Imágenes de páginas

On a day come tiding
Unto Charls the King,

Al of a doughti knight
Was comen to Navers,
Stout he was and fers,
Vernagu he hight.
Of Babiloun the soudan
Thider him sende gan,

With King Charls to fight.
So hard he was to-fond 1
That no dint of brond

No greued him, aplight.

He hadde twenti men strengthe
And forti fet of lengthe,
Thilke painim hede,2

And four feet in the face,
Y-meten 3 in the place,

And fifteen in brede.4

His nose was a fot and more;
His brow, as bristles wore : 5

He that it seighe it sede.

He loked lotheliche,

And was swart 6 as any piche,

Of him men might adrede.'

Romance of Charlemagne, 1. 461-484. Auchinleck MS., fol. 265.

Ascapart, or Ascabart, makes a very material figure in the History of Bevis of Hampton, by whom he was conquered. His effigies may be seen guarding one side of a gate at Southampton, while the other is occupied by Sir Bevis himself. The dimensions of Ascabart were little inferior to those of Ferragus, if the following description be correct:

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Sir Bevis of Hampton, 1. 2512. Auchinleck MS., fol. 189.

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And still a harp unseen

Fill'd up the symphony between.—p. 24.

"They' (meaning the Highlanders) 'delight much in musicke, but chiefly in harps and clairschoes of their own fashion. The strings of the clairschoes are made of brass wire, and the strings of the harps of sinews; which strings they strike either with their nayles, growing long, or else with an instrument appointed for that use. They take great pleasure to decke their harps and clairschoes with silver and precious stones; the poore ones that cannot attayne hereunto, decke them with christall. They sing verses prettily compound, contayning (for the most part) prayses of valiant men. There is not almost any other argument, whereof their rhymes intreat. They speak the ancient French language, altered a little.' The harp and clairschoes are now only heard of in the Highlands in ancient song. At what period these instruments ceased to be used, is not on record; and tradition is silent on this head. But, as Irish harpers occasionally visited the Highlands and Western Isles till lately, the harp might have been extant so late as the middle of the present century. Thus far we know, that from remote times down to the present, harpers were received as welcome guests, particularly in the Highlands of Scotland; and so late as the latter end of the sixteenth century, as appears by the above quotation, the harp was in common use among the natives of the Western Isles. How it happened that the noisy and inharmonious bagpipe banished the soft and expressive harp, we cannot say; but certain it is, that the bagpipe is now the only instrument that obtains universally in the Highland districts.'-CAMPBELL's Journey through North Britain. London, 1808, 4to, 1. 175.

Mr. Gunn, of Edinburgh, has lately published a curious Essay upon the Harp and Harp Music of the Highlands of Scotland. That the instrument was once in common use there, is most certain. Cleland numbers an acquaintance with it among the few accomplishments which his satire allows to the Highlanders :

'In nothing they 're accounted sharp,
Except in bagpipe or in harp.'

Note IX

Morn's genial influence roused a minstrel grey.—p. 29.

That Highland chieftains, to a late period, retained in their service the bard, as a family officer, admits of very easy proof. The author of the Letters from the North of Scotland, an officer of Engineers, quartered at Inverness about 1720, who certainly cannot be deemed a favourable witness, gives the following account of the office, and of a bard, whom he heard exercise his talent of recitation :-The bard is skilled in the genealogy of all the Highland families, sometimes preceptor to the young laird, celebrates in Irish verse the original of the tribe, the famous warlike actions of the successive heads, and sings his own lyricks as an opiate to the chief, when indisposed for sleep; but poets are not equally esteemed and honoured in all countries. I happened to be a witness of the dishonour done to the muse, at the house of one of the chiefs, where two of these bards were set at a good distance, at the lower end of a long table, with a parcel of Highlanders of no extraordinary appearance, over a cup 1 Vide Certayne Matters concerning the Realme of Scotland, etc., as they were Anno Domini 1597. London, 1603,' 4to.

of ale. Poor inspiration! They were not asked to drink a glass of wine at our table, though the whole company consisted only of the great man, one of his near relations, and myself. After some little time, the chief ordered one of them to sing me a Highland song. The bard readily obeyed, and with a hoarse voice, and in a tune of few various notes, began, as I was told, one of his own lyricks; and when he had proceeded to the fourth or fifth stanza, I perceived, by the names of several persons, glens, and mountains, which I had known or heard of before, that it was an account of some clan battle. But in his going on, the chief (who piques himself upon his school-learning) at some particular passage bid him cease, and cryed out, "There's nothing like that in Virgil or Homer." I bowed, and told him I believed so. This you may believe was very edifying and delightful.'-Letters, ii. 187.

