« PreviousContinue »
Ye mawes movyde of her song, Ye wodwale sange notes gay, That al the wod about range. Jo that longyog as I lay, Undir nethe a dern tre, I was war of a lady gay, Come rydyng ouyr a fair le : Zogh I suld silt to domysday, With my tong to wrabbe and wry, Certenly all hyr aray, It beth neuyer discryuyd for me. Hyr palfra was dappyll gray, Sycke on say neuer none; As the son in somers day, All abowte that lady schone. Byr sadel was of a rewel bone, A semly syght it was to se, Brybt with mony a precyous stone, And compasyd all with crapste; Stones of oryens, gret plente, Her hair about her hede it hang, She rode over the farnyle, A while she blew, a while she sang, Her girtbs of nobil silke they were, Her boculs were of beryl stone, Sadyll and brydil war....i With sylk and sendel about bedone, Hyr patyrel was of a pall fyne, And hyr croper of the arase, Her brydil w&s of gold fyne, On euery syde forsotbe bang bells thre, Her brydil reynes A semly syzt Crop and patyrel In every joynt She led thre grew houndes in a leash, Apd ratches cowpled by her ran; She bar an horn about ber balse, Add undir her gyrdil meoe liene. Thomas lay and sa... lo tbe bankes of He sayd Yonder is Mary of Might, That bar the child ibat died for me, Certes bot I may speke with that lady bright, Myd my hert will breke in Ihree; I schal me hye with all my migbl, Hyr to mete at Eldyo Tre. Tbomas rathly up ber rase, And ran ouer mountayn bye, If it be solbe the story says, He met her euyn at Eldyn Tre. Thomas knelyd down on his kne Undir petbe the grenewood spray, And sayd, Luvely lady, thou rue on me, Queen of Heaven as you may well be. But I am a lady of another countrie, Ir i be pareld most of prise, I ride after the wild fee, My ratches rinnen at my derys. ir thou be pareld most of prise, And rides a lady in strang foly, Lovely lady, as thou art wise, Giue you me leue to lige ye by. Do way, Thomas, that were foly, I pray ye, Thomas, late me be, Tbat sin will fordo all my bewtie. Lovely ladye, rewe on me, And euer more I shall with ye dwell, Here my trowth I plyght to thee, Where you belieues in beuio or hell. Thomas, and you myght lyge me by, Undir petbe this grene wode spray, Thou would tell full hastely, That tbou bad Jayn by a lady gay. Lady, mote 1 lyge by the, Undir nethe tbe grede wode tre, For all ibe gold in chryslenty, Suld you neuer be wryede for me. Man on molde you will me marre, And yet bot you may bal your will, Trow you well, Thomas, fou cheuyst ye warre ; For all my bewtie wilt you spill. Down lyghtyd that lady bryzt, Undir netbe the grene wode spray, And as ye story sayth full ryzt, Seuyn tymes by her be lay. She sayd, Man, you lyst thí play, What berde in bouyr may dele with thee,
That maries me all this long day;
Fourty bertes to quarry were brogbt,
ever, give the words of any of the Rhymer's vaticiThat had ben befor both long and store. Lymors lay lappyng blode,
nations, but merely narrate, historically, his having And kokes standyng with dressyng knyfe,
predicted the events of which they speak. The earAnd dressyd dere ae thai wer wode, And rewell was ibair wonder.
liest of the prophecies ascribed to bim, which is now Knyghtes dansyd by two and thre,
extant, is quoted by Mr. Pinkerton from MS. It All that leue long day.
is supposed to be a response from Thomas of ErcilLadyes that were gret ol gre, Sat and sang of rych aray.
doune to a question from the heroic Countess of Thomas sawe much more in that place,
March, renowned for the defence of the castle of
Dunbar against the English, and termed, in the fa-
miliar dialect of her time, Black Agnes of Dunbar. Busk ye, Thomas, you must agayo, Here you may no longer be :
This prophecy is remarkable, in so far as it bears Hy then zerne that you were at hame,
very little resemblance to any verses published in the I sal ye bryog to Eldyn Tre.
printed copy of the Rhymer's supposed prophecies.
