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There could have been no fer-ly (marvel), in Wintou's eyes at least, how Thomas came by his knowledge of future events, had he ever heard of the inspired mm of 11addingtou; which, it cannot be doubted, would have been a solution of the mystery, much to the taste of the prior of Lochleven.'
Whatever doubts, however, the learned might have, as to the source of the Rhymer's prophetic skill, the vulgar had no hesitation to ascribe the whole to the intercourse between the hard and the queen of Faery. The popular tale bears, that Thomas was carried off, at an early age, to the Fairy Laud, where he acquired all die knowledge which made him afterwards so famous, After seven years’ residence he was permitted to return to the earth, to enlighten and astonish his countrymen by his prophetic powers; still, ltowever, remaining bound to return to his royal mistress, when she should intimate her pleasure.2 Accordingly, while
his friends in the
composedly and slowly parading the street of the villags} The prophet instantly arose, left his habitation, and followed the Wonderful animals to the forest, whelme he was never seen to return. According to the Popular beltef, he still it drees his weird» in Fairy Land, and is evfpevled one _day to revisit earth. In the mean while, his 'm@l"°l‘Y 18 held in the most profound respect. The F_7I|4°I1 Tree, from beneath the shade of whidl he dellV@l‘ed_ lll-8 prophecies, now no longer exbul the 5P0! 18 marked by a large stone, called
person, so important lthymer, without some commentary upon the following ballad. from a copy, obtained from a lady, from Ercildouu, corrected and enlarged by one in Mrs Brown's MSS. The former copy, however, as might be expected, is far more minute as to local description.‘ To this old tale the author has ventured to add a Second Part, printed prophecies vulgarly ascribed to the Rb and a Third Part, entirely modern, tradition of his having returned hind to the Land of Faerie.
the more severe antiquaries,
to the Second Part some remarks on Learmout's prophecics.
Thomas lthymer into the fails was than
The people deemed or vvll he meikle can,
in ,.u|c ofwar Whether they tint or war]:
" may be deemed by division of grace, egg,
Hiflflfy 0f Walla;-z, Book II.
. ' Fairies rcfi d
to his dwelling-place gveu attached itself in some degree to a person, who, within the memory of man, chose to set up his residence in the ruins of Learmoufs tower. The name of this man was Murray, a kind of herbalist; who, by dint of some knowledge in simples, the possession of a musical clock, an electrical machine, and a stuffed alligator, added to a supposed communication with Thomas the Rhytner, lived for many years in very good credit as a wizard.
It seemed to the author unpardouable to dismiss a in Border tradition as the farther notice than a simple It is given residing not far
consisting of a kind of Game, from the ymer; founded upon the with the hurt and To make his peace with the author has prefixed
It Harp and carp, Thomas,» she said; tr Harp and carp along with me;
And if ye dare to kiss my lips,
Tan prophecies. ascribed to Thomas of Ercildoun, have
it When man is mad n kyng ofa capped man;
with great difiidence thatl hazard a contrary opinion. There can, however, I believe, be little doubt, that these prophetic verses are a forgery, and not the production of our Thomas the Ithymer. But I am inclined to believe them of a later date than the reign of Edward] or ll.
The gallant defence of the castle of Dunbar, by Black Agnes, took placcin the year 1337. The Ithymer died previous to the year 1299 (see the charter, by his son, in the introduction to the foregoing ballad). It seems, therefore, very improbable, that the Countess of Dunbar could ever have an opportunity of consulting Thomas the Ithymer, since that would infer that she was married, or at least engaged in state matters, previous to 1299; whereas, she is described as a young, or a middle-aged woman, at the period of her being hesieged in the fortress, which she so well defended. If the editor might indulge a conjecture, he would suppose, that the prophccy was contrived for the encouragement of the English invaders, during the Scottish wars; and that the names of the Countess of Dunbar, and of Thomas of Ercildoun, were used for the greater credit of the forgery. According to this hypothesis, it seems likely to have been composed after the siege of Dunbar, which had made the name of the countess well-known, and consequently in the reign of Edward lll. The whole tendency of the prophecy is to aver, ~< that there shall be no end of the Scottish war (concerning which the question was proposed), till a linal conquest of the country by England, attended by all the usual severities of war. When the cultivated country shall hecome forest-says the prophecy :—when the wild animals shall inhabit the abode of men ;—-when Scots shall not be able to escape the English, should they crouch as hares in their formn—all these denunciations seem to refer to the time of Edward Ill, upon whose victories the prediction was probably founded. The mention of the exchange betwixt a coil worth ten markes, and a quarter of it whaty (indifferent) wheat,» seems to allude to the dreadful famine about the year 1388. The independence of Scotland was, however, as impregnable to the mines of superstition, as to the steel of our more powerful and more wealthy neighbours. The war of Scotland is, thank God, at an end; but it is ended without her people having either crouched like hares in their form, or being drowned in their flight u for fame of shep,»—thank God for that too. The prophecy quoted in p. 350, is probably of the same date, and intended for the same purpose. A minute search of the records of the time would, probably, throw additional light upon the allusions contained in these ancient legends. Among various rhymes of prophetic import, which are at this day current amongst the people of Teviotdale, is one, supposed to be pronounced by Thomas the Rhymer, presaging the destruction of his habitation and family:
Spottiswoode, an honest, but credulous historian, seems to have been a firm believer in the authenticity of the prophetic wares, vended in the name of Thomas of Ercildoun. u The prophecies, yet extant in Scottish rhymes, whereupon he was commonly called Tltomas the Rhymer, may justly be admired; having foretold, so many ages before, the union of England and Scotland in the ninth degree of the Bruce's blood,with the succession of Bruce himself to the crown, being yet a child, and other divers particulars, which the event hath ratified and made good. Boethius, in his story, relateth his prediction of King Alexander’: death, and that he did foretel the same to the Earl of March, the day before it fell out; saying, ‘that before the next day at noon, such a tempest should blow, as Scotland had not felt for many years before.‘ The next morning, the day being clear, and no change appearing in the air, the nobleman did challenge Thomas of his saying, calling him an impostor. He replied, that noon was not yet passed. About which time, apost came to advertise the carl of the king his sudden death. ‘Then,’ said Thomas, ‘this is the tempest] foretold; and so shall it prove to Scotland.’ Whcnce, or how, he had this knowledge, can hardly be affirmed; but sure it is, that he did divine and answer truly of many things to COn'le.n—sPOT'l'lSW00nE, p. 47. Besides that notable votlcher, Master Hector Boece, the good archbishop might, had he been so minded, have referred to Fordun for the prophecy of King Alexander's death. That historian calls our bard u ruralis ille vates.»—Fo|intIn, lib. 1:, cap. 40.
