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Thomas Bayne INTRODUCTION TO CANTO FIRST. With regard to the Introductions generally, Lockhart writes, in Life of Scott, ii. 150:-‘Though the author himself does not allude to, and had perhaps forgotten the circumstance, when writing the Introductory Essay of 1830-they were announced, by an advertisement early in 1807, as “Six Epistles from Ettrick Forest,” to be published in a separate volume, similar to that of the Ballads and Lyrical Pieces; and perhaps it might have been better that this first plan had been adhered to. But however that may be, are there any pages, among all he ever wrote, that one would be more sorry he should not have written? They are among the most delicious portraitures that genius ever painted of itself-buoyant, virtuous, happy genius-exulting in its own energies, yet possessed and mastered by a clear, calm, modest mind, and happy only in diffusing happiness around it.

‘With what gratification those Epistles were read by the friends to whom they were addressed it is superfluous to show. He had, in fact, painted them almost as fully as himself; and who might not have been proud to find a place in such a gallery? The tastes and habits of six of those men, in whose intercourse Scott found the greatest pleasure when his fame was approaching its meridian splendour, are thus preserved for posterity; and when I reflect with what avidity we catch at the least hint which seems to afford us a glimpse of the intimate circle of any great poet of former ages, I cannot but believe that posterity would have held this record precious, even had the individuals been in themselves far less remarkable than a Rose, an Ellis, a Heber, a Skene, a Marriott, and an Erskine.’

William Stewart Rose (1775-1843), to whom Scott addresses the Introduction to Canto First, was a well-known man of letters in his time. He addressed to Hallam, in 1819, a work in two vols., entitled ‘Letters from the North of Italy,’ and escaped a prohibitory order from the Emperor of Austria by ingeniously changing his title to ‘A Treatise upon Sour Krout,’ &c. His other original works are, ‘Apology addressed to the Travellers’ Club; or, Anecdotes of Monkeys’; ‘Thoughts and Recollections by one of the Last Century’; and ‘Epistle to the Hon. J. Hookham Frere in Malta.’ His translations are these:-‘Amadis of Gaul: a Poem in three Books, freely translated from the French version of Nicholas de Herberay’ (1803); ‘Partenopex de Blois, a Romance in four Cantos, from the French of M. Le Grand’ (1807); ‘Court and Parliament of Beasts, translated from the Animali Parlanti of Giambatista Casti’ (1819); and ‘Orlando Furioso, translated into English Verse’ (1825-1831). The closing lines of this Introduction refer to Rose’s ‘Amadis’ and ‘Partenopex.’

Ashestiel, whence the Introduction to the First Canto is dated, is on the Tweed, about six miles above Abbotsford. ‘The valley there is narrow,’ says Lockhart, ‘and the aspect in every direction is that of perfect pastoral repose.’ This was Scott’s home from 1804 to 1812, when he removed to Abbotsford.

lines 1-52. This notable winter piece is the best modern contribution to that series of poetical descriptions by Scottish writers which includes Dunbar’s ‘Meditatioun in Winter,’ Gavin Douglas’s Scottish winter scene in the Prologue to his Virgil’s Aeneid VII, Hamilton of Bangour’s Ode III, and, of course, Thomson’s ‘Winter’ in ‘The Seasons.’ The details of the piece are given with admirable skill, and the local place-names are used with characteristic effect. The note of regret over winter’s ravages, common to all early Scottish poets, is skilfully struck and preserved, and thus the contrast designed between the wintry landscape and ‘my Country’s wintry state’ is rendered sharper and more decisive.

line 3. steepy linn. Steepy is Elizabethan = steep, precipitous. Linn (Gael. linne = pool; A.S. hlinna = brook) is variously used for ‘pool under a waterfall,’ ‘cascade,’ ‘precipice,’ and ‘ravine.’ The reference here is to the ravine close by Ashestiel, mentioned in Lockhart’s description of the surroundings:-’On one side, close under the windows, is a deep ravine clothed with venerable trees, down which a mountain rivulet is heard, more than seen, in its progress to the Tweed.’

line 16. our forest hills. Selkirkshire is poetically called ‘Ettrick Forest’; hence the description of the soldiers from that district killed at Flodden as ‘the flowers of the forest.’

line 22. Cp. Hamilton of Bangour’s allusion (Ode III. 43) to the appearance of winter on these heights;-

‘Cast up thy eyes, how bleak and bare
He wanders on the tops of Yare!’

line 37. imps (Gr. emphutos, Swed. ympa). See ‘Faery Queene,’ Book I. (Clarendon Press), note to Introd. The word means (1) a graft; (2) a scion of a noble house; (3) a little demon; (4) a mischievous child. The context implies that the last is the sense in which the word is used here. Cp. Beattie’s ‘Minstrel,’ i. 17:-

‘Nor cared to mingle in the clamorous fray
Of squabbling imps,’

line 50. round. Strictly speaking, a round is a circular dance in which the performers hold each other by the hands. The term, however, is fairly applicable to the frolicsome gambols of a group of lambs in a spring meadow. Certain rounds became famous enough to be individualised, as e.g. Sellenger’s or St. Leger’s round, mentioned in the May-day song, ‘Come Lasses and Lads.’ Cp. Macbeth, iv. 1; Midsummer Night’s Dream, ii. 2; and see note on Comus, line 144, in ‘English Poems of Milton,’ vol. i. (Clarendon Press).

line 53. Lockhart, in a foot-note to his edition of ‘Marmion,’ quotes from the ‘Monthly Review’ of May, 1808: ‘The “chance and change” of nature-the vicissitudes which are observable in the moral as well as the physical part of the creation-have given occasion to more exquisite poetry than any other general subject.... The Ai, ai, tai Malaki of Moschus is worked up again to some advantage in the following passage- “To mute,” &c.’

lines 61, 62. The inversion of reference in these lines is an illustration of the rhetorical figure ‘chiasmus.’ Cp. the arrangement of the demonstrative pronouns in these sentences from ‘Kenilworth’:-‘Your eyes contradict your tongue. That speaks of a protector, willing and able to watch over you; but these tell me you are ruined.’

line 64. Cp. closing lines of Wordsworth’s ‘Ode on Intimations of Immortality’ (finished in 1806):-

‘To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.’

lines 65-8. Nelson fell at Trafalgar, Oct. 21, 1805; Pitt died Jan. 23, 1806.

line 72. Gadite wave. The epithet is derived from Gades, the Roman name of the modern Cadiz.

line 73. Levin = lightning. See Canto I, line 400. Spenser uses the phrase ‘piercing levin’ in the July eclogue of the ‘Shepheards Calendar,’ and in ‘Faery Queene,’ III. v. 48. The word still occasionally occurs in poetry. Cp. Longfellow, ‘Golden Legend,’ v., near end:-

‘See! from its summit the lurid levin
Flashes downward without warning! ‘

line 76. fated = charged with determination of fate. Cp. All’s Well that Ends Well, i. I. 221-

‘The fated sky
Gives us free scope.’

line 82. Hafnia, is Copenhagen. The three victories are, the battle of the Nile, 1798; the battle of the Baltic, 1801; and Trafalgar, 1805.

lines 84-86. Pitt (1759-1806) became First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1783, and from 1785 onwards the facts of his career are a constituent part of national history. He faced with success difficulties like bread riots, mutinies in the fleet in 1797, disturbances by the ‘United Irishmen,’ and the alarming threats of Napoleon. In 1800 the Union of Ireland with Great Britain gave Irishmen new motives for living, and in 1803 national patriotism, stirred and guided by Pitt, was manifested in the enrolment of over three hundred thousand volunteers prepared to withstand the vaunted ‘Army of England.’ In spite of his distinguished position and eminent services, Pitt died L40,000 in debt, and his responsibilities were promptly met by a vote of the House of Commons.

lines 97-108. These picturesque lines, with their varied and suggestive metaphors, were interpolated on the blank page of the MS. The reference in the expression ‘tottering throne’ in line 104 is to the threatened insanity of George III.

lines 109-125. Pitt’s patriotism was consistent and thorough. The anxious, troubled expression his face, betrayed in his latest appearances in the House of Commons, Wilberforce spoke of as ‘his Austerlitz look,’ and there seems little doubt that the burden of his public cares hastened his end. This gives point to the comparison of his fate with that of Aeneas’s pilot Palinurus (Aeneid v. 833).

lines 127-141. Charles James Fox (1749-1806) was second son of the first Lord Holland, whose indulgence tended to spoil a youth of unusual ability and precocity. Extravagant habits, contracted at an early age, were not easily thrown off afterwards, but they did not interfere with Fox’s efficiency as a statesman. His rivalry with Pitt dates from 1783. Their tombs are near each other in Westminster Abbey.

line 146. Cp. in Gray’s ‘Elegy’:--

‘Where through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.’

line 153. Jeffrey, in his criticism of ‘Marmion’ in the ‘Edinburgh Review,’ found fault with the tribute to Fox, and cavilled in particular at the expression ‘Fox a Briton died.’ He argued that Scott praised only the action of Fox in breaking off the negotiations for peace with Napoleon, while insinuating that the previous part of his career was unpatriotic. Only a special pleader could put such an unworthy interpretation on the words.

lines 155-65. By the result of the battle of Austerlitz (December, 1805) Napoleon seemed advancing towards general victory. Prussia hastily patched up a dishonourable peace on terms inconsistent with very binding pledges, and the Russian minister at Paris compromised his country by yielding to humiliating proposals on the part of France. All this changed Fox’s view of the position, and he broke off the negotiations for peace which had been begun in accordance with a policy he had long advocated.

line 161. There is a probable reference here to Nelson’s action at the battle of the Baltic. He disregarded the signal for cessation of fighting given by Sir Hyde Parker, and ordered his own signal to be nailed to the mast.

line 176. Thessaly was noted for witchcraft. The scene of Virgil’s eighth Eclogue is laid in Thessaly as appropriate to the introduction of such machinery as enchantments, love-spells, &c. Cp. Horace, Epode v. 21, and Ode I. xxvii. 21:-

‘Quae saga, quis te solvere Thessalis
Magus venenis, quis poterit deus?’

In his ‘Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft,’ Letter III., Scott, obviously basing his information on Horace, writes thus:-‘The classic mythology presented numerous points in which it readily coalesced with that of the Germans, Danes, and Northmen of a later period. They recognised the power of Erictho, Canidia, and other sorceresses, whose spells could perplex the course of the elements, intercept the influence of the sun, and prevent his beneficial operation upon the fruits of the earth; call down the moon from her appointed sphere, and disturb the original and destined course of nature by their words and charms, and the power of the evil spirits whom they evoked.’

line 181. Lees is properly pl. of lee (Fr.lie = dregs), the sediment or coarser parts of a liquid which settle at the bottom, but it has come to be used as a collective word without reference to a singular form. For phrase, cp. Macbeth, ii. 3. 96:-

‘The wine of life is drawn, and the mere lees
Is left this vault to brag of.’

line 185. Cp. Byron’s ‘Age of Bronze’:-

‘But where are they-the rivals!-a few feet
Of sullen earth divide each winding-sheet.’

line 199. hearse, from Old Fr. herce = harrow, portcullis. In early English the word is used in the sense of ‘harrow’ and also of ‘triangle,’ in reference to the shape of the harrow. By-and-by it came to be used variously for ‘bier,’ ‘funeral carriage,’ ornamental canopy with lighted candles over the coffins of notable people during the funeral ceremony, the permanent framework over a tomb, and even the tomb itself. Cp. Spenser’s Shep. Cal., November Eclogue:-

‘Dido, my deare, alas! is dead,
Dead, and lyeth wrapt in lead.
O heavie herse!’

The gloss to this is, ‘Herse is the solemne obsequie in funeralles.’ Cp. also Ben Jonson’s ‘Epitaph on the Countess of Pembroke’:-

‘Underneath this sable herse
Lies the subject of all verse.’

line 203. The ‘Border Minstrel’ is an appropriate designation of the author of ‘Contributions to the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border’ and the ‘Lay of the Last Minstrel.’ In the preface to the latter work, written in 1830, Scott refers to the two great statesmen as having ‘smiled on the adventurous minstrel.’ This is the only existing evidence of Fox’s appreciation. Pitt’s praise of the Lay his niece, Lady Hester Stanhope, reported to W. S. Rose, who very naturally passed it on to Scott himself. The Right Hon. William Dundas, in a letter to Scott, mentions a conversation he had had with Pitt at his table, in 1805, and says that Pitt both expressed his desire to advance Scott’s professional interests and quoted from the Lay the lines describing the embarrassment of the harper when asked to play. ‘This,’ said he, ‘is a sort of thing which I might have expected in painting, but could never have fancied capable of being given in poetry.’-Lockhart’s Life of Scott, ii. 34.

line 204. Gothic. This refers to both subject and style, neither being classical.

line 220. Lockhart quotes from Rogers’s ‘Pleasures of Memory’:-

‘If but a beam of sober reason play,
Lo! Fancy’s fairy frostwork melts away.’

lines 233-48. In these lines the poet indicates the sphere in which he had previously worked with independence and success. Like Virgil when proceeding to write the AEneid, he is doubtful whether his devotion to legendary and pastoral themes is sufficient warrant for attempting heroic verse. The reference to the tales of shepherds in the closing lines of the passage recalls the advice given (about 1880) to his students by Prof. Shairp, when lecturing from the Poetry Chair at Oxford. ‘To become steeped,’ he said, ‘in the true atmosphere of romantic poetry they should proceed to the Borders and learn their legends, under the twofold guidance of Scott’s “Border Minstrelsy” and an intelligent local shepherd.’

line 256. steely weeds = steel armour. ‘Steely’ in Elizabethan times was used both literally and figuratively. Shakespeare, 3 Henry VI. ii. 3. 16, has ‘The steely point of Clifford’s lance,’ and Fisher in his ‘Seuen Psalmes’ has ‘tough and stely hertes.’ For a modern literal example, see Crabbe’s ‘Parish Register’:-

‘Steel through opposing plates the magnet draws,
And steely atoms calls from dust and straws.’

Weeds in the sense of dress is confined, in modern English, to widows’ robes. In Elizabethan times it had a general reference, as e.g. Spenser’s ‘lowly Shephards weeds’ in the Introduction to ‘Faery Queene.’ Cp. below, Canto V. line 168, VI. line 192.

line 258. The Champion is Launcelot, the most famous of King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table. See Tennyson’s ‘Idylls of the King,’ especially ‘Lancelot and Elaine,’ and William Morris’s ‘Defence of Guenevere.’

line 263. Dame Ganore is Guenevere, Arthur’s Queen.

lines 258-262. Scott annotates these lines as follows:-

‘The Romance of the Morte Arthur contains a sort of abridgment of the most celebrated adventures of the Round Table; and, being written in comparatively modern language, gives the general reader an excellent idea of what romances of chivalry actually were. It has also the merit of being written in pure old English; and many of the wild adventures which it contains are told with a simplicity bordering upon the sublime. Several of these are referred to in the text; and I would have illustrated them by more full extracts, but as this curious work is about to be republished, I confine myself to the tale of the Chapel Perilous, and of the quest of Sir Launcelot after the Sangreal.

‘“Right so Sir Lanncelot departed, and when he came to the Chapell Perilous, he alighted downe, and tied his horse to a little gate. And as soon as he was within the churchyard, he saw, on the front of the chapell, many faire rich shields turned upside downe; and many of the shields Sir Launcelot had seene knights have before; with that he saw stand by him thirtie great knights, more, by a yard, than any man that ever he had seene, and all those grinned and gnashed at Sir Launcelot; and when he saw their countenance, hee dread them sore, and so put his shield afore him, and tooke his sword in his hand ready to doe battaile; and they were all armed in black harneis, ready, with their shields and swords drawen. And when Sir Launcelot would have gone through them, they scattered on every side of him, and gave him the way; and therewith he waxed all bold, and entered into the chapell, and then hee saw no light but a dimme lampe burning, and then was he ware of a corps covered with a cloath of silke; then Sir Launcelot stooped downe, and cut a piece of that cloath away, and then it fared under him as the earth had quaked a little, whereof he was afeard, and then hee saw a faire sword lye by the dead knight, and that he gat in his hand, and hied him out of the chappell. As soon as he was in the chappell-yerd, all the knights spoke to him with a grimly voice, and said, ‘Knight, Sir Launcelot, lay that sword from thee, or else thou shalt die.’-’Whether I live or die,’ said Sir Launcelot, ‘with no great words get yee it againe, therefore fight for it and ye list.’ Therewith he passed through them; and beyond the chappell-yerd, there met him a faire damosell, and said, ‘Sir Launcelot, leave that sword behind thee, or thou wilt die for it.’-’I will not leave it,’ said Sir Launcelot, ‘for no threats.’-’No?’ said she; ‘and ye did leave that sword, Queen Guenever should ye never see.’-‘Then were I a foole and I would leave this sword,’ said Sir Launcelot. ‘Now, gentle knight,’ said the damosell, ‘I require thee to kisse me once.’-’Nay,’ said Sir Launcelot, ‘that God forbid!’-‘Well, sir,’ said she, ‘and thou hadest kissed me thy life dayes had been done; but now, alas!’ said she, ‘I have lost all my labour; for I ordeined this chappell for thy sake, and for Sir Gawaine: and once I had Sir Gawaine within it; and at that time he fought with that knight which there lieth dead in yonder chappell, Sir Gilbert the bastard, and at that time hee smote off Sir Gilbert the bastard’s left hand. And so, Sir Launcelot, now I tell thee, that I have loved thee this seaven yeare; but there may no woman have thy love but Queene Guenever; but sithen I may not rejoyice thee to have thy body alive, I had kept no more joy in this world but to have had thy dead body; and I would have balmed it and served, and so have kept it in my life daies, and daily I should have clipped thee, and kissed thee, in the despite of Queen Guenever.’-’Yee say well,’ said Sir Launcelot; ‘Jesus preserve me from your subtill craft.” And therewith he took his horse, and departed from her.”‘

Sir Thomas Malory’s ‘Morte D’Arthure’ was first printed by Caxton in 4to., 1485. A new issue of this belongs to 1634. The republication referred to by Scott is probably the edition published in 1816, in two vols. 18mo. The Roxburghe Club made a sumptuous reprint in 1819, and Thomas Wright, in 1858, edited the work in three handy 8vo. vols. from the text of 1634. This edition is furnished with a very useful introduction and notes.

lines 267-70. ‘One day when Arthur was holding a high feast with his Knights of the Round Table, the Sangreal, or vessel out of which the last passover was eaten, (a precious relic, which had long remained concealed from human eyes, because of the sins of the land,) suddenly appeared to him and all his chivalry. The consequence of this vision was, that all the knights took on them a solemn vow to seek the Sangreal. But, alas! it could only be revealed to a knight at once accomplished in earthly chivalry, and pure and guiltless of evil conversation. All Sir Launcelot’s noble accomplishments were therefore rendered vain by his guilty intrigue with Queen Guenever, or Ganore; and in this holy quest he encountered only such disgraceful disasters as that which follows:-

‘But Sir Launcelot rode overthwart and endlong in a wild forest, and held no path, but as wild adventure led him; and at the last, he came unto a stone crosse, which departed two wayes, in wast land; and, by the crosse, was a stone that was of marble; but it was so dark, that Sir Launcelot might not well know what it was. Then Sir Launcelot looked by him, and saw an old chappell, and there he wend to have found people. And so Sir Launcelot tied his horse to a tree, and there he put off his shield, and hung it upon a tree, and then hee went unto the chappell doore, and found it wasted and broken. And within he found a faire altar, full richly arrayed with cloth of silk, and there stood a faire candlestick, which beare six great candles, and the candlesticke was of silver. And when Sir Launcelot saw this light, hee had a great will for to enter into the chappell, but he could find no place where hee might enter. Then was he passing heavie and dismaied. Then he returned, and came again to his horse, and tooke off his saddle and his bridle, and let him pasture, and unlaced his helme, and ungirded his sword, and laid him downe to sleepe upon his shield, before the crosse.

‘And so hee fell on sleepe; and, halfe waking and halfe sleeping, hee saw come by him two palfreys, both faire and white, the which beare a litter, therein lying a sicke knight. And when he was nigh the crosse, he there abode still. All this Sir Launcelot saw and beheld, for hee slept not verily, and hee heard him say, “O sweete Lord, when shall this sorrow leave me, and when shall the holy vessell come by me, where through I shall be blessed, for I have endured thus long for little trespasse!” And thus a great while complained the knight, and allwaies Sir Launcelot heard it. With that Sir Launcelot saw the candlesticke, with the fire tapers, come before the crosse; but he could see no body that brought it. Also there came a table of silver, and the holy vessel of the Sancgreall, the which Sir Launcelot had seen before that time in King Petchour’s house. And therewithall the sicke knight set him upright, and held up both his hands, and said, “Faire sweete Lord, which is here within the holy vessell, take heed to mee, that I may bee hole of this great malady!” And therewith upon his hands, and upon his knees, he went so nigh, that he touched the holy vessell, and kissed it: And anon he was hole, and then he said, “Lord God, I thank thee, for I am healed of this malady.” Soo when the holy vessell had been there a great while, it went into the chappell againe, with the candlesticke and the light, so that Sir Launcelot wist not where it became, for he was overtaken with sinne, that he had no power to arise against the holy vessell, wherefore afterward many men said of him shame. But he tooke repentance afterward. Then the sicke knight dressed him upright, and kissed the crosse. Then anon his squire brought him his armes, and asked his lord how he did. “Certainly,” said hee, I thanke God right heartily, for through the holy vessell I am healed: But I have right great mervaile of this sleeping knight, which hath had neither grace nor power to awake during the time that this holy vessell hath beene here present.”-“I dare it right well say,” said the squire, “that this same knight is defouled with some manner of deadly sinne, whereof he has never confessed.”-”By my faith,” said the knight, “whatsoeer he be, he is unhappie; for, as I deeme, hee is of the fellowship of the Round Table, the which is entered into the quest of the Sancgreall.”-“Sir,” said the squire, “here I have brought you all your armes, save your helme and your sword; and, therefore, by mine assent, now may ye take this knight’s helme and his sword;’ and so he did. And when he was cleane armed, he took Sir Launcelot’s horse, for he was better than his owne, and so they departed from the crosse.

‘Then anon Sir Launcelot awaked, and set himselfe upright, and he thought him what hee had there seene, and whether it were dreames or not; right so he heard a voice that said, “Sir Launcelot, more hardy than is the stone, and more bitter than is the wood, and more naked and bare than is the liefe of the fig-tree, therefore go thou from hence, and withdraw thee from this holy place;” and when Sir Launcelot heard this, he was passing heavy, and wist not what to doe. And so he departed sore weeping, and cursed the time that he was borne; for then he deemed never to have had more worship; for the words went unto his heart, till that he knew wherefore that hee was so called.’-SCOTT.

line 273. Arthur is the hero of the ‘Faery Queene.’ In his explanatory letter to Sir Walter Raleigh, Spenser says, ‘I chose the historye of King Arthure, as most fitte for the excellency of his person, being made famous by many mens former workes, and also furthest from the daunger of envy, and suspicion of present time.’

line 274. Milton is said to have meditated in his youth the composition of an epic poem on Arthur and the Round Table. In ‘Paradise Lost’ ix. 26, he states that the subject of that poem pleased him ‘long choosing and beginning late,’ and references both in ‘Paradise Lost’ and ‘Paradise Regained’ prove his familiarity with the Arthurian legend. Cp. Par. Lost, i. 580, and Par. Reg. ii. 358.

line 275. Scott quotes from Dryden’s ‘Essay on Satire,’ prefixed to the translation of Juvenal, regarding his projected Epic. ‘Of two subjects,’ says Dryden, ‘I was doubtful whether I should choose that of King Arthur conquering the Saxons, which, being further distant in time, gives the greater scope to my invention; or that of Edward the Black Prince, in subduing Spain, and restoring it to the lawful prince, though a great tyrant, Pedro the Cruel....I might perhaps have done as well as some of my predecessors, or at least chalked out a way for others to amend my errors in a like design; but being encouraged only with fair words by King Charles II, my little salary ill paid, and no prospect of a future subsistence, I was then discouraged in the beginning of my attempt; and now age has overtaken me, and want, a more insufferable evil, through the change of the times, has wholly disabled me.’

lines 281-3. Dryden’s dramas, certain of his translations, and various minor pieces adapted to the prevalent taste of his time, are unworthy of his genius. Pope’s reflections on the poet forgetful of the dignity of his office, with the allusion to Dryden as an illustration (‘Satires and Epistles,’ v. 209), may be compared with this passage;-

‘I scarce can think him such a worthless thing,
Unless he praise some monster of a king;
Or virtue, or religion turn to sport,
To please a lewd, or unbelieving court.
Unhappy Dryden! In all Charles’s days,
Roscommon only boasts unspotted bays.’

line 283. Cp. Gray’s ‘Progress of Poesy,’ 103-

‘Behold, where Dryden’s less presumptuous car
Wide o’er the fields of glory bear
Two coursers of ethereal race,
With necks in thunder cloth’d, and long-resounding pace’;

and Pope’s ‘Satires and Epistles,’ v. 267-

‘Dryden taught to join
The varying verse, the full-resounding line,
The long majestic march, and energy divine.’

line 286. To break a lance is to enter the lists, to try one’s strength. The concussion of two powerful knights would suffice to shiver the lances. Hence comes the figurative use. Cp. I Henry VI. iii. 2,-

‘What will you do, good greybeard? break a lance,
And run a tilt at death within a chair?’

lines 288-309. The Genius of Chivalry is to be resuscitated from the deep slumber under which baneful spells have long effectually held him. The appropriateness of this is apparent when the true meaning of Chivalry is considered. Scott opens his ‘Essay on Chivalry’ thus:-’The primitive sense of this well-known word, derived from the French Chevalier, signifies merely cavalry, or a body of soldiers serving on horseback; and it has been used in that general acceptation by the best of our poets, ancient and modern, from Milton to Thomas Campbell.’ See Par. Lost, i. 307, and Battle of Hohenlinden.

line 294. To spur forward his horse on an expedition of adventures, like Spenser’s Red Cross Knight. For the accoutrements and the duties of a knight see Scott’s ‘Essay on Chivalry’ (Miscellaneous Works, vol. vi.). Cp. ‘Faery Queene,’ Book I, and (especially for the personified abstractions from line 300 onwards) Montgomerie’s allegory, ‘The Cherrie and the Slae.’

line 312. Ytene’s oaks. ‘The New Forest in Hampshire, anciently so called.’-SCOTT. Gundimore, the residence of W. S. Rose, was in this neighbourhood, and in an unpublished piece entitled ‘Gundimore,’ Rose thus alludes to a visit of Scott’s:-

‘Here Walter Scott has woo’d the northern muse;
Here he with me has joy’d to walk or cruise;
And hence has prick’d through Yten’s holt, where we
Have called to mind how under greenwood tree,
Pierced by the partner of his “woodland craft,”
King Rufus fell by Tyrrell’s random shaft.’

line 314. ‘The “History of Bevis of Hampton” is abridged by my friend Mr. George Ellis, with that liveliness which extracts amusement even out of the most rude and unpromising of our old tales of chivalry. Ascapart, a most important personage in the romance, is thus described in an extract:-

“This geaunt was mighty and strong,
And full thirty foot was long.
He was bristled like a sow;
A foot he had between each brow;
His lips were great, and hung aside;
His eyen were hollow, his mouth was wide;
Lothly he was to look on than,
And liker a devil than a man.
His staff was a young oak,
Hard and heavy was his stroke.”
Specimens of Metrical Romances, vol. ii. p. 136.

‘I am happy to say, that the memory of Sir Bevis is still fragrant in his town of Southampton; the gate of which is sentinelled by the effigies of that doughty knight errant and his gigantic associate.’-SCOTT.

CANTO FIRST. The Introduction is written on a basis of regular four-beat couplets, each line being technically an iambic tetrameter; lines 96, 205, and 283 are Alexandrines, or iambic hexameters, each serving to give emphasis and resonance (like the ninth of the Spenserian stanza) to the passage which it closes. Intensity of expression is given by the triplet which closes the passage ending with line 125. The metrical basis of the movement in the Canto is likewise iambic tetrameter, but the trimeter or three-beat line is freely introduced, and the poet allows himself great scope in his arrangement.

Stanza I. line 1. ‘The ruinous castle of Norham (anciently called Ubbanford) is situated on the southern bank of the Tweed, about six miles above Berwick, and where that river is still the boundary between England and Scotland. The extent of its ruins, as well as its historical importance, shows it to have been a place of magnificence, as well as strength. Edward I resided there when he was created umpire of the dispute concerning the Scottish succession. It was repeatedly taken and retaken during the wars between England and Scotland; and, indeed, scarce any happened, in which it had not a principal share. Norham Castle is situated on a steep bank, which overhangs the river. The repeated sieges which the castle had sustained, rendered frequent repairs necessary. In 1164, it was almost rebuilt by Hugh Pudsey, Bishop of Durham, who added a huge keep, or donjon; notwithstanding which, King Henry II, in 1174, took the castle from the bishop, and committed the keeping of it to William de Neville. After this period it seems to have been chiefly garrisoned by the King, and considered as a royal fortress. The Greys of Chillinghame Castle were frequently the castellans, or captains of the garrison: Yet, as the castle was situated in the patrimony of St. Cuthbert, the property was in the see of Durham till the Reformation. After that period, it passed through various hands. At the union of the crowns, it was in the possession of Sir Robert Carey, (afterwards Earl of Monmouth,) for his own life, and that of two of his sons. After King James’s accession, Carey sold Norham Castle to George Home, Earl of Dunbar, for L6000. See his curious Memoirs, published by Mr. Constable of Edinburgh.

‘According to Mr. Pinkerton, there is, in the British Museum. Cal. B. 6. 216, a curious memoir of the Dacres on the state of Norham Castle in 1522, not long after the battle of Flodden. The inner ward, or keep, is represented as impregnable:-“The provisions are three great vats of salt eels, forty-four kine, three hogsheads of salted salmon, forty quarters of grain, besides many cows and four hundred sheep, lying under the castle-wall nightly; but a number of the arrows wanted feathers, and a good Fletcher [i.e. maker of arrows] was required.”-History of Scotland, vol. ii. p. 201, note.

