The Lay of the Last Minstrel/Notes on Canto 6

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She wrought not by forbidden spell.—St. V. p. 165.

Popular belief, though contrary to the doctrines of the church, made a favourable distinction betwixt magicians, and necromancers or wizards; the former were supposed to command the evil spirits, and the latter to serve, or at least to be in league and compact with, those enemies of mankind. The arts of subjecting the dæmons were manifold; sometimes the fiends were actually swindled by the magicians, as in the case of the bargain betwixt one of their number and the poet Virgil. The classic reader will doubtless be curious to peruse this anecdote.

"Virgilius was at scole at Tolenton, where he stodyed dyligently, for he was of great understandynge. Upon a tyme, the scolers had lycense to go to play and sporte them in the fyldes, after the usaunce of the holde tyme. And there was also Virgilius therbye, also walkynge amonge the hylles alle about. It fortuned he spyed a great hole in the syde of a great hyll, wherein he went so depe, that he culde not see no more lyght; and then he went a lytell farther therin, and than he saw some lyght agayne, and than he went fourth streyghte, and within a lytyll wyle after he harde a voyce that called "Virgilius! Virgilius!" and loked aboute, and he colde nat see no body. Than sayd he (i.e. the voice), "Virgilius, see ye not the lyttyll bourde lyinge bysyde you there markd with that word?" Than answerd Virgilius, "I see that borde well anough." The voyce sayd, "Doo awaye that borde, and lette me out there atte." Than answered Virgilius to the voyce that was under the lytell borde, and sayd, "Who art thou that calles me so?" Than answered the Devyll, "I ama devyll conjured out of the body of a certeyne man, and banysshed here tyll the day of judgemend, without that I be delyvered by the handes of men. Thus, Virgilius, I pray the, delyvere me out of this payn, and I shall shewe unto the many bokes of nygromancy, and how thou shalt come by it lyghtly, and know the practise therein, that no man in the scyence of negromancye shall passe the. And moreover, I shall shewe and enforme the so, that thou shalt have alle thy desyre, wherby mythinke it is a great gyfte for so lytyll a doynge. For ye may also thus all your power frendys helpe, and make ryche your ennemyes."———Thorough that great promyse was Virgilius tempted; he badde the fynd show the bokes to him, that he might have and occupy them at his wyll, and so the: fynde shewed hym. And than Virgilius pulled open a bourde, and there was a lytell hole, and therat wrang the devyll out lyke a yeel, and cam and stode byfore Virgilius lyke a bygge man; wherof Virgilius was astonied and marveyled greatly therof, that so great a man myght come out at so lytell a hole. Than sayd Virgilius, "Shulde ye well passe into the hole that ye cam out of?" "Yea, I shall well," sayd the devyll. "I holde the best plegge that I have that ye shall not do it." "Well," sayd the devyll, "therto I consent." And than the devyll wrange himselfe into the lytell hole ageyne; and as he was therein, Virgilius kyverd the hole ageyn with the bourde close, and so was the devyll begyled, and myght nat there come out agen, but abydeth shytte styll therin. Than called the devyll dredefully to Virgilius, and sayd, "What have ye done, Virgilius?" Virgilius answerd, "Abyde there styll to your day apoynted;" and fro thens forth abydeth he there. And so Virgilius became very connynge in the practyse of the blacke scyence."

This story may remind the reader of the Arabian tale of the Fisherman and the imprisoned Genie; and it is more than probable that many of the marvels narrated in the life of Virgil are of oriental extraction. Among such I am disposed to reckon the following whimsical account of the foundation of Naples, containing a curious theory concerning the origin of the earthquakes with which it is afflicted. Virgil, who was a person of gallantry, had, it seems, carried off the daughter of a certain Soldan, and was anxious to secure his prize.

"Than he thought in his mynde how he myghte mareye hyr, and thought in his mynde to founde in the middes of the see a fayer towne, with great landes belongynge to it; and so he dyd by his cunnynge, and called it Napells. And the fandacyon of it was of egges, and in that towne of Napells he made a tower with iiii corners, and in the toppe he set a nappell upon an yron yarde, and no man culde pull awaye that apell without he brake it; and thoroughe that yren set hea bolte, and in that bolte set he a egge. And he henge the apell by the stauke apon a cheyne, and so hangeth it styll. And when the egge styrreth, so shulde the towne of Napells quake; and whan the egge brake, than shulde the towne sinke. Whan he had made an ende, he lette call it Napels."

