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the background of Edwin Landseer's portrait of Sir Walter that the apple was the produce of the fatal Tree of KnowScott, painted in 1833.- ED.
ledge, and that the garden was the terrestrial paradise. The | That weird, &c.—That destiny shall never frighten me.
repugnanco of Thomas to be debarred the use of falsehond.
when he might find it convenient, has a comic effect. 2 The traditional commentary upon this ballad informs us, 3 See Appendix, Note B.
author of Sir Tristrem would long ago have joined, in duction of our Thomas the Rhymer. But I am inthe vale of oblivion, “ Clerk of Tranent, who wrote clined to believe them of a later date than the reign the adventure of Schir Gawain,” if, by good hap, the of Edward I. or II. same current of ideas respecting antiquity, which The gallant defence of the castle of Dunbar, by causes Virgil to be regarded as a magician by the Black Agnes, took place in the year 1337. The Lazaroni of Naples, had not exalted the bard of Ercil Rhymer died previous to the year 1299 (see the chardoune to the prophetic character. Perhaps, indeed, ter, by his son, in the Appendix.) It seems, therete himself affected it during his life. We know, at fore, very improbable, that the Countess of Dunbar least, for certain, that a belief in his supernatural could ever have an opportunity of consulting Thomas knowledge was current soon after his death. His the Rhymer, since that would infer that she was prophecies are alluded to by Barbour, by Winton, married, or at least engaged in state matters, preand by Henry the Minstrel, or Blind Harry, as he is vious to 1299 ; whereas she is described as a young, or usually termed. None of these authors, however, a middle-aged woman, at the period of her being begive the words of any of the Rhymer's vaticinations, sieged in the fortress, which she so well defended. but merely narrate, historically, his having predicted If the editor might indulge a conjecture, he would the events of which they speak. The earliest of the suppose, that the prophecy was contrived for the enprophecies ascribed to him, which is now extant, is couragement of the English invaders, during the Scotquoted by Mr. Pinkerton from a MS. It is supposed tish wars; and that the names of the Countess of to be a response from Thomas of Ercildoune to a Dunbar, and of Thomas of Ercildoune, were used for question from the heroic Countess of March, re- the greater credit of the forgery. According to this hynowned for the defence of the Castle of Dunbar pothesis, it seems likely to have been composed after against the English, and termed, in the familiar dia- the siege of Dunbar, which had made the name of the lect of her time, Black Agnes of Dunbar. This pro- Countess well known, and consequently in the reign phecy is remarkable, in so far as it bears very little of Edward III. The whole tendency of the prophecy resemblance to any verses published in the printed is to aver, that there shall be no end of the Scottish copy of the Rhymer's supposed prophecies. The war (concerning which the question was proposed,) verses are as follows:
till a final conquest of the country by England, at“ La Countesse de Donbar demande a Thomas de Essedoune tended by all the usual severities of war. “ When the
quant la guerre d'Escoce prendreit fyn. E yl l'a re- cultivated country shall become forest,” says the propoundy et dyt.
phecy ;-" when the wild animals shall inhabit the When man is mad a kyng of a capped man;
abode of men ;-when Scots shall not be able to escape When man is levere other mones thyng than his owen; the English, should they crouch as hares in their form” When londe thouys forest, ant forest is felde;
-all these denunciations seem to refer to the time of When hares kendles o'the her’stane ;
Edward III., upon whose victories the prediction was When Wyt and Wille werres togedere; When mon makes stables of kyrkes, and steles castels with probably founded. The mention of the exchange be
twixt a colt worth ten marks, and a quarter of " whaty When Rokesboroughe nys no burgh ant market is at Forwy. [indifferent] wheat," seems to allude to the dreadful leye;
famine, about the year 1388. The independence of When Bambourne is donged with dede men;
Scotland was, however, as impregnable to the mines When men ledes men in ropes to buyen and to sellen; When a quarter of whaty whete is chaunged for a colt of ten and more wealthy neighbours. The war of Scotland
of superstition, as to the steel of our more powerful markes; When prude (pride) prikes and pees is levd in prisoun ; is, thank God, at an end ; but it is ended without her When a Scot ne me hymn hude ase hare in forme that the people having either crouched like hares in their form, English ne shall hym fynde ;
or being drowned in their flight, “ for faute of ships," When recht ant wronge astente the togedere;
—thank God for that too. The prophecy, quoted When laddes weddeth lovedies; When Scottes flen so faste, that, for faute of shep, hy drown in the preceding page, is probably of the same date, eth hemselve;
and intended for the same purpose. When shal this be ?
