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1306, when Bruce slew the Red Cummin, the sanc- composedly and slowly, parading the street of the tity, and (let me add to Mr. Pinkerton's words) the village. The prophet instantly arose, left his habitauncertainty of antiquity, must have already involved tion, and followed the wonderful animals to the forest, his character and writings. In a charter of Peter whence he was never seen to return. According to de Haga de Bemersyde, which unfortunately wants a the popular belief, he still “ drees his weird” in Fairy date, the Rhymer, a near neighbour, and, if we may Land, and is one day expected to revisit earth. In the trust tradition, a friend of the family, appears as a meanwhile, his memory is held in the most profound witness.-Chartulary of Melrose.
respect. The Eildon Tree, from beneath the shade of It cannot be doubted, that Thomas of Ercildoune which he delivered his prophecies, now no longer was a remarkable and important person in his own exists ; but the spot is marked by a large stone, called time, since, very shortly after his death, we find him Eildon Tree Stone. A neighbouring rivulet takes the celebrated as a prophet and as a poet. Whether he name of the Bogle Burn (Goblin Brook) from the himself made any pretensions to the first of these cha- Rhymer's supernatural visitants. The veneration paid racters, or whether it was gratuitously conferred upon to his dwelling-place even attached itself in some dehim by the credulity of posterity, it seems difficult to gree to a person, who, within the memory of man, decide. If we may believe Mackenzie, Learmont only chose to set up his residence in the ruins of Learversified the prophecies delivered by Eliza, an inspired mont's tower. The name of this man was Murray, a nun of a convent at Haddington. But of this there kind of herbalist; who, by dint of some knowledge seems not to be the most distant proof. On the con- in simples, the possession of a musical clock, an electrary, all ancient authors, who quote the Rhymer's trical machine, and a stuffed alligator, added to a prophecies, uniformly suppose them to have been supposed communication with Thomas the Rhymer, emitted by himself. Thus, in Winton's Chronicle-- lived for many years in very good credit as a wizard.
It seemed to the Editor unpardonable to dismiss a “ Of this frcht quilum spak Thomas
person so important in Border tradition as the Rhymer, or Ersyldoune, that sayd in derne,
without some farther notice than a simple commentary There suld meit stalwartly, starke and sterne. He sayd it in his prophecy;
upon the following ballad. It is given from a copy, But how he wist it was feriy."
obtained from a lady residing not far from Ercildoune,
Book viii. chap. 32. corrected and enlarged by one in Mrs. Brown's MSS. There could have been no ferly (marvel) in Win- The former copy, however, as might be expected, is ton's eyes at least, how Thomas came by his know- far more minute as to local description. To this old ledge of future events, had he ever heard of the in tale the Editor has ventured to add a Second Part, spired nun of Haddington, which, it cannot be doubt consisting of a kind of cento, from the printed propheed, would have been a solution of the mystery, much cies vulgarly ascribed to the Rhymer; and a Third
Part, entirely modern, founded upon the tradition of to the taste of the Prior of Lochleven. Whatever doubts, however, the learned might have, Land of Faëry. To make his peace with the more
his having returned with the hart and hind, to the as to the source of the Rhymer's prophetic skill, the vulgar had no hesitation to ascribe the whole to the Second Part some remarks on Learmont's prophecies.
severe antiquaries, the Editor has prefixed to the intercourse between the bard and the Queen of Faëry. The popular tale bears, that Thomas was carried off, at an early age, to the Fairy Land, where he acquired all the knowledge, which made him afterwards so
THOMAS THE RHYMER.
i Henry the Minstrel, who introduces Thomas into the his- I cannot say by wrong or righteousness.
History of Wallace, Book ii.
2 See the Dissertation on Fairies, prefixed to Tamlane, " Thomas Rhymer into the faile was than
Border Minstrelsy, vol. i. p. 254.
3 There is a singular resemblance betwixt this tradition, He used oft to that religious place;
and an incident occurring in the life of Merlin Caledonins, The people deemed of wit he meikle can,
which the reader will find a few pages onwards. And so he told, though that they bless or ban,
• Huntly Bank, and the adjoining ravine, called, from imIn rule of war whether they tint or wan:
memorial tradition, the Rymer's Glen, were ultimately included Which happened sooth in many divers casc; in the domain of Abbotsford. The scenery of this glen forms
the background of Edwin Landscer'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, fc.---That destiny shall never frighten me.
repugnanco of Thomas to be debarred the use of falsehood.
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 Wýt 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 stye; 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;
of superstition, as to the steel of our more powerful When a quarter of whaty whete is chaunged for a colt of ten markes;
and more wealthy neighbours. The war of Scotland 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 hym 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 rycht ant wronge astente the togedere;
- thank God for that too. The prophecy, quoted When laddes weddeth lovedies; When Scottes tilen 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, Nonther in thine tyme ne in mine;
probably, throw additional light upon the allusions Ah comen ant gone
contained in these ancient legends. Among various Withinne twenty winter ant one."
rhymes of prophetic import, which are at this day PINKERTON's Poems, from MAITLAND'S MSS. quoting frum 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 her’stane”-an emphatic image of desolation. 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 Re. TISWOODE, 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 calis our bard " ruralis ille vates.”—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,
Shall make him winke and warre to see. 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,
* For God's love turn you againe,