ページの画像
PDF
ePub

fully supposed generally to favour,) with the same impartiality with which we have seen him relating the defeat of the French at the battle of Crecy. He has in both cases dealt out even-handed justice, and might with just as much truth have been charged with favoring the Scots in the one as the English in the other. On this disastrous battle, the celebrated ballad of Chevy Chace is founded, and the fall of Percy is described with as much graphic skill in the page of the historian as in the verses of the minstrel.

* As the Scots were supping, some indeed were gone to sleep, for they had laboured hard during the day, at the attack of the castle, and intended renewing it in the cool of the morning, the English arrived, and mistook at their entrance the huts of the servants for those of their masters. They forced their way into the camp, which was, however, tolerably strong, shouting out, Percy ! Percy! In such cases, you may suppose an alarm is soon given, and it was fortunate for the Scots the English had made their first attack on their servants' quarters, wbich checked them some little. The Scots, expecting the English, had prepared accordingly; for, while the lords were arming themselves, they ordered a body of their infantry to join their servants, and keep up the skirmish. As their men were armed, they formed themselves under the pennons of the three principal barons, who each had his particular appointment. In the mean time, the night advanced, but it was sufficiently light; for the moon shone, and it was the month of August, when the weather is temperate and serene.

When the Scots were quite ready, and properly arrayed, they left their camp in silence, but did not march to meet the English. They skirted the side of a mountain which was hard by ; for, during the preceding day, they had well-examined the country around, and said among themselves, 'Should the English come to beat up our quarters, we will do so and so ;' and thus settled their plans before hand, which was the saving of them; for it is of the greatest advantage to men-atarms, when attacked in the night, to have previously arranged their mode of defence, and well to have weighed the chance of victory or defeat. The English had soon overpowered the servants; but, as they advanced into the camp, they found fresh bodies ready to oppose them, and to continue the fight. The Scots, in the mean time, marched along the mountain-side, and fell on the enemy's flank quite unex. pectedly, shouting their cries. This was a great surprise to the English, who, however, formed themselves in better order, and reinforced that part of their army. The cries of Percy and Douglas resounded on each side.

• The battle now raged: great was the pushing of lances, and very many of each party were struck down at the first onset. The English being more numerous, and anxious to defeat the enemy, kept in a compact body, and forced the Scots to retire, who were on the point of being discomfited. The earl of Douglas, being young, and impatient to gain renown in arms, ordered his banner to advance, shouting, • Douglas ! Douglas !' Sir Henry and Sir Ralph Percy, indignant for

6

the affront the earl of Douglas had put on them, by conquering their pennon; and, desirous of meeting him, hastened to the place from which the sounds came, calling out, · Percy! Percy! The two ban. ners met, many gallant deeds of arms ensued. The English were in superior strength, and fought so lustily that they drove back the Scots. Sir Patrick Hepburne, and his son of the same name, did honour to their knighthood and country, by their gallantry, under the banner of Douglas, which would have been conquered but for the vigorous defence they made, and this circumstance not only contributed to their personal credit, but the memory of it is continued with honour to their descendants.

'I was made acquainted with all the particulars of this battle, by knights and squires, who had been actors in it on each side. There were also, with the English, two valiant knights from the county of Foix, whom I had the good fortune to meet at Orthès the year after this battle had been fought. Their names were Sir John de Château. neuf and John de Cautiron. On my return from Foix, I met likewise at Avignon a knight and two squires of Scotland, of the party of earl Douglas. They knew me again, from the recollections I brought to their minds of their own country; for in my youth, I, the author of this history, travelled all through Scotland, and was full fifteen days resident with William earl of Douglas, father of earl James, of whom we are now speaking, at his castle of Dalkeith, five miles distant from Edinburgh. Earl James was then very young, but a promising youth, and he had a sister called Blanche. I had my information, therefore, from both parties, who agree that it was the hardest and most obstinate battle that was ever fought. This I readily believed, for the English and Scots are excellent men-at-arms, and whenever they meet in battle, they do not spare each other; nor is there any check to their courage so long as their weapons endure. When they have well beaten each other, and one party is victorious, they are so proud of their conquest, that they ransom their prisoners instantly, and in such courteous manner to those who have been taken, that on their departure they return them their thanks. However, when in battle, there is no boy's play between them, nor do they shrink from the combat ; and you will sec, in the further detail of this battle, as excellent deeds performed as were ever witnessed.

