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A DRAMATIC SKETCH FROM SCOTTISH HISTORY.
Knights, squiros, and steeds, shall enter on the stage.
Essay on Criticism.
TO JOANNA BAILLIE,
AT WHOSE INSTANCE THE TASK WAS UNDERTAKEN,
THESE SCENES ARE INSCRIBED, AS A SLIGHT TESTIMONY OF THE AUTHOR'S HIGH RESPECT FOR HER
TALENTS, AS WELL AS OF HIS SINCERE AND FAITHFUL FRIENDSHIP.
archers at the commencement, totally to disperse Though the public seldom takes much interest them, and stop the deadly effusion. But Douglas in such communications, (nor is there any reason now used no such precaution; and the consequence why they should,) the author takes the liberty of was, that his people, drawn up on the face of the stating, that these scenes were commenced with hill, presented one general mark to the enemy, the purpose of contributing to a miscellany pro- none of whose arrows descended in vain. The jected by a much esteemed friend. But instead of Scots fell without fight, and unrevenged, till a being confined 10 a scene or two as intended, the spirited knight, Swinton, exclaimed aloud, o work gradually swelled to the size of an independ- my brave countrymen! what fascination has seized ent publication. It is designed to illustrate mili- you to-day, that you stand like deer to be shot, tary antiquities, and the manners of chivalry. The instead of indulging your ancient courage, and drama (if it can be termed one) is in no particular meeting, your enemies hand to hand? Let those either designed or calculated for the stage; so that who will, descend with me, that we may gain in case any attempt shall be made to produce it in victory, or life, or fall like men.' This being heard action (as has happened in similar cases,) the au- by Adam Gordon, between whom and Swinton thor takes the present opportunity to intimate, there existed an ancient deadly feud, attended that it shall be solely at the peril of those who with the mutual slaughter of many followers, he make such an experiment.
instantly fell on his knees before Swinton, begged The subject is to be found in Scottish history; his pardon, and desired to be dubbed a knight by but not to overload so slight a publication with him whom he must now regard as the wisest and antiquarian research, or quotations from obscure the boldest of that order in Britain. The ceremony chronicles, may be sufficiently illustrated by the performed, Swinton and Gordon descended the following passage from Pinkerton's History of hill, accompanied only by one hundred men; and Scotland, vol. I, p. 71.
a desperate valour led the whole body to death. “The governor (anno 1402) dispatched a con- Had a similar spirit been shown by the Scottish siderable force under Murulac, his eldest son; the army, it is probable that the event of the day would earls of Angus and Moray also joined Douglas, have been different. Douglas, who was certainly who entered England with an army of ten thousand deficient in the most important qualities of a gemen, carrying terror and devastation to the walls neral, seeing his army begin to disperse, at length of Newcastle.
attempted to descend the hill; but the English "Henry IV was now engaged in the Welch war archers, retiring a little, sent a flight of arrows so against Owen Glendour; but the earl of Northum-sharp and strong, that no armour could with stand; berland, and his son, the Hotspur Percy, with the and the Scottish leader himself, whose panoply earl of March, collected a numerous array, and was of remarkable temper, fell under five wounds, awaited the return of the Scots, impeded with though not mortal. The English men-of-arms, spoil, near Milfield, in the north part of North- knights, or squires, did not strike one błow, but umberland. Douglas had reached Wooler on his remained spectators of the rout, which was now return; and, perceiving the enemy, seized a strong complete. Great numbers of Scots were slain, and post between the two armies, called Homildon- near five hundred perished in the river Tweed hill. In this method he rivalled his predecessor upon their flight. Among the illustrious wounded at the battle of Otterburn, but not with like suc were Douglas, whose chief wound deprived him
