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IN THREE PARTS.
Traquair has written a private letter,
with all claim which he or his predecessors could And he has seal'd it wi' his seal,
pretend thereto. From this we may infer, that the "Ye may let the auld brocķ* out o' the poke ; Rhymer was now dead, since we find the son dis
The land's my ain, and a's gane weel."' posing of the family property. Still, however, the O Will has mounted his bonny black,
argument of the learned historian will remain unAnd to the tower of Græme did trudge,
impeached as to the time of the poet's birth. For if, And once again, on his sturdy back,
as we learn from Barbour, his prophecies were held Has he hente up the weary judge.
in reputation I as early as 1306, when Bruce slew the
Red Cummin, the sanctity, and (let me add to Mr. He brought him to the council stairs,
Pinkerton's words) the uncertainty of antiquity, And there full loudly shouted he,
must have already involved his character and write i Gje me my guerdon, my sovereign liege,
tings. In a charter of Peter de Haga de Bemersyde, 1 And take ye back your auld Durie !"
which unfortunately, wants a date, the Rhymer, a. near neighbour, and, if we may trust tradition, a
friend of ihe family, appears as a witness. — Chariu THOMAS THE RHYMER.
lary of Melrose.
It cannot be doubted, that Thomas of Ercildoune was a remarkable and important person in his own time, since, very shortly after his death, we find him
celebrated as a prophet and as a poet. Whether he Few personages are so renowned in tradition as himself made any pretensions to the first of these Thomas of Ercildoune, known by the appellation of characters, or whether it was gratuitously conferred The Rhymer. Uniting, or supposing to unite, in his upon him by the credulity of posterity, it seems diffiperson, the powers of poetical composition, and of cult to decide. If we may believe Mackenzie, Lear- 1 vaticination, his memory, even after the lapse of five mont only versified the prophecies delivered by Eliza, i hundred years, is regarded with veneration by his an inspired nun of a convent at Haddington. Bui countrymen. To give any thing like a certain his of this there seems not to be the most distant proof. tory of this remarkable man would be indeed diffi. On the contrary, all ancient authors, who quote the cult; but the curious may derive some satisfaction Rhymer's prophecies, uniformly suppose them to It is agreed on all hands, that the residence
, and have been emitted by himself. Thus, in Wintown's probably the birthplace of this ancient bard, was Er
“of this fycht quilum gpak Thomas cildoune, a village situated upon the Leader, two
Of Ersyldoune, that sayd in derne, miles above its junction with the Tweed. The ruins
There vuld meit stalwartly, starke and sterne. of an ancient tower are still pointed out as the Rhy
He says it in his prophecy; mer's castle. The uniform tradition bears, that his
But how he wist it was ferly.”—Book viii. chap. 32 surname was Lermont, or Learmont; and that the There could have been no ferly (marvel) in Winappellation of The Rhymer was conferred on him town's eyes at least, how Thomas came by his in consequence of his poetical compositions. There knowledge of future events, had he ever heard of the remains, nevertheless, some doubt upon the subject. inspired nun of Haddington, which, it cannot be In a charter, which is subjgined at length,t the son doubted, would have been a solution of the mystery, of our poet designed himself “ Thomas of Ercildoun, much to the taste of the Prior of Lockleven.s son and heir of Thomas Rymour of Ercildoun, Whatever doubts, however, the learned might which seems to imply that the father did not bear have, as to the source of the Rhymer's prophetic the hereditary name of Learmont; or, at least, was skill, the vulgar had no hesitation to ascribe the better known and distinguished by the epithet, which whole to the intercourse between the bard and the he had acquired by his personal accomplishments. Queen of Faery. The popular tale bears, that ThoI must, however, remark, that, down to a very late mas was carried off, at an early age, to the Fairy period, the practice of distinguishing the parties, even Land, where he acquired all the knowledge, which in formal writings, by the epithets which had been made him afterwards so famous. After seven years bestowed on them from personal circumstances, in- residence, he was permitted to return to the earth. stead of the proper surnames of their families, was to enlighten and astonish his countrymen by his common, and indeed necessary, among the Border prophetic powers; still, however, remaining bound clans. Šo early as the end of the thirteenth centu- to return to his royal mistress, when she should inry, when surnames were hardly introduced in Scot timate her pleasure.ll Accordingly, while Thomas land, this custom must have been universal. There was making merry with his friends in the Tower of is, therefore, nothing inconsistent in supposing our Ercildoune, a person came running in, and told, with poet's name to have been actually Learmont, al- marks of fear and astonishment, that a hart and though, in this charter, he is distinguished by the hind had left the neighbouring forest, and were, compopular appellation of The Rhymer.
