« AnteriorContinuar »
E entusché par grant engin,
The feast was spread in Ercildoune,
In Learmont's high and ancient hall : And there were knights of great renown,
And ladies, laced in pall.
Nor lacked they, while they sat at dine,
The music nor the tale,
Nor mantling quaighs of ale.
True Thomas rose, with harp in hand,
When as the feast was done: (In minstrel strife, in Fairy Land,
The elfin harp he won.)
The tale of Sir Tristrein, as narrated in the Edinburgh MS., is totally different from the voluminous romance in prose, originally compiled on the same subject by Rusticien de Puise, and analyzed by M. de Tressan ; but agrees in every essential particular with the metrical performance just quoted, which is a work of much higher antiquity.
The following attempt to commemorate the Rhymer's poetical fame, and the traditional account of his marvellous return to Fairy Land, being entirely modern, would have been placed with greater propriety among the class of Modern Ballads, had it not been for its immediate connection with the first and second parts of the same story.
Hush'd were the throng, both limb and tongue,
And harpers for envy pale ;
And hearken'd to the tale.
In numbers high, the witching tale
The prophet pour'd along; No after bard might e'er avail
Those numbers to prolong. Yet fragments of the lofty strain
Float down the tide of years, As, buoyant on the stormy main,
A parted wreck appears."
Thomas the Rhymer.
He sung King Arthur's Table Round:
The Warrior of the Lake; How courteous Gawaine met the wound,
And bled for ladies' sake.
When seven years more were come and gone,
Was war through Scotland spread, And Ruberslaw show'd high Dunyon'
His beacon blazing red.
But chief, in gentle Tristrem's praise,
The notes melodious swell; Was none excell'd in Arthur's days,
The knight of Lionelle.
Then all by bonny Coldingknow,'
Pitch'd palliouns took their room, And crested helms, and spears a-rowe,
Glanced gayly through the broom.
For Marke, his cowardly uncle's right,
A venom'd wound he bore; When fierce Morholde he slew in fight,
Upon the Irish shore.
The Leader, rolling to the Tweed,
Resounds the ensenzie ;3 They roused the deer from Caddenhead,
To distant Torwoodlee.
No art the poison might withstand;
No medicine could be found, Till lovely Isolde's lily hand
Had probed the rankling wound.
1 Ruberslaw and Dunyon, are two hills near Jedburgh.
1 An ancient tower near Ercildoune, belonging to a family of the name of Home. One of Thomas's prophecies is said to have run thus :“ Vengeance ! vengeance ! when and where ?
On the house of Coldingknow, now and ever mair!" The spot is rendered classical by its having given name to the beautiful melody called the Broom' the Cowdenknows.
3 Ensenzie-War-cry, or gathering word.
4 Torwoodlee and Caddenhead are places in Selkirkshire; both the property of Mr. Pringle of Torwoodlee.
6 Quaighs-Wooden cups, composed of staves hooped together.
6 See Introduction to this ballad.
7 This stanza was quoted by the Edinburgh Reviewer, of 1804, as a noble contrast to the ordinary bumility of the genuine ballad diction.-ED.
* See, in the Fabliaur of Monsieur le Grand, elegantly translated by the late Gregory Way, Esq., the tale of the Knight and the Sword. [Vol. ii. p. 3.]
? An ancient seat upon the Tweed, in Selkirkshire. In a popular edition of the first part of Thomas the Rhymer, the Fairy Queen thus addresses him :
“Gin ye wad meet wi' me again,
Gang to the bonny banks of Fairnalie." Fairnalie is now one of the seats of Mr. Pringle of Clifton, M. P. for Selkirkshire. 1833.
NOTE A.-P. 574.
From the Chartulary of the Trinity House of Soltra.
Advocates' Library, W. 4. 14.
ERSYLTON. OMNIBUS has literas visuris vel audituris Thomas de Ercildoun filius et heres Thomæ Rymour de Ercildoun salutem in Domino. Noveritis me per fustem et baculum in pleno judicio resignasse ac per presentes quietem clamasse pro me et heredibus meis Magistro domus Sanctæ Trinitatis de Soltre et fratribus ejusdem domus totam terram meam cum omnibus pertinentibus suis quam in tenemento de Ercildoun hereditarie tenui renunciando de toto pro me et heredibus meis omni jure et clameo quæ ego seu antecessores mei in eadem terra alioque tempore de perpetuo habuimus sive de futuro habere possumus. In cujus rei testimonio presentibus his sigillum meum apposui data apad Ercildoun die Martis proximo post festum Sanctorum Apostolorum Symonis et Jude Anno Domini Millesimo cc. Nonagesimo Nono.
NOTE B.-P. 576.
Undir nethe a dern tre,
The reader is here presented, from an old, and unfortunately an imperfect MS, with the undoubted original of Thomas the Rhymer's intrigue with the Queen of Faëry. It will afford great amusement to those who would study the nature of traditional poetry, and the changes effected by oral tradition, to 'compare this ancient romance with the foregoing ballad. The same incidents are narrated, even the expression is often the same ; yet the poems are as different in appearance, as if the older tale had been regularly and systematically modernized by a poet of the present day.