• Chapter CXXVII. - The Earl of Douglas, in rallying his men who were

retreating, is mortally wounded. Sir Ralph Percy, badly wounded, surrenders to Sir John Maxwell, who puts him in the hands of the earl of Moray. • The knights and squires of either party were anxious to continue the combat with vigour, as long as their spears might be capable of holding. Cowardice was there unknown, and the most splendid courage was every-where exhibited by the gallant youths of England and Scotland: they were so closely intermixed, that the archers' bows were useless, and they fought hand to hand without either battalion giving way. The Scots behaved most valiantly, for the English were three to one. I do not mean to say the English did not acquit them

selves well; for they would be sooner slain, or made prisoners in battle, than reproached with flight. As I before mentioned, the two banners of Douglas and Percy met, and the men-at-arms under each exerted themselves by every means to gain the victory ; but the English, at this attack, were so much the stronger, that the Scots were driven back. The earl of Douglas, who was of a high spirit, seeing his men repulsed, seized a battle-axe with both his hands, like a gallant knight, and, to rally his men, dashed into the midst of his enemies, and gave such blows on all around him, that no one could withstand them, but all made way for him on every side ; for there were none so well armed with helmets or plates but that they suffered from his battle-axe. Thus he advanced, like another Hector, thinking to recover and conquer the field from his own prowess, until he was met by three spears that were pointed at him: one struck him on the shoulder, another on the stomach near the belly, and the third entered his thigh. He could never disengage himself from these spears, but was borne to the ground fighting desperately. From that moment he never rose again, some of his knights and squires had followed him, but not all ; for, though the moon shone, it was rather dark. The three English lancers knew that they had struck down some person of considerable rank, but never thought it was Earl Douglas : had they known it, they would have been so rejoiced that their courage would have been redoubled, and the fortune of the day had consequently been determined to their side. The Scots were ignorant also of their loss until the battle was over, otherwise they would certainly from despair have been discomfited.

"I will relate what befel the earl afterward. As soon as he fell, his head was cleaved with a battle-axe, the spear thrust through his thigh, and the main body of the English marched over him, without paying any attention, not supposing him to be their principal enemy, În another part of the field, the earl of March and Dunbar combated valiantly; and the English gave the Scots full employment who had followed the earl of Douglas, and had engaged with the two Percies. The earl of Moray behaved so gallantly in pursuing the English, that they knew not how to resist him. Of all the battles that have been described in this history, great or snall, this of which I am now speaking was the best fought and the most severe; for there was not a man, knight, or squire, who did not acquit himself gallantly, hand to hand with his enemy. It resembled something that of Cocherel, which was as long and as hardily disputed. The sons of the earl of Northumberland, Sir Henry and Sir Ralph Percy, who were the leaders of this expedition, behaved themselves like good knights in the combat. most a similar accident befel Sir Ralph as that which happened to the earl of Douglas ; for, having advanced too far, he was surrounded by the enemy, and severely wounded, and, being out of breath, surrendered himself to a Scots knight, called Sir John Maxwell, who was under the command, and of the household, of the Earl of Moray.

• When made prisoner, the knight asked him who he was; for it was dark, and he knew him not. Sir Ralph was so weakened by loss of blood, which was flowing from his wound, that he could scarcely avow himself to be Sir Ralph Percy. Well,' replied the knight,

Sir Ralph, rescued or not, you are my prisoner: my name is Max. well. I agree to it,' said Sir Ralph; but pay some attention to me ; for I am so desperately wounded, that my drawers and greates are full of blood. Upon this, the Scots knight was very attentive to him ; when suddenly hearing the cry of Moray hard by, and perceiv. ing the earl's banner advancing to him, Sir John addressed himself to the Earl of Moray, and said, My lord, I present you with Sir Ralph Percy, as a prisoner ; but let good care be taken of him, for he is very badly wounded.' The earl was much pleased at this, and replied • Maxwell, thou hast well earned thy spurs this day.' He then ordered his men to take every care of Sir Ralph, who bound up and staunched his wounds. The battle still continued to rage, and no one could say at that moment which side would be the conqueror, for there were very many captures and rescues that never came to my knowledge.

. The young Earl of Douglas had this night performed wonders in arms.