The verses are as follows:-
La Countesse de Donbar demande a Thomus de Essedoune
quant la guerre d'Escoce prendreit fyn. E yl l'a repoundy And here you may no longer be ;
When man is mad a kyng of a capped man;
When man is levere other mones thyng than his owen;
when londe thouys forest, anl forest is felde;
when hares kendles o' the her'stane;
When Wyt and Wille werres togedere;
When mon makes stables of kyrkes, and steles castels with stye ;
When Rokesboroughe nys no burgh ant market is at Forwyleye;
When Bambourne is donged with dcde men;
When men ledes men in ropes to buyen and to sellen;
When a quarter of whaty whete is chaunged for a colt of ten
When prude (pride) prikes and pees is leyd in prisoun :
When a Scol ne me hym hude ase hare in forme that the English Fare wele, Thomas, I wende my way.
ne shall hym fynde;
When rycht ant wronge astente the togedere; The Elfin Queen, after restoring Thomas to earth, pours forth a
When laddes weddeth lovedies ; string of prophecies, in which we distinguish references to the
When Scottes flen so faste, that, for faute of shep, hy drowneth events and personages of the Scottish wars of Edward III. The
When shal this be ? balties of Duplin and Halidon are mentioned, and also Black Agnes, Countess of Dunbar. There is a copy of this poem in the
Noutber thine tyme ne mine; Museum of the Cathedral of Lincoln, another in the collection in
Ah comen ant gone Peterborough, but unfortunately they are all in an imperfect
Withinne twenty winter ant one." state. Mr. Jamieson, in his curious Collection of Scottish Ballads
PINKERTON'S Poems, from MAITLAND'S MSS. quoting and Songs, has an entire copy of this ancient poem, with all the
from Hurl. Lib. 2253. F. 127. collations. The lacunce of the former editions have been supplied from his copy.
As I have never seen the MS. from which Mr. Pin
kerton makes this extract, and as the date of it is THOMAS THE RHYMER.
fixed by him (certainly one of the most able antiqua
ries of our age) to the reign of Edward I. or II., it PART SECOND.
is with great diffidence that I hazard a contrary opi
nion. There can, however, I believe, be little doubt, ALTERED FROM ANCIENT PROPIECIES.
that these prophetic verses are a forgery, and not the The prophecies, ascribed to Thomas of Ercildoune, production of our Thomas the Rhymer. But I am have been the principal means of securing to him re inclined to believe them of a later date than the reign membrance “ amongst the sons of his people.” The of Edward I. or II. author of Sir Tristrem would long ago bave joined, The gallant defence of the castle of Dunbar, by in the vale of oblivion, 'Clerk of Tranent, who Black Agnes, took place in the year 1337. The wrote the adventure of Schir Gawain,” if, by good Rhymer died previous to the year 1299 (see the charhap, the same current of ideas respecting antiquity, ter, by his son, in the introduction to the foregoing which causes Virgil to be regarded as a magician by ballad). It seems, therefore, very improbable, that the Lazaroni of Naples, had not exalted the bard of the Countess of Dunbar could ever have an opporErcildoune to the prophetic character. Perhaps, in
tunity of consulting Thomas the Rhymer, since that deed, he himself affected it during his life. We would infer that she was married, or at least enknow at least, for certain, that a belief in his super gaged in state matters, previous to 1299; whereas natural knowledge was current soon after his death. she is described as a young, or a middle-aged woman, His prophecies are alluded to by Barbour, by Win at the period of her being besieged in the fortress, toun, and by Henry the Minstrel, or Blind Harry, as which she so well defended. If the Editor might he is usually termed. None of these authors, how- indulge a conjecture, he would suppose, that the pro
phecy was contrived for the encouragement of the “This is a true talking that Thomas of tells,
The hare shall hirple on the bard (hearth) stane." English invaders, during the Scottish wars; and that the names of the Countess of Dunbar, and of Tho
Spottiswoode, an honest, but credulous historian, mas of Ercildoune, were used for the greater credit seems to have been a firm believer in the authenticity of the forgery. According to this hypothesis, it of the prophetic wares, vended in the name of Thoseems likely to have been composed after the siege mas of Ercildoune. “The prophecies, yet extant in of Dunbar, which had made the name of the Coun- Scottish rhymes, whereupon he was commonly called tess well known, and consequently in the reign of Thomas the Rhymer, may justly be admired; having Edward III. The whole tendency of the prophecy foretold, so many ages before, the union of England is to aver, that there shall be no end of the Scottish and Scotland in the ninth degree of the Bruce's blood, war (concerning which the question was proposed), with the succession of Bruce himself to the crown, till a final conquest of the country by England, at- being yet a child, and other divers particulars, which tended by all the usual severities of war. When the event hath ratified and make good. Boethius, in the cultivated country shall become forest,” says the his story, relateth his prediction of King Alexander's prophecy;—" when the wild animals shall inhabit death, and that he did foretel the same to the Earl of the abode of men ;-when Scots shall not be able to March, the day before it fell out; saying, “That beescape the English, should they crouch as hares in fore the next day at noon, such a tempest should their form ”-all these denunciations seem to refer blow, as Scotland had not felt for many years beto the time of Edward III., upon whose victories the fore.' The next morning, the day being clear, and prediction was probably founded. The mention of no change appearing in the air, the nobleman did the exchange betwixt a colt worth ten marks, and a challenge Thomas of his saying, calling him an imquarter of “ whaty (indifferent] wheat,” seems to al postor. He replied, that noon was not yet passed. lude to the dreadful famine, about the year 1388. About which time a post came to advertise the earl The independence of Scotland was, however, as im- of the king his sudden death. Then,' said Thomas, pregnable to the mines of superstition, as to the steel'this is the tempest I foretold; and so it shall prove of our more powerful and more wealthy neighbours. to Scotland.' Whence, or how, he had this knowThe war of Scotland is, thank God, at an end; but ledge, can hardly be affirmed; but sure it is, that he it is ended without her people having either crouched did divine and answer truly of many things to come.” like hares in their form, or being drowned in their —SPOTTISWOODE, p. 47. Besides that notable flight, "for faute of ships,"—thank God for that voucher, Master Hector Boece, the good archbishop too. The prophecy, quoted page 251, is probably of might, had he been so minded, have referred to Forthe same date, and intended for the same purpose. dun for the prophecy of King Alexander's death.
