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NOTES TO CANTO FIFTH.
Caledonia's Queen is changed.-P. 219. The Old Town of Edinburgh was secured on the north side by a lake, now drained, and on the south by a wall, which there was some attempt to make defensible even so late as 1745. The gates, and the greater part of the wall, have been pulled down, in the course of the late extensive and beautiful enlargement of the city. My ingenious and valued friend, Mr. Tho. mas Campbell, proposed to celebrate Edinburgh under the epi. thet here borrowed. But the “ Queen of the North” has not been so fortunate as to receive from so eminent a pen the proposed distinction.
Flinging thy white arms to the sea.-P. 230. Since writing this line, I find I have inadvertently borrowed it almost verbatim, though with somewhat a different meaning, from a chorus in “ Caractacns :"
Britain heard the descant bold,
She flung her white arms o'er the sea,
The freight of harmony.
Since first, when conquering York arose,
To Henry meek she gave repose.-P. 233. Henry VI., with his queen, his heir, and the chiefs of his family, fled to Scotland after the fatal battle of Towton. In this note a doubt was formerly expressed, whether Henry VI. came to Edinburgh, though his queen certainly did ; Mr. Pinkerton inclining to believe that he remained at Kircudbright. But my noble friend, Lord Napier, bas pointed out to me a grant by Henry, of an annuity of forty marks to his lordship's ancestor, John Napier, subscribed by the King himself, at Edinburgh, the 28th day of August, in the thirty-ninth year of his reign, which corresponds to the year of God 1461. This grant, Douglas, with his usual neglect of accuracy, dates in 1368. But this error being corrected from the copy in Macfarlane's MSS. p. 119, 120, removes all scepticism on the subject of Henry VI. being really at Edinburgh. John Napier was son and heir of Sir Alexander Napier, and about this time was Provost of Edinburgh. The hospitable reception of the distressed Monarch and his family, called forth on Scotland the encomium of Molinet, a contemporary poet. The English people, he says, —
Ung nouveau roy créerent,
Par despiteux vouloir,
Et son legitime hoir,
D'Escossé le garand,
De tous siecles le mendre,
RECOLLECTION DES AVANTURES.
-the romantic strain,
Could win the Royal Henry's ear.-P. 234. Mr. Ellis, in his valu ole Introduction to the “Specimens of Romance,” has proved, by the concurring testimony of La Ravaillere, Tressan, but especially the Abbe de la Rue, that the courts of our Anglo-Norman kings, rather than those of the French monarchs, produced the birth of romance literature. Marie, soon after mentioned, compiled from Armorican ori. ginals, and translated into Norman-French, or romance language, the twelve curious Lays, of which Mr. Ellis has given us a precis in the Appendix to his Introduction. The story of Blondel, the famous and faithful minstrel of Richard I., needs no commentary.
The cloth-yard arrows flew like hail.-P. 242. This is no poetical exaggeration. In some of the counties of England, distinguished for archery, shafts of this extraordinary length were actually used. Thus, at the Battle of Blackheath, between the troops of Henry VII. and the Cornish insurgents, in 1496, the Bridge of Dartford was defended by a
picked band of archers from the rebel army, « whose arrows," says Hollinshed, were in length a full cloth-yard." The Scottish, according to Ascham, had a proverb, that every English archer carried under his belt twenty-four Scots, in allusion to his bundle of unerring shafts.
To pass, to wheel, the croupe to gain,
On foeman's casque below.-P. 243. “ The most useful air, as the Frenchmen term it, is territerr; the courbettes, cubrioles, or un pass et un sault, being fitter for horses of parade and triumph than for soldiers: yet I cannot deny but a demivolte with courbettes, so that they be not too high, may be useful in a fight or meslee ; for, as Labroue hath it, in his Book of Horsemanship, Monsieur de Montmorency having a horse that was excellent in performing the demivolte, did, with his sword, strike down two adversaries from their horses in a tourney, where divers of the prime gallants of France did meet; for, taking his time, when the horse was in the height of his courbette, and discharging a blow then, his sword fell with such weight and 'force upon the two cavaliers, one after another, that he struck them from their horses to the ground.”—Lord Herbert of Cherbury's Life,
He saw the hardy burghers there
March armed, on foot, with faces bare.-P. 243. The Scottish burgesses were, like yeomen, appointed to be armed with bowes and sheaves, sword, buckler, knife, spear, or a good axe instead of a bow, if worth L. 100 : their armour to be of white or bright harness. They wore white hals, i. e. bright steel caps, without crest or visor. By an act of James IV., their weapon-shawings are appointed to be held four times a-year, under the aldermen or bailiffs.
On foot the yeomen too.-P. 244. Bows and quivers were in vain recommended to the peasantry of Scotland, by repeated statutes; spears and axes seem universally to have been used instead of them. Their defensive armour was the plate-jack, hauberk, or brigantine; and their missile weapons cross-bows and culverips. All wore swords of excellent temper, according to Patten; and a voluminous handkerchief round their neck, “ not for cold, but for cutting.” The mace also was much used in the Scottish army: The old poem on the battle of Flodden, mentions a band
Whoo manfully did meet their foes,