A minute search of the records of the time would, Nouther in thine tyme ne in mine;
probably, throw additional light upon the allusions Ah comen ant gone
contained in these an ent legends. Among various Withinne twenty winter ant one." PINKERTON's Poems, from Maitland's MSS. quoting rhymes of prophetic import, which are at this day from Harl. Lib. 2253, F. 127.
current amongst the people of Teviotdale, is one, sup
posed to be pronounced by Thomas the Rhymer, preAs I have never seen the MS. from which Mr. Pin- saging the destruction of his habitation and family : kerton makes this extract, and as the date of it is
“ The hare sall kittle [litter) on my hearth stane, fixed by him (certainly one of the most able antiqua
And there will never be a Laird Learmont again." ries of our age) to the reign of Edward I. or II., it is with great diffidence that I hazard a contrary opinion. The first of these lines is obviously borrowed from that There can, however, I believe, be little doubt, that in the MS. of the Harl. Library.—“ When hares kenthese prophetic verses are a forgery, and not the pro- dles o' the herostane”–
-an emphatic image of desola
tion. It is also inaccurately quoted in the prophecy nal purpose, in order to apply it to the succession of of Waldhave, published by Andro Hart, 1613 : James VI. The groundwork of the forgery is to be
found in the prophecies of Berlington, contained in “ This is a true talking that Thomas of tells,
The hare shall hirple on the hard [hearth) stane." the same collection, and runs thus : Spottiswoode, an honest, but credulous historian,
" Of Bruce's left side shall spring out a leafe, seems to have been a firm believer in the authenticity
As neere as the ninth degree; of the prophetic wares, vended in the name of Thomas And shall be fleemed of faire Scotland, of Ercildoune. “ The prophecies, yet extant in Scot
In France farre beyond the sea.
And then shall come again ryding, tish rhymes, whereupon he was commonly called
With eyes that many men may see. Thomas the Rhymer, may justly be admired ; having
At Aberladie he shall light, foretold, so many ages before the union of England
With hempen helteres and horse of tre. and Scotland in the ninth degree of the Bruce's blood, with the succession of Bruce himself to the However it happen for to fall,
The lyon shall be lord of all; crown, being yet a child, and other divers particulars,
The French Quen shall bearre the sonne, which the event hath ratified and made good. Boe
Shall rule all Britainne to the sea; thius, in his story, relateth his prediction of King Ane from the Bruce's blood shal come also, Alexander's death, and that he did foretel the same As neer as the ninth degree. to the Earl of March, the day before it fell out ; say
Yet shal there come a keene knight over the salt sea, ing, “That before the next day at noon, such a tem
A keene man of courage and bold man of armes; pest should blow, as Scotland had not felt for many
A duke's son dowbled [i. e. dubbed], a born man in France, years before.' The next morning, the day being clear,
That shall our mirths augment, and mend all our harmes; and no change appearing in the air, the nobleman did After the date of our Lord 1513, and thrice three thereafter; challenge Thomas of his saying, calling him an impos Which shall brooke all the broad isle to himself, tor. He replied, that noon was not yet passed. About
Between thirteen and thrice three the threip shall be ended
The Saxons shall never recover after." which time a post came to advertise the earl of the king his sudden death. • Then,' said Thomas, - this
There cannot be any doubt that this prophecy was is the tempest I foretold ; and so it shall prove to Scot- intended to excite the confidence of the Scottish naland.' Whence, or how, he had this knowledge, can tion in the Duke of Albany, regent of Scotland, who hardly be affirmed; but sure it is, that he did divine arrived from France in 1515, two years after the death and answer truly of many things to come.”—SPOT- of James IV. in the fatal field of Flodden. The ReTISWOODE, p. 47. Besides that notable voucher, Mas