‘The ruins of the castle are at present considerable, as well as picturesque. They consist of a large shattered tower, with many vaults, and fragments of other edifices, enclosed within an outward wall of great circuit.’-SCOTT.

line 4. battled = embattled, furnished with battlements. See Introd. to Canto V. line 90, and cp. Tennyson’s ‘Dream of Fair Women,’ line 220:-

‘The valleys of grape-loaded vines that glow
Beneath the battled tower.’
the donjon keep. ‘It is perhaps unnecessary to remind my readers, that the donjon, in its proper signification, means the strongest part of a feudal castle; a high square tower, with walls of tremendous thickness, situated in the centre of the other buildings, from which, however, it was usually detached. Here, in case of the outward defences being gained, the garrison retreated to make their last stand. The donjon contained the great hall, and principal rooms of state for solemn occasions, and also the prison of the fortress; from which last circumstance we derive the modern and restricted use of the word dungeon. Ducange (voce DUNJO) conjectures plausibly, that the name is derived from these keeps being usually built upon a hill, which in Celtic is called DUN. Borlase supposes the word came from the darkness of the apartments in these towers, which were thence figuratively called Dungeons; thus deriving the ancient word from the modern application of it.’-SCOTT.

line 6. flanking walls, walls protecting it on the sides. Cp. the use of flanked in Dryden’s ‘Annus Mirabilis’ xxvi;-

‘By the rich scent we found our perfumed prey,
Which, flanked with rocks, did close in covert lie.’

Stanza II. line 14. St. George’s banner. St. George’s red cross on a white field was the emblem on the English national standard. Saint George is the legendary patron saint who slew the dragon.

Stanza III. line 29. Horncliff-hill is one of the numerous hillocks to the east of Norham. There is a village of the same name.

A plump of spears. Scott writes, ‘This word applies to flight of water-fowl; but is applied by analogy to a body of horse:-
“There is a knight of the North Country,
Which leads a lusty plump of spears.”
Flodden Field’

line 33. mettled, same as metalled (mettle being a variant of metall, spirited, ardent. So ‘mettled hound’ in ‘Jock o’ Hazeldean.’ Cp. Julius Caesar, iv. 2. 23:-

‘But hollow men, like horses hot at hand,
Make gallant show and promise of their mettle.’

‘Metal’ in the same sense is frequent in Shakespeare. See Meas. for Meas. i. I; Julius Caesar, i. 2; Hamlet, iii 2.

line 35. palisade (Fr. paliser, to enclose with pales), a firm row of stakes presenting a sharp point to an advancing party.

line 38. hasted, Elizabethanism = hastened. Cp. Merch. of Venice, ii. 2. 104-‘Let it be so hasted that supper be ready at the farthest by five of the clock.’

line 42. sewer, taster; squire, knight’s attendant; seneschal, steward. See ‘Lay of the Last Minstrel,’ vi. 6, and note on Par. Lost, ix. 38, in Clarendon Press Milton:-

‘Then marshalled feast
Served up in hall with sewers, and seneschals.’

Stanza IV. line 43. Malvoisie = Malmsey, from Malvasia, now Napoli di Malvasia, in the Morea.

line 55. portcullis, a strong timber framework within the gateway of a castle, let down in grooves and having iron spikes at the bottom.

Stanzas V and VI. Marmion, strenuous in arms and prudent in counsel, has a kinship in spirit and achievement with the Homeric heroes. Compare him also with the typical knight in Chaucer’s Prologue and the Red Cross Knight at the opening of the ‘Faerie Queene.’ Scott annotates ‘Milan steel’ and the legend thus:-

‘The artists of Milan were famous in the middle ages for their skill in armoury, as appears from the following passage, in which Froissart gives an account of the preparations made by Henry, Earl of Hereford, afterwards Henry IV, and Thomas, Duke of Norfolk, Earl Marischal, for their proposed combat in the lists at Coventry:-”These two lords made ample provisions of all things necessary for the combat; and the Earl of Derby sent off messengers to Lombardy, to have armour from Sir Galeas, Duke of Milan. The Duke complied with joy, and gave the knight, called Sir Francis, who had brought the message, the choice of all his armour for the Earl of Derby. When he had selected what he wished for in plated and mail armour, the Lord of Milan, out of his abundant love for the Earl, ordered four of the best armourers in Milan to accompany the knight to England, that the Earl of Derby might be more completely armed.”-JOHNES’ Froissart, vol. iv. p.597.

‘The crest and motto of Marmion are borrowed from the following story:-

Sir David de Lindsay, first Earl of Cranford, was, among other gentlemen of quality, attended, during a visit to London in 1390, by Sir William Dalzell, who was, according to my authority, Bower, not only excelling in wisdom, but also of a lively wit. Chancing to be at the Court, he there saw Sir Piers Conrtenay, an English knight, famous for skill in tilting, and for the beauty of his person, parading the palace, arrayed in a new mantle, bearing for device an embroidered falcon, with this rhyme,-

“I bear a falcon, fairest of night,
Whoso pinches at her, his death is dight1
In graith2.”

1prepared. 2armour.

‘The Scottish knight, being a wag, appeared next day in a dress exactly similar to that of Courtenay, but bearing a magpie instead of the falcon, with a motto ingeniously contrived to rhyme to the vaunting inscription of Sir Piers:-

“I bear a pie picking at a piece,
Whoso picks at her, I shall pick at his nese3,
In faith.”


‘This affront could only be expiated by a just with sharp lances. In the course, Dalzell left his helmet unlaced, so that it gave way at the touch of his antagonist’s lance, and he thus avoided the shock of the encounter. This happened twice:-in the third encounter, the handsome Courtenay lost two of his front teeth. As the Englishman complained bitterly of Dalzell’s fraud in not fastening his helmet, the Scottishman agreed to run six courses more, each champion staking in the hand of the King two hundred pounds, to be forfeited, if, on entering the lists, any unequal advantage should be detected. This being agreed to, the wily Scot demanded that Sir Piers, in addition to the loss of his teeth, should consent to the extinction of one of his eyes, he himself having lost an eye in the fight of Otterburn. As Courtenay demurred to this equalisation of optical powers, Dalzell demanded the forfeit; which, after much altercation, the King appointed to be paid to him, saying, he surpassed the English both in wit and valour. This must appear to the reader a singular specimen of the humour of that time. I suspect the Jockey Club would have given a different decision from Henry IV.’

lines 85-6. ‘The arms of Marmion would be Vairee, a fesse gules-a simple bearing, testifying to the antiquity of the race. The badge was An ape passant argent, ringed and chained with gold. The Marmions were the hereditary champions of England. The office passed to the Dymokes, through marriage, in the reign of Edward III.’-’Notes and Queries,’ 7th S. III. 37.

Stanza VII. line 95. ‘The principal distinction between the independent esquire (terming him such who was attached to no knight’s service) and the knight was the spurs, which the esquire might wear of silver, but by no means gilded.’-Scott’s ‘Essay on Chivalry,’ p.64.

With the squire’s ‘courteous precepts’ compare those of Chaucer’s squire in the Prologue,-

‘He cowde songes make and wel endite,
Juste and eek daunce, and wel purtreye and write.
. . .
Curteys he was, lowely, and servysable,
And carf byforn his fader at the table.’

Stanza VIII. line 108. Him listed is an Early English form. Cp. Chaucer’s Prologue, 583,-

‘Or lyve as scarsly as hym list desire.’

In Elizabethan English, which retains many impersonal forms, list is mainly used as a personal verb, as in Much Ado, iii. 4,-

‘I am not such a fool to think what I list,’

and in John iii. 8, ‘The wind bloweth where it listeth.’ Even then, however, it was sometimes used impersonally, as in Surrey’s translation of AEneid ii. 1064,-

‘By sliding seas me listed them to lede.’

line 116. Hosen = hose, tight trousers reaching to the knees. The form hosen is archaic, though it lingered provincially in Scotland till modern times. For a standard use of the word, see in A. V., Daniel iii. 21, ‘Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments.’

line 121. The English archers under the Tudors were famous. Holinshed specially mentions that at the battle of Blackheath, in 1496, Dartford bridge was defended by archers ‘whose arrows were in length a full cloth yard.’

Stanza IX. line 130. morion (Sp. morra, the crown of the head), a kind of helmet without a visor, frequently surmounted with a crest, introduced into England about the beginning of the sixteenth century.

line 134. linstock (lont, a match, and stok, a stick), ‘a gunner’s forked staff to hold a match of lint dipped in saltpetre.’

yare, ready; common as a nautical term. Cp. Tempest, i. I. 6, ‘Cheerly, my hearts! Yare, yare!’ and see note to Clarendon Press edition of the play.

Stanza X. line 146. The angel was a gold coin struck in France in 1340, and introduced into England by Edward IV, 1465. It varied in value from 6s. 8d, to 10s. The last struck in England were in the reign of Charles I. The name was due to the fact that on one side of the coin was a representation of the Archangel Michael and the dragon (Rev. xii. 7). Used again, St. xxv. below.

line 149. brook (A. S. brucan, to use, eat, enjoy, bear, discharge, fulfil), to use, handle, manage. Cp. Chaucer, ‘Nonnes Prestes Tale,’ line 479,--

‘So mote I brouken wel min eyen twey,’

and ‘Lady of the Lake,’ I. xxviii-

‘Whose stalwart arm might brook to wield
A blade like this in battle-field. ‘

For other meaning of the word see xiii. and xvi. below.

Stanza XI. line 151. Pursuivants, attendants on the heralds, their tabard being a sleeveless coat. Chaucer applies the name to the loose frock of the ploughman (Prologue, 541). See Clarendon Press ed. of Chaucer’s Prologue, &c.

line 152. scutcheon = escutcheon, shield.

line 156. ‘Lord Marmion, the principal character of the present romance, is entirely a fictitious personage. In earlier times, indeed, the family of Marmion, Lords of Fontenay, in Normandy, was highly distinguished. Robert de Marmion, Lord of Fontenay, a distinguished follower of the Conqueror, obtained a grant of the castle and town of Tamworth, and also of the manor of Scrivelby, in Lincolnshire. One, or both, of these noble possessions was held by the honourable service of being the royal champion, as the ancestors of Marmion had formerly been to the Dukes of Normandy. But after the castle and demesne of Tamworth had passed through four successive barons from Robert, the family became extinct in the person of Philip de Marmion, who died in 20th Edward I without issue male. He was succeeded in his castle of Tamworth by Alexander de Freville, who married Mazera, his grand-daughter. Baldwin de Freville, Alexander’s descendant, in the reign of Richard I, by the supposed tenure of his castle of Tamworth, claimed the office of royal champion, and to do the service appertaining; namely, on the day of coronation, to ride, completely armed, upon a barbed horse, into Westminster Hall, and there to challenge the combat against any who would gainsay the King’s title. But this office was adjudged to Sir John Dymoke, to whom the manor of Scrivelby had descended by another of the co-heiresses of Robert de Marmion; and it remains in that family, whose representative is Hereditary Champion of England at the present day. The family and possessions of Freville have merged in the Earls of Ferrars. I have not, therefore, created a new family, but only revived the titles of an old one in an imaginary personage.’-SCOTT.

‘The last occasion on which the Champion officiated was at the coronation of George IV.’-’Notes and Queries,’ 7th S. III, 236.

line 161. mark, a weight for gold and silver, differing in amount in different countries. The English coin so called was worth 13s. 4d. sterling.

line 163. ‘This was the cry with which heralds and pursuivants were wont to acknowledge the bounty received from the knights. Stewart of Lorn distinguishes a ballad, in which he satirises the narrowness of James V and his courtiers by the ironical burden-

“Lerges, lerges, lerges, hay,
Lerges of this new year day.
First lerges of the King, my chief,
Quhilk come als quiet as a theif,
And in my hand slid schillingis tway1,
To put his lergnes to the preif2,
For lerges of this new-yeir day.”
1two 2proof

‘The heralds, like the minstrels, were a race allowed to have great claims upon the liberality of the knights, of whose feats they kept a record, and proclaimed them aloud, as in the text, upon suitable occasions.

‘At Berwick, Norham, and other Border fortresses of importance, pursuivants usually resided, whose inviolable character rendered them the only persons that could, with perfect assurance of safety, be sent on necessary embassies into Scotland. This is alluded to in Stanza xxi. p. 25.’-SCOTT.

line 165. Blazon’d shield, a shield with a coat of arms painted on it, especially with bearings quartered in commemoration of victory in battle. See below V. xv, VI. xxxviii, and cp. Tennyson, ‘The Lady of Shalott,’ Part 3:-

‘And from his blazon’d baldric slung
A mighty silver bugle hung.’

line 174. The Cotswold downs, Gloucestershire, were famous as a hunting-ground. Cp. Merry Wives of Windsor, I. i. 92, ‘How does your fallow greyhound, sir? I heard say he was outrun on Cotsall.’

line 185. The reversed shield, hung on the gallows, indicated the degraded knight.

Stanza XIII. line 192. Scott writes:-‘Were accuracy of any consequence in a fictitious narrative, this castellan’s name ought to have been William; for William Heron of Ford was husband to the famous Lady Ford, whose syren charms are said to have cost our James IV so dear. Moreover, the said William Heron was, at the time supposed, a prisoner in Scotland, being surrendered by Henry VIII, on account of his share in the slaughter of Sir Robert Ker of Cessford. His wife, represented in the text as residing at the Court of Scotland, was, in fact, living in her own castle at Ford.-See Sir RICHARD HERON’S curious Genealogy of the Heron Family.’

Ford Castle is about a mile to the north-east of Flodden Hill. It was repaired in 1761 in accordance with the style of the original architecture. Latterly the owner, the Countess of Waterford, utilizing the natural beauty of the property, has enhanced its value and its interest by improvements exhibiting not only exquisite taste but a true philanthropic spirit. It was at Ford Castle that James IV spent the night preceding the battle of Flodden.

line 195. Deas, dais, or chief seat on the platform at the upper end of the hall.

line 200. Scott mentions in a note that his friend, R. Surtees, of Mainsforth, had taken down this ballad from the lips of an old woman, who said it used ‘to be sung at the merry-makings.’ He likewise gave it a place in the ‘Border Minstrelsy.’ These things being so, it is unpleasant to learn from Lockhart that ‘the ballad here quoted was the production of Mr. R. Surtees, and palmed off by him upon Scott as a genuine relic of antiquity. ‘The title of the ballad in the ‘Border Minstrelsy’ is ‘The Death of Featherstonhaugh.’

line 203. ‘Hardriding Dick is not an epithet referring to horsemanship, but means Richard Ridley of Hardriding.’-SCOTT. The families named all belonged to the north and north-east of Northumberland. Scott adds (from Surtees), ‘A feud did certainly exist between the Ridleys and Featherstons, productive of such consequences as the ballad narrates.’ In regard to the ‘Northern harper,’ see Prof. Minto’s ‘Lay of the Last Minstrel,’ p. 121.

Stanza XV. line 231. wassail-bowl. ‘Wassell’ or ‘wassail’ (A. S. waes hael) was first the wish of health, then it came to denote festivity (especially at Christmas). As an adj. it is compounded not only with bowl, but with cup, candle, &c. Cp. Comus, line 179:-

‘I should be loth
To meet the rudeness and swill’d insolence
Of such late wassailers.’

Cp. also note on ‘gossip’s bowl’ of Midsummer Night’s Dream, ii. I. 47, in Clarendon Press edition, and Prof. Minto’s ‘Lay of the Last Minstrel,’ p. 174.

line 232. Cp. Iliad i. 470, and ix. 175, and Chapman’s translation, ‘The youths crowned cups of wine.’

line 238. Raby Castle, in the county of Durham, the property of the Duke of Cleveland.

line 254. As a page in a lady’s chamber. ‘Bower’ is often contrasted with ‘hall,’ as in ‘Jock o’ Hazeldean’:-

‘They socht her baith by bower an’ ha’.’

Cp. below, 281.

Stanza XVI. line 264. For Lindisfarn, or Holy Island, see note to Canto II. St. i.

Stanza XVII. line 284. leash, the cord by which the greyhound is restrained till the moment when he is slipt in pursuit of the game. Cp. Coriolanus, i. 6. 38:-

‘Even like a fawning greyhound in the leash.’

Stanza XVIII. line 289. bide, abide. Cp. above, 215.

line 294. pray you = I pray you. Cp. ‘Prithee,’ so common in Elizabethan drama.

line 298. Scott annotates as follows:

‘The story of Perkin Warbeck, or Richard, Duke of York, is well known. In 1496, he was received honourably in Scotland; and James IV, after conferring upon him in marriage his own relation, the Lady Catharine Gordon, made war on England in behalf of his pretensions. To retaliate an invasion of England, Surrey advanced into Berwickshire at the head of considerable forces, but retreated, after taking the inconsiderable fortress of Ayton. Ford, in his Dramatic Chronicle of Perkin Warbeck, makes the most of this inroad:-

“Are all our braving enemies shrunk back,
Hid in the fogges of their distemper’d climate,
Not daring to behold our colours wave
In spight of this infected ayre? Can they
Looke on the strength of Cundrestine defac’t;
The glorie of Heydonhall devasted: that
Of Edington cast downe; the pile of Fulden
Orethrowne: And this, the strongest of their forts,
Old Ayton Castle, yeelded and demolished,
And yet not peepe abroad? The Scots are bold,
Hardie in battayle, but it seems the cause
They undertake considered, appeares
Unjoynted in the frame on’t”.’-SCOTT.

line 301. Ayton is on the Eye, a little above Eyemouth, in Berwickshire.

Stanza XIX. line 305. ‘The garrisons of the English castles of Wark, Norham, and Berwick were, as may be easily supposed, very troublesome neighbours to Scotland. Sir Richard Maitland of Ledington wrote a poem, called “The Blind Baron’s Comfort,” when his barony of Blythe, in Lauderdale, was harried by Rowland Foster, the English captain of Wark, with his company, to the number of 300 men. They spoiled the poetical knight of 5000 sheep, 200 nolt, 30 horses and mares; the whole furniture of his house of Blythe, worth 100 pounds Scots (L8. 6s. 8d.), and every thing else that was portable. “This spoil was committed the 16th day of May, 1570, (and the said Sir Richard was threescore and fourteen years of age, and grown blind,) in time of peace; when nane of that country lippened [expected] such a thing.”-”The Blind Baron’s Comfort” consists in a string of puns on the word Blythe, the name of the lands thus despoiled. Like John Littlewit, he had “a conceit left him in his misery-a miserable conceit.”

‘The last line of the text contains a phrase, by which the Borderers jocularly intimated the burning a house. When the Maxwells, in 1685, burned the castle of Lochwood, they said they did so to give the Lady Johnstone “light to set her hood.” Nor was the phrase inapplicable; for, in a letter, to which I have mislaid the reference, the Earl of Northumberland writes to the King and Council, that he dressed himself at midnight, at Warkworth, by the blaze of the neighbouring villages burned by the Scottish marauders.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XXI. line 332. Bp. Pudsey, in 1154, restored the castle and added the donjon. See Jemingham’s ‘Norham Castle,’ v. 87.

line 341. too well in case, in too good condition, too stout. For a somewhat similar meaning of case, see Tempest, iii. 2. 25:-

‘I am in case to justle a constable.’

line 342. Scott here refers to Holinshed’s account of Welsh, the vicar of St. Thomas of Exeter, a leader among the Cornish insurgents in 1549:-

‘“This man,” says Holinshed, “had many good things in him. He was of no great stature, but well set, and mightilie compact. He was a very good wrestler; shot well, both in the long-bow, and also in the cross-bow; he handled his hand-gun and peece very well; he was a very good woodman, and a hardie, and such a one as would not give his head for the polling, or his beard for the washing. He was a companion in any exercise of activitie, and of a courteous and gentle behaviour. He descended of a good honest parentage, being borne at Peneverin, in Cornwall; and yet, in this rebellion, an arch-captain, and a principal doer.”-Vol. iv. p. 958, 4to edition. This model of clerical talents had the misfortune to be hanged upon the steeple of his own church.’-SCOTT.

‘The reader,’ Lockhart adds, ‘needs hardly to be reminded of Ivanhoe.’

line 349. Cp. Chaucer’s friar in Prologue, line 240:-

‘He knew wel the tavernes in every toun,’ &c.

The character and adventures of Friar John owe something both to the ‘Canterbury Tales’ and to a remarkable poem, probably Dunbar’s, entitled ‘The Friars of Berwick.’

line 354. St. Bede’s day in the Calendar is May 27. See below, line 410.

Stanza XXII. line 372. tables, backgammon.

line 387. fay = faith, word of honour. See below 454, and cp. Hamlet, ii. 2. 271, ‘By my fay, I cannot reason.’

Stanza XXIII. line 402. St. James or Santiago of Spain. Cp. ‘Piers the Plowman,’ i. 48 (with Prof. Skeat’s note), Chaucer’s Prologue, 465, and Southey’s ‘Pilgrim to Compostella,’ valuable both for its poetic beauty and its ample notes. In regard to the cockleshell, Southey gives some important information in extracts from ‘Anales de Galicia,’ and he says-

‘For the scallop shows in a coat of arms
That of the bearer’s line.
Some one, in former days, hath been
To Santiago’s shrine.’

line 403. Montserrat, a mountain, with a Benedictine abbey on it, in Catalonia. The inhabitants of the neighbourhood cherish a myth to the effect that the fantastic peaks and gorges of the mountain were formed at the Crucifixion.

lines 404-7. Scott annotates as follows:-

‘Sante Rosalie was of Palermo, and born of a very noble family, and, when very young, abhorred so much the vanities of this world, and avoided the converse of mankind, resolving to dedicate herself wholly to God Almighty, that she, by divine inspiration, forsook her father’s house, and never was more heard of, till her body was found in that cleft of a rock, on that almost inaccessible mountain, where now the chapel is built; and they affirm she was carried up there by the hands of angels; for that place was not formerly so accessible (as now it is) in the days of the Saint; and even now it is a very bad, and steepy, and break-neck way. In this frightful place, this holy woman lived a great many years, feeding only on what she found growing on that barren mountain, and creeping into a narrow and dreadful cleft in a rock, which was always dropping wet, and was her place of retirement, as well as prayer; having worn out even the rock with her knees, in a certain place, which is now open’d on purpose to show it to those who come here. This chapel is very richly adorn’d; and on the spot where the saint’s dead body was discover’d, which is just beneath the hole in the rock, which is open’d on purpose, as I said, there is a very fine statue of marble, representing her in a lying posture, railed in all about with fine iron and brass work; and the altar, on which they say mass, is built just over it.’-Voyage to Sicily and Malta, by Mr. John Dryden, (son to the poet,) p. 107.

Stanza XXIV. line 408. The national motto is ‘St. George for Merrie England.’ The records of various central and eastern English towns tell of a very ancient custom of ‘carrying the dragon in procession, in great jollity, on Midsummer Eve.’ See Brand’s ‘Popular Antiquities,’ i. 321. In reference to the ‘Birth of St George’ and his deeds, see Percy’s ‘Reliques.’

line 409. Becket (1119-70), Archbishop of Canterbury. See ‘Canterbury Tales’ and Aubrey de Vere’s ‘St. Thomas of Canterbury: a dramatic poem.’

line 410. For Cuthbert, see below, II. xiv. 257. Bede (673-735), a monk of Jarrow on Tyne; called the Venerable Bede; author of an important ‘Ecclesiastical History’ and an English translation of St. John’s Gospel.

lines 419-20. Lord Jeffrey’s sense of humour was not adequate to the appreciation of these two lines, which he specialised for condemnation.

Stanza. XXV. line 421. Gramercy, from Fr. grand merci, sometimes used as an emphatic exclamation, although fundamentally implying the thanks of the speaker.

line 430 still = always. Cp., inter alia, 440 and 452 below. See ‘still vexed Bermoothes,’ Tempest, i. 2. 229, and cp. Hamlet, ii. 2. 42,-

‘Thou still hast been the father of good news.’

Stanza XXVI. line 452. Scott quotes from Rabelais the passage in which the monk suggests to Gargantua that in order to induce sleep they might together try the repetition of the seven penitential psalms. ‘The conceit pleased Gargantua very well; and, beginning the first of these psalms, as soon as they came to Beati quorum they fell asleep, both the one and the other.’ Cp. Chaucer’s Monk and the character of Accidia in ‘Piers the Plowman,’ Passus V.

line 453. ave, an address to the Virgin Mary, beginning ‘Ave Maria’; creed, a profession of faith, beginning with Credo. It has been objected to this line that the creed is not an essential part of the rosary, and that ten aves and one paternoster would have been more accurate. It should, however, be noticed that both Friar John and young Selby know more of other matters than the details of religious devotion.

Stanza XXVII. line 459. ‘A Palmer, opposed to a Pilgrim, was one who made it his sole business to visit different holy shrines; travelling incessantly, and subsisting by charity: whereas the Pilgrim retired to his usual home and occupations, when he had paid his devotions at the particular spot which was the object of his pilgrimage. The Palmers seem to have been the Quaestionarii of the ancient Scottish canons 1242 and 1296. There is in the Bannatyne MS. a burlesque account of two such persons, entitled, “Simmy and his Brother.” Their accoutrements are thus ludicrously described (I discard the ancient spelling):-

“Syne shaped them up, to loup on leas,
Two tabards of the tartan;
They counted nought what their clouts were
When sew’d them on, in certain.
Syne clampit up St. Peter’s keys,
Made of an old red gartane;
St. James’s shells, on t’other side, shews
As pretty as a partane
On Symmye and his brother.”‘-SCOTT.

With this account of the Palmer, cp. ‘Piers the Plowman,’ v. 523:-

‘He bare a burdoun ybounde with a brode liste,
In a withewyndes wise ywounden aboute.
A bolle and a bagge he bare by his syde;
An hundredth of ampulles on his hatt seten,
Signes of Synay and shelles of Galice;
And many a cruche on his cloke and keyes of Rome,
And the vernicle bifore for men shulde knowe,
And se bi his signes whom he soughte hadde.’

In connexion with this, Prof. Skeat draws attention to the romance of Sir Isumbras and to Chaucer’s Prol. line 13.

line 467. Loretto, in Ancona, Italy, is the site of a sanctuary of the Virgin, entitled Santa Casa, Holy House, which enjoys the reputation of having been the Virgin’s residence in Nazareth, and the scene of the Annunciation, &c.

Stanza XXVIII. line 483. haggard wild is a twofold adj. in the Elizabethan fashion, like ‘bitter sweet,’ ‘childish foolish,’ and other familiar examples.

line 490. Science appears to support this theory. See various examples in Sir Erasmus Wilson’s little work, ‘Healthy Skin.’ Many of the cases are within the writer’s own knowledge, and all the others are historical or otherwise well authenticated. He mentions Sir T. More the night before his execution; two cases reported by Borellus; three by Daniel Turner; one by Dr. Cassan; and in a note he recalls John Libeny, a would-be assassin of the Emperor of Austria, ‘whose hair turned snow-white in the forty-eight hours preceding his execution.’ See ‘Notes and Queries,’ 6th S. vols. vi. to ix., and 7th S. ii. Not only fear but sorrow is said to cause the hair to turn white very suddenly. Byron makes his Prisoner of Chillon say that his white hairs have not come to him

‘In a single night,
As men’s have grown from sudden fears.’

Stanza XXIX. line 506. ‘St. Regulus (Scottice, St. Rule), a monk of Patrae, in Achaia, warned by a vision, is said, A. D. 370, to have sailed westward, until he landed at St. Andrews, in Scotland, where he founded a chapel and tower. The latter is still standing; and, though we may doubt the precise date of its foundation, is certainly one of the most ancient edifices in Scotland. A cave, nearly fronting the ruinous castle of the Archbishops of St. Andrews, bears the name of this religion person. It is difficult of access; and the rock in which it is hewed is washed by the German Ocean. It is nearly round, about ten feet in diameter, and the same in height. On one side is a sort of stone altar; on the other an aperture into an inner den, where the miserable ascetic, who inhabited this dwelling, probably slept. At full tide, egress and regress are hardly practicable. As Regulus first colonised the metropolitan see of Scotland, and converted the inhabitants in the vicinity, he has some reason to complain that the ancient name of Killrule (Cella Reguli) should have been superseded, even in favour of the tutelar saint of Scotland. The reason of the change was, that St. Rule is said to have brought to Scotland the relics of Saint Andrew.’-SCOTT.

line 509. ‘St. Fillan was a Scottish saint of some reputation. Although Popery is, with us, matter of abomination, yet the common people still retain some of the superstitions connected with it. There are in Perthshire several wells and springs dedicated to St. Fillan, which are still places of pilgrimage and offerings, even among the Protestants. They are held powerful in cases of madness; and, in some of very late occurrence, lunatics have been left all night bound to the holy stone, in confidence that the saint would cure and unloose them before morning. [See various notes to the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border.]’-SCOTT.

line 513. Cp. Macbeth, v. 3. 40:-

‘Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased?’

and Lear, iii. 4. 12:-

‘The tempest in my mind
Doth from my senses take all feeling else
Save what beats there.’

Stanza XXX. line 515. With ‘midnight draught,’ cp. Macbeth’s ‘drink,’ ii. 1. 31, and the ‘posset,’ ii. 2. 6. See notes to these passages in Clarendon Press Macbeth.

Stanza XXXI. line 534. ‘In Catholic countries, in order to reconcile the pleasures of the great with the observances of religion, it was common, when a party was bent for the chase, to celebrate mass, abridged and maimed of its rites, called a hunting-mass, the brevity of which was designed to correspond with the impatience of the audience.’-Note to ‘The Abbot,’ new edition.

line 538. Stirrup-cup, or stirrup-glass, is a parting-glass of liquor given to a guest when on horseback and ready to go.


The Rev. John Marriott, A. M., to whom this introductory poem is dedicated, was tutor to George Henry, Lord Scott, son of Charles, Earl of Dalkeith, afterwards fourth Duke of Buccleuch and sixth of Queensberry. Lord Scott died early, in 1808. Marriott, while still at Oxford, proved himself a capable poet, and Scott shewed his appreciation of him by including two of his ballads at the close of the ‘Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border.’ The concluding lines of this Introduction refer to Marriott’s ballads.

line 2. ‘Ettrick Forest, now a range of mountainous sheep-walks, was anciently reserved for the pleasure of the royal chase. Since it was disparked, the wood has been, by degrees, almost totally destroyed, although, wherever protected from the sheep, copses soon arise without any planting. When the King hunted there, he often summoned the array of the country to meet and assist his sport. Thus, in 1528, James V “made proclamation to all lords, barons, gentlemen, landward-men, and freeholders, that they should compear at Edinburgh, with a month’s victuals, to pass with the King where he pleased, to danton the thieves of Tiviotdale, Annandale, Liddisdale, and other parts of that country; and also warned all gentlemen that had good dogs to bring them, that he might hunt in the said country as he pleased: The whilk the Earl of Argyle, the Earl of Huntley, the Earl of Athole, and so all the rest of the gentlemen of the Highland, did, and brought their hounds with them in like manner, to hunt with the King, as he pleased.