posedly and slowly, parading the street of the vilWe are better able to ascertain the period at which lage. I The prophet instantly arose, left his habitaThomas of Ercildoune lived, being the latter end of tion, and followed the wonderful animals to the fothe thirteenth century. I am inclined to place his rest, whence he was never seen to return, Accorddeath a little farther back than Mr. Pinkerton, who ing to the popular belief, he still “drees his weird" supposes that he was alive in 1300, (List of Scottish in Fairy Land, and is one day expected to revisit Poets,) which is hardly, I think, consistent with the earth. In the meanwhile, his memory is held in the charter already quoted by which his son, in 1299, most profound respect. The Eildon Tree, from befor himself and his heirs, conveys to the convent of neath the shade of which he delivered his prophecies, the Trinity of Soltra, the tenement which he pos 1 The lines alluded to are these :sessed by inheritance (hereditarie) in Ercildoune,
"I hope that Thomas's prophecie, * Brock-Badger.
of Erceldoun, shall truly be,
In him," &c. + From the Chartulary of the Trinity House of Soltra. Henry the Minstrel, who introduces Thomas into the history Advocates' Library, W. 4. 14.
of Wallace, expresses the same doubt as to the source of his pro ERSYLTON.
phetic knowledge :
***Thomas Rhymer into the faile was than Omnibus bas literas visuris vel audituris Thomas de Ercildoun
With the minister, which was a worthy man. filmis et beroe Thomae Rymnour de Ercildoun salutem in Domino.
He und oft to that religious place; Noweritis ine por fustem et baculuun in pleno judicio resignasse ac
The people deemed of wit he meikle can, presentes quietem clamasse pro me et heredibus meis Magistro
And so be told, though that they bless or ban, dom Sanctæ Trinitatis de Soltre et fratribus ejusdem domus to
In rule of war whether they tint or wan : tain terram mcam cum omnibus pertinentibus suis quam in tene
Which happened sooth in many divers case ; mento de Ercildoun bereditarie tenui renunciando de toto pro me
I cannot say by wrong or righteousness. et heredibus meis omni juru et clameo que ego seu antecessores
It may be deemed by division of grace," &c. mei in eadem terra alioque tempore de perpetuo habuimus sive de finturo habere possumus. In cujus rei testimonio presentibus his
History of Wallace, Book ii.
# See the Dissertation on Fairies, prefixed to Tamlane. figillum meum apposuj data apud Ercildoun die Martis proximo pere festum Sanctorum Apostolorum Symonis et Jude Anno
There is a smgular resemblance betwixt this tradition, and Domini Millesimo cc. Nonagesimo Nono.
an incident occurring in the life of Merlin Caledonius, which the reader will find a few pages onward.
now no longer exists; but the spot is marked by a
THOMAS THE RHYMER. large stone, called Eildon Tree Stone. A neighbouring rivulet takes the name of the Bogle Burn
PART FIRST.-ANCIENT. (Goblin Brook) from the Rhymer's supernatural visitants. The veneration paid to his dwelling-place TRUE THOMAS lay on Huntlie bank ;* even attached itself in some degree to a person, who, A ferlie he spied wi' his ee; within the memory of man, chose to set up his resi- And there he saw a ladye bright, dence in the ruins of Learmont's tower. The name of this man was Murray, a kind of herbalist; who, Her shirt was o' the grass-green silk,
Come riding down by the Eildon Tree. by dint of some knowledge in simples, the possession of a musical clock, an electrical machine, and a
Her mantle o' the velvet fyne; stuffed alligator, added to a supposed communication Atilka tett of her horse's mane, with Thomas the Rhymer, lived for many years in
Hung fifty siller bells and nine. very good credit as a wizard.
