O I am sent from a distant clime,

Five thousand miles away,
And all to absolve a foul, foul crime,

Done here 'twixt night and day.”
The pilgrim kneeled him on the sand,

And thus began his say-
When on his neck an ice-cold hand

Did that Gray Brother lay.


IN THREE PARTS. few personages are so renowned in tradition as Thomas of Ercildoune, known by the appellation of The Rhymer. Uniting, or supposed to unite, in his person, the powers of poetical composition and of vaticination, his memory, even after the lapse of five hundred years, is regarded with veneration by his countrymen. To give anything like a certain history of this remarkable man would be indeed difficult ; but the curious may derive some satisfaction from the particulars here brought together.

It is agreed on all hands that the residence, and probably the birthplace, of this ancient bard, was Ercildoune, a village situated upon the Leader, two miles above its junction with the Tweed. The ruins of an ancient tower are still pointed out as the Rhymer's castle. The uniform tradition bears that his surname was Lermont, or Learmont; and that the appellation of The Rhymer was conferred upon him in consequence of his poetical compositions. There remains, nevertheless, some doubt upon the subject.

We are better able to ascertain the period at which Thomas of Ercildoune lived, being the latter end of the thirteenth century. I am inclined to place his death a little farther back than Mr Pinkerton, who supposes that he was alive in 1300 (List of Scottish Poets). 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 himself made any pretensions to the first of these characters, or whether it was gratuitously conferred upon him by the credulity of posterity, it seems difficult to decide. If we may believe Mackenzie, Learmont only versified the prophecies delivered by Eliza, an inspired nun of a convent at Haddington. But of this there seems not to be the most distant proof. On the contrary, áll ancient authors, who quote the Rhymer's prophecies, uniformly Suppose them to have been emitted by himself.

The popular tale bears that Thomas was carried off, at an early age, to the Fairy Land, where he acquired all the knowledge which made him afterwards so famous. After seven years' residence, he was permitted to return to the carth, to enlighten and astonish his countrymen by his prophetic powers ; still, however, remaining bound to return to his royal mistress, when she should intimate her pleasure. Accordingly, while Thomas was making merry with his friends in the tower of Ercildoune, a person came running in, and told, with marks of fear and astonishment, that a hart and hind had left the neighbouring forest, and were, composedly and slowly, parading the street of the village. The prophet instantly arose, left his habitation, and followed the wonderful animals to the forest, whence he was never seen to return. According to the popular belief, he still “drees his weird" in Fairy Land, and is one day expected to revisit earth. In the meanwhile, his memory is held in the most profound respect. The Eildon Tree, from beneath the shade of which he delivered his prophecies, now no longer exists ; but the spot is marked by a large stone, called the Eildon Tree Stone. A neighbouring rivulet takes the name of the Bogle Burn (Goblin Brook) from the Rhymer's supernatural visitants.

It seemed to the Editor unpardonable to dismiss a person so important in Border tradition as the Rhymer, without some farther notice than a simple commentary upon the following ballad. It is given from a copy, obtained from a lady residing not far from Ercildoune, corrected and enlarged by one in Mrs Brown's MSS. The former copy, however, as might be expected, is far more

imale in the forest, whence he was never seen

minute as to local description. To this old tale the Editor has ventured to add a Second Part, consisting of a kind of cento, from the printed prophecies vulgarly ascribed to the Rhymer; and a Third Part, entirely modern, founded upon the tradition of his having returned with the hart and hind, to the Land of Faërie. To make his peace with the more severe antiquaries, the Editor has prefixed to the Second Part some remarks on Learmont's prophecies.


True Thomas lay on Huntlie bank;

A ferlie he spied wi' his e'e ;
And there he saw a ladye bright,

Come riding down by the Eildon Tree.
Her shirt was o' the grass-green silk,

Her mantle o' the velvet fyne ;
At ilka tett of her horse's mane,

Hang fifty siller bells and nine.
True Thomas, he pulled aff his cap,

And louted low down to his knee,
"All hail, thou mighty queen of heaven!

For thy peer on earth I never did see.”
"O no, O no, Thomas," she said ;

“That name does not belang to me;
I am but the queen of fair Eifland,

That am hither come to visit thee.
“Harp and carp, Thomas,” she said ;

“Harp and carp along with me;
And if ye dare to kiss my lips,

Sure of your bodie I will be."
“Betide me weal, betide me woe,

That weird shall never danton me."
Syne he has kissed her rosy lips,

All underneath the Eildon Tree.
“Now, ye maun go wi' me," she said ;

“True Thomas, ye maun go wi' me;
And ye maun serve me seven years,

Through weal or woe as may chance to be."
She mounted on her milk-white steed;

She's ta'en true Thomas up behind;
And aye, whene'er her bridle rung,'-

The steed flew swifter than the wind.
O they rade on, and farther on;