gent was descended of Bruce by the left, i.e. by the ter Hector Boece, the good archbishop might, had female side, within the ninth degree. His mother was he been so minded, have referred to Fordun for the daughter of the Earl of Boulogne, his father banished prophecy of King Alexander's death. That historian from his country—“ fleemit of fair Scotland.” His calls our bard" ruralis ille rates.”—Fordun, lib. x. arrival must necessarily be by sea, and his landing
was expected at Aberlady, in the Frith of Forth. He What Spottiswoode cails “ the prophecies extant
was a duke's son, dubbed knight; and nine years, in Scottish rhyme,” are the metrical productions from 1513, are allowed him, by the pretended prophet ascribed to the seer of Ercildoune, which, with many for the accomplishment of the salvation of his counother compositions of the same nature, bearing the try, and the exaltation of Scotland over her sister and names of Bede, Merlin, Gildas, and other approved rival. All this was a pious fraud, to excite the confisoothsayers, are contained in one small volume, pub- dence and spirit of the country. lished by Andro Hart, at Edinburgh, 1615. Nisbet
The prophecy, put in the name of our Thomas the the herald (who claims the prophet of Ercildoune as
Rhymer, as it stands in Hart's book, refers to a later a brother-professor of his art, founding upon the va
period. The narrator meets the Rhymer upon a land rious allegorical and emblematical allusions to heral. beside a lee, who shows him many emblematical visions, dry) intimates the existence of some earlier copy of described in no mean strain of poetry. They chiefly his prophecies than that of Andro Hart, which, how-relate to the fields of Flodden and Pinkie, to the naever, he does not pretend to have seen. The late ex- tional distress which followed these defeats, and to cellent Lord Hailes made these compositions the sub- ' future halcyon days, which are promised to Scotland. ject of a dissertation, published in his Remarks on the One quotation or two will be sufficient to establish History of Scotland. His attention is chiefly directed
this fully : to the celebrated prophecy of our bard, mentioned by Bishop Spottiswoode, bearing that the crowns of Eng “ Our Scottish King sal come ful keene, land and Scotland should be united in the person of The red lyon beareth he; a King, son of a French Queen, and related to the A feddered arrow sharp, I ween, Bruce in the ninth degree. Lord Hailes plainly
Out of the field he shall be led, proves, that this prophecy is perverted from its origi
When he is bludie and woe for blood;
Yet to his men shall he say, i See Appendix, Note C.
• For God's love turn you againe,
Shall make him winke and warre to see.
And give yon sutherne folk a frey!
Take tent to Merling truely
Then shall the wars ended be,
And never again rise.
In that yere there shall a king, Who can doubt, for a moment, that this refers to
A duke, and no crown'd king: the battle of Flodden, and to the popular reports con
Becaus the prince shall be yong,
And tender of yeares." cerning the doubtful fate of James IV.? Allusion is immediately afterwards made to the death of The date, above hinted at, seems to be 1549, when George Douglas, heir apparent of Angus, who fought the Scottish Regent, by means of some succours deand fell with his sovereign :
rived from France, was endeavouring to repair the
consequences of the fatal battle of Pinkie. Allusion is “The sternes three that day shall die,
made to the supply given to the “Moldwarte [England] That bears the harte in silver sheen."
by the fained hart,” (the Earl of Angus.) The Regent The well-known arms of the Douglas family are the is described by his bearing the antelope ; large supheart and three stars. In another place, the battle of plies are promised from France, and complete conPinkie is expressly mentioned by name :
quest predicted to Scotland and her allies. Thus was
the same hackneyed stratagem repeated, whenever " At Pinken Cluch there shall be spilt
the interest of the rulers appeared to stand in need of Much gentle blood that day; There shall the bear lose the guilt,
it. The Regent was not, indeed, till after this period, And the eagill bear it away."