True Thomas, he pulld aff his cap, It seemed to the Editor unpardonable to dismiss a And louted low down to his knee, person so important in Border tradition as the Rhy- “All hail, thou mighty Queen of Heaven! mer, without some farther notice than a simple commentary upon the following ballad. It is given “O no, o no, Thomas,” she said,
For thy peer on earth I never did see."from a copy, obtained from a lady residing not far from Ercildoune, corrected and enlarged by one in I am but the Queen of fair Eldand,
"That name does not belang to me; Mrs. Brown's
MSS. The former copy, however, as might be expected, is far more
minute as to local
That am hither come to visit thee. description. To this old tale the Editor has ventured “Harp and carp, Thomas," she said ; to add a Second Part, consisting of a kind of cento, from the printed prophecies vulgarly ascribed to the And if ye dare to kiss my lips,
Harp and carp along wi' me; Rhymer; and a Third Part, entirely modern, found Sure of your bodie I will be.”— ed upon the tradition of his having returned with the hart and hind, to the Land of Faery. To make his “Betide me weal, betide me wo, peace with the more severe antiquaries, the Editor
That weird shall never daunton me.”has prefixed to the Second Part some remarks on Syne he has kissed her rosy lips, Learmont's prophecies.
All underneath the Eildon Tree.
“Now, ye maun go wi' me,” she said; TRUE THOMAS.
"True Thomas, ye maun go wi' me; THE ANCIENT TUNE.
And ye maun serve me seven years,
Thro' weal or wo as may chance to be."
She's ta'en true Thomas up behind :
The steed flew swifter than the wind.
O they rade on, and farther on;
The steed gaed swifter than the wind;
And living land was left behind.
And lean your head upon my knee;
And I will shew you ferlies three.
So thick beset with thorns and briers ?
Though after it but few inquires.
"And see ye not that braid braid road,
That lies across that lily leven ?
Though some call it the road to heaven.
That winds about the fernie brae?
Where thou and I this night maun gae.
Whatever ye may hear or see ;
Ye'll ne'er get back to your ain countrie."
And they waded through rivers aboon the knee, lady tright, Come riding down by the Eildon tree.
And they saw neither sun nor moon,
But they heard the roaring of the sea.
And they waded through red blude to the knee;
Rins through the springs o' that countrie. * [Huntly Bank, and the adjoining ravine, called, from immemorial tradition, the Rymer's Glen, were ultimately included in the domain of Abbotsford. The scenery of this glen forms the background of Edwin Landseer's portrait of Sir Walter Scott, painted in 1833. -ED.) + That weird, &c. - That destiny shall never frighten me.
Syne they came on to a garden green,
If I be pareld most of prise,
I ride after the wild fee, And she pu'd an apple frac a tree-*
My ratches rinnen at my devyg. Take this for thy wages, true Thomas;
If thou be pareld most of prise, It will give thee the tongue that can never lie.”
And rides a lady in strang foly.
Lovely lady, as thou art wise "My tongue is mine ain,” true Thomas said ;
Giue you ine leue to lige ye by. A gudely gift ye wad gie to me!
Do way, Thomas, that were foly,
I priy ye, Thomas, lale me be, I neither dought io buy nor sell,
That sin will fordo all my bewtie. At fair or tryst where I may be.
Lovely ladye, rewe on me,
And euer more I shall with ye dwell, "I dought neither speak to prince or peer,
Here my trowth I plyght to thee.
Where you belieues in hevin or hell. Nor ask of grace from fair ladye.'
Thomas, and you myght lyge me by, "Now hold thy peace !" the lady said,
Undir nethe this grene vode spray, “For as I say, so must it be.'
Thou would tell fill hastely,
That thou had layn by a lady gay, He has gotten a coat of the even cloth,
Lady, mote I lyge by thee, And a pair of shoes of velvet green;
Undir nethe the grene wnde tre, And till seven years were gane and past,
For all the gold in chrystenty,
Suld you nener be wryede for me.
Man on molde you will me marre,
For all my bowtie wilt you spill.
