Page images


These tales were written in the interval of other avocations, for the use of the young Relative to whom they are inscribed. They embrace at the same time some attempt at a general view of Scottish History, with a selection of its more picturesque and prominent points. Having been found useful to the young Person for whom the compilation was made, they are now given to the Public, in the hope that they may be a source of instruction for others. The compilation, though professing to be only Tales, or Narratives from Scottish Chronicles, will, nevertheless, be found to contain a general idea of the history of that Country, from the period when it has general interest.

The compiler may here mention, that, after commencing his task in a manner obvious to the most limited capacity, of which the Tale of Macbeth is an example, he was led to take a different view of the subject, by finding that a style considerably more elevated was more interesting to his juvenile reader. There is no harm, but on the contrary there is benefit, in presenting a child with ideas somewhat beyond his easy and immediate comprehension. The difficulties thus offered, if not too great or too frequent, stimulate curiosity, and encourage exertion.

ABBOTSFORD, 10th Oct. 1827.




MUCH RESPECTED SIR, Although I have not yet arrived at the reverend period of life which may put me once more on a level with yours, yet I find myself already better pleased to seek an auditor of your age, who is usually contented to hear the same story repeated twenty times over, than to attempt instructing the more critical hearers among my contemporaries, that are apt to object to any tale twice told. It is, therefore, probable that had we been to remain near to each other, I should have repeated to you many of the stories contained in this book more than once. But, since that has ceased to be the case, I have nothing remaining save to put them in this shape, in which you may read them over as often as you have a mind.

I have in this little book imitated one with which you are well acquainted,—I mean the collection of Stories taken from the History of England, and which has been so deservedly popular.

As you, however, happen to be a person of quick study, and great penetration, it is my purpose to write a little work, which may not only be useful to you at the age of five or six years, which I think may be about your worship's present period of life, but which may not be beneath your attention, either for style or matter, at the graver term of eight, or even ten years old. When, therefore, you find any thing a little too hard for you to understand at this moment, you must consider that you

will be better able to make out the sense a year or two afterwards; or perhaps you may make a great exertion, and get at the meaning, just as you might contrive to reach something placed upon a high shelf, by standing on your tiptoes, instead of waiting till you grow a little taller. Or who knows but papa will give you some assistance, and that will be the same as if he set you upon a stool that you might reach down what you wanted.

And so farewell, my dear Hugh Littlejohn. If you should grow wiser and better from what you read in this book, it will give great pleasure to your very affectionate


[ocr errors]





two, called the Scots and the Picts; they oftent CHAPTER I.

fought against each other, but they always joined How Scotland and England came to be Separate Kingdoms.

together against the Romans and the Britons, who

had been subdued by them. At length, the Romans Exgland is the southern, and Scotland is the thought they would prevent these Picts and Scots northern part of the celebrated island called Great from coming into the southern part of Britain, and Britain. England is greatly larger than Scotland, laying it waste. For this purpose, they built a very and the ground is much richer, and produces better long wall between the one side of the island and the crops. There are also a great many more men in other, so that none of the Scots or Picts should England, and both the gentlemen and the country come into the country on the south side of the wall; people are richer, and have better food and clothing and they made towers on the wall, and camps, with there than in Scotland.

soldiers, from place to place; so that, at the least Scotland, on the contrary, is full of hills, and huge alarm, the soldiers might hasten to defend any part moors and wildernesses, which bear no corn, and of the wall which was attacked. This first Roman afford but little food for flocks of sheep or herds of wall was built between the two great Friths of the cattle. But the level ground that lies along the Clyde and the Forth, just where the island of Britain great rivers is more fertile, and produces good crops. is at the narrowest, and some parts of it are to be The natives of Scotland are accustomed to live more seen at this day. You can see it on the map. hardily in general than those of England.