‘“The second day of June the King past out of Edinburgh to the hunting, with many of the nobles and gentlemen of Scotland with him, to the number of twelve thousand men; and then past to Meggitland, and hounded and hawked all the country and bounds; that is to say, Crammat, Pappert-law, St. Mary-laws, Carlavirick, Chapel, Ewindoores, and Langhope. I heard say, he slew, in these bounds, eighteen score of harts.” PITSCOTTIE’S History of Scotland, folio edition, p. 143.

‘These huntings had, of course, a military character, and attendance upon them was part of the duty of a vassal. The act for abolishing ward or military tenures in Scotland, enumerates the services of hunting, hosting, watching and warding, as those which were in future to be illegal.’-SCOTT.

lines 5-11. Cp. Wordsworth’s ‘Thorn’:-

‘There is a Thorn-it looks so old,
In truth, you’d find it hard to say
How it could ever have been young,
It looks so old and grey.’

There is a special suggestion of antiquity in the wrinkled, lichen-covered thorn of a wintry landscape, and thus it is a fitting object to stir and sustain the poet’s tendency to note ‘chance and change’ and to lament the loss of the days that are no more. The exceeding appropriateness of this in a narrative poem dealing with departed habits and customs must be quite apparent. The thorn grows to a very great age, and many an unpretentious Scottish homestead receives a pathetic grace and dignity from the presence of its ancestral thorn-tree.

line 15. The rowan is the mountain ash. One of the most tender and haunting of Scottish songs is Lady Nairne’s ‘Oh, Rowan tree!’-

‘How fair wert thou in summer time, wi’ a’ thy clusters white,
How rich and gay thy autumn dress, wi’ berries red and bright.’

line 27. There are some notable allusions in the poets to the moonlight baying of dogs and wolves. Cp. Julius Caesar, iv. 3. 27:-

‘I had rather be a dog and bay the moon.’

See also Shield’s great English song, ‘The Wolf’:-

‘While the wolf, in nightly prowl,
Bays the moon with hideous howl!’

One of the best lines in English verse on the wolf-both skilfully onomatopoeic and suggestively picturesque-is Campbell’s, line 66 of ‘Pleasures of Hope’:-

‘The wolf’s long howl from Oonalaska’s shore.’

line 30. Cp. the movement of this line with line 3 in ‘Sang of the Outlaw Murray’:-

‘There’s hart and hynd, and dae and rae.’

line 31. ‘Grene wode’ is a phrase of the ‘Robyn Hode Ballads.’ Cp.:--

‘She set her on a gode palfray,
To grene wode anon rode she.’

line 32. The ruins of Newark Castle are above the confluence of the Ettrick and the Yarrow, on the latter river, and a few miles from Selkirk. Close by is Bowhill, mentioned below, 73. See Prof. Minto’s ‘Lay of the Last Minstrel’ (Clarendon Press), pp. 122-3. In the days of the ‘last minstrel’ it was appropriate to describe this ‘riven’ relic as ‘Newark’s stately tower.’

line 33. James II built Newark as a fortress.

line 41. The gazehound or greyhound hunts by sight, not scent. The Encyclopedic Dictionary quotes Tickell ‘On Hunting’:-

‘See’st thou the gazehound! how with glance severe
From the close herd he marks the destined deer.’

line 42. ‘Bratchet, slowhound.’-SCOTT. The older spelling is brachet (from brach or brache), as:-

‘Brachetes bayed that best, as bidden the maystarez.’
Sir Gaw. and the Green Knyght, 1603.

In contrast with the gazehound the brachet hunts by scent.

line 44. Cp. Julius Caesar, iii. I. 273, ‘Let slip the dogs of war.’

line 48. Harquebuss, arquebus, or hagbut, a heavy musket. Cp. below, V. 54.

line 49. Cp. Dryden’s ‘Alexander’s Feast,’ ‘The vocal hills reply.’

line 54. Yarrow stream is the ideal scene of Border romance. See the Border Minstrelsy, and cp. the works of Hamilton of Bangour, John Leyden, Wordsworth’s Yarrow poems, the poems of the Ettrick Shepherd, Prof. Veitch, and Principal Shairp. John Logan’s ‘Braes of Yarrow’ also deserves special mention, and many singers of Scottish song know Scott Riddell’s ‘Dowie Dens o’ Yarrow.’

line 61. Holt, an Anglo-Saxon word for wood or grove, has been a favourite with poet’s since Chaucer’s employment of it (Prol. 6):-

‘Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breethe
Enspired hath in every holte and heethe
The tendre croppes.’

See Dr. Morris’s Glossary to Chaucer’s Prologue, &c. (Clarendon Press).

line 68. Cp. Wordsworth’s two Matthew poems, ‘The Two April Mornings’ and ‘The Fountain’; also Matthew Arnold’s ‘Thyrsis’-

‘Too rare, too rare grow now my visits here!
But once I knew each field, each flower, each stick;
And with the country-folk acquaintance made
By barn in threshing-time, by new-built rick,
Here, too, our shepherd-pipes we first assay’d.’

line 82. Janet in the ballad of ‘The Young Tamlane’ in the Border Minstrelsy. The dissertation Scott prefixed to this ballad is most interesting and valuable.

line 84. See above, note on Rev. J. Marriott.

line 85. Scott was sheriff-substitute of Selkirkshire. As the law requires residence within the limits of the sheriffdom, Scott dwelt at Ashestiel at least four months of every year. Prof. Veitch, in his descriptive poem ‘The Tweed,’ writes warmly on Ashestiel, as Scott’s residence in his happiest time:-

‘Sweet Ashestiel! that peers ‘mid woody braes,
And lists the ripple of Glenkinnon’s rill-
Fair girdled by Tweed’s ampler gleaming wave-
His well loved home of early happy days,
Ere noon of Fame, and ere dark Ruin’s eve,
When life lay unrevealed, with hopeful thrill
Of all that might be in the reach of powers
Whose very flow was a continued joy-
Strong-rushing as the dawn, and fresh and fair
In outcome as that morning of the world,
Which gilded all his kindled fancy’s dream!’

line 88. Harriet, Countess of Dalkeith, afterwards Duchess of Buccleuch. A suggestion of hers led to the composition of the ‘Lay of the Last Minstrel.’ See Prof. Minto’s Introduction to Clarendon Press edition of the poem, p. 8.

lines 90-93. ‘These lines were not in the original MS.’-LOCKHART.

line 106. ‘The late Alexander Pringle, Esq., of Whytbank-whose beautiful seat of the Yair stands on the Tweed, about two miles below Ashestiel.’-LOCKHART.

line 108. ‘The sons of Mr. Pringle of Whytbank.’-LOCKHART.

line 113. Cp. VI. 611, below.

line 115. ‘There is, on a high mountainous ridge above the farm of Ashestiel, a fosse called Wallace’s Trench.’-SCOTT.

line 124. Cp. Gray’s ‘Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College,’ especially lines 6l-2:-

‘These shall the fury Passions tear,
The vultures of the mind.’

lines 126-33. Cp. Wordsworth variously, particularly in the Matthew poems, the Ode on Intimations of Immortality, and Tintern Abbey, especially in its last twenty-five lines:-

‘Therefore let the moon
Shine on thee in thy solitary walk,’ &c.

line 143. Cp. I Kings xix. 12.

lines 147-73. ‘This beautiful sheet of water forms the reservoir from which the Yarrow takes its source. It is connected with a smaller lake, called the Loch of the Lowes, and surrounded by mountains. In the winter, it is still frequented by flights of wild swans; hence my friend Mr. Wordsworth’s lines:-

“The swan on sweet St. Mary’s lake
Floats double, swan and shadow.”

Near the lower extremity of the lake are the ruins of Dryhope tower, the birth-place of Mary Scott, daughter of Philip Scott of Dryhope, and famous by the traditional name of the Flower of Yarrow. She was married to Walter Scott of Harden, no less renowned for his depredations than his bride for her beauty. Her romantic appellation was, in latter days, with equal justice, conferred on Miss Mary Lilias Scott, the last of the elder branch of the Harden family. The author well remembers the talent and spirit of the latter Flower of Yarrow, though age had then injured the charms which procured her the name. The words usually sung to the air of “Tweedside,” beginning “What beauties does Flora disclose,” were composed in her honour.’-SCOTT.

Quoting from memory, Scott gives ‘sweet’ for still in Wordsworth’s lines. Mr. Aubrey de Vere, in ‘Essays Chiefly on Poetry,’ ii. 277, reports an interview with Wordsworth, in which the poet, referring to St. Mary’s Lake, says: ‘The scene when I saw it, with its still and dim lake, under the dusky hills, was one of utter loneliness; there was one swan, and one only, stemming the water, and the pathetic loneliness of the region gave importance to the one companion of that swan-its own white image in the water.’ For a criticism, deeply sympathetic and appreciative, of Scott’s description of St. Mary’s Loch in calm, see Prof. Veitch’s ‘Feeling for Nature in Scottish Poetry,’ ii. 196. The scene remains very much what it was in Scott’s time, ‘notwithstanding that the hand of the Philistine,’ says Prof. Veitch, ‘has set along the north shore of St. Mary’s, as far as his power extended, a strip of planting.’

line 177. ‘The chapel of St. Mary of the Lowes {de lacubus} was situated on the eastern side of the lake, to which it gives name. It was injured by the clan of Scott, in a feud with the Cranstouns; but continued to be a place of worship during the seventeenth century. The vestiges of the building can now scarcely be traced; but the burial-ground is still used as a cemetery. A funeral, in a spot so very retired, has an uncommonly striking effect. The vestiges of the chaplain’s house are yet visible. Being in a high situation, it commanded a full view of the lake, with the opposite mountain of Bourhope, belonging, with the lake itself, to Lord Napier. On the left hand is the tower of Dryhope, mentioned in a preceding note.’-SCOTT.

line 187. See ‘Il Penseroso,’ line 167.

line 197. Cp. Thomson’s ‘Winter,’ line 66:-

‘Along the woods, along the moorish fens,
Sighs the sad genius of the coming storm;
And up among the loose disjointed cliffs,
And fractured mountains wild, the brawling brook
And cave, presageful, send a hollow moan,
Resounding long in listening fancy’s ear.’

line 204. ‘At one corner of the burial-ground of the demolished chapel, but without its precincts, is a small mound, called Binrams Corse, where tradition deposits the remains of a necromantic priest, the former tenant of the chaplainry. His story much resembles that of Ambrosio in “The Monk,” and has been made the theme of a ballad by my friend Mr. James Hogg, more poetically designed the Ettrick Shepherd. To his volume, entitled “The Mountain Bard,” which contains this, and many other legendary stories and ballads of great merit, I refer the curious reader.’-SCOTT.

line 239. ‘Loch-skene is a mountain lake, of considerable size, at the head of the Moffat-water. The character of the scenery is uncommonly savage; and the earn, or Scottish eagle, has, for many ages, built its nest yearly upon an islet in the lake. Loch-skene discharges itself into a brook, which, after a short and precipitate course, falls from a cataract of immense height and gloomy grandeur, called, from its appearance, the “Grey Mare’s Tail.” The “Giant’s Grave,” afterwards mentioned, is a sort of trench, which bears that name, a little way from the foot of the cataract. It has the appearance of a battery designed to command the pass.’-SCOTT.

Cp. ‘Loch Skene,’ a descriptive and meditative poem by Thomas Tod Stoddart, well known as poet and angler on the Borders during the third quarter of the nineteenth century:-

‘Like a pillar of Parian stone,
That in some old temple shone,
Or a slender shaft of living star,
Gleams that foam-fall from afar;
But the column is melted down below
Into a gulf of seething snow,
And the stream steals away from its whirl of hoar,
As bright and as lovely as before.’


lines 1-6. The earlier editions have a period at the end of line 5, and neither Scott himself nor Lockhart changed that punctuation. But, undoubtedly, the first sentence ends with line 11, ‘roll’d’ in the second line being a part, and not a finite verb. Mr. Rolfe is the first to punctuate the passage thus.

line 9. ‘The Abbey of Whitby, in the Archdeaconry of Cleaveland, on the coast of Yorkshire, was founded A. D. 657, in consequence of a vow of Oswy, King of Northumberland. It contained both monks and nuns of the Benedictine order; but, contrary to what was usual in such establishments, the abbess was superior to the abbot. The monastery was afterwards mined by the Danes, and rebuilded by William Percy, in the reign of the Conqueror. There were no nuns there in Henry the Eighth’s time, nor long before it. The ruins of Whitby Abbey are very magnificent.’-SCOTT.

line 10. ‘Lindisfarne, an isle on the coast of Northumberland, was called Holy Island, from the sanctity of its ancient monastery, and from its having been the episcopal seat of the see of Durham during the early ages of British Christianity. A succession of holy men held that office: but their merits were swallowed up in the superior fame of St. Cuthbert, who was sixth bishop of Durham, and who bestowed the name of his “patrimony” upon the extensive property of the see. The ruins of the monastery upon Holy Island betoken great antiquity. The arches are, in general, strictly Saxon, and the pillars which support them, short, strong, and massy. In some places, however, there are pointed windows, which indicate that the building has been repaired at a period long subsequent to the original foundation. The exterior ornaments of the building, being of a light sandy stone, have been wasted, as described in the text. Lindisfarne is not properly an island, but rather, as the Venerable Bede has termed it, a semi-isle; for, although surrounded by the sea at full tide, the ebb leaves the sands dry between it and the opposite coast of Northumberland, from which it is about three miles distant.’-SCOTT.

The monastery, of which the present ruins remain, was built, between 1093 and 1120, by Benedictine monks under the direction of William Carileph, Bishop of Durham. There were sixteen bishops in Holy Island between St. Aidan (635 A. D.) and Eardulph (875 A. D.). The Christians were dispersed after the violent inroad of the Danes in 868, and for two centuries Lindisfarne suffered apparent relapse. Lindisfarne (Gael. farne, a retreat) signifies ‘a place of retreat by the brook Lindis.’ The name Holy Island was given by Carileph’s monks, to commemorate, they said, ‘the sacred blood which had been shed by the Danes.’ See Raine’s ‘History of North Durham,’ F. R. Wilson’s ‘Churches of Lindisfarne,’ and Mr. Keeling’s ‘Lindisfarne, or Holy Island: its History and Associations.’

line 17. Cp. Coleridge’s ‘Ancient Mariner’:-

‘The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
The farrow followed free.’

line 20. For Saint Hilda, see below, note on line 244.

Stanza II. line 33. sea-dog, the seal.

line 36. still. Cp. above, I. 430.

line 44. A Novice is one under probation for a term extending to at least a year, and it may extend to two or three years, after which vows are either taken or declined.

Stanza IV. line 70. Benedictine school. St. Benedict founded his order-sometimes, because of their dark garb, called Black Friars-in the beginning of the sixth century. Benedict of Aniana, in the eighth century, reformed the discipline of the order.

line 74. Cp. Chaucer’s Prioress in the Prologue:-

‘And sikerly sche was of gret disport,
And ful plesaunt, and amyable of port.’

Stanza V. line 90. Cp. Spenser’s Una, ‘Faery Queene,’ I. iv:-

‘A lovely Ladie rode him faire beside.
* * *
As one that inly mournd, so was she sad,
And heavie sat upon her palfrey slow.’

Stanza VI. With this ‘brown study,’ cp. Wordsworth’s ‘Reverie of Poor Susan.’

Stanza. VII. line 114. Reference to the lion of ‘Faery Queene,’ I. iii:-

‘Forsaken Truth long seekes her love,
And makes the Lyon mylde.’

line 124. bowl and knife. Poisoning and stabbing.

Stanza VIII. Monk-Wearmouth. A monastery, founded here in 674 A. D., was destroyed by the Danes in the ninth century, and restored after the Norman Conquest. For Tynemouth, see below, 371, Seaton-Delaval, the seat of the Delavals, who by marriage came into possession of Ford Castle. Widderington. It was a ‘squyar off Northombarlonde, Ric. Wytharynton,’ that showed notable valour and persistent endurance at Chevy Chase:-

‘For Wetharryngton my harte was wo,
That ever he slayne shulde be;
For when both his leggis wear hewyne in te,
He knyled and fought on hys kne.’

Butler, fully appreciating this doughty champion, uses him in a descriptive illustration, ‘Hudibras,’ I. iii. 95:-

‘As Widdrington, in doleful dumps,
Is said to fight upon his stumps.’

Widderington Castle, with the exception of one tower, was destroyed by fire. Warkworth Castle is about a mile from the mouth of the Alne, and is the seat of the Duke of Northumberland. Bamborough, the finest specimen of a feudal castle in the north of England, is said to have been founded by King Ida about the middle of the sixth century. Lord Crewe, Bishop of Durham, purchased the Bamborough estates between 1709 and 1720, and left them for charitable purposes. This charity maintains, inter alia, a national school in the village of Bamborough, and an officer to fire a cannon from the dangerous rocks every fifteen minutes in foggy weather, besides providing for the education of thirty girls within the castle walls.

Stanza IX. line 164. battled. See above, I. 4.

Stanza X. line 173. Pointed or Gothic architecture came in towards the end of the twelfth century.

Stanza XII. line 215. Suppose we = Let us suppose. This is an Elizabethanism. Cp. Macbeth, i. I. 10:-

‘Hover through the fog and filthy air,’

where hover = hover we.

Stanza XIII. line 234. Scott quotes from ‘A True Account,’ circulated at Whitby, concerning the consequences of a boar-hunt on Eskdale-side, belonging to the Abbot of Whitby. The boar, being hard pressed, made for a hermitage and died just within the door. Coming up, the three leaders-William de Bruce, Lord of Uglebarnby, Ralph de Percy, Lord of Smeaton, and a freeholder named Allatson-in their disappointment and wrath set upon the hermit, whom they fatally wounded. When the abbot afterwards came to the dying hermit, and told him his assailants would suffer extreme penalty for their ruthless conduct, the hermit asked the gentlemen to be sent for, and said he would pardon them on certain conditions. ‘The gentlemen being present bade him save their lives.-Then said the hermit, “You and yours shall hold your lands of the Abbot of Whitby, and his successors, in this manner: That, upon Ascension-day, you, or some of you, shall come to the wood of the Stray-heads, which is in Eskdale-side, the same day at sun-rising, and there shall the abbot’s officer blow his horn, to the intent that you may know where to find him; and he shall deliver unto you, William de Bruce, ten stakes, eleven strout stowers, and eleven yethers, to be cut by you, or some of you, with a knife of one penny price: and you, Ralph de Percy, shall take twenty-one of each sort, to be cut in the same manner; and you, Allatson, shall take nine of each sort, to be cut as aforesaid, and to be taken on your backs and carried to the town of Whitby, and to be there before nine of the clock the same day before mentioned. At the same hour of nine of the clock, if it be full sea, your labour and service shall cease; and if low water, each of you shall set your stakes to the brim, each stake one yard from the other, and so yether them on each side with your yethers; and so stake on each side with your strout stowers, that they may stand three tides, without removing by the force thereof. Each of you shall do, make, and execute the said service, at that very hour, every year, except it be fall sea at that hour; but when it shall so fall out, this service shall cease. You shall faithfully do this, in remembrance that you did most cruelly slay me; and that you may the better call to God for mercy, repent unfeignedly of your sins, and do good works. The officer of Eskdale-side shall blow, Out on you! Out on you! Out on you! for this heinous crime. If you, or your successors, shall refuse this service, so long as it shall not be full sea at the aforesaid hour, you or yours shall forfeit your lands to the Abbot of Whitby, or his successors. This I entreat, and earnestly beg, that you may have lives and goods preserved for this service: and I request of you to promise, by your parts in Heaven, that it shall be done by you and your successors, as is aforesaid requested; and I will confirm it by the faith of an honest man.”-Then the hermit said, “My soul longeth for the Lord: and I do as freely forgive these men my death, as Christ forgave the thieves on the cross.” And, in the presence of the abbot and the rest, he said moreover these words: “In manus tuos, Domine, commendo spiritum meum, a vinculis enim mortis redemisti me, Domine veritatis, Amen.”-So he yielded up the ghost the eighth day of December, anno Domini 1159, whose soul God have mercy upon. Amen.

‘“This service,” it is added, “still continues to be performed with the prescribed ceremonies, though not by the proprietors in person. Part of the lands charged therewith are now held by a gentleman of the name of Herbert.”‘-SCOTT.

line 244. Edelfled ‘was the daughter of King Oswy, who, in gratitude to Heaven for the great victory which he won in 655, against Penda, the pagan King of Mercia, dedicated Edelfleda, then but a year old, to the service of God, in the monastery of Whitby, of which St. Hilda was then abbess. She afterwards adorned the place of her education with great magnificence.’-SCOTT.

line 251. ‘These two miracles are much insisted on by all ancient writers who have occasion to mention either Whitby or St. Hilda. The relics of the snakes, which infested the precincts of the convent, and were at the abbess’s prayer not only beheaded but petrified, are still found about the rocks, and are termed by Protestant fossilists, Ammonitae.

‘The other miracle is thus mentioned by Camden: “It is also ascribed to the power of her sanctity, that these wild geese, which, in the winter, fly in great flocks to the lakes and rivers unfrozen in the southern parts, to the great amazement of every one, fall down suddenly upon the ground, when they are in their flight over certain ‘neighbouring fields hereabouts: a relation I should not have made, if I had not received it from several credible men. But those who are less inclined to heed superstition, attribute it to some occult quality in the ground, and to somewhat of antipathy between it and the geese, such as they say is betwixt wolves and scyllaroots: for that such hidden tendencies and aversions, as we call sympathies and antipathies, are implanted in many things by provident Nature for the preservation of them, is a thing so evident, that everybody grants it.” Mr. Chariton, in his History of Whitby, points out the true origin of the fable, from the number of sea-gulls that, when flying from a storm, often alight near Whitby; and from the woodcocks, and other birds of passage, who do the same upon their arrival on shore, after a long flight.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XIV. line 257. ‘St. Cuthbert was, in the choice of his sepulchre, one of the most mutable and unreasonable saints in the Calendar. He died A. D. 688, in a hermitage upon the Farne Islands, having resigned the bishopric of Lindisfarne, or Holy Island, about two years before. {1} His body was brought to Lindisfarne, where it remained until a descent of the Danes, about 793, when the monastery was nearly destroyed. The monks fled to Scotland, with what they deemed their chief treasure, the relics of St. Cuthbert. The Saint was, however, a most capricious fellow-traveller; which was the more intolerable, as, like Sinbad’s Old Man of the Sea, he journeyed upon the shoulders of his companions. They paraded him through Scotland for several years, and came as far west as Whithorn, in Galloway, whence they attempted to sail for Ireland, but were driven back by tempests. He at length made a halt at Norham; from thence he went to Melrose, where he remained stationary for a short time, and then caused himself to be launched upon the Tweed in a stone coffin, which landed him at Tilmouth, in Northumberland. This boat is finely shaped, ten feet long, three feet and a half in diameter, and only four inches thick; so that, with very little assistance, it might certainly have swam: it still lies, or at least did so a few years ago, in two pieces, beside the ruined chapel at Tilmouth. From Tilmouth, Cuthbert wandered into Yorkshire; and at length made a long stay at Chester-le-street, to which the bishop’s see was transferred. At length, the Danes continuing to infest the country, the monks removed to Rippon for a season; and it was in return from thence to Chester-le-street, that, passing through a forest called Dunholme, the Saint and his carriage became immovable at a place named Wardlaw, or Wardilaw. Here the Saint chose his place of residence; and all who have seen Durham must admit, that, if difficult in his choice, he evinced taste in at last fixing it. It is said, that the Northumbrian Catholics still keep secret the precise spot of the Saint’s sepulture, which is only intrusted to three persons at a time. When one dies the survivors associate to them, in his room, a person judged fit to be the depositary of so valuable a secret.’-SCOTT.

‘The resting-place of the remains of this Saint is not now matter of uncertainty. So recently as 17th May, 1827,-1139 years after his death-their discovery and disinterment were effected. Under a blue stone, in the middle of the shrine of St. Cuthbert, at the eastern extremity of the choir of Durham Cathedral, there was then found a walled grave, containing the coffins of the Saint. The first, or outer one, was ascertained to be that of 1541, the second of 1041; the third, or inner one, answering in every particular to the description of that of 698, was found to contain, not indeed, as had been averred then, and even until 1539, the incorruptible body, but the entire skeleton of the Saint; the bottom of the grave being perfectly dry, free from offensive smell, and without the slightest symptom that a human body had ever undergone decomposition within its walls. The skeleton was found swathed in five silk robes of emblematical embroidery, the ornamental parts laid with gold leaf, and these again covered with a robe of linen. Beside the skeleton were also deposited several gold and silver insignia, and other relics of the Saint.

‘(The Roman Catholics now allow that the coffin was that of St. Cuthbert.)

‘The bones of the Saint were again restored to the grave in a new coffin, amid the fragments of the former ones. Those portions of the inner coffin which could be preserved, including one of its rings, with the silver altar, golden cross, stole, comb, two maniples, bracelets, girdle, gold wire of the skeleton, and fragments of the five silk robes, and seme of the rings of the outer coffin made in 1541, were deposited in the library of the Dean and Chapter, where they are now preserved.’-LOCKHART.

For ample details regarding St. Cuthbert, see ‘St. Cuthbert,’ by James Raine, M. A. (4to, Durham, 1828).

line 263. For ‘fair Melrose’ see opening of Canto II, ‘Lay of the Last Minstrel,’ and Prof. Minto’s note in the Clarendon Press edition.

Stanza XV. line 292. ‘Every one has heard, that when David I, with his son Henry, invaded Northumberland in 1136, the English host marched against them under the holy banner of St. Cuthbert; to the efficacy of which was imputed the great victory which they obtained in the bloody battle of Northallerton, or Cuton-moor. The conquerors were at least as much indebted to the jealousy and intractability of the different tribes who composed David’s army; among whom, as mentioned in the text, were the Galwegians, the Britons of Strath-Clyde, the men of Teviotdale and Lothian, with many Norman and German warriors, who asserted the cause of the Empress Maud. See Chalmers’s “Caledonia,” vol. i. p. 622; a most laborious, curious, and interesting publication, from which considerable defects of style and manner ought not to turn aside the Scottish antiquary.

‘Cuthbert, we have seen, had no great reason, to spare the Danes, when opportunity offered. Accordingly, I find in Simeon of Durham, that the Saint appeared in a vision to Alfred, when lurking in the marches of Glastonbury, and promised him assistance and victory over his heathen enemies; a consolation which, as was reasonable, Alfred, after the battle of Ashendown, rewarded, by a royal offering at the shrine of the Saint. As to William the Conqueror, the terror spread before his army, when he marched to punish the revolt of the Northumbrians, in 1096, had forced the monks to fly once more to Holy Island with the body of the Saint. It was, however, replaced before William left the north; and, to balance accounts, the Conqueror having intimated an indiscreet curiosity to view the Saint’s body, he was, while in the act of commanding the shrine to be opened, seized with heat and sickness, accompanied with such a panic terror, that, notwithstanding there was a sumptuous dinner prepared for him, he fled without eating a morsel (which the monkish historian seems to have thought no small part both of the miracle and the penance,) and never drew his bridle till he got to the river Tees.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XVI. line 300. ‘Although we do not learn that Cuthbert was, during his life, such an artificer as Dunstan, his brother in sanctity, yet, since his death, he has acquired the reputation of forging those Entrochi which are found among the rocks of Holy Island, and pass there by the name of St. Cuthbert’s Beads. While at this task, he is supposed to sit during the night upon a certain rock, and use another as his anvil. This story was perhaps credited in former days; at least the Saint’s legend contains some not more probable.’-SCOTT.

See in Mr. Aubrey de Vere’s ‘Legends of the Saxon Saints’ a fine poem entitled ‘How Saint Cuthbert kept his Pentecost at Carlisle.’ The ‘beads’ are there referred to thus:-

‘And many an age, when slept that Saint in death,
Passing his isle by night the sailor heard
Saint Cuthbert’s hammer clinking on the rock.’

The recognised name of these shells is still ‘St. Cuthbert’s beads.”

Stanza XVII. line 316. ‘Ceolwolf, or Colwulf, King of Northumberland, flourished in the eighth century. He was a man of some learning; for the venerable Bede dedicates to him his “Ecclesiastical History.” He abdicated the throne about 738, and retired to Holy Island, where he died in the odour of sanctity. Saint as Colwulf was, however, I fear the foundation of the penance-vault does not correspond with his character; for it is recorded among his memorabilia, that, finding the air of the island raw and cold, he indulged the monks, whose rule had hitherto confined them to milk or water, with the comfortable privilege of using wine or ale. If any rigid antiquary insists on this objection, he is welcome to suppose the penance-vault was intended by the founder for the more genial purposes of a cellar.

‘These penitential vaults were the Geissel-gewolbe of German convents. In the earlier and more rigid times of monastic discipline, they were sometimes used as a cemetery for the lay benefactor of the convent, whose unsanctified corpses were then seldom permitted to pollute the choir. They also served as places of meeting for the chapter, when measures of uncommon severity were to be adopted. But their most frequent use, as implied by the name, was as places for performing penances, or undergoing punishment.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XVIII. line 350. ‘Antique chandelier.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XIX. line 371. ‘That there was an ancient priory at Tynemouth is certain. Its ruins are situated on a high rocky point; and, doubtless, many a vow was made to the shrine by the distressed mariners, who drove towards the iron-bound coast of Northumberland in stormy weather. It was anciently a nunnery; for Virca, abbess of Tynemouth, presented St. Cuthbert (yet alive) with a rare winding-sheet, in emulation of a holy lady called Tuda, who had sent him a coffin: but, as in the case of Whitby, and of Holy Island, the introduction of nuns at Tynemouth, in the reign of Henry VIII, is an anachronism. The nunnery of Holy Island is altogether fictitious. Indeed, St. Cuthbert was unlikely to permit such an establishment; for, notwithstanding his accepting the mortuary gifts above mentioned, and his carrying on a visiting acquaintance with the abbess of Coldingham, he certainly hated the whole female sex; and, in revenge of a slippery trick played to him by an Irish princess, he, after death, inflicted severe penances on such as presumed to approach within a certain distance of his shrine.’-SCOTT.

line 376. ruth (A. S. hreow, pity) in Early and Middle English was used both for ‘disaster’ and ‘pity.’ These two shades of meaning are illustrated by Spenser in F. Q., Bk. ii. I. Introd. to Canto where Falsehood beguiles the Red Cross Knight, and ‘workes him woefull ruth,’ and in F. Q. I. v. 9:

‘Great ruth in all the gazers hearts did grow.’