Note X

The Grome.-p. 33.

The ancient and powerful family of Graham (which, for metrical reasons, is here spelt after the Scottish pronunciation) held extensive possessions in the counties of Dumbarton and Stirling. Few families can boast of more historical renown, having claim to three of the most remarkable characters in the Scottish annals. Sir John the Græme, the faithful and undaunted partaker of the labours and patriotic warfare of Wallace, fell in the unfortunate field of Falkirk, in 1298. The celebrated Marquis of Montrose, in whom De Retz saw realised his abstract idea of the heroes of antiquity, was the second of these worthies. And, notwithstanding the severity of his temper, and the rigour with which he executed the oppressive mandates of the princes whom he served, I do not hesitate to name as a third, John Græme, of Claverhouse, Viscount of Dundee, whose heroic death, in the arms of victory, may be allowed to cancel the memory of his cruelty to the non-conformists, during the reigns of Charles II. and James II.

Note XI

This harp, which erst Saint Modan sway'd.-p. 34.

I am not prepared to show that Saint Modan was a performer on the harp. It was, however, no unsaintly accomplishment; for Saint Dunstan certainly did play upon that instrument, which, retaining, as was natural, a portion of the sanctity attached to its master's character, announced future events by its spontaneous sound. 'But labouring once in these mechanic arts for a devout matrone that had sett him on work, his violl, that hung by him on the wall, of its own accord, without anie man's helpe, distinctly sounded this anthime: Gaudent in cœlis animæ sanctorum qui Christi vestigia sunt secuti; et quia pro eius amore sanguinem suum fuderunt, ideo cum Christo gaudent æternum. Whereat all the companie being much astonished, turned their eyes from beholding him working, to looke on that strange accident.' 'Not long after, manie of the court that hitherunto had borne a kind of fayned friendship towards him, began now greatly to envie at his progresse and rising in goodnes, using manie crooked, backbiting meanes to diffame his vertues with the black maskes of hypocrisie. And the better to authorize their calumnie they brought in this that happened in the violl, affirming it to have been done by art magick. What more? This wicked rumour encreased dayly, till the king and others of the nobilitie taking hould thereof, Dunstan grew odious in their sight. Therefore he resolued to leaue the court, and goe to

Elphegus, surnamed the Bauld, then bishop of Winchester, who was his cozen. Which his enemies understanding, they layd wayt for him in the way, and hauing throwne him off his horse, beate him, and dragged him in the durt in the most miserable manner, meaning to have slaine him, had not a companie of mastiue dogges, that came unlookit uppon them, defended and redeemed him from their crueltie. When with sorrow he was ashamed to see dogges more humane than they, and giuing thankes to Almightie God, he sensibly againe perceiued that the tunes of his violl had giuen him a warning of future accidents.'-Flower of the Lives of the most renowned Saincts of England, Scotland, and Ireland, by the R. FATHER HIEROME PORTER. Doway, 1632. 4to. Tome I. p. 438. The same supernatural circumstance is alluded to by the anonymous author of 'Grim, the Collier of Croydon.'

[Dunstan's harp sounds on the wall.]

'Forest. Hark, hark, my lords, the holy abbot's harp

Sounds by itself so hanging on the wall!

'Dunstan. Unhallow'd man, that scorn'st the sacred rede,

Hark, how the testimony of my truth

Sounds heavenly music with an angel's hand,

To testify Dunstan's integrity,

And prove thy active boast of no effect.'

Note XII

Ere Douglasses, to ruin driven,

Were exiled from their native heaven.-p. 34.