A merlin sat upon her wrist.—St. V. p. 165.

A merlin, or sparrow-hawk, was usually carried by ladies of rank, as a falcon was, in time of peace, the constant attendant of a knight or baron. See Latham on Falconry.—Godscroft relates, that when Mary of Lorraine was regent, she pressed the Earl of Angus to admit a royal garrison into his castle of Tantallon. To this he returned no direct answer; but, as if apostrophising a goss-hawk which sat on his wrist, and which he was feeding during the Queen's speech, he exclaimed, "The devil's in this greedy glade, she will never be full." Hume's History of the House of Douglas, 1743, vol. ii. p. 131. Barclay complains of the common and indecent practice of bringing hawks and hounds into churches.

And princely peacock's gilded train—St. VI. p. 166.

The peacock, it is well known, was considered, during the times of chivalry, not merely as an exquisite delicacy, but as a dish of peculiar solemnity. After being roasted, it was again decorated with its plumage, and a spunge, dipt in lighted spirits of wine, was placed in its bill. When it was introduced on days of grand festival, it was the signal for the adventurous knights to take upon them vows to do some deed of chivalry "before the peacock and the ladies."

And o'er the boar-head, garnished brave.—St. VI. p. 166.

The boar's head was also a usual dish of feudal splendour. In Scotland it was sometimes surrounded with little banners, displaying the colours and achievements of the baron, at whose board it was served. Pinkerton's History, Vol. I. p. 482.

And cygnet from St Mary's wave.—St. VI. p. 166.

There are often flights of wild swans upon St Mary's Lake, at the head of the river Yarrow.

Smote, with his gauntlet, stout Hunthill.—St. VII. p. 168.

The Rutherfords of Hunthill were an ancient race of Border lairds, whose names occur in history, sometimes as defending the frontier against the English, sometimes as disturbing the peace of the country. Dickon Draw-the-sword was son to the ancient warrior, called in tradition the Cock of Hunthill.

But bit his glove, and shook his head.—St. VII. p. 168.

To bite the thumb, or the glove, seems not to have been considered, upon the Border, as a gesture of contempt, though so used by Shakespeare, but as a pledge of mortal revenge. It is yet remembered, that a young gentleman of Teviotdale, on the morning after a hard drinking bout, observed, that he had bitten his glove. He instantly demanded of his companion, with whom he had quarrelled? and learning that he had had words with one of the party, insisted on instant satisfaction, asserting, that though he remembered nothing of the dispute, yet he never would have bit his glove unless he had received some unpardonable insult. He fell in the duel, which was fought near Selkirk, in 1721.

Arthur Fire-the-braes.—St. VIII. p. 169.

The person bearing this redoubtable nomme de guerre was an Elliot, and resided at Thorleshope, in Liddesdale. He occurs in the list of Border riders, in 1597.

Since old Buckleuch the name did gain,
When in the cleuch the buck was ta'en.—St. VIII. p. 170.

A tradition, preserved by Scott of Satchells, who published, in 1688, A true History of the Right Honourable name of Scott, gives the following romantic origin of that name. Two brethren, natives of Galloway, having been banished from that country for a riot, or insurrection, came to Rankelburn, in Ettricke Forest, where the keeper, whose name was Brydone, received them joyfully, on account of their skill in winding the horn, and in the other mysteries of the chace. Kenneth Mac-Alpin, then king of Scotland, came soon after to hunt in the royal forest, and pursued a buck from Ettricke-heuch to the glen now called Buckleuch, about two miles above the junction of Rankelburn with the river Ettricke. Here the stag stood at bay; and the king and his attendants, who followed on horseback, were thrown out by the steepness of the hill and the morass. John, one of the brethren from Galloway, had followed the chace on foot; and now coming in, seized the buck by the horns, and, being a man of great strength and activity, threw him on his back, and run with this burden about a mile up the steep hill to a place called Cracra-Cross, where Kenneth had halted, and laid the buck at the sovereign's feet[1].