Milton (Lycidas, 163) favours the poetical employment of the word, which modern poets continue to use. Cp. Wordsworth, ‘Ode for a General Thanksgiving’:-

‘Assaulting without ruth
The citadels of truth;’

and Tennyson’s ‘Geraint and Enid,’ II. 102:-

‘Ruth began to work
Against his anger in him, while he watch’d
The being he lov’d best in all the world.’

Stanza XX. line 385. doublet, a close-fitting jacket, introduced from France in the fourteenth century, and fashionable in all ranks till the time of Charles II. Cp. As You Like It, ii. 4. 6:-’Doublet and hose ought to show itself courageous to petticoat.’

line 398. Fontevraud, on the Loire, 8 miles from Saumur, had one of the richest abbeys in France. It was a retreat for penitents of both sexes, and presided over by an abbess. ‘The old monastic buildings and courtyards, surrounded by walls, and covering from 40 to 50 acres, now form one of the larger prisons of France, in which about 2000 men and boys are confined, and kept at industrial occupations.’ See Chambers’s ‘Encyclopaedia,’ s. v., and Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal, 2d. S, I. 104.

Stanza XXI. line 408. but = except that. Cp. Tempest, i. 2. 414:-

‘And, but he’s something stain’d
With grief that’s beauty’s canker, thou might’st call him
A goodly person.’

line 414. Byron, writing to Murray on 3 Feb., 1816, expresses his belief that he has unwittingly imitated this passage in ‘Parisina.’ ‘I had,’ he says, ‘completed the story on the passage from Gibbon, which indeed leads to a like scene naturally, without a thought of the kind; but it comes upon me not very comfortably.’ Byron is quite right in his assertion that, if he had taken this striking description of Constance as a model for his Parisina, he would have been attempting ‘to imitate that which is inimitable.’ See ‘Parisina,’ st. xiv:-

‘She stood, I said, all pale and still,
The living cause of Hugo’s ill.’

Stanza XXII. line 415. a sordid soul, &c. For such a character in the drama see Lightborn in Marlowe’s Edward II, and those trusty agents in Richard III, whose avowed hardness of heart drew from Gloucester the appreciative remark:-

‘Your eyes drop millstones, when fools’ eyes drop tears.’
Richard III, i. 3. 353.

Stanza XXIII. line 438. grisly, grim, horrible; still an effective poetic word. It is, e.g., very expressive in Tennyson’s ‘Princess,’ sect. vi, where Ida sees

‘The haggard father’s face and reverend beard
Of grisly twine, all dabbled with the blood,’ &c.

See below, III. 382.

Stanza XXV. line 468. ‘It is well known, that the religious, who broke their vows of chastity, were subjected to the same penalty as the Roman vestals in a similar case. A small niche, sufficient to enclose their bodies, was made in the massive wall of the convent; a slender pittance of food and water was deposited in it, and the awful words, VADE IN PACE, were the signal for immuring the criminal. It is not likely that, in latter times, this punishment was often resorted to; but among the ruins of the abbey of Coldingham, were some years ago discovered the remains of a female skeleton, which, from the shape of the niche, and position of the figure, seemed to be that of an immured nun.’-SCOTT.

Lockhart adds:-‘The Edinburgh Reviewer, on st. xxxii, post, suggests that the proper reading of the sentence is vade in pacem-not part in peace, but go into peace, or eternal rest, a pretty intelligible mittimus to another world.’

Stanza XXVII. line 506. my = ‘of me,’ retains the old genitive force as in Elizabethan English. Cp. Julius Caesar, i. I. 55:-

‘In his way
That comes in triumph over Pompey’s blood.’

line 516. The very old fancy of a forsaken lover’s revenge has been powerfully utilized in D. G. Rossetti’s fascinating ballad, ‘Sister Helen’:-

‘Pale, pale her cheeks, that in pride did glow,
Sister Helen,
‘Neath the bridal-wreath three days ago.’
‘One morn for pride and three days for woe,
Little brother!’

Stanza XXVIII. line 520. plight, woven, united, as in Spenser F. Q., II. vi. 7:-

‘Fresh flowerets dight
About her necke, or rings of rushes plight.’

lines 524-40. The reference in these lines is to what was known as the appeal to the judgment of God. On this subject, Scott at the close of the second head in his ‘Essay on Chivalry,’ says, ‘In the appeal to this awful criterion, the combatants, whether personally concerned, or appearing as champions, were understood, in martial law, to take on themselves the full risk of all consequences. And, as the defendant, or his champion, in case of being overcome, was subjected to the punishment proper to the crime of which he was accused, so the appellant, if vanquished, was, whether a principal or substitute, condemned to the same doom to which his success would have exposed the accused. Whichever combatant was vanquished he was liable to the penalty of degradation; and, if he survived the combat, the disgrace to which he was subjected was worse than death. His spurs were cut off close to his heels, with a cook’s cleaver; his arms were baffled and reversed by the common hangman; his belt was cut to pieces, and his sword broken. Even his horse shared his disgrace, the animal’s tail being cut off, close by the rump, and thrown on a dunghill. The death-bell tolled, and the funeral service was said for a knight thus degraded as for one dead to knightly honour. And if he fell in the appeal to the judgment of God, the same dishonour was done to his senseless corpse. If alive, he was only rescued from death to be confined in the cloister. Such at least were the strict roles of Chivalry, though the courtesy of the victor, or the clemency of the prince, might remit them in favourable cases.’

For illustration of forms observed at such contests, see Richard II, i. 3.

line 524. Each knight declared on oath that he ‘had his quarrel just.’ The fall of an unworthy knight is referred to below, VI. 961.

Stanza XXIX. line 545. This illustrates Henry’s impulsive and imperious character, and is not, necessarily, a premonition of his final attitude towards Roman Catholicism.

line 555. dastard (Icel. doestr = exhausted, breathless; O. Dut. dasaert = a fool) is very appropriately used here, after the description above, St. xxii, to designate the poltroon that quails only before death. Cp. Pope’s Iliad, II. 427:-

‘And die the dastard first, who dreads to die.’

Stanza XXX. line 568. Cp. Julius Caesar, ii. 2. 35:-

‘It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.’

Stanza XXXI. line 573. the fiery Dane. See note on line 10 above. Passing northwards after destroying York and Tynemouth, the Danes in 875 burned the monastery on Lindisfarne. The bishop and monks, with their relics and the body of St. Cuthbert, fled over the Kylve hills. See Raine, &c.

line 576. the crosier bends. Crosier (O. Fr. croiser; Fr. croix = cross) is used both for the staff of an archbishop with a cross on the top, and for the staff of a bishop or an abbot, terminating in a carved or ornamented curve or crook. The word is used here metaphorically for Papal power, as Bacon uses it, speaking of Anselm and Becket, ‘who with their crosiers did almost try it with the king’s sword.’ Constance’s prophecy refers to Henry VIII’s victorious collision with the Pope.

Stanza XXXII. lines 585-91. It is impossible not to connect this striking picture with that of Virgil’s Sibyl (Aeneid, VI. 45):-

‘Ventum erat ad limen, cum virgo, ‘poscere fata
Tempus,’ ait; ‘deus, ecce, deus.’ Cui talia fanti
Ante fores subito non voltus, non color unus,
Non comptae mansere comae; sed pectus anhelum,
Et rabie fera corda tument; maiorque videri
Nec mortale sonans, adflata est numine quando
Iam propiore dei.’

line 588. Stared, stood up stiffly. Cp. Julius Caesar, iv. 3. 280, and Tempest, i. 2. 213, ‘with hair upstaring.’

line 600. See above, line 468, and note.

Stanza XXXIII. line 616. for terror’s sake = because of terror. Cp. ‘For fashion’s sake,’ As You Like It, iii. 2. 55.

line 620. The custom of ringing the passing bell grew out of the belief that a church bell, rung when the soul was passing from the body, terrified the devils that were waiting to attack it at the moment of its escape. ‘The tolling of the passing bell was retained at the Reformation; and the people were instructed that its use was to admonish the living, and excite them to pray for the dying. But by the beginning of the 18th century the passing bell in the proper sense of the term had almost ceased to be heard. ‘A mourning bell is still rung during funeral services as a mark of respect. See s. v. ‘Bell,’ Chambers’s Encyclopaedia. Cp. Byron’s ‘Parisina,’ St. xv.

‘The convent bells are ringing,
But mournfully and slow;
In the grey square turret swinging
With a deep sound to and fro.’

In criticising ‘Marmion,’ in the Edinburgh Review, Lord Jeffrey says that the sound of the knell rung for Constance ‘is described with great force and solemnity;’ while a writer in the Scots Magazine of 1808 considers that ‘the whole of this trial and doom presents a high-wrought scene of horror, which, at the close, rises almost to too great a pitch.’


‘William Erskine, Esq. advocate, sheriff-depute of the Orkneys, became a Judge of the Court of Session by the title of Lord Kinnedder, and died in Edinburgh in August, 1823. He had been from early youth the most intimate of the Poet’s friends, and his chief confidant and adviser as to all literary matters. See a notice of his life and character by the late Mr. Hay Donaldson, to which Sir Walter Scott contributed several paragraphs.’-LOCKHART.

There are frequent references to Erskine throughout Lockhart’s Life of Scott. The critics of the time were of his opinion that Scott as a poet was not giving his powers their proper direction. Jeffrey considered Marmion ‘a misapplication in some degree of extraordinary talents.’ Fortunately, Scott decided for himself in the matter, and the self-criticism of this Introduction is characterised not only by good humour and poetic beauty but by discrimination and strong common-sense.

line 14. a morning dream. This may simply be a poetic way of saying that his method is unsystematic, but Horace’s account of the vision he saw when he was once tempted to write Greek verses is irresistibly suggested by the expression:-

‘Vetuit me tali voce Quirinus
Post mediam noctem visus, cum somnia vera:
“In silvam non ligna feras insanius, ac si
Magnas Graecorum malis implere catervas?’
Sat. I. x. 32.

line 24. all too well. This use of ‘all too’ is a development of the Elizabethan expression ‘all-to’ = altogether, quite, as ‘all to topple,’ Pericles, iii. 2. 17; ‘all to ruffled,’ Comus, 380. In this usage the original force of to as a verbal prefix is lost sight of. Chaucer has ‘The pot to breaketh’ in Prologue to Chanon Yeomanes Tale. See note in Clarendon Press Milton, i. 290.

line 26. Desultory song may naturally command a very wide class of those intelligent readers, for whom the Earl of Iddesleigh, in ‘lectures and Essays,’ puts forward a courageous plea in his informing and genial address on the uses of Desultory Reading.

line 28. The reading of the first edition is ‘loftier,’ which conveys an estimate of his own achievements more characteristic of Scott than the bare assertion of his ability to ‘build the lofty rhyme’ which is implied in the line as it stands. Perhaps the expression just quoted from ‘Lycidas’ may have led to the reading of all subsequent editions.

line 46. The Duke of Brunswick commanded the Prussian forces at Jena, 14 Oct., 1806, and was mortally wounded. He was 72. For ‘hearse,’ cp. above, Introd. to I. 199.

line 54. The reigning house of Prussia comes from the Electors of Brandenburg. In 1415 Frederick VI. of Hohenzollern and Nuremberg became Frederick the First, Elector of Brandenburg. The Duchy of Prussia fell under the sway of the Elector John Sigismund (1608-19), and from that time to the present there has been a very remarkable development of government and power. See Carlyle’s ‘Frederick the Great,’ and Mr. Baring-Gould’s ‘Germany’ in the series ‘Stories of the Nations.’

lines 57-60. The Duke of Brunswick was defeated at Valmy in 1792, and so failed to crush the dragon of the French Revolution in its birth, as in all likelihood he would have done had he been victorious on the occasion.

line 64. Prussia, without an ally, took the field instead of acting on the defensive.

line 67. seem’d = beseemed, befitted; as in Spenser’s May eclogue, ‘Nought seemeth sike strife,’ i.e. such strife is not befitting or seemly.

line 69. Various German princes lost their dominions after Napoleon conquered Prussia.

line 78. By defeating Varus, A. D. 9, Arminius saved Germany from Roman conquest. See the first two books of the Annals of Tacitus, at the close of which this tribute is paid to the hero: ‘liberator haud dubie Germaniae et qui non primordia populi Romani, sicut alii reges ducesque, sed florentissimum imperium lacessierit, proeliis ambiguus, bello non victus.’

lines 46-80. This undoubtedly vigorous and well-sustained tribute is not without its special purpose. The Princess Caroline was daughter of the Duke of Brunswick, and Scott was one of those who believed in her, in spite of that ‘careless levity’ which he did not fail to note in her demeanour when presented at her Court at Blackheath in 1806. This passage on the Duke of Brunswick had been read by the Princess before the appearance of ‘Marmion.’ Lockhart (Life of Scott, ii. 117) says: ‘He seems to have communicated fragments of the poem very freely during the whole of its progress. As early as the 22nd February, 1807, I find Mrs. Hayman acknowledging, in the name of the Princess of Wales, the receipt of a copy of the Introduction to Canto III, in which occurs the tribute to her Royal Highness’s heroic father, mortally wounded the year before at Jena-a tribute so grateful to her feelings that she herself shortly after sent the poet an elegant silver vase as a memorial of her thankfulness.’

line 81. The Red-Cross hero is Sir Sidney Smith, the famous admiral, who belonged to the Order of Knights Templars. The eight-pointed Templar’s cross which he wore throughout his career is said to have belonged to Richard Coeur-de-Lion. In early life, with consent of the Government, Smith distinguished himself with the Swedes in their war with Russia. He was frequently entrusted with the duty of alarming the French coast, and once was captured and imprisoned, in the Temple at Paris, for two years. His escape was effected by a daring stratagem on the part of the French Royalist party. He and his sailors helped the Turks to retain St. Jean d’Acre against Napoleon, till then the ‘Invincible,’ who retired baffled after a vain siege of sixty days (May, 1799). Had Acre been won, said Napoleon afterwards, ‘I would have reached Constantinople and the Indies-I would have changed the face of the world.’ See Scott’s ‘Life of Napoleon,’ chap. xiii.

line 91. For metal’d see above, Introd. to I. 308.

line 92. For warped = ‘frozen,’ cp. As You Like It, ii. 7. 187, where, addressing the bitter sky, the singer says:-

‘Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp,
As friends remember’d not.’

line 94. The reference is to Sir Ralph Abercromby, who commanded the expedition to Egypt, 1800-1, and fell at the battle of Alexandria. Sir Sidney Smith was wounded in the same battle, and had to go home.

lines 100-10. Scott pays compliment to his friend Joanna Baillie (1764-1851), with chivalrous courtesy asserting that she is the first worthy successor of Shakespeare. ‘Count Basil’ and ‘De Montfort’ are the two most remarkable of her ‘Plays of the Passions,’ of which she published three volumes. ‘De Montfort’ was played in London, Kemble enacting the hero. Several of Miss Baillie’s Scottish songs are among standard national lyrics.

line 100. Cp. opening of ‘Lady of the Lake.’

lines 115-28. Lockhart notes the resemblance between this passage and Pope’s ‘Essay on Man,’ II. 133-148.

line 134. Cp. Goldsmith’s ‘Traveller,’ 293:-

‘The slow canal, the yellow-blossom’d vale,
The willow-tufted bank, the gliding sail.’

Batavia is the capital of the Dutch East Indies, with canals, architecture, &c., after the home model.

line 137. hind, from Early Eng. hyne, servant (A. S. hina) is quite distinct from hind, a female stag. Gavin Douglas, translating Tyrii coloni of Aen. I. 12, makes them ‘hynis of Tyre.’ Shakespeare (Merry Wives, iii. 5. 94) uses the word as servant, ‘A couple of Ford’s knaves, his hinds, were called forth.’ The modern usage implies a farm-bailiff or simply a farm-servant.

line 149. Lochaber is a large district in the south of Invernesshire, having Ben Nevis and other Grampian heights within its compass. It is a classic name in Scottish literature owing to Allan Ramsay’s plaintive lyric, ‘Lochaber no more.’

line 153. For early influences, see Lockhart’s Life, vol. i.

line 178. ‘Smailholm Tower, in Berwickshire, the scene of the author’s infancy, is situated about two miles from Dryburgh Abbey.’-LOCKHART.

line 180. The aged hind was ‘Auld Sandy Ormiston,’ the cow-herd on Sandyknows, Scott’s grandfather’s farm. ‘If the child saw him in the morning,’ says Lockhart, ‘he could not be satisfied unless the old man would set him astride on his shoulder, and take him to keep him company as he lay watching his charge.’

line 183. strength, stronghold. Cp. Par. Lost, vii. 141:-

‘This inaccessible high strength...
He trusted to have seiz’d.’

line 194. slights, as pointed out by Mr. Rolfe, was ‘sleights’ in the original, and, as lovers’ stratagems are manifestly referred to, this is the preferable reading. But both spellings occur in this sense.

line 201. The Highlanders displayed such valour at Killiecrankie (1689), and Prestonpans (1745).

line 207. ‘See notes on the Eve of St. John, in the Border Minstrelsy, vol. iv; and the author’s Introduction to the Minstrelsy, vol. i. p. 101.’-LOCKHART.

line 211. ‘Robert Scott of Sandyknows, the grandfather of the Poet.’-LOCKHART.

line 216. doom, judgment or decision. ‘Discording,’ in the sense of disagreeing, is still in common use in Scotland both as an adj. and a participle. ‘They discorded’ indicates that two disputants approached without quite reaching a serious quarrel. In a note to the second edition of the poem Scott states that the couplet beginning ‘whose doom’ is ‘unconsciously borrowed from a passage in Dryden’s beautiful epistle to John Driden of Chesterton.’ Dryden’s lines are:-

‘Just, good, and wise, contending neighbours come,
From your award to wait their final doom.’

line 221. ‘Mr. John Martin, minister of Mertoun, in which parish Smailholm Tower is situated.’-LOCKHART. With the tribute to the clergyman’s worth, cp. Walton’s eulogy on George Herbert, ‘Thus he lived, and thus he died, like a saint,’ &c.

line 225. For imp, cp. above Introd. to I. 37. A ‘grandame’s child’ is almost certainly spoiled. Shakespeare (King John, ii. i. 161) utilizes the fact:-

‘It grandam will
Give it a plum, a cherry, and a fig.’


Stanza I. Mr. Guthrie Wright, advocate, prosaically objected to the indirect route chosen by the poet for his troopers. Scott gave the true poetic answer, that it pleased him to take them by the road chosen. He is careful, however, to assign (11.6-8) an adequate reason for his preference.

line 16. wan, won, gained; still used in Scotland. Cp. Principal Shairp’s ‘Bush Aboon Traquair’:-

‘And then they wan a rest,
The lownest an’ the best,
I’ Traquair kirkyard when a’ was dune.’

line 19. Lammermoor. ‘See notes to the Bride of Lammermoor, Waverley Novels, vols. xiii. and xiv.’-LOCKHART.

line 22. ‘The village of Gifford lies about four miles from Haddington; close to it is Yester House, the seat of the Marquis of Tweeddale, and a little farther up the stream, which descends from the hills of Lammermoor, are the remains of the old castle of the family.’-LOCKHART.

Many hold that Gifford and not Gifford-gate, at the outskirts of Haddington, was the birthplace of John Knox.

Stanza II. line 31. An ivy-bush or garland was a tavern sign, and the flagon is an appropriate accompaniment. Chaucer’s Sompnour (Prol. 666) suggested the tavern sign by his head-gear:-

‘A garland hadde he set upon his heed,
As gret as it were for an ale-stake.’

See note in Clarendon Press ed., and cp. Epilogue of As You Like It (and note) in same series:-’If it be true that good wine needs no bush,’ &c.

line 33. ‘The accommodations of a Scottish hostelrie, or inn, in the sixteenth century, may be collected from Dunbar’s admirable tale of “The Friars of Berwick.” Simon Lawder, “the gay ostlier,” seems to have lived very comfortably; and his wife decorated her person with a scarlet kirtle, and a belt of silk and silver, and rings upon her fingers; and feasted her paramour with rabbits, capons, partridges, and Bourdeaux wine. At least, if the Scottish inns were not good, it was not from want of encouragement from the legislature; who, so early as the reign of James I, not only enacted, that in all boroughs and fairs there be hostellaries, having stables and chambers, and provision for man and horse, but by another statute, ordained that no man, travelling on horse or foot, should presume to lodge anywhere except in these hostellaries; and that no person, save innkeepers, should receive such travellers, under the penalty of forty shillings, for exercising such hospitality. But, in spite of these provident enactments, the Scottish hostels are but indifferent, and strangers continue to find reception in the houses of individuals.’-SCOTT.

It is important to supplement this note by saying that the most competent judges still doubt whether Dunbar wrote ‘The Friars of Berwick.’ It is printed among his doubtful works.

Stanza III. Such a kitchen as that described was common in Scotland till recent times, and relics of a similar interior exist in remote parts still. The wide chimney, projecting well into the floor, formed a capacious tunnel to the roof, and numerous sitters could be accommodated with comfort in front and around the fire. Smoke and soot from the wood and peat fuel were abundant, and the ‘winter cheer,’-hams, venison, &c.-hung from the uncovered rafters, were well begrimed before coming to the table.

line 48. The solan goose frequents Scottish haunts in summer. There are thousands of them on Ailsa Craig, in the Frith of Clyde, and on the Bass Rock, in the Frith of Forth, opposite Tantallon.

line 49. gammon (O. Fr. gambon, Lat. gamba, ‘joint of a leg’), the buttock or thigh of a hog salted and dried; the lower end of a flitch.

Stanza IV. line 73. ‘The winds of March’ (Winter’s Tale, iv. 3. 120), are a prominent feature of the month. The freshness of May has fascinated the poets since it was told by Chaucer (Knightes’ Tale, 175) how Emelie arose one fine morning in early summer:-

‘Emilie, that fairer was to scene
Than is the lilie on hire stalke grene,
And fresscher than the May with floures newe.’

line 76. Cp. ‘Jock o’ Hazeldean’:-

‘His step is first in peaceful ha’,
His sword in battle keen.’

line 78. buxom (A. S. bocsum, flexible, obedient, from bugan, to bend) here means lively, fresh, brisk. Cp. Henry V, iii. 6. 27:-

‘Bardolph, a soldier firm and sound of heart,
And of buxom valour.

Stanza VII. line 112. Cp. Spenser’s Epithalamium:-

‘Yet never day so long but late would passe,
Ring ye the bels to make it weare away.’

A familiar instance of ‘speed’ as a trans. verb is in Pope’s Odyssey, XV. 83:-’Welcome the coming, speed the parting guest.’

Stanza VIII. line 120. St. Valentine’s day is Feb. 14, when birds pair and lovers (till at any rate recent times) exchange artistic tokens of affection. The latter observance is sadly degenerated. See Professor Skeat’s note to ‘Parlement of Foules,’ line 309, in Chaucer’s Minor Poems (Clarendon Press).

line 122. The myth of Philomela has been a favourite with English sentimental poets. The Elizabethan Barnefield writes the typical lyric on the theme. These lines contain the myth :--

‘She, poor bird, as all forlorn,
Lean’d her breast against a thorn,
And there sung the dolefullest ditty
That to hear it was great pity.’

Stanza IX. In days when harvesting was done with the sickle, reapers from the Highlands and from Ireland came in large numbers to the Scottish Lowlands and cut the crops. At one time a piper played characteristic melodies behind the reapers to give them spirit for their work. Hence comes-

‘Wha will gar our shearers shear?
Wha will bind up the brags of weir?’

in a lyric by Hamilton of Gilbertfield (1665-1751). The reaper’s song is the later representative of this practice. See Wordsworth’s ‘Solitary Highland Reaper’-immortalized by her suggestive and memorable singing-and compare the pathetic ‘Exile’s Song’ of Robert Gilfillan (1798-1850):-

‘Oh! here no Sabbath bell
Awakes the Sabbath morn;
Nor song of reapers heard
Among the yellow corn.’

For references to Susquehanna and the home-longing of the exile, see Campbell’s ‘Gertrude of Wyoming,’ I. i.-vi. The introduction of reaping-machines has minimised the music and poetry of the harvest field.

Stanzas X, XI. The two pictures in the song are very effectively contrasted both in spirit and style. The lover’s resting-place has features that recall the house of Morpheus, ‘Faery Queene,’ I. i. 40-1. Note the recurrence of the traitor’s doom in Marmion’s troubled thoughts, in VI. xxxii. The burden ‘eleu loro’ has been somewhat uncertainly connected with the Italian ela loro, ‘alas! for them.’

Stanza XIII. lines 201-7. One of the most striking illustrations of this is in Shakespeare’s delineation of Brutus, who is himself made to say (Julius Caesar, ii. I. 18):-

‘The abuse of greatness is, when it disjoins
Remorse from power.’

For the sentiment of the text cp. the character of Ordonio in Coleridge’s ‘Remorse,’ the concentrated force of whose dying words is terrible, while indicative of native nobility:-

‘I stood in silence like a slave before her
That I might taste the wormwood and the gall,
And satiate this self-accusing heart
With bitterer agonies than death can give.’

line 211. ‘Among other omens to which faithful credit is given among the Scottish peasantry, is what is called the “dead-bell,” explained by my friend James Hogg to be that tinkling in the ears which the country people regard as the secret intelligence of some friend’s decease. He tells a story to the purpose in the “Mountain Bard,” p. 26 [pp. 31-2, 3rd edit.].’-SCOTT.

Cp. Tickell’s ‘Lucy and Colin,’ and this perfect stanza in Mickle’s ‘Cumnor Hall,’ quoted in Introd. to ‘Kenilworth’:-

‘The death-bell thrice was heard to ring,
An aerial voice was heard to call,
And thrice the raven flapp’d its wing
Around the towers of Cumnor Hall.’

line 217. Cp. Midsummer Night’s Dream, v. I. 286: ‘The death of a dear friend would go near to make a man look sad.’

Stanza XIV. lines 230-5. Cp. the effect of Polonius on the King (Hamlet, iii. I. 50):-

‘How smart a lash that speech doth give my conscience!’

Hamlet himself, ib. line 83, says:-

‘Thus conscience does make cowards of us all.’

line 234. For vail = lower, see close of Editor’s Preface.

Stanza XV. line 243. For practised on = plotted against, cp. King Lear, iii. 2. 57, ‘Hast practised on man’s life.’

lines 248-51. See above, II. xxix.

Stanza XVII. line 286. Cp. Burns’s ‘Bonnie Doon’:-

‘And my fause lover staw my rose,
But ah! he left the thorn wi’ me.’

Stanza XVIII. line 307. Loch Vennachar, in the south of Perthshire, is the most easterly of the three lakes celebrated in the ‘Lady of the Lake.’

line 321. Cp. ‘wonder-wounded hearers,’ Hamlet, v. I. 265.

Stanza XIX. line 324. Clerk is a scholar, as in Chaucer’s ‘Clerk of Oxenford,’ &c., and the ‘learned clerks’ of 2 Henry VI, iv. 7. 76. See below, VI. xv. 459, ‘clerkly skill.’

line 325. Alexander III (1240-1286) came to the throne at the age of nine, and proved himself a vigorous and large-hearted king. He was killed by a fall from his horse, near Kinghorn, Fife, where there is a suitable monument to his memory. The contemporary lament for his death bewails him as one that ‘Scotland led in love and lee.’ Sir Walter Scott (Introductory Remarks to ‘Border Minstrelsy’) calls him ‘the last Scottish king of the pure Celtic race.’

line 333. ‘A vaulted hall under the ancient castle of Gifford, or Yester (for it bears either name indifferently), the construction of which has, from a very remote period, been ascribed to magic. The Statistical Account of the Parish of Garvald and Baro, gives the following account of the present state of this castle and apartment:-”Upon a peninsula, formed by the water of Hopes on the east, and a large rivulet on the west, stands the ancient castle of Yester. Sir David Dalrymple, in his annals, relates that ‘Hugh Gifford de Yester died in 1267; that in his castle there was a capacious cavern, formed by magical art, and called in the country Bo-Hall, i.e. Hobgoblin Hall.’ A stair of twenty-four steps led down to this apartment, which is a large and spacious hall, with an arched roof; and though it hath stood for so many centuries, and been exposed to the external air for a period of fifty or sixty years, it is still as firm and entire as if it had only stood a few years. From the floor of this hall, another stair of thirty-six steps leads down to a pit which hath a communication with Hopes-water. A great part of the walls of this large and ancient castle are still standing. There is a tradition that the castle of Yester was the last fortification, in this country, that surrendered to General Gray, sent into Scotland by Protector Somerset.”-Statistical Account, vol. xiii. I have only to add, that, in 1737, the Goblin Hall was tenanted by the Marquis of Tweedale’s falconer, as I learn from a poem by Boyse, entitled “Retirement,” written upon visiting Yester. It is now rendered inaccessible by the fall of the stair.

‘Sir David Dalrymple’s authority for the anecdote is in Fordun, whose words are:-”A. D. MCCLXVII. Hugo Giffard de Yester moritur; cujus castrum, vel saltem caveam, et donglonem, arte daemonica antique relationes ferunt fabrifactas: nam ibidem habetur mirabilis specus subterraneus, opere mirifico constructus, magno terrarum spatio protelatus, qui communiter BO-HALL appellatus est.” Lib. x. cap. 21.-Sir David conjectures, that Hugh de Gifford must either have been a very wise man, or a great oppressor.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XX. line 354. ‘In 1263, Haco, King of Norway, came into the Frith of Clyde with a powerful armament, and made a descent at Largs, in Ayrshire. Here he was encountered and defeated, on the 2nd October, by Alexander III. Haco retreated to Orkney, where he died soon after this disgrace to his arms. There are still existing, near the place of battle, many barrows, some of which, having been opened, were found, as usual, to contain bones and urns.’-SCOTT.

line 358. Ayrshire in early times comprised three divisions, Cunninghame in the north, Kyle between the Irvine and the Doon, and Carrick to the south of that stream. Burns, by his song ‘There was a Lad was born in Kyle,’ has immortalised the middle division, which an old proverb had distinguished as productive of men, in contradistinction to the dairy produce and the stock of the other two.

line 362. ‘“Magicians, as is well known, were very curious in the choice and form of their vestments. Their caps are oval, or like pyramids, with lappets on each side, and fur within. Their gowns are long, and furred with fox-skins, under which they have a linen garment reaching to the knee. Their girdles are three inches broad, and have many cabalistical names, with crosses, trines, and circles inscribed on them. Their shoes should be of new russet leather, with a cross cut upon them. Their knives are dagger-fashion; and their swords have neither guard nor scabbard.”-See these, and many other particulars, in the Discourse concerning Devils and Spirits, annexed to REGINALD SCOTT’S Discovery of Witchcraft, edition 1665.’-SCOTT.

line 369. Scott quotes thus from Reginald Scott’s ‘Discovery of Witchcraft’ (1665):-

‘A pentacle is a piece of fine linen, folded with five corners, according to the five senses, and suitably inscribed with characters. This the magician extends towards the spirits which he invokes, when they are stubborn and rebellious, and refuse to be conformable unto the ceremonies and rights of magic.’

line 373. The term ‘Combust’ is applied to the moon or the planets, when, through being not more than eight and a half degrees from the sun, they are invisible in his light. Chaucer, in the ‘Astrolabe,’ has ‘that he be not retrograd ne combust.’ ‘Retrograde’ is the term descriptive of the motion of the planets from east to west. This is the case when the planets are visible on the side opposite to the sun. See Airy’s ‘Popular Astronomy,’ p. 124. ‘Trine’ refers to the appearance of planets ‘distant from each other 120°, or the third part of the zodiac. ‘Trine was considered a favourable conjunction. Cp. note on Par. Lost, X. 659, in Clarendon Press Milton-

‘In sextile, square, and trine, and opposite.’