created Duke of Chatelherault; but that honour was
the object of his hopes and expectations. To the end of all this allegorical and mystical rhap The name of our renowned soothsayer is liberally sody, is interpolated, in the later edition by Andro used as an authority, throughout all the prophecies Hart, a new edition of Berlington's verses, before published by Andro Hart. Besides those expressly quoted, altered and manufactured, so as to bear refer- put in his name, Gildas, another assumed personage, ence to the accession of James VI., which had just is supposed to derive his knowledge from him ; for ho then taken place. The insertion is made with a pecu- concludes thus :liar degree of awkwardness, betwixt a question, put by the narrator, concerning the name and abode of the “True Thomas me told in a troublesome time,
In a harvest morn at Eldoun hills. person who showed him these strange matters, and the
The Prophecy of Gildas. answer of the prophet to that question :
In the prophecy of Berlington, already quoted, we “ Then to the Beirne could I say, Where dwells thou, or in what countrie?
are told, [Or who shall rule the isle of Britane,
" Marvellous Merlin, that many men of tells,
And Thomas's sayings comes all at once."
While I am upon the subject of these prophecies,
may I be permitted to call the attention of antiquaries As neere as the nint degree: I frained fast what was his name,
to Merdwynn Wyllt, or Merlin the Wild, in whose Where that he came, from what country. ]
name, and by no means in that of Ambrose Merlin, In Erslingtoun I dwell at hame,
the friend of Arthur, the Scottish prophecies are isThomas Rymour men cals me."
sued ? That this personage resided at Drummelziar, There is surely no one, who will not conclude, with and roamed, like a second Nebuchadnezzar, the woods Lord Hailes, that the eight lines, enclosed in brackets, of Tweeddale, in remorse for the death of his nephew,
we learn from Fordun. In the Scotichronicon, lib. 3. are a clumsy interpolation, borrowed from Berlington, with such alterations as might render the supposed cap. 31, is an account of an interview betwixt St.
Kentigern and Merlin, then in this distracted and prophecy applicable to the union of the crowns.
miserable state. He is said to have been called LaiWhile we are on this subject, it may be proper briefly to notice the scope of some of the other predic- loken, from his mode of life. On being commanded tions, in Hart's Collection. As the prophecy of Ber- by the saint to give an account of himself, he says,
that the Jington was intended to raise the spirits of the nation,
penance which he performs was imposed on during the regency of Albany, so those of Sybilla and him by a voice from heaven, during a bloody contest Eltraine refer to that of the Earl of Arran, afterwards betwixt Lidel and Carwanolow, of which battle he Duke of Chatelherault, during the minority of Mary, had been the cause. According to his own prediction, a period of similar calamity. This is obvious from the he perished at once by wood, earth, and water ; for,
being pursued with stones by the rustics, he fell from following verses :
a rock into the river Tweed, and was transfixed by a “ Take a thousand in calculation,
sharp stake, fixed there for the purpose of extending a And the longest of the lyon,
" Sude perfossus, lapide percussus, et unda,
Hæc tria Merlinum fertur inire necetih.
Sicque ruit, mersusque fuit lignoque prehensus, He answers briefly to Waldhave's enquiry concerning
his name and nature, that he “drees his weird,” i. e. But, in a metrical history of Merlin of Caledonia, does penance in that wood ; and, having hinted that compiled by Geoffrey of Monmouth, from the tradi- questions as to his own state are offensive, he pours tions of the Welsh bards, this mode of death attri
forth an obscure rhapsody concerning futurity, and buted to a page, whom Merlin's sister, desirous to
concludes, convict the prophet of falsehood, because he had be
“Go musing upon Merlin if thou wilt: trayed her intrigues, introduced to him, under three
For I mean no more, man, at this time." various disguises, enquiring each time in what manner the person should die. To the first demand Merlin
This is exactly similar to the meeting betwixt Meranswered, the party should perish by a fall from a
lin and Kentigern in Fordun. These prophecies of rock ; to the second, that he should die by a tree; and Merlin seem to have been in request in the minority to the third, that he should be drowned. The youth of James V.; for, among the amusements with which perished, while hunting, in the mode imputed by For- Sir David Lindsay diverted that prince during his dun to Merlin himself.