The downfall of the Douglasses of the house of Angus, during the reign of James V., is the event alluded to in the text. The Earl of Angus, it will be remembered, had married the queen dowager, and availed himself of the right which he thus acquired, as well as of his extensive power, to retain the king in a sort of tutelage, which approached very near to captivity. Several open attempts were made to rescue James from this thraldom, with which he was well known to be deeply disgusted; but the valour of the Douglasses, and their allies, gave them the victory in every conflict. At length, the king, while residing at Falkland, contrived to escape by night out of his own court and palace, and rode full speed to Stirling Castle, where the governor, who was of the opposite faction, joyfully received him. Being thus at liberty, James speedily summoned around him such peers as he knew to be most inimical to the domination of Angus, and laid his complaint before them, says Pitscottie, with great lamentations showing to them how he was holden in subjection, thir years bygone, by the Earl of Angus, and his kin and friends, who oppressed the whole country, and spoiled it, under the pretence of justice and his authority; and had slain many of his lieges, kinsmen, and friends, because they would have had it mended at their hands, and put him at liberty, as he ought to have been, at the counsel of his whole lords, and not have been subjected and corrected with no particular men, by the rest of his nobles: Therefore, said he, I desire, my lords, that I may be satisfied of the said earl, his kin, and friends; for I avow, that Scotland shall not hold us both, while [i.e. till] I be revenged on him and his.

'The lords hearing the king's complaint and lamentation, and also the great rage, fury, and malice, that he bore toward the Earl of Angus, his kin, and friends, they concluded all, and thought it best that he should be summoned to underly the law; if he found no caution, nor yet compear himself, that he should be put to the horn, with all his kin and friends,


so many as were contained in the letters. And farther, the lords ordained, by advice of his majesty, that his brother and friends should be summoned to find caution to underly the law within a certain day, or else be put to the horn. But the earl appeared not, nor none for him; and so he was put to the horn, with all his kin and friends: so many as were contained in the summons, that compeared not, were banished, and holden traitors to the king.'


In Holy-Rood a Knight he slew.-p. 37.

This was by no means an uncommon occurrence in the Court of Scotland; nay, the presence of the sovereign himself scarcely restrained the ferocious and inveterate feuds which were the perpetual source of bloodshed among the Scottish nobility. The following instance of the murder of Sir William Stuart of Ochiltree, called The Bloody, by the celebrated Francis, Earl of Bothwell, may be produced among many; but as the offence given in the royal court will hardly bear a vernacular translation, I shall leave the story in Johnstone's Latin, referring for farther particulars to the naked simplicity of Birrell's Diary, 30th July 1588.

'Mors improbi hominis non tam ipsa immerita, quam pessimo exemplo in publicum, fœdè perpetrata. Gulielmus Stuartus Alkiltrius, Arani frater, natura ac moribus, cujus sæpius memini, vulgo propter sitim sanguinis sanguinarius dictus, à Bothvelio, in Sanctæ Crucis Regiâ, exardescente irâ, mendacii probro lacessitus, obscænum osculum liberius retorquebat; Bothvelius hanc contumeliam tacitus tulit, sed ingentum irarum molem animo concepit. Utrinque postridie Edinburgi conventum, totidem numero comitibus armatis, præsidii causa, et acriter pugnatum est; cæteris amicis et clientibus metu torpentibus, aut vi absterritis, ipse Stuartus fortissimè dimicat: tandem excusso gladio à Bothvelio, Scythica feritate transfoditur, sine cujusquam misericordia; habuit itaque quem debuit exitum. Dignus erat Stuartus qui pateretur; Bothvelius qui faceret. Vulgus sanguinem sanguine prædicabat, et horum cruore innocuorum manibus egregiè parentatum.'-JOHNSTONI Historia Rerum Britannicarum, ab anno 1572 ad annum 1628. Amstelodami, 1655, fol. p. 135.

Note XIV

The Douglas, like a stricken deer,

Disown'd by every noble peer.-p. 37.

The exiled state of this powerful race is not exaggerated in this and subsequent passages. The hatred of James against the race of Douglas was so inveterate, that numerous as their allies were, and disregarded as the regal authority had usually been in similar cases, their nearest friends, even in the most remote parts of Scotland, durst not entertain them, unless under the strictest and closest disguise. James Douglas, son of the banished Earl of Angus, afterwards well known by the title of Earl of Morton, lurked, during the exile of his family, in the north of Scotland under the assumed name of James Innes, otherwise James the Grieve (i.e. Reve or Bailiff). 'And as he bore the name,' says Godscroft, so did he also execute the office of a grieve or overseer of the lands and rents, the corn and cattle of him with whom he lived.' From the habits of frugality and observation which he acquired in his humble situation, the historian traces that intimate acquaintance with popular character, which enabled him to rise so high in the state, and that honourable economy by which

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