Stanza XXII. line 407. ‘It is a popular article of faith that those who are born on Christmas or Good Friday have the power of seeing spirits and even of commanding them. The Spaniards imputed the haggard and downcast looks of their Philip II to the disagreeable visions to which this privilege subjected him.’-SCOTT.

line 408. See St. Matthew xxvii. 50-53.

line 415. Richard I of England (1189-99) could not himself have presented the sword, but the line is a spirited example of poetic licence.

line 416. Tide what tide is happen what may. Cp. Thomas the Rhymer’s remarkable forecast regarding the family of Haig in Scott’s country;-

‘Betide, betide, whate’er betide,
Haig shall be Haig of Bemerside.’

line 420. Alexander III was the last of his line, which included three famous Malcolms, viz. Malcolm II, grandfather of the ‘gracious Duncan,’ who died in 1033; Malcolm Canmore, who fell at Alnwick in 1093; and Malcolm IV, ‘The Maiden,’ who was only 34 at his death in 1165. The reference here is probably to Canmore.

Stanza XXIII. line 438. See Chambers’s ‘Encyclopaedia,’ articles on ‘Earth-houses’ and ‘Picts’ Houses.’

line 445. Legends tell of belated travellers being spell-bound in such spots.

line 461. The reference is to Edward I, who went as Prince Edward to Palestine in 1270, so that the legend at this point embodies an anachronism, Edward became king in 1274. His shield and banner were emblazoned with ‘three leopards courant of fine gold set on red.’

Stanza XXIV. line 472. Largs, on the coast of Ayrshire, opposite Bute.

line 479. The ravens on the Norse banners were said to flutter their wings before a victory, and to let them droop in prospect of a defeat.

line 487. ‘For an account of the expedition to Copenhagen in 1801, see Southey’s “Life of Nelson,” chap. vii.’-LOCKHART. There may possibly be a reference to the bombardment of Copenhagen in 1807.

Stanza XXV. line 497. The slight wound was due to the start mentioned in line 462. He had been warned against letting his heart fail him.

line 503. Scott quotes thus from the essay on ‘Fairy Superstitions’ in the ‘Border Minstrelsy,’ vol. ii., to show ‘whence many of the particulars of the combat between Alexander III and the Goblin Knight are derived’:-

‘Gervase of Tilbury (Otia Imperial ap. Script, rer. Brunsvic, vol. i. p. 797), relates the following popular story concerning a fairy knight: “Osbert, a bold and powerful baron, visited a noble family in the vicinity of Wandlebury, in the bishopric of Ely. Among other stories related in the social circle of his friends, who, according to custom, amused each other by repeating ancient tales and traditions, he was informed, that if any knight, unattended, entered an adjacent plain by moonlight, and challenged an adversary to appear, he would be immediately encountered by a spirit in the form of a knight. Osbert resolved to make the experiment, and set out, attended by a single squire, whom he ordered to remain without the limits of the plain, which was surrounded by an ancient intrenchment. On repeating the challenge, he was instantly assailed by an adversary, whom he quickly unhorsed, and seized the reins of his steed. Daring this operation, his ghostly opponent sprung up, and darting his spear, like a javelin, at Osbert, wounded him in the thigh. Osbert returned in triumph with the horse, which he committed to the care of his servants. The horse was of a sable colour, as well as his whole accoutrements, and apparently of great beauty and vigour. He remained with his keeper till cock-crowing, when, with eyes flashing fire, he reared, spurned the ground, and vanished. On disarming himself, Osbert perceived that he was wounded, and that one of his steel boots was full of blood.” Gervase adds, that, “as long as he lived, the scar of his wound opened afresh on the anniversary of the eve on which he encountered the spirit.” Less fortunate was the gallant Bohemian knight, who travelling by night with a single companion, “came in sight of a fairy host, arrayed under displayed banners. Despising the remonstrances of his friend, the knight pricked forward to break a lance with a champion, who advanced from the ranks apparently in defiance. His companion beheld the Bohemian overthrown, horse and man, by his aerial adversary; and returning to the spot next morning, he found the mangled corpses of the knight and steed.”-Hierarchy of Blessed Angels, p. 554.

‘Besides these instances of Elfin chivalry above quoted, many others might be alleged in support of employing fairy machinery in this manner. The forest of Glenmore, in the North Highlands, is believed to be haunted by a spirit called Lham-dearg, in the array of an ancient warrior, having a bloody hand, from which he takes his name. He insists upon those with whom he meets doing battle with him; and the clergyman, who makes up an account of the district, extant in the Macfarlane MS., in the Advocates’ Library, gravely assures us, that, in his time, Lham-dearg fought with three brothers whom he met in his walk, none of whom long survived the ghostly conflict. Barclay, in his “Euphormion,” gives a singular account of an officer who had ventured, with his servant, rather to intrude upon a haunted house, in a town in Flanders, than to put up with worse quarters elsewhere. After taking the usual precautions of providing fires, lights, and arms, they watched till midnight, when, behold! the severed arm of a man dropped from the ceiling; this was followed by the legs, the other arm, the trunk, and the head of the body, all separately. The members rolled together, united themselves in the presence of the astonished soldiers, and formed a gigantic warrior, who defied them both to combat. Their blows, although they penetrated the body, and amputated the limbs, of their strange antagonist, had, as the reader may easily believe, little effect on an enemy who possessed such powers of self-union; nor did his efforts make more effectual impression upon them. How the combat terminated I do not exactly remember, and have not the book by me; but I think the spirit made to the intruders on his mansion the usual proposal, that they should renounce their redemption; which being declined, he was obliged to retreat.

‘The most singular tale of this kind is contained in an extract communicated to me by my friend Mr. Surtees of Mainsforth, in the Bishopric, who copied it from a MS. note in a copy of Burthogge “On the Nature of Spirits,” 8vo, 1694, which had been the property of the late Mr. Gill, attorney-general to Egerton, Bishop of Durham. “It was not,” says my obliging correspondent” in Mr. Gill’s own hand, but probably an hundred years older, and was said to be, E libro Convent. Dunelm. per T. C. extract., whom I believe to have been Thomas Cradocke, Esq., barrister, who held several offices under the See of Durham a hundred years ago. Mr. Gill was possessed of most of his manuscripts.” The extract, which, in fact, suggested the introduction of the tale into the present poem, runs thus:-

“Rem miram hujusmodi que nostris temporibus evenit, teste viro nobili ac fide dignissimo, enarrare haud pigebit. Radulphus Bulmer, cum e castris, quae tunc temporis prope Norham posita erant, oblectationis causa, exiisset, ac in ulteriore Tuedae ripa praaedam cum canibus leporariis insequeretur, forte cum Scoto quodam nobili, sibi antehac, ut videbatur, familiariter cognito, congressus est; ac, ut fas erat inter inimicos, flagrante bello, brevissima interrogationis mora interposita, alterutros invicem incitato cursu infestis animis petiere. Noster, primo occursu, equo praeacerrimo hostis impetu labante, in terram eversus pectore et capite laeso, sanguinem, mortuo similis, evomebat. Quern ut se aegre habentem comiter allocutus est alter, pollicitusque, modo auxilium non abnegaret, monitisque obtemperans ab omni rerum sacrarum cogitatione abstineret, nec Deo, Deiparae Virgini, Sanctove ullo, preces aut vota efferret vel inter sese conciperet, se brevi eum sanum validumque restiturum esse. Prae angore oblata conditio accepta est; ac veterator ille nescio quid obscaeni murmuris insusurrans, prehensa manu, dicto citius in pedes sanum ut antea sublevavit. Noster autem, maxima prae rei inaudita novitate formidine perculsus, MI JESU! exclamat, vel quid simile; ac subito respiciens nec hostem nec ullum alium conspicit, equum solum gravissimo nuper casu afflictum, per summam pacem in rivo fluvii pascentem. Ad castra itaque mirabundus revertens, fidei dubius, rem primo occultavit, dein, confecto bello, Confessori suo totam asseruit. Delusoria procul dubio res tota, ac mala veteratoris illius aperitur fraus, qua hominem Christianum ad vetitum tale auxilium pelliceret. Nomen utcunque illius (nobilis alias ac clari) reticendum duco, cum haud dubium sit quin Diabolus, Deo permittente, formam quam libuerit, immo angeli lucis, sacro oculo Dei teste, posse assumere.”

‘The MS. chronicle, from which Mr. Cradocke took this curious extract, cannot now be found in the Chapter Library of Durham, or, at least, has hitherto escaped the researches of my friendly correspondent.

‘Lindesay is made to allude to this adventure of Ralph Bulmer, as a well-known story, in the 4th Canto, Stanza xxii. p. 103.

‘The northern champions of old were accustomed peculiarly to search for, and delight in, encounters with such military spectres. See a whole chapter on the subject in BARTHOLINUS De Causis contemptae Mortis a Danis, p. 253.’

line 508. Sir Gilbert Hay, as a faithful adherent of Bruce, was created Lord High Constable of Scotland. See note in ‘Lord of the Isles,’ II. xiii. How ‘the Haies had their beginning of nobilitie’ is told in Holinshed’s ‘Scottish Chronicle,’ I. 308.

Stanza XXVI. line 510. Quaigh, ‘a wooden cup, composed of staves hooped together.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XXVIII. line 551. Darkling, adv. (not adj. as in Keats’s ‘darkling way’ in ‘Eve of St. Agnes’), really means ‘in the dark.’ Cp. ‘Lady of the Lake,’ IV. (Alice Brand):-

‘For darkling was the battle tried’;

and see Midsummer Night’s Dream, ii. 2. 86; King Lear, i. 4. 237. Lord Tennyson, like Keats, uses the word as an adj. in ‘In Memoriam,’ xcix:-

‘Who tremblest through thy darkling red.’

Cp. below, V. Introd. 23, ‘darkling politician.’ For scholarly discussion of the term, see Notes and Queries, VII iii. 191.

Stanza XXX. lines 585-9. Iago understands the ‘contending flow’ of passions when in a glow of self-satisfied feeling he exclaims;

‘Work on,
My medicine, work! Thus credulous fools are caught.’
Othello, iv. I. 44.

Stanza XXXI. line 597. ‘Yode, used by old poets for went.’-SCOTT. It is a variant of ‘yod’ or ‘yede,’ from A. S. eode, I went. Cp. Lat. eo, I go. See Clarendon Press ‘Specimens of Early English,’ II. 71:-

‘Thair scrippes, quer thai rade or yode,
Tham failed neuer o drinc ne fode.’

Spenser writes, ‘Faerie Queene,’ II. vii. 2:-

‘So, long he yode, yet no adventure found.’

line 599. Selle, saddle. Cp. ‘Faerie Queene,’ II. v. 4:-

On his horse necke before the quilted sell.’


‘James Skene, Esq., of Rubislaw, Aberdeenshire, was Cornet in the Royal Edinburgh Light Horse Volunteers; and Sir Walter Scott was Quartermaster of the same corps.’-LOCKHART.

For Skene’s account of the origin of this regiment, due in large measure to ‘Scott’s ardour,’ see ‘Life of Scott,’ i. 258.

line 2. See Taming of the Shrew, i. 4. 135, and 2 Henry IV, v. 3. 143, where a line of an old song is quoted:-

‘Where is the life that late I led?’

line 3. See As you Like It, ii. 7. 12.

line 7. Scott made the acquaintance of Skene, recently returned from a lengthened stay in Saxony, about the end of 1796, and profited much by his friend’s German knowledge and his German books. In later days he utilized suggestions of Skene’s in ‘Ivanhoe’ and ‘Quentin Durward.’ See ‘Life of Scott,’ passim, and specially i. 257, and iv. 342.

line 37. Blackhouse, a farm ‘situated on the Douglas-burn, then tenanted by a remarkable family, to which I have already made allusion-that of William Laidlaw.’-’Life,’ i. 328. Ettrick Pen is a hill in the south of Selkirkshire.

line 46. ‘Various illustrations of the Poetry and Novels of Sir Walter Scott, from designs by Mr. Skene, have since been published.’-LOCKHART.

line 48. Probably the first reference in poetry to the Scottish heather is, says Prof. Veitch (‘Feeling for Nature,’ ii. 52), in Thomson’s ‘Spring,’ where the bees are represented as daring

‘The purple heath, or where the wild thyme grows.’

lines 55-97. With this striking typical winter piece, cp. in Thomson’s ‘Winter,’ the vivid and pathetic picture beginning:--

‘In his own loose-revolving fields, the swain
Disastered stands.’

See also Burns’s ‘Winter Night,’ which by these lines may have suggested Scott’s ‘beamless sun’:-

‘When Phoebus gies a short-liv’d glow’r
Far south the lift;
Dim-dark’ning thro’ the flaky show’r,
Or whirling drift.’

The ‘tired ploughman,’ too, may owe something to this farther line of Burns:-

‘Poor labour sweet in sleep was lock’d’;

while the animals seeking shelter may well follow this inimitable and touching description:-

‘List’ning the doors an’ winnocks rattle,
I thought me on the ourie cattle,
Or silly sheep, wha bide this brattle
O’ winter war,
And thro’ the drift, deep-lairing, sprattle
Beneath a scaur.’

line 91. ‘I cannot help here mentioning that, on the night on which these lines were written, suggested as they were by a sudden fall of snow, beginning after sunset, an unfortunate man perished exactly in the manner here described, and his body was next morning found close to his own house. The accident happened within five miles of the farm of Ashestiel.’-SCOTT.

line 101. ‘The Scottish Harvest-home.’-SCOTT. Perhaps the name ‘kirn’ is due to the fact that a churnful of cream is a feature of the night’s entertainment. In Chambers’s Burns, iii. 151, Robert Ainslie gives an account of a kirn at Ellisland in 1790.

line 102. Cp. the ‘wood-notes wild’ with which Milton credits Shakespeare, ‘L’Allegro,’ 131.

lines 104-5. The ideal pastoral life of the Golden Age.

line 132. ‘Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo, Baronet; unequalled, perhaps, in the degree of individual affection entertained for him by his friends, as well as in the general respect and esteem of Scotland at large. His “Life of Beattie,” whom he befriended and patronised in life, as well as celebrated after his decease, was not long published, before the benevolent and affectionate biographer was called to follow the subject of his narrative. This melancholy event very shortly succeeded the marriage of the friend, to whom this introduction is addressed, with one of Sir William’s daughters.’-SCOTT.

line 133. ‘The Minstrel’ is Beattie’s chief poem; it is one of the few poems in well-written Spenserian stanza.

line 147. Ps. lxviii. 5.

line 151. Prov. xxvii. 10.

line 155. For account of Sir W. Forbes, see his autobiographical ‘Memoirs of a Banking House’; Chambers’s ‘Eminent Scotsmen’; and ‘Dictionary of National Biography.’

line 163. Cp. Pope, ‘Essay on Man,’ IV. 380, and Boileau, ‘L’Art Poetique, ‘Chant I:-

‘Heureux qui, dans ses vers, sait d’une voix legere
Passer du grave au doux, du plaisant an severe.’

line 172. ‘Tirante el Blanco,’ a Spanish romance by Johann Martorell (1480), praised in ‘Don Quixote.’

line 174. ‘Camp was a favourite dog of the Poet’s, a bull terrier of extraordinary sagacity. He is introduced in Raeburn’s portrait of Sir Walter Scott, now at Dalkeith Palace.’-LOCKHART.

line 181. Cp. Tempest, v. i. 93.

line 191. ‘Colin Mackenzie, Esq., of Portmore. See “Border Minstrelsy,” iv. 351.’-LOCKHART. Mackenzie had been Scott’s friend from boyhood, and he received his copy of ‘Marmion’ at Lympstone, where he was, owing to feeble health, as mentioned in the text. He was a son-in-law of Sir William Forbes, and in acknowledging receipt of the poem he said, ‘I must thank you for the elegant and delicate allusion in which you express your friendship for myself-Forbes-and, above all, that sweet memorial of his late excellent father.’-’Life of Scott,’ ii. 152.

line 194. ‘Sir William Rae of St. Catherine’s, Bart., subsequently Lord Advocate of Scotland, was a distinguished member of the volunteer corps to which Sir Walter Scott belonged; and he, the Poet, Mr. Skene, Mr. Mackenzie, and a few other friends, had formed themselves into a little semi-military club, the meetings of which were held at their family supper tables in rotation.’-LOCKHART.

line 195. ‘The late Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo, Bart., son of the author of the “Life of Beattie.”‘-LOCKHART.

line 196. The Mimosa pudica, or sensitive plant. See Shelley’s poem on the subject:-

‘The Sensitive Plant was the earliest
Upgathered into the bosom of rest;
A sweet child weary of its delight,
The feeblest and yet the favourite,
Cradled within the embrace of night.’

line 200. Cp. ‘L’Allegro,’ 31, ‘Sport that wrinkled Care derides.’

line 206. See King Lear, iii. 4. 138, where Edgar, as Poor Tom, says that he has had ‘three suits to his back, six shirts to his body, horse to ride, and weapon to wear.’


line 31. ‘Alias “Will o’ the Wisp.” This personage is a strolling demon or esprit follet, who, once upon a time, got admittance into a monastery as a scullion, and played the monks many pranks. He was also a sort of Robin Goodfellow, and Jack o’ Lanthern. It is in allusion to this mischievous demon that Milton’s clown speaks,-

“She was pinched, and pulled, she said,
And he by Friar’s lanthern led.”

‘“The History of Friar Rush” is of extreme rarity, and, for some time, even the existence of such a book was doubted, although it is expressly alluded to by Reginald Scot, in his “Discovery of Witchcraft.” I have perused a copy in the valuable library of my friend Mr. Heber; and I observe, from Mr. Beloe’s “Anecdotes of Literature,” that there is one in the excellent collection of the Marquis of Stafford.’-SCOTT.

It may be added, on the authority of Keightley, that Friar Rush ‘haunted houses, not fields, and was never the same with Jack-o’-the-Lanthorn.’ See note on Milton’s ‘L’Allegro,’ 104, in Clarendon Press edition, also Preface to Midsummer Night’s Dream in same series.

Stanza IV. line 69. Humbie and Saltoun are adjoining parishes in S. W. of Haddingtonshire. To this day there is a charm in the remote rural character of the district. There are, about Humble in particular, wooded glades that might well represent the remains of the scene witnessed by Marmion and his troopers. East and West Saltoun are two decayed villages, about five miles S. W. of the county town. Between them is Saltoun Hall, the seat of the Fletchers.

line 91. ‘William Caxton, the earliest English printer, was born in Kent, A. D. 1412, and died 1401. Wynken de Worde was his next successor in the production of those

“Rare volumes, dark with tarnished gold,”

which are now the delight of bibliomaniacs.’-LOCKHART.

Stanza VI. line 119. The four heraldic terms used are for the colours-red, silver, gold, and blue.

line 120, The King-at-arms was superintendent of the heralds.

Stanza VII. line 133. Sir David Lyndsay’s exposure of ecclesiastical abuses in his various satires, especially in his ‘Complaynts’ and his Dialog, ‘powerfully forwarded the movement that culminated in the Reformation. It would, however, be a mistake to consider him an avowed Protestant reformer. He was concerned about the existing wrongs both of Church and State, and thought of rectifying these without revolutionary measures.

line 135. The cap of the Lion King’ was of scarlet velvet turned up with ermine.’

lines 141-4. The double tressure was an ornamental tracing round the shield, at a fixed distance from the border. As to the fleur-de-lis (flower of the lily, emblem of France) Scott quotes Boethius and Buchanan as saying that it was ‘first assumed by Achaius, king of Scotland, contemporary of Charlemagne, and founder of, the celebrated League with France.’ Historical evidence, however, would seem to show that ‘the lion is first seen on the seal of Alexander II, and the tressure on that of Alexander III.’ This is the heraldic description of the arms of Scotland: ‘Or, a lion rampant gules, armed and langued azure, within a double tressure flory counterflory of fleur-de-lis of the second.’ The supporters are ‘two unicorns argent maned and unguled, or gorged with open crowns.’ The crest is ‘a lion sejant affronte gules crowned or,’ &c. The adoption of the thistle as the national Scottish emblem is wrapt in obscurity, although an early poet attributes it to a suggestion of Venus.

line 153. Scott mentions Chalmers’s edition of Lyndsay’s works, published in 1806. More recent and very satisfactory editions are those of Dr. David Laing, (1) a library edition in three volumes, and (2) a popular edition in two. Lyndsay was born about 1490 and died about 1555. The Mount was his estate, near Cupar-Fife. ‘I am uncertain,’ says Scott, ‘if I abuse poetic license, by introducing Sir David Lindesay in the character of Lion-Herald, sixteen years before he obtained that office. At any rate, I am not the first who has been guilty of that anachronism; for the author of “Flodden Field” despatches Dallamount, which can mean nobody but Sir David de la Mont, to France on the message of defiance from James IV to Henry VIII. It was often an office imposed on the Lion King-at-arms, to receive foreign ambassadors; and Lindesay himself did this honour to Sir Ralph Sadler, in 1539-40. Indeed, the oath of the Lion, in its first article, bears reference to his frequent employment upon royal messages and embassies. The office of heralds, in feudal times, being held of the utmost importance, the inauguration of the Kings-at-arms, who presided over their colleges, was proportionally solemn. In fact, it was the mimicry of a royal coronation, except that the unction was made with wine instead of oil. In Scotland, a namesake and kinsman of Sir David Lindesay, inaugurated in 1502, “was crowned by King James with the ancient crown of Scotland, which was used before the Scottish Kings assumed a close Crown;” and, on occasion of the same solemnity, dined at the King’s table, wearing the crown. It is probable that the coronation of his predecessor was not less solemn. So sacred was the herald’s office, that, in 1515, Lord Drummond was by Parliament declared guilty of treason, and his lands forfeited, because he had struck, with his fist, the Lion King-at-arms, when he reproved him for his follies. Nor was he restored, but at the Lion’s earnest solicitation.’

Stanza X. line 194. ‘A large ruinous castle on the banks of the Tyne, about ten miles from Edinburgh. As indicated in the text, it was built at different times, and with a very differing regard to splendour and accommodation. The oldest part of the building is a narrow keep, or tower, such as formed the mansion of a lesser Scottish baron; but so many additions have been made to it, that there is now a large courtyard, surrounded by buildings of different ages. The eastern front of the court is raised above a portico, and decorated with entablatures, bearing anchors. All the stones of this front are cut into diamond facets, the angular projections of which have an uncommonly rich appearance. The inside of this part of the building appears to have contained a gallery of great length, and uncommon elegance. Access was given to it by a magnificent stair-case, now quite destroyed. The soffits are ornamented with twining cordage and rosettes: and the whole seems to have been far more splendid than was usual in Scottish castles. The castle belonged originally to the Chancellor, Sir William Crichton, and probably owed to him its first enlargement, as well as its being taken by the Earl of Douglas, who imputed to Crichton’s counsels the death of his predecessor, Earl William, beheaded in Edinburgh Castle, with his brother, in 1440. It is said to have been totally demolished on that occasion; but the present state of the ruin shows the contrary. In 1483 it was garrisoned by Lord Crichton, then its proprietor, against King James III, whose displeasure he had incurred by seducing his sister Margaret, in revenge, it is said, for the Monarch having dishonoured his bed. From the Crichton family the castle passed to that of the Hepburns, Earls Bothwell; and when the forfeitures of Stewart, the last Earl Bothwell, were divided, the barony and cattle of Crichton fell to the share of the Earl of Buccleuch. They were afterwards the property of the Pringles of Clifton, and are now that of Sir John Callander, Baronet. It were to be wished the proprietor would take a little pains to preserve those splendid remains of antiquity, which are at present used as a fold for sheep, and wintering cattle; although, perhaps, there are very few ruins in Scotland which display so well the style and beauty of castle-architecture.’-SCOTT.

The ruin is now carefully protected, visitors being admitted on application at Crichtoun Manse adjoining.

Stanza XI. line 232. ‘The castle of Crichton has a dungeon vault, called the Massy More. The epithet, which is not uncommonly applied to the prisons of other old castles in Scotland, is of Saracenic origin. It occurs twice in the “Epistolae Itineriae” of Tollius. “Carcer subterraneus, sive, ut Mauri appellant, MAZMORRA,” p. 147; and again, “Coguntur omnes Captivi sub noctem in ergastula subterranea, quae Turcae Algezerani vocant MAZMORRAS,” p. 243. The same word applies to the dungeons of the ancient Moorish castles in Spain, and serves to show from what nation the Gothic style of castle building was originally derived.’-SCOTT.

See further, Sir W. Scott’s ‘Provincial Antiquities,’ vol. i.

Stanza XII. line 249. ‘He was the second Earl of Bothwell, and fell in the field of Flodden, where, according to an ancient English poet, he distinguished himself by a furious attempt to retrieve the day:-

“Then on the Scottish part, right proud,
The Earl of Bothwell then out brast,
And stepping forth, with stomach good,
Into the enemies’ throng he thrast;
And Bothwell! Bothwell! cried bold,
To cause his souldiers to ensue,
But there he caught a wellcome cold,
The Englishmen straight down him threw.
Thus Haburn through his hardy heart
His fatal fine in conflict found,”&c.
Flodden Field, a Poem; edited by H. Weber. Edin. 1808.’--SCOTT.

line 254. ‘Adam was grandfather to James, Earl of Bothwell, too well known in the history of Queen Mary.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XIII. line 260. The Borough-moor extended from Edinburgh south to the Braid Hills.

Stanza XIV. line 280. Scott quotes from Lindsay of Pitscottie the story of the apparition seen at Linlithgow by James IV, when undergoing his annual penance for having taken the field against his father. Some of the younger men about the Court had devised what they felt might be an impressive warning to the King against going to war, and their show of supernatural interference was well managed. Lindsay’s narrative proceeds thus:-

‘The King came to Lithgow, where he happened to be for the time at the Council, very sad and dolorous, making his devotion to God, to send him good chance and fortune in his voyage. In this meantime, there came a man, clad in a blue gown, in at the kirk door, and belted about him in a roll of linen-cloth; a pair of brotikings1 on his feet, to the great of his legs; with all other hose and clothes conform thereto; but he had nothing on his head, but syde2 red yellow hair behind, and on his haffets3, which wan down to his shoulders; but his forehead was bald and bare. He seemed to be a man of two-and-fifty years, with a great pike-staff in his hand, and came first forward among the lords, crying and speiring4 for the King, saying, he desired to speak with him. While, at the last, he came where the King was sitting in the desk, at his prayers, but when he saw the King, he made him little reverence or salutation, but leaned down groffling on the desk before him, and said to him in this manner, as after follows: “Sir King, my mother hath sent me to you, desiring you not to pass, at this time, where thou art purposed; for if thou does, thou wilt not fare well in thy journey, nor none that passeth with thee. Further, she bade thee mell5 with no woman, nor use their counsel, nor let them touch thy body, nor thou theirs; for, if thou do it, thou wilt be confounded and brought to shame.”

buskins1 long2 cheeks3 asking4 meddle5

‘By this man had spoken thir words unto the King’s grace, the evening-song was near done, and the King paused on thir words, studying to give him an answer; but, in the meantime, before the King’s eyes, and in the presence of all the lords that were about him for the time, this man vanished away, and could no ways be seen nor comprehended, but vanished away as he had been a blink of the sun, or a whip of the whirlwind, and could no more be seen. I heard say. Sir David Lindesay, Lyon-herauld, and John Inglis the marshal, who were, at that time, young men, and special servants to the King’s grace, were standing presently beside the King, who thought to have laid hands on this man, that they might have speired further tidings at him: But all for nought; they could not touch him; for he vanished away betwixt them, and was no more seen.’ Buchanan, in more elegant, though not more impressive language, tells the same story, and quotes the personal information of our Sir David Lindesay: ‘In iis, (i.e. qui propius astiterant) fuit David Lindesius, Montanus, homo spectatae fidei et probitatis, nec a literarum studiis alienus, et cujus totius vitae tenor longissime a mentiendo aberat; a quo nisi ego haec uti tradidi, pro certis accepissem, ut vulgatam vanis rumoribus fabulam omissurus eram.”-Lib. xiii. The King’s throne, in St. Catherine’s aisle, which he had constructed for himself, with twelve stalls for the Knights Companions of the Order of the Thistle, is still shown as the place where the apparition was seen. I know not by what means St. Andrew got the credit of having been the celebrated monitor of James IV; for the expression in Lindesay’s narrative, “My mother has sent me,” could only be used by St. John, the adopted son of the Virgin Mary. The whole story is so well attested, that we have only the choice between a miracle or an imposture. Mr. Pinkerton plausibly argues, from the caution against incontinence, that the Queen was privy to the scheme of those who had recourse to this expedient, to deter King James from his impolitic war.’

Stanza XV. line 287. ‘In Scotland there are about twenty palaces, castles, and remains, or sites of such,

“Where Scotia’s kings of other years”

had their royal home.