The wall defended the Britons for a time, and the Now, as these two nations live in the different Scots and Picts were shut out from the fine rich ends of the same island, and are separated by large land, and enclosed within their own mountains, and stormy seas from other parts of the world, it But they were very much displeased with this, and seems natural that they should have been friendly to assembled themselves in great numbers, and climbed each other, and that they should have lived under over the wall in spite of all that the Romans could the same government. Accordingly, about two hun do to oppose them. A man of the name of Grahame dred years ago, the King of Scotland becoming King is said to have been the first soldier who got over, of England, as I will tell you in another part of this and the common people still call the remains of the book, the iwo nations have ever since then been wall Grahame's dike. joined into one great kingdom, which is called Great Now the Romans, finding that this first wall could Britain.

not keep out the Barbarians, (for so they called the But, before this happy union of England and Scot- Piets and the Scots,) thought they would give up a land, there were many long, cruel, and bloody wars, large portion of the country to them, and perhaps it between the two nations; and, far from helping or might make them quiet. So they built a new wall, assisting each other, as became good neighbours and a much stronger one than the first, sixty miles and friends, they did each other all the harm and farther back from the Picts and Scots. Yet the Barinjury that they possibly could, by invading each barians made as many furious attacks to get over other's territories, killing their subjects, burning their this second wall as ever they had done to break towns, and taking their wives and children prison- through the former. But the Roman soldiers deers. This lasted for many hundred years, and I am fended the second wall so well, that the Scots and about to tell you the reason why the land was so Picts could not break through it, though they often divided.

came round the end of the wall by sea, in boats made A long time since, eighteen hundred years ago and of ox hides stretched upon hoops, landed on the other more, there was a brave and warlike people, called side, and did very much mischiet. In the mean time, the Romans, who undertook to conquer the whole the poor Britons led a very unhappy life ; for the Roworld, and subdue all countries, so as to make their mans, when they subdued their country, had taken own city of Rome the head of all the nations upon away all their arms, and they had lost the habit of the face of the earth. And after conquering far and using them, or of defending themselves, and trusted near, at last they came to Britain, and made a great entirely to the protection of the Romans. war upon the inhabitants, called the British, or Bri- But at this time great quarrels, and confusion, and tons, whom they found living there. The Romans, wars, took place at Rome. So the Roman Emperor who were a very brave people, and well armed, beat sent to the soldiers whom he had maintained in Brithe British, and took possession of almost all the tlat tuin, and ordered that they should immediately return part of the island, which is now called England, and to their own country, and leave the Britons to defend also of a part of the south of Scotland. "But they their wall as well as they could, against their unruly could not make their way into the high northern and warlike neighbours, the Piets and Scots. The mountains of Scotland, where they could hardly get Roman soldiers were very sorry for the poor Britons, any thing to feed their soldiers, and where they met but they could do no more to help them than by with much opposition from the inhabitants.

repairing the wall of defence. They therefore built it Then the wild people of Scotland, whom the Ro- all up, and made it as strong as if it were quite new. mans had not been able to subdue, began to come And then they took to their ships, and left the island. down from their mountains, and make inroads upon After the departure of the Romans, the Britons that part of the country which had been conquered were quite unable to protect the wall against the by the Romans.

Barbarians; for, since their conquest by the Romans, These people of Scotland were not one nation, but they had become a weak and cowardly people. Sa


the Picts and the Scots wasted and destroyed their enemies to each other. Papa will show you the two country, and took away their boys and girls to be countries on the map, and you must take notice how slaves, and seized upon their sheep, and upon their Scotland is all full of bills, and wild moors covered cattle, and burnt their houses, and did them every with heather. But now I think upon it, Mr. Hugh sort of mischief. Thus at last the Britons, finding Littlejohn is a traveller, and has seen Scotland and themselves quite unable to resist these barbarous England too with his own eyes. However, it will people, invited into Britain to their assistance, a num- do no harm to look at the map. ber of men from Germany, who were called Anglo- The English are very fond of their fine country ; Saxons. Now, these were a very brave and warlike they call it Old England, and think it the finest land people, and they came in their ships from Germany, that the sun shines upon. And the Scots are also and landed in ihe south part of Britain, and helped very proud of their own country, with its great lakes the Britons to fight with the Scots and Picts, and and mountains. The land of the lakes and moun