The deer being cureé'd in that place,
At his Majesty's demand,
Then John of Galloway ran apace,
And fetched water to his hand.
The King did wash into a dish,
And Galloway John he wot;
He said, "thy name now after this
Shall ever be called John Scot.
The forest, and the deer therein,
We commit to thy hand;
For thou shalt sure the ranger be,
If thou obey command:
And for the Buck thou stoutly brought
To us up that steep heuch,
Thy designation ever shall
Be John Scot in Bucksclengh.”
In Scotland no Buckcleuch was then,
Before the buck in the cleugh was slain;
Nights-men[2] at first they did appear,
Because moon and stars to their arm they bear.
Their crest, supporters, and hunting horn,
Shows their beginning from hunting came;
Their name and stile, the book doth say,
John gained them both into one day.
Watt’s Bellanden. 

The Buccleuch arms have been altered, and now allude less pointedly to this hunting, whether real or fabulous. The family now bear Or upon a bend azure, a mullet betwixt two crescents of the field; in addition to which they formerly bore in the field a hunting horn. The supporters, now two ladies, were formerly a hound and buck, or, according to the old terms, a hart of leash and a hart of greece. The family of Scott of Howpasley and Thirlestaine long retained the bugle-horn: they also carried a bent bow and arrow in the sinister cantle, perhaps as a difference. It is said the old motto was Best riding by moonlight, in allusion to the crescents on the shield, and perhaps to the habits of those who bore it. The motto now given is Amo, applying to the female supporters.

——Good Fergus Graeme,
The Harper of that ancient name.—St. X. p. 171.

"John Grahme, second son of Malice, Earl of Monteith, commonly surnamed John with the Bright Sword, upon some displeasure risen against him at court, retired with many of his clan and kindred into the English Borders in the reign of king Henry the Fourth, where they seated themselves; and many of their posterity have continued there ever since. Mr Sandford, speaking of them, says (which indeed was applicable to most of the Borderers on both sides), "They were all stark moss-troopers, and arrant thieves: Both to England and Scotland outlawed; yet sometimes connived at, because they gave intelligence forth of Scotland, and would rise 400 horse at any time upon a raid of the English into Scotland. A saying is recorded of a mother to her son (which is now become proverbial) Ride, Rowley, hough's i' the pot: that is, the last piece of beef was in the pot, and therefore it was high time for him to go and fetch more." Introduction to History of Cumberland.

The residence of the Græmes being chiefly in the Debateable Land, so called because it was claimed by both kingdoms, their depredations extended both to England and Scotland, with impunity; for as both wardens accounted them the proper subjects of their own prince, neither inclined to demand reparation for their excesses from the opposite officer, which would have been an acknowledgment of his jurisdiction over them. See a long correspondence on this subject betwixt Lord Dacre and the English Privy Council, in Introduction to History of Cumberland. The Debateable Land was finally divided betwixt England and Scotland by commissioners appointed by both nations.

The sun shines fair on Carlisle wall.—St. XI. p. 172.

This burden is adopted, with some alteration, from an old Scottish song, beginning thus:

She leaned her back against a thorn,
The sun shines fair on Carlisle wa';
And there she has her young babe born,
And the lyon sall be lord of a'.

Who has not heard of Surrey's fame.—St. XIII. p. 174.

The gallant and unfortunate Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, was unquestionably the most accomplished cavalier of his time; and his sonnets display beauties which would do honour to a more polished age. He was beheaded on Towerhill in 1546; a victim to the mean jealousy of Henry VIII., who could not bear so brilliant a character near his throne.

The song of the supposed bard is founded on an incident said to have happened to the Earl in his travels. Cornelius Agrippa, the celebrated alchemist, shewed him, in a looking-glass, the lovely Geraldine, to whose service he had devoted his pen and his sword. The vision represented her as indisposed, and reclined upon a couch, reading her lover's verses by the light of a waxen taper.

——The storm-swept Orcades;
Where erst St Clairs held princely sway,
O'er isle and islet, strait and bay.—St. XXI. p. 179.

