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NOTES TO MARMION.
CANTO 1.- THE CASTLE.
LORD MARMION, the hero of the poem, arrives at Norham Castle, on the Tweed, where he is entertained by Sir Hugh the Heron. He is on his way from England to the Scotch Court, with a message from Henry VIII, to the Scotch King : his mission is to inquire why King James IV. is now mustering his army upon the Borough Moor, near Edinburgh, and whether this is being done with any hostile intention against England. He asks for a guide to Holy-Rood, the royal palace of Scotland, preferring a herald or a priest, as he is on a peaceful errand. The very man to act as such guide is found in a Palmer, who had arrived at Norham on the previous night. Lord Marmion accordingly starts next morning for Holy-Rood, ander his guidance.
i. 1. Norham's castled steep.] " The ruinous castle of Norham (anciently called Ubbanford) is situated on the southern bank of the Tweed, about six miles above Berwick, and where that river is still the boundary between England and Scotland. The extent of its rains, as well as its historical importance, shows it to have been a place of magnificence as well as strength. Edward I. resided there when he was created umpire of the dispute concerning the Scottish succession. It was repeatedly taken and retaken during the wars between England and Scotland; and, indeed, scarce any happened in which it had not a principal share. Norham Castle is situated on a steep bank, which overhangs the river. The repeated sieges which the castle had sustained rendered frequent repairs necessary. It was almost rebuilt by Hugh Pudsey, Bishop of Durham, who added a huge keep, or donjon, notwithstanding which, King Henry II. took the castle from the Bishop, and committed the keeping of it to William de Neville. After this period it seems to have been chiefly garrisoned by the King, and considered as a royal fortress. The Greys of Chillinghame Castle were frequently the castellans, or captains of the garrison; yet, as the castle was situated in the patrimony of St. Cuthbert, the property was in the See of Durham till the Reformation. After that period it passed through various hands. The ruins of the castle are at present con. siderable, as well as picturesque. They consist of a large shattered tower, with many vaults, and fragments of other edifices, enclosed within an outward wall, of great circuit."-S.
1. 2. Troeed's fair river.) This river, which rises in the south of the county of Peebles, in Scotland, flows eastward, past the town of Peebles and Melrose Abbey ; then becomes the boundary between England and Scotland, receiving tributaries on both sides; and flows into the German Ocean near Berwick, after a course of more than 100 miles. It is famous as a salmon-producing river.
3. Cheviot's mountains.] The Cheviots are a range of hills, separating the county of Roxburgh, in Scotland, from that of Northumberland, in England.
4. Donjon-keep.) “Dun” is the Celtic for hill. It is the same root as the German Düne, French dune, English downs. Dunkirk = "church of the sandhills.". The donjon was the strongest part of a castle, usually a tower built on the highest elevation. A donjon-keep was a prison in or under such a tower. The ordinary spelling for such a prison is dungeon. Others derive it from Latin dominio; cf. Fr. songe, from somniare.
u. 1. Saint George.] Cf. infra, xiv. 11, note.
lii. 4. Pennon,) or pennant (Latin penna). A small pointed ilag, anciently borne by an esquire. When he was knighted, the triangular end was cut off, leaving a small square flag. The cognate word pendant (may not this, however, be derived from Latin pendeo, to hang ?) denotes a long narrow flag, ending in one or two points, carried by ships as a sign that they are in active service. On the varieties of flags, cf. infra, IV. xxviii., cf. vane.
9, 10. Palisade, barricade.] Both words are derived from the French : both signify a defence formed of stakes. The latter is related to our words bar, barrier; the former to our pole and pale, which is (1), that which forms a boundary ; (2), that which is bounded, an inclosure, and BO a district. The following may refer to either of these senses:"The studious cloister's pale.” (Milton); “ Within the pale of Christianity." (Atterbury); “The Irish without the pale.” (3) It has also a special sense in heraldry, for the division of a shield lengthwise.
iii. 16. Sever.] An officer, whose chief function seems to have been setting on and removing dishes from the table at a feast.