; in the the coundrove them back again into the hills and fastnesses try, they call it of their own country, to the north of the wall which ains, and the brave men;" and often, also, the Land the Romans built; and they were never afterwards of Cakes, because the people live a good deal upon 80 troublesome to their neighbours.

cakes made of oatmeal, instead of wheaten bread. But the Britons were not much the better for the But both England and Scotland are now parts of the defeat of their northern enemies; for the Saxons, same kingdom, and there is no use in asking which when they had come into Britain, and saw what á is the best country, or has the bravest men. beautiful rich country it was, and how the people This is but a dull chapter, Mr. Littlejohn. But as were not able to defend it, resolved to take the land we are to tell many stories about Scotland and Eng. to themselves, and to make the Britons their slaves land, it is best to learn what sort of countries we are and servants. The Britons were very unwilling to talking about. The next story shall be more enterhave their country taken from them by the people taining. they had called in to help them, and so strove tv oppose them; but the Saxons were stronger and more warlike than they, and defeated them su often,

CHAPTER I I. that they at last got possession of all the level and flat land in the south part of Britain. However, the

The Story of Macbeth. bravest part of the Britons fled into a very hilly part

Soon after the Scots and Picts had become one of Britain, which is called Wales, and there they people, as I told you before, there was a King of defended themselves against the Saxons for a great Scotland called Duncan, a very good old man. He many years; and their descendants still speak the had two sons; one was called Malcolm, and the ancient British language, called Welsh. In the mean other Donaldbane. But King Duncan was 100 old time, the Anglo-Saxons spread themselves through- to lead out his army to battle, and his sons were too out all the south part of Britain, and the name of the young to help him. country was changed, and it was no longer called At this time Scotland, and indeed France and Britain, but England; which means the land of the England, and all the other countries of Europe, were Anglo-Saxons, who had conquered it.

much harassed by the Danes. These were a very While the Saxons and Britons were thus fighting fierce, warlike people, who sailed from one place to together, the Scots and the Picts, after they had another and landed their armies on the coast, burnbeen driven back behind the Roman wall, also quar- ing and destroying every thing wherever they came. relled and fought between themselves; and at last, They were heatheus, and did not believe in the Bible, after a great many battles, the Scots got completely but thought of nothing but battle and slaughter, and the better of the Picts. The common people say that making, plunder. When they came to countries the Scots destroyed them entirely; but I think it is where the inhabitants were cowardly, they took posnot likely that they could kill such great numbers of session of the land, as I told you the Saxons iook people. Yet it is certain they must have slain many, possession of Britain. At other times, they landed and driven others out of the country, and made the with their soldiers, took what spoil they could find, rest their servants and slaves; at least the Picts burned the houses, and then got on board, hoisted were never heard of in history after these great sails, and away again. They did so much mischief, defeats, and the Scots gave their own name to the that people put up prayers to God in the churches to north part of Britain, as the Angles, or Anglo- deliver them from the rage of the Danes. Saxons, did to the south part; and so came the Now, it happened in King Duncan's time, that a name of Scotland, the land of the Scots; and Eng. great fleet of these Danes came to Scotland and land, the land of the English. The two kingdoms landed their men in Fife, and threatened to take poswere divided from each other, first by the river session of that province. So a numerous Scottish Tweed, then by a great range of bills and wilder- army was levied to go to fight with them. The King, nesses, and then by a branch of the sea called the as I told you, was too old io command his army, and Frith of Solway. The division is not very far from his sons were too young. So he sent out one of his the old Roman wall. The wall itself has been long near relations, who was called Macbeth ; he was suffered to go to ruins; but, as I have already said, son of Finel, who was Thane, as it was called, cf there are some parts of it still standing, and it is Glamis. The governors of provinces were at that curious to see how it runs as straight as an arrow time, in Scotland, called Thanes; they were afterover high hills, and through great bogs and morasses. wards termed Earls.