The English advanced to the assault, and of an eye; Murdac, son of Albany; the earls of Henry Perey was about to lead them up the hill, Moray and Angus; and about four gentlemen of when March caught his bridle, and advised him eminent rank and power. The chief slain, were, to advance no farther, but to pour the dreadful Swinton, Gordon, Livingston of Calender, Ramsay shower of English arrows into the enemy. This of Dalhousie, Walter Sinclair, Roger Gordon, advice was followed with the usual fortune; for in Walter Scott, and others. Such was the issue of all ages the bow was the English weapon of vic- the unfortunate battle of Homildon.” tory, and though the Scots, and perhaps the French, It may be proper to observe, that the scene of were superior in the use of the spear, yet this wea- action has, in the following pages, been transferred pon was useless after the distant bow had decided from Homildon to Halidon Hill. For this there the combat. Robert the Great, sensible of this at was an obvious reason, for who would again venthe battle of Bannockburn, ordered a prepared ture to introduce upon the scene the celebrated docachment of cavalry to rush among the English Hotspur, who commanded the English at the for
mer battle? There are, however, several coinci- occupied by the rear guard of the Scottish army dences which may reconcile even the severer an- Bodies of armed men appear as advancing from tiquary to the substitution of Halidon Hill for different points to join the main body. Homildon. A Scottish army was defeated by the Enter De Viront and the PrioR of Maison-Dieu. English on both occasions, and under nearly the
Vip. No farther, father-here I need no guido same circumstances of address on the part of the victors, and mismanagement on that of the van. I have already brought your peaceful step quished, for the English tong-bow decided the Too near the verge of battle. day in both cases. In both cases, also, a Gordon
Pri. Fain would I see you join some baron's was left on the field of battle; and at Halidon, as
banner, at Homildon, the Scots were coinmanded by an Before I say farewell. The honour'd sword ill-fated representative of the great house of Dou- That fought so well in Syria should not ware glas. He of Homildon was surnamed Tine-man, Amid the ignoble crowd. i. e. Loseman, from his repeated defeats and mis
Vip. Each spot is noble in a pitched held, carriages, and with all the personal valour of his so that a man has room to fight and fall on't: race, seems to have enjoyed so small a portion of But I shall find out friends. 'Tis scarce twelve their sagacity, as to be unable to learn military
years experience from reiterated calamity. I am far, Since left Scotland for the wars of Palestine, however, from intimating, that the trails of im- And then the flower of all the Scottish nobles becility and envy, attributed to the regent in the Were known to me; and I, in my degree, following sketch, are to be historically ascribed Not:ll unknown to them. either to the elder Douglas of Halidon Hill, or to
Pri. Alas! there have been changes since that him called Tine-man, who seems to have enjoyed
time; the respect of his country men, notwithstanding The royal Bruce, with Randolph, Douglas, Grathat, like the celebrated Anne de Montmorency, hame, he was either defeated, or wounded, or made pri- Then shook'in field the banners which now moulsoner in every battle which he fought. The regent
der of the sketch is a character purely imaginary:
Over their graves i’ the chancel. The tradition of the Swinton family, which still
And thenee comes it, survives in a lineal descent, and to which the au-That while I look'd on many a well-known erest thor has the honour to be related, avers, that the And blazon'd shield, as hitherward we came, Swinton wlio fell at Homildon, in the manner par- The faces of the barons who display'd them rated in the preceding extract, had slain Gordon's Were all unknown to me. Brave youths they father; which seems sufficient ground for adopting
seeni'd; that circumstance into the following Dramatic Yet, surely fitter to adorn the tilt-yard, Sketch, though it is rendered improbable by other than to be leaders of a war. Their followers, authorities.
Young like themselves, seem like themselves unIf any reader will take the trouble of looking at
practised-Froissart, Fordun, or other historians of the peo. Look at their battle rank. riod, he will fiod, that the character of the lord of
Pri. I cannot gaze on't with undazzled eye, Swinton, for strength, courage, and conduct, is by So thick the rays
dart back from shield and helmet, no means exaggerated.
And sword and battle-axe, and spear and peDBOR DRAMATIS PERSONE.
Sure 'tis a gallant show! the Bruce himself
Hath often conquered at the head of fewer
And worse appointed followers.
