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A DRAMATIC SKETCH FROM SCOTTISH HISTORY
Angus and Móray also joined Douglas, who entered PREFACE.
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. Dougscene 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, is, 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 dreadrian research, or quotations from obscure chronicles, ful shower of English arrows into the enemy. This may be sufficiently illustrated by the following pas- advice was followed by the usual fortune; for in all sage from PINKERTON'S History of Scotland, vol. i., 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 “ The Governor (anno 1402) dispatched a consider- useless after the distant bow had decided the combat. able force under Murdac, his eldest son: the Earls of Robert the Great, sensible of this at the battle of Ban
| Published by Constable & Co., June 1822, in 8vo. 6s. will demonstrate his right to the highest honours of the tragic
2 The author alludes to a collection of small pieces in verse, muse." The British Critic, for October, 1822, says, on the same edited, for a charitable purpose, by Mrs. Joanna Baillie.-See head, “Though we may not accede to the author's declaration, Life of Scott, vol. vii., pp. 7, 18, 169-70.
that it is ' in no particular calculated for the stage,' we must 8 In the first edition, the text added, " In case any attempt not lead our readers to look for any thing amounting to a regular shall be made to produce it in action, (as has happened in si-drama. It would, we think, form an underplot of very great inmilar cases,) the author takes the present opportunity to in- terest, in an historical play of customary length; and although timate, that it shall be at the peril of those who make such its incidents and personages are mixed up, in these scenes, with an experiment.” Adverting to this passage, the New Edin- an event of real history, there is nothing in cither to prevent burgh Review (July, 1822) said, —"We, nevertheless, do not their being interwoven in the plot of any drama of which the believe that any thing more essentially dramatic, in so far as action should lie in the confines of England and Scotland, at it goes, more capable of stage effect, has appeared in England any of the very numerous periods of Border warfare. Tho since the days of her greatest genius; and giving Sir Walter, whole interest, indeed, of the story, is engrossed by two chatherefore, full credit for his coyness on the present occasion, racters, imagined, as it appears to us, with great force and we ar'ently hope that he is but trying his strength in the probability, and contrasted with considerable skill and efmost arduous of all literary enterprises, and that, ere long, he' fect."
nockburn, ordered a prepared detachment of cavalry Halidon Hill for Homildon. A Scottish army was to rush among the English archers at the commence- defeated by the English on both occasions, and under ment, totally to disperse them, and stop the deadly nearly the same circumstances of address on the part effusion. But Douglas now used no such precaution; of the victors, and mismanagement on that of the var and the consequence was, that his people, drawn up quished, for the English long-bow decided the day in on the face of the hill, presented one general mark to both cases. In both cases, also, a Gordon was left on the enemy, none of whose arrows descended in vain. the field of battle; and at Halidon, as at Homildon, The Scots fell without fight, and unrevenged, till a the Scots were commanded by an ill-fated represenspirited knight, Swinton, exclaimed aloud, 'O my tative of the great house of Douglas. He of Homilbrave countrymen! what fascination has seized you don was surnamed Tineman, i. e. Loseman, from his to-day, that you stand like deer to be shot, instead of repeated defeats and miscarriages; and, with all the indulging your ancient courage, and meeting your personal valour of his race, seems to have enjoyed so enemies hand to hand! Let those who will, descend small a portion of their sagacity, as to be unable to learn with me, that we may gain victory, or life, or fall like military experience from reiterated calamity. I am men.' This being heard by Adam Gordon, between far, however, from intimating, that the traits of imbewhom and Swinton there remained an ancient deadly cility and envy attributed to the Regent in the following feud, attended with the mutual slaughter of many sketch, are to be historically ascribed either to the followers, he instantly fell on his knees before Swin- elder Douglas of Halidon Hill, or to him called Tineton, begged his pardon, and desired to be dubbed a man, who seems to have enjoyed the respect of his kuight by him whom he must now regard as the wisest countrymen, notwithstanding that, like the celebratand the boldest of that order in Britain. The cere- ed Anne de Montmorency, he was either defeated, or mony performed, Swinton and Gordon descended the wounded, or made prisoner, in every battle which he hill, accompanied only by one hundred men; and a fought. The Regent of the sketch is a character puredesperate valour led the whole body to death. Had ly imaginary. a similar spirit been shown by the Scottish army, it is The tradition of the Swinton family, which still surprobable that the event of the day would have been vives in a lineal descent, and to which the author has different. Douglas, who was certainly deficient in the the honour to be related, avers, that the Swinton who most important qualities of a general, seeing his army fell at Homildon in the manner related in the precedbegin to disperse, at length attempted to descend the ing extract, had slain Gordon's father; which seems hill; but the English archers, retiring a little, sent a sufficient ground for adopting that circumstance into flight of arrows so sharp and strong, that no armour the following dramatic sketch, though it is rendered could withstand; and the Scottish leader himself, improbable by other authorities. whose panoply was of remarkable temper, fell under If any reader will take the trouble of looking at five wounds, though not mortal. The English men- Froissart, Fordun, or other historians of the period, of-arms, knights, or squires, did not strike one blow, he will find, that the character of the Lord of Swinbut remained spectators of the rout, which was now ton, for strength, courage, and conduct, is by no complete. Great numbers of the Scots were slain, means exaggerated.