The St Clairs are of Norman extraction, being descended from William de St Clair, second son of Walderne Compte de St Clair, and Margaret, daughter to Richard Duke of Normandy. He was called, for his fair deportment, the Seemly St Clair, and settling in Scotland during the reign of Malcolm Ceanmore, obtained large grants of land in Mid-Lothian. These domains were increased by the liberality of succeeding monarchs, to the descendants of the family, and comprehended the baronies of Rosline, Pentland, Cowsland, Cardaine, and several others. It is said a large addition was obtained from Robert Bruce on the following occasion. The king, in following the chace upon the Pentland hills, had often started a "white faunch deer," which had always escaped from his hounds; and he asked the nobles, who were assembled around him, whether any of them had dogs which they thought might be more successful. No courtier would affirm that his hounds were fleeter than those of the king, until Sir William St Clair of Rosline unceremoniously said, he would wager his head that his two favourite dogs, "Help and Hold," would kill the deer before she could cross the March-burn. The king instantly caught at his unwary offer, and betted the forest of Pentlandmoor against the life of Sir William St Clair. All the hounds were tied up, except a few ratches, or slow-hounds, to put up the deer; while Sir William St Clair posting himself in the best situation for slipping his dogs, prayed devoutly to Christ, the blessed Virgin, and St Katherine. The deer was shortly after roused, and the hounds slipped; Sir William following on a gallant steed, to cheer his dogs. The hind, however, reached the middle of the brook, upon which the hunter threw himself from his horse in despair. At this critical moment, however, Hold stopped her in the brook; and Help coming up, turned her back, and killed her on Sir William's side. The king, descending from the hill, embraced Sir William, and bestowed on him the lands of Kirkton, Loganhouse, Earncraig, &c. in free forestrie. Sir William, in acknowledgment of Saint Katherine's intercession, built the chapel of St Katherine in the Hopes, the churchyard of which is still to be seen. The hill, from which Robert Bruce beheld this memorable chace, is still called the King's Hill, and the place where Sir William hunted is called the Knight's Field[3].—MS. History of the Family of St Clair, by Richard Augustin Hay, Canon of St Genevieve.

This adventurous huntsman married Elizabeth, daughter of Malice Spar, Earl of Orkney and Stratherne, in whose right their son Henry was, in 1879, created Earl of Orkney, by Haco, king of Norway. His title was recognised by the kings of Scotland, and remained with his successors until it was annexed to the crown, in 1471, by act of parliament. In exchange for this earldom, the castle and domains of Ravenscraig, or Ravensheuch, were conferred on William Saintclair, Earl of Caithness.

Stil nods their palace to its fall,
Thy pride and sorrow, fair Kirkwall.—St. XXI. p. 179.

The castle of Kirkwall was built by the St Clairs, while Earls of Orkney. It was dismantled by the Earl of Caithness about 1615, having been garrisoned against the government by Robert Stewart, natural son to the Earl of Orkney.

Its ruins afforded a sad subject of contemplation to John, Master of St Clair, who, flying from his native country, on account of his share in the insurrection 1715, made some stay at Kirkwall.