Vip. Ay, but 'twas Bruce that led them. ReverGORDON,
end father, SWINTON,
'Tis not the falchion's weight decides a combat; LENNOX,
It is the strong and skilful hand that wields it. SUTRERLAND, Ross, Scottish chiefs and nobles. Il fate, that we should lack the noble king,
And all his champions now! Time call'd them not, MAXWELL,
For when I parted hence for Palestine, JOHNSTONE,
The brows of most were free from grizzled hair. LINDESAY.
Pri. Too true, alas! But well you know, in ADAM DE VIPONT, a Knight Templar.
Scotland, THE PRIOR OF Máison-Dieu.
Few hairs are silver'd underneath the helmet; REYNALD, Swinton's Squire.
'Tis cowls like mine which hide them. 'Mongst HoB HATTELY, a Border Moss-Trooper.
the laity, Heralds.
War's the rash reaper, who thrusts in his sickle ENGLISH.
Before the grain is white. In threescore years KING EDWARD IIL.
And ten, which I have seen, I have vulived
Well nigh two generations of our nobles.
Vip. Thou may'st outlive them also.
My prayer shall be, that heaven will close my eyes,
Before they look upon the wrath to come.
Vip. Retire, retire, good father!-Pray for Seot.
Think not on me. Here comes an ancient friend, The northern side of the eminence of Halidon. The Brother in arms, with whom to-day I'll join me.
back scene represents the summit of the uscent, Back to your choir, assemble all your brotherhood,
and weary heaven with prayers for victory. In twelve years' space!--And thy brave sons, sir Pri. Heaven's blessing rest with thee,
Alan, Champion of heaven, and of thy suffering country! Alas! I fear to ask.
[Exit PRIOR. VIPONT draws a little aside, Swin. All slain, de Vipont. In my empty home
and lets down the beaver of his helmet. A puny babe lisps to a widow'd mother, Enter Swixtos, followed by Reynald and others, “Where is my grandsire? wherefore do you weep?”
to whom he speaks as he enters. But for that prattler, Lyulph's house is heirless. Swin. Halt here, and plant my pennon, till the l'm an old oak, from which the foresters regent
Have hew'd four goodly boughs, and left beside me Assign our band its station in the host.
Only a sapling, which the fawn may crush
AxeThere is his place of honour, and there only Richard the Ready--and my youngest darling, His valour can win worship. Thou’rt of those, My Fair-baired William-do but now survive Who would have war's deep art bear the wild In measures which the gray-hair'd minstrels sing, semblance
When they make maidens weep: Of some disorder'd hunting, where, pell-mell, Vip. These wars with England, they have rooted Each trusting to the swiftness of his horse,
out Gallants press on to see the quarry fall.
The flowers of christendom. Knights, who might Yon steel-clad Southrons, Reynald, are no deer; win And England's Edward is no stag at bay. The sepulchre of Christ from the rude heathen, Vip. (advancing.) There needed not, lo blazen Fall in unholy warfare! forth the Swinton,
Swin. Unholy wartare? ay, well hast thou named His ancient burgonet, the sable boar
it; Chain'd to the gnarled oak,-nor his proud step, But not with England—would her cloth-yard shafts Nor giant stature, nor the ponderous mace, Had bored their cuirasses! Their lives had been Which only he of Scotland's realm can wield: Lost like their grandsires', in the bold defence His discipline and wisdom mark the leadler, Of their dear country-but in private feud As doth his frame the champion. Hail, brave With the proud Gordon, fell my Long-speard John, Swinton!
He with the Axe, and he men calld the Ready, Swin. Brave templar, thanks! Such your cross'd Ay, and my Fair-hair'd Will-the Gordon's wrath shoulder speaks you;
Devour'd my gallant issue. But the closed visor, which conceals your features, Vip. Since thou dost weep, their death is upaForbids more knowledge. Umfraville, perhaps venged? Vip. (unclosing his helmet.) No; one less worthy Swin. Templar, what think'st thou me? See of our sacred order.
yonder rock, Yet, unless Syrian suns have scorch'd my features From which the fountain gushes-is it less Swart as my sabie visor, Alan Swinton
Compact of adamant, though waters flow from it? Will welcome Symon Vipont.
