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death of their gallant general, the earl of Douglas, who was slain in the action. He was buried at Mel
rose beneath the high altar. “His obsequye was
done reverently, and on his body ladye a tombe of stone, and his baner hangyng over hym.”—FRois
BART, vol. ii. p. 161.
Dark knight of Liddesdale.—Ver. 10. p. 38.
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 attrocious murder, found himself obliged to appoint the knight of Liddesdale successor to his victim, as sheriff of Teviotdale. But he was soon after slain, while hunting in Ettricke 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's 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.
* 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 thare of the manere, It is bot sorrow for til here ; He was the grettast menyd man That only cowth have thowcht of than, Of his state, or of mare be fare ; All menyt him, bath betty r and war; The ryche and pure him menyde bath, For of his dede was me kil skath.
Scime 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 the parish of Castleton.
The moon on the east oriel shone.—Ver. 11, p. 38.
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 Dunglas, bart. has with great ingenuity and plausibility, traced the Gothic order through its various forms, and seemingly eccentric ornaments, to an architectural imitation of wickerwork; 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 inexhaustable variety of beautiful forms of open work. This ingenious sys
tem is ulluded 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 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.
— The wond’rous Michael Scot.—Ver. 13, p. 39.
Sir Michael Scott of Balwearie flourish.d during the thirteenth 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 era. 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, and chiromancy. Hence he passed among his contemporaries for a skilful magician. Dempster informs us, that he remembers to have heard in his youth, that the magic books of Michael Scott were still in existence, but could not be opened without danger, on account of the fiends who were thereby invoked. Dempsteri Historia Ecclesiastica, 1627, lib. xii. p. 495. Lesley characterises Michael Scott as “Singulari philosophia, astronomia ac medicina laude prestans; dicebatur penitissimos magia recessus indagasse.” A personage thus spoken of by biographers and historians, loses little of his mystical fame in vulgar tradition. Accordingly, the memory of Sir Michael Scott survives in many a legend ; and in the south of Scotland, any work of great labour and antiquity is ascribed either to the agency of Auld Michael, of Sir Willam Wallace, or of the devil. Tradition varies concerning the place of his burial : some contend for Holme Coltrame, in Cumberland; others for Melrose abbey. But all agree, that his books of magic were interred in his grave, or preserved in the convent where he died. Satchells, wishing to give some authority for his account of the origin of the name of Scott, pretends, that, in 1629, he chanced to be at Burgh, under Bowness, in Cumberland, where a person named Lancelot Scott, shewed him an extract from Michael Scott's works, containing that story.