W. S. and near five hundred perished in the river Tweed
ABBOTSFORD, 1822. 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
DRAMATIS PERSONÆ. rank and power. The chief slain were, Swinton, Gordon, Livingston of Calendar, Ramsay of Dalhousie, Walter Sinclair, Roger Gordon, Walter Scott, and
SCOTTISH. others. Such was the issue of the unfortunate battle The REGENT OF SCOTLAND. of Homildon.”
GORDON, It may be proper to observe, that the scene of ac
Swinton, tion has, in the following pages, been transferred from
LENNOX, Homildon to Halidon Hill. For this there was an
SUTHERLAND, obvious reason ;--for who would again venture to in
Ross, troduce upon the scene the celebrated Hotspur, who
Scottish Chiefs and Nobles.
MAXWELL, commanded the English at the former battle? There are, however, several coincidences which may recon
JOHNSTONE, cile even the severer antiquary to the substitution of
1 "Miles magnanimus dominus Johannes Swinton, tanquam imparcatos, sagittarum jaculis perdere festinant. Descenvoce horrida præconis exclamavit, dicens, 0 commilitones dant mecum qui velint, et in nomine Domini hostes penetrainclyti! quis vos hodie fascinavit non indulgere solitæ probi- bimus, ut vel sic vita potiamur, vel saltem ut milites cum hotati, quod nec dextris conseritis, nec ut viri corda erigitis, ad nore occum bamus," &c.- FORDUN, Scoti-Chronicon, vol. l., invadendum æmulos, qui vos, tanquam damulos vel hinnulog p. 434.
ADAM DE VIPONT, a Knight 'l emplar.
Pri. I cannot gaze on't with undazzled eye, THE PRIOR OF MAISON-DIEU.
So thick the rays dart back from shield and helmet,
And sword and battle-axe, and spear and pennon. Reynald, Swinton's Squire.
Sure 'tis a gallant show! The Bruce himself HOB HATTELY, a Border Moss-Trooper.
Hath often conquer'd at the head of fewer
And worse appointed followers.
Vip. Ay, but 'twas Bruce that led them. Reverend
Father, KING EDWARD III.
"Tis not the falchion's weight decides a combat; CHANDOS,
It is the strong and skilful hand that wields it.
Ill fate, that we should lack the noble King,
And all his champions now! Time call’d them not, The ABBOT OF WALTHAMSTOW.
For when I parted hence for Palestine,
'Tis cowls like mine which hide them. 'Mongst the Halidan bill.
Before the grain is white. In threescore years
And ten, which I have seen, I have outlived
Wellnigh two generations of our nobles. The northern side of the eminence of Halidon. The back The race which holds ' yon summit is the third. Scene represents the summit of the ascent, occupied by
VIP. Thou mayst outlive them also. the Rear-guard of the Scottish army. Bodies of armed
Heaven forfend! Men appear as advancing from different points, to join My prayer shall be, that Heaven will close my eyes, the main Body.
Before they look upon the wrath to come. Enter DE VIPONT and the PRIOR OF MAISON-Dieu.
Vip. Retire, retire, good Father ! — Pray for Scot
landVip. No farther, Father-here I need no guidance Think not on me. Here comes an ancient friend, I have already brought your peaceful step
Brother in arms, with whom to-day I'll join me. Too near the verge of battle.
Back to your choir, assemble all your brotherhood, Pri. Fain would I see you join some Baron's banner, And weary Heaven with prayers for victory.3 Before I say farewell. The honour'd sword
PRI. Heaven's blessing rest with thee, That fought so well in Syria, should not wave Champion of Heaven, and of thy suffering country! Amid the ignoble crowd.
[Exit PRIOR. VIPONT draws a little aside and VIP. Each spot is noble in a pitched field,
lets down the beaver of his helmet. So that a man has room to fight and fall on't. 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,
whom he speaks as he enters. And then the flower of all the Scottish nobles
Swi. Halt here, and plant my pennon, till the Were known to me; and I, in my degree,
Regent Not all unknown to them.
Assign our band its station in the host. Pri. Alas! there have been changes since that time! Rey. That must be by the Standard. We have had The Royal Bruce, with Randolph, Douglas, Grahame, That right since good Saint David's reign at least. Then shook in field the banners which now moulder Fain would I see the Marcher would dispute it. Over their graves i' the chancel.