Firm hearts have moister eyes. They are avenged; Stoin. (embracing him.) As the blith reaper I wept not till they were—till the proud Gordon Welcomes a practised mate, when the ripe harvest Had with his life-blood dyed my father's sword, Lies deep before him, and the sun is high. In guerdon that he thinn'd my father's lineage, Thou'lt follow yon old pennon, wilt thou not? And then I wept my sons; anil, as the Gordon 'Tis tatter'd since thou saw'st it, and the boarheads Lay at my feet, there was a tear for him, Look as if brought from off some christmas board, which mingled with the rest.-We had been Where knives had notch'd them deeply.
friends, Vip. Have with them ne'ertheless. The Stuart's Had shared the banquet and the chase together, chequer,
Fought side by side, -and our first cause of strife, The bloody heart of Douglas, Ross's lymphads, Wo to the pride of both, was but a light one. Sutherland's wild-cats, nor the royal lion,
Vip. You are at feud, then, with the mighty Rampant in golden tressure, wins me from them. Gordon? We'll back the boar-heads bravely. I see round Swin. At deadly feud. Here in this border-land them
Where the sire's quarrels descend upon the son, A chosen band of lances-some well known to me. As due a part of his inheritance, Where's the main body of thy followers! As ihe strong castle, and the ancient blazon,
Swin. Symon de Vipont, thou dost see them all Where private vengeance holds the scales of justice, That Swinton's bugle-horn can call to battle, Weighing each drop of blood as scrupulously However loud it rings. There's not a boy As Jews or Lombards balance silver pence, Left in my halls, whose arm has strength enough Not in this land, 'twixt Solway and saint Abb’s, To bear a sword--there's not a man behind, Rages a bitterer feud than mine and their's, However old, who moves without a staff,
The Swinton and the Gordon. Striplings and graybeards, every one is here, Vip. You, with some threescore lances—and the And here all should be-Scotland needs them all: Gordon And more and better men, were each a Hercules, Leading a thousand followers. And yonder handful centuplied.
Swin. You rate him far too low. Since you Vip. A thousand followers—such, with friends sought Palestine, and kinsmen,
He hath had grants of baronies and lordships Allies and vassals, thou wert wont to lead In the far-distant north. A thousand horse A thousand followers shrunk to sixty lances His southern friends and vassals always number'de
Add Badenoch kerne, and horse from Dee and a cross, which binds me to be christian priest, Spey,
As well as christian champion. God may grant, He'll count a thousand more.–And now, De Vi- That I, at once his father's friend and yours, pont,
May make some peace betwixt you. If the boar-heads seem in your eyes less worthy, Swin. When that your priestly zeal, and knightFor lack of followers--seek yonder standard- ly valour, The bounding stag, with a brave host around it: Shall force the grave to render up the dead. There the young Gordon makes his earliest field,
(Exeunt severally. And pants to win his spurs. His father's friend, As well as mine, thou wert-go, join his pennun, The summit of Hafidon Hill, before the regent's And grace him with thy presence.
tent. The royal standard of Scotland is seen in Vip. When you were friends, I was the friend the back ground, with the pennons and banners of both,
of the principal nobles around it. And now I can be enemy to neither;
Council of Scottish nobles and chiefs. SUTHEBBut my poor person, though but slight the aid, LAND, Ross, LENNOX, MAXWELL, and other no Joins on this field the banner of the two
bles of the highest rank, are close to the REGEIT'S Which hath the smallest following.