"I had occasion to entertain myself at Kirkwall with the melancholic prospect of the ruins of an old castle, the seat of the old Earls of Orkney, my ancestors; and of a more melancholy reflection, of so great and noble an estate as the Orkney and Shetland isles being takne from one of them by James the third for faultrie, after his brother Alexander, Duke of Albany, had married a daughter of my family, and for protecting and defending the said Alexander against the king, who wished to kill him as he had done his youngest brother, the Earl of Mar; and for which, after the forfaultrie, he gratefully divorced my forfaulted ancestor's sister. Though I cannot persuade myself that he had any misalliance to plead against a familie in whose veins the blood of Robert Bruce run as fresh as in his own; for their title to the crowne was by a daughter of David Bruce, son to Robert; and our alliaunce was by marrying a grandchild of the same Robert Bruce, and daughter to the sister of the same David, out of the familie of Douglass, which at that time did not much sullie the blood, more than my ancestours having not long before had the honour of marrying a daughter of the king of Denmark's, who was named Florentine, and has left in the town of Kirkwall a noble monument of the grandeur of the times, the finest church ever I saw entire in Scotland. I then had no small reason to think, in that unhappy state, on the many not inconsiderable services rendered since to the royal familie, for these many years by-gone, on all occasions, when they stood most in need of friends, which they have thought themselves very often obliged to acknowledge by letters yet extant, and in a stile more like friends than souveraigns; our attachment to them, without anie other thanks, having brought upon us considerable losses, and, among others, that of our all in Cromwell's time; and left in that condition, without the least relief except what we found in our own virtue. My father was the onlie man of the Scots nation who had courage enough to protest in parliament against King William's title to the throne, which was lost, God knows how: and this at a time when the losses in the cause of the royall familie, and their usual gratitude, had scarce left him bread to maintain a numerous familie of eleven children, who had soon after sprung up on him, in spite of all which he had honorably persisted in his principle. I say, these things considered, and after being treated as I was, and in that unluckie state, when objects appear to men in their true light, as at the hour of death, could I be blamed for makeing some bitter reflections to myself, and laughing at the extravagance and unaccountable humour of men, and the singularitie of my own case (an exile for the cause of the Stuart family), when I ought to have known, that the greatest crime I, or my family, could have committed, was persevering, to my own destruction, in serving the royal familie faithfully, though obstinately, after so great a share of depression, and after they had been pleased to doom me and my familie to starve."—MS. Memoirs of John, Master of St Clair.

Kings of the main, their leaders brave,
Their barks, the dragons of the wave.—St. XXII. p. 180.

The chiefs of the Vikingr, or Scandinavian pirates, assumed the title of Sækonungr, or Sea-kings. Ships, in the inflated language of the Scalds, are often termed the serpents of the ocean.

Of that sea-snake, tremendous curled,
Whose monstrous circle girds the world.—St. XXII. p. 180.

The jormungandr, or snake of the ocean, whose folds surround the earth, is one of the wildest fictions of the Edda. It was very nearly caught by the god Thor, who went to fish for it with a hook baited with a bull's head. In the battle betwixt the evil demons and the divinities of Odin, which is to precede the Ragnarockr, or Twilight of the Gods, this snake is to act a conspicuous part.

Of those dread maids, whose hideous yell
Maddens the battle's bloody swell—St. XXII. p. 181.

These were the Valkyriur, or Selecters of the Slain, dispatched by Odin from Valhalla, to choose those who were to die, and to distribute the contest. They are well-known to the English reader as Gray's Fatal Sisters.

Ransacked the graves of warriors old,
Their faulchions wrenched from corpses' hold.
St. XXII. p. 181. 

The northern warriors were usually entombed with their arms, and their other treasures. Thus Angantyr, before commencing the duel in which he was slain, stipulated, that if he fell, his sword Tirfyng should be buried with him. His daughter, Hervor, afterwards took it from his tomb. The dialogue which past betwixt her and Angantyr's spirit on this occasion has been often translated. The whole history may be found in the Hervarar-Saga. Indeed the ghosts of the northern warriors were not wont tamely to suffer their tombs to be plundered; and hence the mortal heroes had an additional temptation to attempt such adventures; for they held nothing more worthy of their valour than to encounter supernatural beings. Bartholinus De causis contemptæ a Danis mortis, Lib. I. cap. 2. 9. 10. 13.

——Rosabelle.—St. XXIII. p. 181.

This was a family name in the house of St Clair. Henry St Clair, the second of the line, married Rosabelle, fourth daughter of the Earl of Stratherne.

——Castle Ravensheuch.—St. XXIII. p. 182.

A large and strong castle, now ruinous, situated betwixt Kirkaldy and Dysart, on a steep crag, washed by the Firth of Forth. It was conferred on Sir William St Clair, as a slight compensation for the earldom of Orkney, by a charter of King James III. dated in 1471, and is now the property of Sir James St Clair Erskine, representative of the family. It was long a principal residence of the Barons of Roslin.

Seemed all on fire that chapel proud,
Where Roslin's chiefs uncoffined lie;
Each Baron, for a sable shroud,
Sheathed in his iron panoply.—St. XXIII. p. 183.