Swi. Peace, Reynald! Where the general plants Vip. And thence comes it,
the soldier, That while I look'd on many a well-known crest There is his place of honour, and there only And blazon'd shield,' as hitherward we came, His valour can win worship. Thou’rt of those, The faces of the Barons who displayed them
Who would have war's deep art bear the wild sem-
Of some disorder'd hunting, where, pell-mell,
Yon steel-clad Southrons, Reynald, are no deer; Look at their battle-rank.
And England's Edward is no stag at bay.
1 MS.-" I've look'd on many a well-known pennon
Playing the air," &c.
2 MS.-" The youths who hold," &c., "are."
Vip. (advancing.) There needed not, to blazon forth Only a sapling, which the fawn may crush the Swinton,
As he springs over it. llis ancient burgonet, the sable Boar
Vip. All slain kalas! Chain'd to the gnarld oak,'--nor his proud step, Swi. Ay, all, De Vipont. And their attributes, Nor giant stature, nor the ponderous mace,
John with the Long Spear-Archibald with the AxeWhich only he, of Scotland's realm, can wield: Richard the Ready-and my youngest darling, His discipline and wisdom mark the leader,
My Fair-hair'd William-do but now survive As doth his frame the champion. Hail, brave Swinton: In measures which the grey-hair'd minstrels sing, Swi, Brave Templar, thanks! Such your cross’d When they make maidens weep. shoulder speaks you;
Vip. These wars with England, they have rooted out But the closed visor, which conceals your features, The flowers of Christendom. Knights, who might win Forbids more knowledge. Umfraviile, perhaps The sepulchre of Christ from the rude heathen, Vip. (unclosing his helmet.) No; one less worthy of Fall in unholy warfare! our sacred Order.
Swi. Unholy warfare? ay, well hast thou named it; Yet, unless Syrian suns have scorch'd my features But not with England—would her cloth-yard shafts Swart as my sable visor, Alan Swinton
Had bored their cuirasses! Their lives had been Will welcome Symon Vipont.
Lost like their grandsire's, in the bold defence Swi. (embracing him.) As the blithe reaper Of their dear country but in private feud Welcomes a practised mate, when the ripe harvest With the proud Gordon, fell my Long-spear’d John, Lies deep before him, and the sun is high!
He with the Axe, and he men call’d the Ready, Thou 'lt follow yon old pennon, wilt thou not? Ay, and my Fair-hair'd Will—the Gordon's wrath 'T'is tatter'd since thou sawost it, and the Boar-heads Devour'd my gallant issue. Look as if brought from off some Christmas board, Vip. Since thou dost weep, their death is un. Where knives had notch'd them deeply.
avenged? Vip. Have with them, ne'ertheless. The Stuart's Swi. Templar, what think'st thou me!--See yonder Chequer,
rock, The Bloody Heart of Douglas, Ross's Lymphads, From which the fountain gushes—is it less Sutherland's Wild-cats, nor the royal Lion,
Compact of adamant, though waters flow from it? Rampant in golden treasure, wins me from them. Firm hearts have moister eyes.-—They are avenged ; We'll back the Boar-heads bravely. I see round them I wept not till they were—till the proud Gordon A chosen band of lances—some well known to me. Had with his life-blood dyed my father's sword, Where's the main body of thy followers ?
In guerdon that he thinn’d my father's lineage, Swi. Symon de Vipont, thou dost see them all And then I wept my sons; and, as the Gordon That Swinton's bugle-horn can call to battle, Lay at my feet, there was a tear for him, However loud it rings. There 's not a boy
Which mingled with the rest. We bad been friends, Left in my halls, whose arm has strength enough Had shared the banquet and the chase together, To bear a sword—there's not a man behind, Fought side by side,-and our first cause of strife, However old, who moves without a staff.
Woe to the pride of both, was but a light one! Striplings and greybeards, every one is here,
Vip. You are at feud, then, with the mighty GorAnd here all should be-Scotland needs them all;
don? And more and better men, were each a Hercules, Swi. At deadly feud. Here in this Border-land, And yonder handful centuplied.
Where the sire's quarrels descend upon the son, VIP. A thousand followers—such, with friends and As due a part of his inheritance, kinsmen,
As the strong castle and the ancient blazon, Allies and vassals, thou wert wont to lead Where private Vengeance holds the scales of justice, A thousand followers shrunk to sixty lances
Weighing each drop of blood as scrupulously In twelve years' space?-And thy brave sons, Sir As Jews or Lombards balance silver pence, Alan?
Not in this land, 'twixt Solway and Saint Abb's, Alas! I fear to ask.