person, and in the act of keen debate. VIPONT, Swin. Spoke like the generous knight, who with Gordon and others, remain grouped at some gave up all,
distance on the right hand of the stage. On the Leading and lordship, in a heathen land
left, standing also apart, is Swinton, alone and To fight a christian soldier-yet, in earnest, bare-headed. The nobles are dressed in highland I pray, De Vipont, you would join the Gordon or lowland habits, as historical costume requires. In this high batile. 'Tis a noble youth,
Trumpets, Heralds, &c. are in attendance. So fame doth vouch him,-amorous, quick, and Len. Nay, lordings, put do shame upon my valiant;
counsels; Takes knighthood, too, this day, and well may use I did but say, if we retired a little, His spurs ino rashly in the wish to win them. We should have fairer field and better vantage. A friend like thee beside him in the fight, I've seen king Robert, -ay, the Bruce himselfWere worth a hundred spears, to rein his valour Retreat six leagues in length, and think no sbame And temper it with prudence;—'tis the aged eagle
on't. Teaches his brood to gaze upon
Reg. Ay, but king Edward sent a haughty mes With eye undazzled.
sage, Vip. Alas, brave Swinton, wouldst thou train Defying us to battle on this field, the hunter
This very hill of Halidon; if we leave it That soon must bring thee to the bay? your cus- Unfought withal, it squares not with our honour. tom,
Swin. (apart.) A perilous honour, that allows
Swin. Why, be it so! I look for nothing else: To choose our field of battle! He knows how
among the nobles seems to contine. A pang so poignant as his father's did.
Suth. (aloud.) We will not back one furlong But I would perish by a noble hand,
-not oue yard, And such will his be if he bear him nobly, No, nor one inch; where'er we find the foe, Nobly and wisely on this field of Halidon. Or where the foe funds us, there will we fight him. Enter a PURSUIVANT.
Retreat will dull the spirit of our followers, Pursuivant. Sir knights, to council!--'tis the Who now stand prompt for battle. regent's order,
Ross. My lords, methinks great Morarehat has That knights and men of leading meet him instantly doubts, Before the royal standard. Edward's army That, if his northern clang once turn the seam Is seen from the hill summit.
Of their check'd hose behind, it will be hard Swin. Say to the regent, we obey his orders. To halt and rally them.
[Exit PURSUIVANT. Suth. Say'st thou, Mac-Donnell?-add another (T. REYNALD.] Hold thou my casque, and furl my falsehood, pennog up
And name when Morarchat was coward or traitor! Close to the staff. I will not show my crest, Thine island race, as chronicles can tell, Nor standard, till the common foe shall challenge Were oft affianced to the southern cause; them.
Loving the weight and temper of their gold, I'll wake no civil strife, nor tempt the Gordon More than the weight and temper of their steel. With aught that's like defiance.
Reg. Peace, my lords, ho! Vip. Will he not know your features?
Ross, (Throwing down his glove. ) Mac-Donnell Swin. He nerer saw me. In the distant north, will not peace! There lies my pledge, Against his will 'tis said, his friends detain'd him Proud Morarchat, to witness thee a liar. During his nurture-caring not, belike,
Mar. Brought I all Nithsdale from the westera To trust a pledge so precious near the boar-tusks. border; It was a natural but needless caution:
Left I my towers exposed to foraying England, I wage no war with children, for I think
And thieving Annandale, to see such misrule? Too deeply on mine own.
John. Who speaks of Annandale? Dare MasVip. I have thought on it, and will see the Gor- well slander don
The gentle house of Lochwood? As we go hence to council. I do bear
Reg. Peace, lordings, or re again. We represent
The majesty of Scotland-in our presence But never saw with waking eyes till now.
I will accost him.
Anon I'll give you reason why you should not.