Incipit Prophesia Thomæ de Erseldoun.
He met her euyn at Eldyn Tre. Thomas knelyd down on his kne Undir nethe the grenewood spray, And sayd, Lovely lady, thou rue on me, Queen of Heaven as you may well be. But I am a lady of another countrie, If I be pareld most of prise, I ride after the wild fee, My ratches rinnen at my devys. If thou be pareld most of prise, And rides a lady in strang foly, Lovely lady, as thou art wise, Giue you me leue to lige ye by. Do way, Thomas, that were foly, I pray ye, Thomas, late me be, That sin will fordo all my bewtie. Lovely ladye, rewe on me, And euer more I shall with ye dwell, Here my trowth I plyght to thee, Where you belieues in heuin or hell. Thomas, and you myght lyge me by, Undir nethe this grene wode spray, Thou would tell full hastely, That thou had layn by a lady gay. Lady, mote I lyge by the, Undir nethe the grene wode tre, For all the gold in chrystenty, Suld you neuer be wryede for me. Man on molde you will me marre, And yet bot you may haf your will, Trow you well, Thomas, you cheuyst ye warre ; For all my bewtie wilt you spill. Down lyghted that lady bryzt, Undir nethe the
gresse, and at every tre,
The figge and als fylbert tre ; The nyghtyngale bred yng in her neste, The papigaye about gan fle, The throstylcock sang wald hafe no rest. He pressed to pulle fruyt with his hand, As man for faute that was faynt; She seyd, Thomas, lat al stand, Or els the deuyl wil the ataynt. Sche seyd, Thomas, I the hyzt, To lay thi bede upon my kne, And thou shalt see fayrer syght, Than euyr sawe man in their kintre. Sees thon, Thomas, yon fayr way, That lyggs ouyr yone fayr playn ? Yonder is the way to heuyn for ay, Whan synful sa wles haf derayed their payne. Sees thou, Thomas, yon secund way, That lygges lawe undir the ryse ? Streight is the way, sothly to say, To the joyes of paradyce. Sees thou, Thomas, yon thyrd way, That lygges ouyr yone how ? Wide is the way, sothly to say, To the brynyng fyres of helle. Sees thou, Thomas, yone fayr castell, That standes ouyr yone fair hill ? Of town and tower it beereth the belle, In middell erth is none like theretill. Whan thou comyst in yone castell gaye, I pray thee curteis man to be ; What so any man to you say, Loke thu answer none but me. My lord is servyd at yche messe, With xxx kniztes feir and fre; Lshall say syttyng on the dese, I toke thy speche beyone the le. Thomas stode as still as stone, And behelde that ladye gaye ; Than was sche fayr, and ryche anone, And also ryal on hir palfreye. The grewhoundes had fylde thaim on the dere, The raches coupled, by my fay, She blewe her horne Thomas to chere, To the castell she went her way. The ladye into the hall went, Thomas folowyd at her hand; Thar kept her mony a lady gent, With curtasy and lawe. Harp and fedyl both he fande, The getern and the sawtry, Lut and rybid ther gon gan, Thair was al maner of mynstralsy, The most fertly that Thomas thoght, When he com emyddes the flore, Fourty hertes to quarry were broght, That had been befor both long and store. Lymors lay lappyng blode, And kokes standyng with dressyng knyfe, And dressyd dere as thai wer wode, And rewell was thair wonder. Knyghtes dansyd by two and thre, All that lene long day. Ladyes that were gret of gre, Sat and sang of rych array. Thomas sawe much more in that place, Than I can descryve, Til on a day, alas, alas, My lovelye ladye sayd to me, Busk ye, Thomas, you must agayn, Here you may no longer be : Hy then zerne that you were at hame, I sal ye bryng to Eldyn Tre.
Thomas answerd with hegy
adds, “that 'Thomas' meaning may be understood by heraulds And said, Lowely ladye, lat ma be,
when he speaks of kingdoms whose insignia seldom vary, bat For I say ye certenly here
that individual families cannot be discovered, either because Haf I be bot the space of dayes three.
they have altered their bearings, or because they are pointed Sothly, Thomas, as I telle ye,
out by their crests and exterior ornaments, which are changed You hath ben here thre yeres,
at the pleasure of the bearer.” Mr. Nisbet, however, comAnd here you may no longer be ;
forts himself for this obscurity, by reflecting, that " we may And I sal tele ye a skele,
certainly conclude, from his writings, that herauldry was in To-morrow of helle ye foule fende
good esteem in his days, and well known to the vulgar."Amang our folke shall chuse his fee ;
Ibid. p. 160.-It may be added, that the publication of preFor you art a larg man and an hende,
dictions, either printed or hieroglyphical, in which noble famiTrowe you wele he will chuse thee.
lies were pointed out by their armorial bearings, was, in the Fore all the golde that may be,
time of Queen Elizabeth, extremely common; and the infigFro hens unto the worldes ende,
ence of such predictions on the minds of the common people Sall you not be betrayed by me,
was so great as to occasion a prohibition, by statute, of prophAnd thairfor sall you hens wende.
ecy by reference to heraldic emblems. Lord Henry Howard She broght hym euyn to Eldyn Tre,
also (afterwards Earl of Northampton) directs against this Undir nethe the grene wode spray,
practice much of the reasoning in his learned treatise, entitled, In Huntle bankes was fayr to be,
“A Defensation against the Poyson of pretended Prophecies."
