« PreviousContinue »
Moorish invaders. A Saracen champion is thus described by Froissart: "Among the Sarazyns, there was a yonge knight called Agadinger Dolyferne; he was always wel mounted on a redy and a lyght horse; it seemed, when the horse ranne, that he did flye in the ayre. The knighte seemed to be a good man of armes by his dedes; he bare always of usage three fethered dartes, and rychte well he could handle them; and, according to their custome, he was dene armed, with a long white towell aboute his heed. His apparell was blacke, and his own colour browne, and a good horseman. The Crysten men say, they thoughte he dyd such deeds of armes for the love of some yonge ladye of his countrey. And true it was, that he loved entirely the king of Thune's daughter, named the Lady Azala; she was inherytour to the realme of Thunes, after the discease of the kyng, her father. This Agadinger was sone to the Duke of Olyferne. I can nat telle if they were married together after or nat; but it was shewed me, that this knyght, for love of the sayd ladye, during the siege, did many feats of armes. The knyghtes of Fraunce wold fayne have taken hym; but they colde never attrape nor inclose him, his horse was so swyft, and so redy to his hand, that alwaies he escaped."— Vol. II. ch.71.
Note VII. Thy low and lonely urn, Ogallant chief of Otterburne.—P. 50. The famous and desperate battle of Otterburne was fought 15th August, 1388, betwixt Henry Percy, called Hotspur, and
James, Earl of Douglas. Both these renowned champions were at the head of a chosen body of troops, and they were rivals in military fame; so that Froissart affirms, "Of all the battaylles and encounteryngs that I have made mencion of here before in all this hystory, great or smalle, this batayle that I treat of nowe was one of the sorest and best foughten, without cowardes or faynte hertes; for there was neyther knyghte nor squyer but that dyde his devoyre, and fought hande to hande. This batayle was lyke the batayle of Becherell, the which was valiantly fought and endured." The issue of the conflict is well known: Percy was made prisoner, and the Scots won the day, dearly purchased by the death of their gallant general, the Earl of Douglas, who was slain in the action. He was buried at Melrose, beneath the high altar. "His obsequye was done reverently, and on his bodye layde a tombe of stone, and his baner hangyng over hym."—Froissart, Vol. II. p. 161.
William Douglas, called the knight of Liddesdale, flourished during the reign of David II.; and was so distinguished by his valour, that he was called the Flower of Chivalry. Nevertheless, he tarnished his renown by the cruel murder of Sir Alexander Ramsay of Dalhousie, originally his friend and brother in arms. The king had conferred upon Ramsay the sheriffdom
of Teviotdale, to which Douglas pretended some claim. In revenge of this preference, the knight of Liddesdale came down upon Ramsay, while he was administering justice at Hawick, seized and carried him off to his remote and inaccessible castle of Hermitage, where he threw his unfortunate prisoner, horse and man, into a dungeon, and left him to perish of hunger. It is said, the miserable captive prolonged his existence for several days by the corn which fell from a granary above the vault in which he was confined.* So weak was the royal authority, that David, although highly incensed at this atrocious murder, found himself obliged to appoint the
* There is something affecting in the manner in which the old Prior of Lochlevin turns from describing the death of the gallant Ramsay, to the general sorrow which it excited:
To tell you there of the manere,
Some years ago, a person digging for stones, about the old castle of Hermitage, broke into a vault, containing a quantity of chaff, some bones, and pieces of iron; amongst others, the curb of an ancient bridle, which the author has since given to the Earl of Dalhousie, under the impression, that it possibly may be a relique of his brave ancestor. The worthy clergyman of the parish has mentioned this discovery, in his statistical account of Castletown.
knight of Liddesdale successor to his victim, as sheriff of Teviotdale. But he was soon after slain, while hunting in Ettrick Forest, by his own godson and chieftain, William, Earl of Douglas, in revenge, according to some authors, of Ramsay's murder: although a popular tradition, preserved in a ballad quoted by Godscroft, and some parts of which are still preserved, ascribes the resentment of the Earl to jealousy. The place, where the knight of Liddesdale was killed, is called, from his name, William-Cross, upon the ridge of a hill called William-hope, betwixt Tweed and Yarrow. His body, according to Godscroft, was carried to Lindean church the first night after his death, and thence to Melrose, where he was interred with great pomp, and where his tomb is still shewn.
Note IX. The moon on the east oriel shone.—P. SO. It is impossible to conceive a more beautiful specimen of the lightness and elegance of Gothic architecture, when in its purity, than the eastern window of Melrose Abbey. Sir James Hall of Dunglass, Bart, has, with great ingenuity and plausibility, traced the Gothic order through its various forms, and seemingly eccentric ornaments, to an architectural imitation of wicker work; of which, as we learn from some of the legends, the earliest Christian churches were constructed. In such an edifice, the original of the clustered pillars is traced to a set of round posts, begirt with slender rods of willow, whose loose summits were brought to meet from all quarters, and
bound together artificially, so as to produce the frame-work of the roof: and the tracery of our Gothic windows is displayed in the meeting and interlacing of rods and hoops, affording an inexhaustible variety of beautiful forms of open work. This ingenious system is alluded to in the romance. Sir James Hall's Essay on Gothic Architecture is published in The Edinburgh Philosophical Transactions.
They sate them down on a marble stone, A Scottish monarch slept below.—P. 51. A large marble stone, in the chancel of Melrose, is pointed out as the monument of Alexander II., one of the greatest of our early kings; others say, it is the resting place of Waldeve, one of the early abbots, who died in the odour of sanctity.
1 The wonderous Michael Scott.—P. 51. Sir Michael Scott of Balwearie flourished during the 13th century, and was one of the ambassadors sent to bring the Maid of Norway to Scotland upon the death of Alexander III. By a poetical anachronism, he is here placed in a later aera. He was a man of much learning, chiefly acquired in foreign countries. He wrote a commentary upon Aristotle, printed at Venice in 1496; and several treatises upon natural philosophy, from which he appears to have been addicted to the abstruse studies of judicial astrology, alchymy, physiognomy,