There's other work in handLind. You must determine quickly. Scarce a Gor. I will but ask his name. There's in his mile
presence Parts our vanguard from Edward's. On the plain, Something that works upon me like a spell, Bright gleams of armour flash thro'clouds of dust, Or like the feeling made my childish ear Like stars through frost-mist-steeds neigh, and Doat upon tales of superstitious dread,
Attracting while they chill'd my heart with fear. And arrows soon will whistle-the worst sound
Now, born the Gordon, I do feel right well That waits on English war.-You must determine. l'm bound to fear nought earthly--and I fear nought. Reg. We are determined. We will spare proud I'll know who this man isEdward
(Accosts SWINTON. Half of the ground that parts us.--Onward, lords; Sir knight, I pray you, of your gentle courtesy, Saint Andrew strike for Scotland! We will lead To tell your honour'd name. I am ashamed, The middle ward ourselves, the royal standard Being unknown in arms, to say that mine Display'd beside us; and beneath its shadow Is Adam Gordon. Shall the young gallants whom we knight this day, Swin. (shows emotion, but instantly subdues it.) Fight for their golden spurs.-Lennox, Thou’rt wise, It is a name that soundeth in my ear And wilt obey command-lead thou the rear. Like to a death-knell-ay, and like the call Len. The rear!--why I the rear? The van were of the shrill trumpet to the mortal lists; fitter
Yet 'tis a name which ne'er hath been dishonour'd, For him who fought abreast with Robert Bruce. And never will, 1 trast-most surely never Swin. (apart.) Discretion bath forsaken Lennox By such a youth as thou. too!
Gor. There's a mysterious courtesy in this, The wisdom he was forty years in gathering
and yet it yields no answer to my question. Has left him in an instant. 'l'is contagious I trust, you hold the Gordon not unworthy Even to witness frenzy.
To know the name he asks? Suth. The regent hath determined well. The rear
Swin. Worthy of all that openness and honour Suits him the best who counsell'd our retreat. Len. Proud northern thane, the van were soon Vipont will show it you; and, if it sound
May show to friend or foe-but, for my name, the rear, Were thy disordered followers planted there.
Harsh in your ear, remember that it knells there Suth. Then, for that very word, 1 make a vow, Though seldom wont to keep it in concealment,
But at your own request. This day, at least, By my broad earldom and my father's soul,
As there's no cause I should, you had not heard it. That if I have not leading of the van,
Gor. This strange
Vip. The mystery is needful. Follow me.
[They retire behind the side scene. Not whilst Mac-Donnell lives. Swin. (apart.) Nay, then a stone would speak. How blush'd his noble cheek,
Swin. (looking after them.) 'Tis a brave youth. [Addresses the REGENT.] May't please your grace. While youthful modesty, and the embarrassment And yours, great lords, to hear an old man's coun
Of curiosity, combined with wonder, sel. That hath seen fights enow. These open bic' ings All mingled in the flush; but soon 'twill deepen
And half suspicion of some slight intended,
I wait the issue, as I've seen spectators
Suspend the motion even of the eye-lids,
When the slow gunner, with his lighted match, If shepherds wrangle when the wolf is nigh. Reg: The old knight counsels well. Let every 10 waken its dread slumbers.-- Now 'tis out;
Approach'd the charged cannon, in the act lord Or chief, who leads five hundred men or more,
He draws his sword, and rushes towards me,
Who will nor seek nor shun him.
[Looking at Swinton. Vip. Hold, for the sake of heaven!--0, for tho Young Gordon, your high rank and numerous fol sake lowing
of your dear country, hold!-Has Swinton slain Give you a seat with us, though yet unknighted. your father,
Gor. I pray you pardon me. My youth's unfit And must you, therefore, be yourself a parricide To sit in council, when that knight's gray hairs And stand recorded as the selfish traitor, and wisdom wait without.
Who, in her hour of need, his country's cause Reg. Do as you will; we deign not bid you twice. Deserts, that he may wreak a private wrong? [The REGENT, Ross, SUTHERLAND, LEN- Look to yon banner-that is Scotland's standard;
NOX, MAXWELL, &c. enter the tent. The Look to the regent-he is Scotland's general;
rest remain grouped about the stage. Look to the English--they are Scotland's foemen! Gor. (observing Swinton.] That helmetless Bethink thee, then, thou art a son of Scotland, old knight, his giant stature,
And think on nought beside. His awful accents of rebuke and wisdom,
Gor. He hath come here to bravo me! Di; Have caught my fancy strangely. He doth seem
Unhand me! Like to some vision’d form which I have dream'd of, Thou canst not be my father's ancient friend,