‘Linlithgow, distinguished by the combined strength and beauty of its situation, must have been early selected as a royal residence. David, who bought the title of saint by his liberality to the Church, refers several of his charters to his town of Linlithgow; and in that of Holyrood expressly bestows on the new monastery all the skins of the rams, ewes, and lambs, belonging to his castle of Linlitcu, which shall die during the year....The convenience afforded for the sport of falconry, which was so great a favourite during the feudal ages, was probably one cause of the attachment of the ancient Scottish monarchs to Linlithgow and its fine lake. The sport of hunting was also followed with success in the neighbourhood, from which circumstance it probably arises that the ancient arms of the city represent a black greyhound bitch tied to a tree....The situation of Linlithgow Palace is eminently beautiful. It stands on a promontory of some elevation, which advances almost into the midst of the lake. The form is that of a square court, composed of buildings of four storeys high, with towers at the angles. The fronts with the square, and the windows, are highly ornamented, and the size of the rooms, as well as the width and character of the staircases, are upon a magnificent scale. One banquet-room is ninety-four feet long, thirty feet wide, and thirty-three feet high, with a gallery for music. The King’s wardrobe, or dressing-room, looking to the west, projects over the walls, so as to have a delicious prospect on three aides, and is one of the most enviable boudoirs we have ever seen.’-SIR WALTER SCOTT’S Provincial Antiquities.-Prose Works, vol. vii. p. 382.

line 288. With ‘jovial June’ cp. Gavin Douglas’s ‘joyous moneth tyme of June,’ in prologue to the 13th AEneid, ‘ekit to Virgill be Maphaeus Vegius,’ and the description of the month in Lyndsay’s ‘Dreme,’ as:-

‘Weill bordourit with dasyis of delyte.’

line 291. ‘I am glad of an opportunity to describe the cry of the deer by another word than braying, although the latter has been sanctified by the use of the Scottish metrical translation of the Psalms. Bell seems to be an abbreviation of bellow. This silvan sound conveyed great delight to our ancestors, chiefly, I suppose, from association. A gentle knight in the reign of Henry VIII, Sir Thomas Wortley, built Wantley Lodge, in Wancliffe Forest, for the pleasure (as an ancient inscription testifies) of “listening to the hart’s bell”‘-SCOTT.

line 298. Sauchie-burn, where James III fell, was fought 18 June, 1488., ‘James IV,’ says Scott, ‘after the battle passed to Stirling, and hearing the monks of the chapel-royal deploring the death of his father, he was seized with deep remorse, which manifested itself in severe penances.’ See below, note on V. ix.

line 300. ‘When the King saw his own banner displayed against him, and his son in the faction of his enemies, he lost the little courage he ever possessed, fled out of the field, fell from his horse as it started at a woman and water-pitcher, and was slain, it was not well understood by whom.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XVI. line 312. In the church of St. Michael, adjoining the palace.

line 316. The earliest known mention of the thistle as the national badge is in the inventory of the effects of James III, Thistles were inscribed on the coins of the next four reigns, and they were accompanied in the reign of James VI for the first time by the motto Nemo me impune lacessit. James II of Great Britain formally inaugurated the Order of the Thistle on 29 May, 1687, but it was not till the reign of Anne, 31 Dec. 1703, that it became a fully defined legal institution. The Order is also known as the Order of St. Andrew.-See CHAMBERS’S Encyclopedia.

line 318. It was natural and fit that Lyndsay should be present. It is more than likely that he had a leading hand in the enterprise. As tutor to the young Prince, it had been a recognised part of his duty to amuse him by various disguises; and he was likewise the first Scottish poet with an adequate dramatic sense.

line 336. See St. John xix. 25-27.

Stanza XVII. line 350. The special reference here is to the influence of Lady Heron. See above, I. xvi. 265, and below, V. x. 261.

Stanza XIX. The skilful descriptive touches of this stanza are noteworthy. Cp. opening passages of Coleridge’s ‘Christabel,’ especially the seven lines beginning, ‘Is the night chilly and dark?’

Stanza XXI. line 440. Grimly is not unknown as a poetical adj. ‘Margaret’s grimly ghost,’ in Beaumont and FIetcher’s ‘Knight of the Burning Pestle,’ II. i, is a familiar example. See above, p. 194, line 25, ‘grimly voice.’ For ‘ghast’ as an adj., cp. Keats’s ‘Otho the Great,’ V. v. 11, ‘How ghast a train!’

line. 449. See below, V. xxiv, ‘‘Twere long and needless here to tell,’ and cp. AEneid I. 341:-

‘Longa est iniuria, longae
Ambages; sed summa sequar fastigia rerum.’

Stanza XXII. line 461. See above, III. xxv. 503, and note.

lines 467-470. Rothiemurchus, near Alvie, co. of Inverness, on Highland Railway; Tomantoul in co. of Banff, N. E. of Rothiemurchus; Auchnaslaid in co. of Inverness, near S. W. border of Aberdeen; Forest of Dromouchty on Inverness border eastward of Loch Ericht; Glenmore, co-extensive with Caledonian Canal.

lines 477-480. Cp. the teaching of Coleridge’s ‘Ancient Mariner’ and ‘Christabel.’ In the former these stanzas are specially notable:-

‘O happy living things! no tongue
Their beauty might declare:
A spring of love gushed from my heart,
And I blessed them unaware:
Sure my kind saint took pity on me,
And I blessed them unaware.
The selfsame moment I could pray;
And from my neck so free
The Albatross fell off, and sank
Like lead into the sea.’

line 487. bowne = prepare. See below, V. xx, ‘to bowne him for the war’; and ‘Lay of the Last Minstrel,’ V. xx, ‘bowning back to Cumberland.’ Cp. ‘Piers the Plowman,’ III. 173 (C Text):-

‘And bed hem alle ben boun . beggeres and othere,
To wenden with hem to Westemynstre.’

Stanza XXIII. line 490. Dun-Edin = Edwin’s hill-fort, poetic for Edinburgh.

line 497. The Braid Hills, S. E. of Edinburgh, recently added to the recreation grounds of the citizens.

Stanza XXIV. Blackford Hill has now been acquired by the City of Edinburgh as a public resort. The view from it, not only of the city but of the landscape generally, is striking and memorable.

lines 511-15. Cp. Wordsworth’s ‘The Fountain-a Conversation’:-

‘No check, no stay, this Streamlet fears:
How merrily it goes!
‘Twill murmur on a thousand years,
And flow as now it flows.
And here on this delightful day,
I cannot choose but think
How oft, a vigorous man, I lay
Beside this fountain’s brink.
My eyes are dim with childish tears,
My heart is idly stirred,
For the same sound is in my ears
Which in those days I heard.’

Stanza XXV. line 521. ‘The Borough, or Common Moor of Edinburgh, was of very great extent, reaching from the southern walls of the city to the bottom of Braid Hills. It was anciently a forest; and, in that state, was so great a nuisance, that the inhabitants of Edinburgh had permission granted to them of building wooden galleries, projecting over the street, in order to encourage them to consume the timber; which they seem to have done very effectually. When James IV mustered the array of the kingdom there, in 1513, the Borough-moor was, according to Hawthornden, “a field spacious, and delightful by the shade of many stately and aged oaks.” Upon that, and similar occasions, the royal standard is traditionally said to have been displayed from the Hare Stane, a high stone, now built into the wall, on the left hand of the highway leading towards Braid, not far from the head of Bruntsfield Links. The Hare Stane probably derives its name from the British word Har, signifying an army.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XXVI. lines 535-538. The proper names in these lines are Hebrides; East Lothian; Redswire, part of Carter Fell near Jedburgh; and co. of Ross.

Stanza XXVII. line 557. ‘Seven culverins so called, cast by one Borthwick.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XXVIII. line 566. ‘Each ensign intimated a different rank.’-SCOTT.

line 567. As illustrating an early mode of English encampment, Scott quotes from Patten’s description of what he saw after Pinkie, 1547:-

‘As they had no pavilions, or round houses, of any commendable compass, so wear there few other tentes with posts, as the used manner of making is; and of these few also, none of above twenty foot length, but most far under; for the most part all very sumptuously beset, (after their fashion,) for the love of France, with fleur-de-lys, some of blue buckeram, some of black, and some of some other colours. These white ridges, as I call them, that, as we stood on Fauxsyde Bray, did make so great muster toward us, which I did take then to be a number of tentes, when we came, we found it a linen drapery, of the coarser cambryk in dede, for it was all of canvas sheets, and wear the tenticles, or rather cabyns and couches of their soldiers; the which (much after the common building of their country beside) had they framed of four sticks, about an ell long a piece, whereof two fastened together at one end aloft, and the two endes beneath stuck in the ground, an ell asunder, standing in fashion like the bowes of a sowes yoke; over two such bowes (one, as it were, at their head, the other at their feet), they stretched a sheet down on both sides, whereby their cabin became roofed like a ridge, but skant shut at both ends, and not very close beneath on the sides, unless their sticks were the shorter, or their wives the more liberal to lend them larger napery; howbeit, when they had lined them, and stuff’d them so thick with straw, with the weather as it was not very cold, when they wear ones couched, they were as warm as they had been wrapt in horses dung.’-PATTEN’S Account of Somerset’s Expedition.

line 578. ‘The well-known arms of Scotland. If you will believe Boethius and Buchanan, the double tressure round the shield (mentioned above, vii. 141), counter fleur-de-lysed, or lingued and armed azure, was first assumed by Achaias, King of Scotland, contemporary of Charlemagne, and founder of the celebrated League with France but later antiquaries make poor Eochy, or Achy, little better than a sort of King of Brentford, whom old Grig (who has also swelled into Gregorius Magnus) associated with himself in the important duty of governing some part of the north-eastern coast of Scotland.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XXIX. lines 595-9. Cp. the ‘rash, fruitless war,’ &c., of Thomson’s ‘Edwin and Eleonora,’ i. 1, and Cowper’s ‘Task,’ v. 187:-

‘War’s a game which, were their subjects wise,
Kings would not play at.’

Stanza XXX. This description of Edinburgh is one of the passages mentioned by Mr. Ruskin in ‘Modern Painters’ as illustrative of Scott’s quick and certain perception of the relations of form and colour. ‘Observe,’ he says, ‘the only hints at form given throughout are in the somewhat vague words “ridgy,” “ massy,” “close,” and “high,” the whole being still more obscured by modern mystery, in its most tangible form of smoke. But the colours are all definite; note the rainbow band of them-gloomy or dusky red, sable (pure black), amethyst (pure purple), green and gold-a noble chord throughout; and then, moved doubtless less by the smoky than the amethystine part of the group,

“Fitz-Eustace’ heart felt closely pent,” &c.’

line 632. In the demi-volte (one of seven artificial equestrian movements) the horse rises on his hind feet and makes a half-turn. Cp. below, v. 33.

Stanza XXXI. line 646. 6 o’clock a.m., the first canonical hour of prayer.

lines 650-1. St. Catherine of Siena, a famous female Spanish saint, and St. Roque of France, patron of those sick of the plague, who died at Montpelier about 1327.

line 655. Falkland, in the west of Fife, at base of Lomond Hills, a favourite residence of the Stuart kings, and well situated for hunting purposes. The ancient stately palace is now the property of the Marquis of Bute.

Stanza XXXII. line 679. stowre, noise and confusion of battle. Cp. ‘Faery Queene,’ I. ii. 7, ‘woeful stowre.’


‘GEORGE ELLIS, to whom this Introduction is addressed, is “the well-known coadjutor of Mr. Canning and Mr. Frere in the “Anti-Jacobin,” and editor of “Specimens of Ancient English Romances,” &c. He died 10th April, 1815, aged 70 years; being succeeded in his estates by his brother, Charles Ellis, Esq., created in 1827 Lord Seaford.’-LOCKHART. See ‘Life of Scott’ and ‘Dictionary of National Biography.’

line 36. See Introd. to Canto II.

line 37. ‘The Old Town of Edinburgh was secured on the north side by a lake, now drained, and on the south by a wall, which there was some attempt to make defensible even so late as 1745. The gates, and the greater part of the wall, have been pulled down, in the course of the late extensive and beautiful enlargement of the city. My ingenious and valued friend, Mr. Thomas Campbell, proposed to celebrate Edinburgh under the epithet here borrowed. But the “Queen of the North” has not been so fortunate as to receive from so eminent a pen the proposed distinction.’-SCOTT.

line 57. ‘Since writing this line, I find I have inadvertently borrowed it almost verbatim, though with somewhat a different meaning, from a chorus in “Caractacus”:-

“Britain heard the descant bold,
She flung her white arms o’er the sea,
Proud in her leafy bosom to enfold
The freight of harmony.”‘SCOTT.

line 58. For = instead of.

lines 60-1. gleam’st, with trans. force, is an Elizabethanism. Cp. Shakespeare’s Lucrece, line 1378:-

‘Dying eyes gleamed forth their ashy lights.’

line 67. See ‘Faerie Queene,’ III. iv.

line 78. “For every one her liked, and every one her loved.” Spenser, as above.’-SCOTT.

line 106. A knosp is an architectural ornament in form of a bud.

lines 111-12. See Genesis xviii.

line 118. ‘Henry VI, with his Queen, his heir, and the chiefs of his family, fled to Scotland after the battle of Towton. In this note a doubt was formerly expressed whether Henry VI came to Edinburgh, though his Queen certainly did; Mr. Pinkerton inclining to believe that he remained at Kirkcudbright. But my noble friend, Lord Napier, has pointed out to me a grant by Henry, of an annuity of forty marks to his Lordship’s ancestor, John Napier, subscribed by the King himself, at Edinburgh, the 28th day of August, in the thirtyninth year of his reign, which corresponds to the year of God, 1461. This grant, Douglas, with his usual neglect of accuracy, dates in 1368. But this error being corrected from the copy of Macfarlane’s MSS., p. 119, to, removes all scepticism on the subject of Henry VI being really at Edinburgh. John Napier was son and heir of Sir Alexander Napier, and about this time was Provost of Edinburgh. The hospitable reception of the distressed monarch and his family, called forth on Scotland the encomium of Molinet, a contemporary poet. The English people, he says,-

“Ung nouveau roy creerent,
Par despiteux vouloir,
Le vieil en debouterent,
Et son legitime hoir,
Qui fuytyf alia prendre
D’Ecosse le garand,
De tous siecles le mendre,
Et le plus tollerant.”
Recollection des Avantures’-SCOTT.

line 120. ‘In January, 1796, the exiled Count d’Artois, afterwards Charles X of France, took up his residence in Holyrood, where he remained until August, 1799. When again driven from his country, by the revolution of July, 1830, the same unfortunate Prince, with all the immediate members of his family, sought refuge once more in the ancient palace of the Stuarts, and remained there until 18th September, 1833.’-LOCKHART.

line 140. ‘Mr. Ellis, in his valuable Introduction to the “Specimens of Romance,” has proved, by the concurring testimony of La Ravaillere, Tressan, but especially the Abbe de la Rue, that the courts of our Anglo-Norman Kings, rather than those of the French monarch, produced the birth of Romance literature. Marie, soon after mentioned, compiled from Armorican originals, and translated into Norman-French, or Romance language, the twelve curious Lays of which Mr. Ellis has given us a precis in the Appendix to his Introduction. The story of Blondel, the famous and faithful minstrel of Richard I, needs no commentary.’-SCOTT.

line 141. for that = ‘because,’ a common Elizabethan connective.

line 165. ‘“Come then, my friend, my genius, come along,

Oh master of the poet and the song!”
Pope to Bolingbroke.’-LOCKHART.

Cp. also the famous ‘guide, philosopher, and friend,’ in ‘Essay on Man,’ IV. 390.

lines 166-175. For a curious and characteristic ballad by Leyden on Ellis, see ‘Life of Scott’ i. 368; and for references to his state of ealth see ‘Life,’ ii, 17, in one of Scott’s letters.

line 181. ‘At Sunning-hill, Mr. Ellis’s seat, near Windsor, part of the first two cantos of Marmion were written.’-LOCKHART. Ascot Heath is about six miles off.


Stanza I. line 18. ‘This is no poetical exaggeration. In some of the counties of England, distinguished for archery, shafts of this extraordinary length were actually used. Thus, at the battle of Blackheath, between the troops of Henry VII and the Cornish insurgents, in 1496, the bridge of Dartford was defended by a picked band of archers from the rebel army, “whose arrows,” says Holinshed, “were in length a full cloth yard.” The Scottish, according to Ascham, had a proverb, that every English archer carried under his belt twenty-four Scots, in allusion to his bundle of unerring shafts.’-SCOTT.

Stanza II. line 32. croupe = (1) the buttocks of the horse, as in Chaucer’s ‘Fryars Tale,’ line 7141, ‘thakketh his horse upon the croupe’; (2) the place behind the saddle, as here and in ‘Young Lochinvar,’ below, 351.

line 33. ‘The most useful air, as the Frenchmen term it, is territerr, the courbettes, cabrioles, or un pas et un sault, being fitter for horses of parade and triumph than for soldiers: yet I cannot deny but a demivolte with courbettes, so that they be not too high, may be useful in a fight or meslee; for, as Labroue hath it, in his Book of Horsemanship, Monsieur de Montmorency having a horse that was excellent in performing the demivolte, did, with his sword, strike down two adversaries from their horses in a tourney, where divers of the prime gallants of France did meet; for, taking his time, when the horse was in the height of his courbette, and discharging a blow then, his sword fell with such weight and force upon the two cavaliers, one after another, that he struck them from their horses to the ground.’-Lord Herbert of Cherbury’s Life, p. 48.-SCOTT.

line 35. ‘The Scottish burgesses were, like yeomen, appointed to be armed with bows and sheaves, sword, buckler, knife, spear, or a good axe instead of a bow, if worth L100: their armour to be of white or bright harness. They wore white hats, i.e. bright steel caps, without crest or visor. By an act of James IV their weapon-schawings are appointed to be held four times a year, under the aldermen or bailiffs.’-SCOTT.

lines 40-48. Corslet, a light cuirass protecting the front of the body; brigantine, a jacket quilted with iron (also spelt ‘brigandine’); gorget, a metal covering for the throat; mace, a heavy club, plain or spiked, designed to bruise armour.

‘Bows and quivers were in vain recommended to the peasantry of Scotland, by repeated statutes; spears and axes seem universally to have been used instead of them. The defensive armour was the plate-jack, hauberk, or brigantine; and their missile weapons crossbows and culverins. All wore swords of excellent temper, according to Patten; and a voluminous handkerchief round their neck, “not for cold, but for cutting.” The mace also was much used in the Scottish army! The old poem on the battle of Flodden mentions a band-

“Who manfully did meet their foes,
With leaden mauls, and lances long.”

‘When the feudal array of the kingdom was called forth, each man was obliged to appear with forty days’ provision. When this was expended, which took place before the battle of Flodden, the army melted away of course. Almost all the Scottish forces, except a few knights, men-at-arms, and the Border-prickers, who formed excellent light-cavalry, acted upon foot.’-SCOTT.

Stanza III. line 48. swarthy, because of the dark leather of which it was constructed.

line 54. See above, Introd. to II. line 48.

line 56. Cheer, countenance, as below, line 244. Cp. Chaucer, ‘Knightes Tale,’ line 55:-

‘The eldeste lady of hem alle spak
When sche hadde swowned with a dedly chere.’

Stanza IV. line 73. slogan, the war-cry. Cp. Aytoun’s ‘Burial March of Dundee’:-

‘Sound the fife and cry the slogan.’

line 96. The Euse and the Liddell flow into the Esk. For some miles the Liddell is the boundary between England and Scotland.

line 100. Brown Maudlin, dark or bronzed Magdalene. pied, variegated, as in Shakespeare’s ‘daisies pied.’ kirtle = short skirt, and so applied to a gown or a petticoat.

Stanza V. For unrivalled illustration of what Celtic chiefs and clansmen were, see ‘Waverley’ and ‘Rob Roy.’

lines 130-5 Cp. opening of Chapman’s Homer’s Iliad III.:-

‘The Trojans would have frayed
The Greeks with noises, crying out, in coming rudely on
At all parts, like the cranes that fill with harsh confusion
Of brutish clanges all the air. ‘

Stanza VI. lines 143-157. Cp. Dryden’s ‘Palamon and Arcite,’ iii. 1719-1739:-

‘The neighing of the generous horse was heard,
For battle by the busy groom prepar’d:
Rustling of harness, rattling of the shield,
Clattering of armour furbish’d for the field,’ &c.

line 157. following = feudal retainers.-SCOTT. To the poet’s explanation Lockhart appends the remark that since Scott thought his note necessary the word has been ‘completely adopted into English, and especially into Parliamentary parlance.’

line 166. Scott says:-‘In all transactions of great or petty importance, and among whomsoever taking place, it would seem that a present of wine was a uniform and indispensable preliminary. It was not to Sir John Falstaff alone that such an introductory preface was necessary, however well judged and acceptable on the part of Mr. Brook; for Sir Ralph Sadler, while on an embassy to Scotland in 1539-40, mentions, with complacency, ‘the same night came Rothesay (the herald so called) to me again, and brought me wine from the King both white and red.’-Clifford’s Edition, p. 39.

line 168. For weeds see above, I. Introd. 256.

Stanza VII. line 172. For wassell see above, I. xv. 231; and cp. ‘merry wassail’ in ‘Rokeby,’ III. xv.

line 190. Cp. above, IV. Introd. 3.

line 200. An Elizabethan omission of relative.

Stanza VIII. The admirable characterisation, by which in this and the two following stanzas the King, the Queen, and Lady Heron are individually delineated and vividly contrasted, deserves special attention. There is every reason to believe that the delineations, besides being vivid and impressive, have the additional merit of historical accuracy.

line 213. piled = covered with a pile or nap. The Encyclopaedic Dict., s. v., quotes: ‘With that money I would make thee several cloaks and line them with black crimson, and tawny, three filed veluet.’-Barry; Ram Alley, III. i.

line 221. A baldric (remotely from Lat. balteus, a girdle) was an ornamental belt passing over one shoulder and round the other side, and having the sword suspended from it. Cp. Pope’s Iliad, III. 415:-

‘A radiant baldric, o’er his shoulder tied,
Sustained the sword that glittered at his side.’

See also the ‘wolf-skin baldric’ in ‘Lay of the Last Minstrel,’ III. xvi.

Stanza IX. line 249. ‘Few readers need to be reminded of this belt, to the weight of which James added certain ounces every year that he lived. Pitscottie founds his belief that James was not slain in the battle of Flodden, because the English never had this token of the iron-belt to show to any Scottishman. The person and character of James are delineated according to our best historians. His romantic disposition, which led him highly to relish gaiety, approaching to license, was, at the same time, tinged with enthusiastic devotion. These propensities sometimes formed a strange contrast. He was wont, during his fits of devotion, to assume the dress, and conform to the rules, of the order of Franciscans; and when he had thus done penance for some time in Stirling, to plunge again into the tide of pleasure. Probably, too, with no unusual inconsistency, he sometimes laughed at the superstitions observances to which he at other times subjected himself. There is a very singular poem by Dunbar, seemingly addressed to James IV, on one of these occasions of monastic seclusion. It is a most daring and profane parody on the services of the Church of Rome, entitled:-

“Dunbar’s Dirige to the King,
Byding ewer lang in Striviling.
We that are here, in heaven’s glory,
To you that are in Purgatory,
Commend us on our hearty wise;
I mean we folks in Paradise,
In Edinburgh, with all merriness,
To you in Stirling with distress,
Where neither pleasure nor delight is,
For pity this epistle wrytis,” &c.

See the whole in Sibbald’s Collection, vol. i. p. 234.’-SCOTT.

Since Scott’s time Dunbar’s poems have been edited, with perfect scholarship and skill, by David Laing (2 vols. post 8vo. 1824), and by John Small (in 1885) for the Scottish Text Society. See Dict. of Nat. Biog.

lines 254-9. This perfect description may be compared, for accuracy of observation and dexterous presentment, with the steed in ‘Venus and Adonis,’ the paragon of horses in English verse. Both writers give ample evidence of direct personal knowledge.

Stanza X. line 261. ‘It has been already noticed [see note to stanza xiii. of Canto I.] that King James’s acquaintance with Lady Heron of Ford did not commence until he marched into England. Our historians impute to the King’s infatuated passion the delays which led to the fatal defeat of Flodden. The author of “The Genealogy of the Heron Family” endeavours, with laudable anxiety, to clear the Lady Ford from this scandal; that she came and went, however, between the armies of James and Surrey, is certain. See PINKERTON’S History, and the authorities he refers to, vol. ii. p. 99. Heron of Ford had been, in 1511, in some sort accessory to the slaughter of Sir Robert Kerr of Cessford, Warden of the Middle Marches. It was committed by his brother the bastard, Lilburn, and Starked, three Borderers. Lilburn and Heron of Ford were delivered up by Henry to James, and were imprisoned in the fortress of Fastcastle, where the former died. Part of the pretence of Lady Ford’s negotiations with James was the liberty of her husband.’-SCOTT.

line 271. love = beloved. Cp. Burns’s ‘O my love is like a red red rose.’

line 273. ‘“Also the Queen of France wrote a love-letter to the King of Scotland, calling him her love, showing him that she had suffered much rebuke in France for the defending of his honour. She believed surely that he would recompense her again with some of his kingly support in her necessity; that is to say, that he would raise her an army, and come three foot of ground on English ground, for her sake. To that effect she sent him a ring off her finger, with fourteen thousand French crowns to pay bis expenses.” PITSCOTTIE, p.110.-A turquois ring-probably this fatal gift-is, with James’s sword and dagger, preserved in the College of Heralds, London.’-SCOTT.

lines 287-8. The change of movement introduced by this couplet has the intended effect of arresting the attention and lending pathos to the description and sentiment.

Stanza XI. line 302. The wimple was a covering for the neck, said to have been introduced in the reign of Edward I. See Chaucer’s ‘Prologue,’ 151:-

‘Ful semely hire wympel i-pynched was.’

line 307. Cp. 2 Henry IV, iii. 2. 9, ‘By yea and nay, sir.’

line 308. Cp. refrain of song, ‘‘Twas within a mile o’ Edinburgh Town,’ in Johnson’s Museum :-

‘The lassie blush’d, and frowning cried, “No, no, it will not do;
I cannot, cannot, wonnot, wonnot, mannot buckle too.”‘

Stanza XII. The skilful application of the anapaest for the production of the brilliant gallop of ‘Lochinvar’ has been equalled only by Scott himself in his ‘Bonnets o’ Bonnie Dundee.’ Cp. Lord Tennyson’s ‘Northern Farmer’ (specially New Style), and Mr. Browning’s ‘How they brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix.’ ‘The ballad of Lochinvar,’ says Scott, ‘is in a very slight degree founded on a ballad called “ Katharine Janfarie,” which may be found in the “Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border,” vol. ii. Mr. Charles Gibbon’s ‘Laird o’ Lamington’ is based on the same legend.

line 332. ‘See the novel of “Redgauntlet” for a detailed picture of some of the extraordinary phenomena of the spring-tides in the Solway Frith.’-LOCKHART.

line 344. galliard (Sp. gallarda, Fr. gaillarda), a lively dance. Cp. Henry V, i. 2, 252, ‘a nimble galliard,’ and note on expression in Clarendon Press ed.

line 353. scaur, cliff or river bank. Cp. Blackie’s ‘Ascent of Cruachan’ in ‘Lays of the Highlands and Islands,’ p. 98:-

‘Scale the scaur that gleams so red.’

Stanza XIII. line 376. Cp. Dryden’s ‘Aurengzebe’:

‘Love and a crown no rivalship can bear.’

line 382. Sir R. Kerr. See above, line 261.

line 383. Andrew Barton, High Admiral of Scotland, was one of a family of seamen, to whom James IV granted letters of reprisal against Portuguese traders for the violent death of their father. Both the King and the Bartons profited much by their successes. At length the Earl of Surrey, accusing Andrew Barton of attacking English as well as Portuguese vessels, sent two powerful men-of-war against him, and a sharp battle, fought in the Downs, resulted in Barton’s death and the capture of his vessels. See Chambers’s ‘Eminent Scotsmen,’ vol. v.

line 386. James sent his herald to Henry before Terouenne, calling upon him to desist from hostilities against Scotland’s ally, the king of France, and sternly reminding him of the various insults to which Henry’s supercilious policy had subjected him. Flodden had been fought before the messenger returned with his answer. Barclay a contemporary poet, had written about seven years earlier, in his ‘Ship of Fooles’:-

‘If the Englishe Lion his wisedome and riches
Conjoyne with true love, peace, and fidelitie
With the Scottishe Unicornes might and hardines,
There is no doubt but all whole Christentie
Shall live in peace, wealth, and tranquilitie.’

But such a desirable consummation was to wait yet a while.

Stanza XIV. line 398. ‘Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus,’ says Scott, ‘a man remarkable for strength of body and mind, acquired the popular name of Bell-the-Cat, upon the following remarkable occasion:-James the Third, of whom Pitscottie complains that he delighted more in music, and “policies of building,” than in hunting, hawking, and other noble exercises, was so ill advised as to make favourites of his architects and musicians, whom the same historian irreverently terms masons and fiddlers. His nobility, who did not sympathise in the King’s respect for the fine arts, were extremely incensed at the honours conferred on those persons, particularly on Cochrane, a mason, who had been created Earl of Mar; and, seizing the opportunity, when, in 1482, the King had convoked the whole array of the country to march against the English, they held a midnight council in the church of Lauder, for the purpose of forcibly removing these minions from the King’s person. When all had agreed on the propriety of this measure, Lord Gray told the assembly the apologue of the Mice, who had formed a resolution, that it would be highly advantageous to their community to tie a bell round the cat’s neck, that they might hear her approach at a distance; but which public measure unfortunately miscarried, from no mouse being willing to undertake the task of fastening the bell. “I understand the moral,” said Angus, “and, that what we propose may not lack execution, I will bell the cat.”‘

The rest of the strange scene is thus told by Pitscottie:-

‘By this was advised and spoken by thir lords foresaid, Cochran, the Earl of Mar, came from the King to the council, (which council was holden in the kirk of Lauder for the time,) who was well accompanied with a band of men of war; to the number of three hundred light axes, all clad in white livery, and black bends thereon, that they might be known for Cochran the Earl of Mar’s men. Himself was clad in a riding-pie of black velvet, with a great chain of gold about his neck, to the value of five hundred crowns, and four blowing horns, with both the ends of gold and silk, set with a precious stone, called a berryl, hanging in the midst. This Cochran had his heumont born before him, overgilt with gold, and so were all the rest of his horns, and all his pallions were of fine canvas of silk, and the cords thereof fine twined silk, and the chains upon his pallions were double overgilt with gold.