A minute search of the records of the time would, That historian calls our bard “ruralis ille vales.”probably, throw additional light upon the allusions FORDUN, lib. X. cap. 40. contained in these ancient legends. Among various What Spottiswoode calls “the prophecies extant rhymes of prophetic import, which are at this day in Scottish rhyme," are the metrical productions current amongst the people of Teviotdale, is one, ascribed to the seer of Ercildoune, which, with many supposed to be pronounced by Thomas the Rhymer, other compositions of the same nature, bearing the presaging the destruction of his habitation and fa names of Bede, Merlin, Gildas, and other approved mily:
soothsayers, are contained in one small volume, pub
lished by Andro Hart, at Edinburgh, 1615. Nisbet “The hare sall killle (fitter) on my hearth stane, And there will never be a Laird Learmont again."
the herald (who claims the prophet of Ercildoune as
a brother-professor of his art, founding upon the vaThe first of these lines is obviously borrowed from rious allegorical and emblematical allusions to hethat in the MS. of the Harl. Library.—“When hares raldry) intimates the existence of some earlier copy kendles o' the her’stane”-an emphatic image of de- of his prophecies than that of Andro Hart, which, solation. It is also inaccurately quoted in the pro- however, he does not pretend to have seen.' The phecy of Waldhave, published by Andro Hart, 1613: 1 Jate excellent Lord Hailes made these compositions
“The muscle is a square figure like a lozenge, but it is always, is erroneous, and differs in many things from the original, it bavvoided of the field. They are carried as principal figures by the ing been oft reprinted by some unskilful persons. Thug many name of Learmont. Learmont of Earlstoun, in the Merss, carried Things are amissing in the small book which are to be met with or on a bend azure three muscles; of which family was Sir Tho in ihe original, particularly these two lines concerning his neighmas Learmont, who is well known by the name of Thomas The bour, Bemerside :Rhymer, because he wrote his prophecies in rhime. This pro
“Tyde what may betide, phetick herauld lived in the days of King Alexander the Third,
Haig shall be laird of Bemerside.' and prophesied of his death, and of many other remarkable occurrences; particularly of the union of Scotland with England, And indeed his prophecies concerning that ancient family have which was not accomplished until the reign of James the sixth, bitherto been true; for, since that time to this day, the Haigs have some hundred years after it was foretold by this gentleman, wbose been lairds of that place. They carrie, Azure a sallier cantoned prophecies are much esieemed by many of the vulgar even at this with two stars in chief and in base argent, as many crescents in day. I was promised by a friend a sight of his prophecies, of The flanques or; and for crest a rock proper, with this motto, which there is everywhere to be had an epitome, which, I suppose, taken from the above-wrilten rhyme-Tide what may.'"-NISBET
the subject of a dissertation, published in his Re- Rhymer, as it stands in Hart's book, refers to a later marks on the History of Scotland. His attention is period. The narrator meets the Rhymer upon a land chiefly directed to the celebrated prophecy of our bard, beside a lee, who shows him many emblematical vimentioned by Bishop Spottiswoode, bearing, that the sions, described in no mean strain of poetry. They crowns of England and Scotland should be united in chiefly relate to the fields of Flodden and Pinkie, to the person of a King, son of a French Queen, and the national distress which followed these defeats, related to Bruce in the ninth degree. Lord Hailes and to future balcyon days, which are promised to plainly proves, that this prophecy is perverted from Scotland. One quotation or two will be sufficient to its original purpose, in order to apply it to the suc- establish this fully :cession of James VI. The groundwork of the forgery
“Our Scottish King sal come ful keene, is to be found in the prophecies of Berlington, con
The red lyon bearoth he, tained in the same collection, and runs thus :
A feddered arrow sharp, I ween,
shall make himn winke and warre to see. “Of Bruce's left side shall spring out a leafe,
Out of the field he shall be led, As neere as the ninth degree;
When he is blodic and woe for blood; And shall be fleemed of faire Scotland,
Yet to his men shall be say, In France sarre beyond the sea.