What Spotiiswoode calls it the prophecies extant in Scottish rhyme,» are the metrical predictions ascribed to the prophet of Ercildonn, which, with many other compositions of the same nature, hearing the names of Bede, Merlin, Gildas, and other approved soothsayers, are contained in one small volume, published by Andro Hart, at Edinburgh, 1615. The late excellent Lord flailes made these compositions the subject of a dissertation, puhlished in his Remarks On the History ofScotland. llis attention is chiefly directed to the celebrated prophecy of our hard, mentioned by Bishop Spottiswoode, bearing, that the crowns of England and Scotland should be united in the person of a king, son of a French queen, and related to Bruce in the ninth degree. Lord I-Iailes plainly proves, that this prophecy is petverted from its original purpose, in order to apply it to the succession of James VI. The ground-work of the forgery is to be found in the prophecies of Berlington, contained in the same collection, and runs thus:
Of Bruce‘: left side shall spring out as n leafo, Al neere as the ninth degree;
And shall be fleemed of (hire Scotland,
In France furra beyond the son.
And then shall come nguine ryding,
With eyes that many men may see.
At Aburludie he shall light,
With hempen holler:-4 nnd horse of trs.
Hoirever it happen for to fall,
The lyon lbal be lord at‘ all ;
The French quen shill bearre the sonne,
Shal rnlo all Drittnine to the sea;
Ane from the Bruce's blood shal come also, _ As neere us the ninth degree.
Yet llltll there come it keene knight over the salt sea, A keeno man of courage and bold man ofnrtnes;
There cannot be any doubt, that this prophecy was intended to excite the confidence of the Scottish nation in the Duke of Albany, regent of Scotland, who arrived from France in 1515, two years after the death of James IV in the fatal field of Flodden. The regent was descended of Bruce by the left, 1'. e. by ‘the female side, within the ninth degree. His mother was daughter to the Earl of Boulogne, his father banished from his country—<< fleerned of faire Scodandm His arrival must necessarily be by sea, and his landing‘ was expected at Aberlady, in the Frith of Forth. He was a duke's son, dubbed knight; and nine years from t5t3 are allowed him, by the pretended prophet, for the accomplishment of the salvation of his country, and the
' exaltation of Scotland over her sister and rival. All this
narrator, concerning the name and abode of the person who showed him these strange matters, and the answer of the prophet to that question:
Then to the Bairne could I say,
Where dwells than, or In what countrie! [Or who lhlll rule the isle of Britane, From the north to the south ieyi
A French queens shall hears the wane,
Which of the Bruce's blood shall oome.
I frained fart what was his name,
Where that he came, from what oountry.] In Ertlingtoun I dwell at home,
Thomas liytnour men cals me.
There is surely no one who will not conclude, with Lord Hailes, that the eight lines inclosed in brackets are a clumsy interpolation, borrowed from Berlington, with such alterations as might render the supposed prophecy applicable to the union of the crowns.
While we are on this subject, it may be proper briefly to notice the scope of sotne of the other predictions in Hart's collection. As the prophecy of [Serlington was intended to raise the spirits of~the nation, during the regency of Albany, so those of Sybilla and Eltraine refer to that of the Earl of Arran, afterwards Dulte,of Chatelherault, during the minority of Mary, a period of similar calamity. This is obvious from the following verses:
Take a thousand in calculation,
Four cretcentt under one crnwne,
Thou shall the warren ended be,
In that yere there shall a king,
A duke, and no crowned king;
The date above hinted at seems to be 1549, when the Scottish regent, by means of some succours derived from France, was endeavouring to repair the consequences of the fatal battle of Pinkie. Allusion is made to the supply given to the ct llloldwarte (England) by the fained hart» (the Earl of Angus). The regent is described hy his hearing, the antelope; large supplies are promised from France, and complete conquest predicted to Scotland and her allies. Thus wits the same hackneyed stratagem repeated, whenever the interest of the rulers appeared to stand in need of it. The regent was not, indeed, till after this period, created Duke of Chatclherault; but that honour was the object of his hopes and expectations.’
The name of our renowned soothsayer is liberally used as an authority, throughout all the prophecies published by Andre liart. Besides those expressly put in his name, Gildas, another assumed personage, is supposed to derive his knowledge from him; for he concludes thus :—
Trua Thomas me told in a troublesome time,
In ll harvest morn at Eldonn hills. ' - The Pmpltecy of Glldar.
In the prophecy of Berlington, already quoted, we are told,
Marvellous Merlin, that many men of tells, And ’l‘honias's sayings comes all at once.