Rages a bitterer feud than mine and theirs, Swi. All slain, De Vipont. In my empty home
The Swinton and the Gordon. A puny babe lisps to a widow'd mother,
Vip. You, with some threescore lances and the “ Where is my grandsire ! wherefore do you weep?" Gordon But for that prattler, Lyulph's house is heirless. Leading a thousand followers. I'm an old oak, from which the foresters
Swi. You rate bim far too low. Since you sought Have hew'd four goodly boughs, and left beside me Palestine,
1 “The armorial bearings of the ancient family of Swinton partment, whereon are the words, Je Pense."-Douglas's Baare sable, a cheveron, or, between three boars' heads erased, ronage, p. 132. argent. CREST-a boar chained to a tree, and above, on an escroll, J'espère. SUPPORTERS-two boars standing on a com 2 MS.--" Of the dear land that nursed them—but in feud."
He hath had grants of baronies and lordships
[To REYNALD.] Hold thou my casque, and furl my In the far-distant North. A thousand horse
pennon up His southern friends and vassals always number'd. Close to the staff. I will not show my crest, Add Badenoch kerne, and horse from Dey and Spey, Nor standard, till the common foe shall challenge He'll count a thousand more. And now, De Vipont, them. If the Boar-heads seem in your eyes less worthy I'll wake no civil strife, nor tempt the Gordon For lack of followers--seek yonder standard - With aught that's like defiance. The bounding Stag, with a brave host around it; VIP. Will he not know your features? There the young Gordon makes his earliest field, Swi. He never saw me. In the distant North, And pants to win his spurs. His father's friend, Against his will, 'tis said, his friends detain'd him As well as mine, thou wert-go, join his pennon, During his nurture-caring not, belike, And grace him with thy presence.
To trust a pledge so precious near the Boar-tusks. Vip. When you were friends, I was the friend of It was a natural but needless caution: both,
I wage no war with children, for I thick And now I can be enemy to neither;
Too deeply on mine own. But my poor person, though but slight the aid, Vip. I have thought on it, and will see the Gordon Joins on this field the banner of the two
As we go hence to council. I do bear Which hath the smallest following.
A cross, which binds me to be Christian priest, Swi. Spoke like the generous Knight, who gave up As well as Christian champion.3 God may grant, all,
That I, at once his father's friend and yours, Leading and lordship, in a heathen land
May make some peace betwixt you." To fight, a Christian soldier! Yet, in earnest, Swi. When that your priestly zeal, and knightly I pray, De Vipont, you would join the Gordon
valour, In this high battle. 'Tis a noble youth,
Shall force the grave to render up the dead. So fame doth vouch him,-amorous, quick, and va
[Exeunt severally. liant; Takes knighthood, too, this day, and well may use His spurs too rashly' in the wish to win them. A friend like thee beside him in the fight, Were worth a hundred spears, to rein his valour
The summit of Halidon Hill, before the Regent's Tent. With eye undazzled.
The Royal Standard of Scotland is seen in the backVIP. Alas! brave Swinton! Would'st thou train ground, with the Pennons and Banners of the principal the hunter
Nobles around it. That soon must bring thee to the bay? Your custom, Council of Scottish Nobles and Chiefs. SUTHERLAND, Your most unchristian, savage, fiend-like custom,
Ross, LENNOX, MAXWELL, and other Nobles of the Binds Gordon to avenge his father's death.
highest rank, are close to the REGENT's person, and in Swi. Why, be it so! I look for nothing else:
the act of keen debate. VIPONT with GORDON and My part was acted when I slew his father,
others, remain grouped at some distance on the right Avenging my four song, Young Gordon's sword,
hand of the Stage. On the left, standing also apart, is If it should find my heart, can ne'er inflict there
SWINTON, alone and bare-headed. The Nobles are A pang so poignant as his father's did.
dressed in Highland or Lowland habits, as historical But I would perish by a noble hand,
costume requires. Trumpets, Heralds, fc. are in atAnd such will his be if he bear him nobly,
tendance. Nooly and wisely on this field of Halidon.
LEN. Nay, Lordings, put no shame upon my coun
sels. Enter a PURSUIVANT.
I did but
if we retired a little, Pur. Sir Knights, to council !--'tis the Regent's We should have fairer field and better vantage. order,
I've seen King Robert-ay, The Bruce himselfThat knights and men of leading meet him instantly Retreat six leagues in length, and think no shame on't. Before the royal standard. Edward's army
REG. Ay, but King Edward sent a haughty message, Is seen from the hill-summit.
Defying us to battle on this field,
[Exit PURSUIVANT. Unfought withal, it squares not with our honour.
3 MS.--"The cross I wear appoints me Christian priesi,
As well as Christian warrior," &c.
* MS.--"As we do rass, " &c.