*For God's love turn you againe, And then shall come again ryding,
And give you sutherne folk a frcy! With eyes that many men may see.
Why should I lose the right is miue? At Aberladie he shall light.
My dale is not to die this day."" With hempen helteres and horse of tre.
Who can doubt, for a moment, that this refers to However it happen for to fall,
the battle of Flodden, and to the popular reports conThe lyon shall be lord of all;
cerning the doubtful fate of James IV.? Allusion is The French Quen shall bearre the sonne,
immediately afterwards made to the death of George Shall rule all Britainne to the sea;
Douglas, heir apparent of Angus, who fought and fell Ane from the Bruce's blood shal come also, As neere as the ninth degree.
with bis sovereign :
“The sternes three that day shall die, Yet sbal there come a keene knight over the salt sea,
That bears the harte in silver sheen."
The well-known arms of the Douglas family are the That shall our mir!hs augment, and mend all our harmes;
heart and three stars. In another place, the battle Alter the date of our Lord 1513, and thrice three thereafier; Which shall brooke all the broad isle to himself.
of Pinkie is expressly mentioned by name :Between 13 and thrice three the threip shall be ended,
“At Pinken Cluch there shall be spilt The Saxons shall never recover after."
Much gentle blood i hat day;
There shall the bear lose the guilt, There cannot be any doubt that this prophecy was
And the eagill bear it away." intended to excite the confidence of the Scottish nation in the Duke of Albany, regent of Scotland, who ar
To the end of all this allegorical and mystical rhaprived from France in 1515, two years after the death sody, is interpolated, in the later edition by Andro of James IV. in the fatal field of Flodden. The Re- Hart, a new edition of Berlington's verses, before gent was descended of Bruce by the left, i. e. by the quoted, altered and manufactured, so as to bear refemale side, within the ninth degree. His mother ference to the accession of James VI., which had just was daughter of the Earl of Boulogne, his father then taken place. The insertion is made with a pecubanished from his country—“ fleemit of fair Scot- liar degree of awkwardness, betwixt a question, put land.” His arrival must necessarily be by sea, and by the narrator, concerning the name and abode of bis landing was expected at Aberlady, in the Frith of the person who showed him these strange matters, Forth. He was a duke's son, dubbed knight ; and and the answer of the prophet to that question :nine years, from 1513, are allowed him, by the pre
"Then to the Beirne could I say, tended prophet, for the accomplishment of the salva
Where dwells lliou, or in what countrie? tion of his country, and the exaltation of Scotland
(Or who shall rule the isle of Britane,
From the north to the south sey ? over her sister and rival. All this was a pious fraud,
A French queene shall bear the sonne, to excite the confidence and spirit of the country.
Shall rule all Britaine to the sea; The prophecy, put in the name of our Thomas the
Which of ihe Bruce's blood shall come,
on Marks of Cadency, p. 158. He adds, “That Thomas' mean. ing may be understood by heralds when he speaks of kingdoms whose insignia seldom vary, but that individual families cannot be discovered, either because they have altered their bearings, or because they are pointed out by their crests and exterior ornaments, which are changed at the pleasure of the bearer." Mr. Nisbet, however, comforts himself for this obscurily, by reflecting, that "we may certainly conclude, from his writings, that herauldry was in good csleem in his days, and well known to the vulgar."-Ibid. p. 160. It may be added, that the publication of
predictions, either printed or hieroglyphical, in which noble families were pointed out by their armorial bearings, was, in the time of Queen Elizabeth, extremely common; and the influence of such predictions on the minds of the common people was so great as to occasion a prohibition, by statute, of prophecy by reference to heraldic emblems. Lord Henry Howard also (afterwards Earl of Northampton) directs against this practice much of the reasoning in his learned treatise, entitled, “A Defensations against the Poyson of pretended Prophecics."
As neere as the nint degree :
ries to Merdwynn Wyllt, or Merlin The Wild, in I frained fast what was his name,
whose name, and by no means in that of Ambrose Where that he came, from what country.)