Down lyghtyd that lady bryzt,
And as ye story sayth full ryzt,
Seuyn tymes by her he lay. an imperfect MS., with the undoubted original of Thomas the
She sayd, Man, you lyst ihi play, Rhymer's intrigue with the Queen of Facry. It will afford great
Wlat berde in bouyr may dele with thee, amusement to those who would study the nature of traditional
That maries me all this long day; poetry, and the changes effected by oral tradition, to compare this
I pray ye, Thomas, let me be. ancient romance with the foregoing ballad. The same incidents
Thomas stode up in the stede, are narrated, even the expression is often the same : yet the
And behelde the lady gay, poems are as different in appearance, as if the older tale had been
Her beyre hang down about hyr hede, regularly and systematically modemized by a poet of the present
The tane was blak, the other gray, day.
Her eyn semyt onte before was gray,
Her guy clethyng was all away,
That he before had sene in that stede
Hyr body as blow as ony bede.
Thomas sighede. and sayd, Allas,
Me thynke this a dullfull syght,
That thou art fadyd in the face,
Before you shone as son so bryzt,
Tak thy leue, Thomas, at son and mone,
At gresse, and at euery tre,
This twelmonth sall you with me gone,
Medyl erth you sall not se,
Alas, he seyd, fil wo is me,
I trow my dedes will werke me care,
Jesu, my sole tak to ye,
Whedir so enyr my body sal fare.
She rode furth with all her myzt,
Undir nethe the derne lec,
It was as derke as at midnizt,
And euyr in water unto the kne;
Through the space of days thre.
He herde but swowyng of a flode;
Thomas sayd, Ful wo is me,
Now I spyll for fawte of fode;
To a garden she lede him tyto,
There was fruyte in frete plente,
Peyres and applesy ther were rype,
The date and the damnese,
The figge and als fylbert tre :
The nyghtyngale bredyng in her neste,
The papigaye about gan tie,
The throstylcock sung wall hafe no rest.
He pressed to pulle fruyt with his hand,
As man for faute that was faynt ;
She seyd, Thomas, lat al stand,
Or els ihe deuyl wil the ataynt.
Sche seyd, Thomas, I the hyzt,
To lay thi hede upon my kne:
And thou shalt see fayrer syght,
Than euyr sawe man in their kintre.
Sees thou, Thomas, yon fay? way,
That lyegs ouyr yone fayr playn?
Yonder is the way to heuyn for ay,
Whan synful sawles haf derayed their payne.
Sees thou, Thomas, yon secund way,
That lygges lawe undir the ryse ?
Streight in the way, sothly to say,
To the joyes of paradyce.
Sees thon, Thomas, yon thyrd way,
That lygges ouyr yone how!
Wide is the way, sothly to say.
'To the brynyng fyres of helle.
Sees thou, Thomas, yone fayr castell,
That standes ouyr yone fair hill?
Of town and tower it becreth the belle,
In middellerth is none like theretill.
Whan thou comyst in yone castell gaye,
I pray thee curteis man to be;
What so any man to you say,
Loke thu answer pone but me.
My lord is servyd at yche messe,
With xxx kniztes feir and fre;
I shall say syttyng on the dese,
I toke thy speche beyond the le. * The traditional commentary upon this ballad informy vg, that
Thomas stode as still as stone, the apple was the produce of the fatal Treo of Knowledge, and
And behelde that ladye gaye ; that the garden was the terrestrial paradise. The repugnance of
Than was sche fayr, and ryche anone, Thomas to be debarred the use of falsehood, when he night find
And also ryal on hir palfreye. it convenient, has a comic effect.
The grewhoundos had fylde thaim on the dere,
The racbes coupled, by my fay,
the castle of Dunbar against the English, and termed, She blewe her home Thomas to chere, To the castell she went her way.
in the familiar dialect of her time, Black Agnes of The ladye into the hall went,
Dunbar. This prophecy is remarkable, in so far as Thomas folowyd at her hand;
it bcars very litile resemblance to any verses pubTkar kept ber mony a lady gent,
lished in the printed copy of the Rhymer's supposed
prophecies. The verses are as follows:
“La Countesse de Donbar demande a Thomas de Thair was al maner of mynstralsy,
Essedoune quant la guerre d'Escoce prendreit fyn.
E yl l'a repoundy et dyt.