An early poet, Barclay (Edw. II.), remarks upon them :
“Slow be the sewers in serving in alway,
But swift be they after in taking meat away." Milton mentions them in connection with the seneschal, as in this place ('Par. Lost,' ix. 35);
“ Then marshalled feast, Served up in hall with sewers and seneschals." Dryden places them in lower company :
“The cook and sewer each his talent tries:
In various figures scenes of dishes rise." In the stage directions to “ Macbeth (act i. scene 7), the sewer is mentioned attended by inferior servants.
It seems also to have been his business to bring water for the hands of the guests, and he therefore carried a towel, as the token of his office. Cf. Ben Jonson, “Epicone" (act iii. scene 3) :
Marry, sir, get me your pheasants, and your godwits, and your best meat, and dish it in silver dishes of your cousin's presently, and say nothing, but clap me a clean towel about you like a sewer, and bareheaded march before it with a good confidence." And Chapman's “ Odyssey :"
Then the sewre
1. French, asseoir, to set on.
generally dropped, in this case it would be the c that is lost.
that of tasting, as well as arranging, the dishes at the feast, to
see that they were not poisoned. iii. 16. Squire,] or esquire. French écuyer, originally written escuyer, and derived from Latin (scutum, shield), an armour-bearer or attendant of a knight, or a person of the rank next below knighthood. We now use the two forms of the same word in somewhat different senses. A squire is a country gentleman in possession of an estate. Esquire is a title now given by courtesy, indiscriminately, in the addressing of letters, but properly signifying the possession of a certain amount of property.
Seneschal.] A French title of dignity, given to certain high officers of justice; also to certain officials in a palace, who have the duties of stewards. For this union of officer, note that the officer who presides over the House of Lords, when it sits as a Court of Impeachment, is the Lord High Steward of England. Derivation uncertain: old German sineigs, old; cf. Lat. senex. The termination, like that of marshal, is from German-schalk, a servant. Low Lat. seniscalcus.
iv. 1. Malvoisie,] or Malmsey. A species of wine, so called from Napoli di Malvasia, on the east side of the Morea, where it is produced. The song of “Simon the Cellarer" speaks of “Malmsey and Malvoisie,” as if they were different wines : this is inaccurate. The Duke of Clarence was drowned in a butt of Malmsey. Cf. Shakespeare, “ Richard III.” (act i. scene iv.)
8. Salvo-shot.] Salute. Lat. salde, hail. Ct. salvage, salvation.
V, 2. Red-roan.] Lat. rufus ; Ital. rovano, roano; Fr. ronan. Roan Osually signifies & red, or nearly red, horse.
8. Bosworth field.] In Leicestershire. The battle fought Aug. 22, 1485, at which King Richard was defeated and killed by Henry Tudor,
Earl of Richmond, who was immediately proclaimed king, under the title of Henry VII. 1613 is the date of this poem ; so that this scar was 28 years old.
v. 18. Carpet knight.] Cf. Shakespeare," Twelfth Night” (act iii, scene 4), “He is a knight, dubbed with unhatched rapier, and on carpet consideration." Where Johnson's note is as follows: “That is, he is no soldier by profession, not a knigbt-banneret dubbed on the field of battle, but on some carpet consideration at a festivity, or on some peaceable occasiou, when knights receive this dignity kneeling not in war but on a carpet.'
vi. 2. Milan steel.] “The artists of Milan were famous in the Middle Ages for their skill in armoury, as appears from the following passage, in which Froissart gives an account of the preparations made by Henry Earl of Hereford (afterwards Henry IV.), and Thomas Duke of Norfolk, Earl Marischal, for their proposed combat in the lists at Coventry :“These two lords made ample provisions of all things necessary for the combat; and the Earl of Derby sent off messengers to Lombardy, to have armour from Sir Galeas, Duke of Milan. The Duke complied with joy, and gave the knight, called Sir Francis, who had brought the mes. sage, the choice of all his armour for the Earl of Derby. When he had selected what he wished for in plated and mail armour, the Lord of Milan, out of his abundant love for the Earl, ordered four of the best armourers in Milan to accompany the knight to England, that the Earl of Derby might be more completely armed.'—Johnes's 'Froissart,' vol. iv. p. 597."-S.
vii. 3. Gilded spurs.] Mark of knighthood.
