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Corspatrick, (Comes Patrick,) Earl of March, but more commonly taking his title from his castle of Dunbar, acted a noted part during the wars of Edward I. in Scotland. As Thomas of Ercildoune is said to have delivered to him his famous prophecy of King Alexander's death, the Editor has chosen to introduce him into the following ballad. All the prophetic verses are selected from Hart's publication.1
1 [An exact reprint of Hart's volume, from the copy in the Library at Abbotsford, is about to appear under the care of the learned antiquary, Mr. David Laing of Edinburgh.—Ed. 1833.]
THOMAS THE RHYMER.
When seven years were come and gane,
And Thomas lay on Huntlie bank,
He heard the trampling of a steed,
And he beheld a gallant knight
Come riding down by the Eildon-tree.
He was a stalwart knight, and strong;
Of giant make he 'pear'd to be:
Wi' gilded spurs, of faushion free.
Says—" Well'met, well met, true Thomas!
Some uncouth ferlies show to me."— Says—" Christ thee save, Corspatrick brave!
Thrice welcume, good Dunbar, to me!
"Light down, light down, Corspatrick brave!And I will show thee curses three, Shall gar fair Scotland greet and grane, And change the green to the black livery.
"A storm shall roar this very hour, From Ross's Hills to Solway sea."—
"Ye lied, ye lied, ye warlock hoar!
For the sun shines sweet on fauld and lea."—
He put his hand on the Earlie's head;
He show'd him a rock beside the sea, Where a king lay stiff beneath his steed,1
And steel-dight nobles wiped their ee.
"The neist curse lights on Branxton hills: By Flodden's high and heathery side,
Shall wave a banner red as blude, And chieftain's throng wi' meikle pride.
"A Scottish King shall come full keen,
The ruddy lion beareth he;
Shall make him wink and warre to see.
"When he is bloody, and all to bledde,
1 King Alexander, killed by a fall from his horse, near Kinghorn.
And give yon southern folk a fray! Why should I lose the right is mine? My doom is not to die this day.''
"Yet turn ye to the eastern hand,
How forty thousand spearmen stand,
"There shall the lion lose the gylte,
At Pinkyn Cleuch there shall be spilt
"Enough, enough, of curse and ban;
Some blessings show thou now to me, Or, by the faith o' my bodie," Corspatrick said, - "Ye shall rue the day ye e'er saw me!"—
"The first of blessings I shall thee show,
Where Saxon men shall tine the bow,
1 The uncertainty which long prevailed in Scotland, concerning the fate of James IV. is well known.
2 One of Thomas's rhymes, preserved by tradition, runs thus:—
"The bum of breid
Bannock-burn is the brook here meant. The Scots give the name of bannock to a thick round cake of unleavened bread.
"Beside that brigg, out ower that burn, Where the water bickereth bright and sheen.
Shall many a falling courser spurn,
"Beside a headless cross of stone,
The libbards there shall lose the gree;
The raven shall come, the erne shall go,
The cross of stone they shall not know,
"But tell me now," said brave Dunbar,
What man shall rule the isle Britain,
Even from the north to the southern sea?"
"A French Queen shall bear the son, Shall rule all Britain to the sea;He of the Brace's blood shall come, As near as in the ninth degree.
"The waters worship shall his race;
Likewise the waves of the farthest sea; For they shall ride over ocean wide,
With hempen bridles, and horse of tree."