« AnteriorContinuar »
and somewhat similar to that of Pierce Plowman's The barges of clear barons down shal be sunken; Visions; a circumstance which might entitle us to
Seculars shall sit in spiritual seats, ascribe to some of them an earlier date than the reign
Occupying offices anointed as they were." of James V., did we not know that Sir Galloran of Taking the lily for the emblem of France, can there Galloway and Gawaine and Gologras, two romances be a more plain prophecy of the murder of her morendered almost unintelligible by the extremity of narch, the destruction of her nobility, and the desoaffected alliteration, are perhaps not prior to that lation of her hierarchy? period. Indeed, although we may allow that, during But, without looking farther into the signs of the much earlier times, prophecies, under the names of times, the Editor, though the least of all the prophets, those celebrated soothsayers, have been current in cannot help thinking, that every true Briton will apScotland, yet those published by Hart have obviously prove of his application of the last prophecy quoted been so often vamped and re-vamped, to serve the in the ballad. political purposes of different periods, that it may be Hart's collection of prophecies was frequently reshrewdly suspected, that, as in the case of Sir John printed during the last century, probably to favour Cutler's transmigrated stockings, very little of the the pretensions of the unfortunate family of Stuart. original materials now remains. I cannot refrain For the prophetic renown of Gildas and Bede, see from indulging my readers with the publisher's title Fordun, lib. 3. to the last prophecy, as it contains certain curious Before leaving the subject of Thomas's predictions, information concerning the Queen of Sheba, who is it may be noticed, that sundry rhymes, passing for identified with the Cumæan Sibyl: “Here followeth his prophetic effusions, are still current among the a prophecie, pronounced by a noble queene and mat- vulgar. Thus, he is said to have prophesied of the ron, called Sybilla, Regina Austri, that came to Solo- very ancient family of Haig of Bemerside, mon. Through the which she compiled four bookes,
“Betide, betide, whate'er betide, at the instance of the said King Sol, and others
Haig shall be Haig of Bemerside." divers : and the fourth book was directed to a noble sing, called Baldwine, King of the broad isle of Bri- The grandfather of the present proprietor of Bemer
in the which she maketh mention of two noble side had twelve daughters, before his lady brought princes and emperours, the which is called Leones. him a male heir. The common people trembled for How these two shall subdue and overcome all earthlie the credit of their favourite soothsayer. The late Mr. princes to their diademe and crowne, and also be Haig was at length born, and their belief in the proglorified and crowned in the heaven among saints. phecy confirmed beyond a shadow of doubt. The first of these two is Constantinus Magnus ; that Another memorable prophecy bore, that the Old was Leprosus, the son of Saint Helena, that found Kirk at Kelso, constructed out of the ruins of the the croce. The second is the sixt king of the name Abbey, should " fall when at the fullest.” At a very of Steward of Scotland, the which is our most noble crowded sermon, about thirty years ago, a piece of king.” With such editors and commentators, what lime fell from the roof of the church. The alarm, for wonder that the text became unintelligible, even be the fulfilment of the words of the seer, became uniyond the usual oracular obscurity of prediction ? versal ; and happy were they who were nearest the
If there still remain, therefore, among these pre- door of the predestined edifice. The church was in dictions, any verses having a claim to real antiquity, consequence deserted, and has never since had an it seems now impossible to discover them from those opportunity of tumbling upon a full congregation. I which are comparatively modern. Nevertheless, as hope, for the sake of a beautiful specimen of Saxo
a there are to be found, in these compositions, some Gothic architecture, that the accomplishment of this uncommonly wild and masculine expressions, the prophecy is far distant. Editor has been induced to throw a few passages to
Another prediction, ascribed to the Rhymer, seems gether, into the sort of ballad to which this disquisi- to have been founded on that sort of insight into futu. tion is prefixed. It would, indeed, have been no rity, possessed by most men of a sound and combining difficult matter for him, by a judicious selection, to judgment. It runs thus : have excited, in favour of Thomas of Ercildoune, a
“At Eldon Tree if you shall be, share of the admiration bestowed by sundry wise per
A brigg ower Tweed you there may see." sons upon Mass Robert Fleming. For example :
The spot in question commands an extensive pro“But then the lilye shal be loused when they least think; spect of the course of the river; and it was easy to Then clear king's blood shal quake for fear of death;
foresee, that when the country should become in the For churls shal chop off heads of their chief beirns, And carfe of the crowns that Christ hath appointed.
least degree improved, a bridge would be somewhere
thrown over the stream. In fact, you now see no less Thereafter, on every side, sorrow shal arise;
than three bridges from that elevated situation.
1 The Rev. R. Fleming, pastor of a Scotch congregation in text in the Apocalypse, that the French Monarchy would London, published in 1701, “ Discourses on the Rise and Fall undergo some remarkable humiliation about 1794.-ED. of Papacy,” in which he expressed his belief, founded on a
Corspatrick, (Comes Patrick) Earl of March, but “ The neist curse lights on Branxton hills: more commonly taking his title from his castle of By Flodden's high and heathery side, Dunbar, acted a noted part during the wars of Ed- Shall wave a banner red as blude, ward I. in Scotland. As Thomas of Ercildoune is said And chieftains throng wi' meikle pride to have delivered to him his famous prophecy of King Alexander's death, the Editor has chosen to intro- “ A Scottish King shall come full keen, duce him into the following ballad. All the prophetic The ruddy lion beareth he; verses are selected from Hart's publication.'
