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see a fayer towne, with great landes belongynge to it; and so he dyd by his cunnynge, and called it Napells. And the fandacyon of it was of egges, and in that town of Napells he made a tower with iiii corners, and in the toppe he set an appell upon an yron yarde, and no man culde pull away that apell without he brake it; and thoroughe that yren set he a bolte, and in that bolte set he a egge. And he henge the apell by the stauke upon a cheyne, and so hangeth it still. And when the egge styrreth, so shulde the towne of Napells quake; and whan the egge brake, than shulde the towne sinke. Whan he had made an ende, he lette call it Napells." This appears to have been an article of current belief during the middle ages, as appears from the statutes of the order Du Saint Esprit, au droit desir, instituted in 1352. A chapter of the knights is appointed to be held annually at the Castle of the Enchanted Egg, near the grotto of Virgil.—Montfaucon, Vol. II. p. 329.
Note II. A merlin sat upon her wrist.—P. 179. A merlin, or sparrow-hawk, was usually carried by ladies of rank, as a falcon was, in time of peace, the constant attendant of a knight, or baron. See Latham on Falconry.—Godscroft relates, that, when Mary of Lorraine was regent, she pressed the Earl of Angus to admit a royal garrison into his castle of Tantallon. To this he returned no direct answer; but, as if apostrophising a goss-hawk, which sat on his wrist, and which he was feeding during the Queen's speech, he exclaimed, "The devil's in this greedy glade, she will never be full."— Hume's History of the House of Douglas, 1743, Vol. II. p. 131. Barclay complains of the common and indecent practice of bringing hawks and hounds into churches.
Note III. And princely peacock's gilded train.—P. 180. The peacock, it is well known, was considered, during the times of chivalry, not merely as an exquisite delicacy, but as a dish of peculiar solemnity. After being roasted, it was again decorated with its plumage, and a spunge, dipt in lighted spirits of wine, was placed in its bill. When it was introduced on days of grand festival, it was the signal for the adventurous knights to take upon them vows to do some deed of chivalry, "before the peacock and the ladies."
And o'er the boar-head, garnished brave.—P. 180. The boar's head was also an usual dish of feudal splendour. In Scotland it was sometimes surrounded with little banners, displaying the colours and achievements of the baron, at whose board it was served.—Pinkertox's History, Vol. I. p. 432.
And cygnet from St Mary's wave.—P. 180. There are often flights of wild swans upon St Mary's Lake, at the head of the river Yarrow.
Smote, with his gauntlet, stout Hunthill.—P. 182. The Rutherfords of Hunthill were an ancient race of Border lairds, whose names occur in history, sometimes as defending the frontier against the English, sometimes as disturbing the peace of their own country. Dickon Draw-the-sword was son to the ancient warrior, called in tradition the Cock of Hunthill.
But Ut his glove, and shook his head.—P. 182. To bite the thumb, or the glove, seems not to^have been considered, upon the Border, as a gesture of contempt, though so used by Shakespeare, but as a pledge of mortal revenge. It is yet remembered, that a young gentleman of Teviotdale, on the morning after a hard drinking-bout, observed, that he had bitten his glove. He instantly demanded of his companion with whom he had quarrelled? and learning that he had had words with one of the party, insisted on instant satisfaction, asserting, that though he remembered nothing of the dispute, yet he was sure he never would have bit his glove unless he had received some unpardonable insult. He fell in the duel, which was fought near Selkirk, in 1721.
—» Arthur Fire-the-braes.—P. 183.
The person, bearing this redoubtable nomme de guerre, was an Elliot, and resided at Thorleshope, in Liddesdale. He occurs in the list of Border riders, in 1597.
■Since old Buccleuch tht name did gain, When in the cteuch the buck was ta'en.—P. 184. A tradition, preserved by Scott of Satchells, who published, in 1688, A true History of the right Honourable Name of Scott, gives the following romantic origin of that name. Two brethren, natives of Galloway, having been banished from that country for a riot, or insurrection, came to Rankelburn, in Ettricke Forest, where the keeper, whose name was Brydone, received them joyfully, on account of their skill in winding the horn, and in the other mysteries of the chace.—Kenneth MacAlpin, then king of Scotland, came soon after to hunt in the royal forest, and pursued a buck from Ettricke-heuch to the glen now called Buckleuch, about two miles above the junction of Rankelburn with the river Ettricke.—Here the stag stood at bay; and the king and his attendants, who followed cn horseback, were thrown out by the steepness of the hill and the morass. John, one of the brethren from Galloway, had followed the chase on foot; and now coming in, seized the buck by the horns, and, being a man of great strength and activity, threw him on his back, and run with his burden about a mile up the steep hill, to a place called Cracra-Cross, where Kenneth had halted, and laid the buck at the" sovereign'* feet.*
The deer being coree'd in that place,
At his Majesty's demand,
And fetched water to his hand.
And Galloway John be wot;'
Shall ever be called John Scott.
"The forest, and the deer therein,
We'commit to thy hand;
If thou obey command:
To us up that steep heuch,
Be John Scot in Buckscleuch."
* Froissart relates, that a knight of the household of the Compte de Foix exhibited a similar feat of strength. The hall-fire had waxed low, and wood was wanted to mend it. The knight went down to the court-yard, where stood an ass laden with faggots, seized on the animal and his burden, and, carrying him up to the hall on his shoulders, tumbled him into the chimney with his heels uppermost; a humane pleasantry, much applauded by the Count and all the spectators.