When man is mad a kyng of a capped man;
When man is levere other mones thyng than his owen ;
When londe thouya forest, ant forest is felde;
When hares kendles o' the her'stane;
When Wyt and Wille werres tog dere;
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 dede men;
When men ledes men in ropes to buyen and to sellen;
When a quarter of whaty whete in chaunged for a colt of ten
When prude (pride) prikes and poes is leyd in prisoun;
When a Scot ne me hym hude ase hare in forme that the English
ne shall hym fynde ;
When rycht ant wronge astente the togedere ;
When laddes weddeth lovedies;
When Scottes flen so faste, that, for faute of shep, hy drowneth
When shal this be?
Nouther in thine tyme ne in ne;
Ah comen ant gone
Withinne twenty winter ant one."
PINKERTON'S Poems, from MAITLAND'S MSS. quoting
from Harl. Lib. 2253. F. 127.
As I have never seen the MS, from which Mr.
Pinkerton makes this extract, and as the date of
it is fixed by him (certainly one of the most able Trove you wele he will chuse thee.
antiquaries of our age) to the reign of Edward I. or Fore all the golle that may be,
II., it is with great diffidence that I hazard a con-
trary opinion. There can, however, I believe, be Ao ibairfor sall you hens wende.
little doubt, that these prophetic verses are a forgery, She broght hym euyn to Eldyn Tre,
and not the production of our Thomas the Rhymer. Undir nethe the grene wode spray,
But I am inclined to believe them of a later date
than the reign of Edward I. or II.
The gallant defence of the castle of Dunbar, by Ther hathe my facon ;
Black Agnes, took place in the year 1337. The Fare wele, Tbomas, I wende my way.
Rhymer died previous to the year 1299 (see the
charter, by his son, in the introduction to the foreThe Elin Quern, after restoring Thomas to earth, pours forth asring of grosshecies, in which we distinguish referencation the going ballad.) It seems, therefore, very improbable, rents and personages of the Scottish wars of Edward M. The that the Countess of Dunbar could ever have an berdes of Duplin and Halidon are mentioned, and also Black opportunity of consulting Thomas the Rhymer, since Aps. Countess of Dunbar. There is a copy of this poem in the that would infer that she was married, or at least La of the Cathedral of Lincoln, another in the collection in engaged in state matters, previous to 1299; whereas Wt. Jamieson, in his curious Collection of Scottish Ballads and she is described as a young, or a middle-aged woman, Sca, has an entire copy of this ancient poem, with all the col at the period of her being besieged in the fortress The lecuna of the former editions have been supplied which she so well defended. If the Editor mighi
indulge a conjecture, he would suppose, that the prophecy was contrived for the encouragement of
the English invaders, during the Scottish wars THOMAS THE RHYMER.
and that the names of the Countess of Dunbar, and
of Thomas of Ercildoune, were used for the greater PART SECOND.
credit of the forgery: According to this hypothesis, ALTERED FROM ANCIENT PROPHECIES.
it seems likely to have been composed after the
siege of Dunbar, which had made the name of the The prophecies, ascribed to Thomas of Ercil- Countess well known, and consequently in the reign caune, have been the principal means of securing to of Edward III. The whole tendency of the prophehim remembrance" amongst the sons of his people.” cy is to aver, that there shall be no end of the ScotThe anthor of Sir Tristrem would long ago have tish war, (concerning which the question was projoined, in the vale of oblivion, "Clerk of Tranent, posed,) till a final conquest of the country by Engwho wrote the adventure of Schir Gawain,” if, by land, attended by all the usual severities of war. good hap, the same current of ideas respecting an “When the cultivated country shall become forest,, tiquty, which causes Virgil to be regarded as a ma: says the prophecy;—" when the wild animals shall gaan by the Lazaroni of Naples, had not exalted inhabit the abode of men ;-when Scots shall not the bard of Ercildoune to the prophetic character. be able to escape the English, should they crouch Perhaps, indeed, he himself affected it during his as hares in their form"-all these denunciations seem life. We know, at least, for certain, that a belief in to refer to the time of Edward III., upon whose bus supernatural knowledge was current soon after victories the prediction was probably founded. The his death. His prophecies are alluded to by Barbour, mention of the exchange betwixt a colt worth ten by Wintoun, and by Henry the Minstrel, or Blind marks, and a quarter of whaty (indifferent) wheat," Harry, as he is usually termed. None of these au seems to allude to the dreadful famine, about the thors, however, give the words of any of the Rhy- year 1388. The independence of Scotland was, Der's vaticinations, but merely narrate, historically, however, as impregnable to the mines of superstihis having predicted the events of which they speak. tion, as to the steel of our more powerful and The earliest of the prophecies ascribed to him, more wealthy neighbours. The war of Scotland which is now extant, is quoted by Mr. Pinkerton is, thank God, at an end; but it is ended withfrom a MS. It is supposed to be a response from out her people having either crouched like hares Thomas of Ercildoune to a question from the heroic in their form, or being drowned in their flight, “for Countess of March, renowned for the defence of faute of ships,"—thank God for that too. The pro
phecy, quoted page 196, is probably of the same date, sitions the subject of a dissertation, published in his and intended for the same purpose.