The steed gaed swifter than the wind,
Until they reached a desart wide,

And living land was left behind.
“Light down, light down, now, true Thomas,

And lean your head upon my knee :
Abide, and rest a little space,

And I will show

“O see ye not yon narrow road,

So thick beset with thorns and briers ?
That is the path of righteousness,

Though after it but few inquires.
“And see not ye that braid, braid road,

That lies across that lily leven ?-
That is the path of wickedness,

Though some call it the road to heaven.
“And see not ye that bonny road,

That winds about the fernie brae?
That is the road to fair Elfland,

Where thou and I this night maun gae.
“But, Thomas, ye maun hold your tongue

Whatever ye may hear or see ;
For, if you speak word in Elfyn land,

Ye'll ne'er get back to your ain countrie."
O they rade on, and farther on,

And they waded through rivers aboon the knee,
And they saw neither sun nor moon,

But they heard the roaring of the sea.
It was mirk, mirk night, and there was nae stern light,

And they waded through red blude to the knee,
For a' the blude, that's shed on earth,

Rins through the springs o' that countrie.
Syne they came on to a garden green,

And she pu'd an apple frae a tree-
“ Take this for thy wages, true Thomas;
· It will give thee the tongue that can never lie.”
“My tongue is mine ain,” true Thomas said ;

"A gudely gift ye wad gie to me!
I neither dought to buy nor sell,

At fair or tryst where I may be.
"I dought neither speak to prince or peer,

Nor ask of grace from fair ladye."
6 Now hold thy peace!" the ladye said,

For, as I say, so must it be.”
He has gotten a coat of the even cloth,

And a pair of shoes of velvet green;
And, till seven years were gane and past,

True Thomas on earth was never seen.


ALTERED FROM ANCIENT PROPHECIES. The prophecies, ascribed to Thomas of Ercildoune have been the principal means of securing to him remembrance "amongst the sons of his people.” The author of “Sir Tristrem" would long ago have joined, in the vale of oblivion, Clerk of Tranent, who wrote the adventure of 'Schir Gawain,'” if, by good hap, the same current of ideas respecting antiquity, which causes Virgil to be regarded as a magician by the Lazaroni of Naples, had not exalted the bard of Ercildoune to the prophetic character. Perhaps, indeed, he himself affected it during his life. We know, at least, for certain, that a belief in his supernatural knowledge was current soon after his death. His prophecies are alluded to by Barbour, by Winton, and by Henry the Minstrel, or Blind Harry, as he is usually termed. None of these authors, however, give the words of any of the Rhymer's vaticinations, but merely narrate, historically, his having predicted the events of which :hey speak. The earliest of the prophecies ascribed to him, which is now extant, is quoted by Mr Pinkerton from a MS. It is supposed to be a response from Thomas of Ercildoune to a question from the heroic countess of March, renowned for the defence of the Castle of Dunbar against the Eng. lish, and termed, in the familiar dialect of her time, Black Agnes of Dunbar. This prophecy is remarkable, in so far as it bears very little resemblance to any verses published in the printed copy of the Rhymer's supposed prophecies.

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 author has chosen to introduce him into the following ballad. All the prophetic verses are selected from Hart's publication.

When seven years were come and gane,

The sun blinked fair on pool and stream;
And Thomas lay on Huntlie bank,

Like one awakened from a dream.
He heard the trampling of a steed,

He saw the flash of armour flee,
And he beheld a gallant knight

Come riding down by the Eildon Tree.
He was a stalwart knight, and strong;

Of giant make he 'peared to be:
He stirred his horse, as he were wode,

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 welcome, 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 Rosse'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 showed him a rock, beside the sea,
Where a king lay stiff, beneath his steed,

And steel-dight nobles wiped their e'c.
“The neist curse lights on Branxton Hills:

By Flodden's high and heathery side,
Shall wave a banner, red as blude,

And chieftains throng wi' meikle prid.

A Scottish king shall come full keen;

The ruddy lion beareth he:
A feathered arrow sharp, I ween,

Shall make him wink and warre to see. " When he is bloody, and all to bledde,

Thus to his men he still shall say*For God's sake, turn ye back again,

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,

And woe and wonder ye sall see; How forty thousand spearmen stand,

Where yon rank river meets the sea. “There shall the lion lose the gylte,

And the libbards bear it clean away; At Pinkyn Cleuch there shall be spilt

Much gentil blude that day.” “Enough, enough, of curse and ban;

Some blessing 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

Is by a burn, that's called of bread; Where Saxon men shall tine the bow,

And find their arrows lack the head. “Beside that brigg, out ower that burn,

Where the water bickereth bright and sheen, Shall many a falling courser spurn,

And knights shall die in battle keen. “Beside a headless cross of stone,

The libbards there shall lose the gree; The raven shall come, the erne shall go,

And drink the Saxoni blood sae free. The cross of stone they shall not know,

So thick the corses there shall be." “But tell me now,” said brave Dunbar,

“True Thomas, tell now unto me, 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 Bruce'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 ower ocean wide,

With hempen bridles, and horse of tree.”

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