
Ay, and my Fair-hair'd Will-the Gordon's wrath
Devour'd my gallant issue.

VIP. Since thou dost weep, their death is un-

Swi. Templar, what think'st thou me?-See yonder

From which the fountain gushes-is it less
Compact of adamant, though waters flow from it?
Firm hearts have moister eyes.-They are avenged;
I wept not till they were-till the proud Gordon
Had with his life-blood dyed my father's sword,
In guerdon that he thinn'd my father's lineage,
And then I wept my sons; and, as the Gordon
Lay at my feet, there was a tear for him,
Which mingled with the rest. We had been friends,
Had shared the banquet and the chase together,
Fought side by side,-and our first cause of strife,
Woe to the pride of both, was but a light one!

VIP. You are at feud, then, with the mighty Gor-

Swi. At deadly feud. Here in this Border-land, Where the sire's quarrels descend upon the son,

VIP. A thousand followers-such, with friends and As due a part of his inheritance,



Allies and vassals, thou wert wont to lead

A thousand followers shrunk to sixty lances

In twelve years' space?-And thy brave sons,

Alas! I fear to ask.

As the strong castle and the ancient blazon,
Where private Vengeance holds the scales of justice,
Weighing each drop of blood as scrupulously

Sir As Jews or Lombards balance silver pence,
Not in this land, 'twixt Solway and Saint Abb's,
Rages a bitterer feud than mine and theirs,
The Swinton and the Gordon.

SwI. All slain, De Vipont. In my empty home
A puny babe lisps to a widow'd mother,
"Where is my grandsire! wherefore do you weep?"
But for that prattler, Lyulph's house is heirless.
I'm an old oak, from which the foresters
Have hew❜d four good.y boughs, and left beside me

VIP. You, with some threescore lances-and the

Leading a thousand followers.

Swi. You rate him far too low. Since you sought

1 "The armorial bearings of the ancient family of Swinton are sable, a cheveron, or, between three boars' heads erased, argent. CREST-a boar chained to a tree, and above, on an escroll, J'espère. SUPPORTERS-two boars standing on a com

partment, whereon are the words, Je Pense."-Douglas's Raronage, p. 132.

2 MS." Of the dear and that nursed them--but in feud.

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