‘This Cochran was so proud in his conceit, that he counted no lords to be marrows to him, therefore he rushed rudely at the kirk-door. The council inquired who it was that perturbed them at that time. Sir Robert Douglas, Laird of Lochleven, was keeper of the kirk-door at that time, who inquired who that was that knocked so rudely; and Cochran answered, “This is I, the Earl of Mar.” The which news pleased well the lords, because they were ready boun to cause take him, as is before rehearsed. Then the Earl of Angus past hastily to the door, and with him Sir Robert Douglas of Lochleven, there to receive in the Earl of Mar, and go many of his complices who were there, as they thought good. And the Earl of Angus met with the Earl of Mar, as he came in at the door, and pulled the golden chain from his craig, and said to him, a tow1 would set him better. Sir Robert Douglas syne pulled the blowing horn from him in like manner, and said, “He had been the hunter of mischief over long.” This Cochran asked, “My lords, is it mows2, or earnest?” They answered, and said, “It is good earnest, and so thou shalt find; for thou and thy complices have abused our prince this long time; of whom thou shalt hare no more credence, but shalt have thy reward according to thy good service, as thou hast deserved in times bypast; right so the rest of thy followers.”

1rope. 2jest.

‘Notwithstanding, the lords held them quiet till they caused certain armed men to pass into the King’s pallion, and two or three wise men to pass with them, and give the King fair pleasant words, till they laid hands on all the King’s servants and took them and hanged them before his eyes over the bridge of Lawder. Incontinent they brought forth Cochran, and his hands bound with a tow, who desired them to take one of his own pallion tows and bind his hands, for he thought shame to have his hands bound with such tow of hemp, like a thief. The lords answered, he was a traitor, he deserved no better; and, for despight, they took a hair tether3, and hanged him over the bridge of Lawder, above the rest of his complices.’-PITSCOTTIE, p. 78, folio edit.


line 400. Hermitage Castle is on Hermitage water, which falls into the Liddell. The ruins still exist.

line 402. Bothwell Castle is on the right bank of the Clyde, a few miles above Glasgow. While staying there in 1799 Scott began a ballad entitled ‘Bothwell Castle,’ which remains a fragment. Lockhart gave it in the ‘Life,’ i. 305, ed. 1837. There, as here, he makes reference to the touching legendary ballad, ‘Bothwell bank thou bloomest fair,’ which a traveller before 1605 heard a woman singing in Palestine.

line 406. Reference to Cicero’s cedant arma togae, a relic of an attempt at verse.

line 414. ‘Angus was an old man when the war against England was resolved upon. He earnestly spoke against that measure from its commencement; and, on the eve of the battle of Flodden, remonstrated so freely upon the impolicy of fighting, that the King said to him, with scorn and indignation, “if he was afraid, he might go home.” The Earl burst into tears at this insupportable insult, and retired accordingly, leaving his sons, George, Master of Angus, and Sir William of Glenbervie, to command his followers. They were both slain in the battle, with two hundred gentlemen of the name of Douglas. The aged Earl, broken-hearted at the calamities of his house and his country, retired into a religious house, where he died about a year after the field of Flodden.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XV. lines 415-20. Cp. description of Sir H. Osbaldistone, ‘Rob Roy,’ chap. vi.

line 429. ‘The ruins of Tantallon Castle occupy a high rock projecting into the German Ocean, about two miles east of North Berwick. The building is not seen till a close approach, as there is rising ground betwixt it and the land. The circuit is of large extent, fenced upon three sides by the precipice which overhangs the sea, and on the fourth by a double ditch and very strong outworks. Tantallon was a principal castle of the Douglas family, and when the Earl of Angus was banished, in 1527, it continued to hold out against James V. The King went in person against it, and for its reduction, borrowed from the Castle of Dunbar, then belonging to the Duke of Albany, two great cannons, whose names, as Pitscottie informs us with laudable minuteness, were “Thrawn mouth’d Meg and her Marrow”; also, “two great botcards, and two moyan, two double falcons, and four quarter falcons”; for the safe guiding and re-delivery of which, three lords were laid in pawn at Dunbar. Yet, notwithstanding all this apparatus, James was forced to raise the siege, and only afterwards obtained possession of Tantallon by treaty with the governor, Simon Panango, When the Earl of Angus returned from banishment, upon the death of James, he again obtained possession of Tantallon, and it actually afforded refuge to an English ambassador, under circumstances similar to those described in the text. This was no other than the celebrated Sir Ralph Sadler, who resided there for some time under Angus’s protection, after the failure of his negotiation for matching the infant Mary with Edward VI. He says, that though this place was poorly furnished, it was of such strength as might warrant him against the malice of his enemies, and that he now thought himself out of danger. (His State papers were published in 1810, with certain notes by Scott.)

‘There is a military tradition, that the old Scottish March was meant to express the words,

“Ding down Tantallon,
Mak a brig to the Bass.”

‘Tantallon was at length “dung down” and ruined by the Covenanters; its lord, the Marquis of Douglas, being a favourer of the royal cause. The castle and barony were sold in the beginning of the eighteenth century to President Dalrymple of North Berwick, by the then Marquis of Douglas.’-SCOTT.

In 1888, under the direction of Mr. Walter Dalrymple, son of the proprietor, certain closed staircases in the ruins were opened, and various excavations were made, with the purpose of discovering as fully as possible what the original character of the structure had been. These operations have added greatly to the interest of the ruin, which both by position and aspect is one of the most imposing in the country.

line 432. ‘A very ancient sword, in possession of Lord Douglas, bears, among a great deal of flourishing, two hands pointing to a heart which is placed betwixt them, and the date 1329, being the year in which Bruce charged the Good Lord Douglas to carry his heart to the Holy Land. The following lines (the first couplet of which is quoted by Godscroft, as a popular saying in his time) are inscribed around the emblem:-

“So mony guid as of ye Dovglas beinge,
Of ane surname was ne’er in Scotland seine.
I will ye charge, efter yat I depart,
To holy grawe, and thair bury my hart;
Let it remane ever BOTHE TYME AND HOWR,
To ye last day I sie my Saviour.
I do protest in tyme of al my ringe,
Ye lyk subject had never ony keing.”

‘This curious and valuable relic was nearly lost during the Civil War of 1745-6, being carried away from Douglas Castle by some of those in arms for Prince Charles. But great interest having been made by the Duke of Douglas among the chief partisans of the Stuart, it was at length restored. It resembles a Highland claymore, of the usual size, is of an excellent temper, and admirably poised.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XVI. line 461. Scott quotes:--

‘O Dowglas! Dowglas
Tender and trew.’-The Houlate.

line 470. There are two famous sparrows in literature, the one Lesbia’s sparrow, tenderly lamented by Catullus, and the other Jane Scrope’s sparrow, memorialised by Skelton in the ‘ Boke of Phyllyp Sparowe.’

line 475. The tears of such as Douglas are of the kind mentioned in Cowley’s ‘Prophet,’ line 20:-

‘Words that weep, and tears that speak.’

Stanza XVII. line 501. ‘The ancient cry to make room for a dance or pageant.’-SCOTT.

Cp. Romeo and Juliet, i. 5. 28: ‘A hall! a hall! give room,’ &c.

line 505. The tune is significant of a Scottish invasion of England. See Scott’s appropriate song to the ‘ancient air,’ ‘Monastery,’ xxv. Reference is made in I Henry II, ii. 4. 368, to the head-dress of the Scottish soldiers, when Falstaff informs Prince Hal that Douglas is in England, ‘and a thousand blue-caps more.’

Stanza XIX. line 545. Many of the houses in Old Edinburgh are built to a great height, so that the common stairs leading up among a group of them have sometimes been called ‘perpendicular streets.’ Pitch, meaning ‘height,’ is taken from hawking, the height to which a bird rose depending largely on the pitch given it.

Stanza XX. line 558. St. Giles’s massive steeple is one of the features of Edinburgh. The ancient church, recently renovated by the munificence of the late William Chambers, is now one of the most imposing Presbyterian places of worship in Scotland.

line 569. For bowne see above, IV. 487.

line 571. A certain impressiveness is given by the sudden introduction of this pentameter.

Stanza XXI. Jeffrey, in reviewing’ Marmion, ‘fixed on this narrative of the Abbess as a passage marked by ‘flatness and tediousness,’ and could see in it ‘no sort of beauty nor elegance of diction.’ The answer to such criticism is that the narrative is direct and practical, and admirably suited to its purpose.

line 585. Despiteously, despitefully. ‘Despiteous’ is used in ‘Lay of the Last Minstrel,’ V. xix. Cp. Chaucer’s ‘Man of Lawe,’ 605 (Clarendon Press ed.):-

‘And sey his wyf despitously yslayn.’

line 587. ‘A German general, who commanded the auxiliaries sent by the Duchess of Burgundy with Lambert Simnel. He was defeated and killed at Stokefield. The name of this German general is preserved by that of the field of battle, which is called, after him, Swart-moor.-There were songs about him long current in England. See Dissertation prefixed to RITSON’S Ancient Songs, 1792, p. lxi.’-SCOTT.

line 588. Lambert Simnel, the Pretender, made a scullion after his overthrow by Henry VII.

line 590. Stokefield (Stoke, near Newark, county Nottingham) was fought 16 June, 1487.

line 607. ‘It was early necessary for those who felt themselves obliged to believe in the divine judgment being enunciated in the trial by duel, to find salvos for the strange and obviously precarious chances of the combat. Various curious evasive shifts, used by those who took up an unrighteous quarrel, were supposed sufficient to convert it into a just one. Thus, in the romance of “Amys and Amelion,” the one brother-in-arms, fighting for the other, disguised in his armour, swears that he did not commit the crime of which the Steward, his antagonist, truly, though maliciously, accused him whom he represented. Brantome tells a story of an Italian, who entered the lists upon an unjust quarrel, but, to make his cause good, fled from his enemy at the first onset. “Turn, coward!” exclaimed his antagonist. “Thou liest,” said the Italian, “coward am I none; and in this quarrel will I fight to the death, but my first cause of combat was unjust, and I abandon it.” “Je vous laisse a penser,” adds Brantome, “s’il n’y a pas de l’abus la.” Elsewhere he says, very sensibly, upon the confidence which those who had a righteous cause entertained of victory: “Un autre abus y avoit-il, que ceux qui avoient un juste subjet de querelle, et qu’on les faisoit jurer avant entrer au camp, pensoient estre aussitost vainqueurs, voire s’en assuroient-t-ils du tout, mesmes que leurs confesseurs, parrains et confidants leurs en respondoient tout-a-fait, comme si Dieu leur en eust donne une patente; et ne regardant point a d’autres fautes passes, et que Dieu en garde la punition a ce coup la pour plus grande, despiteuse, et exemplaire.”-Discours sur le Duels.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XXII. line 612. Recreant, a coward, a disgraced knight. See ‘Lady of the Lake,’ V. xvi:-

‘Let recreant yield who fears to die’;

and cp. ‘caitiff recreant,’ Richard II, i. 2. 53.

line 633. The Tame falls into the Trent above Tamworth.

Stanza XXIII. line 662. Quaint, neat, pretty, as in Much Ado, iii. 4. 21: ‘A fine, quaint, graceful, and excellent fashion.’

Stanza XXIV. line 704. St. Withold, St. Vitalis. Cp. King Lear, iii. 4. III. Clarendon Press ed., and note. This saint was invoked in nightmare.

Stanza XXV. line 717. Malison, curse.

line 717. ‘The Cross of Edinburgh was an ancient and curious structure. The lower part was an octagonal tower, sixteen feet in diameter, and about fifteen feet high. At each angle there was a pillar, and between them an arch, of the Grecian shape. Above these was a projecting battlement, with a turret at each corner, and medallions, of rude but curious workmanship, between them. Above this rose the proper Cross, a column of one stone, upwards of twenty feet high, surmounted with a unicorn. This pillar is preserved in the grounds of the property of Drum, near Edinburgh. The Magistrates of Edinburgh, in 1756, with consent of the Lords of Session, (proh pudor!) destroyed this curious monument, under a wanton pretext that it encumbered the street; while, on the one hand, they left an ugly mass called the Luckenbooths, and, on the other, an awkward, long, and low guard-house, which were fifty times more encumbrance than the venerable and inoffensive Cross.

‘From the tower of the Cross, so long as it remained, the heralds published the acts of Parliament; and its site, marked by radii, diverging from a stone centre, in the High Street, is still the place where proclamations are made.’-SCOTT.

See Fergusson’s ‘Plainstanes,’ Poems, p. 48. The Cross was restored by Mr. Gladstone in 1885, to commemorate his connexion with Midlothian as its parliamentary representative.

line 735. ‘This supernatural citation is mentioned by all our Scottish historians. It was, probably, like the apparition at Linlithgow, an attempt, by those averse to the war, to impose upon the superstitious temper of James IV. The following account from Pitscottie is characteristically minute, and furnishes, besides, some curious particulars of the equipment of the army of James IV. I need only add to it, that Plotcock, or Plutock, is no other than Pluto. The Christians of the middle ages by no means disbelieved in the existence of the heathen deities; they only considered them as devils, and Plotcock, so far from implying any thing fabulous, was a synonyme of the grand enemy of mankind.” {2} “Yet all thir warnings, and uncouth tidings, nor no good counsel, might stop the King, at this present, from his vain purpose, and wicked enterprize, but hasted him fast to Edinburgh, and there to make his provision and famishing, in having forth of his army against the day appointed, that they should meet in the Barrow-muir of Edinburgh: That is to say, seven cannons that he had forth of the Castle of Edinburgh, which were called the Seven Sisters, casten by Robert Borthwick, the master-gunner, with other small artillery, bullet, powder, and all manner of order, as the master-gunner could devise.

‘“In this meantime, when they were taking forth their artillery, and the King being in the Abbey for the time, there was a cry heard at the Market-cross of Edinburgh at the hour of midnight, proclaiming as it had been a summons, which was named and called by the proclaimer thereof, the summons of Plotcock; which desired all men to compear, both Earl, and Lord, and Baron, and all honest gentlemen within the town, (every man specified by his own name,) to compear, within the space of forty days, before his master, where it should happen him to appoint, and be for the time, under the pain of disobedience. But whether this summons was proclaimed by vain persons, night-walkers, or drunken men, for their pastime, or if it was a spirit, I cannot tell truly: but it was shewn to me, that an indweller of the town, Mr. Richard Lawson, being evil disposed, ganging in his gallery-stair foreanent the Cross, hearing this voice proclaiming this summons, thought marvel what it should be, cried on his servant to bring him his purse; and when he had brought him it, he took out a crown, and cast over the stair, saying, ‘I appeal from that summons, judgment, and sentence thereof, and take me all whole in the mercy of God, and Christ Jesus his son.’ Verily, the author of this, that caused me write the manner of this summons, was a landed gentleman, who was at that time twenty years of age, and was in the town the time of the said summons; and thereafter, when the field was stricken, he swore to me, there was no man that escaped that was called in this summons, but that one man alone which made his protestation, and appealed from the said summons: but all the lave were perished in the field with the king.”‘

Stanza XXIX. line 838. ‘The convent alluded to is a foundation of Cistertian nuns, near North Berwick, of which there are still some remains. It was founded by Duncan, Earl of Fife, in 1216.’--SCOTT.

line 840. Two rocky islands off North Berwick.

Stanza XXX. line 899. Nares says: ‘In the solemn form of excommunication used in the Romish Church, the bell was tolled, the book of offices for the purpose used, and three candles extinguished, with certain ceremonies.’ Cp. ‘Lay of the Last Minstrel,’ VI. xxiii. 400, for the observance at a burial service.

Stanza. XXXI. line 914. ‘This relates to the catastrophe of a real Robert de Marmion, in the reign of King Stephen, whom William of Newbury describes with some attributes of my fictitious hero: “Homo bellicosus, ferosia, et astucia, fere nullo suo tempore impar.” This Baron, having expelled the monks from the church of Coventry, was not long of experiencing the divine judgment, as the same monks, no doubt, termed his disaster. Having waged a feudal war with the Earl of Chester, Marmion’s horse fell, as he charged in the van of his troop, against a body of the Earl’s followers: the rider’s thigh being broken by the fall, his head was cut off by a common foot-soldier, ere he could receive any succour. The whole story is told by William of Newbury.’-SCOTT.

line 926. The story of Judith and Holofernes is in the Apocrypha.

line 928. See Judges iv.

line 931. St. Antony’s fire is erysipelas.

Stanza XXXII. line 947. This line, omitted in early editions, was supplied by Lockhart from the MS.

Stanza XXXIII. line 973. Tantallon, owing to its position, presents itself suddenly to those approaching it from the south.

line 980. Lockhart annotates thus:-

‘During the regency (subsequent to the death of James V) the Dowager Queen Regent, Mary of Guise, became desirous of putting a French garrison into Tantallon, as she had into Dunbar and Inchkeith, in order the better to bridle the lords and barons, who inclined to the reformed faith, and to secure by citadels the sea-coast of the Frith of Forth. For this purpose, the Regent, to use the phrase of the time “dealed with” the (then) Earl of Angus for his consent to the proposed measure. He occupied himself, while she was speaking, in feeding a falcon which sat upon his wrist, and only replied by addressing the bird, but leaving the Queen to make the application. “The devil is in this greedy gled-she will never be fou.” But when the Queen, without appearing to notice this hint, continued to press her obnoxious request, Angus replied, in the true spirit of a feudal noble, “Yes, Madam, the castle is yours; God forbid else. But by the might of God, Madam!” such was his usual oath, “I must be your Captain and Keeper for you, and I will keep it as well as any you can place there.’“SIR WALTER SCOTT’S Provincial Antiquities, vol. ii. p. 167.-Prose Works, vol. vii. p. 436.

Stanza XXXIV. line 998. Cp. AEneid, IV. 174:-

‘Fama, malum qua non aliud velocius ullum.’

line 1001. Strongholds in Northumberland, near Flodden.

line 1017. Opposite Flodden, beyond the Till.

line 1032. ‘bated of, diminished. Cp. Timon of Athens, ii. 2. 208:-

‘ You do yourselves
Much wrong; you bate too much of your own merits.’


Richard Heber (1773-1833) half-brother of Bishop Heber, was for some time M. P. for Oxford University. His large inherited fortune enabled him freely to indulge his love of books, and his, English library of 105,000 volumes cost him L180,000. He had thousands besides on the continent. As a cherished friend of Scott’s he is frequently mentioned in the ‘Life.’ He introduced Leyden to Scott (Life, i. 333, 1837 ed.).

‘Mertoun House, the seat of Hugh Scott, Esq., of Harden, is beautifully situated on the Tweed, about two miles below Dryburgh Abbey.’-LOCKHART.

line 7. ‘The Iol of the heathen Danes (a word still applied to Christmas in Scotland; was solemnized with great festivity. The humour of the Danes at table displayed itself in pelting each other with bones, and Torfaeus tells a long and curious story, in the History of Hrolfe Kraka, of one Hottus, an inmate of the Court of Denmark, who was so generally assailed with these missiles, that he constructed, out of the bones with which he was overwhelmed, a very respectable intrenchment, against those who continued the raillery. The dances of the northern warriors round the great fires of pine-trees, are commemorated by Olaus Magnus, who says, they danced with such fury, holding each other by the hands, that, if the grasp of any failed, he was pitched into the fire with the velocity of a sling. The sufferer, on such occasions, was instantly plucked out, and obliged to quaff off a certain measure of ale, as a penalty for “spoiling the king’s fire.”‘SCOTT.

line 33. Scott, after explaining that in Roman Catholic countries mass is never said at night except on Christmas eve, quotes as illustrative of early celebrations of the festival the names and descriptions of the allegorical characters in Jonson’s ‘Christmas his Masque. ‘The personages are Father Christmas himself and his ten sons and daughters, led in by Cupid. ‘Baby-Cake,’ the youngest child, is misprinted ‘Baby-Cocke in Scott.

line 45. Post and pair, a game at cards, is one of the sons of Father Christmas in Jonson’s Masque. He comes in with ‘a pair-royal of aces in his hat; his garment all done over with pairs and purs; his squire carrying a box, cards, and counters.’

line 55. The reference is to the ancient salt-cellar, which parted superiors from inferiors at table.

line 75. ‘It seems certain that the Mummers of England, who (in Northumberland at least) used to go about in disguise to the neighbouring houses, bearing the then useless ploughshares; and the Guisards of Scotland, not yet in total disuse, present, in some indistinct degree, a shadow of the old mysteries, which were the origin of the English drama. In Scotland, (me ipso teste,) we were wont, during my boyhood, to take the characters of the apostles, at least of Peter, Paul, and Judas Iscariot; the first had the keys, the second carried a sword, and the last the bag, in which the dole of our neighbours’ plum-cake was deposited. One played as a champion, and recited some traditional rhymes; another was:-

....“Alexander, King of Macedon,
Who conquer’d all the world but Scotland alone.
When he came to Scotland his courage grew cold,
To see a little nation courageous and bold.”

These, and many such verses, were repeated, but by rote, and unconnectedly. There were also, occasionally, I believe, a Saint George. In all, there was a confused resemblance of the ancient mysteries, in which the characters of Scripture, the Nine Worthies, and other popular personages, were usually exhibited. It were much to be wished that the Chester Mysteries were published from the MS. in the Museum, with the annotations which a diligent investigator of popular antiquities might still supply. The late acute and valuable antiquary, Mr. Ritson, showed me several memoranda towards such a task, which are probably now dispersed or lost. See, however, his “Remarks on Shakspeare,” 1783, p. 38.

‘Since the first edition of “Marmion” appeared, this subject has received much elucidation from the learned and extensive labours of Mr. Douce; and the Chester Mysteries (edited by J. H. Markland, Esq.) have been printed in a style of great elegance and accuracy (in 1818) by Bensley and Sons, London, for the Roxburghe Club. 1830.’-SCOTT.

line 93. The proverb ‘Blood is warmer than water’ is also common in the form ‘Blood is thicker than water.’

line 96. ‘Mr. Scott of Harden, my kind and affectionate friend, and distant relation, has the original of a poetical invitation, addressed from his grandfather to my relative, from which a few lines in the text are imitated. They are dated, as the epistle in the text, from Mertoun-house, the seat of the Harden family:-

“With amber beard, and flaxen hair,
And reverend apostolic air,
Free of anxiety and care,
Come hither, Christmas-day, and dine;
We’ll mix sobriety with wine,
And easy mirth with thoughts divine.
We Christians think it holiday,
On it no sin to feast or play;
Others, in spite, may fast and pray.
No superstition in the use
Our ancestors made of a goose;
Why may not we, as well as they,
Be innocently blithe that day,
On goose or pie, on wine or ale,
And scorn enthusiastic zeal?-
Pray come, and welcome, or plague rott
Your friend and landlord, Walter Scott.
“Mr. Walter Scott, Lessuden”

‘The venerable old gentleman, to whom the lines are addressed was the younger brother of William Scott of Raeburn. Being the cadet of a cadet of the Harden family, he had very little to lose; yet he contrived to lose the small property he had, by engaging in the civil wars and intrigues of the house of Stuart. His veneration for the exiled family was so great, that he swore he would not shave his beard till they were restored: a mark of attachment, which, I suppose, had been common during Cromwell’s usurpation; for, in Cowley’s “Cutter of Coleman Street,” one drunken cavalier upbraids another, that, when he was not able to afford to pay a barber, he affected to “wear a beard for the King.” I sincerely hope this was not absolutely the original reason of my ancestor’s beard; which, as appears from a portrait in the possession of Sir Henry Hay Macdougal, Bart., and another painted for the famous Dr. Pitcairn, was a beard of a most dignified and venerable appearance.’- SCOTT.

line 111. ‘See Introduction to the ‘Minstrelsy,’ vol. iv. p. 59.’-LOCKHART.

lines 117-20. The Tweed winds and loiters around Mertoun and its grounds as if fascinated by their attractiveness. With line. 120 cp. ‘clipped in with the sea,’ I Henry IV, iii. I. 45.

line 126. Cp. 2 Henry IV, iii. 2. 228: ‘We have heard the chimes at midnight, Master Shallow!’

line 132. Scott quotes from Congreve’s ‘Old Bachelor,’-’Hannibal was a pretty fellow, sir-a very pretty fellow in his day,’ which is part of a speech by Noll Bluffe, one of the characters.

line 139. With ‘Limbo lost,’ cp. the ‘Limbo large and broad’ of ‘Paradise Lost,’ iii. 495. Limbo is the borders of hell, and also hell itself.

line 143. ‘John Leyden, M. D., who had been of great service to Sir Walter Scott in the preparation of the ‘Border Minstrelsy,’ sailed for India in April, 1803, and died at Java in August, 1811, before completing his 36th year.

“Scenes sung by him who sings no more!
His brief and bright career is o’er,
And mute his tuneful strains;
Quench’d is his lamp of varied lore,
That loved the light of song to pour;
A distant and a deadly shore
Has LEYDEN’S cold remains.”
Lord of the Isles, Canto IV.

‘See a notice of his life in the Author’s Miscellaneous Prose Works, vol. iv.’-LOCKHART.

line 146. For the solemn and powerful interview of Hercules and Ulysses, see close of Odyssey XI. Wraith (Icel. vordhr, guardian) is here used for shade. In Scottish superstition it signifies the shadow of a person seen before death, as in ‘Guy Mannering,’ chap. x: ‘she was uncertain if it were the gipsy, or her wraith.’ The most notable use of the word and the superstition in recent poetry is in Rossetti’s ‘King’s Tragedy’:-

‘And the woman held his eyes with her eyes:-
“O King; thou art come at last;
But thy wraith has haunted the Scottish sea
To my sight for four years past.
“Four years it is since first I met,
‘Twixt the Duchray and the Dhu,
A shape whose feet clung close in a shroud,
And that shape for thine I knew,”‘ &c.

line 148. AEneid, III. 19.

line 159. ‘This passage is illustrated by “Ceubren yr Ellyll, or the Spirit’s Blasted Tree,” a legendary tale, by the Reverend George Warrington, who says:-

‘“The event, on which the tale is founded, is preserved by tradition in the family of the Vaughans of Hengwyrt; nor is it entirely lost, even among the common people, who still point out this oak to the passenger. The enmity between the two Welsh chieftains, Howel Sele, and Owen Glendwr, was extreme, and marked by vile treachery in the one, and ferocious cruelty in the other. {3} The story is somewhat changed and softened, as more favourable to the character of the two chiefs, and as better answering the purpose of poetry, by admitting the passion of pity, and a greater degree of sentiment in the description. Some trace of Howel Sele’s mansion was to be seen a few years ago, and may perhaps be still visible, in the park of Nannau, now belonging to Sir Robert Vaughan, Baronet, in the wild and romantic tracks of Merionethshire. The abbey mentioned passes under two names, Vener and Cymmer. The former is retained, as more generally used.”-See the Metrical Tale in Sir Walter Scott’s Poetical Works, vol. vii. pp. 396-402.’-LOCKHART.

line 161. By a victory gained at Maida, 6 July 1806, Sir John Stuart broke the power of the French in southern Italy.

line 163. ‘The Daoine shi,’ or Men of Peace, of the Scottish Highlanders, rather resemble the Scandinavian Duergar, than the English Fairies. Notwithstanding their name, they are, if not absolutely malevolent, at least peevish, discontented, and apt to do mischief on slight provocation. The belief of their existence is deeply impressed on the Highlanders, who think they are particularly offended at mortals, who talk of them, who wear their favourite colour green, or in any respect interfere with their affairs. This is especially to be avoided on Friday, when, whether as dedicated to Venus, with whom, in Germany, this subterraneous people are held nearly connected, or for a more solemn reason, they are more active and possessed of greater power. Some curious particulars concerning the popular superstitions of the Highlanders may be found in Dr. Graham’s Picturesque Sketches of Perthshire.’-SCOTT.

Friday (the day of the goddess Freya) is regarded as lucky for marriages. Mr. Thiselton Dyer in ‘Domestic Folk-lore,’ p. 39, quotes the City Chamberlain of Glasgow as affirming that ‘nine-tenths of the marriages in Glasgow are celebrated on a Friday.’ In Hungary nothing of any importance is undertaken on a Friday, and there is a Hungarian proverb which says that ‘whoever is merry on a Friday is sure to weep on the Sunday.’ The Sicilians make the exception for weddings. In America Friday is a lucky daythe New World, no doubt, upsetting in this as other matters the conservatism of the Old. The superstition of sailors about Friday is famous. Cp. the old English song ‘The Mermaid.’ For further discussion of the subject see ‘Notes and Queries,’ 6th S. vol. vi.

line 175. ‘The journal of the Friend, to whom the Fourth Canto of the poem is inscribed, furnished me with the following account of a striking superstition:-

‘“Passed the pretty little village of Franchemont (near Spaw), with the romantic ruins of the old castle of the counts of that name. The road leads through many delightful vales, on a rising ground: at the extremity of one of them stands the ancient castle, now the subject of many superstitions legends. It is firmly believed by the neighbouring peasantry, that the last Baron of Franchemont deposited, in one of the vaults of the castle, a ponderous chest, containing an immense treasure in gold and silver, which, by some magic spell, was intrusted to the care of the Devil, who is constantly found sitting on the chest in the shape of a huntsman. Any one adventurous enough to touch the chest is instantly seized with the palsy. Upon one occasion, a priest of noted piety was brought to the vault: he used all the arts of exorcism to persuade his infernal majesty to vacate his seat, but in vain; the huntsman remained immovable. At last, moved by the earnestness of the priest, he told him, that he would agree to resign the chest, if the exorciser would sign his name with blood. But the priest understood his meaning, and refused, as by that act he would have delivered over his soul to the Devil. Yet if any body can discover the mystic words used by the person who deposited the treasure, and pronounced them, the fiend must instantly decamp. I had many stories of a similar nature from a peasant, who had himself seen the Devil, in the shape of a great cat.”‘-SCOTT.

line 190. Begun has always been a possible past tense in poetry, and living poets continue its use. There is an example in Mr. Browning’s ‘Waring’:-

‘Give me my so-long promised son,
Let Waring end what I begun;

and Lord Tennyson writes:-

‘The light of days when life begun!

in the memorial verses prefixed to his brother’s ‘Collected Sonnets’ (1879).

line 205. Robert Lindsay of Pittscottie (a Fife estate, eastward of Cupar) lived in the first half of the sixteenth century, and wrote ‘Chronicles of Scotland’ from James II to Mary. Nothing further of him is known with certainty. Like the Lion King he was a cadet of the noble family of Lindsay, including Crawford and Lindsay and Lindsay of the Byres.

line 207. See above, IV. xiv.

line 212. John of Fordun (a village in Kincardineshire) about the end of the fourteenth century wrote the first five of the sixteen books of the ‘Scotochronicon,’ the work being completed by Walter Bower, appointed Abbot of St. Colm’s, 1418.

line 220. Gripple, tenacious, narrow. See ‘Waverley,’ chap. lxvii. -’Naebody wad be sae gripple as to take his gear’; and cp. ‘Faerie Queene,’ VI. iv. 6:-

‘On his shield he gripple hold did lay.’

line 225. They hide away their treasures without using them, as the magpie or the jackdaw does with the articles it steals.