The beautiful chapel of Roslin is still in tolerable preservation. It was founded in 1446 by William St Clair, Prince of Orkney, Duke of Oldenbourgh, Earl of Cathnes and Stratherne, Lord Saint Clair, Lord Niddesdale, Lord Admiral of the Scottish seas, Lord Chief Justice of Scotland, Lord Warden of the three marches, Baron of Roslin, Pentland, Pentlandmoor, &c., Knight of the Cockle and of the Garter (as is affirmed), High Chancellor, Chamberlain, and Lieutenant of Scotland. This lofty person, whose titles, says Godscroft, might weary a Spaniard, built the castle of Roslin, where he resided in princely splendour, and founded the chapel, which is in the most rich and florid stile of Gothic architecture. Among the profuse carving on the pillars and buttresses, the rose is frequently introduced in allusion to the name, with which, however, the flower has no connection; the etymology being Ross-linnhe, the promontory of the lin, or water-fall. The chapel is said to appear on fire previous to the death of any of his descendants. This superstition, noticed by Slezer in his Theatrum Scotiæ, and alluded to in the text, is probably of Norwegian derivation, and may have been imported by the Earls of Orkney into their Lothian domains. The tomb-fires of the north are mentioned in most of the Sagas.

The Barons of Roslin were buried in a vault beneath the chapel floor. The manner of their interment is thus described by Father Hay, in the MS. history already quoted.

"Sir William Sinclair, the father, was a leud man. He kept a miller's daughter, with whom it is alleged he went to Ireland; yet I think the cause of his retreat was rather occasioned by the Presbyterians, who vexed him sadly, because of his religion being Roman Catholic. His son, Sir William, died during the troubles, and was interred in the chapel of Roslin the very same day that the battle of Dunbar was fought, When my goodfather was buried, his (i.e. Sir William's) corpse seemed to be entire at the opening of the cave; but when they came to touch his body, it fell into dust. He was laying in his armour with a red velvet cap on his head, on a flat stone; nothing was spoiled except a small piece of the white furring, that went round the cap, and answered to the hinder part of the head. All his predecessors were buried after the same manner in their armour: late Rosline, my good-father, was the first that was buried in a coffin, against the sentiments of King James the Seventh, who was then in Scotland, and several other persons well versed in antiquity, to whom my mother would not hearken, thinking it beggarly to be buried after that manner. The great expences she was at in burying her husband, occasioned the sumptuary acts which were made in the following parliaments."

———"Gylbin, come!"—St. XXVII. p. 187.

See the story of Gilpin Horner, p. 245.

For he was speechless, ghastly, wan,
Like him of whom the story ran,
Who spoke the spectre-hound in Man.—St. XXVII. p. 187.

The ancient castle of Peel-town, in the Isle of Man, is surrounded by four churches, now ruinous. Through one of these chapels there was formerly a passage from the guardroom of the garrison. This was closed, it is said, upon the following occasion: "They say that an apparition, called, in the Mankish language, the Mauthe Doog, in the shape of a large black spaniel, with curled shaggy hair, was used to haunt Peel-castle; and has been frequently seen in every room, but particularly in the guard-chamber, where, as soon as candles were lighted, it came and lay down before the fire, in presence of all the soldiers, who, at length, by being so much accustomed to the sight of it, lost great part of the terror they were seized with at its first appearance. They still, however, retained a certain awe, as believing it was an evil spirit, which only waited permission to do them hurt; and for that reason forebore swearing, and all prophane discourse, while in its company. But though they endured the shock of such a guest when all together in a body, none cared to be left alone with it: it being the custom, therefore, for one of the soldiers to lock the gates of the castle at a certain hour, and carry the keys to the Captain, to whose apartment, as I said before, the way led through the church, they agreed among themselves, that whoever was to succeed the ensuing night his fellow in this errand, should accompany him that went first, and by this means no man would be exposed singly to the danger: for I forgot to mention, that the Mauthe Doog was always seen to come out from that passage at the close of day, and return to it again as soon as the morning dawned; which made them look on this place as its peculiar residence.