A feather'd arrow sharp, I ween,
Shall make him wink and warre to see.
1 An exact reprint of these prophecies, from the edition of 3 The uncertainty which long prevailed in Scotland, cobe Waldegrave, in 1613, collated with Hart's, of 1615, from the cerning the fate of James IV., is well known. copy in the Abbotsford Library, was completed for the Ban- 4 One of Thomas's rhymes, preserved by tradition, runs patyne Club, under the care of the learned antiquary, Mr.
thus:David Laing of Edinburgh.-Ed. 1833.
« The burn of breid
Shall run fow reid." 2 King Alexander, killed by a fall from his horse, near Bannock-burn is the brook here meant. The Scots give the Kinghorn.
name of bannock to a thick round cake of unleavened bread.
« A French Queen shall bear the son,
ferred to, by the minstrels of Normandy and Bretagne. Shall rule all Britain to the sea;
Having arrived at a part of the romance where reHe of the Bruce's blood shall come,
citers were wont to differ in the mode of telling the As near as in the ninth degree.
story, the French bard expressly cites the authority
of the poet of Ercildoune: “ The waters worship shall his race;
“ Plusurs de nos granter ne volent, Likewise the waves of the farthest sea;
Co que del naim dire se solent, For they shall ride over ocean wide,
Ki femme Kaherdin dut aimer,
Li naim redut Tristram narrer,
Enveiad Tristram Guvernal,
En Engleterre pur Ysolt:
Qu'ico ne put pas esteer," &c.
The tale of Sir Tristrem, as narrated in the Edin.
burgh MS., is totally different from the voluminous BY WALTER SCOTT.
romance in prose, originally compiled on the same THOMAS THE RHYMER was renowned among his subject by Rusticien de Puise, and analyzed by M. de contemporaries, as the author of the celebrated ro- Tressan; but agrees in every essential particular with mance of Sir Tristrem. Of this once-admired poem the metrical performance just quoted, which is a work only one copy is now known to exist, which is in the of much higher antiquity. Advocates' Library. The Editor, in 1804, published The following attempt to commemorate the Rhyma small edition of this curious work ; which, if it does er's poetical fame, and the traditional account of his not revive the reputation of the bard of Ercildoune, marvellous return to Fairy Land, being entirely mois at least the earliest specimen of Scottish poetry dern, would have been placed with greater propriety hitherto published. Some account of this romance has among the class of Modern Ballads, had it it not been already been given to the world in Mr. Ellis's Speci- for its immediate connexion with the first and second mens of Ancient Poetry, vol. i. p. 165, iii. p. 410; a parts of the same story. work to which our predecessors and our posterity are alike obliged; the former, for the preservation of the best-selected examples of their poetical taste; and the latter, for a history of the English language, which will only cease to be interesting with the existence of
THOMAS THE RHYMER. our mother-tongue, and all that genius and learning have recorded in it. It is sufficient here to mention, that great was the reputation of the romance of Sir Tristrem, that few were thought capable of reciting it after the manner of the author-a circumstance al
When seven years more were come and gone, luded to by Robert de Brunne, the annalist :
Was war through Scotland spread,
And Ruberslaw show'd high Dunyoni
His beacon blazing red.
Then all by bonny Coldingknow,
Pitch'd palliouns took their room,
And crested helms, and spears a-rowe,
Glanced gaily through the broom.
The Leader, rolling to the Tweed, century, penes Mr. Douce of London, containing a Resounds the ensenzie ;3 French metrical romance of Sir Tristrem, that the They roused the deer from Caddenhead, work of our Thomas the Rhymer was known, and re- To distant Torwoodlee.
1 Ruberslaw and Dunyon, are two hills near Jedburgh. The spot is rendered classical by its having given name to
2 An ancient tower near Ercildoune, belonging to a family the beautiful melody called the Broom o' the Cowdenknows. of the name of Home. One of Thomas's prophecies is said to have run thus :
3 Ensenzie-War-cry, or gathering word. “ Vengeance! vengeance! when and where?
4 Torwoodlee and Caddenhead are places in Selkirkshire ; On the house of Colding know, now and ever mair!" both the property of Mr. Pringle of Torwoodlee.
i Quaighs-Wooden cups, composed of staves hooped toge- 1804, as a noble contrast to the ordinary humility of the ga ther.
nuine ballad diction.-ED,
4 See, in the Fabliaux of Monsieur le Grand, elegantly ? See Introduction to this ballad.
translated by the late Gregory Way, Esq., the tale of the a This stanza was quoted by the Edinburgh Reviewer, of Knight and the Sword. [Vol. ii. p. 3.)