Stanza I. line 6. Cp. Job xxxix. 25.

line 8. Terouenne, about thirty miles S. E. of Calais.

line 9. Leaguer, the besiegers’ camp. Cp. Longfellow’s ‘Evangeline,’ I. 5,--

‘Like to a gipsy camp, or a leaguer after a battle.’

Stanza II. lines 27-30. Cp. ‘Faerie Queene,’ III. iv. 7.:-

‘The surges hore
That ‘gainst the craggy clifts did loudly rore,
And in their raging surquedry disdaynd
That the fast earth affronted them so sore.’

lines 34-6. The cognizance was derived from the commission Brace gave the Good Lord James Douglas to carry his heart to Palestine. The Field is the whole surface of the shield, the Chief the upper portion. The Mullet is a star-shaped figure resembling the rowel of a spur, and having five points.

line 45. Bartisan, a small overhanging turret.

line 46. With vantage-coign, or advantageous corner, cp. ‘Macbeth,’ i. 6. 7.

Stanza III. line 69. Adown, poetical for down. Cp. Chaucer, ‘Monkes Tale,’ 3630, Clarendon Press ed.:-

‘Thus day by day this child bigan to crye
Til in his fadres barme adoun it lay.’

lines 86-91. Cp. Coleridge’s ‘Christabel,’ line 68.

‘I guess, ‘twas frightful there to see
A lady so richly clad as she-
Beautiful exceedingly.’

Stanza IV. lines 106-9. Cp. ‘Il Penseroso,’ 161-6,-

‘There let the pealing organ blow
To the full voic’d quire below,
In service high, and anthems clear,
As may with sweetness, through mine ear,
Dissolve me into ecstasies,
And bring all Heav’n before mine eyes.’

See also Coleridge’s ‘Dejection,’ v.:-

‘O pure of heart! thou need’st not ask of me
What this strong music in the soul may be!’ &c.

line 112. ‘I shall only produce one instance more of the great veneration paid to Lady Hilda, which still prevails even in these our days; and that is, the constant opinion, that she rendered, and still renders herself visible, on some occasions, in the Abbey of Streamshalh, or Whitby, where she so long resided. At a particular time of the year (viz. in the summer months), at ten or eleven in the forenoon, the sunbeams fall in the inside of the northern part of the choir; and ‘tis then that the spectators, who stand on the west side of Whitby churchyard, so as just to see the most northerly part of the abbey pass the north end of Whitby church, imagine they perceive, in one of the highest windows there, the resemblance of a woman, arrayed in a shroud. Though we are certain this is only a reflection caused by the splendour of the sunbeams, yet fame reports it, and it is constantly believed among the vulgar, to be an appearance of Lady Hilda in her shroud, or rather in a glorified state; before which, I make no doubt, the Papists, even in these our days, offer up their prayers with as much zeal and devotion, as before any other image of their most glorified saint.” CHARLTON’S History of Whitby, p. 33.’-SCOTT.

Stanza V. line 131. What makes, what is it doing? Cp. Judges xviii. 3: ‘What makest thou in this place?’ The usage is frequent in Shakespeare; as e.g. As Yo Like It, i. I. 31: ‘Now sir! what make you here?’

line 137. Blood-gouts, spots of blood. Cp. ‘gouts of blood,’ Macbeth, ii. I. 46.

line 150. Shakespeare, King John, iv. 2. 13, makes Salisbury say that-

‘To smooth the ice, or add another hue
Unto the rainbow, or with taper-light
To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish
Is wasteful, and ridiculous excess.’

Stanza VI. line 174. Beadsman, one hired to pray for another. Cp. ‘Piers the Plowman,’ B, III. 40:-

‘I shal assoille the my-selue for a seme of whete,
And also be thi bedeman.’

Edie Ochiltree, the Blue-gown in ‘The Antiquary,’ belongs to the class called King’s Bedesmen, ‘an order of paupers to whom the kings of Scotland were in the custom of distributing a certain alms, in conformity with the ordinances of the Catholic Church, and who were expected in return to pray for the royal welfare and that of the state.’ See Introd. to the novel. Cp. also Henry V, iv. I. 315:-

‘Five hundred poor I have in yearly pay,’ &c.

Stanza VII. line 218. The Palmer’s dress is put off like the serpent’s slough. Cp. the Earl of Surrey’s Spring sonnet-

‘The adder all her slough away she flings.’

Stanza VIII. line 261. Featly, cleverly, dexterously. Cp. Tempest, i. 2. 380:-

‘Foot it featly here and there.’

Stanza IX. line 271. See Otterbourne, ‘Border Minstrelsy,’ i. p. 345. Douglas’s death, during the battle was kept secret, so that when his men conquered, as if still under his command, the old prophecy was fulfilled that a dead Douglas should, win the field.

line 280. James encamped in Twisel glen (local spelling ‘Twizel’) before taking post on Flodden.

line 282. The squire’s final act of qualification for knighthood was to watch by his armour till midnight. In his Essay on ‘Chivalry’ Scott says: ‘The candidates watched their arms all night in a church or chapel, and prepared for the honour to be conferred on them by vigil, fast, and prayer.’ For a hasty and picturesque ceremony of knighthood see Scott’s ‘Halidon Hill,’ I. ii.

Stanza XI. With the moonlight scene opening this stanza, cp. ‘Lay of Last Minstrel,’ II. i. Scott is fond of moonlight effects, and he always succeeds with them. See e.g. a passage in ‘Woodstock,’ chap. xix, beginning ‘There is, I know not why, something peculiarly pleasing to the imagination in contemplating the Queen of Night,’ &c.

line 327. ‘The well-known Gawain Douglas, Bishop of Dunkeld, son of Archibald Bell-the-Cat, Earl of Angus. He was author of a Scottish metrical version of the “AEneid,” and of many other poetical pieces of great merit. He had not at this period attained the mitre.’-SCOTT.

A word of caution is necessary as to the ‘many pieces’ mentioned here. Besides his ‘AEneid, ‘ Douglas’s extant works are ‘Palice of Honour,’ ‘King Hart,’ and a poem of four stanzas entitled ‘Conscience.’ To each book of the ‘AEneid,’ however, as well as to the supplementary thirteenth book of Maphaeus Vegius, which he also translates, he prefixes an introductory poem, so that there is a sense in which it is correct to call him the author of ‘many pieces.’ His works were first published in complete form in 1874, in four volumes, admirably edited by the late Dr. John Small. See ‘Dict. of Nat. Biog.’

line 329. Rocquet, a linen surplice.

line 344, ‘Angus had strength and personal activity corresponding to his courage. Spens of Kilspindie, a favourite of James IV, having spoken of him lightly, the Earl met him while hawking, and, compelling him to single combat, at one blow cut asunder his thigh-bone, and killed him on the spot. But ere he could obtain James’s pardon for this slaughter, Angus was obliged to yield his castle of Hermitage, in exchange for that of Bothwell, which was some diminution to the family greatness. The sword with which he struck so remarkable a blow, was presented by his descendant, James Earl of Morton, afterwards Regent of Scotland, to Lord Lindesay of the Byres, when he defied Bothwell to single combat on Carberry-hill. See Introduction to the Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border’-SCOTT.

Stanza XII. line 379. With the use of fall = befall cp. Antony and Cleopatra, iii. 7. 38:-

‘No disgrace
Shall fall you for refusing him at sea.’

Stanza XIV. line. Saint Bride is Saint Bridget of Ireland, who became popular in England and Scotland under the abbreviated form of her name. She was ‘a favourite saint of the house of Douglas, and of the Earl of Angus in particular.’ See note to Clarendon Press ‘Lay of Last Minstrel,’ VI. 469.

line 437. ‘This ebullition of violence in the potent Earl of Angus is not without its example in the real history of the house of Douglas, whose chieftains possessed the ferocity, with the heroic virtues, of a savage state. The most curious instance occurred in the case of Maclellan, Tutor of Bombay, who, having refused to acknowledge the pre-eminence claimed by Douglas over the gentlemen and Barons of Galloway, was seized and imprisoned by the Earl, in his castle of the Thrieve, on the borders of Kirkcudbrightshire. Sir Patrick Gray, commander of King James the Second’s guard, was uncle to the Tutor of Bombay, and obtained from the King a “sweet letter of supplication,” praying the Earl to deliver his prisoner into Gray’s hand. When Sir Patrick arrived at the castle, he was received with all the honour due to a favourite servant of the King’s household; but while he was at dinner, the Earl, who suspected his errand, caused his prisoner to be led forth and beheaded. After dinner, Sir Patrick presented the King’s letter to the Earl, who received it with great affectation of reverence; “and took him by the hand, and led him forth to the green, where the gentleman was lying dead, and showed him the manner, and said, ‘Sir Patrick, you are come a little too late; yonder is your sister’s son lying, but he wants the head; take his body, and do with it what you will.’-Sir Patrick answered again with a sore heart, and said, ‘My lord, if ye have taken from him his head, dispone upon the body as ye please;’ and with that called for his horse, and leaped thereon; and when he was on horseback, he said to the Earl on this manner: ‘My Lord, if I live, you shall be rewarded for your labours, that you have used at this time, according to your demerits.’

‘“At this saying the Earl was highly offended, and cried for horse. Sir Patrick, seeing the Earl’s fury, spurred his horse, but he was chased near Edinburgh ere they left him; and had it not been his led horse was so tried and good, he had been taken.”‘-PITSCOTTIE’S History, p. 39.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XV. line 456. Cp. above, III. 429, and see As You Like It, i. 2. 222: ‘Hercules be thy speed!’ The short epistle of St. Jude is uncompromising in its condemnation of those who have fallen from their faith-who have forgotten, so to speak, their vows of true knighthood. It closes with the beautiful ascription-‘To Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.’ There is deep significance, therefore, in this appeal of the venerable and outraged knight for the protection of St. Jude.

line 457. ‘Lest the reader should partake of the Earl’s astonishment, and consider the crime as inconsistent with the manners of the period, I have to remind him of the numerous forgeries (partly executed by a female assistant) devised by Robert of Artois, to forward his suit against the Countess Matilda; which, being detected, occasioned his flight into England, and proved the remote cause of Edward the Third’s memorable wars in France. John Harding, also, was expressly hired by Edward IV to forge such documents as might appear to establish the claim of fealty asserted over Scotland by the English monarchs.’-SCOTT.

line 458. It likes was long used impersonally, in the sense of it pleases. Cp. King John, ii. 2. 234: ‘It likes us well.’

line 460. St. Bothan, Bythen, or Bethan is said to have been a cousin of St. Columba and his successor at Iona. His name is preserved in the Berwickshire parish, Abbey-Saint-Bathan’s; where, towards the close of the twelfth century, a Cistertian nunnery, with the title of a priory, was dedicated to him by Ada, daughter of William the Lion. There is no remaining trace of this structure.

line 461. The other sons could at least sign their names. Their signatures are reproduced in facsimile in ‘The Douglas Book’ by Sir William Eraser, 4 vols. 4to, Edin. 1886 (privately printed).

line 468. Fairly, well, elegantly, as in Chaucer’s Prol. 94:-

‘Well cowde he sitte on hors, and faire ryde’;

and in ‘Faerie Queene,’ I. i. 8:-

‘Full jolly knight he seemed, and faire did sitt.’

Stanza XVI. line 498. This line is a comprehensive description of a perfectly satisfactory charger or hunter.

line 499. Sholto is one of the Douglas family names. One of the Earl’s sons, being sheriff, could not go with his brothers to the war.

line 500. ‘His eldest son, the Master of Angus.’-SCOTT.

Stanza XVII. line 532. In Bacon’s ingenious essay, ‘Of Simulation and Dissimulation,’ he states these as the three disadvantages of the qualities:-’The first, that Simulation and Dissimulation commonly carry with them a show of fearfulness, which, in any business, doth spoil the feathers of round flying up to the mark. The second, that it puzzleth and perplexeth the conceits of many, that would otherwise co-operate with him, and makes a man almost alone to his own ends. The third, and greatest, is that it depriveth a man of one of the most principal instruments for action; which is trust and belief.’

Stanza XVIII. line 540. ‘This was a Cistertian house of religion, now almost entirely demolished. Lennel House is now the residence of my venerable friend, Patrick Brydone, Esquire, so well known in the literary world. {4} It is situated near Coldstream, almost opposite Cornhill, and consequently very near to Flodden Field.’-SCOTT.

line 568. traversed, moved in opposition, as in fencing. Cp. Merry Wives, ii. 3. 23: ‘To see thee fight, to see thee foin, to see thee traverse,’ &c.

Stanza XIX line 573, ‘On the evening previous to the memorable battle of Flodden, Surrey’s headquarters were at Barmoor Wood, and King James held an inaccessible position on the ridge of Flodden-hill, one of the last and lowest eminences detached from the ridge of Cheviot. The Till, a deep and slow river, winded between the armies. On the morning of the 9th September, 1513, Surrey marched in a north-westerly direction, and crossed the Till, with his van and artillery, at Twisel Bridge, nigh where that river joins the Tweed, his rear-guard column passing about a mile higher, by a ford. This movement had the double effect of placing his army between King James and his supplies from Scotland, and of striking the Scottish monarch with surprise, as he seems to have relied on the depth of the river in his front. But as the passage, both over the bridge and through the ford, was difficult and slow, it seems possible that the English might have been attacked to great advantage while straggling with these natural obstacles. I know not if we are to impute James’s forbearance to want of military skill, or to the romantic declaration which Pitscottie puts in his mouth, “that he was determined to have his enemies before him on a plain field,” and therefore would suffer no interruption to be given, even by artillery, to their passing the river.

‘The ancient bridge of Twisel, by which the English crossed the Till, is still standing beneath Twisel Castle, a splendid pile of Gothic architecture, as now rebuilt by Sir Francis Blake, Bart., whose extensive plantations have so much improved the country around. The glen is romantic and delightful, with steep banks on each side, covered with copse, particularly with hawthorn. Beneath a tall rock, near the bridge, is a plentiful fountain, called St. Helen’s Well.’-SCOTT.

That James was credited by his contemporaries with military skill and ample courage will be seen by reference to Barclay’s ‘Ship of Fooles,’ formerly referred to. The poet proposes a grand general European movement against the Turks, and suggests James IV as the military leader. The following complimentary acrostic is a feature of the passage:-

‘I n prudence pereles is this moste comely kinge;
A nd as for his strength and magnanimitie
C onceming his noble dedes in every thinge,
O ne founde on grounde like to him can not be.
B y birth borne to boldenes and audacitie,
U nder the bolde planet of Mars the champion,
S urely to subdue his enemies eche one.’

line 583. Sullen is admirably descriptive of the leading feature in the appearance of the Till just below Twisel Bridge. No one contrasting it with the Tweed at Norham will have difficulty in understanding the saying that:-

‘For a’e man that Tweed droons, Till droons three.’

Stanza XX. line 608. The earlier editions have vails, ‘lowers’ or ‘checks’; as in Venus and Adonis, 956, ‘She vailed her eyelids.’ The edition of 1833 reads ‘vails, contr. for ‘avails.’

line 610. Douglas and Randolph were two of Bruce’s most trusted leaders.

line 611. See anecdote in ‘Border Minstrelsy,’ ii. 245 (1833 ed.), with its culmination, ‘O, for one hour of Dundee!’ Cp. ‘Pleasures of Hope’ (close of Poland passage):-

‘Oh! once again to Freedom’s cause return
The Patriot Tell-the Bruce of Bannockburn!’

and Wordsworth’s sonnet, ‘In the Pass of Killicranky,’ in which the aspiration for ‘one hour of that Dundee’ is prompted by the fear of an invasion in 1803.

Stanza XXI. line 626. Hap what hap, come what may. Cp. above ‘tide what tide,’ III. 416.

line 627. Basnet, a light helmet.

Stanza XXIII. line 682. ‘The reader cannot here expect a full account of the Battle of Flodden: but, so far as is necessary to understand the romance, I beg to remind him, that, when the English army, by their skilful countermarch, were fairly placed between King James and his own country, the Scottish monarch resolved to fight; and, setting fire to his tents, descended from the ridge of Flodden to secure the neighbouring eminence of Brankstone, on which that village is built. Thus the two armies met, almost without seeing each other, when, according to the old poem of “Flodden Field,”-

“The English line stretch’d east and west,
And southward were their faces set;
The Scottish northward proudly prest,
And manfully their foes they met.”

The English army advanced in four divisions. On the right, which first engaged, were the sons of Earl Surrey, namely, Thomas Howard, the Admiral of England, and Sir Edmund, the Knight Marshal of the army. Their divisions were separated from each other; but, at the request of Sir Edmund, his brother’s battalion was drawn very near to his own. The centre was commanded by Surrey in person; the left wing by Sir Edward Stanley, with the men of Lancashire, and of the palatinate of Chester. Lord Dacres, with a large body of horse, formed a reserve. When the smoke, which the wind had driven between the armies, was somewhat dispersed, they perceived the Scots, who had moved down the hill in a similar order of battle, and in deep silence. {5} The Earls of Huntley and of Home commanded their left wing, and charged Sir Edmund Howard with such success as entirely to defeat his part of the English right wing. Sir Edmund’s banner was beaten down, and he himself escaped with difficulty to his brother’s division. The Admiral, however, stood firm; and Dacre advancing to his support with the reserve of cavalry, probably between the interval of the divisions commanded by the brothers Howard, appears to have kept the victors in effectual check. Home’s men, chiefly Borderers, began to pillage the baggage of both armies; and their leader is branded, by the Scottish historians, with negligence or treachery. On the other hand, Huntley, on whom they bestow many encomiums, is said, by the English historians, to have left the field after the first charge. Meanwhile the Admiral, whose flank these chiefs ought to have attacked, availed himself of their inactivity, and pushed forward against another large division of the Scottish army in his front, headed by the Earls of Crawford and Montrose, both of whom were slain, and their forces routed. On the left, the success of the English was yet more decisive; for the Scottish right wing, consisting of undisciplined Highlanders, commanded by Lennox and Argyle, was unable to sustain the charge of Sir Edward Stanley, and especially the severe execution of the Lancashire archers. The King and Surrey, who commanded the respective centres of their armies, were meanwhile engaged in close and dubious conflict. James, surrounded by the flower of his kingdom, and impatient of the galling discharge of arrows, supported also by his reserve under Bothwell, charged with such fury that the standard of Surrey was in danger. At that critical moment, Stanley, who had routed the left wing of the Scottish, pursued his career of victory, and arrived on the right flank, and in the rear of James’s division, which, throwing itself into a circle, disputed the battle till night came on. Surrey then drew back his forces; for the Scottish centre not having been broken, and the left wing being victorious, he yet doubted the event of the field. The Scottish army, however, felt their loss, and abandoned the field of battle in disorder, before dawn. They lost, perhaps, from eight to ten thousand men; but that included the very prime of their nobility, gentry, and even clergy. Scarce a family of eminence but has an ancestor killed at Flodden; and there is no province in Scotland, even at this day, where the battle is mentioned without a sensation of terror and sorrow. The English also lost a great number of men, perhaps within one-third of the vanquished, but they were of inferior note.-See the only distinct detail of the Field of Flodden in PINKERTON’S History, Book xi; all former accounts being full of blunders and inconsistency.

‘The spot from which Clara views the battle, must be supposed to have been on a hillock commanding the rear of the English right wing, which was defeated, and in which conflict Marmion is supposed to have fallen.’-SCOTT.

Lockhart adds this quotation:-’In 1810, as Sir Carnaby Haggerstone’s workmen were digging in Flodden Field, they came to a pit filled with human bones, and which seemed of great extent; but, alarmed at the sight, they immediately filled up the excavation, and proceeded no farther.

‘In 1817, Mr. Grey of Millfield Hill found, near the traces of an ancient encampment, a short distance from Flodden Field, a tumulus, which, on removing, exhibited a very singular sepulchre. In the centre, a large urn was found, but in a thousand pieces. It had either been broken to pieces by the stones falling upon it when digging, or had gone to pieces on the admission of the air. This urn was surrounded by a number of cells formed of flat stones, in the shape of graves, but too small to hold the body in its natural state. These sepulchral recesses contained nothing except ashes, or dust of the same kind as that in the urn.”-Sykes’ Local Records (2 vols. 8vo, 1833), vol. ii. pp. 60 and 109.’

Stanza XXIV. line 717. ‘Sir Brian Tunstall, called in the romantic language of the time, Tunstall the Undefiled, was one of the few Englishmen of rank slain at Flodden. He figures in the ancient English poem, to which I may safely refer my readers, as an edition, with full explanatory notes, has been published by my friend, Mr. Henry Weber. Tunstall, perhaps, derived his epithet of undefiled from his white armour and banner, the latter bearing a white cock, about to crow, as well as from his unstained loyalty and knightly faith. His place of residence was Thurland Castle.’--SCOTT.

Stanza XXV. line 744. Bent, the slope of the hill. It is less likely to mean the coarse grass on the hill-also a possible meaning of the word-because spectators would see the declivity and not what was on it. For the former usage see Dryden, ‘Palamon and Arcite,’ II. 342-45:-

‘A mountain stood,
Threat’ning from high, and overlook’d the wood;
Beneath the low’ring brow, and on a bent,
The temple stood of Mars armipotent.’

line 745. The tent was fired so that the forces might descend amid the rolling smoke.

line 747. As a poetical critic Jeffrey was right for once when he wrote thus of this great battle piece:-

‘Of all the poetical battles which have been fought, from the days of Homer to those of Mr. Southey, there is none, in our opinion, at all comparable, for interest and animation-for breadth of drawing and magnificence of effect-with this of Mr. Scott’s.’

line 757. To this day a commanding position to the west of the hill is called the ‘King’s Chair.’

Stanza XXVI. line 795. ‘Badenoch-man,’ says Lockhart, ‘is the correction of the author’s interleaved copy of the ed. of 1830.’ Highlandman was the previous reading. Badenoch is in the S. E. of co. of Inverness, between Monagh Lea mountains and Grampians.

Stanza XXVIII. line 867 Sped, undone, killed. Cp. Merchant of Venice, ii. 9. 70: ‘ So be gone; you are sped.’ See also note on ‘Lycidas’ 122, Clarendon Press Milton, vol. i.

Stanza XXX. The two prominent features of this stanza are the sweet tenderness of the verses, and the illustration of the irony of events in the striking culmination of the hero’s career.

line 904. Cp. Pope, ‘Moral Epistles,’ II. 269:-

‘And yet, believe me, good as well as ill,
Woman’s at best a contradiction still.’

line 906. Cp. Byron’s ‘Sardanapalus,’ I. ii. 511:-

‘Your last sighs
Too often breathed out in a woman’s hearing,
When men have shrunk from the ignoble care
Of watching the last hour of him who led them.’

Stanza XXXII. line 972. See above, III. x.

line 976. Metaphor from the sand-glass. Cp. Pericles, v. 2. 26:-

‘Now our sands are almost run.’

Stanza XXXIII. lines 999-1004. Charlemagne’s rear-guard under Roland was cut to pieces by heathen forces at Roncesvalles, a valley in Navarre, in 778. Roland might have summoned his uncle Charlemagne by blowing his magic horn, but this his valour prevented him from doing till too late. He was fatally wounded, and the ‘Song of Roland,’ telling of his worth and prowess, is one of the best of the mediaeval romances. Olivier was also a distinguished paladin, and the names of the two are immortalized in the proverb ‘A Rowland for an Oliver.’ Fontarabia is on the coast of Spain, about thirty miles from Roncesvalles. See Paradise Lost, I. 586, and note in Clarendon Press ed.

line 1011 Our Caledonian pride, fitly and tenderly named ‘the flowers of the forest.’

Stanza XXXIV. line 1034. Cp. ‘spearmen’s twilight wood,’ ‘Lady of the Lake,’ VI. xvii.

line 1035. Cp. Aytoun’s ‘Edinburgh after Flodden,’ vii, where Randolph Murray tells of the ‘riven banner’:-

‘It was guarded well and long
By your brothers and your children,
By the valiant and the strong.
One by one they fell around it,
As the archers laid them low,
Grimly dying, still unconquered,
With their faces to the foe.’

line 1059. Lockhart here gives an extract from Jeffrey:-‘The powerful poetry of these passages can receive no illustration from any praise or observations of ours. It is superior, in our apprehension, to all that this author has hitherto produced; and, with a few faults of diction, equal to any thing that has ever been written upon similar subjects. From the moment the author gets in sight of FIodden Field, indeed, to the end of the poem, there is no tame writing, and no intervention of ordinary passages. He does not once flag or grow tedious; and neither stops to describe dresses and ceremonies, nor to commemorate the harsh names of feudal barons from the Border. There is a flight of five or six hundred lines, in short, in which he never stoops his wing, nor wavers in his course; but carries the reader forward with a more rapid, sustained, and lofty movement, than any epic bard that we can at present remember.’

Stanza XXXV. 1. 1067. Lockhart quotes from Byron’s ‘Lara’ as a parallel,-

‘Day glimmers on the dying and the dead,
The cloven cuirass, and the helmless head,’ &c.

line 1084. ‘There can be no doubt that King James fell in the battle of Flodden. He was killed, says the curious French Gazette, within a lance’s length of the Earl of Surrey; and the same account adds, that none of his division were made prisoners, though many were killed; a circumstance that testifies the desperation of their resistance. The Scottish historians record many of the idle reports which passed among the vulgar of their day. Home was accused, by the popular voice, not only of failing to support the King, but even of having carried him out of the field, and murdered him. And this tale was revived in my remembrance, by an unauthenticated story of a skeleton, wrapped in a bull’s hide, and surrounded with an iron chain, said to have been found in the well of Home Castle, for which, on enquiry, I could never find any better authority than the sexton of the parish having said, that, if the well were cleaned out, he would not be surprised at such a discovery. Home was the chamberlain of the King, and his prime favourite; he had much to lose (in fact did lose all) in consequence of James’s death, and nothing earthly to gain by that event: but the retreat, or inactivity, of the left wing, which he commanded, after defeating Sir Edmund Howard, and even the circumstance of his returning unhurt, and loaded with spoil, from so fatal a conflict, rendered the propagation of any calumny against him easy and acceptable. Other reports gave a still more romantic turn to the King’s fate, and averred, that James, weary of greatness after the carnage among his nobles, had gone on a pilgrimage, to merit absolution for the death of his father, and the breach of his oath of amity to Henry. In particular, it was objected to the English, that they could never show the token of the iron belt; which, however, he was likely enough to have laid aside on the day of battle, as encumbering his personal exertions. They produce a better evidence, the monarch’s sword and dagger, which are still preserved in the Herald’s College in London. Stowe has recorded a degrading story of the disgrace with which the remains of the unfortunate monarch were treated in his time. An unhewn column marks the spot where James fell, still called the King’s Stone.’-SCOTT. See also Mr. Jerningham’s ‘Norham Castle,’ chap. xi.

line 1084. See above, V. vii, &c.

Stanza XXXVI. line 1096. ‘This storm of Lichfield Cathedral, which had been garrisoned on the part of the King, took place in the Great Civil War. Lord Brook, who, with Sir John Gill, commanded the assailants, was shot with a musket-ball through the vizor of his helmet. The royalists remarked that he was killed by a shot fired from St. Chad’s Cathedral, and upon St. Chad’s day, and received his death-wound in the very eye with which, he had said, he hoped to see the ruin of all the cathedrals in England. The magnificent church in question suffered cruelly upon this, and other occasions; the principal spire being ruined by the fire of the besiegers.’-SCOTT.

Ceadda, or Chad, after resigning the bishopric of York in 669 A. D., was appointed Bp. of Lichfield, where he ‘lived for a little while in great holiness.’ See Hunt’s ‘English Church in the Middle Ages,’ p. 17.

line 1110. The allusion is to the old fragment on Flodden, which has been so skilfully extended by Jean Elliot and also by Mrs. Cockburn in their national lyrics, ‘The Flowers o’ the Forest.’

line 1117. Once more the poet uses the irony of events with significant force.

Stanza XXXVII. line 1125. There is now a font of stone with a drinking cup, and an inscription on the back of the font runs thus:-

‘Drink, weary pilgrim, drink and stay,
Rest by the well of Sybil Grey.’

Stanza XXXVIII. In this stanza the poet indicates the spirit in which romances are written, clearly indicating that those only that have ears will be able to hear. ‘Phonanta sunetoisin’ might be the watchword of all imaginative writers. Cp. Thackeray’s ‘Rebecca and Rowena.’

line 1155. Hall and Holinshed were chroniclers of the sixteenth century, to both of whom Shakespeare was indebted for pliant material.

line 1168. Sir Thomas More, Lord Sands, and Anthony Denny. See Henry VIII.

lines 1169-70. The references are to old homely customs at weddings. See Brand’s ‘Popular Antiquities.’


Scott’s fondness for archaisms makes him add his L’Envoy in the manner of early English and Scottish poets. See e.g. Spenser’s ‘Shepherd’s Calendar’ and the ‘Phoenix’ of James VI.

line 4. Rede, ‘used generally for tale or discourse.’-SCOTT.

line 6. Cp. William Morris’s introduction to ‘Earthly Paradise,’ where the poet calls himself

‘The idle singer of an empty day.’

line 17. This hearty wish is uttered, no doubt, with certain reminiscences of the author’s own school days. His youthful spirit, and his genial sympathy with the young, are prominent features in the character of Sir Walter Scott.



{1} Lockhart quotes:-‘He resumed the bishopric of Lindisfarne, which, owing to bad health, he again relinquished within less than three months before his death.’-RAINE’S St. Cuthbert.

{2} See, on this curious subject, the Essay on Fairies, in the “Border Minstrelsy,” vol. ii, under the fourth head; also Jackson on Unbelief, p. 175. Chaucer calls Pluto the “King of Faerie”; and Dunbar names him, “Pluto, that elrich incubus.” If he was not actually the devil, he must be considered as the “prince of the power of the air.” The most curious instance of these surviving classical superstitions is that of the Germans, concerning the Hill of Venus, into which she attempts to entice all gallant knights, and detains them there in a sort of Fools’ Paradise.

{3} See Pennant’s Tour in Wales.

{4} ‘First Edition-Mr. Brydone has been many years dead. 1825.’

{5} ‘“Lesquels Escossois descendirent la montaigne in bonne ordre, en la maniere que marchent Its Allemans, sans parler, ne faire aucun bruit”-Gazette of the Battle, PINKERTON’S History, Appendix, vol. ii. p. 456.’