Remarks on the History of Scotland. His attention A minute search of the records of the time would, is chiefly directed to the celebrated prophecy of our probably, throw additional light upon the allusions bard, mentioned by Bishop Spottiswoode, bearing, contained in these ancient legends. Among various that the crowns of England and Scotland should rhymes of prophetic import, which are at this day be united in the person of a King, son of a French current amongst the people of Teviotdale, is one, Queen, and related to Bruce in the ninth degree. supposed to be pronounced by Thomas the Rhymer, Lord Hailes plainly proves, that this prophecy is presaging the destruction of his habitation and perverted from its original purpose, in order to apply family:
it to the succession of James VI. The groundwork "The hare sall kittle (litter) on my hearth stane, of the forgery is to be found in the prophecies of BerAud there will never be a Laird Learmo
lington, contained in the same collection, and runs The first of these lines is obviously borrowed from thus : that in the MS. of the Harl. Library.-"When hares
"Of Bruce's left side shall spring out a leafe, kendles o' the her'stane"-an emphatic image of
As neere as the ninth degree; desolation. It is also inaccurately quoted in the pro And shall be fleemed of faire Scotland, phecy of Waldhave, published by Andro Hart, 1613:
In France farre beyond the sea.
And then shall come again ryding,
With eyes that many men may see.
At Aberladie he shall light, Spottiswoode, an honest, but credulous historian, With bempen helteres and horse of tre. seems to have been a firm believer in the authen
However it happen for to fall, ticity of the prophetic wares, vended in the name of The lyon shall be lord of all; Thomas of Ercildoune. " The prophecies, yet ex 'The French Quen shall bearre the sonne, tant in Scottish rhymes, whereupon he was com
Shall rule all Britainne to the sea;
Ane from the Bruce's blood shal come also, monly called Thomas the Rhymer, may justly be
As necre as the ninth degree. admired ; having foretold, so many ages before, the union of England and Scotland in the ninth degree Yet shall there come a keene knight over the salt sea, of the Bruce's blood, with the succession of Bruce
A keene man of courage and bold man of armes ;
A duke's son dowbled, li. e. dubbed, ) a born man in France, himself to the crown, being yet a child, and other
That shall our mirths augment, and mend all our harmes ; divers particulars, which the event hath ratified and
After the date of our Lord 1513, and thrice three thereafter; made good. Boethius, in his story, relateth his pre
Which shall brooke all the broad isle to bimcell. diction of King Alexander's death, and that he did
Between 13 and thrice three the threip shall be ended,
The Saxons shall never recover after.' foretel the same to the Earl of March, the day before it fell out; saying, “That before the next day at There cannot be any doubt that this prophecy was noon, such a tempest should blow, as Scotland had intended to excite the confidence of the Scottish not felt for many years before.' The next morning, nation in the Duke of Albany, regent of Scotland, the day being clear, and no change appearing in the who arrived from France in 1515, two years after air, the nobleman did challenge Thomas of his say- the death of James IV. in the fatal field of Flodden. ing, calling him an impostor. He replied, that noon The Regent was descended of Bruce by the left, i. e. was not yet passed. About which time a post
came by the female side, within the ninth degree. His to advertise the earl of the king his sudden death. mother was daughter of the Earl of Boulogne, bis 'Then,' said Thomas, 'this is the tempest I foretold; father banished from his country--" fleemit of fair and so it shall prove to Scotland.' Whence, or how, Scotland." His arrival must necessarily be by sea, he liad this knowledge, can hardly be affirmed; but and his landing was expected at Aberlady in the sure it is, that he did divine and answer truly of Frith of Forth. He was a duke's son, dubbed many things to come."-SPOTTISWOODE, P. 47. Be- knight; and nine years, from 1513, are allowed sides that notable voucher, Master Hector Boece, him, by the pretended prophet, for the accomplishthe good archbishop might, had he been so minded, ment of the salvation of his country, and the exal, have referred to Fordun for the prophecy of King tation of Scotland over her sister and rival. AU Alexander's death. That historian calls our bard this was a pious fraud, to excite the confidence and "ruralis ille vates."--FORDUN, lib. x. cap. 40. spirit of the country.