6. Bear the ring away.] One variety of the ancient game of tilting was running at the ring. A small ring was hung at about the level of the eye of the horseman, who endeavoured to carry it off on his lance's point, whilst at full gallop.
viii. 8, 9. Forky pennon, swallow's tail.] Cf. note on 1. iii. 4. А "swallow's tail" is still the technical name of a nautical pennon forked into that particular shape.
20. Cloth-yard shaft.] Cf. V. i. 18. Hollinshed describes certain arrows of the Cornish insurgents in 1496 as “ in length a full clothyard.” Cloth-yard = 5 quarters
ix. 9. Welcome shot.] Cf. supra, iv. 8, salvo-shot. À salute on arrival.
X. 8. Angel.] An English gold coin bearing the stamp of an angel, in allusion, as some say, to Gregory the Great's “Non Angli sed angeli." (On which story see Stanley's “Memorials of Canterbury," p. 7 et seq. : he gives it from Bede.) Its value varied at different times, but it was somewhere about ten shillings.
xi. 1. Pursuivants.] (Latin persequor ; French poursuiore, follow.) Attendants on heralds. It was customary for gentlemen to undertake this service with the view of becoming heralds. They were called in French poursuivants d'armes, “ followers of armoury," whence the English name.
xi. 1. Tabarts.) (French, tabarre.) A short garment, not unlike a modern shirt, but closer-fitting. “Tabard; a jaquet or slevelesse coate, worn in times past by noblemen in the warres, but now only by heraults (heralds), and is called theyre 'coate of arms in servise.' It is the signe of an inne in Southwarke by London."-Speght Gloss. to “Chaucer." It was at this inn that the pilgrims to Canterbury met, according to Chaucer. (“Prol.' line 20.) Mr. R. Morris (Chaucer, l. c.), says that the Taberdars of Queen's College, Oxford, were scholars, so called because they wore the tabard. (Cf. Lat. trabea, robe of state.).
6. They hailed Lord Marmion, etc.] “Lord Marmion, the principal character of the present romance, is entirely a fictitious personage. In earlier times, indeed, the family of Marmion, Lords of Fontenay in Normandy, was highly distinguished. Robert de Marmion, Lord of Fontenay, a distinguished follower of the Conqueror, obtained a grant of the castle and town of Tamworth, and also of the manor of Scrivelby, in Lincolnshire. One, or both, of these noble possessions was held by the honourable service of being the Royal Champion, as the ancestors of Marmion had formerly been to the Dukes of Normandy. But after the castle and demesne of Tamworth had passed through four successive barons from Robert, the family became extinct in the person of Philip, de Marmion, who died in 20th Edward I. without issue male. He was succeeded in his castle of Tamworth by Alexander de Freville, who married Mazera, his granddaughter. Baldwin de Freville, Alexander's descendant, in the reign of Richard I., by the supposed tenure of his castle of Tamworth, claimed the office of Royal Champion, and to do the service appertaining : namely, on the day of coronation, to ride, completely armed, upon a barbed horse, into Westminster Hall, and there to challenge the combat against any who would gainsay the King's title. But this office was adjudged to Sir John Dymoke, to whom the manor of Scrivelby had descended by another of the co-heiresses of Robert de Marmion; and it remains in that family, whose representative is Hereditary Champion of England at the present day.* The family and possessions of Freville have merged in the Earls of Ferrers. I have not, therefore, created a new family, but only revived the titles of an old one in an imaginary personage.
“It was one of the Marmion family, who, in the reign of Edward II., performed that chivalrous feat before the very castle of Norham, which Bishop Percy has woven into his beautiful ballad, “The Hermit of Warkworth.""--S.
This story is told by Leland. Another, to which allusion is made in V. xxxi. 6, is given by William of Newbury: it will be found in the Notes.
7. Lutterward.] Probably Lutterworth, a market town in the south
* Sir Henry Dymoke, who acted as Champion at the Coronation of George IV., died in 1865; and his brother, the Rev. John Dymoke, ia now lord of the manor of Scrivelby.