"One night a fellow being drunk, and by the strength of his liquor rendered more daring than ordinarily, laughed at the simplicity of his companions; and though it was not his turn to go with the keys, would needs take that office upon him, to testify his courage. All the soldiers endeavoured to dissuade him; but the more they said, the more resolute he seemed, and swore that he desired nothing more than that Mauthe Doog would follow him, as it had done the others; for he would try if it were dog or devil. After having talked in a very reprobate manner for some time, he snatched up the keys, and went out of the guard-room; in some time after his departure, a great noise was heard, but nobody had the boldness to see what occasioned it, till the adventurer returning, they demanded-the knowledge of him; but as loud and noisy as he had been at leaving them, he was now become sober and silent enough; for he was never heard to speak more: and though all the time he lived, which was three days, he was entreated by all who came near him, either to speak, or, if he could not do that, to make some signs, by which they might understand what had happened to him; yet nothing intelligible could be got from him, only that, by the distortion of his limbs and features, it might be guessed that he died in agonies more than is common in a natural death.

"The Mauthe Doog was, however, never after seen in the casile, nor would any one attempt to go through that passage; for which reasén it was closed up, and another way made. This accident happened about threescore years since; and I heard it attested by several, but especially by an old soldier, who assured me he had seen it oftener than he had then hairs on his head. Waldron's Description of the Isle of Man, p. 107.

And he a solemn sacred plight
Did to St Bryde of Douglas make. St. XXVIII. p. 188.

This was a favourite saint of the house of Douglas, and of the Earl of Angus-in particular; as we learn from the following passage: The Queen-regent had proposed to raise a rival noble to the ducal dignity; and discoursing of her purpose with Angus, he answered, "Why not, Madam; we are happy that have such.a princess, that can know and will acknowledge men's service, and is willing to recompence it: But, by the might of God (this was his oath when he was serious and in anger; at other times, it was by Saint Bride of Douglas), if he be a Duke, I will be a Drake!" So she desisted from prosecuting of that purpose." Godscroft, vol. ii. p. 131.


Printed by James Ballantyne.


  1. Froissart relates, that a knight of the household of the Compte de Foix exhibited a similar feat of strength. The hall-fire had waxed low, and wood was wanted to mend it. This knight went down to the court-yard, where stood an ass laden with faggots, seized on the animal and his burden, and, carrying him up to the hall on his shoulders, tumbled him into the chimney with his heels uppermost; a humane pleasantry, much applauded by the Count and all the spectators.
  2. "Minions of the moon," as Falstaff would have said. The vocation pursued by our ancient Borderers may be justified on the authority of the most polished of the ancient nations. " For the Grecians in old time, and such barbarians as in the continent, lived neere unto the sea; or else inhabited the islands, after once they began to crosse over one to another in ships, became theeves, and went abroad under the conduct of their more puissant men, both to enrich themselves and to fetch in maintenance for the weak; and falling upon towns unfortified or scatteringly inhabited, rifled them, and made this the best meanes of their living; being a matter at that time no where in disgrace, but rather carrying with it something of glory. This is manifest by some that dwell upon the continent, amongst whom, so it be performed nobly, it is still esteemed as an ornament, The same also is prooved by some of the ancient poets, who introduce men questioning of such as sail by, on all coasts alike, whether they bee theeves or not; as a thing neyther scored by such as were asked, nor upbraided by those that were desirous to know. They also robbed one another within the main land: and much of Greece useth that old custome, as the Locrians, the Acarnanians, and those of the continent in that quarter unto this day. Moreover, the fashion of wearing iron remaineth yet with the people of that coutinent, from their old trade of theeving." Hobbes' Thucydides, p. 4. Lond. 1629.
  3. The tomb of Sir William St Clair, on which he appears sculptured in armour, with a greyhound at his feet, is still to be seen in Roslin chapel. The person who shews it always tells the story of his hunting-match, with some addition to Mr Hay's account; as that the knight of Rosline's fright made him poetical, and that, in the last emergency, he shouted,
    Help, haud, an' ye may,
    Or Rosline will lose his head this day.

    If this couplet does him no great honour as a poet, the conclusion of the story does him still less credit. He set his foot on the dog, says the narrator, and killed him on the spot, saying, he would never again put his neck in such a risque. As Mr Hay does not mention this circumstance, I hope it is-only founded on the couchant posture of the hound on the monument.