Note D.-P. 580.
The strange occupation in which Waldhave bebolds Merlin The Elfin Queen, after restoring Thomas to earth, pours engaged, derives some illustration from a curious passage in forth a string of prophecies, in which we distinguish references Geoffrey of Monmouth's life of Merlin, above quoted. The to the events and personages of the Scottish wars of Edward poem, after narrating that the prophet had fled to the forest III. The battles of Dapplin and Halidon are mentioned, and in a state of distraction, proceeds to mention, that, looking also Black Agnes, Countess of Dunbar. There is a copy of upon the stars one clear evening, he discerned from his astro this poem in the Museum of the Cathedral of Lincoln, an- logical knowledge, that his wife, Guendolen, had resolved, other in the collection in Peterborough, but unfortunately they upon the next morning, to take another husband. As he had are all in an imperfect state. Mr. Jamieson, in his curious presaged to her that this would happen, and had promised Collection of Scottish Ballads and Songs, has an entire copy her a nuptial gift (cautioning her, however, to keep the bride of this ancient poem, with all the collations. The bacune of groom out of his sight), he now resolved to make good his the former editions have been supplied from his copy.
word. Accordingly, he collected all the stags and lesser game in his neighborhood ; and, having seated himself upon a buck, drove the herd before him to the capital of Cumberland,
where Guendolen resided. But her lover's curiosity leading NOTE C.
him to inspect too nearly this extraordinary cavalcade Mer ALLUSIONS TO HERALDRY.-P. 578.
lin's rage was awakened, and he slew him with the struke of
an antler of the stag. The original runs thus :"The muscle is a square figure like a lozenge, but it is always voided of the field. They are carried as principal figures “ Dixerat : et silvas et saltus circuit omnes, by the name of Learmont. Learmont of Earlstoun, in the
Cervorumque greges agmen collegit in unum, Merss, carried or on a bend azure three muscles; of which
Et damas, capreasque simul ; cercoque resedit, family was Sir Thomas Learmont, who is well known by the Et, veniente die, compellens agmina pro se, name of Thomas the Rhymer, because he wrote his prophecies
Festinans vadit quo nubit Guendolana, in rhime. This prophetick berauld lived in the days of King
Postquam venit eo, pacienter ipse coegit Alexander the Third, and prophesied of his death, and of many
Cervos ante fores, proclamans, ó Guendolana, other remarkable occurrences ; particularly of the union of
Guendolana, veni, te talia munera spectant. Scotland with England, which was not accomplished until the
Ocius ergo venit subridens Guendolana, reign of James the Sixth, some hundred years after it was fore
Gestarique virum cervo miratur, et illum told by this gentleman, whose prophecies are much esteemed
Sic parere viro, tantum quoque posse ferarum by many of the vulgar even at this day. I was promised by a
Uniri numerum quas pre se solus agebat, friend a sight of his prophecies, of which there is everywhere
Sicut pastor oves, quas ducere suevit ad herbas. to be had an epitome, which, I suppose, is erroneous, and dif
Stabat ab excelsa sponsus spectando ferestra, fers in many things from the original, it having been oft re
In solio mirans cquitem, risumque movebat. printed by some unskilful persons. Thus many things are Ast ubi vidit eum vates, animoque quis esset amissing in the small book which are to be met with in the
Calluit, extemplo divulsit cornua certo original, particularly these two lines concerning his neighbour,
Quo gestabatur, vibrataque jecit in illum, Bemerside :-
Et caput illius penitus contrivit, eumque *Tyde what may betide,
Reddidit eranimem, vitamque fugavit in auras ; Haig shall be laird of Bemerside.'
Ocius inde suum, talorum verbere, cervum
Difugiens egit, silvasque redire paravit." And indeed his prophecies concerning that ancient family have hitherto been true; for, since that time to this day, the Haigs For a perusal of this curious poem, accurately copied from have been lairds of that place. They carrie, Azure a saltier a MS. in the Cotton Library, nearly coeval with the anthor, I cantoned with two stars in chief and in base argent, as many was indebted to my learned friend, the late Mr. Ritson. There crescents in the flanques or; and for crest a rock proper, is an excellent paraphrase of it in the curious and entertainwith this motto, taken from the above written rhyme--Tide ing Specimens of Early English Romances, published by what may.'”-Nisbet on Marks of Cadency, p. 158.-He Mr. Ellis.