What Spottiswoode calls “the prophecies extant The prophecy, put in the name of our Thomas in Scottish rhyme" are the metrical productions the Rhymer, as it stands in Hart's book, refers to a ascribed to the seer of Ercildoune, which, with many later period. The narrator meets the Rhymer upon other compositions of the same nature, bearing the a land beside a lee, who shows him many emblematinames of Bede, Merlin, Gildas, and other approved cal visions, described in no mean strain of poetry: soothsayers, are contained in one small volume, They chiefly relate to the fields of Flodden and published by Andro Hart, at Edinburgh, 1615. Nis- | Pinkie, to the national distress which followed these bet the herald (who claims the prophet of Ercildoune defeats, and to future halcyon days, which are proas a brother-professor of his art, founding upon the mised to Scotland. One quotation or two will be various allegorical and emblematical allusions to sufficient to establish this fully :heraldry,), intimates the existence of some earlier copy of his prophecies than that of Andro Hart,
Our Scottish King sal come ful keene,
The red lyon beareth he ; which, however, he does not pretend to have seen.*
A feddered arrow sharp, I ween, The late excellent Lord Hailes made these compo
Shall make him winke and warre to see. *"The muscle is a square figure like a lozenge, but it is al been lairds of that place. They carrie, Azure a saltier cantoned ways voided of the field. They are carried as principal figures by with two stars in chief and in base argent, as many crescents in the name of Learmont. Learnont of Earlstoun, in the Merss, the fanques or ; and for crest a rock proper, with this motto, carried or on a bend azure three muscles; of which family was taken from the above-written rhyme --Tyde what may.''-Nis: Sir Thomas Learmont, who is well known by the name of Tho BET On Marks of Cadency, p. 158. He adus," that Thomas' mas the Rhymer, because he wrote bis prophecies in thime. This meaning may be understood by heralds when be speaks of kingprophetick herauld lived in the days of king Alexander the doms whose insignia seldom vary, but that individual families Third, and prophesied of his death, and of many other remark cannot be discovered, either because they have altered their bear. able occurrences ; particularly of the union of Scotland with Eng ingy, or because they are pointed out by their crests and exterior land, which was not accomplished until the reign of James the ornaments, which are changed at the pleasure of the bearer." Sixth, some hundred years after it was foretold by this gentle Mr. Nisbet, however, comforts himself for this obscurity, by reman, whose prophecies are much esteemed by many of the vul- flecting, that " we may certainly conclude, from his writings, that gar even at this day. I was promised by a friend a sight of his herauldry was in good esteem in his days, and well known to the prophecies, of which there is everywhere to be had an epitome, Fulgar."-Ibid. p. 1641. It may be added, that the publication of which, I suppose, iş erroneous, and differs in many things from the predictions, cither printed or hieroglyphical, in which noble famioriginal, it having been oft reprinted by some unskilful persons. I lics were pointed out by their armorial wearings, was, in the time Thus many things are amissing in the small book which are to be of Queen Elizabeth, extremely common; and the influence of met with in the original, particularly these two lines concerning such predictions on the minds of the common people was so great his neighbour, Bernerside:
as to occasion a prohibition by statute, of prophecy by reference * Tyde what may betide,
to heraldic emblems, Lord Henry Howard also (afterwards Ear! Haiz shall be laird of Bemerside.'
of Northamplon) directs against this practice much of the rea And indeed his prophecies concerning that ancient family have soning in his leamed treatise, entitled, A Defensation against hitherto been true; for, since that time to this day, the Haigs have the Poyson of pretended Prophecies.