When he was struck down, there was a great crowd round him; and he could not raise himself up, for the blow on his head was mortal. His men had followed him as closely as they were able ; and there came to him his cousins, Sir James Lindsay, Sir John and Sir Walter Sinclair, with other knights and squires. They found by his side a gallant knight that had constantly attended him, who was his chaplain, and had at this time exchanged his profession for that of a valiant man-atarms.

The whole night he had followed the earl with his battle-axe in hand, and had by his exertions more than once repulsed the English. This conduct gained the thanks of his countrymen, and turned out to his advantage ; for in the same year he was promoted to the archdeaconry, and made canon of Aberdeen. His name was Sir William, of North Berwick. To say the truth, he was well-formed in all his limbs to shine in battle, and was severely wounded at this combat. When these knights came to the earl of Douglas, they found him in a melancholy state, as well as one of his knights, Sir Robert Hart, who had fought by his side the whole of the night, and now lay beside him, covered with fifteen wounds from lances and other weapons.

Sir John Sinclair asked the earl, · Cousin, how fares it with you?' • But so so,' replied he: Thanks to God, there are but few of my ancestors who have died in chambers, or in their beds. I bid you therefore revenge my death, for I have but little hope of living, as my heart becomes every minute more faint. Do you Walter and Sir John Sinclair, raise up my banner, for certainly it is on the ground, from the death of David Campbell, that valiant squire, who bore it ; and who refused knighthood from my hands this day, though he was equal to the most eminent knights for courage or loyalty ; and continue to shout · Douglas !' but do not tell friend or foe whether I am in your company or not ; for, should the enemy know the truth, they will be greatly rejoiced.” The two brothers Sinclair, and Sir John Lindsay, obeyed his orders. The banner was raised, and Douglas !' shouted. Their men who had remained behind, hearing the shouts of Douglas' so often repeated, ascended a small eminence, and pushed their lances

with such courage that the English were repulsed, and many killed or struck to the ground. The Scots, by thus valiantly driving the enemy beyond the spot where the earl of Douglas lay dead, for he had expired on giving his last orders, arrived at his banner, which was borne by Sir John Sinclair. Numbers were continually increasing, from the repeated shouts of · Douglas !' and the greater part of the Scots knights and squires were now there. The earls of Moray and March, with their banners and men, came thither also. When they were all thus collected, perceiving the English retreat, they renewed the battle with greater vigour than before.

• To say the truth, the English had harder work than the Scots, for they had come by a forced march that evening from Newcastle-onTyne, which was eight English leagues distant, to meet the Scots, by which means the greater part were exceedingly fatigued before the combat began. The Scots, on the contrary, had reposed themselves, which was to them of the utmost advantage, as was apparent from the event of the battle. In this last attack, they so completely repulsed the English, that the latter could never rally again, and the former drove them far beyond where the earl of Douglas lay on the ground. Sir Henry Percy during this attack had the misfortune to fall into the hands of the Lord Montgomery, a very valiant knight of Scotland. They had long fought hand to hand with much valour, and without hindrance from any one ; for there was neither knight nor squire of either party who did not find there his equal to fight with, and all were fully engaged. In the end, Sir Henry was made prisoner by the lord Montgomery.'-vol. ii. p. 367–371.

Our third extract shall be the account of the tournament at St. Inglevere ; certainly one of the most vivid descriptions on record of those gigantic amusements of our chivalrous ancestors.

Our readers will recollect the brilliant description of the passage-at-arms at Ashby-de-la-Zouche, given in Ivanhoe, one of the most wonderful efforts of Scott's descriptive talents. Making allowance for the interest which the description of the great novelist derives from the story of which it forms a part, and of the advantage which the writer of fiction always possesses of rejecting whatever is out of harmony or keeping with his design, the description of Froissart seems to us hardly inferior in spirit, and certainly not at all in the enthusiasm with which he treats his subject. At all events, it affords a pleasant glimpse of the sources to which the great master of modern fiction repaired for his descriptions of ancient chivalry, while it illustrates the skill with which he improved upon them.

Chapter XIII.—Three French knights hold a tournament at Saint Inglevere, near Calais, and defend the lists for thirty days against all comers,

from England and elsewhere. · During the time in which these things were passing, the three knights before mentioned, who had undertaken to maintain the lists

« 前へ次へ »