You see, therefore, that Britain was divided be. This Macbeth, who was a brave soldier, put him tween three different nations, who were enemies to self at the head of the Scottish army, and marched each other. There was England, which was the against the Danes. And he carried with him a relarichest and best part of the island, and which was tion of his own, called Banguo, who was Thane of inhabited by the English. Then there was Scotland, Lochaber, and was also a very brave man. So there full of hills and great lakes, and difficult and danger was a great battle fought between the Danes and the ous precipices, wild heaths, and great morasses. Scots, and Macbeth and Banquo defeated the Danes, This country was inhabited by the Scots, or Scottish and drove them back to their ships, leaving a greai men. And there was Wales, where the remains of many of their soldiers both killed and wounded. the ancient British had fled, to obtain safety from the Then Macbeth and his army marched back to a Saxons.

town in the North of Scotland, called Forres, rejoicThe Welsh defended their country for a long time, ing on account of their victory, but the English got possession of it at last. But Now there lived at this time ihree old women in the they were not able to become masters of Scotland, town of Forres, whom people thought were witches, though they tried it very often. The two countries and supposed they could iell what was to come to were under different kings, who fought together very pass. Nobody would believe such folly now-a-days, often and very desperately; and thus you see the except low and ignorant creatures, such as those who reason why England and Scotland, though making consult gipsies in order to have their fortunes told; parts of the same island, were for a long time great but in those early times the people were much more ignorant, and even great men, like Macbeth, believed | aparimenų they both fell asleep, and slept so soundly, that such persons as these witches of Forres could that nothing could awaken them. tell what was to come to pass afterwards, and listened Then the cruel Macbeth came into King Duncan's to the nonsense they told them, as if the old women bed-room about two in the morning. It was a terrihad really been prophetesses. The old women saw ble stormy night: but the noise of the wind and of that they were respected and feared, so that they were the thunder could not awaken the king, as he was tempted to impose upon people, by pretending to tell old and weary with his journey; neither could it what was to happen to them, and they got presents a waken the two sentinels. They all slept soundly, for doing so.

So Macbeth having come into the room, and stepped So the three old women went and stood by the gently over the floor, he took the two dirks which wayside, in a great moor or heath near Forres, and belonged to the sentinels, and stabbed poor old King waited till Macbeth came up. And then, stepping Duncan to the heart, and that so effectually that he before him as he was marching at the head of his died without giving even a groan. Then Macbeth soldiers, the first woman said, All hail, Macbeth- put the bloody daggers into the hands of the sentihail to thee, Thane of Glanis." The second said, nels, and he daubed their faces over with blood, that

All hail, Macbeth-hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor." it might appear as if they had committed the murder. Then the third, wishing to pay him a higher compli- Macbeth was frightened at what he had done, but ment than the other two, said, “ All hail, Macbeth, his wife made hiin wash his hands and go to bed. that shall be King of Scotland." Macbeth was very Early in the morning, the nobles and gentlemen much surprised to hear them give him these titles; who aitended on the King, assembled in the great and while he was wondering what they could mean, hall of the castle, and there they begun to talk ot Banquo stepped forward, and asked them whether what a dreadful storm it had been the night before. they had nothing to tell about him as well as about But Macbeth could scarcely understand what they Macbeth. And they said he should not be so great said, for he was thinking on something much worse as Macbeth, but that though he himself should never and more frightful than ihe storm, and was wonderbe a king, yet his children should succeed 10 the ing what would be said when they heard of the murthrone of Scotland, and be kings for a great number der. They waited for some time, but finding the of years.