Merlin, the friend of Arthur, the Scottish prophecies
are issued ? That this personage resided at Drum
melziar, and roamed, like a second Nebuchadnezzar, There is surely no one, who will not conclude, the woods of Tweeddale, in remorse for the death of with Lord Hailes, that the eight lines, enclosed in his nephew, we learn from Fordun. In the Scotichrobrackets, are a clumsy interpolation, borrowed from nicon, lib. 3, cap. 31, is an account of an interview. Berlington, with such alterations as might render the betwixt St. Kentigern and Merlin, then in this dissupposed prophecy applicable to the union of the tracted and miserable state. He is said to have been
called Lailoken, from his mode of life. On being comWhile we are on this subject, it may be proper manded by the saint to give an account of himself, briefly to notice the scope of some of the other predic- he says, that the penance which he performs was tions in Hart's Collection. As the prophecy of Ber- imposed on him by a voice from heaven, during a lington was intended to raise the spirits of the na
bloody contest betwixt Lidel and Carwanolow, of tion, during the regency of Albany, so those of Sybilla which battle he had been the cause. According to and Eltraine refer to that of the Earl of Arran, after- his own prediction, he perished at once by wood, wards Duke of Chatelherault, during the minority of earth, and water ; for, being pursued with stones by Mary, a period of similar calamity. This is obvious the rustics, he fell from a rock into the river Tweed, from the following verses :
and was transfixed by a sharp stake, fixed there for “ Take a thousand in calculation,
the purpose of extending a fishing-net :And the longest of the lyon,
“Sude perfossus, lapide percussus, et unda,
Hæc tria Merlinum fertur inire necem.
Sicque ruit, mersusque fuit lignoque prehensus,
Et fecit vatem per terna pericula verum."
But, in a metrical bistory of Merlin of Caledonia,
compiled by Geoffrey of Monmouth, from the tradiA duke, and no crowned king:
tions of the Welsh bards, this mode of death is atBecaus the prince shall be yong,
tributed to a page, whom Merlin's sister, desirous to And tender of yeares."
convict the prophet of falsehood, because he had beThe date, above hinted at, seems to be 1549, when trayed her intrigues, introduced to him, under three the Scottish Regent, by means of some succours de various disguises, enquiring each time in what manrived from France, was endeavouring to repair the ner the person should die. To the first demand consequences of the fatal battle of Pinkie. Allu- Merlin nswered, the party should perish by a fall sion is made to the supply given to the “Moldwarte from a rock ; to the second, that he should die by a (England) by the fained hart,” (the Earl of Angus.) tree ; and to the third, that he should be drowned. The Regent is described by his bearing the antelope; The youth perished, while hunting, in the mode imlarge supplies are promised from France, and com- puted by Fordun to Merlin himself. plete conquest predicted to Scotland and her allies. Fordun, contrary to the French authorities, conThus was the same hackneyed stratagem repeated, founds this person with the Merlin of Arthur ; but whenever the interest of the rulers appeared to stand concludes by informing us, that many believed him in need of it. The Regent was not, indeed, till after to be a different person. The grave of Merlin is this period, created Duke of Chatelherault; but that pointed out at Drummelziar, in Tweeddale, beneath honour was the object of his hopes and expectations.
an aged thorn-tree. On the east-side of the churchThe name of our renowned soothsayer is liberally yard, the brook, called Pausayl, falls into the Tweed; used as an authority, throughout all the prophecies and the following prophecy is said to have been curpublished by Andro Hart. Besides those expressly rent concerning their union :put in his name, Gildas, another assumed personage, “ When Tweed and Pausayl join at Merlin's grave, is supposed to derive his knowledge from him ; for Scotland and England shall one monarch have." he concludes thus :
On the day of the coronation of James VI. tbe “True Thomas me told in a troublesome time,
Tweed accordingly overflowed, and joined the Pausay lo a hervest morn al Eldoun bills."
at the prophet's grave.-PENNYCUIK's History of The Prophecy of Gildas.
Tweeddale, p. 26. These circumstances would seem In the prophecy of Berlington, already quoted, we to infer a communication betwixt the south-west of are told,
Scotland and Wales, of a nature peculiarly intimate;
for I presume that Merlin would retain sense enough “Marvellous Merlin, that many men of tells,
to choose for the scene of his wanderings, a country And Thomas's sayings comes all at once."
having a language and manners similar to his own. While I am upon the subject of these prophecies, Be this as it may,
the memory of Merlin Sylvester, may I be permitted to call the attention of antiqua- ! or the Wild, was fresh among the Scots during the