infancy, are, Fordun, contrary to the French authorities, con
“The prophecies of Rymer, Bede, and Merlin." founds this person with the Merlin of Arthur; but
Sir David LINDSAY'S Epistle to the King. concludes by informing us, that many believed him to be a different person. The grave of Merlin is pointed and we find, in Waldhave, at least one allusion to out at Drummelziar, in Tweeddale, beneath an aged the very ancient prophecy, addressed to the Countess thorn-tree. On the east-side of the churchyard, the of Dunbar :brook, called Pausayl, falls into the Tweed; and the following prophecy is said to have been current con “ This is a true token that Thomas of tells, cerning their union :
When a ladde with a ladye shall go over the fields." “When Tweed and Pausayl join at Merlin's grave,
The original stands thus :Scotland and England shall one monarch have."
“When laddes weddeth lovedies." On the day of the coronation of James VI., the
Another prophecy of Merlin seems to have been T'weed accordingly overflowed, and joined the Pau- current about the time of the Regent Morton's exesayl at the prophet's grave.—PENNYCUICK’s Historycution. When that nobleman was committed to the of Tweeddale, p. 26. These circumstances would charge of his accuser, Captain James Stewart, newly seem to infer a communication betwixt the south- created Earl of Arran, to be conducted to his trial at west of Scotland and Wales, of a nature peculiarly Edinburgh, Spottiswoode says, that he asked, “«Who intimate ; for I presume that Merlin would retain was Earl of Arran ?' and being answered that Capsense enough to choose for the scene of his wander- tain James was the man, after a short pause, he said, ings, a country having a language and manners simi- " And is it so? I know then what I may look for!' lar to his own.
meaning, as was thought, that the old prophecy of Be this as it may, the memory of Merlin Sylvester, the · Falling of the heart 3 by the mouth of Arran,' or the Wild, was fresh among the Scots during the should then be fulfilled. Whether this was his mind reign of James V. Waldhave,' under whose name a
or not, it is not known; but some sparod not, at the set of prophecies was published, describes himself as time when the Hamiltons were banished, in which lying upon Lomond Law; he hears a voice, which business he was held too earnest, to say, that he stood bids him stand to his defence; he looks around, and in fear of that prediction, and went that course only beholds a flock of hares and foxes ? pursued over the to disappoint it. But if so it was, he did find himself mountain by a savage figure, to whom he can hardly now deluded; for he fell by the mouth of another give the name of man. At the sight of Waldhave, Arran than he imagined.”-SPOTTISWOODE, 313. The the apparition leaves the objects of his pursuit, and fatal words alluded to seem to be these in the proassaults him with a club. Waldhave defends himself phecy of Merlin :with his sword, throws the savage to the earth, and refuses to let him arise till he swear, by the law and “ In the mouthe of Arrane a selcouth shall fall,
Two bloodie hearts shall be taken with a false traine, lead he lives upon,“ to do him no harm.” This done,
And derfly dung down without any dome." he permits him to arise, and marvels at his strange appearance :
To return from these desultory remarks, into which “ He was formed like a freike (man) all his four quarters;
I have been led by the celebrated name of Merlin, And then his chin and his face haired so thick,
the style of all these prophecies, published by Hart, With haire growing so grime, fearful to see."
is very much the same. The measure is alliterative,
2 See Appendix, Note D.
1 I do not know whether the person here meant be Waldhave, an abbot of Melrose, who died in the odour of sanctity, about 1160.
3 The heart was the cognizance of Morton.