King did not come from his apartment, one of the Before Macbeth was recovered from his surprise, noblemen went to see whether he was well or not. there came a messenger to tell him that his father But when he came into the room, he found poor King was dead, so that he was become Thane of Glamis Duncan lying stiff, and cold, and bloody, and the iwo by inheritance. And there came a second messenger sentinels, with their dirks or daggers covered with from the King, to thank Macbeth for the great victory blood, both fast asleep. As soon as the Scottish over the Danes, and tell him that the Thane of Caw. nobles saw this terrible sight, they were greatly asdor had rebelled against the King, and that the King tonished and enraged; and Macbeth made believe had taken his office from him, and had sent to make as if he were more enraged than any of them, and, Macbeth Thane of Cawdor as well as Glamis. Thus drawing his sword, before any one could prevent him, the two first old women seemed to be right in giving he killed the two attendants of the King who slepi him these two titles. I dare say they knew some- in the bed-chamber, pretending to think they had thing of the death of Macbeth's father, and that the been guilty of murdering King Duncan. government of Candor was intended for Macbeth, When Malcolm and Donaldbane, the two sons of though he had not heard of it.

the good King, saw their father slain in this strange However, Macbeth seeing a part of their words manner within Macbeth's castle, they became afraid come to be true, began to think how he was to bring that they might be put to death likewise, and fled the rest to pass, and make himself King, as well as away out of Scotland; for notwithstanding all the Thane of Glamis and Cawdor. And Macbeth had a excuses which he could make, they still believed that wife, who was a very ambitious wicked woman, and Macbeth had killed their father. Donaldhane fled when she found out that her husband thought of into some distant islands, but Malcolm, the eldest raising himself up to be King of Scotland, she en- son of Duncan, went to the court of England, where couraged him by all means in her power, and per- he begged for assistance from the English King, to suaded him that the only way to get possession of place him on the throne of Scotland as his father's the crown was to kill the good old king, Duncan. successor. Macbeth was very unwilling to cominit so great a In the mean time, Macbeth took possession of the crime, for he knew what a good king Duncan had kingdom of Scotland, and thus all his wicked wishes been, and he recollected how he was his relation, and seemed to be fulfilled. But he was not happy. He had been always very kind to him, and had intrusted began to reflect how wicked he had been in killing him with the command of his army, and had be- his friend and benefactor, and how some other person, stowed on him the government or Thanedom of as ambitious as he was himself, might do the same Cawdor. But his wife continued telling him what a thing to him. He remembered, too, that the old foolish cowardly thing it was in him not to take the women had said, that the children of Banquo should opportunity of making himself King, when it was in succeed to the throne after his death, and therefore his power to gain what the witches promised him. he concluded that Banquo might be tempted to conSo the wicked advice of his wife, and the prophecy spire against him, as he had himself done against of these wretched old women, at last brought Mac- King Duncan. The wicked always think other peobeth to think of murdering his King and his friend. ple are as bad as themselves. In order to prevent The way in which he accomplished his crime, made this supposed danger, he hired ruffians to watch in a it still more abominable.

wood, where Banquo and his son Fleance sometimes Macbeth invited Duncan to come to visit him, at a used to walk in the evening, with instructions to atgreat castle near Inverness; and the good King, who tack them, and kill both father and son. The villains had no suspicions of his kinsman, accepted the invi- did as they were ordered by Macbeth; but while they tation very willingly. Macbeth and his lady received were killing Banquo, the boy Fleance made his escape the King and all his retinue with much appearance from their wicked hands, and Med from Scotland into of joy, and made a great feast, as a subject would do Wales. And it is said, that long afterwards, his to make his King welcome. About the middle of the children came to possess the Scottish crown. night, the King desired to go to his apartment, and Macbeth was not the more happy that he had slain Macbeth conducted him to a fine room, which had his brave friend and cousin Banquo. He knew that been prepared for him. Now, it was the custom, in men began to suspect the wicked deeds which he had those barbarous times, that wherever the King slept, done, and he was constantly afraid

that some one two armed men slept in the same chamber, in order would put him to death as he had done his old soveto defend his person, in case he should be attacked reign, or that Malcolm would obtain assistance from by any one during the night. But the wicked Lady the King of England, and come to make war against Macbeth had made these two watchmen drink a him, and take from him the Scottish kingdom.

So great deal of wine, and had besides put some drugs in this great perplexity of mind, he thought he would into the liquor, so that when they went to the King's go to the old women, whose words had first put into

« PreviousContinue »